Five boundaries to keep tweets from corroding your soul.
by Skye Jethani
Last November I wrote a blog post titled “Why I Don’t Tweet … Not That There’s Anything Wrong With It.” The spark for the post came from a brief interaction with Ed Stetzer about Twitter. A prolific tweeterer (is that a word?), he was shocked to learn I didn’t tweet and wanted to know why. So I put fingers to keyboard and articulated 10 reasons–some rooted in my understanding of faith and discipleship and others clearly tongue in cheek (like #8: “Ashton Kutcher”).
I got a lot of traffic out of that post. Some applauded my reasons for not tweeting, others pointed out holes in my logic. Some incorrectly interpreted my post as condemning those who tweet despite my title clearly stating the opposite. One response came from my friend, Chris Grant (@ChrisJGrant). He gave a presentation to a group of authors about the challenges facing writers in the rapidly shifting world of publishing. The first point of Chris’ talk was “Skye Jethani is right about Twitter. Now he should start tweeting.”
I listened to Chris’s argument in which he challenged me to try tweeting without slipping into the soul-eroding, self-obsessive tendencies I wrote about in my post. I was intrigued by our conversation. Could I engage a medium like Twitter and not succumb to its pitfalls? Had I written off tweeting too soon? Does it at least deserve a try?
I decided to accept Chris’ challenge. I would try tweeting for one month to determine if I could engage Twitter in a redemptive way that would not erode my soul, and then write a follow-up post about my experience. (Ironically, Chris is a marketer, so by accepting his advice I violated of my 7th reason for not tweeting: “I’m tired of obeying marketers.” The intersection of marketing and ministry still makes me dizzy and occasionally nauseous, but I respect Chris because he shares my distaste for unreflective Christian promotional efforts.)
Launching my 30 day Twitter experiment wasn’t as simple as registering and tweeting about my morning tea. I wanted to begin with certain safeguards in place and some clear guidelines for my use of Twitter. I needed boundaries to avoid slipping into the Twitter tendencies I wrote about in my “Why I Don’t Tweet” post. Here’s what I came up with:
According to the study, megachurches are continuing to see attendance and giving rise even during the recession. (For those of you leading small congregations, insert salt into your wounds now.) And it appears the bigger your church is the more likely you are to see these increases. In the current economic environment churches are falling prey to Darwinism's survival of the fittest...or at least the survival of the biggest.
An inspiring and emotional testimony from a young North Korean student.
Nearly everyone who attended the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, last month agreed that the testimony of the young North Korean woman was one of the emotional high points of the gathering.
Her story of sacrifice, anger, salvation, and courage must be seen by every church leader. Not only is she inspiring, but her story reveals the undeniable fact that Jesus Christ is building his church even in the most repressive and hostile places on earth.
New research says more church leaders are not choosing Calvinism.
by Url Scaramanga
New research released by the Barna Group indicates the Neo Reformed / New Calvinist movement may not be much of a movement after all. It turns out that the number of church leaders identifying themselves as Reformed has not changed in the last 10 years.
David Kinnaman, Barna Group president, summarized the findings:
“There is no discernable evidence from this research that there is a Reformed shift among U.S. congregation leaders over the last decade. Whatever momentum surrounds Reformed churches and the related leaders, events and associations has not gone much outside traditional boundaries or affected the allegiances of most today’s church leaders. It is important to note that the influence of Reformed churches might also be measured through other metrics that are currently unavailable, such as the theological certainty of self-described adherents, their level of acceptance toward those who are not Calvinist, and the new methods Reformed leaders are using to market their views to their peers and to the public.”
Skye Jethani's simple guidelines for engaging the Bible and avoiding unhelpful controversy.
by Skye Jethani
I. You shall not make for yourself an idol out of Scripture.
This is a particular temptation among evangelicals who hold a very high view of Scripture. We forget that our highest calling is not to have a relationship with the Bible but with Jesus Christ about whom the Bible testifies. (John 5:39)
II. You shall honor the Scriptures as sufficient.
We have a common temptation to get “behind the text” or discover what “really happened.” While archeology and other disciplines are incredibly important, we must not forget that what God has given in the Scriptures is enough for life and faith.
III. You shall remember the metanarrative and keep it wholly.
In my experience more Christians can recap the meta-narrative of the Star Wars saga than can recap the biblical meta-narrative. It’s not enough to know the stories and events in the Bible. We must know how they fit together to tell a single story.
It is widely known that by 2048, if not sooner, non-Hispanic whites will no longer make up a majority of the U.S. population. Less clear is what these demographic shifts will mean for us who are living through these days of momentous and visible change. A friend who is a school social worker in the suburbs is watching the school diversify significantly and wonders how best to serve his new students. Another suburban friend is spending time with children of refugees and immigrants, looking for ways to explain how the majority culture actually works to those who learned about America on TV. Friends accustomed to being America’s minorities look on with curiosity—and perhaps apprehension—as certain pundits and politicians decry the changing face of the country.
The participants at the first Multi-ethnic Church Conference were asking questions along these lines. More than one speaker referenced 2048 as a societal tipping point. But while the conference addressed the wider culture, many of the most pressing questions were directed to our churches. Most of these complicated issues cannot be swiftly resolved, but I think they’re worth considering here. After all, the questions being grappled with by multi-ethnic church practitioners are surely not limited to the multi-ethnic church.
Catalyst One Day is coming to Phoenix! Next Thursday, November 18 at Christ’s Church of the Valley in Phoenix, Arizona. Join Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel for a one day leadership event focusing on the topic of Momentum. How to create it, how to sustain it, and how to implement systems and tactics in your organization that will fuel momentum on a continual basis. This practical leadership experience includes Q and A, dynamic worship and music, and a full day of practical insight from two of the principal voices on leadership in the Church today.
Visit www.catalystoneday.com to register to attend. Use special Rate Code ONEDAYAZ to receive a discounted ticket price of $99.
Is the rise of Calvinism among the young helping or hurting evangelicalism and the church's mission?
by David Fitch
Fundamentalism is characterized by:
A.) Insularity. There’s a mentality of insiders over against those who don’t believe.
B.) Distrust towards culture as a place where God is at work.
C.) An “us against them” mentality. Because of the previous two characteristics, fundamentalists typically reject open dialogue. Engagement with culture takes the shape of winning arguments and confrontation. As the insularity builds, there is less and less wiggle room to associate with other Christians who disagree. As a result, a certain form of arrogance tends to infect fundamentalism.
These are the marks of classic fundamentalism. For all the obvious reasons, these characteristics tend to set Christians over against our neighbors. Its dynamic works against a missionally engaged Christianity.
After looking at the video inserted below, I see some early signs that Neo- Calvinism (also called the Neo-Reformed movement) is on its way to becoming a fundamentalism even in its edgier forms. It’s a video with many inner contradictions at work, so its not clear. Nonetheless, I observed 4 things from the video. I put these observations in the form of questions because I’m really asking if what I’m seeing is accurate at this point. Your input is greatly appreciated.
Opportunities for self-promotion by church leaders are proliferating. But is there an antidote?
by JR Kerr
It was a silly thing to do, but I couldn't stop myself. During a "get to know you" conversation with a few acquaintances and a man from the church I serve, we were talking about interests, passions, and areas of ministry. I tried to keep the focus on others at the table. But then it happened.
The man from my church made a statement that I interpreted as making light of me. The fuse was lit, and within a few moments I managed to work into the conversation the areas where I was leading and the wide impact of those projects. I subtly reminded everyone what our church had accomplished in the city. I even managed to throw in some attendance figures for good measure. I pushed everyone else out of the conversation's spotlight.
When it was over, I felt like I had binged on junk food. Self-loathing set in: I hate when I do this, and I hate it even more when I do it as a servant of Christ. Why do I keep falling into this temptation?
I've been through this cycle enough to know that when I feel my capacity or identity as a leader isn't sufficiently honored (and when, really, does anyone ever feel that?), I slip into the sin of self-promotion. But how do I stop?
What can the American church learn from leaders in other regions of the world?
by Skye Jethani
While in Cape Town last month for the Lausanne Congress, I met with a number of friends who each participated in the 12 Cities | 12 Conversations tour leading up to Cape Town 2010. About half way through the congress we gathered to talk about the experience, what we were learning, and how the Lausanne Congress might impact our ministries in the US.
From left to right on screen, the video features me, Jim Belcher (author/pastor), Margaret Feinberg (author/speaker) , Dan Cho (The Veritas Forum), Paco Amador (New Life Church, Chicago) , Sara Groves (song writer, musician), Jedd Medefind (Christian Alliance for Orphans), Bobby Gruenewald (LifeChurch.tv), and Bethany Hoang (International Justice Mission).
Only 1 in 7 congregations is multi-ethnic, and churches are 10 times more segregated than their neighborhoods. Is this a problem?
by David Swanson
I spent Tuesday in a room in San Diego with 400 pastors, academics and ministry practitioners. There’s no shortage of Christian conferences these days, but there seems to be something exceptional represented by these folks. You might get a sense of what I mean should you look closely at the diversity of the participants of the first Multi-ethnic Church Conference. But beyond the racial and ethnic makeup of the participants, it is the shared theological and practical interest in the non-homogeneous church that makes this conference unique.
Why did 400 people from around the country come to learn about a topic that is barely on the radar for much of American Christianity? I think the conference’s first three speakers each answered this question in their own way. I wonder, do any of these resonate with you?
Mark DeYmaz, pastor of Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas and author Ethnic Blends, gave a brief theological overview of the multi-ethnic church from Ephesians. In 2:11 Paul points out the massive and accepted separation between Gentiles and Jews. He goes on in chapter three to describe “the mystery made known to me by revelation.” And what is that mystery? That “through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body.” In other words, the most significant racial, ethnic and cultural divides have been bridged through the Gospel. My hunch is that many of this conference’s participants believe the emphasis on the Gospel’s reconciling power has been overlooked by too many of our churches.
Do church leaders see the big picture of children in the Bible and across the world?
We cover a lot of topics on Out of Ur, but one area we have neglected is children. Let's be honest, children's ministry isn't the sexiest topic and it doesn't tend to draw the big names to the big conferences. But that says more about our bias than the critical role of children in God's kingdom.
At the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town last month, the Global Children's Forum presented a wonderful 4-minute video called "TODAY" to highlight the importance of kids in our mission. They've just made the whole video available for free to download on their website. Not only does it have a great message, but who doesn't love claymation?
Are political sticks and stones affecting the church?
by David Swanson
There is a sinister trend gaining momentum in the days leading up to the mid-term elections. It is not initially obvious to many of us, but it has significant implications for the American church. The code language associated with this trend goes unnoticed by many majority-culture Christians despite how alienating it can be to our non-white brothers and sisters. It is a trend that both threatens devastating consequences to the unity of the church and presents powerful opportunities for Gospel witness to a cynical country.
Different code words summarize this trend: us, ours, mine—the possessive language many politicians and pundits use to describe the need to retake America. The aim of this trend is to identify the insiders and outsiders, those on the right and wrong side of American history. This language hearkens back to an ideal America when things were as they should be now.
Pamela Geller, an influential blogger and speaker and a major force behind the opposition to the so-called ground zero mosque, put some of these code words to work in a recent interview with The New York Times. “Growing up as the sort of tail end of the baby boomers, there was this feeling of invincibility in America…We were free. The good guys won. The good cop is on the beat. I certainly don’t get a sense of that anymore.”