Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Changing Landscape for Ministry

"Few things are as constant as change," they say.  Many have observed that the pace of the changes we face is increasing as well,  As a result, we do well to identify some of the changes going on around us, and consider their impact on ministry in our time and place.

From my observation, time is becoming the increasingly scarce resource in people's lives.  Here are two statements that really brought this into focus in my thinking:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Learning to Disagree Graciously

I'm certain we have all faced the wide, even contradictory, variety of convictions regarding foundational Christian truth that operate across the Church Universal.  With this diversity, is there any hope that the church can avoid becoming as partisan and bogged down as Congress?  How is it that that believers of differing convictions can live with one another and those differences?  Does it all really depend on winning the argument?  As if "once everyone agrees with me we can get along."

In sorting through these issues in my own ministry, I have concluded that it is one thing to study theology and Christian truth, but another thing entirely to interact with others about that truth.  One is theoretical and removed from relationship – the pure contemplation and pursuit of Truth.  The other is pursuing Truth in relationship with another person and their experiences.  It is an important and helpful distinction for me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Unprepared to Meet the Real God

There is a vague childhood memory floating around in my head of a sign along the highway near my home outside Charlotte, NC that ominously declared: "Prepare To Meet Thy God."  It could bring on a vague sense of unease and judgement just riding past it.  I could picture an invisible god just behind it, angrily looking down his long nose with a frown and a face that said, "Now you are REALLY in trouble."  I would pedal on as hard as I could to get past it without getting struck by a lightening bolt.

Looking back, I realize that I wasn't sure what I was in trouble for with this god, but I clearly got the message that between who he was and who I was, there was nothing but disappointment and punishment.  I couldn't tell you why I was condemned, but I was certain somehow that I was, even if it seemed a bit unfair.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The God Who Contradicts Me

 There has been a lot of research lately on the "state of faith and religion in the United States."  I stumbled across a good summary of it in USA Today this week, and recommend it to you.  It's called "More Americans Tailor Their Religion To Fit Their Needs," and clearly describes - with reference to some research - what I have observed in ministry.  Click Here to read the USA Today article and get the full context for my post.

The article speaks of "America's drift from clearly defined religious denominations to faiths cut to fit personal preferences."  Notice the plural there: "faiths."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Resources For Daniel Sermon Series

On Sunday, September 11, I will begin preaching through the book of Daniel.  I'll be taking an "event by event" pace rather than "verse by verse," which will come to roughly one chapter per week.  Let me give you a connection and some background for the primary resources that I've been studying with:

Choices and Consequences

You can make you own choice, but you are not able to choose the consequences of that choice.  Realize that in any choice you make, you are also choosing the consequences that come with it, both the known and the unknown.

I’ve seen this connection between choices and consequences in my own life, and helped others see the connection when I can.  It came to mind while reading an updated edition of a book I have reviewed here before: Hurt 2.0 by Dr. Chap Clark Click here for previous review.

Clark has the background and research to lay out in stark relief the sense of abandonment, confusion and pain that characterizes the lives of our adolescents in the United States today. I can’t help but think though that their pain, is in large part a consequence of the choices made by the culture of adults.  Clark paints a picture of the “modern family” that we have chosen:
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