links: this went thru my mind

 

Acappella singing, instrumental music & public worship gatherings: The Argument against Musical Instruments in Worship

“Some, not many, church groups do not believe in the use of musical instruments in public worship. The major example is the Churches of Christ. No less than one of their foremost scholars, Everett Ferguson, takes up his case against the use of instruments in public worship (The Early Church and Today, vol. 1). What are the arguments against the use of instruments?”

Benevolence: Care for the Socially Vulnerable in the Early Church—Aristides (2nd century)

“When a poor man dies, if they become aware, they contribute according to their means for his funeral; if they come to know that some people are persecuted or sent to prison or condemned for the sake of Christ’s name, they put their alms together and send them to those in need. If they can do it, they try to obtain their release. When a slave or a beggar is in need of help, they fast two or three days, and give him the food they had prepared for themselves, because they think that he too should be joyful, as he has been called to be joyful like themselves.”

Children, multi-generational church & senior adults: Why Should a Pastor Take His Children to Visit the Elderly in His Church? [replace the word "pastor" with "Christian" it's applicable to all; great article]

“My burden grows that the multi-generational local church is fading into the past. This should not be. The best way for us to fight against it is to do the things that cause young and old to grow in Christian love and affection for each other.”

Faith: Uzzah was Only Trying to Help!

“…  in the kingdom, we must leave the God-matters to God.”

Racism: American Idols: 3 False Beliefs That Can Blind White Men To Their Privilege

“The problem is, for many of us, our world view is based on the mistaken belief that these three things are already part of reality.”

this went thru my mind

 

Charitable giving: Giving is Up, But Not for the Church

“Giving USA, the leading authority on charitable giving, has just released its findings for 2011. Giving as a whole rose by roughly 4% to 298 billion dollars. This is about a 1% increase when inflation is factored in. … Giving to health, education, human services, arts, international affairs, environment, and animal organizations were all up. However; giving to religion decreased by nearly 2% and is now down to 32% of the whole, its lowest level on record.”

Church programming: * A Simple Exercise to Help Your Church; * Inconvenient Truth No. 1: Nothing Works by Dan Bouchelle [both posts are required reading]

* “Nothing works. At least in ministry and missions (which are one and the same), there is no magic formula, no methodological messiah, no fool-proof program, no golden tablet or holy grail. … The search for a surefire method is really a violation of our core beliefs as Christians anyway. It is a rejection of the spiritual, personal, and incarnate nature of the world God has made. … God did not send a method to save the world. He sent his son. He did not send a formula for evangelism or church planting. He sent his Holy Spirit. God did not give us a systematic theology or ecclesiology. He gave us a library of stories, songs, poems, wise observations, letters, and visions about the myriad ways he has worked throughout time to reclaim and restore his reign over humanity.”

* “Every church can learn a lot about the way it does ministry by doing this simple exercise: Take your church calendar and ask, ‘If someone or a family of four participated in everything our church offers, what would their day planner look like, and how much would it cost financially?’”

Facebook: * Facebook Just Switched Your Default E-mail Address; * Facebook Quietly Unveils ‘Stalking App”

* “Whether you’ve noticed or not, you have a new primary e-mail address listed as your Facebook contact, and most likely it’s an address you’ve never used.”

* “Facebook on Monday appeared to have quietly unveiled a new feature designed to let people see which Facebook users are nearby at any given time. By Tuesday, however, the feature seemed to have been pulled from the Internet.”

Grammar: This Embarrasses You and I* by Sue Shellenbarger

“Twenty-five years ago it was impossible to put your hands on something that hadn’t been professionally copy-edited. … Today, it is actually hard to put your hands on something that has been professionally copy-edited.”

Holy Spirit & the Christian: More Like Fruit that Grows than Fire that Falls

“… the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit is made evident in our lives not primarily through extraordinary divine manifestations but through the grace and strength of a Spirit-soaked inner character, which manifests Christ to others when we lay down our lives in love for their well being.”

Nonviolence & pacifism: A Faith Not Worth Fighting For: Common Questions about Christian Nonviolence by Kurt Willems

“I believe that the New Testament clearly teaches that kingdom people ought to refuse violence in all its forms. … anyone on the spectrum between absolute pacifism and pro-militarism asks questions about how Christian nonviolence could actually make sense in situations that might arise. Common questions include: what about Hitler and what about defending the innocent?”

Parenting: Tools to Control a Child’s Technology by Somini Sengupta

“How you handle technology in a child’s life depends entirely on how you parent.”

Prayer: K. Rex Butts’ mini-series on the church and prayer is good stuff. Here are links: * Are We a Praying Church; * A Praying Church; * Becoming A Praying Church

* “… as heirs of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, we in the Churches of Christ have claimed to be patterned after the church we read about in scripture. Yet the church we read about in scripture was a church in which prayer was one of their four main practices (Acts 2:42).”

* “… these disciples went to God in prayer because they believed in the mighty power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen them in the face of danger. It’s pretty simple. They prayed because they believed in God, not themselves. So this begs another question: When our churches are faced with challenges, is prayer the response? This is an important question because how that question is answered says a bunch about our faith and theology. … ministry that does not emerge out of prayer is an act of unbelief.”

* “So how do we become a praying church? … I would like to make a few suggestions.”

Rest: 7 Ways I Protect My Sabbath by Ron Edmonson

“… many pastors I know who would teach their church to observe the Sabbath, seldom do so personally. This fact alone is one of the leading causes of pastoral burnout, in my opinion.”

Senior adults: How To Tell The Senior Adult is Still Alive by Joe McKeever

“Here are my top five ways to keep yourself mentally alive long past the age when most people have stopped growing and begun vegetating.”

Silence: Of Sin and Salvation: Why I Went to the Cemetery During Five Days of Silence by Chris Altrock

“To deepen this experience, I decided to visit a nearby cemetery while practicing this somber exercise.”

Southern Baptists & United Methodists: Baptists Chasing Methodists

“This marks the fifth straight year the SBC has lost members. … the denomination is not only experiencing decline but an acceleration of decline. ‘Based on the trend of annual percent change in SBC total membership, we are catching up with the Methodists, and will match their decline rate consistently by 2018,’ said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, in his blog. ‘This trend points to a future of more and faster decline …’”

this went thru my mind

 

American history & religion: The Faith (and Doubts) of Our Fathers

“Academic historians are bemused at times by the inquiries they get from people with no previous interest in the nation’s beginnings: what did America’s creators really believe? Jill Lepore, a Harvard professor who deconstructs the uses and abuses of the past, is wary of would-be historians with an agenda. For her, the founders’ genius lay in their willingness to cast doubt on fixed ways of thinking inherited from the past. So to make them final arbiters is to traduce their spirit. Nor, indeed, were the fathers of one mind. They did not spend their time producing pearls of unanimously agreed wisdom. They quarrelled bitterly. Indeed, if something about this period still resonates in modern politics, it may be the fathers’ disputes, and the subtle points each side brought to bear.”

Benevolence: How Charity Can Be Toxic, Just in Time for Christmas (how to avoid destroying dignity). This is required reading.

“Dignity is given to us by our creator. We hold a whole theology of community and mutual supportedness, bearing one another’s burdens and concerns. One-way giving creates toxic relationships where one has the resources, the other has the need. Do recipients at clothes closets and food pantries become a part of your church? Often, they’re not participants in our community. How do we create respectful, honest, caring, and mutually supportive relationships?”

Christmas season: The Immigrant Days of Christmas

“I noticed this Christmas season, for the first time, that not only were Mary and Joseph forced to migrate under Rome’s census; not only was the Incarnate God born into a humiliating space — but, as they fled to Egypt, they never registered in Bethlehem with the census. A dream, an angel, told the migrant father to gather his family and run from the authorities. Unaccounted for in the empire, baby Jesus’ first movement in this world was a government-evading trek through the desert by night.”

Church: Learning to Read the Gospel Again: How to address our anxiety about losing the next generation

“”So what do we do? Perhaps the answer is much simpler, and more ‘old-fashioned,’ than we think: Maybe we ought to be teaching churchgoers to read the gospel. The first thing Muslim children learn about Christians is one of the last things Christians learn about themselves: we are a ‘people of the Book.’ Perhaps we ought to ask how to make this observation from the Qur’an true, once more, among those who fellowship around the Bible. How can we form ourselves as a people of the Book?”

Coffee With Jesus: If you’re not reading Coffee With Jesus, you’re missing out.

Compassion: Why Christians Shoot Their Wounded

“You’d think our individual brokenness would cause us, especially those of us who call ourselves christians, to heed the question of Jesus when he asks, ‘Who among us can cast the first stone?’ or in the context of this post, ‘take the first shot.’ “But the desire to attribute people’s behavior to innate character rather than to local context runs deep. In fact, psychologists have a name for this behavior: It’s called ‘the fundamental attribution error.’”

Contribution: How to Fill the Offering Plate

“Nurturing cheerful givers is more challenging than ever during an economic downturn. New research provides important insights that could boost the financial and spiritual health of congregations. Take our quiz to test your knowledge of church giving trends.”

Facebook: Facebook Bible: Everything You Need to Know About Facebook

“… expert analysis on the latest Facebook developments, helpful tips, tricks and how-tos, and the latest updates on privacy, Facebook apps and more.”

Gifts for children: Great Christmas Gifts For Your Kids

“Still trying to decide what to get your kids this year for Christmas? How about getting them something that will last a lifetime?”

Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population

“The number of Christians around the world has more than tripled in the last 100 years, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion in 2010. But the world’s overall population also has risen rapidly, from an estimated 1.8 billion in 1910 to 6.9 billion in 2010. As a result, Christians make up about the same portion of the world’s population today (32%) as they did a century ago (35%).”

Iraq: In Iraq, Abandoning Our Friends

“And so our policy in the final weeks of this war is as simple as it is shameful: submit your paperwork and wait. If you can survive the next 18 months, maybe we’ll let you in.”

Leadership: How to Create the Kind of Team Unity That Drives Results

“… it is up to you, as the leader, to create this alignment. It doesn’t just happen.”

Peacemakers: 10 Things to Say to Keep the Peace

“The holidays, with all their extended-family gatherings, can be a verbal minefield. You’re either dodging nosy questions from some tactless relative over dinner (‘Still dieting then?’) or taking out the stress of all that extra cooking and shopping on those dearest to you (‘Do I have to do everything around here?’). It doesn’t have to be that bad. Use these 10 go-to phrases to defuse potentially volatile conversations and help you get through the coming weeks―and the months and years to follow―in harmony.”

Poverty: Map of the Day: America’s Poverty Belt

“Immediately apparent is a broad ‘Poverty Belt’ – states where more than three in ten people live in high poverty areas – stretching from West Virginia through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.”

Senior adults: A Senior Moment

“Contrary to rosy propaganda, 85 is not the new 65. The elder population boom will affect everyone, and the church has an important role to play. In understanding the situation and what areas need improvement, congregations learn that they too benefit when they are involved in supporting the frail elderly.”

Social networking: How to Think about Social Networking in Churches

“Social networking reminds us of our intrinsic sociality, but constantly moves us closer to the point where sociality no longer requires our bodies to be fully human.”