this went thru my mind

 

Advertising & outreach: The Billboard Problem

“I’ve singled out billboards, but consider the billboard’s closest relatives: church signs, bumper stickers and statement T-shirts. Those are some of contemporary Christianity’s favorite means of expression, right? We see them as the perfect little platforms for hit-and-run declarations of eternal significance. These media dictate a compressed message, an abridged gospel, and post it in the peripheral vision of vehicles and lives barreling down the highway. At best, this approach is inert. At worst, it’s counterproductive to our calling: to be witnesses in our neighborhoods and to the ends of the earth. I’m convinced this calling requires more from us than what will fit on a billboard. If we’re to truly be witnesses, we’ve got stories to tell.”

Announcements: How to Write Church Announcements

“… because department heads or ministry leaders tend to either give you too much or not enough information to promote their event, writing announcements is a chronically challenging task.”

Church growth: 10 Things I Wish Christians Understood About Church Growth

“The #1 way a church grows is by personal invitation. If you want your church to grow then invite people. … Evangelistic events seldom result in church growth. Sorry, but it’s true.”

Preaching: What Pre-Believers Listen for in Sermons

“In  emerging, twenty-first century churches, the sermon has lengthened from 25-30 minutes to 45-60 minutes. That’s a pretty amazing fact given that emerging churches often have a higher population of dechurched and unchurched people than our older, twentieth century churches. … Here are two observations from these preachers who connect to the millenial audiences in emerging churches: (1) They preach the text. There’s no waffling, excuses, or delaying. The preacher steps right into the biblical text as the context for their message. … (2) They illustrate before explaining. These emerging church preachers often introduce their points not from the text first, but from life.”

The Bible mini-series: History Channel’s ‘the Bible’— Less Filling, Tastes Great by Ben Witherington

“We live in a Biblically illiterate culture which is nonetheless a Jesus haunted culture. Jesus is swear word in 50 states, but the Bible remains for many if not most Americans terra incognita. So perhaps in this Lenten and Easter season we may be thankful for any conversation starter, however cheesy, that may give us a chance to have a richer discussion about the Bible and it’s riches.”

Work: * Five Faith Values to Practice at Work; * God at Work: Nunc Dimittus

* “Practice grace in the midst of turmoil. Practice contentment among those who grumble. Practice kindness, praising others instead of demeaning them. Practice joy. Practice love.”

* “… happiness isn’t a bad thing for work…It’s just not the only thing for work. And if it becomes that, then it will be unattainable. A job is only a vocation, a calling, if you do it for the sake of the other. And where your joy and the world’s need meet … that is where God is calling you.”

people of God; people of the book

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (March 3). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning. This sermon is entitled People of God; People of the Book. The manuscript for this sermon will appear in a post tomorrow morning. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.

Aim

To declare our faith in the God who provides us with what we need to grow up in him.

Word

He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does their part. (Ephesians 4.11-16)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Tell us of a time you were tricked or misled. It can be humorous, serious or whatever.

2. Tell us of someone(s) who powerfully helped you mature in life. What did they do?

3. Complete this sentence: “I sense that I’m growing as a person whenever I ________.”

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Where do apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers come from? (vs. 11)

2. Why did God give us apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers? (vs. 12)

3. How long did Paul perceive God’s provision of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers would last? (vs. 13a)

4. How is “unity of faith” and “knowledge of God’s Son” related to each other? (vs. 13a)

5. What is our goal in growth and with what instrument do we measure such (vs. 13b)?

6. Who is vulnerable to misleading and false teaching? (vs. 14)

7. Where does true spiritual growth come from and where does it lead (vs. 15b-16a)?

8. How does Christ’s body, the people of God, grow? (vs. 15-16)

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. In light of vs. 11, what is job #1 for all who seek to serve and build up Christ’s body?

2. All of the roles listed in vs. 11 involve sharing God’s word. How does this understanding color all of what follows (vs. 12-16)?

3. Why is deep sincerity alone inadequate to grow in God, and “the truth,” a necessity?

4. Tell us of a time when you, due to spiritual immaturity, believed something untrue about serving Christ. What helped you escape that point of false faith?

5. What happens to a body of believers when not every part “does their part?”

6. Someone asks you: “How can I discover my role in Christ’s body?” What do you say?

7. Who gives spiritual growth to God’s people? Let this text’s words shape your answer.

8. What good do you see in the lives of folks who are on a trajectory of spiritual growth?

this went thru my mind

 

Banks, money, oppression & payday loans: Major Banks Aid in Payday Loans Banned by States

“While the banks, which include giants like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, do not make the loans, they are a critical link for the lenders, enabling the lenders to withdraw payments automatically from borrowers’ bank accounts, even in states where the loans are banned entirely. In some cases, the banks allow lenders to tap checking accounts even after the customers have begged them to stop the withdrawals. “Without the assistance of the banks in processing and sending electronic funds, these lenders simply couldn’t operate,” said Josh Zinner, co-director of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, which works with community groups in New York.”

Corporate worship, judgmentalism & maturity: Thumbs Up? Thumbs Down? by Terry Rush [required reading]

“In ministry, in outreach, in worship, and in study, life is about God being glorified. Too many across the broad range of Christian concepts plop themselves down upon padded pews to judge the hour’s program. Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Yet Jesus didn’t construct a court of judgment. He is building a church that would give Father attentive glory.”

Church names: Should Your Church’s Name Include Its Denomination?

“Churches with denominational references (vs. none) in their name are: Four times more likely to be perceived as ‘formal.’ Three times more likely to be perceived as ‘old-fashioned.’ Almost three times more likely to be perceived as ‘structured and rigid.’ Three times less likely to be perceived as ‘open-minded.’ … The main caveat is age … In general, older Americans are more comfortable with denominational church names than are younger people. People age 65 and older are especially likely to see non-denominational names as the church trying to hide what they believe … and as making them feel uncertain … as well as to see denominational names as welcoming new visitors … and as a church they might consider visiting … On the other hand … Younger adults are also more likely to see non-denominational names as welcoming to new visitors …, as a church for people like them …, or as one they might consider visiting …”

Learning: The Lesson You Never Got Taught in School: How to Learn! [very interesting]

“A paper published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest has evaluated ten techniques for improving learning, ranging from mnemonics to highlighting and came to some surprising conclusions.  … Be aware that everyone has their own style of learning, the evidence suggests that just because a technique works or does not work for other people does not necessarily mean it will or won’t work well for you. If you want to know how to revise or learn most effectively you will still want to experiment on yourself a little with each technique before writing any of them off.”

Marriage: 25 Years of Evangelizing My Husband

“On Sunday mornings I would tear up. If only my husband was sitting next to me at church. If only he would thumb through a Bible. If only he could hear this sermon. From my balcony view, I would glare at the backs of other husbands, arms draped over their wives’ shoulders. Surely these husbands led nightly devotionals, volunteered at Vacation Bible School, and prayed before meals. If only …”

Ministry: A Letter to the Church, from a Pastor by Ron Edmonson

“I’m blessed with so many pastor friends. I have the opportunity, through my blog and personal ministry, to interact with hundreds of pastors every year. After hearing many of their concerns, I decided to write a letter to the church. Obviously, I can’t and won’t attempt to speak for every pastor, but this will represent many.”

Parenting: * Ten Things I Want To Tell Teenage Girls by Kate Conner; * Dear Boys

* “All attention is not equal.  You think you want attention, but you don’t.  You want respect.  All attention is not equal.”

* “You’ve got to wake up in the morning determined to meet your potential head on, to no longer judge your success by the products that they’re peddling, but to judge yourself by standards that have existed since the beginning of the time: Am I going to make excuses or am I going to make something happen? Am I going to make my life count or am I going to waste it?  Am I going to make my life about what I have or about who I am?”

Small groups: Why Small Groups Don’t Fail by Scott Boren

“Small groups work when leaders operate like shepherds. They do the under-ground, consistent, steady work of caring for the sheep. That is hard to promote and measure. It’s different from developing programs in the church which can be seen and measured as we build buildings, develop budget-dependent programs and attract more and more people to a centralized venue. Small group ministry happens without such clear sizzle. But it’s the way people grow and it’s the way that we impact the world with love.”

Time management: Respect Yourself and Take Back Control of Your Calendar

“Your time is your life. So when you surrender control of your calendar to other people, you put them in control of your destiny. Our digital world has broken down the natural boundaries on how and when people can tell you what they think you should be doing.”

this went thru my mind

 

Architecture, boomers, church buildings & millenials: Will Big Church Buildings Become Dinosaurs? by Timothy Archer

“I’m optimistic about the future of the church; less so when it comes to buildings.”

Civil disobedience: When and How I Changed My Mind About Civil Disobedience by Tony Campolo

“… I didn’t know what to do with that story, except to reflect on it time and time again until I changed my mind about civil disobedience.”

Civility, job, rudeness & work: You’re Rude Because Your Boss Is Rude

“What drives employees to be rude? Over 60% blame their bad behavior on being overloaded at work. They say they have no time to be nice. Mental overload and stress short-circuit our capacity to be fully attentive about anything — even those with whom we work.”

Complaining, leadership & whining: Even Whiners Can Lead by Dan Rockwell

“The line between the whiner and the leader is optimism. … The next time you hear yourself whining, take responsibility. Stop complaining about what others aren’t doing. Do something yourself.”

Generation Z: Gen Z Shows Brand Loyalty

“… Gen Z members, aged 18 to 23 … Gen Z is the first generation born into a digital world. They are true digital natives who have grown up in the age of technology. The only world they know is a digital one — where they can connect anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. As a result, they are highly promiscuous when it comes to media consumption; they will be the first generation to consume more media online than offline.”

Ministry: A Game-Changinging Perspective: Knowing the Difference Between a Decentralized and Fragmented Ministry by Will Mancini [required reading]

“Most ministry activity is fragmented not decentralized because there simply no clarity of shared intent, no cultivation of shared values, and no development of shared abilities within the church. In short, their is no shared vision, just many little mini-visions everywhere a ‘piece’ of the ministry gathers.

The few ministries that operate a decentralized ministry have gone to great lengths to build a well defined vision first. Something other than a central pastor or central church building define the what, why and how of reality where ever groups, classes or events meet. That something always brings shared meaning in the form of  ideals, goals, dreams, tools, approaches, stories, etc.”

this went thru my mind

 

Busyness & hurry: The Perils of the Quickaholic by Pete Wilson

“Margin is essential for the unexpected!”

Catholicism: How to Elect a Pope

Infographic

Expectations, jobs, stress, work & workload: Dealing With a Crushing Workload

“The workload isn’t going away. This isn’t just a temporary artifact of a struggling economy, it’s mass-scale experimentation with a new way to do business in the connected economy. To thrive moving forward, you and I need to develop some tools to deal with the pressure.”

Gambling: Tech Industry Sets Its Sights on Gambling

“Look out Las Vegas, here comes FarmVille. Silicon Valley is betting that online gambling is its next billion-dollar business, with developers across the industry turning casual games into occasions for adults to wager. At the moment these games are aimed overseas, where attitudes toward gambling are more relaxed and online betting is generally legal, and extremely lucrative. But game companies, from small teams to Facebook and Zynga, have their eye on the ultimate prize: the rich American market, where most types of real-money online wagers have been cleared by the Justice Department.”

Hispanics: Hispanic Population Trends

“Pew Research has compiled key findings from a new analysis of the Hispanic population …”

Immigration & immigrants: A Portrait of U.S. Immigrants

“… a new analysis of the nation’s foreign-born population …”

this went thru my mind

 

Daily risks, health, life expectancy & situational awareness: That Daily Shower Can Be a Killer by Jared Diamond

“The other morning, I escaped unscathed from a dangerous situation. No, an armed robber didn’t break into my house, nor did I find myself face to face with a mountain lion during my bird walk. What I survived was my daily shower. … This calculation illustrates the biggest single lesson that I’ve learned from 50 years of field work on the island of New Guinea: the importance of being attentive to hazards that carry a low risk each time but are encountered frequently.”

False teaching & heresy: 7 Steps to Becoming a Heretic by Mike Leake

“Heretics usually start by staring in the mirror and saying, ‘Today, thou shalt be a difference maker.’”

God & suffering: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering? [93 min. video link]

“… a Veritas Forum discussion held at MIT in 2011. This presentation features four MIT professors, two Christian and two non-Christian. The forum begins with a ten minute presentation by each person presenting their world view or their story.  The last half of the video is a question answer panel session.”

God & politics: Divine Rhetoric: God In The Inaugural Address by Scott Neuman

“President Obama mentioned him five times in Monday’s inaugural address — God, that is. In modern times, religion has become so intertwined in our political rhetoric that the failure of any president to invoke God in a speech as important as the inaugural could hardly escape notice. … But the inaugural references to a Supreme Being have evolved over time.”

Guests, greeting & welcoming: Making Visitors Feel Welcome (Part 1): The Greeters by Sarah Bowler

“How can we make the people in our church feel welcomed?”

Immigration & injustice: The Truth About Immigrant Detention Facilities by Matthew Soerens

“Last week, I read the following passage in Amos, speaking of God’s judgment on the people (and, in particular, the rulers) of Israel: ‘They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed (Amos 2:6-7). … Because their profits increase the more people that they detain, companies like GEO have a strong incentive to encourage the federal government to detain more people.”

Short-term missions: Musings on Missions and Evangelism: Are Short-Term Missions For Us or Them?

” …  I have begun to change my feelings about who STMs are about.”

Work: God at Work: The Priesthood of Burger-Flippers by Jonathan Storment

“On average, most of us will work 100,000 hours in our lives, the majority of our lives will be spent doing our job. And if the only thing you ever hear from church is about how you should work/serve/volunteer more inside the building, there’s a chance that you might miss out on how important God thinks your job is.”

this went thru my mind

 

Climate change & global warming: How High Could the Tide Go?

“‘I wish I could take people that question the significance of sea level rise out in the field with me,’ Dr. Raymo said. ‘Because you just walk them up 30 or 40 feet in elevation above today’s sea level and show them a fossil beach, with shells the size of a fist eroding out, and they can look at it with their own eyes and say, ‘Wow, you didn’t just make that up.’”

Fear: Quit Asking Fear for Permission by Jon Acuff

“Quit asking fear for permission. Fear will never tell you it’s time to do the thing you’re afraid to do.”

Hell: * What Did Jesus Teach About Hell?; * Hell: From James to John

* “The traditional view of hell rests on four pillars: that the OT says nothing; that the Jewish view at the time of Jesus was one of eternal conscious punishment; that Jesus’ view was thoroughly Jewish; and that the NT authors follow Jesus. Edward Fudge, in Hell: A Final Word , subjects each of these to examination in a readable, accessible format. The first pillar is wobbly; the OT does speak about the “end” of the wicked and the idea is one of a “consuming” fire (not tormenting fire). The second? Wobblier. There were three views: a consuming fire, a purifying fire, and a tormenting fire. Third? Today we sketch Fudge’s short chapters on what Jesus taught, and I shall sketch his sketch.”

* “The Book of Acts does not motivate by fear.”

Pro-life: A Dialogue on What it Means to be Pro-Life by Shane Claiborne & Tony Campolo

“Our ideologies come with responsibility. In my neighborhood, to be against abortion means we have to figure out what to do when a fourteen-year-old girl gets pregnant. If we are really pro-life, we had better have some foster kids and teen moms living with us to prove it. I don’t want to just be an anti-abortion or anti-death person. I want to be pro-life.”

Relationships & work: What If You Could Truly Be Yourself at Work? by Tony Schwartz

“Each of us is far less likely to succeed by forever pushing to stand out from the pack than by building communities of care and trust committed to raising the bar for everyone.”

Retirement & work: God at Work: Mission Work by Jonathan Storment

“The Greek view of work was that it was a necessary evil. … But Genesis, starts off radically differently. It involves a God who intentionally works and creates the world with care. In fact, the word that Genesis uses for God’s creative word is just the Hebrew word for everyday work. The Bible starts off with God working. And then he creates Adam and Eve and immediately puts them to work And that’s important, because before the fall, there was work. God didn’t finish creation, he started it and then joins in a partnership with them as they create culture, name animals and pioneer… well basically everything. …

“It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t have [an] … idea of retirement. Instead the Bible has the idea of Sabbath. That is you don’t just work yourself to death until you turn 65. You work with the pace of someone who knows they aren’t the Savior and creator of the world. You rest for a season and then work for a season. But you never just decide to not work again.

“In fact, the closest thing in the Bible that would resemble what we call retirement is death.”

Social security: To Save Social Security, Raise the Minimum Wage

“… we have to do something that will top up benefit levels twenty years from now, not something to stave a complete collapse tomorrow. One thing we could do is simply make up the projected 27 percent shortfall in Social Security benefits through general government spending. At today’s prices, that would cost about $200 billion per year, or about 6 percent of the federal budget. That’s a lot, but not an unmanageable sum of money for the federal government. It could be done. Another thing we would do is just raise the minimum wage.”