WBE Day 17: Exodus 10:1-13:22 (pp.86-91; http://tinyurl.com/l6raf6). There’s certainly no lack of drama in these four chapters! Destruction. Death. Devotion. Departure. Direction. All labor pains of the birth of a people of God.
Apostolic succession, authority, and Mormonism
Atheism: why don’t they believe in God?
Atheists choose ‘de-baptism’ to renounce childhood faith
Five things I would change if I were a pastor again
How the faith of African-Americans has changed
It’s the neighborhood …
Partying with sinners [Tony Campolo video]
The changing face of the church
The clash of stereotypes: survey results of “what Muslims detest the most about the West”
The future of our faith
The Lord’s Day Observance Society
The top ten ways to ruin young pastors
Time well wasted: why you need down time & how to spend it
Two viewpoints of law
What’s in a name? Can the true God be called Allah?
Why recruiting leaders in churches does not work
WBE Day 16: Exodus 5:22-9:35 (pp.81-86; http://tinyurl.com/kw3x8m). God not saying what you wanted to hear + resisting him = a hardened heart.
Some quotes from …
I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church! by Paul Nixon (Pilgrim Press, 2006), pb
“I believe that God invites every church in every sort of community setting to thrive! … For this reason, I refuse to lead a dying church. And I invite you to refuse the same. I invite you to draw a line in the sand with me. I invite you to declare that, from this moment forward, you simply refuse to go through the motions and play church. You hereby refuse to help your church gracefully into the grave. You hereby refuse to channel your best ministry energy into … endeavors that are detached from your congregation’s life and ministry. I invite you to join me in refusing, ever again, to lead a dying church. … this commitment entails six critical choices: (1) choosing life over death, (2) choosing community over isolation, (3) choosing fun over drudgery, (4) choosing bold over mild, (5) choosing frontier over fortress, (6) choosing now rather than later.” (pp.12-13)
“If we are not focused on growing a new thing in an old place, it is very easy to become simply a caretaker of a church in decline. More often than not, folks begin to expect this of us. After several years of ministering to decline, it begins to change us, to warp us. We can become ministers of death rather than life. Our major expenditures of of time go toward tinkering with institutional and pastoral concerns in order to manage the decline. Our fund-raising efforts go largely to integrate the latest technology and architectural design into a house largely empty of people under the age of forty. Or we may simply pour ourselves into another mission project, perhaps related to an issue of social justice in a faraway place – and do nothing to lead the church God has sent us to lead.” (p.35)
“Here is what I often see in our established churches. • People scattered across a worship space that is too big for the crowd present, sitting in isolation from one another. • No systematic design for contacting or connecting with people when they drop out of worship participation for more than a couple of weeks, feeding the common perception that ‘nobody [cares] … whether I show up or not.’ • A nice coffee time after the service, but a lack of settings where people move beyond small talk to share real hurts and hopes with one another. • Fortress-like buildings erected in another era by people that used to live in the neighborhood, but who either died or moved somewhere else – so that the building now functions as an alien and intimidating presence in the new neighborhood, typically locked up 165 hours a week. • Ministries to the poor often offered at arms-length distance from the people served. We do not design such ministry as part of a larger strategy of relationship building that will draw the neighbors and us together in partnership and authentic spiritual community.” (p.39)
“It isn’t about contemporary versus traditional. It’s about joy and positive energy! And it is about what will work best to reach the community, not about what will enhance my own fine sense of good taste. It should be fun to go to worship, regardless of the particular liturgical style.” (pp.58-59)
“… no institution (religious, political, or corporate) will survive long in the twenty-first century without a passionate core community of support, which reaches into the current young adult population and has a mission far beyond preservation of the staus quo. If the goal is to offend no one (which is the goal in many churches), or even worse to offend no one currently attending, the church’s passion will usually become directed toward preserving fellowship and harmony among the aging church population. And then, oh, so mildly, the … music will hum everyone into a happy spiritual coma. … [Consider] The Mr. Rogers test: if any element of our worship service would fit comfortably on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, we need to think seriously about either not doing that thing any longer or doing it in a bolder, edgier way, so that it sparkles like a diamond.” (pp.71,73)
“… the more building-oriented any church becomes, the more it will be tempted to take on settled attitudes and habits of an institution, and to leave the free-spirited, frontier-oriented attitudes and practices that grew it to start with.” (p.89)
“Though the number of young adults who distrust organized Christianity is skyrocketing to the highest levels in American history, this is one of the most spiritually minded generations we have seen come down the pike. As Jesus would say, ‘The fields are ripe for harvesting’ (John 4:35). There are millions of nonchurch people talking about the most important things in life, if only we would choose to be a part of their conversation.” (p.104)
WBE Day 14: Genesis 49:1-50:26 (pp.67-71; http://bit.ly/NLgRg). God can, and does, work through even the worst of human intentions & actions (50:20).
WBE Day 13: Genesis 46:28-48:22 (pp.64-67; http://bit.ly/a2lsH). I like this perspective: “God … has been my shepherd all my life to this day.” (48:15)