Monthly Archives: October 2007

What You Win Them With is What You Win Them To

Who first said that? I have no idea. But he (or she) was a very wise person.

What you win them with is what you win them to.

Mark Galli has a good post up at CT on marketing the church. In it he writes:

When we “market,” we try to make a larger audience aware of the value of exchanging a good or service. We assume both parties will benefit from the transaction. Marketing is a wonderful thing. I like to hear pitches about products I might use. I like the fact that my publishers pitch my books to a larger public. Thank God for marketing!Related articles and links

But there’s a reason Jesus said “You shall be my witnesses,” and not “You shall be my marketers” . . .

Should it surprise us that in this church-marketing era, members demand more and more from their churches, and if churches don’t deliver, they take their spiritual business elsewhere? Have we ever seen an age in which church transience was such an epidemic?

Should it surprise us that in this era, pastors increasingly think of themselves as “managers,” “leaders,” and “CEOs” of “dynamic and growing congregations,” rather than as shepherds, teachers, and servants of people who need to know God? And that preaching has become less an exposition of the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection and more often practical lessons that offer a lot of “take-away value,” presented in an efficient, friendly manner, as if we were selling cheeseburgers, fries, and a shake?

. . …

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Nothing Short of Total Transformation

Here’s something: The idea that you can have Jesus without changing is problematic. Further than that: The idea that you can have Jesus without changing who you are is epidemic.

I’m not talking about personality or idiosyncrasies or what-not. I’m talking about who we are.

I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of weeks, actually, ever since seeing a comment on a post at Scot McKnight’s fine blog related to a recent book on whether Christianity can cure or has ever “cured” homosexuality. I’m too lazy to look it up, but it was one line in the comment, and I’ve held off posting my thoughts on this because, frankly, I’m not sure I want the grief this touchy subject inevitably provokes.

Prof. McKnight’s post was reviewing the book, which explores the claims of Christian “ex-gay” ministries, and the question posed is “Can homosexuals really change who they are?” (or, rather, “Can homosexuals really be changed from who they are?”). This post isn’t about debating that issue, really, and I’d probably get my conservative credentials membership card asked for by admitting I tend to think homosexuality can be an orientation (for lack of a better word; perhaps nature is better? maybe condition?) one is born with. But the commenter in that post said this:“Why are we even assuming homosexuality is something that should be changed?”

That’s a good question. It gets to the heart of the matter, which is, I think, “This is who I am. Why should I have to change who I …

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

It is Easier for a Camel to Go Through the Eye of a Needle than for a Cool Man to Enter the Kingdom of God

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.– 1 Corinthians 1:25

My fellow Thinkling Bill has an intriguing post up today pondering the popular question “Why isn’t there greater Christian art?” Bill writes:

it is common to hear artistically-minded Christians bemoan the low state of affairs in Christian art these days. I sympathize with that position, and I haven’t given up hope that things will improve. But I sometimes wonder (I just wonder, I am not set on this) if we should be surprised that the state of Christian art is low. It occurs to me that I’m low. Jesus is for losers, of whom I am the chief.

God has not chosen the elite of this world. And yes, I know that there have been periods of amazing sacred creativity and artistry in the church. But I sometimes wonder how Christian the state-sponsored efforts of the past that generated the great sacred art of our heritage really were.

I’m just thinking here. I’m not set on this. But, generally speaking, if God has chosen the lowly of the earth, should we be surprised when the art the lowly produce is, well, “low”?

First, I reject the notion there aren’t great artists who are Christians out there. I just think they aren’t making their art for the Christian art industry.

But Bill’s thesis is very appealing, primarily because of the biblical angle he’s taking.I’ve often wondered why the actors in our fold are typically …

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

The Appeal to Joy

Yeah, joy’s gonna be my dead horse to beat.

Because, good Lord, I need it. We all do.

It’s one of the fruits of the Spirit, you know? Yet in all the Church’s appeals to convert, to commune, to conform, to congregate, it is frequently the missing ingredient.

Even in the happiest and clappiest of happy-clappy churches, even in the bedazzling bombardment of bright lights and “high energy worship” and Guy Smiley spokespersons, I think joy may be missing. There is captivation with the environment, intoxication with the production and the proceedings.

When Christ crucified is not preached and lived in our churches, the joy of the Lord is not the strength of our churches.

And even when Christ crucified is preached, but in the sense that it is a colossal bummer and in the context of burden and condemnation rather than grace and freedom, the joy of the Lord is not the strength of such churches.

David Wayne is trying to tugboat Glenn Lucke:

Glenn and I were chatting by phone the other day and he shared a couple of things with me that he has become convinced of. He says that Scripture makes two appeals – an appeal to truth and an appeal to joy.

Typical ministry focuses on the appeal to truth. He used to do campus ministry at Harvard and did the standard evangelistic and apologetic stuff where he focused exclusively on sharing propositional truth and dealing with the evidence for the authenticity of the manuscripts and the resurrection …

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Obedience is About Reconciliation

It struck me that way for the first time as I was preparing to teach on the Ten Commandments narrative in Exodus. The place of the Law in the context of the Christian life is an integral one, but a tricky one. One of my chief concerns in teaching on obedience and the Law was that order be kept straight. We see it in the Exodus story, and we see it in the order of salvation. We are set free to then follow. God did not hand Moses the Law before the burning bush. He did not deliver the Law to the Israelites while they were still in bondage. He delivered them into the wilderness first.I think that’s really important. We are set free to follow. The call and the deliverance precedes obedience in the same way that a changed heart precedes changed behavior.

But it still leaves the command to obey, the command to follow the Law, sitting heavy on us like a weight. And so my aim was to give it context, to put the Law in its proper framework, and for post-cross Christians the context and framework is the same as it was for post-Exodus Israelites. Or at least should be. Love.

God gave the Law out of love. And when the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus into a legal fumble, it was love that Jesus used to frame the Law:The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and …

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment