Category Archives: Church Issues

The Potential and Peril of Creating Your Own Curriculum

The Sunday School or small group meeting in your church holds both extraordinary potential or peril. Used well, the potential for discipleship is incalculable. Used poorly, the perils can lead to disaster.

I see too many churches using that hour poorly rather than well. The grace of God covers a multitude of our failures (thankfully), but this doesn’t mean we should shrug off our responsibilities in this area. I fear that many pastors are (1) unaware of what is going on in a church’s small group ministry and (2) unwilling to offer solid, biblical resources to the leaders of these groups.

This shouldn’t be the case. In North America, we have more good Bible study resources available than ever before, and we have more reason than ever to consider carefully the kind of teaching that takes place in groups. Most pastors would see the surrender of their preaching time to just anyone with a message as an abdication of responsibility. Why, then, would we direct our people to small groups where the leader may or may not open the Bible, may or may not have a solid doctrinal foundation, or may not even be qualified or fully equipped to teach?

When Paul laid down the responsibilities of an overseer, he included this qualification: “holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). Often, pastors are more concerned about encouraging believers with sound teaching …

Also posted in Discipleship, Education, Sunday School & Small Groups | | 1 Comment

Which Churches Will Thrive in the 21st Century?

It’s commonplace to assume that society’s redefinition of marriage, gender and the purpose for sexuality will eventually persuade the church to follow along. But if we were to jump forward into the 22nd century, I wonder what we would see.

Also posted in Christianity, Future of the Church, Life & Culture | | 1 Comment

Discipleship in the Age of Richard Dawkins, Lady Gaga, and Amazon.com

Discipleship must go beyond the rearrangement of one’s interior life and lead to an understanding of what it means to follow Jesus with wisdom in a particular time and place.

Also posted in Conferences, Discipleship | | 2 Comments

The Wonder of Sunday Morning

They are not paid to be here. They are not forced to be here. Yet they come and serve each other in beautiful ways.

Also posted in Christianity, Devotional Thoughts | | 9 Comments

The Hidden Compliment From Critics of Christian Hypocrisy

Why so much focus on hypocrisy in the church? The charge against Christian hypocrisy harbors a hidden compliment. Outrage over Christian hypocrisy says: We expect more from Christians.

Also posted in Christian Living, Christianity | | 7 Comments

The Surprising Opportunity of Conflict

If your life is a story that God is writing, you can expect to face conflict throughout the plot line of your life.

Also posted in Christianity, Devotional Thoughts | | 2 Comments

Evangelicals and Catholics Explain What Marriage Is and Why It Matters

Time to look past past the misleading headlines and dig into the substance of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together statement on marriage.

Also posted in Christianity, Future of the Church, Life & Culture | | 11 Comments

Awesome God in a Boring Church

Is it possible that our worship services have become so much about ourselves that we find it difficult to “get outside” our “petty concerns?”

Also posted in Christianity | | 3 Comments

Why Mike Wittmer Thinks You Should Be a Worldly Saint

“Worldly Saints” may seem like an oxymoron, but it’s the perfect title for what God calls Christians to be.

Also posted in Book Reviews, Christianity, Interviews | | 1 Comment

Does Christianity Affirm or Deny the World? Yes!

Faithful Christian living involves a paradox: our faith is both world-affirming and world-denying. World-affirming in that we believe the world’s structures are fundamentally good, a part of God’s good creation now longing to be restored. World-denying in that we believe the world’s systems are pervasively evil, firmly opposed to God and His loving rule and awaiting His judgment.

Miss the goodness of the world structurally, and you start to think the physical creation is bad, so God must be going to do away with it all in the end. The Christian mission becomes “getting people to heaven,” since the world is going to the other place. Miss the badness of the world systemically, and you start to think sin is not as serious as we’ve made it out to be, so tinkering around with things in pursuit of improvement is all that is needed. The Christian mission becomes “make the world a better place.”

Careful Christian thinking holds these two truths in paradox, never allowing one truth to drown out the other, never allowing the extreme position of one side to lead us to the other. To miss one side of this paradox or the other is to distort the beauty of Christianity.

Becoming Worldly Saints by Michael Wittmer pushes even deeper, reminding us that world-affirming and world-denying Christianity are two sides of the same coin. We won’t deny what needs denying unless we affirm what needs affirming, and vice versa. After all, we were made for this world. “We are  earthlings, …

Also posted in Christianity, Theology | | 2 Comments