Friday is for Heart Songs
Changing the Texture of Public Debate
How much more civil and respectful and gracious and PRODUCTIVE, all debate between brothers and sisters on different sides of theological issues would be if we simply obeyed just this one verse of Scripture:
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32)
Today I entered this verse into a online discussion with a brother on Facebook™ and was promptly censored from the discussion. Offline from the discussion the brother informed me that I was not his pastor and ought to leave off of any future interaction. That is precisely the kind of behavior and attitude that has recently shown up in national discussions related to the very public accountability problems that some celebrity pastors have exhibited.
- Why is being kind to one another so hard to do?
- Why is obedience to this command so missing from public debate and exchange?
- Why is rhetorical flourish more prized than reasoned, fair argumentation?
- Why is posturing, and snark, and clever turns of phrase, more valued than honesty, fairness, and accuracy?
One suggestion: The boastful pride of men.
But what does our God value?: Micah 6:8
Action Point: Pray that this would be true of all the leaders of Trinity Church. Pray that we would be men and women filled with a tenderness toward all those who disagree with us, that we would be kind, that we would model forgiving one another just like we know our great God and Savior has forgiven us.
Pray that this would be the growing character of all Christians everywhere so we would proclaim the excellencies of Christ (1 Peter 2:9) to a watching world..
Thursday is for Discipleship
Alpine Mountains and Meadows
Here are some alpine heights of biblical truth. I hope you can spend some time meditating on the majestic announcement of who you are by virtue of the glad news of the gospel. There is so much here for the heart to rejoice in and for the body to live out. The text is 1 Peter 2:9-10 from the English Standard Version. It is laid out to show how the different parts work with a couple of implied additions that I have put in parentheses.
The truest things about you are the things that God has already settled in heaven (Ps. 119:89). Don’t let your past, your failures or your successes, what others say or think about you determine or limit your life. Don’t let your present–your resources or lack of them, your youth or age, the barriers that you see or the desperation that you feel, keep you from standing in what Christ has purchased for you. You are a Kings child. Rejoice in that and remember that the your mission is “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you.”
The King wants to adopt many more and make them “a people for His own possession” just like you. Go tell them the glad news and rejoice that you have a place at the Kings table.
9 But you are a chosen race,
. (you are) a royal priesthood,
. (you are) a people for His own possession
. you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you
. out of darkness
. into His marvelous light.
. you were not a people,
. but now
. you are God’s people.
. you had not received mercy,
. but now
. you have received mercy.
Wednesday is for Discipleship
Millennials (Born between 1980 and 2000)
Just read the second article this week on how the church is failing to reach millennials here and here. Honestly, it seems like everybody is jumping on this bandwagon and singing this song, “the church is losing millennials.” I have no doubt that the facts are there to support the conclusion. But I have real doubts about some of the analysis as to the reasons and even more about some of the solutions proffered.
So, in the interest of being anecdotal and highly opinionated from my own unresearched perspective and experience, here is my take on HOW TO REACH MILLENNIALS.
- Pray. About 6 years ago, the elders of Trinity Church began to analyze the congregation and concluded that they were getting old. They began to pray that God would give them wisdom impact in reaching the next generation. He did. He led them to call a younger pastor who led the church to start a new campus, identified a highly relational campus pastor in the congregation and deployed him into ministry.
- Call to Repent. The church became much humbler in its approach to ministry and prayer became a higher priority.
- Worship. Worship became a higher priority. Not just the hiring of a worship pastor, but a worship pastor who understood the importance of worship to spiritual health, who was committed not just to music and quality but to spirit and truth. Worship began to emphasize the holiness of God and call to holiness in the body. Contemporary blends of choruses of significant content with the traditional hymns that rooted the congregation in a significant past.
- Preach. Expositional, substantive teaching through books of the Bible became the backbone of the worship service. Paying attention to the word of God. Working to obey everything we find with joy.
- Disciple. One-to-one discipleship has become the heart of our process of ministry. We don’t talk about discipleship; we do it. Men are building into one another’s lives. Women are investing in one another’s lives. Iron is sharpening iron and men and women are beginning to talk about their faith in bold but sensitive ways and people, families are coming to Christ and following in obedience to be baptised.
- Elders are acting as elders not deacons. Elders are praying, teaching, and shepherding and learning how to do all of those better. They try not to get involved in minutia of day to day operations and budget issues, instead, the are making key investments in discipling men, praying for the congregation, contacting and caring for people and supporting the mission of the church.
The single largest demographic coming to faith and moving to regular attendance, membership and intentional discipleship are millennials.
Just like in the first century, substantive, authoritative teaching of the word of God coupled with leaders giving biblical priority to biblical patterns of worship, prayer, preaching and obedience (discipleship), grows the church qualitatively and quantitatively.
Acts 16:4–5 (ESV)
4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.
Tuesday is for Preaching
Relevant Magazine, “State of the Union,” July/August 2014, p. 67. (An article on marriage in America)
“Marriage and Millennials:
- 26% are currently married.
- 69% want to get married.
- 62% were raised by both parents.”
Why this is alarming:
- The 69% figure is strikingly low. In the 1970’s I was doing talks on college campuses and would regularly ask this question of my mixed audience of men and women. “How many of you want to meet, fall in love, get married and remain married to that person for the rest of your lives?“ Virtually, every hand in the room, usually between 30-80 people, would go up. Not so today.
- That number means 31% don’t want to get married. The “tipping point” for radical societal change on social issues is somewhere between 11 and 17%. (See Malcolm Gladwell’s, THE TIPPING POINT.) If marriage continues to fall out of favor, culture as we know it will radically change.
- The 62% number suggests that culture not parents are having a determinative impact on millennial thought related to marriage. Not surprising when we see the numbers from this age group who have no problem with same-sex marriage. But this suggests to me that these kids did not receive either a biblically compelling defense of traditional marriage or a biblically attractive example of marriage as it is intended by God.
Pastor: Will you put your finger in the dyke and begin to shore up the shaking foundations of marriage?
- When was the last time you preached on the beauty of marriage as God intended?
- When was the last time you preached a series on the purposes of marriage?
- When will you get this in your preaching calendar?
Monday is for Discussion
Some time back someone asked me why I blog when I could reach a larger audience simply by building up my Facebook™ presence?
My answer was to question two things:
- The assumption that a large audience in Facebook is necessarily better.
- The assumption that significant discussion on complicated issues is best done (or can be done) in the medium of Facebook™.
To overstate my own perspective, my experience on Facebook™ is that it is filled with:
- videos of cats and dogs doing cute and or stupid things.
- videos of humans doing stupid and or dangerous things.
- conversations that are often opinionated rants by people who have not done their homework or whose “homework” was a quick google search of the most popular trending sites on the latest controversy about which they want to opine.
- political and environmental rants declaring this or that persons current bumper-sticker enthusiasms or life-long anger, passion, or prejudice.
- despite these drawbacks, it is a useful tool for certain issues.
I want to use Facebook™ as a tool:
- to stimulate further discussion on the blog.
- to share links to important articles for the development of a Christian World and Life view
- to keep in touch with old and new friends.
- to encourage any who know me to consider or re-consider Christ and the gospel.
I just think that substantive issues cannot be discussed well in the medium of Facebook™. They are better in a more thoughtful, less immediate, and less public atmosphere. Therefore, I BLOG because I think there are things that I have learned or that I am in the process of learning that might be of value to others and Facebook™ is the wrong medium and the Blog is better. And I Blog because there are people who are drawn to the Blog who will help me think through certain issues in ways that will help me grow as a Christian and leader.
Got an opinion? Share it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
Sunday Afternoon Musings
Thrilled about what God is going to do in our lives as the men of Trinity Church begin to run “THE PLAY OF THE WEEK”. If you want to know what the play of the week is all about, email me. I’ll be glad to tell you.
We are on a journey to learn how to live passionately for and like Christ as we love God, love others, and serve the world.
Request: Pray for us. Pray hard.
Purity of Heart is the The Will to One Thing:
Purity of heart. It’s what the believer in Christ yearns for. It is what is always beyond our grasp. And it is what he must continue to yearn for seeking the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to obey the command of Christ, “You shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
This prayer by Soren Kierkegaard reflects the longing that each of ought to have for holiness and the humility we ought to have before God as we seek it.
“Father in Heaven! What is a man without Thee! What is all that he knows, vast accumulations though it be, but a chipped fragment if he does not know Thee! Thee the One, who art one thing and who art all! So may Thou give to the intellect, wisdom to comprehend that one thing; to the heart, sincerity to receive this understanding; to the will, purity that wills only one thing.”
Let’s be a people who delight to pursue one thing. Let’s ask the Risen Christ to give us pure hearts—hearts that will one thing. Let’s make the pursuit of Christ and His holiness be the one thing that dominates our will.