Archive for August, 2004

Free market evangelicalism

Free market evangelicalism


A couple of years ago I was sitting in an evangelical worship service with some Mormons I had invited. They were very curious about our songs and if people in the church wrote them. I explained that the songs we sing are written by people who sell worship CDs. We sing the songs we like from the music we buy. As I contrasted that with the Mormon church, it just sort of dawned on me that evangelicals have adopted the free market as their model for distributing music and other resources. It doesnt stop with music and books. Our schools, colleges, missions organizations and even churches compete in an open market.

The free market has its good points and bad points. On the good side it works. People are able to get quality materials with a minimum hassle. There is a significant downside. Money is required for everything and some people dont have the money to pay.

Sermons and Sunday schools are still free, but these fall short as discipleship and leadership training tools. That is why we have books, music, conferences and leadership/discipleship training institutions. Essentially there is a two-tier church experience. There is one for the people who can pay and one for those who cant. Many churches moderate this by providing scholarships for conference fees or subsidize education by donating to colleges. Despite this it is expensive to be a Christian and very expensive to become a Christian leader. People arent considered qualified as leaders until give tens of thousands of dollars to institutions to teach them.

It is my contention that as a whole we have adopted a system that is fundamentally counterintuitive to the gospel. When Johns disciples were sent to ask Jesus if he was the ONE Jesus had an interesting answer. “The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have the good news proclaimed them (Luke 7:18-23).” This was fulfilment of a messianic prophecy confirmed in Luke 4:18 where Jesus essentially said “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has ordained me to proclaim good news to the poor.”

Isnt it interesting how the signs of the kingdom of God Jesus pointed out are all supernatural miracles except for one, preaching the gospel to the poor?! Jesus said he was ordained to preach to poor people. As Christs ambassadors do we not have the same calling? Do we fulfill that calling if we introduce people to Christ for free and start charging after that?

Where are we today? Churches are fleeing core neighbourhoods to the suburbs. We invest heavily in marketing to middle class people while ignoring those who are less likely to make our institutions a financial success. Evangelicalism has little room for the poor.

I think we can do better. I maybe a few years ahead of things but I believe that the Internet can be the medium that upsets the status quo. Imagine if we paid authors directly. Imagine open source books. Imagine collaborative projects that involve people across the globe. Imagine supporting artists, musicians, theologians and authors in the same manner we support missionaries and they do their thing for free. Their free works are picked up and enhanced by others.

If we take major costs out of teaching materials and discipleship then people can afford to work and plant churches in poor neighbourhoods. Imagine a church where ministers can be trained without being saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of student debt.

The bottom line is we cant serve God and money. We will love one and despise the other or we will hold on to one and despise the other. They way our whole system is structured we hold on dearly and tightly to money and we compromise kingdom values because of it.

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Ebooks on the upswing

E-books on the upswing


In the blogging circles we’ve talked about rethinking the gospel and the church.  Initiatives like Resonate are rethinking how churches associate.  We also need to rethink our distribution model for books, ideas, and teaching.  I think e-books can be part of that. 

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I'mmmm back

I’mmmm  back


A special thanks to Dotster who believed me when I told them someone was able to log in to my account and change nameservers for this domain.  Theheresy.com is back where it is supposed to be.  If you missed the action theheresy.com was almost stolen by these guys.  I’ve owned this domain name since Dec 22 1998 and it really has become an integral part of my life. 

Here is a little tip.  Make sure you use hard to guess passwords, and don’t bother with the “secret question” options.

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test

test

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Resonate is now online

Resonate is now online


You’ve probably read about this in other places.  It is kind of a more formal structure or connecting point to do what lots of people are already doing.  Get together, support one another, throw ideas and encouragement around.  It is distinctively Canadian. 

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I don't have much more to say

I don’t have much more to say


I came to the realization that I’ve said most of what I could possible say about the church.  I probably need to go back in to a season of learning and studying.  I’m not talking about more formal education.  The most I ever learned was in the years after my first stint of bible college.  I was working through the word on a mission.  I had a quest to find out what it means to be a Christian.   I probably need to follow the lead of my anabaptist friends and become more Christ centred than Paul centred.  I really love Paul because it was what he wrote in Romans/Galatians/Ephesians/Philippians that really set me free from a lot of stuff.  Paul is good, and he wrote to audience more like ours than the audience Jesus spoke to yet Jesus is the heart of things.

I had a fairly good day today.  No major crisis.  A relaxing day on a retreat with some Bethany people.  We shared, we prayed, I meditated.  It was all good.  I needed it.

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A banner day by 11am

A banner day by 11am


I worked all weekend so I’ve been looking forward to a nice easy monday.  I get message from Mark.  One of his sites is not working.  I check it out.  It is an easy fix.  Go to ftp in the server to fix it.  That doesn’t work.  Mmmm, not sure why.  Go to my car to drive to the office where the server is.  Car doesn’t start, the battery is dead.  Ok….grab my bike.  The front tire is a little flat.  Ride it to the nearest service station.  Go to fill up the tires.  My 3 month old bike has a special nozzle which requires an adapter to fill up the tire.  I walk my bike back home because now the front tire is completely flat.  The rain picks up and I’m soaked by the time I’m home.  I check the Internet for bus routes.  It is off season for the U of S, so no bus service to where I need to go.  I call my dad, he isn’t home.  I’m waiting for a roomate to wake up so he can boost my car.  If all else fails I’ll just walk.

I hope the rest of the day gets better. 

Update: 12:15 pm
Car started thanks to Shant Bob, I used his unlicensed beat of burden in the driveway to boost my car.  I was really nervous because the gas light was on.  If that thing ran out of gas I wouldn’t have been able to push it anywhere but down hill. 

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50 most influential Christians in America

50 most influential Christians in America


This list tells a tale or two about Christianity in (North) America.  Link via Randall.

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Lots of talk about the Emerging Church

Lots of talk about the Emerging Church


Toni and Jordon have been two of the recent posts I’ve read about the emerging church. I know the discussion has raged on in other places. People have had to try to define the EC. Some have tried to discern whether such and such a church is truly “emerging.” Because the movement is more diffused like the Anabaptists were, rather than centered on a couple of people (Lutherans, Reformed, Methodists) it isn’t as easy to truly define the practice and theology of the movement. I choose to define the EC by the people who call themselves EC, rather than the original ideals the movement held at the beginning.

The term Anabaptist was never coined by actual Anabaptists. It mean “rebaptiser” and it was an inflammatory term used by the movement’s adversaries. It became the label for any rag tag group that didn’t baptize infants. Some of them were powerful emissaries of Christ and some of them tried to form their own political kingdom with armed rebellion.

I don’t think we can reject any movement because there are people on the odd end of a theological spectrum from us. There are more liberal Christians that are disappointed in the EC because they feel parts of it are just women oppressing conservatism in hip clothing. There are more conservative Christians that are extremely uncomfortable with the liberal element of the EC. In any movement as diffused as the EC there will be people who deny Christ in their theology or in their actions.

Jordon believes that the postmodern/EC discussion started out about mission in a new culture but has become a new brand of church for the disaffected. I wasn’t around the beginning. For me the biggest issue has always been the gospel. I”ll admit this was something I thought about long before I heard the term postmodern. I felt that most of the church was preaching a Christless and powerless gospel. Because of this church people don’t act like Christ, don’t do the things Christ followers did before. For the question of mission is somewhat secondary. What good is your mission if the message you bring rarely makes a quantifiable difference in the lives of its hearers?

I fit underneath the EC umbrella, but I also fit under the Anabaptist and Charismatic umbrella as well. All those movements have elements I’m uncomfortable with but that is ok.

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The true world champions are about compete

The true world champions are about to compete


I think lots of Canadians like to watch the summer Olympics.  I’ve never had much interest in them.  Canada rarely does that well.  It probably has something to do with 4-6 months of winter in most of the country.  I guess that isn’t any excuse to get killed in swimming.  From what I’ve observed most people are enjoying themselves cheering against the Americans.  Where are the doped up East Germans when you need em?

There is another competition happening that many of us have taken a keen interest in.  The World cup of Hockey!  The Russians, Canada’s fiercest and most respected rival in hockey, has had a difficult time recruiting players.  The Americans won in 1996, a year that will live in infamy!  Fortunately for us, the team hasn’t changed enough from 8 years ago to be much of a concern.  After looking at the Czechs and the Slovaks I sure am glad those guys aren’t the same country anymore.  That leaves Sweden.  Sweden is stacked.  They have one major weakness.  There best goalie is the Maple Leaf’s backup, and the guy they will likely start is Tommy Salo.  When you aren’t good enough for the Oilers, you know your career is just about over. 

Look for the amazing Jarome Iginla to lead the Flames…I mean Canada’s team to world cup glory!  I just hope Kipper doesn’t back stop the Fins like he did the Flames and carry his team to the final!

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