Archive for June, 2005

Seth Godin discovers Canada's best non-kept secret

Seth Godin discovers Canada’s best non-kept secret


Canadians have known for a very long time that the Robertson Screw (square) is way better than the Phillips Screw (cross).  If America figured this out when Canada did the Cold War would have been over in 1972!

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The framework of fear and the scriptures

The framework of fear and the scriptures


The following is a modified comment I made over at Signposts.

I believe that so called “liberals” can actually care about scripture more than inerrantists. If there was a numbered spectrum from 1 to 10 that rated how much humanity (1) and how much divinity (10) is in the scriptures I’d probably be sitting around a 7.5. I’m probably close enough to the humanity side that the “liberals” don’t think I’m some fundy nut, and close enough the divinity side that the “conservatives” don’t think I’m a heretic.

The most common argument for inerrancy doesn’t talk about any credible claims of perfection or anything the bible says. Why? Because both are hotly debated. Many people, but not all, hold on to inerrancy because they are afraid that if they don’t they will slide down the slippery slope to liberalism and heresy. They believe in inerrancy for the sake of inerrancy.

However inerrancy is no guarantee that you will take the scriptures seriously. People say they believe in inerrancy but the bible exists only to prop up their preconceived notions. I personally think our theology of the bible is only part the whole issue. Another component is whether we treat the text with respect and actually see ourselves under it’s authority.

From what I’ve observed I’d say a great many evangelicals absolutely trash the bible.  They have no respect for it.  It isn’t that they say it is worthless or run it down, they just equate their interpretations with the bible and never take the time to truly listen to it.  The bible is so rarely read with a careful introspection that carefully compares what the bible is saying to how one would think or act. 

One of the great faults of evangelicalism is that the bible is presented as a rulebook with a few minor cultural “exceptions.” I believe this is a trapping of the attitude behind inerrancy and systematic theology.

The reality is that each book in the bible was written to specific people in a specific context. Yes we can glean principles that are applicable to us today, and we should carefully, humbly and honestly examine scripture to see how we can discern and apply universal truth. We can’t do that unless we approach the scriptures without fear. We cannot let a fear of liberalism or fundamentalism come before the scriptures.

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Pink Floyd reunited for July concert

Pink Floyd reunited for July concert


Why did it have to be in July!  If there was ever a reason to elope and go to the UK for a honeymoon it is this!  Roger Waters is coming back!  This is my dream come true but why did have to be like this!  Not like this! I’ve said on more than one occasion I’d fly to the UK just to see Pink Floyd but I can’t do it because I’m getting married.  Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

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The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer


I’d say this is one of best books ever written on the Christian life.

Found via Randall and he didn’t want a link like Dash, but I’m linking anyway.

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I've been hanging out at Signposts

I’ve been hanging out at Signposts


It all started with “
What is a Liberal
” and we now involved in a very good discussion about inerrancy. Over 150 comments so far!

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Embezzlement: The Corporate Sin of Christianity

Embezzlement: The Corporate Sin of Christianity


The author argues very effectively that the bulk of the revenue collected by the church belongs by right to the poor. 

Not found via but he wanted a link anyway.

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Hurly Burley

Hurly Burly –  Rex Murphy’s Point of View


Before most Canadians knew what blogging was there was Rex. Rex is better seen than merely read but you can read more here.  The latest installment is great.

Canadians may be a little weary from all the parliamentary showdowns.

We may be weary too from the dismal saga unfolding at Gomery, the
thought that the fate of a once great and dignified nation for a while
seemed to teeter on murky tête-à-têtes in some Italian restaurant in
Montreal.

There are shows on American television and some of them feature Jessica
Simpson or people lowering themselves in to buckets of crawling
insects, and yes surprisingly, there’s a distinction there, that have
more dignity than the Canadian politics over roughly the last decade.

But we can thank the hurly burly of Parliament and its attendant
dramas, Belinda Stronach’s traipse across the Common’s floor, Judge
Gomery’s daily autopsy of cash and cronyism for sparing us even more
grisly spectacles. I’ve missed, for example, most of the Michael
Jackson trial. Surely a proof that there is a God and that He is both
merciful and cares for us. Bits of it have strayed in to my
consciousness. The fact that Mr. Jackson must be the only defendant in
all of history to show up for court facing child abuse charges in his
pajamas. I’ve missed every Larry King episode on the Jackson trial as
well, a holiday for the intellect and the soul as Larry turns the full
force of his suspenders on whichever loud lawyer happens to be across
the desk from him.

Better still, I’ve missed ”Revenge of the Sith”, George Lucas’s
latest lowering in to the interminably boring well of the infantile
Star Wars and all its merchandise, its light sabre dip sticks and its
moronic bleatings about the Force being with you. George Lucas is
Norman Vincent Peal for aging yuppies. Peal once wrote ”throw your
heart over the fence and the rest will follow”, the kind of person
walking around with his heart in his hand looking for a good fence to
toss it over has probably let go of the brain sometime earlier.

Speaking of abandoned intellect, Paris Hilton continues to vacuum the
brain pans of the celebrity obsessed. In her latest adventure, she
soaks down a car while wearing something left over from the Catwoman
movie doing a ballet that would embarrass a mink. It’s meant to be a
sales pitch for hamburger. The lesser life form is endorsing the higher.

Is Oprah still flogging books? I gave up on Oprah when she endorsed
Tolstoy, the cork’s homage to the ocean. It’s not enough that the
empress of the world has turned half the world in to a romper room for
therapy monkeys. So you see, there may have been days when watching
question period or Peter, the man with the home, Mackay or some
menacing witness with Judge Gomery when we thought this stuff is going
to wear us down, but in reality, it was a screen shielding us from the
even more gruesome and elaborate exhibitions that our good friends, the
Americans, have inexplicably decided constitute a form of amusement.
”Revenge of the Sith”, it’s not a movie, it’s a protracted lisp.

For “The National,” I’m Rex Murphy.

3 Comments

I had a great time with an old mentor

I had a great time with an old mentor


A couple of days ago I had a lunch an old friend and mentor. As we started talking we quickly connected on so many levels. He had been leading some house churches over the last few years. It is startling how similar our views of ministry and church are.

At one point I asked him so what do you say when people ask you if you are “covered” and his face showed instant resolve and he said “show me in the scriptures” and instantly my response was something like “I know exactly what you mean.” So much of that conversation served as a confirmation of what I’ve been thinking through over the last few years.

I was very encouraged. It finally put to rest any fleeting doubts I had about some of the decisions I made years ago.

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Why I like house churches more than traditional churches

Why I like house churches more than traditional churches

After experiencing a couple of house churches I’m became convinced that I didn’t want to go

back to a larger congregation. I’ve tried very hard not to use language that condemns more traditional models. I’m not convinced everyone should be in a house church. I wouldn’t advise traditional churches to convert. Nor would I say that ministry that is conducted in other forms of church are invalid.

Despite all this I think that a house church is better fit to help us do what we are called to do as a church. I’d like to say that all forms of church are equal but I don’t believe that and neither do the

Methodists, Mennonites, Anglicans and Catholics etc…. We all think we have the best way of structuring church. While I think I’m more right I fully acknowledge that

a) it could just be my perspective
b) I should always have grace for others just as God has grace for me
c) God works through less than ideal people and He also works through less than ideal structures.

Why do I like house churches so much?

Ministry is a calling not a career
There is a perception that the church discerns those most gifted and skilled and encourages them to lead. While some of this is going on most people become pastors just like they would any other job. They go to school, get a degree, apply for job and get it. The most substantial form of discernment happens in youth ministry. In evangelical denominations the first positions to open up to first time pastors are youth ministry jobs. Lots of people takes these jobs because they are a stepping stone to what they truly want to do. The job itself is a discernment process because Youth Ministry is a really hard and it chews up young pastors up and spits them out. Those that survive move up the ladder. Those that don’t are often rejected, dejected and forgotten. Unfortunately some of the most gifted and skilled people don’t survive the process because they just didn’t understand how to navigate the difficult political landscape. Many of the people who do survive aren’t necessarily gifted or skilled but they are good at handling the politics. Some get their principles and fire beat right out of them and they move on as broken people.

In a house church setting money is far less of an issue. Many of those that lead house churches take in no money. It is not a career, they are just doing what they are called to do. I’ll acknowledge that it is biblical for church leaders to get paid and I’m not saying that aspect of things is wrong. However the more ministry is viewed as a career the more church leaders make decisions that are in their best interest.

I believe in measuring success at the micro-level
The larger a church gets the more it measures its success by offerings, attendance, programs and facilities. A church can be totally successful at all these levels and do nothing for the kingdom of God. In a smaller setting you get to know people and see them change. I can say so and so is a tangibly better person than they were one year ago. You also learn that church is just one part in the process of watching someone change. I’ve seen people in our house church change but I couldn’t tell you how much of a role our local church played. By being so close to people relationally you can see how God works through all kinds of different stuff. It keeps you humble because you recognize that any success you see is ultimately God’s success.

I believe in the body of Christ ministering to itself
This is one of the hardest issues I have with traditional church ministry. It is way to skewed from the top down. When most people encounter a regular church gathering they have one way in which to participate. They can sing. A few volunteers can usher, some can watch the kids the nursery, and those with musical abilities can help lead the signing. For the bulk of the people church is a passive event where they are ministered to. All this sitting and listening has an effect on people. They grow convinced that they have nothing worthwhile to say or do. There is a message in our medium. That message is unless someone in authority says otherwise you have nothing valuable to say.

In a church setting where everyone’s voice is not only valued, but relied upon you send a very different message. People move from being passive recipients to active participants in church. The church becomes more balanced as different voices from those traditionally marginalized are given much more weight. There is someone very powerful that happens when the body of Christ has true freedom to function in all its different parts.  the more people particpate the better they get at it. 

I believe the poor need the gospel too
Traditional churches operate under an economic model that makes it much more difficult for churches to thrive in low income neighbourhoods. In urban settings there is a gradual geographic creep as churches move from the less affluent center to the more affluent suburbs. The underlying reality to this is that it is easier to build a financially viable organization with middle class suburbanites. I think we are overweighted with churches that are suited for the middle class.

A house church with its low financial overhead can exist in places others can’t and it can work really well in the suburbs as well. The one issue I’m grappling with is discipleship and ministry training. The house church I’m in works in part because a number of us are trained in bible college and seminary. I’m very convicted that we need an effective low cost (but not no cost) alternative to the bible college/seminary. I cannot see house churches in low income neighbourhoods thrive without some intentional discipleship and ministry training.

A lot can happen in one meeting
Regular church life can be very busy. They involve prayer meetings, bible studies, youth group, Sunday services etc… With a small group you can accomplish most of what church does in one evening.

A house church meeting isn’t that hard to put together. The more people participate the easier it gets. I love interpreting the bible together as a group.

What about small groups/cell groups/care groups?
I used to be a major supporter of the cell group but the substance hasn’t quite lived up to the sizzle. I think there are a couple factors that hinder the potential of small groups withing in a large church context.

1. Ownership

A small group feels like a program of a church whereas a house church feels like church. In a small group people still rely on authorized programs and materials they can buy at the local Christian store. There is no sense that I should participate because I make up 10% of this church.

2. Small groups are an extra

People are busy. They already attend a service on Sunday and now have to give up an evening for a small group.

3. Mindset

When people take their regular church mindset in to a smaller group it really limits the potential of that group.

I think one of the reasons our house church has worked so far is that it is made up of people that hadn’t been regular participants in traditional churches for sometime. People were more open to exploring alternative ways of functioning as a church.

I think this is one of the reasons why church leaders shouldn’t push hesitant members in to a radically different form of church. I’ve seen regular churches that changed models and the people still had the old mindset. It looked like regular church but smaller.

There are a lot of pastors who see the deficiencies of what they work in and are attracted by other models. I’d be very hesitant to make any major changes in church for people who are very used to functioning in church in a certain way. It may not be ideal, but it can still be very fruitful. There are people called to minister in all sorts of different situations. They should not be judged based on what model they use, but their faithfulness to God and their calling.

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