Archive for June, 2006

Digg for religious news

Sperocite like digg with different categories


One of my favourite websites right now is Digg.com. If you like science, technology, computers, linux or programming this website is terrific. People suggest articles for people to view and enough people “Digg” (vote) for it it appears on the main page. It employs non-heirarchical editorial control to determine the best articles to promote. I think I check it about 3 or 4 times a day. I’ve thought the same thing could be done for the Christian blogs and news sources.

It looks like Spero news is taking a stab at it with Sperocite. They have a general religious category rather than something specifically Christian but I think the website has potential. Their categories seem to be less geeky and more socially oriented (politics, religion, human rights, diplomacy). I’m not sure why Sperocite has a technology category because that niche has been filled. They are probably better off sticking to niches that haven’t been filled.

It is already in my RSS reader and I’ve voted for two stories. The more users this thing gets the better it will be.

I’m not sure why Digg hasn’t expanded to every category of interest and just used a different domain name for each general theme.

Thanks Bene

4 Comments

Ain't it fine the cup's in Carolina

Ain’t it fine the cup’s in Carolina


Ain’t it fine the cup’s in Carolina

Can’t you see Ty Cry

Can’t you just hear the Oil whine

I’ll hear from many a friend of mine

They came from behind

Yet the Cup’s in Carolina and its fine

Stanley he’s a silver sun

Oil walk your way and watch it shinin’

To Rexall he’ll never come

A silver tear appearing now

whose cryin’ not I

Gone to Carolina and its fine

There ain’t no doubt it no ones mind

That winning’s the finest thing around

when Lord Stanley’s on your mind

hey Oil there’s next year,

whose dyin’ not I

Gone to Carolina and its fine

Ain’t it fine the cup’s in Carolina

Can’t you see Smith Cry

Can’t you just hear the Oil whine

I’ll hear from many a friend of mine

They came from behind

Yet the Cup’s in Carolina and its fine

I’d like to extend warmest thanks and regards to the 2006 Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes for rescuing me for what would have been a very long summer.

3 Comments

House churches are exploding in America

House churches are exploding in America


The latest from George Barna.
The new study, based on interviews with more than five thousand randomly selected adults from across the nation, found that 9% of adults attend a house church during a typical week. That is remarkable growth in the past decade, shooting up from just 1% to near double-digit involvement. In total, one out of five adults attends a house church at least once a month.

Check out the full article here. Via.

These numbers seem pretty high but I don’t doubt the trend. Tony Dale of House2House said that there has been a dramatic change in people’s attitude towards house church.

1 Comment

How should biblical principles form the structure of church?

How should biblical principles form the structure of church?


There are a number of places in the New Testament where it is assumed that people are meeting in a house or a small group.

For instance look at Paul’s message to the Corinthians about what we call communion.

1cor 11:33 NRSV “So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If you are hungry, eat at home, so that when you come together, it will not be for your condemnation. About the other things I will give instructions when I come.”

How did the church meetings go?

1cor 14:26 NRSV “What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”

If everyone is participating then it is pretty obvious that this is a small group.

There is no explicit command to organize church activity as it was in these two examples. Many people today would say that the church has evolved from this point. What worked 2000 years ago won’t necessarily work today. I accept these points.

What then are the biblical principles that should guide our understanding and structure our church?

Paul understood the church as many things but his most extensive analogy is a body. In 1Cor 12 he sees everyone being participants in the church. Each has a spiritual gift that should be exercised for the common good of all. Each person is a necessary and vital part of the body. No part can say to another I don’t need you. Some parts are more “presentable” but some others receive more “honor”. He sees the whole body fitted together, working together for the common good.

One of the most common themes in the New Testament is ministry to one another or as the NIV renders it each other.

Here is a quick list of the “one anothers”.

Be at peace

Do not accept glory

Wash one feet

Do not pass judgment

Welcome

Instruct

Kiss

Wait to eat for one another

Care

Do not compare

Agree with

Be slaves to

Bear with

Forgive

Be Kind

Be subject

Be honest

Admonish

Encourage/Exhort

Do Good

Provoke good works

Meet with

Confess sins

Pray

Be hospitable with

Serve

Be clothed in humility to

Fellowship

Lay do your lives

Have concern

And of course LOVE ONE ANOTHER

More and more I’m growing convinced that most ministry happens when one person ministers to another rather than one person ministering to everyone else at one time. If the primary expression of church should be where everyone has a role and everyone participates why would have structure church in the opposite direction. Today most churches assume that the bulk of ministry happens from one really gifted person to everyone else.

I’m not saying there isn’t room for large group ministry. Jesus occasionally taught large crowds. He didn’t generally preach as we know it. There was no introduction, 3 points and a conclusion. For the most part he told stories and had question and answer sessions. Usually when he was talking to a large crowd it wasn’t to those who had decided to follow him but to interested listeners.

Paul taught groups of people as well. In the very early days of the church people gathered in the temple to hear the apostles teaching. In both of these examples it is safe to assume there was still a healthy amount of interaction among people. Large group ministry was effective in the process of establishing new believers in a new church. If you have one or two people in a new town with no church they are going to have to do the bulk of ministry. I don’t see how this pattern has to crossover in to an established church.

The traditional concept of church as a gathering in a building with a handful of professional ministers leading congregational singing and preaching a sermon is hard to find in scripture.

I agree with the point that we are different from the first century context so we don’t necessarily need to return to go back to their way of doing church. However we are also very different from the 16th century context which is where we get our dominant approach to church. Luther and Calvin didn’t rebuild a concept of church from scripture. They just took over the old system in certain geographic areas and revised it. Today things are different. In terms of media, education, communication, literacy, pluralism, and democracy the ground has shifted.

Which approach fits our culture and context better? Which one is more faithful to the strongest themes in scripture which speak to how we should structure our churches?

No Comments

Wikipedia third most popular news and information source!

Wikipedia third most popular news and information source!


From the start, Mr. Wales gave the site a clear mission: to offer free knowledge to everybody on the planet. At the same time, he put in place a set of rules and policies that he continues to promote, like the need to present information with a neutral point of view.

The system seems to be working. Wikipedia is now the Web’s third-most-popular news and information source, beating the sites of CNN and Yahoo News, according to Nielsen NetRatings.

Wikipedia has demonstrated how possible it is to work collaboratively online. Recently they have introduced temporary measures to control who can edit certain sections of the website. A completely open system is open to abuse but with each tweak the Wikipedia just gets better and better.

No Comments

Jesus he knows me revisted

Jesus he knows me revisted


Via Jadon.

2 Comments

More Wolfgang

More Wolfgang and a little Coop


Go here to find the MP3′s of a conference in Spokane. At first I was kinda turned off by Wolfgang Simson. I never made it through “Houses that changed the world.” He is so hardcore on house church and so down on other forms of church I dismissed him. After listening to his stories and some of those found in James Rutz’s Megashift I’m starting to see how people can get in to this kind of thinking. If there are simple church movements exploding all over the world and almost nothing but saint swapping in every other form of church I can see how he came to his opinion.

Coop has a great open letter to church leaders. I think he nails one reason why the church isn’t growing. Church people don’t act any differently than anyone else.

No Comments

Why create an alternative to commercial publishing?

Why create an alternative to commercial publishing?


A few years ago I was sitting in church with some LDS (Mormon) Missionaries had invited. We were enjoying the singing and one of them asked me if someone in the church had written the song we were singing. The particular song we were singing had been written by the “worship” pastor. I explained that most of the time we don’t sing songs that someone in the church has written. My LDS friend asked how we figure out which songs we are going to sing. I explained that we listened to CDs and the songs we like we sing. In the process of the conversation I thought through how the LDS church would do it and compared it to how the evangelical world does it.

Then and there it dawned on me that the evangelical church has uncritically adopted the free market as its sole model for the publishing and distribution of church resources. I’m not ideologically opposed to anyone making money. I am a business owner myself. I think that the people who write books or songs should be able to feed their families.

I believe there are some weaknesses in the system. Intellectual property allows corporations get paid for other people’s work long after the work is done. A few decades ago some translators did a lot of work to translate the New International Version of the bible. Those people who have done the work of organizing the project and translating have been paid. The text is now the intellectual property of a corporation. If I want the electronic text of this bible for my Treo 600 (Palm PDA/Phone) I have to pay $24.95. There is no paper to glue together. Distribution costs literally pennies worth of bandwidth. I can buy the same paper bible for $5.99 on Amazon.com. Friends there is something very wrong about this. What we pay no longer has anything to do with the cost of production, publishing and distribution. This is a huge waste. I think we’ve uncritically assumed our rights as intellectual property owners when they seem to fly in the face of New Testament principles of sharing for the common good.

We are susceptible to the manipulation of marketing. How many nearly useless fads in the church were fanned in to flame by slick marketing? We trust the publishing companies to do the proper discernment but their #1 criteria is marketability. This criteria will weed out the crazies and some of the crap but it is by no means an adequate filter. I can’t spend more than 10 minutes in a Christian bookstore because I’m just overwhelmed at all the garbage in there.

I believe it is time for the church to pursue an alternative way to create, distribute and discern the value of resources.

3 Comments

Wolfgang Simson audio blog

Wolfgang Simson audio


One of the bigger names in simple church circles is Wolfgang. Hear an interview with him on a blog called “Stores from the Revolution.” I like that name.

No Comments

Web based alternative to commercial publishing

Web based alternative to commercial publishing



I’m thinking through a way to use the Internet as alternative to commercial publishing and distribution of Christian resources. For years the open source community has created and maintained software that has rivaled the offerings of companies like Microsoft. Currently I’m using OpenOffice to type this post, I browse the web with Firefox and use Linux for servers and firewalls. The software community caught on to the idea of collaborating and sharing for the common good. Why can’t Christians?

Today the Internet is used to bring people together and work on the same project. Sourceforge.net enables programmers from around the world to collaboratively develop great software.

I’m thinking through a web site that would work much like sourceforge but instead of making software we work together to create things like sermons, bible study materials, music, course curriculum, and even books.

Say for example Joe Pastor wants to share his sermon online. He goes to the website and creates new “project”. The project is identified a sermon. The project is listed on the “most recent new projects” page. Joe tags his project with several key words like “faith”, “grace” and “salvation”. Other users will be able to read the sermon and rate the quality of Joe Pastor’s work.

Reverend Kelly likes Joe Pastors sermon but has a great illustration to put in and wouldn’t mind putting an Anglican spin on part of it. Rev. Kelly creates a “child project” based on Joe’s sermon. He does his or her edits and posts it. Just as Joe’s project was rated so is Kelly’s. Whenever people see either project in the system they can view the “parent” or the “child”.

When people click on an author’s profile they can see a history of all their projects and their average rating.

Say Joe Pastor now wants to write some Sunday School material. He feels the need to stress teaching on faithfulness so he starts a team project. He is looking for people to work with to create a series of studies on faithfulness. His project is listed on the “team projects” page where people can find out about his project and join his team. Different team members can have different functions. One person might do research and prepare a draft study while someone else might edit style and grammar. The project creator can choose to maintain as much control over the project as they wish. He or she can invite or ban team members, undo changes etc…

Each member of the online community has a profile page with assorted background information. Authors will be able to list any denominational or theological affiliation and link to the profiles of their favourite other members in the system. Different reports can show all the members in a specific geographic area or denomination. The system would make it easy for people to find each other.

I can see three types of licenses used with the content. Public domain which opens up the creative to work to anyone and everyone to do whatever they wish. A creative commons license could be used which would restrict some uses but would allow people to create derivative works. Finally there would be the standard Copyright license. With this people could pay the creators directly through a Paypal setup.

One of the problems with self-publishing books or other materials online is marketing. The traditional publishing industry reaches more people. However with a central web location, an effective rating system and a lot of traffic it could make self-publishing or collaborative publishing a much more effective. People could write books or even prepare music and sell them directly to consumers.

The project would only be sustainable if it generated revenue. It would be easy enough to see money coming in through ads. I can see other revenue generated through a month fee for hosting commercial projects or perhaps collect a percentage of any sale through the system.

I’m thinking of starting this project using the LAMP stack. Linux/Apache/Mysql/Php. I’m traditionally a windows/iis/coldfusion/mssql kind of guy but I’m afraid the project would get very expensive if it had to scale. I’ve always used a free scaled back version of Sql Server which is great for my moderate demands. It gets much more expensive when you have to upgrade. LAMP is free regardless of how many servers you use. Bandwidth is also an issue if the system started hosting any amount of audio, video or animation. We could use bit torrent though if it became a problem.

What do you think of the idea?

Any ides to throw in the mix? Potential pitfalls?

5 Comments