Friday, January 8, 2010

Children are people, too

I told a new friend of mine the other day that one of the mantras I work with in pastoral ministry is "Children are people, too". He chuckled a bit, largely because to him that truth is self-evident. But for too many, we too easily forget...

Over the years I have regularly made my point to groups of people by this simple scenario: The Bible says to love your neighbors, so please picture your neighbors in your mind's eye. Got the picture in your head? Good. Any children in that mental picture? If you hadn't already read the beginning of this post (and you're being honest) you'd have to admit that most likely kids didn't enter your thoughts.

This is a shame.

When we're thinking about discipleship, do we stop to think about children? Too often, no. We think about entertaining kids, playing with kids, keeping kids safe, loving kids, etc... but we rarely (in my experience) think about discipling kids.

If the Gospel is powerful enough to make these earthly children into children of God, surely that same Gospel is powerful enough to make of them faithful followers as well.

Discipleship should and, frankly, must include our youngest souls. Failure to include them in the conversation of local church discipleship activities will only perpetuate the problems we already have with children and young people today.

What's particularly encouraging to me is the (culturally) postmodern notion of life in community. We as the local church are called to live in community; culturally postmodern people tend to desire life in community, too. The only trouble I sometimes see: pomo culture is interested in life in (adult) community. Too often there's little room for children even for this sub-culture.

What's to be done?


Read More......

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Elements of Discipleship

[Note: if you're a BCS student looking for the quiz, it's the post AFTER this one... ]

With that bit of house cleaning out of the way ...

As many of you know, I've recently been hired as Director (soon to be Pastor) of Discipleship at Auburn Alliance Church. In thinking about how to lead our Discipleship ministries into one Discipleship ministry with many facets, I've been trying to condense my thoughts on the subject. I'd love your input on a few thoughts...

I'm increasingly persuaded that our role as a local church body - any local church body - is to lead people to Jesus and to teach them to follow. I'm not arguing that this is the responsibility of the pastors/staff - it's the responsibility of the church (for those of you playing along at home, that all of us in His Kingdom). So don't take this as my thoughts about a pastor's job. Anyway ...

It seems to me that discipleship (that is, learning to follow Jesus) should involve all of the following: Fellowship, Prayer, Bible Study, Service to others,Justice and Mercy, Connection to our roots.

I suspect Fellowship, Prayer, and Bible Study will seem fairly obvious.

By service to others I mean those kind acts that teach us we are here to serve, not to be served. As simple as raking a neighbor's leaves or changing a single mom's oil. This is fundamental, no?

By justice and mercy I mean involvement in the "bigger" issues in our world. Whether it's volunteering at a Crisis Pregnancy Center or an AIDS hospice, working with ONE or raising money for a local refugee ministry. The issues are out there: sex trafficking, abortion, racism, extreme poverty, environmentalism, etc... It seems to me that working to improve God's world and the lives of His creations is part and parcel of learning to better follow Jesus.

Connection to our roots ... what is that, exactly?! I mean a few things here. Certainly communion and baptism - these roots run all the way to the New Testament and serve to bind us to the Church universal in a palpable way. But I also mean remembrance. Learning about and then remembering those whose shoulders our faith stands on is a valuable exercise in learning to follow Jesus. It encourages me to know that Martin Luther needed encouragement. It inspires me to hear about Jim Elliot. I causes me to pause and take seriously the sin within me when I think about those who've stumbled along their own journey.

So, assuming I'm on the right track so far, I'm toying with this list of statements as guides for a Discipleship ministry:

Love in community
Pray at all times
Know the Word
Serve our neighbors
Seek justice and mercy
Remember our roots

What do you think? Am I missing anything obvious? Am I making too much of something too little? What have your local churches done to guide and direct the process of discipleship?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. I have more of my own forthcoming ...


Read More......

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Food for thought

Once upon a time, I linked to an online quiz I took, including my results. Because I'm assigning this quiz to my World Religions students, I thought I'd take it again...

The quiz is titled "What's your theological worldview", and can be found here.

Here are my current results:

Emergent/Postmodern 79%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan 75%

Fundamentalist 75%

Reformed Evangelical 54%

Neo orthodox 50%

Charismatic/Pentecostal 36%

Classical Liberal 25%

Roman Catholic 14%

Modern Liberal 11%

Here are my results from September, 2007.

Emergent/Postmodern 79%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan 71%

Fundamentalist 71%

Reformed Evangelical 54%

Neo orthodox 50%

Charismatic/Pentecostal 39%

Classical Liberal 18%

Roman Catholic 11%

Modern Liberal 0%


In general, it appears that my theological head is in about the same place it was two years ago. One might note that the bottom of the scale changed a bit for me - I'm apparently a bit "modern liberal" now, whereas I was previously 0%. Your guess is as good as mine how that happened!

Though the quiz is a bit long and is, after all, just an online quiz, I do think it makes for good thought provocation. Should you choose to take it, I'd love to see your results and hear you thoughts.


Read More......

Updates and apologies

An open letter to all of you left still who still read this blog:

I need to apologize for how infrequently I've been posting the last several months. I also want you to know that it's my intent to change that situation.

This past year has been a time of great change and challenge for me. As most of you know, I've gone from paid Children's Pastor to volunteer Children's Pastor to unemployed Pastor to (just a few days ago) Director of Discipleship, soon to be Pastor of Discipleship. We've transitioned from one church family to another, peacefully and amicably. I really miss those folk, and I'm really enjoying getting to know the "new" folks.

The year has been remarkably challenging on a number of levels. As you might readily guess, money has been tight (to say the least) as I've worked a series of part-time to barely-time jobs to make ends meet. We finally sold our previous home a few months ago (after about 9 months on the market). Vehicles break down and so does the homestead ... You know the routine!

Through it all, I've had impressed upon me over and over again that the LORD provides for his children. I don't know why He provides for one such as I, but I'm grateful.

You might wonder why this post at this time, eh? A couple of reasons come to mind:

1. Starting a new pastoral job has caused me to reflect and re-evaluate a bit; the importance of this blog in my spiritual development (and some of yours, I think) has been re-impressed upon me.

2. I'm teaching through some basic Emerging Church stuff in my World Religions class right now; it's reminding me of how important so many of these issues really are to me. Postmodernity, missional living, reformation in the local church: all topics I hope to ponder further in the coming days.

So if I fail to keep this resolution of sorts, feel free to email me and complain! Otherwise, I trust you'll enjoy interacting with some of the posts I'm working on in the near future.

Grace and Peace,

Read More......