A great post over at Ochuk’s blog that he grabbed from Purgatorio.
The a little too Reformed vs. extreme Emergent
You might be Emgerging ifÄ¶
your worship service looks like:
you are listening to:
Emergents Like Bono
You have to look at these pics twice because it might be you:
You might be Getting a little TOO Reformed ifÄ¶
Someone tells you they go to:
and you think they’re going:
You hear a news story about some criminals being “reformed” and your first thought is to wonder how many criminals are arminians.
On at least 4 different blogs, you end up in extended wars with arminians arguing about God’s Sovereignty. Your final comment always being a variation of:
You’re looking under your big kid’s bed and find:
and you are way more upset then the time you found:
A tool every blogger needs, make your own speech bubbles.
[This is a reflection on my San Diego Reader Column where I visited a different church each week for 2005 and part of 2004.]
One theme that developed as I spoke with different pastors/priests for a variety of denominations and faiths is that each one was convicted that their expression was the true expression of faith. Catholic Priests had a sense of confidence that “theirs was the true church that traced itself back to Peter and Jesus Christ.” The Mass was the place where the Eucharist was served and followers needed to access the grace offered here. Yet, other splinter Catholic groups (Byzantine and Old Catholics) were quick to point out their legitimacy in relation to the “ROMAN Catholic” traditions.
On the other side of the world, Eastern Orthodox congregations (visited two, one Greek and the other Antiochian) were most vocal in their position as ‘truest church’. [“I believe the [Greek Orthodox Church] is the true church, but I’m not going to rub it in anyone’s face,” said Nazo Zakkak, an altar boy at St. Gregory of Nyssa Greek Orthodox Church.]
Both these groups (Catholics & Eastern Orthodox) often citied the amount of denominations in the Protestant movement as an indictment against Evangelicals. “There are 20,000 some-odd denominations, any time an Evangelic has a minor doctrinal disagreement, they just go off and start their own church,” is a common comment about Protestantism.
Where does this leave us? How do we deal with the denominational divides? One comment is often, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty.” Yet an Orthodox Father pointed out that denominations aren’t even in agreement on what is essential or non-essential so how can their be unity. It seems like the church is in a mess but why does God allow such a divergent expression of faith amongst people who call themselves Christians?
Last week was my last San Diego Reader article for the Sheep & Goats column. Beginning in 2006, I am no longer writing the column. It’s been a great season over 2004-2005 to visit different places of faith and interview people to learn more about their experiences and what they believe. Here are a few of my favorites: (A few of my favorites are not online)
Anchor Point Church – an honest and open story of a church plant that closed it’s doors.
The Resolved – An opening line that created quite a controversy, “Beer is one of our core values”. (So much controversy the pastors wrote a letter to explain this sarcastic comment about church pragmatism.)
What’s NEXT? I’m excited about this transition because life has been crazy focusing on three different ventures (Kaleo Church, Monk Development and San Diego Reader). Here are the plans:
1. Become more full time at Kaleo Church. This is a big year for us as we really take a lot of the things that are functioning and move them to healthy reproducing ministries.
2. Launch Ekklesia in a big way the next two-months and continue to build a world-class application for churches to use the internet for the Kingdom.
3. Write creatively. Spend more time writing articles I’ve been putting off.
4. Begin Covenant Theological Seminary’s Master of Arts (Theological Studies) with an emphasis in contemporary culture.
5. Go on long walks with my wife.
6. Adopt a new child.
and more that I’m sure will be added soon….
Thanks for all of you who read the articles and provided feedback and encouragement.
Great article in the Economist that speaks about the influence of business thinking merging with how people do church. The subtitle boldly states, “America’s most successful churches are modelling themselves on businesses“. The Economist writer, also coins a new term; the pastorpreneur. Overall the article provides a tone of indictment on the practices and soul-lessness of these churches…
VISIT Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, an upscale exurb of Chicago, and you are confronted with a puzzle. Where in God’s name is the church? Willow Creek has every amenity you can imagine, from food courts to basketball courts, from cafes to video screens, not to mention enough parking spaces for around 4,000 cars. But look for steeples and stained glass, let alone crosses and altars, and you look in vain. Surely this is a slice of corporate America rather than religious America?
The corporate theme is not just a matter of appearances. Willow Creek has a mission statement (Äúto turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Jesus ChristÄù) and a management team, a seven-step strategy and a set of ten core values. The church employs two MBAsÄîone from Harvard and one from StanfordÄîand boasts a consulting arm. It has even been given the ultimate business accolade: it is the subject of a Harvard Business School case-study.
Full article: Churches as businesses – Jesus, CEO
Question: Where is the line, how are churches going too far? Do you think Jesus would turn over the tables on these things?
(This is an article written for my weekly San Diego Reader column on spirituality and places of worship.)
Wally the Wiener, a 15-foot inflatable penis, stands erect behind XXXchurch’s “Erotica LA” booth. Wally is just one of XXXchurch’s attempts to get attention from the 40,000 pornography fans and stars at the convention. “We have to use outrageous methods to get people to pay attention,” said Craig Gross, a pastor, and one of the founders of XXXchurch. In 2002, Pastor Gross and Pastor Mike Foster founded XXXchurch to create porn awareness, accountability, and recovery to people inside and outside the church.
Pastors Foster and Gross have received a lot of attention because of their involvement in the pornography industry. “At the Erotica show, people are wondering why two pastors are here,” said Gross. “But this is exactly the place Jesus would go. He wouldn’t stand outside picketing the porn industry. He would want to meet these people individually.” This year, XXXchurch’s booth gave “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” T-shirts to porn stars. “We handed out 245 free T-shirts. This is a way for us to plant seeds with porn stars and help them get out of the industry,” said Gross. “We stay in contact with many of the porn stars to keep a dialogue going.” Last month, Trinity James was the first porn star to leave the industry through this campaign. “Trinity was living in Las Vegas and has been doing porn and legalized prostitution for four years. She realized that this is not something she can do any longer.” XXXchurch raised $14,400 to assist James’s transition, which included the cost of the move to Indiana and tuition to cosmetology school. Gross said he hopes this is the first example of many porn stars’ exodus out of the industry.
Full Article: XXXchurch
A great article that lays out a case for proper usage of your website. Here are a few highlights:
1. Your target audience for church growth is Internet-savvy.
Most church growth comes from what we call the 18-to-18 range Äì people from 18 years old to families with 18-year-old children. This also happens to be the group with the highest Internet usage…..
2. Your Web site will be your “first impression” for many people.
(People) will often make their “first cut” shopping list before they ever come to town.
3. If you’re not on the Web, you don’t exist to many people.
A 20- or 30-something person is much more likely to use the Internet to find church service times than to look in the yellow pages or newspaper. Our informal surveys have shown that many young college graduates don’t even have yellow pages in their homes. My teenage daughter didn’t know theaters listed movie times in the newspaper Äì she gets them off the Web.
4. Seekers will visit your Web site before attending your services.
Savvy organizations are using the Web to educate visitors and encourage them to take the next step.
5. A whole generation exists that will seek “religion” online.
In his book Boiling Point, George Barna projects that 10 to 20 percent of the population will rely on the Internet for all of their spiritual input and output by 2010.
6. The Web site is too critical to be run by a volunteer.
7. You can’t afford a cheap site.
With a high percentage of your potential visitors viewing your Web site before they visit your congregation, you can’t afford a poor quality site. All the time and money you have spent building your congregation’s resources and reputation are worthless if people won’t visit the first time. Visitors are judging the values and programs of your church from your Web site.
8. People are viewing your current Web site right now.
(Read full article 8 things pastors need to know about e-ministry)
These cover a few of the reasons why a group of churches decided to build Ekklesia Systems. We have found it is far to important to have a well designed internet strategy to enhance the work of furthering the gospel in our cities. January is going to be a huge month for us…come back as we announce Ekklesia launching:
The Acts 29 Network
Imago Dei Community, Portland
Kaleo Church, San Diego
Desert Breeze Church, Los Vegas
New Life Presbyterian Church, La Mesa
Grace Church, San Diego
Eastridge Church, Clackamas
City View Church, Dallas
Bay Area Community Church
Life Song Church
and the list goes on…..
A FREE! pornography accountability program provided by the ministry of XXXchurch.
A Porn Forum to seek help and discuss with others.
Porn Internet & Spam Filter
IS PORN NORM? From the Back Street to the Main Street
* 45% increase in child pornography sites between 2/2001-7/2001 (N2H2, 8/01)
* 25 million Americans visit cybersex sites between 1-10 hours per week (MSNBC Survey 2000)
* 9 in 10 kids 8-16 yrs. have viewed porn online, mostly accidentally while doing homework (UK News Telegraph, NOP Research Group, 1/07/02)
* Searching for 26 popular children’s characters, such as Pokemon, My Little Pony and Action Man, revealed thousands of links to porn sites. 30% were hard-core. (Envisional 2000)
* 89% of sexual solicitations of youth were made in either chat rooms or Instant Messages (Pew Study reported in JAMA, 2001)
* 1 in 5 youths received sexual solicitation or approach in last year (NCMEC, 2000)
* 30% of all unsolicited emails contain pornographic information (Choose Your Mail.com study, October, 1999).
* more facts….
And for you pastors…according to Christianity Today the percentage of pastors who visited a porn site. 57% Never, 21% A few times a year, 9% Once in past year, 7% More than a year ago, and 6% Couple times a month or more. 51% of pastors admit that looking at internet pornography is their biggest temptation. (Christianity Today, December 2002)
Craig at XXXChurch.com just sent me a copy of Missionary Position a documentary on their journey from the red light district of Amsterdam, to the Porn rehab facilities of Kentucky the porn shows of Las Vegas to the porn sets of Hollywood. About the movie:
Bill Day, an independent film maker and all around great guy, called us back in February of 2002 and asked if he could hang around us for a few days and shoot some video for a project he was working on. He joined us on our trip to Amsterdam, then to Pure Life Ministries in Kentucky, then to Erotica LA and then…a few days and a small video project turned into over 2 years and a full-length documentary on the ministry of XXXchurch. The documentary is currently slated to release in early 2006.
He also enclosed some “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” t-shirts. I have to admit, these guys are doing some pretty crazy things to reach the Porn Industry (see their Wally the Weiner). I’ve got a couple more interviews and the video to watch and I’ll have my article on them coming soon….