Monday, May 19, 2008

From Evangelism to Church Growth

So I have been really frustrated lately about the programming of churches to where they are more country clubs than communities of believers. While in class today the transition from evangelism to church growth was explained to me. The professor that is teaching the class is writing a book on Pastoral Theology which includes some of these thoughts.

At some point the Church (meaning churches, all, the whole community of faith) started to make a move from a descriptive to a prescriptive mode of ministry. Basically, they moved from being defined as a community of love and grace to an institution with programs and rules. Programming became a means to grow the church. The more programs offered, the bigger the church.This prescriptive mode leads pastors to be managers rather than participants. Pastors began competing with one another, trying to offer more programs than another church in order to gain the people from that church. This created a consumerist base, people decided to go to church where they could get MORE. Sadly, during this time preaching changed from challenging the people to being "seeker-sensitive." Basically, pastors started preaching from the Bible, but not calling the congregants to live like Jesus. Seeker-sensitive preaching overtook the prophetic voice that once made its home in the pulpit.

Two major themes overtook the pastoral position. First is that of manager, which calls the pastor to manage the chaotic world, a world of competition and violence. So, the pastor in managing this kind of world is not speaking against it, is not trying to reform and/or restore it, rather is actually supporting it. Second is the therapeutic approach to pastoral responsibilities which says that the pastor is to help people cope with the chaos. The problem with this approach is that in dealing with the chaos, confrontation of the issues is avoided. Preaching should involve speaking a word that will break down the chaos in our world in order to rebuild the world.

The message that Jesus came preaching wasn't easy to hear, in fact the good news was bad news for a lot of people, especially for the rich and the religious leaders. Jesus told the rich to sell all of their possessions and give to the poor and he tore down the institutions of the religious leaders. When the church growth movement began pastors lost their desire to preach the gospel because they knew that it wouldn't allow people to be comfortable consumers. No wonder many sermons are shallow, pastors would rather build comfortable institutions of consumerism than call people to take up their crosses and be like Jesus.

Friday, May 9, 2008


I really enjoy reading. A year or so ago I read a book Titled "Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical" by Shane Claiborne, and last week I read "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. In both of these books the theme of being a radical is prominent. God calls us to live a radical life, to be so devoted to Him that passion overflows out of us into our world. Shane shares the need for us to love our neighbor radically, to give up building kingdoms for ourselves in order that others may have life. Francis Chan talks about actively loving God, reminding us how crazy God's love is for us and that we should have crazy love for Him in return.

I had a conversation with my Pastor recently where I was sharing with Him my vision for the church to simplify, to get away from running programs for programs sake in order to strive to love God and our neighbor. I was a bit surprised when he told me that I was "a unique Christian" because I wasn't raised in the church and because I have experience serving in the inner city. It seems that he was telling me that my thinking is too outside the box and I need to stay within a framework that is comfortable, where "normal Christians" are and like to be. If this is the case, then I would much rather be "unique" than "normal". To me, normal is mediocre and mediocrity is being okay with just getting by. I am not content with getting by, I love my Jesus and I choose to live radically, to break free from the box that most Christians contain themselves and God in.

I was in San Diego recently at Point Loma Nazarene University walking down to the cliffs on the ocean, when I saw something "unique." In a field of weeds I saw this crazy eucalyptus looking thing sticking up, so I walked through the weeds to see what it was.


In this field full of weeds there was this crazy looking plant. I have no idea what it is, but I thought that it fit this illustration well. In the midst of a bunch of weeds (stagnant, mediocre Christians) there are sometimes "unique" plants (radicals.) While the "unique" plant may stand alone, it is much cooler than the weeds and should live out the life God intended for it.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Foreknowledge of God

God knows everything.
Does God know the future?

I wrote a paper on this in my theology class. At first I didn't know that there was any argument. I know there is between pre-destination and Arminianism, but aparently there is an argument even between Armianism.
Aparently there are people that claim that if God knew the future then we would not have free will. These people are called freewill or open theists. They believe freewill is only freewill if a person has the ability to choose otherwise and this is called Libertarian freewill. If a choice is foreknown by God then it has to end up the way God knows it to be.
Lets look at it this way. If later this afternoon at lunch I have the option of eating pizza or a sandwich and God knows I am going to pick the sandwich then I have to pick the sandwich. This reasoning makes sense to me, but so does the other side of it.
The other side says, basically, that because we do not know our future it is a free choice or compatiblistic freewill. It is not because God knows the choice that the choice is going to happen, but because it is going to happen that God knows it.
Both of these make sense and both of them fall under Arminianism. Yet Jacobus Arminius didn't believe either one of these but rather saw it as something that the human mind simply could not understand.
I really dunno what I think on this subject anymore. I have looked at it and read about it and there seems to be no one right answer. Even the predestination people got somethings right it seems like!
All I do know it that God is All-knowing, All-present, and All-powerful and that means He is so much more than I can ever understand. Whatever someone thinks they know about God, there is always more to know. And many times when we try to fit God into a box we end up having to cut part of Him off so that He fits. Every one of these possitions has to ignore some part of Scripture in order for their version to work 100% of the time. So maybe the way it really is, is that all of them are right, to some degree. Maybe we are predestined and maybe we have freewill. Maybe God knows the future and I still can choose one way or the other. Either way, God is God and I am just me. What do I know?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

silly girl testing blog

test test


I have been reading the book of Numbers the last couple of days. I decided to journal some of my reflections today and thought that you all might like to hear them as well.
Chapter 5: Talking about defilement, God instructs the people to send those who are unclean outside the camp, which are all lepers and those who have any form of discharge. I love Hebrews chapter 13 which says that Jesus went outside the camp to suffer. In Numbers we learn that this kind of uncleanness is disgusting to God because it is a result of sin and separation from Him. So, He sends people away because they have chosen defilement over intimacy with Him. When Jesus comes, He goes outside the camp. He goes to the ones who are physically unclean to show that He has come to redeem all, even the worst of the worst who have been sent outside of the camp. I was listening to a song this morning by Brave Saint Saturn titled “Under Bridges”. In this song the Least of These are the highlight. At the end, the lyrics are: Jesus Christ dying of AIDS can look right through you. And all have hated, Crucified and walked away. The Savior of the prostitutes, Drunkards, rapists and the gays. Jesus suffered with those who were cast out. He continues to suffer with those who are cast out, He loves and came to be the Savior of the entire world, including the prostitutes, drunkards, rapists and the gays. The challenge for us is whether or not we will truly follow in the footsteps of Jesus and choose to go to the prostitutes, drunkards, rapists, and gays. Hebrews 13:12-14 “Therefore, Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rob Bell's new book

Rob Bell is coming out with a new book in October. The title is "Jesus Wants to Save Christians" Here is a link to an interview with him about this work.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Lit Class Project

So I made this for my Liturature class. It is rediculously cheesy but, I am pretty proud of it. I did it all in one day.

It is a song by Hector Berlioz. It is called March to the Scaffold and it is about a man who killed his lover and is being lead to die.

Hope you like it.

It was easier to just put the link haha.