Showing posts with label Growth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Growth. Show all posts

Sunday, January 14, 2024

The Perils of the Pulpit

David de Bruyn’s blog series giving pastoral advice to various types of stagnant Christians continues this week with a post on the importance of church attendance. I have not agreed with every position he takes throughout these letters, but major kudos to David for bringing these issues to our attention and provoking thought and conversation with his posts.

Of course attending church is very important indeed. No difficulties with that.

Monday, August 07, 2023

Anonymous Asks (261)

“Why do some churches grow while others die?”

This is one of those questions for which there is no single definitive answer, especially given the way denominationalism has complicated something God made comparatively simple. First century churches were multi-ethnic, their membership driven by common faith and physical proximity rather than theological hair-splitting or spiritual consumerism.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Why Are We So Easily Shaken?

I won’t soon forget his face.

He was perhaps thirty or forty years of age, well-dressed and smart looking, a typical man of his era. He was just one among the thousands who had come to this week-long Christian conference.

Every morning, the speakers had been dealing with the reasons for faith, their goal being to show people how firm and rational the foundation for our beliefs really is. Naturally, in this day and age, they had found it necessary to refer often to the recent screeds of people like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett or Sam Harris, the self-appointed “brights” of the atheist world, the so-called “Four Horsemen” of the secular apocalypse; though, really, all four are theological lightweights, since contempt for one’s subject matter tends to make one rather imprecise. Anyway, they make their way by preaching to the atheistic converted, reciting to them the same old canards that have been circulating since Darwin, Freud, Marx and Nietzsche. (Truly there is no new thing under the sun.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The Dying Church

John Garner is convinced churches in America are dying. Raised Episcopal, he concedes he hasn’t been inside a church building in quite a while, and neither has anyone he knows from his own generation. Why might that be? Garner observes, “I’m not sure if it’s Covid, a lack of people my age, or just general laziness.” His musings on the subject can be found here, along with useful links to self-reported attendance data from a variety of denominations.

As a reasonably unprejudiced onlooker, my first instinct is to suggest Garner’s problem may be a lack of a living, personal relationship with Jesus Christ (whose name does not appear once in an article about the church of which he is Head).

Friday, November 20, 2020

Too Hot to Handle: Minding the Store [Part 2]

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Continuing a discussion arising out of Immanuel Can’s recent and well-received post “Who’s Minding the Store?

Elders have the job of feeding the flock. IC’s post suggested that not only the Holy Spirit’s leading but a certain amount of human organization, ingenuity and especially careful observation are necessary in effectively carrying out that task. I pointed out some of the things that make that tougher than it looks, and we considered three of them last week. And here we are.

Tom: Since you mention individual gifts, IC, I pointed out in our discussion last Friday that our gifts tend to predispose us to see the world a certain way.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Too Hot to Handle: Minding the Store [Part 1]

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

In his recent post “Who’s Minding the Store?” Immanuel Can considered the responsibility of elders in deciding what should be taught in the local church they care for. His point was that elders need to really know their congregations in order to provide them with the spiritual food they need. Somebody needs to “mind the store”, so to speak.

Tom: I wanted to get into this a bit further with you, IC, and it seems to me this is a better place to do it than a back-and-forth in the comments to the original post.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

A Unique Learning Experience

“That is not the way you learned Christ.”

Learning Christ is not like learning Marxism or Islam or Buddhism or Taoism. It’s not even like learning Christianity.

All religious and political movements have recognized founders whose words are studied, analyzed, memorized and followed dutifully, but their adherents are not “learning” Karl Marx or Muhammad ibn Abdullah or Siddhartha Gautama or Laozi; rather, they are learning propositions and theories these men set forth about life, the universe and the proper ordering of society.

Some religious and political leaders succeed, at least to a limited extent, in living out their own ideals. Others don’t do so well at that. Either way, it is pretty hard for us to learn them, even if we are determined to try.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Why Are We So Easily Shaken?

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Christians That Need to Be Saved

A man in a local church I used to attend had a habit of coming up to people and asking them exactly when and how they had been saved. He would probe for very specific details of the blessed event, presumably to confirm that the person he was interrogating was the real deal, genuinely a believer. I can’t remember what he did when he was dissatisfied with the answer but I’m not sure it was anything particularly helpful.

When he did it to me, it kind of threw me. Frankly, I didn’t know how to respond to him.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Body and the Local Church

“It’s very clear from scripture that the expectation of the church is that it grows (Ephesians 4)”
— Crawford Paul

This is an interesting statement, and it’s useful in helping us to consider the difference between the Church Universal and any given local gathering of saints, denominational or otherwise. See, I’m not entirely sure it IS the Head of the Church’s expectation of his local churches that they always be in a state of perpetual growth.

The letters to the seven churches in Revelation clearly contemplate local gatherings in danger of having their lampstands removed. That’s not a good thing, but it’s a recognized reality. And even if those seven letters hadn’t been written, human nature, history and simple observation should probably make us reluctant to consider local churches as much more than temporary fixtures in a much greater plan; pawns on the divine chessboard, if I can say that without offending too many who have invested their lives in the “local testimony”.

That being the case, so much for expectations.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Why Are We So Easily Shaken?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: Minding the Store [Part 2]

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: Minding the Store [Part 1]

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Why Are We So Easily Shaken?

The most current version of this post is available here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Quality Control

Knowledge is not enough.

We know this, of course. Where the Christian life is concerned, it’s first principles that real blessing is reserved for those of us who not only hear the words of Christ but who act on the wisdom we have heard. Believers who are satisfied with mere exposure to truth are kidding themselves. There is no reward for head-knowledge, and neither testimony nor substance in the Christian who prides himself in it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Recommend-a-blog (3)

This might be one the best blog posts I’ve read from anyone of any denominational stripe.

If that sounds like dangerously high praise, give me a moment to convince you.

Andrew Heard starts by telling us that “The most dangerous people in our Christian community are the leaders and evangelists who not only long to see growth but who also have the closest sympathy with the needs and concerns of the sinners we are seeking to reach.”

Really? Seems a bit counterintuitive.