Last week's Strange Fire conference caused quite the stir if my Twitter feed is any indication. People on both sides of the spiritual gifts issue were weighing in on the conference. Since I haven't studied the issue thoroughly I haven't taken a position. In fact, I spent the last several days wondering why this was being made an issue at this particular time and whether John MacArthur had committed a serious error in hosting this conference. Tim Challies offers his observations from the conference and I have to say that while it has not really helped me settle on a position on the issue of spiritual gifts it does at least shed some light on why this conference was so important and so timely.
Most churches are too busy, according to Dr. Thom Rainer:
Most churches—more than eight out of ten—are busy. Too busy. These churches need to slim down their plethora of programs, activities, and ministries. They need to go on a busyness diet.
Dr. Rainer goes on to outline seven reasons churches need to reduce their busyness. If you are a church leader you would be well served to read the entire article and consider how your church can reduce its level of activities.
Dr. Albert Mohler wrestles with the question of why so many churches hear so little of the Bible:
“It is well and good for the preacher to base his sermon on the Bible, but he better get to something relevant pretty quickly, or we start mentally to check out.” That stunningly clear sentence reflects one of the most amazing, tragic, and lamentable characteristics of contemporary Christianity: an impatience with the Word of God.
The sentence above comes from Mark Galli, senior managing editor of Christianity Today in an essay entitled, “Yawning at the Word.” In just a few hundred words, he captures the tragedy of a church increasingly impatient with and resistant to the reading and preaching of the Bible. We may wince when we read him relate his recent experiences, but we also recognize the ring of truth.
Galli was told to cut down on the biblical references in his sermon. “You’ll lose people,” the staff member warned. In a Bible study session on creation, the teacher was requested to come back the next Sunday prepared to take questions at the expense of reading the relevant scriptural texts on the doctrine. Cutting down on the number of Bible verses “would save time and, it was strongly implied, would better hold people’s interest.”
As Galli reflected, “Anyone who’s been in the preaching and teaching business knows these are not isolated examples but represent the larger reality.”
Politically charged social media interactions can hurt your witness for Christ:
You can't blurt at a people and reach a people at the same time. This is true no matter how satisfying it feels to add your voice to the political rants on social media.
In the current political climate in our nation, with shutdowns and blame, I have watched the volume grow and the civility shrink.
I believe in the importance of civility for civility's sake. Yet, I think it goes even further than that if you are a Christian who wants to reach those disconnected from the church. In other words, I believe the way we handle political issues has a missional implication. So a few days ago, I posted this thought to Facebook (and a shorter version on Twitter):
"Statistically, the unchurched lean heavily Democrat. So—and I know it's just me talking crazy now—if you want to reach the unchurched, maybe constant Facebook/Twitter posts about how stupid Democrats are might be a bad idea."
The post was shared hundreds of times on both social media outlets and appeared to draw a largely positive response, so I thought it may be appropriate to elaborate a bit on this idea and why it's so important.
A new biography of C. S. Lewis paints an inaccurate picture of his marriage to Joy Davidman according to this article.