The Ecclesiologist

Ecclesiological Thoughts in an Anti-Ecclesiological Culture

Sex in the Church

Just when you thought you had seen it all …

Ed and Lisa Young, “pastors” of the Texas-based Fellowship Church, will spend 24 hours in bed on the church roof next week and stream themselves live on the Internet talk about sex.  The goal is to encourage married couples to see firsthand the power of a healthy sex life … and to drum up publicity for their new book, Sexperiment.

Ed-Young-Bed

If you are interested, you can read more here.

Kyrie Eleison!

Religious Year in Review

The National Post’s recently released the religious year in review.  It can be found here and is worth skimming.

Presbytery Driven Advent Album

So far this Advent season, I have enjoy Chicago Metro Presbytery’s Advent album more than any other advent album.  It is refreshing to see a presbytery put out an album.  I can only hope and pray that more presbyteries will begin to think creatively about the type of songs their church’s sing.

May Chicago Metro Presbytery be an example to musicians in all other presbyteries.

Ministry Q and A

The Christian Reformed Church has recently created a new web-site for members of their denomination (not just ministers, elders and deacons) to ask any pressing questions they may have.  Though I am sure there will be some questions which will cause the watching world to laugh, I hope this site will help the church think critically about some of the finer points of ecclesiology.

The site can be found here.

The Traditional Church and Homosexuality

Yale Professor of New Testament Dale Martin gave the following challenge to churches which will continue to hold to the traditional  Christian stand against homosexuality:

“There can be no debate about the fact that the church’s stand on homosexuality has caused oppression, loneliness, self-hatred, violence, sickness, and suicide for millions of people. If the church wishes to continue with its traditional interpretation it must demonstrate, not just claim, that it is more loving to condemn homosexuality than to affirm homosexuals. Can the church show that same-sex loving relationships damage those involved in them? Can the church give compelling reasons to believe that it really would be better for all lesbian and gay Christians to live alone, without the joy of intimate touch, without hearing a lover’s voice when they go to sleep or awake? Is it really better for lesbian and gay teenagers to despise themselves and endlessly pray that their very personalities be reconstructed so that they may experience romance like their straight friends? Is it really more loving for the church to continue its worship of ‘heterosexual fulfillment’ (a ‘nonbiblical’ concept, by the way) while consigning thousands of its members to a life of either celibacy or endless psychological manipulations that masquerade as ‘healing’?”

This challenge needs to be read and reread by any church which hopes to minister to our world today.

The original quote can be found here.

Credit to finding the quote must be given to Brad Littlejohn and his excellent blog The Sword and the Ploughshare.

NYC Department of Education vs. Renters Who Worship

Last week the US Supreme Court allowed a ruling to stand that the NYC Department of Education was not discrimination against churches by prohibiting churches from renting schools as worship spaces.

Rev. Matt Brown of Park Slope Presbyterian Church gave an interview on the Brian Lehrer Show which is worth listening to and can be listened to here.

This is a major ruling for churches and church plants in urban areas.  Keep these New York Churches in your prayers.  Let us hope this is not a trend around the world.  I can only hope and pray that God will use this ridiculous ruling to somehow grow his church around the world.
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Also, here is a Wall Street Journal article on the subject and an article from John Starke who is a pastor of All Souls Church in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Eugene Peterson

Patton Dodd over at Frequencies has written a wonderful reflection on Eugene Peterson and his relationship with contemporary evangelicalism.  The article can be found here.

Dodd highlights Peterson’s criticism of the (North) American church.  Here are some great quotes:

The problem with the American church, argues Peterson, is that it does not understand this spirituality. The pursuit of relevance has fostered a business-savvy, goal-driven, method-mad church that preaches the truth of Jesus while ignoring the way of Jesus.

Peterson calls the most successful Christian congregations “state-of-the-art consumer churches.” He writes of his dismay in finding “my Christian brothers and sisters uncritically embracing the ways and means practiced by the high-profile men and women who lead large corporations, congregations, nations, and causes, people who show us how to make money, win wars, manage people, sell products, manipulate emotions, and who then write books or give lectures telling us how we can do what they are doing.”

In Peterson’s view, this is why the church is failing: “our religious institutions…prove disappointing to more and more people who find themselves zealously cultivated as consumers in a God-product marketplace or treated as exasperatingly slow students preparing for final exams on the ‘furniture of heaven and the temperature of hell.’”

This is a 1,000 word article worth reading.

The End of the End of Christendom

Over at the New Statesmen, Nelson Jones argues that it is time for England to end the long standing tradition of allowing Bishops to sit in the House of Lords.  The article can be found here.  Is the the final chapter in Anglican Christendom?

 

Urban Church Planting Strategy

The push of urban church planting is nothing new.  Rev. Roland Allen (an early 20th century English Anglican missionary) cautioned the people of his day:

It is not enough for the church to be established in a place where many are coming and going unless the people who come and go not only learn the Gospel, but learn it in such a way that they can propagate it. It has often happened that a mission has been established in an important city, and the surrounding country has been left untouched so far as the efforts of the native Christians have been concerned, because the Gospel was preached in such a form that the native convert who himself received it did not understand how to spread it, nor realize that it was entrusted to him for that purpose.  (Roland Allen, Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours, 13).

This caution is also relevant today.  I know many Christians who feel like they are a part of a different religion when they go home to see their parents in the suburbs.  Today’s urban Christians have the same problem as those of Allen’s day.  Allen’s question to the urban church movement of today would be something like,

“Is this ‘new’ movement of urban church planting actually equipping this generation of urban saints to mature in their faith (a faith which encourages going to art museums, watching HBO shows like the Wire, and reading the Economist) even when they leave the downtown environment or is this just more unspreadable Christianity?”

Credit must be given to Dr. Bird for the quote.

 

An Academic on Preaching

Theological Professor Dr. Michael Bird recently gave some thoughts on preaching.  As an academic he engages the dilemma which many pastors find themselves in, not preaching over the head of the congregation and yet not preaching an overly shallow sermon.  His suggestions:

(1) Identify with your audience.

(2) The form should be easy and aesthetically nice to heart, but the content should be theologically informed.

(3) Remember, preaching is based on good exegesis, but it is not a display of your exegesis.

(4) Preaching is about persuasion, changing peoples’ hearts and minds, not just imparting more information

(5) The most important elements of the sermon are the first thing and the last thing you say, so find a way to make it sing and sting!

These are great (albeit simply) thoughts on how to preach from an academic worth thinking about for those who preach.