Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Conservative Education?

“Liberals approach education as being a matter of just exploring -- there is no right, there is no wrong, let's just look at all sides of things and try to create a tolerant open-minded person,” Owens explained. “A conservative says no. We want to teach everything that's out there. But we are going to advocate what we believe to be true.”

The above quote is directly from a Baptist Press article pertaining to the Steven Flockhart debacle at FBC West Palm Beach in Florida. Here is the link to the full article:

Pastor's Resignation Sparks Discussion of Accreditation

The quote struck me as extremely trite. I received a first rate education in seminary mainly because I was taught by a particular professor to think "theologically." The reason, in my opinion, that the professor was so succesful at it was because he did not advocate one position as true or right. He craftily led each of us to develop and learn the tools to decide the truth. He was as baptist and doctrinal as any professor there, but you could not decipher his position without work. If we strayed off doctrinal course he would deftly refocus us through questioning and challenge. He ensured our theological soundness through dialogue. He dared to allow me to drift from the truth in order to bring me back with sound apoligetic capability to defend the truth of Christ. The difficulty with the above position is that often the class is little more than instruction on what and how to believe. This creates the very shallowness that so many of the same people are speaking out against. Not only that, you end up with student after student with truth, but no ability to defend that truth, or answer the most basic question of "why?". That student has no real reason to believe that truth other than it is what he was told to believe. I am a better theologian, student, and minister because I was forced to think "theologically" for myself by this professor. Today, I continue to read theological texts that are diverse in their nature. I don't do this because I believe they are true, but to continue to hone my own theological skill and more than anything strengthen my personal faith in God.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Crucible

Over the weekend I came across a movie on HBO's free preview weekend. The movie was The Crucible. The Crucible is a play that was written by Arthur Miller about the Salem Witch Trials. The witch trials were a dark time in the United States around 1692. Arthur Miller wrote the play as a commentary of sorts on the current events of his time. The major news of his day has retroactively been dubbed the Second Red Scare. During about 1947/8 to 1957/8 the United States entered into a time of wild accusations and fear over the rise of communism in the world. Neighbor turned against neighbor and people accused their closest friends of being "red" out of fear for their own self and power. Miller's commentary in the play relates the story of a group of girls who are caught in the woods dancing around a fire by the town minister. The youngest girl, who is the minister's daughter, lapses into a catatonic state. The town jumps to the conclusion that the devil is at foot in the town and they are dealing with witches. Fearing for her own self, the eldest girl, Abigal Williams, incites the girls to blame women in the town they don't like of witchcraft. Eventually, Abigal takes the opportunity to accuse the wife of a man she is in love with of witchcraft thinking he will turn to her when his wife is out of the way. The fear of the town and the spirit of revenge drove the town to do incideous things. Use the above links to read the full story of the play and history.

The nature of the play struck a chord with me. At its most simple point the play was about people allowing fear of the unknown to rule life and the tendency of mankind to label things in an extreme manner that he doesn't know or agree with. These actions are little more then excertions of authoritarion control over others. How far are we from Salem today? The general rule of debate today is to label your opponent something negative in order to discredit their position regardless of the actual nature of their view. I have heard this exact thing taught in a seminary classroom. We feel the freedom to attach a stigma, such as liberal; moderate; fundamentalist; legalist; right-wing; left-wing, to a person simply because he doesn't interpret particular passages in the way we do. We create a modern day doctrinal witch hunt. Why is that? Why do we feel the need to discredit a person so completely only because he interprets a verse/s differently? Why attack the character of a man over a non-essential? The slandering of a fellow Christian brother or sister in the name of doctrinal holiness is still slander. It only reveals the great weakness of our own character. The path to righteousness in God's eyes is not traversed by the oppression of those who disagree with you. It is ungodly, and it is definitely unbiblical to do such a thing.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Word of Mouth

“Hiring Smiling Faces” was the job recruitment theme for McDonald’s. I always laughed when I’d see that sign, because I always thought about a bouncing head without a body serving my food. McDonald’s wasn’t trying to be funny, they were serious about hiring people that where friendly and happy. Nothing would be worse for McDonald’s business than having a grumpy person serve food. What would happen to McDonald’s if people stopped coming because they were served by a rude person? Even though McDonald’s has a good product and good advertising, the word of mouth influence would be devastating. Most companies seek to create an enjoyable experience for their customers so that they will use their mouth to promote the company.

In the same way a church’s growth is heavily dependent upon word of mouth. I know of churches that hurt people in their community, therefore, there was no positive word of mouth talk about the church. When there is no positive word of mouth talk about the church, the church is in serious trouble. I also know of churches that are reaching people and there is tons of positive word of mouth talk. Christians need to feel good about their church and to feel excited about telling other people about their church. No church is perfect, but each member needs to think about how they can promote their church and even more promote their Lord.

I believe a church should seek ways to create an enjoyable worship experience for the members of their church and the surrounding community. A church must develop positive Bible Studies and fun fellowship times. If a person leaves without a positive experience, the church witness has been hurt. Earlier I said the members need to feel good about their church, but the staff also should feel good about the church. If you’re a staff member, you can help your church grow by feeling positive about the church and what God will do.

P.S. – Thanks for all the words of encouragement. I have been on vacation and read, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. I am currently reading, “Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age” by Ed Stetzer.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The 26 Wellness Center

Today, my church held the grand opening celebration of The 26 Wellness Center. Like most churches we built a family life center in 1990. It was never used the way it truly can be used. Most of our members have generally forgotten that we have a gym. As an effort to establish a unique connection point for our community I was brought on staff in October of last year with one of my purposes being to bring about the vision of our senior pastor called the wellness center. Rather than a fitness center we have sought to build a place that challenges a person to transform their entire life. We seek to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of every person that comes in our door. We offer a full workout facility, walking track, gym, bathrooms with shower, job skills classes, computer skills, stress management, griefshare, financial management, parenting, new moms classes, sports leagues, nutrition classes, cooking classes, and on and on. The idea is to promote the entire health of the individual with the goal being leading them to faith in Christ. Check out the link below for our website.

The 26 Wellness Center

The name comes from the street that this side of the church faces, which is called Boulevard 26.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Large Scale

I have been challenging a couple of guys in my church to start a men’s ministry. My three best guys invited me to come with them to a men’s ministry meeting in another town and learn from them. On the way back I was so encouraged. They talked about how growth must happen outside the church building. They talked about this men’s group not being under any one church, but open to every man of the community. I am proud of them. We are going to start meeting weekly for lunch and talk about ministries we can do together in the community. I believe large scale spiritual growth doesn’t happen in the church building, but outside the church. Groups like the one we are forming are the answer to transformational growth in a community. I would like to hear from other bloggers if you think there is any hope for the American local church to experience large scale spiritual growth?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Where In The World Is OKpreacher?

This blogger has been blogged down. I became discouraged about a month ago when I stopped getting "Seven Questions" back from people. I also couldn't come up with any new names of people that I wanted to have answer the "Seven Questions". I was down and I didn't want to write articles with that type of attitude.

Church has been hard recently. I became discouraged because I just don't fit the mold of a traditional pastor in rural America. I have struggled with how to handle my calling to bring as many people as possible into Christ-likeness and the seemingly unbreakable wall called the traditional, instutional, and dying church. I have wrestled with the quesiton, can you pour "new wine" into "old wineskins"? I have been reading everything I can on leadership. I have read in the last three weeks: "Orbiting The Giant Hairball" by Gordon MacKenzie, "Revolution" by George Barna, and half of, "Good to Great" by Jim Collins. I want to be the best leader for the Lord possible.

I went on a "Walk to Emmaus". It was a great time of fellowship and worship. I was able to deal with some issues of forgiveness and bitterness that I was experiencing because of the church situation I have been dealing with. I would recommend the "walk" to anyone.

In the last month, I applied to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I feel called to complete a Doctor of Ministry Degree. Since I completed my MDIV in 2005, Midwestern said they excepted me, but I couldn't start until 2008.

My wife and daughter are awesome. I am a blessed man to have their encouragement and love. This last month has reminded me of this more and more.

This is my update because this blogger is back.