Monthly Archives: November 2008

 

Nov

30

2008

Jared C. Wilson|5:30 pm CT

Interesting Church Buildings

Here’s a neat photo post on church architecture around the world. Each building profiled is really interesting, although each one for unique reasons.

(HT: On the Journey)

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Nov

28

2008

Jared C. Wilson|3:50 pm CT

Black Friday is an Appropriate Name

A stock clerk was trampled to death this morning by the crowd eager to get inside a Wal-Mart. Others were injured. One lady who was trampled reportedly lost her unborn child.

Because people want stuff.

We are sick.

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Nov

26

2008

Jared C. Wilson|7:58 pm CT

What I’m Thankful For

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Ephesians 4:4-10

Jesus filling all things seriously excites me.

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Nov

23

2008

Jared C. Wilson|7:44 pm CT

Honoring Jack

Yesterday marked the 45th anniversary of the passing of the incomparable C.S. Lewis, the greatest Christian writer of the 20th century and The Thinklings’ patron saint.

(It was also the 45th anniversary of the passing of JFK and philosopher Aldous Huxley, who both died the same day.)

Read last year’s Thinklings tribute to Jack.

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Nov

22

2008

Jared C. Wilson|11:42 pm CT

Pastors, Don’t Waste Your Pulpit

Pastors and preachers, please preach Jesus tomorrow morning. “High church” or “relevant” church, megachurch or minichurch, traditional or contemporary, expository or topical, whatever or whatever: give your people Jesus. Not a little Jesus. A lot.

Don’t save him for a special occasion.

Just speaking for myself, I have a major crisis of conscience when I feel as though I haven’t preached enough Jesus. I believe it is my duty to center on the gospel every week because the Bible says it is of first importance. That means it can’t be occasional or implicit.

I don’t want to preach, leave the building in my car, get hit on the interstate and die, and have anyone be able to say, “His last message was on our inner potential to be awesome,” or whatever. I want to teach so that if any given message is my last, it can’t be said that I went out failing to have preached the gospel, failing to have proclaimed the glory of God.

Why do we settle for less?
When we have in the endless fountain of Scripture “the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God” and “the unsearchable riches of Christ” why do we break even for one week from that stuff to preach the searchable riches of us? Why do we press pause on the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God in the amazing gospel of grace to press play on the Seven Steps to Being a Better Person?

If you’re a pastor/preacher, don’t waste your pulpit!

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Nov

20

2008

Jared C. Wilson|7:35 pm CT

The Gospel Word is Central to Gospel Work

A beauty from Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis:

Francis of Assissi is alleged to have said, “Preach the gospel always; if necessary use words.” That may be a great medieval sound bite, but it falls short of what the Bible teaches about evangelism. Jesus began his public ministry by “proclaiming the good news of God” (Mark 1:14). When he gained a reputation as a miracle-worker, his response was to leave the area so he could give himself to the task of proclamation, for “that is why I have come” (Mark 1:38). And the risen Lord left his disciples with the specific commission to go to the nations, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).

There is a tendency in some quarters today to promote a kind of evangelism without proclamation. Acts of service are done or people are invited to experience Christian worship. But without words of explanation these are like signposts pointing nowhere or, worse still, signposts pointing to our good works. The gospel is good news — a message to be proclaimed, a truth to be taught, a word to be spoken, and a story to be told.

Related:
Faith Comes By Hearing
Word-Centered Missionalization

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Nov

20

2008

Jared C. Wilson|7:32 pm CT

JaredCWilson.com is Prettier

Latest overhaul is complete.

The new JaredCWilson.com should do nicely for quite a while.

All thanks to my good friend Chuck Leonard of Macin2itive Design and to my brilliant webmaster and fellow Thinkling Bill and his passion project.

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Nov

18

2008

Jared C. Wilson|4:47 pm CT

Numerolatry and the Church

Several weeks ago I was one of more than a few small church pastors listening in to the backstage interviews at the Catalyst Conference. Folks of my sort are somewhat skeptical of folks of that sort — not really the folks, so much as the machine the folks are a part of — and what we were hearing was not very encouraging. Conferences like Catalyst and its progenitors and imitators appear to be predicated on the idea that the number one problem facing evangelical churches is lack of success. How to get success and keep success. And who best to teach us how to do this than successful pastors? By which it is usually meant pastors of large churches. This is how pastors with radically different philosophies of ministry end up on conference stages together: they both have huge churches.

One of the Catalyst speakers in his address said that every church has the Holy Spirit but that some churches have that something extra that makes them special. The crowd ate this up, and indeed, this seems to be the implicit message of all conferences, kits, consultations, and systems of this kind: You may have the Spirit, but do you have _______?

This not only implies that God isn’t enough, it only feeds and stokes the insatiable idolatry for that “x factor” the fans of these programs are operating out of. “Sure, I’ve got Jesus. But I need the tips, techniques, and know-how to take it to the next level!”
The level above Jesus? There is a place that is better or more “successful” than having Jesus?
Do we need the Spirit plus something?

So I asked somebody. Us gawkers got to chat with some of the Catalyst bigwigs, and it was actually a very encouraging, very profitable tool. But one question I asked was, “Why are there no small church pastors speaking at Catalyst?”

I know what the answer is. They aren’t considered successful. And even the small church leaders who attend Catalyst don’t want to hear from small church leaders. They want to hear from the “successful” leaders. So they can figure out how to be successful too.

The answer I got was initially “That’s a good question.” And then the follow-up was something like “They aren’t well-known enough,” which is a good answer.
And then the respondent recommended we small church dudes check out The Sticks Conference. And he elaborated. The Sticks Conference is for pastors in small towns.

Hmmm.
What wasn’t said, but was nevertheless something I “heard,” was that small church equals small town. Because, again, if you have a small church in a big town, it is not successful. The implication is that the only acceptable reason for having a small church is that you are in a low populated area where there aren’t a lot of people.

So I checked out the website for The Sticks. It is indeed for pastors of small churches in small, mostly rural, towns. And the speakers are all pastors of megachurches that are in small towns. Each of the speakers’ bios glowingly related how large they had grown their churches, as if that is the point of the conference: get big.
Thanks, Sticks, for dispatching with the preoccupation with size.

Even the concept of The Sticks, which was suggested as an alternative to the success-obsession of the other conferences, is that if you are in a small church, your job is to get bigger.

Good grief, we idolize numbers.
We haven’t gotten the memo. The number of Christians isn’t increasing! Wake up, Church.

The megachurches are growing, but the Church is not. Isn’t that telling us something? Doesn’t that say that all this emphasis on getting big isn’t working? It’s sucking in consumerist Christians happy with our bells and whistles, but our discipleship is failing, our evangelism is failing, our savoring the supremacy of Christ is failing, our loving our neighbors is failing, our exalting the God of the Universe is failing, not because those things are failures but because we aren’t doing those things.

I love Acts 2. I’m not gonna trot out the “It’s descriptive, not prescriptive” card, but I will at least mention that a lot of the leaders clinging to “And God added to their number daily” are subtracting the entire rest of the book where the apostles were boldly preaching the gospel, commanding shared-life community, and explicitly exalting the glory of God. They didn’t put on a seeker service.

Our idolization of numbers is so heinous, preachers like Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes get free passes. It must be working, right? Their churches are huge! They’re reaching lots of people. Who cares if it’s a Jesus-deficient and gospel-less Christian version of karma? They’re biiiig.

Is this jealousy? Am I anti- big churches? Nope. There are just as many, if not more, big churches where the gospel is preached and the community is being discipled and is loving their neighbors as there are small churches that suck on all the things that matter.
And that’s my point. It’s not about numbers. It’s about faithfulness. It’s about pastors pastoring and the whole community worshiping. It’s about health. It’s about following Jesus. It’s about trusting God.

Whether you’re a tall, grande, or venti church, if your overriding concern is numbers, you’re an idolatrous church.
Be faithful, and God will give the increase in his measure and in his time.

Previously:
Mega(church)lomania

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Nov

18

2008

Jared C. Wilson|4:18 pm CT

Rev’d Up

Any Rev! Magazine readers out there?

My article on the affect of preaching on the health of a church’s community is in Rev!’s Nov./Dec. issue. Page 79, I think.

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Nov

18

2008

Jared C. Wilson|3:41 pm CT

Recent Acquisitions

Due to birthday gifts and some deep discounts at a booksale for charity at the wife’s work, I’ve gotten quite the stack of reading material in the last couple of weeks.

The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk
Jesus Driven Ministry by Ajith Fernando
Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Imputation by Brian Vickers
The Majesty of God in the Old Testament by Walter Kaiser
The Present Future by Reggie McNeal
The Attributes of God by Arthur Pink
Unlearning Church by Michael Slaughter
The Perfectly Imperfect Church by Steve Sjogren
Christianity’s Dangerous Idea by Alister McGrath
Living the Resurrection by Eugene Peterson
Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution by Jeffery, Ovey and Sach
Justice in the Burbs by Will and Lisa Samson
Recovering Jesus: The Witness of the New Testament by Thomas Yoder Neufeld
Look Unto Me: The Devotions of Charles Spurgeon edited by Jim Reimann

Anybody got any history with these? Thoughts?

I’m most excited about digging in to McGrath, Peterson, and Pierced.

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