Been a while since I offered up some linkage. Here are some posts that have interested, edified, and/or inspired me recently.
How Jonathan Edwards got kicked out of his church. Really interesting. I am not well informed when it comes to Edwards’ work and life, but this story deepens my admiration of him, knowing his focus on the rapturous glory (and devastating wrath) of God was the fruit of real-life ministry with its often petty pitfalls.
A minister reflects on getting that second-hand criticism. It’s frustrating. A snippet:
“I got a call saying some people are concerned about this kind of thing,” he explained. “Youth group happens in the youth room. Even if there’s only one kid. That’s where you do your Bible study.”
Who called? How many people are concerned? Which ones? And would it be okay to teach them to worship Satan as long as we did it in the youth room?
“I appreciate the concern,” I told him. “If someone else calls, be sure to remind them of my phone number.”
The next day, a friend called, pretending to wonder what the young people did on Sunday night. “Some people are concerned . . .”
The Great A&W Incident, as it’s known around our house, baptized me into the murky waters of church ministry and the sideways, backhanded, upside-down channels we use to communicate with one another in the family. Before The Incident, I assumed we would all talk to each other. Not around each other.
What a naive dork I turned out to be.
It was a small thing, The Incident. But it fit into a larger pattern of crooked-line communication that one day, years later, helped break a church into a million tiny pieces.
For the laymen out there, “some people are upset/concerned” is maddening. Use it only when anonymity is absolutely necessary, as it will cripple your pastor’s confidence. “Some people” might as well be “all people.” Because if we don’t know who’s mad, we are ill at ease with everyone. It leads us to be timid, suspicious, distrusting. (eg. Can we tell this person about our fears and struggles, or is this person the one who thinks I’m doing a terrible job?) There are times when vulnerable people lack the confidence to bring concerns directly, but most other times the biblical mandate to take an offense to someone directly, not to someone anonymously through someone else, is more necessary.
Researchers were conducting a study comparing the views of men in their 20s who had never been exposed to pornography with regular users. But their project stumbled at the first hurdle when they failed to find a single man who had not been seen it.
“We started our research seeking men in their 20s who had never consumed pornography,” said Professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse. “We couldn’t find any.”
Yonder Breaks a New and Glorious Morn. Bonus points for use of LOTR.
My friend David Wayne, who is battling cancer, reflects on the insidious health and wealth “gospel” and quotes Spurgeon on sickness as the “greater gift.”