Monthly Archives: March 2011

Live-Blog Notes from The Elephant Room Conference

Today in Chicago, seven pastors gathered together to participate in blunt conversations about their different approaches to ministry. No keynotes. No canned messages. These are “the conversations you never thought you’d hear.” Audio and video is not yet available, but there have been several people live-blogging the event.

Luke MacDonald provides some general observations. Here is James MacDonald’s take.

Below are quick rundowns of each session. I’ll be updating this page as more become available. At the bottom, I’ve included my 12 favorite tweets from the #elephantroom Twitter feed.

Session 1: Preaching to Build the Attendance vs. Preaching to Build the Attendees
- Matt Chandler & Steven Furtick
Summary & Quotes from Chris Vacher and Jake Johnson

Session 2: Culture in the Church vs. Church in the Culture
- Mark Driscoll & Perry Noble
Summary & Quotes from Chris Vacher and Jake Johnson

Session 3: Compassion Amplifies the Gospel vs. Compassion Distorts the Gospel
- Greg Laurie & David Platt
Summary & Quotes from Chris Vacher and Jake Johnson

Session 4: Unity: Can’t We All Get Along? vs. Discernment: My Way or the Highway
- Steven Furtick & James MacDonald
Summary & Quotes from Chris Vacher and Jake Johnson

Session 5: Multi-Site: Personality Cult vs. God’s Greater Glory
- Perry Noble & Matt Chandler
Summary and Quotes from Chris Vacher and Jake Johnson

Session 6: Money?
- David Platt & James MacDonald
Summary and Quotes from

Posted in Conferences | 17 Comments

Counterfeit Gospels in 1 Minute

Thanks to Moody for helping me put together this little video that explains the core concept of Counterfeit Gospels in one minute. (Actually, it’s 1 minute and 26 seconds, but who’s counting?)

The official release date is tomorrow. (Yes, I know the humor in having a book come out on April Fool’s Day, but then again, when you’re writing about counterfeits, it only makes sense!) Online stores now have the book in stock and are shipping them out. The Kindle Edition will be auto-delivered tomorrow.

In other book news, the first blog review has been posted. The always-thoughtful Aaron Armstrong provides an extensive summary of the chapters. Aaron also asked me some follow up questions about the book, including:

    How do these counterfeits get started?
    What were the most rewarding and most challenging parts of writing this book for you?
    You write that you find your “heart is constantly sliding back into a moralistic framework of
    understanding of the gospel” (p. 119).  Why do you think that is?
    Your chapter on the judgmentless gospel is very timely (and although I’m hesitant to say it,
    borderline prophetic). Did you ever anticipate this counterfeit getting so much attention on so grand
    a scale? Why is this counterfeit in particular so alluring?

Aaron is giving away three copies of the book today (contest ends at 5 p.m.). See details here.

Joel Lindsey has been posting some quotes from the book. (See here and here.)

For the past few …

Posted in Counterfeit Gospels | 2 Comments

Worth a Look 3.31.11

Jim Hamilton – “Why I Believe the Bible”

I think that my belief that the Bible is the word of God was probably most strongly challenged during the PhD program. It wasn’t challenged, though, by arguments so much as by the “peer pressure” of the academic guild. That is, the initiates in the guild weren’t producing evidence, logic, and an overwhelming case against the Bible. It was more like an unspoken entrance requirement: if you want to join the ranks of the real scholars, you can’t believe that the Bible is inerrant, and you can’t hold that the attributions of authorship are accurate. Those ideas aren’t allowed here.

Mark Rogers reviews A God-Sized Vision, a helpful new book on revival:

In addition to being a history of revivals, this book is also an argument for revival. The authors seem to write with one eye on those within the church who criticize the benefits of past awakenings and wisdom of seeking more.

Peter Berger answers the question, “Who are the Copts?”

Today the great majority of Egyptian Christians are Copts. They can rightly claim to have the most ancient roots in the country. While their spoken language is now Arabic, their liturgical language is the vernacular version of ancient Egyptian as it was spoken around the time of Chalcedon—a remarkable cultural survival.

Before buying the next inspirational best-seller, ask this question:

I think it is worth reminding our church family and other readers that a very basic question we …

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The Promise and Peril of Being "Gospel-Centered": A Conversation with Mitch Chase

Today, I’m happy to introduce Kingdom People readers to Mitch Chase, author of The Gospel Is For Christians. A few months ago, I wrote this about the book:

“In The Gospel Is For Christians, Mitch Chase demonstrates not merely a love for theology, but a love for the Savior to which all good theology points. Mitch reminds us that the good news of Jesus Christ is not a peripheral matter for the Christian. The gospel must remain at the center of our spiritual life in order to bear the fruits of ongoing repentance and faith.”

The following is a conversation between me and Mitch about what it means to be “gospel-centered” and mission-focused.

Trevin Wax: Mitch, the title of your book would have seemed strange to most of us a few years ago: “The Gospel Is For Christians“. And yet, we’re seeing a gospel-centered movement in our day that is making this very claim, that Christians need the gospel for sanctification just like we need the gospel for salvation. Why do you think this message has grown in popularity? What is the gospel-centered emphasis a reaction to?

Mitch Chase: Thanks for this conversation, Trevin, and what a great way to start!  The notion of gospel-centeredness indeed seems to be growing in popularity, and hopefully the ultimate reason for this is the nature of the gospel itself, which should still be compelling and powerful for believers to hear.  In one sense, this gospel-centered movement has gained momentum from the books and sermons …

Posted in Gospel, Interviews, Preaching, Theology | 3 Comments

Worth a Look 3.30.11

The tragedy left in the wake of sexting:

Around the country, law enforcement officials and educators are struggling with how to confront minors who “sext,” an imprecise term that refers to sending sexual photos, videos or texts from one cellphone to another.

The End of Soap Oprah:

Whether Oprah is a cause, a symptom, or something of both, there is no doubt that she is a sign of the times and of the wider culture. The gospel of redemption through therapeutic public self-disclosure is her stock in trade.

The Real World:

When my daughter was young, she would often be asked, not usually by fellow homeschoolers, why she kept reading The Lord of the Rings. I told her to reply, “Because I want to know what’s going on in the world.”

That came to my mind today after a discussion I had with a Catholic men’s group at our school.  One of the young fellows told me that his professor in Introduction to Sociology — a typical course assigned during orientation to unsuspecting freshmen — expressed her disdain for our twenty-credit Development of Western Civilization Program, required of all students.  “You should be studying something that will be of use to you in the Real World,” she said, “like feminist sociology.”

Pause here to allow the laughter to die down.

Awesome infographic showing the history of web browsers. Anyone else remember Netscape? I use Google Chrome today.

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Reflections on Leaving Pastoral Ministry (Temporarily!)

“Has it been hard to leave pastoral ministry?”

I’ve been asked this question by friends, family members, and readers of this blog ever since I left local church ministry a few months ago to begin a new role as an editor at LifeWay. The question itself is hard to answer. I immediately want to say “yes” and “no.” After a little probing, I discover that certain assumptions hide behind the question.

Some people think of God’s calling as a fixed vocational role for one’s life. If God calls you to serve on a foreign mission field, you go there for the rest of your life. If God calls you to be a pastor, that’s what you do until you retire. When people conceive of God’s role in terms of a fixed vocation, they don’t easily understand how a person might move from one ministry role to another. It seems to be a rejection of one’s initial calling.

I have no doubt that God does call people to fixed vocational roles. However, for me, God’s call to ministry was general. When I packed my bags and moved to Romania for five years, I was careful to tell people, I don’t sense a call to Romania for the rest of my life. I don’t know where this journey will lead me. All I know is that God wants me to do this task right now. The same was true when I served as associate pastor in a Baptist church in the South. The same …

Posted in Personal | 16 Comments

Worth a Look 3.29.11

Bob Glenn: “Brothers, We Are Professionals!”

When John Piper said the opposite of this in his book, he did not mean that it’s okay for pastors to be sloppy and slothful in the work of gospel ministry. He meant that we should not be mercenary in the work of the ministry…

Doug Wilson on the inescapably political nature of the gospel:

The Christian faith is inescapably political, but must not allow itself to be coopted by secular and unbelieving partisanship. But to reject partisanship is to reject compromises with secularists who want to hook up with an evangelical voting block. The necessary rejection of partisanship is not a rejection of particularity.

Overcoming the Monday Morning “Preacher’s Hangover”:

There is no easy remedy, medication, or quick fix that can prevent it.  There are, however, several practical efforts I make every Monday that are tremendously helpful to fight through the fog.  Here are 4 for your consideration…

Insightful review of Miroslav Volf’s Allah: A Christian Response:

“Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? Does the answer to that question have significant implications for how Christians and Muslims engage each other in the world today?”

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9Marks, Forged, Him We Proclaim, Love Wins: Book Discussion #6

Every now and then, I meet with some guys here at LifeWay and we discuss the books we’ve been reading. Our sixth meeting took place a couple weeks ago with Jed Coppenger, Michael Kelley,  Devin Maddox, and myself. Here’s what we discussed:

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church
Mark Dever
Crossway, 2004

Michael Kelley kicked off the discussion by telling us he had (finally!) read Mark Dever’s signature work, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Michael found the book to be immersed in biblical teaching. In a postmodern era in which doubt is celebrated, it is is refreshing to read an author who believes that truth matters and that God has clearly revealed His will in His Word concerning His church. This is a book of answers, not questions.

Michael had a couple of quibbles with the book. First, he said the writing style felt a bit textbookish at times, which may keep it from reaching more people who could benefit from it. Secondly, he thought Dever drew the lines too narrowly at times. For example, is it true that a church must close its small groups to unbelievers and leave corporate worship as the only open door to the lost in order to be “healthy?”

Using Dever’s book as a springboard, our group discussed the 9Marks movement and the benefits that have come with it. We all agreed that the greatest contribution of 9Marks  has been the emphasis on meaningful membership. The 9Marks view of church …

Posted in Book Discussion Club, Book Reviews | 6 Comments

Worth a Look 3.28.11

Who’s Afraid of the Little Ole Gehenna?

When Jesus used that word He was thinking about Moloch. He was envisioning little children roasting in honor of a demon-god and of implacably cruel priests pounding drums to cover up the sounds of the shrieks. He was seeing in His mind’s eye glib prophets assuring His people that by offering their innocent babies they would gain the favor of the god. And when He added the words “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (seven times), maybe He was not thinking about dogs chewing on human limbs. Perhaps what Jesus was recalling was the response of parents watching their infants writhing in pain on glowing red arms.

This is how Jesus depicted Hell.

It is not a dump.

It is a place to run away from as fast and as hard as you possibly can.

A Recently Discovered Letter of Critique to the Apostle Paul:

We find your tone and resorting to harsh language not in keeping with the love of Christ. “Foolish Galatians.” “Let him be accursed.” “Emasculate themselves.” Really? Can you not hear yourself? You think this is Christlike? Does this sound like something our Lord would say? Do you think this flippant, outrageous, personal, vindictive manner of speech speaks well of God’s love or the church? It is clear you are taking this way too personally. Indeed, you ask the Galatians if you are now their enemy. Does everything have to be so black and white to you?

Posted in Worth a Look | 1 Comment

Ravish Me, That I Might Be Free

Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
as yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
that I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
your force to break, blow, burn and make me new.

I, like an usurped town, to another due,
labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
but is captived, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
but am betrothed unto your enemy:
divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
take me to you, imprison me, for I
except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

John Donne, 1573-1631

Posted in Prayers | 6 Comments