Questions: Worship

How important are worship services? Is it important to have the best music possible? Is it important and/or effective to have a lot of people attend just because they like the music? What’s the difference between worship music and a concert? Is there always a difference? Is it a problem to have mediocre music? What style should worship music be? Should it cater to everyone or only the majority? What if people don’t like the style of worship music? Ought they be engaged in the singing anyway? What if a person would rather play an instrument than sing? Is there a place for them to worship? What about people who would prefer to dance or paint or pray or something else? How should the worship leaders (including a band or choir if present) Continue reading

Being the Church

Keith Giles recently hosted a roundtable discussion on his podcast. His guests included John Zens, Neil Cole, Herb Montgomery, and Kent Williamson. This discussion was so good that I’ve listened to it a handful of times already. I highly recommend you take time to listen to it as well. Here are some of the key points I took from the discussion:

  • Focus on Jesus.
  • Church has a DNA, three areas which should be balanced:
    • Divine truth — Jesus (up / relationship with Christ)
    • Nurturing relationships (in / community)
    • Apostolic mission (out / outreach / service / evangelism)
  • Seek Jesus’ guidance.
  • The church is to be a spiritual family on a mission together.
  • Listen to Jesus.
  • Church meetings aren’t so much the place to receive connection to Christ as Continue reading

Questions: Could God Use an Imperfect Bible?

Does God use people in his work? If so, are those people perfect? Is everything they say perfect and correct? If not, does that negate their message? If God can use imperfect people, and our imperfections don’t rule out everything we say or do, do we need to take an all or nothing approach to the Bible? Does the entire Bible has to be literally true in every way in order to be trusted? If God can use imperfect people to accomplish his purposes, could he use an imperfect Bible also? Or could he use a Bible that isn’t precisely accurate in certain ways, such as scientifically or historically (for example, using story which is partially true and partially not to make a point)?

photo credit: knowhimonline via photopin cc

Book Review: The Spirit of the Disciplines

The Spirit of the Disciplines is a book written by Dallas Willard. I admit, it’s not what I had expected. I’ve previously read “Celebration of Discipline” and thought that this book would be similar. The books both have to do with spiritual disciplines but diverge from there. Richard Foster (author of Celebration of Discipline) examines twelve different spiritual disciplines, always considering how they may be practiced.

Willard embarks on a completely different, more philosophical journey. He seeks to make an argument for the need of spiritual disciplines and the reasons they are important. Willard is very intelligent, which in this case makes the book feel more academic rather than one which would appeal to a broader, general Continue reading

The Key to the Driscoll Controversy

Controversy regarding pastor Mark Driscoll has come to a head recently. The responses to this generally fall into one of two categories in my mind. I believe there is an important, key difference between the responses. I think this difference is worth examining because it can help us understand how to respond in other situations besides this one.

Certainly all people make mistakes, and if you are a public figure, you will have some critics. Is this all that is going on here? Some people, including Driscoll himself, recognize mistakes he has made. I believe Driscoll is a sincere, dedicated follower of Christ. Driscoll has acknowledged and apologized for the poor actions he has taken in certain instances in the past. Shouldn’t we forgive Continue reading

Book Review: The New Tolerance, Part 3: “Absolutes” (Moral Truth)

(This post is a continuation of the reviews found in part 1 and part 2.)

While the authors complain about the use of the word “tolerance”, I was more confused by the way they used the words “absolute truth”. Being as it is that I have grown up in evangelical circles, I’ve heard people talk about this many times before. But I’ve never completely understood what they’re talking about. The authors speak of people not believing in absolutes (absolute truth) and conversely believing that truth is based only on what a person chooses to believe. I thought this idea was ridiculous. If you believed the earth to be flat or the sky to be green, I don’t believe most people would think that it was actually true for you. I believe they would just Continue reading

Book Review: The New Tolerance, Part 2

(This review is a continuation from part 1.)

As mentioned, the first half of “The New Tolerance” basically says “liberal ideas have come and are taking your kids away from you!” However I feel the authors mainly argued against a straw-man. They defined “new tolerance” rather than having someone who fairly represents a thoughtful liberal viewpoint do so. The quotes the authors do use to support their case seem to be examples from the further end of the left. I live in the Midwest and understand that it is a more conservative area than the northeast and west coast (though less conservative than the South). Maybe the authors live in a more liberal area and consequently have a different perspective. To me however, their characterizations Continue reading

Book Review: The New Tolerance, Part 1

The New Tolerance is a book written by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler about fifteen years ago. The book is a bit of a challenge to review in that there are several different messages being communicated on various levels. Overall, I consider the book political even though it doesn’t promote any political action. The reason is that it’s basically an outcry against liberal ideas with the desire to uphold conservative values in our society. I think the authors demonstrate a significant lack of understanding of the position they’re arguing against.

The stated topic of the book is “new tolerance”. However, in my mind, this really isn’t the primary message. The entire book is written in an alarmist tone. Virtually everything is wrapped in Continue reading

Evangelicalism’s PR Problem: Private Love, Public Condemnation

I recently read a book written from a conservative Christian perspective. The authors’ spend much of the book warning of their perceived dangers of liberal / progressive ideas. I admit I was surprised that their solution to all this was a call to love people. Though I don’t directly share their point of view, I do think what they said about love is essentially spot on. This, what appeared to me to be a dichotomy, caused me to have a significant realization.

A popular Christian phrase is “love the sinner, hate the sin”. Some people cringe at this phrase already, at least in part for the reason I’ll get to in just a moment. But it does try to capture the balance between “truth and grace”. In other words, we’re supposed to love not condemn Continue reading

Questions for Understanding Beliefs and Productively Engaging Disagreement

People have disagreements about many things. When a person is passionate about an issue, I venture to say it’s typically because their belief represents one or more values which are important to them. When people have disagreements over an issue, they’re often talking past one another without digging into what is really driving the other person’s beliefs. I think if we could discuss the values behind our beliefs, we would have much more productive discussions. We might actually be able to come up with ideas that uphold both party’s values. But we won’t get there if we’re only fighting about our end beliefs. Here are some questions intended to help dig in and understand the values behind our beliefs and how that might aid our Continue reading