- A new resolution (and it's not even New Year's yet): In church today, I was convicted that passion for God and effectively reaching people with the Gospel will not just magically appear in my life; I must be intentionally committed to spiritual disciplines. My spiritual disciplines have been lacking, and it's no wonder I often feel disconnected from the presence and power of God. I'm surrounded by religiosity at work, school, and church, but it's easy to neglect moments with the Savior here and there in this type of environment.
- Deconstructing Churchianity: There's a gazillion books out there telling people how to do church better. Is it a new model or just resurrecting an ancient one? Should it be a come-and-see church or a go-and-tell church? Have we put so much emphasis on the church that we've reduced it to a building or an organization?
The church is the body of Christ...the people of God. When we focus on the life of the disciple, church takes on a whole new look. I heard recently that in America, we have more mega-churches (congregations of 2,000+) than ever before, but we have fewer people going to church. When we replace Christian maturity with church models, we get faulty people running faulty organizations. Just think, the corporate model of church that we saw in the last decade (pastors functioning as CEO's) has dealt us the same fate as many large corporations: leaders who scandalously fall from grace. This happens when they focus on running the organization instead of personally growing as a disciple. You can see why I'm making the above resolution.
It would be easy to blame it on the fallen leaders, but a less publicized epidemic is with those in the pew (or stadium seating, if you're in a mega-church). My brother told me that a lady at his work actually said this about a co-worker who claims to be a Christian: "She says she is a Christian, but if that's what being a Christian looks like, I don't want any part of it." I'm growing convinced that discipleship generally happens better through a mentor-style relationship than a lecture-style.
- Reaching Generations and the Nations: I think this might be the slogan of our church in the future. Psalm 145 says that one generation will declare the glory of the Lord to another generation. I don't want to be a segregated church, ethnically or chronologically. Paul's charge in Titus 2 captures this perfectly. How do we accomplish a mult-generational, multi-national church? We must make disciples in our "Jerusalem, Samaria, and the utter-most parts of the world."
- Challenges from my dad and others: My mom and dad have been in town a couple of times recently. I love my dad's heart and perspective on ministry. He's old-school in many ways, but that's not always a bad thing. He's not easily caught up in current trends and is a shining example of someone passionate to see those outside the family of God becoming part of our family. He always knows the right questions to ask me that make me think more about future ministry. Thanks, dad!
- Christmas vs. Consumermas: I'm working on an article for our student paper on fighting the gospel of consumerism that's preached during the holidays. There's a humorous take on this in limited-release movie that will soon be out called "What Would Jesus Buy?" It's not a Christian movie, but it's made by the same guy who did "Super-size Me" and is a documentary on how Americans treat Christmas. I'm trying to figure out how to raise my kids to see that Christmas is more than a gift-giving holiday and even more than a holiday for family time. These are good things, and we'll engage in both, but I want my kids, and myself, to recognize the celebration of Emmanuel, God with us, as the central theme of the holiday. Amy and I are trying to find ways that the gifts given to our children and the time spent as a family point to this reality.
- Pictures to share: Working in the communications office at school has its perks, including being able to get a good deal on a photo-shoot with a talented photographer. Kathleen Murray, a photographer in our office, spent some time with our family on the seminary campus and got a lot of great photos. Here's some of the best ones: