I love reading the book of Acts. It always makes me reconsider the current church landscape. How should the church function? What should it look like? We should all hold the understanding that the church is a body of people and not a building. Sometimes we forget this truth. It is easy to do in the midst of our CEO-driven churches. I fear that many churches function more like businesses than than gathering of God worshipers. I know that is an oversimplification. There is certainly a business element to any group who owns real estate and must manage funds. This is true, of course, if you believe that the church is best served in this form.
In Acts 2 and 4, the church is referred to as a community of believers. They pull together all of their possessions and resources. They share everything. They live in community. It is a challenging notion whether in a literal sense or in principle. But that’s just it…is it principle or a more literal example?
What seems to be the best and most faithful expression of the community of believers?
I will be very interested to hear your thoughts on this topic. I am constantly wrestling with different ideas but never quite settle things. So let’s try to work this out together. Game on.
What is an evangelical? Our friends at Merriam-Webster list several meanings for the word evangelical. One definition means “relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels.” They also say that it can mean “emphasizing salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching as contrasted with ritual.” Even a classic dictionary like Webster understands that evangelical is centered around the gospel, the good news. The gospel is the foundation of what it means to be an evangelical.
Now ask a person on the street what first comes to mind when mentioning the word evangelical. I have a sneaking suspicion that it won’t match Webster’s definition. You will likely be given a host of other words that give evangelicals a much less favorable definition. Fundamentalists. Right-wing. Conservative. Judgmental. Ridiculous.
If we were to ask ourselves as Christians who falls under the banner of evangelical, we would have a long list. Fundamentalist. Emergent. Emerging. Traditionalist. Baptist. Methodist. Liberal. Conserative. The list could go on for days. Touchstone magazine posted a forum of six evangelicals discussing the definition of evangelical along with assessing the state of evangelicalism. David Wells, author and professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has questioned whether or not we should continue to retain the term with all of its baggage and stereotypes. Joe Carter commented on the growing trend of people dropping the term evangelical and declared his intentions to be the last evangelical standing if it comes down to it.
So consider this question…
Should we drop or hold onto the term evangelical? Is it worth retaining?
Much more than hearing your answer to this question, I look forward to hearing why you think it is or isn’t worth retaining. I have several things I want to say on this topic but I will save it for the comments section and possibly a future post. Game on.
Following a good discussion on evangelism last week and the prompting of my friend Matt, this week’s question builds from where we left off.
Do church programs help or hurt efforts to promote godliness in our everyday lives?
I posed this question at the end of last week’s discussion in regards to evangelism. To take it a little further, I want to apply it to many other areas. Do programs help or hurt our efforts to promote healthy time in the Word, prayer, meditation on Scripture, evangelism, and service in our everyday lives? This is a wide open question so feel free to be as thorough as you like. And as always, be sure to support your claim.
I emailed my good friend Ben Mandrell, Senior Pastor of Englewood Baptist Church, the other day to find out what some of us in Nashville might be able to do to help out at Union. Ben didn’t have much information for me but he did let me know how the Lord’s providence allowed Englewood to tend to a major need of students on campus. A few years ago the church had purchased a local hotel next door. Several ideas were mentioned concerning the use of the property. To my knowledge, it has been used for several ministries within the church while still functioning as a hotel. However, it seems that divine providence has revealed the greatest use of this facility thus far. Englewood has offered the hotel space to Union as a means of housing over 300 students who no longer have a dorm room. The Lord certainly provides.
Greg Gilbert over at Church Matters has posted a thought provoking article about music within the church. Here’s a little taste:
“I think the entire evangelical world ought to put a moratorium on any kind of instrumental music, and just chant psalms in their worship services—for the next ten years.”
Read the rest of the article to find out exactly what he means by this statement.
The other day I was thinking that it would be nice to have a particular topic to discuss each week, something to ponder and discuss over the course of an entire week. With all the pressure to come up with new posts, it is hard to really engage in any type of meaningful conversation. And it’s hard to really dig into a discussion when topics are constantly changing. So my humble solution is called The Monday Muse. Each Monday I will post a question to be considered, discussed, and even debated for the remainder of the week. I will still submit other posts throughout the week but The Monday Muse will be a focus point of sorts. If we can all focus in on one topic per week then maybe we can explore issues in a little more depth.
Technically, it is Tuesday so I’m already behind for this week. However, here is the question for the week.
Is the alter call a necessary or deceiving tool within the church?
In a stunning display of grace, Westboro Baptist Church has stated that they will protest the memorial service of Heath Ledger. Westboro is the same Kansas church that pickets the funerals of American soldiers who are killed in Iraq. Now they have decided that Ledger’s performance in Brokeback Mountain is cause for them to unmercifully protest any type of memorial service for the man and his family.
Though it doesn’t suprise me, especially coming from Westboro, I am still stunned. This planned action is both gutless and heartless. Whether you agree with Ledger’s character or role in protraying homosexuality, protesting a man’s funeral might be the close second to cheering for the man’s death on the graceless scale. At the very least it is like rubbing salt in a wound. How would Jesus treat this family? What would he do in this situation? I can’t exactly answer that question. However, I have a strong hunch that picketing and protesting, and at a man’s funeral no less, would not be his course of action. We are called to speak the truth in love…in love. (Ephesians 4:15) What love can be seen in protesting a man’s memorial service? Can a person disagree with another’s stance and beliefs while showing grace and love toward that same person? Absolutely. Instead of rushing over to Hobby Lobby to gather up picketing gear, how about humbly and thoughtfully reaching out to the family and friends of this man and showing them gentle compassion as Jesus showed compassion. Wouldn’t that go a long way in protraying the truth of the gospel? Wouldn’t that be a better representation of Christ? My hope is that between now and the memorial service Westboro Baptist Church will seriously reconsider their course of action. My hope is that they will put on the character of Christ and discard the radical legalism of the Pharisees.
To the Ledger family…though I am not a person of any great significance and for what it is worth, I am sorry for your loss.