In Case You Missed It

Dr. Bruce Ashford posted an article earlier this week giving seven reasons to put down your phone and pick up a book. Dr. Ashford writes:

This week, my family and I leave for a one-week vacation. In addition to relaxing at the beach with my family (if “relaxing” is what one does with children ages 6, 5, and 3) and keeping up with the Republican National Convention, I intend to do some reading. For starters, I will finish reading two fine books, Os Guinness’ Impossible People and Anthony Bradley’s Black and Tired.

 

While my mind is on vacation—and therefore on reading—I thought I’d write a brief post about the rewards of reading. In previous posts on reading, I gave 5 Tips for Determining Which Books to Read (and Which Not to Read) and 4 Tips on How to Get the Most from Your (Non-Fiction) Reading. But in this post, I want to focus on some of the benefits accrued from building a life-long habit of reading. Among the many rewards, here are seven.

 

At the Intersect Project website, Walter Strickland writes discussing that if you are living for the weekend, you are working for the wrong reasons.

The song “Livin’ for the Weekend” was made and remade because it resonated with the American workforce. Each Monday, laborers punch the clock with the thrill of the weekend behind them and the dread of another workweek ahead. For many, five of seven days each week are a necessary evil, endured to pay the bills arising from a weekend of leisure. Many workers dream of becoming wealthy enough to escape the rigors and monotony of the workplace. For them, work is a curse to be escaped.

 

Jonathan C. Edwards posted an insightful article at his blog titled: “Thanks to Seminary, I’m Dumber than I Was.” Jonathan writes:

8 years ago I found myself in my first seminary classroom. I was nervous. I was hesitant. I was skeptical.

 

I was a lot of things.

 

Among all those things, I was arrogant. I thought it was going to be such a joy ride over the next several years as I earned a degree that certified I knew more than the average Christian and could speak with authority on a variety of topics.

 

The professor walked in and addressed the aspiring pastor theologians and said something I will never forget. He spoke eloquently about the glory of God and the majesty that is the Resurrected Christ. He spoke humbly concerning the deep things of our Heavenly Father and how that had changed him, humbled him, and made him forever grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus. He then said these words:

 

When you graduate from this institution, the goal is not for you to be smarter than you are right now. The goal is that you have less knowledge and have a deeper awareness of all that you don’t know. The goal is humility, not arrogance. In a sense, you will graduate dumber than you are. That’s the goal.

 

At the Blazing Center, Matt Rogers writes of his fear of falling off of his own platform.

Another week passes, and another painful story about a prominent pastor surfaces. The details vary, but I’ve noticed one common theme. It seems that the very traits that cause a man to rise to prominence invariably lead to his demise. The personality traits that allowed him to climb the mountain of ministry, and do so with relative success, often push him off the mountain on the other side.

 

A new pastor longs to do something great for God, and he does—but then this drive causes him to base ministry success on how prominent he feels and how big of a platform he has created. Another pastor’s charisma allows him to engage a new culture with ease—but then this charm fosters an improper relationship with a woman in the church. Or, a pastor is a savvy leader, knowing how to put money and people in play in a way to maximizes strengths and minimizes weaknesses—but then this ingenuity leads to underhanded financial practices that disqualify him from ministry.

 

It seems that this trend does not merely apply to those who have achieved some national level of fame. It’s not just those who preach to big crowds, write bestselling books, or are sought-after conferences speakers. Countless other pastors and ministry leaders crash every day. We’ll likely never hear of them, but I’d guess the process is much the same in every case.

 

At the Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams gives four ways to pray for Baton Rouge.

Last Sunday, we awoke to yet another tragedy. Three law enforcement officers were killed and three more injured in Baton Rouge, mere weeks after the death of Alton Sterling.

 

As I saw the horrific news develop, I wanted to know how I could pray for this city reeling in pain and division. So I reached out to Katie Harris, a friend who serves in Baton Rouge with AmeriCorps. Since she lives and ministers within the city, I knew she’d be able to help me know how to pray.

 

She offered four ways I can pray for the city. I hope that these help you pray as well.

 

Chris Martin recently shared three ways the church can fight against worshiping work more than Jesus. Chris writes:

Everyone is always busy. We have so much to do all the time. We all have our reasons, right?

 

For some of us, we can’t learn to say “No” when others ask us to volunteer for projects or sit on boards. For others of us, it’s because of our kids, who “can’t drive themselves to band practice, you know.” Some of us, unfortunately, keep ourselves busy because it makes us feel important.

 

Then there are those of us who are too busy because we worship our work, no matter how much we enjoy it or hate it, because we worship the provision and security it provides.

To Pokémon Go and Back Again: A Modern Day Adventure in Evangelism

Pokemon1

By: Christopher G. Poirier

By this point many of you have started playing Pokémon Go, and if you haven’t started chasing around the digital Pokémon, you have at least heard of or seen people playing. One almost cannot wander outdoors and not run into someone who has transfixed their gaze upon their cell phone as they shuffle along in search of that ever elusive legendary Pokémon for their collection.

To state that Pokémon Go is taking the country by storm may be an understatement as many reports now show that there are more people logged on and playing Pokémon Go, than those who use Twitter day to day.

So, yet another fad has come screaming into the world and many of you are probably asking yourself: “So what?”

Like most things in culture there are many things we as church leaders should choose to learn and understand about this new phenomenon, and also many things we can and should consider in how we can engage the culture.

What You Need to Know: 

  • Pokémon go is free to download and play. However, please be aware there are in-game purchases that can be made. Also, be aware that because it uses GPS data to drive the game, it also can require a lot of data. If you have data caps on your cell phone plans, be aware of how much data you use! Also, it is wise research any security concerns before installing.
  • Pokémon Go is still growing. That means more and more people will possibly be playing in the future.
  • Pay attention, be alert, and be careful. Because of the use of GPS data, and some out-of-date location data, many locations may not actually exist anymore or may be in locations that are not easily accessible. Please don’t trespass or leap any fences as you hunt Pokémon and scare your neighbors.
  • There are people in your congregation who are playing. If you looked up from the pulpit this weekend and it seemed like more people were looking at their phones than usual, it wasn’t you, and you weren’t alone. There is probably a good sermon in this point, but know this: You have people in your church already playing. 
  • Your church is most likely a location in the game. As mentioned earlier, the game uses actual locations for in-game Pokéstops and Gyms. Your church is likely one or more of these things in game. If you have seen new visitors walk through your property in the last few days, they are likely looking for these locations! 

 

So What Can We Do as a Church?

  • Find out if your church is a location in the game. This does not mean you have to have your senior pastor playing Pokémon Go, but it does mean someone on staff should take a moment to download the app, and find out what game locations may be on your property. This allows you to know you will have visitors stopping by throughout the week. 
  • Find Ways to engage. If your church is an in-game location, that means people will be coming. Just the other night at a church event I watched three cars pull through a parking lot just to obtain the game resources at a nearby church. So, take advantage of the situation by welcoming Pokémon Trainers, providing snacks, and having staff or volunteers around to chat and get to know folks as they come through. Many of these visitors have never been to your church before, but they are there now. Even if you cannot have a physical presence, consider having signs that welcome Pokémon Trainers and make sure they include your church’s social media and/or website information. Welcome them and make and make sure that they don’t feel like trespassers. 
  • Be social about it. Many churches and local businesses have figured out they are game locations and are now advertising, placing signs, posting to social media, and even on their websites about being a Pokémon Go location. This lets people in the community know that you are aware and that you are open to people visiting for that purpose. Again, this provides a way for those around us to seek us out and engage. 
  • Stay up to date. Games can change as they grow and become more and more popular. So, stay up to date with the game content and your location so you can know how to engage people who may visit.

 

 There is a clear opportunity here to engage people who do not typically engage the church. Pokémon Go and its lightning fast growth is pulling a large community of people together for a common purpose that is transcending lines of race, economic backgrounds, age, and religion. This a great chance to engage our community in something they enjoy, while also welcoming them to our churches. Though this may feel strange and confusing, if we set the course with the Kingdom in mind we can take this bit of culture and shine the light of Christ.

Even when a current fad seems strange, we should always be aware of what is happening around us and be willing to trust God that we can engage for the Kingdom in even some of the most unlikely of places and in the most curious of ways.

Chris studies North American Church Planting at Southeastern Seminary where he focuses on new and unique ways to engage culture. He and his wife Rebekah serve at Restoration Church in Wake Forest, NC. Chris also has worked in the technology start-up industry where he has published work in technology, disaster management and social media.

In Case You Missed It

Dave Miller posted a helpful article recently at SBC Voices about how not everything is a “gospel” issue—but race is!

I’m not a fan of buzzwords. If a word becomes such you can pretty much bank on it that I’m not likely to use it. I’ve used the word missions a handful of times in recent years but I avoid it because it’s both nebulous and omnipresent.

 

Unfortunately, the word “gospel” has become such a word in some circles. I have come to the point where I almost never use the word unless I am specifically referring to the gospel story of Christ’s salvation. If I enumerated my specific complaints it would be counter-productive and we would most certainly find ourselves on several tangents. But chief among those complaints is the tendency to make every issue a gospel issue. “This touches on the gospel.” “This is at the heart of the gospel.” There are many issues on which we can disagree and the gospel isn’t touched.

 

But race, racial reconciliation, and the combating of racism in any form in the church is a gospel issue.

 

Aaron Earls posted an article at his blog, The Wardrobe Door titled: “I’m Right Here With You.” Aaron writes:

As I sat down to write about Alton Sterling and the response of white conservative Christians, I had to stop and weep. Another video of another police shooting began trending on social media.

 

Honestly, I need to do more listening than talking during moments like this, but I also need to write to process. And I can’t help but feel my silence would be louder and more hurtful than any stumbling attempt to work through it. Philando Castile was shot in his car, in front of his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter. He died later at the hospital.

 

There are still numerous facts and information that will come out over the next few days that will hopefully provide greater clarity to the events surrounding these now two shootings involving police officers and black men. I don’t know those facts and neither do most others, but I don’t have to wait for facts to grieve with those who are grieving and seek to share their burden with them.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently shared 4 tips for getting the most from your non-fiction reading.

Recently, I wrote a post on 5 Tips for Determining Which  Books to Read (and Not to Read). As a follow up to that post, and in answer to a number of questions I received, here are four tips on how to get the most from your (non-fiction) reading.

 

Micah Fries posted an article at The Gospel Coalition website about how your missiology can miss the gospel. Micah writes:

What do you think of when you consider a church that contextualizes the gospel?

 

Maybe you think of some uber-contemporary worship service with a pastor arrayed in trendy fashions and a band with just the right blend of tattoos, skinny jeans, and facial hair. “Contextualization” equals “cool.” Or so we seem to think.

 

But what if that perception misses the point completely? What if equating contextualization with the coolest version of ourselves actually contradicts biblical contextualization altogether?

 

Perhaps our poor assumptions about contextualization are why many view the concept as a perversion of the gospel. But this view fails to see that contextualization is found all across Scripture. Even the traditionalist pastor who preaches against contextualization while leading a congregation of formally dressed hymn-singers contextualizes the gospel.

 

In light of this observation, I’d like to commend an understanding of contextualization shaped by God’s Word.

 

Here is a helpful post from Dr. Jamie Dew titled: “Handy Dad, Handy Sons.

I’m a dad and I love it. I do the same kinds of projects that my dad did with me, but I often fail to include my boys the way he did with me. As I reflect on this, I realize that neglecting this prevents my boys from learning how to do things and prevents them from having the same fond memories with me that I now have of time with my dad. I can do better and fortunately, my boys are now old enough that they want to learn. I look forward to the years ahead of us!

Join us in praying for our country. We are indeed a land of, “Liberty and justice for all,” regardless of the color of one’s skin or the uniform one wears.