In Case You Missed It

In a guest post at Art Rainer’s blog, Robby Scholes shared three important questions to consider before taking a job in a new city.

A career opportunity arises in a new city.

Met with a mix of excitement and anxiety, the first natural reaction is to imagine living in this new place. The new compensation package is larger than your current role, immediately driving assumptions about the lifestyle possibilities, opportunities for increased generosity, and new savings goals you will finally be able to meet by taking this new role.

 

You begin to think that taking the job is a no-brainer. Is it?

 

A new city means a new cost of living. Sometimes this works to your benefit and other times to your detriment. An increased cost of living could swallow the higher salary.

 

So before accepting the role, consider these 3 questions.

 

Sam Rainer shared a helpful post earlier this week discussing why every young pastor needs an old mentor.

“Sometimes the being is more important than the doing.” My mentor shared this wisdom at our last meeting. He’s in his mid-80s, about 50 years ahead of me. He retired from a church in Indiana and moved to Bradenton several years ago. I inherited him with my church when I was called as pastor two years ago. God gave me a spiritual heavyweight of encouragement with him. He sits a few rows from the back—prayerfully listening every week. Most in our church do not realize the wealth of maturity he brings to our congregation. He holds no formal leadership position in our church. He doesn’t need it because his prayers move mountains.

 

Every young pastor needs an old mentor. I know that’s not a new thought. I press the point because it’s hard to overstate the value of wisdom from someone 50 years older than you. Unfortunately, young pastors tend to dismiss the oldest generation of leaders. Not overtly, of course. Few would explicitly state they don’t want to hear from someone older. The dismissal comes more in the form of time. Our ears can only listen to so much before words start melting together. Podcasts, meetings, texts, phone calls, blogs, sermons—how many of them come from the oldest generation? If you’re like me, you tend to listen to people your age, maybe 10 years older. Listening to the oldest generation takes effort. It’s not efficient. My mentor talks slowly, with careful nostalgia. If I pay attention, what I hear is the greatest hits album of his ministry. It should be played over and over again.

 

At his blog Millennial Evangelical, Chris Martin shared about the strange burden of participating in social media.

Over the last year or so, I have become more discouraged about social media and what it is doing to us than I have ever been.

 

Often I think to myself, “The only reason I use social media any more is because it’s such an important part of my job.” Really, it’s central to my job.

 

Then, some weeks, what I see on social media encourages me and gives me hope for the medium as a useful tool for the Church.

 

One of my friends recently left social media entirely. He deleted all of his accounts and isn’t going to engage on Twitter, Facebook, etc. any more. I kinda wish I could bring myself to do that, but every time I consider it, I can’t.

 

It’s not that I can’t bring myself to leave social media because I have some sort of unhealthy addiction to it or because I need to be informed about what all of my friends are doing with their lives. (At least I don’t think that’s why.)

 

I think I can’t bring myself to leave social media because I have a sort of strange burden for it as a medium.

 

Earlier this week, Russell Moore shared about his writing process.

Because you are probably going to be called upon to write something at some point in your life. It may not be that you’re a writer, but you may have to write a loved one’s obituary. Or you may have to write a letter to a child or a family member. All of us are going to have to put down on paper or on the screen our thoughts at some point. Some people just do it much more extensively than other people do it.

 

So here’s kind of the process I go through. And again, I don’t commend it to anybody at all. This is just the way that I work. What I wish I could say to you is that I sit down and make out an elaborate outline, and then have note cards in front of me, and I go through each of note cards. That’s not how I work. What I have to do is spend a lot of time, first of all, reading in whatever area I’m going to be writing in, and then a lot of time just processing that. So just thinking. A lot of the most important writing time for me actually is not in front of the screen, it’s walking in the woods. Because that’s when I’m thinking through “Okay but what about this, and what about that, what about this idea, and what about that idea,” and sort of churning as I’m thinking through this. And for me, exercising – especially sort of meandering free exercising – is what helps to put all of that together for me.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless recently shared ten reasons (beyond fear) that believers don’t evangelize.

If you look at many studies about evangelism, you’ll discover that fear is a primary factor that keeps Christians from telling the Good News. Those fears might involve a fear of rejection, a fear of not knowing answers, a fear of others watching our lives more closely if we speak of Christ, or other possibilities. In addition to fear, here are some other reasons – perhaps surprising ones – that believers don’t evangelize.

On Disciplined Writing, Part 2: Theology and Writing 101

By: John Burkett

Editor’s Note: Dr. John Burkett is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition and Director of the Writing Center at SEBTS.  This is the second installment of three. This is an edited version of a post which originally ran in 2009.

Theology and Writing Theory 101.

Contrary to popular opinion, writing is not a “subject” or a “course,” nor merely “expression,” but it is an art of communication. The words communication and community come from the Latin communis, meaning “common.” Written communication is a community art: learned in community, serving social discourse, and building bridges of understanding (first in ourselves and then between people) constructed by language in our everyday conversations. We may think of writing as concentrated (in both senses) communication.

God the Author and the Conversation of Mankind.

Applying an analogy from speech, I’ve said that reading and writing are like a conversation, meaning that writing is the “talking” phase of those conversations in which we have an interest. After “listening in” on a conversation by reading (and research), at some point you will desire to “talk back.” By writing, we enter the conversation, “talking back” or “answering” or “elaborating,” sometimes by dialoguing with an author in the margins of our book or by responding in a more formal genre.

Reading and writing are always dialogic, making writing the responsive phase of a dialogue or conversation. When I write, I am responding, considering an author’s actions and words–words being symbolic action.

Our dialogic drama begins with God as a Trinity and as an Author. We remember, of course, that Moses wrote as a response to the wondrous works and words of God, that the biblical prophets wrote as a response to their God-given burdens, that the psalmists wrote as a response to God’s promises and salvation, that the apostles wrote in response to the fulfilled promises in Jesus Christ and in response to the concerns of the churches, that the church fathers wrote our catholic creeds as a response to schisms, heresies, and concerns for grace and truth in their time.

In a more modest sense, I am writing in response to an invitation, also to the “literary crisis” that occurs every year in our country, and to a certain call of God, who desires his church family and his family’s elders to be proficient, if not excellent, readers and writers, interpreters and communicators.

The Holy Trinity and the “Dialogic Self.”

It is St. Augustine, that beloved professor of rhetoric, who intimately examines our dialectical psychology and epistemology in De Trinitate and who beautifully expresses his own “dialogic self” in his Confessions, in which he addresses God from beginning to end. Augustine presses dialectic to its extremity, suggesting that the conscious self is itself a dialogue–a dialectic between the human self and God and others in community. According to Augustine, our “dialogic self” is always already in dialogue with, and “possessed” by, another voice–namely (at some level) God.

Augustine is most profound when he examines our dialectical psychology and attempts to understand the divine through understanding the self in analogy (of being) to, in relation to, and in imitation of the Trinity. According to Augustine, the human self is an “imago trinitatis,” reflecting the inner sociality of our Triune God (see De Trinitate, books 9-15). Augustine’s Christian psychology is radically different from the modern, quiet, indivisible Cartesian self, based on a simple monistic substance. Rather, Augustine’s “dialogic self” suggests that the verbal dialogue within the self is the ontological individual-social condition, which is our foundation for understanding how communication and writing work.

Secular scholars are privy to our interior-social condition and discuss how our “inner sociality” becomes externalized in our writing. For instance, writing theorist Kenneth Bruffee states, “If thought is internalized conversation, then writing is internalized conversation re-externalized.” Bruffee, I believe, is correct, but as Christians, we can say more, for instance, suggesting that dialogue is a theological imperative because we are “hard-wired” with other-regard.

In our short study of theology and writing theory, we understand by informed faith that God is an Author (the Alpha and Omega), that God is a “social” Trinity, that mankind is created in the image of the “social” Trinity, and that man imitates God by authoring many conversations. This theological perspective humanizes the writing process and makes it a central part of creating and sustaining meaningful community (and “interpretive communities”).

Thus, to abandon dialogue–to neglect reading and writing–harms us more immediately than it harms others. Alternatively, when we engage ourselves and others by reading and writing, we engage in a meaning-making process that benefits self and others when done respectfully.