In Case You Missed It

Trevin Wax posted an article at The Gospel Coalition showing that we should stop assuming our neighbors are hostile to our faith.

Some of the headlines are ominous. The value of religious liberty is on the decline. Many Americans consider normal Christian beliefs to be “extreme”—Christianity’s foundational truths (such as, Jesus is the only way to God) or Christianity’s moral vision (Jesus’s strict sexual ethic). In some quarters, our faith is no longer merely strange; it’s bad—detrimental a free and pluralistic society.

 

The evil one would love nothing more than to have these recent developments shut up Christians or to stir up in us a fear of rejection.

Dr. Jamie Dew recently posted about how to turn your children’s mistakes into learning experiences by asking them “What did you learn?” Dr. Dew writes:

What is your first reaction when your children make a “childish” mistake? By “childish”, I mean something like spilling milk, dropping your phone in the toilet, throwing a golf ball through a window, or ripping the wallpaper off the wall. I’m not referring to malicious acts of the will like hitting a brother, lying to a parent, or refusing to obey. Let’s consider those kinds of things later. For now, let’s think about our response to childish mistakes that kids make. The kind of mistakes that kids make because they are kids.

 

I’ll admit it, if I’m not careful, my first reaction to these kinds of mistakes is anger. With four kids, there have been plenty of moments when something went wrong and I responded in a way was is understandable, but not helpful. So, how do you respond? Do you have a default way of responding? Most of us do.

 

At The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls shared 8 ways churches can capitalize on Pokémon Go.

Pokemon Go has quickly become a cultural phenomenon and, whether you realize it or not, that’s a big deal for churches. Let me explain. The app mixes the popular video game with an augmented reality form of geocaching. In essence, you travel around in the real world, trying to catch Pokemon that show up on your smartphone. The game shot to the top of both iPhone and Android app charts, as millions of people around began their quest to “catch ’em all.”

 

Here’s why churches should care. Part of the game features going to PokeStops, which are real life buildings and landmarks that allow players to obtain needed items. Churches are often used this way. In fact, every church we drove past this weekend was a PokeStop or gym—from a gigantic megachurch to a tiny fundamentalist church. So what can a church do to capitalize on this? Here are some practical steps to hopefully move the gamers from your steps to your pews.

 

This has lead to some interesting situations for many unchurched gamers. Some exclaimed how this would be the first time in years they have been to a church.

 

My friend Chris Martin of Millennial Evangelical noted how he saw several young guys sitting on the steps of a downtown church because it was a Pokemon Gym. (He has also written a helpful post on why pastors and church leaders should care about Pokemon Go.)

 

So what can a church do to capitalize on this? Here are some practical steps to hopefully move the gamers from your steps to your pews.

At Dr. Dew’s blog, Dr. Steven Ladd posted an invitation to Logic. Dr. Ladd writes:

One of the great joys I have in academic life is teaching an undergraduate course in traditional logic. It is also called formal, predicate, term, or syllogistic logic, but because Aristotle’s method for making valid arguments was the earliest treatment of the subject (Prior Analyticsand De Interpretatione in Aristotle’s larger work Organon), his method developed into the traditional version taught for centuries also known as Aristotelian logic. All refer to the same discipline, however, and it has generally been taught to young people (middle school age) as the way to develop clarity in the reasoning process.

 

Nothing could be more relevant in the twenty-first century, especially for Christians seeking to engage a world increasingly hostile to the worldview found in Scripture.

Walter Strickland shared a helpful post on his blog giving some thoughts for church gatherings after #AltonSterling #PhilandoCastile & #Dallas.

Dear Pastor/Church Leader,

 

It has been said that the thoughtful Christian holds the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.  The events of this week have gripped our hearts and made us cling to the promises of Scripture.

 

Church leaders from Sunday school/small group leaders to senior pastors are asking the question, should these events be mentioned in our Sunday morning service?  If so, what does that look like?

 

Matt Capps shared the following post on his personal blog: “This is my son.

This is our precious son.

 

We have taught him about MLK, and that Americans have not always been nice to brown skinned people.

 

But, it breaks my heart to think that one day I will have to fully explain to him the complex brokenness of our world.

 

One day I will have to fully explain our country’s disgraceful history of racial discrimination.

 

One day I will have to help him understand that we, as a country, have not fully moved beyond these racial issues.

 

Thankfully, I will also get to point him to the coming day that we read about in Revelation 21.

 

The day when our loving Father “will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, for the former things will have passed away.”

 

On that day, God will “make all things new.”

 

On that day every believer, from every “tribe and people”, will “stand before the throne and before the Lamb”, as one (Revelation 7).

 

How long, O Lord?

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.