In Case You Missed It

At The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax shared an article discussing when churches should address current events.

When does a current cultural event necessitate a change of plans in your Sunday morning church service?

 

That’s a question that I’ve been pondering in the aftermath of the Charlottesville protests a few weeks ago. The event took place on a Friday night, escalated on a Saturday, and culminated with a terrorist attack.

 

On social media, multiple people counseled churches on how to respond the next morning. Some called for condemning white supremacy and Neo-Nazis by name. Others offered prayer for pastors who were revising their sermons or penning statements to read before the church. This sentiment popped up a few times: If your church doesn’t address this tomorrow, find another congregation. The social media fever implied that failing to speak on the issue indicated you were taking the side of white supremacists.

 

I am the primary teaching pastor in my congregation. On that Saturday night, I spoke with two other pastors on staff. We decided that one of the pastors would speak from Ephesians 3 before the Lord’s Supper, emphasizing reconciliation at the table of the Lord, who has broken down the wall between Jew and Gentile. Since I was already in the middle of a sermon series on Exodus, I found a few places in my sermon where a condemnation of racist ideology fit well.

 

In other churches, pastors took different approaches. Some posted thoughts on Facebook. Others made a statement during the service. Others incorporated the events into a time of prayer.

 

But the bigger question remains: when should a church change its program in order to address a current event?

 

Here are some principles I’ve considered for future occasions. These are my initial thoughts, and I welcome counsel from others in the comments.

 

In a post at Southeastern Seminary’s Center for Great Commission Studies, Dr. Alvin Reid discussed how life is a mission trip.

When our daughter and son were 15, each respectively left the country on a mission trip, Josh to Costa Rica, and then Hannah to Thailand a few years later. They have since been on many, and Josh has led more than one as a student pastor.

 

Have you ever been on a mission trip? If so, did you ever take such a trip to another country? Imagine for a moment your church gathered this coming Lord’s Day as usual, but this day would be anything but normal. Today the entire congregation is loading buses following the final morning service. Passports in hand, you head to the airport and board as a group. Why? Your entire congregation is heading to a city in Asia where the gospel has never been proclaimed. You have decided as a congregation to do something adventurous, something quite revolutionary for your church.

 

At the For the Church blog, Micah Fries posted an article showing how your sanctification depends on loving the church.

We live in a culture that prizes materialism and autonomy. And, while we love to speak about how Christianity is counter cultural, the truth is our churches often reflect these cultural realities more than we care to admit or even recognize. When materialism is controlling our behavior, we treat the church kind of like we treat shopping for blue jeans. When we shop, we look for the best looking store, that offers us the most comfortable fit and asks of us the smallest price.

 

So, too, when it comes to the church.

 

At the Intersect Project, Michael Guyer shared a letter to an indecisive teenager.

Congratulations. With each passing day, you get one step closer to your high school graduation. This will be a big moment in your life. I hope you will be able to enjoy this accomplishment. I would encourage you to take some time to reflect on all that God has done over this season of your life. Take time to thank those who have played a pivotal part of it—I know I wish I would have done more of this myself.

 

You are about to make some big decisions that will have major implications for your life. You are probably all too aware of this every time someone asks: “What are your plans after graduation?” I remember getting that question myself. For a while I didn’t have an answer. And there are only so many ways you can say, “I don’t know.” I know you’ve been struggling with this because you are unsure of what is best for you. Will you go the traditional college route? Or will you pursuing training to enter the workforce? On the one hand, a college degree is seen by many as the new high school diploma. Everyone assumes that you will go to college and get an undergraduate degree. Yet, there are also great careers available to those who pursue associates degrees, vocational training or apprenticeships. I know you have heard from a number of different people on this issue, but I wanted to share a few thoughts with you that I hope will be helpful to you.

 

Recently Dr. Daniel Heimbach, senior professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern, addressed the Defense Intelligence Agency as a guest lecturer in Washington, D.C. with a lecture entitled, “The Greatest Military Leadership Challenge of Our Day: Cultivating the Warrior Sustaining Military Power.” You can read more about his talk in this story from Lauren Pratt.

 

Back to School thoughts from Dr. Alvin Reid

Over the past couple of weeks at his personal blog, Dr. Alvin Reid shared a series of three posts, each relating to different groups who will be starting a new semester at Southeastern: Seminary Students, College Students, and Seminary Professors.

In his first post, he shared eight suggestions for eager new seminarians:

I remember a cold, windy day in January, 1982. My wife Michelle and I arrived in Fort Worth as newlyweds with everything we owned in a small U Haul trailer. We moved into our little one bedroom, furnished apartment with little materially but great dreams spiritually. I hobbled on crutches from a knee operation. We were broke, but we were called, and that was enough.

 

That was 35 years ago, but it seems like only yesterday. If you are a brand new seminarian, I have a few things I hope will encourage you to help you for the next few decades.

 

Next, Dr. Reid wrote to college students, exhorting them to not waste their (college) life.

Last week I wrote a post to encourage new seminarians as they begin their journey. I had some friends ask me to do something similar for incoming college freshmen, so here you go. NOTE: This is written first to our new students at The College at Southeastern, and then to any student starting out at an evangelical school. These generally would apply to a student starting at a state school as well, but I added a final point for these students.

 

This fall I teach an evangelism class in our college. I’m also speaking several days at Oklahoma Baptist University and at William Carey College, and I’ve had the joy of speaking at many Christian colleges over the years. I love the excitement (and to some extent, the apprehension) of college freshman. I saw a study a few years ago that said the loneliest people in America are college freshmen. I want to encourage you and push you to think of ways to enjoy college while not wasting these valuable years.

 

Finally, Dr. Reid shared a post with a simple prayer for seminary professors.

In our Southern Baptist Convention we have developed a fellowship of professors who teach evangelism as all or part of their role in academia. My friend Tom Johnston at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has been instrumental in this group’s growth and connectivity. This year I’m blessed to serve as president of the group, known as SBC Evangelism Profs.

 

I sent an email to all the professors the other day. I included a prayer I will be praying for them and for me as we go through this academic year. While applied to evangelism profs, I think it’s appropriate for faculty at any confessional school committed to the great commission. It’s simple, like me. Perhaps it will encourage you.

In Case You Missed It

At his personal blog, Alvin Reid shared eight suggestions for eager new seminarians. Dr. Reid writes:

I remember a cold, windy day in January, 1982. My wife Michelle and I arrived in Fort Worth as newlyweds with everything we owned in a small U Haul trailer. We moved into our little one bedroom, furnished apartment with little materially but great dreams spiritually. I hobbled on crutches from a knee operation. We were broke, but we were called, and that was enough.

 

That was 35 years ago, but it seems like only yesterday. If you are a brand new seminarian, I have a few things I hope will encourage you to help you for the next few decades.

 

Michael Guyer posted at the Intersect Project urging college students not to waste their time in college.

Summer is almost over. The semester will soon begin. Perhaps it’s your first semester in college or your last. Your schedule will be full of new classes. You will interact with new people. You will experience new opportunities. You will have renewed focus and desires…

 

  • to grow in your education
  • to grow in your friendships
  • to grow in your desires and passions
  • to grow in your skills and abilities
  • to grow when your love for Christ and for others
  • to grow in your love and commitment to the church
  • to grow in your heart for the nations
  • and to grow up to be the man or woman that God desires you to be.

 

All of this newness does not last forever though. These opportunities and desires often fade as quickly as they came. Your classes get old. New friends become old friends. Opportunities either don’t come or slip away. You find yourself in the same old ruts. And that renewed focus and desire morphs into distraction and discouragement. Before long, you feel like you are wasting your time—wasting your college.

 

At his blog The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls shared six reasons to read dead writers.

With so many books being published today, if you’re like me, it’s hard to keep up with all the ones you’d like to read.

 

In order to keep up with modern culture and know about the important conversations happening around us, we can be tempted to strictly focus on new books and ignore those from previous eras. In an introduction to an English translation of On the Incarnation, a seminal work by the African theologian Athanasius, C.S. Lewis wrote about the importance of reading old books.

 

In fact, most of his introduction is spent encouraging readers to value works by authors who were dead and gone.

 

He wrote, “Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old.”

 

Of course, today, Lewis is one of those dead writers and his books now qualify for the advice he gave while living. But why should you read books that are not quite hot off the presses?

 

Here’s five reasons from Lewis in his introduction and one from me.

 

On the LifeWay Pastor Talk podcast, Marty Duren and Bruce Ashford discussed what Lesslie Newbigin can teach pastors about a Christian approach to American Politics.

What could a little Brit named “Lesslie” possibly teach American pastors about a Christian approach to American politics? Recently, Marty Duren interviewed me on his podcast, “Pastor Talk,” giving me the opportunity to outline some lessons we can learn from the life and work of British theologian Lesslie Newbigin.

 

To access the podcast, click here.

 

In a post earlier this week at his blog, Chuck Lawless shared eight reasons he needs to put his phone down during meetings and conversations. Dr. Lawless writes:

I admit my struggle here. I’m so accustomed to having my phone with me that I almost unknowingly and reflexively check it continuously throughout the day. I’m trying, though, to put it away during meetings and conversations. Here’s why.