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.

 

Southeastern at the 2014 ETS

Every fall semester, before the Thanksgiving holiday, droves of evangelical professors, pastors, and students descend upon an American city to gather for the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. This year, the meeting will be held November 19-21 in balmy San Diego, CA, with Ecclesiology as the central topic. As usual, many of our SEBTS faculty and PhD students will participate by reading academic papers, or serving as panelists or moderators for various discussions. The table below lists the time, topic, role, and location of each participant. If you live in or near San Diego, or you plan to attend ETS this year, be sure to check out the fine scholarship displayed by SEBTS folk.

Time Topic Person Role
Nov 19       8:30-11:40a Christian Ethics Section Erik Clary Moderator
9:20-10:00 Christian Ethics and the Fair Trade Movement Shaun Price Presenter
9:20-10:00 Matthew 27:52-53 as a Scribal Interpolation Charles Quarles Presenter
9:20-10:00 Believer Baptism: Human Act of Obedience and Divine Means of Grace John Hammett Presenter
11:00-11:40 Panel Discussion on Believer Baptism John Hammett Panelist
2:00-5:10p Christian Ethics: Was the Early Church Primarily Pacifist of Not? Daniel Heimbach Moderator
3:40-4:20 Can War Be Just? The Ancient Church and Pacifism Steven McKinion Presenter
4:30-5:10 Interaction on the Early Church and Pacifism Daniel Heimbach Panelist
4:30-5:10 Interaction on the Early Church and Pacifism Steven McKinion Panelist
2:00-5:10 A Conversation on Origins: BioLogos, Reasons to Believe, and Southern Baptists Ken Keathley Panelist
2:00-5:10 A Conversation on Origins: BioLogos, Reasons to Believe, and Southern Baptists James K. Dew Panelist
2:00-2:40 Does Luke 10:25-37 Echo 2 Chr 28:5-15? The Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Question if Its Historical Vorlage Gregory Stiekes Presenter
2:00-2:40 On Feeding the “Theologically Dead”-Rethinking Robert Rakestraw on the Vegetative State Erik Clary Presenter
2:00-2:40 Rescuing Rahab: The Evangelical Discussion on Conflicting Moral Absolutes David W. Jones Presenter
Nov 20       8:30-11:40a The Dark Side of Evangelical Ecumenism Nathan A. Finn Moderator
10:20-10:40 Respondent to Evangelical Ecumenism Papers Nathan A. Finn Presenter
9:20-10:50 Book Panel on In Search of Moral Knowledge by R. Scott Smith James K. Dew Panelist
3:00-6:10p Molinism Session Ken Keathley Moderator
3:00-3:40 Are there Signs of Late Biblical Hebrew in Isaiah 40-66? Mark Rooker Presenter

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