In Case You Missed It

At Lifeway’s Worshiplife blog, Dr. Joshua Waggener shared three “R’s” for Worship Ministry.

Have you ever noticed that just when you think you have found the best way to lead worship in your church, some issue arises that distracts from worship itself? For example, you may recruit a talented new worship leader for your ministry only to find out that his or her musical abilities came across as too “showy” and distracting. Or perhaps you found that perfect song or technological tool that you just knew would engage more of the congregation, but it fell flat. In fact, the response from the worshipers was underwhelming! Or even worse, instead of appreciating your initiatives, some folks in the pews began pushing for worship done “my way or the highway,” sending you back to the beginning in your quest for “unified worship.”

 

How should we address these issues that arise in our worship ministries? What should we focus on amid worship conflicts?

 

You may be surprised to hear that Paul wrote his first epistle to the Corinthian church—at least in part—to deal with worship issues head on. He begins his letter by addressing divisions over leadership in the church. Unfortunately, these divisions caused issues with how the church practiced the Lord’s Supper, how they used spiritual gifts in worship, and who they focused on.

 

What can we learn from Paul’s instructions to the struggling church at Corinth? Let me suggest three “R’s.”

 

Jeremy Bell shared an article at the Intersect Project titled: “Bernie Sanders and the Offensive Gospel.”

The recent episode between Senator Sanders and Russell Vought, presidential nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, has made headlines. If you missed the controversy, Sanders rebuked Vought for an op-ed in which he claimed that Muslims “have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.” Here’s a sample of Sanders’ response:

In my view, the statement made by Mr. Vought is indefensible, it is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world…. I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about. I will vote no.

Many Christians are appalled and outraged at the comments that Senator Sanders made to Vought at the Senate hearing. Vought is asserting a basic Christian belief about salvation.

 

However, are we Christians really surprised that Senator Sanders attacked Vought’s Christian values? Are we really caught off guard that the gospel is offensive to those that don’t believe in Jesus Christ? Why are we so often surprised when attacked by the unbelieving world?

 

Don’t misread my intentions for this post. I fully support religious liberty. I hold firmly to the U. S. Constitution. I believe all people have the right to believe in and not be hindered by others for their religious convictions. I am convinced that Christians in America should speak up for freedom of religion. However, we should be prepared for more incidents and attacks like the one Vought experienced by Senator Sanders. Why you ask?

 

In an article at The Biblical Recorder, Keith Whitfield and Micah Fries shared how “better together” is not just a catchphrase; it is a reality.

The 2017 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting has come and gone. This family gathering has become for us a highlight every year.

 

With all our differences, when we gather as a convention, we see again the ways God uses us together, in our country and around the world.

 

The reports from each entity remind us how blessed we are to have such gifted leaders stewarding these organizations, what a privilege it is to cooperate with so many people (those we know and the thousands we don’t) in Great Commission work, and how the Lord has used us over the past year. And, we share and hear reports outside the meeting hall about what the Lord is doing in the local contexts where we and our friends serve.
We leave again this year believing we are, as one of our friends says, “better together.”

 

Nathan Finn posted at The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission on the recent call from Southern Baptists to defund and investigate Planned Parenthood.

Last week, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) held its annual meeting in Phoenix. If you’ve been following the news, you might be forgiven for thinking that Southern Baptists only addressed two topics last week: renewing our commitment to evangelism and the much-discussed resolution denouncing the “alt-right” and other forms of white supremacy. But as is the case with every annual meeting, far more happened than the bits that were emphasized by the media. One resolution in particular is worth noting, even though it has unfortunately garnered little attention outside the halls of the SBC annual meeting.

 

On Tuesday afternoon, Southern Baptists unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the defunding and investigation of Planned Parenthood. The resolution’s adoption was greeted with sustained applause and even a few cheers from the messengers. It was an important moment that demonstrates how committed the SBC has become to the sanctity of human life and the pro-life cause in the public square.

 

At his personal blog, Walter Stickland reflected on #SBC17, alt-right white supremacy, and racial reconciliation.

At the risk of not “striking while the iron is hot,” I’ve decided to reflect on the Alt-Right developments at #SBC17.  The annual gathering of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) never fails to generate attention—this year was no exception.  The media buzzed with developments leading to the adoption of Resolution 10 On the Anti-Gospel of Alt Right White Supremacy .

 

On Tuesday the messengers (or representatives) of SBC churches elected not to take a stand on Alt-Right white nationalism before arriving at a unanimous decision to denounce it on Wednesday afternoon.  As I reflect on the ups and downs of the process between Tuesday and Wednesday, I’ve concluded that, in a perfect world, the resolution would have been and adopted in some form on Tuesday afternoon, but the conversation would have ended without consequence.

 

H.B. Charles Jr. shared this week about being a faithful steward of his other pulpit: social media.

The pastor lives under a divine charge to preach the word. He does not have the right to proclaim his own message. He is a herald assigned to declare the message of the King.

 

Every pastor has multiple responsibilities. But the pastor’s primary, central, and definitive function is to preach the word of God. A faithful pastor will not compromise the centrality of the pulpit.

 

It is my desire and determination to be a faithful pastor. Therefore, I strive to guard the dignity of the pulpit that has been entrusted to me. How I live, study, and preach are shaped by the fact that I stand in the pulpit as an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a high privilege and a heavy responsibility.

 

As a local pastor who also travels to preach in other churches, this sacred calling is doubly impressed upon me. A pastor’s stewardship of his pulpit extends to others he invites to preach to his congregation. When a pastor invites another pastor to preach at his church, it is never a light matter. There are huge spiritual implications involved.

 

When I stand in the pulpit – be it in the pulpit where I serve as pastor or as the guest speaker in another church – I must speak as a servant of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God. I have one responsibility, which is to be faithful.

 

Lately, I have been thinking much about how this stewardship from God applies to another “pulpit” where I often speak. Social media.

 

Trillia Newbell posted an article at her blog this week discussing why race is a topic worth speaking about.

Editors are constantly encouraging me to develop a catchy introduction that captures readers’ attention right away to encourage further reading. And so when I was thinking through sharing thoughts about why writing on race and ethnicity can be difficult, I literally thought I’d just skip the introduction and get straight to the facts. Why do that? Because writing about race is so incredibly hard. Some even go so far as to question the need to read and process material about race.

 

I have been told that speaking and writing about race could hurt my ministry. That publishers may not be able to publish me because my “platform” would be hindered by my communication on the topic of race. But for me, it’s more than a topic. Race, racial reconciliation, racial harmony, you name it, is about people made in the image of God. It’s not a topic that I can just ignore. And, as a black female in predominantly white spaces, I face the reality of my ethnicity every single day. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s simply reality.

 

In Case You Missed It

Recently at The Gospel Coalition, Keith Getty posted an article titled: Facing the Music, Finding the Mission. Keith writes:

There was something unfinished causing a splinter in my mind.

 

I began sensing it last year after I finished rewriting the song “Facing a Task Unfinished,” but it came to a head in January. Over the last five years, we’ve started a new family and enjoyed incredible opportunities in music we never could’ve dreamed of—and, of course, don’t deserve. All of this came out of writing music for the church.

 

Even so, something was just not right.

 

Then it arrived: the torturous day when I finally admitted to myself that little by little, we’d been moving away from what I’d set out to do at my core—write hymns. Time and focus was needed to feed new thoughts, collaborations, and sounds. It was time to face the music. Little did I know, I was about to find so much more.

 

As the clouds broke, our focus shifted and sharpened, so we began putting pen and melody to a new project, Facing a Task Unfinished. (Download free sheet music for the songs “He Will Hold Me Fast,” “For the Cause,” and “Facing a Task Unfinished.”) In the previous five years we’d only managed to write a couple of songs each year we were really pleased with, in contrast to earlier years of writing. But in the first three months of this year, we’d written eight new songs—a testament to the new perspective.

 

In coming back to this calling, I began to freshly realize four things that reinvigorated our cause.

 

At the Lifeway WosrhipLife blog, Dr. Joshua Waggener recently discussed worship that follows the Great Commission.

When Christians think about the Great Commission, we consider where we should go. But when we think of worshiping, we don’t necessarily think about going anywhere. Instead, we often focus on “staying put” for times of prayer, singing, and preaching from the Bible.

 

But what would our worship services look like if they more intentionally reflected the Great Commission? How might we gather to worship in ways that encourage going?

 

In a post at his personal blog, Jason Engle recently reminded us that there is no such thing as a blank space Christian. Jason writes:

Recently, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary adopted a new official hymn.  They selected a beautiful new song written by Keith and Krysten Getty entitled, “For the Cause.”  I love being a student (yet again!) at this wonderful Seminary.  I appreciate their heart for the gospel, and especially their vision to see “every classroom a Great Commission classroom.”  From good experience, I can honestly say that vision provides the engine that drives each and every classroom on their campus.  This is why this hymn fits the Seminary so very well.  I have posted a video of this song that the Getty’s have created in cooperation with Southeastern.  If you haven’t had a chance to hear this song or see this video, please take a few minutes and do that.  Besides the blessing I know it will be for you, I would like to offer some thoughts as I have reflected on it, myself.

 

Meredith Cooper is a student at Southeastern, and this year she made her first trip to the SBC annual meeting as a messenger. In this post, she shares the reflections of an SBC rookie. Meredith writes:

Last week, I attended the Southern Baptist Convention for the first time. While I am not new to the SBC—I grew up in an SBC church and now attend an SBC seminary—I did not consider myself immersed in the denomination until last year when I became a full-time employee of the seminary. As I learned more about the inner workings and politics of our denomination, I have to admit that my perception was less than positive. There were various reasons, ranging from sheer lack of interest in anything political to focusing on the wrong things to simple misunderstanding. However, attending the annual meeting last week put things in perspective, and these are some things I learned.

 

At The Peoples Next Door blog, Keelan Cook writes an appeal to young Southern Baptists.

This week was the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. It was held in St. Louis this year and over 7,000 messengers attended. That is quite a bit larger than recent years, and I have to say, the event impacted me in a couple of significant ways. That is the reason for this appeal. I write to ask you, young Southern Baptist, to consider your involvement in our convention. Does your church send representatives to the convention? Have you ever been?

 

In my estimation, this year’s convention was deeply significant. Some pretty important issues were discussed on the floor of the convention, some sharp rebukes were delivered, and some magnificent displays of unity occurred. It was more than a convention. It was a defining moment in the direction of our giant cooperation of churches, and there is a chance history will remember it that way. What is more, I was there and I did not just watch it happen, I helped make it happen.

 

That is the beauty of the Southern Baptist Convention. We are America’s largest protestant denomination and we are not run by some elite board of decision makers. We are run by a room full of church members from across the United States and Canada. Our decisions are made by small church pastors, bi-vocational church planters, scholars, and automobile mechanics. Technically, our denomination only exists for two days a year, when all of our churches have the opportunity to send people to speak on matters concerning this cooperation we have created. It is powerful, and it is beautiful. Unfortunately, I am afraid our generation knows little of that.