Sunday, January 11, 2004
Blogs4God has a good summary of a lot of people's reactions (like mine) to Howard Dean's new-found old-time religion in "why blogs4God won't list Howard Dean's blog". But American Enterprise Online has a hilariously reworked Monkee's song to boot: And Then He Saw The Polls...
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Tim Bednar has a strong critique of Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven Church model. Here's how i see and score the critical issues:

  • evangelism in the post-modern context is not just a matter of adapting our style or technology [point to Bednar].
  • it's far too soon to know what "embracing internet values" even means, much less how that relates to the church [no point to Bednar]. This sounds like a technologist's view.
  • life-style evangelism will continue to work for churches that can relate to newcomers [point to Warren], though the church has to keep working at communicating outside its borders, and frankly most fail.
  • "felt needs" are not enough to engage our culture [point to Bednar]: plenty of people don't see themselves as "needy"
  • "stop thinking of your church as an institution" (Warren) is still the right direction to go, and Bednar's critique of the "purpose driven church" as very structured and institutional doesn't ring true to me. There's a big difference between institutional programs and purpose, and Warren has served the larger body by calling attention to it [point to Warren].
  • putting verbs into your sermon points is an effective communication strategy: but calling it Warren's strategy for evangelizing our culture is just a strawman argument [no point to Bednar]

So i'd have to call it a draw: i think Bednar's got some good points, but not all his criticisms hit the target.

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A picture named self-church-world.jpg Brian's sermon this morning  had an echo in common with yesterday's post on Living in the Human Orders of Magnitude. He was talking about a simple model of our influence as Christians: as we're personally transformed, we influence the church, as well as directly influencing the world around us. The church in term influences the world, in part as a reflection of us. But the focus is our mission to the world, not our own private edification.

Here's how i see my "human orders of magnitude" spheres:

  • 6x100: my immediate family (well, actually, there are seven of us)
  • 6x101: the people in my company that i interact with, though certainly not on a daily basis. Also about the number of people in church i relate to regularly (worship team, small group, etc.)
  • 6x102: the whole church.
  • 6x103: maybe a subset of my locality?
  • 6x104: the immediate surroundings: Laurel, and Columbia
  • 6x105: greater Washington/Baltimore
  • 6x106: the Mid-Atlantic region?
  • 6x107: not sure about a geographic region (east coast?), but i'll bet there are about this many committed Christians in the US (maybe it's a little high)
  • 6x108: probably covers North America. Also about the number of Christians in the world, though a lot depends on how you count.
  • 6x109: the whole human race, and the scope of God's concern

How to live in faithfulness to these spheres each day is a tough challenge!

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Happy Second Birthday to version 8 of Radio Userland. I've been using Radio for going on a year now, and though it's got a little bit of a learning curve (i wouldn't recommend it for technophobes), the power and flexibility for a $40 piece of software is simply unmatched. The ability to post any thing that comes into my head, as well as organize the whole mess, is really transformational.
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This is really a trackback test: Scripting News points to a post by Diego Doval about Postel's law ("be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others") really being for implementors, not designers.

This isn't a bad prescription for getting along with others, either.

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I'm thinking about teaching an afternoon seminar at church in a few weeks, and interested in any feedback or pointers that Blogos readers might have. Cedar Ridge is pastored by Brian McLaren, who writes and speaks a lot about post-modern Christianity. Consequently, some people come with little or no previous church experience, and therefore little notion of how the study of the Bible is relevant to their spiritual journey, and little experience of how to go about it.

Back in my days with IVCF, I taught and led a fair amount of inductive Bible studies (some of it described in My Technical Journey, though it's unfinished). But this analytical approach to Scripture is perhaps better suited to liberal arts majors or others who are comfortable with analysis, word study, reference books, etc. I'm really interested in the modern equivalent of William Tyndale's motivation. In answer to a prominent clergyman who questioned the wisdom of translating the Bible into English, he replied

.. if God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scripture than you do.

Tyndale envisioned the common person knowing, understanding, and applying, the Scriptures. The availability of the Scriptures is no issue today -- we have a bewilderingly large collection of translations -- but Biblical literacy is perhaps lower than ever, and its application to life is no better. You may disagree with Barna's definition of a "Biblical worldview", but he documents a clear and objective impact on belief and action as a consequence.

So here are some questions i'm thinking about: i'd be interested in your comments or email.Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

  • what principles and methods are most helpful for introducing the Scriptures to new Christians?
  • how can people with no previous devotional habits get started?
  • what are the reasonable goals, and how do you evaluate progress toward them? For example, many of my generation sang songs in Sunday School to learn the names and order of the books of the Bible. While that's useful in finding references, it has no obvious correlation to actually knowing or applying the Scriptures.
  • how can we motivate Biblical knowledge in a culture that largely rejects absolute truth, and move more toward storytelling and mystery, without descending into religious jargon?

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