Something Has Happened… Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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33 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    “Perhaps it is that we have forgotten the steady and constant rhythm of the Church Year and of the daily worship which the Church knew for centuries.”

    I think people want church to be something they do rather than who they are.
    I have to confess that learning the church calendar is challenging…and it’s an entirely different way of looking at time.
    Those of us who are convinced off the value of a liturgical life have to make entrance into it less daunting as well…

  2. Xenia says:

    Speaking as one whose daily/weekly/yearly life is heavily church calendar influenced, I can say that you grow into it by regular church attendance. 17 years ago I was pretty clueless about the special days of the year but as time wore on, we (my husband and I) gained the capacity for more and more liturgical goodness. These feast days are meant to be observed in community. This Thursday is the service for the Archangel Michael, with the vigil the night before. Comes ’round every year. 🙂

    As for Sundays, we try to make it a unique day, a feast day to look forward to. We don’t eat breakfast on Sunday mornings in preparation for the reception of the Eucharist, but afterwards we enjoy a potluck meal with our church family. Then we go home and read (fall asleep 🙂 ) or go for a ride, or take the pup for a walk- something simple and non commercial. In the evening we have a big Sunday dinner that would make my Baptist relatives proud: roast, dessert, etc. I make enough to last Mon and Tues but Wednesday is a fasting day (vegan) so the roast needs to be finished by then; bring out the tofu. So it’s a pleasant, enjoyable rhythm that is a constant reminder of the life of our Lord and helps us walk with Him day by day, year by year. We say our morning prayers together, read the day’s Epistle and Gospel readings right after breakfast, and chapter or so from a Christian book. It’s great!

    As always, I am not telling you these things to brag but to encourage you all because such a life is such a great joy. I think any type of Christian could come up with a calendar/ prayer rule/ plan that might help them live their lives in Christ in a less random manner.

    Last Friday my husband and I added three special prayer requests at the end of our formal prayers. Today, Monday, we thanked God for answering them all, glory to Him!

    Again, if this post sounds self-congratulatory, forgive me. I just want to encourage people!!!

  3. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    That was wonderful…thank you!

  4. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    “I think people want church to be something they do rather than who they are.”

    Exactly…

  5. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “Perhaps we have become convinced that in a celebrity driven culture, we must have outsized personalities to be successful pastors, priests and church leaders.”

    I don’t know if this is true. In my opinion probably 99% of all churches have pastors / leaders who are completely unknown outside of the 4 walls of their church. There are 45-50 churches in my town and I would be hard pressed to know the names of any of the pastors (although I do know the UMC has a pastor named Dave, as it states on the church sign – no last name) nor would I recognize any in the grocery store, unless they wore their clericals.

    I think most – even evangelical pastors are quite and broken people.

  6. Duane Arnold says:

    Outsized personalities can exist in churches of 5,000…. and in churches of 20. In either case, it usually happens within the four walls of their particular church.

  7. Corby says:

    The other term besides “event” that is commonly used is “experience.” The Sunday experience. I actually heard a pastor say that he thinks their church has the best Sunday experience in the area. It made me sad. Going to Disnelyand is an experience. A concert, a special restaurant. The gathering of the body of Christ should not be an experience in that sense of the word. But if you took all that away from one of these churches it would no longer be “mega” it would be typical.

    Did you know that churches carry insurance policies for situations where if something happens to their celebrity pastor that people leave, which means the giving takes a noesdive, that the insurance will cover that loss of income for a time? I heard about it when I stepped in at a church and was reviewing the church’s insurance policy. The fact that that even exists, and that churches NEED that, is remarkably telling. If the giving to a church is that dependent on the “personality” then there is something wrong on a DNA level with the church.

    I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Kanye, Indeed.

  8. Corby says:

    And I realize as I write “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos,” that there is as much of a church member culture problem as much as there is a celebrity church pastor problem. One feeds the other. The fact is that Sunday experiences work, meaning they get butts in the seats.

    However, something that came up at a men’s meeting a week or so ago, in order to “make disciples” the church has tossed discipleship. Sunday experience is easy and costs no one anything. Discipleship costs everything and therefore isn’t sexy or a draw. Until a person gets to a point of saying “Where else am I going to go? Who else has the words of life?” to Jesus, and not to a personality, this is going to continue.

  9. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Corby – what does that mean that they tossed discipleship?

  10. Duane Arnold says:

    Corby

    Yes, “key man (woman) insurance”… I’ve seen it as well.

  11. Corby says:

    MLD – it means that there is rarely any kind of systemic process, whether that process is lax and informal, or highly structured, to teach people to be like Jesus. Discipleship is “Follow me as I follow Christ.” It isn’t a class to attend, but it may be part of it. Discipleship involves relationship and accountability. What passes for discipleship, usually, is a men’s ministry or women’s ministry, or singles, or youth, where they maybe go through a curriculum, which has its place, but its more experience and less transformative.

    Discipleship is transformative. I could go on but that’s the gist of it.

  12. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Corby, I guess what I am asking is this – these churches were doing discipleship and doing it effectively and dumped it or were they never really doing it effectively so dumping it was really of little or no consequence?

  13. Corby says:

    MLD – ah. It might be a moot point. Could be both. In either case, the shift in energy and expense is almost aways away from discipleship, at whatever status, and toward experience. The purchase of new sound gear, lighting, light walls, more paid worship/production staff. I can think of two churches in my area where the number of people on the Sunday production staff it more or less the same number of ministry staff. “Where your treasure is…”

    To try to bring it back around to Duane’s point, the overall life of a/the church and individual believers is supposed to be much more holistic, meaning the whole-life. Discipleship is one of the main engines that fosters the holistic nature and health that the church and believers should have.

    If we aren’t going to become like Jesus on purpose then it can only happen by accident.

  14. Captain Kevin says:

    Duane, so well said! As an evangelical/non-denom guy, this has been a concern of mine for quite some time. I wince when I hear leaders use the terms “event” or “experience,” not because the terminology is wrong, but the intention behind them. I think Sunday gatherings should be a wonderful culminating event in the worship life of the congregation, just not a “show.”

  15. Duane Arnold says:

    Captain Kevin

    Many thanks! I really think it is getting worse… and not just in non-denoms!

  16. Corby says:

    Just saw this quote on a friend’s feed.

    Kanye has turned his concerts into a mission while the church has turned its mission into a concert. -TD Hale

  17. Em says:

    “Discipleship is transformative. I could go on but that’s the gist of it.” amen, Corby, amen
    hopefully, we find teaching that is worthy of discipleship… sigh

  18. Jean says:

    Duane,

    From what I’ve observed, event-driven worship is a tremendous burden on churches for two reasons. First, it requires constant refreshing to maintain I interest. Second, people who come for an event will happily go somewhere else if a more exciting event is offered.

    Also, “events” don’t at the end of the day correspond very well with every day Christian experience. At some point Christians should ask why?

  19. Jean says:

    Is discipleship a term used in the Bible or is it a synonym for sanctification? If it’s the latter, is that accomplished through our activity, or is it given to us by God’s activity?

  20. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean,

    Yes… perfect example is Kanye’s recent Sunday “Service”… Check it out on YouTube.

  21. Jean says:

    I actually did, Duane, and it is a great example. What a production.

  22. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    A new era in Christian Worship called “Keeping Up With Kanye”😩

  23. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I have been very impressed with Kanye and his pastor Adam Tyson.
    Kanye as a new believer is out there telling everyone about Jesus – I don’t think any of us can make the same claim

    Kanye draws the crowds and Adam Tyson (I think he is from The Master’s Seminary) does the preaching. Does he say things wrong as a new believer? Yes but didn’t we all.

  24. Corby says:

    Jean asked, “Is discipleship a term used in the Bible or is it a synonym for sanctification?” I would not say it is a synonymy for sanctification, but it is a part of that process.

    The word/concept of “discipleship” is one of those concepts that is assumed in the Bible. Jesus was a Rabbi who had Disciples and He discipled them. In Matthew 28 Jesus tell those Disciples to “go and disciple-make” which doesn’t mean “go make converts” it means do and do to/for others what I did with you as my disciples. Moses discipled Joshua. Paul discipled Timothy (and others). Aquila and Priscilla discipled Apollos. It isn’t just teaching and Bible study which is primarily focused on transmitting essential information, Discipleship is the passing on of how one person has lived out that infomration to someone else, AND helping them, live it out in their own lives. A better word today would be Apprenticeship. There isn’t a lot of apprenticing happening in the church today.

  25. Duane Arnold says:

    MLD

    We were talking in terms of the “event”. We were not speaking of his sincerity, his theology or his Christian witness…

  26. Jean says:

    Corby,

    What do you think of the terms “confessor” and “mentor?”

  27. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I will take event based “talking about Jesus” over ordinary non event no Jesus – after all Billy Graham was an event based organization for 50 years.

  28. Corby says:

    MLD – Bily Graham was not pastoring a church, he was a traveling evangelist. My understanding is that early on there was little to no spectacle to it, unlike a more modern Harvest Crusade or something similar. What Billy did is a different context that what Duane is talking about.

  29. Corby says:

    Jean – I would need more context for the term “confessor” but I suspect it’s not along the lines of what I’m thinking. “Mentor” is closer, but is less personal. A mentor typically helps guide someone else through something. There is a relational distance. A rabbi-disciple relationship looks more like this.
    – Watch me do it.
    – Help me do it.
    – I’ll help you do it.
    – I’ll watch you do it.
    – Now repeat the process with someone else.

    Discipleship is about replicating a life, not just imparting information. If I am discipling someone, they have complete access to my life and the goal is for them to mimic the good parts in the best ways of me following Jesus and to learn from my mistakes. This is a passion topic for me so I will try not to carry on too long!

  30. Xenia says:

    In the Orthodox world, our confessor (that is, the priest who regularly hears our confessions) is also our “spiritual father,” that is, he is the one who keeps up with us, prays for us, and gives us council. Normally, this person is the parish priest. Some people who live near a monastery will have a monastic priest as their spiritual father/confessor.

  31. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia

    Very similar in traditional Anglicanism…

  32. CM says:

    With Kanye West being a new believer, the key right now is for him to be discipled and begin to grow in his faith. I also propose that Kanye is more suited (at least right now) to the office of Evangelist, rather than pastor or teacher. The biggest mistake I see that Kanye being sent out to way too early like all those new Jesus Movement converts were, IMHO.

  33. Duane Arnold says:

    CM

    I have to agree with you…

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