Things I Think

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88 Responses

  1. JTK says:

    #3
    That might work…
    If local churches did evangelism!
    The Barna stats are NOT encouraging on the matter.

    It’s shocking how little people are reached in certain communities here in the US.

    90-99% of church growth is transfer growth.

  2. dswoager says:

    Also on #3, part of me wonders if going in the other direction, and collapsing the existing churches and forcing them to start over as church plants might work better.

  3. Rob says:

    #3. Like it!

    Last week I attended a memorial service in a nearby small town. Googled the address ahead of time and noticed four churches all on the same block. During the service, the Apostles Creed was recited, including the phrase “the holy catholic church”. Afterwards, while driving out of town I noticed more and more churches. Every slice of Christianity had their own church. Best I can tell, that town of around 7000 people, has about 35 churches (including a CC). At best, that means a bunch of very small churches. So much for that “catholic” sentiment.

    #8 Recently read: “Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible”. (Not on the top 10 of PP readers’ list, I’m sure.)

  4. Pat says:

    Amen on 3 and 10! One of my biggest peeves is number three. I’m not sure, but I am pretty sure our God believes in strengthening the body. Any good businessman will tell you that too much diversification and too much saturation, too soon, weaken a business, not strengthen it. I know the church is not a business, but all truth is God’s truth. Whenever I hear a church is getting ready to do another plant, I am left wondering are all the other churches in the area preaching a false gospel. Was attending a church in my home town, when they came out and said “Pray with us as we pray about launching another campus in this area.” Told one of the pastor’s later, “As soon as you asked for prayer I knew you were going.” He looked at me strange.

    I also believe that every young men who thinks that God has called him into the ministry should have as a requirement, that they go to South Florida and work for a year as a roofer or digging holes, where there are only three seasons, hot, hotter, hottest. I promise you there would be less young men going into the ministry.

    Thanks Michael

  5. gomergirl says:

    Amen to #4…. some days I feel like the character in some dystopian novel, doubting whether any news is really news. I tend to read from idealogically diverse places to try to piece together some sort of truth. But as with history, truth is pretty subjective in our world. My most fervent and oft repeated prayer is for discernment of what is true and real in God’s eyes, not that of men.

    And #9… I totally agree…. I have never understood why people try to work so hard against something that is gonna happen anyway. Better to know it is coming and be as prepared as you can (both practically and spiritually)

    Books I am reading???? Currently, Power Faith and Fantasy by Micheal Oren… history of the relationship of the US with the Middle East, starting during the American Revolution. Interesting to see how the church shaped policy, even in the late 1700’s. I also have his book on the US-Israel relations during his tenure as ambassador to the US during the Clinton administration. Just finished Spirit Rising by Jim Cymbala. I like him, and want to re-read Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire and the others in that group…. And the anthropology nerd in me has Kathy Reich’s new book on pre-order for tomorrow. I think if I’d kept with college the first time around, I might have found my way to forensic anthropology. I am totally fascinated. I also have a couple of new knitting books…. lol, but those are more for the patterns, and an adult (not smutty, just intricate) coloring book. this one has mehendi designs, and I have one with geometric designs. They are super cool….

  6. Xenia says:

    I am on volume 2 of a four-part sci fi series by local author (from Santa Cruz) Tad Williams called Otherland. It’s pretty good, all about the Internet run amok. People are literally plugged into the internet by neurocanulas and adventure around virtual worlds while their bodies lie comatose in hospitals. This is sci fi that takes place in the not too distant future so feels realistic. I think there might be space aliens behind it all, though…..

    I am also reading Disappearnace: A Map by Sheila Nickerson. This is about the disappearances of people in the Alaskan wilderness. You can’t go far enough north or get cold enough for me.

    I just finished re-reading for the umpteenth time The Way of the Pilgrim, that Russian Orthodox classic about prayer.

    Plus stuff for school.

    I recently rearranged my home library and discovered all kinds of fascinating books I forgot I had.

  7. Xenia says:

    gomergirl, I like Kathy Reich too and like you, wonder if I missed my calling.

  8. Michael says:

    I’ve just noted over and over again the amount of churches in my community that are small, struggling, but faithful.
    The American church has billions of dollars tied up in property and buildings already…we don’t need more, we need the ones we have to be healthy and full.

    I suspect the reason we are weak in evangelism is that we are weak in the Scriptures…and thus are often eaten alive when engaging secular culture.

    That’s what I suspect…

  9. Michael says:

    I’n trying to finish some books I’ve been sent to review.

    Most of them are like a large bowl of guacamole.
    I hate guacamole.

  10. Paige says:

    I so agree with GomerGirl (of course! I love her!)…..

    Rob…. I actually like small churches…. we just ‘joined’ a home fellowship sized ‘church’…such a relief to actually have relationships with individuals instead of crowd dynamics and ‘group hugs’. We can still be ‘catholic’. Frankly, I’m pretty done with communal living. I like having my own house…and feel the same way about churches.

    The “news” media is pretty much all b.s. IMO…and Michael, Love your description…just enough to make people angry enough for click bait. No joke.

    #3…. though saved, we all lapse. No proof needed in my case.

    A neighbor gave me a copy of “The Red Sea Rules” by Robert J Morgan. Apparently, a local mega church bought thousands of copies for congregants… and many small groups are discussing it.

    So far, three chapters in, I find it very encouraging. Right now, I need encouragement more than I need “deeper” theology.
    Blind, deaf and crippled, I need the basics to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

  11. Michael says:

    Paige,

    I’m going to try to be more intentional about putting encouraging stuff up here…we all need to hear that Gospel every day.

  12. Em says:

    #2 – yes, this screen – or whatever device one uses to tap into the traffic flow on the internet – gives a false sense of reality … i often wonder if the children of today will run to the internet when there are crisis to be dealt with, i.e., if war breaks out will they duck for cover or run to log in? … and what happens if the power grid breaks? spooky times we live in

  13. fyi says:

    #3 seems very judgmental. Michael (only using him as an example; obviously I think there is value here) has a blog he feels called by God to do even though there are a billion bloggers out there, many of them Christian with the same message. Should I tell Michael he should join another blog and that God hasnt really called him to do this? Of course not! How can anyone on this blog judge someone who says ‘God is leading me to plant a church in (whatever location)?’ Seems like that is between him and God…

  14. Related to “I propose a 3-5 year ban on domestic church planting.” and the dialog here about it, yep, transfer growth vs a real connection with the “unchurched” and those outside of our faith.

    As a musician, I must admit, much of this is true for me. Thankfully, knowing this and connecting with God and others outside of lectures and opinions from what some talking head in a pulpit is delivering to others has been refreshment to my soul.

    http://storylineblog.com/2014/02/03/i-dont-worship-god-by-singing-i-connect-with-him-elsewhere/?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=facebook_page&utm_medium=Donald%20Miller

  15. Michael says:

    fyi,

    Interesting that you would make that comparison.
    Quite frankly, this blog would be much stronger and more valuable if I had more collaborators and contributors.

    It is often stale and repetitive because I am the only one writing here.

    I would be well served and my readers would be well served if this was more of a group effort.

    God may call someone to plant another church alongside the dozens of other churches in the same locale…but why is the notion of sending people out to strengthen existing churches never mentioned?

    In my opinion it’s because everyone wants to own their own franchise…

  16. Rob says:

    I think one reason we don’t use people to strengthen the local church is that we really don’t want to share the credit. And worse, some of those “strengtheners” might do a better job than the people in charge.

    Oh, and another reason, is disdain for those around us. They are so human and even have faults and we don’t agree with them on everything, so we can’t turn them loose to minister “here”. On the other hand, someone new shows up to a community, who has a “call” to start a ministry, appears, new, clean, anointed, called, worthy, etc. And, they have a lot more autonomy to do what needs to be done, rather than having to ask permission of the local leadership.

  17. “…why is the notion of sending people out to strengthen existing churches never mentioned?”

    Not saying that you do this, Michael, but I’m convinced that there are so many churches because of the illusion that God wants doctrinal purity over love.

    “If you use your impeccable theology to belittle and berate other people, you would be better off as a kind and loving heretic.”
    ~Brian Zahnd

  18. fyi says:

    Michael, how can 2 walk together unless they agree to do so? There are so many different views on how to do church and what to emphasize or not, that coming alongside an existing church would create chaos. When we came to San Antonio, we were told the last thing the city needed was another church. It was clear to us that God believed otherwise and now, 20 years later, it is clear we did what He wanted. No one will answer to Him for what I believe He asked of me but me. I will add one more thought: it is far easier to come alongside an existing work than to star from scratch in a city you’ve never been to before. Far easier. I agree that cities don’t need multi-sites of the same mega-churches with a formula for doing church, but that, too, is between the planter and the Lord.

  19. Ms. ODM says:

    #7 Books on my nightstand:

    “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” by Richie Furay
    “Dispensationalism Before Darby” by William C. Watson
    “Encyclopedia of the Strange, Mystical & Unexplained” by Rosemary E Gulley
    “Rome Stoops to Conquer” by E. Boyd Barrett
    “Angel Stories” by Jonathan Nixon
    “Finders Keepers” by Stephen King

  20. Ms. ODM says:

    Found two more on my dresser”

    “The Invisible War” by Donald Grey Barnhouse
    “When the Balls Drop” by Brad Garrett.

    Three on my list I’ve recently finished reading – others still going, taking turns reading chapters in each.

  21. Michael says:

    I don’t buy that it’s only between the planter and the Lord. It effects all the pastors and churches already in the area and furthers the consumer mentality among the parishioners. We know that most growth is transfer growth…so it weakens the whole Body.

  22. Michael says:

    The Barnhouse book is a classic…

  23. fyi says:

    Then you have established yourself as the judge who tells someone ‘God did not say…’

  24. Xenia says:

    Oh, and another reason, is disdain for those around us<<<

    I believe Rob is right about this. Whenever I ask a church planter (and our area has seen dozens of them- everyone would rather start up a church in Monterey than in Kuwait) why they don't go help the struggling church in town that is doctrinally compliant and the answer usually boils down to "they aren't cool enough."

    They are old people. Too many old ladies who like to crochet baby blankets.
    They like hymns.
    They use such-and-so Sunday school curriculum
    They have pot lucks w/ mushroom soup casseroles
    They like jello w/ marshmallows
    The pastor hasn't read the latest books
    Their houses are old fashioned (I heard this one, believe it or not)
    The pastor wears a suit and tie and doesn't have any tattoos

    Etc.

    The people at these little old churches are held in disdain.

    If the "church planter" were to show up at one of these churches, chances are good he'd want to re-create them in his own image and when this is resisted, he gets to call them backwards traditionalists who deserve to die out.

  25. Michael says:

    No, I’ve established myself as one who doubts private revelation as a sole justification for such things. Based on the high failure rate, it might do well for others to be skeptical…

  26. Xenia says:

    I never believe anyone who tells me God had told them to start up a new church in my area.

    They are delusional.

  27. Xenia says:

    I even objected when the big Orthodox church in the next county wanted to start a branch in our area. I told them we already had several perfectly good EO churches in the area, so go mind your own vineyard.

    (Or words to that effect.)

  28. Steve Wright says:

    Is there an equal obligation for a pastor of a struggling, tiny church, with a small number of members too loyal to leave to announce one Sunday that it is time to close the doors and sell the property.

    A whole lot of dying churches in America continue to exist simply because they own the land with no debt and thus it takes very little to keep the doors open to the handful of parishioners who desire to come.

    Meanwhile, a new, growing church, making an impact in the community is still stuck throwing away thousands of dollars in rent at some office space (or risk the multi-million dollar building project and debt).

    Seems like that is the other side of this coin.

  29. Xenia says:

    They wouldn’t have to throw away thousands of dollars if they went and helped the small churches and revitalized them.

  30. Michael says:

    Xenia beat me to it…

  31. Xenia says:

    Is there an equal obligation for a pastor of a struggling, tiny church, with a small number of members too loyal to leave to announce one Sunday that it is time to close the doors and sell the property.<<<

    Oh yes, there's a shiny new church in town, folks, with a hip pastor with cool glasses and edgy tattoos! They got a band up front that will blast your ears out! All the staff are young and they all eat kale for breakfast! This new church has an inscrutable name that really makes you think! Ok you old folks who have faithfully come to church here for the past sixty years, time for you old geezers to to acknowledge that you are squatting on valuable property and you need to turn things over to those youngsters. I myself have been your pastor for the past 40 years- baptized you, married you, buried your family members for decades- but by golly it's obvious that you and I are just taking up valuable space so let's close up shop. Where will you all go? What? You don't like loud rock music? Where will I go? Who knows! Who cares! We are yesterday's news.

  32. Michael says:

    Now you all know why I’ve tried my best to keep Xenia close by for over a decade…that was gold.

  33. Babylon's Dread says:

    I do think the rationale of #8 is errant and reminds me of those who believe the world ends in nuclear holocaust and the thought of them having political influence.

  34. Steve Wright says:

    I asked the question as a counter to the thesis on church planting. I did not make the suggestion they should close. I personally would not advocate that at all. But I also am not making the thesis that more churches in the towns of America are a negative thing

    So next question then. Let’s get specific about just what a small church (i.e. 50 or so members) really needs in the way of support. We assume a man (the church planter) who has equipped himself for pastoral ministry, and feels the Lord would have Him serve in that capacity with His life.

    What does the little church need. They certainly do not have too many people for the pastor to serve. (He probably already has at least one elder who is an assistant anyway).

    So the question then is if that church is willing to keep everything they are doing to meet the needs of the 50 people who love it so BUT ALSO be willing to expand to a second service that maybe does have a different music style, different preaching (with the new guy) and more direct effort to reaching those who may not otherwise fellowship there.

    Xenia used the term “revitalize” – is this what is meant? If that is the thesis, then sure, I am all in agreement. What does help the struggling church actually mean?

    I assume the idea is not simply to be window dressing – a token young family so any other young families that walk in have some company and don’t run off

  35. Steve Wright says:

    Sometimes our ideals have some conflict. I think we all agree there is nothing wrong with a given denomination having representation in a town they otherwise do not.

    I think it has been expressed we should seek to worship in the town in which we live, shop, school our children etc (rather than drive 30-60 minutes to hear the celebrity pastor)

    I think it has been expressed that large churches should be broken up into smaller works in the same town, rather than continue to grow larger and larger.

    And I know it has been promoted that transfer growth is essential in many cases where pastoral abuse takes place.

    All of the above is going to necessitate a lot of churches in a given town, no?

  36. Steve Wright says:

    My bottom line is if a new church can show up and significantly destroy an established church by taking a bunch of its members, then the older church does need to look in the mirror at least a little bit. As Xenia’s post pointed out, those people with the faithful pastor are not going to be attracted to the new shiny rock band church. So what is the fear?

    And if that older church has been around for 40 years as was suggested, and they still have not made a connection with lots of people in the town that start going to the new church…well again, maybe a look in the mirror is needed. Or maybe praising the Lord that He raised up someone who is reaching people in the community that they were not reaching all these years.

    The Orthodox planted a church around here recently and their website speaks to the idea of bringing orthodoxy to the community. I am sure there will be “transfer growth” to some degree over the years as people leave Evangelicalism (or whatever other -ism) for Orthodoxy. That’s a good thing. Plus they are there when a new Orthodox family moves into the area (like when a new CC family moves into Elsinore and looks us up…or the Lutherans down the block etc). Our area does not need a new CHURCH (for the sake of a church), but it likely does need a new Orthodox church to meet the population growth and diversity.

    Joe Sabolick planted a church less than 2 miles from us – advertised, brought in celebrity musicians every other week, rented the biggest place in the town (the lounge of the baseball stadium). – And a typical CC member was certainly the target audience.

    And while there certainly was not a “need” for this new work, I did not lose any sleep over it. I knew there was not a chance that we would lose a large number of people. And anyone that might move on really was not plugged in to us as their church home anyway.

    God leads His sheep. Yes, sometimes the sheep need to quit roaming, looking for the next new thing or the perfect church. But sometimes the sheep need an alternative because of a lack among the under-shepherds of their local church alternatives.

    My biggest concern is pastors that hurt churches due to their adultery or other sins, then move next door and plant a new independent church and destroy the old fellowship by taking a bunch of (foolish) members.

    As FYI wrote (and experienced) a truly new work from scratch is far too hard to worry about hurting other churches in my opinion. If it survives, even if it experiences “transfer growth” it likely will be ministering to people that otherwise were not being ministered to (for whatever reason) by the existing works.

    God leads His sheep. And they are His, not any pastor’s.

  37. pstrmike says:

    my goals for reading for the summer:

    Spiritual Classics, Ed. Richard Foster and Emilie Griffin
    The Steps of Humility and Pride, Bernard
    True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer
    Twilight of the Idols and the Anti-Christ, Nietzsche
    and I’m going to try to squeeze in a reread of Milton’s Paradise Lost

  38. Ms. ODM says:

    How this for biblical church planting?

    Matt 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.”

  39. Michael says:

    Great scripture…about church discipline.
    Context, context, context…

  40. Michael says:

    Steve,

    That’s the apologetic for corporate, consumer driven, Christianity.
    I say the model is broken…we agree to disagree.

  41. Michael says:

    After reading pstrmikes list I’m sticking to Batman reprints…

  42. Michael says:

    Actually, I’m reading Russell Moore’s book on engaging the culture without losing the Gospel.

    I was prepared to enjoy hating it…but it’s a remarkable book to this point.

  43. Steve Wright says:

    I don’t know how trustworthy stats are but it does seem a commonly reported figure of 4000 church closings each year. Maybe 1000 or so church plants a year to offset.

    Even if those 1000 somehow saved a closing church, that still puts us 3000 in the red.

  44. pstrmike says:

    As we all know, stats can be misleading. Many times its not the number of new church starts, but the location in which they are planted.

  45. Steve Wright says:

    I’m starting with the idea that some young guy just spent the last 2-3 years, investing hundreds of hours and likely thousands of dollars in formal ministry study with the intention that his career is going to be as a pastor (even if that means working a 2nd job for awhile eventually the end result is ending up on staff of a church). He believes God has called him and has taken seriously the responsibility to equip himself.

    And he shows up at our church door…(rather than try and plant a new work down the street)

    I’m going to tell him to grab a chair for the next 6 months and just worship God, meet people, and see if this is the home church God would be leading you to worship, fellowship and serve at. He would not be asked (nor given) any opportunity to serve as this is how we protect our people, our prospective new members, and act as good stewards before the Lord.

    I also tell him that, even as we could begin to plug him into ministry opportunity after six months, the chance of ever putting him on even a partial salary is very unlikely, and certainly not to happen for many years.

    I imagine at even smaller churches than ours, that would be even more the case.

    Just trying to take the theory into practice. I know it is sort of a stacked argument. Nobody objects to a Lutheran, Orthodox, Presbyterian young man getting formally trained for ministry and being sent to where there is a need for a church of that denomination. Its the random, independent, evangelical, community fellowship that seems to have the challenge…but I don’t know if I would call that consumer driven unless we added denominationally driven (by the consumer)

  46. Paige says:

    Wow…I like that “where two or three are gathered”….. my kind of church at this stage of my life. I just can’t do big church anymore…. I’m old and grumpy. 😀

  47. Steve Wright says:

    Now if that same guy gets a job somewhere and opens his house to a home Bible study. And that Bible study grows over 2-3 years, and the people who go to that study begin to see him as their personal pastor, and come together saying “We ought to plant a church” and organize their efforts, money and time and go for it…and that church grows. Well, praise the Lord.

    And I doubt that once they get their fixed Sunday location, the established churches are going to lose a ton of numbers for the newest game in town.

    I planted a church just like that…from a home Bible study. And we had some who were part of the home study who had a home church and when we went to Sundays they did not go with us (and I certainly supported their decision to stay with their home church)….and then we had those who had no real home church or felt like we were a stronger fellowship than where they were going…who joined us in the plant.

  48. Michael says:

    “I’m starting with the idea that some young guy just spent the last 2-3 years, investing hundreds of hours and likely thousands of dollars in formal ministry study with the intention that his career is going to be as a pastor “…

    Then he’s either a Presbyterian or a Lutheran… 🙂

  49. Babylon's Dread says:

    Or a Southern Baptist

  50. Steve Wright says:

    We’ve got two men presently finishing MDivs at CCLE. One from Fuller and one from Azusa Pacific. They worship and serve at CCLE presently. No telling what the Lord has planned for their future…

  51. Michael says:

    BD,

    I was conversing with someone today about the Southern Baptist institutions…they have some heavy hitters among them.

  52. pstrmike says:

    well, you don’t get an MDiv just to hand out bulletins…..

  53. Josh the Baptist says:

    As a guy who just finished my $1400 Mdiv class for the night…luckily I only have a few years left.

    Eh, I’m exhausted. No energy left to fight.

    I do think we have over planted – SBC more so than anyone. The problem is that there are still places in our country that really need new churches, but we keep throwing up more churches in the same neighborhoods.

    Books I’m reading at the present – Tell the Truth by Will Metzger, Packer’s Sovereignty and Evangelism again, and The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman.

  54. Xenia says:

    A lot of the church plants in this area failed. I suspect a good percentage of that 4000 closures would be start ups that flopped. Including one specimen that gave itself the name “The Church You’ve Been Looking For.” Yep, that was the church’s name. Lasted 2 years, tops.

    Meanwhile, the old folks” churches they held in disdain- they are still there.

  55. Xenia says:

    Steve, you are right: If a young man attends an Orthodox seminary and is ordained, the expectation is that he is willing to serve wherever the bishop sends him. There is always a church somewhere that could use a priest or needs an assistant priest. He will not start up his own church.

  56. Steve Wright says:

    Well…if the 1000 a year new start-ups figure is as accurate as the 4000 closures…then it can’t make up that big of a percentage it seems…

    I like to see churches live on…2nd, 3rd, 4th generation. Multiple faithful pastors over the years. If I was 70 and my congregation was almost entirely over 60…then it would seem quite unlikely that church will live on for another generation. Whether that matters to the average pastor and leadership of such a church, who knows.

    My Dad has been helping someone try to fight a denominational headquarters who wants to close a tiny church in Oklahoma in a dead town…even though there are still people who worship there (and have for decades). Although that church likely has no future, I still hate the idea of ever closing a church that people still want to attend and where someone is still leading faithfully. The church is probably close to 100 years old.

    I just don’t get that attitude that says close it down. From some denominational headquarters distanced from the whole thing.

  57. Josh the Baptist says:

    I would say the vast majority of SBC seminary grads take positions at established churches. I wonder how many of the guys planting SBC churches have even gone to seminary? Don’t know. I know that established churches with openings always want a seminary grad. I know that Furtick had not gone to seminary when he started Elevation. (He has since gone). Perry Noble still hasn’t gone to seminary. Very small sample size, but those are the two prominent SBC plants around here.

    Is there a correlation between church planters and lack of formal education?

  58. Steve Wright says:

    Josh, I wonder how common it is for a guy to plant a church, independently, and then later seek to join the SBC? That has happened to some degree with CC.

    Also, a lot of the CC pastors that have formal education degrees seem to have gotten them after they planted their churches.

    Although I must say, having experienced both, the School of Ministry under Pastor Westerlund in Costa Mesa was in the ballpark as far as the rigors academically as my MDiv later and more of an effort in terms of all the ministry practicums that were required compared to the MDiv. Schools of Ministry are often dismissed when this discussion comes around….

    And I know my Psalms class I taught at the CC Bible College was MDiv worthy 🙂

  59. Josh the Baptist says:

    I wouldn’t dismiss Bible college or anything like that. The guys I’m thinking of had no formal bible education at all. Same thing I’ve seen; some have pursued education after the church is established. I think that is admirable.
    SBC has a small Bible college near here Fruitland Baptist College. They aren’t accredited, and basically only have a two year degree, but they have put out 100’s of great pastors.

    As far as latching on to the SBC later, some of the rules are changing. I’m not sure how it works right now. Several years ago, the North American Mission Board would give nearly anyone who asked $1200 a month to plant a church. Struggling church plants of all stripes would sit around ad go …well, we go SBC. And some did. AND they were given the cash. So, yes at that time, there were a lot who became SBC after being established for a few months or years.

  60. I don’t have a problem with church plants. If a group of people want to gather they can. I often wonder why they don’t feel bad about stealing people from other congregations..We had a thing where we were trying to get more kids in our school, so someone proposed that we do a special for the teachers and staff at the local Lutheran High school who had smaller kids. Our pastor, bless his heart said no because those parents might feel compelled to come to our church out of loyalty to our school and leave the church they are in.

  61. Col46 says:

    @35 – Lake Elsinore has a baseball team? Who knew?!

  62. I always thought is was easier to grow a church that does not have you recognize your sin at the beginning of the service and plays music you sing to on your car stereo.

    As to my reading, I don’t have a nightstand – but I do have a couple on the tub in the bathroom. Right now I am reading A Tale of Synods about the split between Missouri and Wisconsin and my 1985 Sporting News Official Baseball Guide. I started a couple of years ago in 1963 and working my way up. I think I go to 2002.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0810015390/?tag=mh0b-20&hvadid=7008923207&hvqmt=b&hvbmt=bb&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_3xu3r91tle_b

    http://www.amazon.com/Official-Baseball-Guide-1986-Sporting/dp/B000UV8HQS

  63. Eric says:

    In 2000 I was part of a group sent from a large church to a small struggling church that would likely have closed otherwise. It was a good arrangement – we had some of the feel of a newly planted church while still retaining its 130-year history, making good use of an existing building. It required flexibility on all sides. That kind of arrangement is being promoted in the denomination as a worthwhile option. The downside in our case was that while the sending church had lost under 10% of its people, that included many of the most active people, and they took some years to recover.

  64. London says:

    #7
    – Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
    – A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power by Jimmy Carter
    – The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change by Adam Braun
    – The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore
    – and an independently published book I bought today, but I can’t remember the name or the author

    It’s summer…time for light reading for me.

  65. London says:

    Ooh, and I’m digging the new grown-up coloring book trend too.

  66. Steve Wright says:

    Advanced A – league for the San Diego Padres.

    Beautiful stadium.

    Nickname “Storm”

  67. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    for summer reading …

    The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt

    Decomposition, Andrew Durkin (made a mostly negative impression but it could have been a springboard to some interesting stuff)

    Music, the Arts, and Ideas
    Style & Music (both books by musicologist Leonard B Meyer)

    looking to revisit Paul Hindemith’s The Craft of Musical Composition and A Composer’s World.

    Jane Austen’s Emma (it can’t ALL be musicology and … )

    been catching up on Scott Snyder’s run on Batman called Zero Year. Kinda meh on his take on the Joker but his take on the Riddler has promise.

    and Haydn string quartets. Some aren’t as amazing as others but he never wrote a bad one!

  68. Francisco Nunez says:

    RE #7. The Rebirth of Latin American Christianity by Todd Hartch. I’ve been hearing good things about it. Just got it this week.

  69. JoelG says:

    #7 – Beuchners “Secrets in the Dark”

    Found out new youth pastor supports SSM. Now gotta leave church I’ve come to love. Im with Paige… grumpy about church.

  70. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    JoelG – stay and fight

  71. Josh the Baptist says:

    Staying and fighting never works.

  72. JoelG says:

    MLD we had dinner with him and wife. There’s just no changing his mind. It’s a liberal church but their statement supports traditional marriage. The head pastor says he does too. But apparently not enough to say it from the pulpit. It breaks my heart to divide over this but it’s too important in our culture.

  73. JoelG says:

    Josh, ithis is an American Baptist church. Sadly this issue seems to fall in the category of “soul freedom” for this church. Not sure this Baptist philosophy can here.

  74. Josh the Baptist says:

    I am sorry to hear that. Usually it is just best to move on. To stay and fight takes a toll.

  75. Francisco says:

    JoelG please don’t be afraid to share your concern with the lead pastor and give the leadership an opportunity to respond. If necessary the leadership may need to revisit or reaffirm their doctrinal positions on these matters. Many churches are defining more in detail their doctrinal positions on marriage, euthanasia, alternative lifestyles ,and other matters in light of recent court rulings.

    Again give the leadership an opportunity address the concern but don’t leave without first giving the church an opportunity to respond to your concern. Most pastors would be glad that you did come them first.

  76. JoelG says:

    Thank you for the advice Josh. That is what we’ve decided. Francisco good advice and that’s what we’ve done over the last 3 weeks or so. The head pastor knows my concerns and still stands by the YP despite differing on marriage views. It’s strange. But we need someone to be proactive in teach our kids a biblical view of marriage. The Lord knows I’ve done enough damage by myself.

  77. Francisco says:

    JoelG,
    Based on what you shared you are doing the right thing by moving on graciously. May the Lord guide you to another Christ exalting fellowship in His time.

    Your story is actually a wake up call to me. Again it is a sober reminder that we must revisit our doctrinal positions and statements of Faiths. Also a reminder that when members of the flock come to us with a concern and ask us to take a side as shepherds, that we must take a side but it must be to the side of Truth……… not people.

    It is much better to be set apart by the Truth in Love than united by fear and error.
    blessings to you.

  78. Michael says:

    “It is much better to be set apart by the Truth in Love than united by fear and error.”

    That may become our motto here…genius sentence.

  79. JoelG says:

    Thank you Francisco. Your prayer means everything to me. Lord help us all hear Your Voice and follow.

    Michael…Truth (as hard as it is to hear) , Love and Grace is what happens here everyday, motto or not, and I thank you.

  80. Michael says:

    JoelG,

    Thank you…you are helping all of us think in community and think graciously.
    We’re glad you’re here. 🙂

  81. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    #3, we have our ministry established however God has called me to fellowship on Saturday with an existing Church, this week will be the first ever Sabbath I keep. I’m excited about it. I will be supporting this ministry on the Sabbath days possibly with some evangelism.

  82. solrod,
    I am curious how a Christian “keeps” the Sabbath?
    Did you just mean that you are going to church on Saturday night?

  83. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    MLD,

    No I’m gonna keep, sabbath from sun down Friday to sundown Saturday. Going to seventh day fellowship on Saturday.

  84. Josh the Baptist says:

    Jesus is our Sabbath. We keep the Sabbath by resting in the finished work of Christ.

  85. Nonnie says:

    I agree with Josh!

  86. JoelG says:

    Amen Josh

  87. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    Josh,

    I have been doing an intense study of the sabbath breaking some key words down into the Hebrew. I have come to the conclusion that sabbath keeping is for today’s Christian. Not in the legalistic way the pharisees kept it but in the spiritual way Jesus observed it, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.

  88. Josh the Baptist says:

    Interesting, but it is spelled out pretty plain in Hebrews Chapter 4.

    But I don’t think resting one day a week is gonna hurt you.

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