Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fine Article From a Fine Pastor

"Southern Baptist Fight Decline"
From Ramblings of a Hoodlum Pastor Pat Hood, Smyrna TN.

Yesterday's article in the Tennessean on the decline of the Southern Baptist Convention was very revealing. For instance, the article revealed that we've lost 455,000 children in Sunday School in the last 36 years. I'm no mathematician, but my trusty calculator tells me that's a loss of 12,638 (and some change) each year. At the same time, our population has increased by 46%. If that's not depressing enough, SBC baptisms have declined to the levels not seen since the 1950's. Last year, more than 9000 churches reported 0 baptisms. Do you see what I mean by REVEALING?

This is not why Jesus established the church. I've heard people say the church is the only organization that exists for those who are not yet a part of it. But, I think I disagree. The church exists to be the Body of Christ for the GLORY OF GOD. Now, living for the Glory of God always results in people seeing & falling in love with Jesus... it's the produce, not the purpose. But, just like any organization in existence, the church has to fight hard against the urge to be self-serving. Have we not fought hard enough in the SBC? Have we lost the fight? Have we given up the fight?

I've talked to many pastors who've entered the fight by trying to develop new strategies & innovation in such areas as Children's Ministry only to get beat up by people with good intentions who simply don't want to change. The boat is taking on serious water, but rather than getting in another boat, they just try to paddle harder & faster, & they continue to go down.

So, many pastors are faced with a decision to either lead their church to make necessary changes to continue building God's Kingdom or keep everyone happy while the ship goes down. This tension has led to many churches claiming rapid growth, but the growth isn't from new believers, it's from discontented Christians moving from churches trying to engineer new ships to churches just trying to stay afloat. (Forgive me if this sounds a little...cynical, but I've seen too many Christians lose focus on THE Kingdom & be more concerned about THEIR kingdom.)

I'm so thankful for pastors & leaders like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Ed Young, Andy Stanley, Mark Driscoll... (the list could go on & on) who have stood strong in the fight, giving inspiration to those of us in the trenches. Any dead fish can float down stream, but it takes someone with strength to go against the flow.

I'm also thankful for the people who make up LifePoint Church. You have stepped in the ring & fought hard to build God's Kingdom. LifePoint is full of people who have laid aside their own agenda to passionately pursue God's Agenda. Some of the changes we've made over the years have been tough, even for me, but Lifer's have stood strong in the battle so that kids & adults alike can see & fall in love with Jesus. It's an incredible joy & tremendous privilege to lead a people who are so passionate for the supremacy of the Glory of God in all things.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

David versus...Driscoll?

Speaking of Pastor Driscoll, check this out. I don't think I would have posted this article if not for a lunch meeting I had with a certain prominent person who ended his association with Mr Driscoll. The article explains it in just the same way as that fellow did. My thanks to old buddy Brian Daugherty for the link! My point in posting this is not that M Driscol is evil. I still love his message and style. Rather it has to do with the corrosion of basic Christianity when it gets infected by fame and BIGNESS.

I once had a friend who worked under a very famous mega-church pastor in the 1980's. That is, until he refused to put the good pastor's socks and shoes on him (which all the rest of the staff dutifully did each Sunday. Seems he was just too busy to bother with dressing himself for church. What with all that praying and all.) About a week later her was "exposed" in a sexual scandal that ended his ministry. Now he writes and lectures other ministers, men who have not disgraced their office, who line up to hear how and why they should keep their britches pulled up.

Sometimes I think they're all speaking Klingon. A normal person should not understand this stuff.

Oh, by the way. Please, never let me pose for a picture that has me sitting all cool as the gatekeeper at heaven's stairway. Please, oh please...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Evolution of Blogdom

If you haven't noticed by now, a lot of the GOOD stuff is now being discussed over at the unchurch blog. That doesn't mean we are locking the doors here at Java Jesus, it just means more of our discussion is leaning away from "how to DO church" towards... Well, towards something else.

Go on over and check it out. Check back here once in awhile, just in case something crops up. We have great diversity in our interests, so you never know.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


(This was posted as a comment on another blog by fiber_tech. I thought it was perfect for Java Jesus.)

In his book Confessions of a Reformission Rev, Mark Driscoll does a good job of making the a case that both the institutional mega-church and the organic simple-church playing a vital part in a comprehensive approach to being Christlike in ministry.

"Jesus' incarnation itself is in itself, missional. God the Father sent God the Son into culture on a mission to redeem the elect by the power of God the Ghost. After his resurrection, Jesus also sent HIs disciples into culture, on a mission to proclaim the success of His mission, and commissioned all Christians to likewise be missionaries to the cultures of the world (e.g., Matt. 28:18-20; John20:21; Acts 1:7-8). Emerging and missional Christians have wonderfully rediscovered the significance of Jesus' incarnational example of being a missionary immersed in a culture."

"But sadly, they are also prone to overlook the attractional nature of Jesus' earthly ministry. In addition to immersing himself in a culture for a mission, Jesus' ministry was also marked by the large crowds that were drawn to him because of his preaching and miracles."

"One important example of the attractional elements of Jesus' ministry is found in the sixth chapter of John's gospel. A very large crowd, numbering thousands of people, came to see Jesus perform miracles and to hear him preach. Jesus appears to be modeling attractional church growth strategies of doing what was needed to gather many people to hear the preaching of the gospel. Jesus then fed the entire crowd by miraculously multiplying a little boy's lunch, which would only have increased the crowds that thronged to see him."
"But Jesus then preached that he was the bread of life, which drove many people away from him in confusion and disagreement. We see that Jesus not only gathers a crowd, but also intentionally drove many people away because they were not among the elect chosen for salvation (John 6:37). Some disciples, however, remained with Jesus and continued to be trained as missionaries by Jesus. They were later sent out to follow his pattern of incarnating in a culture, attracting crowds, preaching hard words that harden some hearts and soften others, and then training those who believe to be missionaries who follow Jesus' principles of attractional and missional ministry."

"Missions once solely meant sending American Christians into foreign lands and cultures to live among the people there and to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to them in a relevant way. But reformission also seeks to determine how Christians and their churches can most effectively be missionaries to their own local cultures."

"Reformission, therefore, begins with a special return to Jesus, who, by grace saves us and sends us into reformission. Jesus has called us to (1) the gospel (loving our Lord), (2) the culture (loving our neighbor), and (3) the church (loving our Christian brothers and sisters). One of the causes for the lack of reformission in the American church is that various Christian traditions are prone to faithfulness on only one or two of these counts. Consequently, when we fail to love the Lord, our culture, and our church simultaneously, reformation ceases, leaving one of three holes: the parachurch, liberalism, and fundamentalism."

Gospel + Culture - Church = Parachurch

"First, some people become so frustrated with the church that they bring the gospel into culture without it. This is referred to as the parachurch and includes evangelistic ministries such as Young Life, and Campus Crusade for Christ. The parachurch has a propensity to love its neighbors but not to love the church."

Culture + Church - Gospel = Liberalism

"Second, some churches are so concerned with being culturally relevant that, though they are deeply involved in the culture, they neglect the gospel. This is classic liberal Christianity. Liberal Christians run the risk of loving their neighbors and their Christian brothers and sisters at the expense of loving their Lord and His gospel."

Church + Gospel - Culture = Fundamentalism

"Third, some churches are more into their church and its traditions, buildings, and politics than they are the gospel. Though they know the gospel theologically, they rarely take it out of their church. This is classic fundamental Christianity, which flourishes most widely in more independent-minded, Bible-believing churches. Fundamental Christians are prone to love their Lord, and their brothers and sisters, but not their neighbors."

"The only way out of these holes is repentance, which enables reformission. Through repentance, Christians and churches are empowered by the Holy Spirit to simultaneously love the Lord, love their neighbors, and love their Christian brothers and sisters."

Gospel + Culture + Church = Reformission

"Reformission combines the best aspects of each of these types of Christianity: living in the tension of being culturally liberal yet theologically conservative Christians and churches who are absolutely driven by the gospel of grace to love their Lord, their neighbors, and their fellow Christians."