The Weekend Wanderer: 16 February 2019

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

Jemar Tisby“This Black History Month, don’t pretend racism has disappeared from the church” – In the first of two articles on issues of race and the church in this week’s edition of “The Weekend Wanderer,” I’m sharing Jemar Tisby’s reflections on the ways in which the church often ignores current challenges around issues of ethnicity, racism, and inequality. Tisby is an important voice in Christianity on racial issues today, advocating for engagement with these challenging issues in his recent book, The Color of Compromise, and over at The Witness. Just before I published this edition of “The Weekend Wanderer,” Tisby was featured in an interview with Wesley Hill at Comment Magazine entitled “The Future of Church-Race Relations” that is well worth the read.

 

Roger E Olson.jpg“Is Evangelicalism White?” – The second article on this topic is by theologian and church historian, Roger E. Olson. In this essay, Olson makes a case that contemporary equation of evangelicalism with whiteness within news and sociology misses the point of a more nuanced discussion of evangelicalism from unique viewpoints of spiritual-theological ethos and sociological-religious movement.

 

Oneya Okuwobi“‘Everything that I’ve Done Has Always Been Multiethnic’: Biographical Work among Leaders of Multiracial Churches” – On a related theme, Oneya Okuwobi recently published a journal article on biographical work with pastors of multiethnic churches. She write: “I find that pastors of multiracial churches pattern their biographies after two predominant formula stories, laying claim to being people who are experienced with diversity and/or experienced with racial injustice. These formula stories reveal institutionalized understandings of biographies acceptable for pastors of multiracial churches that cut across denominational lines. The biographies of these leaders also reveal a shift toward diversity and away from recognition of racial injustice that has implications for the racial structure.”

 

89461“Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Gospel of Shame-Free Sexuality”Wesley Hill reviews Nadia Bolz-Weber’s latest book, Shameless: A Sexual Reformation. Bolz-Weber is an iconoclastic Lutheran pastor who has been a spokesperson for progressive Christianity. While I’m sympathetic to some of her statements about fundamentalist Christianity, Hill’s even-handed and clear assessment of this book is worth reading. If you prefer a more blunt, but honest and accurate, assessment of Bolz-Weber, let me refer you to Rod Dreher’s “Sex & the Single Pastor.”

 

Barna_2019_RevivingEvangelism_charts_v1“Almost Half of Practicing Christian Millennials Say Evangelism Is Wrong” – A new study by the Barna Group and commissioned by Alpha USAReviving Evangelism, highlights some disappointing yet unsurprising trends in contemporary North American Christianity. The trend that has made the most headlines (see “Half of Millennial Christians Say It’s Wrong to Evangelize” in Christianity Today) is the identification that, while prepared to share their faith, most millennial Christians are unsure of whether evangelism is something they should do at all. The chart I post on the right highlights how this is a progression of something that has been developing in earlier generations as well.

 

Michael Green“Alister McGrath: Michael Green Taught Me the Importance of Evangelism” – Since we’re on the topic of evangelism, I hope you enjoy this personal reflection by Alister McGrath on the life and legacy of Michael Green, one of the greatest champions for evangelism in the late 20th century. I first encountered Green’s work through a class with one of my mentors, Dr. Lyle Dorsett, entitled “Jesus and Evangelism.” Green is perhaps best known for two of his books, Evangelism in the Early Church and I Believe in the Holy Spirit, although he wrote many more. You will not have wasted your time if you read those great books, and if you put them into practice in your own life.

 

tell-your-children“Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence”Alex Berenson, former New York Times reporter and author of Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence, summarizes some of the mains strands of his exploration within that book in this relatively brief essay. This is particularly relevant because as the rise in marijuana usage combines with efforts at legalization that do not always tell the whole story about the impact of marijuana on the human body and mind, let alone society as a whole.

 

endpapers“Hold the front pages: meet the endpaper enthusiasts” – Now for something a little lighter. Enjoy this article focusing on the beauty of endpapers in book publishing.  “In a small sanctuary from world events, book lovers gather to sigh over the most beautiful decorative pages and compare techniques.” [Thanks to Micah Mattix for sharing this in The Daily Prufrock.]

 

Music: “Everlasting God” by William Murphy.  [Thanks to Gabriel Douglas for sharing this link with me.]

 

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

The Weekend Wanderer: 9 February 2019

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

190201-syria-church-mc-451_d751479b6750bbbdaa140bb3e7ebd1b6.fit-1240w“Life under ISIS led these Muslims to Christianity” – NBC News reports on this not entirely surprising movement. “Four years have passed since the Islamic State group’s fighters were run out of Kobani, a strategic city on the Syrian-Turkish border, but the militants’ violent and extreme interpretation of Islam has left some questioning their faith. A new church is attracting converts. It is the first local Christian place of worship for decades. ‘If ISIS represents Islam, I don’t want to be a Muslim anymore,’ Farhad Jasim, 23, who attends the Church of the Brethren, told NBC News. ‘Their God is not my God.'”

 

cool_christians_lead_3t.0“The rise of the star-studded, Instagram-friendly evangelical church” – At Vox, Laura Tuner explores the recent trend, for lack of a better word, of stars turning toward Christianity. What does this mean about our culture and about our Christianity? “Pratt, beloved doofus turned hot dad, is part of a growing trend of celebrities, including Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Selena Gomez, Hailey Baldwin, and Kevin Durant, who are vocal about their faith. The churches many of them flock to — Zoe, Hillsong, and Churchome are the prominent examples — may look like they offer something different and more progressive than traditional evangelicalism but are actually quite consistent with evangelical teachings. In an era when religious affiliation is on the decline for young people, these churches can only gain from this proximity to stardom. But how are these “cool” new rising churches different from other churches? What is it about Hillsong and Zoe that attracts this star power?”

 

baby.jpeg“Statement on the New York State Abortion Law of 2019” – Likely you have heard of the recent passage in the New York State legislature of the “Reproductive Health Act,” which allows for late-term abortions, even up to the moment of birth, with some somewhat confusing limitations. If there is one place that Evangelicals and Roman Catholics can agree it is in relation to statements about life. That is why the group “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” produced this recent statement, published in First Things, on this appalling and disastrous piece of legislation.

 

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“The Abortion Wars: What most Christians don’t know about the history of prolife struggles” – In light of that, this 2003 article re-posted by Christianity Today, Tim Stafford offers historical perspective on abortion from the context of the early church in the Roman Empire until today. Here’s a peak into it: “From the first, Christians were outspokenly opposed to abortion on the basis of the child’s right to life. The Didache, an early second-century document summarizing Christian belief and practice, declares, “Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion/destruction.” Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Jerome, Basil the Great, Ambrose—all pronounced against abortion.”

 

commongood“The Church and the Common Good: Can we equate the church’s eternal mission with temporary politics?” – My wife gave me some of the best gifts possible this past Christmas: loads of theological books. A good percentage of those books are related to ecclesiology and political theology. Why? I am wrestling with the meaning of the common good and what it looks like for the church to interact as a polis – a political community – in the midst of the prevailing political community around it. This is exactly what Brad East is trying to do in this article at Comment. Give it a read.

 

johnson_birgitta“Birgitta Johnson on Praise and Worship Music” – From the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship: “Birgitta Johnson teaches world music, African American music, African music, and ethnomusicology at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. She publishes widely and for years has researched music in black megachurches and the rise of praise and worship in African American congregations. In this edited conversation, she addresses stereotypes about praise and worship music.”

 

johnstuartmill“A (Not So) Secular Saint” – In The Los Angeles Review of Books, James K. A. Smith writes an insightful review of Timothy Larsen‘s new biography of John Stuart Mill. “To both his progressivist heirs and his conservative critics, John Stuart Mill is a secular saint, a priest of the triumphant modern moral order….The real story of this Victorian character turns out to be more complicated, and Timothy Larsen’s brief new biography challenges such caricatures without devolving into polemics.”

 

StJohnBible“A Series on the Saint John’s Bible” – “Transpositions is delighted to kick off an eight-week series on The Saint John’s Bible. For those unaware, The Saint John’s Bible is the first handwritten, illuminated Bible of its scale in over 500 years. The Bible gets its name from the Benedictine abbey and university which commissioned it: Saint John’s Abbey and Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. The abbey founded the university and its graduate school, Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary, and is surrounded by the campus.” [Thanks to Alan Jacobs for sharing this link.]

 

Leith Anderson“Leith Anderson Retiring from National Association of Evangelicals” – Leith Anderson, former pastor of Wooddale Church, announced his retirement from the role of President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) after serving in that role for the past 13 years. Anderson served as interim leader for the NAE during challenging seasons with financial decline in 2003 and after the resignation of Ted Haggard from the role of President amidst scandal in 2006. Most recently, Anderson attempted to bring clarity to the meaning of “evangelical” in light of confusing political connotations of the word after the most recent presidential elections.

 

Liturgical Folk LentMusic: “Liturgical Folk, vol 4: Lent” Enjoy some good listening this week with Liturgical Folk‘s fourth volume of work focused on the upcoming season of Lent. [Thanks to Ryan Boettcher for sharing this link with me.]

 

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

Next Steps After MissionsFest 2018

Multiply Series GFX_16x9 TitleIn response to our MissionsFest focused on multiplication with messages from me and Dr. Paul ‘Bobby’ Gupta, I mentioned four words that I think are helpful for us in applying what we have learned this past week.

  • Befriending: Become friends with those around us, inviting them into our lives and homes that they might come to know Christ. Also, become friends with our international partners and workers that they might have friends here at Eastbrook.
  • Praying: If it is true that God knows us closer than anyone else, then the most direct way to another person is through God in prayer. Even if we cannot go around the world, we can join in with God’s global work through prayer.
  • Giving: Eastbrook has a strong history of generosity toward local and global mission, and I want to encourage us to continue moving forward with that. However, let me stretch it just a bit further. What would it look like for us to sacrifice something of our lives here – a weekly latte, upgrading our broadband, buying  a new smartphone – so that we could give those funds toward the work in China, the Horn of Africa, or the Middle East?
  • Witnessing: As I talked about in my message this past weekend, we are called to be witnesses, but it is essential that we open our mouths to share with those we encounter about the grace and truth of God accessible to us in Jesus Christ. The arms of God are open wide, waiting to bring all humanity within His embrace, but He will not force Himself upon anyone. Let us be those who witness to God’s embrace by talking with others about Jesus.

Also, our mission team put together a list of next steps as a response, which I have slightly edited for online readership below.

  • Read a Book! Want to know how you can be involved in multiplying? We recommend you start with The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life by Dustin Willis and Kirby Heyborne. To hear how God is multiplying around the world in difficult contexts, we suggest Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus by Jerry Trousdale. Both available through Amazon digitally or in paperback.
  • Pray for Eastbrook’s global workers. Over the next month, use the prayer insert to pray for our international field workers. Pray for God to use each member of His Church to multiply disciples locally and globally.
  • Grow. Stop by the booth in the lobby to learn more about our upcoming class “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” which starts in January as well as upcoming Trinity Evangelical Divinity School classes. Visit www.perspectives.org or www.eastbrook.org/teds
  • Get Involved. It starts at your own dinner table. Invite a friend, neighbor, or co-worker over for dinner and watch God use relationships to multiply His Church! If you want to take the next step in connecting with what God is doing globally, join us for our Mission Engagement Class during second hour on Sundays.
  • Step Out. Did God stir something in your heart during this week and you feel you may be called to personally go to multiply disciples around the world or here at home? Don’t let that feeling fade. Connect with Pastor Dan or Pastor JC to explore where God is leading you.
  • Thanksgiving.  November 22nd is coming.  Invite an international student to your home to share a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Questions? Just ask! Sign up at the Missions Fest ministry booth in the Lobby this weekend or contact Laura.
  • Support. Eastbrook’s Missions Budget financially for 12 months and help fuel the ministry of multiplying around the world. Visit the Eastbrook website for more information on how you can financially support the Missions Budget. eastbrook.org/giving

The Weekend Wanderer: 7 July 2018

The “Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly post in which I gather a smattering of news, stories, resources, and other media you could explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

82668“The 2018 CT Pastors Book Recommendations: Six recent books that will aid you in your ministry.” – I have read two of the six books on this list, and only really enjoyed one of them. However, I am always eager to hear of resources that have helped others in ministry recommended by those who are in ministry. Thanks to CT Pastors for sharing this list.

 

658.attachment-3“Eating as Discipleship” – In a review of Lisa Graham McMinn’s new book To the Table, Jeffrey Bilbro looks at the rising interest in food and how it may relate to our life as disciples of Christ. “The social architecture of the developed world encourages us to imagine food as a fuel that we consume….Lisa Graham McMinn’s To the Table: A Spirituality of Food, Farming, and Community joins a chorus of other books that call Christians to resist this consumerist view of food. McMinn’s book begins with Leslie Leyland Fields’s proclamation that “food is nothing less than Sacrament.”

 

062718-iwmf-church-030-copy-1681720abc42d6fa795cab36ff420ab41add3b90-s700-c85“For Some Gang Members In El Salvador, The Evangelical Church Offers A Way Out” – NPR offers a unique look at how evangelicals in El Salvador are reaching out to gang members and showing the opportunity of a better life. “In  [José Miguel] Cruz’s research, more than half of the Salvadoran gang members he surveyed identify as evangelicals and attend church services an average of 15 times a month. In contrast, just 17 percent of gang members identify as Catholic. ‘They feel the evangelicals are more welcoming despite their criminal past. And they feel embraced in these conversions by the [evangelical] church,’ he says.” [Thanks to Skye Jethani for sharing this.]

 

82688“Brazil’s Soccer Stars Love Jesus. Not Everybody Loves Their Christian Celebrations” – For all the World Cup fans out there: “In Brazil, the country of football, the relationship between religion and the soccer ball is old. Athletes have long played with crucifixes, medals of saints, or wrist tapes honoring the deities of the local Candomblé cult. But in recent years, explicit evangelical expressions of the faith in Christ have dominated the sporting scene. Perhaps not surprising in a country where nearly 25 percent of the population is Protestant, Brazil’s national team prays before and after games and celebrates goals by displaying T-shirts with Christian messages. At least six athletes on the current national team playing in this summer’s World Cup have declared themselves evangelical, including Fernandinho, Thiago Silva, Alisson, Douglas Costa, Willian and its star, Neymar.”

 

Wilson“In a Strange Land” – The inimitable John Wilson reviews Matthew Kaemingk’s Christian Hospitality and Muslim Immigration in an Age of Fear over at The Weekly Standard. While citing some frustrations with the book, Wilson makes a strong statement about its timeliness and value. “Kaemingk’s book should move to the top of the reading list for participants in four distinct but often overlapping conversations: (1) on Christian-Muslim interaction generally, post-9/11, and the “framing” of this subject in the West; (2) on Muslim immigrants to the United States; (3) on the “hegemony” of liberalism in modernity; and (4) on Abraham Kuyper’s theological case for genuine pluralism.”

 

75683“Learning from a Legend: 2 life lessons we can learn from Gardner C. Taylor” – In an inspiring article drawn from his book on Gardner C. Taylor, Jared Alcántara highlights two traits of this outstanding preacher that today’s preachers would do well to emulate: caring more about faithfulness than success and emphasizing the greatness of the Gospel more than the greatness of the preacher. As quickly as that and I’ve added Alcántara’s book to my reading list.

 

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 9.49.13 AM“How Great Is Our God (World Edition)” – I was speaking with some students at CRU’s Inner City summer experience this past Sunday night on multi-ethnic ministry in cities when someone shared this video with us afterwards. This is a version of “How Great Is Our God” that we often sing at Eastbrook Church, however, I had never seen this video before.

 

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

The Weekend Wanderer: 23 June 2018

The “Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly post in which I gather a smattering of news, stories, resources, and other media you could explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

Jeff SessionsRomans 13 and Illegal Immigration? This past week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions referenced Romans 13 in support of the Trump administration’s policy of dealing with illegal immigration by separating children from parents. Daniel Burke attempts to look at the text in light of our current democratic context. Matt Soerens of World Relief highlights the fact that Romans 13 cannot justify separating children from families. Then there’s Greg Strand of the Evangelical Free Church of America who speaks out against separating children from families on the basis of love for God and love for neighbor. David Gerson offers a pointed critique of the current administration’s policy: “the centerpiece commitment of Christian social ethics is not order; it is justice. For a good introduction to the concept, Sessions might read the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail.’ ‘A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God,’ King argued. ‘An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.’ And how should justice be defined? ‘Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.'” It’s always interesting when parts of the Bible become headline news.

 

Andrew Brunson 2“Experts Say Turkey’s Indictment of Rev. Brunson Full of ‘Blatant Lies'” – Lela Gilbert, an adjunct fellow at the Center for Religious Freedom, speaks to the terrible situation that Andrew Brunson is going through in Turkey. She writes: “Turkey’s formal indictment of U.S. Presbyterian Pastor Andrew Brunson is so tenuous and thinly supported it strongly suggests humanitarian groups are justified in their argument that he is a diplomatic hostage rather than a legitimate criminal suspect.”

 

3000“To survive our high-speed society, cultivate ‘temporal bandwidth'” – So says Alan Jacobs in a recent essay in The Guardian. “It is hard to imagine a time more completely presentist than our own, more tethered to the immediate…to find a healthier alternative, we must cultivate what the great American novelist Thomas Pynchon calls ‘temporal bandwidth” – an awareness of our experience as extending into the past and the future.”

 

82470“4 Ways to Share God’s Love in Summertime” – In light of recent studies revealing that American Christians are unlikely to share their faith, Tina Osterhouse offers four practical ways we can share God’s love in the “ordinary time” of summer. Take a look at this realistic and down-to-earth approach to evangelism. Then, go out and try something that she mentions.

 

milky-way“It Is Highly Unlikely That Any of This Exists: On the Origins of the Universe” – Over at Literary Hub, Oren Harman tells us honestly, that any of this exists at all is so very, very random. He delves into the search for dark matter at the beginning of the universe.

 

elevator“What Was the Point of Elevator Music?” – Since you probably have been thinking about this (or not) for quite some time, Patrick Carrajat comes to the rescue to save us from false thinking about the rationale behind elevator music. “‘I don’t think elevator music was really designed to soothe the raging beast,’ says Patrick Carrajat. Instead, he says, elevator music was there to…” Well, I guess you will have to read the article in order to find out why. [Thanks to the Prufrock News for this article.]

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

The Weekend Wanderer: 16 June 2018

The “Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly post in which I gather a smattering of news, stories, resources, and other media you could explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

 

82253“Fleming Rutledge: Why Being ‘Spiritual’ Is Never Enough” – If you’re a preacher you should read this article. If you’re a Christian, you probably should read it to and consider passing it along to your pastor. Rutledge writes: “I, too, would argue that our crisis of discipleship stems in part from a dearth of biblical preaching. Many people, clergy and lay people alike, think we are hearing biblical preaching because the sermons we hear on Sunday seem to be based on a biblical text, but that is not what makes a sermon biblical. If the preacher is not personally invested in expounding the text, so that he or she seems to be risking something, it’s not biblical preaching. If the sermon does not seem to be coming out of the preacher’s inmost convictions, it’s not biblical preaching.” (Thanks to my friend, David Bier, for sharing this one with me.)

 

Aleksandr_Solzhenitsyn_1974b“40 Years Ago Today: When Solzhenitsyn Schooled Harvard” – This articles comes from last week, but marks an important anniversary of a serious rebuke of Western secularism by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn for its overemphasis upon personal freedom. If you’re unfamiliar with Solzhenitsyn’s commencement speech, “A World Split Apart,” then read it or watch it.

 

Religion-and-Film“Religion Goes to the Movies” is Robert Sinnerbrink’s in-depth review of  S. Brent Plate’s book, Religion and Film: Cinema and the Re-creation of the World. Starting with the recent uptick in religious film-making, Sinnerbrink track’s Plate’s look at how film and religion relate in the contemporary culture. “Religion and Film is a fascinating and impressive text, both engaging and illuminating. It opens up new ways of thinking for the uninitiated as well as providing thought-provoking theses for the more expert reader. And it makes the otherwise confusing relationship between religion and film perspicuous and persuasive in ways that few academic studies have been able to achieve.”

 

82310“Moving Our Congregations to More Effective Evangelism”Ed Stetzer points out three ways that leaders can move their congregations to become not only evangelistically-minded but evangelistically effective.  It all flows from a healthy understanding of what evangelism is, our role in it, and how we can work with God in sharing Christ verbally with others.

 

Nietszche“Reading Dangerously: The illiberal philosophers and our fractured politics” – Ian Marcus Corbin takes a critical look at the book Dangerous Minds by Ronald Beiner that leads him into a deeper exploration of our fractured politics. In the end, he suggests that perhaps looking at everything through a political lens may create the fractures that we experience today.

 

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

The Pastor and Evangelism: Six Freeing Approaches to Fulfilling our Evangelistic Calling

passion-3111247_640-1.jpg

It’s a pleasure to be a regular contributor to The Gospel Life blog. sponsored by the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. My latest post dropped today: “The Pastor and Evangelism: Six Freeing Approaches to Fulfilling Our Evangelistic Calling.” Here’s an excerpt, but you can read the entire post here.

If we are honest as pastors, there are often times when we talk more about aspects of our faith than we actually live them out.

One of the areas we may feel most guilty about in our lives is the practice of evangelism. We hear the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist,” and many of us may feel the guilt of failing that calling in the midst of our many responsibilities, including sermon preparation, pastoral care visits, board meetings, staff leadership, and so much more.

While we must not ignore our calling to “do the work of an evangelist,” I’d like to offer us to consider six ways in which we of how we might fulfill our calling to evangelism within our ministry as pastors. I hope you find these as freeing as I did when I began to gain a bigger perspective on fulfilling my evangelistic calling…

[Read the entire post here.]