Monday, March 29, 2010

Not a nice guy...

Jesus, unlike most responsible American citizens, appears to do no work and is accused of being a glutton and a drunkard. He is presented as jobless, propertyless, celibate, peripatetic, and socially marginal. He is disdainful of kinsfolk, without a trade, and a friend of outcasts and pariahs.

He is adverse to material possessions, without fear for his own safety, careless about purity regulations, critical of traditional authority, a thorn in the side of the establishment, and a scourge of the rich and powerful.

Terry Eagleton: Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Holy Rollers and Immanuel Kant...

On the same block of almost any southern city of 100,000 or more, you're likely to find genteel Episcopalians worshiping in a neo-Gothic sanctuary next to a storefront church of hallelujah-shouting neo-Pentecostals.

The fry cook at the local Southern restaurant is likely to be a part-time preacher who reads Immanuel Kant as he is to be a Holy Roller. Snake-handling ministers, though diminishing, are still around. In the Southern way of religious life, all this makes perfectly good sense.

G. Lee Ramsey. Preachers and Misfits, Prophets and Thieves: The Minister in Southern Fiction

Saturday, March 20, 2010

An affirmation of desire...

Coming to church is not a celebration of our captivity to God. Coming to church proclaims that we have not been taken in by the fern-bar quality of life that passes for reality. Coming to church testifies that we are dissatisfied with the second-rate and the second-best.

Coming to church is an affirmation that our desire, our heart's desire, the profound, inarticulate, groaning desire - as Paul said - for the love of God has not been satisfied or seduced by the gaudy tricks and pacifiers of this tedious age. We know there is more to it than this.

Peter Gomes, Strength for the Journey: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Yankees beat the Red Sox in preseason. It won't be the last time. Jack used to say that he loved Jesus Christ, the Democratic Party, and the New York Yankees, but he wasn't too sure in what order. Of course, that was a different Democratic party back then.

Sometimes I worry that Arnold Chister, the minister at my church, might be a Democrat, probably an Atlanta Braves fan, too. He'd better watch his step. I might call the deacons.

Pat Jobe, 365 Ways to Criticize the Preacher

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What business are we in?

A church board agenda that focuses on mission would begin with the number of volunteers, stories of people who have benefitted from benevolent ministries, and how the congregation has been an advocate for the poor and those being treated unjustly. Putting these reports first on the agenda is a move in the right direction.

The budget, along with matters of administration and finance, can be worked on in committees, ministry teams, or a leadership group and shared as information in the business meeting. But these should not be lifted up as the priority of the church. What business is your church focused on these days?

Edward H. Hammett, Reaching People Under 40 While Keeping People Over 60

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The accidental church?

Accidental church is the pattern of mainline Protestantism. It is marked by its chapel orientation. Church is the place where a minister performs certain spiritual tasks for the congregation, many of whom inherited the faith from their parents.

Chapel religion typically blesses the social order, comforts people in need, and trains children in the customs of the faith. Chapel-style churches are routinized organizations where members receive customs, traditions, and beliefs rather than creating new ones.

Diana Butler Bass, The Practicing Congregation

A home run...

Church should be about growing people and not programs. That process is four-fold and can be captured in the image of a baseball diamond.

Getting to first is moving from interest to membership. Taking second base means growing a mature faith. Reaching third base is claiming one's ministry. Arriving at the home plate is a person's life purpose or mission.

Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church