Saturday, July 31, 2010

For what are we searching?

Several ministers and professional counselors I interviewed said that people enter the professional ministry for many reasons. A common theme for people choosing ministry is a search for approval and acceptance.

Several clergy noted that a primary reason they entered the ministry was to find the paternal or parental approval and acceptance they had never experienced in their family of origin. Many have difficulty believing theologian Paul Tillich's view, "To simply accept that fact that you are accepted."

James Hightower and W. Craig Gillian, A Time for Change? Revisioning Your Call.

Upon this rock?

The church's strengths may also be its weaknesses: diversity tolerance, compromise, practicality, and niceness. Truth gets written by committee, mystery gets lost in translation, decency gets translated into dullness, and the spirit gets hamstrung by bureaucracy.

Some critics call us, "The Church of Christ, Sociologist." The church has an ability to avoid doing that which will screw up the works; it may not do the best thing, but it can be counted on not to do the worst. This may be reassuring to some, but does not strike me as a rock upon which to build a church.

Ron Graham, God's Dominion

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rock and Roll!

An organization called Worship and Word has scheduled a Christian Rock concert, dubbed Heaven Fest, at a town in Colorado near where I live. An estimated 50,000 people are expected to attend. Seven stages are set up, and bands include Casting Crowns and the Sacred Assembly.

Steve Chavis, spokesman for Heaven Fest, said this festival is meant to inspire and spark a new generation with passion for the poor around the world.

While some traditional churches have incorporated contemporary music into their services, the vast majority
do not grasp the extraordinary power of new music and its message in reaching younger generations. As the old saying goes, diverse music in many churches ranges from the major works of Bach to the minor works of Bach.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


In the global economy, half the population lives on less than $2 per day. But most of us never spend significant time with people outside our economic class or educational bracket.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, The Christian Century, May 4, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Learn the wisdom of silence...

Pastors who maintain good relationships with their congregations bite their tongues with great regularity. Avoid the temptation to say, "If you had attended the last board meeting/worship service/committee meeting as you were supposed to, you would have known that!"

Or, "Since you know so much about the topic, why don't you preach a sermon series on it." As good as it might feel to make those comments, the pastor pays too high a price in terms of guilt, escalating conflict, and damage to relationships.

R. Robert Cueni, What Ministers Can't Learn in Seminary

Friday, July 9, 2010

Don't cook on a bonfire...

When people are yelling at one another, the reassuring words of the pastor cannot be heard. To state it differently, satisfaction comes to those who wait until the flames have burned to glowing coals. This applies to all domestic quarrels and almost all ecclesiastical battles.

A normal part of church life includes periodic, spontaneous explosions in the choir, the men's group, and between certain church members. Clergy should control the urge to plunge in as mediator. Clergy often have delusions of grandeur when it comes to evaluating their ability as reconcilers. They also have significant difficulty distinguishing when they are actually needed from when they need to be needed.

R. Robert Cueni, What Ministers Can't Learn in Seminary

Friday, July 2, 2010

All the world's a stage...

Calvin said somewhere that each of us is an actor on the stage and God is the audience. That metaphor has always interested me, because it makes us artists of our own behavior, and the reaction of God to us might be aesthetic rather than morally judgmental.

How well do we understand our roles? With how much assurance do we perform? I like Calvin's image, because it suggests that God might actually enjoy us.

Marilynne Robinson, Gilead