Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Around the Blog in 80 Seconds

The crew at New Attitude is doing a very useful thing. They're posting short interviews with the New Attitude conference speakers focusing on applying their talks. So far, two have been posted: Josh Harris and Mark Dever. In addition, the conference audio is still available.

A new 9Marks newsletter is out. This one focuses on the gospel. It has three sections: "Challenges to the Gospel," "Explaining 'the Gospel' to Non-Christians," and "Gospel Meditations."

At the 9Marks blog, my brother and the nicest man in the world, Deepak Reju issues an outstanding challenge. Those of us laboring in areas with high population turnover can sure relate to this:

Here’s a novel idea: Why not turn down a job promotion in order to stay committed to your local church? That is, make your church more of a priority than your career.

Matt Schmucker once said to me (and I’m paraphrasing here):
“Maybe a few of us need to be willing to commit our lives to one local church over a lifetime. We need to be willing to sacrifice our lives for the sake of bearing long-term fruit for the kingdom.”

Now you might think I’m just talking about laypeople, but I’m also thinking about pastors here. Researchers say that on average, pastors stay at churches for only 3.5 years. Too many pastors are eager to “move up” to bigger churches with bigger sanctuaries, bigger salaries, more staff, and more ministries.

There is only so much you can do if you stick around for just a few years. In contrast, when you stay in a local church for a lifetime, you can think, plan, and act with a long-term vision. You can build relationships over the long haul. You can commit to transforming one community for a lifetime. A long-term vision with a long-term commitment can make a tremendous difference.

So what say you? Might you consider staying in your church over the long haul? (Read the entire post and comments)

My brother Mike Gilbart-Smith at Loving Church is compiling a list of evangelistic and apologetic websites (here and here) and offering some thoughts on evaluating them.

This headline and abstract caught my eye over at Religion News Service:

Unitarians Find They're Almost Universally White By Angie Chuang

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Joseph Santos-Lyons is this city's first Unitarian Universalist homegrown minister of color -- a milestone for the local church, but also for the national denomination, which is 92 percent white, by its own estimates. But as he assumes his minister's mantle, Santos-Lyons is speaking out about the elephant in the room: Liberals embrace multiculturalism in theory, he says, but there's a reason the Unitarian Universalist Association -- as well as other progressive movements -- remains nearly all white. Liberal whites are no more comfortable with race issues -- and often more defensive -- than their conservative counterparts, he and other congregants say. "A habit of liberals is to want to fix everything on the outside," says Santos-Lyons, 34. "But we don't turn inward and fix ourselves."

Two general comments: (1) Praise God ethnic minorities are not that crazy! As far as I can tell, not since the days of Lemuel Haynes (mid-1700s to 1833) has there even been any discussion of UU in African-American circles. I don't think I've ever seen a religiously-minded ethnic minority of any background jump off the deep end of UU--Praise God! (2) It seems that as long as the hope of multi-ethnic churches rely on the stores of human interest and courage then they will be a distant fantasy; doesn't seem to matter whether you're progressive, liberal, conservative or reactionary. The only thing that reconciles is the cross of Christ--progressive enough to redeem the lost sinner and conservative enough to keep them all in the family of God.

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