Here’s an interesting video on how to train future pastors and leaders. Bryan Chapell, Mike Bulmore, and David Helm all share their thoughts on how to train future pastors in the church. It doesn’t sound like any of them reject the idea that schools/seminaries have a role to play as well, but there focus is on what this looks like in the context of the local congregation. They end up getting into an interesting discussion of modeling vs. instructing in the training process.
One thing I found interesting was that although they mentioned the importance of experience/practice in the training process, they didn’t discuss how difficult it can be for beginning preachers to find preaching opportunities. With the demise of Sunday evening services and mid-week services at most churches, seminary students often find it very difficult to get real preaching practice – especially since many churches don’t want to hand the pulpit to beginning preachers on Sunday morning (or whenever the main service is). So, they either need to preach in a classroom, which is a really artificial environment in which to learn how to preach, or they have to manufacture a preaching outlet: : small groups, friends, family, whatever. This just isn’t a great way to train future preachers.
I’d love to see more churches developing a training mentality for future preachers. Seminaries can help students develop some of the skills necessary for good preaching, but they can’t complete the process. Some things you just can’t learn in the classroom.
- I leave town for a few days and people start questioning whether the Trinity is an essential Christian belief. Brian LePort has a good roundup of the discussion.
- Daniel Kirk discusses what to do when your seminary training makes it hard to enjoy sermons.
My advice to seminarians (and self-educated theologians) is this: cultivate the spiritual discipline of applying and growing from lessons that you would never teach yourself, from “exegesis” that you would never get yourself, from true ideas that are nowhere to be found in the texts from which they allegedly come.
- Here’s a fascinating interview with Mark Noll on the Gospel Coalition and other evangelical alliances.
Another reality to acknowledge is that the assumptions of much of American culture are not Calvinistic. So you would do well to fight against three things: the tendency to turn leaders into heroes, minimize the importance of institutions, and divide over secondary issues—all the while recognizing the pervasive influence of the dominant culture on religious life.
- Chris Armstrong discusses the fact that C.S. Lewis believed in purgatory. Quoting Lewis:
. . . The right view returns magnificently in Newman’s DREAM. There, if I remember it rightly, the saved soul, at the very foot of the throne, begs to be taken away and cleansed. It cannot bear for a moment longer “With its darkness to affront that light.” Religion has claimed Purgatory. Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, “It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy?” Should we not reply, “With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first.” “It may hurt, you know”—”Even so, sir.”
- Could Augustine become a bishop today? Not according to this post.
….we have created an ecclesial climate in which it is hard to elect bishops who have the gifts of an Augustine and nearly impossible for them to live like Augustine—even if they do possess those gifts and get elected. That needs to change.
- I don’t mean to distract you from important spring responsibilities, but here’s a post from Lifehacker explaining how to get a month of Hulu Plus for free. You do have to use IE 9 briefly, but it might still be worth it.
- A /film post argues that Jim Henson’s Labyrinth is an extended allegory for date rape.
- And, here’s a list of the Top 10 Most Profitable Movies of All Time (not the highest grossing, just most profitable).
- WSJ offers another take on the extended adolescence of men in their 20s.
Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This “pre-adulthood” has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it’s time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn’t bring out the best in men.
- Patheos is starting a new series on preachers dialoging with other preachers.
Just as each writer must find her or his own voice, I believe each preacher must find her or his own way into the call of preaching. However, we don’t do it alone. The most healthy preachers know they are always in conversation with their congregation, their local community, the world, the books in their library, those closest to them, their own lives. They know that throughout these conversations, scripture winds its wisdom, prophecy, incongruities, humor, and stories.
- Jason Goroncy offers a pastoral reflection on the Christchurch earthquake. (Here are some pictures of the devastation.)
In the face of death, suffering and grief, what the Jesus community is given to know and to hope in and to proclaim is the word of the cross and resurrection. We have no other word!
- Kyle Robert offers a troubling look at evangelical attitudes toward national budget cuts.
The study, as reported in a recent online Christianity Today article, reveals that the category evangelicals are most willing for the government to cut is economic assistance for global poverty. Fifty-six percent of evangelicals preferred to chop from the federal budget aid for the world’s poorest people. The next highest choice, at 40 percent, was economic assistance for the unemployed. As the CT article notes, evangelicals were more supportive of decreasing spending in these areas than were other Americans. Evangelicals were much more reticent, on the other hand, to cut terrorism defense and military defense. In fact, 45 percent of evangelicals favored increasing spending for military defense, a percentage well higher than non-evangelicals (28 percent).
- Here’s a way to win a set of N.T. Wright’s books on Matthew.
- And here is Nerve’s list of Oscar best-picture winners ranked from worst to best.
A seasoned pastor that I know preached a sermon this weekend on a biblical vie of “sex.” And he mentioned that whenever he preaches on sex, people come up to him afterward and comment on how hard it must be to preach on sex. Somewhat bemused, he usually comments that it’s a whole lot easier and more fun that preaching on a lot of other issues that he needs to address.
Although we live in a sex-saturated society, we still find it incredibly uncomfortable to talk about sex in church. One of my greatest frustrations in my years as a youth pastor, was the number of parents who would grow outraged if I spoke too directly about issues of sex and sexuality to their children. I always wanted to say, “Look. You’re kids are already talking about sex. Wouldn’t you prefer for them to talk about it in church?” Sadly, I’m afraid that some of them would have said “no.”
Brandon Smith recently posted the following promo video for a series on sex. And it certainly presents a number of compelling reasons that we need to learn how to speak openly about sex in church. You may not think that it’s appropriate to do so from the pulpit or in mixed audiences. Fine. Where are you talking about sex with the people in your church? Because I guarantee that they’re talking about it and struggling with it in other contexts. So, why not face it head on in the one place where they can learn to understand sex h way God intended?
If you have preached or taught about sex in your church, I’d be very curious to know how it went. Any insights or lessons learned for others?
- The New York Times reports on a recent gathering of scientists who met to discuss what and where the Garden of Eden might have been – kind of – in “A Romp Into Theories of the Cradle of Life.”
Darwin speculated that life began in a warm pond on the primordial Earth. Lately other scientists have suggested that the magic joining of molecules that could go on replicating might have happened in an undersea hot spring, on another planet or inside an asteroid. Some astronomers wonder if it could be happening right now underneath the ice of Europa or in the methane seas of Titan.
- Scot McKnight has begun a series on Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.
Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa prove — not contend — that students are not learning what they should, professors are not doing all they could, administrators are not focused on education enough and, as if that weren’t a glassful, society is and will continue to suffer is something isn’t done about it.
- Fred Sanders offers a fascinating look into pop culture with “Born This Way (so Raise Your Glasses, All You Fireworks).“
Three hit songs in the last few months have pushed the same message: You are awesome. You’re awesome just the way you are, even –no, especially– if you don’t fit in.
- Brian LePort offers his thoughts on what “rapture” means in 1 Thess. 4:17.
My take on the passage is that it refers to our meeting Christ in the air to welcome him to his earthly rule. If this is a “rapture”, fine, as long as it is not confused with the popular idea.
- Rod has started what looks like a fascinating series on Firefly & Theology. (If you’re not familiar with Firefly, it was an outstanding scifi series on Fox that sadly only made it through one season, though it was later made into a movie.)
- The Gospel Coalition has launched a new resource on Preaching Christ in the Old Testament that looks very interesting.
- And, here’s an explanation of how to win at rock-paper-scissors every time.
- Kevin DeYoung offers The Four Indispensable Qualities of Good Preaching: veracity, clarity, authority, and authenticity.
These four qualities are indispensable to good preaching, but some are more indispensable than others. The farther you go down the list, the harder the traits come. But the good news is it’s the top of the list that matter most.
- Scot McKnight asks, Are Denominations Broken?, and shares a letter calling for radical transformation in the PC(USA).
To say the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is deathly ill is not editorializing but acknowledging reality.
- Daniel Kirk engages the controversy surrounding new translations of “Son of God” that are more acceptable in muslim cultures.
If the phrase “son of God” is tantamount to blasphemy to Muslims, is it acceptable to translate the phrase differently into Arabic in the name of making the gospel known?
- Patheos is adding another new blog, and this one looks like it could be very interesting. Evangelical Crossroads features Mark Russell (Asbury), Allen Yeh (Biola), Michelle Sanchez, Michelle Stearns (Mars Hill), and Dwight Friesen (Mars Hill). (HT)
- Stuart comments on a new report estimating that there have been 270 new Christian martyrs every 24 hours over the last decade.
- Protests in Egypt continue to escalate as the US increased pressure on Egypt to end the emergency law.
- And, here’s a list of 102 words that we can thank Shakespeare for.
Here’s a great visual poem from Taylor Mali on the importance of speaking with conviction. He challenges the modern notion that it’s a virtue to hold beliefs tentatively and speak with uncertainty. It’s like we want to say,
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, I’m just like inviting you to join me on the bandwagon of my own uncertainty.
Instead, he calls for conviction. As he says toward the end:
So, I implore you, I entreat you, and I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it.
Thanks to Brian Fulthorp for pointing this one out.
Darren Rowse, founder of ProBlogger and former minister, explains why he thinks preparing sermons is like writing blog posts. Along the way, he explains his process for preparing posts/sermons and offers some thoughts for improving your own process.
- Mark Almie asks, Are We Afraid of Single Pastors?
Why were so many churches “requiring” a pastor to be married? Jesus wasn’t. Paul wasn’t. Almost all pastors were single until the time of the Reformation. Is it wise to “require” that our Evangelical pastors be married? Is it biblical?
We must teach [Baptist] views in order to be consistent in holding them. Because of these we stand apart from other Christians. We have no right thus to stand apart unless the matters of difference have real importance; and if they are really important, we certainly ought to teach them.
- A Slate.com article explains how economic factors contribute to the crisis in Egypt.
Any number of political and social factors underpins the current unrest in Egypt—and as always, economics figures in. The upheaval has shined a light on two serious problems facing the country: Most jobs pay too little, and most food costs too much.
- The January 2011 Biblical Studies Carnival is up, with Jim West at his snarkiest best.
- Paul Helm offers some quotes from Calvin on preaching.
- At least a million people rallied across Egypt in continued demonstrations. And Sarah Topol offers a view of the crisis from the streets.
- And, here’s a list of 7 Myths Mythbuster Proved But We Still Can’t Believe They’re True. My favorite: you really can stick your hand into molten lead without injury…briefly.