Monday, October 31, 2005


It is that time of year again. The time for witches, goblins, monsters and more. My son Robert is going to be Thomas the Train this year, Jack is going to be a pumpkin. It is also the time of the year for the great Halloween controversy in the church. Should Christians be participating in Halloween? This controversy has always amused me. In the end do what you want in good conscience with your faith and your beliefs as you have formed them through God's word.

Over at James Watkins has a great article examining this great controversy in the church and he gives some history behind how we ever came to dress up as ghosts and gorillas. I especially like how he uses Paul's admonition to the Corinthians in regard to eating meat to inform our decisions about Halloween. After reading that skip over to for some great tips for turning Halloween into an event where you can share Christ's love in a practical way and forge relationships with neighbors no matter what you think of Halloween.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Those People

Did your mom or dad ever tell you to stay away from those people- whoever those people were at the time. Maybe it was the neighbor's down the street that had the loud all night long parties. Maybe it was the kids at school who were always in dentention. Maybe it was the homeless man with a sign on the side of the road at the exit ramp. You know- those people.

It is striking that those people are the very people Jesus hung out with in His day. They were the sinners, the tax collectors, the fishermen, the prostitutes and other ilk: you know- those people. Christ said he came for the sick, not the healthy. I think it is those people in our contemporary culture that God calls us as Christians to hang out with, have relationship with, and present the Gospel to. If we are indeed Christ's hands and feet today then it makes sense that the church would be doing this.

During my time of assesment and training before planting a church, my coach Jim Griffith said that church planters need to be the kind of people who hang out in the smoking section. I thoguht that was right on! He then asked us how many friends we have that are not Christians. Ough, my toes began to hurt!!

May we all spend a little bit more time hanging out with, having relationship with and presenting the Gospel to those people in the smoking section.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The process of making disciples for Jesus Christ has changed in the last 100 years. This is true for long established churches and for new church starts like New Season.

There was a time, before the 1950's, when we lived in a culture where persons were disposed to Christianity. There was little suspicion of Chrsitianity and the well respected people of the day of course went to church. There were two things done for entertainment- going to school and going to youth group at church. If one started a church or wanted to revitalize an existing church one simply undertook an evangelism campaign which usually included knocking on doors and raising awareness that a church was now in the area to serve people's spiritual needs. People came. Basically, this was the "build it and they will come" stage of church planting and revitilization. This was how a majority of the mainline protestant churches got started in America. Most of them are still around today and averaging 200 or less (which is OK by the way if they are doing all they can to make disciples). In one area where I served there were three small United Methodist Chruches within 5 miles of each other because when they were started the served the village they were where people could only comfortably travel a couple of miles to go to chruch.

As times changed and mobility increased we saw a differnet model used to make disciples. All of a sudden chruches dotted the landscape of counties, towns and cities. No longer did people come to a church because it was there or convenient. There were many churches to choose from. Life was becoming more hectic as schedules became a flurry of activities. Entertainment options multiplied. This is when churches began to realize that they could no logner just "Build it and they would come" or just "be there" in the case of existing churches and people would naturally come. Something needed to be done. This is when we witnessed things surface like direct mail, newspaper advertisement, radio, television advetising and more forms on interruption advertising. What the church was communicating here was "we are here, why don't y'all come on." This worked for a time and these churches are to be commended.

But, alas, times have changed again- especially in the last ten years. With the quick spread and proliferation of information and advertising through the Internet, mobile phones, and other technology people have come to be bomarded with competing messages. While technological advances have made great strides, persons are as busy as ever. We no longer live in a culture where persons are disposed to Christianity but are leary of Christians. New religious beliefs have arisen with great speed. What is a church to do?

While I don't have all the answers I think what we will and are witnessing is that the churches that will thrive and effectively make disciples of Jesus Christ are those churches that are incarnational. Here is what I mean: you used to be able to just "buildit and they would come". Not anymore. You used to be able to just say to a community "hey, we are here come to us now." Now, I think we have to say "yes, we are here but we are going to come to you." We need to leave the idea that the four walls of the church make up the church and realize that Christ calls us to be hands and feet in the world. Here is what some of that might look like practically.

  • Instead of having your Vacation Bible School or Easter Egg Hunt at your church (within the four walls) make provision to have it at one of the commons area of a subdivision, at the local YMCA, or in someone's backyard.
  • Instead of worshipping one Sunday in your chruch building worship one Saturday during the day at a local park or a popular square. Really this is Biblical, though make sure you get any necessary permits from the powers that be.
  • If you have a sizeable company in your area that will let you use their break rom or a shop of stores and can find space, have a lunch time Bible study about contemporary issues that requires no preparation.
  • Demonstrate Christ's love in a practical way through a servant evangelism project.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Anne Rice Finds Jesus!

Some of you may have read Anne Rice's stuff in the past. She is the one who wrote a vampire series of books that thrilled millions. It appears now that Ms. Rice has taken a differnet direction. I came across this article from MSNBC describing things that have gone on her life in recent years: last year she came cose to death after surgery for an intestinal blockage, back in 1998 she went into a sudden diabetic coma, her husband Stan died of a brain tumor in 2002 and she most recently had some property in New Orleans damaged by Katrina. In 1998 she returned to the Roman Catholic Church she had left when was eighteen. Her next books are a series about Jesus. The first in the series is "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" a novel about a 7 year old Jesus narrated by Jesus himself. She is already working on a second book.

It seems to me there are two things especially worth noting about Ms. Rice's new found faith. 1. God uses the muck of our life (sickness, grief, and other struggles) to draw us closer to Him. God does not cause those things but He is there to pick up the pieces and use them to melt and mold us and knock on the door of our hearts. 2. Even after one has come to have faith in the radical Jesus, it does not mean immunity from the trials and tribulation of life. Notice Ms. Rice's troubles continued even after she rediscovered her faith. I think Ms. Rice would tell us that while her faith does not shield her from such things it equips her to handle them, learn from them, and then help others going through the same things.

Thank God for the work He has done in Anne Rice's life and the way He works in all of our life's in the same way though we are not as famous.

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Jesus in Luke 15:7

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Here is my first post in the blogosphere. I hope to post on a regular basis but do not make any promises. While this blog is about doing curch in the 21st century, culture, and God I suspect that I will be writing about anything I feel like.

To that end, please know that this blog does not necessarily reflect the views of New Season Church which I pastor. It reflects my own views which some, many or none at New Season may or may not hold. I hope to pass on some things that I have learned along the way because I think that is what Christ calls us to do. I invite you to shamelessly steal any ideas and put them to use in your context for minsitry recognizing that all contexts are different and what works in one context won't necessarily work in another.

So, I invite you to make this blog part of your rss reader or visit often through the web.