Leadership: Why Do Visitors Hate the Meet-and-Greet Time?

meet-and-greetThom Rainer is best-selling author and church growth consultant. Recently, he published some results of his research that shocked the evangelical world–it seems that church visitors hate — hate – the meet and greet.

In an admittedly unscientific Twitter poll, Rainer asked what a church does (or doesn’t do) that drives off first time visitors. By far, the number one answer was the meet and greet.

This response was my greatest surprise for two reasons. First, I was surprised how much guests are really uncomfortable during this time. Second, I was really surprised that it was the most frequent response.

So he followed up with a poll asking why. Here are the results — Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (that which is perfect), Part 5 (“maturity”)

spiritual giftsAnother possible reading of “that which is perfect” or teleios is “maturity.” However, the more general definition is —

In the NT “perfect” is usually the tr[anslation] of teleios, primarily, “having reached the end” …

L. Walker, “Perfect, Perfection,” ed. James Orr et al., The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company, 1915), 2321. And so “perfect” very well fits the “end of the age” sense I’ve argued for.

Nonetheless, Paul often uses teleios to mean mature, and 1 Cor 13:10 says,

(1Co 13:11 ESV) When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

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1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (that which is perfect), Part 4 (“abides”)

spiritual giftsFaith after Jesus returns

The argument that faith ends at the Second Coming is usually based on —

(Heb 11:1 ESV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The idea is that if faith and hope expire at the Second Coming, then love lasts longer (making it greater?), but since faith and hope must “abide” beyond the duration of tongues, prophecy, and knowledge, these lesser gifts must have passed away at some time before Jesus’ return.

But Paul does not say that love lasts longer than faith or hope, and he is specific that tongues, prophecy, and knowledge will be destroyed at the Second Coming. Nonetheless, to be all-the-more certain of the conclusion, let’s see whether the traditional argument correctly interprets Heb 11:1. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (that which is perfect), Part 3 (“face to face”)

spiritual giftsOn the other hand, as clear as it seems to be that Paul is looking ahead to the Second Coming, Paul’s language leaves us to wonder what he means when he writes,

(1Co 13:13 ESV)  So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

“Abide” in contrast to what? In fact, BDAG (the premier lexicon of New Testament Greek) translates “abide” as “continue to exist.” Compare,

(2Co 3:11 NIV) And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts [abides or remains]!

And so, is Paul saying that tongues and prophecy and knowledge will  last until the Second Coming, but faith, hope, and love will survive? That seems to be the natural interpretation.

Moreover, if these “abide” in contrast to tongues, prophecy, and knowledge, and if these three things “pass away” in eschatological language, as shown in Part 1, they must last — in some sense — until the Second Coming.

The problem this raises is how hope and faith might be said to “abide” or “remain” after the Second Coming. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (that which is perfect), Part 2 (miracles)

spiritual giftsWhen Alexander Campbell wrote and preached in the early 1800s, he struggled against teachings of the Society of Friends (Quakers) and similar denominations that taught that the Spirit presently inspired believers at the same level as scripture. As a result, he tended to minimize the present work of the Spirit.

In the 1970s, the Churches of Christ were rocked by Pentecostalism. Our homegrown hero, Pat Boone, had been a popular singer in the early 60s and a movie star — competing with Elvis himself. His book Between You, Me and the Gatepost was studied in youth groups across the Churches of Christ.

Then he published A New Song, detailing his experiences with faith healing and speaking in tongues. He was disfellowshipped by his home church. David Lipscomb College refused to sing its alma mater, composed by Boone. And the Gospel Advocate and other church publications poured out articles denying the indwelling of the Spirit. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (that which is perfect), Part 1 (the Second Coming)

spiritual gifts

(1Co 13:8 ESV) Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

N. T. Wright gives the context, in particular, the fact that Paul now looks to the Second Coming to put spiritual gifts in proper perspective —

The point of 13:8–13 is that the church must be working in the present on the things that will last into God’s future. Faith, hope and love will do this; prophecy, tongues and knowledge, so highly prized in Corinth, will not. They are merely signposts to the future; when you arrive, you no longer need signposts. Love, however, is not just a signpost. It is a foretaste of the ultimate reality. Love is not merely the Christian duty; it is the Christian destiny.

N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2003), 296. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 13:5b-7 (Love is …)

spiritual giftsInsist on its own way

Gormon’s study of Paul’s ethic concludes that love “seeks the good, the advantage, the edification of others. It is characterized by regard for them. Love, according to the apostle, is the dynamic, creative endeavor of finding ways to pursue the welfare of others rather than one’s own interests. It is not self-centered but others-oriented.”

Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians (Pillar NTC; Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 646. Continue reading

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Final Final Post on Inerrancy up at Wineskins

wordJust posted the final installment on inerrancy (morning espresso). I thought I was finished, but I wasn’t. You might find this one interesting.

(It’s Jerry Starling’s fault, if you must know. He asked a question in the comments, which prompted a too-long answer from me, and so I moved my answer over to Wineskins.)

Here are links to the entire series:

first (appetizer)
second (entree)
third (dessert)
fourth (coffee)
fifth (midnight snack)
sixth (morning espresso)

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1 Corinthians 13:4-5a (Love is …)

spiritual gifts

(1Co 13:4-7 ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Now, let’s take a step back. This is not a chapter on weddings. Paul is not address marriage. He is discussing congregational life. This is how a Christian congregation is supposed to behave. This is what the world is supposed to see when they see a church.

If the church were to live 1 Cor 13, there’d be far less criticism of the institutional church and far less insistence on mission somehow separate from the church. For the church to be the church, the church must live agapē. It’s not complicated; it’s just not easy.

PS — The commentaries are often quite good on this passage, and I have little to add but to point to the words of others.
Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 12:29-13:3 (A more excellent way)

spiritual gifts

(1Co 12:29-30 ESV) 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

These rhetorical questions all anticipate an answer of “no.” This is especially significant for tongues, as Paul plainly contradicts any notion that we should expect all Christians to one day speak in tongues. The gift of tongues is not a particularly honorable or expected gift — just one of several that a Christian might receive.

(1Co 12:31 ESV) But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. 

Paul thus introduces the magnificent chapter 13, making clear that faith, hope, and love are all gifts of a higher order than the the more flamboyant gifts previously under discussion. Continue reading

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