Silos, Politics and Turf Wars

silos.jpgRegular readers will recall that I’m a big fan of Patrick Lencioni’s The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. It’s a great book and a particularly useful study for elders and ministers–especially for elders with ministers.

I’m on vacation at the beach, and among my readings has been Lencioni’s Silos, Politics and Turf Wars. It’s another great book and should be required reading for leaders of churches large enough to have two or more ministers on staff.

Like 5 Dysfunctions, the book is written in parable format, being built on stories about several clients of a business consultant, including a church. Continue reading

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Amazing Grace: Now that We’re Saved (the Romans lesson)

grace2.jpgAfter many years of thinking about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that the cinch point in Church of Christ thought is very simply our understanding of how grace works after our salvation.

We generally start with the assumption that the rules dramatically change after salvation. And to this extent, we’re right. But we assume the standard gets tougher, that God holds us to an ever-higher standard. But while there’s a germ of truth in that thought, it misses the much larger point. Although God does have very high expectations for his children, his forgiveness is far greater for the saved than for the being-saved. Continue reading

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The Gospel Advocate Creed, Part 5

ga.jpgWhen we disagree with someone about doctrine, it’s easy to get caught up in the particulars of the doctrinal debate. But once in while, we need to take a step back and look at the tactics we use. It is very possible, of course, to argue for truth in very untruthful ways.

Let’s take a moment to analyze the tactics being used by the Gospel Advocate. Consider Br. Gregory Alan Tidwell’s  articles in this month’s Gospel Advocate. I pick on Tidwell, even though he is one of more thoughtful and articulate spokesmen for his point of view, because the fact that he uses these tactics shows just how deeply engrained these tactics are in the conservative Church of Christ culture. Continue reading

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Amazing Grace: Our Pardon

grace2.jpgThis is a class for the converted. And it’s not a class on systematic theology. In other words, I’m going to skip lots of really, really important stuff, because I assume the class members are already convinced of such things as why they need to be saved in the first place and who God is. Rather, this class begins with a review and then an expansion on some very familiar concepts.

The five-finger exercise

We traditionally teach — pretty much correctly, I think — that to be saved we must hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized. This teaching goes back to the Restoration Movement’s first missionary, Walter Scott (not the author in the card game Authors, you know, the guy who wrote Ivanhoe and such. He lived in England. Our guy lived on the American frontier, in places like Ohio and Kentucky). Continue reading

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The Gospel Advocate Creed, Part 4

ga.jpgAs I read each month’s edition of the Gospel Advocate, I’ve been noting some of the issues that the authors consider as “salvation issues” or “marks of the church.” I call these issues a “creed” because that’s the original meaning of the word in Restoration Movement thought.

When the early Restoration leaders said that we have no creed but Christ, they were criticizing the practice in many denominations of denying fellowship to all who disagreed with any element of their creedal statement. Thus, when Alexander Campbell was required to affirm his belief in the Presbyterian Church’s creed to take communion, although he passed the test, he refuse to participate, as he considered the practice anti-Biblical.

This month’s issue provides a fuller statement of the Gospel Advocate‘s creed than most. A series of articles by Br. Gregory Alan Tidwell teach that certain errors cause one to be part of a “different religion.” Continue reading

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Missional Christianity: Why being religious isn’t necessarily being like Jesus

jesushealing.jpgThe following story is from Science Daily. This is not to pick on doctors. I’m sure the same is true of Christian lawyers and many others who profess Jesus.

 

Science Daily Although most religious traditions call on the faithful to serve the poor, a large cross-sectional survey of U.S. physicians found that physicians who are more religious are slightly less likely to practice medicine among the under-served than physicians with no religious affiliation. Continue reading

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Amazing Grace: The Spirit Who Lives In Us, Part 2

grace2.jpgIn the second class on the Spirit we want to answer questions and fill in blanks. This is a time for reflection, testimony, and discussion, whereas the first class will largely have been lecture, as the material will either be old hat or brand new.

Q. How should we feel about the Spirit? Should we worship the Spirit?

A. The Spirit’s role is to point people to Jesus, not to the Spirit. We are not to let the Spirit usurp Jesus’ role in our salvation. Our faith is in Jesus. Continue reading

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Amazing Grace: The Spirit Who Lives In Us, Part 1

grace2.jpgI’m persuaded that it’s just not possible to really understand God’s grace without some understanding of how his Spirit works in us today. I don’t want to talk about Pentecostalism, tongues, or that sort of thing in this lesson. In fact, all too often we so focus on what we don’t believe that we never get around to teaching what we do believe.

A sound understanding of the Spirit requires that we go back to the story of the Exodus. God asked the Israelites to build a tabernacle, literally a portable tent for use in worship and sacrifice as they journeyed across the desert. God promised, “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exo. 25:8). Continue reading

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Amazing Grace: Introduction

grace2.jpgThis begins a new series of posts that will be the building blocks for a series of classes to be taught this coming winter on grace. Much of the material may already be found here and there on this site, but the idea is to squeeze the essentials into a 13-lesson series that can be taught by several different teachers at once.

We are blessed to have a growing congregation, but growth comes with growing pains. Continue reading

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Interpreting the Bible: Equipping for Good Works

jesushealing-thumb.jpgMy brother suggested that this verse may be an important hermeneutical principle. I think he’s right–

(2 Tim. 3:16-17) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Rarely do we go to the Scriptures looking for help in doing good works. Even more rarely do we go to the Old Testament, and Paul’s reference “Scriptures” has to be taken as primarily a reference to the first 39 books of the Bible. Continue reading

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