Mark Love on Cynicism and Ministry Training


Marvelous post by Mark Love: “Learning Without Cynicism” –

We also try to take an appreciative stance in relation to the congregation. We do this in two or three deliberate ways. Part of it is built into our notion of “missional.” The church is not an abstract list of marks, but rather a living organism in time and space. It is the particularity of the congregation that helps us discern what God’s calling might be for any given congregation. Each congregation, therefore, is brimming with the possibilities of God’s enlivening presence. God is not simply the ideas present in the minister’s head, but is more likely to be seen in the lives and concerns of God’s people. So, the congregation is not simply a place where the minister dumps his or her theology. Instead, the congregation is a source of theology as the Spirit moves among people. Continue reading

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Thom Rainer’s Predictions for 2014, Part 4

14-issuesContinuing to reflect on Thom Rainer’s 14 Predictions for 2014, Part 1 and Part 2.

12. Local churches increasing their roles as ministry training leaders. The role of ministry training in the past decades fell largely upon Bible colleges and seminaries. More churches in 2014 will partner with those colleges and seminaries to provide contextual training at a local church. (90%)

This is a side effect of megachurches. Congregations of 20,000 members will often have their own training programs for church planters or children’s ministers. But I’m not seeing this in the Churches of Christ. We still rely on our colleges and universities very heavily. Continue reading

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Thom Rainer’s Predictions for 2014, Part 3

14-issuesContinuing to reflect on Thom Rainer’s 14 Predictions for 2014, Part 1 and Part 2.

9. New worship centers will be built smaller. There will be a greater emphasis on smaller gatherings more frequently. This trend is being affected significantly by the preferences of the Millennial generation (born 1980 to 2000). A related trend is that many congregations will find ways to downsize their existing worship centers. (70%)

Worship centers are really expensive. In fact, the cost rises faster than the capacity, because worship centers generally have to grow taller as the size grows — and this means more steel, more HVAC, more lighting and sound problems — and exponentially more money. Continue reading

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From the Comments: Life in the Church in Jerusalem


Scale model of First Century Jerusalem, centered on Herod’s Temple.

Larry Creek asked me in a comment,

[1] I have not found many that have expounded upon how those who left Jerusalem to go back home lived the same guidelines for their worship gatherings as have been evidenced in the city. …

[2] As you mentioned there was no quick easy communication available [for the Jerusalem church after Pentecost] … . I do have a problem seeing 3000 + later 5000 all being able to meet as as one body as we visualize that many being able to gather together today. …

[3] Being an Elder yourself could you give us an idea how an Eldership today could shepherd over a flock of 8000 with the same technology that was available back then? Continue reading

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Thom Rainer’s Predictions for 2014, Part 2

14-issuesContinuing to reflect on Thom Rainer’s 14 Predictions for 2014, Part 1 and Part 2.

5. Greater number of churches moving to a unified worship style. For years a noticeable trend was churches offering different worship styles. The most common was the offering of two services: traditional and contemporary, though the definitions of each were elusive. In the next year we will we see a reversal of that trend, as many of those same churches decide to move to one common worship style. (70%)

I have to say that I don’t see this happening in the Churches of Christ. We seem to be headed in the direction of multiple services, with one instrumental and one a cappella. Of course, although other denominations have “worship wars,” they don’t have the doctrinal concerns that Churches of Christ must wrestle with. Continue reading

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Paul and the Faithfulness of God: Two Videos

FaithfulnessofGodWe’ve been considering N. T. Wright’s newly released Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God) – a massive and masterful consideration of Paul’s theology.

Well, we were and then I had surgery and then I had this deadly infection, and, well, we’ll get back to it at some point I’m sure.

I came across these two videos in which Michael J. Gorman (a great author in his own right) interviews Wright, in one, and Wright and Richard Hayes, in another, regarding some of the major themes of Wright’s massive book.

Both run about 35 minutes, and these are strictly for those readers with a serious theological inclination. For those of you who enjoy Wright and would like to get deeper into the Pauline epistles, these are well worth the listen.

And if you’re still deciding whether to buy the book and read it, this is a pretty good preview.


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Thom Rainer’s Predictions for 2014, Part 1A (Re the importance of Instrumental Music to Church Growth)

14-issuesIn Part 1, I wrote,

The Churches of Christ have very few [megachurches], largely because … [among other reasons] … we have doctrinal barriers that make it difficult for a church to grow large, including our rejection of instrumental music.

My reference to inadequate staff and elder training drew no comment, but as might be expected, the reference to instrumental music certainly did. (I guess we’re more concerned about our musical traditionalism than actually growing — or someone surely would have asked how we might better train leaders so we can grow.) Continue reading

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Thom Rainer’s Predictions for 2014, Part 1

14-issuesI read Thom Rainer’s blog, but I’ve been reading his work since before there were blogs. Rainer is a church growth consultant who has written several influential books.

He is one of the few who studies the research and really understands his field. Everything he has written is highly recommended.

He recently posted a list of 14 predictions for the American evangelical churches for 2014. Some are good news. Some are not good at all. But we can learn from each one. Continue reading

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Elder Training: ElderLink in Atlanta, March 21-22

I’m a longtime advocate for elder training, and one of the few formal training opportunities found in the Churches of Christ is the ElderLink program jointly sponsored by Abilene Christian University and Lipscomb University. Continue reading

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Snow in Tuscaloosa and Jay’s Health Status

What do Tuscaloosans do when it snows enough to build snowmen and have snowball fights? Build snow elephants on the UA Quad! Continue reading

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