Tag Archives: Church

Theological Smackdown: Nine things to love about church

Our WCF (Westminster Confession of Faith) study last night was on “The Church”. One of my personal bugbears is when young hippy “Christians” go on about how they love Jesus but hate “the church”. For a Christian “the church” is where it’s at.

Here are nine propositions on church – they are a mix of reflections on last night’s discussions and other bits and pieces.

  1. We were asked how we’d answer the question “do you have to go to church to be a Christian”  – it’s an old chestnut. I say yes. You don’t have to go to church to become a Christian – but once you are a Christian, or in order to continue “being” a Christian, you need to be part of the body of Christ. The 1 Corinthians 12 picture of Christian living involves serving others with your gifts. People throw up bizarre objections like “what if you’re a farmer living in the middle of nowhere?” – my answer is that the farmer should sell his farm and move. There are more important things in life than your farm, or your job.
  2. Church is not so much about learning or teaching – it’s about encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:25) while “meeting together” and you can’t do this by yourself. You can’t do it over the internet. Internet churches are dumb ideas and listening to podcasts is the equivalent of reading a Christian book – not the equivalent of going to church.
  3. Church is quite obviously not the building – but it is a word that has too many functions – it describes the universal body of believers, a local expression of the body of believers meeting in fellowship, and a building. It is not necessarily any group of Christians meeting together. A bible study is not “church” it is an activity that forms part of the broader community of church. The difference between a home group and a home church is intention and outlook.
  4. People who say they don’t love “the church” are completely missing the point of each of the definitions of church – if you truly don’t love the family of believers, chances are you aren’t one. 
  5. There is a bit of a backlash happening against the “we hate the church” club – Kevin DeYoung wrote a book called Why We Love the ChurchBetween Two Worlds has some great insights from the book posted here.
  6. It’s hard to draw a line where the “universal” church ends and apostasy begins – the Confession treads that line pretty carefully before calling the Pope the antichrist.
  7. Part of the anti-church movement sees any “gathering” of Christians as the Church – but as Mark Driscoll pointed out in one of his talks during his time here (and paraphrased) a bunch of Christian guys hanging out at the pub calling themselves  “the church” are more likely alcoholics.
  8. The characteristics of a church gathering are prescribed nicely in 1 Corinthians 11 – 14 these include the proper approach to the sacraments (the Lord’s Supper – 11v17-33), use of gifts (12v4–31), attitude to one another (13v1-13), evangelistic (14v23-24), and the program should include teaching and singing for the purpose of encouragement/strengthening (14v26). 
  9. Some of the issues that people who “don’t like the church” have are related to failings of the church to live like the body of Christ – but to expect perfection from a body of sinners is odd.

Chewing over the PK issue

I was having a conversation with someone last night who trotted out the oft used line that PKs get an easy ride when it comes to settling in to a new church because they have a reputation.

This is rubbish. Sorry person. You are wrong. It’s more often a case of notoriety than reputation. And it’s more a case of “expectation” than “free ride”.

PKs (who I prefer to call “Preachers Kids” because I think the word “Pastor” is overused) are a misunderstood breed. You’re occasionally the yardstick by whom all other children in the church are measured (or sometimes it feels that way). Especially when you’re used in sermon illustrations (which I wasn’t often – probably because I tried to get dad to pay me for use of my image rights when I learned that other people had that deal). Incidentally this is the thing that concerns me most about Mark Driscoll’s ministry. What happens if one of his children takes the archetypal black sheep path of PKness.

When you’re an adult PK and trying to build your own identity in church circles it can be equal parts blessing and curse. Depending on who your father is, and who the people making the assessment are.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade my father or my PK-ness for anything. But that was a low blow. And I didn’t like it. It made me angry.

For those who might have missed it first time around – settling into a new church is difficult – no matter who you are. Settling in to new social environments anywhere is difficult. I remember being on that side of the equation – I wrote about it here – I think this is a fault of the church, not the new person. But I don’t think we should be expecting a free ride. No matter who our parents are, or aren’t.

Ten plagues for all your houses…

One of the other things I may miss out on this Sunday if pain persists and I’ve seen the doctor is my role in our puppet driven kid’s talks at church.

That would be sad. I have been enjoying being Ernie. As in Bert and Ernie. Children like puppets. It’s a fact.

Children also need to learn about the plagues in Egypt. Because that’s important. Sadly this has been difficult to achieve with puppets. Until now. I give you the “Plague Puppets” courtesy of some Hebrew children’s resource site (perfect for your Old Testament needs)…

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How open source songs might work

Debate rages at Simone’s blog. Well not really. I just keep writing long comments one after the other as new ideas strike me. This has kept my hippocampuses firing all day.

Simone doesn’t seem to think an Open Source model would produce quality songs.

Every open source product in existence would seem to disagree – but she’s also not sure how it would all work.

I had the following thought.

Open Source companies make money by offering support, some by performing specific development tasks and extensions for companies that request them. Here’s an article about how open source companies make money.

Basically it moves from a model where a product is provided to a model based on service.

I believe Open Source, when applied to computer software, produces better products than proprietary software.

So, an example of how a gifted song writer could make money/produce quality songs under the Open Source business model would be to produce songs upon request (and upon payment) by a particular church for a particular sermon series that they’re working on. Once it is used for that purpose it would then be added to the pool of songs for other churches to use.

Any other ideas?

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WWJS

Some churches just don’t get it. Particularly American churches – or at least in the case of the American churches I’m about to write about…

Just over a week ago a prominent late term abortionist was shot while attending his church. Those who are anti-abortion will no doubt not be grieving this loss as much as others – but most churches have been quick to condemn the killing (or at least to distance themselves from it).

Not these two…

The first, a church in Kentucky, is having an “open carry celebration day” – they want parishioners to bring their guns to church. Here’s what their “pastor” Ken Pagano has to say:

“As a Christian pastor I believe that without a deep-seeded belief in God and firearms that this country would not be here.”

Speaking about those objecting to his planned celebration he said:

“I understand their concerns and I applaud them for their expression because the whole point of this is to promote the First and Second Amendments.”

While he may not have made the link to the shooting directly – the journalist did – a link from the story’s intro takes you to the story about the killing.

Then there are those that have glorified in the killing…

I’m sure this is not the sort of commentary the church should be making about current events… nor the kind of mission Jesus gave us in the great commission.

But I propose, in order to take money out of the hands of these dangerous people, that we launch a range of Christian merchandise in the WWJS line – who/what would Jesus shoot… the money raised can be redirected to appropriate organisations like the Red Cross.

Calvin and bobs

It’s Calvin’s 500th birthday this year. Not the comic character – the predestination guy (for all you Arminians out there).

To celebrate this milestone our church is putting on a Calvin Conference – at which I am presenting something as yet undetermined about his interactions with government. Exciting times. To get me in the mood I’m thinking I may purchase one of these John Calvin Bobble Heads.

Mens Camp Reflections: Intro

I’ve got a few things that I thought of and jotted down while on Men’s Camp on the weekend. Rather than mash them all together in one big post I’m going to approach each issue separately. Starting now.