Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

No Comment Necessary

A Profile in Courage

The American News Project provides some of the highpoints (and lowpoints) of Scott McClellan's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Conversation Worthy of Attention

Who: Brian Jones, pastor of Christ Church of the Valley, Collegeville, PA and Frank Chiapperino, Small Group Pastor of the same church and founder of Small Group Help.

Topic: The role of small groups in discipleship development.

The conversation began Tuesday with Jones' post, Why Churches Should Euthanize Their Small Groups (and what we should replace them with). Money quote: Small groups are things that trick us into believing we’re serious about making disciples. The problem is 90% of small groups never produce one single disciple, ever. They help Christians make shallow friendships for sure. They’re great at helping Christians feel a tenuous connection to their local church. And they do a bang-up job of teaching Christians how to act like other Christians in the evangelical Christian subculture. But when it comes to creating the kind of holistic disciples Jesus envisioned, the jury’s decision came back a long time ago – small groups just aren't working.

Continuing on Wednesday with, Church-Initiated “Small Groups” Begin From A Flawed Starting Point. Money quote: Well intentioned Christians, armed with the latest insights in organizational theory, let their pragmatic and utilitarian hearts delude themselves into thinking they could organize, measure, and control the mystical working of the Holy Spirit in community in order to consistently reproduce disciples in other contexts. Then these people starting writing books and hosting seminars. And then church leaders like you and me bought into what they were saying because we didn’t recognize that the same faulty worldview that produced a mechanized approach to Christian community fostered a ready-made market in our hearts to consume their quick-fix solutions. So we came home, armed with our “101 Sure-Fire Discussion Starter” books and binders full of slick recruitment techniques, and started “small group ministries” at our churches.

And: The key issue, to me, as a church planter, is always contextualization. I would ask, "How is God already at work in this culture and how can I assist, nudge, prod a genuine expression of God's spirit in community among the people I serve?"

Today Brian writes The Small Group Movement’s Achilles Heel. Money quote: The Achilles heel of the modern-day small group movement is simple: Small groups don’t create disciples, disciples create disciples. And modern-day small groups are led, for the most part, by people who have attended the church, had a conversion experience, lead a reasonably moral life, and can read the study-guide questions, but in many situations are not disciples themselves. American churches have lowered the bar of small group leadership so low that it’s simply ridiculous. In fact, it’s so ridiculous that most churches would be better off not even having small groups than to offer them with disciple-less leaders.

Take time to follow this ongoing conversation. Read the comments. Wrestle with the competing ideas. It's worth your attention.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sounds "Reasoned" and "Intellectual"...

...but ignorance is still ignorant and hatred is still ugly.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

McCain: Americans making $200,000.00 are 'Not Rich'

The McCain campaign’s perception of American incomes is woefully out of touch. An income of $200,000 places an American family firmly in the “rich” category:
– The 2006 census showed that an income of $174,012 put an American household within the top 5 percent of income earners.
– A report by the Citizens for Tax Justice estimates that in 2008, “only 3.2 percent of taxpayers will have adjusted gross income (AGI) greater than $200,000 and only 2.1 percent will have AGI over $250,000.”
– A 2007 Wall Street Journal article placed earners who make $277,000 in the top 1 percent of all income earners.

Friday, June 06, 2008

An Old Hymn Text That's New to Me

I have found a deep peace that I never had known
And a joy this world could not afford
Since I yielded control of my body and soul
To my wonderful, wonderful Lord.

I desire that my life shall be ordered by Thee
That my will be in perfect accord
With Thine own sov'reign will
Thy desires to fulfill
My wonderful, wonderful Lord

All the talents I have I have laid at Thy Feet
Thy approval shall be my reward
Be my store great or small
I surrender it all
To my wonderful, wonderful Lord
--Haldor Lillenas

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Supporting the Troops

At Fort Benning in Georgia, the Army has assigned soldiers suffering from PTSD to housing located just 200 yards away from firing ranges. The “barrages from rifles and machine guns” make these wounded soldiers “cringe” and “stay awake and on edge,” and recently “sent one soldier to the emergency room with an anxiety attack.” Complaints to medical personnel and officers have brought no relief.
-- Think Progress

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Young Hillary Clinton

Dowd on McClellan

Although his analytical skills are extremely limited, the former White House press secretary — Secret Service code name Matrix — takes a stab at illuminating Junior’s bumpy and improbable boomerang journey from family black sheep and famous screw-up back to family black sheep and famous screw-up.

How did W. start out wanting to restore honor and dignity to the White House and end up scraping all the honor and dignity off the White House?

It turns out that our president is a one-man refutation of Malcolm Gladwell’s best seller “Blink,” about the value of trusting your gut.

Every gut instinct he had was wildly off the mark and hideously damaging to all concerned.

It seems that if you trust your gut without ever feeding your gut any facts or news or contrary opinions, if you keep your gut on a steady diet of grandiosity, ignorance, sycophants, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, those snap decisions can be ruinous.