Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Quick Hits #4

#1 The barrista at the coffee shop just said "Oh brother." That made me really happy for some reason. (Lately I've been warmed just by thinking about people saying "My lands" and "My word.") This is a really weird thing to admit, I know.

#2 My friend (and editor at Threads) Michael Kelley links to a Time Magazine story on a new PDA app designed to help cheaters and "sexters" cover their tracks. Perhaps you remember the television ads that made headlines for the online matchmaking company that connects adulterers. And did you know that the major force driving entertainment technology -- DVD, bluRay, 3-D, etc. -- is the p()rnography industry? Allegedly, the advances adopted by smut peddlers lead the way for the rest of the commercial entertainment field. All of this leads me to echo something I said in my sermon last Sunday: we're not just sinners; we are really good at sinning. We are endlessly innovative at finding new ways to fall short of God's glory. Somewhere in the idol factories of our hearts is an R&D department devoted to coming up with new ways to worship the products we manufacture.

#3 I absolutely loved this quote from Tim Keller that I saw yesterday: "The gospel will never electrify you as long as you remain 'middle class in spirit'."

#4 My friend Bill Streger posted a piece called Uncool People Need Jesus Too, and I don't think he expected the overwhelming response, much less the controversy. No less than Pope Keller himself commented on the piece, and Acts 29 President Scott Thomas registered his displeasure.
Bill's point was mainly a general question: Is it possible the new church planting movement(s) is neglecting certain American mission fields because they aren't "fashionable" mission fields?
I think that's an excellent question, and my answer is "yes," it is absolutely possible this is the case.
Unfortunately, more than a few took Bill's words as negativity toward Acts 29, some even accusing him of criticizing Mark Driscoll and Keller. Those who actually read the piece carefully know he wasn't doing any such thing. (The part about Driscoll and Keller said nothing negative about those men; it merely asked if maybe some young men were making idols of them like so many made idols of Hybels and Warren. And the answer to this question is undoubtedly yes.)
In the end, Bill, who is one of the most humble, gentle, and Spirit-spirited pastors I've ever had the privilege to know personally, apologized for not saying things as clearly as he could and wrote a follow-up post clarifying. My favorite comment on that one was from Trey Herweck, an Acts 29 church planter in Missouri, who wrote:
I appreciate your clarification but, unfortunately, don’t see it as necessary. The beauty of the A29 crew (Driscoll, Patrick, all those guys) is the invitation to reflect on ourselves and ask hard questions. With any movement you have posers and wannabes and I think you were pointing out that this is no different. With the blog realm we live with reaction and not response. We create controversy where there simply isn’t any and people pull soundbites and miss the point (exegesis anyone??). Love your heart brother. It’s obvious that this honest and necessary post has caused you some deep grief that you should not take on. Your bro’s in A29 have big enough chests to take some poundings and be ok. I haven’t read all the comments (just got up to TK’s and that impressed me enough;). Brother, be released from that. We’re not freakin politicians that need vetting before we make any statements. We’re a movement of church planters teaching GRACE who should receive our brother’s concerns with GRACE and interpret each others hearts with GRACE! Sleep well, preach well, fight the right battles friend!

For my part, I think the inflammatory pushback to Bill's honest questions are warning signs. Absolute refusal to self-reflect and self-criticize is not a sign of organizational health, and these are elements of the church growth movement's ongoing dysfunction.

#4 I will be speaking at The Calling Conference for youth pastors, youth workers, and youth themselves in Auburn, Maine on May 8. Info and registration here. Will be talking about gospel resiliency and fidelity, gospel-centered student ministry, and gospel-driven living. It's inexpensive and relational; not your typical conference. If you can get there, would love to see you.

#5 Speaking of gospel-driven, my Bible study resource on spiritual formation -- Abide -- is now available for pre-order!

#6 Yesterday I spoke ill of Glenn Beck on my Twitter feed. It kinda ruffled some people, I think. I will not be issuing a "What I really meant" tweet. :-) What I meant when I said Beck is an "idolatrous fearmonger" is that he worships idols and mongers fear.

#7 Thanks to #4, this edition of Quick Hits is already too long. I'll save my remaining random thoughts for next time.


zach hoag said...

"What I meant when I said Beck is an 'idolatrous fearmonger' is that he worships idols and mongers fear."


Steve McCoy said...

Your take on the Bill Streger stuff is right on.

Aaron said...

The problem with twitter is you can't really explain specifically why you think the way you do about Glenn Beck. Here would be a great place to answer the questions: 1)What are Glenn's idols? 2) How is he mongering fear? Not disagreeing or agreeing just wanting clarification.

Jared said...

Aaron, okay.

1) Glenn is a religious idolater for the reason that he does not worship the triune God of the Scriptures. He worships whatever deified person the LDS church calls "God." (I watched him on his show once give a lesson about the Old Testament and the Law that was a theological trainwreck, but I'm sure many evangelical viewers agreed with him just fine. That's what makes him dangerous. One lady on Twitter yesterday chastised me, saying something like "You need to do your homework; Beck is a believer." In so many words I encouraged her to do her homework, because he is not. She had no idea he's a Mormon.)

He is a political idolater because his demonstrable affections are poured out onto the political process and engagement. Meaning, his energies are expended primarily in railing against liberalism, communism, socialism, Obama, and all sorts of other things that are not Jesus Christ and his gospel. So one of his idols is probably "America." Or conservatism. Or patriotism.

2) He is a fearmonger b/c, dripping with contempt and anger, he preys on conservative paranoia and fears of our nation becoming socialist or some other thing. There is a difference between being a conservative debating/disagreeing with liberals and being someone who's always talking about "the left" like it's the boogeyman. Every time I've listened to or watched him, he has crossed that line.

Most specifically, my tweet was related to the much publicized remarks he made that Christians should leave their churches if they see/hear the phrases "social justice" or "economic justice" being used, because these phrases are codes for impending socialism and Nazism.

That's not only wrong, it's idiotic.

Most people I think knew what I meant with my original tweet. For others, I was (and am) happy to clarify.

Aaron said...

Thanks for the clarification. I am a new reader to your blog and have benefited greatly from reading your writings and responses to issues. Some of our brothers and sisters are harsh without thinking things through. You not only clarified but showed that you have thought this through very well. You obviously don't need to please me but I am very appreciative of your response and as I get to know your writing better I'm sure I will need less clarification. Sincere thanks.

Eric Guel said...

What I meant when I said Beck is an "idolatrous fearmonger" is that he worships idols and mongers fear.

That's great! :-)

The right-wing talking heads are all pretty good about mongering fear.

Jason said...

I understood your Beck tweet just fine. :) If you took the time to examine Beck, it wasn't hard to figure out. :)

Will Marks said...

Uncool People Need Jesus Too - Ever heard of Larne, Northern Ireland? No? That's where I'm called to.

Every large church in the UK seems to want to be in Belfast. I pray they are successful. But I'm called to Larne. Small town, blue collar workers, no coffee shops as such, aging church populations, no-one has heard of 21st Century Church, MegaChurches, 'missional', anything-centered. Sectarianism is receeding only slighty from the 'Troubles'.

There have been far too many suicides in young men, and it makes me angry.

This is where I am called to. If the people here are uncool, I don't mind. They need Jesus.

Jared said...

Will, blessings on you, brother. May your tribe increase.