Month: September 2011

Reverse Critique Or, How Our Children Expose Us

“We are going to look for another church.” The words stung the young pastor. He was quite unaware of how to proceed. Should he confront the members on their way out for some explanation? Would it be polite to ask what happened to were considered good friends and church members?

The young pastor did ask. It did not help. While there are lots of reasons people look for another church, in this case the reason amounted to, “They sing the music we sing here much better.” Moving from a church of 300 to a church of 10,000 was prompted by singing better arrangements of the same songs. Welcome to church in the 21st century.

Another pastor recently received word a church leader would be leaving to look for another church. “Our children don’t look forward to coming to church.” Really. David Fitch responds to this sentiment,

Most parents know this instinctively. Read More

Rough Trail

Two of my best friends have know idea what lies ahead of us. Captivated by the beauty of the dense Forrest, the various streams and rock formations, and the trees reaching to the skies betray how our hike would end.

Paul and Trent – they are my brothers, and more.

Over the past few years they have had their share of rough trails. Trent works for a major corporation always under threat of being bought or going broke. Things seem to have settled for the time being. Working hard has not been a problem as there appears to be more than one person can do, regularly. His determination and will complement his natural social skills. But, the trail has been rough.

Paul is a pastor. Enough said. More reserved than his older and younger brothers, he is no less skilled with people. Sandwiched in the middle is not an unfamiliar place. These past few years have aged him. We tease about our ever decreasing stable of locks. Much is made of how Presidents age. I wonder about pastors. Some say character is forged in the depths of struggle. If so, Paul’s character runs deep. Read More

Excursus: Learning Parties (Soularize) and the Scary Other (In the Hallway)

Soularize Ten – or Soularize 2011 – will be held in San Diego next month. Ironically, my first venture into the hallway with those scary others took place in San Diego. If there were approved reading lists for those of us huddling in our (Southern) Baptist room along C.S. Lewis’ hallway, we also had acceptable conferences to attend. These Pastor’s Conferences were often sponsored by high profile Southern Baptist Pastors at very large churches who viewed the event as if they were Paul encouraging young Timothys. The only other acceptable conferences were of the pragmatic variety often associated with some angle on church growth.

A friend called and said, “How about going to the National Pastor’s Convention (2001) with me in San Diego?” He sent me the information, the link, and expressed his intent to go. Who would not consider San Diego in February? Warm weather. Golf. Old Town. The Piers. First ever stop to a Krispy Kreme. Read More

Series Interrupted – Surgery Day for Cohen

I will pick up with the recent ongoing series on the other, scary other, and those not in the hallway.

Today we are at Children’s for Cohen’s surgery.

He is doing well. They are updating us every hour.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

What About Those Scary Others Not in the Hallway? Or, There Still More to Learn

“What is a Southern Baptist doing reading Walter Brueggemann?” The email questioner was a fellow Southern Baptist pastor. From his perspective Brueggemann was not on the approved reading list for those in our tribe. I politely replied and kept reading. In my last post I was hopeful to disabuse us of the idea that those within the Christian Tradition outside our particular stream are indeed not scary whether they are identified by another denominational affiliation or at a different place than us on the idealogical spectrum from fundamentalist to liberal. Something I recently learned about C.S. Lewis may provide another illustration.

My favorite C.S. Lewis book is The Abolition of Man. Over the years I have read excerpts from Mere Christianity. Steve suggested it be our next book to read for our Theology Cafe at Snow Hill on Thursday mornings.

This past Thursday we watched The Magic Never Ends: The Life & Faith of C.S. Lewis. Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Wade Center at Wheaton College, shared with the audience, via DVD, Lewis’ reference to the variety of Christian Traditions and their interplay as living in a building with a common hallway lined with doors to various rooms. Read More