Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Global Dim Wits

The World is getting dimmer! That is what we are being sold... er, told! ( ) Any one talking to an environmentalist these days will tell you that is the case! Supposedly the garbage that we spew into the atmosphere is protecting us from the "real effects" of global warming. So we are being naively seduced into thinking that the planet is not ready for a meltdown of all the artic caps. Come on?!

I can't get over the hysteria that these green freaks have to tout. They are always on the edge of extinction! Al Gore's latest movie gets a scathing review in the Canadian Free Press. Questioning the science- indeed, calling it junk science!- and presenting fairly logical opposing views. If the world was ever really in danger we would never be able to tell because the reactionary junk-science community has cried wolf too many times.

Funny how they used to make fun of the evangelicals saying "The End is Near!"

Friday, June 09, 2006

Effective Evangelism

Today I am thinking about the topic of evangelism. What really is it? How is it measured? And what is it's relationship to culture?

I think my original thought was that evangelism is the act of leading people to Christ. But I think I am wrong on this part. I think evangelism is simply proclaiming Christ as King in a culturally relevant way. Where the "seed" lands and what kind of "soil" it finds is not the job of the sower, right?

There is no doubt that there are methods of evangelism that are more effective at making disciples ( our call according to Matthew 28) but does all evangelism get measured by the number of souls in the kingdom? Isn't some of the measurement of evangelism simply a measure of our faithful proclamation? Has evangelism fallen prey to the pragmatism that has effected other areas of the church?

Undoubtedly there are methods of speaking to people that are more effective. Relational evangelism seems to carry the most weight in our culture. But what about the person who has no relationship with a christian? Can we just write them off as damned? Shouldn't there be a kind of urgency to our thinking?

When Jesus instructs his disciples to go in the whole world did he intend that there be efficiency? If there is anything that we learn from the parable of the soils it is that evangelism is a messy, half baked and ineffecient business. God help us to "teach and preach" as we go (Mat.11.1)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Spiritual Leadership and the Corporate Model

Jim Collins the author of the Good to Great phenomena recently published an addendum to his book to show churches and non profits how to evaluate the effectiveness of their ministry. He explained that the Non-Profit group obviously has a different bottom line than the corporate model. Duh! At the same time Andy Stanley said in an interview (Leadership Spring 06) that "there is nothing distinctly spiritual about his leadership" at North Point church. The 20,000 member church must be warmed and excited about that comment!

The issue is how do we evaluate the effectiveness of ministry? bodies in the pews? bucks in the Basket? Buildings? I think that biblical model of evaluating effectiveness is the number of people being moved toward ministry. If we take Eph 4.11f seriously (and I am not sure Stanley does) we need to be bring people into the kingdom, maturing them and equipping them and moving them into some form of service to Christ.

Seems to me the problem with the Megachurch concept is that it is consolidating alot of smaller churches and filling the leadership roles with very competent individuals but moving a smaller and smaller number of people into ministry. Getting more done with less. In corporate america that is efficiency. In the Kingdom of God it is disobedience!

While there is much to be learned from a corporate mindset there is much difference. Megachurches tend to do Jack Squat in the poor areas of the city. There the people, because of the complexity of their problems, demand more than a fine "howdy do" at the doorway of the church. I would guess that Andy Stanley has not sat with a crack addict on the curb at 11:30 pm for a little while. His take on the difference is that some are called to leadership. That is why he thinks the concept of 'pastoring' is a "first century concept". And proposes that we stop talking about pastors as shepherds. He feels more comfortable with the terms CEO or director. Stanley says the difference, according to his thinking, is that of leadership. Shepherds are "non-leaders". But Jesus talked about the difference between the shepherd and the hirling (Jn. 10) and declares a difference in the quality of love delivered. The irony here is that while the public eschews the corporate models, and with the Enrons and Worldcom debacles still on the front page- the church is increasingly abandoning the biblical call to ministry in the terms Jesus used and embracing those that are despised even by the secular world.

Hmmm - the reason I think that more people than ever are drawn to the Megachurch is that there is little for them to do- and fewer to get in their face and point out their hypocrisy and laziness. What percentage of North Point is involved in ministry leadership? Are they raising people to full time ministry? I'd sure like to know.

Maybe the idea is that since God is a shepherd (Ps 23) he wants his leaders to be shepherds? Or maybe he just wants us all to be CEO's- what do you think?