Deep Church

February 26, 2010

Deep Church– A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional, by Jim Belcher is a book worthy of the reading if you are interested in what has been and still is transpiring in the contemporary church in the West, especially in the United States.  I would go further to say that this is a great book for anyone new to the church planting game, or who have been largely oblivious to the meta trends that have been in- force for the last 20 + years in church growth, or in the case of the old mainline denominations, contraction.  This book does a good job of comparing the streams of ministry that represent the opposing ends of the continuum of ministry style which the author correctly describes as traditional and emerging.  And importantly, he also points out some of the dangerous, and even heretical doctrinal positions that characterize the emerging/emergent stream.

Belcher is a pastor of a PCA congregation, so that positions him in the most conservative of the presbyterian-styled denominations in the U.S.  This fact afforded me, as a reader, the benefit of starting from a common Reformed tradition when it comes to his doctrine.  And because I found no reason to contend with him doctrinally, it was easy to absorb his observations and assessments.  But that said, I found myself several times anxious for some “ah ha” finding.  And there were relatively few for me.  I will credit that to the fact that I am an interested spectator in the church growth/church planting game.  While I would never characterize myself as an expert in this field, I did find myself somewhat disappointed that I really did not find anything revolutionary about the author’s findings, or recommendations.  And perhaps that is a good thing.  Much of what Belcher describes as the so-called Third Way, are methods, styles, and practices that I perceive are being implemented in many churches that still cling to the Great Tradition, while acknowledging that the traditional church has become a bit long in the tooth and has been slow to adopt practices that appeal to church goers and the unchurched in the third millenium.

There are others much more skilled than I at taking on the specifics of Belcher’s conclusions, and I will leave it to them to do so.  My impression of the book is that it’s findings are excellent for those who are late to the party, but still interested in what has already transpired in terms of trends in church growth.  But the Third Way that Belcher recommends is already here and has been for a while, and is not really a “new” third way going forward.

I enjoyed the book, would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the behind the scenes aspects of “doing church” in our current age, but for anyone who is already a reasonably well informed observer, don’t expect anything particularly startling between the pages.  You have already seen it, heard it, or read it.


Tiger’s sort of “mea culpa”.

February 18, 2010

mea culpa:  the Latin phrase that translates into English as “my fault”.

Tomorrow, Eldrick Tont Woods (aka Tiger) will hold some sort of highly controlled press “experience,” wherein some carefully selected and friendly reporters will be given the opportunity to inquire into this highly damaged image as a result of the infidelity exposed after his Thanksgiving evening automobile accident.  Of course no one outside his inner circle, knows exactly what will transpire on Friday.  But that said, I am willing to take a stab at what will happen, and then stand to be corrected.

My hunch is that Tiger will, in a very carefully crafted statement, acknowledge the serial infidelity that grabbed headlines for several weeks last Fall.  This will be the lead story on Entertainment Tonight and other shows of its ilk.  But needless to say, this is not news.   He will also offer an apology for disappointing and hurting his family, his friends, his fellow golfers and the PGA.  He will also offer an apology to his sponsors and express gratitude to those who have stayed with him throughout this ordeal.  What will probably be unspoken, but present nonetheless is a backhanded slap at the sponsors who wisely dumped Woods during the course of the daily revelations that he had not one affair, or two affairs,…but 12 or 14, or whatever the “final” number was.  And these women represent only those who cared to endure the public spotlight.  Frankly, I would be shocked if there are not other women who wisely decided that a sexual relationship with a married man was shameful enough, and public “recognition” for that indiscretion was a bit more than they could handle.  But I digress.  

I predict that Woods will also offer what he hopes will be a palatable explanation for why he swerved off into his narcissistic and destructive pattern of spousal betrayal.  But here is where he will fail.  Because, while he will claim “complete, personal responsibility” for his misconduct, it will he qualified by his revealing that he has been clinically diagnosed with some sort of sexual addiction disorder, and it is so severe that he has sought professional help and is being treated for it.  And like other addictive behavior, he will struggle with this for the rest of his life.  In other words, he will not REALLY take responsibility for this misconduct.  Because afterall, he is sick and it is beyond his control.  All he can really be held accountable for is a continuing effort to seek treatment.

I predict that Tiger Woods will also claim to have found some new level of spirituality as a result of this matter, but he will come short of confessing his fallen nature and that the real sickness is suffers from is the sin that permeates every cell in his body.  He will not acknowledge that the only cure for this is an intervention by God Himself in Jesus Christ.  

At the end of the spectacle tomorrow, what everyone will be left with is the implicit statement by Tiger Woods that goes something like this:  “This whole matter was my fault…sort of.”

Update:  Saturday, February 20, 2010 ( the day after the Wood’s event).  I stand corrected.  There was NO ONE from the press, friendly or otherwise, in the audience at this public apology event.  Aside from that, there’s not much in my prophesy that needs to be amended.  Woods did add a few unexpected things.  Specifically, Woods declared that his wife Elin had no reason to be blamed for anything related to Woods’ fall.  Excuse me?  I was not aware that there had been a lot of blame cast in  her direction.  But, I suppose it was kind of him to offer this unnecessary clarification.

Done, and DONE!

February 10, 2010

The headline of The Layman article reads:  “More than half of PCUSA Presbyterians reject Jesus as sole savior”.  The article that follows the headline does not provide any relief from the shock one might receive upon first reading that.  You can read the entire article HERE.

This stately old Mainline denomination was dying a slow death anyway with its failure to exercise the kind of rigor or discipline that would be required to end once and for all its interminable dancing with the matter of ordination of unrepentant and practicing homosexuals.  Add to that, the long-standing practice of ordaining and installing women to the position of pastor/head of staff, which betrays the clear teaching of the New Testament, and it was no wonder that this is an ailing connection.

But the findings of the research that are the subject of the linked article are an all together different matter.  The centrality of the role of Jesus in orthodox Christian soteriology is so fundamental that the kind of numbers that deny this truth, particularly among clergy and elders, spells nothing short of apostasy. 

The PCUSA is a whitewashed tomb.  Those who still claim a true faith in the scriptures and belief the essential doctrines of Christianity (such as the exclusivity of Christ) would do well to removed themselves from this wretched institution.  There are several denominations that offer historic, reformed theology in a presbyterian form of government, such as the EPC and PCA.  Run to one of those….FAST!

A problem for today, and a bigger one for “tommorrow”

February 9, 2010

Albert Mohler, President of Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY posted a thought provoking article today about the disappearance of men from college campuses.  Click HERE to read it.

Thoroughly Japanese

February 8, 2010

And I say that as a compliment and with a high level of respect.  For the first time tonight I saw one of the new Toyota commercials that deal with the loss of consumer confidence that has arisen out of the Company’s recent problems with accelerators and now braking-systems in some of its hybrids.  These problems have resulted in immeasurable amounts of negative press coverage, government bungling and grand standing, and doubtlessly fear, anger and upset among its existing customers.  Toyota is trying to repair the damage to both its cars and its mangled image.  Here is that commercial.

In my earlier life as a corporate executive, I had the pleasure of traveling to Japan to work with our business agents and our customers.  The sense of courtesy, honor and integrity that is a part of Japanese culture, particularly in the world of business, is clear when dealing with that culture.  Or, at the very least, that was my experience.  I knew this was the case before traveling there, bur it is especially clear in person.  

For me at least, this commercial oozes with a humble admission of failure that is consistent with their code of business honor.  There is a mea culpa and apology wrapped into one, and it has a sincerity about it that is profound.  And that profundity is even more pronounced in contrast to our culture of victimhood and casting blame everywhere by on one’s self.  I don’t believe an American auto maker would have the courage to make this kind of commercial.  In fact, I dare them to, on the next occasion of a recall on one of their cars.

Toyota still has a rocky road ahead.  Unhappy customers, lawsuits, and lost business await.  But the substance of this commercial, in its own small way, is an indication of a cultural bias toward making things right.  Thoroughly Japanese.

Super Bowl Logo

February 4, 2010

HERE is an interesting (at least it was to me as a marketer) article that gives the back story on the development of the logo for Super Bowl XLIV. 

Logos don’t just happen at the drawing board of a graphic artist, or more likely their computer.  There really is strategic thought and planning that goes into logo and service mark development.  And the article give a peek at some of that thinking.

And it hasn’t even aired yet!

February 2, 2010

One of my favorite parts of the Super Bowl is the first run of the myriad of expensive, high impact commercials.  Advertisers usually pull out their best stuff for this one day opportunity.  One ad that has stirred up considerable controversy is the ad featuring former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.  Focus on the Family is behind the ad, the substance of which is a message that strongly favors a pro-life position.  But what is remarkable about all the hoopla and banter is the fact that apparently no one, apart from REAL insiders, has seen the ad.  The ruckus is largely over hearsay.

Sally Jenkins is a columnist for the Washington Post and also the author and/or co-author of several sports books, including the two written by/about Lance Armstrong and his recovery from cancer and his amazing accomplishments in the Tour de France.  Today, she has written a very thoughtful if not surprising article in the Post.  What is somewhat remarkable about this article, is that Jenkins would more than likely self-describe herself as a liberal and states in the article that is she is in favor of a woman’s right to murder her unborn.  Yet, she makes some wonderful points in this piece, while at the same time dressing down the feminists who have been so quick to deride the heretofore unseen commercial.

Here is her article.