Thursday, August 07, 2014

How to ride a dead horse--the church version

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians—passed on from generation to generation—says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

Modern churches, however, have found a whole range of far more advanced strategies to use, such as:

1.     Buying a stronger whip.

2.     Changing riders.

3.     Declaring, “God told us to ride this horse.”

4.     Appointing a committee to study the horse.

5.     Threatening the horse with termination.

6.     Proclaiming, “This is the way we’ve always ridden this horse.”

7.     Develop a training session to improve our riding ability.

8.     Reminding ourselves that other churches ride this same kind of horse.

9.     Determining that riders who don’t stay on dead horses are lazy, lack drive, and have no ambition - then replacing them.

10.  Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.

11.  Reclassifying the horse as “living-impaired.”

12.  Hiring an outside consultant to advise on how to better ride the horse.

13.  Harnessing several dead horses together to increase the speed.

14.  Confessing boldy, “This horse is not dead, but alive!”

15.  Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.

16.  Riding the dead horse “outside the box.”

17.  Get the horse a Web site.

18.  Killing all the other horses so the dead one doesn’t stand out.

19.  Taking a positive outlook – pronouncing that the dead horse doesn’t have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the church’s budget than do some other horses.

20.  Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

21.  Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

22.  Name the dead horse, “paradigm shift” and keep riding it.

23.  Riding the dead horse “smarter, not harder.”

24.  Stating that other horses reflect compromise, and are not from God.

25.  Remembering all the good times you had while riding that horse.

Sources for this version

Monday, July 21, 2014

Do smartphones change Christians?

I was really getting into the article about 6 ways smartphones and social media are changing Christians, and then read the final paragraph, "To listen to my entire 34-minute conversation with Wells and Groothius on the pros and cons of personal communications technology, subscribe to the Authors on the Line podcast in iTunes, download the recording (MP3), or stream the conversation." The irony. . .

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/six-ways-your-phone-is-changing-you

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Google and the Ghetto

Yesterday we had two fascinating lectures at Lakeside.  First a neighbor who got her first work experience waiting tables at The Abigail (local restaurant, now closed) explained the Google culture where she now works in California.  It was unbelievable.  They can bring their dogs to work; they can get the oil changed in their car; they can bring their laundry and dry cleaning; no desk/cubicle is more than 150 ft from food or a restroom. And she added, the food is delicious and new employees usually gain the Google ten or fifteen.  Workers have social clubs—gays, veterans, hobbies, work out gyms, etc.  Everything is for the team, and the intention is to get more production from the employees. And if employees get burnout from spending too much time at work, a supervisor will add a night out with spouse or partner to their work schedule.

Then at 3:30 p.m. an American embassy employee (Pakistan) who is also a Lakesider and a Christian, talked about the Christians in Pakistan, a tiny persecuted minority.  These people also live and work in a closed environment and rarely go beyond the borders of their ghetto.  They are a persecuted minority and recently we’ve seen stories on TV about the church burning and killing.  The police do nothing. When Pakistan became a country 65 years ago, Christians and the few remaining Hindus were promised religious freedom.  But that began to disappear in the 70s and now there is Sharia Law.  The photos I saw (of their ghetto in Islamabad) are worse than the poverty of Haiti.  These people are descendants of the mid-18th century converts by the missionaries the Europeans sent.  Christians are only welcome if they bring alcohol—Muslims are not allowed to buy it.  Everyone has an ID card that identifies the religion.

It’s very difficult to evangelize for the Christian faith in Pakistan, as you can imagine.  But it must be even harder at Google in California, where every need is met and you must be on the team or be out the door.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

God, people, society and the principle of subsidiarity


The principle of subsidiarity is why we must be careful blaming "society" for the sins of an individual, or letting the state take over for the individual accepting responsibility.


"In God's sight every individual matters in the first place as a person and only then as a social being.

Society can never be more important than the individual person. Men may never be means to a societal end. Nevertheless, social institutions such as the State and the family are necessary for the individual; they even correspond to his nature.

The principle of subsidiarity, which was developed as part of Catholic Social Teaching, states: What individuals can accomplish by their own initiative and efforts should not be taken from them by a higher authority. A greater and higher social institution must not take over the duties of a subordinate organization and deprive it of its competence. Its purpose, rather, is to intervene in a subsidiary fashion (thus offering help) when individuals or smaller institutions find that a task is beyond them. (YOUCAT questions 322-323)" [I'm sure this principle exists for some Protestant groups, but this was easier to find.]

I can think of many social programs that originally were designed to help individuals or smaller institutions in the principle of subsidiarity. Then they were flipped on their heads and the bigger authority took over the duties and rights of the individual, given by God. Think of the difference between government aid for hurricane victims (a huge task require efforts of many agencies and state functions) and the government telling parents what they can put in a child's sack lunch for school.

Friday, May 30, 2014

From Latin to Dhimba in just a few centuries


By the fourth century AD the Roman Empire had moved from the Greek language to Latin for the ordinary folk which created a problem for Christians reading scripture in their own language. The Pope chose Jerome (now St. Jerome) to translate the Bible into Latin. He was a good choice. He knew Latin, Greek and Hebrew, had studied Aramaic, and could speak Syriac and knew some Arabic. He spent 20 years at his task, and we should all be grateful. When we were in Bethlehem a few years ago our Palestinian guide (a Christian) showed us his cell/cave.


This week I received an announcement from Lutheran Bible Translators Messenger, Spring 2014, that the Dhimba people have received the New Testamewnt in their language for the first time and had a big celebration. The Dhimba are an estimated 30,000 people living along the Namibia/Angola border. They are anxious to start on the Old Testament as it is more understandable culturally for the Dhimba. LBT in the footsteps of Jerome.

http://us.lbt.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/news-jstrasen.pdf

"Ondaka ya ninga omuntu ngwaa kala mokati ketu." Johannes 1:14 Etestamende Epe

"The word became flesh and dwelt among us. . ." John 1:14

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

American Jesus

Today I'm previewing a DVD, "American Jesus, " which shows the response of many Christian groups to the culture--from rodeo pastors, to surfers, to bikers, former porn stars, reaction to materialism, yoga, snake handlers and athletes. Some I knew about, but most I didn't. There’s no mention of gay churches, or mainline churches that raise funds for “social justice” causes, or those who pray to mother/father gods. 

It's pretty good and fair with just straight filming of many groups allowing them to explain why the traditional organized church doesn't work for them--up to about 50 minutes in, and then Franky Schaeffer (son of L'abri founder) takes over the narration. And since he's moved from right wing evangelical, pro-lifer, over to the dark side, it takes a hard left turn--anti-Bush, anti-Israel and pro-Obama. Says he doesn't trust the Bible, and his Christianity isn't based on the Bible (no shock there). The film morphs to a PBS interpretation of Christianity.

The culture, particularly the media, love nothing more than a famous turn coat--unless the celebrity/author/movie star are left wing humanists and have moved right. It's almost as if a curtain was pulled back and you see the point of the film when Schaeffer begins. It is, however, very well done and eerily convincing. The literature says "street date May 13, 2014, price $19.98. I have no idea if this means theaters or store. But don't be fooled. It is what it is.