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“Accidental Racist” Stirs Huge Controversy

Country singer Brad Paisley and rapper LL Cool J have created quite the stir with the lyrics of this new song. Personally,  I ll-cool-j-brad-paisley-acm-awards-2013-650-430applaud both artist for speaking to a very sensitive issue.

However, L Z Granderson, a black  writer for ESPN, said this morning during an interview on CNN, that it  is a “god awful song”.

The song portrays Brad Paisley as having been an accidental racist. He didn’t think he was, but understands why some might have perceived him to be, yet resents being called a racist.

I understand this very well. After the grace of Christ conquered my life during the racial tension of the 70’s, we planted  a multi-racial-church in Georgia. At one point, I placed a bumper ticker on my truck that stated, “American by birth, Southern by the Grace of God.”

Shout! I truly believed [and still do] that Sovereign Grace allowed me to be a proud Southerner. It wasn’t an issue of race, but of grace. However, someone pointed out  the confederate flag in the corner and kindly shared how it might be perceived wrongly by some in the congregation.  It never crossed my mind. Therefore, for loves sake, I gladly removed that which could become a stumbling block to those I was intentionally trying to reach for the cause  of Christ.

Check out the song and see if you personally  believe the lyrics  to be  “god awful” or a good faith attempt to be “grace filled.”

As for me, I believe this song will help us take a step closer toward Rebel and Yankee, Ebony and Ivory, living together in racial harmony. May it be so!

rgh

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Posted by on April 9, 2013 in Conflict, influence, Racism, Video

 

Gallops Recent Poll Of Confidence In Religion

“In 1973, “the church or organized religion” was the most highly rated institution in Gallup’s confidence in institutions measure, and it continued to rank first in most years through 1985, outranking the military and the U.S. Supreme Court, among others.”

In Gallops  newest findings,Church/organized religion ranks fourth among the 16 institutions polled, which included public schools, banks, television news, and the medical system. Their  findings show a decline in that  44 percent of Americans have  confidence in “the church or organized religion,” dropping from 46 percent in 2002 and 46 percent in 2007.

Appears that the church has plenty of work to do regarding our “salt-light-leaven” mandate issued by Jesus.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/155690/confidence-organized-religion-low-point.aspx

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/162034-gallup-poll-confidence-in-organized-religion-wanes.html

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2012 in Gallop, influence

 

Creflo Dollar Arrested

Dr. Creflo A. Dollar

Dr. Creflo A. Dollar (Photo credit: iandavid)

While I was away celebrating 40 years of covenant marriage with the wife of my youth, the blogosphere has  been buzzing  with the arrest of Pastor Creflo Dollar here in Atlanta,Ga. As a late comer, I would like  to address an issue that should deeply trouble all of us who have a heart for righteous judgment.

Creflo Dollar recently and erroneously called for members of Bishop Eddie Long‘s Church to stay with their Pastor even though he had been charged with sexual abuse by three separate men  and eventually paid “behind closed doors hush money” to his  accusers.

 What was  Dollars basis for giving such antinomian counsel?

Creflo told his congregation:”That preacher’s still anointed to do what he was called to. He just had a wreck. The blood will take care of his issue just like it will take care of yours,” Dollar stated. “And I just can’t believe that people would leave their preacher because he had a wreck, instead of praying for him.”

With Creflo’s arrest for allegedly choking and physically abusing his young daughter, his congregation appears to be abiding by the “Dollar  Doctrine” by giving him an enthusiastic ovation as he took the pulpit on Sunday and congregants were  heard yelling: “We love you!” and “We’ve got your back!”

I find this to be a tragically dangerous and woefully inappropriate  response on the part of the congregation. Assumed innocence demonstrates naiveté at best.

Here are extracts from Peacemakers regarding two errors that every church should advisedly avoid:

Under-protecting a Leader

The first error is to under-protect the leader who is questioned or accused of wrongdoing. Under-protecting a leader may involve allowing gossip and rumors to spread unchecked, jumping to conclusions about a leader’s guilt, or failing to give him a meaningful opportunity to defend himself. It may also involve expecting or allowing a leader to spend significant amounts of time responding to trivial or unsubstantiated criticisms, often about style rather than substance, voiced by a few dissatisfied people.

These patterns can lead to a “culture of criticism” that will wear down most leaders. When leaders are subjected to ongoing criticism, their credibility is needlessly eroded; this can diminish trust, commitment, and enthusiasm throughout their church or ministry.

Over-protecting a Leader

The second error that many churches and ministries make is to over-protect their leaders. They develop a self-confidence and blind loyalty that compels them to become defensive and automatically “circle the wagons” when a leader is questioned or accused of wrongdoing. They assume the challenge must be unfounded and immediately look for ways to minimize it or explain it away. They may rely on second-hand information or simply accept the leader’s interpretation of his accuser’s words and motives. And sometimes in an effort to justify or protect the leader, they attempt to silence, find fault with, or otherwise discredit or penalize the person who brought the accusation. As Jesus would put it, rather than humbly seeking to discern the “planks” in their leader’s or their own eyes, these leadership teams jump immediately to pointing out the “specks” in the eyes of others (Matt. 7:3-5).

This excessively protective pattern can create a “culture of denial,” where differences and problems are automatically minimized or concealed.

read more:

 http://www.peacemaker.net/site/apps/nl/newsletter3.asp?c=aqKFLTOBIpH&b=1084263

  https://antagoniz.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/creflo-dollar-perverts-the-grace-of-god/

 http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/06/10/creflo-dollar-denies-punching-choking-daughter/?test=latestnews#ixzz1xVtY4Ru4

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Accountability, antinomian, charismatic, error, influence

 

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Church Paradigms: Which Type Are You?

Many Church models trend toward newer wineskins and often cast a large shadow of influence throughout the country. Dr. James White offers up six types that are now impacting the contemporary landscape. His “stengths and  weakenesses” make this an interesting read.

rgh

 

1.         The Music Church

A growing number of churches revolve around worship services, and particularly, music.  They are known for creating original music through worship recordings, and even being the home church of a touring artist (or artists).  Such churches are currently providing the bulk of the new music for the church at large.

Strengths:  Powerful worship; use of experience, and specifically music, to attract attenders; returns the church to her rightful place as a patron of the arts.

Weaknesses:  Trends toward transfer growth alone; robust teaching can be marginalized; talent can be valued over character.

2.         The New Revivalist Church

There are a growing number of churches that are very contemporary in nature, but scratch the surface and you find an old-school revivalistic preaching style.  And like the older revivalistic churches of bygone eras, these churches seem to specialize in “afflicting the comfortable.”  They are very admonishment driven, and particularly toward the passive believer.  Many of the new revivalist churches are newer church plants, in the South, and have ties to the SBC.

Strengths:  Catalyzes believers; true to the preaching of the gospel; bring a fresh breath of vitality to the over-churched, over-fed pockets of the evangelical subculture. 

Weaknesses:  Often based on transfer growth (despite “talking” conversion growth); can be very personality-centered in terms of leadership; at times unnecessarily denigrating or dismissive of other churches or the wider Christian community.

3.         The Suburban MegaChurch

The suburban megachurch, deeply influenced by the nineties models of Saddleback or Willow Creek, constitute the vast majority of megachurches.  Many are led by those in their fifties or sixties who planted them in the nineties or transitioned them during that era, but continue to have a contemporary climate and style.  They tend to be rather corporate, focused on leadership, and programmatically designed.  They offer safe expressions of contemporary worship (nothing particularly edgy), a wide number of ministries, and a focus on families.

Strengths:  Excellent training ground for the next generation of leaders; often lead the way in missions and social ministry investment; can act as a mini-denomination via networks for smaller churches to lean on and learn from; often develops programs and systems for other churches to emulate.

Weaknesses:  Can become frozen in the model, style, template and culture of its founding; succession of leadership has yet to be proven; can make themselves the end game; can skew older with each decade of existence and thus lose touch with younger generations; can be overly programmatic, overly bureaucratic, and overly “presentational” (lights, cameras, action!) in services and events.

4.         The Multi-Site Church

Few strategies have been as quickly embraced by American churches as the multi-site approach.  The idea is simple:  one church meeting in multiple locations.  The usual format is live worship, full on-site programs (such as small groups, children’s ministry), with the teaching coming via video.  The progression was inevitable: first churches offered multiple services, then on multiple days, now in multiple locations.  The multi-site strategy is usually employed to reach a specific city or geographic area, but you find multi-site churches with campuses in multiple states and even countries.  Unlike the suburban megachurch, many of the newer multi-site churches maintain smaller auditoriums – say, 1500 max as opposed to several thousand – though their overall attendance can reach the thousands.  These churches are often the leaders in technological innovation, such as apps and internet-based programs.

Strengths:  Often more successful than church plants due to funding, leadership and teaching expertise; allows a large church to leverage itself optimally in terms of reaching out; good stewardship in terms of allowing churches to grow without building mega-auditoriums; takes full advantage of technology.

Weaknesses:  There can be a weak (or at least undeveloped) ecclesiology underpinning the approach, particularly when the strategy goes beyond a restricted geographic area – specifically in regard to the nature of church leadership, the nature of community, and the nature of what it means to be “one” church.  

5.         The Post-Emergent Church

I’m as ready as anyone to get rid of the word “emergent,” right along with “post-modern.”  But let’s give both phrases one last gasp with “post-emergent.”  “Post” because most of the churches I would put into this category have moved beyond the early caricatures of the word’s associations (and its recent forays into increasingly left-of-center theology), but still “emergent” because they came into existence during a time when that word was being used to describe a wide swath of churches and leaders who were trying to reach their generation in ways that were in reaction to the 80’s/90’s suburban megachurch model.  Here’s what I’m after: the plethora of churches that started over the last decade with an urban, coffee-house, uber-hip, art-hanging, all-about community, missional focus led by a heart beating for the culture and those culturally disenfranchised from Christianity.  

Strengths:  Strong emphasis on community; acceptance of those living apart from a Christian life; taking up residence in culture, and not outside of it; openness and transparency about living as sin-stained, emotionally fragile beings.

Weaknesses:  Can be so keen to be seen as hip, and fitting into culture, that it loses its prophetic voice and holy life; evangelism can be lost in the shadow of an emphasis on social ministry; emphasis on community and relationships can degenerate into something cliquish, clannish and even cultish.

6.         The Neo-Refomed Church

I started to call this the “Calvinist” church, and the common denominator does seem being “young, restless and reformed.”  Such churches, while contemporary in style, are like the post-emergent model in that they are in reaction to the 80’s/90’s suburban megachurch as well.  Only instead of reacting in style and structure, they are reacting in content and emphasis.  No feel-good, therapeutic, topical series here; it’s exegetical, expositional, and doctrinal.  Often centered on a highly-skilled teacher, the focus is on orthodoxy and right understanding.

Strengths:  Biblical exposition in view of a doctrinal orientation; willingness to address many cultural issues of the day; attention to discipleship.

Weaknesses:  Can be more oriented toward a systematic interpretation and/or system of thought than the Bible itself; susceptible to pride, arrogance and a lack of civility toward those in disagreement with their positions; can be weak on evangelism.

Two last words

First, I am sure that many of you would have liked examples to have gone with the descriptions.  I came dangerously close to doing so, but felt that my “strengths” and “weaknesses” would be too closely aligned with the example – as if I was critiquing that particular church.  Also, no church likes to be typecast, and any “one” church example would be unfair to the generic nature of the model at hand. 

Second, you may be wondering where Mecklenburg Community Church, the one I serve, is in all this.

In truth, Meck is a mixture of all of the above. We’re very interested in worship and are increasingly committing ourselves to being a source of new music through our artists in residence. We resonate with the revivalists, and I’m told I have a tendency to plant a solid boot on the hind ends of a believer or two with my talks.We are indebted to such trendsetting suburban megachurches as Willow Creek and Saddleback and are, ourselves, a megachurch in the suburbs.We are multi-site with now five campuses. We like urban areas, coffee, art, community and mission to the culture. We take doctrine and biblical study seriously (my Ph.D. is in systematic theology).

But I would say that Meck is unique from many churches in that it reaches an inordinate amount of people who were previously unchurched (well over 70%).  Other distinctives include being integrated in terms of racial diversity; a willingness to engage in cultural apologetics in light of the issues of the day; skewing younger instead of older with an ongoing renewal of style and method; an exceptionally young staff working with older leaders; and more.

But more than anything, Meck has consistently been driven by a mission to reach the unchurched.  I cannot emphasize enough how distinctive this has made us.  This is different than the current vogue term “missional” and all it conveys (not that there’s anything wrong with the term); just that we have been mission-driven, and that shapes us more than anything.

http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-james-emery-white/church-types.html

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Church Models, influence, Ministry

 

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Is Mark Driscoll a Bully?

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

The internet has been ablaze with Mark Driscoll being the lightning rod. Seems his convictional certitude regarding masculinity is not appreciated by a number of gender neutral proponents. Driscoll asked a “flippant” question about “effeminate anatomically male worship leaders” on  Facebook, and immediately drew fire from the offended.

Her~merneutics, a blog for women, posted this:

“The news of this post quickly drew responses from bloggers like Rachel Held Evans, who called Driscoll a bully, and Tyler Clark, who reflected on his own experience as an oft-labeled effeminate male. These responses consequently elicited counter-responses from writers like Anthony Bradley, who accused Evans of libel, only to be met with counter-counter-responses, such as Brian McLaren’s contribution to The Washington Post. The discussion finally culminated with Driscoll issuing his own response, admitting his comment was both “flippant” and failed to address “real issues with real content in a real context”

 Without apologizing, Driscoll responded by providing context for his question:

“I had a recent conversation with a stereotypical, blue-collar guy who drives his truck with his tools, lunchbox, and hard hat to his job site every day. He said he wasn’t a Christian, but he was open and wanted to learn what the Bible said. In that conversation, he told me he’d visited a church but that the guy doing the music made him feel uncomfortable because he was effeminate (he used another more colorful word, but that one will suffice in its place). He asked some questions about the Bible, and whether the Bible said anything about the kind of guy who should do the music. I explained the main guy doing the music in the Bible was David, who was a warrior king who started killing people as a boy and who was also a songwriter and musician.

I then put a flippant comment on Facebook, and a raging debate on gender and related issues ensued. As a man under authority, my executive elders sat me down and said I need to do better by hitting real issues with real content in a real context. And, they’re right. Praise God I have elders who keep me accountable and that I am under authority.”

http://theresurgence.com/2011/07/13/the-issue-under-a-lot-of-issues

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2011/07/much_ado_about_mark_driscoll.html

http://rachelheldevans.com/mark-driscoll-bully

 

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10 Reasons Ministry and Sissies Are A Bad Mix

Pastor Tom Schaller preaching at GGWO

Image via Wikipedia

“SBC Voices” tells it like it is! Realism vs Idealism. My own soul resounded with a hearty AMEN!Ministerial vocation isn’t for sissies, the weak of heart or the uncharactered.

rgh

“The blessings of ministry far outweigh the realities below; however, ministry is definitely not easy…If you enter pastoral ministry…”

10Not everyone will like you.
  9… You will make people angry regardless how godly you handle yourself; it comes with the position.
  8… You will feel like a failure often; and when you do appear to succeed, the fruit that is produced cannot be accredited to you. God alone gives the increase. Thus, there is little “sense of accomplishment in ministry” that you may be accustomed to in other vocations.
7 You will fight legalism and liberalism, along with laziness, ignorance, tradition, and opposition.
6  Not everyone will respond positively to your preaching, teaching, or leadership. You will bring people to tears with the same sermon: one in joy, another in anger (I have done this).
5… You will be criticized, rarely to your face, and frequently behind your back. This criticism will come from those that appear to love you, those that obviously do not like you, and pastors and Christians that barely know you.
4 You will think about quitting yearly or monthly, if not weekly or even daily.
3… You will be persecuted for preaching the truth, mostly from your brothers and sisters in the pews.
2… You will feel very lonely on a consistent basis, feeling like no one truly knows you or cares how you feel, because you do not want to burden your family, and trust-worthy peers are few and far in-between. Because of the “super-Christian” myth accredited to pastors literally, you will find it extremely difficult to disclose your deep thoughts and feelings to others. Thus, you will struggle with loneliness.
1… You will probably pastor a church that is barely growing (if at all), is opposed to change, doesn’t pay well, has seen pastors come and go, doesn’t respect the position as biblically as they should, doesn’t understand what the Bible says a pastor’s or a church’s jobs are, and will only follow you when they agree with you (thus, they’ll really only follow themselves).

related posts: http://redeemedministers.blogspot.com/2011/04/26-qualifications-for-minister.html

http://sbcvoices.com/10-reasons-why-sissies-and-pastoral-ministry-are-a-bad-mix

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2011 in character, criticism, influence, Ministry, quotes, Sissies

 

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Please Speak Into My Life?

President Barack Obama meets with Rev. Billy G...

Justin Taylor reports that  Billy Graham formed a personal friendship with Bob Jones Sr during his early ministry years that included an invitation for “Dr. Bob” to speak into his  ministerial life through criticism and guidance.

When Bob Jones acted on the relational offer and spoke  a cautionary word of wisdom into Billy Graham‘s life and ministry, the counsel of the seasoned veteran went completely unheeded.

A mistake Billy Graham now looks upon with regret.  

This illustrates the truism that a wise man  learns from experience, but a wiser man  learns  from the experience and mistakes of others.

rgh

 ” The following excerpts are from a letter to Billy that contains some helpful advice (May 22, 1952):

I would advise you to take a few campaigns in small towns and pull your budget way down. It will do your soul good to get away from the cities and into small communities where Americans live and where there is not so much glamour. . . .

Make it clear that you are not in the business to get church members, but to get church members converted.

Then Jones raised the issue of politics, a source of perennial fascination and power and temptation:

Now, politics has been my weakness. It is going to be a weakness with you. Watch about your association with politicians. If you are not careful, you will be used sometime when you are not conscious of being used. . . .

Recently—nearly 60 years after receiving this letter from Bob Jones Sr.—Billy Graham was asked about his regrets and what he would have done differently. In addition to spending more time with his family, he mentioned his association with politicians:

I also would have steered clear of politics.

I’m grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to.

But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/05/09/bob-jones-sr-to-billy-graham-a-bad-prediction-some-good-advice

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/01/25/darrin-patrick-and-john-macarthur/

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2011 in character, counsel, criticism, influence

 

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