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Thursday, February 25, 2010

FREE MP3's — Systematic Theology & Other Lectures by Dr. Wayne Grudem

This is the Christian Essentials Enrichment Class of Scottsdale Bible Church in Scotsdale, AZ.  The primary lecturer is Dr. Wayne Grudem, well known evangelical scholar. There are over 5 years of lectures here beginning with an introduction to Systematic Theology and examining every basic Christian doctrine, straight through to some current lectures about Faith and Politics and government. What a gift from this church to post all of these lectures for free in mp3 format with a pdf outline from a preeminent evangelical scholar. One of the big differences between churches who have a kingdom vision and those that don't is their willingness to freely share resources like these.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stunning Church Web Sites

Intelligent Design: 50 Heavenly Church Websites | Web Design Showcase | InspirationTime

Here's a great list of 50 visually stunning church web sites — 3 of them are Evangelical Covenant Churches. As you scan the list you'll see a lot of similarities: a lot of vivid earth tones, an engaging large graphic or photo and tabbed headings. If you like web sites in general as I do, there is a lot of nice eye candy here.

Not on that list but should be — in my less than humble opinion — is the stunning web site of Missio Church in Syracuse, NY.

My guess is that most of the sites on that list have some significant upfront costs and monthly fees to maintain. Some of them, I'm pretty sure, are done by companies with templates — meaning if you want a site that looks real similar all you have to do is sign up, plug your info in their template, pay your fees and voila — web site extraordinaire!

FREE! I love that word. Let me just remind you that you can get a free web site or you can hire one of my friends. Want FREE? Check out my previous related posts.
I made these one's for free and am extremely pleased with their look and feel:

Or hire one of my friends:

Church Marketing Sucks: Our Marketing Budget is $0

Here's the story of a church that took all of their money out of the traditional church marketing venues and put them into empowering their people to engage the unchurched.

Church Marketing Sucks: Our Marketing Budget is $0

One interesting post in the comments from a newspaper person who was sad that the church continues to pull out of the traditional newspaper advertising and thinks that it leaves a vacuum there. I think there is no there there. The influence of newspapers has diminished but it is not non-existent. For many, it is no longer worth what it costs to advertise there — in other words, it has lost it's bang for it's buck. The return on investment just isn't there.

But the newspaper industry doesn't believe that yet. They are still very committed to their product.

Monday, February 22, 2010

On Leaving The Church

Bill Kinnon has an excellent blog: kinnon.tv I was there recently, having stumbled over to it via Brad Boydston (as I do many things from Brad) and was reading book reviews. Kinnon is insightful and hilarious, AND I was reading a piece where he just excoriates a couple of reformed thinker, which automatically makes him a hero in my mind. But as I read through the conversation in the comments and then stumbled upon similar themes at other sites I had that feeling. It's hard to describe but I'll try.

In my life, I am constantly amazed at the conversations I have with friends who are exasperated and bored out of their ever-loving-minds with their missional, relational, nice, friendly, slow growing, green, god-fearing, evangelical church. They are on the brink of leaving but don't like any of the other options they have or how leaving the church complicates their life.

Then there are other friends, who have just jumped ship altogether — left the building along with Elvis and won't likely be back soon. They aren't feeling guilty or like something is missing in their life. Just the opposite in fact — they feel quite relieved and at home with God at home.

So I've had these conversations. Seen these trends in my world. And have thought this is a growing issue in my world. But I'm really not connected with any national movements or leaders at the moment like I have been in the past, where I keep up with many cultural and church trends. I read much less churchianity literature than I used to, especially as it relates to the emerging movements.

But recently I read Jake Colsen's story, So You Don’t Want to Go To Church Anymore, and found that a whole lot of people have read it and resonate with it. Then reading Kinnon's blog I saw the term "church leaver" batted around like common jargon. Then googled "church leaver" and saw how common it is (and how asleep I must be). Holy Crap! This movement of people being seriously disgruntled and leaving organized church is way bigger than I had any idea about. It's like that part of watching a movie where the main character is in a dark cave and strikes a match only to discover it's a huge cavern filled with gold or skeletons or whatever.

I've read Dave Olson's book, American Church in Crisis, and seen the declining church attendance numbers.  I read of George Barna's endless doom and gloom stats on teens and others leaving church. But I don't think I have really seen how big a movement this might be until right now.

And then I reflect on my own feelings of discontent and my church attendance at "my church" which has been spotty over the past several months due to preaching and making presentations at various places, fall baseball and wanderlust. It's very easy to become a "church leaver" statistic. It actually looks appealing.

But I really don't want to leave the church. Most of me believes that the future of Christianity in North America lies in the hands of new churches and God's work through them. And I want to be part of that movement. But I wonder ... is this just the first trickle of water through a break in the dam?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jack Deere on Breaking Free from Sexual Bondage

Not sure where the audio is from but it sounds like it's from a larger talk that Jack Deere was giving and this segment is about demonic strategy, sexual bondage and breaking free. He talks of the power of confessing our sins and exposing them to the light.

One of the reasons the 12 Step program has power is that it breaks the shame when we make a searching and fearless moral inventory and then make amends with those who we have wronged. When sin is exposed and taken from the dark and secret places in our souls, it loses it's power and hold over us. When we confess our sins to one another and receive God's mercy and forgiveness, we break the shame and destroy the power of it.

1 John 1:8-9
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Part 1/2

Part 2/2

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Ultra Rev Preaching Tomorrow

I have the distinct pleasure of preaching tomorrow at Lyncourt Wesleyan Church, filling in for their vacationing pastor.  These are delightful people who are really wonderful to worship with. I am thinking about preaching on sin.  That's always dangerous.

Children of the Heavenly Father

For my Covenant Church friends, have you heard this contemporary version of the great Lena Sandell hymn, Children of the Heavenly Father?  It's mournful, though well done.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

2010 Lenten Bible Reading Schedule: Read Through the Gospels and/or New Testament in 40 Days

UPDATE:  Download Printable PDF and I fixed the link in the top left column.

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday just a week away.  I am going to attempt to read the NT through for Lent but I haven't decided yet what I am going to fast from. I couldn't find my Lenten Bible reading plan from last year so I developed my own.

If you want to read just through the Gospels during Lent just use the column "Gospel to Read" and take off Holy Saturday.  If you want to read through the whole New Testament use both columns and read on Holy Saturday.

Day of Week


Gospel to read

Text to read

Ash Wednesday


Matthew 1-3

Revelation 1-4



Matthew 4-6

Revelation 5-10



Matthew 7-9

Revelation 11-15



Matthew 10-12

Revelation 16-18





Matthew 13-14

Revelation 19-22



Matthew 15-16

Acts 1-3



Matthew 17-18

Acts 4-6



Matthew 19-20

Acts 7-8



Matthew 21-22

Acts 9-11



Matthew 23-24

Acts 12-14





Matthew 25-26

Acts 15-17



Matthew 27-28

Acts 18-20



Mark 1-3

Acts 21-23



Mark 4-6

Acts 24-25



Mark 7-9

Acts 26-28



Mark 10-12

Romans 1-3





Mark 13-14

Romans 4-7



Mark 15-16

Romans 8-10



Luke 1-3

Romans 11-13



Luke 4-6

Romans 14-16



Luke 7-9

1 Corinthians 1-5



Luke 10-12

1 Corinthians 6-9





Luke 13-14

1 Corinthians 10-14



Luke 15-16

1 Corinthians 15-16



Luke 17-18

2 Corinthians 1-6



Luke 19-20

2 Corinthians 7-13



Luke 21-22




Luke 23-24






John 1-2




John 3-4




John 5-6

1-2 Thessalonians



John 7-8

1 Timothy



John 9-10

2 timothy



John 11-12

Titus - Philemon

Palm Sunday




John 13-14

Hebrews 1-5



John 15-16

Hebrews 6-10



John 17-18

Hebrews 11-13

Maunday Thursday


John 19-20


Good Friday


John 21

1 Peter

Holy Saturday


1 John

2-3 John, 2 Peter, Jude



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fewer Clergy Openings

Churches Seeking Staff - Evangelical Covenant Church

Only 19 senior pastor positions listed at the Churches Seeking Staff for the Evangelical Covenant Church — 1 of them part-time.  That is the fewest I have ever seen available though I think I know of 4 openings that have not been listed yet.

All I have is anecdotal evidence from conversations with several ministers and judicatories but it appears that fewer ministers are moving right now.  Many that I have talked to attribute this to the economic downturn of that past year plus.  One local leader said he normally has 5-10% of his 100 churches in upstate NY open at any given time.  Right now he has 1 opening.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dinner Church — A New Church Planting Model?

A new church planting model: Dinner Church.  I'm not sure that there is a strict definition of  a 'dinner church' but obviously they eat dinner together and have a worship experience of some kind.

Perhaps Artisan Church would be considered a Dinner Church as they have a meal after their Sunday evening at 5 pm. But I think dinner and their worship experience are still separate events while these two groups combine their meal and worship:

News from MasterPiece Church: Another Dinner Church -- Masterpiece Church is an Evangelical Covenant Church being planted by Brad Boydston.  This isn't a link to their web site but to their very well done email link.

St.Lydia's -- A dinner church.
  • Dinner church: sit down at the table  --  this article is written by one of St. Lydia's leaders and is an interesting vignette about they do community together with preparing meals, candle lighting, a processional and a worship and teaching experience.
I continue to see this theme arise across diverse groups that are very intentional about enjoying community meals together for relationship building.  Love it.