Archive - March, 2009

What Year Was It?

What year is this quote referring to?

Religious activity is at a peak, as measured by attendance & offerings. However, religion has absolutely no positive impact on the moral & ethical ills of society, but rather only seems to exacerbate them.

Answer with your selection in the comments box. I’ll post the answer tomorrow afternoon. The person who gets the closest will win a free Deviant T-shirt!

The correct answer is: 793-753 B.C.! This period of time was when Jeroboam II was king in Israel. This period can be found in 2 Kings 14:23-29 in the Old Testament.

That makes Tom Pohl our winner! @Billy_Johnson was close too, so we’ll give him a shirt as well! Direct Message me on Twitter your address and T-shirt size and we’ll ship it out to you ASAP.

This was hands down the best conversation we’ve ever had on BeDeviant.com. Thanks to everyone who played!.

How Do You Define Relevant?

This popped up on my TweetDeck the other day:

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My friend Dave asked a simple question and I thought the answer would be an easy one.

So I thought… And thought… And thought.

And no answer came. I could not define the word “relevant” without using “relevant” in its definition. (In case you are wondering, that doesn’t work. It’s cheating.)

“Relevant” is such a buzz word in the church right now with so many people using it in do many different ways to define so many different things. Generalities diffuse power in meaning. Specificity brings power back. Simply put, I don’t know how to “get specific” when it comes to the term, “relevant” and its use in regards to the church.

So I’ll throw it out to you, BeDeviant.com readers, can you define relevance for me?

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President Obama’s Bad Boy Streak

President Obama has been ruffling feather as of late.

Ever since he’s stepped foot into office, he’s been breaking the rules and doing things that “shouldn’t” be done; things that 43 other Presidents before him have never attempted or tried because they’ve been told “no, you can’t.”

  • He refused to give up his Blackberry. “Sir, it’s not safe,” they said. “Make me a new one that is,” was the reply. Obama still carries a Blackberry.
  • He went on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, something no active President has ever done. “Have some respect for the office of the President!” they said. Obama went on anyway, giving real people a chance to hear him speak candidly about complex political issues. Plus, we all got to see that Obama is, “a real dude,” as a friend of mine said. It was Leno’s fourth highest audience ever and it tripled the Tonight Show’s average nightly audience.
  • He built a playground outside the Oval Office for his kids, Sasha and Malia. Apparently this made some people uncomfortable. Now Obama gets to watch his kids play while he leads the free world.
  • He puts his weekly national addresses on YouTube, giving people 24-7 access to what’s going on in the government.
  • He spoke Farsi (a native language in many Muslim countries) to a group of Iranians wishing them a happy new year.
  • He initiated Data.gov, a website that will give anyone with a web browser access to information on anything from how the U.S. government is structured internally to agricultural statistics.
  • Sometimes, he doesn’t wear a jacket in the Oval Office; a rule that has been in place since the Reagan years. (To some this is a very big deal.)

Like him or not, Obama is a significant player in the cultural change that is occurring here in the U.S. (and abroad, for that matter.) Plus, I like the fact that our President is willing to break the rules. Not in an obnoxious way, but in a way that says, “I understand this is how things have always been. I appreciate and respect that. But that’s not how they’re going to stay any longer.

What things in your life are you re-thinking? How are you changing the way “things have always been done”? How are you thinking differently about today?.

(Don’t) Show Me the Money! Show Me the Atmosphere!

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I have a gift certificate for $5 to a local coffee shop. It’s literally money waiting to be spent. I’ve had it for two months now and I still haven’t gone it to get my free coffee.

Why?

It’s simple: I don’t like the shop as much as the other ones I go to; the ones where I pay to get coffee. The gift certificate is to a shop that serves better coffee than the ones I frequent. But I would rather pay for coffee and sit in an atmosphere that I like than sit in an atmosphere I don’t like and receive free coffee. How’s that for logic?

Coffee, for the most part, is coffee. Atmosphere is not quite as simple. Atmosphere takes a little more work. Anyone can brew a decent cup of joe; not everyone can create a place where I feel welcomed, invited, and comfortable..

What Are You Reading?

I saw this somewhere else and I thought it would be good to try here.

The book I just finished: The Younger Evangelicals by Robert E. Webber
The book I am currently reading: Killing Cockroaches by Tony Morgan
The book I can’t wait to read: The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture by Shane Hipps

I do a lot of talking on this blog (for good reason), but now I want to “turn the tables” and ask you the question:

  • What book did you just finish?
  • What book are you currently reading?
  • What book are you excited to read?

Ready? GO! It’s Monday and BeDeviant.com is all up to you today!.

Are You Gonna Go My Way?

I forgot how much fun this video is:

Happy Sunday.

HT: Mike Housholder.

Kudos to the Ragamuffin Man

Welcome back, Los. Welcome back.

The Ragamuffin man took a self-imposed “blogatical” for the season of Lent. Now he’s back online and spittin’ some wisdom. (For those of you who have no idea who I am referring to, check out his blog here. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you also know that I threw down the “@LosWhit Challenge” a few months back. No movement on this front so far!)

Here’s some goodness from his post on March 15th:

1.  We take ourselves too seriously.
I have snuck online and seen some banter about online community vs. offline community and the definition of community and the means by which we should gather community and are we losing community by communitying in this community.  blahblahblahblah.
Here’s my 10 cents in the discussion.
Quit trying to figure out everyone else’s avenue of life and worry about the pothole you are driving up to in yours.  Seriously.

….

4.  I wonder if modern day Christian leaders are more concerned about becoming famous than becoming Jesus?

….

6.  I honestly believe God can place a calling and anointing on someone’s life to minister specifically through this online medium.  I feel the naysayers are spittin’ the same stuff Billy Graham heard when he decided to start doing television revivals.

You can read the rest of the list here, but these are the ones that particularly spoke to me.

Especially #6.

People always criticize what they do not understand, and right now there are very few people who see and believe in the value of the online medium.

Like Los, I firmly believe that God will use the internet to reach people in culturally relevant ways, just like he’s been doing since the beginning of time. Most of us don’t understand (or don’t want to understand) what God is doing online, so we demonize it and marginalize those who believe there’s power behind it.

This is a note of encouragment to those of you who are struggling with what ministry looks like online; who believe that God is up to something exponentially bigger than we could ever dream of. This is to those of you who are experiementing with blogs, webcasts, online and internet campuses, Twitter, YouTube, and looking at ministry outside of the box: Keep Going.

God is looking for people who want to see the possibilities that he sees; not those who believe they already know what the right thing to do is..

What Your Pastors Aren’t Telling You

There’s been a slew of studies that have been released recently, one being PublicReligion.org’s “2008 Mainline Protestant Clergy Voices Survey” (thanks Ed Stetzer for the link) and the other being the Pew Internet & American Life Project (thanks to Cynthia Ware). Both are worth the read (at least a skim, anyway) and have a boatload of great information for anyone in ministry.

Rather than bore you with the in-depth details, here are some gems from both surveys:

From PublicReligion.org:

  • 93% of the respondents were white.
  • 12% considered themselves a “Strong Republican”. 29% of the respondents considered themselves a “Strong Democrat”. This was the largest group by far.
  • There was statistically no difference between the responses when asked if gay couples should be allowed to marry, allowed to form civil unions, or whether there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.
  • Most of the respondents led churches with 299 members or fewer.
  • 32% of the respondents strongly disagreed with this statement: “The Bible is the inerrant Word of God, both in matters of faith and in historic, geographical, and other secular matters.”
  • Less than 10% of the respondents (and thereby people in positions of influence in the churches polled) were under 40. (For the record, that should scare 90% of the churches out there.)

Now some nuggets from PewInternet.org:

  • 73% of adults in the U.S. go online. 78% of adults have a cell phone. 55% of adults have broadband at home.
  • Offline Americans are overwhelmingly over age 70, have less than a high school education, and speak a language other than English.
  • Contrary to the image of Generation Y as the “Net Generation,” internet users in their 20s do not dominate every aspect of online life. Generation X is the most likely group to bank, shop, and look for health information online. Boomers are just as likely as Generation Y to make travel reservations online. And even Silent Generation internet users are competitive when it comes to email (although teens might point out that this is proof that email is for old people).
  • As of December 2008, 11% of online American adults said they used a service like Twitter or another service that allowed them to share updates about themselves or to see the updates of others.

What Does it Mean?

From what I can tell, it means that, at the very least, a paradigm shift is taking place in the American church. Politically, the church is experiencing a significant shift away from its traditional alliance with the Republican party and more towards the center. The older generation of leadership is beginning to transition out of power and a younger, more digitally native generation is stepping into the gap. (However, in many cases this transition is only happening after younger leaders plant churches of their own or, frankly, older leadership begins to die or retire.)

That’s a lot of data. Let’s get some interaction: What do these surveys say to you?.

The Younger Evangelicals

I posted a passage from this book earlier, but further reading has determined it deserves its own post.

If you are from the ages of 18-34 or know someone who falls into that bracket, you need to read this book. You owe it to yourself or to the young adult that you know. It is that good.

Why? Robert Webber nails what it means to be a “younger evangelical,” the generation (read: Gen X & Millenials) that will seize the reigns of leadership from the “pragmatic evangelicals” (read: Boomers) in the next 5-25 years. Webber, being 68 at the time he wrote the book and clearly not a “younger evangelical” chronologically, takes some serious swipes at the past 15-20 years of church leadership in the American church. He offers firm (and correct) criticism, but he also provides a solution to let the next generation “breathe” and lead the church “back to the future.”

Here’s a few gems to whet your whistle:

  • Webber quotes Sociologist Francis Fukuyama on the period between 1960 and 1990 as an “aberration in American history.” Webber further states of this period of intense “turmoil and change” that is was marked by: “The rise of crime, the inhabitability of the inner cities, the disruption of social institutions, the decline of marriages, the rise of divorce, out-of-wedlock births, the breakdown of values, the suspicion of institutions, the intensification of individualism, the demise of authority, and in general the collapse of modern society as we knew it.” ((pg. 33))
  • “The West is undergoing a massive cultural change in which ‘discoveries in quantum physics and astronomy lead scientists to back away from Newtonian notions of a deterministic universe and to speak of awe, holism and even of an observer created universe.’” ((pgs. 44-45))
  • “Millenials are considerably more conservative than their predecessors. The twenty-somethings desire a stable society, a return to tradition.” ((pg. 46))
  • All of Chapter 10.
  • “The Contemporary Church, having been built and enmeshed in the generational values of the baby boomer, is alienating a generation of adolescents.” ((pg. 156))
  • “Boomers are into large church buildings that look like corporate headquarters–slick, plain, powerful. Twenty-somethings look on these buildings as symbols of corporate America. They want smaller, more intimate places of worship with lots of symbolism–the more the better. Success for the boomer is tangible and usually described in terms of numbers, big buildings, big budgets, and strong individual “hero” leaders. Younger evangelicals detest these symbols of power and prefer smaller to bigger and authentic to slick.” ((pg. 157))

I’ll stop there.

I could literally give you hundreds more just like that. But I won’t. Instead I’ll just give you a link to go and get this book ASAP. It will be well worth it as it gives us what I believe is a prophetic picture into what the American church will look like soon, and very soon.

Young or old, how do these passages register with you?.

You Know What They Say About Assuming…

I had this idea for a project after a class I took last quarter. The project calls for someone to go to a church service and write down every assumption that they have. Approach the service as if they’ve just arrived on Earth from a foreign planet and their first order of business is to attend your church.

I wrote down some assumptions from the service that my wife and I attended this past weekend. Here’s a few:

  • People like to sing.
  • We know what day of the week church services are.
  • That we know how/why to pray.
  • We know what the Bible is.
  • We know what to put in offering baskets or even what the offering baskets are.
  • Who know who God/the Prophets/Jesus is or are.
  • People like listening to one person speak for 40-50 minutes.
  • We know what a Pharisee is and who Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are.
  • We know what the Old/New Testament is.
  • We know what the Gospel is.

All of us operate under a certain set of assumptions in our everyday lives. We have to, otherwise we would never be able to make it out of our driveway. But some of these things we assume that people coming to church already know are powerful assumptions that aren’t always true. We may “assume” the very people we are trying to reach right out the front door.

Always ask the question: “What does this assumption say about the people who are here?

Do you have any assumptions to add to the list?.

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