Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Whose Wisdom Do You Seek?

God once commented to Jeremiah concerning Israel's pastors:

The shepherds of my people have lost their senses. They no longer seek wisdom from the Lord. Therefore, they fail completely, and their flocks are scattered. - Jeremiah 10:21
Seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Nowadays, instead of asking what God would have them do, many pastors ask how Rick Warren did it, or Bill Hybels, or Steve Sjogren, or Joel Osteen, or ....

Sometimes pastors tap secular resources such as Seth Godin, Jim Collins, Stephen Covey, or Malcolm Gladwell. Some have even gone so far as to study Mohammad or the Dalai Lama.

I've heard some say that all truth is God's truth. I cannot argue that point -- truth is truth.

The trouble is not the truth, but the wisdom. Not all wisdom is God's wisdom. The Bible lists many sorts of wisdom -- wisdom of words, wisdom of the wise, wisdom of this world, man's wisdom, and earthly, sensual wisdom. In contrast, the Bible describes the manifold wisdom of God.

I read most everything Seth Godin writes, and I thoroughly enjoy it. I appreciate the challenge he sets forth to be better than average, to try to do more than just get by, but when it comes to decisions, Seth can't make them for me. I cannot ask myself which option Seth would prefer. There is only one voice that matters -- God's voice.

I wonder what would happen if our churches started investing as much time, money, and energy into seeking God's direction as they do attending seminars, reading books, and scouring the internet?

Perhaps this would happen:
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. - Jeremiah 33:3
or this:
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. - Psalm 2:8

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When My Likes Interfere With Evangelism

In this article, Earl Creps discusses what we risk by focusing on the

  • production values,
  • branded sermon series, and
  • studio quality worship music
that we need to attract the kind of Christians who can supply our financial base. In particular, we risk having newcomers in our church.

Personally, I like well-produced services. I like branded sermon series. I like studio-quality worship music.

I like what I like, and I pretty much do church the way I like to do church. As a pastor, I led the services the way I liked to lead them. As a layman, I enjoy services that are led the same way.

The trouble is, these services are customized to me. They attract people just like me -- white, middle-classers who have been saved 20+ years.

To get somebody different, I have to do things I don't like as much, but that's OK.

What sort of things?
  • Explaining what the offering is and why we're doing it.

  • Explaining why one person stood up and said "Shondai, shondai" and then someone else stood up and said, "Thus saith the Lord..."

  • Explaining what communion is and why we're doing it.

  • Preaching about David and Goliath instead of Abishai or Jabez.

  • Sticking to the pre-set worship list because there's no powerpoint slide for the old song that just popped into my mind.

Monday, February 09, 2009

They Won't Listen if You're Not Interesting

Every now and then I come across a snippet that wows me. Here's one I just read:

The truth isn't the truth until people believe you...
And they can't believe you if they don't know what you're saying...
And they can't know what you're saying if they don't listen to you...
And they won't listen to you if you're not interesting...
And you won't be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly.
- William Bernbach, Advertising Guru
Reminds me a little of Paul's words in Romans 10.

Thank you, Idea Sandbox, for bringing this to my attention.