Ordained to give itself away

This post is from the defunct blog "Dying Church"

The Church is the only institution which, without irresponsibility, can expend all its resources on great and lavish outbursts of compassion. It is ordained to give itself away, yet without loss. The Church, above all earthly symbols, bears the responsibility of declaring in the outpouring of resources, the utter dependability of God. To preserve its life is to lose it. (Robert Lupton, Theirs is the Kingdom)

What will we nail to the door today?

95Thesen.jpg 489 years ago today, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of a church at Wittenburg, somewhat similar to posting a notice on a university bulletin board today. I think it's safe to say that Luther had no idea that these theses would be the "spark that kindled the explosion" of the Reformation. "While these theses are far from expressing the full round of Luther's thought, they display certain principles which would have revolutionary import" (A History of the Christian Church). Never underestimate the power of ideas with revolutionary impact given the right conditions. The ideas spread quickly thanks to a newfangled invention - the printing press. "The 95 Theses were quickly translated into German, printed, and widely copied, making the controversy one of the first in history to be fanned by the printing press. Within two weeks, the theses had spread throughout Germany; within two months throughout Europe. In contrast, the response of the papacy was painstakingly slow." Technologies that spread ideas can be dangerously useful. The impulse behind the Reformation is captured by the Latin phrase semper reformanda, which means "always reforming." Dan Edelen asks:
Too many of us Protestants have capped Christianity at the Reformation. We believe that nothing more can come out of Christ's Church than what we got out of the Reformation nearly five hundred years ago. In some ways, we're like the fifty-year-old shoe salesman at K-Mart who once quarterbacked his high-school team to a state championship. Our entirely lives revolve around that day when we threw the winning touchdown. We relive it, revel in it, and on and on. But we let that one event in time become the be all and end all of our existence. It can never get better than that time, nor can we ever let it possibly come close. But oh what we may be missing because we can't see the opportunities that lie before us today! Don't get me wrong. I supremely value the Reformation. I also supremely value practicing what we preach and asking if we need a new reformation even better than the old one. Now what church will let me nail that to their door today?

What is the Emerging Church?

Looking forward to reading this paper by Scot McKnight (snippet from TSK):

Here's my point: if you narrow the emerging movement to Emergent Village, and especially to the postmodernist impulse therein, you can probably dismiss this movement as a small fissure in the evangelical movement. But, if you are serious enough to contemplate major trends in the Church today, at an international level, and if you define emerging as many of us do - in missional, or ecclesiological terms, rather than epistemological ones - then you will learn quickly enough that there is a giant elephant in the middle of the Church's living room. It is the emerging church movement and it is a definite threat to traditional evangelical ecclesiology.

You can get the paper (requires Acrobat reader) here.

Preachers at peace

I attended a preaching consultation last week, and one of the questions was what preachers should be trained to be and do. One person came up with an answer that surprised me. He said that preachers really need to learn to be at peace. I didn't buy it at first, but I could tell others agreed. Some talked about former pastors preaching every week out of anger or hurt. I could relate - I've heard the same, and I've done it. While I never would have though of this as an answer, I think it's exactly right. In the end, the most powerful sermon comes out of someone who is healthy and at peace. This remark has been a good reminder to me that character is one of the most important things we bring to any task, including preaching.