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45 Responses

  1. Dallas says:

    It may not be the main thrust of the article, but it did bring me to mind of how much I hate the concept of pastor search committees.

  2. Dallas says:

    That would be the link of spiritual hoarding.

  3. London says:

    15 people come out and now the whole denomination is in “free fall”? I think there may be a slight exaggeration.

  4. Michael says:


    The denomination is financially bankrupt and losing members at an amazing pace.
    This article is symbolic of why.

    There are those in leadership who believe that the denom will not last another five years.

  5. Dan from Georgia says:

    Perused the Gospel Coalitions article on 13 errors to avoid in discussion end times stuff. Good points there. Especially about End Times Fiction. Seems like a lot of End Times Wonks spend more time in that claptrap than the Bible.

  6. Em again says:

    i’m not surprised to hear that the Good News Clubs are under attack – must have been Divine intervention that has held this back until now…
    we were on the other end way back in 1968 – my husband and i were away on a 2 week trip and had left the children with a teenage baby sitter from a family of serious Christians – we had only lived in the neighborhood for 3 months at the time – while we were gone some sort of dust up occurred with the neighborhood kids – the babysitter took it upon herself to solve the problem by holding Child Evangelism meetings in our garage every afternoon – i guess the kids – some Catholic, some unchurched – loved it. The parents didn’t. No one told us, however. We came home to serious hostility that made no sense to us for years until a new family moved in and she told me what she’d learned from the other neighbors about us.
    Don’t ever tell someone else’s kid that they’re going to hell … or maybe we should – dunno

  7. Babylon's Dread says:

    The United Methodist were already in a free fall …
    The 15 just nudge the needle upward…
    Politics is the old time religion

  8. Babylon's Dread says:

    I meant to say the 15 just might nudge the needle upward

    United Methodist are niching themselves and may become the denomination of the avant-garde. They may grow

  9. Em again says:

    ” If we wish to take the [Lord’s Supper] and the church seriously, we must also take the ascension seriously.”

    i like this – truth distilled and leaving room for thinking on…

  10. Em again says:

    and i learned that, by definition, i am a chauvinist – for Christ… hadn’t looked up the word until reading the link above and wondering if i really grasped the meaning of chauvinist

  11. Em again says:

    church for losers? well, duh
    but in spite of her bad self, Nadia Bolz-Weber, so loosie-goosie in her theology and verbiage, may just open the door wide enough for some poor mixed up minds to slip past her gate and go on in to find Christ – dunno

  12. Jean says:

    My heart mourns for the UMC. That article is on a denomination website. That speaks volumes. This is how Samuel mourned for Saul even before he physically died.

  13. Babylon's Dread says:

    Somehow Roger Olsen missed the memo

    Christian is a troublesome, political, religious, dated, anti-christ, anti-semitic, un-good moniker. Google the question and see.

    So Roger’s solution, which is really a question, is OUT!

    Way Dread

  14. Em again says:

    Orthodox churches under attack – i hadn’t heard about this… the picture of the gutted church bldg. accompanying the article looks as if it was taken from WW2 … my sympathies and prayers

  15. Em again says:

    good list again … thinking … again … thank you

  16. j2theperson says:

    ***It may not be the main thrust of the article, but it did bring me to mind of how much I hate the concept of pastor search committees.***

    How would you go about finding a pastor for a church?

  17. Dallas says:

    Raising up leadership from within the congregation.

  18. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    In some of these denominations being a Christian is no longer a prerequisite to stand in the pulpit – so why should sexuality?

  19. j2theperson says:

    My church lost its pastor very suddenly about a year ago. He had to retire abruptly due to health problems. So, we’ve spent the last year appointing a search committee and then looking for a priest. Our new priest’s first service is this upcoming Sunday, so we’ll see how good a job our search committee did. I know they worked very hard and were very conscientious about their responsibilities, and I have maybe a little inside knowledge on what went on because my husband is on the vestry, so I’m fairly certain they did a good job.

    Personally, I would rather look for someone outside the church–someone who has received the proper training and education to be a parish priest. That does not mean that we don’t have many people within our church who are also leaders and lay ministers. But, I don’t see a need or reason to have the priest originate from the parish. It also seems like raising pastors up from within a specific congregation would leave little churches totally screwed because they have so few members and attendees.

  20. Mr Jesperson says:

    I like the “How to become a heretic” link. Especially like #5 on the list. Also the quote, “With blogging and social media one can move through the seven steps much more quickly than previously.” This would be funny if it were not the fact that I know of some people who went down that road, and never came back. Tragic really. I would like to see more people finish the race.

  21. Dallas says:

    J2, I’m not here to judge your specific situation, but I personally think that the mindset behind something like a pastor search committee contributes to stagnation in the body. Say, for example that you lived in a situation where that wasn’t an option, how would that change the way that the church functions? With the realization that pastor so and so won’t be around forever, you would need to be intentional about cultivating leadership in the church, and training people up in general.

    I’m not overly enthusiastic about the idea that you have to go outside the local church for training and education either, so we might just be coming from very different worldviews on this matter.

  22. j2theperson says:

    It seems like raising leaders up within the church would cause at least as much stagnation as looking for pastors from the outside. Odds are, the training will not be as academically rigorous as if a person received seminary training, and the article on spiritual hording that prompted this discussion talks about how it’s so easy to parrot your leader without having their wisdom or character. But, when a person is being trained for leadership at a church and their training is specific to that church and will not provide them the education necessary to look for pastoral employment outside of that church doesn’t that create an even greater motivation to parrot their leader while ignoring wisdom and character, because now their entire future livelihood is dependent on whether the succession plan that they are participating in goes according to plan and they do eventually get to take over as the pastor. They have every inducement in the world to be yes men and ignore problematic issues so as not to rock the boat. It also seems like there is a greater likelihood of stagnation because whatever leader takes over will have been trained by the previous leader. For example, were the leaders that Mark Driscoll trained and raised up from within his church and movement substantially different from him? Did stagnation and parroting of Driscoll not occur to a massive degree?

  23. Josh the Baptist says:

    A pastor search committee could hire a guy from within the church, if the right guy is there.

  24. Dallas says:

    I don’t see it as raising up one heir apparent to the pastor, but seeking to develop everyone in the body to maturity. If you do that, you are going to produce multiple leaders within the church. I also think that it would end up requiring more maturity from the pastor as well, because if you give someone the tools to that would be required to someday lead as well, they may very well come to different conclusions than you do about both scripture and leadership. The pastor doesn’t create a copy of himself, but irons with which to sharpen irons with.

    I’m also not saying that you don’t need seminary training to lead in the church (well I kind of am), but encouraging more rigorous instruction being available within the church itself.

    Josh, of course that is true, but the most significant instance that colors my perception of the whole process (admitting bias) was a case where the obvious choice was passed over in order to spend a year and a half looking for some young facial hair that wore a vest well… and left a year and a half later.

  25. In many evangelical churches one is raised (literally) in the congregation – the pastor’s son. hey, hey — just to keep the conversation rolling 🙂

  26. Josh the Baptist says:

    Dallas, in that case, the committee was also brought up from within the congregation, so the case could be made that if their judgement was terribly flawed, then they had not been trained well either.

    Also, while individual churches can decide for themselves, I definitely think pastors should seek as much formal training as possible. While not foolproof by any means, it seems the best way to avoid the abuses that we often read about here.

  27. Dallas says:

    Josh, I agree on that one, they were absolutely trained to make the choice they made. I would argue that most of the abuses that we see described here would be better addressed by training in real world service, than by any formal programs. Many of them are institutional in nature, which reminds me of the recent conversations on CJ Mahoney, thousands of people didn’t just spontaneously think it was a good idea to go learn from that guy.

  28. Josh the Baptist says:

    CJ didn’t go to seminary if I am remembering correctly his story.

    I totally agree that their should be pastoral mentoring as well, but people expect a lot of a pastor. If you don’t have some kind of formal training, you will absolutely make a mess of some things you encounter.

    CJ is a good example. He didn’t have a clue how to deal with a sexual predator in his leadership. Had he been formally trained before that, he may have had a better chance at getting that one right.

  29. CostcoCal says:

    Don’t rinse on the pastor’s son, MLD!

  30. Exception for Costco Cal — he is the exception 🙂

  31. Dallas says:

    The Catholics give their priests formal training, right?

    My point there was that I’m sure there are a boat load of people there that are trained in seminaries to desire what it is that a Mahaney had to offer. Do they really have “how to deal with a predator” classes in seminary? Common human decency classes? Maybe a “three simple steps to call 911” seminar.

  32. Josh the Baptist says:

    A.) Of course a bad guy can go to seminary, get out and still do wahtever wrong he wants to do.

    B.) Yes,Yes, and yes.

  33. Dallas says:

    MLD, as funny as “the scion of First Baptist” is, we should see something like “spiritual sons” within the church. The recognition that, depending on the length of forever, none of us will be around forever, so we should be investing in the ones to come after us. Our natural impulse may be too make our own children this spiritual children as well, but a branching outside of the household is probably in order as well.

  34. Dallas says:

    Josh, I was unaware.

    I still feel that most of the abuses we have seen are people failing at humanity, even before they fail at being Christ-like. Committing certain atrocities that wouldn’t even be put up with in the secular world.

  35. Josh the Baptist says:

    You are correct, and unfortunately seminary or anything else will keep a bad guy from being a bad guy. It’s just an extended vetting process to some degree.

  36. CostcoCal says:

    I’m the exception? Lol I don’t think so.

  37. Dallas says:

    And I guess that from my point of view, an extended mentoring process while living in community with the congregation also serves as that vetting process. I am just now likely to trust the guy that I have known, labored with, prayed alongside for ten years, than the guy who has a good resume and seemed cool that week that he came out to stay with us.

  38. Josh the Baptist says:

    “an extended mentoring process while living in community with the congregation also serves as that vetting process.”

    Absolutely! Do both!

    IF you have guys coming up who will be moving into ministry, sign them up for seminary. All the great schools have full on-line programs now. They wouldn’t even have to leave. The mentoring pastor could walk then through the education. That would be ideal.

  39. Alan says:

    Re “How to become a difference maker”, point 1 was good enough for the entire article. Why does everyone seemingly have to become a “leader” and a “difference maker.” Why isn’t it good enough to “just” be a follower of Christ?

    Didn’t read the article on fundamentalism because it seems to me that the term has totally lost its meaning and has come to be a pejorative term for anyone who takes the faith more seriously than I do.

  40. Tohu Wabohu says:

    Too bad the CT article on Bethel Church is (except for the teaser paragraphs) available for subscribers only. I’ll have to go to the library to read it….. One of the larger churches in the area is very much in the Bethel orbit. I’ve concluded that what they’re offering is essentially Shamanism with minimal Christian veneer. Creepy, spiritually toxic stuff.

  41. j2theperson says:

    ***I would argue that most of the abuses that we see described here would be better addressed by training in real world service, than by any formal programs.***

    I don’t really understand what you mean when you say “real world service”. What I envision you describing (and I could be envisioning it completely wrong) seems like it would not have any sort of uniformity from trainee to trainee and could potentially leave someone with huge gaps in their knowledge and understanding. The sexual abuse issue was brought up. “Real world training” has frequently resulted in ministers and elders advising abused people to forgive their abusers, not press charges, and not publicly accuse their abuser…which has resulted in those abusers having free reign to abuse more vulnerable people.

  42. Mr Jesperson says:

    I liked the link about the dysfunction with Charismatics. It could have been more precisely labeled as the writer came out of Bethel Church (see the other link about that) and was commenting on the culture there which is an extreme part of the Prophetic Movement that arose in the 80’s.

  43. @Tohu Wabohu (comment #40) mentions “Shamanism with minimal Christian veneer.” Over 20 years ago, the Evangelical Missiological Society published *Spiritual Power and Missions: Raising the Issues*. This volume addressed the related strategic prayer and spiritual warfare movement, and called it “Christian animism.” So, the critiques are not new.

  44. Also on topics related to “Christian animism/shamanism,” I’ve written several articles from my view of former involvement with strategic prayer and spiritual mapping. You may find some helpful critiques in these articles too.

  45. Tohu Wabohu says:

    @brad/futuristguy: Thanks for the links. The critiques may not be new, but the movement seems to have picked up lots of momentum over the past ten years, at least in my part of the country (one of the most “unchurched” regions– and no, we’re not in the western third of the country).

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