Category Archives: Other Authors

The results are in – people prefer short sermons followed by discussion.

To me this is ideal! What do you think?

Posted on January 18, 2014 at Church in a Circle

This week, I conducted some research on Twitter. I asked which people would prefer; short sermons with the opportunity for discussion, or long sermons without. The results of my poll were resoundingly conclusive – 100% of respondents would like to have short sermons or even long ones followed by the chance to respond and explore the topic together.

Now, I’m not going to pretend these are statistically significant results. This was a small sample group, and a very biased one. But I still think this is a simple and easy-to-implement strategy most pastors and churches can take on board, with the potential to equip and empower God’s people.

Next time you are preparing a sermon, think about stripping it back to the essential points, then letting people break into groups of 4 or so to discuss what they have learned. They could answer questions such as;

What stands out to you?

What did you learn about God?

About people?

Any life-lessons to apply?

How do you plan to apply them?

How can we pray for one another?

The advantages to this approach are huge. You are training God’s people to have spiritual conversations. You can give them the tools they need to think for themselves, and to communicate their knowledge to others. You are sending the message that the church is an equal laity under the headship of Christ, not artificially divided into “professionals” and “consumers”. You are giving them a chance to respond to God’s Word and message, and to teach one another.

However – please take note – this suggestion comes with the following warnings;

WARNING 1: Once people get used to participating and having a voice, they’re not going back. They will find it difficult to sit passively through lengthy monologues, once they realise they can be actively involved.

WARNING 2: Some people won’t like this. They think the current format for church is the way it has always been. They don’t realise the early church meetings were interactive, multi-voiced and participatory.

WARNING 3: Dialogue is an open floor, not a pop-quiz. People are allowed to give any answer at all. Pastors may have to go through a period of “unlearning” – instead of having all the answers, they have to learn to shut up and listen. Get used to a whole new way of thinking as you move away from performance towards facilitation and empowerment.

Don’t rely on the results of my not-very-reliable research – conduct a poll of your own. Ask your congregation whether they would prefer a 40 minute lecture next Sunday, or a 10-15 minute presentation followed by a chance to explore and discuss it together. Your ego may take a bruising if they tell you to shorten your sermons – but it could be the start of a new journey for you and your church community.

Read more great articles via Church in a Circle.

the heresy of orthodoxy

This is from Josh over at the blog ‘In Search of the City’. I found it quite intriguing as well as challenging, perhaps you will too.

Strictly speaking, a “heretic” is someone who causes division. That is what the word actually means.

In the first century the term was applied to certain people whose teaching stood at odds with the testimony of the apostles concerning Christ. Their “false gospels” brought division to the church as they chose their own opinion over the eye-witness testimony of those who had been with Jesus.

Interestingly enough, the first visible threats of division in early Christian history were not over any kind of teaching whatsoever. The first threat, in Jerusalem, was over the alleged favoritism shown by Jewish brothers to their own kin in the food distribution line see Acts 6. The second threat, in Antioch, was over Peter’s hypocrisy in bowing to the pressure of James’ friends and refusing to eat with Gentiles Galatians 2:11-13. It wasn’t until the Judaizers arrived in Galatia and tried to undermine the disciples’ faith that any issue of “false teaching” came into play.

Much has changed over the ensuing centuries and much has remained the same. Christians still deal with the issue of false teaching, there is no doubt about that, but something even more insidious has crept in to try the hearts of the faithful. Something I like to call the heresy of orthodoxy.

WHAT HAPPENED

In the second and third centuries the churches began to institutionalize, a trend that swept south from Rome and north from Jerusalem. Apostolic leadership gave place to the consolidation of power in the office of the bishop, and as a result the assemblies lost both their local character and organic nature. The decline was gradual. A bit of mixture here, a little compromise there. Over time the ways of the church began to look more and more like the ways of the world.

In the first century it had been the religious man–the Judaizer–who threatened the life of the assemblies. That battle was fought and won by men the likes of Paul, men in whose hearts the daystar had risen, who knew the full meaning of Christ crucified and who warred not in the flesh but with mighty spiritual weapons.

Centuries two and three brought an onslaught of a different kind with the influx of Greek philosophy into the Christian fellowship. Little did the….read the entire article via John MacArthur, Strange Fire, & the heresy of orthodoxy | In Search of the City.

Where’s the Body?

I was apprised of this great article through the Internet Evangelism Day Facebook post. It said it is free to use in any medium so I double checked before posting here on the blog. Yes indeed it is true. Here is a link to the Assist News Service article which also gives us a bit of history about the great post below.

Who’s Got the Body?

This article is also available in Spanish.
Written by Rusty Wright and Linda Raney Wright

Who cares? What difference does it make if Jesus rose from the dead? It makes all the difference in the world. If Christ did not rise, then thousands of Christians have lived and died for a hoax.

If, however, He did rise, then He is still alive and can act now to straighten out our chaotic world. Facts always speak louder than opinions. Let’s take a look at some of the historical evidence for the resurrection and see where the facts lead.

One preliminary consideration: countless scholars–among them, the apostle Paul, St. Augustine, Sir Isaac Newton and C. S. Lewis–believed in the resurrection. We need not fear committing intellectual suicide by accepting it also.

Paul wrote that “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, He was raised on the third day. He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now. {1}

Consider also these four pieces of evidence:

1. The Explosive Growth of the Christian Church

Within a few weeks after the crucifixion a movement arose which, by the later admission of its enemies, “upset the world.” {2} Something happened to ignite this movement a…….read the entire article

Human Relationships

I imported this from our previous web site. Looking forward to comments.

Posted on February 11, 2012 by skhshewolf

Human relationships are a baffling thing.

The way people and lives become intertwined and emotions seem to hinge on one another’s.

The caring and depth of feeling can overwhelm at times yet how often do people maintain a relationship for a lifetime? Friends, spouses, parent/child, other family, etc.

Each and every human encounter in some way builds us and causes us to grow. Or at least it should. How many times does the opposite happen?

Demoralization, degradation, emotional abuse/trauma. These can cause a person to be broken down, warp, break. Every little word, every little action, every little non-action can in some way have an impact on another soul.

Do any of us ever question, “Crap, how did I just make that person feel?”.

We should be asking, “How should I make this person feel?”.

Do unto others. Even in the midst of anger, depression, humiliation, listlessness. Do what should be done. Do what Jesus wants us to do.

The Thief that got Away

I wanted to Re-blog this excellent piece!!!! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did and go check out Naphtali’s other articles too!

March 16, 2014 by Naphtali from ‘Did Jesus have a Facebook Page?

Our moral rectitude in modern society is based on the conclusion we are here temporarily so what is the point?

Depending on your belief or non-belief system constitutes how one looks at the future and what to do while here in this earthly existence.

Past the future are 3 positions:

The Afterlife: Reincarnation brings you back as a rat who once was a goddess or god.

Dead: You retreat to a state of being “dead” as you were before you were born. Atheist

Eternal Life: Heaven with God the Father!

Personally I choose #3 because there has to be more than this and I kind of like the thought of living forever with the Creator and riding down his golden streets. If you really “think” about it, why would God go to the trouble of creating masses of people century after century for a few decades of misery? Why would he bother to create a whole lot of people he continually works to save?

For those who believe the earth is a spinning ball of dirt floating through a galaxy of stars with nowhere to land, go ahead and find your spaceship. The concept everything is meaningless and we are wandering endlessly is a mindset on hold. The earth and its inhabitants are an accident waiting to fall off into some mud pit of non-existence.

In the first place it is an underestimation of God to believe we are here ONLY “for a short time as this.” He had a plan beyond our graves which includes giving every human being a “Destiny.”

Common sense tells us someone had to be in charge. If you don’t believe that, you are probably lurking around trees with no leaves and empty Mason Jars waiting to be filled with Guava jelly or Peach Preserves. You are simply missing the point of living.

No vision means there is no destiny.

No destiny means there is no value.

No value means there is no purpose.

He hung on a cross next to him. His criminal lifestyle was ending with this cruel, painful death.

To the average person, he had no value; no purpose because he never found or looked for his destiny. He lied his way through the few short years he lived. Worthless and useless, this thief deserved this cruel death as the crowd cheered to the Roman soldiers, “kill him!”

Yet even in the worst possible place on earth, God’s mercy was a few short feet from where he hung.

The thief maybe lacked a lot intellectually, but he was not stupid. Common sense told him this was no ordinary man they were crucifying. He had done nothing wrong. He had performed miracles unknown and given life to the dead. He had changed the world he knew in a matter of a few years.

On the other side was a criminal hurling insults at Jesus.“If you are the “King of the Jews, the Son of God, save us and yourself!” Luke 23: 32-43

The thief replied, “Don’t you fear God? We deserve our punishment. He doesn’t.”

In that moment Jesus gave him value, purpose and destiny by welcoming him into Paradise.

Our value is not based upon our accomplishments, but our existence.

Our existence and entry into Heaven is only through the Messiah.

And his credit is perfect.

Read more great articles via  Did Jesus have a Facebook Page?.