The Westminster Bookstore is a great place to get quality Christian books at extremely low prices. They recently redesigned their website — and it looks great. Why not poke around a bit?
Archives for October 2007
Blogs. E-mails. Voice mails. News. TV. Joe Carter, reflecting on the information overload so many of us know and love, commends a weekly 24-hour break from information and technology along the lines of what Kevin Miller describes in Surviving Information Overload. Carter quotes Miller:
The Sabbath … had two purposes: rest and remembrance of God. An info-techno Sabbath, as I dub it, has the same goals: rest for our minds and over stimulated senses and remembrance that life is bigger than the news stories, stock quotes, and sports scores. It’s bigger than our selves. There is, in fact, a God. And we are not it.
Carter’s closing remark:
Why not take an info-techno Sabbath this weekend? No doubt your synapses will scream from the perceived dehydration. After drinking from the firehose of information a day without info tech will seem like a year long drought. But by unplugging the god of Technology you might just find something new in the pause — a still small voice sharing the information that truly matters.
Read the whole piece.
In case you missed it, Byron Pitts did a great job interviewing Joel Osteen last night on 60 minutes. The engaging interchange included these remarks regarding Osteen’s latest book Become a Better You (which hit stores nationwide today, and is reviewed by Tim Challies):
Byron Pitts: “To become ‘a better you’, you must be positive towards yourself, develop better relationships, embrace the place where you are. Not one mention of God in that. Not one mention of Jesus Christ in that.”
Joel Osteen: “That’s just my message. There is scripture in there that backs it all up. But I feel like, Byron, I’m called to help people…how do we walk out the Christian life? How do we live it? And these are principles that can help you. I mean, there’s a lot better people qualified to say, ‘Here’s a book that going to explain the scriptures to you.’ I don’t think that’s my gifting.”
Notice that Osteen, a pastor, straightforwardly admits that explaining the Scriptures is not his gifting. Amazing.
Helpfully, the segment also included some reflections on Osteen from Dr. Michael Horton (who wrote a series of essays on Joel Osteen and his prosperity gospel message).
The 60 minutes interview can be read or viewed in its entirety.
Too painful for words! What matters now is how they respond—particularly the young Riley.
From Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), a non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization whose purpose is to convey to successive generations of college youth a better understanding of the values and institutions that sustain a free and virtuous society:
HIGH SCHOOL ESSAY CONTEST IN HONOR OF AMERICA’S FOUNDING
“George Washington and the Future of the American Presidency”
“As the first of every thing in our situation will serve to establish a precedent, it is devoutly wished on my part that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.” —George Washington, 1789
ESSAY CONTEST: The importance of remembering the legacy and leadership of George Washington is evident daily in contemporary America. ISI is committed to keeping the vital lessons of the American Founding alive for the rising generation through this prestigious essay contest on “George Washington and the Future of the American Presidency.”
(HT: The Rebelution)
Tim Stafford writes in the September 2007 issue of CT on the growing trend of church planting in North America:
“North America is the only continent in the world where the church is not growing,” says Eric Ramsey of the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board (NAMB).
George Hunter of Asbury Theological Seminary says, “Churches after 15 years typically plateau. After 35 years, they typically can’t even replace those [members] they lose. New congregations reach a lot more pre-Christian people.” Those who study churches say established congregations tend to turn inward, no matter how hard they try to resist the trend. But new churches must look outward to survive. Richard Harris, vice president of NAMB’s church-planting group, says that established SBC churches report 3.4 baptisms per 100 resident members, whereas new churches average 11.7. It’s not hard to conclude that more new churches would lead more people to Christ.
Read the whole thing.
Established churches (say, 1000 or more members) can often send out a church planting team of a hundred, and find that those hundred vacated seats are filled in a matter of months. Meanwhile, the daughter church has doubled. And while established churches tend to grow by transfers, church plants tend to grow by conversions. While most church plants go belly-up within the first five years, it is also true that the majority of churches (70%, within the Southern Baptist Convention) are either barely maintaining their numbers or are in decline. Either way, evangelicals are becoming a smaller percentage of the population by virtue of not growing fast enough to keep up with overall population growth. The need for steady, conversion growth is a strong argument for making a concerted effort to plant churches. Stafford notes that “America’s largest Protestant body (the Southern Baptist Convention) wants to double its number of congregations in the next 20 years, to 100,000.”
Dr. Mohler reminds us that while church planting is important, some young pastors should pursue the re-vitalization of existing churches:
“At the same time, we also need this generation of young pastors to go into established churches and revitalize a Gospel ministry through expository preaching and energetic leadership. Giving up on the established church is not an option. Some young pastors see church planting as a way of avoiding the challenge of dealing with the people and pathologies of older congregations. This is an abdication of responsibility.
Furthermore, many established churches are showing signs of new life, often under new leadership. As one pastor explained, this sometimes means planting a new church within an older church. On the other hand, only a fraction of newly planted churches exist as operational congregations five years after their founding.
Similarly, the passion to reach unreached populations is entirely laudable and urgent. The sad reality is that many of our established evangelical churches seem determined to reach only people who look like themselves — if they are committed to reach anyone at all. The danger on the other side is that many of these newly-planted churches begin to look like their founders and first members. A church of tattooed twenty-somethings in New York can be just as lacking in diversity as the aging middle class congregation at First Church.”