"The top score on the list below represents the faith that Belief-O-Matic, in its less than infinite wisdom, thinks most closely matches your beliefs. However, even a score of 100% does not mean that your views are all shared by this faith, or vice versa.
Belief-O-Matic then lists another 26 faiths in order of how much they have in common with your professed beliefs. The higher a faith appears on this list, the more closely it aligns with your thinking."
Here are my results from the Belief-O-Matic quiz on beliefnet.com...
1. Orthodox Quaker (100%)
2. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (97%)
3. Liberal Quakers (86%)
4. Seventh Day Adventist (83%)
5. Baha'i Faith (77%)
6. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (75%)
7. Eastern Orthodox (72%)
8. Roman Catholic (72%)
9. Unitarian Universalism (72%)
10. Orthodox Judaism (65%)
11. Reform Judaism (64%)
12. Islam (60%)
13. Hinduism (58%)
14. Jainism (58%)
15. Theravada Buddhism (55%)
16. Mahayana Buddhism (54%)
17. New Age (52%)
18. Sikhism (50%)
19. Neo-Pagan (47%)
20. Taoism (43%)
21. Secular Humanism (41%)
22. New Thought (38%)
23. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (33%)
24. Jehovah's Witness (33%)
25. Scientology (33%)
26. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (33%)
27. Nontheist (29%)
"Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies morality and emotion in the context of culture. He asks: Why did humans evolve to have morals -- and why did we all evolve to have such different morals, to the point that our moral differences may make us deadly enemies? It's a question with deep repercussions in war and peace -- and in modern politics, where reasoned discourse has been replaced by partisan anger and cries of "You just don't get it!"
"Haidt asks, "Can't we all disagree more constructively?" He suggests we might build a more civil and productive discourse by understanding the moral psychology of those we disagree with, and committing to a more civil political process. He's also active in the study of positive psychology and human flourishing.
"(In this video, Haidt discusses) the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we're left, right or center. In this eye-opening talk, he pinpoints the moral values that liberals and conservatives tend to honor most."
1. Home Groups exist to create loving, long-lasting friendships. We don't focus on Bible study or spiritual formation or leadership development or discipleship or any of the many other potential reasons or purposes for Home Groups. Loving, long-lasting friendships. That's it.
2. Home Groups have no formal leadership structure or requirements. We don't do leadership recruiting or training. We don't have teachers or disciple makers. We have people open their homes as hosts, put people together with them, and let them figure it out. They watch DVDs or read books together and then discuss what they watched and/or read. No lesson plans, no teacher/student hierarchy. Just friendships.
In less than four months we now have 12 active groups meeting with 92 adults involved. And we are still growing. I am tentatively hoping to see those numbers double by next summer. Things are still very experimental at this point. I am still a little nervous about attrition and longevity. We are launching more new groups beginning in January, but I want to make sure that the existing groups remain healthy and active.
What do you think of leaderless home groups that aren't focused on discipleship? I'd love to know what your home group experience has been at your church.
Here is a copy of an email I received today from Amazon.com. Hilarious! Are they lying? They have to be talking about pre-orders, right? I mean, how else can someone purchase a DVD that hasn't even been released yet? You know, people who like Elvis' gospel music also like this DVD, even though they've never seen it. Maybe I should jump in and take that risk along with them? Doubt it.
"Dear Amazon.com Customer,
We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated He Touched Me - The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley have also purchased Dream On: Live From Chicago (DVD-Jewel) on DVD. For this reason, you might like to know that Dream On: Live From Chicago (DVD-Jewel) will be released . You can pre-order yours by following the link below.
| Dream On: Live From Chicago (DVD-Jewel) |
Other Versions and Languages
Anyway, on the topic of Elvis' gospel music. Have you ever considered the history behind that? Crossing over from secular to sacred and back again. And doing it back in the late 60s! Pretty groundbreaking really. Did Elvis lose fans because he expressed his faith in his music? I don't know. Maybe. But he got a lot accolades. Here is a quote from ShopElvisAustralia:
"Elvis Presley said 'I Know Practically Every Religious Song That’s Been Written' and throughout his illustrious career, Elvis scored some 105 Top 40 hits, a string of those hitting number one, yet it was Gospel, and Gospel music alone, that earned him the coveted Grammy awards. 1967 Winner 'Best Sacred Performance' How Great Thou art Album, 1967 Nominated 'Best engineered Album' How Great Thou Art, 1968 Nominated 'Best sacred Performance' You’ll Never Walk Alone, 1972 Nominated 'Best Inspirational Performance' He Touched Me, 1974 Winner : 'Best Inspirational Performance' How Great Thou art (Live Version)."
Its something to think about. Elvis is pretty cool in my book. Maybe the coolest ever?
I set my alarm clock forward by an unknown number of minutes (close my eyes, hold the minute button, try to ignore the change) so that I think I am running later than I actually am, so that I hurry to get ready. I push the snooze button at least 5 times before I ever get fully out of bed. My alarm clock has an extra long nine minute snooze, so this equates to at least 45 minutes of snoozing. This requires me to set my alarm at least an hour earlier than I actually plan on getting up. I have to have a clock radio (regular buzzer alarms won't wake me), and the volume on the radio has to be full blast (or else it won't wake me). My wife uses a normal moderate radio volume to wake her up, which I never hear. Then she resets it for me and turns the volume all the way up. Sometimes in my snoozing period I will unwittingly turn the alarm off, dreamily thinking that I am getting up, or that I am pressing the snooze button again. This invariably transforms lateness into absence. Once I'm in the truck, the clock there is set several minutes forward as well, just to add a little more pressure to my drive.
My dad never uses an alarm clock. He just automatically wakes up at 6am. Even if he doesn't want to. He can't help it. He is an early person. He goes to bed early, wakes up early, arrives early, leaves early... Early people annoy me. And I'm sure I annoy early people. Just ask my dad.
I think it must be genetic. I am adopted, so I didn't get the early gene from my dad. He can't help being early. I can't help being late. I have come to accept this. Yes, even embrace it. I am predetermined and predisposed to lateness. It is who I am. I am Ken. I am late.
From our earliest days (no pun intended), we are conditioned to view late people negatively. Lateness is punished. Late people are discriminated against. We are called bigoted names like "lazy" and "sleepyhead". We are passed over for promotions in our workplaces, given demerits and detentions in our schools, treated as second class citizens...
Well no more. It is time for the Late People of the world to rise up in unity together and demand equal treatment. No longer will we accept the chides and jeers of the early people. No longer will we accept the negative myths they propagate about us. God has made us Late People, and we will be PROUD!
Matthew 28:19-20 (Mark's Paraphrase)
"Therefore go and fail miserably trying to beat others into submission of your own personal view of what I am saying. When you cannot win them over with suave and persuasive language which is empty in comparison to your feeble attempt to DO what I have commanded in your own life, then be bitter and negative about others while my spirit stands by and waits for you.
Then when you come around and remember when you first loved me, and how you loved others easily because you didn't know crap about the Bible - you will know that I am with you always until the end of the age. Others will teach you more than you will teach them, EVERY TIME you meet someone."
In this influential work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation—he calls it nature-deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.
Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard.
This new edition reflects the enormous changes that have taken place since the book was originally published. It includes:
100 actions you can take to create change in your community, school, and family.
35 discussion points to inspire people of all ages to talk about the importance of nature in their lives.
A new progress report by the author about the growing Leave No Child Inside movement.
New and updated research confirming that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults
Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder has spurred a national dialogue among educators, health professionals, parents, developers and conservationists. This is a book that will change the way you think about your future and the future of your children.
“Hasn’t the individualistic question about personal salvation almost completely left us all? Aren’t we really under the impression that there are more important things than that question (perhaps not more important than the matter itself, but more important than the question!)? I know it sounds pretty monstrous to say that. But, fundamentally, isn’t this in fact biblical? Does the question about saving one’s soul appear in the Old Testament at all? Aren’t righteousness and the Kingdom of God on earth the focus of everything, and isn’t it true that Rom. 3.24ff. is not an individualistic doctrine of salvation, but the culmination of the view that God alone is righteous? It is not with the beyond that we are concerned, but with this world as created and preserved, subjected to laws, reconciled, and restored. What is above this world is, in the gospel, intended to exist for this world; I mean that, not in the anthropocentric sense of liberal, mystic pietistic, ethical theology, but in the biblical sense of creation and of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Letters and Papers from Prison
This is one of the best worship songs I have ever written. I kept being drawn to the idea that Jesus is much more than what we think or believe. He is described so beautifully in the Bible and in our theological traditions. But postmodernity confronts me with the inherent limitations of language, even the Bible's language. We sometimes reduce Jesus to a catchphrase, but feel good about it because we are quoting the Bible. So many songs about the names of Jesus spring to mind (emmanuel, wonderful counselor, prince of peace, lamb of god, lion of judah... I've written a few myself!). What are they really saying?
There are those who call for deeper and more accurate theology in worship lyrics. There are those who rightly criticize contemporary worship music as shallow, self centered, and cliche'. But the answer to campy Jesus tunes is not always to incorporate stronger theological precision. Instead, this song strikes directly at the language of the Bible, its descriptions, narratives, and metaphors of Jesus, and our theological interpretations of them, saying "Yes, all good, but..."
The bottom line: whoever you think Jesus is, He is More.
He’s more than a father, more than a friend
More than a Saviour whose love never ends
He’s more than a prophet, more than a priest
More than religion, and more than beliefs
He’s more than the life and the truth and the way
He’s more than forever, He’s more than today
He’s more than me, and He’s more than you
He’s done more than the whole world together could do
He's more than a servant, more than a king
He’s more than a word in the songs that we sing
He's more than a lion, He’s more than a lamb
He's more than divine and He’s more than a man
He's more than opinion or history or fact
He's more than the stripes and the scars on His back
He's more than a cross, and He's more than the nails
By His blood is the holy of holies unveiled
He’s more than I hoped for, more than I dreamed
He’s all I could want, and He’s all that I need
So I won’t look for glory or fortune or fame
I’ll look to the heavens and call on Your name
So I turn my eyes to You Jesus
I look full on Your wonderful face
And the things of earth have grown strangely dim
In the light of Your glory and grace
All my thanks and love to Russ Waldron, who recorded this live at an acoustic concert at Our Place, and to Phil Cazella of Qitros Ministries for mixing it.
So many need so much.
So many need Your touch, O Lord. Use me.
So many need your hand.
Come and heal our land, O Lord. Use me.
Use me as you made me Lord.
All of us in one accord.
By Your power we can change the world.
Use me Lord. Here I am.
Use me as Your feet and hands.
By Your power we can change the world.
Use me. Your Kingdom come.
Use me Lord. Your will be done.
By Your power we can change the world.
So many need so much.
So many need Your touch, O Lord. Use me.
So many broken lives.
We pray for opened eyes, O Lord. Use me.
As a side note, these TED Talks are typically limited to 20 minutes. And they are FULL. What if preaching was limited to 20 minutes?? Hmmm.
Wait. What about worship? What about singing songs and celebrating Him? What about prayer and quiet time? What about Bible reading? What about sacrifices? What about tithing??
Nope. Those things are meaningless to God if we are not loving others (Isaiah 58, Amos 5, et al.).
"If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen." 1 John 4:20
This is deep. So the only way to love God (whom we have not seen) is by loving others (whom we have seen)? Perhaps the only way we see God is by seeing Him in others? (It's the only way I have ever seen Him.) "...the Kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:21. "...one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all." Ephesians 4:6. Kind of makes the words "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord, I want to see You" seem a little silly.
So then, the real question, the only one that matters, is:
"How do I love others?"
When the emergent conversation was born just over 10 years ago in the U.S., we never would have guessed that in such a short time it would become a significant feature in the American religious landscape, and a small but significant part of something happening around the world. In many ways, those of us who originally “built” Emergent Village were simply trying to create safe space to ask our own questions and talk openly about problems we were experiencing in how we were “doing church” and living and thinking Christianly.
But soon a wide array of leaders — Evangelical, charismatic, mainline, and others; younger and older; women and men — began migrating to this conversational space called Emergent Village. Around the country, generative friendships were forming. New questions were being asked. People were grappling with the Bible, with philosophy, with church history, and with the practicalities of planting, leading, and renewing local churches.
Those of us who have found ourselves as conveners or leaders in this conversation have grown closer as friends and deeper in our mutual respect. Nobody has tried to control or dominate the space. We have tried to listen to both our friendly and hostile critics, learn all we can, and respond prayerfully and wisely, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.
Having accomplished much more than we’d expected, we, the Emergent Village Board of Directors, feel we are at a crossroads as an organization. As we look ahead to the future, we are seeking input and counsel from three groups of people.
- First, we are asking people who are highly committed to Emergent Village to give us their counsel.
- Second, we would value input from people who value the emergent conversation.
- And third, we would also like friendly critics to offer their input.
We would like to solicit input between June 10 and August 10. Then we will use this input to prayerfully develop a plan which we hope to announce November 1. Thanks for your participation, and your prayers, in this process. The plan involves you filling out this survey. Board members will also be having follow-up, 30-minute phone conversations with some of you — you’ll have the opportunity to indicate your willingness to participate in that way at the end of the survey.
The Emergent Village Board of Directors
Ridiculously talented. The show was amazing. They opened with a strong first set, did the acoustic set second, ended with Vulcan Worlds, then the encore...
Live music is a spiritual experience.
Members of Emergent Village hold in common four values and several practices that flow from them. In the language of a religious order, we call these four values our “order and rule”:
1. Commitment to God in the Way of Jesus:
We are committed to doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God. In the words of Jesus, we seek to live by the Great Commandment: loving God and loving our neighbors – including those who might be considered “the least of these” or enemies. We understand the gospel to be centered in Jesus and his message of the Kingdom of God, a message offering reconciliation with God, humanity, creation, and self.
We are committed to a “generous orthodoxy” in faith and practice – affirming the historic Christian faith and the biblical injunction to love one another even when we disagree. We embrace many historic spiritual practices, including prayer, meditation, contemplation, study, solitude, silence, service, and fellowship, believing that healthy theology cannot be separated from healthy spirituality.
* As Christ-centered people, to understand the gospel in terms of Jesus’ radical, profound, and expansive message of the kingdom of God.
* As people seeking to be formed spiritually in the way of Christ, to learn historic Christian spiritual practices (disciplines), and to use them for the development of character, integrity, and virtue which flow from true communion with God.
* As participants in the historic Christian faith, to be humble learners, to stimulate learning in others, and to give priority to love over knowledge, while still valuing knowledge.
* As lovers of God and God’s truth, to seek wisdom and understanding, which are the true goal of theology, and to engage in respectful, thoughtful, sacred conversation about God, world, and church.
2. Commitment to the Church in all its Forms:
We are committed to honor and serve the church in all its forms – Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, Anabaptist. We practice “deep ecclesiology” – rather than favoring some forms of the church and critiquing or rejecting others, we see that every form of the church has both weaknesses and strengths, both liabilities and potential.
We believe the rampant injustice and sin in our world requires the sincere, collaborative, and whole-hearted response of all Christians in all denominations, from the most historic and hierarchical, through the mid-range of local and congregational churches, to the most spontaneous and informal expressions. We affirm both the value of strengthening, renewing, and transitioning existing churches and organizations, and the need for planting, resourcing, and coaching new ones of many kinds.
We seek to be irenic and inclusive of all our Christian sisters and brothers, rather than elitist and critical. We own the many failures of the church as our failures, which humbles us and calls us to repentance, and we also celebrate the many heroes and virtues of the church, which inspires us and gives us hope.
* To be actively and positively involved in a local congregation, while maintaining open definitions of “church” and “congregation.” We work in and with churches, seeking to live out authentic Christian faith in authentic Christian community.
* To seek peace among followers of Christ, and to offer critique only prayerfully and when necessary, with grace, and without judgment, avoiding rash statements, and repenting when harsh statements are made. To speak positively of fellow Christians whenever possible, especially those with whom we may disagree.
* To build sincere friendship with Christians from other traditions.
3. Commitment to God’s World:
We practice our faith missionally – that is, we do not isolate ourselves from this world, but rather, we follow Christ into the world.
We seek to fulfill the mission of God in our generations, and then to pass the baton faithfully to the next generations as well.
We believe the church exists for the benefit and blessing of the world at large; we seek therefore not to be blessed to the exclusion of everyone else, but rather for the benefit of everyone else.
We see the earth and all it contains as God’s beloved creation, and so we join God in seeking its good, its healing, and its blessing.
* To build relationships with neighbors and to seek the good of our neighborhoods and cities.
* To seek reconciliation with enemies and make peace.
* To encourage and cherish younger people and to honor and learn from older people.
* To honor creation and to cherish and heal it.
* To build friendships across gender, racial, ethnic, economic and other boundaries.
* To be involved at all times in at least one issue or cause of peace and justice.
4. Commitment to One Another:
In order to strengthen our shared faith and resolve, and in order to encourage and learn from one another in our diversity through respectful, sacred conversation, we value time and interaction with other friends who share this rule and its practices.
We identify ourselves as members of this growing, global, generative, and non-exclusive friendship.
We welcome others into this friendship as well.
We bring whatever resources we can to enrich this shared faith and resolve.
* To make an annual pilgrimage to an Emergent Village gathering; to give one another the gift of our presence at annual gatherings whenever possible.
* To publicly self-identify with Emergent Village where appropriate and to represent Emergent Village well whenever we can; to exemplify the best of what Emergent Village strives to be and do.
* To invite others to participate and welcome new participants.
* To seek to be positive and constructive in caring for the Emergent Village friendship. To find some specific ways we can help the circle of friends in Emergent Village.
* To stay reconciled to one another. To give one another the gift of commitment not to give up on, betray, or reject one another, but instead, to encourage, honor, and care for one another.
* To stay informed about emergent locally and globally via the website and email updates.
We live out the four values of our rule through four lines of action:
* We explore and develop ideas, theology, practices, and connections … through conversations, conferences, think-tanks, gatherings, retreats, publications, learning cohorts, online resources, and other means.
* We resource individuals, leaders, and organizations – funding their imagination, stimulating their thinking, providing examples, events, literature and other resources to assist them in their lives and mission.
* We communicate our calling, vision, learning, and activities to the growing Emergent Village community, and to other interested people around the world.
* We provide ways for people to belong, identify with, and participate in this community, conversation, and mission at varying levels. We encourage the development of generative friendships, collaborations, and partnerships.
Check out the sign up script on the right to find out more about the Emergent Village Cohort in Portland.
In our youth group I have seen it be very influential. They seem to be much more emotionally expressive, especially with regard to the so-called negative emotions... sadness, anger, frustration, confusion... ANGST! How 90s! The music style that our youth band has chosen is very heavy, with hi-gain guitar tones, lots of double-bass drum work, driving bass lines, lowered tunings, and LOUD.
I like it. A LOT.
But one of the things I'm trying to get used to is how depressed they all look! There's this very serious mood about what they're doing. I have been coaching them toward an intentional approach to the worship, where they lead by example, through their own personal worship, where their feelings and attitudes are valid and legitimate, but are also tempered with the needs of those they are leading, with corporate worship as important as the personal. We'll see how much of it sinks in.
I'm going to see them play at the Satyricon this Wednesday. Should be a rockin' heavy post hardcore grind emo southern metal alternative indie good time!
Do this for me... Google "Journey Church". How many different journey churches are there? I lost count. Did God lead all of them to name their church Journey? Or "Journey (insert denomination here)"? Or "Journey (insert city here)"? Did they not know that 100 other churches named themselves that? Maybe every church should be called Journey? It seems pretty silly, doesn't it?
Is there such a thing as Journeyism? Or Journification? Are you a Journist? Have you been Journified? Maybe we should create a Journian Denomination? (the spell checker is going haywire right now.)
What a long, strange Journey it's been...
Other church name copycats: Gathering, Mosaic, Life... can you name a few?
So what is the motivation for all this copycat behavior? Is there nothing wrong with copying church names? I'm not saying there is, apart from the fact that it annoys me, but why should it annoy me? I guess because it seems fake to me. Does it seem fake to you?
"What is in a name?" Is it identity? Branding? Vision? Mission? If so, is it okay to borrow that and build upon it? Maybe yes. Or are we watering down the important ideas that words like journey, mosaic, life, community, and gathering represent? Do they somehow mean less now that they seem commercialized and overused?
Let's speak candidly... is there something popular about these names? Something trendy? What percentage of churches named Journey chose that name prior to 1990? Who were the first church to describe themselves as a "community of faith"? Did Erwin Mcmanus invent the idea of Mosaic as a church name? If not, who was first? And how long ago was that? Are these new names?
So more broadly, what is the value of newness? Why is having a new name important? Does the newness of the name somehow trump the value that the name itself implies? Is naming your church Journey really about having a passion and focus for the journey, or is it more about sounding new? When you first heard the name Journey, did you think "That's meaningful" or "That's a cool name"?
Now what do you think?
Doug Pagitt will be here in Portland next Wednesday. We'll be hosting a reading/discussion with him and YOU are invited to hear from and participate in a discussion with Doug in a smaller setting.
Here's the deal:
When: 6:30pm- 9pm, Wed April 16th
What: Doug reading from A Christianity Worth Believing with a discussion following
Where: 11000 SW Boones Ferry Road, Portland, Or 97219
How much: We're asking for $10 donation at the door to help Doug pay for this trip. BUT- just for coming you'll get a copy of Doug's book Body Prayer ($11.99 on Amazon- limited to the first 50 people to show up). We'll probably also have some drinks and munchies...
What else: We'll be adjourning to a local watering hole after where Doug will buy everyone a drink (just kidding). Come to the reading/discussion to find out which of PDX's great pubs we'll be hitting afterwards.
Email bob at evergreenlife dot org to RSVP or ask questions
If we get more than 35 or 40 folks, we'll probably look for a little bigger venue, so- can you let us know you are interested in coming?
Alright is a collection of songs emerging from a life that is realizing that God truly does have a plan in the midst of the pain we experience as humans. But while I can type that here and now, it’s another thing to live it every day. I think that’s something I’ll be learning until the end of my life here on this earth. For whatever reason my life has been marked by a significant amount of pain, and I’ve responded in both healthy and unhealthy ways at times. But when I look around at the Church in America I can’t help but see a tendency we have to try to shove it under the carpet and force a "shiny happy people" approach to life. But if there’s one constant in life, it is that we as people will suffer. Look around you...it’s happening everywhere.
I’ve heard in many churches the encouragement to "leave your ’stuff’ at the door" so that you can be focused on worshiping God. I don’t know about you, but I can’t do that, and I don’t think God wants us to do that. He wants us to be honest with where we are. He sees and knows anyway, why would he want us to pretend to be somewhere we aren’t. He wants honesty. He wants authenticity. He wants us to see our "stuff" through the lens of HIM. And he wants our praise. Lament and praise! It’s all over the Psalms in the Bible.
But it’s always the presence of God that the psalmist is after when he laments and cries out to God because of his suffering. The presence of Christ is always the answer! Check out Psalm 73 or Lamentations 3 and see the way the lamenter exhausting himself against God (being honest with God about where he is). But then there’s this incredible turn to Praise that usually starts with a "BUT...YOU are this...and YOU’VE done that." And how much more significant is it that Christ said to us before he left, "I will be with you always." In fact, his name means "God with us" - Emmanuel.
And that’s what this album is...a collection of songs that help us remember that, even in the face of pain and trouble, God is actually with us, and in what seems like absolute chaos, he has a plan - and it’s a plan that has his glory and your good at its heart. These songs focus on anticipating the glorious return of Jesus Christ while reminding us that even though life can be unbearable at times, ultimately, everything will be Alright!
So what is the deal here? Was the market research flawed? Did they think taking Jesus out would be more acceptable, and then discover that it wasn't?
I wonder what the story is behind that choice? Why did they choose that song? They sang it as the finale for the show. Pretty strange to see Hollywood embrace such a straightforward worship song.
I'm still processing this. When the video gets to YouTube I'll post it. In the meantime, what do you think?
UPDATE: Here is the video...
Here is a message on the "Thief on the Cross" that I gave during our Passion Week gatherings last week. It includes some of my story, my past, my present...
For those who care, I'm playing a PRS Standard 22 through an 80s era Boss CS-2 Compressor/Sustainer, TC Electronic SCF, and Boss DD-5 Digital Delay into channel two of my Tophat King Royale and out a Marshall 1960b 4x12" cabinet.
A side point... the Bible was written by people who lived thousands of years ago for people who lived thousands of years ago. So everything is contextual and nothing applies to us today. OR... Nothing is contextual and everything applies to us today. OR... You get to choose for yourself what you believe applies to you and what doesn't. How postmodern.
Okay, back to the original line of thought. This Willow Creek Reveal stuff really has me questioning what churches choose to focus their energy and resources on. Is following the Way of Jesus really about teaching each other more Bible knowledge? Are we really supposed to be gathering in classes two days a week to become smarter Christians? And then are we supposed to be doing market research and statistical analysis to examine the success of our education programs? Is that what Jesus had in mind?
"Not that there's anything wrong with that!"
How many Bible classes do you have to take before you get to go to heaven? How many Sunday school groups do you have to attend before you can feed a hungry person or visit someone who is sick? And which is a better use of your time? Is being a Christian about you? Or is it about others?
If you're not already familiar with the Reveal research, it is a collection of primarily survey based research begun by Willow Creek in 2004. Greg Hawkins is the Executive Pastor there and the primary author of the book "Reveal" which outlines the preliminary results of the research.
At the heart of the results is what Willow Creek calls the "Spiritual Continuum". When people were asked about their spiritual lives, it was found that this continuum was highly predictive of spiritual growth. The continuum is made up of four major segments, which are shown below:
These segments are described by a number of identifying statements like "The Bible provides direction for my life" and "I love God more than anything". So the stronger a person self-identifies their agreement (or disagreement) with such statements, the more likely they are to be identified as a member of a higher segment on the Spiritual Continuum. You can see with more detail below how these statements further expand the definition of the Continuum.
And what was found was that as people self-identified with these higher segments on the continuum, their self reporting of positive spiritual attitudes and behaviors also increased, as you can see from the chart below.
I attended the recent Reveal conference held here in the Northwest at Sunset Presbyterian Church. Greg Hawkins was the main speaker, and I had an opportunity to ask him what I thought was a pretty important question. You see, all this data leads one to believe that these continuum segments are linear. For example, one would assume that the longer someone has been a Christian, the more likely it is that they have advanced to higher levels of the Continuum. However, when I questioned Greg on this point, he admitted that they did not have any correlative data between how long someone has been a Christian and where they self-identify on the continuum.
In other words, it is possible that a brand new believer could self-identify as Christ Centered. By looking at the statements that in part describe the Christ Centered segment, it is easy to see how a passionate new believer would strongly agree with statements like "I seek God's guidance in every area of my life" and "I love God more than anything else". Unfortunately, the Reveal book consistently refers to these lower segments as "early", which I believe is misleading given that there is no data to show that.
So is spiritual growth linear? Is it the church's responsibility to help "grow" people along a linear path? The Reveal research as yet does not shed much light on this subject. What do you think?
Scott Henderson - Melodic Phrasing by jejari7