Who will you steal your next Hispanic minister from?

Money in handYour church wants to start a ministry. Hispanic ministry. Obviously, you need someone who speaks Spanish, preferably someone Hispanic.

“What about that preacher we worked with on our mission trip to Guatemala?” someone suggests, “He was a hard worker.”

So you contact Brother Gonzalez and offer him five times the support he’s currently getting to move to the States. He gratefully accepts. And everyone lives happily ever after, right?

Wrong. The church in Guatemala (or wherever) is weakened. It’s quite possible that Brother Gonzalez’ family will go through serious strains in the transition. And there’s not much correlation between being a good minister in Guatemala and being a good Hispanic minister in the States. At best, you can probably hope to build a nice congregation of Guatemalan immigrants.

I’m not saying you can’t ever hire someone from another country. I’m just saying that there are a lot of questions to ask: about how the church in the other country will be affected, about how the minister’s family will be affected, about why they are wanting to leave their home country, and about how well they will be able to work in the States. More times than not, you’re better off finding someone who is already living in the U.S.

Trip to Cuba: November 2014

Alain after baptismsLast week I got to go to Cuba, accompanying my wife Carolina and several others from the University Church of Christ in attending the national women’s conference in Varadero, Cuba. As always, it was a great trip.

One of the highlights happened on Sunday. The Matanzas church is very active evangelistically, so there are almost always several baptisms while we are there. I know the complications that can arise from foreigners baptizing, so I normally resist that aspect of ministry there. Knowing that they would ask me about it, I tried to be proactive and think of who I could suggest do it.

Then I remembered Alain. Alain was baptized a couple of months ago in Matanzas, though he’s from the province of Villa Clara. Tony Fernández, the preacher at the Versalles church in Matanzas, received a letter from Alain after Alain had heard some of our radio programs. Tony studied with Alain and baptized him and another man.

On the Sunday that we were there, Alain had traveled in with his wife and son. His wife wanted to be baptized. So I suggested that Alain be taught how to baptize and that he perform the baptisms. They took my suggestion, and it was a wonderful day for Alain, hopefully one that will further prepare him to lead the new church that is developing in his hometown.

Links to Go (November 5, 2014)

Jesus in the Public Square

The church is a political institution, but one which is not of this world. Whether or not it involves itself in political issues is a secondary issue. Some may be more vocal, while others may more silent. What matters most is that every church seeks to carry on the mission of Jesus and the apostles by inculcating the values of Jesus’ kingdom. No church, however, should be partisan, since no one secular religious party captures or promotes the holistic and countercultural ethics of Jesus’ kingdom.

Brittany Maynard Didn’t Commit Suicide (What We Can Learn From 9-11′s “Falling Man”)

In all the years since 9-11, I’ve never once heard a Christian speak up in judgment and condemnation over the 9-11 jumpers. I’ve never heard someone say they sinned because they “hastened death instead of accepting God’s timing.” I’ve never heard anyone say that failing to condemn their choice is a “slippery slope that could send the message that suicide is okay.” All I’ve ever heard about the 9-11 jumpers is how difficult their choice must have been, and how sad it is that their lives were taken by terrorism.
Why then, should we say those things about Brittany– or those who choose to die more quickly and less painfully in response to a terminal disease– a death sentence that becomes their burning building? It’s not a choice to die (suicide). It’s just a choice to pick the most painless way to die.

The Myth of Hate

Furthermore, even though Christians agree with the biblical prohibition of homosexual sex, it doesn’t mean we hate people who violate it. This is an important and obvious distinction that seems forgotten. The Bible, for example, is opposed to gluttony, but we don’t hate gluttons. The Bible is against drunkenness, but we don’t hate people who drink too much. The Bible is against pre-marital sex, but we don’t hate people who have sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend. The Bible is opposed to stealing, but we don’t hate thieves. Yes, the Bible is opposed to homosexual sex, but we don’t hate homosexuals.

Cracks in the atheist edifice

The paradox, as they all know, is that religious freedom, if it ever takes hold, might harm the Christian church in two ways. The church might become institutionalised, wealthy and hence corrupt, as happened in Rome in the high Middle Ages, and is already happening a little in the businessmen’s churches of Wenzhou. Alternatively the church, long strengthened by repression, may become a feebler part of society in a climate of toleration. As one Beijing house-church elder declared, with a nod to the erosion of Christian faith in western Europe: “If we get full religious freedom, then the church is finished.”

Singing as a Spiritual Discipline

Don’t believe me? Do you know anyone who left their church because of a change in “worship?” In truth, these changes are barely changes in worship. Most churches still celebrate the Eucharist, engage sermons, sing, pray, and – sadly – have announcements. What changes is the singing! And the reason people leave over “worship” is because they no longer “like” the singing… personally.

Links To Go (November 4, 2014)

Review of The Bible Tells Me So

In the end, The Bible Tells Me So is a book about contradictions. Enns intended it to be a book about contradictions in the Bible. But it becomes quickly apparent that the contradictions are really in Enns’s own worldview. He claims the Canaanite conquest is immoral, yet argues the Bible provides no clear guide for morality. He claims the Bible presents a diabolical genocidal God, yet insists we still “meet God in its pages”. He argues Scripture is filled with reworked stories, many of which are made up entirely, yet seems to know which ones really happened and which did not. He claims the Bible provides no clear moral instruction, yet says people are “disobedient” to God and in need of the cross. He claims he’s the one reading the Bible in an ancient manner when, in fact, people in the ancient world didn’t read it the way he does.

5 Reasons Why There Are No Millennials in Your Church

  1. There are no Millennials in your leadership.
  2. You reject the idea of contextualization as you wear 1980s clothes and sing 1880s songs.
  3. “Sunday School” literally feels like school on Sundays.
  4. Your political preferences are clearer than your gospel proclamations.
  5. Your idea of a “social media presence” is finally getting that Myspace page finished.

10 Values Of Millennials Shaping The Church

  1. Millennials give to causes not institutions
  2. They are relentless optimists
  3. Millennials will be the most educated generation in history
  4. They believe strongly in racial and socio-economic reconciliation
  5. Millennials believe in quality over convenience
  6. Millennials value Jesus over denominational ties
  7. Millennials see technology and social media as essential components of church evangelism and discipleship
  8. Millennials do not value titles and labels
  9. Millennials are the largest generation in the history of the world
  10. Millennials are counter-cultural, not anti-cultural

Top Ten Ways Churches Drive Away First-time Guests

  1. Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service
  2. Unfriendly church members
  3. Unsafe and unclean children’s area
  4. No place to get information
  5. Bad church website
  6. Poor signage
  7. Insider church language
  8. Boring or bad service
  9. Members telling guests that they were in their seat or pew
  10. Dirty facilities

You Can’t Understand the Bible by Yourself

Now, none of this should be disturbing, because God works through community. God worked through Luther and the Reformers to rightly correct, or at least realign, the church’s view of salvation by opening his eyes to Paul’s words in Romans and Galatians. To say we need the community to rightly understands the Bible only means that God works through community. He raises up gifted teachers who have the ability to study, synthesize, and articulate God’s truth better than others.

4 Ways Im/migration Impacts the Mission of the Church

  • First, Immigration Puts Faces on Lost People of Different Races and Contexts
  • Second, Immigration Impacts Evangelistic Willingness
  • Third, Migration Impacts Religious Participation
  • Fourth and Finally, Migration Opens Opportunities for the Gospel

In a Major Victory, District Court Rules That Secular Humanism, for Establishment Clause Purposes, is a Religion

Last Thursday, Federal District Judge Ancer Haggerty ruled on American Humanist Association v. United States. The case was brought by prisoner Jason Michael Holden, in conjunction with the American Humanist Association, because, as ThinkProgress reports, Holden “wanted Humanism… recognized as a religion so that his prison would allow for the creation of a Humanist study group.”

How to Debug Your Brain and Build Better Habits

Well, yes. But that part is event driven too, which is to say it’s not on all the time. It turns out our brains were optimized for energy efficiency, and they only turn on their CPU (Consciousness Processing Unit) when absolutely necessary. If you’ve ever realized you’ve been driving for an hour and hadn’t even noticed, that was your consciousness going into Standby Mode.
It’s your consciousness that tells you to exercise, even if you don’t want to, because it can see the long term benefits are greater than the short term pain. And when it’s in control, you do so. But consciousness demands a lot of power. When your mental battery is low, it’s easily overpowered out by higher priorities, like playing Hearthstone or checking Twitter.

Tom Magliozzi, Popular Co-Host Of NPR’s ‘Car Talk,’ Dies At 77

Tom Magliozzi, one of public radio’s most popular personalities, died on Monday of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 77 years old.
Tom and his brother, Ray, became famous as “Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers” on the weekly NPR show Car Talk. They bantered, told jokes, laughed and sometimes even gave pretty good advice to listeners who called in with their car troubles.

Baja Missions Conference

Baja Missions Conference

This past weekend I had the privilege of speaking at the Baja Missions Conference which was held at the City of Children in Ensenada, Mexico. I spoke several times to different groups, including the students at the Baja Bible Institute, area preachers and their wives, and American supporters of the work in Baja.

I never heard an exact count, but there were about 60 people from the States and the same number or more from Mexico. The focus of the weekend was “Relationships.” I spoke on a variety of topics, from family relationships to the relationship between supporting churches and mission churches.

I’d never been to Baja, and it was a great few days that I spent there. As always, I’m glad to have gone and glad to be home.