Author Archives: Tim Archer

Links To Go (April 20, 2017)

Family of Facebook Shooting Victim Tells CNN They Forgive Killer and Speak of God’s Love

“The thing I would take away most from my father is he taught us about God, how to fear God, how to love God and how to forgive. Each one of us forgive the killer, the murderer, we want to wrap our arms around him …
I promise you I could not do that (forgive) if I didn’t know God, if I didn’t know him as my God and my Savior. I could not forgive that man. And I feel no animosity against him at all. I actually feel sadness in my heart for this man.”

Sub-Saharan Africa will be home to growing shares of the world’s Christians and Muslims

If demography is destiny, then Christianity’s future lies in Africa. By 2060, a plurality of Christians – more than four-in-ten – will call sub-Saharan Africa home, up from 26% in 2015, according to a new analysis of demographic data by Pew Research Center. At the same time, the share of Christians living in many other regions – notably Europe – is projected to decline.

Sermon Content Is What Appeals Most to Churchgoers

As Easter and Passover help fill churches and synagogues this week, a new Gallup poll suggests the content of the sermons could be the most important factor in how soon worshippers return. Gallup measured a total of seven different reasons why those who attend a place of worship at least monthly say they go. Three in four worshippers noted sermons or talks that either teach about scripture or help people connect religion to their own lives as major factors spurring their attendance.

The Day Before the Tomb Was Empty

Lying in the cylinder of the scanner, those words, “terminal” and “inoperable” were fresh on my mind. Then it dawned on me what day it was. It was Saturday. Not just any Saturday, but the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. The day Jesus’ body lay buried in a tomb. The day before he rose from the dead.
No comparison, really, to a PET scanner cylinder, but I thought of him in there. I talked to him in there. I felt his presence with me. Tears filled my eyes and rolled down my cheeks, and I wondered how they might show up on the scan. I wondered what parts of my brain were lighting up with those emotions of fear and sadness, overcome by gratitude and peace, remembering I wasn’t alone.

Three tests for every elder

And these are the only things that really matter to me when evaluating my shepherding:
I have to look myself in the mirror.
I have to look my wife in the eyes.
And someday, I will have to see my God face to face.

Ten Common Sentiments Pastors Wish They Could Express

  1. “I am struggling with depression.”
  2. “Don’t criticize me right before or after I preach.”
  3. “I worry about my family in the church fishbowl.”
  4. “I wish the ‘healthy’ church members in our church would stand up to the bullies and critics.”
  5. “Pray for me; I need it.”
  6. “I don’t know if we can pay our personal bills.”
  7. “I am so tired of attending mundane meetings.”
  8. “Don’t ask me to do something right before I preach.”
  9. “I can’t keep up with all the changes in culture and churches.”
  10. “It hurts me deeply when we lose a church member.”

How Did the Trump Administration Lose an Aircraft Carrier?

The boat blunder is only the latest example of how failure to communicate between units is undermining the Trump administration’s ability to articulate and execute a policy. In this case, the White House blames the Pentagon for providing misleading information and a premature press release, though a fuller story will probably emerge over time. (It’s important to remember that Mattis, a decorated and respected Marine general, was supposed to be one of the more competent figures in an administration full of thin government resumes.)

The most Canadian thing ever? Mystery as BEAVER is filmed rounding up a herd of cattle and leading them around a ranch

When we first saw this we knew that people would get a great chuckle out of it because you cannot get more Canadian than that.
‘We talk about how awesome our Canadian beef is, but a beaver leading cattle around? It’s the most Canadian thing ever,’ she said.

Breaking out of the echo chamber

There’s been much talk in recent years of the “echo chamber” that exists on the Internet. People read writings that reflect their views rather than studying things that challenge their thinking. Conservatives read materials from conservative sites; liberals listen to liberal sources. This happens in politics, and it happens in the church.

One of the healthiest things you can do is to learn to articulate another person’s point of view, one that differs from yours. Learn why they believe what they believe. You don’t have to accept their reasoning to be able to express it.

A hot topic in churches these days is the role of women. If you take a more complementarian stance, do some reading in egalitarian literature, reading to understand, not just to refute. If you lean toward a more egalitarian view, read some from writers that see limitations on what women are to do in the church. (And if you don’t know what complementarian or egalitarian stances are, I truly envy you!)

In the same way, try to break out of your historic and geographic contexts. Read writers from other cultures and from other time periods. Spend time familiarizing yourself with classic theological writings. Explore some of the writings of Christians who live outside of Europe and North America; learn how believers in the Global South and the East view their faith.

If you are willing to explore outside of your own belief ecosystem, you will be strengthened in your understanding. You may end up in the exact same place belief-wise, but your convictions will be stronger because you have allowed them to be tested.

photo by brewbooks on Flickr

Links To Go (April 18, 2017)

The Need for Cultural Humility

One thing that keeps us back from this risk is the lie that those outside of a situation cannot speak into it. I have seen this lie on the street in front of the abortion clinic, where I have been told that I should have no say because I have no uterus. I have heard this lie come from the mouths of Americans who are unwilling to listen to the critiques of those from other countries. The idea is that someone on the outside does not understand the situation fully and therefore cannot give useful insight. But I have found that the opposite is true: sometimes those on the outside have the most profound insight.

Under Trump, ICE arrests double for migrants with no criminal records

Overall, deportations are down by 1.2 percent, to 54,741 in January, February and March, compared with the same period last year. Elzea said it can take time to remove someone from the United States, but the number of noncriminals deported is higher this year, while the number of criminals who were deported fell.

What I Learned About Anxiety that Has Helped Me Greatly

Perhaps the question to ask is: “Am I managing myself or am I simply reacting? Am I allowing my environment and circumstances to control me or am I being intentional with how I am handling my words, comments, and actions? One thing for sure, I don’t have to let anxiety control me.

Want Something? Asking in Person Is 34 Times More Effective Than Email

The experiment showed that the face-to-face requests were 34 times more likely to garner positive responses than cold emails alone. The results vastly differed from the participants’ expectations: Both groups guessed their methods would be equally effective, saying they’d find success about half the time.

Selfie stampede

The regulations are there for a reason: keeping the flowers intact for future generations to enjoy. Even in areas adjacent to parks or reserves where you won’t get a fine, the same care should apply. I’m no park ranger — I’m just someone who cares about enjoying and documenting the outdoors ethically and responsibly.

8-year-old boy drives 4-year-old sister to get cheeseburger

Witnesses told police he did obey all traffic laws and drove the speed limit.
Once at the McDonald’s on Market Street, a family friend who happened to be eating at the restaurant, notified the children’s grandparents. The children did get to eat their cheeseburgers before police arrived.
Officer Koehler arrived at McDonald’s and talked to the little boy, who told him he had learned to drive by watching YouTube videos.

Church Inside Out seminars

I believe that the material in Church Inside Out is important for our churches. I have no illusions of getting rich off selling books. I do have dreams of the contents helping some churches become more effective in reaching out to their communities.

It was gratifying to hear that 21st Century Christian has already had to do a second run on the workbooks. I guess some churches are buying the book for their teachers and the workbooks for the class members. That works.

I’ll be presenting this material in four large events this year: the Pepperdine Lectures in May, the Red River Family Encampment in June, the Lipscomb Summer Celebration in June, and the Harding Lectureship in September. I also have several seminars planned at churches in the U.S., plus a request from the Dominican Republic!

I’d love to present this material at your congregation. The Church Inside Out seminar is a practical workshop for the congregation that wants to increase its impact on the community around it. The four sessions of the seminar are:

  • Session 1: The Church Inside
    Christians face new challenges when trying to reach today’s changing society: hostility toward religion, skepticism toward the Bible, apathy toward church membership. Yet the biggest hurdles we face are often inside our own congregations.
    In this first session, we will look at attitudes in our churches that distance us from the communities around us. We will also examine the role of Christians as ambassadors of the Kingdom.
  • Session 2: The World Outside
    In this session, we will look at how to analyze the make-up of our community and how to purposefully serve that community. We will also discuss the need to develop relationships with non-Christians to be able to share Christ with them.
  • Session 3: The Church Goes Out
    Conversion is a process, and church members need to know how to actively participate in every stage of that process. The third session will look at how to treat people who are at different points in their spiritual journey towards God. We’ll learn how to recognize when people are ready to hear the good news and how to share it with them.
  • Session 4: Outsiders No More
    When foreigners come to a new country, they go through something called acculturation. This is the process of learning the appropriate ways of doing things in their new culture. When new Christians begin meeting with the church, they go through a similar process. The final session deals with how to help new Christians become active members of the church.

Our seminars page on the Hope For Life website explains the costs:

The only cost to the hosting congregation is transportation, hotel, meals, and an opportunity to tell the Hope For Life story to the congregation, elders, or Mission Committee. Contact Bill Brant, or call 1-800-234-7995, for more information.

I hope to see you soon at a Church Inside Out seminar

We need God’s help to understand God’s Word

I’ve often said that many in the church fear post-modernism without realizing that modernity was no friend to Christianity. Like a fish in water, many of us have swum in the river of modernity so long that it just seems right. Because of that, we often approach the Bible in a scientific way instead of a spiritual way. When interpreting the Bible, we prefer syllogisms and logical constructions to prayer and meditation.

To quote Jesus out of context: “You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” In Bible study, logic has its place, but so does spirituality.

In his Christian System, Alexander Campbell wrote:

RULE 7. For the salutary and sanctifying intelligence of the Oracles of God, the following rule is indispensable: We must come within the understanding distance.
There is a distance which is properly called the speaking distance, or the hearing distance; beyond which the voice reaches not, and the ears hear not. To hear another, we must come within that circle which the voice audibly fills.
Now we may with propriety say, that as it respects God, there is an understanding distance. All beyond that distance can not understand God; all within it can easily understand him in all matters of piety and morality. God himself is the center of that circle, and humility is its circumference.

In other words, you aren’t going to be able to understand God’s teachings until you draw near enough to God to really hear him. In the same document, Campbell wrote that “the philological principles and rules of interpretation enable many men to be skilful in biblical criticism, and in the interpretation of words and sentences, who neither perceive nor admire the things represented by those words.”

Rules of interpretation can only take us so far. New Bible readers need to understand the importance of prayer, the priority of drawing near to God, and our dire need of the Spirit’s guidance to truly comprehend what God is saying to us. This isn’t achieved through step-by-step processes of word study and exegesis.

We need God’s help to understand God’s Word. We must draw near to God to comprehend his voice. New Bible readers need to hear this.