Author Archives: Tim Archer

What kind of knowledge does a church need?

In these blog posts, I’m looking at power struggles in the church, especially those caused by a lack of regard for a church’s identity and culture (as well as an over-dependence on traditionalism). One thing that causes conflict in the church is a failure to recognize different kinds of knowledge.

On the one hand, we have ministers with theological training. That’s one of the more obvious types of knowledge in a congregation. Some churches value such training above all else; other congregations are wary of training received outside the church itself. Many ministers feel that their training gives them a voice of authority within the church, while many members and church leaders feel that “book learning” is of little value in the real world. That’s an obvious source of conflict.

I personally feel that theological training is important and prepares people to deal with some of the issues a church faces. But only some. We need other kinds of knowledge as well, such as:

  • Bible knowledge — Those holding a theological degree often feel like they have this kind of knowledge. If they’ve studied correctly, they’ve received the tools to help them gain Bible knowledge and help others do the same. But they aren’t necessarily the most knowledgeable in their congregation.
  • Life experience — This kind of knowledge is priceless. The Bible emphasizes the need to turn to older people for sage advice. It’s a natural tendency in the young to resent the fact that this is one kind of knowledge they can’t have yet; it’s a weakness of the old to assume that living a long time has necessarily given them this wisdom.
  • Knowledge of congregational and community history — History does not control us, but it can often provide an important voice in the decision making process.
  • Knowledge of contemporary culture — This is one type of knowledge that often decreases with age. It’s one of the reasons churches vitally need input from their younger members.
  • People skills — Many elders lack these. Many ministers lack these. Many church members lack these. All of us lack these at times. One of the greatest forms of knowledge is to know how to treat people.

I could go on, but I hope you get the point. There’s a reason no one person is to lead a congregation. We are a body. We grow as a body. We function best as a body. We need many kinds of knowledge to make the church what we should be.

The identity of a congregation

I’ve come to give greater value to a church’s identity and tradition. I guess that’s natural as we get older. Suddenly church isn’t an entity waiting for me to come and change it; it’s a place where I want to go be changed. Where I once thought that I was the one to set a vision and make that vision reality, I’m now more aware that my vision isn’t always God’s vision.

I’m also aware of the contrast between the tenure of the average minister and the roots that many families have within a congregation. Ministers typically come for 2, 5, or maybe 10 years; many families have participated in a congregation for ten times those numbers. If things don’t go well at a church, the minister leaves and heads somewhere else; in many congregations, that’s not a viable option for the members.

When we come to be part of a church, that church has an identity. If we feel it’s our mission to transform that identity, it’s likely that we’ve landed in the wrong place. Change can and will take place as we become more like Christ. But churches will have different ways of living out what it means to be Christ in their context. I now believe that we have to show some respect for how that has been done in the past. We don’t have to be tied to it, nor judged by it, but we do need to honor it.

I’ll flesh this out a bit more in some other posts. But I’d like to hear your thoughts. How do you view church culture and identity?

Links To Go (December 13, 2017)

Why Discipleship Works with a Plurality of Elders

The greatest single pastor will not be nearly as strong as the wisdom of a collective body of pastors who put their minds together and serve as a single unit to lead the church. The weaknesses of one pastor is strengthened by the strengths of another pastor who works alongside him in the life of the church. This provides the pastors the ability to make well rounded disciples who become strong and vibrant disciple makers who multiply year after year.


The Reminder For Christians in the Hannukah Story

Because we remind ourselves of the times when God has miraculously come through for us, we can also look forward to the amazing things that God will do in the future. We can dream and we ask God for to do the miraculous. So, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and have a blessed Advent season.


Doing Church Away from Church isn’t Church

We ought to consider it a privilege and joy to gather weekly with God’s people. The body needs us and we need the body. We need what God desires to give us through qualified, affirmed leadership. We need to see and be seen. If we are missing church with the family, and attempting to supplement it, just say, “We are going to study the Bible, sing some songs, and pray as a family. This isn’t church, kids.”


Three Essentials for an Attractional Church Plant

  • The Presence of Transcendent Worship
  • The Presence of a Loving Community
  • The Presence of a Loving Community in a Neighborhood

What Churches Are Singing This Christmas

So what songs are being chosen? Well, we checked in with the CCLI charts to see what Christmas songs are the most popular. Here are the 20 most-sung Christmas songs in churches across the US this year:


Native Americans Feel Invisible In U.S. Health Care System

The life expectancy of Native Americans in some states is 20 years shorter than the national average.
There are many reasons why.
Among them, health programs for American Indians are chronically underfunded by Congress. And, about a quarter of Native Americans reported experiencing discrimination when going to a doctor or health clinic, according to findings of a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


I Made My Shed the Top Rated Restaurant On TripAdvisor

So there we go: I invited people into a hastily-assembled collection of chairs outside my shed, and they left thinking it really could be the best restaurant in London, just on the basis of a TripAdvisor rating. You could look at this cynically – argue that the odour of the internet is so strong nowadays that people can no longer use their senses properly. But I like to be positive. If I can transform my garden into London’s best restaurant, literally anything is possible.


Like a child

I’ve been at several children’s birthday parties lately. I can see why the older we get, the more drawn we are to children. We envy the simplicity of their lives, where joy can come from small, unexpected things, and major dramas can usually be solved with a hug and/or a piece of candy.

Some children have major drama in their lives, I know. But so many live isolated from a world of politics, violence, injustice, and immorality.

I’m hoping some of their “childlikeness” rubs off on me.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15)

Links To Go (December 8, 2017)

Supreme Court same-sex wedding cake case reflects split among American public

There were sharp differences based on respondents’ religious affiliation and political party. A large majority of white evangelical Protestants (77%) said businesses should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples, while most religiously unaffiliated Americans (65%) and Jews (64%) took the opposite position. In addition, most Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party (71%) said refusal of service based on religious objections is acceptable, while two-thirds of Democrats (67%) disagreed, saying instead that wedding-related businesses should be required to serve same-sex couples just as they would any other couple.


On Gender Differences, No Consensus on Nature vs. Nurture

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that majorities of Americans say men and women are basically different in the way they express their feelings, their physical abilities, their personal interests and their approach to parenting. But there is no public consensus on the origins of these differences. While women who perceive differences generally attribute them to societal expectations, men tend to point to biological differences.


The Need for Culturally Agile Leaders in Church Planting

  1. Culturally agile leaders challenge church planters to think beyond the label of “multi-ethnic church planting” in order to start truly multi-ethnic churches.
  2. Culturally agile leaders challenge church planters to address issues of diversity with greater precision.
  3. Culturally agile leaders help “minority” church planters to stop thinking like “minorities.”
  4. Culturally agile leaders help “majority” leaders lead through mentoring and opening doors.

Why the UN is investigating extreme poverty … in America, the world’s richest nation

With 41 million Americans officially in poverty according to the US Census Bureau (other estimates put that figure much higher), one aim of the UN mission will be to demonstrate that no country, however wealthy, is immune from human suffering induced by growing inequality.


The Overwatch Videogame League Aims to Become the New NFL

“We are literally building a new sport,” says Nanzer, who was appointed the league’s commissioner last year. “We’re trying to build this as a sustainable sports league for decades and decades to come.” And while you might think, at first glance, that such an ambition is outrageously optimistic, the expertise recruited may change your mind. The co-owner of the Boston Overwatch franchise, for example, is Robert Kraft, who also owns the New England Patriots. The owner of the New York franchise is Jeff Wilpon, COO of the New York Mets. Philadelphia’s Overwatch team is owned by Comcast, which also owns the Philadelphia Flyers.


Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda Tell the Story of ‘Hamilton’ in Less Than 3 Minutes

Tickets to Hamilton are still kind of hard to come by, so this three-minute version by Miranda on Ellen’s Show Me More Show, with help from 7-year-old presidential expert Macey Hensley, will basically clue you in on the gist of things.