I wrote Your Church Is Too Small in order to show how both church history and theology can be rightly used together to better understand the need for unity in the church. I also wrote it to give readers practical illustrations of how this is actually being done by real Christians in America and beyond. I think the one thing that singles this book out from many other helpful treatments of this subject is that it remains intensely practical. I discuss this on this new video.
Karen Anderson, a visitor to this blog spot, offered a guest post that I feel can be helpful to some of you who struggle with public worship on the Lord’s Day. Since today is the first day of the week, the time when Christians routinely gather to remember their resurrected Lord in corporate worship, Karen’s words have particular meaning for some readers on this day. While I do not agree with everything Karen writes I believe the value of “hearing” her voice outweighs the perspective that only my voice should be heard on this site. Here is Karen’s story:
I was born and raised a Catholic; I went to schools that were Catholic and so, that is the only way I know how to worship and pray. And until a certain age, I had no idea that Christianity was a broad umbrella which encompassed various forms of worshipping Christ. It was only when I moved out of my small hometown
The wise man wrote: “Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich I may deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name” (Proverbs 30:8b-9, NLT).
America is truly the richest nation in the world, indeed the richest nation ever. Yet the gap between rich and poor increases every year in this land of abundance. But if we are such a rich nation, and most of you who read this blog are relatively rich in comparison to everyone else in the world, why is it that so many of us are still in need of more money?
Most of you would say, with me, “God provides for all my needs and then much more.” Yet we still want/need more. ACT 3 is running behind financially and I sometimes still worry about that more than I should. I want to give more to my church and to other worthwhile missions and people
I get a lot of correspondence these days re: Your Church Is Too Small. I try to answer every letter, email and facebook comment that I can. People often ask, “How is it going? How are people responding to the book so far?”
The response is about 95% positive but I am quite aware that there will be more than a few readers who will oppose the idea that Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox can find much common ground to pursue unity together in anything of consequence. One of my frequent responses is to suggest that the book should be read as “a modest proposal” and not as a blueprint for getting us all together. If you have read the book, or even begun to read it, you know this to be true. I am not proposing a single, unified, compromised church.
Yesterday I wrote about the meaning of the term “mainline” churches in American church history. I wrote that I grew up in a very culturally conservative, even insular, background as a small town Southern Baptist. I do not want to be misunderstood when I write about my background as a child. My memories of my childhood and my Baptist church are almost all positive. Except for the pervasive racism I came to loathe, and the ever present aspects of ecclesial nominalism, which were both so common to many churches of the time, I have very positive memories. (We have as many or more such problems in churches in our day. The anti-Christian philosopher Nietzsche once said that the church is “human, all too human.” He was right for the wrong reasons but we should keep this in mind always.)
Now that I am a minister in the mainline I have a very different perspective on these churches, both their present decline and their long-term future. I do believe they have a future and I also believe it could be better
The historic Protestant churches in America are often called the “mainline” churches. Some have said the mainline is now the “old line” and others have declared that the “old line” is simply dead. And if the mainline is not dead then it soon will be dead once the endowments run out and the party is finally over.
The term mainline seems to have evolved from the traditional aristocratic community located just outside Philadelphia. This community was once served by the main line of the former Pennsylvania Railroad. The Oxford Dictionary says the first use of the term came in 1841 and adds that the first use of the term to describe churches did not come until 1972. The term appears to have emerged from within the 1960s youth culture as the counterculture responded negatively to the historic churches and called them the mainline.
It is not perfectly clear
I have written or edited twelve books. I have enjoyed the work involved in every one of them, some of them much more than others. But I have never written a book that I felt so deeply about as Your Church Is Too Small. This book is really “my story.” It tells what my wife and I wanted everyone to know about our journey to missional-ecumenism and why we remain committed to the larger work of ACT 3. This is also why this book is so intensely personal and why I employ narrative in the way I did in writing it. It is something of a memoir. It tells a story and then explains the theology behind how that story. Here is how I explain it.
When the television series 24 was first introduced in 2001 I was not a fan. Friends urged me to watch but I remained a hold out until about three years ago. After five and a half seasons of 24 I decided to see if the hoopla was really worth the time. I started, as I was dutifully told, with Season One and watched them on disc. I still remember the sense of addiction that soon developed. Such a television series had never captured my interest and sustained it. If someone had said, “I bet you can’t watch just one episode and stop I would have argued that surely I could.” Truth is, I watched two or three at a time, reminding myself that I did not have to endure the commercials and could watch each show in 40 minutes, thus three of them was a movie-length film. More than once I planned on watching one more episode before going to sleep but then
Today is the beginning of a new cycle in the church year, the Feast of Pentecost. Easter has ended liturgically but Pentecost reminds us that the resurrected Christ is still with us by the gift of the Spirit who makes him known to all who believe.
The word pentecost (from the Greek pentekoste hemera, meaning “fiftieth day”) was originally a Hellenistic term for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For the early Christians Pentecost, eventually celebrated seven weeks after Easter, or fifty days after the Easter Vigil, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples when they were empowered to preach the gospel. It marks the beginning of the church, at least as we know it in this present age (Acts 2:1-13). Pentecost was actually the third major Jewish feast. It initially celebrated the harvest of grain and later the giving of the Law to Moses on Sinai.
On the first
My dear friend, Rev. Dale Schlafer, is the director of the Center for World Revival and Awakening, based in Bradenton, Florida. Dale has encouraged me and taught me a great deal for many years. We have served together on a number of projects. Dale directed the well-known Promise Keepers gathering on the Washington Mall many years ago but left PK to pursue prayer and teaching for revival as widely as possible. He is one of God’s choice servants, a man in whom there is no guile and a brother who loves the kingdom of God and will do anything he can to extend that kingdom and to promote the unity of Christ’s people in prayer and awakening.
Dale is also the author of a wonderful small book that is one of the finest studies of true revival you will ever read, Revival 101. I recommend this booklet very highly and urge Christians