Monthly Archives: September 2009

What's Wrong with the New Churches?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the various new styles of evangelical church life that I see growing across America. While the church in general is declining some churches are still growing. Megachurches continue to spring up and the total number of such churches appears to be growing every year. Some of these churches have created their own brand of (independent) denomination. On the one hand I am very glad for every such church that reaches people who are outside the Christian faith. On the other I am perplexed and dismayed by a great deal of what I see. Let me explain.

Megachurch America has always led the world in starting new brands and styles of Christianity. We have the most money, the most ingenuity and the most freedom to make and market new forms of Christianity. The pastor can become a CEO in a heart beat if he is very gifted as a preacher and has a great desire to spread the

By |September 30th, 2009|Categories: The Church|

The Homosexual Debate in the Church, Part 2

Polyamorous relationships involve three or more sexual partners. These partners may be heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. Polyamorists follow the LGBT community in promoting civil rights for themselves and acceptance of their practice as a normal alternative lifestyle. As we saw yesterday this is already legally practiced in the Netherlands.

The point that must be made here is simple—if the marriage debate is about civil rights then the gender of the partner is, at the end of the day, irrelevant! And if this is true then the number of people involved, as well as their age and kinship, should not be restricted since this would violate the rights of the individuals involved. If the issue is “rights” then were do we stop? Can a man marry his mother, a niece her uncle, a brother marry his sister? Should all such restrictions be removed? Some will admit this problem but many want to keep the debate focused on gays and lesbians and not answer this question. The reason seems quite obvious to me.

Question: Could our

By |September 29th, 2009|Categories: Homosexuality|

The Homosexual Debate in the Church, Part 1

PCUSA The Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) is the old mainline Presbyterian Church within the United States. It has roots in the early history of American Christianity and came to its present form through various mergers and developments over the past three centuries. After a division in the Civil War the denomination underwent other divisions in the fundamentalist/modernist debates of the twentieth century. Now the PCUSA is being torn apart by the debate over homosexual marriage. The debate is said, by friend and foe alike, to be over “gay marriage.” In reading the press reports about this debate in recent news it strikes me that everyone involved in this debate would be better served if we called this by the right name—the LGBT Marriage Agenda. (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders).

Why do I say it this way? Because the real debate here is not being conducted honestly. This is true in the wider culture but it is even more imperative that we see this inside

By |September 28th, 2009|Categories: Homosexuality|

A Refreshing Word from My Friend Becky Pippert

Becky Pippert is a friend who has been a great encouragement to the mission of ACT 3. Many of you will recognize her name as the author of one of the best-selling books on evangelism of all time: Out of the Saltshaker (IVP).Salt Becky, and her husband, Dick routinely send me their prayer letters. In June Becky's prayer letter spoke of an upcoming trip but in the same letter she also reflected on her recent experience of ministering in the Netherlands. I thought this report was so interesting that I secured her permission to share it with you. Here is what she wrote (with some minor edits by me):

We spent several days exploring the Netherlands. It’d been decades since either of us had been there. We were delighted in the light that is peculiar to Holland – caused perhaps by the large expanse of sky in the absence of hills. The brightness, it is said, inspired the Dutch painters, famous for their use of light.

By |September 27th, 2009|Categories: Evangelism|

A Glorious Fall Day in Tuscaloosa

Stadium1 Today promises to be one of the best days I will enjoy this fall. I make an annual trip to Tuscaloosa with my brother Tom to we see the Crimson Tide play a home game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Today is that day. We will drive from Huntsville, in the northern part of the state, to Tuscaloosa, a drive of about two and a half hours. We will leave early, enjoy a great day of fellowship, tail gate on the quad on junk food, see the pageantry, watch the team arrive at the stadium hours before the game and hear the band. We will see sights that make us laugh and meet people who are interesting to say the least. Then we will enter Bryant-Denny Stadium several hours early to feel the atmosphere and experience the growing crowd. By the time kickoff arrives we will be more than ready to see the Tide thump the Arkansas Razorbacks.

I am quite aware that many readers have no interest

By |September 26th, 2009|Categories: College Football|

Lesslie Newbigin and My First You Tube Post


One of the ways I am working with Zondervan to prepare for the publication of my new book, Your Church Is Too Small, is to record video clips that can be posted on You Tube. My first such venture is now posted. I hope you will take three minutes to watch it. This is a new experience for me. I reckon that this is my first, but surely not my last, such venture into this new media. Check out my video discussion about Lesslie Newbigin, a role model for me and for a multitude of other missional thinkers and pastors. If you do not yet know Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998) begin to read about him and get some of his books and dig in. There is a load of good material online. There is even a Facebook page for fans of Newbigin. You will likely be a better Christian for the effort.

By |September 25th, 2009|Categories: Missional Church|

Some Helpful Reflections and News Reports on Coral Ridge

Two helpful links to more news regarding Coral Ridge were sent to me today. One is an interview with Pastor Tchividjian that appeared today in Christianity Today online. The other link is from a blog written by Matthew Cochrane, a member of CRPC who was present in the Sunday congregational meeting. Matthew is admittedly a supporter of the pastor but his comments are most helpful in my estimation. The comments on Matthew's blog are also quite helpful to those who want to see one aspect of this discussion. 

Another blog, from a different perspective, also proved helpful to me. I think a great deal of wisdom can be gleaned from this perspective. Another blog offers still a different look at this crisis.

I will continue to pass along any news that is germane to this story but for now I think my commentary is adequate. I suggest that we all pray for Pastor Tchividjian, the elders, the church (all the congregation), the

By |September 24th, 2009|Categories: American Evangelicalism|

More News on Carol Ridge: Is Jesus Knocking on the Door of This Famous Church?

I mentioned in an earlier post today (see below) that I am not privy to all the news reports from Fort Lauderdale nor am I able to be on the ground forming solid opinions based on personal interviews. I am thus trying to hear both sides and to continue to offer constructive commentary, a goal of this blog site for over four years. My goal remains: insightful commentary that might used to encourage both sides to sue for peace. This goal is rooted in a lifetime of experience in seeking to resolve church conflict through Scripture and biblical wisdom.

To this end I want to add to my three-day commentary another account that appears in the Sun-Sentinel newspaper. Reading this account is actually painful but having read it this morning I still think that my commentary, at least in all the broad strokes I painted, is correct.


Reading this story further underscores my initial concern

By |September 24th, 2009|Categories: American Evangelicalism|

A Further Reflection On the Coral Ridge Schism

My comments on the tragic controversy at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) , posted over the last two days, generated a good deal of response. Some of it can be read as posts on this site. Some of it was sent to me in private. Almost all of it was written in a spirit that entreated me as a brother and a friend, not as an enemy.


Several people informed me of concerns that I could not have known unless they wrote to me since I am far removed from the actual struggles within this large congregation. In the spirit of pursuing peace, and with the goal of preserving the unity of Christ in this church, I feel compelled to respond to the input

By |September 24th, 2009|Categories: American Evangelicalism|

Lessons From the Coral Ridge Controversy

Yesterday, I reported the news released on Sunday evening from the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, regarding a congregational meeting to vote on retaining or removing the new pastor of the church, Tullian Tchividjian. Tchividjian only became senior pastor in March so his critics gave him no time to adjust or lead in his new role. It seems that they were ready to respond from day one.

This well known mega-church, founded and pastored by the late D. James Kennedy for 50 years, went several years without a pastor while a search process was formed and carried out with considerable care. The leaders knew, in calling a new pastor, that they would face serious problems and it seems they anticipated the likelihood of what happened on Sunday.

Tchividjian and Graham

Shortly after becoming the new pastor Tchividjian stopped the television ministry of Dr. Kennedy. He also merged Coral Ridge with his former congregation, a more youthful flock called New

By |September 23rd, 2009|Categories: American Evangelicalism|

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