Apr 172017
 

1. Easter for some evangelical churches serves the same purpose as Black Friday does for retailers…intense marketing with the risen Lord as the early bird special…

2. I watched parts of a bunch of online services yesterday…there were altar calls galore, but no celebrations of the Lord’s table and no mention of baptism.

It was all just slightly more uniquely Christian than joining the Elks Club…

3. I’m still waiting for someone to use Bonhoeffer’s quote for an altar call…”when God calls a man, he bids him to come and die”… now, if you’re ready to die we’ll wait for you as the band plays another chorus…and another…and another…

4. The cost involved in crafting these incredible “experiences” and media ministries mean that part of every service has to be an infomercial for the next one…marketing is part of the “liturgy”…

5. I lose my lunch every time I watch an altar call and the pastor demands that people come down to the front because Jesus demands to be acknowledged publicly. I thought that’s how they explain baptism…

6. It’s not my fault I’m cranky…this winter has gone on far too long and someone asked me to watch three hours of George Bryson lectures…

7. It causes me great sadness to know that lots of pastors judged the worth of their ministry by how many turned out yesterday… both positively and negatively.

8. I haven’t thought this through yet, but mega churches may provide something we are sadly missing as a culture, that being the shared experience. When I was a younger man we all watched the same TV shows, listened to the same few radio stations, and generally all drank from the same cultural wells. That gave us a common cultural ground that helped hold society together. In losing that, we’re coming apart and see our differences more than what we hold in common. Perhaps mega churches bring some of that commonality back to those who attend…

9. From my Facebook page… “Following Him means your life will be a succession of Good Fridays of sacrificial love desperately waiting for Easters of resurrected hope…because He rose, you will too. He promises…”

10. Another one…”When life hurts (and it often does) remember Easter isn’t just coming, it’s an accomplished fact.”

  90 Responses to “Things I Think”

  1. As has become my yearly tradition, here are some reflections of Pascha, in no particular order of importance:

    + Service begins at 11:30 pm Saturday night. Our small Church begins to fill and we all hold lighted candles.

    + It’s about time for the procession! Excitement is building; we are crammed in like sardines.

    + People are assigned icons to carry; there is a little mishap as no one is assigned the banner for the Theotokos.

    + Out we go around the exterior of the Church: Incense, candles, icons, banner (alas, only one) choir, people. We are singing a hymn of anticipation.

    +It’s dark but not too cold.

    + When we get around to the front, we begin to sing “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs restoring life!”

    + First the clergy sing it, in a low key sort of way, then the rest of us belt it out.

    + Back in the church, white altar cloths replace the black ones, all candles and lights lit, singing over and over in every language we know “Christ is risen, Truly He is risen!”

    +Everyone smiling, eyes shining, kids giddy

    +Choir singing at top volume “Christ is risen!”

    + The deacon reads the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom in is bass voice.

    + Father passes out red eggs and half the people (mostly visitors) go home. It’s one o’clock in the morning so who blames them.

    + Now the regular Liturgy begins.

    + Epistle reading from the book of Acts

    + Gospel reading from John 1:1 and following, in the following languages: English, Slavonic, Macedonian, German, French, Chinese, Greek and Spanish (my husband read the Spanish).

    + Little girls all in white Easter dresses, getting drowsy

    + Little boys are altar servers, they are getting tired, too

    + A toddler knocks over a big wicker flower stand, wiping out a row of white azaleas and mums. Everyone smiles indulgently and people rush to clean up the mess.

    + My back hurts; I sit down.

    + We receive the Eucharist

    + Service is over around 3:30 and we head to the church hall

    + We indulge sleepily in all manner of “flesh foods,” as they are officially called. I brought a big tray of BACON.

    + We all eat but we are tired and go home pretty soon.

    + I think from the time I set my foot outside the church hall until I was sound asleep in my bed was probably no more then ten minutes. Little kids are put to bed in their Easter clothes.

    + That afternoon, most of us reassembled at our priest’s house for a very meaty potluck. All 21 of of his grandchildren were there (all under age 11) and they had an Easter egg hunt but us adults mostly ate and chatted.

    So, that was our Pascha. Best day in the whole year!

  2. Number 7…most of them are “C & E” Christians/Lutherans/attenders…Christmas and Easter…at least that’s what we called them in Minnesota.

  3. Wasn’t targeting Lutherans specifically in my post 3, but coming from Minnesota you had LOTS of Lutherans!

  4. “It was all just slightly more uniquely Christian than joining the Elks Club…”

    Funny you should say that. I was telling someone last week that a church that does not serve up communion each week is just an Elks Club with a big T on the top – and the Elks serve better beer. 😉

  5. I praise God for the C&E folks – at least they come on those 2 days. It shows you the faith still lives in them.

    Hey, I look at the many C&E evangelical churches – those who observe the church calendar only twice a year.

  6. Xenia,

    I love your annual report. 🙂
    How long did it take you to understand your part in the liturgy of the church?

  7. On the bright side, perhaps someone heard the Gospel for the first time in an evangelical mega church yesterday. And that’s not so bad. 🙂

  8. JoelG,

    It is a flaw in my own character that I sometimes miss that truth…

  9. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, as usual. They are very helpful to us.

    #5 – I think the same way. It reminds me of the meme’s on FB that say “If you really love Jesus, post this”. The public acknowledgement of Jesus will come through our daily lives over the long haul. Not in one pressure-packed moment.

  10. Michael, I am not sure when I realized this and I think I still have more “realizing” yet to do.

    The Liturgy is written like the script of a play, with roles for the priest, deacon, reader and choir. The choir represents the laity. They are not up front presenting “special music,” they are leading the people in the hymns. We are supposed to sing a long with them.

    So there are parts for everyone. There are things only the people say, for instances. At certain points in the Liturgy, we make the sign of the Cross and on certain days, we make noses-on-the-carpet prostrations. It’s a back and forth. Often the priest or deacon will make a petition and we respond (3x) “Lord, have mercy.”

    We also believe the angels in heaven are participating with us, and the Saints, too, so there are a lot of persons participating in a Divine Liturgy with everyone having their part to play.

  11. Xenia,

    That’s an excellent explanation.
    As a new “convert” how long did it take you to learn what to do?

  12. JoelG,

    Thank you!

    As to #5… it amazes me that the first introduction to a Gospel centered life is a piece of Law ripped out of it’s biblical context…

  13. #13 yikes yes. And what of those who heard the Gospel and rested in Jesus’ work for them but for one reason or another couldn’t find it in themselves to waddle up in front of thousands of people. Are they still shut out of the Kingdom?

    **sigh**

  14. “On the bright side, perhaps someone heard the Gospel for the first time in an evangelical mega church yesterday.”

    Here’s how the Gospel of Easter was preached in one Mega Church where I have friends:

    Jesus accomplished the great miracle of the resurrection and look at the impact it had on Mary M., Peter and the other disciples. It strengthened their faith and changed their lives and gave them courage, etc.

    Now, pew sitters, what impact is Easter going to have on your lives?

    This sermon converted God’s victory over sin and death and Satan for you into a motivational kick in the behind to show your gratitude and start living a better life.

    Not even the most important event of history could be just once “all about Jesus” and God’s reconciling grace for fallen humanity.

    I hope know one hear had to sit through such a non-gospel sermon.

  15. MLD @5 reminded me of something I was thinking through once without a firm answer. It has to do with the frequency of communion. MLD and other seem to believe strongly it should be weekly which I find interesting.

    When I stepped in as the lead pastor of a small CC they did it weekly, and the process which they did it just seemed weird to me and I didn’t want it to continue in that form, so I changed communion from weekly to monthly and reorganized how it was done. Some people were mad, some were very thankful. But it got me thinking about how often we are supposed to do it.

    Some traditions represented here put a very high value on communion while other don’t value its meaning less, but express it differently in terms of emphasis. One of the angry people from the church tried to throw 1 Corinthians 11 at me which in part reads, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” She tried to infer that this meant that as often as the church gathers we are supposed to take communion. What I see is Paul trying to remind the believers of the point of the “ritual” since Corinth was a ritual-heavy culture. The “often doesn’t refer to the frequency of the church gathering but the frequency of the eating “this” bread and “this” cup which in context refers to part of the passover meal.

    Now, and this is me thinking out loud, if I were to put on my “put it in context” hat on, along with Jesus’ first time with the last supper, this is the conclusion I might come to; Jesus is a Jew participating in the seder with other Jews which is an annual event. If the “this” is referring to that part of the passover meal, then it would follow that “this” should be done as part of the passover meal annually. Not building a doctrine or point, just trying to put it in its historical and Biblical context. I might conclude that communion is part of an annual event, not a weekly one.

    We don’t have any clear, specific scriptural basis teaching that communion was done weekly, or at every gathering which could have been virtually any time two or more believers got together for coffee, or falafel, or whatever. We can make inferences from Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians about what they were doing and how often, but nothing about anything they were instructed to do from the mother church from the beginning in terms of a tradition or sacrament.

    Perhaps Dr. Duane might generate something for us? But I’m interested in a Biblical understanding of the frequency, not one based on tradition primarily. For my part, the lack of specificity means that we have freedom and flexibility as to how often we do communion and shouldn’t criticize others for their relative too-often or not-often-enough.

    Thoughts?

  16. As a new convert, I mostly stayed to the back of the church and watched what everyone else did. The first thing I learned was to make the sign of the Cross whenever the Trinity was mentioned. And if one happens to be sitting, one had better stand up when the Gospel is read, and the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer come up.

    Orthodoxy is a unique combination of formal and informal. The Liturgy is done with extreme care to detail but out in the Church, people are more informal. People wander around throughout the entire service, lighting candles and venerating the icons; toddlers are running away from their parents, no one gets upset about these activities. There are some rules: No candle lighting/ veneration while the Gospel is being read, no prostrations on a Sunday. Visitors are given a lot of latitude. In our parish, someone might mutter: “They are probably Greeks.”

    The Greek church I originally joined had pews so some of this etiquette didn’t apply. They even had kneelers, which Slavic churches don’t have. It’s harder to keep little kids quiet if you are stuck in a pew so often these churches will have a room for moms with little kids and babies. Not the Russians!

    If you have pews people tend to assume the role of spectator. No pews and everyone is pretty much forced to participate. (No one is ever forced to do anything, of course.)

    At a typical EO Liturgy there are all degrees of familiarity with the service. We often have new arrivals from Russia who were not raised Orthodox and they don’t know what to do at all but they catch on.

  17. Corby,

    You just opened up a can of worms…
    My conviction is not only should the church come to the Lord’s table every week,but that it is the center of our worship, not the sermon.

    This has been my conviction for some time and was one of the issues that made Anglicanism so attractive to me.

    I do hope Duane has time to chime in…this is a “big” issue.

  18. Xenia,

    Thank you.
    The first thing I had to learn was to make the sign of the cross, period… 🙂

  19. Corby,

    If I may be so bold, I’d like to suggest a book for you.
    It’s called “The Gospel and the Catholic Church” by Michael Ramsey.
    It speaks to the place of the Eucharist in the church in the most compelling manner I’ve ever read…

  20. I believe a Church should serve Communion every Sunday but people are not expected to partake every Sunday if they are not prepared. My teacher is of the opinion that people should only receive the Eucharist once a month, and then after rather intense preparation. My parish priest doesn’t agree with him. I follow our priest. My teacher is a monastic and tends to be strict.

  21. Corby

    Ray Van Neste of the Gospel Coalition addressed this a few years back with, what I believe, is a cogent argument from Scripture. The only additional point that I would make, is that the Lord’s Supper as a weekly occurrence is scattered through multiple 1st through 3rd century Christian writings… I hope this helps.

    “… I think there is strong evidence of a pattern of weekly observance in the New Testament. Already in Acts 2:42, we see communion listed as a central piece of Christian worship. The four activities listed here are not four separate things but the four elements that characterized a Christian gathering. One of the key things the early church “devoted” itself to was the “breaking of bread,” i.e. the Lord’s Supper. The wording suggests that each of these activities occurred when they gathered.

    Perhaps the most striking reference to the frequency of the Lord’s Supper occurs in Acts 20:7: “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.”

    Paul, on his way to Jerusalem has stopped at Troas. Here “on the first day of the week” he meets with the local church, and Luke directly states that the purpose of their gathering was “to break bread,” i.e. to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This passage need not mean the Lord’s Supper was the only purpose of their gathering, but it certainly is one prominent purpose and the one emphasized here. The centrality of communion to the weekly gathering is stated casually without explanation or defense, suggesting this practice was common among those Luke expected to read his account. These early Christians met weekly to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

    Of course the longest discussion of the practice of the Lord’s Supper is in 1 Corinthians. Many issues can be raised here, but the fact that abuse of the Lord’s Supper was such a problem in Corinth strongly suggests the Supper was held frequently. Could it have been such a problem if it only occurred quarterly? Is this the sense that arises from the passage? Notice the wording of 1 Corinthians 11:20: “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat.” It is widely agreed that the terminology “come together” here is used as a technical term for gathering as the church. This wording suggests that when they gathered they ate a meal which they intended to be the Lord’s Supper. Though they are abusing the Supper, their practice (which is not considered odd by Paul) is to celebrate each time they gather. Even the wording in 1 Corinthians 11:25, “As often as you drink,” which is often used to suggest frequency is unimportant, in context actually suggests frequent celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Commenting on this verse, Gordon Fee notes, “This addition in particular implies a frequently repeated action, suggesting that from the beginning the Last Supper was for Christians not an annual Christian Passover, but a regularly repeated meal in ‘honor of the Lord,’ hence the Lord’s Supper.'”

  22. This is a fascinating post-Easter post and discussion.
    As I think about the early church, in order for entrance into the community of faith, there was a long process of catechesis before they were admitted to the Lord’s table.
    But inviting people to come forward is a “piece of law”? I think it depends on why someone is being invited forward, doesn’t it? Like Jesus invited Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him and they went. So the coming forward part is just following, albeit symbolically. What am I missing?

  23. Michael, I remember the first time I crossed myself I thought “What would my Calvary Chapel friends think if they saw this!” but I looked around and there was nobody there from Calvary Chapel, just ordinary Orthodox Christians who thought crossing oneself was the most normal thing in the world. After the first time it became easy and very enjoyable.

  24. Jean #15,

    I am glad they are your friends so you can unburden them with the Gospel. It saddens me that so much of Evangelical Christianity has become Law – Grace – Law. I believe the Holy Spirit will continue to draw them to Jesus and His Mercy despite it.

  25. Just a Sheep,

    What I hear was not an invitation but a demand…that you would actually put yourself outside the community of faith and incur the wrath of Jesus if you didn’t come forward publicly.

    That’s law, not Gospel…

  26. Duane, thank you.

    It makes my heart sing to see my Anglican mentor quote Gordon Fee… 🙂

  27. Corby,

    Much depends on what you think happens at the Lord’s Table and what the meaning is.

    We believe that the Lord is present at and in the Supper and feeding His people…that the Supper is an offering to God that He receives, blesses, and gives back to us.

    If you’re just recounting a memory, once a quarter is enough…I guess.

  28. Corby,
    What other areas of the ‘church service’ did you change? The comment usually comes to ‘well, if we do communion every week then it is no longer special’

    So is that just as true with the sermon? How can we keep the sermon special? Well lets just have a sermon once a month – then people will show up hungering for a sermon.
    The problem is that most folks – usually evangelicals – do not see the liturgy as several different but equal parts of receiving from God his grace. We do not partake of the sacraments in a way to make them special – they are special, so we partake.

    But you know those pastors – they will get in their 45 min at any expense. I know why many evangelical churches didn’t serve communion on Easter – ‘oh, we scheduled and extra service and did not have time.’ – would have had time if the pastor spoke a 10 min homily. 🙂

  29. #26 Michael

    May I suggest that what you describe is neither Law nor Gospel, but rather an evangelical cultural holdover from 19th and 20th century revivalism? “Confessing Christ before men” in either the New Testament or Early Church context has very little to do with what one may only describe as an “altarless” altar call…

  30. #27 Michael

    “When in Rome…”

  31. at #26
    That makes sense. And if that is the case, that would be “law”.

    I know for some pastors, they invite people forward to help people see that following Jesus is really about following Jesus, and it’s an opportunity to do that.
    But what you are speaking of is of a totally different sort.

    On another note, I have been fascinated by people’s faith journeys. Speaking stereotypically, for those who grew up in liturgical churches, if they stray and then return to the faith, they end up in a “low church” structure. For many who have been nurtured in a “low church” environment, if they are disastified, they head towards “high church” environments (Sounds like many here). To me that is fascinating. For awhile it seemed that those outside the faith, can be introduced to Jesus by the “low church” and uniquely by the “mega-church” and a certain percentage will eventually migrate towards liturgy. I don’t know of many liturgical churches (although I could be wrong on this), who are getting to interface with masses of pre-christians.

    My question is, why the migration? Is it because once you are in something long enough, you see it’s issues and long for something else? Or is this even more fruit of post-modern and information culture? Or are people just more likely to want to “change clothes with Jesus”? or? It’s fascinating to me.

  32. Duane @ 30… I didn’t make that connection,but you have a point…now if we can just bring back the “anxious bench”… 🙂

  33. Dear Sheep,

    In my case, over the years, probably as a result of being encouraged to read the Bible over and over and thanks to verse by verse teaching at Calvary Chapel, I became pretty familiar with what the Scriptures had to say on many topics and I began to notice that certain “Catholicky” verses were either skipped, glossed over, or redefined and this began to make me go “Huh.” I began to keep a mental collection of these things, with Baptism, Communion and the value of good works topping the list. Even before I set foot in my first EO Church I was already bothered by these things and ready to hear what another church had to say.

  34. How would someone be able to partake of the Lord’s table as a visitor during an Easter service in a non-evangelical church? If I were visiting my friend MLD yesterday, and he invited me to church, I would of been precluded from participating in communion, even though I’ve been a believer for 42 years? The service would of had no meaning to me then?

    Even though I watched a Good Friday service online from Messiah Lutheran in Lincoln, NE and was very edified and built up in my faith listening to the teaching pastor.

  35. Just a Sheep,

    I can only speak to my “migration”.
    For me, evangelicalism ceased being uniquely Christian and was an amalgam of religious, political, and cultural activities that grew more and more empty of the Gospel.

    I had to get away.

    Studying church history for so many years showed me another path to something ancient and centered on Christ.

    I also became convinced that narrow biblicism and doctrine alone would just further dry me out…

    Thus, I fled to Canterbury…

  36. #33 Michael

    It’s funny, you don’t hear of “altar call” with either Whitfield or the Wesley brothers. During the Cane Ridge Revival meetings the call was literally to come forward for communion. I don’t think it is until Finney’s time that the term was used and then it was about signing up as an abolitionist.

    Anybody out there know when it was applied to the invitation to accept Christ?

  37. Scott,
    Aren’t you glad that we would would keep you from confessing something you do not believe?
    Most evangelical churches I could point to don’t care what I believe before approaching the… hmmm, actually in an evangelical church you don’t approach anything. But you get the point.

    Imagine if someone assumes, ‘look at MLD’s visitor Scott – he believes in the bodily presence in the elements and he believes that his sins were forgiven in the supper”. Do you really want to go through life with people believing that about you? 😉

  38. Duane,

    I think it was through D.L. Moody…

  39. Seriously to Scott’s point – people need to understand that what is being done in a Calvary Chapel type church is nothing like what is being done in a Lutheran church. Let’s just skip over which system is correct or better or more biblical and just admit that they are not anything closely related — other than name and beginning ingredients.
    What is being done is different
    Why it is being done is different
    Who participates is different.

  40. if one believes in any form of transforming the physical elements of the communion cup and wafer into a power that infuses a mortal with Christ wouldn’t it follow that it should be taken daily for full effect? why not a communion drive-thru that is manned daily where you confess to the priest at the first window and drive forward to receive from another priest the elements?

    i guess i don’t have a problem with a weekly observance, especially for those who think the of the act as a sanctifying and vital part of their spiritual health, but if i were to subscribe to what most of the more theologically bent who post here believe about communion, i’d have to suggest the drive-in… for safety’s sake

    but then i try to walk like an evangelical walks… 🙂
    those evangelicals of the days long gone, the simple ones who blessed you with their very presence… the days before the sacred corporation model – before the Mad’ men took charge … before the Holy Spirit moved on…
    the more i think on it, the more i feel certain that God doesn’t have a structure, He moves and moves on… and as some here have witnessed where they’ve found Him, perhaps He does cycle back again… that is possible, it is possible that this whole earth is circling round and round and round … until… ?

  41. How would someone be able to partake of the Lord’s table as a visitor during an Easter service in a non-evangelical church?<<

    As a non-Orthodox Christian, you would not be permitted to partake of the Eucharist.

    And neither would any of us unless we had prepared properly.

    If you are properly prepared, you too may partake.

    But I doubt if you would want to do the preparations, which requires:

    Being baptized and Chrismated into Orthodoxy.
    Having been to Confession very recently
    Having fasted for a certain number of hours before Communion.

    You are certainly invited to join us in these preparations if you believe them to be true but I don't think you do believe them to be true.

    Do you believe the Bread and Wine becomes the Body and Blood of Christ? If not, it would not be appropriate for you to partake with those of us who do.

    A Liturgical Easter service is beautiful even if you don't take Communion. There were several people there Easter night, Orthodox people, who didn't take Communion for reasons of their own. The service was still meaningful and maybe what they heard will give them strength. God's word is powerful in spoken form, not just when eaten.

    So nobody is stopping you, Scott, you just have to go through the preparations the rest of us have made which includes becoming an Orthodox Christian.

  42. Also, I am not permitted to take Communion at a non-Orthodox church.

    This is an Orthodox rule and I do realize some evangelical-type churches might say it was ok, but that is irrelevant.

  43. “if one believes in any form of transforming the physical elements of the communion cup and wafer into a power that infuses a mortal with Christ wouldn’t it follow that it should be taken daily for full effect? ”

    My hope and prayer is that someday we have a chapel where one can both hear the Daily Office and partake of the Table daily…

  44. I hate to say it, but the more I study, the more I understand MLD’s point of view…

  45. The example I have heard that best describes the difference (and I can use it now that we have NFL football back in SoCal.

    So the Rams and the Dodgers decide, “let’s play a game next Saturday.” So the Rams show up in full pads and helmets with a football – and the Dodgers show up in flannels, spokes a ball cap and a bat.

    OK, both are their to play a game — which game? How well is it going to work?

  46. Serving the Eucharist every day is the ideal for most liturgical churches, I think. It’s not practically possible unless the parish has a larger than normal staff. I think cathedrals and monasteries do this and some parishes.

    A proper Liturgy lasts from 2 to 3 hours and is quite a time commitment.

    But Communion is not quantitative, it’s qualitative. 🙂

  47. #36 Michael, interesting. Just a quick question on it… And in no way is this meant to be attacking, it’s an honest question. But wouldn’t Anglicanism be a mix of religious, political and cultural activities as well, just a different mix?

  48. Just a Sheep,

    Have you ever heard an Anglican liturgy?

    No room for the announcement that voters pamphlets are available in the lobby…

    http://thetrinitymission.org

  49. A Liturgy prevents politics from creeping in although what a priest might say in his homily is something else.

  50. Duane says I only have about 15 minutes for the homily… I’ll have to save politics for the blog. 🙂

  51. #41 Em

    When I was at a large city church, we had three Eucharistic services every day, in addition to choral evensong six nights of the week. It was for the active participation of a community of faith, whether 2000 on Sunday morning, or five at a week day morning service in the chapel. The point of it was “communion” – communion with Christ, communion with fellow believers. As one of the pastors of this church, my part was to serve those communicants who felt their faith strengthened by the Eucharist (but no more than once a day, by tradition and canon law!)

  52. I find the discussion re Communion to be fascinating on several levels. For one thing, it reveals our own backgrounds and biases, though we couch them in theological clothing (not trying to be judgmental here). Nowhere in Acts 15, in the earliest “Council” deciding what to ask of new believers, is communion even mentioned. Does that mean it’s unimportant? Or baptism? No, but neither does it become a new law in terms of how and when it is done. Second, having spend considerable time in both the Anglican tradition and Evangelicalism, they both have their pro’s and con’s. I served for a season as a “visiting curate” in an Anglican church in England, and even though they went through the ritual weekly, and we pastors did morning song and matins daily, you’d be hard pressed to have found a “true believer” in the whole group. Indeed, folks would regularly show up at the church office asking us to schedule a time when we could “do” their baby (baptize). Significant? Hardly. Frankly though the gospel was sung from the center of the church, etc., and as a believer I found meaning in the words, there seemed to be a significant disconnect between form and substance for the body politic. Third, in the evangelical church, the “good buddy” approach to the Lord and lackadaisical approach to communion/baptism is just as much of a disconnect. Somehow each of us is on her/his own journey and must find those things that enable us to know and experience the presence and power of God continually – through the Word, prayer, meditation, worship, giving, the sacraments, etc.

  53. enjoyinglife,

    There will always be tares among the wheat.

    Having said that..let me be clear that I believe some folks belong in one flavor or another of evangelicalism and that is the place where they will flourish.

  54. Michael,
    I lost you address would you email it to me?
    thanks,
    Jon

  55. #53 enjoying life

    Do remember that the Church of England is a state church, “by law established”… It is a very different sort of situation with very different expectations from those who attend…

  56. I may just have to join the Elks Club.

  57. I’ve met some great staff/pastors in the nearby mega church my in laws go to.

    Despite vigorous efforts inviting me, I could NOT bring myself to go to their service on Friday. That featured a Dog Show.

  58. I just find it odd that Jesus said to do it (communion) and people try to figure out the legitimate way to do it … less.

    But then Jesus said ‘this is my body … ” well you get my drift. If we can’t believe the clear teachings of Jesus how would we ever attempt to understand anything that may be a bit difficult?

  59. #56 Duane

    No doubt there is a duke’s mixture in the Anglican church in England, just as there is the Episcopalian church in the US (or the Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.) Regardless of how it was established, clearly there are some “true believers” there.They are the ones who truly believe what they are saying and singing, who look forward to participating in Communion or baptism because of their significance, etc. For others, it’s just custom and not a whole lot more.

    Frankly, the significance of baptism is often also overlooked. James Dunn has some terrific things to say about that (as does Douglas Moo), essentially concluding that it is a sine qua non for becoming a believer, the “red line” between not being a believer and being one. Moreover, the significance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is also a significant part of that. A discussion for another day. Indeed, do we ever find the baptism of the Holy Spirit minimized in the earliest church?

  60. #60 Agreed.
    By the way, I like Jimmy Dunn’s new work on the oral tradition of the first 30 years. He’ll get some people upset, but it’s a valid point that has needed exploration…

  61. I will add, I’ve been involved in a protracted legal struggle which has revealed some openly antichristian hatred at a local school–one administrator and her employees have openly bragged about being “antichrist.”

    This has led me to read and listen to a lot about persecution, historically and across the globe.

    Changing ones perspective has REALLY helped me greatly. And with an eye to what is historically caused/is currently causing persecution, so much American-flag modern Christianity looks more and more superficial every day…

  62. Belittling the faith expression of others makes me feel better about mine.

  63. Josh,

    Did someone belittle on this thread?

  64. Yes.

  65. Josh,

    How so?

  66. HI everyone, hope you are having a happy day! 🙂

  67. oops, did I speak too soon? 🙁

  68. Hi big brother, hope you are well….still praying for you.

  69. Josh you are loved here.

    I don’t think anyone meant to slight anyone else.

  70. we had a big wind storm about a month ago and half a tree fell on our new car!! Wiped out two sections of our fence….my husband if mending the fence and insurance covered the car -it is all better now….was scary when it happened though….took out power lines…took the township and utility co. 1/2 hour to restore power and remove the tree. what a blessing!

  71. Been unseasonably warm here this week….going for a walk….need to get rid of some wt. 🙁 it is a hard thing to do. been walking and using free wts. and am watching what I eat, it is an up hill journey. lol

  72. Linnea, been praying for you sweet lady. Hoping your burdens are lessened soon.

  73. Filbertz, been praying for your broken heart…..hugs.

  74. Paige, been praying for your boys….may they be pleasing to the Lord and to you.

  75. captain Kevin, been praying for your health and your work load….hope both improves and gives you much needed rest.

  76. ERunner, been praying for your mom and wife….may their health improve and bodies strengthen.

  77. Dan, still praying for you and your family….may you find what you are looking for.

  78. Josh might have seen my comment @ 41 regarding daily communion as belittling, for those whom i offended by expressing another view, i’d ask that you only take it for what it is worth: an honest other viewpoint… and i appreciate that Dr. Arnold affirmed it as the logical conclusion that his Anglican fellowship did come to… at least i know that i was logical, eh? 🙂

    i do feel very sad for the large number of people who only know the evangelical as kingdom (small ‘k’) builders… historically it does seem (to me) that all divisions of theological bent are in danger of going downhill … perhaps the day will come, “if the Lord tarries,” when the more formal of the Faith (formal, but among the Redeemed) will find themselves becoming so dry and formulaic that another humble Billy Sunday or another Pentecostal outbreak will occur somewhere and bring them back to life … the Holy Spirit moves and moves on among the peoples of the planet … IMHO, of course

    God keep all close

  79. Em,

    I always going to be ok with dissenting viewpoints.
    I just didn’t think any particular group has been broadly belittled…

  80. dusty, still praying with you, thanking God for you and…. praying for you, who are another one of the sweet ladies here
    having experienced both, i think strong winds are more terrifying than earthquakes – so glad for the good outcome (the good insurance 🙂 )

  81. dusty (79)…thanks for your continued prayers…we (wife and I) are praying for a church home. You’d think in GA we would have our pick of the litter of good churches. Unfortunately, we have come across quite a number of bad ones to be honest with you.

  82. Worms shouldn’t be in cans. What are worms doing in cans anyway? I think of myself as the worm liberator.

  83. #8

    So I guess Andy Stanley is right and I’m just a bad parent…

    I
    truly
    Truly
    Truly

    hope you see the error in the logic of your #8, which belies the logic of your #’s 1, 2, 4, and 7 because they are pretty much definitive of a mega church.

    For some odd reason it makes me think of
    Pirates of Penzance

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zSGWoXDFM64

  84. Jerod,

    Some of us are capable of recognizing nuance and differences.
    Some of us aren’t…

  85. Yes, hence “pretty much” definitive. 🙂

  86. Jerod,

    I’m not sure why you’re here after your behavior here and the things you’ve said about me elsewhere.
    What’s the point?

  87. JerodTheShortpolockWasHopingNOTToBeAssociatedWithFormerBehavior

    🙂

  88. Well it wasn’t as if the vitriol was one sided. It’s no excuse, you’re right.

    I thought with the whole thing with Alex and Bob there was a bit of different air around the Phoenix Preacher. My mistake.

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