Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Home Groups

Our church is making a move to home groups. We are making this change for two reasons. First, space (I know, this is a really bad reason to do home groups). Second, I have read Andy Stanley's book Creating Community and feel like he has the right idea. We want to create a sense of community better than we have in Sunday School. We want this community to be one of fellowship, support, and most importantly studying God's Word.

My question is to those that have been apart of a Home Group that was either successfully or unsuccessfully...

1. How does it work with the kids; what do you do during the home groups and Sunday Morning?

2. What do you do with the students?

3. If the students are in a Home Group then how have the parents handled the transportation issues?

4. What are some things to look out for? What are some things that we must do?

5. What are some good resources that can be used to training and teaching the principles of a Home Group?

Any helpful information from anyone that has started or has been in a church that did or does Home Groups would be helpful.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Jesus and Drinking - Revisted

Over at Steve McCoy's blog Reformissionary he links to an interesting discussion that took place at Southern Seminary about Alcohol and Ministry. I have read his blog and listened to the audio of the discussion at Southern. I am disturbed by some blasting of Mohler and others involved in the discussion. This issue is not an issue of religious freedom; to me this is an issue of Christian selfishness. Why is it so important for so called enlightened Christians find excuses for drinking? I originally posted my argument against Christian drinking back in March. I have reposted this article and made some follow-up comments at the end. Please read my re-post and tell me what you think.

Original Post: March 18, 2005
My message on Sunday to the students deals with Jesus’ servant attitude and how we must put others before ourselves like Jesus did. The passage is the Wedding in Cana (John 2) where Jesus does his first miracle by turning water into wine. This passage has become a topic of discussion not because Jesus performed a miracle, but rather because Jesus seems to be okay with drinking.

Many Christians as well as non-Christians point to this passage to find approval for drinking. While it is true that Jesus did drink wine, as did most people of that day. Their have been several attempts to legitimize this passage; one being that some saying the wine was not as strong as today. I am not sure that there is a way to prove the alcohol content back in Jesus’ day. This argument seems to fall flat. Other arguments that are extra-biblical seem to also fall flat. The answer, I believe, is found in the scriptures.

When trying to interpret the Bible, the rule of thumb is that any unclear passage is always interpreted by clear passages. With this in mind I looked into other passage dealing with drinking. The Bible frequently refers to being drunk as a sin. (Romans 13:13) The scriptures never show that Jesus was drunk or endorsed heavy drinking. The wine that Jesus drank was always with dinner and appeared to be enough to satisfy thirst.

So does this mean it is okay for Christians to drink? A couple rules apply before I answer that question. Being drunk is a sin and should never be allowed in a Christian’s life, also we must obey any laws in place about drinking (i.e. legal drinking age being 21) I believe it is up to each individual Christians to decide for himself. My wife and I have chosen not to drink at all even casually. The reason lies in one more scripture that we have not discussed. Paul examines the issue of eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 10.

You say, "I am allowed to do anything"--but not everything is helpful. You say, "I am allowed to do anything"--but not everything is beneficial. Don't think only of your own good. Think of other Christians and what is best for them. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

If someone who isn't a Christian asks you home for dinner, go ahead; accept the invitation if you want to. Eat whatever is offered to you and don't ask any questions about it. Your conscience should not be bothered by this. But suppose someone warns you that this meat has been offered to an idol. Don't eat it, out of consideration for the conscience of the one who told you. It might not be a matter of conscience for you, but it is for the other person. Now, why should my freedom be limited by what someone else thinks? If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it? Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:27-31

Paul answers the problem by saying that even though you are allowed to eat the meat that has been sacrificed to idols you shouldn’t if it will cause another person to stumble. I never want to be the reason that some other Christians decide to drink. I want to be an example of godliness. I believe that it is wrong for a Christian in our society to drink, because it would cause himself or others to grow further from Christ. Our goal as Christians is not to drink, but rather to grow closer to Christ everyday and drinking is not a part of that growth.

-------------Article End---------------

Steve McCoy tells us that the issue is not Alcohol but rather legalism. I don't ever want to a legalist; however the issue at hand is neither legalism nor alcohol. The issue is Christian selfishness. Paul spoke on an issue related to this discussion to the Corinthian church. Paul's position was we should give up whatever we need to to spread the gospel and disciple other Christians. How can we call ourselves godly if we are causing others to stumble? Alcohol is seen in a different light than it was 2000 years ago. It was not an issue, but eating sacrificed meat was. Can Paul eat sacrifice meat? Of course, but what if he did and it caused someone to stumble, would it be worth it?

Pastors have adults, teenagers, and children looking to them for a godly example. Is it setting a godly example for the pastor to drink? Not when there are families in my church that are deeply affected by alcohol. How can I say it is ok for me to drink in moderation, and not for that church member to get drunk? The people will never go above the spirituality of the spiritual leader in the church. It is just a fact, you might not like it or you might have an example of an exception, but for the most part members will never exceed the spiritually of the pastor. The people that are for Christian drinking at being selfish, they want to do what they want to do whether anyone is effected or not. Quit acting like children, step up and be godly men and women.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

Dr. Lawless named Dean of Graham School

As Dr. Rainer is moving to Lifeway this month a new dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at Southern Seminary must be named. Dr. Lawless is that man that will lead the Graham school into the next generation. He is well qualified and the best choice to fill this position. I am excited to see the future of the school under his leadership.

Read the entire BP News article here.

Friday, September 23, 2005


See You At The Pole was a huge success this year. Our students have not really done this event in the past, so to have many of our own students’ participating was very exciting. For those that don't know, SYATP was started in the mid-90's. Students from all over the country gather around their schools flagpoles to pray for their schools, teachers, and peers. While this event is huge in southern states like Texas and Kentucky it is not well known in the north. The students at our church attend one of seven schools in the area. I was so excited to see 140 students at those different schools. Most of the 140 go to other churches, but about 3/4 of our youth group was involved.

Student often get stereo-typed as just wanting to have fun and not wanting to have anything to do with spiritual activities. Often youth pastor's give into that and only plan fun events with little or not spiritual component. I was very glad to see our students step up for an event that was based around the spiritual act of prayer. They didn't have to be involved, but they took a stand for God this past Wednesday. This is a lesson for all youth pastors including myself, students can be excited about spiritual activities. Students don't want dumb-downed Christianity; they want to be challenged and stretched.

Well, I am off to the next event, Bible Fear Factor. Do you think the students will eat locust and wild honey?

Click here for SYATP pics from the schools in Lake County.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

NASCAR Final Ten

Jeff and Andrea Spoiler Alert! (If you are J & A, don't read anymore)

Now we have entered into the final ten races of the NASCAR Nextel Cup. For those that don't know, NASCAR has tried to make things a little more exciting by only allowing the top ten drivers to compete for the championship in the final ten races. So the scores are reset and these ten drivers will be in a shoot out for the next ten weeks. The final top ten drivers are:

1. Tony Stewart
2. Greg Biffle
3. Rusty Wallace (Retiring)
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Kurt Busch
6. Mark Martin (Retiring)
7. Jeremy Mayfield
8. Carl Edwards (Rookie)
9. Matt Kenseth
10. Ryan Newman

I would like to see either Rusty or Mark win this thing just because they are retiring. It would be awesome to see them go out in a blaze of glory. Personally I am rooting for Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards. Who has the best chance of winning? Really, it is anybodies race. Greg and Jimmie were on fire at the beginning of the season, while it seems Kurt and Tony have turned it on at the end. I am glad to see such a diverse group of men both young and old; and I am extremely glad that ol' Jeff Gordon did not make the cut. Is that correct Christian behavior? Oh well, this is NASCAR.

September - Blog of the Month

And the Blog of the Month goes to............
Wes Cooper with his Cooperstown blog. I have known Wes for many years, he grew up being friends with my brother. What can I say this guys is amazing: student, movie star, all around great guy. I am so proud even though I didn't have a thing to do with his growing up. You will enjoy his blog because he his extremely funny, especially if you have lived in Lexington or have gone to Porter Memorial Baptist Church or are a UK fan. And if you have all this in your past like me, then it is hilarious. Check him out and be prepared to laugh.

Take a bow Wes and accept your fake award. (Standing Ovation of 1)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Young Leaders Summit - Indiana

Last week I attended one of the young leaders meetings that Dr. Jimmy Draper is conducting all over the country. The purpose of these meetings are to dialogue about issues young leaders are facing in the wake of an ever aging convention. I was glad to be able to attend this meeting and to report on it. Below I have listed some of the major questions asked by different people (names not recorded) and a summary of Dr. Draper's answer and the subsequent discussion. (These are not exact quotes; all the following text is from notes and my memory)

Question 1: Dr. Draper was asked to give a summary of the problem as he sees it.
Answer: JD - As we see the convention age we realize that younger leaders are not becoming a part of the convention. The purpose of these meetings is to discover what is important to the younger leaders and how the SBC can meet needs and incorporate younger leaders.
Discussion: Two main questions were asked by others, “Are we stuck in the past?" and "I really didn't get anything out of the convention this year, why should I continue to go?"
Answer: JD -We need to re-focus the convention. The convention meeting itself is a business meeting and not intended to be inspirational. That is the job of the Pastor's Conference. This year the president of the pastor's conference sent out a survey to all young leaders on the email list to try and incorporate more of your ideas.

Question 2: Why can't the convention be more training and less business?
Answer: JD - LifeWay did do some training on Wednesday and Thursday, but no one stayed around to take advantage of it. They are planning to do more training, possibly rearranging the schedule of the convention to allow for more training during the first part of the week.

Question 3: Why was the vote to study a name change in Indianapolis not passed?
Answer: JD - I don't know, I am always in favor of a study? A study can never hurt.

Question 4: How can we connect with older leaders like you?
Answer: JD - Well the older leaders must be willing to build the relationship. The future of the SBC lies in relationship. We must continue to build them, network. Young with young, young with old, old with old, etc.

Question 5: The convention meeting did not feel young. Someone said they attended an Ed Young, Jr. conference and it felt young.
Answer: JD - We have to try and meet everyone's needs both young and old. It all starts with the associations, young leaders need to get involved at the association and state level first. Then as they move up they can help shape the national convention. Their must be a better connection between the association and the church led by younger leaders.
Discussion: Someone felt that the speakers at the convention and especially the pastor's conference were very negative.
Answer: JD - He commented that some of the older pastors are looking for the next big battle. That is were the younger generation can help in bringing balance to protecting our theology, but being willing to change our methodology. Dr. Draper commented that sometimes he is tired of hearing always from his friends (older pastors); he would like to hear from younger leaders sometime. That is why the president of the pastor's conference sent out the survey to get some names of good speakers that may not be heard from often.

Question 6: Someone asks, "I want to get involved and serve, but don't know how to get going. What can I do to get involved?"
Answer: JD - “Get involved in your local association” Basically he told us to work where we are at and help make a difference locally first.

Question 7: Why are only big name guys (big churches) in positions of power? (Pastor’s conference president, vice-president, etc.)
Answer: JD – They are able to handle the expense. Over the past few years the president’s church has had to absorb some of the cost. A smaller church would not be able to handle these expenses. Also they are known and people tend to gravitate to people they know. They have exposure.
Discussion: Who are some of the upcoming leaders that are younger?
Answer: JD – Brian Wright, Keith Moore, Jimmy Scroggins, Steve Gaines. There are many guys that are working behind the scenes that are godly men that will be the next generation of SBC leaders.

Dr. Draper’s concluding thoughts: We must continue to communicate old and young. Dialogue is key to the future of the SBC

My Thoughts: I was not so impressed with our discussion; we basically asked questions about the logistics of the conference. I personally was more interested in discussing how we can get involved and serve the convention. I am tried of this “what can you do for me” attitude. Would I like more worship at the convention and younger speakers? Of course, but the fact is that many people in the convention are over 40 (or at least the people that attend the convention). Instead of complaining about what we want, lets work together, learn from the older leaders, and work locally first. Dr. Draper started his involvement in his local association. Even if you in a lame association, we must get involved. Let’s not ask what they can do for us, but how can we serve.

Check out the Younger Leader's Website.