Showing posts from January, 2023

Wise Evangelism

  Before I begin my Reflection, I’d like to share with you a list as I think about the work of the church on this day of the Annual Meeting. This is a list of things you’re not likely to hear at church… I say not likely because maybe we are different! – Hey! It’s MY turn to sit on the front pew! –  It was so packed today, I had to sit in the balcony! – I was so enthralled, I didn’t even notice your sermon went 15 minutes longer than usual. – Personally, I find evangelism much more enjoyable than golf, – I’ve decided to give our church the $700.00 a month I used to send to Joel Olsteen –  You know, pastor, since you got here, we’ve forgotten all about the pastors that came before you. – I volunteer to be the permanent chairperson of the committee of your choosing, pastor. – I love it when we sing hymns I’ve never heard before! –  Since we’re all here, let’s start the worship service early! – Nothing inspires me and strengthens my commitment like our annual stewardship campaign!

Born Again for Mainliners, Part 3

This is the 3 rd Reflection in a series titled “Born Again for Mainliners.” In the first couple Reflections, I juxtaposed the Mainline tradition and the Evangelical tradition, implying that Mainliners don’t really talk a whole lot about being born again.  But maybe you’ve wondered, what exactly is an Evangelical. The term has politicized, for certain, often conflated with a particular political party. But before that, there was a category of Christians known as Evangelicals. There is a difference here between the more radical Fundamentalists and the more mainstream Evangelicals, but that's a topic for another day. There's also a light of diversity among the Evangelical tradition, which we'll discuss next week. Evangelicals hold to 4 cardinal beliefs, according to scholar John Green. First, they believe in the errorlessness of the Bible. The Bible is, to use their term, inerrant. Second, an Evangelical believes in the exclusiveness of salvation – only Christians go to heave

Born Again for Mainliners, Part 2

  Growing up in the Evangelical tradition, there was often talk about our relationship with Christ. The idea was the conversion experience of being born again or being saved began that relationship. There’s a phrase often offered up to describe this conversion, this born again, being saved experience. That phrase is, "accepting Christ into your heart."   That phrase – accepting Christ into your heart – is a really interesting one. It wasn’t so novel or interesting when I was a kid or a young person still within that tradition. And there was a time after I departed the Evangelical approach to the Christian faith when that phrase or any talk about being born again and saved sort of bothered me. It was language from a past I had left behind and wanted to forget. That language for a while left a bad taste in my mouth. Sometimes, it still does. But after years of space between departing what I felt was bad for me and embracing a new understanding of the faith, I’ve come to see

Born-Again for Mainliners, Part 1

  On this day when time in a sense is born again, I begin with a question Have you ever been "born again?” It is a question that in my family was somewhat common to ask or hear asked. My parents were part of the born again movement which reached its peak in the 1970's and 80's. The term “born again” comes straight from scripture. I just read it to you. Jesus tells Nicodemus, you must be born again. The Common English Bible which I read from   translates it, “Born Anew” which I kind of like. Either way, there are two births according to Jesus in his discussion with Nicodemus. There is the physical, human birth from a mother’s watery womb here on earth. This the "born of water" Jesus mentions. And then there is a second birth, "born of the Spirit," a spiritual birth that is sourced in heaven, sourced in the Spirit of God. Jesus is pointing to that second birth, and is saying that birth is vital for the heavenly life, the eternal life. For thos