What I Read Online – 09/28/2011 (a.m.)

28 Sep
    • I started working with homeschoolers because while I was on the faculty at Ball State University, my best chemistry and physics students were homeschool graduates. At the time, I knew almost nothing about homeschooling, but since it was sending me my best university students, I thought I should investigate it a bit. As I looked through the academic literature that was available at the time, I saw that the few studies which had been done on homeschooling were in accord with my observation: homeschooled students are academically superior to their publicly- and privately-schooled counterparts.
    • When comparing the “structured” homeschooled students to the publicly-schooled students, they found that the homeschooled students were academically superior in all subjects tested (letter-word recognition, comprehension, “word attack,” science, social science, humanities, and calculation).
    • So despite the fact that the structured homeschooled students came from families with lower incomes and mothers with less education, they were still academically quite superior to their publicly-schooled counterparts. That says quite a lot!
    • So while “structured” homeschooling produced students who scored significantly higher than comparable publicly-schooled students, “unstructured” homeschooling produced students who scored lower than the same publicly-schooled students.
    • Now I am inclined to think that “unstructured” homeschooling will not produce the strong academic benefits that “structured” homeschooling will. Even though this study hints that my inclination may be correct, the result is anything but conclusive.
    • So, after I finished my pity party, I answered my brother’s question, stated something like: “Thabiti, what arguments for multi-site have you found persuasive?”  My articulate response: “Uh, none.”
    • At bottom, I think the kind of multi-site churches (realizing there are a few different approaches) that feature one pastor being beamed into several sites around a region—and in some cases around the country or world—is simply idolatry. 
    • Moreover, the guy standing live before a pulpit stands on biblical ground.  The guy standing on airwaves has chosen a medium without biblical grounds and a medium with greater, more efficient idol-making potential wired into it.  The heart is an idol factory.  The screen cranks that factory up several levels.
    • Try as one might, I can’t escape the conclusion that those who take the multi-site option are effectively saying, “My preacher is better than your preacher, so we’re gonna brand him and export him to a theater near you.” 
    • A church is large not because the guy up front has unusual gifts, but because God in His sovereign kindness has decided to add to the number.
    • Preachers are made by preaching.
    • Which brings me to another suspicion.  To the extent one argues “our main guy must do the preaching and be beamed out,” then I think you effectively disavow the “local” in the phrase “local church.” 
    • A “church” is not just an assembly, it’s an assembly that is also a “family” where the members do all the one anothers and also a “body” where the joints are connected to supply to one another and a “flock” kept in a corral where the shepherds feed, bind, lead, and guide in personal relationship.  Multi-site churches reduce the family, body, and flock to an anonymous assembly.  In that way it trades in the lowest common denominator (assembling) while effectively mimicking “local.”
    • In a secular culture that prizes flat screens, blu-ray, and a host of other man toys, we need to think carefully about the use of technology.  For it’s possible to not only make an idol of the pixelated preacher posing as pastor from some major distance, but to also bow at the shrine of technology itself.  Our hearts easily gravitate toward entertainment and celebrity when the preaching event gets broadcast on screen rather than shared in flesh and blood. 
    • Another observation: Does anyone else hear the shrill voice of pragmatism in the justifications for multi-site churches?
    • And I think the jury is still out on whether “it works.”  That jury won’t be in with a verdict for another several decades, I’m afraid.  And theologically, the pragmatic appeals to “it works” persuade very little.  Too many other things we’re called to be faithful in doing are simply left undone in this approach.  If that’s true, what exactly is this model “working” at?
    • Finally, a word about cultural engagement.  Sometimes proponents talk about the strategy’s use as a means to redeem certain aspects of the culture, like the use of technology.  They say, “Hey, do you use microphones in your services?  Then this technology is fine, too.”  They argue that it’s either a full-on I-Max experience or off to Amish country we go.  Here’s what that perspective lacks, in my opinion: Any real deep thought about the structuring elements and assumptions of culture.  In other words, most of the talk about culture and technology lives at the superficial level of cultural artifacts, tools and technologies produced in cultural settings.  Little of the conversation goes to the underlying philosophies and world views underpinning the technology.  Out of what world of thinking and values did this technology arise?  And how does that world of thinking and values affect our use of it?  When we ask and answer those questions, then we’re starting to probe culture at its source.  And only then can we talk credibly about redemption, rejection, and reformation of culture.
    • “mission,” at least as a noun, isn’t a biblical word.  It’s not an unbiblical word, as if it’s wrong; but it is a non-biblical word. 
    • But there’s nowhere in the Bible where you find “the mission,” noun, of the church stated. 
    • we decided to go essentially with the way Andreas Kostenberger defines it in his fantastic work on the gospel of John—as that thing or set of things that we are sent out to accomplish. 
    • There’s a fairly long and robust tradition in evangelicalism of trying to equate the mission of Jesus and the mission of the church.  “The mission of the church is the mission of Jesus,” the argument runs.  We wonder whether things are really that simple, though.  When people say that, do they mean that the mission of the church is the mission of Jesus in every particular?  Surely not.  I mean, surely they don’t mean to say that what the angel said of Jesus–that he came to save his people from their sins–is true of the church. Nor would we say that the church exists to lay down its life as a ransom for many.  Surely there’s something unique about what Jesus came to accomplish, such that we can’t just say, flatly, that “The mission of the church is the mission of Jesus.”  You have be more careful than that and say, “The mission of the church is the mission of Jesus in these respects.”  As a matter of fact, we’ll run across this same principle over and over as we proceed:  The pithy slogans that often characterize these conversations sound right at first, but then often require some significant qualification once you start really thinking hard about them.
    • BibleWorks 9 is out, though a lot of people are happy with older   versions. Is it worth upgrading?
    • The man with the imprimatur of the gospel great and the gospel good does do hospital visitation — but only once you’ve died.

      What is more disturbing?  His philosophy of pastoral ministry or the fact he is apparently welcome in apparently legitimate company?

    • It is a privilege to be with the sick and dying, but it can also be scary, hard work.
    • Jesus sees Jonah’s experience as analogous to his own.
    • Are there other hints of the gospel in Jonah’s experience? Jesus’ self-comparison with Jonah invites us to ask this question. I think the answer is yes. Most of these hints, however, come by way of contrast between Jonah and Jesus rather than comparison.
    • If you’ve got real legalists in your church—and you do—the only way to intentionally offend them is by preaching the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ. Everything else is just vain posturing and prideful provocation.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Posted by on 28/09/2011 in Current Issues


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