Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Mega Question

Okay, to set this up, I've had a lot on my mind of late regarding church structure and organization. Some of this is natural; I'm now an elder and need to concern myself with such things more than I did as a layperson. Some of this is more to do, though, with the general antipathy with which many Evangelicals hold the modern megachurch.

For the purposes of this discussion, I'll define a megachurch as one that draws more than 1,000 people to services on a given Sunday, although I know that other definitions exist. It'll even suffice to say "a really big church" compared to the more "average" Christian church of less than 200 attendees. (I'm hedging because I can't recall the actual average church size nowadays, but I *believe* it's actually less than 100. But don't quote me.)

Before I state my actual view on the megachurch phenomenon, I'm interested in yours. Therefore, if you would be so kind, please let me know in the comments (or via email) what you think about megachurches. Are they generally speaking a good thing or a bad thing? What does the Bible say, if anything, about the size/structure of a Willow Creek, a Saddleback or a Eagle Brook? What is the Biblically-proscribed model for churches? Let's get even more basic: what is the purpose of the church? And how can size/structure help/hinder that purpose?

I'm hoping this can be a fun discussion, because frankly I've seen this discussion be not so much fun lately. But either way, I'm interested in how this turns out.

God bless!
Ron

Monday, April 09, 2007

If a Blogswarm Was Announced but Nobody Read it...

Is a blogswarm like this effective if, say, a fairly broad-reading blogger doesn't hear about it until reading about it at KAR after the fact?

I kinda feel sorry for people who think we're actually headed for a theocracy. Not a single Christian I've ever met wants one of those. I'd think living in fear of something nobody of consequence is proposing would have to take a year or two off someone's life.

Truth be told, though, what the originating post calls out are issues about which people in a democracy (or, in our case, a democratic republic) can banter about and discuss in hopes of persuading more people to adopt one position or another. And on purely secular grounds, in many cases, although religious grounds are often used in discussions on each topic named. A country could quite easily adopt each position against which these folks are arguing and still not be a true theocracy, or vice versa. Ironic.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Techy Stuff

I'm tweaking some things on the site, and need some assistance. For some reason, I can't get the Haloscan comments to work on both the main page and the individual post's page. Therefore, I end up with two sets of comments, at times, for each post: one Haloscan, one Blogger. Ideas?

And yes, I'm sure it's something stupid I overlooked. My geek's license will soon be revoked I'm sure.

Also, thanks to Catez's blog I found some rather cool toys, like the boxes at right for my blogrolls. I think it neatens things up nicely. I also found the tracking tool for seeing how many folks are checking out the ol' NBB from her. Thanks Catez!

Go away for a while there are all sorts of new toys to add to the blog. I may add more things over the near future as I try and figure out how I want things to look. Your patience and input are much appreciated!

God bless,
Ron

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Russian in the Northern Burbs

So I'm teaching myself Russian. Interesting language, that. It doesn't conform readily to American English, or at least as readily as I'd prefer, but it sounds rather cool. Plus I'm heading to Ukraine this summer, and it'd be fun to be able to interact with folks who don't speak English well. Ironically, we're going, in part, to help teach English. It's fun watching movies like The Hunt for Red October and The Bourne Supremacy and pick out those words I've learned from the Russian dialogue. I hope to be roughly conversational by the point we leave for Ukraine. (And if any of you know good Russian resources, or interesting movies that have Russian speech, let me know!)

I'm hoping to soon order food at our local Ukrainian deli using my robust (er, passable? pathetic?) Russian skills.

I love other languages too. I was (at one point) semi-fluent in Spanish, although have not practiced it sufficiently to remain so. I find myself having to think through things much more than I used to, and have forgotten more vocabulary than I realized I ever knew. On our honeymoon, we would watch movies in the hotel, and I'd actually correct the Spanish subtitles. I don't think I could do that now, but I do love hearing Spanish.

I'd also like to learn Quenya, which sounds like a geek-goal, but - nah, who am I kidding? It is a geek goal.

(Sidebar: my wife says I'm a geek, which differs from being a nerd in that geeks get things done. I can live with that.)

Learning other languages, though, takes some effort. I'm fortunate enough to have been blessed with a bent towards all things grammar-oriented (although admittedly I break a few rules on this blog from time to time) so some concepts come to me fairly quickly. But it's still work. If all I got out of it was the momentary satisfaction of recognizing when a Russian submariner in a film says "извините" it wouldn't be worth the work. And if I just like the way it sounds, I can buy Russian music and just listen. Sometimes it doesn't seem worth the effort.

Then I read Dr. Witherington's reminder that we Christians should really be at the forefront of understanding not just those with whom we share geographic space, but those across the globe. Jesus died for all people, not just those here.

That's one of the reasons my wife traveled twice to India, to minister to the least of these. It's why I'm going to Ukraine to teach English, and to encourage children living in an orphanage. It's why I love working in a job where I interact with people from many, many cultures.

I am NOT anti-American, but I find myself wondering why I consider myself primarily an American so often. I am as patriotic as they come, but first and foremost I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God. The U.S. will one day be but a memory, while God's kingdom will remain forever.

Learning other languages and striving to understand (and relate to!) people around the globe build a discipline of thought that forces me to look outside my culture. Going on a missions trip, as Dr. Witherington recommends, is another way to build that discipline. Asking questions of, and interacting with, people from other cultures and nations in the blogosphere is another. I learn much from my non-American brothers and sisters (to cite two of many examples available) with blogs. God doesn't care which nation you're from; He wants your heart and mind and soul regardless of skin color, culture or nation. I should value nothing less. And if learning Russian helps me value another group of people more, it's an investment well spent.

God bless!
Ron

Monday, April 02, 2007

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 4/2/07 Edition

Miss a year, there's catching up to do. So, while I was out (and since I've been back):

Amy and Greg are adding to their humble family. Congratulations!

Kristin and Ryan also added to their clan. Welcome Noah!

Jeremy posted wonderful stuff on inerrancy and infallibility (read the comments too) as well as an interesting post on environmental efficiency vis a vis the primary 2000 presidential candidates. (Personally, I think it's better to promote stewardship because it's the right thing to do rather than to push global warming as "the issue." First because the spokespeople for the movement aren't exactly all credible enough to sway the skeptics. Second, it gives short-shrift to other important environmental issues. Third, if global warming becomes the equivalent of the 1970's-esque "pending ice age!" scare the environmental science community risks wolf-crying reputation in the future. If we act like we should, these things would take care of themselves. No reason to dilute the good stewardship message by staking our claims to one issue that may end up being either irreversible or non-existent. That enough speechifying?)

Mark Lee rates the final four fight songs here. I couldn't get a comment in for some reason, but I'd rank 'em OSU, Flordia, UCLA and Georgetown.

Catez did a redesign of her site. Looks good! I'm sure it'd sound good, too, what with the New Zealand accent, but...she doesn't have any sound on the blog.

I started looking for a spare $600 million.

Always the voice of the Twins for me. Rest in peace Herb.

God bless!