Tag Archives: Engagement

Pastor explains why the pulpit must address public policy issues

Crusader knight prepares for battle
Crusader knight prepares for battle

My friend Scott pointed out this brave and necessary article from pastor Michael Sherrard, who is currently studying for his PhD in New Testament.

Pastor Sherrard writes:

[…][P]astors are… watchmen. And when the enemy is before us, the watchmen better not have his head down wiping the eggnog off his ugly sweater as the walls are being scaled.

Rather than be caught defenseless, pastors must equip their people to engage a culture that is becoming increasingly hostile toward Christianity. And so, the pulpit must be political. Yes, I know that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. Let’s get that out of the way. I already hear your objection: “We should care more about salvation than society.” Sure, I agree. It is better to lose the world than your soul. But if you think that society can go to hell as long as people don’t, you’ve fallen for an old trick and you’ve misunderstood the nature of the gospel.

A politically silent pulpit is one that is catering to the secularist’s agenda: “Keep your religious beliefs private. They are not wanted in society. They are no good to us.” And for some reason, we’ve bought into the propaganda of those that want to fashion a society after their own values. Somehow they have convinced us that the only good beliefs for society are the beliefs of atheists. But beliefs that are true are true for all and are good for all. It does not matter where they come from. And if the Christian message contains truth, the application of that truth is far reaching. It does not end at the capital steps.

Christianity is an all-encompassing worldview. Meaning, it is a set of true beliefs that affect all of life. The gospel itself has implications that go beyond ones eternal destination. We see this truth in Paul’s ethics. Pauline ethics might be summed up this way: because Christ humbled himself and died on a cross, so should you be humble and willfully offer up your life for the good of others (Phil 2:1-11). Our faith manifests itself in ways that benefit others, if it is a real faith. You must repress your hope in God to keep it private. I doubt you disagree with this.

So why are politics off limits? Why is it right for us to sit back and allow harmful policies be legislated? Why shouldn’t we expose candidates that seek to preserve the right to kill babies? Why do we think we have to let atheists run our country? Are Christian teachings not good? Do they not promote human flourishing? Why do we think a Christian influence equals a theocracy? How have we become so simple minded about our civil responsibility? Pastors we have failed our people. If it is not our job to instruct the people of God on these things, whose job is it?

When politics are ignored in the pulpit the message to the world and the church is clear: Christianity is irrelevant. It tells the world that what we care about is our little club, and it tells those in the club not to worry about what goes on outside.

Yes, yes, yes!!!!! This is exactly what my main complaint about pastors is – that they are so contain to discuss castles in the sky and angels dancing on the head of a pin. They want to chase Christian theology into some far-off area where it has no connection with anything real. They want to make our happy feelings everything, and leave us with nothing hard to do for God. But being a partner means doing work that achieves goals, and politics is surely one of the areas where we can show God that we are with him, and that we love him.

Now, the pastor got a lot of flak from nitwits for that post, and so he wrote them a response, with the title “No, your’e right. We should let the atheists run the country”.

Here’s the best part:

Oh and you’re right, who cares who holds office. The Bible doesn’t say anything about voting and our role in democracy. (You’ll be happy to know I’ve also stopped teaching my kids math because Jesus didn’t say anything about that either.) Who cares if there are candidates that would exclude us from the first amendment. Religious freedom is overrated. I mean look how the church is growing in parts of the world where Christianity is illegal. We could benefit from a dose of persecution. You know, I think I’ll pray for it. Tonight I will huddle my family and pray that we will soon find ourselves in a country where I could lose my head for my faith. That sounds biblical.

Religious liberty is my most important concern. I would be willing to flee my country in order to get it back.

I think it’s worth it to read both his posts in full. Why aren’t more pastors like that? Why all this focus on feeling good and being liked, and doing whatever we “feel led” to do? How about we do what is necessary, whether it makes us feel good or not?

Brian Auten interviews J. Warner Wallace of ColdCaseChristianity.com

J. Warner Wallace: God's Crime Scene
J. Warner Wallace: God’s Crime Scene

I spotted this on Apologetics 315.

The MP3 file is here. (43 minutes)

Details from Brian’s post:

Today’s interview is with Jim Wallace of PleaseConvinceMe.com and host of the PleaseConvinceMe Podcast. As a cold case detective, Jim brings a unique perspective to his approach to apologetics and a very down-to-earth logical style. In this interview, Jim talks about his approach to the evidence (inference to the best explanation), Tactics and apologetics, debate vs. dialogue, pitfalls to apologists, and more.

Topics:

  • Jim’s background as an Catholic-raised atheist, and cold-case detective
  • Jim believed in the progress of science to answer all the unresolved questions
  • How did Jim become an atheist?
  • Why didn’t Jim respond to Christians witnessing to him without evidence?
  • What approach worked to start him thinking about becoming a Christian?
  • What did Jim do to grow as a Christian?
  • How did Jim’s police training help him to investigate Christianity?
  • What investigative approach is used in his police work?
  • Does “abductive reasoning” also work for investigating Christianity?
  • What sort of activities did Jim get involved in in his community?
  • How Jim’s experience as a youth pastor convinced him of the value of apologetics
  • How young people learn best by training for engagement with opponents
  • How Jim takes his youth on mission trips to UC Berkeley to engage the students
  • Is it possible to run an apologetics ministry part-time while keeping a day job?
  • Do you have to be an expert in order to have an apologetics ministry?
  • What books would Jim recommend to beginning apologists?
  • How the popular apologist can have an even bigger impact than the scholar
  • How the tactical approach is different for debates and conversations
  • Jim’s advice for Christians who are interested in learning apologetics
  • How Christian apologist need to make sure they remain humble and open-minded
  • How your audience determines how much you need to know from study

Jim’s reason for becoming an atheist, (his mother was excluded from the Catholic church after her divorce), is one I have heard before. I like the way he eventually came back to Christianity. No big emotional crisis, just taking a sober second look at the evidence by himself, and talking with his Christian friends. I’m impressed with the way he has such a productive ministry, as well.

Brian Auten interviews Jim Wallace of Please Convince Me

I spotted this on Apologetics 315.

The MP3 file is here. (43 minutes)

Details from Brian’s post:

Today’s interview is with Jim Wallace of PleaseConvinceMe.com and host of the PleaseConvinceMe Podcast. As a cold case detective, Jim brings a unique perspective to his approach to apologetics and a very down-to-earth logical style. In this interview, Jim talks about his approach to the evidence (inference to the best explanation), Tactics and apologetics, debate vs. dialogue, pitfalls to apologists, and more.

Topics:

  • Jim’s background as an Catholic-raised atheist, and cold-case detective
  • Jim believed in the progress of science to answer all the unresolved questions
  • How did Jim become an atheist?
  • Why didn’t Jim respond to Christians witnessing to him without evidence?
  • What approach worked to start him thinking about becoming a Christian?
  • What did Jim do to grow as a Christian?
  • How did Jim’s police training help him to investigate Christianity?
  • What investigative approach is used in his police work?
  • Does “abductive reasoning” also work for investigating Christianity?
  • What sort of activities did Jim get involved in in his community?
  • How Jim’s experience as a youth pastor convinced him of the value of apologetics
  • How young people learn best by training for engagement with opponents
  • How Jim takes his youth on mission trips to UC Berkeley to engage the students
  • Is it possible to run an apologetics ministry part-time while keeping a day job?
  • Do you have to be an expert in order to have an apologetics ministry?
  • What books would Jim recommend to beginning apologists?
  • How the popular apologist can have an even bigger impact than the scholar
  • How the tactical approach is different for debates and conversations
  • Jim’s advice for Christians who are interested in learning apologetics
  • How Christian apologist need to make sure they remain humble and open-minded
  • How your audience determines how much you need to know from study

Jim’s reason for becoming an atheist, (his mother was excluded from the Catholic church after her divorce), is one I have heard before. Without saying anything about the Catholic church’s policy. I like the way he eventually came back to Christianity. No big emotional crisis, just taking a sober second look at the evidence by himself, and talking with his Christian friends. I’m impressed with the way he has such a productive ministry, as well.

Seven ways for the church to get started with Christian apologetics

From Apologetics 315.

Summary:

Looking to get apologetics into your church? (There’s a podcast about that.) To get started sometimes all it takes is an idea and the vision to make something happen, even if it is small. In Jonathan Morrow’s book Think Christianly (interview here) he lists 21 ways for your church to engage at the intersection of faith and culture. Are you ready to look at just seven of them and think about how you might be able to incorporate them into your own church?

Here are the first two to wet your whistle:

  1. Briefly mention current events relevant to faith and culture and include a reference to an article or blog for further exploration.
  2. Sponsor a debate on the existence of God. Consider partnering with another church to sponsor a live event, or you can show a recent one on a DVD. This will provide opportunities for conversations to occur.

I left this comment on the post:

I like #1! Wooohooo! I have long trumpeted the value of linking what goes on in church with the real world. Not just apologetics and evidence, but current events.

Here is a story showing how linking math to current events interests young people in math.

Link:
http://www.buffalo.edu/news/11562

Quote:
“When families chat about societal issues, they often create simple mathematical models of the events,” says Ming Ming Chiu, a professor of learning and instruction at UB’s Graduate School of Education with extensive experience studying how children from different cultures and countries learn. “Unlike casual chats, these chats about societal issues can both show the real-life value of mathematics to motivate students and improve their number sense.”

The findings, published in the current issue of Social Forces, an international journal of sociology, was the first international study on how conversations among family members affect students’ mathematical aptitude and performance in school. Chiu’s findings were based on data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; its Program for International Student Assessment collected almost 110,000 science test scores and questionnaires from 15-year-olds from 41 countries, including 3,846 from the U.S.
—-

If it works for math, it should work for Christianity, too. I think so.

That’s one of the reasons why I cover current events relevant to Christianity.

I think that sponsoring Brian Auten would also be a good way to have an impact. He does great work posting all those debates, apologist interviews, lectures and book reviews. I’m sure that he could use the support!

Poll: Disengagement grows the longer workers stay in government jobs

Map of Canada
Map of Canada

From the Ottawa Citizen. (H/T Andrew)

Excerpt:

Recent post-secondary graduates recruited by the federal public service appear to become more disengaged and less ambitious the longer they’re in their jobs.

That’s a key conclusion of a new study that provides an intriguing window into perceptions of government employment by new public service hires and potential recruits. The study, recently posted to a government website, was done for the Public Service Commission by EKOS Research Associates.

It involved online surveys with two groups of people hired through the government’s Post-Secondary Recruitment Program (PSR), as well as recent hires recruited through other methods and “potential recruits” — mostly university graduates under age 35.

As part of the study, EKOS re-interviewed 219 PSR recruits who were surveyed in an earlier phase of the study in 2009. It found some “troubling shifts” in their attitudes.

The importance these recruits attach to “key intrinsic job aspects” has declined over the past year, the study reports. The weight they give to the opportunity to be creative declined by nine percentage points from 2009 to 2010, it says, while the importance they attached to the prestige associated with their jobs fell by 10 points.

There were also smaller declines in the importance ascribed to meaningful work and opportunities for career advancement, while “more extrinsic issues” — such as attractive compensation and a good work-life balance — assumed greater significance.

“These findings suggest that PSR recruits become less ambitious/intrinsically motivated as they spend more time in the federal public service,” the study concludes.

Can people who are disengaged serve the public as well as private sector workers whose compensation and continued employment depends on their being engaged in their work? This is why we need to privatize as much as possible.