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Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

Evangelicals: Now is Not the Time to Spike the Football

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David Green, Hobby Lobby CEO, David Green with Bible in warehouse, Culture Wars, Abortifacients, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act

I was as happy as you were that the Supreme Court upheld the closely held corporation, Hobby Lobby’s, right to not provide coverage for the 4 abortifacients in the Affordable Care Act.  While in no way do I pretend to understand the field of law, the argumentation that closely held corporations appear, function, and act more like individuals than they do corporations made common sense to me – and hence, applying the Constitutional right to dissent to the mandatory coverage of the 4 abortifacients in Affordable Care Act seemed appropriate.

All of that said, now is not the time to spike the football.  Evangelicals cannot rely on the Supreme Court, Congress, the Senate, nor the Executive branches to make America a “Christian nation” once again.  I am pretty confident that I love America as much as you do, but the reality is that we are a post-Christian nation that is growing increasingly undiscerning.  The people/culture(s) of America lack the worldview needed to understand the logical consequences of the breakdown of gender, marriage, and the family (the most fundamental unit of society).  The people/culture(s) of America have created a Swiss cheese patchwork quilt from a variety of different worldviews to piecemeal together sets of ideas that justify their behaviors, lifestyles, sin patterns, and addictions.

In other words, we cannot rely on the federal government to be a positive agent of cultural change in America.  Cultural change happens at a wide variety of levels but politicians and bureaucrats are chameleons which change their skin color based on the popular opinion – this is why politics is more of a reflection of the culture(s) rather than the driver of the culture(s).   Evangelicals have a Herculean task ahead of them to engage the drifting, aimless, and anesthetized conglomeration of sub-cultures that comprise this thing we call the United States of America.

Culture flows out of people’s wants and desires.  People’s wants and desires flow out of their hearts.  If you want cultural change then you have to see changed hearts.  If you want changed hearts then you must see the Holy Spirit remove the heart of stone and replace it with the heart of flesh.  If you want the Spirit to move then you must pray for Him to move and you must be faithful to share the Gospel winsomely, clearly, and boldly.  I am not saying don’t vote, or don’t engage politically; however, we cannot lobby or legislate people into the Kingdom of God.

 

Secular Worship Services, Part Two: The Superbowl

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Seattle Seahawks Russell Willson lifts Superbowl Trophy with Confetti

Sorry to all the Denver Broncos fans out there – that was pretty rough.  The Seahawks out executed in every phase of the game.  Hats off to a humble, classy, and non-flashy Russell Wilson for his quiet leadership and on-field play.

There are two very distinct kinds of liturgies at work in the Superbowl:  The Superbowl the Game (and half-time show), and The Superbowl the Commercials.  The game and the commercials overlap at points and in many ways are inextricably linked but also diverge at points as well.  This post will cover the topic of the Superbowl the game and the next post will analyze the Superbowl the commercials.  After analyzing a number of various forms of secular worship we will then discuss what these secular liturgies mean on a cultural level, a religious level, and an individual level. 

The Superbowl the Game

In many ways sports provides for men (and women also) a pressure relief valve on their bottled up, suppressed, repressed, or unexpressed emotions.  Sports can function as a kind of surrogate intimacy to other failed or stunted intimacies – this is why some men who are entirely dispassionate in other spheres (marriage, vocation, parenthood…) all of a sudden come alive in the arena or in front of the flatscreen.

Liturgies follow formats and rhythms of expected time, space, color, and aesthetics.  In many ways, most sports liturgies follow the same liturgy:

The Pregame (Welcome, Greeting, and Sacrament)

The pregame is filled several elements that invite the sports worshiper into the liturgy to follow.  Elements of the pregame involve storylines of the forthcoming game, analysis of the players and teams involved, and perhaps also preliminary indulgence into the sacramental table of the expected food and drink (tailgating, BBQ… etc.).

The Grove at Ole Miss

The Grove at Ole Miss

There are obvious corollaries between the tailgate and the Lord’s Supper (or eucharist); both are inviting the worshiper deeper into the liturgy (game and camaraderie)  to follow as well as serve to unite the participants into community with one another.

National Anthem (Call to Worship)

This is a moment of civil religiosity where we find unity in our commonality as residents (or citizens) of the United States of America.  This can also function as a kind of call to worship for the events that are about to happen on field.  It provides a very least common denominator unity to all in attendance regardless of their team allegiance.

The Game Itself (Worship in Song, Creed Recitation, Iconography, Benediction)

The game itself is participatory in many ways.  Most teams have some sort of team song(s) – this is common also among other sports – particularly college football, soccer, and rugby.  The songs serve to unite, provide camaraderie, and a sense of belonging.  Most teams also have at least one, often more than one creed, chant, or rally cry.  It could be as simple as an idea – Seattle Seahawk’s (aka. TAMU) Twelfth Man or longer form chants or cheers like University of Florida’s We are the Boys from Old FloridaAlabama’s Rammer Jammer Cheer, or Ole Miss’ Hotty Toddy.  Many of these serve to make great the dynasty of one’s own tribe to the detriment of the rivals.  There is also highly developed iconography associated with sport.  The icons serve far more than to merely brand but serve to identify allegiance to the particular tribe.  Most teams will also have some form of a victory cheer or chant as well.  These chants function in many ways similar to a benediction to a worship service (provided your team wins).

Peyton Manning - Sad Face - Superbowl - Denver Broncos

Sports can provide great elation and crushing agony (just ask Peyton Manning).  These ranges of emotions are natural because we worship with the heart – hence, success is met with great joy and defeat brings frustration, anger, and a whole host of other emotions.  We cheer when our team scores a touchdown or wins the big game and we get ticked and want a new coach when our team goes 4-8 (#Muschamp).

Sports as Evangelism (Mission)

Sports fans want other people to be a part of their tribe.  Sports is inherently evangelistic.  It is by nature evangelistic because it is human nature to want other people to enjoy the things that we enjoy.  Hence, there is a significant missional component that is hard wired into sports, particularly the Superbowl in America.

This post is the second in a series of post on Secular Worship Services, the first analyzed The Grammys.  Up next, we will take a look at The Superbowl with respect to the commercials.  

Written by Michael Graham

February 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Best Links of the Week

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Ronnie Smith

Anita Smith, widow of Ronnie Smith, wrote a brief yet beautiful letter to the people of Libya

Brilliant, snarky, and scathing OP-ED from David Brooks in NYT entitled, “The Thought Leader

Barna research supports evangelism on dramatic rise among millennials and in decline among boomers and busters.  If true this flies in the face of a lot of the sound bites regarding “millennials.”

Dalrock on the economic fallout of a culture that is hostile to husbands and fathers, “Progress

Washington Times – “Half of America Strips Religion From Christmas

Apparently researchers in the Pacific Northwest have figured out how to quasi-efficiently produce crude oil from algae

Some really helpful infographics on the state of religions in the U.S.

Francis Chan in a brutally honest piece, “Why It’s So Easy for Leaders to Fake It

Camille Paglia’s piece, “It’s a Man’s World, and it Always Will Be

Interesting interview with Ethan Hawke in Esquire, “What I’ve Learned

I am a sucker for amazing time-lapse:

 

Best Links of the Week

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Daily Stormtroopers 365

Religion May Become Extinct in Nine Countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland)

In March, U.S. Government spent 8x more than it had coming in

Some interesting rhetoric between Dmitry Medvedez and Vladimir Putin.

Two sets of excellent photographs from the Japanese devastation:  BBC and Boston Globe

Libyans using Western journalists as human shields

Cash for Clunkers 2

Paul Allen takes some shots at Bill Gates and gives some revisionist accounts of the history of Microsoft

Massive publisher Conde Nast got scammed for $8 million by one email

Interesting article in WSJ about feminism and provocative clothing among teenage girls (HT:  Lisi)

The 10 Most Profitable Movies of All-Time

Worthwhile video (HT: Jutty):

My Two Caveats for the Missional Church

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I recently attended the Advance 2010 conference on Contextualizing the Gospel in the New Urban South.  The content of the conference was excellent and the speakers were Gospel-centered and Christ-saturated.  In the interest of full self-disclosure, I would willfully self-identify as being a part of the missional church movement.  While steeping some of the teaching receieved, I am left with two potential pitfalls for the missional church movement.

I think the obituaries have already been written and the eulogies given for both the church growth movement and the emergent church.  Hence, my first concern for the missional church movement is that it will just be another fad within evangelicalism.  I’ve chronicled before the very fickle fadish-ness nature of American evangelicalism.  We have the strong inclination to let our pendulums swing wildly, rarely finding any semblance of balance.  If history is any predictor of the future, the missional church movement will gain steam, others will jump on the bandwagon, then the movement dies because many identified with the movement not for its intrinsic principles, but rather for its pragmatic ends.  Nothing will kill a movement like the evil trinity of inauthenticity, superficiality, and pragmatism.

My second concern for the missional church movement is actually legalism.  This may actually come as a surprise of anyone who saw/listened to any of the Advance 2010 material.  Rightly so, Tyler Jones, Tullian Tchvidjian, Ed Stetzer and others railed against the quaint moralism (or think of Michael Horton’s, moralistic therapeutic deism) of the South.  Here is how legalism could creep into the missional church movement… and it is really subtle and nasty.  In your call to missional movement and mindset, create an implicit caste system within your church.  In this caste system reward those who are ‘more on mission’ vs. those who are ‘less on mission.’  In this caste system the way to earn God’s favor is by doing the works of the mission of God.  I don’t know if this kind of legalism is better/worse than any other form of self-salvation.  Remember that legalism is one of those nasty sins like pride, that can literally manifest themselves in even the most counter-intuitive or even contradictory places (ie. one can be proud in one’s humility).  We must be careful to still remind ourselves and others that our standing with God is not changed by even our greatest Gospel efforts or lack thereof.

In my view, we must guard the missional church movement from those who would see it as the next “it” way to grow your church (after shaving their soul patch and ceased showing movie clips).   We must also guard against guilting people into being on mission.  They must desire to be the church because of the Gospel not because it is the new way to rise in the legalistic caste system in your church.

Your thoughts?

Best Links of the Week

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World Magazine has a piece entitled, “Farewell Emerging Church, 1989-2010.”

NPR Podcast analyzing assets acquired by the Federal Reserve. (HT:  Phill Graham)

Companion piece to an NPR, All Things Considered program on a Hedge Fund called Magnetar.  Explains how this Hedge Fund made tons of money on credit default options by perpetuating the housing bubble.  (HT:  Phill Graham)

Big Hollywood piece on the U.S. 2010 Census challenging the wisdom of giving out race information, as well as, questioning the meaning of the word ‘race’.

Non-Government personal income fallen 3.2% under Obama presidency.

WSJ article on the shortage of medical doctors already problematic.  A lack of Biblical warrant, innovation, quality control, expediency, and a lack of fiscal incentives for the brightest students are my five major concerns of Obamacare.

In a rather strange story, retail store Hobby Lobby evangelized in their Easter ads.

Brit Hume Responds on O’Reilly to People’s Reactions to his Tiger Woods Comments

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This was worth watching.  Hume is correct on hitting a nerve in our culture.  The divisive reaction speaks both to the explosiveness of the culture war in America, as well as, the reality of opposition to the Gospel of Christ.

Update:  Justin Taylor has a few brief insights into Hume’s own conversion to Christianity that are worth reading.

Also, here is an interview with Christianity Today.

Your thoughts?

Written by Michael Graham

January 6, 2010 at 11:53 am

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