1. Bob Hyatt is a pastor in the Portland area and also a contributor for the Out of Ur blog on ChristianityToday.com. This week he wrote a post that I believe all pastors and Christian leaders must read. I don’t throw it out there as someone beyond the problem he raises, but as someone who struggles to navigate it well. Read his full post on the problem of pastoral “fame” here.
When pastors start building their “platform,” growing their influence, and raising their profile, it’s generally talked about in terms of expanding ministry reach, being a good steward of the talents God has given, and, always, increasing “kingdom impact.” And while I have no doubt that many are humbly pursuing a God-given call to speak beyond the bounds of their local church community to a larger audience, I also suspect that for many, the motivations are somewhat more muddied, somewhat less altruistic.
2. Ed Stetzer is someone firmly entrenched in church life, especially from a Southern Baptist perspective. In this post, he unearths and talks directly about the problem all of us have where we find something unlike us and we hate it. We all have a “boogeyman” that we despise for seemingly no reason other than we don’t understand the value of it. Just as Stetzer says, we see this hate for things unlike our preferences come out most of all in the sermons of pastors. I hope you’ll heed the challenge here.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Baptist bogeyman. Bogeymen are not real dangers, but ones we use to scare one another, often distracting us from real danger. There are real challenges in our churches and the convention—theological and otherwise—but bogeymen distract us from the real issues.
3. A few days ago I wrote a guest post on A.J Swoboda’s blog titled “Israel, Palestine, and Me — We’re All Guilty.” No doubt this is an incredibly sticky subject, especially in light of the political and theologically conservative support for Israel that is often given in our culture. try to engage the subject by not pointing fingers or calling out one side or the other. I don’t think that does any long term good. But hard words also need to be said on this.
The issues facing Israel, Palestine, and other parts of the Middle East are no different than many of the struggles I wage internally. While those internal struggles often push me to repentance and reconciliation with my God and my brother, it seems that is not always the case for those involved in this Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Is peace over the promised land of God’s blessing worth fighting for so much that we’re willing to sacrifice our privilege and the identities bound up with that privilege?
Grace and Peace.