The Ministry-Impact Gap

Today, my friend Chris Grace[1]  introduced me to a concept that recent social psychologists refer to as “The Liking Gap.” In simple terms, when people converse with others, they normally think that the person with whom they have conversed leaves the conversation liking them less than the other person in fact does.  In other words, … Continue reading The Ministry-Impact Gap

Is Contextualization the Key to Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth?

“The key to missions is contextualization.” “The key to growing the American church is relevance.” If we could put the Christian message in just the right form, and set up our churches to be places where visitors felt comfortable, a lot more people would come to Christ. Right? No, I’m afraid that’s not right. But … Continue reading Is Contextualization the Key to Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth?

A Twist on Thanksgiving: Living a Life of Thanks

I love the fact that in the United States we as a nation set aside one day a year simply for giving thanks to God for his good gifts. At some of our tables, we will take a few minutes before we eat to mention the things that we are thankful for: a new job, … Continue reading A Twist on Thanksgiving: Living a Life of Thanks

What Do Christians Mean When They Use the Word “Conservative”?

Last night we encountered some misunderstanding surrounding the word “conservative” during an open discussion after a community meal at The Birdhouse (the mentoring community Trudi and I lead for college students). One of the students commented that I was the first “conservative” she had ever met who was not a cessationist. (Cessationism is the view … Continue reading What Do Christians Mean When They Use the Word “Conservative”?

If Your Phone Causes You to Sin, Cut it Off

And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.  And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and … Continue reading If Your Phone Causes You to Sin, Cut it Off

Even Atheists Knew More About the Bible Than Christians Do Today

In 19th century England, Atheists knew more about the Bible than most Christians do today. So did Liberal Anglicans, Anglo-Catholics, Unitarians, and Agnostics. So claims Timothy Larsen in A People of One Book: The Bible and the Victorians (Oxford, 2011). Larsen makes a convincing case that Victorian England was saturated with the Bible. Nineteenth century English people in general cared … Continue reading Even Atheists Knew More About the Bible Than Christians Do Today

“Broken” as an Excuse for Repetitive Sinning

Word meanings sometimes shift.  I have begun to wonder whether one commonplace word has begun to shift recently—aiding certain contemporary Christians who want to minimize their sin and justify ongoing sin patterns.  There’s nothing new, of course, about Christians searching for ways to avoid feeling bad about sinning.  But modern Christians have become remarkably adept … Continue reading “Broken” as an Excuse for Repetitive Sinning

Did Paul Invent Christianity?

Sometimes people skeptical of Christianity claim that the Apostle Paul, not Jesus, was the primary innovator of many things we think of as “Christian.” Some take it even further and claim that Paul so radically changed the teaching of Jesus that he, rather than Jesus, should be viewed as the true founder of Christianity.  I’m … Continue reading Did Paul Invent Christianity?

Is the Bible Clear?

I remember sitting in my office with a student who was thinking about moving out of evangelical Protestantism and into a different church tradition. He began thinking this way after he started reading widely in the writings of Christian authors from earlier eras. After being exposed to various authors who sometimes expressed divergent viewpoints from … Continue reading Is the Bible Clear?

Rather than the Enneagram: Let the Bible Highlight Your Sin Tendencies

The key insight of the Enneagram that Christians seem most attracted to—and that, in many people’s opinions sets it apart from other personality and strengths-finding tests—is its diagnosis of people’s sinful tendencies (what some Enneagramites refer to as “passions” and “fixations”).  In other words, the Enneagram is supposed to help us identify nine detrimental paths … Continue reading Rather than the Enneagram: Let the Bible Highlight Your Sin Tendencies