Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Why Art Matters to God

Here is a clip from an article by T.M. Moore that first appeared in the June 2003 issue of BreakPoint WorldView magazine. It offers some interesting ideas about the value of art.

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Anyone who reads the Bible, paying careful attention not only to the words of the text but also the forms of God’s revelation, will be struck by the widespread and varied use of the arts for communicating God’s purposes and will. The Old and New Testaments alike make abundant use of the arts: visual arts (the Tabernacle and Temple and all their decorations, the pillar of memorial stones on the banks of the Jordan); musical arts (psalms and spiritual songs); literary arts (story-telling, poetry, perhaps even drama, all kinds of metaphors and images); and a wide variety of abstract and visionary art forms (the first chapters of Ezekiel and Revelation, for example).

All of which begs the question: Why does God consider art so important that He made such varied use of it for communicating His will to His people?

Many reasons come to mind: art’s ability to appeal to the imagination and engage the affections; its value as an aid to memory; the balance between form and freedom inherent in the arts, suggesting both parameters and liberties for our lives; the experience of delight and pleasure art can provide; the universal appeal of art; and so forth. Far from being a mere frill, art has always played a central role in human society. Their souls are impoverished, as is their experience of life, for whom art has little importance.

But by far the greatest value of the arts to the Christian is their ability to nurture the sense of beauty and, thus, to train our hearts and minds to know, enjoy, and relate better to Him who is the Perfection of Beauty. Modern and postmodern artists have so relativized the concept of beauty that even to discuss its role in the arts is to risk appearing passé or uninformed. But this is a strictly recent phenomenon. The history of art is replete with discussions of beauty and its importance in the arts, and, where Christians have entered those discussions, they have argued for the role of art in nurturing our sense of beauty and helping us to know and worship God, as, for example in this exhortation to poets by John Keble (1792-1866):
Sovereign masters of all hearts!
Know ye who hath set your parts?
He, who gave you breath to sing,
By whose strength ye sweep the string,
He hath chosen you to lead
His hosannas here below . . .
Even that which is ugly in the arts trains us for beauty by creating in our souls a sense of dissonance, loss, or absence, making us long for a resolution of form, theme, and artistic elements into something transcendent, something beautiful. By studying the various forms of art, seeking to discern the beauty in them, we are better able to appreciate and experience the wonder and diversity of God. His revelation in Scripture opens up in new, deeper, and more compelling ways when we can understand the artistry underlying its creation and informing its message. The experience of things beautiful—which God intended for us when He created trees “beautiful to look upon” in the garden (Genesis 2:9)—can shape our hearts and minds in ways more reflective of the purpose and pleasure of God.

Art matters to God, as we see in His holy Word. For that reason alone, but also because of what we learn through the arts about beauty, art must be important for us as well.

Monergism Upgrade

John Hendryx the webmaster for the Monergism website recently collaborated with Tim Challies to upgrade the sites structure and look. Here are some comments from Tim on the new site:
The main feature of the redesigned site is a completely new directory system (click the Directory button). It allows visitors to search and sort the links and even to rate them. Information is categorized much better and much more logically than in the past, meaning that it is far easier to find great resources through it. There are also now RSS feeds, email updates, better integration with the Monergismbooks bookstore and so on. The benefits go on and on. And what's more, the new design isn't too hard on the eyes.
If you don’t know what this site is all about, you really should check it out. The Monergism site is a tremendous resource for finding articles that give theological perspectives on scores of topics. It’s a great study resource! You can check it out here.

(HT: Challies)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Few More Ice Pics

Here's some pics my friend John took of yesterday's ice storm. BTW: Our power came on around 8 am this morning. Unfortunately several are still without power in the area. Hundreds of powerlines went down from the weight of ice and falling tree branches.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Iowa Ice Storm

Today eastern Iowa was hit by a day long ice storm that is turning to snow and may dump 6-12 inches by the end of the day tomorrow. Power has been out for much of the community since late afternoon. I managed to hook up my internet modem, wireless router, and laptop via my car AC transformer in order to check the weather. Thought I'd take a moment and share our little crisis with the world. My only concern now is that I can get up and in for services in the morning without getting stuck or crashing somewhere! Here's a few pics from my back yard. If you click on them you should be able to see them in a larger format.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Seth Godin on Why Blog?

Here's Seth Godin's thoughts on why YOU should consider having a blog.
What do most people get out of blogging? After all, most blogs are virtually unread by outsiders...

The act of writing a blog changes people, especially business people. The first thing it does is change posture. Once you realize that no has HAS to read your blog, that you can't MAKE them read your blog, you approach writing with humility and view readers with gratitude. The second thing it does is force you to be clear. If you write something that's confusing or in shorthand, you fail.

Respectful and clear. That's a lot to get out of something that doesn't take much time.

Of course I don't approach my blog like a business person; however, I have found that blogging has forced me to think more about what I believe and why I believe it. It has also gotten me in the discipline of writing (communicating) more regularly, which is definitely a worthy exercise. Finally, it has made me a lot more attentive to what is going on in the world and Christian community. Even if none of you ever read what I write, these reasons alone would make it worth doing.

Upcoming Series

Here's the poster for the upcoming pre-Easter message series at Parkview (click the image to make it larger).

Movies that Make You Want to Read

The Desiring God blog recently featured this post about Michael Flaherty, the president of Walden Media, the production company for "Amazing Grace," which opens in theaters today. I am thankful for Walden Media's commitment to making good stories into good movies. In this speech Flaherty explains why his company makes the movies they do.

He began by noting the problem:

You are what you read. We are shaped and influenced by the books that we read. They prepare us for more than interesting conversations—they actually prepare us to face real crises that we encounter in life. Few people would dispute this simple statement, so let's ask a simple related question: What are we reading today?

The short answer is: Not much.

How can movies help?

Cultural restoration, Russell Kirk said, begins at home. Certainly the same is true of literacy. And in today's media saturated culture, I dare to say that it may also begin at the movie theater.

Walden Media was started several years ago by myself, Cary Granat, and Phil Anschutz. We wanted to create a company dedicated to recapturing imagination, rekindling curiosity, and demonstrating the rewards of knowledge and virtue. All of our films would be based on great books, great people, and great historical events. They would be made by the best talent in entertainment and they would all be linked to educational materials developed by some of the best talent in education.

And how do they decide what stories to turn into movies?

Rather than turn to the usual parade of agents and Hollywood producers, we launched an unusual campaign that continues to this day. We enrolled in as many educational conferences as we could find. We spoke to tens of thousands of teachers and librarians and asked them what books they most enjoyed teaching and recommending. After seven years, the only thing that seems odd about this strategy is the fact that our company is the only one doing it. After all, who knows stories better than teachers and librarians?

But how does watching a movie translate into wanting to read?

In conjunction with every film, we launch an ambitious educational campaign that places the book at its center. Since starting Walden, we have distributed hundreds of thousands of books, mostly to Title One Schools that are not able to afford them.

Finally, why did Walden Media make "Amazing Grace"?

Today we desperately need more leaders like William Wilberforce and the Kings and Queens of Narnia who will fight to make good laws, keep the peace, save good trees from being cut down, and encourage ordinary people who want to live and let live.

We are all familiar with the problems that good people face, both nationally and globally. In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. Martin Luther King wrote that we have two options when faced with such problems. We can act like a thermometer and merely make a record. Or we can act like a thermostat and correct what is wrong.

HT: The Point

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Deconstructing Belief

Parkview friends! You are in for a treat as Josh Malone, the Pastor of Young Adults, and Nate Hobert, the College Pastor, team up on a four week pre-Easter series called Deconstructing Belief. In the series they will be dealing with several "defeaters" for today's culture in regard to the plausibility of Christianity. For those of you not in the Iowa City area, you'll be able to listen to the messages at our website. Here is the entire series:

Is Christianity Believable…
  • In Light of God’s Story? - March 10 & 11
  • In A World of Many Faiths? - March 17 & 18
  • When My Choice Matter’s Most? - March 24 & 25
  • In A World of Evil and Suffering? - March 31 & April 1

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Jesus, That's My King

Here's John P. Kee, Billy Preston and VIP worshiping the Lord like few can. Talk about groove. Thanks for the link John. Make sure you watch it all the way into the B3 solo.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Andy Mckee

Here's some guitar inspiration... Thanks for the link Jim!

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Parable

Ron Man wrote this little parable about the worship wars that churches have often engaged in regarding various musical styles in worship. Ron illustrates that the real issue doesn’t lie with the style, but with the heart.

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And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that their worship style was the only acceptable form:

“Four men went up in to the temple to pray, two traditional music directors and two contemporary worship leaders. One of the music directors stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like many other church musicians: untrained, unrefined, undignified, or even like these contemporary worship leaders. I program only the finest art music; I present only those works truly worthy of Thee.’ “One of the contemporary worship leaders was standing off to the other side, praying like this: ‘O Lord, I thank You that I am not like many other church musicians: stuffy, inhibited, stuck in a rut of boring and irrelevant music of the past. I present only the very latest songs and reach people where they’re at.’

“In another corner the other music director and the other contemporary worship leader were kneeling and praying together. The music director prayed: ‘Lord God, You know how easily the striving for artistic excellence can become idolatrous. When I use my gifts, may I always remember that they come from Your hand, and that You delight in all of the genuine gifts of worship which Your children bring, in all of their variety.’ The worship leader prayed: ‘God, I taught myself how to play the guitar and have not studied music in the academy; but I thank You for Your grace in allowing me to come near in worship, and for the privilege in leading others to Your throne. Thank You for all the different ways that Your people can praise You.’

“I tell you, these last two went away with their offerings of worship received by the Lord, rather than the others; for God is not so much concerned with the style of the musical gifts you bring, as He is with the humility of heart and genuineness of love with which you bring them.”

“The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.” (Romans 14:3)

Prayer Experience

This evening (Sunday), following my Perpsectives class, I had the opportunity to join the 24-hour prayer experience that started at 8:00 pm in the church atrium. I found the time very meaningful and at the same time quite intriguing. When you enter the room you get a prayer booklet and are asked to remove your shoes. Once in the room you place your name on a prayer wall and then eventually move to a computer monitor where you are lead to meditate on passages from Exodus 33. From there you pray through an “alphabetic” list of names for God and then proceed to another wall where you write the name of God that represents how He is powerfully working in your life at this time. This experience is continued on in prayer stations focusing upon topics like confession, the Psalms, world missions, small group prayer, etc… There is even a crib in the room (as pictured above) where you pray about what it means to be a child of God. All throughout the time Greg Mazunik, our college ministry worship leader, was standing in a corner with his guitar leading those interested in singing prayers of praise, confession, and adoration.

Earlier in this post I described the time as intriguing. I used this word because, while I was orienting myself to the booklet’s directions, praying in various stations, and listening to the sound of praise and worship fill the room all around me, I remembered the prayer meetings I enjoyed as a college student. Though I am only 34 years old, I recall prayer meetings with carefully guided topics, timed themes, and prayers divided into large group, small group, and individual prayer segments. Some non-postmoderns will be tempted to leave this 24-hour prayer experience saying, “I just don’t get it.” I appeal to all of you that, before you rush to any hasty conclusions, you take a moment and look around you at the scores of tomorrow’s leaders crying out to God on behalf of their friends, praying for the gospel to go around the world, confessing their sins, and praising God with all their mind, soul, and strength. My point being that it is too easy for those of us beyond “young and single” to shy away from risky experiences that get us out of our comfort zone and position us to say to the Lord, “fill me, mold me, and use me!” God forbid when I allow myself to join the masses saying, “I prefer the way things used to be!” After all, where does the bible teach that being a Christ follower gives us the right to avoid the uncomfortable position of taking risks for the Lord?

I encourage those of you in the Iowa City area to join those praying in the Atrium at Parkview. I promise, you won’t regret it! The prayer experience will be going until 8:00 pm on Monday. Remember, an awakening within the people of our community, nation, and world depends upon the faithful prayers of the saints!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Olson on Folk Religion

I am going through “The Mosaic of Christian Belief” by Roger Olson with a small group. Last week in our first meeting we reviewed the introduction where Olson introduced the concept of folk religion. Folk religion focuses upon faith experience and rejects that there is necessity within Christians for an understanding of the basic beliefs or doctrines of the Christian faith. A common phrase of the folk religious is “doctrine divides, Jesus unites.” On the other side we have those who spend all their time and energy on developing their beliefs.

Regarding this dichotomy Olson explains that, “on the one hand, some evangelical ministers and teachers emphasize believing as if it were the be-all and the end-all of authentic Christianity. On the other hand, many more emphasize “experiencing God” or “doing what Jesus would do” as the be-all and end-all of authentic Christianity.” (P 20) Olson feels there is a middle ground that is both necessary and healthy for the today’s believing Christian because “folk religion is a poor substitute for historic Christianity” and “intellectual “head knowledge” is an equally poor substitute for personal transformation through a relationship with the triune God.” (P 20)

Olson’s primary agenda is to counter the present decline in awareness of basic Christian beliefs. I do think Olson’s points are very good and worth all of us pondering. Some of you are so busy “knowing God” that you take little time to enjoy a simple and intimate relationship with your Abba Father. Others of you are so focused on “just loving Jesus” that you are actually at risk of embracing an “odd eclecticism” of faith “in which completely incompatible notions are combined in a soup of experiential spirituality.” (P 19)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Amazing Grace Reviewed

I have posted multiple times on this movie, but was so encouraged by this review I read on "Between Two Worlds" that I thought I would pass it on. I really enjoy seeing movies come out with redemptive value and a reasonable level of historic integrity. According to Witherington, this is a good one.

Ben Witherington reviews Amazing Grace. An excerpt:
I will tell you now it is one of the better films of historical interest that I have ever seen--- beautiful cinematography, powerful acting, carefully hewn plot line and scene development-- just right. While superficial comparisons could be made with Steven Spielberg's 'Amistad' of some years ago, this is a far more compelling story as it explains the philosophical and theological roots of the abolitionist movement in England.
. . . "Amazing Grace" is a wonderful, poignant and compelling story of how to live out the social implications of one's faith. It reaches the theaters on Feb. 23rd of this month, the 200th anniversary of the date when the abolition act first passed the vote of Parliament. I would urge every Christian to see this movie, take their families, take their youth groups, take their churches to see it. We need to support this sort of high quality cinema which supports Christian values. I hope we will do so. In doing so we will be serving the One who called us to social justice and ministries of compassion saying "in as much as you have not done it unto the least of these, you have not done it unto me."
Here is the official movie website.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Some Statistics from Malphurs

During our session with Aubrey Malphurs on Sunday and Monday, he shared some discouraging statistics about today’s culture that deserves our attention.
  • Churches all across America are struggling. Approximately four out of five are at a plateau or declining.
  • The number of people who have any kind of churched experience is declining (churched: meaning have attended a church within 6 months). Gallop said only 40 percent of Americans are churched. Another study said only 20 percent are churched and a more recent study by David Olson said in 2003 only 17.8 percent are churched.
  • 72 percent of people born from 1964-1981 are not involved in a Christian community.
  • The new upcoming generation is the most widely unchurched demographic in our nations history.
  • According to Barna the following is the percentage of people who are churched or have a churched experience:
    • Builders – born pre-1946 – 51 percent
    • Boomers – born 1946-1964 – 51 percent
    • Busters – born 1965-1979 – 34 percent
    • Bridgers – born 1977-1994 – 29 percent
  • As low as 8 percent of those under the age of 24 attend a church.
  • 75-88 percent of students going through youth ministry now, will check out of church during their freshmen year of college.
  • The Mormon church has tripled its population since 1965. Then it had 1,789,175 members and now it has 5,113,409.
  • More Muslims attend a mosque in England than Anglicans attend a church.
  • The Wiccan movement has grown 1,575% in the last decade.
Though I am sure these are verifiable, I am unable to site all the sources because they were delivered in a lecture format. Of course, statistics like this can be overly alarmist and can often be turned to argue any position. Despite this, I believe there is enough verifiable evidence to conclude that we should be concerned about some of the shifts happening within our culture. In response, we should work diligently to reach new generations with the gospel. The church in England and Western Europe is a dismal example of how thriving Christian populations can dwindle to a spiritual wasteland. I pray that this cycle of decline be broken so that the church in North America can continue to effectively reach people for Christ and also participate in a missional movement both locally and around the world.

Monday, February 12, 2007


In a recent story by ABC news, we read that bars in New York will soon be fighting DWI with talking "motion activated soap-pucks" in all the urinals (Thanks for the link John). Read below...
When guys leave a bar, the bathroom is usually the first place they visit before they go to their cars. And now, when men step up to the urinal at participating pubs, they'll hear this public service announcement as they relieve themselves:

"Hey, you! Yeah, you! Having a few drinks? Then, listen up! Think you've had one too many? Maybe it's time to call a cab or call a sober friend for a ride home. It's sure safer and a hell of a lot cheaper than a DWI! Make the smart choice tonight. Don't drink and drive!"
So, here's my idea. Why not put these in church bathrooms across the nation. Perhaps they could quote scripture, or feature a sound bite from last weeks message. Better yet, you could use them like evangelism tracts and put them in public restrooms with a gospel challenge being delivered during each use. What do you think?

Elder & Pastor Retreat

This morning the elders and pastors at Parkview completed a retreat time with Aubrey Malphurs, a church strategist from Dallas Seminary. One of our goals to was evaluate our mission, vision, and strategy as a church. It was a very encouraging time that challenged us and made us realize that we need to re-examine some of the core-values that drive our strategic decision making process.

As I expected, this retreat was not an end, but a beginning. The good news is that we are all unified and excited about what lies ahead. Thanks to all of you who were praying for this retreat. I now ask that you continue to pray as the process moves forward. Pray that the meetings continuing over the next several weeks would be fruitful in moving us forward, and that all our efforts will be lead by the Lord.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Site Problems

If you are viewing my site via the web (versus an aggregate reader) then you'll notice that over the last few weeks some weird things have been happening to the look and formatting. I believe this is reflective of changes that are taking place or being worked on by blogger. This morning my side bars have disappeared??? I am going to give blogger a few days with the hopes that internal adjustments will fix the problems and then work on resolving it myself. I guess I just wanted you all to know why things have been looking funky on occation over the last few weeks.

Mark Driscoll on Multi-Site Church Strategy

In my continuing series on the multi-site church conference I recently attended, I would like to post a few reflections on Mark Driscoll’s presentation regarding his multi-site approach at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. Mark started his talk with his usual son of a drywaller, more dogs than people, opening statements (if you’ve heard Driscoll before, you know what I’m talking about). From his opening he progressed through a unique series of questions that were all the same question with added elements. For organizational purposes, I am simply going to give you a few highlights.

The fundamental question he posed was “Will your church have multiple services?” Here are some of his insights to this question… I will add my comments in parenthesis.

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  • The scope of your mission, not the size of the room, will dictate how your church is done. We must maintain the attitude that we are designed to reduplicate ourselves. You MUST have reproduction as part of your DNA.
  • Prepare your church for reduplication! For example: When you start a new site, make the service time 10 and then when you split to grow you can do two services at 9 and 11. This will more evenly distribute your people and avoid making one less favorable service time.
  • You need to ask questions about establishing different looks, styles, sizes, etc… We are in a culture with a bunch of different tribes (therefore customize). You will need high definition video for larger rooms. It is imperative you have a campus pastor. We call it a “face with a place.”
  • At Mars Hill, morning services are rock based. In evenings they have much louder, heavier, music. Style is defined by the room, music, teaching tone, etc…
  • Don’t just cater to the grumblers (referring to people who always want things how they like it). Be strategic. In Seattle the large room is strategic for anonymity, so we often try to go with larger rooms for our services. (Note: This contradicts what Larry Osborn said that leaders like it large, but people like it small)
  • In your strategy you shouldn’t go only after families. 50 percent of Americans are unmarried singles.
  • Driscoll argues against renting schools and theaters for your new sites. He says it is best to get your own building. Mars Hill goes after the dead and dying churches. He calls this facility evangelism. (chuckle) Mark went on to tell several stories about dying churches who simply gave their building to Mars Hill to take over and use.
  • Consider converting your best room, best service, best time to video. Mark explained that for margin reasons, they converted their prime service on Sunday mornings to a video service. He said it affected attendance just a bit, but worked great and freed him up to go and preach at a site location that needed a boost.
  • Driscoll argues against using multiple preachers at different church site locations. He believes it will feed a church split. Each campus, has a campus pastor and when Driscoll is out of the pulpit for vacation, the campus pastors preaches at their campus. Driscoll said that this could eventually lead that site to become a church plant, which he considers a favorable thing.
  • Mark emphasized that each site is a new church, so it must have midweek programming. You need some campus specific staff, but in the same regard you should have departmental staff across all campuses. You need a centralized headquarters. (I believe this means small group management, caring ministries, etc.. is across campuses. They also have a shared elder board for all the church sites).
  • There is no limit to where a church can go. Overseeing all of this is very important. Border controlling the theological views and other vision/management details are important. You (the Senior Pastor) can’t sit down with your staff and drive this strategy on your own. You need to get your three most progressive/innovative people in the church together and then sit down and make it happen (meaning develop innovative strategies that advance the mission).

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dave Ferguson on Multi-Site Churches

I recently attended at a multi-site church conference. I found a session given in part by Dave Ferguson, the Lead Pastor at Community Christian Church in Chicago, Illinois, particularly helpful. During his portion he explained the seven moves they want to see happen before they launch another church site (they now have 8 operating in the Chicago area). These are good principles for adding venues, adding new sites, and planting churches. In my opinion, every church should be doing at least one of these in order to be biblically missional.

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Be observant to where God is at work in the lives of your people and then join him there. If the “God thing” comes first, then that makes the vision compelling. One example of this is if you have a work that is particularly fruitful in a specific region of town (perhaps a free medical clinic, social program, or small group network) then that is where you should consider adding a new site.


Here are three ways to communicate vision to your people…
  • STORIES: Tell lots of stories about how God is at work
  • SLOGANS: Their slogan is “Helping people find their way back to God.” Slogans like this unify and motivate people around a specific vision.
  • STUMP SPEECH: When you are preparing to pitch a new site addition to your congregation, train your leaders to present a 2 minutes speech, which explains the vision behind adding this new site. This way all communication is unified and informed.


Lyle Schaller says there are 2 questions every newcomer asks when attending a church:
  • Whose in charge?
  • Who can answer my questions?
These questions are answered with a campus pastor. You need a face with the place. They are the emcee, the cheerleader, the quality manager, and the talent scout. They are always looking for brand new contributors. The first step in the count-down to launch is identifying the campus pastor.


Don’t recreate your main campus team. Start with campus pastor and then add a specialist who can work with both locations (by this Dave means there will be a Campus Pastor specifically focused upon the site and then supporting staff (like a Small Groups Pastor) who would actually oversee small groups for both church locations).

We need spiritual entrepreneurs. We want 100 key volunteers to start a new location. We tell our people starting a new site, you’ve got to either lead or serve. You can’t just take-up a seat.


$150-200,000 to start a new location


In Dave’s opinion, in the future there will be a lot of churches with 2 sites, a few with 3 sites, and an abundance of churches with 4 or more.

You may be asking the question, “How can multiple-site (and venue) churches stay unified as one church movement?” Here is Dave’s answer:

The Four 1st Are What Unite Your Multiple Sites:
  • 1 Vision – shared mission, vision, slogan, purpose, DNA, etc..
  • 1 Budget – oversee and maintain one church budget
  • 1 Eldership – one elder board oversees the entire regional network
  • 1 Staff – though there are some dedicated site staff, the teaching is the same (usually video from Senior Pastor), the small group oversight is the same, the worship/arts oversight is the same, etc…
Once a month CCC has a leadership community meeting. During this time they train all the leaders from the different sites. The purpose of this training is to impart vision, have discussion huddles, teach leadership skills, etc… (This is where they taught the stump speech for strategy shifts)

CCC operates with the “Big Idea!” – This big idea guides thier teaching topics, small group focus, etc…


Good to Great – is a good book. It teaches that Level 5 leaders are other centered and have an unwavering resolve to do whatever needs to be done. There will come a time when you say, maybe we shouldn’t have done this, but the Level 5 leader will press on.

Young Adult Round Table Discussion

Josh Malone at First Theology shares some notes from a round table discussion the young adults had with Pastor Jeff Gilmore and one of our elders last weekend. The goal was to give the young adult community an opportunity to share their thoughts about how things are going at Parkview Church. Here is Josh's post.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Larry Osborn on Multi-site Church Strategy

I recently had the opportunity to listen to a presentation from Larry Osborn, the Senior Pastor at North Coast Church in San Diego, California, about the multi-site church strategy. Larry is a very savvy with cultural analysis and church strategy. One of his more interesting cultural observations was regarding the success of the mega-church model over recent decades. He said that the big-box church is reflective of the big-box culture that is illustrated by big-box department stores, home improvement stores, malls, etc…. After making this point, he highlighted a specific example of what makes a big-box business successful.

His illustration involved Home Depot. He explained how he quit going to the neighborhood hardware store because the part he would need was seldom in stock and usually took a week to order. After walking into the Home Depot he was impressed by the fact that they had the part he needed and he could get it immediately. In other words Home Depot offered QUALITY service because he always knew he could find what he needed. The next thing he discovered was that Home Depot not only had the part he needed, but they had numerous brands and colors to choose from. In other words Home Depot offered OPTIONS that allowed him to find a part that could help him to customize according to his needs. Finally, because the Depot first opened when the construction industry was laying off a lot of workers, much of the help were former contractors. They not only could lead him to the part he needed, but they could explain how the part worked and teach him how to install it. This meant there was PERSONALIZATION represented by the helpful, informed, and caring service.

To Osborn this illustrates that culturally effective churches need to have…
  1. QUALITY – our services must be excellent in quality
  2. OPTIONS – we should offer options… this is the advantage of the multi-venue model with multiple styles, times, etc…
  3. PERSONALIZATION – people need to be personally connected in relationships… this is accomplished through smaller service venues and an aggressive small group strategy
Osborn took the illustration a bit further to better define personalization. He explained how when the construction industry picked up again, the help at Home Depot was no longer able to explain how to use or install a part. Losing their personalization factor resulted in people leaving their store for competitors like Lowe’s. His point being that the way churches close their “back door” is to personalize effectively. Churches that don’t personalize well have a very big back door.

Now, before any of you rip into Larry’s insights saying they are overly consumer driven, you need to understand that North Coast is committed to being uncompromised in their message; however, they are also fully committed to contextualizing the gospel in order to engage the culture. So, do you agree churches should have quality, options, and personalization?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Bradley Family Update

Those of you who've been at Parkview for a while, remember our dear friends Jesse and Lori Bradley (Jesse was formerly our Pastor of College Ministry). This photo was taken today with them and Nevin Suddarth, Parkview's Executive Pastor (please pardon my cell phones inability to take a crisp picture). The Lord is blessing Jesse and Lori's ministry at North Coast Church in San Diego, California and has most recently blessed them with the birth of their son Joel. He is healthy, happy, and looks a lot like his daddy. It's been great catching up with them and reminiscing about the old times at Parkview.

Florida Tornados

This letter is from our denominational head quarters regarding the Florida disaster. There are opportunities to get involved in helping with relief efforts. Read blow...

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EFCA Update Special Broadcast
February 3, 2007

In the early morning hours Friday, central Florida was devastated by a series of deadly tornados. The weather service's preliminary report stated that "five long tracked super cell thunderstorms" ripped through the area spawning deadly tornados and winds. One storm tracked for 70 miles. According to news reports, at least 20 people have been killed, and the search for survivors is currently ongoing.

EFCA TouchGlobal, through its crisis response ministry EFCA Crisis Response, is in the beginning stages of organizing a response. EFCA Crisis Response staff has contacted EFCA churches in the area to assess their needs and the damage in their communities. Mark Lewis, EFCA Crisis Response director, spoke with Pastor John Hurling of Faith Community Church in Leesburg, FL, and found that their area was particularly hard hit. Pastor Hurling said the tornados touched down in certain places in wide swath. Their church family is mourning the loss of the wife of an elderly couple who lived in a mobile home park. The winds toppled a tree on their trailer, crushing the bedroom of the mobile home as the couple slept. Pastor Hurling reported that the community is still assessing missing persons and trying to locate those unaccounted.

EFCA Crisis Response has dispatched staff to the area bringing immediate relief supplies and equipment, and is working with several EFCA churches in the region to assess ongoing needs and ministry opportunities. Relief efforts may include hosting teams to help the community clean-up and recover. Please check the TouchGlobal website (http://www.touchglobal.org) in the days ahead for more information regarding relief efforts. If you have immediate questions, contact EFCA Crisis Response Ministry at (985) 893-0218 ext. 321.

Please pray for the church family and those impacted by the storms in Florida, and for the Church to show the love of Christ to those in need.

Also, please consider giving to help those impacted by the storms and the ongoing crisis response needs. To donate online using our secure server, go to:


You can also call our donor services team at (800) 745-2202 or mail in a donation. To mail in your donation, please make checks out to EFCA and send them to:

Attn: Crisis Response Ministry #2021709-3928
901 East 78th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55420-1300

Prayer Works

Yesterday I stumbled across my prayer journal from High School (pictured above). In it, I had about sixty names of classmates and acquaintances I was praying for at the time. Next to the name of each person was the word “lost.” When the person I was praying for came to Christ, “lost” was crossed off and the date they came to Christ was written down. It was very encouraging, as I flipped through the pages, to see that six of the sixty names were dated. I wondered briefly about how many more names would now have a date next to them if I could follow-up on each one.

I don’t share this information to brag about my faith because, quite honestly, this high school prayer journal was the most intentional prayer journal I’ve ever maintained. Lately God has used several influences to awaken me to the power of prayer in changing lives. The parable in Luke 18:1-8 illustrates for us how God answers persistent prayer. In it we see a widow persistently crying out to an unrighteous judge for a favorable ruling. The scripture says “for a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice.” (Vs. 4-5) The point being that God desires to work through persistent prayer! If this is the truth, then why don’t we pray as persistently as we talk? David Wells says that we don’t do it because “we don’t believe it will make any difference.” I hate to admit it, but I think Wells is exactly right. It’s embarrassing how my lack of prayer is often grounded in a faithless attitude toward God and His Word.

I don’t post this to give one more example of how you and I are failing at living the “perfect” life. Our motivation to pray should not be driven by guilt. If it is, then we have missed the point. God promises us that He will work through the persistent prayer of His people! This means the God of the universe give us the opportunity to be a key player in helping accomplish His agenda to transform lives through the power of prayer! What a privilege! How exciting! So, why are we not taking advantage of this amazing opportunity advance God’s mission through steadfast prayer? God asks us in verse 7, “will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?” According to Luke 18, the answer is yes… so lets start praying!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

NFL Bans Super Bowl Parties

This is the new buzz of the blogosphere. Pretty crazy. Come on NFL... you gonna start suing churches??? From "Church Marketing Sucks" below...

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Tomorrow is the Super Bowl, in case you didn't know (I had to look it to be sure, so don't feel bad), and amid all the stories about commercials and the halftime show and, oh yeah, the game itself, is a little story about the National Football League shutting down local church Super Bowl parties (best headline? "Wrath of NFL Smites Parties at Churches").

It seems churches are running afoul of the NFL's broadcast copyrights, including the following limitations:

  • No unauthorized use of the copyrighted terms (i.e., "Super Bowl") in promotions.
  • No charging admission to watch the Super Bowl™.
  • No public showings of the big game on TVs larger than 55 inches.

An exception is made for sports bars and other places that regularly show sporting events.

So what's a church to do?

(HT: Vitamin Z, Church Marketing Sucks)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Satan’s Reign on Earth

We all grew up with a certain perspective regarding the battle between good and evil. As children we played “cops and robbers” or watched movies like “Star Wars.” As adults we think in terms of athletic competitions or the hit television series “24.” We love to see the good guys win especially when the battle is between two evenly matched opponents or, better yet, when the victory is an upset against seemingly impossible odds. My question is how does this perception of “a good fight” calculate in the spiritual realm? Are God and Satan on an even playing field? Open theists like Gregory Boyd believe this to be true and, quite honestly, there are some bible passages that appear to confirm this perspective.

As I’ve posted earlier, I am presently in the Perspectives course here at Parkview. It is an outstanding course that I believe ever Christian should take. Last weekend in one of the lectures a “perspective” was shared regarding Gregory Boyd’s book “God At War.” After hearing this talk, which incorporated several quotes from Boyd’s book, I was troubled by the proposition that Satan’s reign on earth means he has, “all “authority” and “glory” of “all the kingdoms of the world”… because it all belongs to him.” (Boyd P. 80, Perspectives Reader) Is this really the intended assertion of Luke 4:5-6? If one only looks at a few bible passages regarding Satan’s influence it would be easy to accept Boyd’s opinion, however, if we really examine the scriptures we find scores of passages that give us an entirely different view on the authority of Satan’s reign on earth.
Job 1:12 - And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job 2:6 - And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”

Jude 1:6 - And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.

James 4:7 - Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Isaiah 46:9-10 - Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.

Daniel 4:17 - The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.

Psalm 33:10-11 - The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
Certainly an empowered view of Satan creates a sense of urgency within the apathetic believer, but we must not forget that empowering Satan also demotes God and violates an accurate biblical picture of who He is.

This is a link to a book review by D.A. Carson regarding Boyd’s book “God at War.” It is lengthy and academic, but if you skip to page 8, you will get his basic evaluation of the book. Here also is a link from a talk given by John Piper at the 2004 Desiring God conference regarding the “Ten Aspects of God’s Sovereignty Over Suffering and Satan’s Hand in It.” Both are good reads that responsibly unpack a proper view of Satan’s limited power on earth.

(Thanks for the Carson link Justin!)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Carlson in Press Citizen

Those of you who receive the Press Citizen have likely already seen the large spread on John Carlson, our Instrumental Music Director. The article features him as a finalist for IndieHeaven's "Best Christian Jazz Artist" category. To read the entire article go here. Way to go John!

Human Slingshot

This is insane. Would you do it?