Friday, April 21, 2006

Recommended Weekend Reading

Daniel Henninger at OpinionJournal writes about bloggers using the web as public therapy and self-medication:
The human species has spent several hundred thousand years sorting through which emotions and marginal neuroses to keep under control and which to release. Now, with a keyboard, people overnight are "free" to unburden and unhinge themselves continuously and exponentially. One researcher quotes the entry-page of a teenage girl's blog: "You are now entering my world. My pain. My mind. My thoughts. My emotions. Enter with caution and an open mind."

The power of the Web is obvious and undeniable. We diminish it at our peril. But what if the most potent social effect to spread outward from the Internet turns out to be disinhibition, the breaking down of personal restraints and the endless elevation of oneself? It may be already.
VCR opines about the causes surrounding the decline and fall of mainline denominations:
We the local congregation folks have lost membership because somehow we have failed to make it clear how important the local church is for spiritual development. Worse, I suspect that we have spent so much time arguing over doctrines and policies that we have forgotten how to care for people at the local level. And so, families with cancer, drug addiction, alcoholism, work stress, birth defects, divorce, and all other manner of ailments go to that electrifying worship experience because there they can at least forget about it all for a little while.
VCR agrees with Bill Hybels regarding the importance of local church ministry, but thinks churches can become too large. I think the answer to the mega-church question is the implementation of effective small group ministries. Such a shift requires a radial cultural change in the larger church. Many churches are able to manage the small/medium (Pastor-centric) to large (program-centric) structure through changes in leadership and implementation of necessary administrative structures. The shift to "very large" is much more difficult, because cultural changes have to take place in the way parishioners relate to one another. Leaders of these large church must do whatever they can to make the mega-church seem as small as possible if they hope to provide any sense of local church community to members. The answer is implementation of effective small group ministries. Be prepared for the years of work necessary to complete the culture change.

Last Thursday, Maundy Thursday, N. T. Wright delivered his frank assessment of the "gospel" of Judas (translation available here):
I was studying this newly discovered little tract, the ‘Gospel of Judas’, yesterday morning, and reading what some of its editors had written about it; and there crept over me the horrible sense of a lie cheerfully told, a lie which people are eager to believe, a lie which could sap the vital energy of the church and individual Christians unless we name it for what it is, see the danger, and know why we reject it. There is a willful blindness about today which is uncomfortably like what Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians.
For some reason the term "willful blindness" reminds me of Lenin's purported term "useful idiot."

esn 89475-060421-811882-60
© 2006 All Rights Reserved.


  1. The interesting thing about some of the most successful mega-churches is that on the practical level they aren't mega at all. They aren't really even structured as mega.

    Saddleback appears to be an excellent example. I've never been to church there but from their website and the articles I read it would appear that Rick Warren might have spent a significant time studying community building and group dynamics.

    I do grassroots organizing and training and I tell groups wanting to develop a large community to study the organizational structure of Saddleback. I believe it is possibly the most effectively built grassroots organization in the country.

  2. I think you're dead right about Saddleback. They have an effective welcoming ministry, which culminates with involvement in small groups. More about the church can be found at Saddleback's website.