Monday, January 31, 2005

Christian™ shops

What if all the 'Christian' shops closed down?

All the Christians would have to order their 'Christian' books and music and stuff through normal stores. They also wouldn't be able to avoid people who are Christians as easily. The normal stores would suddenly have a market for 'Christian' music and literature. People who weren't Christians would be more likely to be exposed to 'Christian' music and literature.

There would no longer be a place to market Wash Away Your Sins soap, 'Christian' teddy bears or Testamints.

The people who work in the 'Christian' shops would have to find new jobs, and might even end up working with people who weren't Christian.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

They get it so much better than we do

Last week I met someone who has recently converted to Christianity, after about a decade as an agnostic, and being brought up in another religion.
She'd been going to a church for a while now, and recently asked one of the church leaders how she could help out - meaning in terms of making the gospel known, helping homeless people, stuff like that. They just presumed she meant helping out with Sunday church services and stuff.
Another thing is, they won't baptise her yet, because they reckon she's not ready yet, and though they want to make sure she's really serious about it before they recognise her as their sister.
At another church she was 'a part of' earlier, whenever she wrote the leaders notes asking questions about baptism, or evangelism, they'd just send her a glossy brochure welcoming her to the church.
Also, they have a problem with the fact that she cries so much in church gatherings. The thing is, all they're willing to do to heal the pain is pray for her, when what she wants is people to spend time with her.
To her great credit, she's been teaching herself from the Bible, and won't shut up about the complacency, self-centredness and hypocricy of so many Christians.

Another guy, who I haven't met (yet), recently chose to become a Christian, with the help of one of my friends. He's been using the computer shop he owns as a place for evangelism.
When he first became a Christian he brought one of the customers, who he's been friends with for a while, to a church gathering. The guy had a medical problem, so one of the church leaders got him up the front to pray for healing. When this guy wasn't healed he was berated for not having strong enough faith - In a God he doesn't even claim to believe in!

If only we all got it as well as the new Christians do...

Friday, January 28, 2005

Accountability and sexual sin

This week me and a couple of other guys started an accountability group to help us deal with sexual sin. Basically, we've each written up a list of behaviours we want to stop (like looking at porn, masturbation, et cetera), and each day we have to ask each other if we've done any of the stuff we want to avoid. We're also memorising scriptures to help us resist sexual sin, like Romans 8:6.
As a result, this week I've been able to avoid sexual sin, because whenever I'm tempted I know that I'm going to have to answer for my actions twice at the end of the day, plus there's the scripture.


This year it looks like I'll be sharing a house with Alt Tab (different to Default Tab).
I had decided, after my second year of university, that I wasn't going to live just with other Christians again, so that I could build stronger relationships with people who aren't Christians. That's why I moved into the student residence at Gillies Street last year. Through that I was able to become part of the theatre student community.

This year none of the theatre students are moving back to Gillies Street (in fact, only three students are staying on from last year), so one of the reasons I agreed to share a house with Alt Tab is that it'll guarantee that I'll be part of the community again this year (she's doing her second year of Theatre Performance) and because there'll be people who aren't Christians around all the time anyway.

A couple of people from our church disagree with it because they reckon our friends will think we're in a sexual relationship. But none of our friends have thought that at all.

¿johnman¿ has a post dealing with similar things here at Blue trike Life.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Since reading this post by Steve Said, I've been realising that while I'm probably better than a lot of Christians are at communicating with people who aren't Christians, I'm not very good at communicating with most people who are Christians. Particularly when it comes to explaining postmodernism, tribalisation of Western society, et cetera, and the implications all this has on how we go about being the church.
I'm fine talking to those who probably aren't as conservative in their practice of Christianity, but with those who are I find it difficult. In a few weekks I'm supposed to be doing my first 'sermon' (it probably won't technically be a sermon) in a church service, and I really need to work out the best way of communicating.

One thing I'm thinking of doing (for the 'sermon') is interviewing a few people who aren't Christians (probably on video) about what they think of Christians, and then and encouraging the congregation to discuss how we might respond.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Best church-sign ever

Today - well, I guess it's yesterday now - I think I saw the best church-sign ever. Rather than trying to make people who aren't Christians feel bad, it just said, 'KEEP ON GIVING / GOD IS THERE'.

Altar calls

I was talking with some other Christians a few days ago about altar calls - that is, a part of a church service, when someone up the front challenges the audience about something, usually whether they'll chose to become a Christian. Those who decide to take up the challenge are asked to come up to the front of the meeting place, where they'll be counseled and/or prayed for by the church leaders.

The way I see it done a lot these days is, everyone in the audience is asked to close their eyes, to make it easier for people to take up the challenge, because no-one will be watching them. Often in this kind of scenario, people who decide to take up the challenge are asked to just raise their hand as an indication that they want to take up the challenge. If the challenge is about becoming a Christian, whoever is up the front leads them through the sinner's prayer.

One question I'm asking myself is, if we try to make it seem as easy as this for a person to make the commitment, how much will that commitment mean to the person?
One of the people I was talking with about this had been to a Christian youth conference where they did exactlt the opposite - the person up the front didn't ask everyone to close their eyes, and instead pointed out that everyone would be watching those who took up the challenge. I don't just think taht this kind of a commitment would mean more to the person, but amybe their peers would be more likely to hold them accountable?

Another thing I was thinking was, should we instead be trying to make it easier for people who aren't Christians to hear the good news we've been trusted with, rather than requiring them to come into a church building or youth rally where we make it extremely easy for them to make the decision - but only once they've crossed that threshold.

What do yous think?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Vintage Christianity for New Generations

Tab lent me this book while we were in Warrnambool, and we both think that it would be really good for explaining what the emerging church is about to people who want to keep doing church in the modern paradigm (there's still a lot of moderns out there) but also want to understand what we're doing. In the first part of the book, Dan Kimball explains why we need to be the church differently, and the second part explores different ways of doing stuff like church services, discipleship, evangelism, prayer, et cetera.
But while I think this book would be real good for modern Christians who want to understand, I think a lot of what Kimball talks about is still very modern. For example, all of the churches he talks about at length throughout the book still meet in special church builings, and it appears that seekers still have to come to them. (This might be because the modern church is still doing reasonably well in the US, in comparison to Australia and Europe.) For people who are interested in becoming more involved in the emerging church, I think that The Shaping of Things to Come is a much better starting point.

Customer parking only

Yesterday I went to a 'Christian' shop. I needed some candles, and a friend had told me that they were really cheap at this shop.
In the carpark was this big sign, saying:


It seemed kind of weird to me. Not quite 'gentle as doves'. Or 'wise as serpents' either, really. (Matthew 10:16) I'm not saying that they should just let people take advantage of their car park, but it doesn't seem to me as though having that sign there makes Christians seem like very nice people to be.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

St John's

While I was in Warrnambool over New Years, one of the things I noticed about this small city/large town was the church buildings. Like most of the cities and towns I've visited across Australia, there are a lot of big, beautiful, old church buildings close to the centre of town, like St John's, in the photos.

While I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that when these monuments were first built the Christians in Warrnambool probably would have thought that the church would always be at the centre of Australian society, and that these grand buildings would be full of worshippers every Sunday, forever. They'd have been pretty shocked if they'd known that in just a few generations their society could change so much.