The church is in a fast cycle of change, most of which is not for the good, because it is driven by culture and by desire to draw outsiders in through a process other than evangelism. The biblical underpinnings are being weakened. We no longer speak as the Bible speaks, nor do we maintain silence where the Bible is silent. Perhaps we have neglected true evangelism and have failed at real discipleship, with the result that our attempts at growth are clumsy and misguided and our efforts toward building community sound more like a social club than the intimate fellowship of God’s family. We may retain a name and go through a few familiar motions, but it will be a hollow echo of what the people of God should be and a mere shell of a vibrant faith that once was certain that God’s plan cannot be improved upon.

The point about not using “my church” or “our church” because it belongs to Christ is well taken. (Although we say “my/our congregation” which actually means the same thing, when you peel back the layers.) But we can take it too far.

Let no one upbraid another when we say “our people” or “our folk” or “one of ours.” For Paul said it, Tt 3.15: Continue reading

On we have two posts, and one set for tomorrow, sharing reflections looking back over the year now past. Why not share yours? Here’s what you need to know:

Do you have a reflection as you look back on 2013, based on some event or special moment? Send it with a photo of yourself and your location and congregation to BNc at

Supposedly, there ought to be at least twice as many elders and deacons as preachers. (OK, not all congregations have supervisors and servants, but you get the idea.) But the latter talk more about what they do, share resources, get training, etc. Why’s that? Why is not more written about and offered to those servants besides preachers?

And, while I’m at it, why does the phrase “Christian ministry” refer so often to preaching?

From afar, I’ve followed the homosexual controversy at Harding University in Searcy, Ark. Seems to be a non-story to me, or at least, an internal affair, if it weren’t for the reaction of outsiders. Harding appears to have done the right thing, since (1) homosexuality (the self-styled gays don’t call it “gayness”) is sin, like all immorality; and (2) as a private institution, Harding can make its own rules.

I’ve seen brethren fawn over news from outsiders when it was complimentary. Some of our folk puff out their chest when the world gets chummy and full of praise for our virtues. Now let’s man up and say, this is what God’s people usually get from the world. (But we think the USA ought to be Christian!)

Speaking of Harding, I hear tell the university is changing the name of the Memphis-based “Harding University Graduate School of Religion” for the third time, to Harding School of Theology. When I attended it was known as Harding Graduate School of Religion, but apparently the head chiefs in Searcy wanted it identified clearly that it belonged to them. (Calling it a school of religion always left me curious, yea, perplexed.) Now, back to mere Harding (are they spinning it off on its own?) and a shorter, more accurate moniker. Well, closer to accurate, since our schools, many of them, ought really to be called Schools of Clergy.

Way back when, the brotherhood had a hissy about theology, because it represented the barn door through which denominational doctrine and liberal theories were spread. Graduate courses, even at ACU in 1982-1983, called their NT and OT theology courses “The Message of …”( I know, I took them both, under Olbricht, and with the exception of a few squeamish moments, they were superb.) With so many of our finest finishing up at denominational institutions, however, breathing the air of seminaries and schools of theology and salivating at the feet of theologians, we’ve lost our mettle against the idea of theology.

Makes one wonder as well if we’ve lost our mettle against the doctrines that some theologies bring in.

Used to, we breathed fire about having doctors of theology, too.

Today, in a more mellow era, if someone as conservative as Rex A. Turner, Sr., can write a tome entitled Systematic Theology, I suppose it’s now OK for one of our universities to come out of the closet and tell us what they’re really doing: teaching theology.

Somehow, however, methinks something got lost in the shuffle. At least, we’re still strong against the gays. In some spots.

Just read over on NRO a phrase of Wm. Buckley, “We exist to make a point, not a profit.” I like that. Christians could borrow that and say, “We exist to to preach, not make a profit.”

But I keep hearing preachers talking about preaching jobs. It’s shameful. People who talk like that betray themselves. They’re not missionaries, but mercenaries. Preaching is not a job, it’s a service. And a service to God, not to paymasters.