I fear that people’s attitude toward Christianity can sometimes be a little bit like the Raptors victory parade. People can sit on the sidelines and cheer on the team and think they’re part of the game, when they’re not. There are no spectators in the Christian life. There is no all-star team to applaud. In fact, the Bible says that the less prominent service in the kingdom is often the most vital (1 Corinthians 12:22). And everyone’s needed on the court, not in the stands. Let me share some thoughts on serving that stand out in light of Monday’s parade.
I shared last week about some of the lessons I learned at Dr. Gendi’s, “How to Love Your Muslim Neighbour Seminar.” One of the things that really helped was being walked through what the Qur’an teaches about Jesus. While I knew that the Qur’an holds Jesus in high regard, I was not prepared for how much it describes of His life. Most Christians would be surprised to learn all that it says about Him. Even still, it is just as significant what it doesn’t say about Jesus. Let me share with you what I learned.
I’m embarrassed to say that I often need to remind myself that the heart of my faith is loving my neighbour. Today, it’s easier for people to be annoyed by their neighbours, threatened by their neighbours or not even know their neighbours. Part of loving our neighbours involves understanding them. On Saturday, I learned much from Dr. Amal Gendi on how to love the Muslim neighbours that are more and more a part of our community.
Last week, I gave an update on the Wonder Worship Conference and some of the lessons we should take away from the contemporary worship movement. But the learning doesn’t just go one way. There were many lessons I learned that might be more associated with our heritage in traditional worship. What became clear to me was that we need to listen to one another and be shaped by God’s Word as we seek to grow in expressions of corporate worship. Let me share what I learned.
On Saturday, I attended the Wonder Worship Conference along with seven members of our worship ministry. For me, it was an opportunity to reflect on what God is doing in this area of the church. This week, I’d like to look at some of the lessons people should learn from the contemporary worship movement. Next week, I’ll address some of the lessons I feel people should learn from what I’ll call the traditional worship stream. My hope is that as people on both sides of this discussion are able to listen to each other in light of Scripture, our preferences will give way to greater unity in how we approach this topic. So, let’s start with what you should learn from the contemporary worship movement even if you don’t like guitars and drums.
Last week, I took a course in church revitalization. As the name suggests, it was about restoring to life to churches that have lost their vitality. Over four days, four pastors shared lessons and insights they had learned in leading their churches through renewal. What was so refreshing was that none of them pointed to gimmicks or novel ideas. The course focused on the fundamentals but with clear strategies on how to grow in them. Whereas 20 years ago churches were talking about shorter sermons, skits, interpretive dance and avoiding words like sin or hell, today growing churches are focused on prayer, evangelism, discipleship and glorifying God. The conversation has changed – for the better! Let me share one of their stories.
You may think there's a typo in my title. Often pastors talk about the importance of not just being Sunday Christians. "We've got to live out the good news throughout the week." That's really important to me, too. But I think it's important to think about how to be Christian – how to act Christian – when we come to church on Sunday, too. There are many things we could talk about, and so this is a theme I will revisit in the future, but for now let's talk about loving our neighbour in the pew.
Every parent has felt anger toward their children at one time or another. While there is such a thing as righteous anger, most of the anger I’ve given into as a parent was more the result of impatience, lack of grace and the feeling that my goals were being blocked. This week, I read Sam Crabtree’s excellent article on how to keep your cool when your children misbehave. Let me share some of the things I learned and add some other things that have helped me.
I took a listening test this week. No, it wasn’t a hearing test. My ears are fine. But I wanted to test my listening. The test was developed by Doug Pollock, author of the book, “God Space.” Pollock serves as an evangelist and chaplain but has equipped thousands of Christians to share their faith more effectively. He questions whether non-Christians in our society today have stopped listening to Christians because Christians have been such poor listeners. Ouch! Let me share what I learned.
For many people, Easter has become a time for eggs and chocolate, but Christians claim that there’s more to it than that. At this point, you can’t help but think that they’re just excited about it because it’s THEIR religious holiday. But every religion has its holidays. If it’s not your religion, surely you can just enjoy the long weekend and move on, right? That’s the way I used to feel about Easter. I’ve come to believe that Easter should matter to everyone, regardless of their religious background. Let me explain why.