This is a short satire I wrote in college and later published on Amazon. It was originally intended to ridicule the emergent church and poke fun of Blue Like Jazz. After writing it, however, I realized it lampooned Evangelical Protestantism in general. However you interpret it, it will surely make you laugh . . . or make you very angry . . . either way, it’s worth reading. Check it out!
Feelings-based, emotionally driven, stage centered “milk” has run its course. Which is a good thing! Some have noted about the intellectual pursuit the following stories have. I see nothing wrong with the intellectual appeal to brings us to Orthodoxy. The life of the mind is great thing, and Orthodoxy has much to offer it! Orthodoxy is deeply intellectual, deeply spiritual, deeply ascetical. Some are attracted through the other paths, but as Westerners it is easy and most common for the intellectual to be a big draw. Of course if Orthodoxy is just another ideology we have adopted, and it doesn’t take root in the heart then we have a problem. It is both/and. Mind AND heart! Jesus said, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Nothing wrong with the intellectual approach nor the purely ascetical. We all come to Orthodoxy, but not on the same path.
Read and share how many Millennials are seeking after liturgy and spiritually edifying worship with symbolism and meaning. It is my sincere hope and prayer that this is a sincere move in the right direction for non-Orthodox Christians and not another fad. This could be a move towards healing schism. It is my prayer that many will unite to the holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, which is the Orthodox Church. Don’t stop at Canterbury and Rome just to stay, but come home oh weary traveler, come home! Cheers!
By Gracy Olmstead
America’s youth are leaving churches in droves. One in four young adults choose “unaffiliated” when asked about their religion, according to a 2012 Public Religion Research Institute poll, and 55 percent of those unaffiliated youth once had a religious identification when they were younger. Yet amidst this exodus, some church leaders have identified another movement as cause for hope: rather than abandoning Christianity, some young people are joining more traditional, liturgical denominations—notably the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox branches of the faith. This trend is deeper than denominational waffling: it’s a search for meaning that goes to the heart of our postmodern age.
For Bart Gingerich, a fellow with the Institute on Religion and Democracy and a student at Reformed Episcopal Seminary, becoming Anglican was an intellectual journey steeped in the thought of ancient church fathers. He spent the first 15 years of his life in the United Methodist Church, where he felt he was taught a “Precious Moments” version of Christianity: watered down, polite, and unreal. His family joined a nondenominational evangelical church when Gingerich was 16. Some of the youth he met were serious about their faith, but others were apathetic, and many ended up leaving the church later on.
While attending Patrick Henry College in Virginia, Gingerich joined a reformed Baptist church in the nearby town of Guilford. Gingerich read St. Augustine and connected strongly with his thought—in class from Monday to Friday, Gingerich found himself arguing for ideas that clashed with his method of worship on Sunday. Protestantism began troubling him on a philosophical level. Could he really believe that the church “didn’t start getting it right” till the Reformation?
The final straw came when a chapel speaker at the college explained the beauty of the Eucharist in the Anglican service. Gingerich knew this was what he was looking for. Soon after, he joined the Anglican Church.
For high-school English teacher Jesse Cone, joining the Orthodox Church fulfilled a deep yearning for community and sacramental reality. Cone grew up in the Presbyterian Church of America, heavily involved in youth group and church activities. While attending Biola University, an evangelical school in southern California, Cone returned home over the summers to help lead youth-group activities. He was hired as a youth pastor and “even preached a sermon.” But at Biola, Cone struggled to find a home church. There were many megachurches in the area that didn’t have the “organic, everyday substance” Cone was seeking.
He began attending an Anglican service, drawn to its traditional doctrine. He was a “perpetual visitor” over the next few years. A Bible study on the Gospel of John pushed him further towards the high church. Reading through the book with a group of friends, Cone began to notice the “conversational and sacramental” way Jesus related to people. “There’s a lot of bread, and wine, and water,” he says. From Jesus’s first miracle—turning water into wine—to telling his disciples “I am the True Vine,” the mundane, communal ways in which in which Jesus connected with people “confirmed in me a sense of sacramentalism—that everyday aspects of life are important, in a way the modern mindset doesn’t share,” Cone says. “I started looking at the world with more sacramental eyes.”
Cone became engaged to a woman who was also raised Presbyterian. In the weeks leading up to their marriage, they sought a church together, but none seemed to fit. Fundamental questions lingering in Cone’s mind—about church history, the importance of doctrine and dogma, what it means to live a full Christian life—came to a head. He told his wife, “I don’t think I’m comfortable being Orthodox, but I want to at least see one of their services, see what it’s like out there.” The next Sunday, they decided to attend an Orthodox Church with another young couple. By the end of the service, Cone says, “We were just blown away. Just blown away.” The worship, doctrine, and tradition were exactly what they had been looking for. “We were shell-shocked. And we haven’t stopped going since.”
A great piece on something important:
Lead singer Jon Foreman was asked if Switchfoot is a “Christian” band. His response is worth pondering.
Switchfoot is going secular. Sort of.
“To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds.
The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty.
Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music.
None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer. Many of these songs talk about this belief. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me.
I do have an obligation, however, a debt that cannot be settled by my lyrical decisions. My life will be judged by my obedience, not my ability to confine my lyrics to this box or that.
We all have a different calling; Switchfoot is trying to be obedient to who we are called to be. We’re not trying to be Audio A or U2 or POD or Bach: we’re trying to be Switchfoot. You see, a song that has the words: ‘Jesus Christ’ is no more or less ‘Christian’ than an instrumental piece. (I’ve heard lots of people say Jesus Christ and they weren’t talking about their redeemer.) You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others. Please be slow to judge ‘brothers’ who have a different calling.”
Foreman mentions the Christian “box” that many people want to stay in, and put others in. I agree with Foreman that this box is particularly limiting when it comes to art. So go out and create something – something beautiful, something wonderful – and do it to the glory of God.
By Scott Christian
With the ubiquity and easy access of porn these days, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people are beginning to study the effects of it on our sex lives. According to a website called projectknow.com, 420 million web pages are dedicated to porn, meaning the non-porn Internet roughly consists of..well, Wikipedia. Scientists at Cambridge University recently studied the brain scans of porn addicts and found that they looked exactly like those of drug addicts. With such an inexhaustible supply of porn at our disposal, there is a growing concern that it is beginning to effect our brains, our relationships, and even our bodies (beyond, of course, your mother’s idle threats of blindness and hairy palms). A recent survey of a Reddit community called NoFap, which is committed to abstaining from porn and masturbation, has helped researchers open the door to a better understanding of the effects of pornography on our lives. While none of the results are conclusive, there are certainly some statistics that should give a moment’s pause. Here are some of the highlights of why it may be a good idea to stick to Netflix next time you open up your laptop:
1. For those addicted to porn, arousal actually declined with the same mate, while those who regularly found different mates were able to continual their arousal. It’s known as the Coolidge Effect, or novelty-seeking behavior. Porn, after all, trains the viewer to expect constant newness.
2. One in five people who regularly watch porn admitted to feeling controlled by their own sexual desires.
3. 12 percent of NoFappers report watching 5 or more hours of Internet porn every week. 59 percent report watching between 4 and 15(!!) hours of porn every week.
4. Almost 50 percent of those on NoFap have never had sex in their lives, meaning their only experience with intimacy is purely digital.
5. 42 percent of male college students report visiting porn sites regularly.
Midnight. Shelly is getting herself drunk so that she can bring herself to go home with the strange man seated next to her at the bar. One o’clock.Steven is busy downloading pornographic images of children from internet bulletin boards. Two o’clock. Marjorie, who used to spend every Friday night in bed with a different man, has been bingeing and purging since eleven. Three o’clock. Pablo stares through the darkness at his ceiling, wondering how to convince his girlfriend to have an abortion. Four o’clock.After partying all night, Jesse takes another man home, not mentioning that he tests positive for an incurable STD. Five o’clock. Lisa is in the bathroom, cutting herself delicately but compulsively with a razor. She isn’t trying to kill herself. She doesn’t understand why she does it. She does it often.
This isn’t what my generation expected when it invented the sexual revolution. The game isn’t fun anymore. Even some of the diehard proponents of that enslaving liberation have begun to show signs of fatigue and confusion. Naomi Wolf, in her book Promiscuities, reports that when she lost her own virginity at age fifteen, there was “something important missing.” Apparently, the thing missing was the very sense that anything could be important. In her book Last Night in Paradise, Katie Roiphe poignantly wonders what could be wrong with freedom: “It’s not the absence of rules exactly, the dizzying sense that we can do whatever we want, but the sudden realization that nothing we do matters.” Desperate to find a way to make it matter, some young male homosexuals court death, deliberately seeking out men with deadly infections as partners; this is called “bug chasing.” At the opposite extreme, some of those who languish in the shadow of the revolution toy with the idea of abstinence—but an abstinence that arises less from purity or principle than from boredom, fear, and disgust. In Hollywood, of all places, it has become fashionable to talk up Buddhism, a doctrine which finds the cure for suffering in the ending of desire, and the cure for desire in annihilation.
Speaking of exhaustion, let me tell you about my students. In the ’80s, if I suggested in class that there might be any problem with sexual liberation, they said that everything was fine—what was I talking about? Now if I raise questions, many of them speak differently. They still live like libertines, sometimes they still talk like libertines, but it’s getting old. They are beginning to sound like the children of third-generation Maoists. My generation may have ordered the sexual revolution, but theirs is paying the price.
I am not speaking only of the medical price. To be sure, that price is ruinous: At the beginning of the revolution, most physicians had to worry about only two or three sexually transmitted diseases, and now it is more like two or three dozen. But I am not speaking only of broken bodies. Consider, for example, broken childhoods. What is it like for your family to break up because dad has found someone new, then to break up again because mom has? What is it like to be passed from stepparent to stepparent to stepparent? What is it like to grow up knowing that you would have had a sister, but she was aborted?
A young man remarked in one of my classes that he longed to get married and stay married to the same woman forever, but because his own parents hadn’t been able to manage it, he was afraid to get married at all. Women show signs of avoidance, too, but in a more conflicted way. According to a survey commissioned by the Independent Women’s Forum, 83 percent of college women say marriage is a very important goal for them. Yet 40 percent of them engage in “hooking up”—physical encounters (commonly oral sex) without any expectation of relationship whatsoever. Do you hear a little cognitive dissonance there? Can you think of a sexual behavior less likely to get you into marriage? The ideology of hooking up says that sex is merely release or recreation. You have some friends for friendship and you have other friends just for hooking up—they’re called “friends with benefits.” What your body does is unrelated to your heart. Don’t believe it. The same survey reports that hooking up commonly takes place when both participants are drinking or drunk, and it’s not hard to guess the reason why: After a certain amount of this, you may need to get drunk to go through with it.
The fact is that we aren’t designed for hooking up. Our hearts and bodies are designed to work together. Truly, don’t we already know that? A writer who interviewed teenagers who hook up supplies a telling anecdote. The girl Melissa tells him, “I have my friends for my emotional needs, so I don’t need that from the guy I’m having sex with.” Yet on the day of the interview, “Melissa was in a foul mood. Her ‘friend with benefits’ had just broken up with her. ‘How is that even possible?’ she said, sitting, shoulders slumped, in a booth at a diner. ‘The point of having a friend with benefits is that you won’t get broken up with, you won’t get hurt.’ ”
Here are 8 practical everyday actions you can take to effectively engage the culture around you. These steps guarantee that the needs of those outside the Church are a serious concern – that is the foundation of successful evangelism.
1. Start conversations. Just talk to the people you come in contact with while going through life. These could be neighbors, co-workers, or even total strangers you come across in the course of daily activities like shopping or sight-seeing.
2. Hang out with people who enjoy the same things you do. Find non-believers who enjoy doing the same things you do – or who can teach you something you would like to learn to do. Find ways to hang out with them and enjoy them while exposing them to “Christ in you.” Find your new friends outside, as well as inside, the Church.
3. Volunteer somewhere. Be of service to your new found community and show them you want to help and be a part of them.
4. Tell stories. Everyone likes to hear a good story. Tell people about your life, or stories that illustrate important truths, even Bible stories.
5. Get to know your community. Ask questions. People are pleased when you express an interest in them and the history and values of their culture. Besides giving you a reason to talk with them you will find that you learn a lot and will gain valuable insights into understanding and relating to them better.
A great post on Millennials from my friend Carson Clark over at “Musings of a Hardlining Moderate”! Read and share 🙂
By Carson Clark
The last month quite a few people have been picking my brain about how to effectively minister to my peers, the Millennial generation. The first thing I often say is, “Millennials don’t like Superman. Not like their parents and grandparents, anyway. They like Batman.” Once the puzzled looks set in I clarify, “You won’t understand my generation and won’t effectively minister to them until you truly grasp that, and understand why that is.” I’ll unpack that in four ways.
First, Millennials on the whole aren’t a big fan of things that are campy. Thus the dark tone of the acclaimed Dark Knight Trilogy, the commercial failure of Superman Returns, and the recent removal of the red underwear in Man of Steel. This is why most Millennials prefer The Passion of the Christ to Fireproof and Switchfoot to Newsboys. This also explains why no Millennial I’ve ever met really likes Thomas Kincaid or Precious Moments. Cheesiness repels us. .
Second, Millennials tend not to resonate with outward displays of perfection and invincibility. We find Superman rather boring and unrelatable. He flew really fast? He picked up another plane? He punched a bad guy really, really hard? Yawn. Such superhuman physical and psychological strength is simply unrelatable. That’s why pastors need to jettison the old model public persona of the flawless, all-knowing leader. Weakness draws us.
Third, Millennials are often tired of being treated like they’re “special” just for existing. Superman was born with superpowers. Woopty doo. Batman, on the other hand, went to the Far East in order to gain his skills through hard work. One of the latent traits I’ve observed among my generation is an eagerness to achieve something. That’s why the widespread impulse to dumb it down and make it as easy as possible is exactly the opposite of what’s needed. Challenge inspires us.
Lastly, Millennials seem to have a much more nuanced/ambiguous worldview. We snicker at Superman’s “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” We prefer Batman Begins in which Bruce Wayne muses, “The first time I stole so that I wouldn’t starve, yes, I lost many assumptions about the simple nature of right and wrong. And when I traveled I learned the fear before a crime and the thrill of success. But I never became one of them.” Complexity intrigues us.
In light of all this, let’s give a couple practical examples of how to minister to Millennials. If you’re a dude and you act like you’ve never struggled with lust and never looked at online porn, we’re pretty much going to immediately write you off as full of crap. The same thing goes for a woman who acts like she has never struggled with body image issues. Be open. Be honest. Be real. Most Millennials want to know you empathize and are vulnerable. If you can’t, leave us alone.