I continue to be amazed at the growth in our children’s and youth ministry. We shattered our churches previous records for VBS this year with 185 unique children coming through our doors. (Take that word “unique” however you want). We continue to see around 150 kids on Wednesday evenings as well. One of the reasons I am amazed to see this is that we do zero advertising for our children’s and youth ministry. And I intend to keep it this way.
Fun emojis and perfect social media presences have a way of convincing us everyone else is doing great and fully succeeding in life, love, and happiness. Of course, this is rarely the case. But when we compare our actual reality to others’ online reality, we feel worse about ourselves, and we strive all the harder to keep up.
“You have no heart! You are heartless!”
These are phrases we often hear in response to someone who has just done or said something we consider to be quite inhumane or inconsiderate of another human being. The phrase is meant to convey the idea that the human heart is loving, kind, compassionate, and considerate. So, if someone acts in a way that is contrary to those things, they are considered to be without a heart.
How do you know you’re preaching a Christian sermon and not simply giving a religious or spiritual lecture?
While I think gospel-centered expository proclamation is the best approach to fulfilling the biblical call to preach, this exercise could probably use some more filling out. And since preachers like alliteration and lists, I thought I might suggest a checklist reflecting what I propose to be the irreducible complexity of true Christian preaching. Next time you’re preparing a sermon, maybe keep these questions in mind. Or, after the next time you preach, share this list with your fellow elders or another team of trusted advisers and ask them to apply the questions to your delivered message.
I’m not arguing that we need to discontinue using the word. I am arguing, however, that the context in which we use it might show us what we really believe love is. And to go further, it’s likely, given our prolific use of the word, that we might have at best a misunderstanding and at worst a dilution of what “love” actually means.
Most church planters, it seems, want to go urban, not rural. There are many positives about this focus on cities. Certainly, and most obviously, cities are filled with lots of people, and for that reason alone make a good target for church plants. There are also strategic considerations: targeting leaders and influencers—many of whom are located in major cities—makes a lot of sense.
A favorite from the archives:
In the hospitals where our children took their first breaths, innumerable were (and are) never given the chance to take theirs. Christians and all Canadians who are opposed to abortion have no ability to challenge our government to reconsider. We are forced to live with death. We might not be happy about it. We might accompany a small group of people and hold up a sign, but we also recognize that doing so won’t change the fact that there’s (currently) nothing we can do to change the legal situation.
So where does that leave us?