Monthly Archives: August 2018

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Why I Can’t Educate You Further on Racial Issues

(Editor’s Note #1: My wife and I recently traveled to Quest Church in Seattle to hear a guided conversation with Austin Channing Brown, author of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness. It was an excellent conversation (as is the book, I’ve been listening to it on Audible), and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the author, along with theologians and pastors Brenda Salter-McNeil and Gail Song Bantum, as they discussed the issues. In the Q&A section, Ms. Brown made a statement that is very similar to the one that I’m making here, so out of respect I’m citing her as a source, albeit not a primary one.)
(Editor’s Note #2: If you’re in a hurry and want to skip the first half that explains how and why I felt the need to answer this question in this way, scroll down to the picture labeled “My Response Below.”)

So I there I was, arguing about racial issues on Facebook.

Again.

(Those of you who know me well should not at all be surprised by this.)

Okay, actually, arguing is a bit of a misnomer, because I’ve actually resolved to do less of that on Facebook. (I was going to say, “I’ve stopped doing that,” but I work as a pastor now, so the consequences of lying in a blog post are even greater than before.)

What I was doing, though, was having a spirited exchange with a few people (mostly mutual friends, or friends-of-friends) on the topic of racial injustice, which is where I spend a significant portion of my time on Facebook. I also do a lot of normal Facebook type activities, but because this particular online forum is the only place where I can interact with people who are both ideologically or politically opposed and honest enough about their beliefs to articulate them (as opposed to most church communities, where people are either unchallenged in their beliefs or far too polite to ever get into such discussions), I tend to have these kinds of discussions often, and almost exclusively on Facebook. I readily admit that talking about highly-charged political and/or emotional topics online is less than optimal, but in our segregated America, my choices are usually either to talk about it on Facebook or not talk about it at all (which in many cases is how we got into this terrible situation to begin with). So, as in many other situations, Facebook conversations about race seem like the best of several bad choices.

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An Open Letter to Blockbuster Sermon Church

(Editor’s Note: This post is a response to an actual job listing for a pastoral position. I chose for the headline a nickname for the church (from a website they referenced and/or created) rather than the actual stated church name. I did this in the hopes that, should they abandon this particular branding experiment, my post will not be the first thing people read about their church when they search for it online.)

To Brad and the good people at Blockbuster Sermon Church:

I hear you’re looking for a pastor! How’s that going?

I’m not available or anything, I was just curious. I saw your job listing for a pastor when a friend of mine posted it to Facebook, and — okay, in the interests of full disclosure, I did laugh at it. Several times.

I’m not proud of that, I’m just admitting it because it’s truth. My friends and I, we often use Facebook as a form of entertainment, and sometimes that entertainment comes at the expense of others, especially others in churches.  You might’ve done this yourself. Sadly, the combination of smartphones, social media, and churches has created an ever-flowing stream of cringeworthy content.

(If you’ve ever laughed at the “Jesus Is A Friend of Mine” video, you know what I’m talking about.)

Anyway, this section of the job listing is what caught the eye of my friend, and it’s what I want to talk to you about (yes, I know you’ve since changed some of the wording here, but I think your first draft was more honest, so I’m going with that):

Here is our concept. If a worship leader can take a song from Chris Tomlin and play it just like the album and that is 100% accepted in the church why can’t you, as a pastor, copy or do word per word of a sermon from Craig Groeschel and add 10% of your own style to it just like the band does. This concept would work great mixed with your own sermons about 20% of the time.
Meaning let’s give Blockbuster Sermons to the people. Proven messages or hit sermons then add 20% to 50% of your personal sermons based on a mutual agreement and or the congregation response. Test it out and see how it goes.

So Brad… can I call you Brad? … I salute you for being willing to experiment and try things that other churches aren’t doing. Being a West coast guy myself, I salute your sense of adventure and what I think could a willingness to move in whatever direction the Spirit of God is leading.

Nevertheless, I need to object.