Jason Micheli on Discipleship vs. Propositional Belief

My friend Jason Micheli blogged yesterday on the anxiety of parents whose kids have fallen away from Christianity. It’s a topic I often have in the back of my mind in confirmation season. One of the most painful statistic to look at for our church is the number of kids whose last Sunday in church was the day they were confirmed. We retain about a quarter to a third of the kids we confirm. We’ve tried a lot of different strategies for addressing the problem. I wanted to share a quote from Jason that really seems to nail it, though I’m not sure exactly how to address what he’s naming. Continue reading

Do you read the Bible for ideology or discipleship?

When I was in seminary, one of the things that impressed me about Augustine was the way that his language was haunted by the words of the psalms, in particular my favorite one, Psalm 42. Books 11-13 of his Confessions break into one of the most beautiful hermeneutical dances I have ever encountered. I wrote a term paper on his stream-of-conscious, allegorical interpretation of Genesis 1 in which the “dry land” which is eternal life has at its center the spring of living water which that deer in Psalm 42 was longing for. Throughout Augustine’s letters and other books, he keeps on returning to Psalm 42’s articulation of the infinite mystery in human nature: “Deep calls unto deep.” When you live inside the Biblical text like Augustine did, your relationship to its language is poetic and intuitive; it becomes how you narrate your journey of discipleship. This is very different than an ideological appropriation of the Bible in which it becomes an encyclopedia of potential proof-texts to be word-searched and scrutinized with a scalpel in order to develop a defensible argument. Continue reading

Are we an interest group or a kingdom of disciples and evangelists?

I get that we live in a morally complex world, but I want us to do better. The Chick-Fil-A drama has been a series of disappointments for me on all sides. I’m disappointed at progressives for uncritically circulating misinformation about what Chick-Fil-A’s Don and Dan Cathy actually said and who their foundation actually supports (only several thousand of the alleged $3 million in donations can truly be said to go to “anti-gay” activist groups). I’m disappointed at the mayors of Boston and Chicago for inappropriately responding to something that shouldn’t have merited their attention in a clumsy gesture to a segment of their donor base that turned this into a “free speech” issue for culture warriors to rally around. I’m disappointed at my fellow evangelical Christians for letting themselves get baited into reinforcing the stereotype that all Christians care about is policing the sexuality of other people. I’ve already spoken to several other aspects of this issue. Here’s the question I want to ask my fellow Christians: are we an interest group or a kingdom of disciples and evangelists? Continue reading

Can Soccer Dads Be Christian Disciples?

I have an unpleasant health condition that occurs whenever I’m under high amounts of stress. It happened during my first year of teaching high school English, but it was absent through three years of seminary, being a youth pastor, and even my first year of being an associate pastor in an über-busy suburban church. Well, the condition came back last Tuesday in the buildup to my first afternoon coaching my son’s soccer team. I’ve been mostly half-joking when I’ve made a big deal about my terror at being a soccer coach, but I guess I was a little more panicked than I realized. Continue reading