Biblically Based Youth Ministry

(June 2007 – Volume 13, Issue 6)  Missing Ingredients I was in Raleigh, North Carolina, for Thanksgiving at the Romines when I was offered my first glass of sweet tea – that is, real southern-style sweet tea. I was in love. What an amazing concoction! I proceeded to drink the rest of the pitcher. Before that day I had tried tea a thousand times but I never cared much for it. It did the job of thirst quenching well enough but that’s about where my desire for it ended. Once I tasted this sweet potion (must have been one part tea and one part molasses) I realized that all tea before this time had been missing something: the right flavor of tea and a whole lot of sugar. Something is missing in modern evangelical youth ministry. To tell the truth, it seems many things are missing. What would a group...

Ancient-Future Faith, Its Practices

(July 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 7)  In a recent sermon dealing with the emergent/emerging church, Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle and self-described emerging church leader, identified four lanes in which the emergent/emerging movement is traveling. In the first lane are emerging evangelicals who believe in basic Christian doctrine, such as the Bible being God’s Word and Jesus dying for our sins. They also tend to form the “hip, cool church,” according to Driscoll. Pastors who may fall in this category include Dan Kimball and Donald Miller. Without taking much time to debate with Driscoll at this point, I would certainly challenge the notion that Donald Miller is a supporter of basic Christian doctrine. Kimball, on the other hand, does hold to certain doctrinal positions such as the three ancient ecumenical creeds, but would not want to drift much beyond them. Traveling down the second lane are...

Ancient-Future Faith, Its Beliefs

(August 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 8)  In his most recent book Finding Our Way Again, The Return of the Ancient Practices, Brian McLaren, the most recognizable name in the emergent church movement, signals a shift, or at least a new emphasis within emergent, toward ancient practices of earlier periods of church history. As usual, McLaren believes the church has lost its way due to its refusal to follow God’s leading. The church has become “proud and unteachable” but fortunately a few “humble and teachable” people (guess who?) are pointing out the right path: “When the community of faith realizes it has lost its way, it begins looking forward by looking back…It looks to its ancient practices to help it reset its future course.” This means that the church, in order to find its way again, must look to and adopt the early church (not New Testament church) traditions and...

Ancient-Future Faith Or Do All Roads Lead to Rome

(June 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 6)  Rumors are starting to circulate that the emergent church movement is running out of steam. After making the biggest splash and the most noise of anything in the Christian community for many years it appears to be approaching exhaustion. Some like Rob Bell and Erwin McManus who are clearly in the “emergent conversation” have denied their involvement. And people seem a bit tired of hearing about postmodernism, its rejection of universal truth and its promotion of relativism. After all, how long can people live questioning the obvious and denying reality? These things play out nicely in philosophy class and in college coffee shops, but have serious limitations in the real world. Maybe it is time for the emergent ship to leave the dock and make way for the next fad. But before we begin to make funeral arrangements for the emergent church it...