Why I’m Planting a Racially Diverse Church In Cincinnati (10 Reasons)

The first reason why I’m planting a racially diverse church in Cincinnati: it’s biblical. The second reason is this: The world wants racial reconciliation, but only the gospel can deliver it. Everywhere you look, from corporate advertisements to college promotional materials to fashion magazines, it is clear that people want to see a diversity of faces in the imagery. Martin Luther King, Jr. did our country a great service by helping to expose racial hypocrisy. He was (perhaps naively) convinced that white Christians would rush to his aid but most didn’t. During the civil rights era, our country has come a long way to give all people of various races equal opportunities for advancement. Everyone is clamoring for it. You can’t watch the evening news without seeing it in the advertisements, or hearing of someone being sentences to probation and “diversity training,” or a story about someone violating political correctness…

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Worship Leadership Series (part four): 5 Criteria for Choosing a Worship Leader

When I was in college, I can’t count the number of worship leading gigs I was asked to do. There were at least several dozen different opportunities to lead worship in different venues from churches to college ministries to youth camps to bar mitzvahs. I did it all. But I wasn’t qualified for much other than to play Guitar Hero. No one asked me about my character or theology (except for Campus Crusade, for whom I am deeply grateful). Before Passion came around, the only contemporary songs to choose from were the I-love-Jesus-like-I-love-my-girlfriend variety. I didn’t care what the song said, as long as it had a cool sound and interesting melody. I should have been fired. Most churches just want a guitar guy, not a worship leader, because that’s what the polls and magazines tell them they have to have to survive as a church these days. The problem…

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Worship Leadership Series (part two): Singing is Commanded in Scripture

In many contemporary worship settings, the focus of the music appears to be primarily self-expression of one’s relationship with God. While there’s nothing wrong with this, I do believe that it is a misplaced priority. I aim to show in this post that worship music in the church is to be primarily for instruction in the truths of scripture and not for self-expression. Ephesians 5:18ff says this: And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5 is a great example of the purpose that God assigns to singing in his church. The positive…

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How to Waste $1,000,000

This article on Chicago Tribune’s website (registration required) describes the ever-expanding pageantry of Christmas productions at the Savannah Christian (mega) Churches where attendees (at $5 a head) get to take a boat ride across a massive lake into Bethlehem, where they mingle with the townspeople who greet them with fresh water, fruit and assorted cheeses. Roman soldiers on white horses lead them along a lighted path, where they encounter the Three Wise Men with a live camel resting at their side. They look on as the archangel Gabriel appears at the Virgin Mary’s home and tells her that she is carrying a child. They watch an evil King Herod, who plots to kill the newborn. Finally, they arrive at the manger, standing close enough to touch the crying baby Jesus. Or try Willow Creek, for example: The Cirque du Soleil-style production at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington features…

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Racial Unity in Church Planting

Laura and I visited Cincinnati today. I was there a week ago and really sensed a leading from the Lord to seriously pursue planting a church there in the urban downtown area. I blogged about it last week. A wise friend told me recently that when you’re looking to plant a new church, you want to see some tangible evidence that God’s hand is in the project and He is working to pull things together. In light of my trip there today, here are some ways that I definitely see God working. 1. This church plant was being planned before I came along. I was fascinated to find out, while meeting the Cincinnati Baptist Association Director of Missions, that his association has determined inner-city Cincinnati as his top priority for this year. While I was thinking that I would have to come into a new city to start a new…

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Racial Unity, Arts, Mercy, College Students and Church Planting

There are several streams of ministry desires that have been in my heart for some time. Some seemed more realistic than others. For example, Laura and I have a strong passion for racial reconciliation, but this problem seems so overwhelmingly difficult that I had relegated it to the “would be nice, but…” status. Essentially, the people that I have spoken with who understand this issue well told me that it would be very difficult for a white man to address the complex issues of black America with any degree of credibility.

Kudos to Willow Creek

Willow Creek Church has recently admitted that their entire philosophy of ministry was a big mistake. While some might relish to see Goliath fall from grace, I think that this move is laying the foundation for many years of effective ministry to come. The gospel calls us to admit our weaknesses and rely on his strength. This was a ballsy move by the mega-giant church, and they should be commended for having the guts to start over from scratch and consider the spiritual well being of their people. Way to go, Willow Creek. I admire you.

How to Build an Empire (hint: make your own name great)

I have been thinking lately a good deal about my motivational center for doing ministry. Last night, Joel Osteen was on 60 Minutes. I also watched an expose of T.D. Jakes and “Jesus is the product” here. I couldn’t help but think, what drives these men?

Ten Myths Concerning Communication (part 2)

Ah, I know you’ve been waiting ever so impatiently for the next five myths. Your patience will be rewarded. 6. The key to effective communication is the precise formulation of the message. Get this quote: “Many would-be communicators pay primary attention to the technical preciseness, accuracy, and truthfulness of the words and phrases they use to construct their messages. Yet the choice to use precise, technical language, especially with popular audiences, usually increases rather than decreases the possibility of misinterpretation. The drive towards preciseness does not take account of the fact that much of what goes into effective communication is outside the control of the communicator,” (32).

Ten Myths Concerning Communication (part 1)

Charles H. Kraft’s book, Communication Theory for Christian Witness, has a chapter of ten myths in communication. These are quite helpful and challenging because there are several sacred cows in American Evangelicalism that he debunks. For example, I had a friend once who was offended that a church service did not conclude with an altar call. Although this was at one point a very effective tool for communication and calling people to respond, it has descended into emotive pleas with little substance (actually, I may be giving the altar call a little more credit than it actually deserves here). At any rate, see how many of these you can agree with: 1. Hearing the gospel with one’s ears is equivalent to “being reached” with the gospel.