What can five gay TV personalities teach 21st-century Christians about grace? Before considering this question, perhaps we should ask another. What can one Samaritan teach 1st-century Jews about mercy? Quite a lot, it turns out. When questioned by an expert in Jewish law, Jesus answered with a parable about robbery, religion, and unlikely rescue on the road to Jericho (Luke 10:25-37).
Many early interpreters of this story had one thing in common: they equated Jesus with the Samaritan. And so from earliest times, the carrier of Jesus’ identity was a person from the margins, someone who was despised, excluded, and considered impure by those at the religious center.
Whatever ideals we might ascribe to God’s nature (perfect love, justice, mercy, and wisdom), we also often project our own temperamental, judgmental, impatient, and impotent qualities. Inevitably, we don’t see God as God is, we see God as we are.
Except this seems only half true. We readily imagine that God exhibits our worst tendencies. But we are less apt to perceive our best impulses and character traits as reflecting divine nature.
When worship is viewed as a conversation between God and God’s people, planning how the conversation ends should have as much intentionality as how it began. The final thoughts and parting words offer an opportunity to empower those leaving the place of worship to incorporate the conversation that took place into their daily lives.
Saying goodbye to my church in Bolingbrook was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I even repeatedly told God and other people that I did not want to leave. However, I knew that this church belonged to God, and He was taking care of it long before I got there. It was time for God to take me to the next part of my story.
You may have gone through this experience in the past, or you may face this type of a change in the future. The following are five things I learned from this part of my journey that you may find helpful in your own journey.
The hope of a new beginning seems increasingly overshadowed by the fear that this year’s resolutions will work out about as well as they did last time around. Maybe past is prologue after all. Or, maybe, we need to rethink what we keep resolving to do.
Urban areas are attracting creatives, risk-takers, and entrepreneurs, along with secular and post-Christian young adults. The city is a place where conflicting worldviews converge and where people are looking for the hope, community, and peace that only the gospel of Jesus Christ can provide. What is the task and calling of worship leaders in urban contexts? We propose three key characteristics of worship ministry in the urban environment that nurtures discipleship.
It’s difficult to have a productive conversation about something if you can’t even agree on what you’re talking about. This challenge is clearly evident in discussions about Christian worship. We often talk past each other because we’re assuming very different definitions of what we mean by “worship.”
It says a lot about the ethos of my religious tradition that I often find myself needing to defend the efficacy of fun. It’s not that my upbringing was devoid of laughter, feasts, or simple enjoyment of many things—quite the contrary! But I found that outside my home, carefree celebration was frequently met with the kind of mild suspicion one might have if offered a decadent cake while being assured it was “healthy”—you want to believe it’s good for you, but you can’t quite get there. If you’re like most people, you eat the cake anyway with a side of subtle guilt.
I’d like allay your fear of fun, not only to assuage your guilt but also to commend the tremendous value of celebration—both in general and in the practices of Christian worship.
In this day and age, we may think of issues concerning racial and/or ethnic distinction as political, thereby meriting no place in church or in discussions of worship. But tonight, I propose that as we craft ourselves as a body of believers, an attention to diversity and inclusion proves crucial to us as Christians.
In 1 Corinthians 14, the Apostle Paul describes a normative practice of allowing everyone to contribute to collective worship. And despite the challenges that attend such an effort, the rewards are not otherwise achievable. Collective wisdom not only enriches corporate worship, the process of contributing is itself integral to worship practice that builds up the church. So how can we can, with integrity, create space for inclusive contributions by a diversity of worshippers?
This presentation explores how the conversation about race in America has been shaped recently by popular culture and what that might say about race and worship in the Adventist church.
How do we combine music and theology? What does a productive conversation between these two seemingly divergent fields look and sound like?
I was recently invited to speak at the Center for Secular and Postmodern Studies’ conference, Reaching Millennial Generations, held at Andrews University. In preparation I had the opportunity to interview thirty millennials on their views of the Adventist Church. During the interview, several relevant issues arose relating to worship.
Best Practices for Adventist Worship talked with Chad Manalo, Worship Director at Crosswalk Church in Redlands, CA, to discuss the increasingly prevalent practice of live-streaming worship gatherings.
What if the real reason we don’t follow through on our goals each year isn’t what we often assume? What if it’s not that our objectives are too unrealistic (they probably are)? What if it’s not that we’re imperfect and undisciplined (we definitely are)? What if, instead, it’s because we keep fixing our eyes on aspirations that are, quite frankly, not truly aspirational, aims unworthy of our best efforts and ability to truly hope and dream, goals that are unworthy of us? What if even our worthiest pursuits are simply not grand enough?
Scripture describes and envisions the Church, from its beginnings through to its culmination in the eschaton, as an inclusive, diverse community of people who follow Jesus. How can we celebrate and cultivate that reality when we gather to worship God?
Despite the many changes and developments in Adventist worship practices over the past century and a half, a basic structure — though often unacknowledged — has persisted. Styles of preaching, prayer and congregational song have evolved. But even the most committed innovators have rarely questioned the tradition’s basic pattern.