It’s ironic that many of us are able to see the lies of the prosperity preachers, who promise new cars and houses for anyone willing to believe a little harder, but we don’t have eyes to see the more subtle threat of using our relationship with God as a means to boost our spiritual resume. This is the orthodox man’s prosperity gospel — going through the spiritual motions to acquire an elevated sense of self-worth. It’s the prosperity we keep in our closet, even our prayer closets.
How Historians Are Quietly Rewriting the Typical Story of American Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism
Writing 10 years ago in Books & Culture, David Bebbington suggested that the general consensus regarding the American evangelical story needs revision.
During one session, a pastor/evangelist preached a sermon entitled, “When Is the Preacher Right?” It was a long, free-wheeling combination of texts and tales, with a primary purpose of undergirding pastoral authority. However, when I encouraged a pastor friend of mine to listen to it a year or two later, his response was, “Sounds to me like he thinks the preacher is always right and never wrong!”
Should we, as parents force our children to go to church, even when they don’t want to?
Short answer? Yes. Absolutely.
But why should we do that? You could argue the opposite – that in making our children go to church we are actually turning them away from the church. They will grow up resenting this environment they had to go to week after week, even if they didn’t want to, and as soon as they get a little bit of freedom, they will abandon that practice forced upon them by their unrelenting parents.
Never would I have admitted it, but in my first year as a local church pastor, I was deeply insecure and at least a little bit embarrassed by the word “pastor.”
I am not alone in this insecurity, especially as a young adult who is neatly categorized and narrowly classified as a “millennial.” So I hope it’s okay for me to be earnest about how this religious embarrassment impacted both my pastoral and church planting narrative.
I left a stable ministry position to plant a church at the age of 45. I patted myself on the back for being willing to take a risk.
The reality: I was only risking my standard of living, and not even a lot. I moved to a community I love and enjoy my work. A martyr I’m not.
A favorite from the archives:
Now, I get it. Many people want to avoid putting up a stumbling block to unbelievers coming to faith. They don’t want to be seen as “those Christians”—the ones who are always fighting about this or that, or who are considered hateful or bigots. But dancing around the Bible isn’t the answer.
We don’t really need to do the dance. We don’t have to be backed into a corner where we begrudgingly accept what the Bible says. Not if we are viewing the Bible as we are meant to.