Here's an excerpt from an interview with Matt Chandler:
In this short video Matt highlights two main elements of a personal walk with God:
1. Answer the questions "how will I do this?" and "when will I do this?" when it comes to Bible reading, prayer, & solitude. Most men never get that far, never make a plan, and their walk with Jesus is sporadic at best.
2. Keep a watch on what stirs or stifles your affections for Jesus. Matt carefully watches his heart to see what increases his affection for Jesus - and he makes more room for these things (for example, getting up early and going to bed early are personally important for him). He also looks for those things that steal his affection from Christ or deaden it, and intentionally removes those from his life (his example was that he has to not follow sports closely because he starts caring too much).
Bob Thune challenges some long-standing assumptions and suggests that we might need to consider some other avenues for theological training.
Here are some of the concerns and solutions that Bob lays out in his post...
Seminary pulls pastors “off the streets” for 3 or 4 years to
isolate them in a sterile academic environment. While this might be
great for paper-writing, it’s really bad for missional living.
The nature of the business means that seminaries are always
juggling the best interests of students, faculty, donors, and
accrediting agencies. These players are never in agreement, which means
that no one is ever happy.
Seminaries seek to accomplish theological training apart from
immersion in a local church. Though most require their students to be
active in a church, seminaries tend to be a breeding ground for
Monday-morning-theologians who want to critique the church rather than
Because professors are pressured to publish and gain tenure, the
classes they teach are often little more than laboratories for their
latest projects. One seminary student in our church told me that every
one of his classes this semester uses a book written by the professor.
Seminaries have to pay the bills, which means it’s in their best
interests to keep students around as long as possible. Seminaries
continue to promote the M.Div. as the “flagship” degree – even though a
2-year M.A. with well-chosen electives is often just as good, and about
Seminary graduates tend to exit with heads full of theology, but
without worshipful hearts or authentic relationships with
non-Christians. I am aware this is an over-generalization. But
unfortunately it’s an accurate one.
Because of a seminary’s need to cater to a diverse student body,
most seminaries can’t offer a truly systematic theological education.
Students end up having to piece together the fragmented bits of data
they’ve accumulated in so many haphazard, out-of-sequence courses. The
idea of a cohesive “body of learning” is all but lost in the modern
The primary place for pastoral training and development should be
within the local church. Good, theologically astute elders can guide
aspiring leaders through a year or two of seminary-level reading and
study without ever removing them from their church body. Rather than
paying thousands of dollars for a packaged seminary education, aspiring
leaders can get exactly the same level of reading and study (minus the
classroom interaction) for free, with the added bonus of mentorship and
community with others in their local church.
Regionally influential churches should band together to host
theological training academies, similar to what Mars Hill/Acts 29 has
begun to do with Re:Train (NOTE: Or Porterbrook Southeast, beginning in the Deep South in Fall 2010).
Cadres of a couple dozen students can fly top-notch professors in, wine
them and dine them, and pay a hefty honorarium for their labor, and
still come out way ahead of the $400 or $500 per credit hour that
Theological students should use technology to access “the best of
the best” teachers and theologians. Many seminaries offer lectures for
free through iTunes U. Others allow students to audit classes via
videoconferencing. If you want to learn systematic theology from Wayne
Grudem, church history from John Hannah, and apologetics from John
Frame, why not?
Seminaries should continue to hire and equip the best and brightest
academic minds in Christianity to do battle on the field of ideas. We need
good theologians doing high-level academic work, and seminaries provide
an important context for that. But rather than paying the bills by
lassoing directionless Bible-college grads for a 3-year M.Div., they
should focus their recruiting efforts on doctoral students, pastors who
want ongoing training, and “a la carte” students who would pay to
access the wisdom and expertise of the most talented professors in a
given field. Seminaries could cut all the “adjunct” faculty and retain
only the best and brightest thinkers.
Read the rest of the post here and fire away with questions or comments.
JD Greear lays out a very helpful path for college students trying to figure out whether to focus their time and energy on campus ministry or the local church:
Some students will,
from the beginning, know they want to minister to kids, seniors, the poor,
etc., and that being involved in the ministries of their church will be a
better fit for that. That should not be discouraged or looked down upon! On the
other hand, some students are designed and called by God to focus more of their
ministry on their peers. They may always keep their Bible study and ministry
focus on campus and this is fine as well. This is how i was: not only for all
my years of college, but several years afterward as well, I led Bible studies
and ministry on campus. Students should be given freedom to explore their
ministry callings and plug into the ministries that best fit them.
Emerging adults (those between 18 and 30) form a generation that is
largely insensitive to the potency of God's holiness, and are therefore
insensitive to the magnificence of his grace, the shocking nature of
his love, and that gratitude forms the core of the Christian life. Some
today complain about these matters. But I doubt very much that ramping
up moral exhortations and warning about an endless hell are the proper
places to begin with emerging adults. Paul was sensitive to his
audience; we need to be as well.
Yesterday morning, a bunch of us passed along this note on Twitter: 'Over 80% of church plants in the US fail but churches in the Acts 29 church planting network have a 95% success rate.' That news is both exciting and humbling for those of us in A29 who are well aware that we're not that smart and we're not particularly more gifted than some of the guys who have crashed and burned in planting.
A few minutes after I tossed out that information, I had someone I respect push back a little, wondering if our definition of success lines up with how Jesus defines success, pointing me to John 4:35-38. If you read that text and listen to the stories of people whose church plants have shut down, it's hard to ignore the work of God in proverbially making lemonade out of lemons.
there is an outright war over who gets to define “success.” There is
some irony in this story in that my flight originated in Manhattan, a
monument to success. But what is success? And who gets to define it?
While success benchmarks are of course both entirely natural and often
helpful—e.g. a manager’s use of statistical evaluation to determine a
batting lineup or pitching rotation or a trader’s measuring financial
turn on investment to evaluate market share—they should also be held in
suspicion. Who is defining it? Once success is defined, desired
outcomes and lifestyles are set for many. In this sense, they can
become totalizing and subsuming.
And finally, Skye Jethani reminds us that our success - our legitimacy - is found in what Jesus has done for us.
Leadership Journal interviews Matt Chandler - one question that fits well with what we deal with in Fight Clubs:
LJ: What does warring against sin look like?
MC: Sanctification here at The Village begins by
answering two questions. What stirs your affections for Jesus Christ?
And what robs you of those affections? Many of the things that stifle
growth are morally neutral. They're not bad things. Facebook is not
bad. Television and movies are not bad. I enjoy TV, but it doesn't take
long for me to begin to find humorous on TV what the Lord finds
The same goes for following sports. It's not wrong,
but if I start watching sports, I begin to care too much. I get stupid.
If 19-year-old boys are ruining your day because of what they do with a
ball, that's a problem. These things rob my affections for Christ.
I want to fill my life with things that stir my affections for him.
After a funeral I walked around the cemetery and found a grave of a guy
who died when he was my age. I felt my mortality in that moment and it
made me love the Lord. It really did. Some types of epic films do that
for me, and so does angst-filled music.
We want our people to think beyond simply what's
right and wrong. We want them to fill their lives with things that stir
their affections for Jesus Christ and, as best as they can, to walk
away from things that rob those affections—even when they're not
Christ Community Church is a replant - an organic description of a process that mechanically can feel like taking a machine apart piece-by-piece, discarding the parts that are unsalvageable (and no, I'm not talking about people), cleaning up what can be repaired and building out a church that gets the job done.
I spoke on replanting at an Acts 29 boot camp in Dallas last year - and almost ten months later, I get calls about replanting every week. Some men intentionally walk into a church knowing it needs this kind of work; more often it's not until someone has been part of a particular church and its particular culture and processes that they discover a church that needs to die and experience ecclesiastical resurrection.
Scott Thomas is the director of Acts 29. He also has experience in replanting churches - and he's writing a five-part series on replanting that's well worth your time. The truth is, we need patient, compassionate, courageous, persistent men who will love dying churches well enough to help them die well and experience new life.