Some friends are really bringing it this week on their blogs:
- Bridget Nelson has a great reflection on sharing that applies to three-year-olds and adults alike.
- Jeff Nelson offers up a great poetic narrative.
- Rick Dake talks about seeking understanding in the face of our many differences.
- Steve McCoy has some thoughts on Wil Willimon’s recent comments about numbers being a key marker of effectiveness.
Not a personal friend, but Jeremy Smith also has some good comments regarding Willimon. While I haven’t gone in-depth on the subject, I have mentioned the dilemma before – I think Willimon does have a point in that in the end you do need some kind of metric to help examine what is happening in the life of the congregation. He also has a point in that we take all this time and energy to collect the data, so we should be using it as well. But, as Steve and Jeremy point out the numbers (of baptism, membership, attendance) don’t always tell the whole story, and even that data can be abused and manipulated. Furthermore, when the numbers are taken to specifically measure clergy effectiveness, with the assumption that all areas are the same, problems will emerge. A congregation that is serving an area facing negative population growth simply can’t be expected to do as well as an area that is growing. Likewise, while the clergy leadership is an important element in congregational growth, it is not the only element and sometimes other factors (resistance within the congregation, “cleaning up” after another person’s mistakes, etc.) will limit growth, at least in the short-term. Having said all that, though, I will concede that Willimon does have a point that sometimes in the face of the hard numbers before us, all we choose to offer is excuses, instead of actually doing something to bring about change and growth. What also needs to be understood is that the denominational authorities can’t just command this to happen: vision, training, support, and resources are needed for this change to take place – the entire church culture has to change, not just the performance of individual pastors.
Scot McKnight shares some interesting data suggesting that people who hold to a concept of a benevolent and engaging God are significantly more committed than those who primarily understand God to be wrathful and judging.
Both Eric Bryant in his post, Seinfeld as a Drama?, and Dan Kimball address the issue of context. The videos they each link to are great, and an important reminder that a story can be told and manipulated, by how it is presented and removed from its original context.
Similar to Dan Kimball’s discussion, but with different take on the issue, Fred Clark has some interesting things to say about the emphasis Christians give to sexuality versus money relative to the amount they are discussed in Scripture. Clark is writing in a multipart series, check it out: Part 1 and Part 2.
It didn’t make it in my posting last week, but I did enjoy the piece from David Byrne on The Architecture of Fear. (Warning to the easily offended: Byrne uses some objectionable language).
Lifehacker posted the recommendations for essential Windows software. Quite a few things on the list I already use and can vouch for (Chrome, Skype, Thunderbird, VLC, Picasa, Microsoft Security Essentials) and a couple I’ve been meaning to check out (Mozy, Dropbox). If you use Windows, I’d encourage you to check it out and download the pack. (Of course I’m considering converting the Windows box in my new office to Ubuntu, just because I am a big nerd).
Interesting article suggesting we can all expect an increase in traffic tickets as state and municipal revenues remain tight. It especially hits home because I just received my first ticket after 20 years of driving, just two months ago.
If anyone wants to send me to Portland so I can hang out with Donald Miller for a couple of days, sign me up here.
My friend Eric mentioned how he just discovered The Black Keys this week, so in Eric’s honor here’s they are: