Monday, January 25, 2010


Pronunciation: \ˈpər-mē-ə-bəl\
Function: adjective
Date: 15th century
:Capable of being permeated or passed through

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do We Really Need To Change Maps?

The Lutheran Witness article that was referenced in the last post started out this way:

Imagine trying to drive in Chicago with a street map of San Francisco. You probably can’t. While both cities are edged by water and have lots of tall buildings, they are nothing alike. Though they share names for several streets, trying to drive in the one with the map of the other would prove frustrating. No matter how hard you tried, you simply wouldn’t get anywhere. Confused and exasperated, you’d finally conclude: It’s time to change maps!

As God’s missionary people, we also need to change maps in order to navigate in this present day. Changes in our society and culture, especially regarding the Church, have come fast and furiously. It’s as if we went to bed one night only to wake up the next morning in a vastly different world. Once vibrant and growing churches question whether they will remain open for another year. Many pastors and people feel guilty for not reaching their communities with the Gospel, while well-intentioned mission sermons often leave them discouraged, even defensive. And in their defensiveness, they begin to reason that faithfulness has only to do with preserving the true faith, whether or not that faith is proclaimed to the nations.

Do we really need to change maps to reach the unchurched? Is there any command in the Scriptures to change maps to reach people with the Gospel? I searched on my computer (I use Libronix when I don’t have my TLSB in front of me) and took a look over at and I can’t find any reference, in either the Old or New Testement, where we are told to change maps to reach out to the culture.

I find it somewhat amusing that the author has set himself up something of a false dichotomy that asks us to drive in San Francisco with a map of Chicago and in Chicago with a map of San Francisco. What if there is a third option and it involves getting the map for Chicago if you’re in Chicago and picking up a map for San Francisco when in San Francisco.

As a church we know where the heck we are and we have clear maps handed down in Scripture to follow. We have a map laid down in the book of Acts of how Christ’s church was grown from the start. In Acts we have testimonies of eyewitnesses and of people who participated in delivering the Gospel to the whole world. Are we so arrogant that we think we know how to preach and teach better than the apostles that our Lord called? Do we think that the Church’s counter cultural nature is any different now? I don’t think so.

In the Pauline epistles we are given a map for not only what should be taught and proclaimed but how and in what context the faithful should be instructed. Instead of telling his readers to switch maps, Saint Paul explains exactly what we should be bringing to the a corrupt and sinful culture in the 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 :

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures

Did St. Paul tell the church in Corinth that they need new maps or rather did he remind them of the Gospel that he already preached? Isn’t Saint Paul faithfully carrying out Christ’s command to make diciples by baptizing them and “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”? Our Lord does not say to the disiples that they need to go out, get new maps, become permeable to speak with the culture, and don’t get hung up on preserving the true faith by faithfulness.

The the marketing gurus we seem to want to listen to, (and we pay dearly for their advice) tell us that we need to transform our congregations if we are to reach anyone with the Gospel. We are told to play secular songs instead of sacred hymns. We are accused of only wanting a “maintenance ministry” if we think church is the place for the sheep who need to hear both Law and Gospel and refuse to turn Sunday morning into something that looks like a rotory club meeting. We are told that is better to save souls than be Lutheran. We are told preserving the true faith by faithfulness to our confession of faith is passé, uninspiring and only to be left to the theological dodos of the reformation identified as the “museum keepers.” Such thinking has turned evangelism into an idol.

These slick Madison Avenue marketing gurus and the author of the Lutheran Witness article suggest that we just need new ideas for reaching the unchurched. In other words both say that we need new maps. As Scripture does not call or suggest that we become permeable or more like the culture in order to make disciples of all nations; the new map that these folks offer only leads us away from the Gospel and towards abyss of uncatechized non-belief.

Do we really want to try to navigate the church’s missionfield with a map of the culture? How would such a contrivance benefit the church if this is not what we are called to do? It won’t, plain and simple.

No, I’ll trust the map that we have been given and leave the map that wishes to look like the culture it chases on the spinner rack of heterodoxy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

POTF Blog Of The Week: Should Our Doctrine be Permeable?

This week’s blog of the week has to go to Jim Pierce’s post over at one of my favorite daily reads Confessional Bytes and his post titled Should Our Doctrine be Permeable?. Jim is looking at an article in the Lutheran Witness that discusses how we as the “churched”might become permeable to reach the “unchurched.”

The idea that the church must look more like the culture has long been a bug in my bonnet so to speak. I’ve heard more than one church bureaucrat say in front of many a people that we need to stop worrying about being Lutherans and try to worry about saving souls as if that is something WE do.

Jim takes the author to task for his taking verses from the Bible out of their clear and intended context which is a tactic frequently used by individuals and marketing gurus to justify replacing church doctrine and practice with cultural sensibilities to attract people who are not so much attracted to church.

Should doctrine be permeable? No. It's sad that we even have to ask that question

Great post Jim!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Festival Of The Blessing Of The Blessed Internet Ready Mobile Devices

The Times is reporting that in an effort to be all things to all people Canon David Parrott blessed laptops and cell phones placed on the altar of St Lawrence Jewry Church of London on Monday.

I looked in my Treasury of Daily Prayer this morning and I can’t find the Festival of the Blessing of the Blessed Internet Ready Mobile Devices anywhere.

What’s up with that? Have we conceded the tech savvy seeker demographic to the emergent church or the Unitarians. Don't we love the children of the iPod and netbook enough to provide the rubrics and rites necessary to reach out to them in a manner that is relevant? Are we so inward looking that we don’t include the Festival of the Blessing of the Blessed Internet Ready Mobile Devices in our devotional materials like TDP?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Time Out Episode 47

Dan over at Necessary Roughness has the newest Time Out; Time Out, Episode 47 posted.

The Scripture reading for this episode is the 1 Peter 1 and the hymn is “The People That in Darkness Sat” found on page 412 in the Lutheran Service Book.

Be sure to stop by, say howdy, and thank Dan for doing such a great job on Time Out, Episode 47 !

Previous Time Out episodes:

Time Our Episode 46
Time Our Episode 45