Posts Tagged ‘KJV’

It seems to be commonplace these days for my ideals, standards, and preferences concerning church and Christianity to be knocked on its ear. If you met me today you’d probably never know that two years ago I was a stiff-necked Fundy who believed that anything other than a traditional, (at least somewhat) liturgical church service with hymns, neckties, and thundering doctrine could not possibly honor God. Essentially what I was saying was this; “Hey, ya know all those church services that put me to sleep and cause me to drool all over my Authorized KJV? Yeah, that’s the only right way to do church. True story, bro.”

Bean

Then, last year I found myself in a unique situation wherein I was able to experience church and worship in a variety of unfamiliar ways. This Southern Baptist found himself worshiping amongst Lutherans, Presbyterians, non-denominationals, multi-denominationals, Charismatics, and Catholics. Almost immediately I discovered that I was far more excited and worshipful than I’d been in a long, long time. My Fundy-head was confused… Is it possible that church can actually be fun and entertaining without being irreverent? Really?

About a year after visiting with these other churches, the Lord graciously decided to place us in a new church for the purpose of training for a future ministry in church planting (as well as building new relationships and again, worshiping Him in a different way). Gone was the organ and faux potted plants. Gone was the large wooden pulpit and (leaky) baptistry. Gone were the neckties, the always difficult hymns (this of course, does not include the Blue Grass style hymns I grew-up with), and the rigid KJV-ism. Instead God placed us in a dance studio which is converted into a church each week, by way of a handful of pews and several rows of folding chairs. With it comes a praise band with contemporary music, coffee during the service, and an unapologetic, casual style of dress. But do you know what else comes with it? Real, sincere worship and something sorely lacking from before, genuine relationships.

Fast-forward to today and the guest speaker in my Sermon Delivery class. This guy epitomized everything I believe[d] to be wrong with preaching! Videos and props, engaging real-life illustrations (see: stories), adapting to fit the audience, telling jokes, and a slight, subtle hipness. I was locked, loaded, and prepared to hate this guy! But then he started speaking… He started speaking and I was completely drawn-in. Worst of all, the things he said made an unbelievable amount of sense!

He spoke of engaging the audiences with multi-sensory experiences so as to hook them and keep them interested, rather than losing them after the first 5-10 minutes, as is typically the case. He spoke of specific body movements and the utilizing of props. He even spoke of not hiding behind the pulpit (gasp!). He spoke of methods and principles to do things that not that long ago I would have considered irreverent. However, maybe they weren’t…

Perhaps there’s a fine line between interesting and gimmicky. But as the pastor speaking to the class stated, “Even Jesus used props (primarily within nature) to drive home a point and keep people engaged.”

However, it must also be stated that anything that draws AWAY from the Word of God instead of pointing TO the Word of God must be avoided as Scripture must always take center stage.

So, I have some things to think about and some judgements to reconcile. What do you prefer; traditional preaching or something with a bit more pizazz? Let me know in the comments.

Live long and prosper.

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   It’s funny how you can be so sure that you’re right about something and then God decides to bonk you on the head and show you that you’re not nearly as smart as you think you are.

   Two years ago this month we moved to Kansas City with very little certainty. The only thing I knew for sure was where we would attend church. This came following a number of phone calls with the pastor of said church who was the exact type of pastor, in the exact type of church, with the exact type of doctrinal stance I was looking for. Rigid, traditional, and Calvinistic to the core. If I was certain of one thing, it was that this church was exactly what we, as a family, and me, as a seminary student needed. No nonsense. No frills. No topical sermons. No contemporary music. No programs. Yes… this was it.

   Perhaps for a while I was right. They embraced us and the pastor took an interest in me and my studies. All was well. That is, until I announced that the Lord had called us into a ministry of church planting.

   Things soured quickly.

   Church planting, in the mind of that pastor was not a valid ministry. It was a gimmick intended to harm established churches. I was told that I needed to forget this calling and take over the pulpit from him once he retired. Thanks, but no thanks.

   Not only did things sour between him and myself, but things began to sour within me. I found myself loathing even walking in the door. I was disinterested in the sermons and had a heart unable and unwilling to worship during the hymns. I also had a problem. My family loved the church and did not want to leave.

   In retrospect I’m glad at the time they didn’t, because things needed dealt with.

   In the meantime, my buddy Tim and I embarked on what would become known as Ben & Tim’s Not My Church Tour. It was these adventures that helped initiate a change in me. For the first time I was able to see and experience worship in ways that I had always bemoaned as trite and insincere. Moreover, I was able to see how wrong I had been! From churches in parking garages to ornate Cathedrals, I saw people who’s hearts were truly full of the love of Christ and who worshiped Him not out of obligation, but out of gratefulness and joy. We witnessed everything from Catholic Mass to upbeat Pentecostalism to hipsters trying to live out their rock n’ roll dreams by way of songs by Matt Maher, David Crowder, and Matt Redman. But each had one thing in common (doctrinal differences aside)… they were all sincere in their worship of God.

   Knowing that I was lacking this worshipful heart made me sad. Sincerely sad. I knew a change had to come.

   Finally I did what I should have done much earlier. I made amends with my pastor. I explained that his statements were hurtful and that I disagreed with him, but I was no longer angry and I still loved him and was grateful to him for all he had done for my family and I. For the first time in months we had a good, heartfelt talk that day.

   Almost immediately, the Lord seemed to show me that He was finally happy that I’d stopped being an arrogant, jaded, knot-head and did the right thing by opening the door to transition into a new church. A church so far removed from what I wanted when we moved to Kansas City that they almost seemed to be different entities altogether.

   In January of 2012 I was happy with nothing less than a traditional church in a traditional church building with classically reverent hymns (on your choice of piano or organ), a pastor who held tight to the Doctrines of Grace (five points of Calvinism) and was rarely seen without a pressed suit and tie, and sermons preached from Ye Olde Authorized King James Bible (which I still like, mind you). Now however, in January of 2014 I find myself in a very non-traditional church which meets in a dance studio (although there are stained glass windows, so that’s cool), dies neither on the hill of Calvinism nor Arminianism, has a worship band with both contemporary music and electric instruments, a dress code that essentially asks that you please wear clothes of some sort, and that doesn’t believe that all non-KJV Bible translations are penned by the hand of the devil. And you know what..? I noted this past Sunday that I was finally truly, sincerely, humbly, and exuberantly worshipful!

   God is so much smarter than me.

   In closing, if you would like to read more about Ben & Tim’s Not My Church Tour, go here: http://benjaminsdennis.tumblr.com/

   Also, if you would like to visit my new church, go here for info: http://www.legacychurchkc.org/

   Farewell humanity and Godspeed.

 

It’s a peculiar thing, one’s theology. It’s the means by which we know and understand the God of the universe. Yet, even though He is NEVER changing, my theology seems to be EVER changing.

So, here is a short and far from exhaustive list of the things I’ve learned since the Spring semester of 2012 that have helped to mold my theology. When you hear the chime, turn the page…

  1. Though having spent the majority of my life as a Southern Baptist and currently attending a Southern Baptist seminary, I am very likely the worst Southern Baptist in the history of the convention. When referencing the term in your thesaurus, you will find my name under “antonyms”. It’s not even that I’m opposed to SBC polity and standards. I simply just stink at being Southern Baptist. Don’t even get me started on the Teetotalism thing… (look it up kids).
  2. I’ve played on both teams, but now who’s jersey do I wear? I was raised in a very Arminian church and in recent years have waved the flag of a 5-point Calvinist, but now I’m neither. Or I’m a lesser degree of both. I’m not sure. There’s a good chance I’m a Molinist… (look it up kids).
  3. Contrary to what I’ve always been taught, I don’t believe Southern Baptists have an exclusive stake on Heavenly real estate. Though not explicitly taught it, I would now gladly stand with any member of any denomination with a right understanding of Christian essentials. These would essentially be summed-up in the 5 Solas of the Protestant Reformation… (look it up kids).
  4. It’s okay to be a little charismatic, even if John MacArthur disagrees. Within reason. Nothing too weird.
  5. The Authorized King James Bible was not handed down by angels on a golden thread to be the only reliable source of God’s communication to us. Mind you, I like the KJV. I really do. However, let it be said that any pastor preaching from a biblical translation (not paraphrase) in modern language is not necessarily apostate.
  6. Women can be deacons. It turns out it was in the Bible the whole time. Who knew? Although it should be stated that a clear understanding of the intended definition of the office of deacon should be applied here.
  7. We cannot expect the lost to come to us. We must go to them. Kinda makes sense. Why would a lost person with no interest in religion casually stroll into a church on Sunday morning apart from a potluck?
  8. Hyper-Calvinists are mean and Hyper-Arminians really know nothing about the God they serve. Let me explain here before I get stoned by the masses. Hyper-Calvinists tend to show little concern for the lost by leaving salvation firmly in the sovereignty of God. Therefore they’re mean because they never personally show the love of Christ to anyone through evangelism. On the flip-side, Hyper-Arminians don’t know the true nature of God because they view salvation as a choice man makes with God merely waiting on the sidelines hoping they choose Him (like the fat kid in P.E. who really wants to play dodge ball).
  9. I have zero interest in a doctorate. At first I thought it would be cool to be Doctor Benjamin. However, after seeing the toll it takes on these poor men and women who commit years to earning the title of “Doctor”, I think I’ll pass.
  10. The “social gospel”, which I spent years bemoaning… is actually a part of THE Gospel! Ain’t that something? It turns out that while evangelism is our number one priority, we have a direct, irrefutable command to also feed the hungry, clothe the poor, care for the destitute, and love those who we so desperately want to hate. More on that it future posts.

So, that’s it for now. There’s so much more I could include, but then what would I have to write about later?

Sleep well planet Earth.