Saturday, April 04, 2009

You've Come a Long Ways, Baby

Tonight my congregation is hosting a public showing of the movie Fireproof, complete with all the resources available afterword. The movie kicks off the 8-week Marriage Dynamics course that we've been offering twice a year the past few years. Meanwhile, we're a couple of weeks into the Financial Peace workshop done by Dave Ramsey.

Once upon a time, I'd hear criticism of the closed-mindedness of our fellowship of churches and the monopoly we thought we held on spiritual truths. A common statement would be something like, "I hear you guys are only allowed to read books written by other members of your church." While that was never literally true (at least since I've been faithful), there was a point. You didn't dare bring in another ministry, offer a different point of view, or even reference a pastor/bishop/deacon from another church. Though we isolated ourselves on a spiritual island, my best material as a first-time Bible Talk leader came from sermons I heard on the radio.

In the past few years however, we've begun to open ourselves up to the fact that maybe we aren't the only ones who might know a thing or two about spirituality and discipleship. Congregations have studied The Purpose Driven Life together while leaders studied Leading Life-Changing Small Groups from Willow Creek. The Los Angeles Church of Christ hosted a "Men in White" retreat that spawned men's purity groups based on Every Man's Battle. Many congregations have done financial courses through Crown Financial Ministries, and I already mentioned the Marriage Dynamics course that many churches have conducted.

Personally, I'm very encouraged by this despite the present undercurrent that seems to want to keep us on our own spiritual and doctrinal islands. (Cooperation does not have to equal conformity!) I'm a bibliophile, and I'll suck up any Christian resource I can get my hands on despite whatever theology is behind it. I hope we're mature enough to discern the truth based on our own Bible study ("Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11). And by the looks of these ministries, it appears our spiritual leadership agrees. Amen to that.

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