This past week/end was a momentous one for Regent University as we celebrated the grand opening of a new chapel and School of Divinity building. Regent University has been operating for over thirty five years (formerly as CBN University), but has never had a chapel. Construction of the new chapel, situated at the center of the campus in Virginia Beach, symbolizes the centrality of the spiritual life in this faith-based Christian university. The beautiful 1000-seat edifice opened with three consecutive nights of worship, praise, prayer, and preaching. Undergraduate and graduate students along with faculty and staff will henceforth have a place of worship on this campus. Although the work of the Holy Spirit has never been hindered by the absence of appropriately named structures, the dedication of this chapel signifies the university’s prioritization of the spiritual life, a commitment long at the heart of a school founded from out of the “fire” of the charismatic renewal movements of the 1960s and 1970s. What is it like to dedicate a new chapel? Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for the ‘Church Ministry’ Category
Centuries of social, political, cultural, and religious diversity weigh heavily on expressions of Christianity. Party politics, greed, personality driven ministries, ministry as business, and denominational and non-denominational church struggles over members seem to be the order of the day. These influences have moved Christians further and further away from divine principles to which Christians are called to live out before a world that is far from God. The Church is called to be holy; so Christians must pursue holiness amidst an unholy world. The world does not know God so the world cannot lead in holiness. The best way to win the world to faith in Christ is by bearing witness to Christ through the Christian’s lifestyle of holiness – a life that is indifferent of the world—and expressed love towards those who are not living that life. Miller argues that a careful revisit of historical developments that have altered Christianity from its biblical form of indifference might be a meaningful way for the Church to regain its fervor in representing Christ in the world—a world that God expects for Christians to be in but not of. Read the rest of this entry »
On November 11, 2011 (11-11-11), followers of Jesus in all 24 time zones around the world will engage in a stream of continuous worship called the Global Day of Worship (GDW). This movement is a call to the body of Christ to exalt the name of Jesus and give Him glory. The goal is to invite Christian believers to worship the Lord Jesus between 7:00-8:00 p.m. on 11-11-11 in their respective time zones. With 24 times zones, this would mean that in each time zone around the world Christian believers will be lifting up the name of Jesus in a global concert of worship. What a vision!
The founder of the Global Day of Worship, Eunice Barruel (photo featured below), is a Regent University alumna, who also travels the globe to various orphanages, imparting a vision for worshipping the true and living God. Several years ago, Eunice envisioned the Global Day of Worship as a worldwide expression of love and adoration of Jesus. And now it is finally coming to fruition in a few weeks. Recently, Eunice expressed to me that she is simply being obedient to the vision that the Lord has given her and sees herself as a humble servant of the Lord in releasing as many people as possible to contribute to this historic event.
- The goal of the Global Day of Worship is simply to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus and secondarily to unite the body of Christ worldwide. In order to transcend denomination, organization, language, culture, and geography, the hope is to declare God’s love, goodness, grace, favor, and blessing over the nations as one united body. As 1 Cor 12:12 reminds us, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” Whether gathering as individuals, families, small groups, or large groups, the goal is to create a “wave of worship” that spans the globe, uniting Christian believers regardless of worship expression.
Revelation 4: 10-11 provides the theme scripture for this historic event, describing the twenty-four elders falling down before Christ, who sits on the throne in heaven, and laying their crowns before Him, and declaring: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.” Eunice affirms, “When the worship of heaven meets the worship of earth…spiritual climates of nations will shift, as we serve faithfully here and now in preparation for His return.”
The epicenter of this Global Day of Worship event is right here in Virginia Beach! Regent University has the privilege of being an integral part of the coordination effort and is hosting a continuous 24-hour period of worship on 11-11-11 in the Main Theatre of the Regent University Communication and the Arts Building. All are welcome! The live worship feed from the Main Theatre to the GDW website will occur from 7:00-8:00 p.m. However, you are encouraged to participate in and coordinate a worship event from 7:00-8:00 p.m. in your respective locale.
How to participate:
(1) Ask those you know to set aside 7:00-8:00 p.m. on 11-11-11 to worship.
(2) Consider hosting or organizing a worship event that could be live-streamed on the GDW website.
(3) Contact GDW for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
(4) Contact GDW to register your worship event.
(5) Go to Facebook’s “Global Day of Worship” page. Click “like.”
(6) Follow the GDW on Twitter @globalworshiper.
Will you join me and scores of others around the globe in participating in this historic event on 11-11-11? Will you tell your family and friends about it?
The gender paradox in Pentecostalism is no secret. There are many more women in the movement than men, and yet women are not allowed into visible positions of authority (you can reverse this paradox). To put it differently: While Pentecostalism maintains to be an egalitarian movement, women are only as equal as men allow. Some would say it differently again: female Pentecostals can be in any position of authority they want as long as it does not include authority over men. What is wrong with this picture?
The literature on the gender divide in Pentecostalism is large albeit still new. We can certainly blame the neglect of the Pentecostal gender paradox by the social sciences (both the neglect of women and the neglect of Pentecostalism). We can also blame the predominance of theories that silence women’s experiences and marginalize women (not only among Pentecostals). We can also blame a fundamentalist reading of Scripture that purportedly justifies male authority and the submission of women, especially in the church. But these blatant issues are not constituting the paradox. How is it that Pentecostalism is a religious movement largely made up of women, when women are not allowed into visible positions of authority?
I suspect that it has to do with an undeveloped ecclesiology among Pentecostals (and this may include an undeveloped anthropology). The charismatic movement in the mainline churches finds its own problems in the often uncritical adoption of hierarchical (read: patriarchal) patterns of the mother church. For some reason, charismatic manifestations do not seem to challenge institutional structures. Classical Pentecostals, on the other hand, have falsely adopted the Protestant idea of the “priesthood of all believers” in addition to a more genuinely Pentecostal notion of the “prophethood of believers.” (Roger Stronstad has long warned that the Protestant paradigm is ill-fitting for Pentecostals). I have elsewhere suggested that Pentecostalism should not be confused with Protestantism. More so, however, Cheryl Bridges Johns has frequently lamented that the gender divide in Pentecostal leadership is to be blamed on the dominance of the priestly image of ministry and a restricted image of prophethood. She sees an abundance of “priestly pentecostalism” characterized by a male dominated hierarchy and institutionalism while women are placed in the position of prophetic pentecostals that co-exist with the priesthood albeit without challenging the patriarchal authority. I think Johns is on to something that needs further development.
There are to my knowledge no studies on the juxtaposition of priesthood and prophethood in Pentecostalism. If Stronstad is correct, then Pentecostals traded their prophetic heritage and calling for a Protestant mindset of the priesthood that is ill-fitting and misleading. Certainly there is the image of the church as a royal priesthood, and I would not insist as harshly as Stronstad on the false choice made by Pentecostals. I do concur, however, that the prophetic dimension of Pentecostalism has suffered since the beginnings of the modern movement. Evidence to the latter can be found frequently and with particular intensity in regions like Latin America and North America, where the patriarchal heritage and male dominated image is still strong. The emphasis on women as prophets instead of priests is coupled with the relegation of women’s authority to the household instead of the church. The prophetic gift has consequently moved to the family (where it encounters other obstacles). In the Pentecostal churches, prophecy holds no significant ecclesiastical authority. And that is the crux of the matter: the idea and office of the priest has been severed from the image and anointing of the prophet. I am talking strictly in terms of leadership structures here. The barring of women as prophetesses from the priestly office has backfired in ways I am not competent enough to analyze at this time. Certainly a blog is not the place for such analysis. But this is the place to call attention to such matters, especially in light of the ongoing heated discussions in general assemblies among many Pentecostal denominations. I believe these discussions will go nowhere quickly unless we face the theological problem of juxtaposing priesthood and prophethood in Pentecostal churches. A more developed anthropology and ecclesiology might indicate that men and women are called and equipped to be both prophets and priests. At least in my reading of Scripture, prophets and priests are not mutually exclusive. In the very least they coexist in the exercise of authority among the people of God. In the Spirit-filled church, they should be one and the same.
Flynn presents a compelling case for transformational preaching as a catalyst for renewal in a way unlike a number of dominant publications. In four of eight chapters, he focuses on the primary importance of the preacher’s inner journey towards personal transformation (chs. 1, 3-5), two chapters are dedicated to sermon preparation and preaching techniques (chs. 6-7), one chapter on the incarnational ministry of Jesus (chs. 2), and a concluding chapter on experiences and anecdotal lessons. In a way, this structure reflects Flynn’s own conviction that the most effective preaching occurs in the preacher’s inner life, and only twenty-five percent of the labor reflects the external work of the preacher. Most homiletic literature devotes the weightiest part to the technicalities of preparing sermons. In fact, one can rarely find a chapter on the preacher’s inner life. Perhaps the closest sources to Flynn’s emphasis on transformational preaching are Barbara Lundblad’s Transforming the Stone (2001) and James Lemler’s Transforming Preaching (2010) albeit not in an overarching manner as Flynn’s Words That Transform.
The book presents a realistic vision of transformational preaching ministry. Flynn emphasizes that effective transformational preaching depends on the pastor’s experience of God’s transformative message in his or her own life . This includes the influence of irritation, pressure, pain and life’s setbacks as God’s way to mature and shape the preacher towards genuine transformation in order that a ready preacher may become a conduit of God’s message. He calls this a bitter-sweet journey of a preacher’s life as the personal price of preaching! Preachers wrestle with God in many ways – they serve even amidst their own sinfulness, they sometimes fear that God does not speak to them about the message for each Sunday and that life circumstances and the rigors of the pastoral ministry stand as obstacles in the way of the preacher’s preparation. But still, Flynn affirms the calling and undertakings of those who aspire to the preaching ministry and suggests that if a preacher will be open to God’s voice, then God will always show-up to guide the preacher as to what he or she ought to be saying.In this way preaching becomes the power to change lives, alter destinies, renew minds, bring hope and encouragement and a legacy for future generations.
In light of his theme, Flynn develops a theory of transformative sermon preparation according to which the preacher learns to be sensitive to God’s transformational message for the preacher in the course of the preacher’s daily life, and especially by attending to God’s open book and “dazzling theatre” – creation. Nature and life experiences are after all “powerful teachers of truth” and powerful metaphors and bridge-builders for communicating God’s word in preaching (p.86). In this manner, Flynn discusses healthy components of a preacher’s life that aid in the construction of transforming message. These components include the cultivation of virtues, forgiving attitude, humility, creativity, imagination, rest and rejuvenation. As a process in the crafting of sermons, Flynn recommends that preachers pay attention to the art and science of shaping sermons, giving priority the eyes (focus), skeleton (structure), heart (emotive), joints (transitions/connectives), flesh (multisensory experience in stories, testimonies and metaphors), and muscles (that introduces and drives home the point of the sermon) of a sermon. Throughout his book, Flynn never fails to capture his readers with well-chosen stories, metaphors, ideas, backed-up by words and historical studies presented in simple-formats so as to drive home his points! These should entice anyone to read Flynn’s work seriously since so much content and ideas are packed in a 200-page publication.
In order to articulate a broad and transformative vision of life as the context in which God speaks,Flynn would find some assistance in St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. The discernment of God is grounded in a healthy distinction of life’s possessions from God including those we love and treasure the most so that everything in life and creation are the context by which God speaks! Nonetheless, I wonder if to some degree Flynn has over-extended the transformational dimension of preaching. Just as we do not remember every good meal we have consumed through the years, it is also unlikely that we can expect transformational preaching to occur each week for every participant (even if I assume that all are walking uncompromisingly and are equally desirous, hungry, and zealous of God). In other words, God’s transformational work can also occur in silence and in ways unknown to the consciousness of the preacher and the receiving audience: sometimes even in the most unlikely settings. Although Flynn shows that God works in mysterious ways, he appears to favor the view that transformational preaching is to be expected. But, can we really expect that God’s transformative work is always manifested in tangible ways ? If not, then the conviction Flynn puts forth needs a slight modification: even messages that appears not to be transformational can be transformational as God would direct in ways unknown to the audience and the preacher. Here we would have to probe more deeply in the dimensions that answer what truly qualifies as transformational. The assumption of what counts as transformational really defines how he frames the preaching ministry. This direction may enlarge Flynn’s own project to the many other facets of the pastoral experience. It is time to expand the Renewal perspective on a pneumatologically-open agenda toward other elements of pastoral ministry.