Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lloyd-Jones: The Christianity Today Interview (Part 1: On Evangelistic Campaigns)

In February, 1980, Christianity Today published an interview of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, conducted by Carl F. H. Henry. Lloyd-Jones died a year later.

Although I've known of the interview for a while, today I tracked it down in the seminary library and read it. To the best of my knowledge, it's not available online, but I'd encourage you to make a note to yourself to find the issue next time you're around a seminary or church library with back issues. I think you'll appreciate the way his steel convictions just refuse to bend under Henry's questions that seem at times to well with incredulity.

I'm not going to reproduce the whole article. I would like to post some of the parts I found most significant in a brief series. I think you'll find some points of contact with the kinds of things we've been talking about here. On to part 1:
Q: You and I met in 1966, I believe, to discuss the prjected Berlin World Congress on Evangelism. You declined to be either a participant or observer. You were also, I think, the only minister of a major church in London that did not cooperate in the Graham crusades? What kept you on the sidelines?

A: This is a very vital and difficult matter. I have always believed that nothing but a revival—a visitation of the Holy Spirit, in distinction from an evangelistic campaign—can deal with the situation of the church and of the world. The Welsh Presbyterian Church had roots in the great eighteenth-century evangelical revival, when the power of the Spirit of God came upon preachers and churches, and large numbers were converted. I have never been happy about organized campaigns. In the 1820s a very subtle and unfortunate change took place, especially in the United States, from Azahel Nettleton's emphasis on revival to Charles G. Finney's on evangelism. There are two positions. When things were not going well, the old approach was for ministers and deacons to call a day of fasting and prayer and to plead with God to visit them with power. Today's alternative is an evangelistic campaign: ministers ask, "whom shall we get as evangelist?" Then they organize and ask God's blessing on this. I belong to the old school.

Q: What specific reservations to you have about modern evangelism as such?

A: I am unhappy about organized campaigns and even more about the invitation system of calling people forward. Mark you, I consider Billy Graham an utterly honest, sincere, and genuine man. He, in fact, asked me in 1963 to be chairman of the first Congress on Evangelism, then projected for Rome, not Berlin. I said I'd make a bargain: if he would stop the general sponsorship of his campaigns—stop having liberals and Roman Catholics on the platform—and drop the invitation system, I would wholeheartedly support him and chair the congress. We talked for about three hours, but he didn't accept these conditions.

I just can't subscribe to the idea that either congresses or campaigns really deal with the situation. The facts, I feel, substantiate my point of view: in spite of all that has been done in the last 20 or 25 years, the spiritual situation has deteriorated rather than improved. I am convinced that nothing can avail but churches and ministers on their knees in total dependence on God. As long as you go on organizing, people will not fall on their knees and implore God to come and heal them. It seems to me that the campaign approach trusts ultimately in techniques rather than in the power of the Spirit. Graham certainly preaches the gospel. I would never criticize him on that score. What I have criticized, for example, is that in the Glasgow campaign he had John Sutherland Bonnell address the ministers' meetings. I challenged that. Graham replied, "You know, I have more fellowship with John Sutherland Bonnell than with many evangelical ministers." I replied, "Now it may be that Bonnell is a nicer chap than Lloyd-Jones—I'll not argue that. But real fellowship is something else: I can genuinely fellowship only with someone who holds the same basic truths that I do."

Monday, October 30, 2006

"Church Discipline Is the Canary in the Coal Mine"

This BPNews article reports on a conference at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where Greg Wills made the case that when church discipline goes, disaster in that church is not far behind. But as Mark Dever argued, although the absence of discipline is a clear indicator of a problem, reinstitution of discipline isn't the essence of the solution.

It wouldn't be difficult to survey the ecclesiastical landscape to find evidence that Wills' assertion is true. What is disturbing is the widespread indifference to biblical church discipline, even among fundamental churches. My sense is that the tide is turning, and folks with a broader awareness than I have said the same. But which is easier, reinstituting discipline or revitalizing a church's fundamental understanding of membership (which Dever argues is a precursor to discipline)?

HT: Founders

Let's Beat This Hermeneutical Discussion to Death

In two previous posts we've batted around the possibility that modern Bible-believing interpreters of Scripture have abandoned their professed conviction of the sufficiency of Scripture by using extra-biblical information (history, geography, culture, literary genre) to inform their understanding of the biblical text.

Another question crossed my mind over the weekend: For those of you who believe that it's appropriate, yea necessary, to interpret the Bible in light of extra-biblical information, why would you not also interpret the Bible in light of modern science?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Evangelicals and Fundamentalists Together

Greg Linscott (a.k.a. G-Harmony) reports on his trip to the Ockenga Institute. My one question: Is "warrior" a way of saying in code that someone "earnestly contends for the faith"?

Should Christians Fast from Politics?

I enjoyed listening to Al Mohler's thoughts on this question discussed on his radio program during a leisurely jog a couple nights ago. He discussed David Kuo's book on the Bush administration (recent related post here). Best of all, I think Mohler more or less says what I believe. We ought to vote, and it's reasonable to attempt to exert influence. But we shouldn't trust in politics to transform culture, and we certainly shouldn't let cultural and political involvement distract the Church in any way from its mission of evangelism and discipleship.

The most interesting part to me was his question, "Is it possible [as Kuo asserts] that this White House has duped and seduced American evangelical Christians?"

I can sum up his answer in two words: "Well, DUH!"

If you want more, here it is:
[A]ny Christian who would be so seduced either doesn't understand Christianity or doesn't understand the political process. . . . I'm not shocked by [the low priority moral issues sometimes get] because I expect that. I don't just assume that that means all of a sudden I should get cynical about either this administration or the political process. The only way you can be newly cynical about this is if you were horribly naive before, which, by the way, has to explain David Kuo. Either he was dishonest in this book or he was just extremely naive.
This part of the discussion starts around 15:00 in. Listen further for his discussion of the seduction of evangelical leaders.

On a related question, I'm wondering why folks associated with Reformed soteriology vary so widely on the role of the Church in politics and culture. People like MacArthur, Doran, and Mohler minimize the Church's role. People like Carl Henry, Tim Keller, and Paleo commenter "Keith" make politics and culture a much higher priority. My initial instinct is that it comes down to the premillennialism of the former versus the amillennialism or postmillennialism of the latter, but then there are scads of evangelicals who vehemently reject Reformed soteriology who are into politics and culture up to their eyeballs. I would genuinely appreciate a plausible explanation.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Phil Johnson Critiques Mark Driscoll

Read the post here. This is the heart of it:
I have appreciated his defense of the atonement and his willingness to confront the neo-liberalism of other Emerging leaders honestly. But I don't think his perpetually coarse language in the pulpit and his apparent preoccupation with off-color terms and ribald subject matter are merely minor flaws in an otherwise healthy ministry. It is a serious shortcoming.
On a related note, a friend made an observation to me today commenting on the similarities between Driscoll and a prominent deceased fundamentalist, as chronicled in a recent post by Tom Pryde. If Driscoll had said in a sermon, "That's just a bunch of bull stuff," would he get a pass? And should he?

Surely there are different levels of crass. There are different levels of intent. And there are different levels of repetitive behavior. Those comparisons are to some degree subjective. But I wonder whether we're really talking about apples vs. oranges or apples vs. (perhaps) bigger apples.

Quote Game Volume XVIILXV (or something like that)

No googling. TNIV on the prize table if anyone gets it without hints.
There may be a danger in getting too involved in partisan politics—there are many potential snares. I am somewhat concerned when we get specific political issues intertwined with the gospel . . . ; this confuses people about the essence of the gospel. It could also have the tendency to dilute the gospel. I think this was one of the errors I made in my early ministry, and it is one I am seeking to correct. I am trying desperately to stay out of partisan politics, although sometimes it is rather difficult. The whole matter, of course, is a complicated issue. Christians have always debated exactly how they should relate to secular and political issues, and there certainly are many social and political issues that have a moral dimension. We need great wisdom to know where our responsibilities are in this area.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Here's a Little More on That Hermeneutical Discussion

While reading in How to Read Genesis by Tremper Longman III, I encountered a perfect example (among many) of what I'm talking about. Here's a clipping (pp. 24-25):
Question 4. What can we learn about Genesis from comparable ancient Near Eastern literature?

The stories of Genesis have analogues from the other Near Eastern cultures. Israel was not the only people from this general area and time period to present an account of creation or even a devastating flood.

There are many dimensions to comparing ancient literature, but the main point that becomes obvious as soon as we become aware of literature written in other Semitic (e.g., Akkadian and Ugaritic) and non-Semitic languages (e.g., Egyptian, Sumerian and Hittite) of the Near East is that God did not create a unique form of literature any more than he created a unique language to communicate his truths.

However, we must tread carefully here. Too often the similarities have lured scholars and others into thinking that the Bible is just a superficial re-working of, say, Mesopotamian literature. They fail to see the significant differences between rival creation accounts—that is, between the biblical account and those from the ancient Near East. As we study ancient Near Eastern literature, we will remain attentive to both the similarities and the the differences. We will also inquire into the reasons for both. The important point that comes to the fore through theis kind of study is that the Bible is a literature of antiquity and not modernity. This truth will have a great impact on our study. For instance, we will come to realize that the biblical creation accounts were not written in order to counter Darwinism but rather the Enuma Elish and the other ancient ideas concerning who created creation.
Clearly, the author's belief is that extra-biblical literature sheds valuable light on the authorial intent of the biblical text. That doesn't mean I disagree with everything he says. For example, I agree that many Christians read Genesis 1-2 as little more than an apologetic against Darwin. Clearly, it is far more than that. But the conclusion simply seems inescapable to me that if we need to understand extra-biblical literature to understand Scripture, then the very foundation of our professed commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture crumbles.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Attraction: The Elephant in the Room

No one really likes to talk about the role of attraction as a foundational component of a marriage relationship or a relationship potentially leading to marriage. I think we all feel a little guilty that we're still human. I also think (let the pontification begin) that most of the people who say it doesn't matter are people to whom it mattered a great deal before they were married.

In any case, Scott Croft has done a great job of presenting a balanced view with biblical reasoning. I loved this anecdote:
I once counseled a Christian brother in his dating relationship with a great woman. She was godly, caring, and bright. She was attractive, but not a supermodel. For weeks I listened to this brother agonize over his refusal to commit and propose to this woman. He said they were able to talk well about a lot of things, but there were a few topics he was interested in that she couldn't really engage with, and sometimes the conversation "dragged."

He also said that, while he found her basically attractive, there was one feature of hers that he "just pictured differently" on the woman he would marry. I would ask about her godliness and character and faith, and he said all those things were stellar (and he was right). Finally, he said, "I guess I'm looking for a 'ten'."

I could hold back no longer. Without really thinking, I responded, "You're looking for a 'ten'? But, brother, look at yourself. You're like a 'six.' If you ever find the woman you're looking for, and she has your attitude, what makes you think she would have you?"
HT: Carolyn McCulley

Phil Johnson on PreTribbers and the Gospel

Phil Johnson's series on how he got drawn into the lordship debate is a fascinating narrative. Justin Taylor provides links to all eight parts of the series here.

He made a rather scathing comment in the final installment posted yesterday:
In short, it seems many leading dispensationalists are more concerned about the timing of the rapture than they are about the purity of the gospel message.
I'm a PreTribber myself, though I don't fit neatly into any of the stereotypical dispensationalist camps. Frankly, I couldn't possibly care less if that brings me scorn as an anti-intellectual. But I wholeheartedly, unequivocally agree with Johnson. This statement describes the vast majority of my experience with dispensationalism. It doesn't make dispensationalism wrong, but it speaks volumes about the dispensationalist movement.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

MacArthur on Politics and Christianity

John MacArthur is in the middle of a series, "Christians and Politics" at the Pulpit Magazine blog. The scathing comments below are from part two posted today:
Throughout Protestant history, those segments of the visible church that have turned their attention to social and political issues have also compromised sound doctrine and quickly declined in influence. Early modernists, for example, explicitly argued that social work and moral reform were more important than doctrinal precision, and their movement soon abandoned any semblance of Christianity whatsoever.

Today’s evangelical political activists seem to be unaware of how much their methodology parallels that of liberal Christians at the start of the twentieth century. Like those misguided idealists, contemporary evangelicals have become enamored with temporal issues at the expense of eternal values. Evangelical activists in essence are simply preaching a politically conservative version of the old social gospel, emphasizing social and cultural concerns above spiritual ones.
MacArthur has not yet directly addressed whether his concerns are directed at the involvement of individual Christians in politics or the involvement of the church as an institution. My personal concerns relate almost exclusively to the latter. We'll see how the series develops.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mohler Critiques John Stott

Read Mohler's post here.

Praying Pawns

Time Magazine publishes some selections from former White House staffer David Kuo's new book on how the Republican Party uses evangelical pastors and voters rather cynically. Here's Kuo's conclusion:
George W. Bush, the man, is a person of profound faith and deep compassion for those who suffer. But President George W. Bush is a politician and is ultimately no different from any other politician, content to use religion for electoral gain more than for good works. Millions of Evangelicals may share Bush's faith, but they would protect themselves—and their interests—better if they looked at him through the same coldly political lens with which he views them.

Phil Johnson and John MacArthur Chat about Election

Listen to this two-part series online here, or subscribe to the podcast. You can also contact Grace to You, and they'll send you the CD for free.

Make sure you listen to MacArthur's analysis of Charles Finney in part 2. He argues that Finney "defined American evangelism," and that the new seeker church and emerging brand of evangelism is just a new form of Finneyism.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The "Calvinist Jihad"

If you have not followed the story of the demise of the debate on Baptists and Calvinism between Ergun with Emir Caner and James White with Tom Ascol, I would encourage you not to do so. Although it's rather instructive, in that you'll learn a great deal about four individuals and their sharply contrasting spirits and veracity, it's also rather frustrating and likely not wise stewardship of your time.

Here's the point that seems relevant to me: I've quite frequently heard 5-point Calvinists publicly admonish and rebuke the "CalviNazis," as one of them put it—arrogant, obnoxious young Calvinists or hyper-Calvinists (yes, there is a difference) whose spirit and life contradicts the glory of God that they claim to exalt. I'm grateful for those admonitions. On the other hand, I've not heard any of the anti-Calvinists rebuke people like Ergun Caner, who posted this on his website:

A: Yes, absolutely. For a small portion of these people, just daring to question the Bezian movement is heresy. They will blog and e-mail incessantly. I call it a “Calvinist Jihad,” because just like Muslims, they believe they are defending the honor of their view. They can discuss nothing else. I have even had a few call for my head! Dr. Falwell and I have laughed about it, because they are so insistent, and they miss the point completely. There are plenty of schools to which the neo-Calvinists can go, but Liberty will be a lighthouse for missions and evangelism to the “whosoever wills.” Period.

The difference is, Muslims know when to quit - for these guys, it is the only topic about which they can talk.
I'll not link to Caner's post. You can find it quite easily if you must. For those of you who know young people interested in attending a Christian university or a Baptist seminary, you might want to find out where this individual is employed. I must admit that I find great irony in the failure of reasonable anti-Calvinists to rebuke the radicals, just as the allegedly peaceful Muslims fail to stand against the terrorist Muslim sects.

Stay Home in November . . .

. . . go home sooner. (Title HT: JS in DC)

An evangelist is saying that Republicans are delaying the Second Coming. Shoulda' known this was Bush's fault.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Dogs on a Plane

Here are a few semi-random observations based on a couple weeks I recently spent on the road:
  1. People like to talk about themselves. Trade show exhibitors like to talk about themselves more than anyone.
  2. It's more fun to watch Ohio State dismantle a conference opponent in a big road game when you're in Ohio with Ohioans (preferably family) than from any other location.
  3. Joel Tetreau is the most huggable fundamentalist I know.
  4. It's only humid in Phoenix when I am there.
  5. Whoever came up with the bright idea that people should be allowed to take pets on planes in carry-on luggage ought to be wrapped in bacon and tossed in a cage with starving Dobermans.
  6. This video is just downright cool. HT: an exhibitor in the booth next to mine (who was NOT obsessed with talking about himself) Oh, and it checks out with Snopes.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Does John MacArthur Really Believe in the Sufficiency of Scripture?

If memory serves correctly, I’ve heard John MacArthur speak in person on seven occasions. On at least three of those occasions, he specifically affirmed his conviction of the sufficiency of Scripture. And since two of the other occasions were part of a three-lecture series on “The Unintended Consequences of Non-Expository Preaching,” he was clearly advocating the concept even if he didn’t specifically articulate it.

In light of that conviction, I read with interest and a churning mind his recent post, “How To Enjoy Bible Study,” on the Pulpit Magazine blog. In the second main portion MacArthur outlines four major areas of “distance” that we must overcome if we are to understand the message of the Bible—language, culture, geography and history.

My question is this: If we have to understand things about culture, geography, and history in order to understand the Bible fully, can we really say we believe in the sufficiency of Scripture? Obviously, language distance is an obstacle to understanding the text itself, but if we have to master a knowledge base external to the text in order to interpret the text, then is Scripture really sufficient in and of itself to provide all that is necessary to bring the man of God to full completion? If previous generations did not possess our modern grasp of ancient culture, history, and geography, then did God really give them all things that pertain to life and godliness?

I believe the answer to those questions is no.

That doesn’t mean I’m equipped to argue against MacArthur’s hermeneutical approach. In a debate with him or pretty much any professor of hermeneutics, I’d get resoundingly shredded. But I am making two points. First, there are some who are fully capable of making the case that the authors/Author of Scripture gave us everything we need in the text of Scripture itself in order to interpret Scripture. Second, we can’t say that we believe in the sufficiency of Scripture if we have to study archeology and extra-biblical ancient history and culture in order to understand it.

The reality is that this isn’t solely a John MacArthur issue. Far from it. It isn’t a fundamentalist/evangelical issue. It isn’t even a dispensational/covenant issue. I recently perused the program of this fall's ETS Annual Meeting, and it's chock full of papers being presented on how to interpret Scripture in light of extra-biblical culture, geography, and history.

Rather, what I'm talking about is a foundational question of how we interpret the text of Scripture that cuts across all of these party lines. It seems to me that it’s a question worth considering. For example, does this modern hermeneutic that requires investigation into ancient culture, geography, and history fit the nature of the text? Does a close examination of the text give us reason to believe that the biblical authors intended to give later readers all the data they would need to interpret the text? What is the historical precedent for extra-biblical investigation as a grid for interpretation of the inspired text? How did NT authors read the OT? For that matter, how did later OT authors read earlier OT authors? Simply put, these are questions I believe we’ve largely neglected, to our hermeneutical detriment. For a couple examples of people wrestling with these issues, check out the series on OT hermeneutics and preaching OT narratives here, and read the section on text vs. event in this book.

Whether or not you agree with their hermeneutics, a conclusion seems unassailable to me. When we say we need things outside the text to understand the text, we can no longer claim to hold a consistent position of affirming the sufficiency of Scripture.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Minor Doctrines

Some worthwhile thoughts here:
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Wherever the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Independent Fundamentalists and Southern Baptists: Are Their Toes Pointed the Same Direction?

A few weeks ago I met a dear brother who is currently serving as the senior pastor of an SBC church. He gave me permission to share his story without identifying his church, so I’ll provide all the details I can.

He moved to the United States from another continent several years ago to further his education, having already received some theological training and having served as a pastor in his home country. He was soon hired to serve as an associate pastor in what would have been considered a “moderate” Southern Baptist church. From what he told me, it seems that this church was not so much explicitly denying the authority of Scripture as it was simply ignoring it. This approach revealed itself in a shallow, therapeutic pulpit ministry, a de-emphasis of the gospel, and egalitarian gender roles in the church’s leadership.

My friend established a pattern of expositional preaching in the youth ministry, which fell under his oversight, and he invested his life into shepherding the young people under his care. To his surprise, he was called to be the church’s senior pastor when the previous pastor left a couple years after my friend’s arrival.

Since entering the senior pastorate, he has employed the same approach to the Word of God in his pulpit ministry, and he’s taken a painful and costly stand on gender issues. When I asked him about the makeup of the congregation when he arrived compared to what exists now, he said that some of the original members left in anger, some became genuine believers, some began to grow beyond spiritual infancy, and perhaps a few remain members in rebellion. In any case, the current congregation is significantly larger than it was when he first arrived, the gospel has been recovered, and on top of that, he’s pastoring a multi-racial congregation in the South.

I say all that to say this: Some fundamentalists criticize the SBC’s toleration of some moderates within the convention and argue that these churches ought to be expelled. Although I’m not entirely sure the SBC is constituted in such a way as to adopt that approach, particularly for churches that do not send messengers to the SBC annual meeting, I’m somewhat sympathetic with that critique.

On the other hand, it seems simplistic to suggest that the SBC is not contending for the faith when it has clear strategy is to recover churches for the cause of the gospel. The strategy is to infiltrate these churches with conservative pastors who will unreservedly and unapologetically preach and stand for the Word. Sometimes we forget that churches are made up of people. Some of these people in some of these moderate or liberal churches are genuine believers who are starving to death in their spiritual infancy for lack of the mild of the Word. Some of those people are now growing spiritually, and others have now trusted Christ for salvation because they now have a pastor who preaches the gospel.

Clearly, that’s an argument soaked in pragmatism. But that doesn’t mean it consists solely of pragmatism. And while pragmatic arguments can’t prove a strategy is right, they just might not mean that it is wrong either. For years independent fundamentalists have used the “Which way are your toes pointed?” argument to cast suspicion on individuals or ministries who built relationships outside the fold. Sometimes they were proven right. But perhaps it’s time to apply this mantra consistently and to recognize that many people in the SBC have pointed their toes far more in the same direction of the fundamentalists than is easy for fundamentalists to admit. Check out this video (HT: Founders blog) if you want to hear a couple speakers at an SBC conference for younger leaders who sound strikingly like fundamentalists—both for good and ill.

I’m grateful to be able to say that I’ve heard a number of independent fundamentalists begin to acknowledge the healthy changes in the SBC over the past 25 years. They’re also right when they say that the SBC has a long way to go. But what I wonder is whether it’s possible that some independent fundamentalists might have something to learn from some Southern Baptists of conviction. And fundamentalists will not be slow to assert that Southern Baptists have something to learn from them. Perhaps it would be beneficial to the cause of the gospel if individual fundamentalist pastors developed personal relationships with individual SBC pastors. Perhaps that would be preferable to the (two-way) culture of mistrust and misconceptions that still causes many fundamentalists to offer broad-brush criticism and place SBC churches—even the leaders in advancing Baptist conviction, separatist principle, and authentic evangelism and worship—under the designation of anathema.

But hey, I’m just daydreaming.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Mohler-Patterson Calvinism Discussion

Audio from this conversation that occurred in June is now available online here.

Youth Ministry: Some Evangelical Introspection

Christianity Today surveyed "114 leaders from 11 ministry spheres about evangelical priorities for the next 50 years," and is publishing some of those observations, one area of ministry at a time. Here's what they report about the comments from youth ministry leaders.

The first paragraph contains these words from Mark Oestreicher, president of YouthSpecialties:
There are a lot of people who've had this nagging sense that we're missing the mark somehow. That kids seem happy and willing to attend, and engaged in our ministries, but five years from now, when they're in college or post-college, they just really aren't connecting with real faith, let alone church.
Now, if you're familiar with YouthSpecialties, you're probably aware that the mark they seem to be aiming at is attracting young people to church (or perhaps we should say, the church's "youth ministry") by making it fun, entertaining, hip, and exciting. Perhaps it's a good thing that Oestreicher is beginning to recognize that the market-driven strategy of fun and excitement draws a crowd, but does not make a church.

Oestreicher's comments are followed by others from people at places like Princeton and Fuller seminaries, some of which are rather insightful and sound.

I'm not holding my breath that this is the beginning of some revolution for the better in evangelical youth ministry. But it does bring to mind the statement I've heard Frank Hamrick make, and that others have told me Les Ollila has made: "What it takes to reach them is what it takes to keep them."

If broadly evangelical churches are suffering a dearth of post-college young people, so are many fundamentalist churches. I wonder if fundamentalist churches don't often employ the same "fun and exciting" strategy for youth ministry (just without the rock music) and experience the same departure of those young people when they're transitioned into big people church after high school or college. After all, isn't it fair to say that after high school, many fundamentalist young people "really aren't connecting with real faith, let alone church"?

Here's my question: If your church uses candy or prizes as a primary motivational techniques in your children's ministry or youth ministry, what do you think those strategies accomplish? And if they accomplish something of value, do you use the same strategies with your adults? If not, why not?

What it takes to reach them is what it takes to keep them.

"Above All Earthly Powers": MP3s and Perspectives

Although the official site for the 2006 Desiring God National Conference says that messages are coming soon, I downloaded them earlier here. Transcripts are also available. You can also read summaries and reviews from conference attendees: Challies, Mahaney, Aniol.