Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Online Church

There has been a lot of discussion over the years about "virtual" church, but up until now, the technology and broadband speeds had basically made this a non-issue. People could download sermons or give online, but not actually participate in church online. Now, however, the technology has advanced to the place where more ministries are attempting to get a foothold in virtual worlds. One of the largest online virtual communities is called Second Life, and as you can tell from the name, is a place where people can escape their first life (real life) and create a new identity.

One of the most technologically savvy churches around is Lifechurch.tv, based out of Oklahoma City, but with satellite campuses all over (I think they have 11 multi-site venues now, and they are rapidly expanding). I completely appreciate the guys at Lifechurch.tv, and I really appreciate their pastor, Craig Groeschel. I read his blog regularly (you can see the link to the right), and I just finished a great book that he wrote about keeping it real as a pastoral leader and not always trying to sound super-spiritual when we aren't. A great lesson for me to learn and process.

However, I think I have some theological issues with doing church virtually. Maybe I shouldn't if the point is to get the gospel to every person, but if a big part of doing church regularly is doing life together, doesn't a virtual world get in the way of doing authentic life together? Watch this quick NBC news clip on Lifechurch's virtual campus and see what you think. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually agree with the professor from SMU in the video clip.

You have any thoughts?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Interesting Tribute to Jerry Falwell

Over the years, I've never been a huge Jerry Falwell fan, mainly because I thought he represented a lot that was wrong with the Christian right, getting too political to be a force for the gospel and too wacky to be heard by anyone on biblical issues. However, I think I underestimated the impact that Falwell made through the establishment of Liberty University. Yesterday, I listened to the Catalyst podcast tribute to Jerry Falwell. This was a very interesting place to hear a tribute to Falwell because the Catalyst group is a group of socially-minded, culturally-engaged leaders who want to impact this generation with the gospel. They try to let next-generation leaders know about what is happening in wider evangelicalism. I really have enjoyed listening to their interviews with key Christian leaders. Anyway, long story short, they had a tribute episode to Falwell, who had influenced many of these guys because they attended Liberty University over the last twenty years. Whatever we think about Falwell's mouth running unnecessarily over the years, his legacy will most definitely continue to be the generation of young leaders he impacted at Liberty University.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Back from Vacation

Sorry for the blogging down-time, but I went with my family over the last week to Bandera, TX, northwest of San Antonio, for a week of vacation. We had a great time. We spent last Sunday at Sea World in San Antonio, and the boys absolutely loved seeing Shamu and all the other water animals. Sea World must really be the most kid-friendly amusement park on the planet - the boys had a blast. I'm sure Barie will have new pictures up on her blog soon for everyone to see. It was a great time.

While I was on vacation, I had the chance to get caught up on some much-needed sleep, spend lots of time with my awesome wife and boys, and read a really captivating read - A Long Way Gone, the child-soldier book by Ishmael Beah of his life growing up in Sierra Leonne. Wow - I'll blog more about this book later, but it's enough to say that we have got to find a way to be more involved in international justice issues - more on that in a later blog as well.

For now, I'm glad to be back and ready for a full summer as we get ready to launch this new church in only 106 days - wow!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Speaking at Southwest Airlines

I had the cool opportunity yesterday to fly to Dallas and speak to a group of leaders at Southwest Airlines on the topic of leadership. It was quite a trip. One of our friends from our time at First Baptist Ovilla in the Dallas-area is an executive in the reservations department at Southwest and was responsible for hosting a day of training on leadership for the team that reported to her (around 25 leaders). She brought them all to SW headquarters in Dallas to learn and dialogue about how they could improve their leadership of the 3,000 of so reservation agents that they lead every day. I was given about an hour and fifteen minutes to talk about one of my passions - leadership.

I really enjoyed seeing Terri and interacting with her team in Dallas. Southwest Airlines has a very unique corporate culture - lots of fun and strong relational ties between employees. It would really be a great place to work. During the time I was there, I had the chance to hear some of her team talk about their pivotal moments in developing as leaders. I also had the chance to hear the company's president, Colleen Barrett, talk about the company and all that they had shared with the stockholders at the annual meeting held yesterday morning.

God is good and was with me in a very powerful way yesterday. I really enjoyed myself, had a great dinner with my parents afterwards, then was able to have a very cool spiritual conversation with a guy named Zach on the flight back to Austin.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Historicity of the Biblical Jesus

I just finished reading a great little book on the historicity of the biblical Jesus. The Jesus of the New Testament has been under attack for over 100 years in higher-academia, and this critical understanding of the person of Jesus has now carried over into popular culture with Da Vinci Code, the reports from the Jesus Seminar, the Tomb movie, etc. The story is almost getting old: Jesus was a simple religious teacher from Nazareth who was made a god by his followers after his death, then exalted by the early church into a position equal with God. This movement reports that there is no way for us to have any confidence in the New Testament record of Jesus because of all the copying of the biblical texts, because of the influence of the church, and because of the real historical story (stealing from other religions, ignoring the gnostic texts, and making it up as they went along).

This new book, Reinventing Jesus, by three solid biblical scholars, helps answer many of the objections to the biblical Jesus with piercing logic. In the end, these three authors show with devastating arguments that the positions of liberal scholars are simply intellectually impossible to maintain. The authors give plentiful reasons for Christians to have confidence in their Bibles, in the biblical record of Jesus, in the early church's work to carry on the message of the apostles, and in Christianity's uniqueness among all other ancient religious systems. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who questions the reliability of the biblical record or the portrait painted of Jesus in the NT gospels. Once again we have convincing reasons to take the step of faith toward believing in Jesus of Nazareth as the Risen Son of God.