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Night Before Christmas

I played the Christmas eve service at our church. A wonderful evening. I particularly enjoyed playing with my son. He was on bass. Here are a few photos from the evening.

Christmas Eve 1

Christmas Eve 2

Christmas Eve 3

Christmas Eve 4

Churches Come Tumbling Down

The Globe and Mail had an interesting essay on the death spiral of Christian churches in Canada. You can find it here.

The author, Michael Valpy, puts forward a theory for the collapse of institutional Christianity in Canada: feminism. Women, during the 1960s, abruptly rejected the patriarchy of the church. And the lack of acceptable role models and ideals created the increase in secularism.

Church membership in Canada climbed before the 1960s and then dramatically collapsed.

Perhaps feminism is one cause for the decline of the church in Canada. Based on my personal experience, church leadership also plays a role. For example, I was involved in one church in my community where the leadership was fundamentally and absolutely flawed: autocratic, dismissive, unresponsive. A greater concern with personal authority and personal ambition than serving the community of believers.

That church witnessed a dramatic exodus. And, much like the rest of institutional Christianity  in Canada, a change of leadership was desperately needed. However, such a change is unlikely to happen in this generation.

Perhaps the next generation can achieve for Canada what this generation did not: a vibrant and relevant witness to the greater meaning behind Christmas.

Long, Hinn, White, Meyer, Dollar, Copeland

What do those names have in common? Money. And the concern of possible financial misconduct. The Senate Finance Committee is investigating six televangelists to determine whether or not their ministries are improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to shield lavish lifestyles.

Given that the boards of their “ministries” seem unable to provide effective oversight, the United States government has decided to step in. Finally.

It is interesting to read the request for information from the Senate Finance Committee. You can read the documents here. Scroll down the page until you see the releases dated 11-06-07.

The six televangelists were given a month to respond.

I had posted about Joyce Meyer here and here. Does she, like the other five, lead a lavish lifestyle? I suppose lavish is one word that comes to mind. Sinful might be another. Regardless, it looks like she has some explaining to do.

The Gift of Work

I had gone on a bit of a rant here about the anti-work messages I so often hear at church. I wish that there more teachers like Nancy Ortberg. She gives a wonderful sermon about work here. Scroll down the list of messages and look for the video called “Jesus and Your Job”. A short and powerful message.

Will

This post will be a bit of a rant, so I apologize in advance.

Let’s assume you wander into a church. I know. Few people do these days, particularly in Canada, but bear with me.

In this church, there is a bit of singing, some announcements and then a message.

The message may take 20 minutes. Or 30. Or 40. Or longer. And it may not seem to make sense if you don’t have the ability to decode the religious jargon. But increasingly, if you go to enough churches and listen to enough messages, you will hear a variant on this theme:

Career is bad. Career is selfish. Career interferes with service to God. The only noble pursuit is service to God through ministry.

I have some difficulty with the model that empowers certain individuals to do “ministry” through the financial contributions of those that do “work”. This artificial separation of people who do “ministry” and people who do “work” makes no sense to me.

I have listened to numerous messages over the past several decades where I have been told that the family that decides to do “ministry” without a source of income is said to be living on faith, trusting God for His provision. And that the family that decides to support themselves through paid employment becomes self-reliant or independent and therefore not living by faith.

This separation of “ministry” from “work” seems to hinder many pastors from understanding the struggles that most human beings who do “work” go through in the workplace. It is a very tough ask in North America to work full-time and effectively balance demands of church, family, career and community.

The “work” of the church should be to equip people to “minister” in their homes, workplaces and communities.

And for those who aspire to “minister” without working, perhaps a review of 2 Thessalonians 3 is in order:

7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

New Speakers

Our church received its new speaker system this week. 3 EAW AX364s, 1 EAW FR250Z Subwoofer, power amps, DSPs, and cables. The three speakers, positioned as left, centre, right, were flown high and towards the middle of the platform. The sub will sit stage left and forward of the platform.

I’ll be helping to break in the system on Saturday morning. Should be a significant difference in the sound for that room. The main speakers each weigh about 125 pounds. Each speaker, including the sub, can produce roughly 130dB SPL.

That is very, very loud.

EAW

The Sound of Gretsch

We moved to a new church about a year ago. Actually, we moved back to the first church we had started attending in our town. The worship leader had called me up last year to ask if I could help him out. First on guitar and now mostly on drums.

With some excitement, we installed a new kit at the church last night. A nice Gretsch kit with Sabian AAs all around (ride, two crashes, splash and hats), a custom snare and floating toms.

A dramatic improvement over the Pearl Export kit the church had been using.

I am really looking forward to playing them on Sunday.

New Drums

Seven Days in God’s Army

CBC had an interesting segment last night. Mark Kelley has been developing a series of reports based on the concept of an embedded journalist. He spends seven days in a particular context.

Last night, his context was seven days in God’s Army.

He went to the U.S. Bible Belt to find out what is happening in evangelical Christianity. No need to look in Canada as the evangelical church here is basically a dead movement. Evangelical Christians in the U.S. have similar fears that in the next twenty years or so less their numbers will fall dramatically to less than 6 percent of Americans.

Mark provided an outsider’s view of this insular and often unusual world of evangelical Christianity. He initially was scared of the movement. However, after a mere seven days, he concluded that he was not scared, it was the evangelical Christians who were scared. Scared to become irrelevant, scared to see their movement die.

He repeatedly asked the folks he met what he himself needed to know about Christianity. As he put it: I am just an ordinary guy. What do I need to know?

And for whatever reason, these folks did not answer his question.