How Advice On Blogging Resembles Church Growth Strategies And Why Both Demean You

Head Stick Pics 007As a blogger, I’m supposed to understand that you readers can’t read lengthy paragraphs. Just like church growth strategists understand that you can’t listen to sermons over 20 minutes long.

You need easily readable blog posts and digestible worship experiences for a few critical reasons.

  • You have short attention spans
  • You shouldn’t have to use Dictionary.com or learn Biblical doctrine
  • You need bloggers and pastors to quickly tell you how their material immediately benefits you

According to a blog I read on the art of blogging, I apparently expect you, my readers, to read with more maturity and engagement than you can muster. Reformed pastors have the same unrealistic expectations of people in their pews.

If I want more readers, I should dumb down my blog, just as my pastor should dumb down his sermons to gain new members.

Okay, I’m ready to stop writing this parody of the blogging advice blog (although I certainly entertained myself by imitating his writing style and implementing some of his suggestions). Having majored in English Continue reading

Playing Catch-Up Is Just Fooling Around

Playing Around

The visible church, often comprised of false converts and true Christians who haven’t received solid teaching, betrays its eagerness to follow the world. From the ordination of women as pastors to the Woke Movement, evangelicals have worked long and hard to catch up to the progressive standards of our greater culture.

Compromise indeed keeps us comfortable, especially when the world has declared (in no uncertain terms) that Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: August 26 — September 1

Vintage Tulip

I love Elizabeth Prata for many reasons. In particular, I love her boldness to speak unpopular truths in her blog, The End Time. Her essay, Shout Your Abortion, and John Owen on infanticide, offers no apology for unmasking the basic brutality behind the willful termination of a pregnancy.

Equally outspoken, Leslie A of Growing 4 Life answers the question, What Does the Bible Say About…(Being Relevant)? We should carefully consider the Scriptural arguments she makes.

Ancient Church 01Clint Archer, writing for The Cripplegate, examines Charismatic and mystical experiences in his pithy piece, Are claims of supernatural experience really that harmful (in 500 words)? You need to read this one!

Plucking Forbidden Fruit by  SharaC appears in Into the Foolishness of God with an interesting observation for control freaks.

The Christian Counseling & Educational Foundations blog includes Is Reading the Bible a Chore or a Delight? by Steve Midgley. You’ll appreciate his practical solution for making your time in God’s Word more enjoyable and fruitful, I think.

If you’d like to see an interesting perspective on developing ethnic diversity in local Little Girl Welcoming Advanced Maskchurches, look no further than The Domain for Truth, where SlimJim writes Ethnic Churches: A More Better Way than Bashing Them. I can’t remember when I’ve read an article this fascinating and thought-provoking! Even better, SlimJim writes as a pastor of an ethnic church.

Reading Michelle Lesley isn’t always safe. The Holy Spirit often uses her writing to convict me. See if her post, Wise to the Ways of the Worldly: 4 Ways Worldliness Sneaks In, and the Scriptures to Slay It doesn’t expose something in you. Dolly's portraitThat’s okay — conviction is a good thing!

In his article for Pyromaniacs, Colin L. Eakin underscores the importance of discernment. Sheep, or Wolf? A Call to Discern explores reasons that evangelicals fail to exercise discernment and suggests ways that we can cultivate this necessary skill.

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Saturday Sampler: August 19 — August 25

Birds Sampler

Let’s start this week’s Sampler by going to Knowable Word for Ryan Higginbottom’s Context Matters: The Lord’s Prayer. I particularly appreciate his emphasis on the fact that we mustn’t isolate portions of Scripture.

I debated long and hard about including The Mailbag: Should Christian women cover up while breastfeeding? by Michelle Lesley only because I don’t want to tempt men to read it. But I definitely believe young mothers should seriously consider Michelle’s Biblical perspective on this controversial matter.

The Believer And Suicide by John Chester appears in Parking Space 23. He handles this difficult issue with sensitivity and tact while also maintaining a solid commitment to the Word of God. Please note: throughout his article, Chester correctly identifies suicide as a sin. Nothing he writes should be construed as permission to kill yourself.

Don’t overlook Maybe We Need Less Math and More History, in which Tim Challies outlines several benefits of studying church history. How can I not love this one?

As a contributor to For The Church, Patrick Meador encourages each of us to Be a Missionary, Not a Marketer. This is one of the best responses to the church growth industrial complex that I’ve read in a long time.

John MacArthur continues laying his foundation for critiquing the Social Justice Movement on this Grace To You blog with The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1  and The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 2. These posts help explain why this current trend weakens the mission of the Church.

Reasoning from Scripture, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time analyzes a Facebook meme in Throwback Thursday: Does God Speak In Unidentified Promptings? Ladies, we must follow Elizabeth’s example and think Biblically when we see “Christian” memes on social media.

Few American evangelicals really believe that persecution is knocking at our door. SlimJim of The Domain for Truth gives us a needed wake up call with Tolerance? Church Vandalized. It’s a short but personal account that demands our attention.

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I’d Rather Trust My Readers Than Write A Successful Blog

Success

Lately I’ve been reading a blog about blogging. As far as I know, the writers don’t profess to be Christians, but the point of their blog has nothing to do with religion anyway. These bloggers simply want to show other bloggers how to craft good blogs and build good followings.

I like some of their advice, and I hope some of the things I learn will help me be a better blogger. I especially appreciate their encouragement to blog regularly and consistently. Although I occasionally skip days (most notably in good weather months when John and I can go to Boston), I try to provide my readers with a daily post.

As I read their suggestions, however, sometimes I can’t help equating them with tactics that seeker-sensitive churches use. This angle challenges me to ask myself whether I see The Outspoken TULIP as a business or a ministry. If it’s more of a business, then certainly I have every reason to embrace their pragmatic approach and tailor my blog accordingly. To be sure, I’d attract and retain more readers.

One of their recent articles caused me to consider the probability that adopting a pragmatic approach to blogging for the Lord might not be the best way to honor my readers, much less to glorify Him. The article insisted on keeping paragraphs down to one or two sentences (preferably one), and writing sentences that don’t exceed 25 words. Additionally, the article advised against using an expansive vocabulary that (horrors!) force readers to use their dictionaries.

The writer of this particular article explained that attention spans in this age of 280 characters are too short to put up with any sort of reading that challenges them. That reasoning eerily parallels the argument that hour long sermons that exposit Scripture verse-by-verse will repel unbelievers. In both cases, the assumption is that people no longer have the capacity to rise to the level of bloggers or preachers. Unless we cut up their food in bite-sized fragments that they don’t even need to chew, they won’t come to the table.

If The Outspoken TULIP is a ministry, I prefer to regard my readers as women who indeed can read a robust vocabulary, complex sentences and full paragraphs. I hope many of them also belong to faithful churches with pastors who fearlessly exposit God’s Word verse-by-verse without worrying about a 25 minute time limit. I trust my readers with be serious about God’s Word to the degree that you don’t require me (or your pastors) to dumb it down. Maybe my blog will never attract a large audience as a result of my writing style. But if it draws women who aren’t afraid to work at understanding and applying Scripture, my blog will be successful.

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Saturday Sampler: April 15 — April 21

Critter Sampler 02

Personally, I enjoy reading the Old Testament prophets, though I must admit that I didn’t really understand them until recent years. Ryan Higginbottom sees that many Christians often neglect these books of the Bible. Write for Knowable Word, he outlines What We Miss When We Skip the Prophets in an effort to keep us from a lopsided intake of Scripture. He even coaches us on ways to approach these books.

In The Chains of “Cool”, appearing in Growing 4 Life, Leslie A has no difficulty speaking the truth boldly! Toward the end, you’ll possibly feel a bit breathless, but only because you’ll know she’s right in standing against evangelical compromise.

Reflecting on a recent diagnosis, Doug Wilson muses on The Obedience of Cancer in Blog & Mablog by directs attention back to God’s sovereignty. He exhibits true faith in his trial — faith that convicts me of sin concerning my own reactions to adversity. Please do pray for Doug and his family as they walk through this time of trusting God’s wisdom.

Standing firm for the Lord means we must Buck the current. Elizabeth Prata draws from her personal experiences of living on a boat to demonstrate this spiritual principle in her blog, The End Time.

Responding to a comment he overheard in a restaurant, Scott Slayton of One Degree to Another informs us Why You Should Study Theology. Now, before you decide that this article is probably full of mothballs, why don’t you give it a try? It might surprise you!

Diana Severance, in her essay for Biblical Woman, asks us to seriously consider The Cost of Saying “I Am A Christian” in a culture that hates the Gospel. We might not think we’ll ever endure physical torture for the Lord. Perhaps we should think a little harder, and then remember His grace that carries believers through even the most extreme persecution.

Drawing from this week’s airline tragedy, Stephen McAlpine shares a powerful illustration of our urgent need to constantly keep the Gospel in view. Paying Attention Is On The Nose is important reading for those of us who feel so familiar with the Gospel that we fumble to apply it properly during times of crisis.

If women shouldn’t preach or teach in mixed company, what can we do to serve the Lord and our churches? Michelle Lesley offers great insight in Unforbidden Fruit: 3 Ways Women MUST Lead and Teach The Church on Discipleship for Christian Women.

I’m generally not a fan of The Christian Post (it’s hardly a bastion of discernment), but John MacArthur: Evangelical Christians Today ‘Tolerate False Gospel,’ Avoid Sanctification for ‘Relevance’ by Leah MarieAnn Klett epitomizes so much of why 21st Century evangelicals miss the boat that I believe you need to read it.

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The Tragedy Of The Entertaining Church

Powerful Word“Show people that Christians are just like  everyone else.”

“If we have non-threatening activities like movie nights, people will get comfortable enough with us that they’ll want to come to church.”

“Unless we have games and refreshments, kids won’t come to youth group.”

I heard all these comments, and more, from a church I used to attend, usually in connection with evangelism and church growth strategies.  We want to attract people to the Lord, not scare them away from Him, the leadership of the church reasoned. For a while, they even made sense. Why not make visitors comfortable before hitting them with the Bible?

Sometimes the promoters of such ideas supported them with 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Never mind that this passage, in context, refers to restricting one’s Christian liberties to avoid offending people with anything but the Gospel. But in his next epistle to that same church, Paul made it clear that presenting the Gospel would, in fact, offend those who would not receive salvation.

15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. ~~2 Corinthians 2:15-17 (ESV)

Churches, including youth groups, act deceptively when they advertise themselves as being cool, hip and in touch with the world, only to slip Jesus in there when they can do it inconspicuously. They know that a blatant bait-and-switch will expose them, so they have to continue making Scripture palatable. Sermons include stand-up comedy, movie clips and props rather than verse-by-verse exposition of the text, knowing that the folks they attract through entertainment require continuing entertainment in order to keep them coming.

Contrast that mindset with Paul’s command to Timothy.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. ~~2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV)

God’s church can, and should, be overflowing with joy. Fellowship halls should ring with laughter, and youth groups should include extra activities outside of Bible Study hours. As someone known for practical jokes, I’m hardly adverse to having fun at appropriate moments.

But when we use fun as an evangelism tool, and especially when we blur the lines between Christians and the world, we tend to obscure the Gospel. After all, the call to repentance can’t be slipped in between funny stories or during a game of Pictionary if we expect non-Christians to take their sin seriously.

Churches must preach the Word, even if so doing makes people uncomfortable. In fact, we want people to feel uncomfortable about their sin in hopes that they will then desire the Savior. Preaching a compromised gospel that elevates human comfort over the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ may fill churches, but it won’t save souls.

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