Evangelical liturgy: interviewing the guest preacher

One quaint bit of evangelical liturgy that comes up at conference events and even evangelical events, is the requirement that we do a 5 minute interview with the preacher before they preach.

There's nothing wrong with that. But there's something wrong with getting into a rut that assumes you have to do it. And there are a few reasons why you might not do it:

  1. It takes up time - especially in a full-program conference, using up time on a 5 minute interview is stealing time from the sermon.

  2. It introduces the preacher with off-the-cuff comments rather than their prepared introduction. I'd rather my first words of engagement and connection with the congregation be the carefully planned engaging words I've written, rather than the impromptu answers to getting to know you questions.

  3. It assumes that the 'real you' is your hobbies and family and minsitry experience. These are part of who the preacher is. But more fundamentally they are a child of God and a preacher of the gospel. And this is the main thing they are in front of us for.

  4. Building on this, implies we must have a 'friendship' connection with the preacher before they can preach to us. Now there are gospel principles that might lead us to choose to 'humanise' the preacher - for sure! And at the same time, we don't need them to talk make a couple of jokes and talk about their bicycle to show them to be humble and human.

  5. It relies on the preacher being a good interiew subject. Not all great preachers are great at public interviews or great at Q&A.

  6. It often lowers the event to a jokesy, folksy tone, right before the proclamation of the word.

  7. There are other perfectly adequate alternatives: a bio in the booklet, personal illustrations in the sermons, a brief introduction by the event MC.

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Lone Survivor, SAS Training and Ministry Training

Nikki and I saw Lone Survivor the other day. Brutal. Such powerful filmaking that it stopped the jingoism from ruining it.

At the start there's this brutal 'found footage' of Navy SEAL boot camp (a far cry from hot young things in lycra jogging in a local park - or church planters eating pastry and attending plenary sessions in a conference centre!). Harrowing experience. Who does this?

Some say the best ministry training should be like SAS or Navy SEAL training: to be the best you need to just be thrown in the deep end and be able to survive without too much hand holding. The idea is that too much pampering won't produce the kind of people we really need.

I kind of like that. I get it.

And at the same time, it's gotta be said: the people who survive in these kind of elite teams are ALREADY highly trained. In order to get in, and in order to surivive in them, you need to already be extremely capable.

So yes, we need to throw people in the deep end. But this is not a substitute for training and preparation. It is one element of larger process of skill and character formation.

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Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill removed from Acts 29 membership


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Gideons, doctrinal bases and the textus receptus ESV

I did a little bit of reading about the Gideons recently. I got Rocky Racoon stuck in my head as a result.

They have a curious doctrinal basis. It doesn't touch a whole lot of topics, but a few ones that in their focus and wording mark out the particular cultural background to the movement:

"The Gideons International is a diverse association in that our members come from many Protestant denominations with a common interest in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. All Gideons also hold important core beliefs:

The Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God.

Members must also:

Have received Jesus as their personal Savior.

Endeavor to follow Him in their daily lives.

Be members in good standing in their Protestant/evangelical churches.

Have the recommendation of their pastors."

They also emphasise belief in "the endless lake of fire for the unsaved" and the resolve to "follow Christ in your daily life".

What is good about these brief doctrinal markers? What is lacking?

They distributed the NKJV for a long time. But they have recently moved to the ESV. But it turns out they have a peculiar attachment to the Textus Receptus, and so the ESV publishers have produced a special Gideons version.

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