Our friend, Tullian Tchividjian, has a follow-up post to his great article last week, “Why I Hate Accountability Groups.” In it he quotes Mike Horton’s article, “Does Justification Still Matter?” (Modern Reformation Sep/Oct 2007). As you read both Tullian’s post and Mike’s article, ask yourself when was the last time that “doctrine” played a significant role in understanding your life in Christ? When was the last time your sanctification was grounded in the work of Christ for you rather than your work for Jesus? People often ask me exactly how Reformational theology is different from what they might hear in a run of the mill evangelical church. The difference is clearly displayed whenever we consider who we are in Christ as the foundation for what we do, how we behave, and how we deal with the sin that still remains within us.
Tullian Tchividjian, the pastor of Coral Ridge PCA and a good friend to White Horse Inn posted a great piece about accountability groups yesterday on his blog. Here’s the teaser, but be sure to click through and read the entire thing!
Reminders Are More Effective Than Rebukes
Are you tired of being told that if you’re really serious about God, you must be in an “accountability group?” You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones where you and a small group of “friends” arrange for a time each week to get together and pick each other apart–uncovering layer after layer after layer of sin? The ones where all parties involved believe that the guiltier we feel the more holy we are? The ones where you confess your sin to your friends but it’s never enough? No matter what you unveil, they’re always looking for you to uncover something deeper, darker, and more embarrassing than what you’ve fessed up to. It’s usually done with such persistent invasion that you get the feeling they’re desperately looking for something in you that will make them feel better about themselves.
Well, I hate those groups!
Friend of the Inn and Modern Reformation contributor Doug Powell has a new CD out titled, The Apprentice’s Sorcerer. Doug’s music was last heard on the White Horse Inn on October 3. Listen here to get a taste and then go here to pick up his new CD.
After getting his new CD, read Doug’s article from our November/December 2009 issue, “Illusion, Confusion, and Solution: Apologetics in a Postmodern World.”
Our friends at MockingbirdNYC connected us with Cameron Cole and the Rooted Conference, a gathering for youth ministry workers who want to speak truth and meaning into the lives of the young people in their care.
Cameron and I corresponded a bit about the conference and what the hopes of the organizers are for it:
What is the Rooted Conference?
Rooted is a theology conference for student ministers. Rooted comes out of a desire to see the Gospel upheld as the center of student ministry; it has come as a response to the overwhelming concentration on methodology at most conference for youth ministries. Rooted hopes to encourage and equip student ministers in Christ-centered ministry, while also fostering a community of people committed to boldly preaching the Cross to young people.
How does the approach to ministry that you advocate at the Rooted Conference different from what is normally seen in evangelical youth ministry?
Sadly, so much of student ministry can be characterized as a moralistic, Christian pep rally. Many evangelical youth ministries seek to prescribe moral behavior, while providing the emotional motivation to “imitate” Jesus. Rooted views the development of a Gospel-centered belief system in students as the ultimate goal. Through teaching biblical theology and repeatedly encouraging students with the basic Gospel–the intersection of our deep depravity and Christ’s amazing grace–we aim to cultivate life-long followers of Jesus, due to a worldview rooted in message of the Cross.
What do youth ministers need to know in order to be effective and faithful in their calling?
Three words I uphold in effective student ministry are truth, love, and Spirit. By truth, I mean that students need to hear the full, undiluted Gospel, including the depth of their depravity and the greater grace of Jesus. Knowing that Christ’s death on the Cross has set them free from a life of performance is what ultimately will change a student’s life to follow Jesus. With love, I mean that all of the doctrinal truth in the world means very little to young people outside the context of loving relationships. By spirit, I emphasize the scriptural call for ministers to pray for the Holy Spirit to change the lives of students. While we can love students and teach biblical theology exhaustively, only the Spirit can draw students to the Father and sanctify them.
What is the most important thing parents should consider when considering a youth ministry?
I think the two things parents should focus on are whether the youth ministry does relational ministry and whether the ministry has a vision for long-term spiritual formation based on the cultivation of a Gospel-based belief system. Many parents (and youth ministers) succumb to the allure of youth ministry that will “keep my kids out of trouble.” They think that young people will dive into a life of unfettered debauchery and fervent eroticism if they are not repeatedly told to follow the rules. In truth, law-driven student ministry tends to yield thirty year old agnostics who hate the church, while Gospel-based ministry provides a better chance that a student will become a follower of Jesus in the long run. I emphasize the significance of relational youth ministry because young people of this generation want to be loved and known before they will be open to answers and truth.
How can youth ministry contribute to the great, biblical vision of the church as every tongue, tribe, nation, and age rather than contributing to the demographic and socio-economic division of the church?
Most students live in segregated worlds with little genuine interaction with people unlike them. The messages of integration they hear in the secular world usually lack depth and sound artificial; they come across as impotent law. Student ministry serves as the ideal opportunity for students to have authentic relationships with people across racial and socio-economic lines. Creating opportunities for cross-cultural ministry while teaching the message of God reconciling unlike people to Himself can create a foundation for a less stratified church in the future. In this context young people can cross barriers with love and sincerity, not simply out of the obligation that the AdCouncil public service announcement compelled. This generation of young people yearns for such reconciliation and justice, and student ministers can capitalize on it for the sake of the church’s future.
You can preregister for the Rooted Conference at a reduced rate until June 1! After that, the rate goes up slightly. And, just in case Cameron’s interview didn’t motivate you to attend, check out what our own Rod Rosenbladt said about this conference:
In an era of “Christless Christianity,” the chances of a student hearing a vigorous presentation and/or defense of historic Christianity are few — in church or on campus. But to have students hear and embrace this Gospel is to later effect many educated people who never consider darkening the door of a Christian church, don’t see any reason why they should. As former associate staff of Inter-Varsity, I heartily commend the Cathedral of the Advent’s conference on student ministry.
Our friend Michael Spencer (also known as the Internet Monk) is dying of cancer. Michael Buckley, a Kansas City based artist that has worked with Michael, is offering original watercolors to help generate donations for Michael and his wife Denise. You can learn more about the auction here. You can learn more about iMonk’s diagnosis here. Take a moment and visit the auction site: this is a great opportunity to support Michael Spencer.
Friend of the Inn, Allen Wolf, is an L.A.-based filmmaker who’s newest movie, In My Sleep, is set for release in Los Angeles on April 23rd. Allen is part of a growing cadre of filmmakers who are creating beautiful movies with Christian themes of truth and redemption, without falling into the “Christian movie” black hole of mediocrity and preachiness.
Allen recently contacted us with the news that In My Sleep has been generating great reviews and awards at various film-festivals around the world:
We first screened In My Sleep at the marketplace of the Cannes Film Festival last May, where The Hollywood Reporter gave us a rave review. Since then the movie won the Audience Award at the Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival, won the Golden Kahuna Award from the Honolulu Film Festival, picked up distribution and has now been sold to over 60 countries around the world, including Latin America, Russia, China, Australia, Germany, and the Middle East!
In My Sleep has been scheduled for limited release in Los Angeles and New York City this spring. The opening weekends are:
Los Angeles on April 23rd
New York City and Los Angeles on April 30th
New York City on May 7th
We want to help promote Allen’s film because the more people who attend its opening weekends, the broader it will be distributed in mainstream theaters. Make plans to attend one of the opening weekends and bring some friends along! For tickets, showtimes, behind the scenes videos, and the very latest updates visit www.inmysleep.com.
UPDATE: For those wishing to donate online, try going to the Internet Monk website and click the “donate/paypal” button on the right hand side of the page.
UPDATE 2: The correct address to physically send your support is P.O. Box 313, Oneida, KY 40972.
At the recent Westminster Seminary California faculty conference, Mike Horton said “God doesn’t need your good works, your neighbor does.” In the spirit of this truth, we’re asking you to help a neighbor some of you have never met. Michael Spencer (aka “the Internet Monk“) is a pastor and writer living in Kentucky. He has written two articles for Modern Reformation and has participated in a roundtable discussion on Scripture that will be included in our March/April 2010 issue.
Many of you have benefited from Michael’s honest writing and clear grasp of the gospel. And we’re appealing to you for help on his behalf. Late in 2009 Michael got sick. He had symptoms that didn’t go away. The doctors finally diagnosed cancer and on Christmas Eve a mass was removed from the back of his brain. He’s now trying to recover while facing radiation and chemo treatments. Like many of you, Michael doesn’t have a “cadillac” insurance program. He works for a small Christian boarding school. The resources to care for very ill employees are limited at best. In a few weeks he will be out of a job and employer-paid insurance. The near future looks very tight. Here is an update in Michael’s own words.
This isn’t an appeal for money for White Horse Inn or Modern Reformation. This is an appeal for help for our friend, Michael Spencer. If you can give anything at all, please send it to: Michael and Denise Spencer, P.O. Box 313, Oneida, KY 40972.
Tim Keller once said that Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourselves meant that we meet their needs with the same speed, resources, and passion that we meet our own. Join with us in loving Michael Spencer in his time of need.
If you can’t get enough of Rod Rosenbladt on the WHI, you’ll have a rare chance to see him in person when he and Craig Parton (a regular contributor to Modern Reformation) speak at the “Defending the Faith Apologetics Symposium,” October 30-31 in Tomball, Texas.
For more information, visit out friends at New Reformation Press. While you are there be sure to take advantage of their pre-Christmas, 10% off everything in the store sale. They’ve built up a veritable treasury of Reformation merit over there and for a limited time you can get a great deal!