Saturday, February 24, 2007

Harvard's new emphasis on applied knowledge is instructive for churches

In this week's Time magazine, there is a report that Harvard is going away from just book knowledge and more towards applied knowledge in their curriculum. Out is history as a required course, and in are courses covering practical ethics, personal finance and a host of other real life issues.

"Just as one doesn't become a marathon runner by reading about the Boston Marathon, so, too, one doesn't become a good problem solver by listening to lectures or reading about statistics," says the committee chairman who made the suggested changes.

We should take note of these changes. Academia has for centuries valued knowledge for its own sake. The same has often been true for churches and individual Christians. We must go from simply giving out information and help people apply their knowledge. This will involve reallocating our time towards hands on learning. Rather than teaching a class on visiting the hospital, we need to invite others to go to the hospital with us, and teach them along the way. This should be a part of our core “teaching” curriculum.

The book Our Underchieving Colleges reports that students remember just 20% of the content of class lectures a week later. Hands on learning, however, is usually retained at somewhere around 75%. It seems that Jesus taught his disciples in both of these ways. We need to recover this type of learning in the church today.

How do you learn best—from lectures, discussion, or hands on?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tim Hardaway's Comments About Homosexuals

Recently, Tim Hardaway was asked about a former NBA player who "came out of the closet." In response, he said that he didn't think homosexuality was right, that it shouldn't be here in the US, and that he hated gay people. He later apologized for his statement about hating gay people.

As Christians, we do believe that homosexuality is wrong. However, no Christian should hate homosexuals or anyone else. Incidents like this make hearing the Christian message difficult to hear.

For those in the church, we must take a stand against homosexuality. For those outside the church, however, God is the one who judges (1 Cor. 5). Homosexuals in the world should hear from Christians a message of love first and foremost, and then a call to accept Christ. This will entain leaving behind a homosexual lifestyle. Paul lists homosexuality as a sin, but then he says "such were some of you, but you have been washed, you have been cleansed." Christ's blood and the Spirit make this kind of transformation possible. We must call people to a different life, but we must also let them know that God will help them do this.

The message of hate must be eliminated and swallowed up by the incredible love of God.

What do you think of Hardaway's comments?

Friday, February 09, 2007

US population explodes, church membership flat

Well, I've been in bed most of this week, sick with fevers, sweats, and bad headaches. But there are people with cancer out there, so it could be worse.
Those of you who are in my Ancient-Future Church class saw the numbers I compiled on church membership in the US over the last 26 years. Apparently, others have noticed the trend, as the Christian Chronicle just published these numbers in their last issue.
If you look at the chart from, you can see that since 1980 the US population has grown by 32%. During that same time period, known membership in churches of Christ has remained basically flat, with growth of 1.6%. So in terms of the percentage of the US population, churches of Christ have shrunk dramatically in the last 27 years.

Obviously, we are not setting the world on fire. Not only are we not experiencing the explosive growth found in the book of Acts, but we are shrinking. Does this not show that we must reallocate our energy, time, and resources to mission and make this our primary focus, as it should be anyway? What we are doing is not working. We must face this square in the face.
What do you guys make of these numbers? What is the solution to this decline?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

American Idol--thumbs up or thumbs down?

My blogger account was having some problems, so sorry for the delay!

Becki has started recording the American Idol sessions, and I have been watching it really for the first time. Seriously, before this season, I had watched maybe ten minutes of American Idol. I love music, and so I probably would have been draw to the show except for two facts: 1) I have a hard time watching TV at 7:00 PM; and 2) I suppose I at times want to just go against whatever everyone else is doing.

It is actually a pretty entertaining show I have discovered this year. Some of the singers are really good. (I was going to rush to Memphis and try out until I learned that you had to be 28 years old.) But most of the singers they show in the early rounds are truly horrific. I find myself thinking, you cannot be serious about this.

Simon is, of course, the draw of the show. He is usually a jerk, which makes the times that he likes someone very dramatic. We all sigh a sign of relief when he gives the thumbs up.

It is amazing to me how some of the contestants put their whole lives and self-esteem into the collected wisdom of three entertainment people. These guys aren't always right. And however the world looks at us, they aren't always right either. They may give us the thumbs down, but that doesn't really mean anything. Look at that girl who didn't win American Idol but when on to start in that singing movie (you Idol buffs know what I'm talking about).

Those who aren't serious I don't really feel sorry for. But I do feel badly for some pretty good people who get ripped to shreds, like that music teacher. And what does this show show about us? Are we looking for approval and self-esteem from others? Do we delight in seeing others ripped? I will keep watching, but I just wondered about these things. What do you guys think?