This week, I read Why?: Making Sense of God’s Will by Adam Hamilton. In this short book, Hamilton addresses three questions of theodicy, God’s justice in the face of suffering, Why do the innocent suffer? Why do my prayers go unanswered? Why can’t I see God’s will for my life? He concludes with a few words about Why God’s love prevails.
As a pastor, I have spent time studying the history of Christian thought around these questions as well as spending time with people who are asking some of these very same questions. In this book, I found both a few new approaches to responding to these questions and encouragement for my own why questions. I appreciated the clear illustrations, biblical examples and easy to follow structure.
While this book will be helpful for anyone who is struggling with why questions about their faith, I most strongly recommend it for leaders of Christian communities who will interact with people who are trying to make sense of God’s presence and action in their life at difficult times. In addition, I believe that you will find, as I did, that the words of this book provided helpful guidance for my life in ways that I was not expecting.
I know that I will refer back to this book again in the future for both personal and professional use.
Inviting someone to show up to church to hear a ministry professional share the good news is quite different from sharing your own story of how you encountered Jesus and how life is different from following Him.
Resurrection Online has been streaming worship since November of 2008. If you are considering launching an online worship service at your faith community, you first have clear answers to these questions first:
Why are we launching online worship?
Why does worshiping online make sense within the culture of our church?
Will this effort be supported by all levels of church leadership?
How does online worship further our mission?
How will technical issues be addressed?
Of what will the worship experience online consist?
What impact do we anticipate on the current congregation?
Who will own the initiative?
What resources, if any, will be used to provide opportunities to grow in faith outside worship?
What resources, if any, will be used to provide care and support for those that worship online?
In what way, if any, will persons be enabled or encouraged to give financially?
What will be the nature of the community encountered by internet worshippers?
“As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real. If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it’s easy or trendy or popular. It’s because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It’s because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It’s not because we want more of the same.”
I resonate with the desire to experience a faith community that is real and not cool. It doesn’t even have to be cool, if it is real. A local church should strive to be real and authentic. Represent who the community actually is in any communications, remind people of who you want to become in every gathering of the people and always seek to become like Jesus.