Speedlinking – May 7, 2010

The End of Cokesbury, Abingdon Press and UMR Communications?

Cokesbury, Abingdon Press and UMR Communications each have long histories.

How much of a future do they have?

I recently read an article that referenced this video put together by a publishing company.

What are your thoughts, feelings or opinions on the future of Methodist publications?

Audio Recording of Significant Church History

Sometimes history can be found just under our noses. Sometimes in our attics. And every so often we can find it in our local church archives! Such is the discovery of a rare audio recording of the Evangelical United Brethren Declaration of Union worship service of 1946. The recording was made on two transcription disks which were found by the Rev. Ron Kite of Faith United Methodist Church in Hutchinson, Kansas.

Thus begins the story of the discovery of an audio recording of the EUB Union Worship Service. I am proud of my dad‘s role in this discovery. The EUB is one of the forerunners of the current United Methodist Church. If you are interested in church history, check out this link to read the article and download and listen to the audio recording.

There were two things that particularly struck me after I listened to the service, can you guess what they are? Leave a comment and let me know your response.

A People’s History of Christianity

I recently read A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story, the latest book from Diana Butler Bass. Bass takes the reader on a jaunt through the history of the church from the first century right up to today dividing the years into: early, medieval, reformation, modern and contemporary Christianity. In each of these eras Bass examines the particularities of devotion and ethics that characterized the believers of that time. These are each illustrated through stories of Bass’ own life journey and through characters of history – some well known and others less known.

While I am familiar with some of the general themes of church history from my courses in seminary, I found this to be a quality refresher. Addressing devotion and ethics was a somewhat tedious, yet predominantly helpful, mechanism to move through thousands of years of history in one book. I particularly appreciated the attention to particular characters throughout time that sought to love God and their neighbor in their time and place.

I recommend this book to someone that is looking for an introduction to church history and is willing to engage in the stories of individuals. Bass is a quality church historian and writer.

Non-biblical support for Christian claims about Jesus?

Last week, I received several questions from a Resurrection member who had been using a DVD series to study as a part of a small group. I will take some time today and over the next few days to respond as I believe that there may be others who are interested as well. Always feel free to email me questions on topics about which you would like to see me write.

What non-biblical sources of evidence support (or corroborate) any of the Christian claims about Jesus?

There is little debate about some of the basic facts of Jesus’ life – teacher and healer from Galilee that was sentenced to death by crucifixion. Some scholars debate whether the events as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are an exact historical record. You can more information about this debate here.

I believe that Jesus was born, lived and died in first century Palestine. I believe that the accounts of the gospels are true. There is evidence of Jesus historical existence outside of the Bible. However, claims that Jesus actually existed are not particularly Christian claims. Distinctly Christian claims are around Jesus being fully divine and fully human and one of the persons of the Trinity. I am not sure that I would expect for there to be sources that support particularly Christian claims that are not a part of the Bible. You can read a bit more about books in the bible at – How were books of the Bible chosen?

Here is the bottom line for me – There is non-biblical evidence from the first several centuries for Jesus and Christians but these do not necessarily point to the particular Christian claims of Jesus. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John contain the best portrait of Jesus life and, along with the rest of the New Testament, are the key texts for Christian claims about Jesus.

What else would you add?

Church Leadership Lesson from Disney’s Up

My wife, Nicole, and went to see Disney’s Up in RealD 3D. It was a fantastic movie. I laughed, I cried and I connected with the characters. It was my first 3-D movie, as well, and it was very well done. The 3-D added to the experience and was not used gratuitously. Along with enjoying the entertainment, I felt a strong leadership lesson for the church.

The opening sequence of the movie provides a moving biography of one of the main characters. It brings context to the present and provides motivation for actions in the present.

The same is true for congregations.

Every existing congregation has a story that brings purpose and shape to current and future actions. This can happen both intentionally and unintentionally. If you are a leader in a church, you need to know its story.

Every congregation has a story.

Know it.

Live it.

Shape it closer to God’s dream.