It seemed like a great idea. Looking for ways to enrich our church’s worship and witness, we introduced a unique opportunity for participation. Like in Old Testament times, we invited people to offer thanks as they gave their offerings. We set aside part of the service when they could come to the front, place their contribution in the plate, and tell how God had blessed them. Wonderful.
As the youth pastor, I sat in the back among a group of neighborhood kids. Hoping the earnest sharing of those up front would spark an interest in Christ, I whispered, “This looks kinda cool, what do you think they’re doing?” One student quickly replied, “Can’t you see, Greg? Those people are paying God for doing stuff for them!”
In that moment, it was as if the reverent music of the morning screeched to a halt like a needle dragging across an old vinyl record. I had not seen it that way. But, now I could agree that it did look a lot like down payments for divine favor.
In the 25 years since that experience, I have found myself in many situations where I needed fresh eyes to see. Whether it was someone else observing my ministry at the church, or taking a long look at a painting in our home, I have required help to see what familiarity had obscured.
This issue of Dedicated seeks to encourage you with a fresh look at key areas in ministry. Russ Glessner demonstrates that too many Evangelicals give the resurrection merely a passing glance in their thought and work. He challenges us to focus on it like the Scripture does, as the center of our faith and hope. I offer a guide for finding relevant applications from Old Testament narratives, without abandoning faithful interpretation.
Our book reviewers also point us toward fresh viewpoints. Jack Willsey urges us to reconsider the call Dolphus Weary makes in I Ain’t Coming Back. Karen Pease critiques Jim and Casper Go to Church, set to release in paperback this year. It records the observations of a believer and an atheist as they visit Evangelical churches. Paul Johnson reviews Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, a plea for a break from cultural Christianity and a recommitment to biblical discipleship.
And in case you’re wondering about the photo at the top of the page, it highlights a great opportunity for the Corban School of Ministry. We are building a partnership with International Training and Equipping Ministries to train pastors in West Africa. Stay tuned to hear more as this exciting door opens.
As our new year begins, we pray the Lord blesses you with clear sight and renewed vision!