Um, what’s wrong with this picture?

October 2nd, 2009 Post by

Ablaze Partners Network is, according to its website, “a ministry of Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church, North Royalton Ohio, in close cooperation with the Mission Services staff of The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.” Run by the Rev. David S. Luecke, it has a list of “best practices” resources. There are four listed under “worship.”

I’ll skip the first two (“Worship Diversity Respects Culture” and “Beefy Contemporary Songs”) to point out the next two:

3:16 A six-week Lenten series of on the book of that title by Max Lucado. It contains worship service emphases and songs, preaching notes, family devotions, and small group discussion guide.

Twittering in Church OK
Last year John Voelz, a pastor, was tweeting at a conference outside Nashville about ways to make the church experience more creative — ways to “make it not suck” — when suddenly it hit him: Twitter.

Um. Max Lucado? He may be a great writer but he’s also a promulgator of generic Evangelicalism. Why would his stuff be good for a Lenten series? When I think Lent, I don’t really think of Church of Christ pastors.

And Twittering in church? Don’t get me wrong — I think Twitter is a great social media tool for Christians to use. But the idea that what Ablaze needs to promulgate is a way to avoid focus during worship is just odd. Also, could we avoid using the language referenced above? So unseemly.

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  1. Bubbles
    October 2nd, 2009 at 08:55 | #1

    Church sucks?

  2. Bubbles
    October 2nd, 2009 at 09:05 | #2

    Double take here. “Make it not suck?” Talk about pushing buttons. If you think church sucks it’s either because you don’t get it or your church doesn’t get it. From his talk, it seems obvious that John Voelz, a pastor, just doesn’t get it.

    Let’s see.

    In church I get the forgiveness of my sins. In the church I get to eat the body and drink the blood of God. In church I am reminded that any troubles I have are only temporary, that God himself has done the most extraordinary thing that’s ever been done – almost certainly the most extraordinary thing that will ever be done – for me, for free. I am reminded that I will live forever in joy and without pain, exalted above angels, in the presence of the most powerful and interesting person that’s ever been. And that the sins which should have sent me to eternal torment, the very sins about which I could do nothing, have been washed away as if they never were.

    Church sucks?

  3. Marcy
    October 2nd, 2009 at 09:14 | #3

    Lent is not what it used to be. I would rather hear of what Christ did for me. Alas, Lenten get togethers do nothing for me now. I am seriously considering buying a CPH study and spending my Wednesday evenings in private study.
    It is just all so sad.

  4. Johannes
    October 2nd, 2009 at 09:15 | #4

    Don’t y’all know “Apostolic Style and Lutheran Substance” when you see it? Duh! LOL!

  5. Bubbles
    October 2nd, 2009 at 09:18 | #5

    @CHURCH sins abslvd. need to try harder.

    @CHURCH shook hnds wiht sticky kid

    @CHURCH Orgnst blew it rotfl.

    @CHURCH Pstr doing 3:16 agian. ckn or fsh for dinner?

    @CHURCH Way too many sick people in this church. Pray fstr ty

    @CHURCH Note: need softer cushions. Bread coming.

    @CHURCH Hmm. Chalice or ind. cup?

    @CHURCH gag tastes like ouzo.

    @CHURCH pls. skip stanzas 2-6 TY.

    @CHURCH off to da bears!

  6. Dutch
    October 2nd, 2009 at 09:49 | #6

    Ablaze! is using Westwinds Church in Jackson Mi for advice & counsel? Why does this not suprise me?

  7. Johannes
    October 2nd, 2009 at 09:58 | #7

    How about 8:00 Traditional “German Dirge” Service
    9:30 Contemporary “It’s All About Me” Service
    11:00 Interactive “Tweet in the Seat” Service
    6:00 p.m. Blended “Vanilla for Everyone” Service

    Sat Evening–6:00 p.m. “No Fault” abbreviated Service (15 minutes, get a sitter, come as you are, then to the party).

    I think that about covers it. I probably should not use the term “Service” but one has to keep some vestiges of orthodoxy (oops, Apostolic Substance).

    LOL or is it COL (Cry out loud, for crying out loud)

  8. Dutch
    October 2nd, 2009 at 10:11 | #8

    Remember the wee ones we chatted about? Look at John Voelz’s blogspot.
    Be afraid, be very afraid. I wouldn’t give this man access to my guinea pig, let alone my boys.

  9. Johannes
    October 2nd, 2009 at 10:16 | #9

    If that’s the “Best Practice” resources, I shudder to think about the “Worst Practice” resources, like, for instance:

    Joyce Meyers’ “I Gotta Be Me” worship experience (“W.E.)
    Joel Osteen “You Can Do It If You Try” W.E.
    Benny Hinn “Slain in the Spirit for a Few Bucks More” W.E.

    The list is endless.

    Dutch–after a thorough review by my co-conspirators, the “Wee Ones” is getting a complete re-working. Sorry about the delay. Watch this space….

  10. October 2nd, 2009 at 10:53 | #10

    Does anyone else just wonder about website designers who create something like this:

    Ablaze Partners

    The text is grey on white — VERY hard for me to read. Is it just me or does it hurt your eyes to try to read that?

    Saying nothing about the content — the presentation is just so out there. This glaring red-ish frame around it (looks like a 60’s soap ad), with text inside that is hard to read …. it just looks bad!

  11. GaiusKurius
    October 2nd, 2009 at 11:04 | #11


    Yes, Church sucks at least is does when you have Worship Diversity, Beefy Contemporary Songs (hmmm..isn’t that an oxyimorn?) and good ole Max Lucado materals as the basis for sermons.

  12. Johannes
    October 2nd, 2009 at 11:11 | #12

    The grey on white is kind of like, blended, y’know. I mean, like, it’s kinda, like a blended worship, y’know–vanilla and not, like, offensive or like that, y’know. I mean, the red-ish frame is so you’ll be attracted and want to,like, kind of come in, y’know. I mean, y’know, that’s how like evangelism is, like, done. Y’know?

    How about “Pew-Sitter Twitter” Service? Blackberries and PDA’s provided free. Come early for catechesis on how to use a blackberry. Go to (are you ready?) —“”
    (Sorry Pastor Wilken, I just couldn’t resist!)


  13. October 2nd, 2009 at 11:32 | #13

    something about “nature abhors a vacuum” keeps running through my mind. Charitably, we could posit invincible ignorance regarding the Divine Service as probable cause…

  14. Carl Vehse
    October 2nd, 2009 at 11:39 | #14

    In her May 3, 2009 Time magazine article, “Twittering in Church, with the Pastor’s O.K.”, Bonnie Rochman writes:

    “If worship is about creating community, Twitter is an undeniably useful tool. The trick is to not let the chatter overshadow the need for quiet reflection that spirituality requires.”

  15. revfisk
    October 2nd, 2009 at 12:23 | #15

    Bubbles #5 – HIGHlaroius

  16. Susan Weedon
    October 2nd, 2009 at 13:03 | #16

    At first I thought this was a spoof.
    It’s for real.

    Look at this comment on the twitter in church page

    “it’s not only O.K. to fuse social-networking technology with prayer; it’s desirable.”

    Where is that in God’s Word???

  17. Kaleb
    October 2nd, 2009 at 13:21 | #17

    While Max Lucado absolutely holds beliefs contrary to the Lutheran confessions, he is not “Church of Christ” as this label is normally applied. The “of Christ” was dropped from his church’s name, presumably to avoid confusion.

    I just think it’s important to get this right, since most churches calling themselves “Church of Christ” are *really* out there–for example, they deny original sin.

  18. October 2nd, 2009 at 13:30 | #18

    You say look at John Voelz’s blogspot?

    Here’s what I saw:

    [Chuch marketing sucks

    Yo, John (F. Kennedy) I’m real haapy for you and I’m a let you finish, but Lincoln was the best presidential assassination of all time

    Yo Bin Laden I’m a let you finish, but Anne Frank was the best at hide and seek of all time.]

    If they meant to shock. They certainly did. Shock and offend. Best of practice?

    Should forward to anti-defamation league. Thankyou


  19. Susan Weedon
    October 2nd, 2009 at 13:37 | #19

    Last Lenten season was the worst.
    John Ortberg “message series” “The Life You Always Wanted”
    in the Divine Service for 6 weeks.
    On Wednesday nights was characters in costumes and “messages” NOT given by ordained ministers. We transferred out! Easter Sunday at new church. What a resurrection! HE IS RISEN ALLELUIA! HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

  20. Dutch
    October 2nd, 2009 at 15:48 | #20

    Michael- I think you were looking at the posts of Kayne West. Why they are on a “pastor of upreach” ‘s site, no clue. That is crass, but the more “questionable” things are further down or on the Westwinds Church website, under what we believe, ya know they don’t call it doctrine.

    Molly- I have no clue how Ablaze! partnerships work, but for grins & giggles, is there a way to see if an “stewardship items, ie, funds” trickle or leak into Westwinds?

    Johannes- this guy is no different, well a bit more quirky, but no different than Dan Kimball, who spoke at the Youth Conference in Texas in January. Dan Kimball’s site/blog is called Vintage Faith. Isn’t it horrid these people target our youth & kids? And the LCMS, the “we’re relevant machine” grinds on. How very typical. And yes, I am still watching for that article, and I KNOW THAT, yours actually will be relevant. Praying for you,

  21. October 2nd, 2009 at 15:51 | #21

    @17 Kaleb, Max Lucado IS Church of Christ, having a church-growth-type megachurch of that extremely legalistic denomination. Yes, he waters down Church of Christ teaching like Lutheran megachurches water down Lutheran teaching. But Lucado is a pastor in the Church of Christ, which is indeed “out there.”

  22. October 2nd, 2009 at 20:17 | #22

    Who needs sermons when everyone can just Twitter themselves into a #MutualAdmirationSociety ? Heck we don’t even need to go to church!

  23. Kari
    October 3rd, 2009 at 00:22 | #23

    They use examples of great Twitter churches like Mars Hill? What’s that? And Next Level Church? Here we have *CMS people chasing after what non-Lutherans do, and thinking that is a good practice for Lutherans. Gag! Why can’t we learn to be who we are? And quit trying to be like everyone else? Aren’t we supposed to be different?

  24. Johannes
    October 3rd, 2009 at 07:50 | #24

    Dan has got it spot-on. “Twitter at home and keep those checks coming in.” You could save a lot of money–who needs a pastor, anyway? Who needs a synod? And a synod president. This is getting better all the time. Rather than a president, we could have Twitterer-in-chief, or TEO–Twitter Executive Officer.

    Thanks for the great idea, Dan. I’ll send it to St. Louis.

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