As I continue to post previously published materials to this website, I have added the following.
1. I have added an Evangelical Theological Society (1995) presentation that was subsequently published in The Journal of the American Society for Church Growth in the Spring of 1997. It is entitled Numerical Growth in the Theology of Acts: Pragmatism, Reason and Rhetoric. The first half of the article demonstrates–at least to my satisfaction–that Luke’s emphasis on numbers and growth in the early part of Acts is a fulfillment motif. Just as God multiplied the creation through Adam and Eve, and multiplied Israel as his redeemed people, so he mulitplied the church. The second half of the article looks at Paul’s sermon for the philosophers in Acts 17 on Mars Hill. Paul’s sermon illustrates how he used contemporary tools and methods (including rhetoric) to present the gospel. The church, in its missionary outreach, must effectively use the tools and gifts God gives it to communicate the gospel, and especially those gifts and tools that participate and connect with culture.
2. I have added a presentation given at the 1995 Harding University Graduate School of Religion Preacher’s Forum that was subsequently published in Building a Healthy Minister’s Family (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1996), pp. 51-74. My article is entitled Sexual Ethics in Ministry. The article is divided into three sections: (1) Conviction: A Theology of Sex; (2) Commitment: A Sexually Healthy Marriage; and (3) Circumspection: Sexual Sensitivity.
In particular, William Arnold (Pastoral Responses to Sexual Issues [Louisville:John Knox Press, 1993], 48-52) suggests five boundaries for ministers which must never be crossed. If we cross any one of them, we ought to step back from that relationship and reflect on God’s story again. If we cross them, we need to renew our covenant with our spouses and redouble our commitment to those boundaries. First, there is the boundary of “space.” We must be careful where we meet with a congregant. The place will signal certain messages. There is a vast difference, for example, between meeting in the minister’s office and meeting at a hotel or at a congregant’s home. Second, there is the boundary of “time.” When we begin to spend excessive time with a congregant, then we ought to pull back. When we begin to spend four or five hours a week with a person, and we only see our spouses an hour each evening, then danger signals have appeared. We would need to restructure our time with family and significantly decrease our time with the congregant. Third, there is the boundary of “language.” When language becomes too intimate, or when language is interpreted intimately, then we need to clarify the relationship between ourselves and the congregant. Intimate language breeds physical intimacy. Fourth, there is the boundary of “touch.” While hugs and pats on the back are common in closely-knit congregations, hugs, pats and kisses are inappropriate in counseling or private contexts. The nature, timing and place of a touch communicates volumes and dangerously opens up the possibility of sexual temptation. Fifth, there is the boundary of our own “feelings.” If we sense a sexual attraction toward another person, then we continue to meet with them to our own peril. We must be careful what we think or feel because they are the beginnings of our actions. We need to be honest with our feelings, and remember our commitment to God’s story and our own marriages. Sometimes “feelings” cannot be controlled, but behavior and covenantal commitment can put those “feelings” into proper perspective. Once one begins to develop these “feelings,” the relationship with the congregant must be ended or it will develop to our own destruction.
The problem, of course, is that we sometimes cross the boundaries without even realizing it. Consequently, it is important to have confidants with whom we can talk–a group of same-sex friends with whom we are open, transparent and vulnerable. They will see these boundaries crossed before we will, and we must have the humility and the courage to listen and submit to their input.
3. I have added my 1994 presentation at the Freed-Hardeman University Lectures that was published in the 1994 lectureship book. The article is entitled Worship in the Second Century Church. The article discusses the value of studying second century liturgy as “foreground” (Ferguson’s term), the liturgical description of Justin Martyr in his Apology and the liturgical description of Tertullian in his Apology. Justin and Tertullian are the most extensive descriptions we have in the second century. Both were explaining the content and procedures of Christian assemblies in order to demystify them for outsiders (and potential persecutors).
4. I have linked my website with two podcasts of recent sermons. One at Woodmont at the end of 2008 (a blog summary is available at “I will Change Your Name“) and another at Harpeth Community Church on 02/08/2009 (a blog summary is available at “Reading the Gospel of Mark“).
These are my offerings for today.