Scott's Thoughts: Apr 16, 2023

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EASTER@NPAC 2023: Wow!

Update re Brown Bags & Bibles and Great Questions Answered

Some Currently Theologically & Sociopolitically Uncool Thoughts Roughly About Deconstructing Christian Faith
Long 4-yrs-plus story short, as we became a two-campus multisite church in February 2019—where we were worshiping, serving, and “outreaching” (Gotta stay consistent!)—we knew we needed to have the occasional all-church event or service, which we assumed would at least happen seasonally during Christmas and Easter. So we planned an all-church Easter Service 2020 at NPAC, but well, that one thing happened, and everything became… difficult… and some of our multisite plans felt tenuous, at best. For me, it is truly only by God’s grace, a love for the local church that He has given/(plagued) me (with), and the encouragement of faithful FCCers that I am not scooping ice cream instead of sticking it out in ministry. (I promise, no offense to anyone in the ice cream industry. It’s my vocational back-up plan. Sure, people can be disgruntled and hard to please when it comes to ice cream, but they at least generally leave happy.)

Well, here we are, one week after EASTER@NPAC 2023, and I cannot believe how incredibly well it went—far beyond my wildest dreams and imagination! Honestly y’all, I think our staff, leaders, and volunteers were stunned that over 800 showed up to celebrate the work of God in the miracle of Resurrection that raised Christ and us from the dead! For the 30 minutes or so beforehand, I stood out front greeting on the front steps and just kept thinking, “People are actually showing up!” About 10 minutes before I knew I’d be walking onstage to preach, I made sure to peek out from behind the curtain to snatch some video of our gathered people singing “Is He Worthy?” so I could get the tears out beforehand because I knew I would lose it!

While there are a few other important takeaways that we’ll continue unpacking, here are a few thoughts that rise to the surface:

  • It is encouraging to know we are part of a larger community of believers who love to sing God’s praises! You are not as weird as you think you are. (Parse that out wisely, as some of you are weirder than you think you are. Just ask those around you.)

  • You, as an individual—showing up to worship and serve—play a centrally important part in the mutual encouragement that happens every Sunday. Others need you there to encourage them, just like you do! Mutual encouragement is a bigger deal than we think. For me, it is fuel for my Christian life.

  • Our multisite vision—that is tightly unified in doctrine, vision, mission, systems, and programming but is carried out in numerous smaller campuses—is (hopefully continuing to emerge as) a wise and effective model that leverages resources for personal growth and care.

  • Sure, some of those who came are family who happened to be in town, are sporadic attenders, or may have come to see the spectacle, but I noticed that, more than most such seasonal services, many were there who consider us their church home and are not yet meaningfully connected with us (or anywhere else). To make the point clearer, since Covid I’ve noticed that fewer folks are there just because it is culturally expected, i .e., a higher percentage of folks are there because they want or need to be. I think that held true this past Easter, which means that there are likely even more folks who consider us their church home than we know. This just puts a finer point on the things we often say about needing to be “meaningful participants” who are regular in “The Big 3” of Worship, Serve, and Connect, hold true(r than most realize.)

How do we follow up well? Please help us do effective people harvest by (a) continuing to show up on Sundays, (b) jumping in on “The Big 3”, and (c) encouraging those you saw there who are sporadic FCCers or not well connected to continue joining us. While we on staff are working to do as much follow-up as we can, frankly the ongoing ministry and encouragement of being an everyday boring faithful FCCer who reaches out to family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, is our most effective tool! (Btw, new peeps, being “an everyday boring faithful” servants/FCCer is a good thing here at First Christian Church.)

Also, btw, Good Friday was a really great and very meaningful service—filled with Scripture, videos that told the story well, heartfelt singing of our need for the cross, a fantastic man-and-his-guitar song by Kris Carlson, and a wonderful sermonette by Travis Chapman. The Residents did a good job helping prepare and lead. We will definitely need to make room for more next year.

Also, btw, pt 2, bigtime thanks to all who helped out in some extra sweat to make the Easter weekend events happen. As we often make clear, none of this works without a lot of sacrifice from a lot of people.

Re EASTER@NPAC, if you missed ‘em, check out the article in the Greeneville Sun, our “H7 Story”, and the Recap Video.
Re BB&B… Mark Liebert and I have just completed a 6-part BB&B(& B) series—(the 4th B stands for “Books”)—where we read R. C. Sproul’s Holiness of God and reviewed its content. That series is episodes 87-92, the last of which is being published this week (I think). Next, we are publishing a 6-weeks(ish) series on “complementarianism,” which covers the roles of men and women. We talk about how our stance is part of God’s pre-Fall design, about our Elders Position Paper on the topic, about how we answer a number of “egalitarian” counter arguments from Scripture and theology, and then we will finish up with some discussion with a couple key women in our congregation. Don’t miss all that. Gonna be good.

Re GQA… I am finally (and slowly) getting back to some GQA (and Scott’s Thoughts) writing of late, after a few months of getting used to the new normal of 3 campuses. I’ve got a good 6-8 GQAs I’m methodically (and slowly) working on that will be (slowly) posted. For the new (& newish &/or unaware) among us, along with BB&B (on “Media” on the app, under “Resources” on, or on YT or FB), we are working on making GQA a repository of trustworthy written resources that help our people navigate thorny Biblical, theological, and sociocultural questions (and that provide fodder with which a few of my ministry friends can vehemently disagree and thus mock me as freakish conservative. I just call it being a Christian, but whatever.) So, if you haven’t yet seen it, we recently posted this GQA: “Wasn’t The Word ‘Homosexual’ Only Recently Added By Modern Translators Of The Bible And Therefore They Introduced An Improper Bias?” I mention this GQA again because Mark and I have also integrated some of this at the end of our recent BB&B series on “Human Sexuality” where we discuss the supposed “clobber passages,” so-called because those who “affirm” LGBT+ sexual orientation claim that those of us who are “not affirming” are using the Bible to “clobber” people. To the contrary, I believe I am loving them by warning that, as with all of us saved from sin, it is only by the truth of God’s word that comports with His character and recreates us in Christ that we are “snatched from the fire” (Jude).
Yes, that’s a long and unwieldy title, and it may take a couple/few times through these points to make sense of them, but just some things to be thinking about…

  • If you are holding to your ideas about what is true, good, beautiful, loving, or kind based primarily on how you or others around you feel or respond about them, you might as well admit you are enslaved to the godless ideologies of the world and don’t actually believe that the Word of God contains truth that comes from the character of God.

  • Without hardly knowing it, many self-proclaimed Christians have fully capitulated to a godless identity of belief and behavior rooted in self expressionism, feelings as epistemological filter, politics-as-messiah, and justice for sinners accomplished by sinners. As implied by our Habit 6, to “Identify with Christ” is to do the opposite, namely, to submit to a Christ-centered identity of belief and behavior rooted in expressing His Lordship and worth means searching the Scriptures as a guiding filter and even corrective for our feelings.

  • Ultimately, those “deconstructing” their Christian faith are committing the same sin as the serpent in the garden (Genesis 3:1, 4-5), giving their minds and hearts over to subjective desire that replaces the objective standard of God’s character with a faith of their own making, in their own image, and in accordance with the world’s godless ideologies. It deconstructs the plain truths of God’s Word in order to construct a fully personalized faith that tailors truth to self and saves no one.

  • Yes, tone, kindness, and gentleness matter. But if you are concerned with policing tone to the exclusion of the truthfulness of Godly ideas, you will communicate a worldly “love” that is actually hatred for the one you intended to reach.

  • While we’re on the subject of the current trend to deconstruct Christianity, if you don’t think it’s important for the local church to teach our people to know the Scriptures well, think logically, make well-reasoned arguments, and understand our faith’s rational underpinnings, then you’re not paying attention or are burying your head in the sand.
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