A photographer in Vancouver has presented a thought-provoking take on the role of religion in our current culture. Gods of Suburbia is Dina Goldstein’s “visual analysis of religious faith within the context of the modern forces of technology, science and secularism.” Between Jesus in the Vancouver slums, Satan as a tow truck driver, and Darwin in a casino, no one’s religious notions are exempt from being poked and prodded.
Jesus’ meal with the apostles is reimagined as “Last Supper, East Vancouver.” The table is scattered with beer cans and the apostles are captured as chain-smoking derelicts. Goldstein says,
My reenactment of history’s most famous dinner party is meant to portray the treatment of the most vulnerable by society. I have placed Jesus and his Apostles, a street gang, specifically in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. This is Canada’s poorest postal code and a place of chronic drug abuse, alcohol addiction and mental illness. Jesus and the Apostles consume the diet of street people: cheap packaged noodles, cheap beer and canned tuna, while Judas plots his betrayal of Jesus.
Check out the Huffington Post’s video coverage of her shoot:
What thought about who Jesus would hang out with are provoked when you look at these pictures? What do you think about the intersection of other religions and suburbia?
Carey Nieuwhof has written a post that is part-response to Donald Miller’s post about not attending church and part-appeal for people who are about to leave to reconsider. His 10 thoughts are:
1. A step out of a local church is many times a step away from God.
2. The church puts us into contact with people with whom we would rather not associate.
3. A step away from organized community is often a step away from accountability.
4. A movement is more effective when it has leadership and authority.
5. There is tremendous potential when people are aligned and released around a common mission, vision and strategy.
6. An outward focus of the church is best maintained when people gather intentionally.
7. The faith you cherish is built on the foundation of people who were part of the local church.
8. A wound created in community is best healed in community.
9. The promise of the church is still greater than the problems of the church.
10. Trying something new is better than walking away.
You can read his reasoning here.
I recently read three books I’d like to share that have impacted the way I look at pastoral ministry. I’m anticipating that their effects will be felt in my life and vocation for many years.
The first is Eugene Peterson’s The Pastor: A Memoir, which is an engaging look at his own journey from the Montana wilderness to the east coast as he uncovers his calling as a pastor. Peterson has always been a big influence on me, and seeing his development in the ministry was interesting and encouraging.
Letters to a Young Pastor is the late Calvin Miller’s collection of advice to young leaders in letter form. His commentary on the pastoral life was both challenging and hilarious as he talked about setbacks, victories, and the occasional church politics run-in.
Finally, Paul David Tripp’s Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry addresses the overall state of the North American pastorate from a behavioral health standpoint. Gut-wrenching in all the necessary ways, this book is a wake-up call to pastors who labor to see Jesus magnified, their families cared for, and their own ministry longevity.
At Pastors.com, Kurt Bubna gives list of 10 non-negotiables for aspiring church planters:
- A clear call to church planting which is confirmed by other leaders and pastors who know them and have worked closely with them.
- A supportive spouse and a stable, healthy marriage and family.
- A strong emotional resilience. (Without it, they won’t likely survive.)
- A heart for evangelism with a proven gift and ability to reach the lost.
- A capable teacher who is an anointed and gifted communicator.
- A proven ability to gather and inspire others.
- A demonstrated ability to start something new.
- A proven ability to recruit, train and deploy others into ministry.
- A demonstrated track record of wisdom in life and in leadership.
- A teachable heart proven by the ability to take direction and constructive criticism without defensiveness or arrogance.
While I don’t claim to be an expert in missiology, my experience over the last year at The Well supports his post. Every point above is critical to the long-term success of the church and the well-being of the planter.
You can read the entire article here.