Fan Vs. Follower: I may go with "fan" in West Virginia

At my four year old’s preschool, I noticed a sign for a some sort of study or sermon series called “Fan or Follower?” I think this has become popular as I’ve seen it elsewhere. While I didn’t go to the sermon or study for obvious reasons (kind of busy at my own church!), I wondered whether the terms were the best suited for the distinction, at least in my area.
I get the reason for the question-are you a fan of Jesus or are you a follower (the latter is supposedly the committed one)-but found it a little ironic, if not out of place in West Virginia.
I even the get the answer: Jesus calls us to follow Him. He is not just someone we root for and then go back to doing whatever we were doing: work, play, school, etc…
However I wonder if the term “fan” actually connotes something even more committed than the term follower, at least how we think of the term.
I’m really not belittling the church for using this designation, I just wonder if these are the right terms to use here.
For instance, a fan to most of us in this area isn’t someone that “likes” something on facebook, it is someone who is passionate about his team. In a culture driven by sports-either watching them, expecting your kid to get a scholarship from them, following them on internet discussion boards-the fan is much more than just someone who watches a team and then goes about his business. He takes that passion with him where he goes. He/she, as I should say, gets angry when his/her team lose, elated when they win. He/she think about the next time his/her team will play. The team’s performance often determines his attitude. There is no offseason for a true fan. 
And I’m not dogging much of this behavior. I check the Bucs website several times a day, even in the off season. But what I’m saying is a “fan” is pretty darn involved, committed, and can even be obsessed. It can be a greater passion than anything else.
When you think of a “committed” (to those who don’t share the same team the term is obnoxious) fan, you have to think of a West Virginia University Mountaineer fan. The fans are so committed-or some would argue obnoxious-that one of my friends stopped going to home games because he almost got into a fight with a fellow Mountaineer fan; he wasn’t “in” to the game enough, apparently, from what I remember of the conversation.
3. West Virginia University. The school led the nation in intentionally set street fires from 1997 to 2003, lighting up an unmatchable 1,120 blazes. That includes 120 in a single night to celebrate a football win over Virginia Tech in 2003 and sixty infernos set to celebrate advancing to the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament in 2005.
Now setting fire to things is certainly going beyond what it means to be a fan, or at least what it means to break the law (I think couch burning is now a felony).
But consider that the term “fan” for many means someone who is passionate, who puts all his eggs in one basket, who is loyal, who follows a team whether at work or at play, who talks about his team to others and wants to hear others talk about his team, who’s emotional state rests not on what is going on around him but what is happening in the game, who can’t see how others could be divided in their “fan-ship.” 
All that stuff, if applied to Jesus, seems pretty good. To learn about Jesus through other people, to think about him, to use the web to learn and share about him, to put all your eggs in his basket, to have your emotional state driven by His victory instead of your situations.
If I could be more of a West Virginia type fan for Jesus, I think I’d take that. That seems to me, in every sense of the cultural definition of a fan, to mean just as much, if not more, than a “follower.”
Jesus did say, though not in English, “Come follow me.” And in Greek, he predominantly, though not entirely, is recorded (he spoke Aramaic) to have use one term. But I wonder if in West Virginia 2012 if we wouldn’t have said, “Come be the fan of me that you are for West Virginia football.” 

I think fan is probably as good a term as follower. Maybe in a lot of places outside this state as well. Soccer-in any country but this one-anyone?

People are God’s letters too

While on vacation, on my way to and from a fishing trip, I listened to a sermon by Martin Ban out of Christ Church Santa Fe, NM . He unashamedly proclaimed that God’s people, were indeed God’s first letters of the New Testament. His text came from Acts 2, the story of Pentecost, but he also referenced Paul’s 2nd letter to Corinth to borrow some of the same terminology.
“2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all.  3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” -II Cor 3:2-3
Paul describes the believers at Corinth as God’s letters. But of course the only reason this can happen is if God puts His Spirit inside of them-and that of course made possible by Pentecost, hence the connection. If that is true, then we can be confident we can hear God speak to us through other believers. While this sounds a bit on the charismatic side of things, we probably shouldn’t be uncomfortable with this type of thinking. 
God does speak to us through other people. Ban challenged us to think through the great number of times when we learned something not simply from reading the bible, but by hearing instruction from another Christian. Now of course when people say things that aren’t consistent with the scriptures, we know their words clearly aren’t from God. But sometimes such words can actually clarify, and help us apply God’s words.
Let me give you a recent example. 
I have been pondering the words in the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians during my devotion time. They have been helpful in thinking through evangelism, and the suffering it may take to minister the word or even to receive the word. I was further reminded of the incarnational component to ministry and evangelism where Paul and his team loved, labored, and lived among the people. Great stuff, but theoretical until applied.
Last night one of my neighbors came by at the usual undesired time at 7 pm (right when the boys were getting ready for bed). He rang the door bell to drop off some popsicles: the kind that you buy by the 100’s. But there were only 4 of them. Connar was hoping for more. 
I told Amy, “Why would someone want to bring by 4 popsicles? And during the kids bed time? How dare he?” 
Amy responded, “Geoff, because he just wants to spend time with us.” 
I responded, “Oh….”
God spoke to me through Amy. God was telling me about incarnational living, and loving, and spending time-when it wasn’t necessarily convenient. He spoke to me that I needed TO do it in my time in the Word. But he spoke to me WHO I needed to apply this passage to THROUGH Amy. For some reason it just didn’t click until God spoke through her.
Don’t ignore God’s written Word. But don’t forget that we ourselves are His letters which need to be read by His people in relationships. If you do ignore God speaking to you THROUGH others, you’ll miss out on following and experiencing the Living Word made flesh: Jesus.


Thoughts from the Outage

In case you didn’t hear about the massive power outages across West Va, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, well, we had them. A majority of West Va was actually without power because of a devastating storm that somehow managed to sneak up and do quite a bit of damage. Sunday morning power was restored at Redeemer, and the Henderson’s got it on Sunday night. Almost exactly 48 hours after it went out.
After sitting in air conditioning all day, here are some thoughts about this ordeal.
1.) Thankful. I will try not to complain about power bills. I usually don’t (I complain about water bills because I think I have a leak but can’t prove it-how else would my water be as high as a neighbor with 3 daughters!), but now you could probably put me down in the happy-to-pay-the-power-bill category for at least 4 months. I won’t take power for granted, at least not for a few months (I know myself).
2.) Need for community.  When you don’t have power, your need for others is exposed and increased. Someone gave me a car charger for my I-Phone and it worked. For 5 minutes and then my phone realized it doesn’t recognize knock-off I-phone chargers from Walmart. So I had to go to my neighbor and ask if I could plug my phone into his generator. I’m glad I did because it gave us a chance to catch up. But I wanted to take care of it myself, and would have, if I could have done it alone. Then while Cade lay fast asleep in our basement, Amy, Connar, and I got locked out of our house due to a broken door knob (courtesy of our boys).  We had to run to different neighbors this time. After library cards couldn’t pick the lock, we borrowed some wire cutters, cut the screen and then slid Connar into the window for him to unlock the door. I might have been too big to climb (or do it comfortably) through the window over the deck, so the 4 year old came to the rescue. And it was Amy’s idea to use Connar that way. We needed everyone.
3.) Need for worship. We got power on at the church Sunday morning. Whether we had to meet in the parking lot, we were going to gather. I needed it. I needed the rhythm of the weekly sabbath to gather for hearing God’s word (whether planned or extemporaneously preached), the singing of songs, confession of sins, hearing the assurance of grace. I needed to hear about others hardships with the power outage. I needed to hear that as Christians we don’t have to act as the rest of the world does and freak out when things like this happen. I was thankful to meet indoors in the cool of the sanctuary, but it was Christ who I think I would have found regardless. It was he who calmed and refreshed my weary soul. We need Him each week, and we have the opportunity to find Him in a special way when we gather for worship.
4.) Lack of power is a great equalizer. I waited in line for about 30-40 minutes for coffee the first morning of the power outage. I was standing behind some carnies, who were trying to grab a cup of joe before heading back to fix the carnival stuff at the high school. Behind me was a church member. Beside me were wealthy and lower income. We were all without power. Regardless of class, smell, number of teeth, skin color, appearance, we were all helpless and in need. It reminded me of another great equalizer: God’s law. It reveals to us how we are ALL powerless to measure up or keep it. One of the purposes of God’s Law is to remind is to lay us low. But being laid low helps us identify and humble ourselves with fellow sinners all around us. And being laid low makes the good news of a complete pardon and perfect record that much greater. Fortunately we don’t have to wait 48 hours after a look at God’s law for relief! Both Jesus and electricity are much more precious to me after this trial. Even Connar told me, “Daddy, I like electricity.” Hopefully he’ll have an appreciation for both kinds of power for a while.
And please don’t forget to keep praying for those who won’t get power on for a few more days. Thanks.

Summer Bible Bash

This summer will be the first year where Redeemer will actually have a building, and the question came about we would do for the children for summer time. The standard answer the past 50 years is quite simple: do a week long VBS. There is nothing wrong with that-nor there is nothing essentially right with that either. That’s why some churches in our area have done soccer camps, and one of the oldest churches is even switching to a 4 Sunday afternoon approach this year. Churches are free to dream and free to fail. The gospel gives us that freedom. And in response to that freedom, here is what we plan to do: Summer Bible Bash.

We will do three Summer Bible Bashes, each taking place from 4-6 pm on the first Sunday of the summer months. They will have a central gathering time for ages 4-5th grade to introduce the time and sing a few familiar songs. The younger ages will break up, as will the older group to go through a lesson centered around Jesus Baptism, His Ascension, and Pentecost. Afterwards both groups will come together for a Covenant Family Feud game before breaking for dinner.

Here’s some reasons why we thought it was worth trying:
We wanted to do something that embraces two major components of how we teach and train our children: Family + Church Family.
With the standard VBS set-up, parents who are not serving usually stop, drop, and then shop. They drop the kids off, and then grocery shop. Nothing is inherently wrong with that, but it just doesn’t adequately reflect how we desire to do ministry here. We want to equip and train parents to continue teaching their children. As a result, we have an adult bible study going on during the same time, over the same passage of scripture. Parents have the primary responsibility in teaching their kids. Not the only responsibility, but the primary according to Deuteronomy 6:6-8. So we wanted to construct a program that fostered the training of parents to be better equipped to train their kids. Parents should be equipped to follow up with their kids after each session.
We also wanted the whole covenant community/family to be involved. Not just in the teaching, but in the learning. So whether an adult has children or not, we have a place for them to learn. After the lesson time, the kids and adults will team up and compete with each other in a Covenant Family Feud. We actually surveyed the church the week before, so we’ll be using those “fun” answers along with review questions for kids and adults. And since we will be having a dinner afterward, at least theoretically, all ages have a chance to connect with one another.
Of course we also wanted to do something to help teach the kids, as that component is more heavily emphasized. The family unit is the primary place where kids learn about Jesus, but it is irresponsible to think that its the ONLY place. We are part of a Covenant Community, and the church should play a big part! So we didn’t want to lose that aspect that VBS tends to do quite well. Our kids will be learning about Jesus’ Baptism, His Ascension, and Pentecost and how those parts fit in the overall story of the bible. Jesus Storybook Bible Curriulum material does a good job tracing the story of redemption and how each part fits into the whole.
Finally, I’ve always found follow-up with V.B.S. very difficult. Part of that is that many in our area just hop-not to mention stop, drop, and shop-from V.B.S. to V.B.S. Is there any need to follow-up when parents already have church homes? No. But even with those who don’t have a church family, I’ve never figured out what to do. The best I’ve seen is doing a cookout after the week is over.
Instead of having the parents come to church to hear their kids sing (which might work for some-and we have tried it before), we’ve decided to see if they’d be willing to stay for a meal. You gotta eat, or at least that’s what Checker’s used to say. That way, ideally, they at least have some relational connection beyond “I like them because they teach my kids morals.” So we’re hoping any visitors and a parent or two will stay for the meal. We’ll see what happens…..
If we can teach kids about Jesus, parents about Jesus, the rest of the covenant family/community about Jesus, fellowship and invite others to participate in that fellowship (with hopes they participate in the gospel), then I’d consider it a success. So now we’re hoping the Holy Spirit shows up and does His thing.
May the Lord bless and use the various forms of church ministries this summer-V.B.S., Soccer Camps, Bible Bashes- to bring more of His heavenly will down to Earth.

The first grader

I enjoy finding movies and music that other people haven’t first found. And with and the 7.99 unlimited streaming Netflix, I”m afforded this option. I have tons of choices of “B” movies with the chance of finding a gem of an independent movie.
On Sunday night I found the latter when I stumbled across The First Grader.  The story is one of an 84 year old former Mau Mau freedom fighter named Maruge who decides to take advantage of Kenya’s new free government education for “all people.” Just as the bible doesn’t mean “every single person” when it says “world” or “all flesh,” neither did the Kenyan government. But since he heard it that way, he decides he has the right to sit and learn with the first graders. And he does.
Of course there is tension and conflict with the villagers, as one would imagine when an 84 year old sits next a slew of 5-6 year olds. The storyline and conflict carry the movie. I guess the acting is good, but the story is worth the price of admission itself. It being based upon a true story doesn’t hurt either.
Here’s what I took from it:
1.) Never stop learning. At 84 years old, he doesn’t want to just “mail it in.” He really wants to learn how to read and will fight the concomitant embarrassment and harassment one would expect should come from such an endeavor. This is not an African version of Billy Madison. Maruge reaffirmed my belief that folks never reach an age where they should stop seeking to learn. Christians of all people should realize that we never stop learning from God’s Word or God’s World. Since learning can and should be devotional, why would we not want to? We’ll be learning in heaven so why stop now?
2.) Never stop teaching. Whether its a 2-3 year old in a Toddler class or an 84 year old in a Sunday School class, the church needs to teach all those who are willing to listen. Age doesn’t matter. Teaching any age pupil is not a waste of time, whether they have a little or lot of time left on Earth. How much time we have here is privileged information anyway. Jesus told his disciples to be teaching and passing all that he has taught us until he gets back. He wants to find us busy at work (Matthew 25:14)
3.) You never know the result of your teaching. It still would have been good to teach an 84 year old man to read regardless of what happened afterwards. That would simply have been loving one’s neighbor as oneself. But we also never know what will happen to an 84 year old who learns to read. He went on and visited the United States and played a role in Kenya’s education before he died. You never know. Your time isn’t wasted when you teach.
4.) You need others in your learning. He received a letter in the mail from the government but didn’t know what it said. Even after learning “cat” and “hat” and “bat,” he realized that he wasn’t ready for the “big words” of this letter. Instead of an individual activity, he learned and discovered the good news with the help of others. In community. Everything needed for the bible is perspicuous, that is, it’s clear enough for any reader to know the truth of the gospel. However, if we are to plumb the depths of the gospel, we can’t learn in isolation. If you want the roots of the gospel to go deeper in your heart, you need to go deeper into community and let others read the good news to you in a fresh and deeper way.

A great story and great movie. Well worth your time.

What Brett Lawrie teaches us about passion

A week ago, Toronto Blue Jays third basemen Brett Lawrie was called out on strikes after two questionable pitches by Tampa Bay Rays reliever Fernando Rodney. He expected that each one would be called ball four and allow him to take first base with one out in the 9th inning of a one-run game. As he jogged down to first, he heard the news. Responding with a George Brett pine tar-esque way, he got up in the umpire’s face for quite a tirade. But what really got in him in trouble was that he threw down his helmet and it bounced up and hit the umpire. Not a good idea.

Shortly afterwards he was handed a 4 game suspension and fined.

I showed the video to my son and explained to him this is not how we play baseball.

The reaction from announcers and even his General Manager was not surprising. The sum of the comments amounted to this: this guy plays with passion, and you can’t have his passion on the field without incidents like this.

So if one is passionate, he will inevitably do things like this which jeapordize his availability to even play baseball for periods of time, risk injury to others, and represent his team positively to others.

Passion trumps all.

Sometimes those in the church can excuse bad behavior on such basis as well. Whether it be a pastor, theologian, church member, I have seen and heard similar excuses for such behavior. That person has “passion” and we cant’ take that away from them.

However I want to posit a few reasons why I this is unwise and un-scriptural.

1.) The idea of “passion” or “zeal” is not necessarily always good. What is it that we are passionate about? Is it really the gospel or is it some other substitute? The Judaizers in the letter to the Galatians were very zealous and passionate about cutting foreskins, but Paul said that was a bad idea because it was a way to add to the gospel. We can very easily become passionate about a cause more than Christ himself. Even if it is a cause motivated by Christ, we can miss the Christ behind the cause. From John Brown at Harper’s Ferry to much more subtle passions today, this kind of passion that misses Jesus is clearly not good passion. Instead it has morphed into the kinds of passions that cause fights and quarrels (James 4:1-5). Not all “religious” passion is good.

2.) What does good passion look like? I regularly listen to two different preachers: Martin Man and Jean Larroux. One is soft spoken and the other isn’t. Both men are very passionate about Jesus and inspire passion in me for Christ. Yet they both look, sound, talk quite differently. 

We can clearly see the opposite of passion in people in our churches: apathy. However, different people will display passion for Jesus and His Church differently according to different temperments and gift sets. Someone may display his/her passion for Jesus in more diaconal ways (serving the church or community), more devotional ways (spending time in reading God’s Word, good books, prayer), more expressive ways in corporate worship (raising hands, closing eyes, etc..) evangelistically (sharing gospel and befriending neighbors). Now of course all of these things are part of the Christian life but some, will out of their passion for Jesus, display that passion differently and with different emphases. Again, passion for Jesus can look like pounding a hammer as not pounding your fists when you preach. One cannot simply look superficially upon another brother and sister in Christ and say, “You have no passion.” You may be right, but you could just as easily be wrong. We cannot demand that others display their passion the same way we do. That’s what the saying, “These guys have no passion” sometimes really means.

3.) Can someone be passionate about Jesus and not passionate about people? Or put it this way, can someone be passionate for Jesus and not have compassion for people? The final verdict on the Christian is not how “passionate” someone is, but how loving he or she is. In I Corinthians 13:4 Paul addresses “passionate” folks by saying, “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” Who gives his body up to the flames without being passionate? Isn’t that the definition of passionate? To sacrifice yourself for the good of the cause is about as passionate as you can get. Yet, if you don’t have love-or I guess you could use the word “passion” or compassion for others-you gain nothing. Nothing. Wow. You can’t be passionate for Jesus without having compassion on people.

As someone who tends to be more high on the “D” than the “I” (the former means JUST DO IT and the latter means “Influencing” people to do it) on the D.I.S.C. test, I think this is a good reminder. We cannot be passionate about reaching a goal without loving people. That may look different in different settings, but everything has to be done in love. Sometimes I don’t like that. But we can’t fight sin with more sin.

Fortunately this love mentioned in I Corinthians 13 is a personal love. It’s Jesus. He’s why we can grow in passion for God and compassion for others. He was/is/will be passionate for the Father’s glory and compassionate for us. He is why you and I have hope as His love moves us to passion and compassion.

A Masterful Message about the Master’s Winner’s Master

I have to admit that I watched all of 0 holes of The Masters this weekend. Now knowing what I know about winner Bubba Watson, I kind of wished I would have watched a hole or two. Here’s a brief article describing Bubba’s faith. It first points out that there is something different about his twitter profile.
Rather, take one look at his Twitter profile and you may figure out what’s different about Watson.

@bubbawatson: Christian. Husband. Daddy. Pro Golfer. Owner of General Lee 1.

And pay close attention to the order.

I’m not normally a fan of measuring the spiritual commitment of a Christian by his/her twitter profile or by the number of times he/she posts scriptures on facebook. It’s one’s life of repentance and faith that truly testifies to one’s Savior. And the rest of this lad’s life gives credence to the response all Christians should: graciously giving testimony to the One who saved you.
Later in the article, he “tweets” a properly prioritized life
Later that day: Most important things in my life- 1. God 2. Wife 3. Family 4. Helping others 5. Golf  
This is incredibly helpful advice for the suburban Christian who often lives his/her life as  as though God exists to make his/her family better. Going to church should make his/her family better. It should “work.”
But the reality is that following Jesus before our families means that we’ll do stuff that won’t necessarily make our families “better.” Saying no to sports that interfere with regular church involvement might will probably not make your kids better at that sport. Saying no to expected cultural events or gatherings because there are better things to do will not make your family “better” or more popular. Sometimes saying yes to Jesus will not make our families happier because when we follow Jesus we lead our families into the uncomfortable unknown. We give up things good things to follow Jesus and do better things. I know for some it has meant giving up a vacation one year to go on mission trip (not saying one should do this as I think we need vacations too). Can you see that following Jesus looks like something? Cherishing Jesus looks like something as you gladly sacrifice (Phil 3:8-9). 
Consequently prioritizing your family above Jesus also looks like something. That’s not hard to see among many suburban Christians, whose priorities don’t look too different than their neighbor’s families. I find myself following into the latter category when I forget the gospel. Regularly coming back to the gospel each day will motivate and empower you to prioritize Jesus above your family.
If God is number one, then quickly the family slips into the two slot. But Bubba is on to something here. The sacrificial husband commanded in Ephesians 5 cannot stop being sacrificial when he has kids. Kids don’t get bumped up on the priority list. It takes much intentionality to fight, protect, and even cherish your spouse, but it is paramount that you do so. Remember that your marriage is one of the best gifts you can give to your children.

The more I write this, the more bummed I get about missing Bubba’s Masters performance. But I get the sense that he’d probably be OK with me being more impacted by his message than his performance.

Gross and Graphic

I came across another thoughtful article the other day on the CNN belief blog called “My Take: Stop sugarcoating the bible.” Here’s an excerpt:
For example, look in any modern translation of Isaiah 64:6, and you’ll find that, to a holy God, even our most righteous acts are like “filthy rags.” The original language doesn’t say “filthy rags”; it says “menstrual rags.” But that sounds a little too crass, so let’s just call them filthy instead.
And let’s not talk so much about Jesus being naked on the cross, and let’s pretend Paul said that he considered his good deeds “a pile of garbage” in Philippians 3:8 rather than a pile of crap, as the Greek would more accurately be translated.
I’m glad to see someone recognize that the bible isn’t “proper.” It is so far from proper or an etiquette manual, it’s astounding. The bible has language, stories, characters, activities that are certainly not rated PG, but R. Let’s just consider the “language” part of it. 
Many people who think any use of any cuss word in any situation is always a sin often point to this passage in Ephesians 5:4, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”
But the problem with such thinking is that the bible itself doesn’t pass it’s own “filthiness” test. Unless that is, filthiness means something different than gross or graphic. God inspires writers to write in such language that is, well, something. It’s raw. It’s earthy. It’s real. It’s gross and graphic. It’s filthy in some sense, particularly when it describes sin in sexual terms (Ezekiel 23:20) or menstrual rags. (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3). 
Ultimately what happens when we ignore the graphic language of the bible, we just get a safe, proper, black and white, Christianity where everything has an easy answer. We forget the depth of sin, the ferocity of the spiritual battle, the nastiness (crap, or S%$*) of self-righteous behavior. 
Don’t be too quick to condemn someone’s language that actually closely aligns with the bible. Someone once said in bible study, “We think we are the s%*^, but we’re really not; we are really more sinful than we think.” I commended this guy’s spiritual breakthrough. I think he finally understood the gospel and simply reiterated an expression more “Pauline” than the words “rubbish” or trash” our modern translations have substituted in Phil 3:8.

You just never know someone

Jim Rome radio interviewed Charles Barkley this week and the most interesting part of the segment centered around this question: “Were you surprised to hear that your friend Tiger Woods was thinking about becoming a Navy Seal?” Tiger’s old coach explained that this was actually the case, that he considered leaving golf for the seals.  Barkley’s pithy retort landed pretty close to real wisdom: “You just never know someone Jim.” 
Barkley had been friends with Woods for about 15 years or so and had no clue. You just never no someone Jim. I mean, did you think OJ Simpson would go out and kill people?
I think OJ probably gave those near him a few clues…but that’s coming from someone who really didn’t know him.
Jim Rome responded in complete agreement, particularly when it comes to athletes. We have no idea who they really are. 
Again Barkley commented, “You just can’t get to the know someone from sound bytes and interviews.”
I wonder how true the “you just don’t know someone” principle is in our churches today. Could someone consider leaving his/her profession and become a Navy Seal, yet none of his/her friends know that it was a serious option? 
Yep.  Much of church interaction is a bit more than “sound bytes” or “interviews,” but not that much more.
Gathering together for small group ministry of some kind in homes provides a great place to “consider” such options. In order to know and be known, you have to put yourself in places where it is natural and conducive to know and be known. However, you also have to take the step of faith and bring others into your “considerations.”
While it’s true we can’t know athletes, I do have hope that small groups can help us negate the statement: you just never know someone.

But that will only be the case if we choose to offer our brothers and sisters in the faith more than just sound bytes or interviews. We need to offer our homes and respond to the offer of homes. However, when inside the homes, we need to offer ourselves. If Jesus knows me and my warts and still loves me, I can be hopeful that His people will know me and love me. But even if they don’t-and they never will know or love me 100% satisfactorily-we can still be free to know and be known.

Calling without "altar calling"

No one has asked me why I don’t do altar calls. However, my step-grandmother (for a few months) several years back, did say she wanted me to speak at her funeral and “do an altar call.” I can’t remember how I responded, and I’m not sure that she has even remembered that request. But I think that we should at least have a robust reason why we do or don’t do them.
I grew up in an evangelical P.C.U.S.A. church which has a tradition of not doing altar calls. Yet I came forward to trust Christ at a revival-although I think they called it a “renewal” we had at that church. I think it was at this time when I was truly “born again.” But uncertain of my salvation, I came forward another time at a Methodist church altar call during a youth day camp. These are the first, but not last, “altar call” moments I can remember.
I’ve also “come forward” for different times of “re-dedication” or commitment to do certain things like commit to missions. I’ve never noticed any difference in my life after these times.
Ironically-or maybe not ironically-I felt guilty for not raising my hand “to be counted” among those who made decisions at a college retreat. Yet that was the time when my life most changed.
At the Gospel Coalition, they welcome folks to ask them all kinds of questions. This altar call question came up, and here is their response. All I’ve written is from an experiential perspective, and perhaps from a pragmatic perspective-(it doesn’t seem to “work”). There are other reasons why I feel uncomfortable with doing an altar call. But these folks say it just about as well as I could myself. So check it out here.
It’s a gracious response (a lot of Christians can be jerks when they disagree), not attacking those who do altar calls, but simply why it can be good or better NOT to do them, and what we can do in their place. Certainly when we preach or teach at any level, we have to continually call people to respond to the gospel, whether it be for the first time or the thousandth. I don’t do a very good job at calling people to respond for the first time-to become as a Christians-as well as I do calling Christians to come back to the gospel. Articles like these challenge me to not just say No to the practical application (altar call), but to recognize the correct heart behind it (to call non-Christians to repent and believe). Even though I disagree with this 18th-19th century invention, I am still challenged to intentionally and deliberately call unbelievers to repentance and faith.
Here’s on of the articles practical applications from a Baptistic point of view I think is worth thinking about.
Invite people throughout your sermon to “repent and be baptized” like Peter did in Jerusalem (Acts 2:38). But when you do, don’t just stand there waiting with emotionally charged music playing, staring them down until they relent. Rather, make several suggestions about how and where to discuss the matter further.

Check the rest out here.