Why churches should have high expectations of their members

After all these years, I continue to be stuck on the answer to the question, “What kind of people are we creating?” One writer has claimed that we are getting the exact results our organizational priorities are designed to produce. By that I think he means that not much is required in our gospel for entry and for staying in the faith; therefore, we get superficial members. Superficial requirements create superficial results. In other words, with respect to the culture, the church has the penetration ability of Jell-O– we just hit the wall, go splat, run down, and melt. Also, superficiality breeds religious consumers– religion is there to save our skins, to relieve our guilt, and to call on in times of trouble. This is why people stop going to church. It isn’t challenging, it isn’t critical to life itself, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. There are many happy exceptions, but the trend continues down, down, and down some more.

Bill Hull, The Disciple-Making Church

Read like you’re going to forget it all

“Read like a reader, and not like someone cramming for a test. If you try to wring every book out like it was a washcloth full of information, all you will do is slow yourself down to a useless pace. Go for total tonnage, and read like someone who will forget most of it. You have my permission to forget most of it, which may or may not be reassuring, but you will forget most of it in either case. Most of what is shaping you in the course of your reading, you will not be able to remember. The most formative years of my life were the first five, and if those years were to be evaluated on the basis of my ability to pass a test on them, the conclusion would be that nothing important happened then, which would be false. The fact that you can’t remember things doesn’t mean that you haven’t been shaped by them. At the same time, mark everything striking that you read — you won’t remember everything you read, and you won’t even remember everything you mark. Nevertheless, it is not a sin to remember some things, or to mark them in a way to be able to find them again.”

Doug Wilson

Humor: the all-consoling (all-excusing) grace of life

Humour is for them the all-consoling and (mark this) the  all-excusing, grace of life. Hence it is invaluable as a means of destroying shame. If a man simply lets others pay for him, he is “mean”; if he boasts of it in a jocular manner and twits his fellows with having been scored off, he is no longer “mean” but a comical fellow. Mere cowardice is shameful; cowardice boasted of with humorous exaggerations and grotesque gestures can passed off as funny. Cruelty is shameful—unless the cruel man can represent it as a practical joke. A thousand bawdy, or even blasphemous, jokes do not help towards a man’s damnation so much as his discovery that almost anything he wants to do can be done, not only without the disapproval but with the admiration of his fellows, if only it can get itself treated as a Joke.

C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters

Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”

— Proverbs 26:18-19