Category Archives: Technology

The Changing Face of Christianity

Strapped for time available for posting material here, I humbly submit my first seminary paper. The prompt was “Drawing on your readings and class discussion, how is the face of Christianity changing? Describe the changes and what has contributed to those changes, and then analyze how this may affect the church as a whole.” Bear with me, as I have opted to not remove the parenthetical citations.; if you have questions about the context in the articles from which I drew my quotes, don’t hesitate to ask :)

The Changing Face of Christianity

Russell Duren

IN581: Theology of Mission & Evangelism

University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

March 3, 2008

Without a doubt, the face of Christianity is changing. Worldwide, Christians comprise a dynamic and diverse group of people. Because of this makeup, change -or the call for change, at the very least- should come as no surprise. So, although one could make the case that this state of constant transition might be called business as usual in Christianity, the possible changes themselves that lie on the horizon are quite remarkable. Global Christianity stands on the verge of deep shifts in demographics, in a revival of the missio Dei and the Gospel’s relation to the surrounding culture, and in the influence exerted on the church by technology. Though the effects of these changes remain largely unseen, no collection of circumstances in recent history holds as much promise for the Bride of Christ to respond in a unified and world-changing manner. Before exploring the church’s expanded possibilities for taking Christ to the world, an examination of the conditions setting the stage is in order. Continue reading

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dbq.edu

I’m now a student at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. I’m easing my way in, via their M.Div. Online program. I’m very happy that PC(USA) has stepped forward with utilizing technology in preparing pastors. It’s not a degree mill, trust me. This is just me taking one class per semester until the time is right to move to Dubuque and do the bulk of my coursework in residence.

The class I’m taking is “Theology of Mission and Evangelism.” Very excited. Here’s why:

This course begins a series of 3 courses on the contextual nature of the Church’s life in mission and evangelism. It seeks to rethink Mission and Evangelism, seeing them both as part of the essence of the Church and of every local congregation. Beginning with the Triune God as a missionary God this course will focus on changing paradigms of mission and its influence on how we do evangelism in today’s post-modern, post-Christendom, pluralistic society. Thus, evangelism and mission are grounded in a missiological ecclesiology. This required course is part I of the Evangelism/Mission/Contextual Theology sequence.

4 of the 6 books assigned for this class have arrived (alpha by author).

Looks like a provocative selection.

Also, this is turning out to be a really affordable semester. Tuition was $1,485, books were $100, and there were some miscellaneous fees, to total about $1,600. Two ecclesiastical entities I’m tied to kicked in $1,350; and an awesome family from my church contributed $100. So, this class only cost me about $150. What a great way to start off, especially considering I had originally budgeted to spend up to $900 out of pocket.

So… yeah… seminary. I’m excited.

Forthcoming posts:

  • New pastor
  • Snow
  • Swamped @ work

Good night!

Following the Star

We talk a lot about the “true meaning of Christmas,” don’t we? Often, I’m pretty proud that I’ve got it all figured out… but is this really reflected in my actions? Is the spiritual season of Advent really something really has any effect on my relationship with my Creator? Questions like these have been bugging me recently, and I encourage you to ask yourself as well.

I’m still no all-star when it comes to thinking and praying about what it really means that Jesus Christ came down to us. But I’ve found a resource that I’d like to share that has really helped:

followthestar

Following the Star is an online devotional guide, just for Advent. It’s updated daily, with new contemplative music and new scriptures and devotional questions to help you ponder what Advent is all about… It works based on a series of pages that lead you to pause and reflect, listen to scripture, think about your world with the help of a devotional passage, pray for God’s guidance in applying his Truth, and then go into the world just waiting for you to bring God’s love.

Try it. See if it doesn’t have an impact.

(and it continues on past Advent too, @ d365.org)

Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving vacation in Monterey has been great. Although this town is like Durango in the transient nature of its young inhabitants, I’ve been pleasantly surprised in how many people from the old days I’ve run into while here. A couple brief conversations with my closest friend Chris, and a longer hangout on the schedule for tomorrow. Great times with my brother-in-law Pat, wondering what it would be like to be Indiana Jones and halfheartedly plotting to drop off “the grid”. A pipe-smoking session with Uncle George, learning about his seminary days and hearing his stories of traveling to Brazil and moving around among parishes.

Went to church a couple times today. First, we caught a service at Shoreline, where I used to work. It’s definitely changed. They’ve built an impressive facility in an old warehouse. I’m really excited for Pastor Howie getting to see his dreams come to fruition. He started from scratch over a decade ago, and now the church has a thriving body of believers. What I admire most about Shoreline is its dedicated core of volunteers that keep at least some portion of virtually every component of the church running smoothly. They’ve got to be sold on the vision Howie’s casted. Major kudos there. Like I said before though, a lot has changed since I was there, as things do. The new facility, while impressive, didn’t quite resonate with me. The sanctuary is very spacious, and has who-knows-how-many thousands of dollars of technology, but it didn’t feel like a church. There were no Christian symbols anywhere. Really, this isn’t a rant… I’m a firm believer that you can’t make everyone happy. I just need my worship space to have some worship aids that push me towards an encounter with God. Anyway, the service was so-so for me, but I’m sure it’s great for the people it reaches. No faith community has a monopoly on how to reach and serve everyone.

This evening Anina and I went to a new house-church, Stone Harbor. It was planted by a respected colleague named Johnny Potter, and another humble Christ-follower named Tom Green. Johnny has this amazing quiet wisdom that makes him such a natural shepherd. Without any discussion, Anina and I both knew he was the one we each wanted to perform our weding (and he did). Johnny pastored at Shoreline almost from day one, but has felt called to start Stone Harbor very recently. The gathering is about 60 people that meet in the Potter home. Really cozy in there, hahaha. It was so organic and no-frills. Quite a contrast to how I felt while I experienced a Shoreline service. Fairly typical layout, with worship songs up front, followed by a brief and easy-to-take-notes-on message, then closed of with a time of singing and praying. After things ended, I was so amazed to see clusters of people spontaneously forming and praying for each other. The norm was for people to socialize for a few minutes, almost inevitably followed by a short but sincere couple minutes of praying for each other. But it was so low-pressure. Like, you know how sometimes people can be praying, and you feel odd if you’re not doing it too? Yeah, not like that at all. It was just what these believers wanted to do with each other. No pressure. Wow.

Originally this post was titled, “The Way It Should Be”. But I realized that I couldn’t use that if I really believe that nobody has the market cornered on ecclesiology. But I’ll tell you what… if I lived in Monterey, I would make my home at Stone Harbor. It was so refreshing.

A couple more days of vacation, and then back to work. More details to come…

The Wait Is Over

Wow, I’m so relieved. Our church just called a new pastor yesterday, which means I have a new boss. The Rev. Dr. William Mangrum. This guy and I get along so well together, too. It’s crazy.

Side note: In thinking about how to describe him, I almost just spouted off a bunch of labels. Emergent Village, Rob Bell fan, etc. Bad, Russell, bad!

Bill and I both love reading. He’s got a head-start on me though. One of the biggest logistical problems for bringing him here is what to do with his 15,000 books. I’m really excited to have a superior that is so well-read, and that can introduce me to new authors and titles that will challenge me in all aspects of life… personal theology, ministry practices, etc. Continue reading

Student Ministry Blog

After too much red tape (and too many HTML headaches) to get a youth ministry page posted within my church’s website, I decided to just let WordPress help out. Got the “Why didn’t I think of that before?!?” idea from a colleague of mine who also uses a blog format for his youth ministry page.

It’s here: http://1stpresdurangoyouth.wordpress.com

Head over. Check it out.

  • What could be done to make it more functional, specifically for use as a youth ministry communication tool?
  • If you’re in youth ministry and use a blog for getting info out to your students, what lessons have you learned?
  • Thinking about adding a Flickr widget for ministry photos… potential privacy issues? How did you address them?
  • Have you been able to make it foster anything near the community that the social networking sites promote?
  • What cues can a blog take from the standard youth ministry webpage?

Taptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptap

Windows Media Player allows me to bump up the playback speed of my music. LP players had this, so I don’t know why I never thought to look for it in my media software.

So… that being said…

A Fire Inside + Ctrl-Shift-G (Fast Playback Speed) = Great sermon-writing music.

(The taptaptaptaptap is my feet, btw…)