Church planting

Exploring a new church plant in Cincinnati...

Outwardly, there was nothing special about church this Sunday. Yet it filled me with joy. Planned by David Abu-Sara and led by David Pryor, it was a beautiful service. How thankful to God I am for His allowing me serve as pastor of Clearnote Church, Indy. In one sense, Sunday made me sad to think about leaving Indianapolis. Who would want to leave behind the sweet fellowship of a fruitful church? Yet talking to my wife Heidi Sunday afternoon, I told her I was more excited than ever to leave. The church has been established and is growing. Faithful men have been ordained and installed as elders. There is a sweet spirit of love and faith and repentance. Our work here is gradually coming to an end.

The thought of leaving was a bit of a shock last year when it first came to me. But as I began to discuss it with others and sought their counsel, it became more and more clear that God is calling us to plant another church. I've asked Clearnote Indy to prepare to send me out in early 2015, hopefully to Cincinnati, OH...


Smokey Bear gets a makeover...

Jake passes on a news piece announcing that Smokey Bear is being updated to make him more appealing to this generation. The article is helpful because it leads us to understand why pastors now preach and write haltingly, suggestively, and wonderingly rather than authoritatively and soberly, proclaiming the Gospel of God's Law, Judgment, and the penal substitutionary Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.

(The new ads) give Smokey’s role and persona a makeover. ...Smokey is changing from a teacher or authority figure into a paragon of positive reinforcement...


The work of church officers is essentially conservative...

At Clearnote Church, Bloomington, we're slowly moving through 1Corinthians and this past Lord's Day our sermon text was the Words of Institution of the Holy Supper of our Lord which begin:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you... - 1Corinthians 11:23a

Put these words alongside several other passages of Scripture and we see that pastors and elders are conservation officers. Jesus commanded the Apostles:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you... - Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus is not calling the Apostles to be known for their hipster eyeglass frames. They're not to market themselves by packaging Christian truth so it looks creative or youthful. Christianity is not a giggling excitement over fashion and God hasn't called pastors and elders to do flourishes and embellishments on the Jesus narrative that connect with our neighbor's spirituality pilgrimage.

The Apostles were commanded by their Master to make disciples, passing on to those disciples everything He had commanded them. They were to work hard to assure the conservation of their Lord's doctrines and commands for unborn generations.

But there are always sinful men dumping their heterodoxical toxic waste on the Church; those slashing and burning Her precious truths in an effort to make their ministry pleasing to unbelievers; those who think being conservative in Christian doctrine is to show an embarrassing absence of hope and creativity...


Selling rebellion to church planters...

Apple "Think Different" logoI just got a special invitation to hang out a Google+ Hangout with another church planter named Vince Antonucci. The same email was also pushing a book that Vince just wrote:

Vince has started two churches, most recently Verve in Las Vegas.  He just released his third book, Renegade: Your Faith Isn’t Meant to be Safe, which challenges you to live radically. to live the life of a renegade - a person who rejects conventional behavior, who refuses to do what others are doing, and who realizes there’s a different beat they can dance to—and it’s better.

What is going on here? I'll never forget watching "Merchants of Cool," the PBS special on how marketers try to make you feel unique and special by...


Serious money bets on church startups...

GigaOM reports from SXSW 2013:

"...if you want to snare some money from at least one venture capitalist you might want to keep human vices — like lust, gluttony and greed — in mind.

"At a SXSW Interactive panel Friday ...Mayfield Fund managing director Tim Chang said:

The way I evaluate a lot of companies now is I look at the design framework. I look at the design framework of the seven deadly sins. If an app or service does not tap into one or more of the seven deadly sins, either directly or indirectly, it will not be addicting…I always look along those dimensions.. and see what do those trigger."

Maybe he's on to something? The PCA's RUF has gotten some big capitalist to venture a bunch of his millions for one church startup in each of the Big Ten Conference cities. The startup capital is around $750K per church and these startups market themselves to students and academics. I think Tim Chang would approve; in the Big Ten, you don't need to settle for only one or two of the seven deadlies...


Young, restless, and Reformed...

Reading Acts 17 yesterday, verse 21 hit me. Luke provides this parenthetical aside as a summary of the sitz im leben (most of us just say "context") of the Apostle Paul's sermon to the Athenians of the Areopagus:

(Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)

What a perfect description of the college towns where Mary Lee and I have made our homes—Boulder, Madison, and Bloomington. Matter of fact, a giggling excitement over fashion is the defining trait of the academy and its environs as Chesterton pointed out a century ago.

But thinking more, I realized this giggling excitement over fashion is also characteristic of major portions of the young, restless, and Reformed crowd...


Charles, Andy, and millions yet unreached...

But flee from these things, you man of God... - 1Timothy 6:11a

Over and over I warn my sheep to run from the Mad Men of Christian marketing and the Bible peddlers they promote. Don't let them scratch your ears. If godliness is a means of profit, we're in the wrong religion. Rome and Apple do it much better.

Of all these men, few can compete with the tag-team of Charles and Andy Stanley. Charles has the pensioner crowd covered while Andy goes for the boomers and their children. Together they're so successful that church planters everywhere breathe the name "Andy Stanley" with the sort of reverence WWF men show when they snarl "Mark Driscoll."

Andy Stanley gives this summary of his entrepreneurial church planting skills:

I tell my staff everything has a season. One day we're not going to be the coolest church. Nothing is forever.


Down in her heart...

How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O Lord, they walk in the light of Your countenance. - Psalm 89:15

Men are made for happiness, and anyone who is completely happy has a right to say to himself, "I am doing God's will on earth." All the righteous, all the saints, all the holy martyrs were happy. - The Brothers Karamazov, Book II, Ch. 4

A friend sent me this music video from the band Page CXVI today, commenting "postmodern, hipster, tortured irony at its most ridiculous." Describing it this way showed great restraint. I showed it to my wife and another friend who both were convinced the video is a parody of Red Mountain Music or Bifrost Arts, but so far as I can tell, Ms. Al-Attas is offering her "Joy" in earnest. 

It shames me to admit it, but this stuff reminds me of my own dismal outlook when, ministered to by a reformed church, I was first coming back to the Lord...


An economist's advice on choosing a Church...

A couple months back, Six Rules for Dining ran in Atlantic Monthly. The article was written by economist Tyler Cowen and had some tips on how to choose where to eat. The article was insightful, but what I found more interesting...


My sin their door...

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
  Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
  A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
    When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
          For I have more.
  
- John Donne, "Hymn to God the Father," stanza II.

(NOTE: I hope church officers, Titus 2 women, fathers, and mothers read this.)

Back in the fifties when Dad was eastern regional director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and edited "His," we lived in Philly and Dad led a men's Bible study at Tenth Presbyterian. Years later he told me that one day he'd asked the twelve men who attended how many of them had been sexually molested as boys? Six of them indicated they had and for several it was a man in church leadership (two their church choir director). This was back in the fifties. Since then pornography and sexual perversion have exploded across the Western world.

Brother and sister in Christ, you need to protect your precious children!

The Clearnote churches in Bloomington and Indianapolis have a three-year men's curriculum...


Looking for a church in Toledo, Bloomington, or Indianapolis?

Looking for a church home in Toledo, Bloomington, or Indianapolis? We'll put up a post about Christ the Word soon, but much of what is said here about Clearnote Church Indianapolis and Clearnote Church, Bloomington is characteristic of Christ the Word, Toledo, also.

CNBHomePageIt's hard to move and have to find a new church home. All of us have done it and those of us a part of Clearnote Fellowship want to make your work a little easier by telling you why we love our Clearnote churches in Bloomington and Indianapolis. So read on and spend a little time learning about the work God is doing within Clearnote Fellowship.

First, a few words about our doctrine and denominational roots. If this stuff isn't your brand of coffee, click through and start reading about our ministries.

ClearnoteFellowshipDoctrinal and denominational roots...

The roots of Clearnote Fellowship are deep into the Presbyterian Church in America: I've served as a teaching elder of the PCA in Wisconsin and Indiana for almost twenty years; six of Clearnote Church, Bloomington's elders have been members of PCA churches; son Joseph Bayly who pastors Clearnote Church, Indianapolis was a part of the PCA's campus ministry (RUF) and attended a PCA congregation while studying at Vanderbilt; we have referred many families moving away from Clearnote Church, Bloomington to PCA congregations across the country; and several sons of our church now serve as PCA pastors.

This to say the people of Clearnote Fellowship have decades of experience as members and officers of the PCA, so those of you moving and looking for a PCA church in Bloomington or a PCA church in Indianapolis will find the congregations of Clearnote Fellowship to be spiritual homes where you and your children will thrive. Come and visit our Bloomington or Indianapolis congregations...


How David and Terri Wegener have blessed us...

Pastor David Wegener and his wife Terri have been a great gift to the ministry of Clearnote Church, Bloomington while on home assignment under the Presbyterian Church in America's Mission to the World this past year. Terri has taught women's Bible studes and David has attended session meetings, taught in Clearnote Pastors College, sat on the Pastors Council of Clearnote Fellowship, and preached. So watching them prepare to return to Ndola, Zambia, I've been thinking about when David and I first met at a presbytery meeting of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

David and I served as teaching elders in the same PCA presbytery for almost twenty years, now. Time has flown. God is good.

The rest of this page is a discussion of whether or not Reformed credo and paedobaptists should ever acknowledge one another's existence or worship together.

Meanwhile, I've taken the former text of this post, updated it, and posted it under the title, Looking for a church in Bloomington or Indianapolis?

(TB)


Klout...

With the senior year men of Clearnote and Reformed Evangelical Pastors Colleges this morning, we were discussing Iain Murray's Evangelicalism Divided.

This is one of the most important books for any officer of Christ's Church to read today. In it Murray exhaustively documents the history of the herding instincts of men like John Stott and Jim Packer who chose to acknowledge as "Christians" and to make common cause with fellow British Anglican churchmen who denied the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Birth, and the substitutionary Atonement (for instance). Then Murray exhaustively documents the rotten fruit of their terrible compromises.

We discussed why Martyn Lloyd-Jones refused to go along with such betrayal of the Church, warning against it when men like Stott and Packer were such promoters? One student said he thought Stott and Packer wanted to protect their clout whereas Lloyd-Jones was willing to lose his.

Which took me back to the Wired piece on Klout I read last night. It's a web business that rates men on the basis of how many they influence or lead--hence the name "Klout." The author, Seth Stevenson, starts out by reporting that the perfect Klout score is 100. Justin Bieber's Klout is 100 and President Obama's 91. Influence and leadership, you know.

Officers of Christ's Church are constantly choosing whether to keep or lose their Klout...


Amazon and pastoral care...

There are two views of the pastoral ministry that are diametrically opposed to each other and locked in conflict. The competing views, though, aren't spoken of or written about, and the conflict passes without public notice. Jeff Bezos highlights the conflict in this explanation he gave of Amazon's view of customer relations:

Interviewer: Two years ago, you bought Zappos. Was that an attempt to absorb their so-called culture of happiness and customer service?

Bezos: No, no, no. We like their unique culture, but we don't want that culture at Amazon. We like our culture, too. Our version of a perfect customer experience is one in which our customer doesn't want to talk to us. Every time a customer contacts us, we see it as a defect. I've been saying for many, many years, people should talk to their friends, not their merchants. And so we use all of our customer service information to find the root cause of any customer contact. What went wrong? Why did that person have to call? ...How can we fix it?

That, good reader, is the view of pastoral ministry prevailing in our Reformed churches today. I say this from long and close observation. Most Reformed men run from intimacy...


When to say goodbye...

Good advice for church staff and officers. Fire unbelievers. ;-> (TB)


Go for the men and the women will follow...

So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men (aner) of Athens...” - Acts 17:22a

Dad gave me a couple pithy exhortations my first year in the pastorate. They weren't original but they carried the weight of his authority and I've passed them on to other pastors. Here are four of them: "Don't use Pardeeville as a stepping stone." "A home-visiting pastor makes a church-going people." "Preach it down; then preach it back up, again." And, "Go for the men and the women will follow."

That last one was deleted from an article on men's ministry I did for Christianity Today's journal, Leadership, back in 1989. Shortly after buying the piece, Leadership's editor left for Focus on the Family. The new editor didn't like the article, so he cut more than half the text and ran it without sending it back to me for approval. Readers won't be surprised Dad's advice "go for the men" didn't make the cut.

Jesus calls twelve men as His Disciples and we're not supposed to notice? Poor Christianity Today. Poor readership. Poor leadership.

I think of Dad's advice all the time. Parachurch organizations and church planters each have their own marketing strategies. Here are a few...


I wanna talk about me, wanna talk about I, wanna talk about Number One...

Listen to the first minute or two and it's so clear what this video and at least two of these men are about. You'd have to be highly educated to miss it. Then the last minute or two, it surfaces again. As that patriarch of all things Evangelical, the late Vernon Grounds, said some years back, Evangelicals worship "the bitch goddess of success." Followers of Jesus Christ should have nothing to do with multi-site video venues.

And by the way, Mark Dever pulled in his horns after being whupped by the two alpha-males going two-on-one on him with fangs bared. Try to imagine the good doctor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, agreeing to be part of this exchange. I apologize for posting it, but some things have to be seen if they're going to be properly condemned. (TB, w/thanks)

Multiple Sites: Yea or Nay? Dever, Driscoll, and MacDonald Vote from Ben Peays on Vimeo.


2011 ClearNote Conference Audio is Available

If you missed the 2011 ClearNote Summer Conference this past weekend, you missed something special. You can still listen to the sermon recordings, though: just click here.


So this hip-hop star walks into our art gallery and he's like...

Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse. (Malachi 4:5, 6)

(NOTE: helpful obscenities ahead) Almost always, an absent father, father-hunger, and hatred define The New Yorker profiles of the purveyors of our Godless culture. Here we have a profile of the hip-hop group, Odd Future, and its best rapper, Thebe Neruda Kgositsile (alias Earl Sweatshirt) who at the time of the song's release was sixteen years old. From The New Yorker's profile, "Earl Sweatshirt begins one track by sneaking some autobiography into...


Standing in the gap; assassination of bin Laden...

Two posts from my son, Joseph Bayly, worth reading--the first on standing in the gap and the second on the assasination of Osama bin Laden.

Joseph and David Abu-Sara are leading a church plant in Indianapolis called ClearNote Church of Indianapolis. Listen to some of the sermons, here; I commend their ministry to you and your Indy friends and relatives.

(TB)