The time has come, at last, tell some of the story, and then very soon to launch the new church-equipping initiative that I’ve been building toward for months, or maybe for most of a lifetime. It’s called Heat to Light: Leading Your Church Through Cultural Heat to Spiritual Transformation. (With just one more meeting coming up, to see if we’re going to tweak that title somewhat.)
I’m approaching age 65. Many would be thinking retirement now, including mental retirement, where there’s just not that much left they want to learn. I trust that’s not you if you’re at that same stage. I know I can’t relax that way myself.
God has put too much love in my heart for his church, at a time when the Western church has never been more vulnerable. He’s given me a special love for pastors in particular. I think of pastors I’ve spent time with, and I wonder (sometimes I’ve asked them, too), “Did you know when you started seminary, that soon you’d be navigating your church through progressive Christianity, critical race theory, and crises of conscience being forced on your parishioners over sex and gender?”
This stuff’s hot and, it’s hard! In fact there’s nothing the church has faced in many generations to match the complexity of critical theory. With the right equipping ideas, though, you can learn to head off problems and to answers questions. You’ll see your church keep on growing toward transformation in Christ.
An Initiative Born of Love
I say God has given me a love for pastors. This isn’t some generic thing, it’s very personal. There’s nothing I enjoy more than buying lunch for a pastor, asking him to tell me his story, and just listening. Every time I do that I’m both encouraged and amazed at how God works in and through the men who lead his church. Every time, too, I feel their pain over having too much to do, too many hurting people to care for, maybe even too many meetings.
I spoke to a pastors’ gathering not long ago, and told them the story of a conversation I’d had with the pastor of my own church. We were talking Christian apologetics, which is a specialty of mine. But I told him I didn’t want to begin to imply that I knew more than he did. His answer surprised me: “You probably do.”
“Did you know when you started seminary, that soon you’d be navigating your church through progressive Christianity, critical race theory, and crises of conscience being forced on your parishioners over sex and gender?”
Of course I asked him to explain, and he said, “Tom, I just don’t have time to study.” At the pastors’ gathering I asked the men there if they were having the same experience. Their heads nodded so emphatically I thought I felt a breeze blowing my way.
Some of us do have more time to study. We don’t work every day in such a broad range of ministry, just a portion of it, but it’s a portion in which we can pitch in help pastors keep up the pace of learning they need. I’m talking about practical help;not another book, but web resources that will truly organize the information you need, and present it in a form you can use.
Why It’s Taken So Long
I’ve really been eager to dive into this project. God has gifted me across forty-plus years of ministry with the ability to take complex subjects and make them both manageable and understandable. So I’ve had this on my heart for months. I thought I’d be starting it early this year. I thought it would be begin during the spring. Then the summer. It kept getting blocked, though. I just couldn’t get to it. There were other major projects at The Stream. There was my father’s slow illness that began in March, and ended with his passing away in May. I’ve had my own health issues, too: back problems that have messed with one leg, and may still need surgery this year.
It hasn’t all been bad, I assure you. Our first grandchild was born the last day of 2020, and my wife, Sara, and I have made time to be with him, as well as with other family. So some it’s been plain old-fashioned fun. Still the project kept getting blocked, and I kept getting frustrated.
Enter The Stream: The Delay Finally Makes Sense
But then something happened that made the delays finally make sense.
I work as senior editor with The Stream a major national Christian website offering a Christian perspective on current events. One day not long ago our publisher, James Robison, mentioned how much he wanted us to be able to do more on the site for pastors in particular. That’s when it finally made sense: two streams coming together, one of them my long-lasting desires to help pastors and churches, and the other one literally called The Stream.
Our team met to think and pray through ways we could accomplish this, based on The Stream’s resources, and on the desires and plans of my own heart. Now it’s to be a joint project, with articles and sermons published both here and at The Stream. It’s turned this from an evening and weekend project for me, into a complete cooperative effort. And still built on our common love for pastors, and our desire to equip you for this challenging age.
What You Can Expect from Heat to Light
So what can you expect when this all rolls out? Here’s a short preview. I think you’ll especially like the third and fourth part of it.
- A comprehensive guide to critical race theory on just one page, with supporting links to key questions and answers, organized so you can see what it’s all about from a clear Christian perspective.
- A steady stream of short, one-page explainer articles coming out one every two to three weeks, on everything from “wokeness” to the homosexuality challenge to science and faith and more.
- Getting really practical: Sample sermon outlines, and a recorded sample sermon, on each of these topics as they come out.
- Even more practical: Answers you can give in counseling or even in the church lobby or atrium, when someone asks you for guidance or your opinion on any of these topics.
Sound good? Wait till you see it! Right now we’re building the first two to three weeks’ worth of articles, to be sure we’re good to go before we start publishing them. Stay connected here and I’ll keep you informed.
Image Credit(s): piqsels.