Do these dots connect?

I think I see some dots but I still can’t connect them all. Here are the dots... [MORE]


Scott Hendricks said...

First to comment? Woohoo!

I think you pretty much hit the nail right on the head with these. Although, I believe that it would be a sin to neglect mentioning or preaching on those things on the retreat. We ought to preach the WHOLE counsel of God. But yes, you are mostly right about those things on the rise. The trick is to not swing to one side, but to try to keep ourselves in the middle.

James Petticrew said...

Keith I think you pretty much nailed these transitions in emphasis, I can trace them in my own thinking and ministry. Are they healthy or heretical, I think like all changes they probably are corrective to what has been understood to be unhealthy and unhelpful positions in the other direction. The danger of course is that we over correct and abandon the other positions. For me most of the alternate positions you describe are not in fact alternates but need to be held in some sort of dynamic tensions, as with so much in the Kingdom of God we need to learn to live with glorious paradox, which is never easy.
I think a large part of what you are decribing is the work of contextualization which is going in the church as we face up to the West being a mission field and the church having to make a missionary stance in relation to that culture. That must surely be a healthy, but often controversial, process for the church.

The AJ Thomas said...

It would seem to me that the core shift is toward relationships in general. Stories are more relational than abstract truth, service is more relational than confronting, listening is more relational than talking, serving community is more relational than lonely lighthouse, worship is often more relational than preaching.

I'm not sure I agree with all your shifts, I think on some of them the pendulum has already started to swing back the other way.

The key danger with to relational a ficus is that being likable (loved) becomes more important than loving. The tragic irony would be if we get so "relational" that we fail to tell people the hard truth of the Gospel and let them go to hell out of "love".

Anonymous said...

I notice the same points on the rise in my congregation and even in myself. I seek community and relationships. I enjoy a good lesson, but I'm getting to the point where I would rather dialogue or share my thoughts and feelings with a small group. I think I'll to let our church members interact more this Sunday morning. Instead of 4 songs, a special, and a sermon perhaps we'll do something where poeple can connect more intimately. Churches used to connect intimately in small groups at the altar. You might put this in your chart. The altar is on its way out. Our older members love the altar and most often they are the first ones who come forward; but our younger generations are shying away from it as if it they've been hurt by it or no longer believe in its use.

Posted by James Moore

Pete Vecchi said...

Right off the top of my head, and after skimming through the first 5 comments, the first thought that jumped into my head was "I wonder if these are dots relating more to larger rather than smaller churches." I pastor a small church. Our average morning worship attendance for January was 23. At least in this congregation, a number of the attitudes that you list as seeming to be retreating are still very strongly emphasized here. For instance:

...sin, confession, repentence and forgiveness rather than lack of connectedness and linking with the community;

...get saved rather than begin a journey;

...truth rather than relationship;

...winning the world rather than serving the world;

...preaching and teaching rather than worship and service;

...scolding the world for sin rather than scolding the church for sin.

Now, maybe my view is skewed because I am seeing these things from the perspective of a small church.

And then again, maybe the church is small because we see things from a different perspective.

Hmmmmmmmm. Interesting.

luke middleton said...

Pretty accurate observations, Dr. Drury.

Jeanine Long said...

As one from the other side of the pulpit - your dots connect to form a scary picture to me. I am fortunate to sit under the ministry of a pastor who preaches more from the left side of that page; however, I see a society that is hungry for the right side of the page because it "feels better." Holiness doctrine churches did not come from a tradition of staying in the comfort zone – perhaps that is why we are seeing our numbers on the decline, people don’t want to leave their comfort zones. I suppose the cross wasn’t too comfortable; enough justification for me to leave my zone!

Bill Barnwell said...

Some churches have overemphasized the "experiential" stuff. I think we are assuming this is the trend because it's what we keep hearing. When I first moved to my area four years ago as a single 22 year old pastor, I wanted to get involved somewhere else that had a young adult group so I could feel like a normal person. A big Nazarene church in the area had a Thursday night ministry for young adults called "The Experience" that was just starting up. When it started, I think there were 75 young adults in attendance. It emphasized, of course, experience. The setting was typical of "young adult" type services--dark, candles, very relaxed, etc. The numbers quickly began dropping off and within a couple years group stopped meeting. Part of this can be attributed to the difficulties of young adult ministry. But this same large church later tried to do a relaxed "experiential" type service for a general population. It floundered and I'm not sure of its status now. I've seen the same thing in several other churches making the same types of attempts.

And not all people my age get too wrapped up in all of this. I think there's this assumption that all of us in our 20's and 30's like all this post-modern stuff along with the candles, dark setting, etc. This doesn't mean I want a 1950's style service either. I like the traditional emphasis on sin, repentance, etc, but tailored in a way that will resonate with people today. I like a service that knows how to reach people today. This will look differently in different places. Perhaps I'm wrong, but much of the emergent stuff and most approaches to young adult ministry I've seen appeal mostly to middle/upper-middle class white people.

I'm all about throwing out all the labels and trends and just doing what works for a given congregation. This means mixing and matching the best of all worlds, but mainly finding your own identity and strategy. On a whole, your dots are probably pretty accurate, though I hope they all don't become set in stone trends. I would hate for the current trend setters to force their same trends on people 30 years from now as the 1950's crowd still tries to do today.

tricia said...

Your comments ring true!
The only thing I would add would be something along the lines of ... politically active (GOP) on the retreating side and working for social justice on the rising side. (not saying they are mutualy exclusive, but the focus and or means are different)I know that is not true for all but it does seem to be a prevalent switch.

Chris Shinn said...

First, I'm a long time lurker and a first time poster.

Second, the dot that really resonates with me is the shift from cross to resurrection. While not abandoning the death of Jesus, I feel strongly drawn to the victory of Jesus and his triumph. Matthias was chosen to replace Judas to be a witness to the resurrection specifically.

Third, I see the right-hand dots as a positive, powerful experience of the holiness message and the left-hand dots as a detached set of expressions of the same.

Just a few thoughts...
Chris Shinn

Mark said...

Historically, haven't we tended to embrace a particular idea on the retreat side to the extent that we have developed a blindness to rising side of the matter? One day someone says, "Hey wait a minute, we've talked about this for so long and ignored the other side of the issue." Suddenly the corrective (RISING) is introduced in a popular book or by a church leader and soon, every one is talking about the idea. About that time we soon swing over to the other side (RISING). Only problem is we start to develop a blindness to the other side (RETREATING). Then a Keith Drury comes along and says, "Hey, what's up with this?" Maybe this helps us to appreciate the role prophets play in the Kingdom. Either/Or? Both/And?

JustKara said...

I agree with Mark that we often assume that whatever is "rising" is better. I think this is rooted in the American assumption that all change indicates progress.

There are some elements "rising" that are not better, and some elements of the past that are too important to be lost... however, there are some emphases of the past than need discarded too. Your list may not be complete, but it represents the general flow well enough to get us thinking about it.

Mike said...

I have been in the ministry for almost 30 years. Over that time what has been trendy has changed several times. You have observed some of the issues that the pastor faces in this day and age. We must decide if we are here to produce a feel good relationship with God or produce genuine transformed lives. The Scripture definitely has words like "sin", "forgiveness", "Heaven","Hell", "Cross" and "resurrection" in it. If we are to proclaim the full Gospel of our Lord and fulfill His Great Commission we must allow His Spirit to direct us and not the latest man designed trend that is upon the horizon. We need to decide who or what is going to lead our churches.

Chad said...

The changes you are seeing are true here too, though they are gradual and are happening over maybe the last ten years so until somebody lists them like you did people hardly notice it. The most significant change for evangelicals I think is the change from an instant conversion to a journey idea of "conversion." This is why the "altar call" or tracts like the "four laws" have disappeared--because we evangelicals more and more see "conversion" as helping people on their way toward God.

Matt Guthrie said...

If you connect the dots, you only get a coherent picture when you use all the dots from both sides of the page. I echo all the comments regarding corrections, etc.

One dot that jumps out at me is the one relation to getting saved vs. beginning a journey. I'm struggling with how to keep the two sides in balance, because I feel they are both needed. But no one has gotten saved in my church in the last 6 months. Maybe it's because we use the words "faith journey" in our mission statement. I've seen a lot of people growing closer, but will we know when they cross the line? I'm not asking that question for the benefit of my annual report - how do you keep the dots balanced so that as church we are accomplishing our mission of making disciples?

Evan Nutter said...

I guess I relate to the right side. I don't think we should ever abandon the left side, however, I think things like scolding the church for sin are good things.

When the church scolds the world for being normal, all that happens is we push them away. That and we end up with egg on our face when sin comes to light within the church...Ted Haggard for instance. That's not to throw Ted under the bus, just an example of how being "holy" can come back on us.
Mainly because we act holier than thou...

If anything, I think that the right side is what calls us out of our comfort zones. No longer can we be a church that sits on the sidelines and critiques the evils of the world, but we have to be the church that serves in love those "evil sinners" around us.

No one ever said we should excuse peoples sin, we just shouldn't let their sin keep us from loving and serving them.

Love the sinner hate the sin is a myth...as I see it, the evangelical community operates under "hate the sinner because of their sin"...

Anything that moves us towards being compassionate like Christ is a positive.

I'm tired of the church allowing our passion for being right overwhelm our compassion for those least like Jesus...

Evan Nutter
Faith Wesleyan Church - Fruitland, MD

Eric Roemer said...

Maybe we are seeing the cycle in the church come back around. Maybe it is that all things we are "retreating" from are those concepts which the church has used to control and manipulate individuals and those things that we are "rising" to are finally representing a reawareness of the dignity of a humanity that is created in the image of a Good God.
I don't know if you ask why we are seeing this or not... but maybe it is because that stuff on the left side of the column doesn't work, maybe it worked sometime... but I have a hard time believing that's really true. I think that maybe that makes it sound too easy and plain of an answer but maybe everything isn't complicated. I don't think it is something that a group of people has sat down and said lets start doing this, this and this instead of all that stuff, but it just happens because we're just tired of failing. Maybe it isn't really even that much of a "how we do ministry" issue but it's "I just want more out of all this issue."

John Mark said...

The first two comments resonate with me. If you are right, and everyone responding seems to agree, generally, then to emphasize balance, maintaining that which seems to be retreating while using the rising side approach is healthy. I think that some of this reflects the tendency we have to want to speak of our religion in our own terms (#3,#7,#12), in the way teens use slang. For example, terms my parents used (Brother, Sister) became an embarrassment to Boomers. A real shift expressed by numbers 1, 2, 6, 8,10 and 16 might (I do mean might) mean we are watering down the gospel message like those liberal churches we never wanted to be like, or the big mega church down the street that won't even tell you what denomination they really belong to. Do we see the list on the left as negative and on the right as positive, or vice versa? Do you see a tendency for this to be something polarizing? And, is this, as I already suggested, a generational thing?

Tom Pryor said...

I propose a few other dots for your consideration:

Retreating: Tithing
Rising: Get out of debt so you can tithe

Retreating: Coat & Tie
Rising: Slacks & Sport shirt

Retreating: Sunday School
Rising: Home fellowship groups

Retreating: King James Version
Rising: The Message

Retreating: Adrian Rogers style
Rising: Rick Warren style

Retreating: Communion
Rising: Coffee

Retreating: Elder led churches
Rising: Staff led, elder supported

Retreating: Pastor @ every church
Rising: One pastor and lots of satellite sites with video screens

Gerry W said...


I have noticed the change, may even have done some myself. Not thrilled about all the changes for some of it is more than using different words, they have significant theological implications. But…

I believe it was you a few (?) years back that suggested the Holiness Movement was dead and we holiness groups rather than beating the dead horse we should seek to discover and involve ourselves in the new movement of God.

Might the language changes you have insightfully noted be a sign of the new thing God is doing?

Anonymous said...

My own notes on these notes---

1. Left: (Done inside a community), Right: (veichle, not the solution)
2. Left: (redemption), Right: (nothing to do with redemption, this need is met in the Church from Believers and Christ)
3. Left: (Systematic logic and appeal?), Right: (Context, Parable)
4. Left: (Truth and Grace), Right: (While truth, tends to remain CHEAP Grace)
5. Left: (Doesn't seem to be a journey of joy?) Right: (Lack of appreciation)
6. Left: (Necessary), Right: (When sins are forgiven, not necessarily MIRTHFUL)
7. Left: (Necessary, revelational) Right: (After you are born-again)
8. Left: (lived out truth?), Right: (in Church with Christ)

9. Left: (Evangelization, long term missions) Right: (Social justice, short term missions?)
10. Left: (knowledge, assurance), Right: (Pentecostalism,Entertainment, Holy Spirt)
11. Left: (Man's purity), Right: (God's purity)
12. Left:?Right:?
13. Left: (dialogue...)
14. Left: (lack of?) Right: (lack of?)
15. Left: Lovin' the people, hatin' the sin. <---Right.
16. Left: (Univ. Call to Holiness), Right: (Living in the world separated but blameless :)

Trends: Loss of identity.
Is the emerging Church really just a 're'formation of the community of the 'original' 1st cent. church?


Vaughn W. Thurston-Cox said...

Many of these resonate with me. I would probe your understanding of sin. For me I think there is a shift from sin understood as a "doing" problem (I did the wrong thing, so I need forgiveness.) to a "being" problem (I am wrong in my heart and need the redemption of Christ to be made right again.).

Keith Drury said...

I have just completed "pruning" the list of anonymous comments or multiple comments from the same person/IP.

Thanks for the great insights and expansion of the list so fast this week. It appears to me there is some confirmation here of this shift. Another approach to changes this coming week in a guest column.

luketentwo said...

I see the law retreating and without out it souls can't perfectly be converted.

Presumeably we would hope that the lost would simply realize that they are sinners, however, Paul said I had not known sin but by the law.

So, unfortunately the law has largely been forgotten and not understood how it is to be used correctly. contact me at luketentwo@mac.com if I need to be more expressive regarding my thoughts.

God bless...

Anonymous said...

How come that was? Could it be that there was no love in the law, could it be that there was no remedy in the law, could it be that the law only kills.

What law are you talking about: the one that brings life or the one that brings death? And on which side are each? And what are you advocating killing folks with the law or bringing them life with the law???

By the way, you neglected to mention that in the same way you judge, you will be judged. You judge with no mercy, there will be no mercy for you when judgment comes your way. Scary thought, isn't it!

Oh and it is always wise to ensure that it is the law of God you are upholding and not your own!

Anonymous said...

I think you are right in this assessment and I want to compliment you on it, you always do a great job drawing perspective to an issue(s).

Having said that, a lot of the comments above seem to offer a critique of this new trend, I for one just want to ask, "Why are we making this an either/or issue?"

I agree with aj thomas that the one category "relational" goes far in encompassing a lot of these shifts and I'll go further and suggest that this is hope for evangelism in the coming age.

luketentwo said...

Hey Sister, here are a couple of responses that I thought I would detail for us...

"Anonymous said...
How come that was? Could it be that there was no love in the law, could it be that there was no remedy in the law, could it be that the law only kills."

Christ came to fulfilll the law, so I would have to believe that Christ loved us soooooo much that He would die for US. LOVE, pure love.

"What law are you talking about: the one that brings life or the one that brings death?"

knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men. 2Cor 5:11

"And on which side are each?"

We are to be either HOT or COLD Rev 3. Believing what I read I would have to say choose one or the other.

"And what are you advocating killing folks with the law or bringing them life with the law???"

It is appointed unot man once to die and then the judgement Heb 9:27

"By the way, you neglected to mention that in the same way you judge, you will be judged. You judge with no mercy, there will be no mercy for you when judgment comes your way. Scary thought, isn't it!"

It isn't very scary really, just the reality that we need to fear the living God! In regards to Judgment lets look at JN 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Oh also lets see What Mathew had to say, Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. Mt 7:5 Beautiful really. John the Baptist was judging, so were all the propets, Jesus Judged, and with discernment in all situations we all need to judge whether or not it is in God's will for us do do the things we do. Good points though sister, good points

"Oh and it is always wise to ensure that it is the law of God you are upholding and not your own!

Well said!"

Anonymous said...

Luke, you are an interesting character. Do you intend to blog on your page?

Anonymous said...

Forgive this one anal point... the prophets, John, etc. were not judging! God established the law, the law then judged the people (judged them wicked or righteous) and then God executed the applicable sentence. Those folks were just God's mouth-pieces!

Bumble said...

Sorry I am late (as usual)

Both columns are like both angles to look at the same coin (yes, some angle were completely unbiblical as someone pointed out).

The shift from one angle to another was caused by the shift in cultures (namely the modern/postmodern mindset in an affluence society).

Regardless in how we shift the angles, the coin remains the same. But some angles may lead us into an incorrect perception of what the true coin would be like (ie. it's not a line).

Anonymous said...

The change is not the result of cultural shifts...there is nothing new under the sun! The change is the result of new mechanisms through which folks can satisfy their unGodly lusts.

When holiness is truly understood from a full textual standpoint and not preached as a doctrine/distinctive or presented as conformance to a list of dos/don't, you will see the results you desire! Then you will have "real" revival that changes everything and not just trumped up emotional services that last until the medicine wears off!

Anonymous said...

Oh and by the way, look at the book just before Joel (I forgot the name!), it says that the prophets speak the word of God among other things.

Ok prophets in the pulpits, where's the Word of God. Forget Freud, Dobson, humanism, worldly wisdom and do your jobs for once!