Cultivating a Corporate Culture of Thought Leadership

  07/30/15 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture



Who, exactly, staffs the church, and how is that done? you might have been careless enough to ask shortly after your MTBI.

Holly Tate is the perky little sweetheart/director of business development here. And she talks with the Bethany Jenkins who blabbermouths incessantly over here.

Over at the Vanderbloemen Search Group they have cultivated a corporate culture of thought leadership, so everyone from their CEO to their Operations Team contributes to content creation. Their team’s goal is to provide church leaders with content on best practices for staffing so that they can build great teams and see the kingdom expanded in their communities.

This may disgust some of you, it may alarm some of you, but you must understand that stringing together this many buzzwords and slogans is, for them anyway, “serious” work. (There’s that word again.) They compare it to doing organ transplants. They don’t compare it to doing the work of the ministry, but hey, times change, people get tattoos, men apologize by breaking the news of spousal infidelities, the Christian world is consuming beneficial art, religious bumpkins are exegeting popular entertainments….

The call of God has to move with the times.

If your church wants the kingdom to expand in its community, or if for some other reason your church wants to onboard a new team member with the same DNA, then you will want to remember the Vanderbloemen Group.

I myself expect to encounter the Group in my nightmares.

And please don’t forget: if you want to get some free advertising for some scam your church or business is running, please contact Bethany Jenkins over at the gospel concoction.


Embarrass Ink

  07/23/15 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture

According to at least one expert, “the Christian world has become increasingly adept at cultural awareness and engagement”, and this introduces a whole new and interesting set of problems.

In the past, if one found oneself trying to explain an embarrassing tattoo, one just told one’s friends that one was drunk at the time: “I woke up the morning after the party, went to the bathroom to wash off the vomit, and there it was! You could have knocked me over with a feather.”

Now, being culturally aware and culturally engaging, you wake up with permanent evidence of your diminished capacities and you try to turn it into a spiritual journey-story.

For instance, “I would allow this mark of Ruach to be placed on my back, behind my heart, urging me forward in my ministry as a pastor, prophet and poet”.

Well, that sure will come in handy.

Or, “I will always look for the love and sunshine in absolutely everything – because it will be found.”


And I love this one:

I've been Christian since the day I was born. I was baptized at 3 months of age and have not missed a Sunday since. Well, that's not true, but I do go avidly. A couple of years ago, I had a pretty tough year – family health problems, relationship issues, etc. You name it, it was not going well. When that year ended, I needed something to signify all that had happened.

And this one almost as much:

M[y] spiritual journey has meandered from a Pentecostal upbringing, to a "spiritual but not religious" vocational social worker, and now to a liturgically-focused progressive Episcopalian.

(I think we have a challenger for the saddest words of tongue or pen: “a liturgically-focused progressive Episcopalian”.)

Folks, don’t get tattoos. And if you ever do get a tattoo, don’t try to pass it off as a gospel tract or a life lesson or a personal testimony or some kind of mile-marker on your spiritual journey. Forget the pretentious, improvised, unpersuasive explanation.

That just makes you look like a fool pleading for validation from innocent bystanders.

Don’t do it.


Consuming Beneficial Art

  07/11/15 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture



Simultaneously, the Christian world has become increasingly adept at cultural awareness and engagement. There are, of course, incredibly strong and diverse feelings about this trend, but the motivation often seems in the right place: while maintaining orthodoxy, Christians want to create a positive, common space with a culture from which we feel more and more disconnected. And Christians also want to encourage each other to consume beneficial art.

One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry or buy a large gun.

“Increasingly adept”?!

Christians today are more adept than Bach, Dante, Herbert, Eliot, Rossetti, Rachmaninoff, Pärt, Mendelssohn, Dürer, Rembrandt, Grünewald, Bosch…?

I know Evangelicals are smug in the confidence that they can see the divine in every spittoon and spot the redeemer in every sexual fantasy, but I’d like to see someone “unpack”—as the preachers are fond of saying about their own sermons—unpack the view that we ought to “consume beneficial art”.

That’s what we need, more Christians consuming beneficial art, and more Christians telling non-Christians what is and is not beneficial.


Does anyone but an Evangelical take Evangelicalism seriously?


Unlike a Mighty Army

  07/02/15 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture

It’s been a hard month for Evangelicals. 

To begin with they were told they were dying, and they retorted by saying, “Hey, man, we’re dying slower than other religious nutjobs, so there! Thpthpthpthpthp”

It was not a moment they’ll want to share with Mom.

The culture surrounding them—which they see as their high calling to redeem—has been taking repeated and vicious blows to the septal cartilage, and this has goaded the more beloved chatterboxes to put forward a series of thought pieces which all boil down to My Advice on How to Hunker Down.

Back at the ranch, the most famous grandson of the most famous Evangelical was caught cavorting with a woman not his wife, and by way of explanation he informed the watching world that his wife had cavorted with someone not him.

Again, not a best moment; not a lot of nobility in that.

I wonder if Evangelicals will now consider that the rôle they play in the grand drama of human flourishing contains lines that are too difficult for them to deliver in any meaningful way.

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Quacks "R" Us

  06/24/15 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture

If you are a feeble-minded person, or if you know someone who is feeble-minded, or if you attend an Evangelical church, you will want to remember this URL:

And remember it is not just, it is

The Gospel Coalition is a most helpful resource for people with feeble minds.

And on this site Jeremy Pierre does an excellent job of careening through the dangerous intersection of theology, religion, entertainment, psychology, and feeble-mindedness so dear to the grand tradition of Evangelicalism. You will recall, if you’ve ever driven through this intersection, that it is completely uncontrolled, there are no speed limits, no warning signs, driver’s license and insurance are not required, and police avoid it like they avoid sensitivity training classes. It is a kind of county-maintained demolition derby.

Years ago Evangelicals avoided the theater for several reasons none of which they understood. Today they should avoid the theater because it goes right over their heads, and it excites them like candy excites children. It makes them totally unmanageable.

You would have better chances at giving a child a shopping bag full of jelly beans and getting him to bed than you would showing Pierre a Disney movie and getting him to talk sense about God, man, and emotions.

Here Pierre took the opportunity to platitudinize:

While Inside Out overstates the primacy of emotion in human motivation, the movie nevertheless helpfully forces the audience to acknowledge that emotions make up a major part of why we do what we do. For Christians, acknowledging this is vital to discipleship, which requires that we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).

And again:

 Here’s what I mean: emotions are the dynamic gauges of what we value. When we feel an emotion regarding something, we are making a statement of its value.

Read and think.


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