Update on the Wineskins.org Transformation

Wineskins1Time for an update on what is happening with long-time Restoration Movement resource Wineskins.org. For those of you who haven’t ever heard of it, Wineskins was started by a group of people that included Rubel Shelly and Steve Diggs. At that time it was called Image. Its name was changed to Wineskins and later to New Wineskins. Over the years it has been edited by Mike CopeGreg Taylor and most recently by Keith Brenton and has been one of the most significant voices in Restoration theology on the web. Keith has graciously allowed us to take the site and rework it into an updated format that we believe will continue to serve as a much needed voice within the Restoration Movement. We are appreciative of all those who have put in time, attention, heart, soul and so much more into the site over the years. We are standing on the shoulders of giants! Here is what Rubel Shelly had to say about the re-launch,

“I’m thrilled that “New Wineskins” is in such capable hands! I wish you the best in continuing to urge believers to a bold and responsible faith that is willing to take risks for the sake of the kingdom. In times this challenging, God is calling leaders with bright minds, innovative spirits, and courageous hearts to model and share the truth.”

A few months ago I was asked to take over the duties of editor and have been working with Jay Guin and Brad Palmore to do a complete revamp of the site. I have been amazingly blessed to work with these two men and have been amazed by their heart for God, abilities and insights. In order to update everyone on what is happening with the site we started a Wineskins Facebook page. If you are on Facebook I would encourage you to “Like” that page to continue getting updates on this. The support we have received has been overwhelming. In just 3 weeks over 1250 people have “liked” the page. What is more, we started a fundraising campaign to raise money to meet the future needs of the site and have already raised nearly $2000 of our $5000 goal. If you would like to contribute to this effort you can donate here. 100% of donations will go directly to the re-launch and you can get some perks with various donation amounts, explained in the donate link. These two signs of support remind us of the significant role Wineskins has played in the lives of many Christians over the years.

So what is going to be different about Wineskins? First, we have been recruiting some of the best talent out there to be featured authors, whose blogs will be hosted via Wineskins.org to help make Wineskins an amazing resource. Here are the bloggers we have on board that have been announced to this point (more on the way!)

Bobby Valentine
Sean Palmer

Jonathan Storment
Paula Harrington
Patrick Mead
Josh Graves
Matt Dabbs
Jay Guin
Brad Palmore

We will continue with monthly themed article on relevant doctrinal issues, ministry and congregational challenges, etc. This is also about forming a safe and loving community where we can discuss what is going on in Christianity, be supported by other Christians and grow in our knowledge, love and ministry. In addition to all of that we are going to continue to produce and make available some great resources for churches and Christians to use to encourage spiritual transformation. If any of this excites you please “Like” the facebook page and keep up to date with all of the latest news and updates on Wineskins!

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Use of Original Languages in Preaching and Teaching

IMG_0670It is a huge blessing to be able to study the Bible in its original languages. There are connections you can make that aren’t always as obvious in English translations. There is a temptation to take the results of studying the original languages dump it all into a class or sermon. There are a lot of reasons that is tempting. Some are harmless reasons but others are harmful. It is easy to assume that everyone finds interesting the same things we do. They may not. It is also easy to assume that digging deeper requires increased complexity. It doesn’t. An effective preacher will have discretion on which things support and clarify the point and which things are distractions that muddy the water. I appreciate the preacher who uses the result of studying the original languages sparingly but effectively. It takes a lot of wisdom to know when it is beneficial for the congregation and when it actually detracts.

In Brian Chapell’s book Christ-Centered Preaching (one of the best books on preaching I have ever read) he writes,

“Preaching should never be an excuse to display our erudition at the expense of convincing listeners that they can never really understand what Scripture says because they read only English. We are obligated to explain exegetical insights in such a way that they make the meaning of a text more obvious, not more remote.” – Christ-Centered Preaching, 124

There are two things I really like about Chapell’s statement. The first is that he uses “erudition” and “exegetical” in a statement about making things easy to understand. The second and more important point he makes is that everything that is communicated in preaching should be aimed at increasing the listeners’ understanding of Scripture. It is not about sounding clever. It is not about being funny for humor’s sake. It is making Scripture accessible, understandable, relevant and applicable.

Questions
For those of you who preach and teach, do you make use of the original languages in your study and your preaching/teaching? If so, how often do you do it and how do you determine what to include and what to leave out?

New Developments With Wineskins

As many of you have already heard New Wineskins is undergoing a major transition. There are a few things that I want to make you aware of, especially for those of you who aren’t following these developments on facebook.

Monthly Themes
The monthly themes Wineskins has been known for in the past will continue. Each month a relevant theme will be chosen and articles submitted for publication. There are a few goals with this. We hope to put some of the best minds out there lending their voice to the conversation on some of the most important topics of the day. Often, many people are asking the same question. We hope to put our finger on those things and lend a biblical voice of hope to help inform our ecclesiology, missiology, and theology. This will be a place for loving and respectful dialog on these topics as we hope that many people will read them and engage in conversation on how these things play out in various contexts.

Featured Authors
One of the biggest changes to the site is the addition of Featured Authors. We are going to be hosting some of brightest and best voices from within the Restoration Movement. There are so many great voices out there that there is no way we can accommodate all of them but we have recruited the help of some great people. A few of them have already been named: Bobby Valentine, Patrick Mead and Paula Harrington. More will be named in the near future. These bloggers will be hosted through the wineskins site. Our goal is to create a place on the web where you can go and find as much quality content as possible within the Restoration Movement. One way that is going to happen is through the combination of past New Wineskins articles/archive and the addition of all the past posts of all the Featured Authors we host along with the new content they produce.

More Features On the Way
There are more features we are going to incorporate that I will let you all in on soon. Brad Palmore is still working through a lot of this on the tech/web development side of this and the creative process continues. I will keep you all up to speed as the information becomes public. These additional features will provide some phenomenal resources for you all to tap into on the site, develop community, create a lot of quality conversation and disseminate information that is helpful to the edification and expansion of the kingdom.

Also, we are doing a book giveaway on the Wineskins Facebook page here if you comment on this post before 8pm tonight.

Financial Support
We have started to raise funds in order to pay for the initial launch and upkeep of the site. You can find out more about that and/or donate by clicking the picture below.

Wineskins

If You Could Learn Sermon Prep From Any Preacher Who Would It Be?

If you could sit down with someone to glean some information on how they develop their sermons who would you pick? Feel free to name multiple people.

Our Ministry Transition to Bakersfield, California

After spending the last seven years ministering at the Northwest Church of Christ in sunny Saint Petersburg, Florida we are going to be making a change in our ministry. We will be moving to the even sunnier Bakersfield, California at the first of the year. The church here at Northwest has been a huge blessing to us. They have loved on us, grown with us, and have partnered with us in so many different ministries and to so many different people. Northwest is a fantastic church and we will always have family here. Missy and I have talked about how we could have stayed here forever and been super comfortable and never had a worry…but that isn’t how life is always supposed to be lived. We asked God for challenge and for opportunity and he opened the door to preach at the Westside Church of Christ in Bakersfield, California.

Please keep us, Northwest and Westside in your prayers that God will use times like these for His glory. We know good things are in store for both churches and can’t wait to see all God is going to do. We have been reminded again and again of God’s faithfulness and goodness of God’s people. We are truly blessed!

Big News Regarding New Wineskins Online Magazine

WineskinsA few weeks ago Keith Brenton announced that he was no longer going to run New Wineskins. When that news came out there were a lot of people who wanted to see the work continue and some conversations started taking place, dreams were dreamed, plans were laid and something new is underway in regard to the future of New Wineskins. Jay Guin, Brad Palmore and myself have been discussing a resurrection and complete overhaul of the site (now called just “Wineskins”). The idea is to develop a comprehensive resource of Restoration Movement resources, discussions, connections, and so much more.

The specifics are all still being hashed out and the conversations have been extremely productive. What is most amazing to me in all of this is how some of the ideas that we are working on had been weighing on the hearts of various people before we knew how it was all going to fit together. I look forward to sharing more information with you all about what this is going to look like going forward but I do want to assure you that this is going to be a major blessing to many people. I am appreciative of Keith Brenton for handing us the keys. I am in awe of Brad Palmore’s ninja-like web skills. I am grateful for the heart for God that Jay Guin has in his helping to push this project forward. Last, I am appreciative that several people thought of me to be the editor of this new project.

Two things you can do at this point.

1 – Pray. Pray that God will guide our thoughts, our vision and our hearts to help create something that will have a monumental impact on our movement. Pray for Keith as he makes some transitions in his life. Pray that all that is done is pleasing to God and beneficial for Christian growth and unity.

2 – Get in the loop. Until the launch takes place, the main avenue for communication about what we are up to is the Wineskins facebook group. You can “Like” the page here. It already has nearly 500 likes in about a week. Very exciting stuff.

ACU Summit 2012 Videos Are Up on Youtube!

I am sure many of you will enjoy watching everyone from Randy Harris to Walter Brueggemann…Enjoy!

ACU Summit 2012 Video

Here is one to get you started, Mitch Wilburn’s “Children of the Living God”