January 20, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 6.26.10

Yawn. Kind of a slow week here at the iRanch. Methinks many of you took the week to vacate. And it looks like you picked up  a few souvenirs along the way. Salt and pepper shakers. Tacky t-shirts. Toothpick holders. Saltwater taffy. So as a way to welcome you back to civilization, we present your souvenir Saturday Ramblings.

Apparently, if you are a healthy church in the United States today, you are either a multi-site church or you are planning to go in that direction. If you are one of those old-fashioned “one site” churches, you must not be healthy. So, is your church healthy or dying? Or do you agree with this diagnosis in the first place?

In contrast to the multi-site church is the multi-ethnicity church. Mark DeYmaz is the pastor of Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas and shares his thoughts about serving a variety of ethnic backgrounds in one church in this interview at Out Of Ur.

In the meantime, pastors in Buenos Aires believe their city should have only one church. What is the difference, do you think, between the churches of North and South America?

According to a recent poll, 40% of evangelical leaders admit to drinking alcohol. Do you care if your pastor drinks? Do you care what kind of alcohol your pastor drinks? (I remember the first time I met Pete Grieg, founder of the 24/7 prayer movement. “What is your favorite beer, mate?” he asked. “Pete, you’re asking that right in front of my pastor!” I said. “Oh, sorry, mate.” He looked at my pastor. “I guess I should have asked you first, Roger, what your favorite beer is…”) And if it’s not Guinness, is there really a reason to drink a beer?

The new British prime minister, David Cameron, apologized this week for the 1972 atrocity known as Bloody Sunday in which 14 Irish protestors were killed by British troops in Derry, Ireland. U2’s Bono offers this assessment of the apology. Would love to hear from our family members in Ireland and Great Britain regarding your thoughts on this.

If you only read one thing from this week’s Ramblings, read this from Roger Ebert: My Vocation As A Priest. What happened to his faith? Is this more common among Catholics than Protestants? Or is the fact that we—Catholics and Protestants—do not truly understand the Gospel and thus do not proclaim it fully the cause of so many falling away?  A brilliant and haunting piece.

In-N-Out Burgers coming to Dallas! Road trip! (If you are not familiar with In-N-Out Burgers, they are freshly made to order burgers with no peer. When you order fries, they take a potato and peel it, slice it, and fry it then. In-N-Out burgers, fries and shakes will most definitely be on the banquet table in Heaven. Make mine animal style, please…)

Birthdays this week were celebrated by Lou Gehrig; Ann Wilson of Heart; Paula Abdul; the Tazmanian Devil (one of  my favorite cartoon figures of all time); Chet Atkins; Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys—perhaps the greatest composer of this generation; Butch “Eddie Munster” Patrick; Michael Landon, Jr.; Ray Davies of The Kinks; June Carter-Cash; Mick Fleetwood; George Orwell; Carly Simon; and a very special tip o’ the b-day cap to my son, Mark David Dunn, who turns 17 tomorrow, June 27.

With so many musicians’ birthdays this past week, I thought we would end this week’s Ramblings with a take-off of perhaps the worst song of all time. This version should go straight to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. Enjoy.


  1. Kenny Johnson says

    My pastor drinks beer and smokes cigars. I’ve even been invited out to do both with him. 🙂

    • Isaac Rehberg (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

      I’m not sure if our rector drinks. But I’d have no problem inviting him to doff a few Cold Ones after Vespers.

  2. Guinness and Tim Hawkins…. a marvelous and dangerous combination!

  3. Steve Newell says

    I guess I don’t go to a “healthy” church. It’s a smaller church with about 200 in worship on average. The pastor’s sermon’s on Law and Gospel. We receive the gifts of Christ through hearing the Word and receiving the sacraments. We meet for bible studies at Church and in our homes where it is centered around God’s word. We are always welcoming new members and visitors but we expect them to understand that we believe, teach and confess if they wish to join.

    I may not be a member of a “healthy” church, but I am a member of a “faithful” church. One that is faithful to the historic Christian faith and its creeds and confessions.

    • Isaac Rehberg (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

      Yeah, my church (ACNA Anglican) has a membership of about 300 and an ASA of about 200. Which actually represents significant growth from a year ago. Frankly, I think it’s a great size, especially for our limited facilities. Perhaps the biggest health problem we have is that the vast majority of members are Builder Generation seniors, indicating that we haven’t been effective in reaching younger folk. That said, the numbers of Boomers, Busters, and Bridgers are on the rise, suggesting that we’re in a transition period. I.e. getting healthier.

      Rather than go to multi-site, I know the rector wants to see our church actually do church planting. He once told me that he’d like to see the parish plant a church in each of the surrounding cities. This is in line with what the Archbishop of ACNA has called for: 1000 churches planted in the next 5 years. Yeah, many of those will be small. But after experiencing some megachurchdom, I think that’s a good thing.

      • Kenny Johnson says

        Our pastor is big into church planting. We’re a small (100-150?) and young (6 years old) church, but have already planted 2 churches and plan on another soon. We’re part of the Evangelical Covenant denomination — and they’re big into church planting.

        We currently have an associate pastor “on loan” to us so that he can be trained to plant a future church. When I say, “on loan”, I mean it. His salary is actually being paid by another church who is not even in our denomination. But they believe in what we’re doing.

        I guess that makes us a healthy church?

    • Cynthia Jones says

      Where I grew up, that’s a HUGE church! 🙂

  4. That was an excellent piece by Roger Ebert, Jeff. Thanks for that link.

    At one time one of mybrothers thought he may become a priest, but that lasted only until he was a teenager. I used to “play priest” and would use those Necco candy wafers as the Host and put it on my friends’ and little sister’s tongue!

    • Did you do the “wearing a teatowel as vestment” bit as well? I used to play priest too with my sister and brothers.

      Even if there is no women’s ordination in Catholicism 😉

      • Hi Martha. I can’t remember if I wore something as a vestment or not. Do you have Necco wafers in Ireland?
        Goodness, I didn’t know the wafers came in so many flavors. I haven’t had them for years.

        Off topic….sorry….

        • Cracker Barrel sells Neccos, Joanie…in case you need to grab some on your way to church tomorrow. Just in case…

        • Feeling culturally deprived now, but no, we don’t have Necco wafers :- (

          Lord, it’s been so long since I did the whole pretending to be a priest bit, I can’t even remember what we used to emulate the Host – probably bits of bread.

          I do remember the “drape a teatowel around my shoulders as a pretend chasuble and read out of the prayer book” parts, though. Yeah, probably piling up the years in Purgatory there for simulating a sacrament 😉

          • Hey, Martha, now that I know how many flavors the Necco wafers come in, if I was now to be on the receiving end of “playing priest,” when the priest approached me, I will say, “I will have a cinnamon one, please, Father.” 🙂

            WAY off topic…what would be a favorite store-bought candy in Ireland? When we go to Canada, I like to check out the chocolate bars there because they have things we don’t have here. And when we go to the Highland Games (Scottish games) in New Hampshire, there is a British couple who sell a large assortment of cookies, candy and the like from England and we get to buy interesting things from there.

    • My brother always gave me the role of “congregation”. Grumble.

  5. Isaac Rehberg (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

    It seems the multi-site concept is church planting for pastors who are afraid to raise up and train other pastors. It seems kinda cowardly to me. Rather than empowering someone else to carry on the new ministry, you keep it all under the same leader. No risk of losing people, no risk of losing money.

    And no provision for losing that leader.

  6. Multi-site churches (like Mars Hill in Seattle) have issues because the “star” pastor is not at all the services. So he either goes around to each, in which case the followers are following him around and not showing up when he is not there, or they show the main campus on video screen at the outlying churches. I have been in this situation and it is the most sterile, lifeless thing you can imagine to watch a guy preaching on screen. Might as well stay home and watch TV.

    • Instant Church:

      1. Get a group of friends.
      2. Go to your local Starbucks and order a Venti whatever-is-brewing.
      3. Start up your laptop or iPhone and play a couple worship videos.
      4. Watch or listen to a podcast sermon of your choice.

      Voila! You’ve got church!

      Then go out to a sports bar for beer and cigars.

      It’s fun to be a Christian.

  7. You asked, I answer – my own personal opinions, though, not to be taken as the mind of the Plain People of Ireland.

    (1) “Do you care if your pastor drinks? Do you care what kind of alcohol your pastor drinks?”

    Coming out of the rural Irish traditon that you brought out the good whiskey when the priest visited, is this a serious question? 😉

    (2) Bloody Sunday. Ah, God. The day the Civil Rights Movement went crashing down in flames and the day that drove more young men into the IRA (which up to that point was dying on its feet and had become a remnant of old men who were hard-liners and young men who were Marxist-Leninist ideologues in line with what was happening on the Continent) than anything imaginable. Down here in the South, the British Embassy in Dublin was burned down on the day of the funerals. That tells you the depth of feeling:


    The general feeling in Ireland is “At last the Brits are telling the truth.” What the general feeling in Britain is, I couldn’t tell you. I think there are still probably some who feel that the marchers were IRA, that they got what they deserved, and that the Army did no wrong.

    It also taught me the difference between civil and martial law. The Army had declared martial law, which means there are no such thing as “innocent bystanders.” You’re passing by on your way home and get shot by a soldier firing on rioters? Doesn’t matter. You’re guilty by association and there’s no redress.

    The Peace Process has been long and difficult, and it involves real sacrifice. Which means both sides – Nationalists and Unionists – deciding deliberately to forgive real offences, such as men who were in the terrorist forces on both sides being released from prison early. The best example of Christian forgiveness is Gordon Wilson, who lost his daughter in the Enniskillen Remembrance Day bombing to an IRA bomb:


    (3) Roger Ebert? A good example of why pre-Vatican II Catholicism wasn’t all a bed of roses like Traditionalists dream. Many young men and women had no vocation yet were pushed into religious life by parental ambition. And as for losing his faith, it’s like the parable of the sower: “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.” Faith is a gift, and some people (by the providence of God) are given it, and some are not.

    • Thank you, Martha. You are always insightful! I may be in Suffolk to speak at a prayer camp in August. I’ll get the pilot to wave his wings on the way over the Emerald Isle…

  8. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    I’m from California, In-n-Out Burger’s place of origin. Probably the best burger chain in existence; try some of their specials and hit the grapevine and internet for those specials not officially on the menu.

    In-n-Out also has a great reputation for paying and treating their employees well — where else can you get fringe benefits like medical insurance working for a burger joint?

    • And, best of all, they have Bible verses printed microscopically on their cups – talk about stealth marketing! 🙂 There was an In-n-Out in the plaza where I worked, my one year spent out west…so many dollars spent. So many pounds gained. Animal-style Double-Doubles and strawberry lemonade (or a good microbrew, if the pastor’s over) would be a perfect start to an iMonk discussion.

  9. Re the Bloody Sunday thing:

    It’s great to see. Finally some healing after wounds from a long time ago. Seems to have opened the door to further reconciliation as the Queen will visit the Republic of Ireland for the first time ever. Great to see 🙂

    • Ah, the Queen.

      Well, I’ll be very polite when the woman arrives.

      Though y’know, in my family, Queen Victoria was familiarly referred to as “that oul rip” 🙂

      (Nevermind that in Irish folk history she’s generally referred to as the Famine Queen).

  10. If enumeration is evidence of a healthy church, the one I belong to is healthiest. Indeed, I am a member of the Catholic (i.e., universal) Church.

  11. This is a bit off topic but I felt like I had to post it somewhere.

    Tonight I walked into the huge Barnes and Nobles right in the center of the Hollywood/Beverly Hills area (at the Farmers’ Market/The Grove) and the very first thing I saw was Mike’s book. It was at the center of the New Release bookcase which was right inside the front door. So I had it buy it.

    But this struck me in this good way. Here in the Mecca of media, Mike’s book has found a place center stage.

  12. Jonathan Blake says

    The piece on church unity in Buenos Aires was great. That has been my dream to unite churches in the common mission and fellowship of the church in whatever city or region I find myself one day as a missionary. The gross lack of unity in America pains me and I don’t want that to be the case wherever I take the Gospel one day. It’s good to see it actually fleshed out. It’s given me much to meditate and pray about.
    Grace and Peace

  13. reg multisite churches: I guess I don’t get it: why not “take Jesus to the people” by church planting instead of a “branch” location from one large site ?? Granted, you’ll need leadership in the new location, but I’m not seeing the plus side to multisite vs. new local church.

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