It was with great fear and trepidation that I boxed up all my books in December, as my wife and I prepared to move roughly forty five minutes to the south of our then current location. While I will not bore you with all the details, we had found out that we would have to move suddenly, and then we lost more precious time struggling to find a suitable apartment just a few weeks before Christmas. What added to my consternation was the fact that now I was charged with shepherding a small church in our original town, and I was concerned about trying to do sermon preparation without my books. Fortunately, I had received a copy of Logos 4’s Leaders Library program for Christmas, and I expected it to be a godsend and blessing. Although it is a very powerful program, and there is a lot of potential with the program’s abilities, I have to confess that I am disappointed in it.
Full disclosure: Logos and I go way back. During seminary, in the early 1990’s, my dream was to be able to run a word processor and some sort of Bible software at the same time and quickly paste text from the Bible software into the word processor. Doesn’t sound like much. Today we can do that on our phones. But at the time, it was the holy grail.
My first Bible software explorations were DOS programs—and they consistently disappointed. All that changed, though, when I scraped together my pennies and bought Windows 3.1, Microsoft Word for Windows and Logos 1.6. I’ve been a “Logos guy” ever since.
So when I write about Logos, I’m writing about an old friend I love, warts and all.
And there have always been warts. From the start, the company has had a bad case of Microsoft-think, which says (among other things) that new software will always be operated on new PCs. The result is that the software tends to be hard to afford and hardware-hungry—designed to run well on PCs that few pastors and teachers own yet.
Version 4 is no exception to Logos’ history in that department. Though many of us saw the arrival of version 3 for the Macintosh as a great ray of hope, Logos 4 for the PC is still dependent on more layers of Microsoft code than ever. (If you install it on XP, you can see this clearly as “prerequisites” install and install and install.)
Steven Joseph Stratford, the director for institutional research at Maranatha Baptist Bible College and a pioneer in integrating computers into church ministry, died on Saturday in Watertown, Wis. He was 52.
Dr. Stratford was diagnosed with a brain tumor soon after the start of the fall semester in 2008, leading to a lengthy illness, surgery, and then the “quiet and graceful” exit he prayed for, surrounded by family who sang to him on the way Home.
“Let me state without a moment’s hesitation that having a brain tumor is not a good thing,” Steve wrote on his blog last October. “Brain tumors are ugly and nasty and virulent, and they kill people. They rank up there with guns and pit vipers. Sorry, I do not relish the thought of dying of a brain tumor!”
Wait, Steve—tell us what you really think!
And he did, marking the final year of his life with the same consistent testimony that characterized his entire ministry. “I am not afraid to pass into eternity; I will be glad to go home to be with the Lord,” Steve said. “Please do not ‘promote me to glory.’ I think that phrase is so hokey! I want it to be said of me that I ‘went home to be with the Lord,’ please.”
Reprinted with permission from the Baptist Bulletin, July-August 2009.
As my family and I took our seats following the final congregational song, a large screen descended from above the pulpit. Within seconds, a pastor appeared on the screen and asked us—and the 1,200 other worshipers—to open our Bibles to Ephesians 4. He would be preaching a sermon titled, “Imitating God in Our Relationships with One Another.”
Knowing that the thriving midwestern church had embraced a multisite church structure, my wife and I had informed our children that they would not hear live preaching that Lord’s Day morning, but their response to a preacher on a screen surprised me. At first I attributed their dismay to the fact that we are from a small church in an even smaller community. But as I dug deeper into their dismay, I discovered that their problem wasn’t with the size of the church or even the use of video technology; their dismay stemmed from the fact that the announcements, prayers, Scripture reading, and congregational singing were live events, while the preaching was not. It seemed the church had unwittingly prescribed a greater importance to the parts of the service that were live. In my children’s young and impressionable minds, the preaching was of lesser value because it wasn’t an incarnational, in-the-flesh, event.
That Sunday morning in 2008 is my only firsthand experience with the multisite church movement, but because I love the church and am enamored with it, I had begun thinking through the theological implications of the multisite structure long before attending my first multisite church service. The purpose of this article is neither to defend nor attack the multisite church structure, but to ask some questions and offer some explanations regarding the important theological and ecclesiastical implications of the multisite church structure. Perhaps what is written here will stimulate some thoughtful discussion among the pastors and laypeople of our association.