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Tim Challies

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October 07, 2013

I am typically pretty disciplined in avoiding memes as they make their way around the Internet. Today, though, I made an exception when I saw the hashtag #AddaWordRuinaChristianBook showing up all over my Twitter feed. (After all, it's my day off.) It's simple: you add one word to a book and see how badly you can ruin it. The results have been pretty funny. Here are a few favorites:

August 04, 2010

Last year I posted a few pictures from the old 70’s classic Soul Winning Made Easy by C.S. Lovett. Recently I came across another of his books, one titled Help Lord—The Devil Wants Me Fat! The book teaches how the devil is able to influence your eating, how to deal with your appetite and how to deprogram yourself from bad eating habits. It is an odd mixture of good and bad, useful information and outright legalism (not to mention poor medical advice).

I enjoy these books as a bit of a guilty pleasure, I’m sure. They’re old, they’re retro and somehow quite amusing.

Here’s how this one starts:

Lovett largely blames overeating and obesity on Satanic activity.

May 12, 2010

The other day I ate some rather extraordinary Thai food for lunch and, on my way out, grabbed a fortune cookie. I cracked it open and read a silly little proverb meant to inspire, I suppose. I wish it had said "A brisk uphill walk after all-you-can-eat Thai is a bad idea." Never mind. As I waddled my way home, regretting that last bowl of curry (so delicious...), I thought "This fortune sounds like something Joel Osteen would say." And then it struck me--there is very little difference between Joel and those fortune cookies (except that the cookies are delicious, of course). And now, to prove it, I will give you these twelve quotes. You tell me which are from the fortune cookies and which are from Joel Osteen.

November 2015 Update: This is now "quizzified" and updated with recent Osteen quotes. All of his quotes were posted to his Twitter feed within the past 2 weeks.

Note: Many, many fortune cookies were harmed in the preparation of this quiz.

December 15, 2009

My friends know of my strange affection for bizarre ChurchMerch. A while back I posted some photos of Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now board game. A little while ago we had some friends over to give it a shot. It was horrifying beyond all imagining. In fact, it was completely unplayable. It really made no sense at all. But we all did enjoy the part where we had to look into a mirror and say affirming things about ourselves (No joke! That’s actually a component of the game). Here I am holding on to my miracle. This was about as much as the game offered…


And here’s the gang, listening attentively as we try to untangle the ridiculous instructions:

Your Best Life Now

Anyway, Your Best Life Now is very clearly a leading candidate for the title of the worst board game ever.

May 25, 2009

Some time ago a friend sent me a little gift she knew I would enjoy. It is a small book, published in 1959 titled Soul-Winning Made Easy and subtitled (The Encounter Method). It was written by C.S. Lovett who founded Baldwin Park Baptist Church (which, strangely enough, was later renamed Personal Christianity Chapel).

This book is a guide to personal evangelism and it is one that is a classic example of technique-based evangelism. Now obviously I appreciate the man’s desire to share the good news of the gospel and to train others to do the same. But what he offers is a method and one that needs to be followed with near religious fervor. He insists that anyone who would seek to evangelize must have a plan since “Every successful operation needs a plan. … One does not dare build a house without building-plans; the walls might not meet. Why, even a trip to the market requires a planned list to insure that items are not forgotten.”

April 05, 2007

As you well know, the school calendar is rapidly drawing to a close and a new class of rookies is set to graduate from the nation’s seminaries. As the annual rookie draft approaches, I’ve scoured the ranks of young men, have spoken to the scouts, have attended the combine and have interviewed many of the candidates. And now I share the fruit of all this labor and provide my thoughts on how this year’s draft will shape up.

Tom McNamarra
Height: 5-11
Weight: 186
Position: Preacher
Comparison: John Piper

McNamarra is set to graduate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is projected to be first in his class. If, as is expected, he is chosen first overall, he will be the first SBTS rookie drafted first overall since the great Lloyd Johnson in ‘86. McNamarra is the complete package with remarkable charisma and delivery skills coupled with sound theology and great skills in the original languages. As a summer intern at Second Baptist Church of Puget Sound, he preached an outstanding alliterative 12-part exposition of John 1:1. A scout we spoke with said “McNamarra is a can’t miss prospect. He’s the crown jewel of this draft. Expect him to go first.” We’ll be amazed if he doesn’t.

James Moore
Height: 6-2
Weight: 248
Position: Preacher
Comparison: Alistair Begg

Moore is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia who was drafted late in the first round of last year’s draft but held out when he could not work out an adequate contract with First Baptist Church of Springfield. He elected to return to the draft this year and, with a year of practice, promises to be taken even higher this year.

Moore’s weight has proven a challenge throughout his seminary career and he struggles to maintain an ideal preaching weight, especially after a year of relative inactivity. Because of associated image and health concerns, this may cause some churches to take a pass on a man who may otherwise be a rising star.

Rick Longman
Height: 5-6
Weight: 168
Position: Preacher
Comparison: Phil Ryken

Long considered an outstanding prospect, Longman recently suffered a much-publicized injury to his right arm (which, as a right-handed man, is his preaching arm). This injury has plagued him during recent preaching engagements and scouts in attendance noticed the negative impact on his ability to gesticulate and be physically expressive. He is currently in physical therapy but there is some talk that he may not be able to recover and may even have to look at converting to left-handed preaching. Still, his natural ability is remarkable and we would be surprised to see him fall out of the top ten. Some church will be willing to take a chance on this young star.

William Ferguson
Height: 6-0
Weight: 195
Position: Worship Leader
Comparison: Clayton Erb

William is a pure baritone with the ability to provide a rich falsetto. Formerly a hip-hop recording artist under the name of Willy-Fee, William is widely regarded as the best available worship leader in this year’s draft. With perfect pitch and proficiency in a wide variety of stringed and brass instruments, Ferguson is a man capable of revolutionizing a church’s music program. One scout was heard to say, “Is there anything this guy can’t do?” Though he is not a prolific songwriter, he is extremely adept at remixing the work of other artists. We expect to hear a lot about this young man as he grows and matures.

Kent Plummer
Height: 5-11
Weight: 290
Position: Youth Pastor
Comparison: Rick Holland

Kent, a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, is sometimes called “Rotund Rick,” because of the comparisons he draws to Rick Holland of Grace Community Church (comparisons that are based on style and personality rather than physical characteristics). Plummer recently authored a book entitled Youth Ministry Done Right and has headed up the “Done Right!” youth conference since 2004. He is likely to find himself at a church with a declining youth ministry but with an increasing number of young people. He’ll be expected to revolutionize the youth program and it seems that he is capable of doing just that.

Brian Williams
Height: 6-1
Weight: 192
Position: Administrative Pastor

Formerly an accountant, Williams retrained as a minister and is about to graduate from Westminster Theological Seminary in California. Williams is projected to be chosen early in the draft and is expected to wind up at a large church in desperate need of administrative assistance. He proved his mettle while in seminary, completely reorganizing and re-indexing the entire library over the course of a long weekend. A dual threat, Williams is a capable preacher who can pick up relief duties for a Senior Pastor when necessary.

Albert Wells
Height: 6-4
Weight: 155
Position: Worship Leader
Comparison: Bob Kauflin

Because of his propensity for raising his hands during worship (and encouraging others to do the same), many think that Wells will find himself drafted to a Sovereign Grace church rather than a Baptist congregation. Tall, thin and and lanky, Wells is most at home playing the guitar, though he is also capable enough on the piano or the drum kit. At the recent combine, he led the field in composing a complete song in just fourteen minutes. We expect him to be chosen second only to William Ferguson, though in just the right situation he could even go first.

(OK, so this is one of those things that sounded a lot funnier in my head. I got to thinking one day, “I wonder what it would be like if churches drafted pastors like sports teams draft players?” I wrote some things down, but forgot about it until this morning while I was waiting for a meeting at a local coffee hangout. Like I said, it was funnier in my head. Ah well. You win some and you lose some!)

April 04, 2007

On Saturday I submitted the manuscript for my book. That evening we had some friends come over, and among these friends was Paul, our pastor, who took the opportunity to share a song he had written for the occasion. I do believe this marks the first, and probably the last, time anyone has written me a song. It’s a humdinger, too, even if it is somewhat lacking in historical accuracy.

I assume you can figure out the tune, but if not, think “Beverly Hillbillies” or just click here.

Let me tellya story about a man named Tim
Poor web designer barely kept his figure slim
Then one day he posted pictures of his dog
And up from the ‘net came a bubblin’ blog
Weblog that is
Ee-lectronic gold
Ethereal thoughts…

Well the first thing ya know Ol’ Tim’s an uber-blogger
There aren’t any words that rhyme with uber-blogger
He thought, “Writing books is where I ougtta be!”
So he loaded up his thoughts and called his pal J.T.
Justin Taylor that is
Piper’s guy
Influential Crossway Editor…

So Tim pitched the book and Crossway gave him cash
He bought himself a camera, then played Balderdash
The next thing you know, it’s March the thirty-one
And Tim’s little book isn’t even nearly done
Busted, that is
Wasted opportunity
Time to pay back the advance…

Well Tim hatched a plan and told his lovely bride
He used his discernment and a trailer-load of pride
He gathered up old blog posts and gave ‘em a new look
Then he sent it off to Crossway and called it his “New Book”
Deception, that is
Easy money
Milking Americans…

“The Discipline of Discernment!”

August 31, 2006

Fantasy church is a game in which players moderate imaginary denominations based on the real-life performance of churches and pastors, and compete against one another using those churches’ statistics to score points. The most recent addition to the long list of fantasy activities (other fantasy games include fantasy baseball, fantasy football, fantasy hockey, and so on), it is surely also the most exciting and the most edifying. So why not form a league today and become President of your very own denomination!


Each league will be overseen by a Presbyter who will act as commissioner and will form a league of between 8 and 14 players. At the beginning of the season each league will hold a draft. The Presbyter will provide to the players a list of churches which will serve as the pool of available churches. Players will choose churches from the available pool, taking into account a wide range of factors. Each team will draft a denomination of 8 churches. Each player must draft a denomination consisting of at least 2 Baptist churches, 2 Presbyterian churches, 2 Charismatic churches, 1 non-denominational church and 1 flex church (any denomination).

Each week teams will face off against each other in head-to-head match-ups. The team that collects the greatest number of wins at the end of the season will be declared the winner.

Points will be scored as per the chart below. At the conclusion of each Sunday, the league Presbyter will be responsible for collecting statistics from each church and providing these to the players. The Presbyter will tally the points and declare a winner in each of the games.

Scoring Breakdown


Sermon length:

< 15 minutes: 2 points
15 - 29 minutes: 3 points
30 - 44 minutes: 4 points
45 - 59 minutes: 5 points
60 - 89 minutes: 6 points
> 90 minutes: 10 points

Number of Bible translations used in the sermon:

0: -5 points
1: 5 points
2 - 4: 3 points
> 5: 1 point

Original Languages:

1 point for each word provided in the original language

Sermon was previously preached by Rick Warren or Bill Hybels:

-5 points

Sermon was previously preached by John MacArthur or John Piper:

-3 points

Sermon was previously preached by Charles Spurgeon:

-1 point

Sermon style:

Expository: 3 points
Topical: 2 points
Conversational: 0 points
Dialogical: -2 points

Sermon outline:

Pastor provides a basic sermon outline: 2 points
Pastor provides a fill-in-the-blanks outline: -2 points

Positive references to Mother Teresa or Billy Graham:

-5 points per reference


Number of songs:

< 4 songs: 2 points
5 - 7 songs: 3 points
8 - 11 songs: 4 points
> 12 songs: 3 points

Number of instruments used:

1: 2 points
2 - 4: 3 points
5 - 10: 4 points
> 11: 5 points
0: 5 points

Ratio of hymns to contemporary songs:

1:1 - 4 points
2:1 or 1:2 - 3 points
3:1 or 1:3 - 2 points
4:1 or 1:4 - 1 point
0:1 or 1:0 - -2 points


-2 points for each time the worship pastor moans, “Mmmmmm. Thank you, Jesus.”

-2 points for each use of a song currently on the Christian top-40

-4 points for each use of a song on the mainstream top-40

-6 points for each use of a U2 song

-8 points for use of the song “Your Love Is Extravagant”



2 points per conversion (as marked on an official communication card, indicated by a raised hand, or confirmed during an altar call)


2 points per recommitment (as marked on an official communication card, indicated by a raised hand, or confirmed during an altar call)


3 points per baptism

Ratio of attendance to membership:

> 1:1 - 4 points
1:1 - 2 points
1:2 - 0 points
1:3 - -2 points
1:4 - -4 points
< 1:5 - -6 points

Ratio of offering to attendance:

> $50:1 - 4 points
$25:1 - 2 points
$10:1 - 1 points
< $1:1 - - 4 points (consider contacting the police)

Sermon available online as free audio download:

2 points

Sermon available as a podcast:

1 point

Use of Powerpoint in worship or sermon:

-2 points (An additional point is subtracted each time the Powerpoint falls behind the song or sermon)