No ordinary family…

from the late Paul Hiebert’s The Gospel in Human Contexts:

“But this is no ordinary family, no merely human community. In world religions, the gods demand the service of their worshipers, who must feed and clothe them, take them on processions, and offer sacrifices to them. In the church, it is God who descends to identify himself with his creation, washes the feet of his disciples, offers himself as their sacrifice, and invites them to a banquet in which he himself is the meal! And when Christ returns in all his glory, he will seat his followers at his table and serve them (Luke 12:37). From a human perspective on power and glory, this is incomprehensible.”

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Book Review- Radical by David Platt

Check it out here on SBC Voices.

Mission and National Self-Preservation

Hengel on first century Judaism*:

“A universal missionary consciousness could not really develop freely in the face of this elemental impulse towards national self-preservation.”

I’ll leave this without comment and let you ponder an application for today.

(*Found quoted in Salvation to the Ends of the Earth, by Kostenberger and O’Brien)

Francis Chan and “The Blind Side”

On Sunday nights, some of our youth have been working through a video series by Francis Chan called “Crazy Love” based on the book of the same title.   In chapter 4, Chan turns up the heat in the book, going after what he calls “lukewarm” Christianity (other terms like “cheap grace” (per Bonhoeffer) mentality might also work).  He gives a list of many different attitudes and actions that characterize “lukewarmness” along with relevant Scriptures for one to chew on.  For our study, we split into smaller groups and had the youth themselves come up with real-world examples to correspond with the profiles they were given.

To me, one stood out though, because something I had been chewing on for a while illustrated Chan’s point well.

from the book:

“Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act.  They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones.  Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers.”

I immediately thought of the success this past year of the sports film “The Blind Side”, based on the true story of NFL rookie Michael Oher.  (I know there are some criticisms with the type of charity portrayed in the film, but I want to leave that aside for now.) The movie made more than $200 million dollars domestically.  I wonder though how many people watching had that same reaction as Chan describes above.  “Wow. That family really helped out that kid.  What a nice thing to do”, they say, as they put away their $25 popcorn/soda combo box.

I wonder how many Christians would rather spend their time and resources being entertained and emotionally moved by stories of sacrifice on the big screen than creating their own stories of sacrifice.  I wonder what other kids needing adoption or villages needing wells might have benefited more from that $200 million dollars than the movie studio.  (And that doesn’t even include DVD sales.)

“Missional” Simplified

Here’s a neat video that visually explains the basic idea of “missional” (without really getting into the complicated sub-definitions, nuances, etc.)  Leave a comment about what you think of it!

Reaching Young Adults…

I’ve finally managed to get around to reading Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them by Ed Stetzer, Richie Stanley, and Jason Hayes.  The book (especially in the first third) is very research heavy, but I’ve been enjoying most of the second third which discusses 4 markers of ministry that young adults need and are clamoring for.

What do you think of these?  Any of my “young adult” (20-29ish) readers agree or feel the need to weigh in?

Here they are:

1. Community-life is meant to be experience together.

2. Depth– especially not settling for “pat answers”

3. Responsiblity– realize their choices can make a difference in the world.

4. Connection– especially regarding intergenerational connectedness and mentoring.

8 Ways for Missional Living in the 21st Century- Dr. Alvin Reid@121Forum

8 Ways for Missional Living in the 21st Century

Dr. Alvin Reid

1) Embrace the concept of “Missional Living” (1 Thess. 1:5, 8)

The Gospel is what is needed for Awakening.  The Great Awakening Preachers did not preach 5 keys to happy life.

A. It’s biblical.  (v. 5)

B. Our method ain’t working.

He often surveys his audiences and asks about how many grew up in a Christian home and talked as a family about reaching lost neighbors.  Very few ever respond-

We act like atheists in our neighborhoods.”

What do I mean?

Telling people the good news is evangelism.

Missions is learning a culture and customs to share.

Don’t let your child finish high school without getting them to another country, if you are a believer in Christ.

MISSIONAL means recognizing that the United States of America is a mission field in need of the Gospel in a plethora of cultures.

Pastors are not behavior-modification experts.  We are called to equip people to missionally engage their neighborhoods.

Michael Green- “they went everywhere ‘gossiping the Gospel.”

Ex. Of Christian behavior at restaurants, with bad tipping, rude treatment of servers, etc.

2) Remain Biblically and Doctrinally Sound. (esp. in our evangelism)

1 Thess. 1:5, 2:2, 4, 9.

Claiming a conviction about inerrancy is not equal to handling Scripture correctly.

David Dockery- “In the 1950’s we made two mistakes in Southern Baptist life- we bought into higher criticism in our schools, and secondly, we bought into programmatic ministry.”

The Gospel is the center of Paul’s ministry.

Theologically, we are tempted to take 1 aspect of someone’s life and paint them with all that.  (ex. Whitefield being a slave-owner, Wesley being a terrible husband).  Let’s be fair when we characterize people.  (My thought- probably referring to the good SBC habit of shoot first, ask questions later)

If teenagers can learn trigonometry in high school, they can learn theology in church.

3) We must evangelize both in what we SAY and what we DO.

1 Thess. 1:5, 2:1-8

Gilbert Tennant preached against unconverted pastors and told people to leave such churches.  A bunch of people were mad.  Old sides/new sides. Not every church was for the Great Awakening.  You can be in the middle of “God’s Work” and totally miss out on God’s work.

4) Evangelism must be both “come and see” and “go and tell”.

1 Thess. 2:9-10- Paul “lived among them.”

Challenging Question- how many lost people are in our cell phone that I could call right now and invite them to discuss a meal or coffee?

Thom Rainer’s statistics- 53% of senior pastors surveyed had not shared Christ in 6 months. Most young adults will not follow that kind of leadership.

This generation will study the life of the authority figure more than what you say.   (Mention our own Missional activity to spur them on.)

You can’t reach Samaritans by having “Samaritan Night” half of a year.

5) A Missional witness will not be ONE SIZE FITS ALL.

Jesus called us to make disciples, not clones! Be what God has made you to be.

It takes more work for a pastor to equip his people to share Christ in their own way and their world than to teach them a program.

Programs have EPIC Failure.  We have the most trained, least evangelistic group.

Pastors, don’t equip people to be like you.  Equip people to be like Jesus.

6) A Missional witness shares from the perspective of HUMILITY and NOT ENTITLEMENT. 1 Thess. 2:1-7

How do you know something is Christian? It costs more and doesn’t work as well.

7) A Missional witness emphasizes the WHOLE-LIFE element of following Christ. 1 Thess. 2:8

We train teenagers to be Hindus—Jesus is God of church, friends are god of relationships, money is god of checkbook, etc.

How do we work the Gospel into all aspects of our life?

8) Evangelism will be accompanied with or even preceded by discipleship. (1 Thess. 2:11-12)

Teaching non-Christian neighbors about Christianity.

We take ourselves too seriously and do not take the Gospel seriously enough.

My thoughts-

Dr. Reid speaks at a lot of places and has several great quotes (See the underlined sentences throughout.)  These 8 points can also be found in elaborated form in the latter portion of his book “The Convergent Church.”  I think many of his ideas show a great emphasis on keeping good things from the existing church life while incorporating changes and new methods.  I think in a lot of churches this kind of change will have to happen.  Many will reject out-of-hand large-scale changes, but may by in over time to small changes in the right direction.  Dr. Reid was also very challenging that we in ministry lead by example not just talk regarding missional living.