Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mission: Result of the Gospel or Part of the Gospel?

I have thought this for a while now, just haven't fully been able to verbalize it.  I think that Jonathan Dodson is on the money.

So, what do you think?  Is mission a result of the Gospel or part of the Gospel?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Criticism

How do you deal with it?  I deal with it poorly in my heart.  I think this is good and godly advice.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Partnership instead of Dependence

Here.  It's an article by the mostly-always-worth-reading, Tim Chester.  I can't think of an instance where he's not worth listening to, but I don't "hang out" with him. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Counterfeit Gods is Ripping My Face Off

And I mean that in a good way.  I'd recommend picking it up (linked in the sidebar), take off your protective mask and let it rip your face off, too.  It'll hurt, but it'll be worth it.  Trust me.

Friday, November 6, 2009

More Than A Command

Mission, that is.  See what I'm talking about here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What Would You Do With $130,000,000.00

I don't mean to be a "hater" and point out all-that's-wrong-in-the-world (because I can certainly be a contributor to what's wrong with the world), but c'mon!  I'm with Jared Wilson on this.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Acrobats or Brothers?

Jonathan Dodson expresses exactly how I think and feel here.

Check out the last sentence of his article:

Don't give up on the church. Instead, start giving things away, sharing your life, and see what happens. Stop going to church, and start being the church. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Church on Mission

Tony Stiff, in a post over at Jesus Creed has been invited to write blog posts on the missional church. I prefer to say “the church on mission”, but that’s neither here nor there. A couple good quotes from his first post:


The missional church is the overflow of fresh considerations regarding the nature of God as one who sends.

Regarding the contention that the missional church is a passing fad, Tony writes:

The missional church is not a cliche .... here today and gone tomorrow, because the situational shift it comes from - the shift from a Christian to a Post-Christian setting for the church in the West - has brought about a lasting dynamic that will shape and inform how Christians speak of the mission and nature of the church.

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fight Clubs

A review of Fight Clubs is here with links to it.  I haven't looked at it yet, but already agree with the concept.  It's not rocket science, but for that reason, it's doable.

Deep Church - Deep Culture

In Jim Belcher’s book, Deep Church, he has a chapter (10) on “Deep Culture”. In it he says regarding his church’s embrace of the church as institution and organism:


We recognize that we will have no impact on the culture if the institution is not strong. This means preaching the Word and administering the sacraments faithfully and consistently. It means taking discipleship … seriously. We have regular discipleship classes on the foundations of the faith. We teach, exhort and organize for community in our weekly community groups that discuss the sermon, pray for one another and carry one another’s burdens. We strive to be a church of mercy to our community through a myriad of avenues. And all of these wonderful core commitments are undergirded by a mature, mission-oriented elder board and deaconate. These institutional priorities go a long way in engerdering a distinct people who think, act and live differently from our surrounding culture, but at the same time remain deeply hospitable to the stranger in their midst.

He then goes on to discuss the church as organism and discusses “training secret agents.” In this section on organism he says:

So if the Sunday-morning sanctuary is mainly about the church as “institution,” the weekday basement is about the church as “organism”: training its members to be secret agents in the world creating and renewing culture for the glory of God …

I will start by saying one thing: I do not think “secret agents” is a good term at all for discussing the call of mission on followers of Jesus. Especially here in the U.S. of A. We don’t need to be “secretive” (or even speak of being secretive) in any way toward those around us who are already suspicious of people’s motives because everyone is trying to sell something.

I should also state what I already emphasized in a prior post: I really like this book, I just don’t agree at every application point like this one.

I can’t figure out why Belcher regards everything in the first paragraph I quoted as being institutional. I am a firm believer in doing church in as organic a way as possible (read: be faithful to God and the Gospel and his Word and leave it in the hands of God himself to “cause the growth” – that’s my abbreviated version of what “organic” means [feel free to disagree on my definition]) and don’t understand why everything in this paragraph is institutional? I believe that he is discussing some structural things that need to be in place for organic growth to occur. I’m no scientist, but when it comes to talking about organicness (that’s not a word, is it?), we’re not talking about “wild, unstructured growth”. There are structures/rules that nature “plays by”. I would contend that the same is true in the church organic – structures/rules apply.

Perhaps Jim Belcher’s interaction in his book with a “house church” that eschewed all notions of leadership and regarded all the members of the group as equals in their roles in the group is what he may be reacting/responding to here. I would agree that it is not helpful to eschew all notions of leadership and structure, but I don’t believe it requires embracing the institutional church - hook, line and sinker (which I don’t think Belcher intends to do here – it just looks like it). I am grateful for the traditional/institutional church. I don’t have a desire to disrespect the traditional/institutional church, because I have gained (and am still gaining) much from it (including my growth as a believer and it’s where I came to follow Jesus). I just don’t believe I need to (like Belcher) join a denomination like the PCA. I’m not “throwing off the shackles of authority”, but I am saying that I favor “organic structures” over “set programs”. Is this all a matter of semantics (that’s rhetorical, but feel free to answer it)? Perhaps partially – but I would contend not fully. Perhaps someone else can weigh in on this?

My bottom line is that I do not personally wish to keep the notion of “institutional church” in my methodology of being the church. I agree with Belcher’s contention that there is a need for every gathered church body to be “preaching the Word and administering the sacraments faithfully and consistently. It means taking discipleship … seriously.” I’d simply rather affirm the notion that “organic church” requires structures for healthy dynamic growth rather than institutionalization (who really wants to be instutionalized? ;o) ).

Saturday, October 31, 2009

George Patterson Quote (Whoever He Is)

This is from Neil Cole's blog:


Every time we eat, we eat the fruit of God ’ s
tremendous reproduction power given to plants
and animals. Look around out of doors; it ’ s
everywhere — grass, trees, birds, bees, babies and
flowers. All creation is shouting it! This is the way
God works! . . . We ourselves don ’ t make the church
grow or reproduce, any more than pulling on a stalk
of corn would make it grow.
— George Patterson



Good stuff.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Equipping for Mission

Jonathan Dodson is a church leader in Austin, Texas who describes how a follower of Jesus can do "everyday things with gospel intentionality."  Here 'tis.  It's good stuff. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why I'm Not a Professional Pastor

This doesn't outline it fully or fully capture all of my own thoughts on the matter, but I "resonate" with what David Fitch says here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Deep Church

For those who have a passion for “doing church” a different way, this book may be (“may be” not “is for sure”) for you.

There’s been debates raging in the past 10 years or so regarding whether the “traditional” church does church right or whether the “emerging” church does things right. I will write the rest of this mini-review without defining “traditional” or “emerging”, so you may need to ask questions or go research it. For a good starting point, you can go here.

I personally have benefited from both churches – “traditional” and “emerging”. I’ve never been part of an “emerging” church,* but resonate with many of the critiques (not the caricatures) of traditional churches (as if they can all be lumped together). On the flip side, I have also resonated with the “traditional” church’s critique (not the caricatures) of “emerging” churches (as if they can all be lumped together).

Jim Belcher in his book “Deep Church” does a great job, in my view, of showing some of the contributions and flaws of both types of churches. He doesn’t build “straw man” arguments and I can sense that he truly appreciates the contributions of the “emerging” folks and the “traditional” folks. He then goes on to propose a third way (emphasis on the article “a” as he is not proposing “the” third way – thank goodness). I found myself not always resonating with his proposed “third way”, but that’s okay it’s “a” third way not “my” third way.

So, before doing a few posts on the book, I thought I’d introduce this book to you (and commend it to you – if you’re interested in this sort of thing).

For a couple good reviews of it you can go here and here.

*Though I've never been part of an "emerging" church, I am currently involved in the small group of a "traditional" church where we have had the freedom to be on mission in our community for the sake of the Gospel (good news).  I don't call that "emerging" necessarily.  I call it in the words of Tim Chester "ordinary life with Gospel intentionality".

Friday, October 23, 2009

LEAD 09

I haven't watched or listened to these, but I would gladly listen all day to fellow Gospel-man, Tim Chester.

I don't think there's any follower of Jesus who would say that we're not supposed to be on mission with God.  Tim Chester is great at identifying barriers to mission and offering positive solutions.  Watch out!  They are simple but radical.*

*If you find yourself saying, "but that would never work in America" regarding Tim Chester's suggestions/exhortations, make sure you answer the question "why not?"  I find that the answers to my own "why not?" questions aren't often all that compelling.

Behave or Believe?

"... the message of the gospel is not "Behave!" but "Believe!" - Jared Wilson

This is a vital (VITAL!) point to make.  The rest of his post is here

Reforming the Discipleship Culture

Gospel-man, Jared Wilson was recently intereviewed by the Internet Monk.  Here was an exchange at the end of the interview:

Internet MonkYou’ve described one of your personal missions as “reforming the discipleship culture” of the church. Can we produce disciples just by preaching and good books? If not, what else is needed that we still need to take seriously?


Jared Wilson:  Well, I think preaching can create a disciple because I take Romans 10 seriously. But you can’t disciple anybody with preaching alone. Disciples follow Jesus. I look at what Jesus did to disciple, and I see he basically taught, went, and taught as he went. So I imagine we’ve got to do the same.

But we’re idiots, so we like one or the other. Guys in my tribe emphasize the teaching, not the going. In other tribes they’re huge on going but not on teaching.

I like to call this a two-fisted gospel. If you aren’t articulating the gospel of the kingdom regularly and also seeking to live the kingdom out, you aren’t discipling anyone in the way of Jesus.
The danger for most folks of my sort is that we really become admirers of the gospel, not treasurers of it. And admiring it is not really centering on it. When it’s got you forgiving your cheating spouse or serving people in the ghetto or even mowing your neighbor’s yard, it’s changed you.

Thoughts?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What is the Good News?

In the words of Julie Andrews' character from "The Sound of Music" - let's "start [this blog] at the beginning, it's a very good place to start".  Gotta work at defining the good news before going forward.  I really like this long-ish article regarding the good news.  I'm posting it here for your consideration.  We can discuss it if you wish. 

Free Redeemer Sermons

If you love the good news of Jesus and would like to see it planted more deeply in your own life, Redeemer Church of NYC is now making a bunch of their sermons available online here.

I would highly recommend checking it out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Purpose of this Blog

"The blessing of mission is ours while the burden of mission is God’s." - Jonathan Dodson

As a follower of Jesus Christ, a trained pastor, and a guy who works (and plans to continue working)a "regular"* job, the idea of church planting has long intrigued me.  To say it has intrigued me is really a huge understatement, as I've been training and thinking and praying for years about planting a church or being part of a church plant. 

I've recently shifted in my thinking about church planting and Gospel ministry, as I've dialogued with friends and perused the pages of various books and blogs on the subject.  Now I'm thinking and praying more about Gospel planting - and actively joining others in doing so.  What I mean by Gospel planting is to spread (or sow) the good news of Jesus and his kingdom wherever I go.  That includes spreading the good news to myself and especially within my own home. 

For me, I think it's more than semantics to shift from the language of "church planting" to "Gosepl planting".  It's been a fundamental shift in my own thinking and heart.  I don't think it's wrong for others to use the language of church planting, but I've personally found it helpful to rightly acknowledge the burden of planting churches rests squarely on the shoulders and in the hands of Jesus himself.  Did he not say "I will build my church"?**  It places the blessing of joining God in his mission -of sowing the good news of Jesus Christ with his followers.  Can we in any way carry the burden of Jesus' mission?  Certainly!  To the degree that we understand that he carries the bulk of the burden; to the degree that we sense this burden to be a blessing; to the degree that we understand that Jesus' yoke is easy and his burden is light.***

Here's the ol' bottom line: we, his followers, don't have to "make things happen".  We simply get to follow Jesus and join him in his Great Mission.  We can focus on "being the church" rather than "doing church".

So, come along and join me in exploring what it means to Gospel plant - what it means to sow seeds of the good news of Jesus and his kingdom.  We'll look at different resources, ideas and ways to plant the Gospel in our communities and in our spheres of influence. 

*I don't plan to be a vocational pastor.  I am grateful for the opportunity to work a "regular job" like most of you.
**That's a rhetorical question.  He did say that.
***Matthew 11:30.