Monday, September 29, 2008

Global Poverty and Presidential Debates

A close friend sent out an e-mail the other day, with quite a shocking statistic: there have been only two questions pertaining to global poverty in the history of modern presidential debates. The ONE campaign is urging Americans to add their name to a list of people who want Tom Brokaw to ask these candidates what they are thinking. You can add your name by following the link: http://www.one.org/debates/?rc=debatestaf

Global Poverty and Presidential Debates

A close friend sent out an e-mail the other day, with quite a shocking statistic: there have been only two questions pertaining to global poverty in the history of modern presidential debates. The ONE campaign is urging Americans to add their name to a list of people who want Tom Brokaw to ask these candidates what they are thinking. You can add your name by following the link: http://www.one.org/debates/?rc=debatestaf

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Seminary Doubt and Questioning

This weekend I had a very important and beneficial conversation with my parents. After discussing some previous blog posts, our conversation turned to seminary education and the role of interpretation and interacting with difficult questions: questions that deal with creation, inerrancy, rhetorical structure, application, etc.

About a year ago, Jamie and I were enjoying conversation and fellowship with some friends from California who were visiting their parents in Wisconsin. Joining us was another couple from Minnesota. Late at night, after a few drinks, we found ourselves engaged in a conversation with the mother of our California friends. After discussing some pop-theological questions, she chimed in with her own observation: "The only thing that is really important is simple faith." Rollie and I attempted to rebut, but found ourselves at a dead end. Historical evidence didn't matter, Church Fathers' input didn't matter, and scientific evidence didn't matter. To this woman, all that mattered was a childlike faith.

I think that I understood quickly that arguing with this woman was going to lead to no positive agreement or ends. Rollie on the other hand, was heated (although covered well, which I understand). The questions that we were discussing and the answers that were formed as a result, were important. Yes, faith is important; but ignorance and blindly following are horrible ways of approaching faith. The conversation ended up lasting late into the night.

I woke up the next morning with a strange paradox: I loved the questioning and the discussion, but I appreciated the importance and weight that Russ's mother gave to faith. I have struggled with this question since that time last summer.

In bringing this blog back to the previous weekend, I discussed briefly with my parents the importance that I have realized on shredding pre-conceived doctrine (or dogma) in order to defend our childlike faith from its foundation. I have realized after the first year of seminary that we, as Christ-followers, hold to some theories and doctrines that seem utterly ridiculous to the rest of the world. I realize that as a pastor I will be expected to walk alongside parishioners when they encounter these questions as well. My goal is to be able to say that, "you are not the first to think of that." This is the story of Christianity and the creeds. They have been contended over and proven throughout the years, and people have still believed. I believe that my time at seminary is a blessing in that I have not only the time, but the resources (books, professors, community) to struggle with difficult questions. I also believe in the role of the Holy Spirit, who can guide and direct my education and lead me in wisdom to truth through faith.

I end this blog by stating my excitement and joy in people like Russ's mother. She is a woman who believes firmly in the message of the Gospel as the good news to all of creation! Although I would love to stop asking questions and have a childlike faith, I believe that it is necessary to struggle through those questions as a pastor. May God grant strength, wisdom, and discernment to all of those who struggle with questions and doubt as they seek to glorify and honor their Almighty Father, Gracious Son, and Powerful Spirit.

Seminary Doubt and Questioning

This weekend I had a very important and beneficial conversation with my parents. After discussing some previous blog posts, our conversation turned to seminary education and the role of interpretation and interacting with difficult questions: questions that deal with creation, inerrancy, rhetorical structure, application, etc.

About a year ago, Jamie and I were enjoying conversation and fellowship with some friends from California who were visiting their parents in Wisconsin. Joining us was another couple from Minnesota. Late at night, after a few drinks, we found ourselves engaged in a conversation with the mother of our California friends. After discussing some pop-theological questions, she chimed in with her own observation: "The only thing that is really important is simple faith." Rollie and I attempted to rebut, but found ourselves at a dead end. Historical evidence didn't matter, Church Fathers' input didn't matter, and scientific evidence didn't matter. To this woman, all that mattered was a childlike faith.

I think that I understood quickly that arguing with this woman was going to lead to no positive agreement or ends. Rollie on the other hand, was heated (although covered well, which I understand). The questions that we were discussing and the answers that were formed as a result, were important. Yes, faith is important; but ignorance and blindly following are horrible ways of approaching faith. The conversation ended up lasting late into the night.

I woke up the next morning with a strange paradox: I loved the questioning and the discussion, but I appreciated the importance and weight that Russ's mother gave to faith. I have struggled with this question since that time last summer.

In bringing this blog back to the previous weekend, I discussed briefly with my parents the importance that I have realized on shredding pre-conceived doctrine (or dogma) in order to defend our childlike faith from its foundation. I have realized after the first year of seminary that we, as Christ-followers, hold to some theories and doctrines that seem utterly ridiculous to the rest of the world. I realize that as a pastor I will be expected to walk alongside parishioners when they encounter these questions as well. My goal is to be able to say that, "you are not the first to think of that." This is the story of Christianity and the creeds. They have been contended over and proven throughout the years, and people have still believed. I believe that my time at seminary is a blessing in that I have not only the time, but the resources (books, professors, community) to struggle with difficult questions. I also believe in the role of the Holy Spirit, who can guide and direct my education and lead me in wisdom to truth through faith.

I end this blog by stating my excitement and joy in people like Russ's mother. She is a woman who believes firmly in the message of the Gospel as the good news to all of creation! Although I would love to stop asking questions and have a childlike faith, I believe that it is necessary to struggle through those questions as a pastor. May God grant strength, wisdom, and discernment to all of those who struggle with questions and doubt as they seek to glorify and honor their Almighty Father, Gracious Son, and Powerful Spirit.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Story

One of the first major papers that I had to write for my seminary education was for a class on the Foundations of Worship, taught by Dr. Sam Hamstra. For this paper I chose to study Dr. Robert Webber's writings, focusing on the weight that Webber gives to the preaching and experience of narrative. This narrative can be individual, but when we join together as a corporate congregation we come to tell and retell the story of creation, fall, redemption, and recreation. This is the great narrative not only of me as an individual, but that of all creation as a sum. My story matters; but the story of God and his people is bigger than me and my eternity.

I realize how much I still struggle with much of this theology and its implications. This evening, we had small group again, where we discussed practical means of evangelism. We were taught how to use the "bridge illustration," the "moral ladder," and the "Do vs. Don't." I was very uncomfortable throughout the reading of these chapters, and even in the small group tonight. When we sit down and try to get friends, family, or new acquaintances to believe this simple pattern or formula, are we presenting the entire gospel? I am, in all honesty, an absolute beginner in theology, philosophy, sociology, and any other 'ology' that there is. My uneasiness with all of this is not because of epistemological insight or discovery, but because of a deep fear of turning evangelism into something other than relationship. I fumble horribly through my words when trying to put voice to feelings that I have not even had for more than a few years.

I think of times that I have shared with friends and others of the love that I believe in and have felt from God and from God's faithful followers, and realize that people my age care deeply about story and acceptance (tolerance). My experience with the bridge is not story but math. A + B = C.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ecclesiology and Evangelism

Most recently I have been thinking about the link between our ecclesiastical beliefs and methods of evangelism. Whether the reason for such thought is the reading of Hirsch and Frost, or our small group material Just Walk Across the Room, or small group discussion, or deep discussions with my wife about the anxieties that we both have toward certain mediums of evangelism, I don't know. But the reality is that I cannot get this topic off of my mind.

I have come to realize and question how closely tied together our ecclesiology and our perception of evangelism is. For years (Hirsch and Frost contend since Constantine), Christendom has been not only accepted as a viable religious stance and belief, but it can actually be attractive. Therefore, we approach evangelism as something that gets people to come to our beliefs, our rituals, and our customs. We want to verify our beliefs by the continual growth of our church populations. We believe and teach that that surveys and "sinner's prayers" afford the most accurate and honest exclamations of beliefs (both objective and subjective).

In the past few days I have questioned this mentality. Christ walked among, taught, healed, and loved those whom the religious sects rejected. The story presented in our accepted canon continually tells of covenant, exile, and restoration. God's covenant people, the faithful, "born-again Christians," all claim that they are following a leader who resides above earthly institutions. When the institution of church was made acceptable (Constantine), was the message, the good news of the Kingdom of God, made too easy to follow?

My question, concern, and excitement lies in the perception of many contemporary scholars that we are now entering into a post-Christendom society and mentality. No longer is a claim to absolute Truth accepted. No longer will we draw people to our churches through intellectual argument. Although we have a long history with the practice of spirituality that so many in today's world desire, we do not have a monopoly. The vast presence of New Age spirituality and Eastern spirituality in Western cultures illustrates this clearly. Although we can claim to provide care for the poor, we have seen countless other agencies, political organizations, and social/economic entrepreneurs desiring and providing seemingly identical care and concern (if not even more). Although we say that life has purpose, so do numerous other worldviews and eclectic religions. What we do offer is a message of salvation, not through power and control, but through love and service. We have a message that claims a God (as do many religions) who cares about creation (in contrast to Deists) who took a step (Incarnation) to begin a process of restoration. This is how our message differs from that of the world. We can truly begin to understand evangelism as a "living among" and "loving among" people. We can share our faith experiences. We can share the hope that we have through the message that we have come to understand and rely upon by faith. Our message is not judgmental. It is not condemning. It is not forceful or demanding. It is welcoming. It loves. It is gentle yet filled with truth. We believe that our message has been revealed through more than just psychosis of the mind (as current popular writers might suggest, i.e. Christopher Hitchens), or psychological needs (Freud, Jung, etc.). We believe that we have come to this great believe in a God who loves his creation, through corporate and individual revelation through Scripture, through Reason, through Experience, and through Tradition. And we believe this message through faith.

It is encouraging and exciting to look to the future of our churches. In my own experience, I participate in a church that is beginning to grasp this concept of missional evangelism. A type of evangelism that wants to see people in its buildings, but more than anything wants to see its members in people's homes. That desires to see people worshipping, but desires to see families come to realize God's glory in everyday life, and not just through the institutional church. That wants to be resourced and funded, but done so through an act of worship and offering to God, given for the greater work of joining in with the mission of God in this world. It is a beautiful time to be a student and minister of God's work and words. I pray continually for guidance, for faithful and God loving/fearing mentors, and for an open ear to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in ministry and evangelism.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ecclesiology and Evangelism

Most recently I have been thinking about the link between our ecclesiastical beliefs and methods of evangelism. Whether the reason for such thought is the reading of Hirsch and Frost, or our small group material Just Walk Across the Room, or small group discussion, or deep discussions with my wife about the anxieties that we both have toward certain mediums of evangelism, I don't know. But the reality is that I cannot get this topic off of my mind.

I have come to realize and question how closely tied together our ecclesiology and our perception of evangelism is. For years (Hirsch and Frost contend since Constantine), Christendom has been not only accepted as a viable religious stance and belief, but it can actually be attractive. Therefore, we approach evangelism as something that gets people to come to our beliefs, our rituals, and our customs. We want to verify our beliefs by the continual growth of our church populations. We believe and teach that that surveys and "sinner's prayers" afford the most accurate and honest exclamations of beliefs (both objective and subjective).

In the past few days I have questioned this mentality. Christ walked among, taught, healed, and loved those whom the religious sects rejected. The story presented in our accepted canon continually tells of covenant, exile, and restoration. God's covenant people, the faithful, "born-again Christians," all claim that they are following a leader who resides above earthly institutions. When the institution of church was made acceptable (Constantine), was the message, the good news of the Kingdom of God, made too easy to follow?

My question, concern, and excitement lies in the perception of many contemporary scholars that we are now entering into a post-Christendom society and mentality. No longer is a claim to absolute Truth accepted. No longer will we draw people to our churches through intellectual argument. Although we have a long history with the practice of spirituality that so many in today's world desire, we do not have a monopoly. The vast presence of New Age spirituality and Eastern spirituality in Western cultures illustrates this clearly. Although we can claim to provide care for the poor, we have seen countless other agencies, political organizations, and social/economic entrepreneurs desiring and providing seemingly identical care and concern (if not even more). Although we say that life has purpose, so do numerous other worldviews and eclectic religions. What we do offer is a message of salvation, not through power and control, but through love and service. We have a message that claims a God (as do many religions) who cares about creation (in contrast to Deists) who took a step (Incarnation) to begin a process of restoration. This is how our message differs from that of the world. We can truly begin to understand evangelism as a "living among" and "loving among" people. We can share our faith experiences. We can share the hope that we have through the message that we have come to understand and rely upon by faith. Our message is not judgmental. It is not condemning. It is not forceful or demanding. It is welcoming. It loves. It is gentle yet filled with truth. We believe that our message has been revealed through more than just psychosis of the mind (as current popular writers might suggest, i.e. Christopher Hitchens), or psychological needs (Freud, Jung, etc.). We believe that we have come to this great believe in a God who loves his creation, through corporate and individual revelation through Scripture, through Reason, through Experience, and through Tradition. And we believe this message through faith.

It is encouraging and exciting to look to the future of our churches. In my own experience, I participate in a church that is beginning to grasp this concept of missional evangelism. A type of evangelism that wants to see people in its buildings, but more than anything wants to see its members in people's homes. That desires to see people worshipping, but desires to see families come to realize God's glory in everyday life, and not just through the institutional church. That wants to be resourced and funded, but done so through an act of worship and offering to God, given for the greater work of joining in with the mission of God in this world. It is a beautiful time to be a student and minister of God's work and words. I pray continually for guidance, for faithful and God loving/fearing mentors, and for an open ear to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in ministry and evangelism.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Man Who Listens to Horses and Evangelism

Some (or most) of you may already be familiar with the book called the Man Who Listens to Horses (roughly turned into the film The Horse Whisperer). Although I have not read the book, Frost and Hirsch reference it beautifully in the sixth chapter of The Shaping of Things to Come. It tells of the main character, Monty Roberts, who strays from the traditional method of taming horses because of the unnecessary cruelty shown. He comes to realize that horses have a need to be in contact with others, whether other horses or humans, so much so that they will change their "animal" nature in order to be in contact. Roberts discovers that if he enters a corral but stays as far away from the horse as possible, never making eye contact, the horse will give in, leaving aside it's instincts. Frost quotes Monty Roberts saying, "These animals need contact with others so much, they would rather befriend their enemy than be left alone" (pg. 98).

Frost and Hirsch use this story to illustrate evangelism in a post-Christendom arena. What was seen as the best method for taming horses in the past has been proven to being outdated and something else can replace it. They go on to say that evangelism during Christendom has been characterized by in and out groups, by tracks and surveys, and propositional teaching demanding response. The methods include making non-Christians to realize their brokenness, to crush their spirits, "to tear them down and bring them to their knees" (pg. 98) They contend that post-Christendom evangelism may need to look for other means by which to evangelize. They say that "It's time for us to develop a spirituality of engagement with not-yet-Christians. That will involve true listening and genuine presence" (pg. 98).

Evangelism is weighing heavily on my mind and heart during this time. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Jamie and I have started a new small group that discusses a method of "Just Walking Across the Room." This story of the Man Who Listens offered a good and helpful side tool when thinking about challenging the system(s) that we have become so uncomfortable with.

The Man Who Listens to Horses and Evangelism

Some (or most) of you may already be familiar with the book called the Man Who Listens to Horses (roughly turned into the film The Horse Whisperer). Although I have not read the book, Frost and Hirsch reference it beautifully in the sixth chapter of The Shaping of Things to Come. It tells of the main character, Monty Roberts, who strays from the traditional method of taming horses because of the unnecessary cruelty shown. He comes to realize that horses have a need to be in contact with others, whether other horses or humans, so much so that they will change their "animal" nature in order to be in contact. Roberts discovers that if he enters a corral but stays as far away from the horse as possible, never making eye contact, the horse will give in, leaving aside it's instincts. Frost quotes Monty Roberts saying, "These animals need contact with others so much, they would rather befriend their enemy than be left alone" (pg. 98).

Frost and Hirsch use this story to illustrate evangelism in a post-Christendom arena. What was seen as the best method for taming horses in the past has been proven to being outdated and something else can replace it. They go on to say that evangelism during Christendom has been characterized by in and out groups, by tracks and surveys, and propositional teaching demanding response. The methods include making non-Christians to realize their brokenness, to crush their spirits, "to tear them down and bring them to their knees" (pg. 98) They contend that post-Christendom evangelism may need to look for other means by which to evangelize. They say that "It's time for us to develop a spirituality of engagement with not-yet-Christians. That will involve true listening and genuine presence" (pg. 98).

Evangelism is weighing heavily on my mind and heart during this time. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Jamie and I have started a new small group that discusses a method of "Just Walking Across the Room." This story of the Man Who Listens offered a good and helpful side tool when thinking about challenging the system(s) that we have become so uncomfortable with.

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VA Drummer - Mario

If you have not been introduced to VA Drummer, let me be the one to do so.






VA Drummer - Mario

If you have not been introduced to VA Drummer, let me be the one to do so.


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Monday, September 15, 2008

Evangelistic Tools – A Missional Perspective

A few days ago I posted a new blog describing the impact a new small group was having on my views of evangelism (click here). In it I mentioned that the gospel message is received differently by people depending on their own circumstances. David Fitch recently submitted an article for Christian Today (click here) that begins a discussion as to what evangelistic tools might look like for a missional church.

First, such an evangelistic tool must lead the new believer in the back-and-forth motion between the bigness of God's salvation for the world and what he wants to do "for us": forgive our sins and shape us in the image of his Son. In other words, such a tool should begin with 2 Corinthians 5:19 ("that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them"), move to the personal John 3:16, and go back again. This tool must in effect allow the busy suburban family person to catch a glimpse of the world he or she is not seeing, instead of first appealing to the all-too-familiar "need." Like a mind-bender movie that helps us see reality in a different way, such a tool would unfold the big picture of God's "reconciling the world to himself." This sets the stage that makes possible the words, "whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Such a tool will prepare us to offer a glimpse of a new world order when everything else has become cloudy and dark. It will be composed of stories and pictures, both scriptural and personal.

Second, this evangelistic tool must function from within the context of the community's life, because it is only here that the words and pictures we share take on flesh and make sense. In post-Christendom settings in which people have no language to comprehend the gospel, an evangelistic tool can make the gospel seem like another lofty idea for achieving a better life. The gospel therefore should not be separated from real lives engaged in living the mission. It is the community that translates the mission of God, through tiny acts of loving one another and the world around us. The community becomes a necessary part of "the bridge."

Evangelistic Tools – A Missional Perspective

A few days ago I posted a new blog describing the impact a new small group was having on my views of evangelism (click here). In it I mentioned that the gospel message is received differently by people depending on their own circumstances. David Fitch recently submitted an article for Christian Today (click here) that begins a discussion as to what evangelistic tools might look like for a missional church.

First, such an evangelistic tool must lead the new believer in the back-and-forth motion between the bigness of God's salvation for the world and what he wants to do "for us": forgive our sins and shape us in the image of his Son. In other words, such a tool should begin with 2 Corinthians 5:19 ("that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them"), move to the personal John 3:16, and go back again. This tool must in effect allow the busy suburban family person to catch a glimpse of the world he or she is not seeing, instead of first appealing to the all-too-familiar "need." Like a mind-bender movie that helps us see reality in a different way, such a tool would unfold the big picture of God's "reconciling the world to himself." This sets the stage that makes possible the words, "whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Such a tool will prepare us to offer a glimpse of a new world order when everything else has become cloudy and dark. It will be composed of stories and pictures, both scriptural and personal.

Second, this evangelistic tool must function from within the context of the community's life, because it is only here that the words and pictures we share take on flesh and make sense. In post-Christendom settings in which people have no language to comprehend the gospel, an evangelistic tool can make the gospel seem like another lofty idea for achieving a better life. The gospel therefore should not be separated from real lives engaged in living the mission. It is the community that translates the mission of God, through tiny acts of loving one another and the world around us. The community becomes a necessary part of "the bridge."

Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch’s Definition of Church



A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with Pastor Adam Hultstrand who will be fulfilling the role of mentor and supervisor for my upcoming internship at Elgin Community Church. After discussing potential responsibilities, duties, and goals for the upcoming year, he recommended a few books that I should be reading to prepare for ministering in a local-community-church. One of these books is by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch entitled, The Shape of Things to Come. I just finished reading the fifth chapter which addresses the issue of the contextualization of the church. This topic has produced a roller coaster of beliefs in these last years of my life: If the church is the body of believers, then is any gathered group of believers a church? Is it not the four-fold pattern of worship that designates the church as church? Isn't a church a church when the people live together in intentional community, such as the Simple Way or Reeba Community?

Frost and Hirsch offer the following criteria to designate a gathering a Christian church. First, the gatherings of believers are concerned with commission. Commission is broken down to these two authors as serving/giving and Gospel telling/sharing. Secondly, it is concerned with communion. This communion is in relationship with Christ through God's word and worship, enacted through a response to God. And finally, they are concerned with community. Community here means being in relationship with another through learning, fellowship, and friendship.

I believe that these two authors are accurate in their analysis that much of the failure of the modern-Christian churches in Western America and Western Europe revolve around an obsessive emphasis on one of these areas while neglecting the others. So to answer the questions posed in the first paragraph, yes, a gathering of professing Christians is a church when they acknowledge and practice their commission, communion, and community (It is important to note that Frost and Hirsch see longevity as important an important criteria as well. A gathering for a day may be a good Christian meeting, but it does not meet the community aspect of church). The four-fold pattern of worship (Gather, Word, Eucharist, Sending) is a very important and even necessary aspect of the church, but if the Sending does not evoke a greater awareness of the commission and the Gathering does not pronounce the community, then the church is not functioning as a church. And yes, intentional community can be a church, if they maintain a practice and awareness of communion and commission.

Looking at church in this light opens up creativity and expands the boundaries to what can be considered church, but offers measurable and solid guidelines to critique and confront those that are claiming to be the church while neglecting some very essential aspects. I hope that in the next few days I will have the time and energy to filter Elgin Community Church and its practices through these three criteria.

Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch’s Definition of Church


A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with Pastor Adam Hultstrand who will be fulfilling the role of mentor and supervisor for my upcoming internship at Elgin Community Church. After discussing potential responsibilities, duties, and goals for the upcoming year, he recommended a few books that I should be reading to prepare for ministering in a local-community-church. One of these books is by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch entitled, The Shape of Things to Come. I just finished reading the fifth chapter which addresses the issue of the contextualization of the church. This topic has produced a roller coaster of beliefs in these last years of my life: If the church is the body of believers, then is any gathered group of believers a church? Is it not the four-fold pattern of worship that designates the church as church? Isn't a church a church when the people live together in intentional community, such as the Simple Way or Reeba Community?

Frost and Hirsch offer the following criteria to designate a gathering a Christian church. First, the gatherings of believers are concerned with commission. Commission is broken down to these two authors as serving/giving and Gospel telling/sharing. Secondly, it is concerned with communion. This communion is in relationship with Christ through God's word and worship, enacted through a response to God. And finally, they are concerned with community. Community here means being in relationship with another through learning, fellowship, and friendship.

I believe that these two authors are accurate in their analysis that much of the failure of the modern-Christian churches in Western America and Western Europe revolve around an obsessive emphasis on one of these areas while neglecting the others. So to answer the questions posed in the first paragraph, yes, a gathering of professing Christians is a church when they acknowledge and practice their commission, communion, and community (It is important to note that Frost and Hirsch see longevity as important an important criteria as well. A gathering for a day may be a good Christian meeting, but it does not meet the community aspect of church). The four-fold pattern of worship (Gather, Word, Eucharist, Sending) is a very important and even necessary aspect of the church, but if the Sending does not evoke a greater awareness of the commission and the Gathering does not pronounce the community, then the church is not functioning as a church. And yes, intentional community can be a church, if they maintain a practice and awareness of communion and commission.

Looking at church in this light opens up creativity and expands the boundaries to what can be considered church, but offers measurable and solid guidelines to critique and confront those that are claiming to be the church while neglecting some very essential aspects. I hope that in the next few days I will have the time and energy to filter Elgin Community Church and its practices through these three criteria.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Good News and Evangelism

I was blessed this evening at small group after hearing from one another how the gospel and the reality of the Kingdom impacts and forms the body of Christ, individually and corporately, on this journey of sanctification. "The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them" (Mt. 11:1).

To all listed in Matthew 11 the gospel was understood in a different way; to all it was good news. The same is true for us today. We are all impacted by the reality of the gospel, and not always in the same way or to the same degree. For the drug addict, it is freedom from captivity. For the fatherless, it is the adoption into a family. To those who can see no purpose in life, the gospel offers hope. The gospel message is substantive and complete. But our limited experiences and capabilities only allow us to experience a select few of these truths. Therefore, testimony and evangelism cannot be made into a stencil or formula. Yes, there is a corporate aspect to the gospel. In fact, the redemption and re-creation is one of the major themes and some of the best news of the gospel. But the good news of the Kingdom of God also impacts believers on an individual level. And when we share those testimonies, others are blessed. Help us, oh God, to share the good news of our realization of the Kingdom of God!

The Good News and Evangelism

I was blessed this evening at small group after hearing from one another how the gospel and the reality of the Kingdom impacts and forms the body of Christ, individually and corporately, on this journey of sanctification. "The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them" (Mt. 11:1).

To all listed in Matthew 11 the gospel was understood in a different way; to all it was good news. The same is true for us today. We are all impacted by the reality of the gospel, and not always in the same way or to the same degree. For the drug addict, it is freedom from captivity. For the fatherless, it is the adoption into a family. To those who can see no purpose in life, the gospel offers hope. The gospel message is substantive and complete. But our limited experiences and capabilities only allow us to experience a select few of these truths. Therefore, testimony and evangelism cannot be made into a stencil or formula. Yes, there is a corporate aspect to the gospel. In fact, the redemption and re-creation is one of the major themes and some of the best news of the gospel. But the good news of the Kingdom of God also impacts believers on an individual level. And when we share those testimonies, others are blessed. Help us, oh God, to share the good news of our realization of the Kingdom of God!