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On The Death Of Shopping Malls (via Wired)

Analysis of the situation of Shopping Malls that have closed in the USA in a video report from Wired.
It’s interesting to hear the balance of over-supply, changes in shopping habits, and changes in people’s social gathering habits are all thought to contribute to the change.
No one thing has contributed to the decline, and ongoing developments in demographics have meant that there are no simple responses that can return those facilities to viability.
The situation will continue to evolve, in the face of ongoing social changes, just as malls themselves were a response to post-world-war-2 social changes.
Solutions need to look forward and accomodate sociological developments instead of trying to keep meeting the culture that has passed.
Of interest to Christians is what changes in peoples’ gathering habits mean as we seek to interact with our culture in communicating the Gospel.
Malls were a development in ‘third space’ places beyond home and work and were one of the areas that supplanted churches.
There is a comment about churches taking over disused malls.
Larger churches sort of emulated some aspects of mall structure, and it will be fascinating to see whether that gets wound back or whether they have simply become their own sub-culture in that form.
The video refers to television program Stranger Things, but doesn’t require any familiarity with that program. I’ve never watched it.


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The Joy Of Staying Where You’ve Been Sent (via Karl Vaters)

Karl Vaters makes some observations arising from the deep and satisfying relationship between a congregation and a pastor.

If you are where God called you to be, that should be enough to keep you there.
You don’t have to prove your worth.
You don’t have to justify your calling.
You don’t have to see constant numerical increase.
You don’t have to be someone you’re not.
You have value. To God and his church.
Right here, right now. No matter what the numbers do or don’t look like.
Go where you’re called.
Love the people you pastor.
Reach out to others with Jesus’ love.
And stay until you’re moved.
They say the joy is in the journey.
Sometimes, the joy is in staying where you’ve been sent.

source


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Think Advent, Not Adrenaline, When You Picture Life In Christ’s Church (via Chad Bird)

A reminder from Chad Bird that life as a disciple of Jesus is life with the Church; and growth as a disciple of Jesus with the church is a slow-cooker experience, not a microwave experience.

The work of Jesus in our lives, and in the life of his church, creeps along like that Matthew genealogy. It’s not radical, explosive, immediate, incredible, or any other dazzling adjective you can select from the Thesaurus of Spiritual Excitement. There’s no microwaving this sacred meal. It’s going to take time. It’s going to be humdrum most of the time. Worship won’t be an ongoing string of wow! mind-blowing! incredible! experiences that leave us tingling with the skintight closeness of the Spirit.
Jesus is more of a take-his—sweet—time gardener than an applause-inducing circus performer. Novelty is not his way. We often want it to be. Indeed, as the devil Screwtape brags in one of his letters to the junior tempter, “The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart.” Unsatisfied with the built-in rhythms of change in daily lie, “the horror of the Same Old Thing” demands novelty for novelty’s sake. “Unchanged” comes to mean “stagnant.” But think advent, not adrenaline, when you picture life in Christ’s church.

Chad Bird, Your God Is Too Glorious, Baker Books, 2018, 127.


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Aware, Wise, and Intentional – The Missional Church (via Michael Milton)

Michael Milton provides a definition of a missional church and expands on how that definition functions:

A missional church is an ecclesial community of Word, Sacrament, and Prayer where pastoral staff, officers, and members are united in their commitment to the Gospel-driven practice of the Great Commission of Jesus Christ in every area of ministry and life.

I like the clarity of Milton’s position on the need for a theology that wants to embrace a city has to do so on the basis of the lostness of the city and the need for its citizens to personally experience redemption in contrast to the corporately experiencing the blessings of the kingdom:

The missional church is one that is aware of its parish’s socio-historical context, including an understanding of the development of the context, and responding wisely in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, every part of the church’s ministry is attuned to the surroundings andintentional in its outreach ministry to the community. We do not disagree with Alan Hirsch’s definition of a “missional church” as “posture toward the world.” However, we believe that such a posture must be that the world is lost and in need of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. Theologies that “embrace the city” without pointing to the sin in the city and the unbelieving city dwellers’ need for personal repentance and faith in the resurrected and reigning Jesus Christ are not missional as the word describes the urgent mandates of the Gospel.

Read the whole post at Christianity Today.


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The First Time Something Wasn’t Good And The Christianisation Of The Me Generation (via Chad Bird)

Chad Bird likens the action of the church in greeting the me generation with an emphasis on an individualistic experience of salvation to attempting to douse a fire with petrol.
His comments below are well balanced in that they do not make the fulfilment of Adam and Eve out to be marriage, as if any human that is not married has a less that complete life. What they do recognise is that the fulness of humanity cannot be expressed or experienced without relating to other humans.

From Upside-Down Spirituality:

The very first time God said something was “not good” was when someone was alone. The earth was good. The heavens were good. The animals and seas and mountains were good. But Adam, all on his lonesome, without another human being, without someone to complement him, live with him, and be his family, his helper, his own flesh and blood – that was not good at all. A private Adam who had a personal relationship with his Creator was simply not going to cut it. He may have been a glorious, regal, beautiful human being, but he was still not independent. Therefore God gave him Eve, built from his own body. He belonged to her and she to him. The depended on each other, leaned on each other, found fulfilment in each other.
Humanity was not truly complete until singular had expanded into plural, until I had become We.

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 168-169.


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The Attitude We Have About The Church Is The Attitude We Have About Jesus (via Stephen Kneale)

The Church is the body of Christ. Not figuratively. Literally.
The way you’ll treat the Church tomorrow is the way you treat Jesus.

From Stephen Kneale at Church Matters:

If Christ is unified to his people, then what one does to his people is what one is doing to Christ. How one treats his people is how one is treating Christ. This is the clear implication of Jesus’ own words in Matthew 25:40.
Jesus’ words to Paul have far wider-reaching ramifications than how Jesus views the persecution of his people. It has clear implications for how the Lord’s people treat one another. It similarly has implications for how the Lord’s people treat the Lord’s stuff.
If we cannot be bothered to get out of bed to get to church on Sunday morning, we are not just failing to bother spending time with God’s people but we are spurning Christ himself. When we have no interest in serving and caring for the Lord’s people, we are failing to care for the Lord. When we drop the ball on stuff in church and put upon others, we are spurning the Lord and saying there are other things that take precedence over him.
If Jesus’ words to Saul tell us that those who persecute the church are persecuting Christ, it also tells us that how we treat the church is how we treat Christ. If we never go to church, if we constantly go away for the weekend, if we never serve, if we find anything else to do, these are not just holding the church in low esteem, it is treating Christ lightly and a direct reflection on our views of him.
By contrast, a high view of the church is a high view of Christ. If the church becomes a high priority, Christ is a high priority. Serving the people of the church is a measure of our love for Christ. Serving in the ministries of the church is a measure of our love for Christ. Turning up at weekly worship and engaging with the Lord’s people is a measure of our love for Christ.

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Not Running Ahead Of Him (via Jared C Wilson)

A reminder that a thoughtful and intentional Gospel ministry relies on supernatural power, not pragmatism for its outcome.
From Gospel-Driven Church Jared C Wilson :

One of the most frequent temptations pastors and church leaders face today is to replace a steady commitment to gospel preaching and revival prayer with human ingenuity and industriousness. Can these coexist? Certainly. But we must also guard against allowing ourselves to replace the work that only the Holy Spirit can do. The Holy Spirit can do far more than we think or ask, and his timing may not always follow our goals or fit our plans. But let’s not run ahead of him.

Jared Wilson, Gospel-Driven Church, Zondervan, 2019, pg. 77.