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Considering The Gospel Evidence (via Dale Ralph Davis)

The beginning of Gospel proclamation was not eye-witnesses trying to convince those who had not seen, but one group of eye-witnesses seeking to help other eye-witnesses understand what they all had seen. Even as Gospel proclamation continued on it was grounded in events that had happened and been seen and experienced.
From Dale Ralph Davis:

What does one make of all that? These were things that the early preachers of the gospel said and preached as eyewitnesses, as men who had been there. Here’s the crucial point: when they were preaching these things, they were preaching to other eyewitnesses, and they were often preaching to a lot of hostile eyewitnesses. If what the preachers were saying was not true, those hostile eyewitnesses would have exposed it as a fraud in the first century and you would never have heard of Christianity. Why didn’t that happen? Because even the hostile hearers could not dispute the truth and accuracy of what these original evangelists were proclaiming. When you preach in front of hostile hearers, you have to be careful with your facts. So, if you resist the gospel, do not claim that there is not enough evidence. There is evidence for you to deal with.

Dale Ralph Davis, True Words For Tough Times, EP Books, 2013, pg 69.


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The Best Thing You Can Do For The Kingdom (via Mez Mc Connell)

Mez McConnell writes frankly about a Christian culture that won’t invest in reaching hard places, but encourages people and churches to spend money based on sentiment or experience for little real return.
From his post.

Let’s not think too deeply about the fact that the Western evangelical money machine basically runs the most sophisticated and expensive 4D-real-life-experience/babysitting service in the world and then passes it off as legitimate short term missions and poverty alleviation. Agencies will spend millions on flashy and emotive videos in an effort to persuade people to give their lives to the cause of world missions. I know. At 20schemes we are desperate for gospel workers, male and female, to come to our land and share the good news of Jesus. Desperate. I could quote all the stats showing our need over and against another country’s need or another agency’s work. I could post the links right here to powerful videos of lives transformed by the gospel and then make the ask to join us on our exciting adventure into the future. But I’m tired of that. And you know what…so are you. So, my challenge to you is this—forget the idea, spoon-fed to the younger generations since birth, that you’re the future of your local church and the global church. You’re not. Jesus is. The best thing you can do for the kingdom this year is to knuckle down wherever God has you now. Ask your pastor and the elders how you can better serve them and your local congregation. Go out and find that John in your community. You’ll probably find them in the areas of your town that you would usually avoid, struggling away, invisible among all the bells and whistles of modern evangelicalism. If you’re really wanting to serve the least of these, go and do a free internship there. Serve him and that community in anonymity. Turn your iPhone off. Don’t tweet about it. Keep off Instagram.

Read the whole article at 20schemes.


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The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) Of Christianity (via Gary Millar at Gospel Coalition Australia)

Gary Millar reflects that in contemporary culture, making the idea that a local church is ‘just like you’ as central to its efforts to reach out into the community is no longer effective.
His conclusion:

Ultimately, the gospel itself is the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of Christianity. God in Christ has made it possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection for people like us to know and enjoy him forever, as part of his family. I suspect that we need to throw ourselves into, not just proclaiming the gospel, but also demonstrating its implications with fresh enthusiasm. Because of the gospel, church really is different kind of community. Through the gospel, we have been reborn into a community marked by love, joy, peace and hope. The gospel announces that in Christ we really aren’t just like everyone else, but have been brought from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Perhaps it’s time to start proclaiming that with a renewed confidence. Because that really does set us apart from the ‘competition’.

Read the whole post at Gospel Coalition Australia.


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The Deceit Of Riches (via Mez McConnell)

Mez McConnell reflects on Jesus observation about wealth being an obstruction to entering the kingdom of God and the implications of that for evangelism and church planting:

The Danger of Wealth
Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, right? What he’s saying is this: When you’ve got money, when you’ve got material wealth, when you’ve got comfort, you feel invincible. You feel like you don’t need God. You don’t feel—at least in your outward portrayal—a spiritual need.
And so people become very hard, very bitter, very intellectually opposed to gospel truths. Whereas in less privileged communities, people are not necessarily happy, but they are more likely to admit they’re sinful, to admit that their lives aren’t perfect, to admit there’s a problem.
People in poor or ethically deprived communities are very supernaturalistic, so you meet very few atheists in such communities. These people’s problems aren’t necessarily with God (although they can be), but with the concept of church. People in that community see the church as a middle-class intellectual institution—which it largely is—and so apologetically, that’s the battle we’re fighting.
I think people in rich communities—with two cars on the drive, a nice house, and a full bank balance—in many ways are much harder to reach because all that wealth and comfort makes them think that they’re invincible. It may make them think that they don’t need anything outside of themselves. I often say that in many ways, my friends who work, reach, and plant in these communities are in very, very hard places.

source


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On Praying That God Would Bring In People Not Like Us (via Daniel Darling)

Daniel Darling on church being a snapshot of God’s grace and not homogeneous unit management principles:

Sometimes, in our quest to create cutting-edge churches, we sacrifice our long-term futures for short-term benefits. I’ve often felt this way as I’ve walked into vibrant, well-known churches or as I attend popular evangelical conferences. It seems that we are often creating a church for the young, hip, and sexy. It’s as if we want our message to the world to be something like, “See, church is the place where the cool people gather on Sunday.”
But the kingdom of God takes the opposite approach.
Jesus said it is the poor, the downtrodden, and the marginalized who have a prominent place in the kingdom of God (Matt. 5:3, 20:16). Paul reminded his churches of the shocking ordinariness of God’s people (1 Cor. 1:26). James scolded those in the church of Jerusalem for their tendency to favor the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the poor (James 2:1-13).
Do our congregations look like outposts of this radical kingdom? Do people enter our congregations and wonder to themselves, How did these disparate people get here? What possible thread unites people so vastly separated by age, race, political affiliation, and class? Why is it that old and young, black and white, disabled and able-bodied, rich and poor, prominent and anonymous gather together every Sunday?

source


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Perfectionism Is Just Chronic Insecurity In Disguise (via Sam Kim)

Sam Kim writes about the social media fueled anxiety that seems to be eating away at younger generations.

Courtesy of Ed Stetzer’s blog:

In a culture based on shame and superficiality, the elephant in the room, which is the pressure to be amazing, is always staring directly at us.
If we truly want to win the hearts of the next generation with the gospel, we must help reclaim their identity as the beloved, because only perfect love can cast out fear.

Read the whole post here.


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The Living Heart Of Mission In Corporate Worship (via Zac Hicks)

Zac Hicks on corporate worship as true mission activity, perhaps in contrast to being evangelistic activity.

The symbiotic relationship between worship and mission means, first of all, that it would be unthinkable to ever replace corporate, gathered worship with missional acts of evangelism and community service, just as it would be unthinkable to remove a heart and simply tie the remaining veins and arteries together. Missional momentum halts when the heart of worship is removed. Second, if your church is struggling to be a truly missional body, worship must be a very real place of examination. Is the gospel clear and present in worship, or is it crowded out by other things? Ironically, our quest for a more evangelistic worship service, friendly and easy to swallow for non-Christians, has often muted the gospel in worship, rendering the service impotent of missional, transformative power. While we should always strive for worship to be intelligible and understandable to non-Christians, nothing short of prizing the gospel and making much of Jesus will create the kind of awe-inspiring zeal in the church that causes the watching world to cry, “God is really among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:25).

The Worship Pastor, Zac Hicks, Zondervan, 2016, pg 100.