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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.


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How Christianity Flourishes (via Jared Wilson)

Christianity flourishes at the margins, not when it controls.
Jared Wilson:

Christian mission has always thrived by surging in the margins and under the radar. When we somehow get into positions of power, the wheels always come off. This is pretty much the way it’s always been. I once heard Steve Brown relate this story on the radio: “A Muslim scholar once said to a Christian, ‘I cannot find anywhere in the Qur’an that it teaches Muslims how to be a minority presence in the world. And I cannot find anywhere in the New Testament where it teaches Christians how to be a majority presence in the world.’”
Indeed, as Christianity spread throughout the first few centuries as a persecuted minority people, the conversion of Constantine paved the way for its becoming the official state religion of the Roman Empire by the end of the fourth century. That’s quite a turnaround for some backwater sect splintering off an oppressed Palestinian Judaism. But as my old religion professor in college, M. B. Jackson, used to say, “When everyone’s a Christian, no one is.” And once Christianity became the official religion, the church lost its prophetic voice and its vibrancy.

Read the whole post here.


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Eric Liddell – “God Made Him For China”

With Usain Bolt’s inspiring third win in the Olympic 100 meter race, a lot of people (especially Christians) might remember the film Chariots Of Fire and the words attributed to Eric Liddell “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.”
Albert Mohler writes that these words were a creation of the film’s writer and that Liddell’s actual sentiments were that “God made him for China”.
Liddell would begin and end his life in China, serving the Gospel until his final days.
Sometimes when you find out that a person never said a famous quote attributed to them it’s a bit deflating.
In this case it’s actually better than the original.

Read Mohler’s post here.


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Being Missional Is Not A Substitute For Partnering In Global Mission

This article from Gospel Coalition Australia challenges a perception that seeing our own localities as mission fields fulfils the local church’s obligation to partner in global mission.
From the post:

We are not saying that Australia doesn’t need Gospel mission – it does. We are not saying that local Gospel believers don’t need to constantly sharpen their local mission focus and practice – they do. We are not saying that local pastors aren’t worth praying for and that their sacrifices in ministry aren’t worth noticing – they are. But something happens when we take the word, “mission”, and strip it of the recent and powerful historical connection it has had to “world mission”, or “cross-cultural mission”. We can inadvertently become myopic and xenophobic. We can forget that the mission of God has a global, cross-cultural, every tribe and tongue and people and nation perspective. We can too easily frame our preference for mission according to our priorities instead of constantly attending to the way God sees his Church or mission in his whole wide world. We can forget that the biblical mandate is not to reach as many people as we can, as resource-efficiently or as cost-effectively as we can. No, it is rather, that we go and proclaim the glorious message of the Gospel to all peoples. Go … to All.

Read the whole post here.


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How Churches Became Cruise Ships – Parts 2 & 3 (via Skye Jethani)

I linked to the first part of this series a couple of weeks ago.
In parts 2 and 3 Skye Jethani expands on his observation of church as destination instead of vehicle.

Here’s the link to part 2 “The church can learn an important lesson from this delusion: Relevance backfires when it overshadows your uniqueness.”

And in part 3 “Large ships trade flexibility for efficiency. The same is true for megachurches. One example occurred in 2005 when Christmas fell on a Sunday. Large churches across the country announced they would not have Sunday worship services on Christmas Day while most smaller churches remained opened.”

Interesting thoughts as a trend in churches seems to toward smaller congregations with simpler program structures.
Everything old is new again.