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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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The Counter-Cultural Activity Of Going To Church (via Jared Wilson)

Gathering week by week is a work of service to your fellow worshippers and work of witness to those who do not believe.

From Jared Wilson:

One of the most countercultural things you can do is get up early on Sunday morning, put real clothes on, and drive to a church building. … In many regions of the Western world, church attendance is downright abnormal.
And so on the Lord’s Day morning, while all the other yards in your neighborhood are buzzing with lawn mowers, all the other kids are making for the swimming pool, all the other patrons of the coffee shop are lounging in sweatpants, you show your family’s otherworldliness in that moment that you dedicate to the countercultural tradition of going to church.
It’s not that you’re better than everyone else. It’s because you realize you may in fact be worse. When you back the family car out of the driveway on Sunday morning, you are telling your neighbors that you need Jesus and no amount of Sunday leisure can satisfy you like Him, that no rest is better than that which is found in Jesus, and that when the thin veneer of worldly frivolities starts to show a few cracks, you might be the kind of person they could talk to about the “alternative lifestyle” of following Jesus.

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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?

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The Gospel Will Empower Its Own Implications (via Jared Wilson)

Jared Wilson writes about the mission response to Gospel preaching and teaching.
Christian ministry can’t be motivated by fear and guilt.

The good news about Jesus doesn’t just tell Christians how to respond, it is the power by which they respond.
Remember that the gospel will empower its own implications. So remind your church that they have all the wind of the Spirit at their backs, that God has always been roaming the earth seeking whom he may revive, that the kingdom is not contingent upon them but upon him, and that they are not responsible for evangelistic success, but evangelistic faithfulness.
The motivation of grace better triggers a church’s impulse for gospel mission.

Read the whole post here.


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Billy Graham In Sydney (via Philip Jensen)

There’s no shortage of Billy Graham reflection pieces since his death.

I watched Peter Jensen be interviewed on Dominic Steele’s The Pastor’s Heart webcast where he mentioned his response to the Graham Crusade of 1959 as a 15 year old, and that his 13 year old brother followed him forward.
Philip Jensen provides his perspective of being that 13 year old.
But it’s the human story of the impact of Graham’s ministry that remains.
From Jensen:

However, the main impact of the Graham crusades was felt at the grass roots of our society rather than in the public domain. Certainly, many who made a decision for Christ, later fell away – but the long-term impact in the lives of individuals, families and churches can still be found across Australia. Half the students training at Moore College to become Ministers during the 60’s were converted at the ‘59 crusade. Nearly all the youth group I lead were converted in the ‘68 crusade. The church I pastored doubled in size during 1979, largely as a result of the that year’s crusade. At university I met a girl who, as a young teenager, was converted in 1959 listening to Billy Graham on a landline in Broken Hill. That’s how my wife became a Christian.
Read the whole post here.