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Church Is A Slow-Cooker, Not A Microwave (via Aaron Earles at Facts And Trends)

A simple reminder from Aaron Earles that the a very significant part of the enduring fruit of Christian discipleship happens in the context of relationships and takes time.
The conclusion:

Because conversion, discipleship, relationships, and leadership all take time, it’s no wonder that change usually takes time in a church as well.
When we see new people come to Christ, grow in their faith, form committed relationships with others, and develop into new leaders for the church, change and institutional growth will happen.
In the meantime, however, progress and change can seem to be moving so slow. But it’s worth the wait.
You could probably microwave a pot roast and cook the meat, but the results taste much better with a slow cooker.
You can’t rush everything in church—and we are better off for it.

Read the article at Facts And Trends.


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The Redemptive And Restorative Experience Of Being Part Of The Church (via Derek Thomas)

While no family is without some level of disfunction, those whose experience of family has left them hurt and alienated can experience what family is truly meant to be as part of the church.
It’s one of the reasons I look forward to gathering with Christians week by week:
From Derek Thomas:

…the church is an assembly called together into a homogenous, integrated unity. Several perspectives reinforce this in the New Testament. The church comprises the “family of God.” Each member of the church has become an “adopted son” (huiothesia; Rom. 8:15; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). Now we are “members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19), in which Jesus Christ is our elder brother. Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers (Heb. 2:11). We come to God in prayer, saying, “Our Father” (Matt. 6:9). To those whose experience of family is dysfunctional in this world, the experience of belonging to a community of brothers and sisters is redemptive and restorative, particularly when they experience the loving concern (fellowship [koinōnia]) of “those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).

source


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Seven Reasons Why Church Is Difficult For Those Touched By Mental Illness (via Stephen Grcevich)

Church is meant to be the one place on earth where people can come just as themselves and feel welcome and at home.
But it’s not always the case.
I found these seven reasons provided by Stephen Grcevich to make sense.
It’s helpful to read what is obvious when made plain, but is so easy to forget in practice.
Some of these are focused on parents whose children have a mental illness, others are relevant to people who are enduring various conditions whatever their age.

A couple of examples:

Anxiety: One in 15 American adults experience social anxiety disorder—a condition resulting in significant fear and distress in situations where their words or actions may be exposed to the scrutiny of others. How many social interactions might a first-time visitor to a weekend worship service need to navigate at your church? Persons with agoraphobia frequently experience intense fear, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, excessive perspiration, and nausea in public places where their ability to leave unobtrusively is limited. How might they feel if there are no seats available near an exit at a worship service, or if a well-meaning usher directs them to a middle seat near the front of the church?

Expectations for self-discipline: The Bible clearly equates self-control with spiritual maturity. Most mental health conditions can negatively impact executive functioning—the cognitive capacities through which we establish priorities, plan for the future, manage time, delay gratification, and exercise conscious control over our thoughts, words, and actions. When children struggle with self-control in the absence of obvious signs of disability, we’re often quick to make assumptions about their parents. One mother in describing her family’s experience in looking for a church with two school-age boys with ADHD observed that, “People in the church think they can tell when a disability ends and bad parenting begins.”

Read the whole article here.


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An Everyday Two Question Conversation Between Christians (via David Burke)

David Burke suggests two questions that Christians could include in their everyday conversations with each other:
1. What part of Scripture did you read today?
2. How was your prayer life today?
Read some more of his thoughts about it at his blog.

One thing struck me in Psalm 121 is that God is with his people all the time, in all circumstances.
My prayers are that a confused and upset nation would grieve with as few words as possible, creating space for those suffering loss.