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Why Church Should Be Nothing Like Cross-Fit (via Connor Gwin at Mockingbird)

I’ve been dabbling a little bit in personal fitness for a while now, so I’ve got lots of respect for those who exercise.
This article by
Connor Gwin on Mockingbird
interacts with popular thought about why gyms and exercise fill a space in some modern lives that used to be filled by church.
It wants to tease out that the thought that people can find more personally meaningful “content and wisdom and community” in gyms is because the church has been conditioning them to expect the wrong thing.
There are texts in the New Testament that utilise athletic metaphors, but they are not based so much in self-improvement as they are in increased resting in the finished work of Christ in order to grow more like him.
From the article:

What troubles me is that we so easily make the jump from church to gym.
This argument of the Vox article starts from the assumption that religion and religious institutions are “providers of content and wisdom and community.”
From the outside, this is an easy assumption to make. Those of us within the church can fall into this trap too easily as well. The church is not just a provider of content and community. Ritual is not “this really helpful way of making people think of something greater.” The church and the rituals contained therein are forms of participation in reality as opposed to the delusion of my own sinful understanding.
The church does not exist to “make people better” like CrossFit. The church exists first and foremost for the worship of Christ and the proclamation of his Gospel. This sole focus serves to remind people who they are and to proclaim the Good News that we cannot make ourselves better but there is One who makes us whole.
The church is not a provider of spiritual wisdom, but foolishness. It does not exist for improvement or even growth. Saying that CrossFit is the logical home for those who no longer darken the doors of the church is an indictment of the church more than anything.
It shouldn’t be an easy walk from the pew to the weight bench, but it is made easy by a Christianity that looks more like a spiritual fitness program than a Gospel balm.
Any mention of “nones” and someone will mention the “dones,” those who are burned out and tired of giving their all to the church. For the “dones,” the prospect of endless burpees sounds better than one more sermon about the next political issue they need to care about or the next moral ladder they need to climb.
What is happening in the church when the Workout of the Day sounds like better news than the Gospel?
Jesus is not a personal trainer or a guru espousing wisdom. Jesus is Lord, and he calls to each of us, saying, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Read the whole post at Mockingbird.


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Encouraging Involvement In Small Group Ministries (via Ed Stetzer)

Ed Stetzer writes a post about encouraging involvement in small group ministries:

Through teaching biblically, promoting incessantly, and leading organizationally, we can encourage our brothers and sisters to get involved with small group ministries.
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On promotion:
Promote it incessantly
People need to hear about small groups all the time. The more you can promote it, the more likely they are to understand the importance of small groups. I would try to mention small groups in some form or fashion in every service. An ongoing, incessant discussion of small groups is key.

Read the post here.


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Big Moments Matter, But Small Moments Are Formative (via Dan Darling)

Dan Darling points out that if every week at church aims to be a mountain top experience, those who are in the valleys are going to be left behind.

…our spiritual lives are formed by a lifetime of small moments. We grow, not from one big epic church service, but by a series of weekly, mostly forgettable church services.
We learn the Word, not from one class or one sermon, but from years of classes and sermons. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that the Word grows in us, “line after line, a little here, a little there.” (Isaiah 28:10)

read the rest here.


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How Do We Engage With People On Sundays (via Ed Welch)

Ed Welch offers a simple suggestion to build relationships with those who gather together week by week as church.


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Cynicism: The Worst Response To High Standards (via Peter Adam)

Peter Adam on the worst way of wanting the best.
Falling prey to cynicism is an ongoing struggle, one that destroys the capacity for empathy, a necessary element to constructive change and growth.
The article has some lists that help to diagnose and treat the tendency to cynicism.
From the article:

Those of us engaged in Christian ministry are especially prone to cynicism or despair: we have such high expectations—and such wonderful goals because of God’s gospel promises. Sometimes, too, we have delusions about our own gifts and abilities! But ministry is hard work, and we often do not see the results we expect.
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The anger that results in cynicism usually come from discouragement and disillusionment. As this anger spreads from the original cause it becomes universal: we may have become disillusioned in a particular situation but soon find that disillusionment elsewhere as well, because we experience what we expect.

Read the whole article at Gospel Coalition Australia.


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Refreshing The Saints (via Gentle Reformation)

Kyle Borg poses a question based on reflection about Philemon verse 7: “For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (emphasis added).

What am I to my brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus? Do I refresh or weary them? Do I give rest or restlessness? Am I a comfort or an anxiety? Do I encourage confidence or are people walking on egg shells around me? Am I blessing to those I am bound to in the gospel or a burden? Are the hearts of the saints being refreshed through me?

Read more at Gentle Reformation.


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The Better Question Believers Should Ask about God’s Will (via Jen Wilkin)

Most of the time questions about seeking God’s will for our lives revolve around questions about what we should do.
Jen Wilkin suggests the more pressing question the Bible deals with has to do with God’s will for what we should be.
It’s not that “what should we do?” is wrong, but “what should we be?” is more enduring and closer to the heart of the work of the Gospel in us.
Wilkin explains the priority in this way:

What good is it for me to choose the right job if I’m still consumed with selfishness? What good is it for me to choose the right home or spouse if I’m still eaten up with covetousness? What does it profit me to make the right choice if I’m still the wrong person? A lost person can make “good choices.” But only a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit can make a good choice for the purpose of glorifying God.

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