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Seeing Love Through Different Lenses (via Heidi Tai at Gospel Coalition Australia)

There are times when I wonder why I scan through so many online articles.
Then I read one like this.
Heidi Tai writes about a loving across generations and cultural expectations.
And the difference that Jesus can make in bridging those gaps.
Just go and read it.
Maybe have a tissue or two around, as well.

Growing up, my dad and I saw the world very differently. Coming from two different generations and cultures, we would clash for many years to come. As I became a teenager, our relationship became a battleground between Eastern and Western values. He would fail to meet my expectations of a loving father, and I would fail to meet his expectations of a respectful daughter. While I longed for love to be expressed through the Western form of affection and affirmation, Dad expressed love through his Eastern lens of provision and sacrifice.

Read Closing The Cultural Gap at Gospel Coalition Australia.


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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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It Is Striking To Recognise That The Sense Of Being Fundamentally Bored And Dissatisfied With Life Is A Problem Experienced By Prosperous, Wealthy Westerners.“ (via Matthew Payne at Gospel Coalition Australia)

Some thoughts on the transformation of boredom from passing phases of disinterest to a more fixed state of dissatisfaction by Matthew Payne at the Gospel Coalition Australia.

People have always been bored. We’ve all experienced the feeling of disinterest in what we’re doing or not knowing what to do with ourselves. But what this paper focussed on was a deeper and more fundamental problem of boredom. Many people in our culture are disinterested in life as a whole. The meaningless of life hangs over us and we can’t escape a sense of dissatisfaction with what life has to offer.
This latter kind of boredom is a recent phenomenon. It is connected with the rise of wealth and the loss of belief in God in the western world. It is striking to recognise that the sense of being fundamentally bored and dissatisfied with life is a problem experienced by prosperous, wealthy westerners. We have more career and lifestyle choices than anyone else in human history, but this has not made us content. Quite the opposite.

Read the rest of the post at Gospel Coalition Australia.


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Some Questions About ‘Tiger Pastoring’ (via Peter Ko at Gospel Coalition Australia)

Peter Ko explains that ‘tiger parenting’ is what happens when parents push their children hard to succeed.
He goes on to add that church leadership could fall into ‘tiger pastoring’ and create, either directly or indirectly, thoughts in a congregations minds that they constantly have to strive hard to grow.
Usually in a pattern of activities established by the church leadership.
Apart from issues of busyness, he wonders if the model really stacks up biblically:

Does healthy Christian growth require us to apply our model of ‘tiger pastoring’? Or is God powerfully at work by his Spirit, through his Word, so that if his sheep are fed and taught well, and are guarded and cared for by good shepherds, they will grow?
Back to the analogy of parenting, isn’t it healthier to assume that if a child is given his or her basic necessities: food, shelter, clothing, security, schooling, friendships etc., that child will naturally grow and flourish? Could it be that in our well-motivated desire to shepherd our people well, we’ve stopped trusting that Christ will help his people and his body to grow and flourish if the basics are given to them? Corporate worship, faithful teaching and preaching, a church community, and leaders who will guard the truth and fight error. Is there much more that’s needed for healthy Christian growth?

Read the whole article here.


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Ten Tips For Effective Welcoming (via Melissa Brown & Gospel Coalition Of Australia)

Melissa Brown is Connections Coordinator at City On A Hill, Geelong.
In a post published at Gospel Coalition Australia she provides ten tips for effective welcoming:

“Welcoming is about the Gospel. It is about imitating God. But welcoming is also about common sense. Therefore, let’s preach and teach from the Bible about welcoming, but let’s also equip our churches to relax and welcome well.”
10 Tips for Effective Welcoming

  1. Get to know them. Ask questions, but not too many! Questions should produce conversation. Conversing is where real relating happens.
  2. Listen and be attentive. Don’t be looking over your shoulder every five seconds at what’s going on around you. It’s rude!
  3. Remember their name and use it. It’s polite!
  4. Be upfront. Ask, “What brings you to church today?” After all, you know and they know that they are standing inside your church…for the first time! So let’s not be coy. Talk about it. Being up front about this will actually help everyone relax.
  5. Be helpful if you can. People often go to church to seek something. It could be friendship, a spiritual home, connections and networks. For example, a young couple recently came to our church who had just moved to Geelong and I discovered the young man was a new graduate teacher looking for work. So I introduced him to my husband who is a teacher who was able to help him get his CV around local schools. They now attend our church.
  6. Hook them up with others (no I don’t mean in a romantic way). If they’re young adults, introduce them to other young adults. If they’re a family, introduce them to another family. I believe this is critical to good welcoming. Multiplying the links and broadening the community for new people is gold.
  7. Reconnect with them soon afterwards. Try to say good-bye before they leave and that you hope to see them next week. When they return, connect again! Genuine relationships.
  8. Invite them over for a meal. If the conversation is flowing and you feel comfortable about it, invite them to share a meal with you and your family/friends. Newcomers or welcome café nights are also great was to develop a sense of belonging to the church family. After all, families occasionally get together to share food to maintain the bonds of love.
  9. If they give you a phone number, call them! It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but if you said you’d call, then CALL! Even if you didn’t say you’d call, still CALL!
  10. Pray. Our church welcome team always arrive half an hour before the church service to pray. We ask God to send new people to our church and to help us (and our church family) to love and warmly welcome everyone.

source


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The Creeping Trend Of Church Absenteeism (via Murray Lean)

Helpful article about church absenteeism by Murray Lean at Gospel Coalition Australia.
It’s most pitched toward leaders, but the content is helpful for everyone concerned about personal and corporate spiritual growth and well-being.
Among the accessible content is a list of the downsides that sporadic attendance cultivates:

  • Loss of the “spurring-on effect” of regular interaction with other believers
  • Gaps in the continuity of systematic Bible teaching
  • Inability to commit to serving in Sunday ministries, especially children’s programmes
  • Impact on children who miss the regularity of involvement in their weekly Sunday groups
  • Increase in the workload on the “committed core” who are faithfully there week by week
  • General discouragement of the rest of the church family who miss out on the fellowship of friends
  • Poor example to children and less mature Christians
  • General devaluation of the Lord’s Day
  • Weakening of overall connection with and commitment to the local church family, and enhancing the privatizing of faith

And there’s also a list of suggestions about how to respond pastorally:

  • Remind people from the pulpit of the positives of regular attendance, including its impact on others in the church family
  • Preach relevant passages that reinforce commitment to the local church, and also the harm caused by absenteeism
  • Ask yourself whether there are good reasons why people can’t be in church regularly e.g. Does the time of the service need to be more family friendly? Is the preaching boring?
  • Make a note of people who are irregular attenders and speak personally (and gently) with them about it. Some might have good reasons for their irregularity. (This obviously requires some form of record keeping.)
  • Use elders, small group leaders and pastoral carers in this process
  • Work at building fellowship within the church family e.g. meals, hospitality, creating a space for mingling after services

Read the whole post here.


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Should Every Sermon End With Christ? (via The Gospel Coalition Australia)

Should every sermon end with Christ?
Peter Adam, Andrew Reid and Mike Raiter discuss.