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The Past Is A Nice Place To Revisit, But A Terrible Place To Live (via Jared Wilson)

Churches should be places of thankful remembrance; the shared knowledge of God’s faithful blessings in the past are a great encouragement to present and future ministry.
Thankful remembrance should not give way to nostalgia. Thinking that the best is behind, or that present or future hope are only attainable by a return to what was of a past season is destructive.
Our past experience equips us to navigate present circumstances; and the good old days generally didn’t feel that good when they were happening either.

From Jared Wilson.

Anyone stuck in a nostalgic space is stuck in unreality. And the truth is, much of our nostalgic dreaming is fantasizing about a fantasy, not anything actually experienced. There is a kind of nostalgia that is actually harmful.
A church stuck in the “good old days,” for instance, is in great danger of death. Nostalgia is toxic to a church.
Similarly, the cold hard truth is that there is no such thing as a “golden age.” For every “simpler time” many people look back in hopes of recapture, there is a large number of people who experienced it as anything but. Sometimes white folks love to look back to the 50’s and 60’s as the good old days, willfully oblivous to the institutional injustices against black folks for whom nostalgia isn’t an option.
In this way, there are personal moments or experiences we might look back to and think upon fondly, but the time that the Lord has drawn out for us is relentlessly linear. We cannot — we dare not — live in the past. But it is helpful to remember it, to be cautioned by the reality as well as selectively instructed by the hopes.

Read the whole post here.


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Not Running Ahead Of Him (via Jared C Wilson)

A reminder that a thoughtful and intentional Gospel ministry relies on supernatural power, not pragmatism for its outcome.
From Gospel-Driven Church Jared C Wilson :

One of the most frequent temptations pastors and church leaders face today is to replace a steady commitment to gospel preaching and revival prayer with human ingenuity and industriousness. Can these coexist? Certainly. But we must also guard against allowing ourselves to replace the work that only the Holy Spirit can do. The Holy Spirit can do far more than we think or ask, and his timing may not always follow our goals or fit our plans. But let’s not run ahead of him.

Jared Wilson, Gospel-Driven Church, Zondervan, 2019, pg. 77.


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Attractional Is Not A Style. It’s A Paradigm. (via Jared Wilson)

In Gospel-Driven Church Jared Wilson offers a critique of church growth that is not confined to a style or a size of congregation:

I also want to be clear about what I don’t mean. When I use the word attractional, I am not referring to “contemporary” worship styles or megachurches. Some critics of the attractional church movement easily lapse into a megachurch critique, and while there may be valid criticisms of megachurches, that is not my concern in this book. The size of the church isn’t the point.
There are traditional and nontraditional, denominational and nondenominational, small, medium, and megasized attractional churches. Attractional is not a style. It’s a paradigm.
An attractional church conducts worship and ministry according to the desires and values of potential consumers. This typically leads to the dominant ethos of pragmatism throughout the church. If a church determines its target audience prefers old-fashioned music, then that’s what they feature in order to attract those people.

Jared Wilson, Gospel-Driven Church, Zondervan, 2019, pgs. 24-25.


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On Stuff And Stinginess (via Jared Wilson)

I knew a lady who hated the word ‘stuff’. When we meet as one of the small groups that she belonged to and one of us uses the word we all fall silent for a second and then, having heard her remonstration about using that word echo in our minds, all laugh and try to think of a better word to describe what it is that we’re referring to.
Jared Wilson wouldn’t know that, of course, so he’s forgiven.
Here he writes about what it is to have a God shaped hole in our hearts, and how futile it is to try and fill that hole with anything less.

…in Ecclesiastes 3:11, God has put eternity into our hearts. This is that God-shaped hole we hear so much about. Because we are made in God’s image, we were made for eternity, to carry the glory of the infinite. Because of sin, we are fallen. The glory is obscured; the hole is a wound. We feel the ache, but we don’t know how to heal ourselves. And yet we try. With pleasure, with achievements, even with religion! But especially with stuff. We throw anything and everything into that God-shaped hole, the eternity inside of us, but none of it will fill the void. You cannot satisfy the infinite with the stuff of earth. No, only eternal glory can fill an eternal space.

Read the whole post at For The Church.


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The One Place On Earth No One Should Be Surprised To Find Sinners (via Jared Wilson)

Jared Wilson writes against the niceties that compel Christians (who should no better) to maintain appearances of being okay.
If there’s one place on earth everyone should feel free not to be okay, it’s the church:

I know the reasons we don’t live transparently with each other. We’re afraid. We’re embarrassed. We don’t want to be a burden. We don’t want to be judged!
And I know the reasons others don’t live transparently with us. They’re afraid. They’re embarrassed. We treat them like burdens. We judge them.
And what all of this amounts to is a distrust in God himself. I know people are mean, I know people are judgmental, I know people act weird and get messy and cause problems and are really inefficient for the ways we normally like to do church—but if we believe in the gospel, we don’t have a choice any longer to live in the dark.
How about we stop being shocked to find sinners among the “pious” and start shocking the fearful with grace?

source


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Worship As An Encouragement To Others (via Jared Wilson)

Gathering together with other Christians in worship is an act of encouragement to them.
And that’s before you even do anything else.
From Jared Wilson:

AS AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO OTHERS
Your church attendance is an encouragement to others. This is especially true in smaller to medium-sized congregations, but it’s even true in very large local churches where you may be tempted to think your absence would go unnoticed. Presence is impressive. When the saints gather, there is something spiritually helpful about the physical proximity of the brethren and even about the relative fullness of the sanctuary.
Even if you make the mistake of not talking to anyone, even if you don’t think you’re getting much out of the church or they’re not getting much out of you, your actual presence communicates to those around you: “This is worth it. You, brothers and sisters, are worth it.” Having pastored a church, I can tell you that while I didn’t get to speak to every attendee every Sunday, I was encouraged when I saw people loyally showing up week after week. I’m willing to bet your presence encourages your pastors as well.
This is to say nothing of the immense help and encouragement you can be when you actually reach out with kind words or a helping hand to the brethren you see week after week.

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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