Tim Keller thought Provoking quote

Tim Keller on Missional Communities.  Good stuff.
A  A missional‘ small group is not necessarily one which is doing some kind of specific ‗evangelism‘ programme (though that is to be recommended). Rather:
1. If its members love and talk positively about the city and neighbourhood,
2. If they speak in language that is not filled with pious tribal or technical terms and phrases, nor disdainful and embattled language,
3. If in their Bible study they apply the gospel to the core concerns and stories of the people of the culture, Missional Community Life
4. If they are obviously interested in and engaged with the literature and art and thought of the surrounding culture and can discuss it both appreciatively and yet critically,
5. If they exhibit deep concern for the poor and generosity with their money and purity and respect with regard to opposite sex, and show humility toward people of other races and cultures,
6. If they do not bash other Christians and churches, then seekers and non-believing people (a) will be invited and (b) will come and will stay as they explore spiritual issues. If these marks are not there it will only be able to include believers or traditional, Christianised‘ people.

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Published in: on November 16, 2010 at 4:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Moral Minority

This is one of those blogs where I know I am going to offend some people whom I deeply love and care about,  but such occasions are necessary.

I don’t know how many times I have heard the phrase, “if they just hadn’t taken prayer out of the schools”, or “if we could just overturn ‘Roe v Wade'”, or “if we could just get so and so out of office, then………..” The assumption is that underneath the corruption of our society today lies the same moral and ethical foundation that existed 60 years ago.  Not that many years ago,the late Jerry Falwell represented such sentiment when he coined the term,” moral majority”.

The truth of the matter is there was no such majority in Falwell’s time and such a majority certainly does not exist today. The erosion of a moral consensus, which once helped govern us as a nation has over the last half century has been subtle, but persistent.  We live in a  day that is more like the one that our spiritual ancestors traversed during the Roman empire than the one our great grandparents experienced in the mid 20th century.

The task of restoring a moral compass in our country today, will never be accomplished throughthe exercise of political power.  We must recapture the strategy of the early church, who living in a pagan society, realized the best way to impact their society was through persuasion not coercion.  We must incarnate those values, so that others will see the wisdom of a Godly life.  In Ephesians 3:10, the apostle Paul, casts a vision for the role of the  church in society.  “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms”.

The church is to reflect and embody God’s wisdom in a broken world.  Renewal begins not at the ballot box, but in the people of God , the church.  II Chronicles 7:14 gives us the road map to revival.  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Published in: on September 29, 2010 at 2:29 am  Comments (3)  

Shout it from the rooftops

No theological reflection this morning.  No, sage or for that matter, unsage advice.  Only  out of a  deep sense of gratitude that Jeff and Belinda are going to be parents for the first time and that will allow Carol and I will join the grandparents club next May.  God is good all the time.  All the time, God is good.

Published in: on September 23, 2010 at 12:13 am  Comments (1)  

Attractional or Missional?

Alan Hirsch in his book, The Forgotten Ways, addresses a critical issue in ministry today, “in Australia we have the somewhat farcical situation of having 95 percent of Evangelical Churches tussling with each other over to reach 12 percent of the population and this becomes a  significant missional problem because it raises the question, What about the vast majority of the population (in Australia’s case, 85 percent,in the United States, about 65 percent) that report alienation precisely from that form of church?”  How do they acess the Gospel if they reject this form of church….

For many years the  church has adopted the attractional model of ministry, what I like to call the field of dreams approach to ministry. As pastors we have encouraged, pleaded with and at times begged our parishoners to invite their unbelieving friends to church.  For years, this  seemed to be an effective strategy for  growth, but as Hirsch points out  above, our society is becoming less open to the ministry of the  church. and with that change less and less people are favorably disposed to attending church.

An alternative to the attractional approach is what is described as a missional approach where small groups of Christians come together to pray, study scripture,  offer  accountability, but more than anything  else to take the gospel outside the four walls of the church into the world where people live.  Rather than asking people to come to worship and hear the message, we enter into the world of our pre-Christian friends and embody or incarnate that message.

My new and good friend Joe Sullivan of Jonesboro is a  perfect example of such a shift in strategy.  He moved from his  comfortable home  in a middle class neighborhood into a blue collar area and is forming a  missional community to be on mission with Jesus in that neighborhood.

If we want to reach beyond the 35 % of persons in our towns  receptive to the ministry of the church, we will have  to find  ways of bringing the  message to them instead of waiting for them to come to us.  Below is a link to a video that visually expresses the  need for an incarnational approach to ministry alongside our attractional approach.

http://youtu.be/a5AMKwj73kY?a

Just a thought

Bobalou

Published in: on September 21, 2010 at 8:24 pm  Comments (2)  

Information and formation

I spent 3 years in seminary learning, Greek, Hebrew, Biblical Studies, Theology, Church History, Pastoral Care and Christian Education, but I never had a course on how to disciple people.  Discipling 101 is not something you can  learn in the classroom.  It requires more of an apprenticeship, a mentor, who is willing to invest his or her life in you, so you  can do the same for others.  It is the Jesus model for discipleship.

I  am afraid I spent much of my effort in pastoral ministry Preaching and Teaching what was taught to me in seminary.  I thought that knowledge equaled discipleship.  What I didnt realize was discipleship involves investing your life into another.  It requires  prayer, transparency and a deep commitment to apply scripture to the challenges that people face on a day to day basis.

God help me experience your transforming power, so I can share that power with those around me.

Published in: on September 12, 2010 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

theological education

During seminary I did an independent study on theological education in 18th century New England.  The general practice was for a “would be” pastor to receive a liberal arts degree in college and then go to live with a pastoral family.  The apprentice and the pastor would meet in the mornings to study the classical  disciplines and then spend the afternoons mentoring the future clergy in pastoral care.  This practice would continue until the mentor thought the pupil was ready for ordination.(normally about two years).

This along with the log college in the middle Atlantic region, rooted theological education in the church.  Somewhere along the way, the center of  theological education began to shift from the church to the University and with it came a greater emphasis on academic respectability.

Alan Hirsch pinpoints the downward spiral of Methodism as an organic movement to the transfer of the training of its pastors from the conference  to the University.  One positive sign today is the number of larger congregations offering theological training within the context of the church’s ministry.

Jesus taught his disciples, sent them out and then brought them back for a time of reflection and more training.  Theological education done in connection with making disciples is transformational ministry, transforming both the student as well as the recipients of the disciples ministry.

Published in: on August 19, 2010 at 9:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Farewell to Arms and Legs

As I write this edition,  I say goodbye to a dear friend I have enjoyed, eaten with and even slept with for years, but  before you get the wrong Idea (as some of my friends, might be RECLINED to do), I am talking about my recliner.  For the past seven years, it has supported this  body through thick and thin, well at least thick.  What makes this recliner special is not its material or its sleek design.  It was  in the fact, seven years ago,  a dear parishoner and friend told the local furniture owner to call the pastor and tell him it was Christmas in July and to come to the store and pick out any recliner on the floor.  It’s pricelessness comes in its giftedness.  So much so that despite the fact that it leans badly to the right and is cracked and worn,I have  told company I had one house rule, no one could make fun of my recliner.

Yet, the time has come for me to part company with this dear friend.  I have begun to stand and walk with the same slant as the chair. Carol has been urging me to get a new one.  My response is no,” recliners are not good for my  back.” She has been telling me that for years.  The truth is, I would feel unfaithful if I slept in another chair.   It’s a straight back chair for me, at least for now

All that to say is chairs can be a parable of life.  Sometimes, it is time to let go of the past, as good as the past may be, in order to embrace the future.   Life offers us wonderful gifts, to be enjoyed and treasured,yet sometimes we are called to stand up and say goodbye to  the  most precious of gifts.

Just a thought.

Bob

Published in: on July 20, 2010 at 12:26 am  Comments (4)  

Martyr

The greek word martyr literally means “a witness”.  It goes along with the idea that Jesus made clear that anyone who dares to identify with Christ will suffer persecution.  Christian pastor Rahsid Emmanuel and  his brother Sajjid Emmanuel were shot dead this morning, by a group of Muslim extremists. These men were being held by local Pakistani officials on the charges of blasphemy against Mohammad, which if found guilty could be punishable by death.

Evidently unconfirmed reports had gotten out that the government had insufficient evidence to convict these men of the crime, so they  were in the process of being released, so they were gunned down by a group of Islamic extremists.  The gunmen also killed an officer who was trying to protect them and they fled from the scene.

Christians here in the states don’t face this kind of martyrdom as a result of their witness.  Yet, there is a cost of witness for Jesus Christ.  It might be social, economic or career persecution on account of our witness.  The scriptures tell us to be bold and courageous in testifying for Jesus Christ.

May the lives of Rashid and Sajjid inspire us to be faithful witnesses (martyrs) for our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Just a thought,

Bob

Published in: on July 19, 2010 at 1:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Which Jesus?

The other day I had a conversation with a friend.  The subject of theology came up and her response was “that’s too deep for me, I just love Jesus”, but I probed a little deeper by asking who was this Jesus whom she loved?  Is this Jesus the second person of the trinity, Was this Jesus born of a virgin, did he live a sinless life?  Was he crucified on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins?  Did  he three days later bodily raise from the dead.?  Forty days following, did this Jesus ascend into heaven, where he is seated in the place of power  next to the father and one day will he return to destroy evil and establish his forever kingdom.  The friend responded, “I’m not into this stuff, I just love Jesus”.

Jesus is more than a projection of all that is good, nice  and kind in this world.  He is a very specific person, who did very specific things.  Any other Jesus is just a figment of our imagination, a projection of sentiments, but most importantly powerless to save us.   Without this flesh and blood Jesus, we as Paul said are “of all men, most miserable”. (I Corinthians 15:19)

There is a form  of spirituality today that may seem sincere, pious,  and even religious, but Christianity is rooted in history, who left us a record of his person and work in the Bible

Just a thought,

Bobalou

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 2:46 am  Comments (4)  

Trap manipulation

In my first edition of Bobalou’s blog,  I hoped for the wisdom to know when to speak and when to keep my trap shut.  As the saying goes, be careful what you ask for, you might actually get it.

A couple of my blogs have involved critiques of  my faith tradition.  Certainly there is a need for such critiques and I believe every word I wrote,  but just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should.  There are those whose calling is to enter into the world of politics, national, international and yes even church politics and thank God for those people, but I have become convicted my role is not one of a prophet, but one of a priest.

The Biblical character I most identify with is Barnabas.  His very name means “Son of Encouragement”.Barnabas spent his life focusing on building up and supporting others, whether it was Paul, when everyone else was suspicious of his conversion or John Mark, when even Paul had given up on him, Barnabas was firm in his support for others.  We need John the Baptists in this world, who stir things up in order to be agents of change, but not all of us are equipped to perform such roles.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking  about cowardness,  for it takes a great deal of courage to stand by some one,  when everyone else has given up on that person.  I  am  just saying God has given each of us different roles in his body and I am just learning how to be the best bobalou I can and not try to be someone I can’t.

So, in the future, don’t look to this blog for prophetic confrontations.   If that is your interest, there are several faithful blogs I could you recommend, but I believe God has  led me to this space  to be an encourager not a  critic.  I guess it all goes back to my first blog,  having the wisdom to know when to speak up and when to keep my trap shut.

Just a thought,

Bobalou

Published in: on July 15, 2010 at 6:16 am  Leave a Comment