Our approach to the Christian life is more likely to be an expression of our sociology than our Christology. We are more prone to see people and events through the lens of our background, class, ethnicity, and education than through the eyes of Jesus’ compassion, justice, and mercy. This is not a surprise. It is just that too often we don’t realize how much deeper the transformative work of the Gospel must be since our own sociological lenses leave us with vision that is often so distorted, self-serving, and even blind.
Discipleship is responding to a call by faith to see God, our neighbor and ourselves in new and truer ways. The question then is how can a congregation’s way of seeing become more and more like God’s. We want, not only to see God. We also want to see the way God sees. We need the continuous transformation of our vision. When vision language is used in many churches it primarily refers to a church’s programmatic sense of direction—some kind of “vision statement”. That is not what we mean here. What we are talking about will indeed need to be worked into the programs of the church, but what is more fundamental is the renewing of the heart and mind so that we begin to see more like Jesus. ~ Mark Labberton #MicahGroups #FullerSeminary
Join us for the Sentralized 2015 gathering in Portland, OR, October 1st & 2nd. We will be hosting some of the best missional thinkers and practitioners in the world.
We will be offering multiple main sessions, more than 20 breakout sessions, and significant “living room” times to network and connect with all the presenters. So get registered, mark your calendar and plan on joining us in Portland in October! For details on location and registration go here.
Hugh Halter has written a new book that could not be more timely. The title of his latest is Brimstone: The Art and Act of Holy Nonjudgment. If you want to have a better, more Jesus way of relating to the culture today, read this book. How was Jesus the
How was Jesus the most holy person while at the same time the least judgmental? And why don’t His followers live like He lived? Let’s be honest, Christians are losing the culture war. The western Church is in stark decline and our kids no longer find the message of judgment tenable in the real world. Jesus came to influence and draw—not condemn and repel. In Brimstone, Hugh helps us navigate the overuse of poor judgment and the underuse of right judgment.
For a bit more insight on Hugh’s perspective in the book, read this great repost on his blog: Would Jesus Bake The Cake?
Who Should Attend?
So, Franklin Graham saw a Wells Fargo commercial where a lesbian couple is learning sign language before they adopt a deaf child, and now he is calling on all Christians to boycott the bank. Mhhh! It seems that hardly a week goes by that some story such as this doesn’t hit the media. Would to God that evangelicals actually read, believe and practice and obey the scriptures they so staunchly defend. Of all the New Testament letters, 1 Peter seems to me to be most needed for the evangelical community at this time.
Peter addresses this to the “elect exiles.” (1:1). He is immediately reminding the Christian community of their station and calling. They are in an era of exile, not Christian empire. They do not have home field advantage.
Peter begins the meat and potatoes of his letter in what we call Chapter 2. He says, “So…” Which means, “Okay, here is what you Christian exiles need to do…Here is how you are to go about your calling and assignment…”
(2:1) “Put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” Dang! All of it? Can’t we just keep and use a little bit? The word for slander means, “all unkind speech.” Dang! We have to put all of that away?
Well surely Peter is talking about how we Christians are to treat each other. Yeah…that’s gotta be it. He’s talking about how we speak about and behave toward one another. Right? Wrong.
Displacement. To be displaced. To be disconnected from place. To “diss” place. That’s our current place. We in North America live in a culture of displacement. “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through” is no longer the sentiment of a certain kind of dualistic pietism; it is a culture-wide attitude. Whether we are talking about the upwardly mobile who view each place as a rung in the ladder that goes up to who knows where, or the postmodern nomad with no roots in any place or any tradition of place, or the average consumer who doesn’t know anything about the place where she lives or the places her food comes from, the reality is the same – we are a culture of displacement.
Christian faith is a faith that is always placed. Placed in a good creation. Placed in time. An incarnational faith. A faith rooted in one who took flesh in a particular place. And it continues to be a faith of embodied presence. The church is the body of Christ, and bodies can only exist in place. Moreover, this is a faith with a placed hope – a new heavens and a (re)new(ed) earth. This is not a faith about passing through this world, but a faith that declares this world — this blue-green planet so battered and bruised, yet lovely — as our home.
If you are in the Kansas City area join us for a half-day seminar (8:30am to noon) on Thursday, July 2nd with Deb Hirsch. Each participant will receive a copy of Deb’s new book Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations about Sexuality and Spirituality. For more information check out the registration page here.
Deb Hirsch has led churches in both Australia and Los Angeles. She is one of the founders of Forge Mission Training Network and a current member of the Forge America national team. She also serves as a board member for Missio Alliance. Deb’s new book Redeeming Sex reflects something of her own journey and attempts to bring new conversations around sexuality into the context of the church. As a trained counselor, Deb has worked in the field of sexuality for over twenty-five years. She is also co-author of the book UnTamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship. She and her husband Alan live in community with others in Los Angeles.
The idea of missional church has gained tremendous traction over the last decade. But the most common missteps and misnomers among well-intentioned, rightly motived leaders happen when the word missional is used merely as a fresh term for outreach and evangelism. The difference is this: Missional doesn’t visit the neighborhood. It moves into the neighborhood.
To be missional is not simply to evangelize; it is to do the hard work of an evangelist—getting to know those who need to hear the message, learning the language and the cultural setting. Missional churches are not necessarily churches that do lots of outreach events. Those programs and activities may emerge, and they should. But what makes a missional church is that it’s made up of people who are on mission in their individual lives—their neighborhoods, workplaces and social places—and in their communal activity as a faith collective. Read more →
Between God’s sending of Abram in Genesis 12, to the sending of His angel “to show what must soon take place” in Revelation 22, there are literally hundreds of examples of God as a sending God. Perhaps the most dramatic illustration of sending in the Old Testament is found in Isaiah 6. In this passage you catch a glimpse of God’s sending nature, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’” To which Isaiah responds, “Here I am! Send me” (6:8).
Later in the book of Isaiah there is a fascinating passage where the Prophet recognizes that God’s Spirit has anointed him to “preach good news to the poor” and that he is sent to “bind up the brokenhearted” (61:1). In the larger passage of Isaiah 61:1-3 it is interesting to note that there is no less than eight redemptive deeds that proceed from, or are dependent on the verb “sent” or “He has sent me.” To emphasize the centrality of the sending theme, the passage could be render this way:
The problem with denominations is that they want to shape the mission around their polity, rather than shape the polity around the mission. The latter view is the spirit of all the founding fathers and mothers of every denomination, while the former is the sorry state of every denomination today. The lack of mission urgency in North America means that denominational leaders think they still have time to develop modest, incremental strategic plans to tinker with polity, and time afterwards to then go about mission. The truth is just the opposite. The eternal destinies of individuals do not allow such laxness.
We have suggested that recruiting apostles is strategic to the renewal of the organization, and at the very least, it gives equal legitimacy and access to reverse the exile of distinctly missional forms of leadership. To exclude apostolic influences from any position (as the church has typically done up to this point) is to effectively lock out the distinctly missional leadership that churches so desperately need to recover. We need to level the playing field, give equal access, widen the gates, and expand our vision of what biblical ministry is. Consider the following deficits that emerge when apostolic ministry is left out of the equation:
Without apostolic multiplication, we stop at evangelistic addition. Salvation is seen as individualistic as we fail to see how God wants to start a gospel pay-it-forward movement though the life of every believer.