Tuesday, September 30, 2008

700 Billion - Buy Out or Band Aid?

My friend Dwight Short, who now leads DLS Consulting after a long and very successful career at Merrill Lynch, has some interesting thoughts about the proposed Government Bail Out and II Corinthians 7:10. Check out his Monday Morning Message, a devotional that he sends to his friends and clients in the finance industry.

Monday, September 29, 2008

How big is too big?

Today, someone told me that a family is leaving our church plant, Church of the Hills, because it is too big. COTH usually has between 125 and 150 in attendance. If COTH is too big, what about CVC?

Then I read Ed Stetzer's blog. Check this out:

"The word 'megachurch' tend to elicit strong reactions. Megachurches are churches that average over 2,000 for worship gatherings. While 'megachurch' does not necessarily equal healthy church, it would also be wrong to assume a megachurch always equals an unhealthy, man-centered Christianity. In fact recent studies are giving a more favorable picture of the megachurch than some might have expected.

"A new study by Rodney Stark of Baylor University, now available in book form here, is dispelling the popular caricature of the megachurch as spiritual entertainment for the quasi-Christian baby-boomer. What Americans Really Believe reveals that megachurch members tend to be younger, practice evangelism more frequently, and are bigger on volunteerism than those in smaller churches. Oops. There go the stereotypes. And they aren't abandoning the harder, counter-cultural doctrines of the Christian faith either.

"Those who attend megachurches are more likely to affirm historic Christian doctrines like hell, the exclusivity of salvation through Jesus Christ and his literal return than those in smaller churches. The Washington Post summarized this part of the study saying, 'Ninety-two percent of megachurch members believe that hell "absolutely exists," compared with just over three-quarters of small-church members, the survey found. And eight in 10 megachurch worshipers believe that the Rapture -- when followers of Jesus Christ believe they will be taken to heaven -- will "absolutely" take place, compared with less than half of those who attend small churches.'

"For more coverage check out The Washington Times and The Washington Post."

Thanks, Ed, for reminding us that bigger isn't necessarily better. And smaller isn't necessarily better. Better is better.

Let's pray and serve so CVC can be better... for the glory of the King.
Five Marks of an Effective Leader

This past week, I shared something with the CVC staff that I wrote a couple of years ago: Five Marks of an Effective Leader. I asked them to think about which area was the one where they needed more grace from Jesus. Here's the list. It's not an exhaustive list. I could add to it and so could you. But where and how do you need to grow most?

Five Marks of an Effective Leader

1. Devotional integrity.

An effective leader is a God-seeker. People who see the leader even from a distance can sense that the leader is a worshipper who is spending regular, unhurried time in the Word and in prayer. A leader must have a consistent, disciplined devotional life. See John 4:23, Acts 6:4, II Corinthians 3:18.

2. Relational skill.

An effective leader loves people. A leader must be loving and gracious in working with all different kinds of people. An effective leader has a history of influencing others to accomplish God's agenda. He or she embodies servant leadership and seeks to build a team spirit. See I Corinthians 13:4-8a, Matthew 20:25-28, John 13:13-17.

3. Spiritual intuition.

An effective ledaer has a Spirit-led sense about the things that need to happen next to keep the ministry on track in the pursuit of God's agenda. The people trust that the leader is being led by the Spirit. See Galatians 5:25, Isaiah 30:18-21, Ephesians 5:15-18 .

4. Pastoral competence.

An effective leader shepherds souls with excellence. Follow-up and follow-through happen consistently. While perfectionism is avoided, the pursuit of excellence is not. Effective leaders seek to insure that people do not fall through the cracks. See Ecclesiastes 9:10, Colossians 3:23, Psalm 78:72.

5. Personal initiative.

An effective leader, after waiting on God, creates and implements strategic plans to grow the kingdom of God. A leader doesn't need someone lighting a fire under him or her. A leader doesn't need someone looking over his or her shoulder. See Isaiah 32:8, Proverbs 10:4, Proverbs 21:5.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Church Planting Values

We have started the 2nd year of LAUNCH, a school/seminar for church planters affiliated with NEO360 here in NE Ohio. This past week, I taught on the values we hope every NEO360 church plant will have.

Below are my notes:

***

Everyone has a scheme of values, whether conscious or unconscious. Every church plant has a set of values that define the way people relate to one another and carry out the mission and the vision.

Values express ultimate commitments that have the power to provide a foundational security for the church plant. Values should create the environment through which the progress and the personality of the church plant are expressed. Values communicate the standards for judging what is important and what is not.

Competing visions and strong personalities will present multiple options for church planting leaders. A set of adopted value’s that are adhered to can guide, to a great extent, what decisions the leaders of a church plant will make in a given situation. Therefore, values provide a foundation for wise decision-making. They also serve as a set of norms that provide a way for attenders, members, and leaders to help each other grow and work together.

The following list of values is not exhaustive, but it contains the common values expected in LAUNCH church plants. Following each value is a visionary statement that further defines and clarifies the value.

God’s glory

Scripture says, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31b). It also says, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
(Romans 11:36).

To glorify God means to draw attention to His greatness. The local church is the focal point of God's plan for displaying His glory to the nations. This, then, is the primary purpose of church planting and of individual Christians.

Ask, “Do I sense that the leaders of this church plant really are seeking to glorify God? Or are they somehow wanting to get attention for themselves? Is the worship of God in spirit and in truth a top priority for this church?”

Christ-centered Bible-teaching

The early church emphasized Christ-centered biblical teaching. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

Teaching should explain what Scripture says in a particular passage, carefully explaining its meaning and applying it to the people. Solid, consistent teaching from God’s Word helps us grow to be like Jesus in several ways. It matures and stabilizes our faith in times of testing. It increases our ability to detect and confront error. It gives us wisdom. Solid teaching should also be coupled with compassionate application. A Bible-based church produces people who are not just hearers of the word, but also doers who live like Christ and who have a commitment to know God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture.

Ask, “Do I see the leaders of this church plant challenging people to learn the Word of God and to live out the Word of God in practical ways? Are they giving people practical opportunities to apply the Word – to love the Lord, serve each other, and be a blessing to the world?”

Radical discipleship

God gives leaders to the church to prepare God’s people for works of service so they will “grow up in every way” (Ephesians 4:15). Healthy church plants provide various tools so people in differing stages of the Christian life can grow. New believers, maturing Christians, as well as passionate followers all find positive encouragement to keep growing in Christ.

LAUNCH church plants teach attenders that we are saved, not to be harmless, but to be radical revolutionaries who are busy about the Master’s business. They encourage their people to take risks for Jesus to hear “well done” from Jesus.

Ask, “Does the church have a passion for helping people grow to spiritual maturity? Do the people sense that their leaders are growing in their walk with Christ? Are personal spiritual growth plans encouraged? Are the leaders taking risks for Jesus? ”

Passionate Spirituality

The leaders of LAUNCH church plants will live their lives in a way that God Himself will be known and honored by those inside and outside the church. They worship, pray, read their Bibles, and pursue holiness with great passion. They depend on God to accomplish things that would be impossible apart from His supernatural intervention.

We will plant churches where people are zealous and committed to God. We will show our devotion to Christ in our relationships at home, at work, and in our community. Lukewarmness is not pleasing to the Lord; therefore, it is not an option.

Ask, “Is there a sense that the people in this church plant are authentic? Do they tell stories about what God is currently teaching them?”

Loving relationships

Healthy church plants exude warmth. Not only was the early church caught up in worship, individual devotion to the Lord, and instruction from the Word, but “they were continually devoting themselves… to fellowship” (Acts 2:42). They cared for one another.

Members of the church plant should reflect a true commitment to the life of the church through attendance, giving, prayer, and service. The leaders must be concerned not only with growing numbers, but with growing members and helping them to fulfill the Great Commandment.

Ask, “Do the leaders of this church plant encourage people to be in authentic community with one another? Do the leaders and people in this church plant really care about each other? Do they have a plan to help attenders get connected with others believers? Are the leaders themselves connected to others in their church body?”

Conversion growth

Lost people matter to God, and therefore, matter to our church planters and our church plants. Fulfilling the Great Commission by reaching new people for Christ is priority. LAUNCH church plants will be effective in reaching, assimilating, and discipling the irreligious.

When it comes to outreach programming, the target is never the churched Christian or the unchurched Christian. Outreach efforts will be primarily aimed at the unchurched non-Christian and, to a lesser degree, the churched non-Christian.

Healthy church plants must reach out to the lost. First-century believers shared what they knew about Jesus with others. When they ventured beyond their walls, lives were changed: “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). A healthy church helps people appropriately express their faith where they live or work.

Ask, “Does this church plant have a genuine passion to fulfill the Great Commission? Do the leaders and the people truly care about making more as well as better disciples? Are we challenging and equipping the attenders to reach their circle of influence for Christ?

Missional DNA

Compassionate service to others in need will be a part of the ministry of LAUNCH church plants. Some have called this an “Externally-focused emphasis.”

LAUNCH church plants will seek to meet the needs within communities through such activities as house-painting, tutoring, practicing servant evangelism, and serving in the societal domains of economics, agriculture, education, medicine, arts, and government.

Ask, “Does this church plant mobilize attenders to engage in practical deeds of kindness. Do they create good will be doing good deeds in order to share the good news? Are we challenging and equipping the attenders to ‘give a cup of cold water’ in Jesus’ name?”

Kingdom focused

In nature, all healthy organisms reproduce themselves. The same must be true for the church. A healthy church plant reproduces itself.

Our desire is to establish a movement of kingdom-minded churches by planting kingdom-minded churches in Northeast Ohio, North America, and the World. This will result in hundreds of reproducing churches in American and international cities.

We expect LAUNCH church plants to adopt an international city where a variety of mission efforts in various domains will take place through short-term trips over a several year period. The ultimate aim is that new churches will be planted in this international city.

Ask, “Does this church plant care about building the Kingdom of God beyond its own direct ministry? Does the church plant have a plan to reproduce itself? Are mission dollars being set aside to be used for evangelism that results in the establishment of new churches?”

Developing and deploying leaders

Leadership development is an apostolic commitment. Paul wrote to his protégé, Timothy, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (II Timothy 2:2).

LAUNCH church planters intentionally and creatively connect with potential leaders, draw catalytic leaders to Cleveland, and use a variety of assessment tools to place leaders to serve in their areas of giftedness.

The development and the deployment of leaders is vital for LAUNCH church plants. A spirit of generosity prevails. We do not keep the leaders to ourselves. We disciple them and then give them away to other church plants, as God leads, in order to build the Kingdom.

Ask, “Is there a plan for leadership development? Over time, am I seeing leaders leave this church to build other ministries and churches?”
Things to think about this weekend...

In light of the proposed $700 billion government bailout, we should be praying for our economy. Matt Perman, on John Piper's blog, tells us "Why I pray for the economy."

What does it mean to be evangelistic and missional in the context of community? A couple of British guys talk about "Total Church."

I think it's really cool that in the making of the new movie, Fireproof, the lead actor, Kirk Cameron (the ex-Growing Pains star) would not kiss the lead actress in a romantic scene. “I have a commitment not to kiss any other woman,” the former child star of “Growing Pains” told Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford Monday on TODAY in New York. To get around the conflict, the filmmakers employed a bit of movie magic, Cameron explained. They dressed his wife, actress Chelsea Noble, like the movie’s female lead and shot the scene in silhouette.

By the way, you might want to think about supporting the new movie, Fireproof, by going. I haven't seen it. I don't know how good it is. But I'm guessing it will be more edifying than 99.9% of what Hollywood puts out. It's about a fireman whose marriage was on the rocks who took a "Love Dare." I just got the book, Love Dare. It looks good - a 40 day adventure in learning to love your spouse. My wife, Maryanne, wants to go check out the movie that was made by the same church that made Facing the Giants. So, we hope to go soon.

The ESV Study Bible is coming soon. If your family does not have a good study Bible, why don't you get one for someone's birthday present, anniversary present, or Christmas present this year?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What comes first - theology, formation, community, or mission?

A friend sent an email today. It's below.

***

Here is a "blog" from Larry [Crabb]. I thought you might be interested. I also was wondering if you agree or disagree or have some combination of reaction- especially to his comments on Spiritual Mission. I don't think you would disagree much, but sometimes I wonder if Larry's views would promote an inward focused church (by the definitions promoted in the "externally focused" or "missional" church movement).

***

Here's some of what Crabb's blog said.

With all the good that a missional focus is calling us to, I worry. I do believe that getting out of ourselves and into others is profoundly spiritually forming and will often provide real healing of wounds to the self that make us question our value and that drains us of energy, and that mission based on kingdom theology is evangelistic. But I want to see spiritual mission grow out of spiritual community. And I don't believe a community is truly spiritual unless it is spiritually forming. And (one more "and"), I don't think a community will be spiritually forming unless it builds on (and its members share) a clean, biblically-derived spiritual theology.

***

Here is my response.

***

Interesting.

But the strict ordering of the process (theology, formation, community, mission) is not something I personally fully buy into.

There is indeed a sense in which right theology has to come first. You must repent and believe that Jesus came, died in your place for your sin, and rose again. Then you are saved. So, in a strict sense, theology precedes mission. We're saved before we're sent.

But in another sense, theology, formation, community, all mission all happen together.

For example, the Apostle Paul wrote theology (his letters) while he was actively on his missionary journeys. He poured into Timothy’s life (formation) while on mission. He and Silas (and others!) had community while on mission (in jail no less).

I think these things are all done all together sometimes (maybe most of the time!) in what appears to be to some people a very messy way. But it appears to be God's way, a Spirit-initiated/guided process.

So, theology is vital... as is spiritual formation, community, and mission. But I think that the New Testament model is one that illustrates that they all happen in concert, not in isolation. It's the way God makes music in our lives.

Crabb is much, much smarter than me. But in my mind, with the greatest of respect to him (because I have learned and will continue to learn from him), I think Crabb's thoughts above indicate that he is writing as a community guy, not as a missional guy. And I think it shows that he is writing more as a reflection of modernity's influence and is therefore not as relevant in a more post-modern culture.

Thanks for the thoughts! You are fostering what I hope is good conversation!

By the way, check what Scot McKight has to say about missional living:

http://www.jesuscreed.org/?p=4358
Conversion: Knowing Christ or Trusting Christ?

The other day, someone asked me, "What makes for true conversion? Knowing Christ or faith in Christ?"

Jesus said in Matthew 7 to certain people who professed having a salvation experience, "Depart from Me. I never knew you." And, James says that "the demons believe and tremble."

"Therefore," the person said, "the primary issue for salvation is that a person knows Christ (has a personal relationship with Him). Having faith in Jesus does not necessarily result in salvation."

My response went like this: "I guess it all depends on what you mean by 'faith.' If you mean mere intellectual ascent, then, no, the person isn't saved. But if the word by 'faith' you mean what the Bible means, then it is, by nature, saving faith. "By grace you are saved through faith" (Ephesians 2:8-9) - a faith that works (Ephesians 2:10). And I think that a part of faith is a resting on Christ, a Savior that is personally known. So, I don't think it is possible to talk about saving faith apart from a knowledge of Jesus."

In Philippians 3 Paul connects faith and knowledge in this text: "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith" (Philippians 3:8-9).

So, I think one cannot have saving faith without a personal knowledge of Christ. And one cannot have a personal knowledge of Christ without faith.

It's a both/and situation. Not an either/or situation.

Repentance and faith lead to a personal knowledge of Jesus. And a personal knowledge of Jesus presupposes a saving faith.

When we are witnessing and caring for souls, it may be that speaking to some about the lack of a personal knowledge of Christ will foster self-examination that will result in someone coming to saving faith in Jesus. Others might be better approached in a discussion about misplaced trust which will result in that person coming to have a personal knowledge of Jesus.

Bottom line for me? I think that we must depend on the Spirit's leading as we talk with people about their condition before God. Some might best be reached this way: "Do you truly have a personal knowledge of Jesus - a personal relationship where He knows you and you know Him?" Some might best be reached this way: "Where have you placed your trust - in yourself/in your own good deeds or in Jesus and what He did for you on the cross to save you?"

I don't think one size fits all when it comes to our approach in evangelism. But for sure, every church - including CVC - has in its ranks people who have been deceived by easy believe-ism. I think it is always wise for us to ask people to examine themselves in the spirit of II Corinthians 13:5.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Prayer for our nation

Our elders have agreed to lead our church to participate in the 40/40 Prayer Vigil sponsored by the North American Mission Board. During this political season, I believe that the very best thing we can do for our country is to pray. And then we can have civil conversations about the issues. And then vote.

The 40/40 Prayer Vigil consists of 40 days of prayer from September 24 to November 2, 2008, culminating in 40 hours of around the clock intercession during the last 3 days of the Vigil. The Vigil focuses first on personal spiritual revival. It then covers an expanding circle of prayer concerns, from the church to the nation.

Click on the above link. Then join us in prayer for our selves, our church, our communities, our nation.
New Book

I love to read.

And one of my friends (and a good friend of CVC!) just released a new book.


John just sent a copy to me. I've read the first section already. Im looking forward to working through some more of it and posting a review on Amazon.

I'm thinking that this would be a great tool for people who are just starting to read the Bible for the first time and need a helpful tool to get the big picture. It would be good, too, for familes looking for some good devotional material.

Thanks, John Alan Turner, for the book!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Energy level for ministry

I received a very encouraging email from a member that made me think deeply about who I am and how I'm wired. I share the email and my response here in hopes that it can educate some people when they wonder, “Where’s Rick in between services?” when they can't find me. And maybe it will help people know how to pray for me better.

Here's the email and belw that is my response.

***

It's very comforting to see you praying with folks down front and also to see you talking with folks outside the door after the service. I'm sure it would be so much easier for you to slink out and dash away to avoid the crowds. You really care about people. Thank you.

***

Thanks.

As I engage with people on the weekend, I do try to be sensitive to what’s going on in my spiritual, emotional, mental, physical life.

Someone said, “I’d rather burn out than rust out.” That sounds noble. But if you think about it, either way, you’re “out.” I don’t want to be “out” when it comes to the service of Christ. I want to serve Jesus for the long haul, if that, indeed, is His will for me.

There are times when I’m just wiped out from a difficult week and I don’t have much “gas in the tank.” So, sometimes, I feel like I need to save some energy for preaching the next services. It’s in these times that I do try to find some solitude and silence even between weekend services. I know to some people this can make me seem unapproachable or unavailable or, even uncaring. But I believe that the feeding of the whole flock is what’s most vital on the weekends and, therefore, I have to give my best efforts to delivering the message since it has the potential to impact many people rather than the one person.

Often, though, I lean on God for grace and push through the weariness. I then engage with people one on one as deeply as the time and situation permits. And then when it comes time to preach, even though I’m tired and drained, God’s amazing grace is sufficient.

So, please pray for me.

What a lot of people don’t know is that I’m basically a big-time introvert. They see me up front and think, “He’s energized by a crowd.” But give me a choice of a being at a party with people or taking a walk in the park alone, I’ll choose the walk every time. Even though I love to teach, it’s putting me out of my comfort zone. And then engaging with people one-on-one during the weekend puts me even further out of the comfort zone. I often underestimate the level of spiritual and emotional energy that is expended in seeking to preach, interact, care about and pray for people from 5:30 pm Saturdays to 1:00 pm on Sunday afternoons.

Weekend services are a highlight of the week for me, but they cause me to draw on resources that don’t come easily to a guy like me. There are times when I wish I were more of a sanguine people person than a melancholic solitude-seeker. Then my personality would fit the job description a bit better.

But I take comfort in the fact that when we are weak, He is strong. So, at the end of the day, I pray all this causes me to depend more and more on Jesus. After all, the only effective ministry happens when we abide in Christ for supernatural fruit and strength.

Thanks for your kind words. Sorry for rambling on about this.

Friday, September 12, 2008


New book

My friend (and a friend of CVC) John Alan Turner has just arrived in California where he is planting a new church.

I love his risk-taking, adventurous heart. He reminds me of the good and faithful servants in Matthew 25 who got the "well done" from the master. I pray that God will reward his risk-taking by assisting John to tun his five talents into ten.

I do think that John is one of those five talent guys. He loves his family. He's creative. He's a great communicator. He writes. And he was an excellent... (are you ready for this?)... BASEBALL player in college. Does it get any better?

Anyway, John just released his newest book. And before he moved to California he wrote, "Rick, I just got some promotional review copies of my latest book, THE 52 GREATEST STORIES OF THE BIBLE. I'd love to send you a copy. Could you let me know the best mailing address to use? John"

I'm not always as prompt with the emails as I should be. So, several weeks later, I wrote back, "Hey man, I’m guessing you already distributed your copies. Sorry I didn’t answer sooner. But I would like to have a copy if they are still available. If not, well, there’s always Amazon. I will be praying for you! You are taking a courageous step of faith and God loves to reward that. Your post about leaving Atlanta was very heartfelt. It softened my heart. Thanks for who you are and what you do, Rick."

John is much better with email than me. He wrote back, "Rick,The truth is, I have a box of 25 books that was waiting for me to send out. But my mother packed it on the moving truck! So, if you can wait until after we unload the truck on Sept. 2, I’ll gladly mail you a copy. John."

On Thusday, this came to my inbox, "After much delay (caused by my mother packing the box of books labeled "do not pack" -- should have labeled it in spanish), I sent your copy of the book today. All I ask is that if you like it and think it would be beneficial (especially to new Christians) recommend it to as many people as you can for Christmas presents. If it becomes a best-seller I may be able to afford a house in California. Oh, and if you really like it, you could help me out by writing a short review on amazon.com. John."

So, thanks to the generosity of John, I'm looking forward to adding a great new book to my library!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Making sense of Job...

Some of the people at CVC are using the Loving God Journal. And in using the Bible reading plan suggested there, we just finished reading the book of Job.

I received an email from a relatively new believer about Job.

***

Dear Pastor Rick,

I am kind of lost, reading Job. So, explain this to me like I am a 3 year old.

God let Satan have his way with Job for know real apparent reason, except to make one good guy miserable? To take his family, his property, his health... for the sport of it? And 3 of Job's friends came and were mean to him? What am I not getting?

I had to go to the end of the chapter to find out what God said to Job because I was getting ticked off at Job's 3 friends.

So after all Job went through, he was given back his stuff and everything is ok? What about the family he lost for Satan's sport? What is the lesson here?

***

Hi ____,

You are truly one of my favorite people!

I’m glad you are reading. Keep it up. And keep asking questions. I know I sure don't have all the answers. But I'll try to give you at least a few things to think about.

I think one reason God allowed Satan to have his way with Job was to show the created universe that His people can be faithful to God even when life doesn’t work because they know that God is worthy and that God Himself is enough.

So, I wouldn’t agree that the trouble came for “no real apparent reason” or “just for the sport of it.” God isn’t like that. He always has a wise agenda. Often, we can’t see it.

And I’m thinking that for us to understand God’s agenda in Job, we’ll have to be in heaven where we will “know fully” as it says in I Corinthians 13.

You’re right, Job’s friends were “mean.” We see from this how not to be when a friend is suffering. We usually don’t know why they are suffering. So, we had best just sit and suffer with them.

I also don’t think Job was “OK” at the end of the book. The pain of losing his kids was still there even though indications were that he would be reunited with them in the life to come.

I think one lesson for us is to learn from Job is that we can, like Job, trust God even when life doesn’t make sense. God is up to something cosmic that we often can’t see. And He’s not obligated to explain Himself to us in this life or even in the next one, for that matter. But the explanation may come to us one day in the new heavens and the new earth.

Meanwhile, we simply keep on trusting Him and following Him because He’s worthy – He’s God and we’re not.

Hope this helps,

Rick

***

Philip Yancey says, “We puny little human beings are not going to understand a lot. We are not going to understand why God acts sometimes in history and not at other times. There is a lot about the world around us that we don’t understand. There is a lot about world history that we do not understand. I take great comfort in the book of Job, because he was one of those people who didn’t understand, he just ran up against mystery and explored that. But in the end, God honored Job above his friends. His friends had all the answers, neat little theological wrap-up answers that they kept trying to hammer into Job. And in the end, God said, 'No, I won’t even listen to your prayers unless you first go to my servant Job. I’ll listen to his prayers.' He seemed to respect that honesty of a person who would stand up on his two legs and say, 'I won’t curse God, but, man, you got some explaining to do.' That was Job’s stance all the way through the book. I think God liked that.”

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A missional approach to sharing the gospel

I recently read in Christianity Today about four principles and diagrams that James Choung has been using to share the gospel.

I like Choung’s approach. A young man from our church is serving with Campus Crusade to reach college students in Europe. I shared Choung’s approach with him and he thinks it will resonate with the people he’s working with.

As I have considered Choung’s paradigm, I think Choung could have spent a bit more time explaining the cross in terms of the penal substitution theory of the atonement in addition to the reconciliation theory of the atonement.

Right now, I have been working with some others at CVC on adapting Choung’s ideas along with the basic missional concepts in the book “Simple Church”: the Love God, Love One Another, and Love the World ideas.

By the way, I also think that this missional emphasis when it comes to evangelism might not only work for Post-Moderns, but also for Boomers. It just might tap into the Boomers’ longings to be used to bring about social justice as well. I think that many boomers have seen the emptiness of chasing after the American Dream and have raised their kids. Now that they are becoming empty-nesters, maybe many Boomers will return to the radical “change the world” approach to living that they had in the 60s and 70s but lost during the 80s, and 90s.

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