Archive for the 'Understanding Context' Category

Missional, Understanding Context

Jehovah Witnesses

So Saturday was a beautiful day to be outside. It felt so good to have the sun shining, the birds singing, and to just spend time outside. We were getting ready for company to come and I was running errands. I had some downtime so I went onto our back patio and sat down to finish reading Rob Bell’s “Sex God”. As I had pulled in a few minutes before from an errand I had noticed guys walking around our neighborhood in suits. I knew they weren’t Mormons because there were more than 2 of them and they weren’t dressed alike. Anyway, I was continuing to read the book when I heard a knock on our front door. It was a guy with a suit on, holding a tract, and a bible. He began to walk through the tract that he had and I just kind of let him for a bit. Then I stopped him, and shared that I was a Pastor and that he could save the tract for someone else. I shared where I was Pastoring and then found out that he was a Jehovah Witness. I didn’t have the desire to get into a theological discussion with him and so he left.

This began me thinking about this type of “outreach”. Does it work? Do people really hear them out and then really show interest. I said to Kim, “It’s like trying to sell me a ‘product’ that I didn’t ask for and I don’t want.” It got me thinking of evangelism and how Christians have done it. Can evangelism be done without the context of a relationship- sure. Can God change a heart through a stranger sharing a message- sure. Does it happen that way most of the time…I don’t believe so. I believe evangelism best happens in the context of a relationship, slowly over time, where the person knows they are loved, no matter what the “end” result. I will be sharing a quote from Exiles tomorrow regarding this very thought. I end with the thought from Saint Francis, “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”

Understanding Context

In the News: Faith and Culture

I’m always intrigued when there are reports in the newspapers about surveys or polls on religious or spiritual life in America. Yesterday, I was given a copy of USA Today and found a very interesting commentary on the back page of the front section. We’ve all heard speakers at conferences say that our nation is becoming post-Christian. You may have even seen statistics saying that less and less Americans are believing in God. So, imagine my curiosity when I see this headline: Post Christian? Not even close. Stephen Prothero, the author of the article, is the chair of the Department of Religion at Boston University. He cites several studies. I invite you to read it with interest.

Today, imagine my curiosity when I see this headline: Loss of faith attributed to spiritual drift. This article originally appeared in the Washington Post. Here’s the opening lines of the article: “More Americans have given up their faith or changed religions because of a gradual spiritual drift than switched because of a disillusionment over their churches’ policies, according to a study released yesterday.

The survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life is the first large-scale study of the reasons behind Americans switching their religious faith and found that more than half of people have done so at least once during their lifetime.

It also illustrates how personal spiritual attitudes are taking precedence over denominational tradition.”

Later today, I saw that John Ortberg has written about the latter survey for Christianity Today. His article is called, Snapshots of Religious Life: What do the recent surveys tell us about the future of faith?.

To add to the above this week, Leadership Journal has a poll going this week on the topic: “Evangelicals are talking a lot more about “social justice.” How do you see this development?” As of Wednesday morning, here’s how the vote is going:
Wonderful, it’s long overdue. 62%

Happy, it’s making our message more attractive. 12%

Indifferent, it’s not relevant to my ministry. 2%

Confusing, it’s not something I understand. 3%

Disturbing, it’s a distraction from the Gospel. 21%

If you would like to add your vote to the poll, you may do so at: take poll

Any comments as to what the news is telling us about faith and culture in the U.S.? How does this impact your ministry? Is The End of Christian America here, or is coming, like Newsweek and Ryan writes about below?

Church Planting, Missional, Spiritual Formation, Understanding Context

Alan Hirsch

Thursday I got to attend a seminar given by Alan Hirsch (co-wrote ReJesus and The Shaping of Things to Come with Michael Frost and wrote The Forgotten Ways) at Valley Forge Christian College. It was an awesome day which again convinced me about God’s call upon our lives, and the kind of church Veritas will become.

Here are some thoughts that he shared that stuck out to me:

1. The problems in the church will not be solved by the same thinking that got the church into the problems in the first place. (I think that is a quote from Albert Einstein with church added in there)

2. Constantine is still exercising our imagination when it comes to the church.

3. Church= lack of imagination. We have lost the sense of imagination.

4. All truth equals subjective change. (Soren Kierkegaard)You are your truth. You must live out your truth.

5. Embodiment is important in the transmission of the gospel. We are the best chance of people seeing Jesus.

6. Discipleship must tackle consumerism.

7. We don’t think our way into a new action, we act our way into new thinking.

8. Action is crucial as part of discipleship.

9. Mission is not something that the church has to dream up. It comes straight from the heart of God. God is a missionary God. God is deeply redemptive. (Missio Dei- the missionary God or the mission of God.)

10. If you are a Christian you are a missionary.

11. Enter into the community. Be a part of the community. Listen to the community. Then we ask two questions: What is Gospel for these people? What is church for these people? Church follows mission.

12. If you can’t imagine it, you can’t do it.

13. What we need are missionally responsive, culturally adaptive, organizationally agile, multiplication movements.

14. Don’t plant churches…plant the gospel.

These thoughts have been running around my head since Thursday. Take time to chew on them. Wrestle with them. I know I am and we at Veritas will be as well.

Community, Missional, Understanding Context

Veritas- A Missional Community of Authentic Worshippers- Part 3

For the past two days I have shared two out of the three core values/visions/dreams of Veritas and why we are planting a church in September of 2009. We have focused on the core values of Community and Missional and now we are going to take a look at the last core value, that of Authentic Worship.

Our Third Core Value is An Authentic Worship Expression: A community where people create relevant worship experiences. We see Jesus at the multi-sensory Last Supper—the smell of bread, wine, and disciple’s feet, the taste of the meal, the touch of the disciple’s feet, hearing the words of Jesus gathered around the table. We see the “sinful woman” anointing Jesus’ feet with her tears and perfume, responding in devotion and worship. So we picture creating regular opportunities of relevant worship experiences, not as consumers but participating in and creating the worship that is taking place. We envision people connecting worship on Sunday with their worship on Monday through Saturday. For this to happen, we will create multi-sensory worship experiences at a rented facility (Marietta?) that use creative arts (painting, drawing, poetry, sculpting), and media of all kinds (popular music, movies, cultural references, and videos). Worship/Prayer Stations, Creative Art Stations, Offering Stations, and Sacred Space will allow for people to be actively and creatively involved in the worship experience. A worship planning team (artists, musicians, leaders, etc..) will make the worship time as creative and relevant as possible. Every 6-8 weeks, we will gather around a table and partake in food, community and communion and several times each year, a “Love Feast.”

These three things are what drive us, what pushes us forward, and what we are striving to be as a community of Christ Followers.

Community, Missional, Understanding Context

Veritas- A Missional Community of Authentic Worshippers Part 2

Veritas aims to be a Missional Community of Authentic Worshippers. That is our dream, vision, and the core of what drives us to plant a church in September of ’09. Yesterday I focused on the core value of Community. Today I will focus on the core value of Missional.

Our Second Core Value is A Missional Kingdom Life: A community where people are blessing others in practical ways. We see Jesus serving and blessing people in real and practical ways, healing people of all kinds of illness. “The Word became flesh and moved into our neighborhood.” Jesus took on human flesh, spent time in homes, marketplaces, and in villages and towns. So we picture people spending lots of time in the neighborhoods and places where people are, hanging out at coffeehouses in order to get to know people. We picture the team having meet-up groups (Board Games, BMX, etc.) to be with those who Jesus misses the most. We envision random acts of kindness, service and social justice, some that will be shared projects with local organizations (some Christian-based, and some not). For this to happen, service, social justice and blessing will be evident throughout. Our Missional Communities (House Churches) will each adopt a regular missional “project” involvement. Every 6-8 weeks our worship gathering will include participation in a “service event.” Random acts of kindness can include giving out water at Elizabethtown College and cleaning up roads and parks. Blessing others may include tutoring, after-school program, financial “seminars”, creation care, and disaster relief trips through the district.

Tomorrow I will post the third core value of Veritas, that of authentic worship.

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