Ministry


Was talking with a friend the other night about missions. He’s looking at several different short-term trips he could go on. During the conversation he mentioned that one trip was fairly dangerous. It’s an unstable country, where, regardless of the precautions you take, things could go horribly wrong. I’m a big fan of those mission trips. You really have to put a lot of trust in God, more than you’re used to.

Later on that night, though, Jess and I were talking about this further and she made a great point. What’s more dangerous? Going on this mission trip, or not going (speaking in general for all of us, not just this persons situation)? If we do go, it’s dangerous for us. We could be harmed in some certain way. If we don’t go, however, all we’re doing is not taking the word of God to an area of the world that desperately needs it.

Which is the more dangerous mission?

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photo by: eliazar

 

On to continuing the discussion on ‘different’ churches. 

I’ve heard a lot of churches, or read on their websites, or wherever something like, ‘we’re different than other churches’. Now, I know they’re referring to non-impacting churches (which, let’s be real, there are a lot of those out there) or traditional churches, or whatever. Great, you’re not like other churches. When did other churches become the competition to yours?

Last I checked we weren’t supposed to be in competition with each other. In fact, and correct me if I’m wrong, but, I thought we were supposed to be working together to bring the Kingdom of God to the earth. But I digress….

Maybe if we stopped trying to compete with other churches we might actually start making some cultural progress.

So, who are you competing with? Well, in Atlanta, if you’re trying to reach college students or young professionals you’re probably competing with Saturday night, not Sunday morning. The young professional crowd is out at bars and clubs and the college crowd is out partying with each other (unless they’re at Tech, then you’re just competing with their dorm room and computers – yeah, seriously). That’s the real competition.

I’m still waiting for a church here that will realize this and spend painstaking hours praying, fasting, and dreaming up ways to compete with this, not with other churches. That will be a different church.

Thoughts?

 

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photo by: CarbonNYC


I’ve been challenged lately by the above question. “Is ‘Different’ Right?” Is being a ‘different’ kind of church really the right thing to do? I understand the thought process, in fact, I’ve been a big proponent of that thought process. We do things different so that we can distance ourselves from the negative views traditional church has carried. We do things different to attract a segment of culture that traditional will never attract. We do things different because, hey, Jesus was different from the religious institutions of His day.

What about Atlanta (or insert your city here) though? Is different the right way to go? Are lost people who are seeking looking for a different church? Actually, what I’ve found is that lost people who are seeking God in their lives are not looking for different, they’re looking for stable. They’re looking for that church that has real answers to their tough questions. Just being different doesn’t cut it for them. Being a ‘different’ church only appeals to Christians who want to feel cool and edgy.

What if, in your city (or mine), being different means planting a completely traditional service that preaches the gospel in simple yet effective terms because that’s what feels stable, helpful, and safe to seeking people? What if a seeking lost person is looking for the only thing they know church to be; a hymn singing, robe wearing, acolyte donning church? And what if that church had a real life changing message? Incredibly unpopular with the new edgy Christian crowd? Maybe. This is what I would call ‘different’.

Now, I’m not saying I’m right here. I’m just posing thoughts that have been running through my head lately. 

What are your thoughts?

 

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Photo by: REMac1981


I feel like I’ve been surrounded lately by ‘different’ churches. I’ve read quite a few blogs about having different churches (both positive and negative) and I’ve talked to quite a few people planting or on a team planting ‘different’ churches. And everywhere I turn a ‘different’ church is springing up. 

Here’s the problem I see though. Of all these churches doing things ‘different’ they all look startlingly similar to one another. Can you be ‘different’ if everyone else that is doing it ‘different’ is the same? It reminds me of one of my favorite phrases to say to anyone who wants to be unique… ‘So, you want to be unique just like everyone else?’ I’ve actually received ‘yes’ answers to that several times…

So, here’s an idea. What if ‘different’ meant preaching like Jesus. When I read about people preaching in the Bible I often times read just after that they were preaching the ‘good news’ which translates to us as the gospel. They’re preaching the good news that Jesus saves us from our sin and from ourselves! That’s a solution!

By and large, I honestly don’t hear this being blatantly preached from the pulpits of our churches today. We preach deep messages that invade the depths of our souls. This is good, but, what ever happened to the simplicity of the gospel that can help anyone and everyone, not just the deep messages that are relevant to the believer?

Now, I’m all about church structure and planning and marketing and all that which I’ll talk about in future posts. But, I think our first ‘different’ thing we (the church) should try to be is truly and whole-heartedly gospel centered. Without this, it doesn’t matter how different we really are.

More to come…

So, I thought I’d begin a weekly post I’m calling ‘Wrestling Wednesdays’. Basically, the point is that I’ll be posting things that have challenged/ministered/impacted me in the past week; that stuff that’s got me wondering, thinking, and wrestling. It may be one thing or a bunch. Who knows, we’ll find out as we go. 

I figured we would kick this thing off with a little Tim Keller:

  • I’m currently reading Tim Keller’s new book ‘The Prodigal God’. Fantastic book. (If you’re still reading what I’m writing you’re not moving fast enough to the bookstore to pick this one up. And if you live in the south you may want to pick up two copies – one for reading, one for notes). Check out this quote:

Jesus’s teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message the Jesus did.”

      Dang, that’s challenging…

  • Speaking of that very thing. Check out this video of Penn (from Penn and Teller) that’s been circulating a lot of the blogs I read. Also really stinkin’ challenging!

 

I’m challenged by this. What is it about the Christian faith that we need to recapture? And by ‘we’ I’m referring to you (if you’re reading this blog) and me (the guy writing this blog). Jesus transformed culture as he went, and by transformed, I mean, caused a huge stinkin’ ruckus everywhere he went. People went to great lengths to be around this man. So, unless the Christian message is accomplishing this in your life, you probably fit into that ‘you’ category.

What can we do as Christians to recapture the hearts and attention of the ‘licentious and liberated’, ‘broken and marginal’ that surround us every day?

Discuss amongst yourselves…

Oh, and Merry Christmas to you all!!!

I had a disturbing experience the other day…

I met a guy and began a conversation. We talked for a while and it came about that he is a Christian. As we continued to talk about faith and God I realized that he had no concept of what sin really is. I asked a few probing questions that took the conversation a bit deeper. 

I ended up giving the gospel to this guy. Very simple, nothing over the top, no real preaching or anything, just a conversation about the gospel and what it really is. What our sin really is, what that means for us and the amazing fact that Jesus would pay the price for us. Pretty simple but profound stuff.

What disturbed me greatly was his response. He said, ‘I’ve sat through church my whole life and never heard this before.’ 

That literally stopped me in my tracks. What I had just told him was the foundation of the entire Christian faith and this guy has sat through CHURCH (Christian Church!) his whole life and never heard this. We’ve got a lot of work to do…

A few of the Georgia State guys and I headed out to campus today in black hoodies, a piece of tape across our chest reading ‘sayanythingatlanta.com’ and a sign that said ‘say anything to a Christian’. From there we invited people to write on white name tags what they would say if they could say anything they wanted to a Christian. Good, bad, and ugly. We then promised to wear what they wrote for the rest of the day.

We did this in an effort to create dialogue on campus and create a new way to connect with students that you wouldn’t normally connect with. The results were awesome!

I met so many great people on campus today that I’ve never met before that have viewpoints on life and the church that everyone should hear, especially those of us in the church.

Anyway, head on over to sayanythingatlanta.com and see the name tags from today.

(Warning: If you are offended by vulgarity [some pretty extreme] there is some on the page you’ll be directed to. You will see what people really had to say.)

edit: for the record, this is the brainchild of this guy and this guy. I’m just along for the ride… 🙂

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