The Future of the Churches of Christ: Direct Hit, Part 3 (Wisdom, Exegeting the Community)

Book—Borden,-Direct-HitWe’re studying through Paul D. Borden’s Direct Hit: Aiming Real Leaders at the Mission Field.

Wisdom

Wise leaders guide but do not overrun sheep. They never ask more of their sheep than they are willing to do as leaders. However, they are also honest with those sheep that do not want to be missional. Such sheep are given the opportunity to participate in the core mandate (making disciples), but if they do not want to participate, they are not given voice or authority in how the mission will be accomplished.

(Kindle Locations 584-587).

We don’t need to run off those who don’t wish to participate in the church’s vision, but neither should we empower them to stand in the way. Continue reading

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The Future of the Churches of Christ: Direct Hit, Part 2 (Communications, Courage)

Book—Borden,-Direct-HitWe’re studying through Paul D. Borden’s Direct Hit: Aiming Real Leaders at the Mission Field.

Communications

Borden recognizes how very important communications are to church change and growth. He sounds a little extreme, but I think he’s exactly right.

Every spoken word, every phone call, every e-mail, every verbal interaction (formal or informal) with people in the congregation reflects an overall communication strategy for change. If we lead change only through formal presentations or meetings, then we have unclear thinking about the nature of the task. Every venue, every day—no matter how seemingly insignificant—ought to be a specific tactic in our overall communication strategy. Leaders cannot afford to have throw away conversations. The skill is not found only in the words. The quality is found in the intonation, the body language, the eye contact, and more, when helping people see we are excited about a new vision.

(Kindle Locations 319-323). Continue reading

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Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Robert Gagnon

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The Future of the Churches of Christ: Direct Hit, Part 1 (Leadership, Barriers)

Book—Borden,-Direct-HitI’ve stumbled across a book by Paul D. Borden, Direct Hit: Aiming Real Leaders at the Mission Field. Paul led the American Baptist Churches in the northwestern US to be revitalized and to grow.

Now, the American Baptists are considered mainline churches, in contrast to the Southern Baptists, who are generally thought of as evangelical. Moreover, the Southern Baptists have congregational autonomy, whereas the American Baptists are subject to the control of regional and national offices.

So you’d think that Southern Baptists would be doing better — but in the northwestern US — a notoriously difficult place for church plants and missions — it’s the other way around. What happened? Continue reading

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Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: N. T. Wright weighs in

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Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Richard Beck, Part 5 (A Mock Debate)

the-bible-and-sexuality-blog-heading (1)Richard describes a mock debate put on during chapel at ACU. The idea is that you have two rostrums and two microphones, and the speaker is asked to argue both sides of a controversial issue — one side from one microphone and the other from the other mic. Excellent!

This sounds like law school training. I mean, you can’t fairly take on someone else’s argument if you don’t understand it well enough to argue the other side’s case. (And this is why I read Behold the Pattern multiple times before writing my books and posting here. I believe it essential to understand your opponent’s position as well as — if not better than — he.)

So Beck made two arguments, one on each side of the homosexual marriage issue. Here they are. Continue reading

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Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Richard Beck, Part 4 (Rowan Williams, again)

the-bible-and-sexuality-blog-heading (1)We’re taking up Richard Beck’s blog post Sexuality and the Christian Body, Part 2: Grace and Election.

A second major theme in Eugene Rogers’ book Sexuality and the Christian Body is his interaction with and elaboration upon Rowan Williams’ essay The Body’s Grace. If you’ve not read The Body’s Grace many consider it to be the most significant theological treatment of human sexuality in the 20th Century. You can decide that for yourself. Regardless, agree or not, The Body’s Grace is considered required reading for theology students taking up the subject of human sexuality.

We, of course, considered Williams’ essay earlier, and I’ll not repeat my criticisms of it here. Rather, I mourn the fact that this is considered “theology” at all, much less required reading for students of the Bible. Continue reading

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The Future of the Churches of Christ: More Stats

totalmembershipAccording to a recent Christianity Today article, the Southern Baptists report yet another year of numerical decline. And the rate of decline is accelerating. Continue reading

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Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Richard Beck, Part 3 (Rogers on Galatians)

the-bible-and-sexuality-blog-heading (1)

Beck continues to summarize Rogers’ argument —

But what Rogers argues is that what we are seeing in Gal. 3.28 is a fusion of natural kinds. More, we are seeing a fusion of the morally inferior with the morally superior. In the 1st Century slaves, women and Gentiles were all considered to be morally inferior to the highest natural kind: The male Jew. For example, each group was characterized by the sexual perversions we’ve seen Paul describe in Romans 1.

Really? It’s certainly true that male Jews looked down on women and Gentiles. But is it really true that female Jews were viewed as guilty of homosexual deviancy by virtue of their moral inferiority? I’ve not found that anywhere — not in the Talmud, not the OT, not any source on Second Temple Judaism. I don’t believe it. Continue reading

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Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Richard Beck, Part 2 (Rogers on Romans)

the-bible-and-sexuality-blog-heading (1)In Sexuality and the Christian Body, Part 1, Richard Beck summarizes a view of Christian marriage from Eugene Rogers’ book Sexuality and the Christian Body.

Rom 1 and 11

In particular, Beck reminds us that we are Gentiles grafted by grace into the Jewish stock (Rom 11).

First, this recovery highlights the fact that we are not “by nature” children of God. We’ve been chosen and adopted. In the language of Paul we’ve been “grafted into” the tree of Israel. Second, this action of God, grafting in the Gentiles, highlights how the grace and election of God determines the people of God. We are not God’s children because of nature. We are God’s children because of election. This places election at the center of Christian notions of marriage (and celibacy) rather than a Darwinian focus on procreation. Marriage is grace, not biology. Finally, a recovery of our identity as Gentiles helps us understand why God’s actions toward the Gentiles was such a shock and offense to the Jews (both Christian and non-Christian). Importantly, this shock was very much focused on issues of holiness and morality.

The Jews in fact were shocked that Gentiles could be saved — elect, a part of Israel — without becoming Jews through circumcision, etc. The admission of Gentiles, by faith, is referred to by Paul as “contrary to nature” — Continue reading

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