(Rom 14:13b ESV) 13b rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
Paul is ever the pastor, and while he is very concerned that we not divide over differences, he is also concerned that our differences not lead to subjective sin.
(Rom 14:14 ESV) 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.
Paul does not content himself with teaching what is true: “Nothing is unclean in itself.” Why not stop there? Because he realizes that not everyone will be persuaded in his heart — even if taught by an apostle from the Lord! Humans are frail, weak beings. We struggle to align our consciences with our intellect. We can know something is not sin and still feel like sinners when doing it. Continue reading
Romans 14 is quite controversial in the Churches of Christ today, because it runs so contrary to much of our preaching.
(Rom 14:6 ESV) 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
In the last post of this series, we covered the first few verses of this chapter. Paul plainly declares that those who disagree on whether it’s sin to eat meat (non-kosher or sacrificed to idols) and on whether it’s a sin not to honor the Sabbath (or other holy days) must accept each other as saved — despite their doctrinal disagreements. Continue reading
This one is entirely experimental, as described in a comment by reader Adam several weeks ago.
Here is my wife’s idea – and I think it’s brilliant!! …
Laundromats exist in low-income, neglected areas. Laundromats are already a meeting and gathering place. People who visit laundromats will be there for an extended period of time with not a whole lot to do. It sure seems to me like an ideal environment in which community and relation can be built.
With some clever design and forethought, the laundromat can become a church in the truest sense, and one that seeks out those who are most in need of the church.
And while the laundromat would take some significant funds on the front side for construction, it would, hopefully, become self-sustaining, not through contributions from those it is serving, but through the normal operation of its business. In addition, it provides much needed jobs within those communities where jobs within walking distance (transportation is unreliable for many in these areas) are hard to come by.
For those interested, I have had an architect draw up preliminary plans for one, as I think this is the best idea I’ve heard for what “church planting” could/should look like in modern America, and maybe elsewhere as well. Continue reading
This is a tough one to write about — because it makes me feel small. Let me explain.
A friend of mine, a little older than me, and his wife raised two children they adopted as infants. I think the happiest I’ve ever seen two humans was when they got the news of the first adoption.
The kids are grown. The younger child, a son, has been in trouble with the law.
Meanwhile my friend, his dad, is coping with a wife who’s lost her mind — early onset dementia. It’s sadder than I have words to express. It’s so tough that one of our small groups has been helping with cutting the yard, making meals, and otherwise supporting him as best they can. Let’s call him “Job.” Continue reading
Okay. I’ll admit it. I’m a Tim Tebow fan. Even though he played for Florida and knocked Alabama out of the national championship race a few years ago. The guy can play. At the college level. But he’s not Jesus.
There are at least 10 reasons for this. Here’s one —
* Jesus would have completed more than 50% of his passes!
What other reasons can you think of?
Iowa State beats Oklahoma State, putting Alabama back in the thick of the national championship hunt. With that bit of news, I can announce that Alabama has gotten the BCS bowl to slightly modify its end zone.
Victory is assured …
Okay … I’m going to do something that may prove deeply stupid. It won’t be the first time, but sometimes you just got to try things. I’m going to offer a series of examples of missional efforts by an attractional church using my own congregation as illustrations.
Now, I’m not going to tell you about the ugly side of my church. I mean, like every church with a lampstand from God, we have problems. And it would be wrong to talk about most of them here. Hence, this won’t be balanced. And it wont’ be fair.
Just know this: we’re not perfect, we don’t have it all together, and we are not the model church by any means. We do some things well; some not so well. I’m going to share the good parts and hide the bad parts. It’s just the nature of a public blog that I can be honest but I can’t be completely honest. Continue reading
Now, what does this mean for the contemporary church? What does Alan Hirch’s teaching mean for a Church of Christ’s leadership? Well, let me suggest a handful of thoughts —
I’ve spoken to a surprising number of preachers who struggle with younger staff ministers who want to abandon the attractional model. The older staff members have led a church of 50 to grow to 500 using the attractional model, thousands of lives have been touched, missionaries have been sent, fantastic benevolence programs have been developed, converts have been baptized, and the congregation is indeed a city of lights built on a hill. They are astonished that their younger staff members look down on all that God has done in that place!
They have conversations filled with buzz words and precious little communication —
“What’s wrong with being ‘attractional’? Should we be unattractive? Isn’t Jesus attractive? Why wouldn’t we want to be attractive?”
“Are you saying that we aren’t ‘missional’? We’ve baptized hundreds, as have our missionaries. We’re making a difference. We have countless volunteers on fire for Jesus!” Continue reading
[Very occasionally, I move a comment from a reader to the main posts, to make certain the readers who only subscribe to the posts read it. This comment by Charles McLean takes the discussion in an excellent direction.]
[The last post] is an enlightening and challenging post. It is the worst of worlds: a profoundly disturbing idea which rings true at a deep level. It suggests to me that we must move well beyond any change of methodology to reach the majority of lost people in our communities. As gut-wrenching as it has been for some congregations to embrace something as internal as a new song list, this problem suggests change on a different order of magnitude. What’s the problem with “change agents”? They aren’t moving fast enough or far enough. Continue reading
A fuller version of the same presentation may be found here. Continue reading