The Mission of the Church: Evangelism, Part 1

Eucharist-Mission1When we say “mission,” most people think “evangelism” — which is not wrong. It’s just very badly incomplete and in desperate need of repair.

I’m hardly an expert, but I would like to share a little of my learning, for whatever it’s worth.

  1. Thompson is, I believe, quite correct to notice how evangelism is at best a very minor theme of scripture. The Great Commission is, of course, an important evangelism passage, but after it, there’s not much. Paul’s many epistles to churches he founded or planned to visit rarely speak of evangelism except indirectly. He doesn’t urge his readers to go tell their neighbors about Jesus. He urges them to live together as Jesus would have them live. Therefore, our most important evangelism is found in first being the church we’ve been called to be. We’ve got to live the Sermon on the Mount.
  2. On the other hand, I think the far more serious error is in imagining that the world will find Jesus all by itself, without sacrifice or cost by us.

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The Mission of the Church: Ancient-Future Assembly

Eucharist-Mission1We now move to a recent book from Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative.

Webber argues that the assembly should reflect how living today reflects our hope for eternity.

Not only does worship point to the culmination of all history in the new heavens and new earth, but it also shapes the ethical behavior of God’s people to reflect kingdom ethics here on earth. Consequently, the ethical life of the church is an eschatological witness to the world of how people should be living and how the world will be under the reign of God.

(pp. 65-66).

Amen. Webber criticizes modern trends — Continue reading

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“Believe” Bible class material from Zondervan

believeMy church is planning to begin teaching Zondervan’s Believe material this fall.

As I understand it, this is a follow up to the very successful The Story materials, which my church covered a couple of years ago. I know that many readers were able to offer input on how their churches taught The Story, and we wound up with a successful series thanks in part to that input.

So I’m wondering if anyone has taught or experienced the Believe materials? What are your plans/what did you do? What works? What mistakes should we avoid?

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The Mission of the Church: Calvin on Liturgy. (Yes, really. That Calvin.)

Eucharist-Mission1Story

What is the message that the assembly should communicate to the members and to visitors? There are, of course, countless good things that one might teach, but what is the over-arching goal?

Sometimes we approach the assembly microscopically, that is, focusing on today’s lesson without thought to the lesson taught over the course of the years.

I’m persuaded that we’ve greatly erred in not communicating the Story as well as we should have. By the “Story” I mean the over-arching narrative of Scripture. It’s a true Story. Indeed, it’s Truth.

You see, if we fail to teach the Story, then all the other lessons become atomistic, separated truths that aren’t seen as part of the total Truth of God’s revelation. And so, we pick and choose the parts that seem relevant and ultimately decontextualize our preaching and our worship.

Hence, we might overly focus on the therapeutic lessons in the gospels. The preacher will be praised by the members who are struggling to cope with insecurity, low self-esteem, and depression, but it won’t be because they truly understand how they fit into God’s Story. They might in fact consider Jesus to have come to earth and died so that they could feel better about themselves — which is not really quite the point. Continue reading

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Joel Levi: “Set My Body Free”


Been looking for a better song to go with Sunday’s Bible class. Here it is.

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The Mission of the Church: The Liturgy of Contemporary Church

Eucharist-Mission1If the church’s mission centers around Jesus as incarnated in the local congregation, then liturgy becomes extremely important in terms of spiritual formation. That is, if God wants the church formed in the image of Jesus, then how we conduct the assembly becomes a question of mission.

Now, for the last 30 years or so, the assumption has been that the assembly is missional (good) and that its mission is to be achieved by being “seeker sensitive.” That is, the mission of the assembly has become evangelistic — rather than spiritually formative for the church itself.

Michelle Van Loon recently wrote, Continue reading

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The Mission of the Church: Back to Wright

Eucharist-Mission1So I covered Christopher J. H. Wright’s view of the church’s mission a few posts ago. Let’s review.

In a recent lecture, Wright broke mission down into five elements:

  • Evangelism (proclaim the good news of the kingdom)
  • Teaching (teach, baptise and nurture new believers)
  • Compassion (respond to human need by loving service)
  • Justice (transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation)
  • Creation care ( strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth)

All intrinsically flow from the Lordship of Christ

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Kings Church: Transgender and Intersex

A few days ago, I began scouring the Internet for Christian resources on transgender issues. And most of the material I found was pretty useless. The church just hasn’t given this subject much thought, and I could find very little that seemed to actually be based on the Bible. That is, even Christians are addressing the question in very secular, worldly, political terms rather than in pastorally sensitive terms shaped by Jesus and scripture.

By a fortunate coincidence, reader Christopher has pointed me to this video, which I find to be excellent. I’m still thinking through the issues, but the speaker, Andrew Wilson, at least gives us something worth thinking about.

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The Afterlife: Lesson 2, focused on Rom 8 and Rev 21-22 (June 12, 2016)

heavenhellClass 2 of this summer’s Sunday Bible classes: the coming freedom of the Creation from futility and a look ahead to the end of Revelation.

Download:

June 12, 2016 Class on Rom 8 and Rev 21-22 Right click and select “Save Link As” to download. (If you left click, it will stream.)

Or stream:

“And he lives forever with his saints to reign.”

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The Mission of the Church: Mission and Eucharist, Part 2

Eucharist-Mission1We’ve seen that both Thompson and Hauerwas find that mission is built not on the individual and not on benevolence or evangelism but on the ethics of the congregation.

Thompson finds this in Paul’s epistles. Hauerwas finds it in the Sermon on the Mount. N. T. Wright teaches much the same lesson built on the OT roots of Christianity. The prophets spoke of “the kingdom,” not “a personal relationship with Jesus.” Gentiles are saved, not by being grafted into Jesus, but by being grafted into Israel — a nation, a people, and a community. Our forgiveness is not so that we can receive a personal relationship with Jesus (although we do), but to qualify us to be a part of Israel/the Kingdom. In Acts 2, baptism was followed by remission of sin (“remission” is the same word used in Torah regarding the Day of Atonement), which was followed by being added to their number — becoming a part of the Jesus community. Continue reading

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