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Making Decisions is Counterproductive to Making Disciples

AT in Maine from FrenchyRecently I was listening to a representative from an evangelical ministry make a broad appeal to pastors and church leaders to sign up for their next event to introduce non-Christians to Christ. I was familiar with their overall strategy, and I was familiar with the specific event he was describing, but something caught my attention in listening to his appeal. He described how their ministry had seen numerous decisions for Christ over the years. (I did not doubt his statistics; this was a well-known ministry that had been around for a long time.) The report of the “success” of their evangelistic endeavors was followed by a bleak picture of American life – increased destructive behavior (crime, violence, abortion, drugs etc.), increased secularism, increased hopelessness, decreased church attendance, and the increase of young adults leaving the church. This picture was then followed by his announcement of another nation-wide event to do something to bring real hope, life, and salvation. The strategy was somewhat different, but the goal was the same: get people to make a decision for Christ. While listening, I had this thought: If your ministry has seen so many decisions for Christ made across the nation and around the world, then why is there such a decrease in church attendance? I had already seen the material to be used in this ministry event; it (like all their other events) culminated with inviting people to make a decision for Christ. I tried not to become cynical, but I continued to think, why would I invest time and resources in an event that does not seem to have lasting fruitfulness? After all, our goal is not simply to get people to make a decision for Jesus; our goal is to make disciples of Jesus.

The seeds of doubt regarding the effectiveness of “making decisions for Christ” go back to reading Scot McKnight’s book King Jesus Gospel where he argues we preach a weak gospel when the emphasis is the plan of salvation (which includes making a decision). This most recent experience only solidifies the conclusion I came to some time ago: a push to make decisions for Christ is counterproductive to making disciples of Christ.

The gospel preached in Acts was neither an invitation to make a decision for Christ nor an appeal to invite Jesus in your heart to be your personal Lord and Savior. The gospel preached by the Apostles in Acts was the proclamation that Israel’s long-awaited Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, had arrived and we killed him. While Jesus did enter into death, God raised him from the dead and exalted him to a place of authority. And now “let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). The proper response to the gospel is “repent and be baptized…and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). There is not talk in the sermons preached in the book of Acts about making a decision or asking Jesus into your heart or life.

Do not misunderstand my point: repenting, being baptized, and receiving the Holy Spirit certainly do require making a conscious decision. God will not force us into repentance. He will not twist our arm or beat us into submission. We must of our own volition choose to repent, be baptized and receive the Spirit, but these are not necessarily one-time events.

We repent and we continue to live a life of repentance.
We are baptized and we continue to live out of our baptismal identity as buried and risen with Jesus.
We receive the Holy Spirit and we continue to allow our lives to be immersed in the life of the Spirit.

Living out our response to the gospel is a much better picture of discipleship than making a decision for Christ. So how does should this critique shape evangelical methodology?

We must abandon the invitation to make a decision and we must resume the invitation to come and follow Jesus. This approach sounds much more like an invite to a party than a high-pressure sales pitch to purchase a new car. This approach is much more about belonging to a community than making a personal and individual choice. This approach may not appeal to the masses, but we will make disciples from the few who see the power, position, and authority of Jesus.

I agree that with this approach – inviting people to follow Jesus and be his disciple –we will not see the outward, numeric success seen by other groups going out getting people to make decisions, but I have repented of measuring success by numbers. I have repented of desiring success at all. I have turned away from ambition & success and turned towards faithfulness & fruitfulness. I want to make disciples of Jesus. I want to make more disciples of Jesus. I want to see people following Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to conform them into the image of Jesus, but this is a slow, arduous process.

So Instead of making a decisions for Christ in order to get saved, let’s follow Jesus and find ourselves being saved.

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Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Ministry

 

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From Hate to Healing: The Story of Lundan and Eliphan Gomango, IET missionary in India

IMG_4749Lundan lived deep within the forest, in the village of Kharbana just outside of a highly populated coal mining town. Lundan lived with hate in his heart and he lived with a painful skin disease. “My skin had grown as thick and rough as that of a water buffalo,” said Lundan, “It had become rough and I was itching. I needed to go to the doctor to get some pain relief.” He spent all of his meager savings on the best hospitals in the state. He saw doctor after doctor, but found no relief from his painful condition. He even went to the local tribal magicians looking to relieve his pain. They offered animal sacrifices and chants, but Lundan could not find any relief.

His pain continued, and so did his hate. He began to direct his hate towards Gomango, a Christian missionary from a nearby town. Gomango was no stranger the Kharbana village. He had scaled the mountainous area of his homeland and descended into the forest looking for villages where the name of Jesus had not been heard. Kharbana, Lundan’s village, was once such a place where the Gospel of Jesus had not been preached, at least, not until Gomango arrived. When he first entered Kharbana, the villagers looked at him with great suspicion. They questioned who this outsider was and why he was talking about a new religion. Suspicion turned to anger as Gomango challenged the village to turn away from their alcoholism and turn in faith to Jesus.

Lundan’s anger had turned into hate. He loved the locally-brewed alcohol in the village. He did not like the presence of this outsider. He did not like him talking against their alcohol and talking about this unknown God, Jesus. Lundan’s heart was hard and filled with hate. He devised a plan. He would sharpen his arrows and prepare his bow and kill Gomango the next time he came to the village. Lundan thought, “Surely no one will find out if I kill this one man in the forest so far from his home.”

On his next visit to the village, Gomango showed up unannounced. Lundan did not have time to position himself in a place to carry out his plan to kill him. Instead he had to look at him face-to-face in the presence of others in the village. Gomango called out to Lundan calling him “Uncle.” He said, “Uncle, you should pray to Jesus.” Gomango knew of Lundan’s painful skin condition. He knew Lundan longed for some relief from the pain. Indeed Lundan was making plans to visit another doctor in a nearby town. He left the village with words of Gomango repeating in his head “Pray to Jesus…pray to Jesus…pray to Jesus.”

As he continued his trek to see the doctor, Lundan began to speak the words, “In Jesus’ name.” He did not know how to pray to Jesus, so he just continued to say, “In Jesus’ name…in Jesus’ name…in Jesus’ name.” He continued repeating these words as he entered the clinic to see the doctor. After the doctor examined him, he gave Lundan the same sad news he heard from all the other doctors—nothing could be done. Lundan asked the doctor if he could give him a shot with some kind of medicine. He was confident Jesus would heal him. With an uncertain smile, the doctor gave him the shot. As Lundan made the long walk back home he continue saying, and at times shouting, “In Jesus’ name…in Jesus’ name.” He made it home safely and went to bed trusting Jesus to heal him.

The next morning, he woke up without pain. He stepped out into the sun completely healed of his skin condition. At that moment he put his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He began to tell others what Jesus had done for him and his entire household began to believe in Jesus too. The story of Lundan’s healing spread throughout the village and now there is a group of 70 believers who gather together to worship Jesus. Lundan plays the village drum during their times of worship. He says with a smile, “These hands that rose to kill the missionary will now only worship the living God.” Gomango’s faithfulness to reach this unreached village with the Gospel of Jesus Christ combined with the wonderful grace of God has combined to see the birth of a new church where Lundan and others can discover the goodness of God.

Indian Evangelical Team (IET) is a multi-dimensional Christ centered ministry, whose primary call is to share the love of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard His name and disciple them to be devoted followers of Jesus Christ. To learn more about IET or to f how you can support the work of the gospel in India go to www.getmissions.org

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Ministry

 

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My Day After Election Day Prayer

Our church happily participated in Election Day Communion, sort of. We decided to offer (Day After) Election Day Communion because we have a regularly scheduled prayer and communion service every Wednesday at noon. We offered communion the day after the election for the same reason churches offered communion the day of the election: we feel partisan politics are dividing Christians and we believe this division deeply grieves the Holy Spirit. I certainly understand that Christians deeply committed to Christ are simply not going to agree on who they vote for. I accept this. What I do not accept is the hate, mockery, acrimony, and hostility experienced in the church over political ideologies. When we enter the voting booth (or sit at a table with our ballots as I did at my polling station), we may divide into categories: blue/red, liberal/conservative, Democrat, Republican, but we cannot bring that division into the body of Christ.

The solution: communion.

At the Lord’s Table, when we come to partake of the body and blood of Christ, we are united. We leave all of our distinctiveness behind when we come to the table. We come to Jesus’ table to find our unity, which is in him. We do not divide into righteous and sinful people, when we come to the table. We come as sinful people to the only Righteous One. At the table we find what unifies us is not policies, candidates, or political platforms, but Jesus Christ himself. In receiving communion we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes; we proclaim our true hope is in the Crucified King who is ruling now and will come again.

In our (Day After) Election Day Communion service, I was asked to read John 17 and pray a prayer in response to this reading. I was planning on praying something spontaneous, but 10 minutes before the start of the service I wrote the following words. I offer this as a prayer for Christians the day after the 2012 Presidential election:

A Day after Election Day Prayer

Holy Father,

We are grateful to be your children, invited into your family, called by your name. We believe you have sent your son, our Lord, Jesus Christ who has defeated sin, death, and principalities and powers through this death, burial, and resurrection. We thank you that while Jesus humbled himself in his incarnation and remained obedient even unto death that you raised him up and have exalted him to a position of power and authority over the nations.

May his rule and reign by known here and now among all of us who are baptized into his name. May his prayer for us be answered by you. May we who live in this fallen world be made one, just as the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit are one. May we no longer be divided by race, gender, class, or political ideology  but may all of those who put faith in Christ be made one, united in faith and love, that the world may see the glory and beauty of King Jesus.

For the glory of God the Father, by the power of the Spirit, and in the name of Jesus we pray.

Amen.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Life, Ministry

 

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Why I am not Emergent (By a Guy Who Should Be)

I have been asked questions recently about the emergent church, specifically whether or not I am “emergent” and whether or not my church is becoming “emergent.”

The simple answer is, no. I am not emergent and the church I serve is not an emergent church.

My answer is simple, but the issues surrounding the emergent church are not. I was surprised when I was asked recently about the emergent church, because I thought the emergent church / emergent movement / emergent conversation was pretty much over. I remember hearing about the death of this movement back in 2010. (Read more here.) I suppose some people are still engaged in this conversation, but I haven’t heard much about it until recently. I took the title of this blog post from a book I read about four years ago, Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be), by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. In re-reading their introduction, I agree with their title. I am not emergent, but it seems like I should be.

I wear jeans when I preach and I wear typical hipster black-framed glasses. I drink coffee and listen to Johnny Cash (not to mention Bob Dylan, The Civil Wars, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and The Black Keys). I own an iPhone. I spend way too much time on Twitter. I read theology. I read church history. My reading list includes N.T. Wright, Stanley Hauerwas, Dallas Willard, and Wendell Berry, among others. I use the language of story. I distrust some of what modernity has given us. I dislike people talking about going to heaven and prefer to speak of heaven coming to earth. So maybe I should be “emergent,” but I’m not.    

What is the “emergent church”?

The difficulty here is in nailing down exactly what “emergent” is. It seems to me that “emergent” has become a label―a derogatory label critics use to mark people they don’t agree with and simply dismiss them as false teachers or heretics. These kind of attempts to pigeonhole people saddens me. The way forward, when we find ourselves in disagreement with other Christians, is not labeling and dismissing, but conversation. Jesus said:

“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother…” (Matthew 5:22-23)

Later Jesus says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell your brother his fault, between you and him alone” (Matthew 18:15). If you have something against someone in the body of Christ or if someone has something against you, say it is a disagreement in beliefs, don’t just label them and dismiss them, but go to them, ask questions, listen to them, seek to understand where they are coming from.

Nevertheless, “emergent” is a label that is apparently still out there; so what does it mean?  Roger Oakland of Understanding the Times International wrote an essay on his ministry website entitled, “How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging in Your Church,” where he lists at least 14 signs of the emergent church. I have no indication that Oakland is an expert in this field, but I will use his 14 descriptions as a working definition of the emergent church movement. With the assumption that this description is an accurate picture of the emergent church, I will add some commentary explaining point-for-point why I am not emergent.

Signs of the Emergent Church (according to Roger Oakland)

1) Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.
I hold to the textual authority of Scripture. I believe the Bible is uniquely inspired by God and is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). When I say textual authority, I mean the Bible is the ultimate written authority in forming Christian doctrine, ethics, and mission. The ultimate authority is Jesus. Scripture is not Lord; Jesus is. The Bible is the most authoritative witness to the life and teaching of Jesus. In this regard, I believe Scripture is sacred and therefore I read it and study it and teach it with a serious mind and reverent heart.

2) The centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.
I do desire the church (both my church and the global Church) to grow, and I do desire the gospel to have a social effect, but for me, the gospel is central to all of my life and work as a pastor. The good news that Jesus is Lord, that he became the Savior of the world through his incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension occupies my thoughts, fills my prayers, drives my preaching, and shapes how I help people grow in the Christian faith. My intention is to allow the gospel, and not methodology or pragmatics, to be the unchanging center everything else revolves around.    

3) More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.
I do not work to build the kingdom of God, because the kingdom of God is not something to be built. The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God through Christ over his creation. I see myself as more of a messenger and servant of his kingdom. I pray for his kingdom to come, but Jesus has already pronounced the coming of the kingdom in his public ministry. Therefore, I hold to the presence of the kingdom now and the anticipation of the kingdom coming with the return of Christ. I do not know if I emphasize living in the kingdom now or anticipating the kingdom coming, but my desire has been to help Christians live in the tension between the “already” and “not yet” of the kingdom.

4) The teaching that Jesus Christ will rule and reign in a literal millennial period is considered unbiblical and heretical.
I do not call a literal interpretation of the 1,000 year reign of Christ mentioned in Revelation 20:2-7 unbiblical or heretical. I would say it is not the best interpretation of the text. There have been numerous theological discussions regarding the “millennial reign” of Christ for a long time and Christians have not always agreed on the best way to interpret it. I do not believe this 1,000 year period is a literal amount of time, but rather a symbol. However, I will not call someone who believes in a literal thousand year reign of Christ a heretic. This is one of those secondary, non-essential doctrines Christians can (and do) disagree on and still remain within the biblical, orthodox Christian faith.  

5) The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.
I wouldn’t say the Church has taken the place of Israel. I would say the Church has fulfilled the vocation of Israel to be a blessing to all the “families of the earth” (Genesis 12:1-3). Ancient Israel, as the covenant people of God, has now been expanded to include the non-Jewish (Gentile) nations. Jesus has expanded what it means to be the people of God shifting the sign of the covenant from Jewish ethnicity, circumcision, and observance of the Torah to faith, baptism, and obedience to Jesus as Lord.

6) The teaching that the Book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past.
As mentioned above, there are many interpretive approaches to the Book of Revelation. Jack Hayford, in his introduction to Revelation in the Spirit-filled Life Bible, describes eight different major interpretive viewpoints of the Revelation. The two most dominant schools of thought are called “premillennialism” and “amillennialism.” The amillennial approach to understanding Revelation does interpret the book as a symbolic description of God’s present triumph through the church. I find the amillennial approach to be the most helpful way to understand Revelation, understanding the book not as a revelation of the “end times,” but a revelation of Jesus Christ. (See my sermon “A Traveler’s Guide Through Revelation” for a more detailed description of how I read Revelation.)

7) An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.
The Christian faith does have an experiential dimension. God has come to us in Christ and makes his grace known to us by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said we will know the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, because “he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). We are able to know God by direct personal encounter, and not just know about God, by the work of the Holy Spirit. I do not promote this experience of the Spirit as a way to reach people. I teach this mystical expression of the faith as part of the normal Christian life.

8) Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be reinvented in order to provide meaning for this generation.
Christianity does not need to be reinvented, because it is not a faith we create or recreate; it is a faith we have received. We contend, writes Jude, “for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). My interest in reading church history underscores my desire to rightly understand this faith I have received. We do need to constantly rethink our methods and language in communicating the faith to the people in our world. In other words, we need to be good missionaries where we are, understanding our culture, so we can communicate the gospel in culturally-appropriate ways.  

9) The pastor may implement an idea called “ancient-future” or “vintage Christianity” claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.
I find great wisdom in learning from church history, as I stated above. My reading of church history is not so much a study of the experiences of those who have gone before, but the teaching (or theology) of those in the historic Church. I do not always agree with the various thinkers, leaders, and teachers in church history. (How could I when there is so much diversity over 2,000 years of church history!) Reading church history has been an act of repentance for me, because I have confessed my arrogance in thinking my generation of Christian thinkers and teachers have the entire Christian faith figured out.

10) While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.
I do not undermine the authority of Scripture, but I do believe the Holy Spirit plays a role in leading us into all truth. John Wesley taught that tradition, reason, and experience play a role in rightly interpreting Scripture. There are limitations to the role experience places in our understanding of the faith, because subjective human experience can easily lead us off track. I tend to rely much more on tradition and reason to understand the Scripture, but I cannot deny the role of experience in knowing God.

11) These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.
I still consider myself a novice in the school of prayer, but “contemplative prayer” to me is nothing more than thoughtful prayer, that is meditating on God’s word as a part of prayer. I do not see how this undermines the authority of the word of God, when it is a meditation on Scripture. I also pray the Psalms, the Lord’s prayer (both from Scripture) and well-crafted, biblically-rich prayers from The Book of Common Prayer. The sacrament of the Eucharist (i.e. communion) is the central piece of Christian worship and it has been that way since the beginning. Christians have disagreed on the proper understanding of communion, but a sacramental view has been most dominant. By sacramental, we mean that receiving the communion elements connects us in a mysterious way to the real presence of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16).

12) There seems to be a strong emphasis on ecumenism indicating that a bridge is being established that leads in the direction of unity with the Roman Catholic Church.
I believe in the communion of the saints. This confession is from the Apostles’ Creed. It means, in part, that I have a “common union” with all of those who are baptized into Christ. If you are a Christian (as defined by the Apostles’ Creed) then we are in the same family regardless of your denominational affiliation. I believe Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Evangelical, and Pentecostal Christians are members of the same Church, although we will have disagreements. I want to build bridges of conversation with Christians in other denominations (including Orthodox and Catholic), but this does not mean I agree with all of their teachings and practice, nor does it mean that I intend on joining their denomination.  

13) Some evangelical Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are re-examining the claims of the “church fathers” saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.
I do not agree with all points of doctrine taught in the Protestant Reformation, but I do believe the Reformers were re-examining the church fathers (church leaders and writers from the first four centuries of the Church) in order to bring correction and reformation to the Church. Martin Luther, one of the Protestant Reformers, spoke of the “real presence” of Christ present in communion. This is the view I hold. I do believe communion has symbols, but it is more than symbolic. Jesus is present in communion, not physically, but “spiritually” by the Holy Spirit.   

14) There will be a growing trend towards an ecumenical unity for the cause of world peace claiming the validity of other religions and that there are many ways to God.
I believe Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Other world religions may contain some elements of truth. I believe other religions contain people who are sincere and authentic in their expressions of worship and devotion, but ultimately fall short of God’s glory. Jesus, as he said, is the way, the truth, and the life, the only way to the Father (John 14:6). I believe in the exclusivity of Christ and I believe in living in peace with those of a different faith. Jesus calls us not only to love God, but to love our neighbor, regardless of their ethnicity, social status, religion, political affiliation, or sexual orientation.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Ministry, Theology

 

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Video

N.T. Wright Sings Dylan’s “When the Ship Comes In”

I am a huge fan of Tom Wright. I am a huge fan of Bob Dylan. So this video pretty much blew my mind!

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Life, Ministry, Theology

 

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The Comforts and Commands of Christ

Jesus rose from the dead. We believe it, but now what?

We are now in the second week of Easter. The celebration known as Easter is not just one day, but it is a season, a seven-week celebration of living life in light of the resurrection. We celebrated on Easter Sunday. We got dressed up. We went to church. We sang songs about the empty tomb. We reflected on resurrection Scriptures. We met the living Jesus through communion. We went home, ate our chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps (my personal favorite). We rightly celebrated on that one day, but where do we go from here?

In Matthew’s account of the resurrection of Jesus, the two Marys met the resurrected Jesus after they saw the empty tomb. Jesus instructs them to go tell his disciples to meet him in Galilee. When Jesus appeared to his disciples there, they worshiped him and he said:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)

After his resurrection, Jesus tells his followers to go. This command answers the “now what?” question for us, his followers some 2,000 years removed from his resurrection. Once we have celebrated, it is time for us to go and do.

Jesus intended there to be movement in the new community he was building. He has declared to us that he has received all authority in heaven and on earth. This authority is not spiritual power, but civic power, not religious power, but political power. In raising Jesus from the dead, God has made him Lord and King. Jesus is now the planet’s new reigning ruler. The first bill he signed into law in his new government was one to get his citizens up and moving and “back to work.” And the work we are called to do is to make disciples. This call and command to make disciples is not for a select few ministerial professional; it is for all of us who are following Jesus. It is for all of us basking in the light of the resurrection. We have entered into the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus through baptism. We have experienced (and are experiencing) forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, healing, and all the other benefits received from this resurrection life, but we cannot receive the comforts of Christ without following the commands of Christ.

Jesus commands us to make disciples, but he doesn’t stop there.He even helps us with how we are we do carry out this disciple-making mission. We go and make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them. Baptizing and teaching become the two pedals propelling our disciple-making mission forward. We baptize people into the Jesus story of death, burial, and resurrection. We baptize people not just IN the trifold name of God, but we baptize people INTO the life of God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God himself is a holy community of persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. When we baptize people, we are immersing them into a community of self-giving love, which is why we celebrate at every baptism. We are celebrating and welcoming people into the life of God (Trinitarian community) and the life of the church (humanitarian community).

Following baptism we teach. Certainly, we do more in church life than teaching, but the ministry of teaching is foundational to making disciples. We are to teach the newly baptized to observe everything Jesus has commanded. We do not teach in such a way to help people “apply things to their lives.” Jesus did not ever say that he was giving us “biblical principles” that we are to teach so people can apply them to their lives. He gave us commands; he gave us proclamations; he gave us descriptions of the kingdom of God, and then he told us to go and do. His teaching does not have application, but it does have motivation. We are not to try to figure out how we can fit his teachings into our lives, but we are called to adjust our lives and orient ourselves around his teaching. This uncomfortable re-adjustment we call repentance is not merely an intellectual exercise, but it implies action, rethinking things in order to live differently.

In the end, Jesus gives us a promise. He does not just give commands, but he gives commands with a promise. He promised to be with us, to help us, to guide us. Every Sunday we gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. He is present as we gather in his name. He is present as his word is proclaimed. He is present at the table in the bread and in the cup. He promises to be with us by his Spirit, so we have power to carry out his command. So we as the community of faith living in the light of the resurrection carry out his instructions by make disciples. We do this by his empowering presence in the light of his resurrection.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Ministry, Theology

 

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Why I Have Started Reading Fiction

Check out my blog post on www.seedbed.com, where I explain Why I Have Started Reading Fiction: http://seedbed.com/feed/why-i-have-started-reading-fiction. In the post, I describe how the call to read fiction both shocked me and helped me as a Bible reader and a Bible teacher.

In the post I talk about reading Wendell Berry’s That Distant Land, a collection of short stories. I finished it this week and it certainly did not disappoint. I am finishing a few other books (non-fiction books, but keep that on the down low…I don’t want Eugene Peterson to find out!), but when I finish those, I plan on reading Berry’s novel Jayber Crow next, probably over the summer.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Ministry, Theology

 

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