Archive for the ‘the church’ Category
This piece by Sam Storms is well worth a look.
Churches can produce an environment where the doctrines of grace may be correctly understood, but a gospel environment is non-existent. The facts of grace may be understood with our minds, but if a gracious environment where those truths can flourish in our one another relationships isn’t present, things can turn ugly. Ray Ortlund put it best in his recent message at the 2013 Liberate Conference. He said,
Grace on paper only creates churches where Christians beat each other up with a clear conscience because their doctrine is right.
When gospel doctrine and gospel culture converge in a church, that church become prophetic… Without the doctrines of grace the culture is weak. Without the [gospel] culture, the doctrines seem pointless. Even offensive and frustrating.
There are two types of people in the church. The two types aren’t those that are broken and need rescued and those that are not broken and doing okay. The two types of people in the church are those that are broken and their eyes have been opened to their brokenness and those that are broken, but who’s eyes haven’t been opened to their brokenness.
Ed Stetzer has posted his second piece on the subject of the clergy-laity distinction, entitled, Lay People and the Mission of God. If you missed part one, you may want to read it first. It’s right [HERE]. Take a look at this and see what you think. I think he raised some valid points. Here’s what he had to say:
Today I continue my series about laypeople and the mission of God.
In the first church I planted we did something strange, but we were tying to communicate something important. In the Sunday program, normally you would print the name of the church, phone number, and the obligatory: “Ed Stetzer, Pastor.” Instead we listed everybody. I was Read the rest of this entry »
The description under this message by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt says it all,
For all of you who have been given morality lessons instead of the Gospel, hear how Dr. Rod Rosenbladt (of White Horse Inn radio program fame) succinctly presents Christianity as first and foremost a genuine truth claim about Christ as our righteous substitute, instead of a never ending list of popular religious recipes for personal success.
If you’ve struggled with your faith in your church because of what you’re seeing and hearing (and maybe don’t even go to church anymore), you don’t want to miss this powerful address — an unabashed analysis of the church today and what it is doing to many believers — from one who has experienced it himself.
If that describes you and your experience, I hope you find encouragement here:
Ray Ortlund has written an excellent piece touching on the topic of being wronged by a church’s sin and how to respond. I think this article is well-balanced and much needed. If you’ve had similar experiences to those Ortlund mentions, I hope you find this helpful. Ortlund said,
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” Colossians 3:15
The tsunami of sin flooding the world today touches us all. We add to it. We suffer from it. It is flooding our churches.
If somehow we could all get together and gently swap stories, my hunch is we would be shocked at the mistreatment that has been dished out to many of us by churches – both by abusive leaders and by abusive members. There is, of course, a difference between being hurt and being harmed. I am not thinking of people who get their feathers ruffled and then howl their complaints. I am thinking of people who have been harmed and wronged, people who have suffered slander, lies, loss of position, loss of reputation, loss of friends, and more. Many reading this post have suffered in these and other ways. It is shocking what Read the rest of this entry »
Ed Stetzer has posted an excellent piece dealing with the Clergy/Laity distinction in the church, entitled Laypeople and the Mission of God, part 1 — Killing the Clergy-Laity Caste System. It reflects my own views probably better than I could state it. Take a look and see what you think… He said,
“Laypeople” is a common word we use around churches but I don’t like it. The word actually can be applied to any non-professional population as it relates to any profession (doctors, lawyers, etc.). But most often it is applied to church, including its primary definition. Today I begin a blog series laypeople and the mission of God. I hope at the end of the series you will see and do things differently for His mission.
The image that such terminology creates is of two classes of people inside the church. The first class (emphasis on “first”) is the professional clergy, referred to as “ministers” by some churches. The second class (I meant to say that) is the laypeople. I also see something that is not only unbiblical but I believe it sabotages the Read the rest of this entry »
A couple of days ago, my Bible reading took me back to the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Luke’s account.
On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. (Luke 9:10-11)
The twelve had just returned from being sent out to preach the gospel and take care of the needy. They were no doubt weary and probably looking forward to some down time with Jesus and possibly even getting away from the crowds for a while. Luke tells us that Jesus withdrew with them to Bethsaida.
But while there, the crowds showed up unexpectedly. How did Jesus Read the rest of this entry »
Ray Ortund has written a great piece called Gospel + Safety + Time. This should be the ministry philosophy of any church. Here’s what he had to say:
It’s what everyone needs. Everyone. Gospel + safety + time. A lot of gospel + a lot of safety + a lot of time.
Gospel: good news for bad people through the finished work of Christ on the cross and the present power of the Holy Spirit. Multiple exposures. Constant immersion. Wave upon wave of grace and truth, according to the Bible.
Safety: a non-accusing environment. No finger-pointing. No embarrassing anyone. No manipulation. No oppression. No condescension. But respect and sympathy and understanding, where sinners can confess and unburden their souls.
Time: no pressure. Not even self-imposed pressure. No deadlines on growth. No rush. No hurry. But a lot of space for complicated people to rethink their lives at a deep level. If we relax, trusting in God’s patience, we actually get going.
This is what our churches must be: gentle environments of gospel + safety + time. It’s the only way anyone can ever change.
Who doesn’t need that?
The Christian life is a gospel-centered and grace driven life. Or at least it should be. Gospel-centered and grace driven is one way to describe the normal Christian life. Paul described it like this, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14) Paul’s gospel centeredness (one has died for all, therefore all have died) resulted in his being grace driven (the love of Christ controls us). If anyone understood grace and the many ways it spills over into all of life, it was Paul. Paul understood the radical nature of grace, the freedom it brings, and how it can turn everything in our lives upside down. Or as one author put it, grace messes up your hair.
An area where grace hits close to home is in our giving. We get uneasy when someone starts talking about giving. We start to squirm. You might be getting uneasy just reading this. But humor me for a minute and keep reading. I think one reason we get uneasy (and there are many reasons we do) is because we bring misconceptions to the discussion when we talk about giving. We’ve all heard our share of guilt-ridden and duty-ridden sermons on the subject Read the rest of this entry »
I finished reading Red Like Blood last week. It’s one of those rare books that stays with you because of it’s content. I’ve been mulling it over in my mind since finishing it. It spoke to my heart and it spoke to my soul. In a word, I would sum it up as “raw”, but raw in a good, gospel-centered way. Before I say more I think these editorial reviews of Red Like Blood are worth reading.
Warning: this book is not for everyone. The Apostle Paul defined the gospel mission very plainly, ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.’ You cannot sugarcoat sin or filter depravity, no matter what level of greatness you achieve. Joe Coffey and Bob Bevington tell their personal stories of sin and grace from the front stage of life. They pull no punches and make no excuses. Their writing is open, honest, transparent and raw.
But it is not raw for the sake of shock. It is raw for the sake of hope a – saving hope that the worst of sinners might not only find grace in the shadow of the cross, but that the darkest of lives can become Read the rest of this entry »
It can be easy for a church to get comfortable with itself and forget those outside of its walls. It can be easy to get comfortable in our Christian surroundings, especially in our culture, and slowly become ingrown and self-absorbed. One of the indications that a church has become ingrown is that it becomes an exclusive and isolated group and seldom gives more than lip service to those outside its walls. I’ve both seen it happen and am guilty of doing it. I can also tell you that in my experience, becoming ingrown happens while no one is looking. Jesus talked about the ingrown church in Read the rest of this entry »