Leadership Journal interviews Matt Chandler - one question that fits well with what we deal with in Fight Clubs:
LJ: What does warring against sin look like?
MC: Sanctification here at The Village begins by
answering two questions. What stirs your affections for Jesus Christ?
And what robs you of those affections? Many of the things that stifle
growth are morally neutral. They're not bad things. Facebook is not
bad. Television and movies are not bad. I enjoy TV, but it doesn't take
long for me to begin to find humorous on TV what the Lord finds
The same goes for following sports. It's not wrong,
but if I start watching sports, I begin to care too much. I get stupid.
If 19-year-old boys are ruining your day because of what they do with a
ball, that's a problem. These things rob my affections for Christ.
I want to fill my life with things that stir my affections for him.
After a funeral I walked around the cemetery and found a grave of a guy
who died when he was my age. I felt my mortality in that moment and it
made me love the Lord. It really did. Some types of epic films do that
for me, and so does angst-filled music.
We want our people to think beyond simply what's
right and wrong. We want them to fill their lives with things that stir
their affections for Jesus Christ and, as best as they can, to walk
away from things that rob those affections—even when they're not
Over on his blog, Jonathan Dodson asked several questions about doing missional communities (what we call community groups at our church) in the suburbs:
How would you describe a missional community?
Some argue that MCs are only effective in an urban context. Would you agree or disagree?
Have your missional communities grown by adding non-Christians?
What are your top three best practices for your MCs?
What has been your biggest struggle in creating MCs?
Missionaries in community empowered by the gospel.
Disagree. The suburbs create additional challenges - such as geographic distance - but there's nothing about any particular context that renders missional communities ineffective.
We're in the middle of retro-fitting our existing group system to a more missional DNA. What we're seeing so far is that people are becoming more aware and concerned about the spiritual condition of the people they're around every day. Conversations are taking place. We're starting to make decisions with a particular group of people who don't know Jesus yet in mind.
Involve everyone in the life of the group, according to their personality and giftedness. Be intentional and repetitious - use the weekly gathering of the group to bang home your values. Create a compelling and irresistible environment that non-Christians want to be part of.
Community groups are a journey, not an event. Mission is more than a series of disconnected weekly events.
Here are three questions I've started asking people who are struggling with life:
Who's walking through this with you? (Big Idea: you were created for community)
Who are you serving this week? (Big Idea: you were created to join God in his mission)
Are you moving closer to or further away from Jesus? (Big Idea: you were created for Jesus)
These serve as basic ontological questions for those of us who suffer - reminding us of both our identity and purpose. They've been helpful with other Christians but last week I had two opportunities to ask these questions to people who aren't part of Jesus' family...yet. Both conversations were fruitful - both for the present situation and in providing open doors in the days ahead.
There have been several books that have radically reshaped my thinking, values, and behavior - the most recent has been Total Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. When I first read it a couple of years ago, it turned just about everything I thought about church on its head. The result has been a methodical process of working with our leaders to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, resulting in a church that intends to live and function as missionaries in community empowered by the gospel.
A few weeks ago, another A29 church produced a study guide to help people walk through Timmis and Chester's book - here's more information:
An A29 church has created a free study guide to go along with the Re:Lit book Total Church, by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. The well-designed 32-page study guide is available for free PDF download here. We’ve talked with Steve Timmis, and he’s excited about this free resource.
The Desiring God website has a series of answers that John Piper gives to questions that people send in. Today, Dr. Piper answers the question - 'Why is differentiating between evangelism and missions important?' You can read or listen or watch the answer here.
A friend of mine asked what me (and others) what we thought about Piper's answer. Here's my response:
What I appreciate about John is his concern that the mission of God
extend to unreached people groups. He has been banging that drum since
a lot of us were wearing diapers and I thank God for that.
He has also stood firm in insisting that evangelism is a word – a
declaration about what has done in time and space through Jesus Christ.
This is critical in a church world that increasingly resonates with the
pseudographical word attributed to St. Francis – ‘preach the gospel,
use words if necessary.’
Here’s where the problem begins to creep in for me (and no, I don’t
think his distinctions hold up across the course of the Scriptures). I
remain concerned that the brothers in T4G (particularly Dever and
Piper) are taking what is of first importance in the gospel (‘Jesus
died for our sins’) and extrapolating that as the full weight of the
gospel, as though God’s complete mission can be summarized in the
justification/sanctification/glorification of individuals (to the glory
of God) with less attention given to the biblical emphases placed on the
renewal and redemption of cultures and creation (they don’t ignore them
but see them as implications of the gospel).
You see the effect of this in the answer Piper gives to the
distinction between evangelism and missions. If he had said, ‘Yes,
there is a difference between evangelism and mission(s). The mission of
God is a holistic blessing of the nations that includes what we call
evangelism but it’s more than just the words we say – it involves every
aspect of our lives. There is no mission of God apart from the story of
God’s work in and through the cross but God’s mission is bigger than
evangelism’, he would still uphold the necessity of declaring the
gospel word – whenever, wherever – without creating what I encounter
with Piper fan-boys who think the only thing that matters in life is
evangelism and bonus points if you do it across an ocean.
I see two particular opportunities to get all of us back on the same page:
- Clarity on the mission of God. Is the mission of God more than a declaration of the gospel?
- Clarity on what constitutes a culture. Is cross-cultural ministry something that can only take place on foreign soil?
So as a guy whose very first interaction on the internet back in ‘95
was to print off every John Piper sermon available from 1980 to 1995, I
would say that yes, there are distinctions between evangelism and
mission(s) but in this case I don’t believe Dr. Piper’s distinctions
hold up against the Scriptures and I don’t find them particularly
What do you think about Piper's distinction between evangelism and missions? Does this fit the shape and scope of the Scriptures? How would you answer the question?
Short interview with NT Wright on how individuals and churches honor God in everyday life.
You must always come back to prayer, worship, and Bible
study. Make sure that Christians are not going hollow in the middle
individually or corporately. But, then let it flow out. First, focus
on mission. Second, grow leadership. Third, encourage discipleship.
Then, act collaboratively. That means the church helps the local
education authority, the local housing committee, the police force,
whatever it may be. Let’s work with everyone who we can.
I had lunch last week with David Melton, campus director for Campus
Outreach at UGA. I love having David and Jenny at our church and have a
lot of fun watching God use David and the rest of the CO team on the
campus. We were talking about CO's Summer Beach Project and the reason
why some students really embrace talking about Jesus with complete
strangers on the beach while other students would rather take a 5-iron
to the temple. Here's what we came up with...
The critical difference between those who thrive in that environment
and those who struggle had less to do with skill or personality than it
did with sheer conviction and passion. People who enjoyed having those
conversations on the beach thrived; those who didn't want to be there
Here's what that means for the rest of us - go where your passions
collide with real need. Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit who wires
you to enjoy people, places and events that desperately need the hope
and freedom of the gospel. I know you don't think that your quirky
hobby has any kingdom value but what if you were able to bring the
values of God's kingdom into an arena that you love to be in already?