The great Reformer Martin Luther spoke of theologies of glory and a
theology of the cross. Theologies of glory look for the revelation of
God in his mighty works: creation, miracles, spiritual experiences. But
this kind of knowledge, said Luther, only puffs people up. Instead God
has chosen to reveal himself supremely in the cross. And that means
revelation is only discernible by faith. Only by faith do we see in the
weakness, foolishness, and shame of the cross the power, wisdom, and
victory of God. Theologies of glory lead to pride. The theology of the
cross leads to humility—or, in Luther’s language, humiliation.
Now apply the same idea to our churches. Churches of glory will put
their confidence in mighty works: stage performances, big budgets,
large numbers, powerful arguments, charismatic preachers. A church of
the cross will be characterized by power in weakness, wisdom in
foolishness, victory in shame. Its confidence will be in the
sovereignty of God, the presence of his Spirit, and the power of his
Word. Jesus said the kingdom of God has been given to “my little
flock.” Most of the time it will be under the radar. But, like yeast in
dough, it will grow unseen to fill the earth.
Seattle [at a recent Acts 29 boot camp] Steve Timmis gave us three sessions on “Total Church”. The
first was on the Gospel, the second on Community, the third on
practical training for developing gospel-centered communities. One of
the things I love about Chester and Timmis is the way they allow
biblical theology to drive their ecclesiology, and not in an academic
way. Consider the following definition of the gospel which accessibly
incorporates the biblical-theological themes of: monotheistic
christology, substitutionary atonement, imputed righteousness, christus
victor, new creation, inaugurated eschatology, and the gospel of grace:
God’s promised Rescuer and Ruler, lived our life, died our death and
rose again in triumphant vindication as the first fruits of the new
creation to bring forgiven sinners together under his gracious reign.
This is a big gospel. This is not the individualistic, works-based, escapist gospel of much of American evangelicalism. It incorporates the whole world, person, and Jesus. It forces us to move beyond decision-based conversions to following Jesus as Lord. It calls us beyond Christianity as private religion into
Christianity as public, communal gospel. It’s not a pocket-sized
gospel. The gospel is bigger than we think. Now, if we can just lead
our churches into renewal, revival, and repentance towards living out a
big gospel, a gospel as big as the city, as the world, as the whole of
is this big gospel impacting your church, your leadership? Are you
doing anything differently in your church because of the size of this
Christ promises to build His Church, and that no force will prevail
against it. Yet, the local church has been heavily battered in battle.
Sadly, churches in America are in steady decline, with over 4000
closing their doors and 500,000 members leaving each year, never to
return. This is not what the Lord desires.
The Apostle Paul tells us that “through the church the manifold
wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in
the heavenly places.” The local church is called to lift up Jesus so
that all the world might see Him. The local church is called to make
known the gospel and to be the vehicle of redemption for the world.
Led by local churches, Advance09
is a conference committed to the resurgence of the local church for the
glory of God. Our aim is to equip attendees with the gospel so that the
local church might become all that Jesus calls it to be. At this
conference, we hope to ensure that on our watch and in our time we
honor Jesus and see the resurgence of the local church. Advance09
is open to anyone: pastors and lay-leaders; church members; and regular
attendees. We invite you to join us in this Great Cause.
This article by Stetzer and Jason Hayes pretty much sums up what we hear from the 18-25 year olds that are connecting with us at Christ Church. What we say:
Embraces the reality of doubts and struggles;
Owns up to our individual and collective junk;
Leaves us with great hope in Jesus.
There are other reasons why people are driving 20+ minutes and passing by lots of other churches on Sundays but this one's the most counterintuitive and most consistent response we hear from students and other men and women in their 20s.
So we started wondering, what would it be like to bring the Twitter
kind of participation into Fusion in the same way we would think
through any other worship interactive—something that gets people
involved in what is happening—so Fusion isn’t happening “to” them but
rather “with and because of and through” them.
there was electricity in the air. iPhones and laptops were carried in
one hand—coffee in the other. The live stream was going. Over 70 people
were following “westwindsseries” on Twitter.
The big screen as
well as two other screens were live with the Twitter feed as people
came in. Through communion, songs, message, etc. Twitter was live for
our inaugural Twitter Fusion. Live and VERY present.
The conversation began light.
“Nice shirt JVo,”
“I love this song,”
“So glad they are doing Lenny Kravitz,”
“Somebody turn Jimmy’s guitar up,”
“Thank God for coffee at church”
One girl Twittered from home she was late and on her way. Ha.
while the light conversation was present through all of Fusion—both
Fusions—there was also some great interaction with the message,
restating what was said, personal struggles shared, opinions,
“to be selfless, humble”
“The more I press in to Him, the more He presses me out to be useful”
“sometimes healing is painful”
“I have a hard time recognizing God in the middle of everything.”
“It is easy to give Him credit after the fact but it is my prayer to see Him now.”
“God is challenging us to live for Him in a culture that rejects Him—His own peers did that”
“He has given me so much”
kinds of interaction were important. The “deeper” thoughts allowed
people to process out loud, be affirmed by others’ responses, and have
a bit of public confession.
The light talk only added to the sense of community, family, fun, and not taking ourselves too seriously.