Every Sunday morning, we’ll be posting articles and links that are saying something important about church, culture, and mission (or that just made us laugh). Here’s what resonated with us this week on the web:
On Millennials, Mission, & Diversity
Bob Smietana addresses the hot topic of Millennials leaving the church, only to reveal that it’s mainly white Millennials:
Almost everyday, it seems, there’s a new story about how “Millennials are leaving the church.” But there’s a problem with these trend pieces: They aren’t true. American Christianity still has plenty of Millennials — they’re just not necessarily in white churches.
Instead, they’re found in places like Iglesia de Dios, a 3,000-member Hispanic megachurch in Nashville. The church was started in the mid-1990s by the Rev. Jose Rodriguez, a native of Venezuala who moved to Nashville in order to get better medical care for one of his children.
Efrem Smith writes about the need for a kingdom focus in church planting among the urban poor:
It seems that you can go to just about any inner city in the United States of America and find the same interesting dynamic. Many cities have communities that are considered the most afflicted when it comes to crime, poverty, education, and other areas. These communities tend to be close to the downtown of the cities, which in many cases is at some point on the journey of gentrification. At the same time these communities tend to be filled with churches.
Some of the worst communities in our American cities have churches on every corner. There are all sorts of churches from Black Churches to Korean Churches, and from Pentecostal Churches to Catholic Churches. If you want a lesson on the history, diversity, beauty, and challenges of the American Church come to the inner-city of a major metropolis and get your Church lessons. The suburbs are not the central context for understanding the history, present state, and future of the Church in the United States, the city is.
On Slow Church, Smells, & Belief
Chris Smith shares tweeted quotes from his new book, Slow Church:
Our calling is to community, a shared life in a local gathering that is an expression of Christ’s body in our particular places. #SlowChurch
Scripture as improv: it provides the basic plotline and then gives churches extraordinary freedom and creative opportunity. #SlowChurch
David Kludt writes about what the smell of a place has to do with faithful presence:
Wendell Berry has written that “an adequate local culture, among other things, keeps work within the reach of love.” You have to be within arm’s stretch of the people around you in order to care for them, one human to another. Love doesn’t allow you to keep your hands clean on one side of the road while someone suffers on the other.
Working from my scent-based description of the neighborhood in which I live and minister, you could say that good care and presence in a place – ministry, pastoring, leadership – means you have to know how your neighborhood smells. And, eventually, you need to start to smell like the neighborhood around you.
Brian Zahnd explains that it is, in fact, hard to believe in Jesus:
If believing in Jesus were as easy as we pretend, it would have been easy for me to pass my 9/11 test. But it wasn’t easy. And I didn’t pass the test. I didn’t wrestle with what Jesus calls his followers to do in the Sermon on the Mount. It didn’t even cross my mind! I didn’t pray about what it means to love my enemies. I prayed a war prayer. I preached war sermons. Sermons like “The Road to Armageddon” and “Jesus, Jerusalem, and Jihad” — sermons in which I actually said, “We are at war with Islam.” I’m ashamed of it now; I can barely stand to look at those sermon notes. But I preached those sermons. And they were popular sermons! People loved them. The crowd told me those sermons were anointed. When I was preaching my war sermons, I never once received any criticism for them. Never once! Telling the crowd that God is on our side is never a bad career move.
On the Missio Blog
Road Maps Vs. A Compass by Noah Stepro.
God’s Drama and the Incarnate Word by William Walker.
Where Wish Dreams Come to Die by Seth Richardson.
Is Lectio Divina Really Dangerous? by Mark Moore (most-read post of the week).
Let’s Talk About Race by Jonny Craig.
What did we miss? Add your favorite links in the comments!