Good quotes are like fine wine. They summarize a profound line of thought in one sentence or two. I’ve been to a few speeches and/or conferences in the past six months. Here’s some good quotes I want to remember and use again and again. They get at the heart of the struggle we all face as we seek to live and lead our life and churches into Mission. (my comments in italics).
1.) From David Coffey – a Brit addressing the Brady Lectures at Northern Seminary: “They say the difference between a Hollywood actor and a British actor is – the Hollywood actor will ask, “how will this script be modified to suit my strengths/personality? The British actor will ask, how can I do justice to what the author intended in this script?” The application of this to American Christianity is obvious.
2.) From Dallas Willard at Ecclesia Net Conference On Prayer: “prayer is a power sharing arrangement for a world of recovering sinners. I’m talking to God about what we’re doing together.” … “in regard to Peter’s denial of Jesus, Jesus is working through a larger system of reality with Peter. He could have stopped him right there – instead he goes and prays for Him.” I think Willard is getting at something about prayer that is absolutely central if we would participate in the Mission of God as His people.
3.) From NT Wright at the Wheaton Theology Conference On the Kingdom: “When we de-eschatologize the kingdom – we make it purely about a social ethic: Jesus’ message becomes – go out and hug a peasant now.”
4.) Again from NT Wright on the Kingdom from the same conference: “There are many Kingdom churches that don’t know what the cross is about and there are many cross churches which don’t know what the Kingdom is about … the Kingdom and the cross go inextricably together. They cannot be separated from each other.” I think these two quotes from Wright en capsulize what the issues are regarding the Kingdom between some of the classic Emergent voices versus the Neo Anabaptist Missional voices.
5.) From J. Kameron Carter at this year’s Evolving Church Conference. Ok This isn’t a quote. Instead I’ll summarize Carter’s take on the two movies Avatar and District 9. He says that there are 2 models of discipleship going on in these movies. In terms of Avatar – This is transformation under the hero’s control. We stay in the drivers’ seat. We become different from ourselves as we manage a transformation still under our own terms. In terms of District 9 – This is transformation not under the hero’s control. The work of transformation is being conformed in a way in which we become something else. We develop so as to give up our own agenda and see the others’ agenda as our own. The application of this to discipleship in American church again seems obvious to me.
6.) From a Comedian whose name I can’t recall: One of my favorite quotes you all have probably heard me repeat a hundred times: “Every morning you need to get up, go to the mirror and look at yourself and say three times ‘It’s NOT about me, It’s NOT about me, It’s NOT about me.’ You need to repeat this again and again until you get it thoroughly into your soul. Only at that point then do you need to go back to the same mirror and say ‘It’s about me, It’s about me, It’s about me.'”
7.)From me: “Because our pastors have been so trained to understand the ministry in terms of their own success, we have thousands of them who are either manic-depressive or egomaniacs.”
8.) Again from me: (talk about being an egomanic eh?) “If you’re not careful (with the attractional ministry approach), you’ll end up looking back after 30 years of ministry realizing the high point of your ministry was that one moment in time when you finally got all 300 people to come to your church and be happy at the same time.”