Sunday Morning Post, 3.16.14

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 More Money, More Problems:

Ruth Graham asked at The Atlantic, “Can Megachurches Deal With Mega Money in a Christian Way?”:

Even for a large church with a popular pastor, however, $210,000 is an astronomical amount to spend on marketing. “It certainly looks like a massive misuse of money,” theologian, pastor, and author Carl Trueman told me. “But when you have a church culture where one man is absolutely central to everything the church does publicly, then it’s really difficult to draw that line between the church’s mission and the man’s mission, and money spent on the mission and money spent on the man.”

The troubling fuzziness of those lines has significance far beyond Mars Hill.

Carl Trueman wrote about the ramifications of the Mark Driscoll situation in the new Reformed movement at large:

Mark Driscoll is one person, a uniquely talented individual. Yet he is also a function of structural problems within the new Reformed movement itself. Despite its distinct and in many ways sophisticated theology, the “young, restless, and reformed” movement has always been in some respects simply the latest manifestation of the weakest aspects of American Evangelicalism. It was, and is, a movement built on the power of a self-selected band of dynamic personalities, wonderful communicators, and talented preachers who have been marketed in a very attractive manner. Those things can all be great goods but when there is no real accountability involved, when financial arrangements are opaque in the extreme, and when personalities start to supplant the message, serious problems are never far away.

Mark Driscoll himself addressed his church in the comment section of a blog, which was then re-posted on Reddit:

In the last year or two, I have been deeply convicted by God that my angry-young-prophet days are over, to be replaced by a helpful, Bible-teaching spiritual father. Those closest to me have said they recognize a deep change, which has been encouraging because I hope to continually be sanctified by God’s grace. I understand that people who saw or experienced my sin during this season are hurt and in some cases have not yet come to a place of peace or resolution. I have been burdened by this for the past year and have had private meetings one at a time to learn from, apologize to, and reconcile with people. Many of those meetings were among the most encouraging moments in my time at our church. Sadly, not all of those relationships are yet mended, but I am praying that God is gracious to get us to that place of grace. Now that others have come forward, my desire is to have similar meetings with those who are willing.

On Bad News, Absurdity, and Unity:

Geoff Holsclaw wrote at Sojourners about bad news headlines and honoring your church:

Headline news is usually bad news. Viral blog posts are usually polemical. And those “way-too-long” conversations on Facebook and Twitter are often based in controversy. Pain, division, and anger drive on-line traffic and often directs the content…

How about a little good news? What about a viral campaign about churches doing well? Well, here is my modest attempt to say a good word about our church community.

A.J. Swoboda encouraged a similar sentiment from a different angle right here on the Missio Alliance blog:

Are people gathering around the cross or around agendas? Because we center it not on the cross but other little pithy things that we think community should be centered in. Do you have people who like Rob Bell and people who like Mark Driscoll worshipping together in the same place? Can people who speak in tongues find fellowship with those who don’t?

Rachel Held Evans posted this great review of Christena Cleveland’s book, Disunity in Christ:

And just when you think this is just a nice book with some nice suggestions for Christian unity, Cleveland comes along and drops a truth bomb reminding you of the importance of the topic at hand:

  • “What if there were no ‘them’ in the body of Christ?” (p. 63)
  • “This is what we enact as we celebrate the Eucharist. In receiving Christ’s broken body and spilled blood, we, in a sense, receive all those whom Christ received by suffering.” (p. 36) 
  • “The work of reconciliation is often excruciating because it is the work of the cross.” (p. 156)

On Post-Christendom Multi-Media:

David Fitch debated the helpfulness of Christian apologetics in a post-Christendom context on Moody Radio.

Our director Chris Backert explained the importance of post-Christendom in this video at Seedbed:

On Church Membership on Mission:

David Fitch posted about reimagining missional church membership:

There is a third option that I believe makes the most sense for communities in mission. Here local churches in mission focus on the new members’ willingness to commit to a set of communal practices that define the community, what the community does, who it worships, and how its sociality is birthed in the work of the Spirit.

To join in with a community is to join in with its life together as defined by a set of practices. (Check out in this regard Life Together by Bonhoeffer) Such practices should be obvious and part of the visible display of what it means to be a member. These practices should includes patterns of mutual submission, speaking truth in love and receiving it, Matt 18:15-20 and “binding and loosing,” the submitting to the Lord’s Table and the hearing of Word.

So what did we miss? Add your favorite links from the week in the comments!

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