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Sunday Morning Post, 3.23.14

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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 Church Planting Now

Christena Cleveland brought a sobering word on the reality of Urban Church Plantations:

So much of the urban church planting I’ve seen simply replicates and extends the power inequities between whites and people of color that were cemented years ago on plantations. Like the suburban pastors in Buffalo, many urban church planters charge into cities with blatant disregard for the great ministry work that is already being done by under-resourced pastors and churches, blind to their own privilege and cultural incompetency, and accompanied by the arrogant empire-based idea that more money means more effective ministry.

When I asked the white pastor of a large suburban multi-campus church to halt his plan to build an urban campus so that he could reflect on whether he has earned the right to do ministry among the oppressed, he responded by saying, “Obviously, the pastors [of color] that are already in the community aren’t more qualified to minister in that neighborhood than I am. If they were, they’d have made a bigger impact by now. They’ve had their chance. Now it’s mine.”

Jim Ailor wrote on fresh expressions of church emerging amidst the post-Christendom wreckage our cities:

This is not quite what those of us doing church want to hear. Haven’t we been doing all this to reach a world on the brink of disaster? Why then is the thunder rumbling over our converted sanctuaries and a river of hot molten rock rolling straight toward our renovated fellowship halls? Will we soon be left with historical church ruins, like those flecking the landscape of Europe?

Fresh expressions of church will emerge from the rubble, for our destruction doesn’t have to catastrophic. It can be restorative.

Dan White Jr. mused about breaking free from the numbers leash in planting new communities:

Missional Churches are going to have to wrestle with resisting the numbers template. Numbers tell us very little about the DNA of DiscipleshipNeighborhood Rootedness and Relational Tethering. These things mattered in the 1st Century Church. What if we reoriented around their vitality?

We need a new fresh metaphor, one that has little do with numbers and a whole lot to do with rich soil and earth under our fingernails.

On Breaking News & Other Hot-Buttons

CNN reported the death of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps:

Fred Phelps — the founding pastor of a Kansas church known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public events, including military funerals — has died, the church said Thursday.

The 84-year-old died of natural causes at 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, according to church spokesman Steve Drain.

Christianity Today reported on the solidifying complementarian stance at Cedarville University:

Cedarville, which recently weathered a turbulent year of disagreements andresignations, has also restricted classes in the women’s ministry program—functionally, every Bible class in the fall schedule taught by a woman—to only female students, according to alumni and a university representative.

“In courses where we seek to equip women for women’s ministry in the local church, classes have been reserved for women in order to accomplish this goal most effectively,” said Mark Weinstein, spokesman for the university.

Jonathan Merritt wrote a column in response to several Gospel Coalition bloggers on Jesus as ‘friend of sinners’:

Perhaps Carter’s ideas work well in his hometown of Ashburn, Virginia. Maybe DeYoung easily lives out the implications of his thinking in East Lansing, Michigan. But try living out the belief that you should offer fellowship only to those who “are open to the gospel” in New York City where only a tiny sliver of the population is Christian. Come to my neighborhood in Brooklyn where you’ll see far more menorahs at Hanukkah than trees at Christmas and see how well that works. You’d never leave home.

Additionally, this type of thinking can degrade the very essence of relationship by forcing us to see people more as projects than friends.

On Mantras & The Crazy

David Fitch urged us to rethink the ‘God is at work in the world’ mantra for the sake of mission:

For years we in the missional movement have been pushing for an understanding of God’s mission that pushes His work and mission beyond the boundaries of the church. We have repeated the mantra “God is already at work in the world. Let us (the church) join/participate in that mission with Him”(this originated with Moltmann, Bosch, Hoekendijk and others). THIS HAS BEEN A MUCH NEEDED CORRECTIVE! However it has not come without some confusion. It has, in my opinion, led to the practice of dispersing the church into the world sometimes in willy-nilly fashion (what I have called elsewhere the “Wild Goose Chase”). This notion has surely corrected a Jesus centric notion of God’s work in the world with a fuller Trinitarian view. God is at work beyond the Jesus’ work on the cross for individual believers. But in reaction, it has sometimes led to a Holy Spirit centric notion of God’s work in the world in separation from the Son and the Father. We are left to discern the Spirit at work everywhere in the world.  But though God is sovereign over the world, though Jesus “shall reign until all things have been made subject” (1 Cor 15:25), there are many people, places and institutions which live in autonomy from God, and even in outright rebellion. It is not always easily discernable at first.

Chris Morton got real with a helpful and timely post on giving up ‘The Crazy’ for Lent:

In years past I’ve tried to give up carbs or coffee, to varying degrees of success. If I understand the idea of Lent right, the point is to take time to be penitential and aware of your mortality and therefore our need for Jesus’s resurrection power.

What keeps me from reflecting on mortality or anything else is just The Crazy. There isn’t a switch that turns The Crazy off. What I can do is block out some time and dedicate it to non-Crazy things.

Now, halfway through Lent, I’m taking three steps to give up The Crazy.

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

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