Every Sunday, we’ll be posting articles and links that are saying something important about church, culture, and mission. Here’s what resonated with us this week on the web:
Church & Theology
Efrem Smith outlines a new evangelical movement beyond a white, Republican, suburban, and male identity:
The problem with the dominant version of Evangelicalism today is that it is still defined by the theologies, ideologies, and nationalistic bent of certain Whites. The picture painted of the typical Evangelical in America is White, Republican, Reformed, Suburban, Southern, and most of the time Male. Well, I’m Male, African-American, a Missional Pietist, committed to racial reconciliation, justice, and the empowerment of the poor and marginalized, a product of the Black Church, and I’m just as much Evangelical as anybody else. Any definition of Evangelicalism that gives preferential treatment to the views of White Evangelicals is no true biblical Evangelicalism at all.
Ben Sternke presents a challenge to pastors and churches: are we providing entertainment?
But in our desire to impress, it’s easy to cross a line. Instead of leading people in worship on Sunday, we find ourselves merely entertaining people in an effort to get them to come back next week.
In other words, it’s easy to become entertainers instead of pastors and worship leaders.
Benjamin Corey writes on wrestling with God from Holy Jordan – where Jacob wrestled with God!
To be who God longed for him to be, he just needed to believe it again. So, he sat up all night on the banks of this stream here, and wrestled with God.
I can’t count the nights that I’ve been Jacob. Restlessly tossing and turning, being plagued by mistakes I made long ago, haunted by feelings of unlovableness and inadequacy, yet longing to actually believe that God is with me and determined to do good to me, regardless of what I’ve done, or how I feel.
News & Views
Rachel Held Evans looks forward to the launch of her new book Searching For Sunday this week – with special offers!
Next Tuesday, April 14th, is the official release date of Searching for Sunday, my latest book. It explores all that is beautiful and ugly and complicated about the church, through the imagery of seven sacraments.
If you order the book now and submit your proof of purchase you get access to the first three chapters immediately, plus the other gifts that are part of the Launch Celebration.
Scot McKnight continues his review of Erin Lane's book Lessons in Belonging by looking at disillusionment:
Erin Lane’s book — I kid you not — is a modern exposition of the famous lines in Bonhoeffer about slaying the illusions we have of what a church is. Her book, however, is not a defense of the church; it’s an exploration of the art of belonging and what that means for a generation that struggles with commitment. So she’s not where Bonhoeffer is, strictly speaking, but she is expounding something important in Bonhoeffer.
Brian Zahnd publishes his Foreword for Brad Jersak's new book A More Christlike God:
A return to the revelation that God is revealed in Christ could not be more timely. Western Christianity is in a crisis. It can no longer retain credibility and be transmitted to succeeding generations on the authority of tradition alone. Critical questions are being asked and Christianity must gain its adherents based on its own merits. Fortunately Christianity is up to the task. But not just any Christianity; the Christianity up to the task is the Christianity grounded in the confession that Jesus is the icon of the invisible God.
Lauren Winner on the Newsworthy With Norsworthy podcast.
Aaron Niequist on the Seminary Dropout podcast.
Brian Zahnd's Easter sermon on the Word of Life Church podcast.
Partners & Resources
What's the Difference Between Missional Communities and Fresh Expressions of Church?, by Gannon Sims at Fresh Expressions US.
Three Case Studies of People You Might Not Expect to Make Great Church Planters, by Linda Berquist at V3 Movement.
McKnight Outlines Ancient & Pauline Views of Sexuality, Offers a Way Forward— An Excerpt from “A Fellowship of Differents”, by Jeremy Bouma at Zondervan Academic.
Bible Deism and Listening Prayer, by David Dunbar at Biblical Seminary.
Missio Alliance Comment Policy
The Missio Alliance Writing Collectives exist as a ministry of writing to resource theological practitioners for mission. From our Leading Voices to our regular Writing Team and those invited to publish with us as Community Voices, we are creating a space for thoughtful engagement of critical issues and questions facing the North American Church in God’s mission. This sort of thoughtful engagement is something that we seek to engender not only in our publishing, but in conversations that unfold as a result in the comment section of our articles.
Unfortunately, because of the relational distance introduced by online communication, “thoughtful engagement” and “comment sections” seldom go hand in hand. At the same time, censorship of comments by those who disagree with points made by authors, whose anger or limited perspective taints their words, or who simply feel the need to express their own opinion on a topic without any meaningful engagement with the article or comment in question can mask an important window into the true state of Christian discourse. As such, Missio Alliance sets forth the following suggestions for those who wish to engage in conversation around our writing:
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If you disagree with something the an author said, consider framing your response as, “I hear you as saying _________. Am I understanding you correctly? If so, here’s why I disagree. _____________.
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