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
Tim Soerens is at V3 Movement urging us to stop trying so hard to plant churches:
Because no one wants to be known as a failure, it can be hard to talk about. But we need to.
We also desperately need to pioneer new ways of planting churches in North America. Of course there is going to be risk, that’s the nature of any new venture. But right now the carnage is just too horrendous. The public shame to church planters compounded by the private bewilderment with God is just too crushing. We need to find some fresh new ways of starting churches.
Ben Sternke writes about being disciples and pilgrims, not experts and conquerers:
Brothers and sisters, we are not experts! We are not called to be people with answers.
When was the last time you heard about someone who was swept into the kingdom of God on the coattails of an airtight theological argument? This just doesn’t happen.
Sarah Bessey is asking the question, Why not have a woman preach?
There’s a hopeful and inclusive answer to that question and many of us have already answered it. We’re living into the answer already.
There is Scriptural justification, historical justification, Spirit justification, traditional and communal justification for women preaching and pastoring and leading.
News & Views
Jonathan Merritt reports at RNS about the findings of a new Pew Forum study:
According to a sweeping new study by Pew Research Center, the popular evangelical trope is not as true as some assumed. Yes, mainline denominations remain in sharp decline, and yes, evangelicals have fared slightly better overall. Yet many evangelical bodies have begun shrinking as a share of the population as well. Romans Catholics—also theologically and politically conservative—are also declining significantly. This, despite these groups’ evangelistic zeal, orthodox theology, and conservative political stances.
Jonathan Merritt follows up on the need for doing your homework when interpreting a study like this:
This is a rule I keep in the front of my mind when I’m analyzing statistics. I’m not a “numbers person.” Heck, I’ve never even balanced a checkbook. That’s why when I published my column on the Pew study, I spoke to a Pew researcher and three reputable outside sociologists. Before publishing it, three editors within Religion News Service reviewed and fact-checked it. But while I did the hard work of tracking down reputable sources and speaking to the organization that actually released the study, Joe spoke to exactly no one.
Ed Stetzer writes at USA Today with his own interpretation of the Pew Forum data:
If evangelical Christianity is growing, or at the very least remaining steady, why is Christianity as a whole shrinking and why are those who claim no religious affiliation increasing at such a rapid rate? In short, nominals — people whose religious affiliation is in name only — are becoming nones — people who check "none of the above" box on a survey.
The second part of Rob Bell and Richard Beck on the Newsworthy With Norsworthy podcast.
How to strengthen marriages and start fresh expressions on the Fresh Expressions US podcast.
Partners & Resources
How to Make Lifelong Friends Focused On Missional Community, by V3 Movement.
Diaster Relief / Nepal, by International Teams.
On The Missio Blog
On the blog this week, we began a series of reflections on the Truly Human Gathering:
Carolyn Custis James On The #TrulyHuman “Alliance” Between Synergy And Missio, by Missio Alliance.
Continue Exploring #TrulyHuman @ The Justice Conference, by J.R. Rozko.
On ‘Being’ #TrulyHuman In Spiritual Formation And Discipleship, by Ruthie Johnson.
Ascension Day Is Huge, by Mark Moore.
#TrulyHuman Worship, by Derek Vreeland.
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:
1. Seek to understand the author’s intent.
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. _____________.
2. Seek to make your own voice heard.
We deeply desire and value the voice and perspective of our readers. However you may react to an article we publish or a fellow commenter, we encourage you to set forth that reaction is the most constructive way possible. Use your voice and perspective to move conversation forward rather than shut it down.
3. Share your story.
One of our favorite tenants is that “an enemy is someone whose story we haven’t heard.” Very often disagreements and rants are the result of people talking past rather than to one another. Everyone’s perspective is intimately bound up with their own stories – their contexts and experiences. We encourage you to couch your comments in whatever aspect of your own story might help others understand where you are coming from.
In view of those suggestions for shaping conversation on our site and in an effort to curate a hospitable space of open conversation, Missio Alliance may delete comments and/or ban users who show no regard for constructive engagement, especially those whose comments are easily construed as trolling, threatening, or abusive.