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 Four Missional Voices
AJ Swoboda writes at Duke Divinity’s Faith & Leadership Blog about being a Pentecostal environmentalist:
So yes, God’s Spirit moves us to repentance — the kind of repentance that is needed for real life-change in the 21st-century ecological crisis. I think of it this way: “repentance” is a word meaning to change one’s mind. Repentance is a kind of “good grief” that occurs when we’ve drawn near to God, to borrow from the prophet Charlie Brown. It’s a deep and lasting change within our minds, hearts and imaginations when we touch God’s terribly deep mercy.
Be careful: repentance is not what some religious people have supposed. Repentance does not, as they suggest, bring us closer to God. Rather, repentance is a byproduct of being drawn near to God. Repentance isn’t a moral magnet that draws God to love us more than he has. Mostly, repentance is what happens when we’ve realized that God loved us before a lick of change ever happened.
God is creating a new generation, a generation of Pentecostals who believe that being filled with God’s Spirit does not require us to turn off our brains, or put our heads in the sand, or ignore the great social issues of our day. A generation is rising that sees God’s Spirit as moving us back into the realm of the real world, where there are real pains and real struggles and real issues.
Alexia Salvatiera writes at Release the APE about the need for a prophetic dimension of the gospel:
Why is the prophetic dimension of the Gospel so critically important? One of the church fathers said, “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.” At Pentecost, the first disciples emerged from the upper room to preach the Gospel in all the languages spoken by all of the hearers. Actions are a language. What do our actions say about our God? We read in James that “faith without works is dead.” How does our message communicate consistently that our God is alive? Of course, this can be heard as an argument for social action but not necessarily for prophecy (defined as the speaking of truths and the living out of truths that change whole communities and societies – not just individual lives.) We only understand that the full communication of love requires the biggest possible transformation when we realize that it is not only the fact of God’s love that we need to communicate but also the full power of that love. Satan is the king of this world, but the kingdom of God is breaking into the world and it is neither weak nor impotent. As the old Irish hymn based on the Magnificat says, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, “the world is about to turn.”
Chris Morton puts forward a provocative proposal: “In Ten Years Only Church Plants Will Be Left”:
With many established churches stuck in a model that is becoming increasingly unrealistic, this begs the question: what churches will be left in 10 years?
As I’ve argued here, I believe the answer is church plants. They have a gun to their heads that makes them think missionally.
There is hope! Established churches aren’t out of the game yet. But if they are going to thrive, it will require learning to think like a church plant and supporting those who do.
Here are three questions that will help established churches change their thinking:
- If we were to start over today, what would we do differently?
- Who is in our neighborhood, and what would have to change for our churches to look more like them?
- How can we resource those who are experimenting with new ways of being church?
And Tony Bleything writes at The Antioch Session on the importance of place in the unity of the church:
There is a common sentiment rising up out of the parish that I serve: “I love the diversity of opinion in this church.” Among our members we have strong complimentarian views but we also have a female postulant preparing to be a priest. We have a person in our congregation who recently officiated a gay wedding in Michigan yet we belong to a denomination that does not support same sex union. We have a number of staunch Calvinists in our church that worship next to a number of Anglo-Catholics. We have members that would love to see greater partnership with the Episcopal Church and others who wish for greater separation. We have members that believe in paedo-communion and others who practice believer baptism! WTF?!?
Honestly, this type of brutal unity was never our goal. It was not our vision, it doesn’t even show up in our ministry plan! So I’ve been reflecting on this, how did this happen? I think it is best answered in a word: place.
This was a shorter Sunday Morning Post – what did we miss? Feel free to add some links in the comments here, even if it’s to your own blog post!