Showing posts from April, 2008

The dual calling of a disciple of Jesus

Mark 3:13-14 effectively captures the dual life of a disciple of Jesus. In fact, this may be the most compact but elusive description of the Christian life ever recorded. It is so compact that it is easily overlooked. It is elusive because most English translations miss the meaning inherent in its sentence structure.

In the NRSV, the passage reads like this:

13He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15and to have authority to cast out demons.

In Greek, there are two hina (pronounced "heena") clauses here. Hina can roughly be translated as "so that." Therefore, when Jesus appointed his disciples, there were two "so thats." These two "so thats" sum up the entire Christian life. Ready?

Number one: so that they might be with him.
Number two: so that he might send them out.

To be with him... to be…

The demise of consumeristic churches

Lately, especially today, I have given significant thought to the way we Americans go about "doing church." (Maybe the use of those terms is offensive to some.) If there is one thing that is clear to me, it is that the days of the consumeristic, spectator-based, entertainment-rich, palace-dwelling megachurches are coming to an end. Many pastors will feel like they get a free pass when they hear the word "megachurch," because a megachurch is usually thought of as a 5-10,000+ person body. There are only a handful of churches like this in the country, so why worry about it, right?

I think we need to redefine megachurch a little. I was talking to someone a while back who referred to a 1500-person church in the LA area as a megachurch. I thought, "That's no megachurch. There are plenty of 1500-person churches out there. Can they all be megachurches?" I think they can be considered megachurches, because they act like megachurches in that they tend to rely on…

John Stott's The Living Church

I just finished reading John Stott's The Living Church. It is a very well balanced and solid treatment of what the church should be. And who would be surprised? Stott is in his 80s now, and he has been a theologian-churchman for decades. Stott's book is not trendy. It is not the dessert of ecclesiology books. However, it is the main course. Anyone who wants the meat and potatoes of what it means to be the church will benefit from this compact book.

What Billy Graham would have changed in his ministry

I have been reading through a compact book by John Stott, entitled The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor (IVP, 2007). I have a lot of respect for the scholar-churchman, and Stott has filled that role admirably for decades. Consequently, I have been enjoying the wisdom of his years in the pastorate.

Stott, in turn, refers to the wisdom of Billy Graham. Stott writes, "Speaking in 1979 to about six hundred pastors in London, he said that if he had his ministry all over again, he would make two changes. The atmosphere was electric. What changes would he make? First, he continued, he would study three times as much as he had done. 'I've preached too much,' he said, 'and studied too little.' Second, he would pray more. In saying this, he must have had in mind the two apostolic priorities... 'we will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word'" (107).

The Kingdom of God is like the desert...

We just got back from two days in the desert outside Phoenix, AZ. The rules are different out there. The weather is extreme. The coyotes are close at hand, as are the rattlesnakes and many kinds of cactus. Danger is everywhere. The world feels just a little out of control. It's good to have it that way once in a while.

Now we are back in suburbia, and I have a question. What is the kingdom of God supposed to look like? I ask because I think we are a little kingdom-deficient in Western, suburban Christianity. For us, the kingdom tends to look like suburban life. It looks and smells nice, and it is able to be planned and budgeted. When I read the Bible, I think the kingdom is supposed to be a little more like the desert -- dangerous and uncontrollable. More thoughts on this in the coming days.