Whole Foods and the Church

posted in: Uncategorized | 1

Yesterday I visited my friendly neighborhood Whole Foods (I love that it is less than 2 miles from our new home) and walked out the door with this thought: “I gotta write a Danny Franks blog post”!

As I was standing in line I was casually listening to the customer in front of my interact with my cashier.  The skinny jean wearing, burlap bag carrying customer was buying her very first Pacific Rose apple.  She had never had it before.  The cashier was telling her what kind of apples she did like and why she didn’t like red apples (the skin is too thick).  The purpose of this blog isn’t to discuss apples, but to discuss how we can be like this Whole Foods cashier in our local church.

I’ve never met a rude or unfriendly Whole Foods cashier.  They always want to talk to you, see how you are, they are interested in what you are buying, etc.  This friendliness needs to happen in our churches as well.  I’ve been in some grocery stores where the cashiers hardly speak to you, they have a scowl on their face, and just want to do their job.  I’ve been in some churches where that is the case, too.

My husband and I recently visited a church in Orlando.  The winning factor about this church was the friendliness of their people.  We walked in and over to the Information desk to see where the nursery was in case we needed it for LB.  Before we got to the desk, we were greeted by the pastor, then another person showed us where the cry room, nursing moms room, and nursery were located.  Then he handed us a bulletin.  We sat down in the back row, and before the service started at least 5 people came to talk with us: elders and regular members a like.  While I could just claim they wanted to see baby – this was not the case.  They were asking us about where we were from, why we were in Orlando, if we had been to this type of church before, how we heard of it, etc.  What a great experience.

I’ve been in some churches that I was there the entire service and before and after and not one person spoke to me.  Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration.  I was greeted at the door and during the obligatory “shake hands” time a few in front of me turned around to say hi.  That was it.  That is a sad realization in most of our churches.

Here are some practical ways that you can make sure your church has a friendly atmosphere to those visiting, or even members.

1.  Have someone at each door to greet those walking in.  This may seem like a no-brainer but it doesn’t happen in every church.  Even after the service starts, I would have someone in the main entrance because there are always late-comers.

2.  Have a welcome time for first-time guests after the service.  I say this because it is very awkward for first timers, especially unbelievers, to stand up or where a funky name tag, or wave their hands or something during the meet and greet.  But, they will come to talk with some folks after the service.

3.  As regular members of the church – talk to people.  If you know them, if you don’t know them…talk.  Say hello.  Comment on a necklace.  If you’ve never seen them introduce yourself and ask how long they’ve been coming to the church.

These are just a few examples.  There are many more. Be creative.  The church we are attending now is very good at friendliness before and after.  We’ve been warmly welcomed here – even on the first Sunday we ever visited and no one knew who we were – it was great.

Make your church like a friendly, neighborhood Whole Foods: a company who loves what it offers and wants others to benefit as well!

Peace and Wisdom

posted in: Bible, James | 0

There are two types of wisdom according to the book of James: earthly and “wisdom from above”.  Which one characterizes you and your daily interactions with other believers.  As I read some in Lydia Brownback’s book this morning, I was reminded of how we should act and be in our relationships with other believers, especially in corporate gatherings.

So often since I’ve been old enough to recognize it, I see and dislike politics within the church.  I am not talking here about Democrats and Republicans.  I am more referring to one-upping others to get one’s way or catering to the powers that be or financial preferences one can see any virtually any religious organization or denomination.  I’m referring to fights at religious gatherings or arguments over non-important matters.  Even in important matters, there is a way to discuss with “wisdom from above.”

As we relate every day as Christians in a world full of other Christians, all in need of saving grace, may we remember these verses:

James 3:13-18

“Who is wise and understanding among you?  By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.  This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

Noel Piper on Children in Worship

posted in: Quotes, Uncategorized | 2

This post received feedback.  I took all into consideration, however, still did not change my mind.  Reading Noel Piper this morning, I was again strengthened as to the teaching of the Word on this subject.

“This brings up the need to train young children to sit through church services.  I started easing mine into the habit when they were about three.  That meant sitting on the end of an out-of-the-way-pew so we could slip out if we needed to.  We knew that the best way for a child to learn how to worship is to see Mom and Dad worshiping.  we wanted our children to be part of the whole congregation as soon as they and we could manage it.  Yes, it’s different for different children.  And yes, Mom’s and Dad’s worship is pretty distracted for a while.  But that’s what parents do: we live a less-than-ideal (by some standards) life for a few years so we can bring our children up to be adults with us.”

Noel Piper, Treasuring God in Our Traditions, pg 45

Response to John Starke: Gender, Suffiency of Scripture, and Life on Life Ministry

posted in: Bible, Books, Women | 0

My friend, John Starke, who serves at The Gospel Coalition, wrote this article as a response to a book review of How I Changed My Mine about Women in Leadership.  I wholeheartedly agree with everything John said (as I knew I would), but wanted to elaborate on some of his points and maybe state things from a women’s POV who is in full-time ministry.

Disclaimer: Some may say that the “women in ministry” issue isn’t really timely.  I do not find that to be a valid argument.  Anytime we have failing marriages, dysfunctional churches, and church leadership teams that aren’t biblical, then it will be a valid topic for discussion.

Complementarianism is unsatisfying to egalitarians.”  The reason I think it is.  We, all of us, sin-nature, is to put man first.  Sin nature is man focused.  God is God-focused.  To use the Westminster Catechism: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  We like to focus on ourselves, our desires, our wants, making our name great (Genesis 11:4).  God’s authority and plan for our lives is that we make MUCH of Him (John 3:30).    Most of the arguments I’ve heard from egalitarians is man-focused.  “I’m gifted in preaching and can’t use it.  I can work just as well as my husband at _________.  Being a mom is not really a satisfying job.”  The underlying theme in all of these is “I”.  The gospel is not about “I”.  The gospel is about Christ.

‘Pastors should take these concerns seriously and labor to answer them appropriately.”  For complementarian pastors and ministry leaders, it is not enough to just say “Egalitarianism is wrong.  The Bible says so.”  You need to know what the Bible says about this and why/how these truths are applicable.  Some content that will decidedly be helpful to you as you learn more about this is: CBMW, Grudem and Piper’s Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and Wayne Grudem’s Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth.  Theologians and pastors such as Dr. Grudem, Dr. Peter Schemm, John Piper, Randy Stinson, and Chris Cowan have all been highly instrumental in my thinking on this subject and I’m grateful for their ministry and knowledge of this subject and the Word of God.

The Bible must be our “go-to” starting point for this discussion.  If we start anywhere else, we’ve started at the wrong point.  And I my boss says, ‘If we are only 1% off now, ten years down the road, that 1% has turned into 40%”.  We don’t want to be 40% off on this subject.  It is too crucial to the understanding of the gospel to a lost and dying world that needs Christ.

So, we take our situations (existential) and we see what the Bible has to say to them.  If I have the ability to speak and write, then what guidelines does the Bible give me in how I can use those gifts.  Am I a Mom?  Then what does the Bible say about how I’m to respond to and respect my husband and how I’m supposed to nurture my children and order my home?  What does the Bible say is important in these roles?

We should conform our worldview and feelings around the Word of God – the norm above all norms.”  Pivotal statement by John.  If you understand this, then the rest will fall into place.

We trust that complementarianism makes sense of reality and can be satisfying to believing hearts.” God’s rules and authority are not for our torture.  They are for our good and His ultimate glory.  Jesus said in the gospels that His yoke was easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).  If we are burdened or put-out by these rules and regulations as woman, then our hearts needs transformed by the gospel.  We all stand in need of redemption and sanctification.  Pray that the Spirit would sanctify and transform your heart as you see God’s bigger Truth and how it is completely satisfying.

Here is where we fail, where I fail, as pastors, ministry leaders, women’s leaders, wives, friends: we don’t know how to have a pastor’s heart in this area: a shepherd’s heart: like Jesus who was compassionate to us, knowing we are stupid like sheep and tend to wander away.  We need to have a more compassionate heart to meet women where they are, take their circumstances, and lovingly walk them to the gospel, show them the right ways of Jesus and the gospel and allow them to see that God has such a more glorious path for them to be on. 

This world is full of sin, abuse, neglect, pride, dysfunction – not at all the way the beauty of the original Creation was: walking in the Garden of Eden in perfect harmony with God.  We suffer broken marriages, poorly led churches, men who abuse the authority that God has given them.  My word of exhortation and edification: pray that God would soften your hearts to those who are in need of the truth of God.  These may be non-believers who need to surrender their hearts to God.  These may be women who do not yet see the beauty of God’s design for the home and church as He designed it.  Live life on life with these women (or men, life or life with other men), pulling them aside the gospel, praying that your life and God’s truth would be transformative in their lives. 

God has a Grand Design.  It is based in the gospel.  It is based on His character and not our situations.  He redeems.  He has purchased us.  He has made His plan known through the Bible.  Let’s share life with people, live in authentic community, and bear with our people.  May God use His sufficient and perfect word to transform our lives, hearts, churches, and homes.

For His Fame.

Book Review: Radical / David Platt

posted in: Books, ethics, Worship | 0

There have been two similar books published in the recent past that were pretty much about the same thing: this one is better.  In my opinion, which really doesn’t matter, I know.  I loved Platt’s book: all except the familiarity of the stories he told through out the book.  I’ve heard him preach on several occasions – and I’ve heard them.  So, I could skip over them.

He is very practical and honest in his book: which I love.  He just doesn’t give lofty ideas of how to let go of American Christianity – but he actually gives you ways to do it.

If you are ready for a gut-check (as my cousin calls it) – read it.  If not, keep it on its shelf and pick it up when you are ready.

“Wake up and realize that there are infinitely more important things in your life than football and a 401(k).  Wake up and realize there are real battles to be fought, so different from the superficial, meaningless “battles” you focus on.  Wake up to the countless multitudes who are currently destined for a Christless eternity.” – p 15.  This hits home because what do we normally talk about in our chuches: this superficial stuff.

“As long as we achieve our desires in our own power, we will always attribute it to our own glory.” – p 46.  Do we dream big dreams?  I want to start dreaming big and praying big, so when things happen – God gets all the glory.  How big do you dream?  Do you dream for attainable things in your own power or do you pray for God sized dreams?  Ephesians 3:19-21.

We’ve been hearing a lot about this in our ed staff meetings at our church:

“The church I lead could have the least gifted people, the least talented people, the fewest leaders, and the least money, and this church under the power of the Holy Spirit could still shake the nations for His glory.  The reality is that the church I lead can accomplish more during the next month in the power of God’s Spirit than we can in the next hundred years apart from His provision.  His power is so superior to ours.  Why do we not desperately seek it?” – p 54

I need this especially for the work I am doing right now, because it is so often overwhelming to me: “Our great need is to fall before an Almighty Father day and night and to plead for Him to show His radical power in and through us, enabling us to accomplish for His glory what we could never imagine in our own strength.  And when we do this, we will discover that we were created for a purpose much greater than ourselves the kind of purpose that can only be accomplished in the power of His Spirit.” p 60

Do you really believe this for yourself? “God has created us to accomplish a radically global, supremely God-exalting purpose with our lives.” – p 83.  I don’t think I do.  I again ask petty things that I want.  But, I know one prayer I always pray that hasn’t come true yet.  But, I still pray it.

We are starting Backyard Bible Clubs this summer at our church.  I thought this quote went very well with the reason we are doing it: “Disciple making is not a call for others to come to us to hear the gospel but a comman for us to go to others to share the gospel.  A command for us to be gospel-living, gospel-speaking people at every moment and in every contest where we find ourselves.” -p 94

Who do I go to first when I need advice? “Jesus never intended us to be one voice among, many counseling us on how to lead our lives and use our money.  He always intends to be the voice that guides whatever decisions we make in our lives and with our money.” – p 121

Here is his one year experiment and ways that I intened to take him up on it:

1.  Pray for the entire world.  I haven’t decided yet how I am going to do this, but Operation World is a good start (that he mentions).

2.  Read the entire Bible.  Again, the plan isn’t in place, but it will be done.

3.  Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose: I’m partnering this year with PSSWF because its close, the gospel, and tangible.

4.  Spend your time in another context.  Every month my church works with two low-income/homeless ministries here in Raleigh: feeing the homeless in Moore Square and With Love From Jesus.  Once a month I will partner with these.  This definitely takes me out of my upper-white neighborhood.

5.  Commit your life to a multiplying community.  Pray dot org.  Done.

How will you live the experiment?  For one year.  This is a new year beginning, start now.

Living the Gospel: Marriage, Adoption, and the Rest of Life

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This is me thinking aloud…
There are some focuses right now in Christianity/churches that focus on being living, breathing examples of the gospel. These focuses are biblical and needed, and true. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these emphasises. One is marriage and the other is adoption. Marriage, for some (and I don’t believe this view is right) allows you to better display the gospel than being single. I think it may give a you different way of displaying the gospel, but not better. I am, in my singleness, just as much a portrait of the gospel of Christ as if I were me, only married. Adoption, many times I here (and rightly so), is “living the gospel”. You are, yes, praise the Lord. But, again, like marriage – adoption isn’t the only way to “live the gospel.”
With so much emphasis on both marriage and adoption – which single people can’t do either of (obviously we aren’t married and not many adoption agencies will let a single person adopt a baby) – are we not living out the gospel. This post isn’t just for singles, it is for everyone.

Marriage is a great way to live out the gospel. I love the Ephesians 5 passage where clearly it says that marriage proclaims the mystery of Christ and His church. We are the Bride of Christ. I love the picture of Abraham and God in Genesis 15 about God walking through the sacrificial blood. His promise kept. I pray that your marriage is an amazing mirror of God, Christ, the Spirit – and the Church. I pray that husbands will sanctify their wives, and wives would respect, honor, and submit to their husbands. This is unique and special and privileged way to portray the gospel.

Adoption. This is probably the newest “fad” to hit the church. I don’t use fad in a bad way, but why has this emphasis not been in the church before the last 5 years? Have we been ignoring the commands of “true religion” in the Bible for over 2000 years. I hope it isn’t a fad. I hope the trend of seeing adoption come to life in American families, and families all over continues long after I’m gone. I wonder if you see Italian Christians adopting American children. I wonder if the trend of adoption is an American Western Christianity thing right now. To some people, if you haven’t adopted, then you just aren’t living in obedience. At least that is what it seems like. But, there are other ways to live out the command of true religion – to take care of the orphans – without actually adopting. You can give to mission trips that support orphanages, you can donate to families who are trying to raise support to adopt their own babies. It seems the trend now in my emails, blogs, facebook updates from across the world – hey, give to me, we’re adopting. Family of believers? Hopefully, mostly, being the body of Christ. There are girls out there who don’t want to have their own children because adoption is better. Motherhood is great, and if God allows you to have children, please do. If God calls you to adopt, please do. But, one is not better than the other. I hope this isn’t a passing trend in American Christianity, much like the WWJD bracelets and FAITH Evangelism strategy.

Now, what about for the rest of us. I hope I do get to live out the gospel in a marriage one day – but I’m not going to settle for an average marriage. I want the most God-glorifying marriage I can possibly have. one that will be hard, but joyful. I know marriage is hard – not perfect – just God-glorifying.
If God impresses on our hearts to adopt, then I will (hopefully, walking in obedience), but until then I can give to missions to orphanages and support those adopting. I can love on those adopted children.
But, I can live out the gospel every day too. I can give grace where grace is needed. I can live in the love that Christ offered me at the Cross. I can do my work diligently. I can submit to authority. I can…. the list goes on. I am Christ’s friend – obey my commands (John 15.14).
Marriage and adoption is not a better picture of the gospel. We can live out the gospel without doing these specific things (being married, adopting an international child). But, these two ways and living daily life in the grace of God are wonderful ways to live out the gospel.
“What about the practical stuff? Surely there comes a time when we move on from the gospel just a little, so we can focus on the everyday issues of our relationships with other people. This is tempting to believe, but it’s just not true. Regardless of your relationship to others, whether you’re single or married, a husband or a wife, a father, a mother, or a grandparent, your faithfulness and effectiveness in your relationship are directly tied to your understanding of the cross.” – CJ Mahaney

Female Theologians and the Church (Guest Post)

posted in: Books, Women | 0
There is a really sweet couple in my life who I have had the privilege to minister with, get to know, hang out with, serve with over the last 8 months. Brittany is a joy and a blessing to me. I am hoping her blog post will be a blessing to you:

A few weeks ago I was on a Q&A panel at SEBTS for prospective students and I was asked a really good question that sparked my thinking. Before I jump into the topic, let me give you a little background information.

Since marrying the Hubby, I’ve switched churches. When we first started dating, we were at two different churches and neither of us wanted to switch until our commitment was official. Once we were engaged, I slowly started letting go of responsibilities at my church and started “merging” over to Ben’s church. Now that we’re married, we’re fully at his church and I’m working on switching my membership over to his. During this process I’ve been searching for a solid older married woman (30+, but preferably 40+) to disciple me.

A few weeks ago, we heard one of our church’s pastors speaking and I turned to Ben and said, “I want to be discipled by him, but I’m a girl… and that would be awkward.” He quickly agreed. But this pastor is a phenomenal thinker and his knowledge of Scriptures consistently impresses me. I love how he is consistently reading a variety of books and how he relays pertinent information in such a way that everyone can understand. He is such a gifted teacher and I would love to sit under his teaching! Ben and I both agreed, me being discipled by an older man would not be the wisest of situations, but it brings me to my topic… Where are the brilliant female theologians in our churches?

While on the panel at SEBTS I was asked a question about being female at a Southern Baptist seminary. In summary the lady wanted to know whether or not women were treated as second class citizens. Were women viewed solely as future preacher’s wives? I’m not going to delve into that question here, but the short answer is no. But regardless, even if the opposite was true, should we allow an unbiblical idea stop us from becoming good theologians? There is a shortage of good female theologians in our churches and I’m wondering why.

Regardless of your stance on whether women should be “teaching” in the pulpit, in Sunday school rooms, deacons, etc., we can all agree that older women are called to disciple others, the Great Commission is not gender exclusive. So in light of this, I’m trying to process a few thoughts… Humor me and help me develop my thinking.

1. All Christians should be Christian Theologians. We should all be “studiers of God.” If we believe in the Gospel, shouldn’t we all be good learners of the Scripture and strive to think and live rightly in this world, both men and women alike?

If this is true, then…

2. The studying of Christian theology should NOT only take place in seminaries. It should NOT be only taught from the pulpits. It should not only be well understood by men. It needs to be taught in our homes, in our friendships, in our families. This practice must permeate every sphere of our lives. Shame on us if we push off our responsibility to “academia” or solely to men. The Bible is for the rich, the poor, the young, the old, the brilliant, the not-so-brilliant, and for male & female. Each of us have the responsibility to be good stewards of Scripture.


3. Christian women, you are called to study Scriptures and to disciple others. It’s not optional. The Great Commission was not for men alone. If you feel called to seminary and you let a few men who have an inappropriate view of complementarianism get in your way of learning, shame on you. Who cares what they think? You have a responsibility to learn Scriptures well.

Which leads me to point #4…

4. In regards to learning Scriptures well… Ladies, no offense to Beth Moore (and seriously, I mean no offense), but we are fully capable of reading the same books that our brothers in Christ are reading. Our understanding of the Gospel needs to be equally robust as theirs. Be well rounded in what you read.

And lastly, this final point is mainly for me…

5. For those of you who are working through women’s issues in a more conservative church than you’d prefer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but make sure your attitude is in the right place. Recognize that you, like every other member, have submitted yourself to the authority of the church. Ask good questions, learn from the leadership that you’ve placed yourself under, and try to develop a spirit of humility. Pride is a dangerous thing and it seems to show itself frequently in Christian debates. Be open to the Holy Spirit changing your heart just as you would pray that the Holy Spirit would change the hearts of your pastors and elders.

Alright yall, those are my thoughts… I’m still growing, learning, failing, and then starting the process again so feel free to reprimand my thinking if I’m off.

On Complementarianism

posted in: Women | 0

Jonathan Leeman has a fabulous article in the new 9Marks journal on relationships between men and women (complementarianism/egalitarianism). I was just able to teach on biblical womanhood at a youth camp with my church. Honestly, one session went extremely well, one session could have gone better. I wish I had some of this before I went. This discussion can get confusing if not presented and articulated well, especially when not knowing where your hearers are coming from. Always be ready with a biblical answer – and always submit to the authority of Scripture and Christ when speaking on this. That is how I’ve worked on my conversations. I try not to share my opinion – because why does my opinion ultimately matter. But, the only lasting perfect words on this subject is from Scripture.
Thanks to Dr. Burk for highlighling this article and for the men at 9Marks for putting this together and for CBMW for being around for so many years giving us good resources on this topic.

Jonathan Leeman has an excellent essay in the latest 9marks journal. In short, he argues that Complementarianism is crucial to discipleship. It’s worth reading the whole essay, but I want to highlight one section that I found particularly helpful. It will frame the way I engage the “borders” from now on. He writes:

‘Too often, the discussion about complementarianism gets stuck at the borders. For instance, people get marooned on matters like whether it’s appropriate for adult women to teach high school men. Where’s the line, they ask. But focusing on the borders of what’s licit is a bit like the dating couple who asks, “How much can we do with each other physically? Hold hands? Kiss?”

‘There is a place for such questions, but what’s needed first is a positive statement about how to promote biblical masculinity and femininity among young men and women. The dating couple, instead of asking, “How far can we go?” should instead ask, “How can we serve one another and best prepare the other for marriage?” In the church, likewise, we should ask, “How can we best help these high school women become mature women, and these high school men become mature men?” But that’s a question a church will never think to ask if it doesn’t have a positive vision for Christian masculinity and Christian femininity in the first place.

‘So let’s try again: Is it okay to have adult women teaching high school men? Well, frankly, I’m not entirely sure if it’s licit or not, but I do know I want those high school men to learn what it means for men to take initiative and biblical leadership in the church. And I do want the women to learn what it means to love, affirm, and support male leadership in the church. Therefore, I’m going to be very careful about what models I place before them. In most circumstances, I’m going to have Bible-loving, initiative-taking adult men teach the group as a whole, while having mature women support and assist that ministry.’

This entire issue of the 9marks journal is devoted to the complementarianism and is titled Pastoring Women: Understanding and Honoring Distinctness. Go check it out.

Book Review: Total Church (Timmis/Chester)

posted in: Uncategorized | 2

I had a friend in the ministry tell me, “I wish every pastor would have to read Total Church.”  That should give this book on practical ecclesiology merit in its own right.  I don’t know if I would go as far as to say that – but I can definitely see its usefulness for ministry team discussions and personal wrestling with ecclesiology.

Timmis and Chester come from many years of pastoral and church planting ministry in the UK.  That is what gives them credibility to write a book such as this.  Their goal in writing is simple: how to be the church as a we – not an I – and how the gospel must shape that model.

The best part about this book is you almost have to engage it and think and process for this book to do  you any good.  They have designed it well that way; it is full of thought-provoking ideas. 

The thing that is most difficult in this book is the UK slant.  Yes, the church is the church is the church.  But, the church will look different in different cultures.  The examples from The Crowded House they use may not necessarily transfer to church in American culture – or in a non-Acts 29 church.

I think this book would best be read by 1) a ministry team in a local church.  We just read through it as a ministry team at my church and we had good conversation on many aspects of this book and how we could incorpate/improve in many areas.  2) by a ministry student who is studying and then preparing to do full-time ministry.  It is important to know and understand why you have the ecclesiology you hold to.  If you don’t like multi-site, cell group, family integrated, seeker friendly, traditional SS model, etc – you should know why.  You should definitely be able to articulute what is important to you in the life of a church.  This book will help you clarify that belief.

Where God’s Word is not heard, chaos and darkness close in again.  God rules as his word is trusted and obeyed.  God is rejected when his word is not trusted and not obeyed.” (p 25)  I am so grateful to be in a church where the Word of God is clearly and passionately taught at every event I go to (whether singles events, youth training events, and most definitely the worship service on Sunday). 

Few Christians are going to object to being gospel-centered, just as no one is against mothers or apple pie.  The problem is the gap between our rhetoric and the reality of our practice.  The continual challenge for us is to apply this principle to church life and ministry without compromise.” (33)

The UK (USA) will never be reached until we create open, authentic, learning and praying communities that are focused on making whole-life disciples who live and share the Gospel wherever they relate to people in their daily lives.  We need non-full-time leaders who can model whole-life, gospel-centered, missional living.  This means creating church cultures in which we see normal, celebrating day-to-day gospel living in the secular world and discussions of how we can use our daily routines for the gospel.” (37)

God is at the center of the gospel word.  Yet much evangelism tends to place people in that position.  The gospel becomes skewed toward me and how Jesus meets my needs.” (55)

We need to be communities of love.  And we need to be seen to be communities of love.  People need to encounter the church as a network of relationships rather than a meeting you attend or a place you enter.” (59)  Based on some recent conversations, perception is reality – for those people.  We need to always strive to be reaching out to people – whether they look like they have it all together or not.  People need people. 

The best thing we can do for the poor is offer them a place of welcome and community.  People are often unaware of how much the culture of their church is shaped by their social class.  Someone at the door of a church, for example, may hand a newcomer a hymnbook, a Bible, service guide, or bulletin with a small and greeting without realizing how intimidating these can be to someone from a nonliterate culture.  The social activities to which the poor are invited, the decision-making processes of teh church, the unwritten dress codes, the style of teaching can all be alien to the marginalized.” (81).   We take the culture of our church for granted.  Would the poor feel welcome in a upper-class church?  Would a traditional person feel welcome in a Acts 29/modern church?  It goes both ways.  And we always need to be aware of people who may not look like us – to make them feel just as welcome and to care for them.

We have a simple rule of thumb in our church: if we do this as a family, we can do it as a church; if we would not do this as a family, why do it as a church?” (190).  Baptism and Lord’s Supper – two ordinances Scripture gives the church – not the family.  Acts 2 – clearly evidenced in both.  Children and Youth Ministry – how most churches operate – is there a place for those ministries in Total Church churches?

This book is thought-provoking.  Read through it critically.

Book Review: Collaborate

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In light of the title of the book, Collaborate is a collaborative effort by many ministers in the field of children, family, and student ministry to bring the best of the best of their ideas to the table. Chanley, at Southeast in Louisville, KY, put together these short chapters filled with excellent events you can do at your church to help bridge the gap that is evident in ministries and families across America.
Good things about this book:
1. Rob Rienow’s chapter. I had read a bulk of the material for since I am familiar with Rob’s writings, but it was a good reminder of WHY we do family ministry and WHY THERE IS A NEED for family ministry. The reason this chapter, for me, was the best out of this book is because it is the only one whose main focus was the theological reason behind family ministry. Others definitely drove Deut 6.4-9 into the ground and used that as an imperative for ministry – but Rob opened up the biblical mandate for Family Ministry and parenting and the church and the gospel. Theology, I know, wasn’t the main point of this book. And Chanley and others definitely succeded in the aim of this book. (That’s why there are multiple books out there, each with its specific niche.)
2. Rob Bradbury encouraged me by his list. Not only will this chapter be helpful as people sit down to plan out events – but he started with the most important, yet most often overlooked element. PRAYER. He listed prayer before advertising. How often to do plan, advertise, talk up, poster-up, get volunteers – even before we pray. At the church I serve, we have even noticed that this is not as big of a focus as we need it to be. So, we are taking many efforts to strengthen our prayer times in staff meetings or in our lives personally. Today, even, stopping in the middle of staff meeting to pray for a lady who walked through our doors during Joy Prom and said she had never (in 62 years, in the South) walked into a church. These are the things that need praying for.
3. Short chapters. I like books with short chapters because I feel like I can plow through a book without having to sit down and read for 2 hours straight. I like being able to end at a chapter, not in the middle of one.
4. Very practical. If you need ideas, or are stuck and uncreative (like I often am), this book will help bring some fresh new ideas from literally around the world to you.

One word of caution with this book: Picking up this book would lead some to believe that is all about activity – or events. Family Ministry is not event driven. It must NOT be. It has to be theology and gospel driven. God can and does use events to draw people to themselves (take Joy Prom for example, or youth camp, or VBS, or Family Fall night, but if it is event driven, we will just fill up a calendar and spend money. If it is gospel-driven – then hopefully God will use the church to make an impact in the lives of families. You can’t get your people on board with events unless they know the why behind what you do.

That is my daily challenge. May it be your’s as well.