Saturday, July 8, 2017

Being Known by Your Community: The Math of the Kingdom

Being Known by Your Community: The Math of the Kingdom

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“As leaders, we must not only cast vision for an ‘invite culture’ at our church, but we must also equip our church to do it.”

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If you aren’t planting a church any time soon, is there anything you can glean from the church-planting movement that will help you transform your established church into an establishing church?
For a series we call The Math of the Kingdom, we reached out to several church-planting networks and posed this question to some of their seasoned, in-the-trenches planters. Their responses revealed six strategic themes that any pastor can implement in any context: know your community; be known by your community; pursue diversity; develop leadership; make disciples; and adopt a planter’s heart.
No matter the age or size of the church you lead, it factors into the math of the kingdom. Explore these strategies, ideas and insights to see how they can contribute to multiplication in your church.

Principle No. 2: Being Known by Your Community

DAVID PARKER, SummitLIFE in Sedona, Arizona: First, personally set the example by engaging in community events and inviting others within their sphere of influence to join them. Second, plan for the church community to engage in what the local community already has on the books: St. Patrick’s Day parade, Fourth of July celebration, Thanksgiving food drive, Santa Claus coming to town, etc. Third, ask your local community leaders how they feel your church community could best help to carry out the city’s goals and desires.

JUSTIN DAILEY, The Action Church in Winter Springs, Florida: When we moved to the Orlando, Florida, area in the summer of 2013, we made it a goal to let someone know about Action Church every day. I truly believe the best marketing tool is a personal invite. Something powerful happens when someone shares their journey and invites others to come and see what Jesus has done.
As leaders, we must not only cast vision for an “invite culture” at our church, but we must also equip our church to do it. We brand our series, give our members invite cards and shareable graphics for social media, and have outreaches—all with the goal of reaching new people.
Another thought on marketing relates to the importance of making sure what we are selling matches what we are delivering. It would be a bad first impression if your experience did not match your marketing campaign.

JOSE ABELLA, Providence Road Church in Miami: First, partner with neighborhood schools, parks, community centers and neighborhood associations. There is no better marketing tool than mobilizing people who wear church “swag” and participate, support and contribute to needs. Making a tangible, sizable group presence in a community goes a long way.
Secondly, social media is a must. Assign a staff member or volunteer to develop a robust presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. People who visit the church’s social media pages should have a good handle on events and service times, as well was a clear means to understand the core values and distinctives of the church.

Principle No. 3: Pursuing Diversity »

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11 Ways Pastors Can Reignite Evangelism in Their Churches

11 Ways Pastors Can Reignite Evangelism in Their Churches

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“It starts by allowing God to change our hearts, and then by turning our attention to the congregation and taking massive action.”

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It’s not by hiring staff.
It’s not by starting building projects.
And it’s definitely not by doing direct mail and advertising.
I believe in advertising, but in the same way publishers know that great marketing will only make a bad book fail faster, evangelistically passionate senior pastors know marketing will only give a false sense of excitement and growth. Eventually, you’ll go right back to where you started when the effect of the advertising wears off.
Re-engaging your congregation in evangelism first starts by allowing God to change our hearts, and then by turning our attention to the congregations we serve and taking massive action.
Here, in no certain order, are some ways I’ve found that have helped the congregations I’ve served re-engage in evangelism once they’ve stopped:

1. Tell them you’ve lost your way.

But also say you have gone before Jesus and have asked him to change your heart. Literally tell them this from the stage, in an email, through a blog post and any other way that you can get the word out. Then don’t stop until every single person has heard about it.

2. Ask for your congregation’s forgiveness for taking your eye off the ball.

If you’ve fallen prey to false doctrine and have given up believing what the Bible says about hell, repent of that sin before them, as well.

3. Pick two to three specific ways you will personally engage lost people every single week, and commit to it.

Eating at the same restaurant, going to the gym at the same time, etc. Pick something that works and stick with it.

4. Schedule a lunch meeting with at least one non-Christian a week.

Go find lost people attending your services. Lead them to Christ. Disciple them. Repeat. I have a senior-pastor friend who has a goal to lead at least one person to Christ every week.

5. If you have staff, lead them to commit to the same things you’re doing.

This includes asking for forgiveness, scheduling two to threee ways to engage the lost each week, and scheduling at least one lunch or breakfast each week with a non-Christian.

6. Ask the people on your governing board to do the same things you’re asking of yourself and your staff.

Make sure you adjust for the more limited nature of their schedule.

7. Don’t be lured into thinking that changing your church’s programs will ignite evangelism.

This is the biggest thing I stress with senior pastors I coach. Focus on preaching and teaching to change your people’s lives outside the building. You want them to start living evangelistically brave lives.
What pastors often do is say, “We need to reach the lost. Let’s fix our children’s ministry.” Listen, you’re NOT failing to reach the lost because you have a lame children’s ministry. You have a lame children’s ministry because you’re not reaching the lost. Programs change when people change.

8. Start preaching like there are lots of non-Christians in the room.

Share stories of people coming to Christ and the changes he’s making in their lives.

9. Create a simple vision-casting phrase that rallies the church around evangelism.

Recently we’ve begun using the phrase #PrayForOne. I first heard it from Bo Chancey at Manchester Christian Church and really resonated with it. I keep casting vision about how if we wake up each day and pray, “God, let me cross paths today with someone that needs you,” he’ll answer that prayer. We’ve begun using the hashtag #PrayForOne on all our social media communications, and encourage our people to do the same. Try it.

10. Expect the “I’m not being fed” crowd to surface, criticize you and then leave in droves.

Let them leave. Senior pastors of outreach-focused churches know they truly aren’t being effective until the self-centered churched people that transferred from other churches (like they have multiple times before) start leaving. Nothing brings sinful, narcissistic behavior to the forefront like obedience to God in evangelism.

11. Assemble and stay engaged with a group of three or four evangelistically brave pastors.

Hold each other accountable. And together, keep praying, “God give me your heart for people going to hell in my area.”
You do these things and watch what happens.
Remember, it will take roughly two years for your church to do a 180-degree turn, but don’t get discouraged and quit. You can do this.
Brian Jones is a church planter, author and the founding and senior pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Philadelphia. This article was originally published on SeniorPastorCentral.com.

6 Soul Care Essentials For Pastors

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6 Soul Care Essentials For Pastors

By Charles Stone on Jun 11, 2017
Brain-Savvy Leaders: The Science of Significant Ministry
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In the midst of caring for others, it is easy to neglect our own soul. What are safeguards that keep us from drifting away from God?

 Some time back I attended a two-day retreat with Keith Meyer sponsored by the Cornerstone Pastor’s Network. Keith is a pastor and author of several books on soul care including one honored in 2010 as one of the five best books for the leader’s inner life, Whole Like Transformation: Becoming the Change Your Church Needs. Keith challenged us with several great practices to take care of our soul. Here are the top five that grabbed my attention the most.
  • Our longing for Him must supersede our love for His ministry.
    So often our passion for Christ gets buried in our passion for our church or ministry. When that happens we stifle that vital connection to the Vine, our true source of joy and strength.
  • We must slow down enough to go God’s speed.
    And what is God’s speed? The speed of love and relationships. This one really struck me. Too often in my drive to accomplish my daily goals, I move so fast that I breeze by the relational connections that Jesus most wants me make.
  • When we pay attention to God throughout the day, we’re most open to divinely arranged interruptions.
    One way we can become more sensitive to Him is to ‘pray our day’ and ‘pray our events.’ That is, use your calendar items and task list as cues to pray for your meeting, lunch appointment, study time, or whatever you have planned for the day. When we do this everything becomes a cue to go to Him.
  • Memorize long transformative passages like Colossians 3, John 15, and Romans 12.
    Sometimes we memorize single Scripture verses and use them simply as ‘pills’ to treat our daily problems. Longer passages, however, can best transform our thinking.
  • Grace is not opposed to effort but to earning.
    This one originally came form Dallas Willard, USC philosophy professor and writer of some of the best books on spiritual formation. One of my favorites he wrote is Renovation of the Heart,a must-read for every pastor.
  • The acronym VIM captures the non-negotiables for spiritual transformation.
    ‘V’ stands for vision. ‘I’ stands for intention. ‘M’ stands for means. Again, Dallas Willard was the first to suggest this process. Here’s a great article that unpacks VIM.
What practices have most helped you care for your soul?

Dr. Charles Stone is Lead Pastor at West Park Church in London, Ontario, Canada, and the founder of StoneWell Ministries, a pastor coaching and church consulting ministry. He is the author of four books including, "People Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership" (IVP 2014), and his most recent book, “Brain-Savvy Leaders: The Science of Significant Ministry” (Abingdon, May 2015).

Five Steps To Respond To A Hurtful And Hateful Email

View article Five Steps To Respond To A Hurtful And Hateful Email

Five Steps To Respond To A Hurtful And Hateful Email

By Thom Rainer on Jun 11, 2017
President, LifeWay Christian Resources
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“You have no business being the pastor of our church. All you are interested in is getting your own way and changing all the good things we have going. People are saying you should be fired. I agree with them.”

“You have no business being the pastor of our church. All you are interested in is getting your own way and changing all the good things we have going. People are saying you should be fired. I agree with them.”
Yes, it’s a real email.
Yes, it’s from a church member to a pastor.
The Internet has certainly brought us incredible ways to do commerce, to get information, and to communicate.
But it has an ugly and evil side to it as well.
It allows cowardly critics to hide behind a keyboard and cut people to the core through blogs, social media, and email.

So how do we respond when we get a hurtful email?

The pastor who received that cruel, cowardly, and vitriolic email asked me that question. Here is how I responded:
  1. Pray about it.
    Do not respond in a quick-tempered, fleshly anger. Give it to God. Let Him guide you. Pray for wisdom and pray for those who attack you.
     
  2. Wait.
    Some leaders work on the 24-hour rule. They will not respond to a hateful email immediately. Some wait longer. They are waiting on God. They are waiting to have a more tempered perspective. And they are waiting to get input from others.
     
  3. Get godly counsel.
    I was recently accused of plagiarism in an email, a first for me. I was incensed. After a time of prayer, I knew a part of my anger was due to my own pride and ego. I pride myself on writing original content, so the accusation of copying someone else really irked me. But I sought the wisdom of others. I eventually responded strongly, but nothing like my original thoughts. The wisdom of others saved me from writing something I would have likely regretted for a long time.
     
  4. Decide to respond or ignore.
    Not every email, tweet, blog post, or Facebook post is worthy of a response. Sometimes it’s just best not to engage the critic. That can be tough, because we so much desire to defend ourselves. But if you do respond, I recommend this next step.
     
  5. Call or meet with the critic if at all possible.
    I know it’s not always possible to have a verbal conversation with someone. But meeting face-to-face is ideal, and talking by telephone is better than a written response. Many critics are taken aback when they see the willingness of the person they attacked willing and desirous to meet with them.
Leadership is tough, particularly in the church. You will get those “nasty-grams” from time to time. Remember the wisdom of Proverbs: “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath” (Proverbs 15:1).
It’s not always the easiest path, but sometimes it’s the best and most godly path.
Thom Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources and the co-author of Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations.

7 Traits To Look For When Selecting A Leader For Your Church Or Organization

When you are needing a leader and the time has come to begin the selection process, do you know what you are looking for?  Is your plan “we will know it when we see it” or is the process more intentional?  If you are needing a plan, I want to help you.
A NFL quarterback is the most leadership-intensive position in all of pro sports.  In fact, 80% of 305 quarterbacks drafted since 1992 have flamed out.  Prior to this year’s NFL Draft, The Ringer’s Michael Lombardi wrote an incredible article entitled “Seven Habits For Drafting A Highly Effective Quarterback.” 
Lombardi’s concepts were drawn on years of working with Hall Of Fame coaches Bill Walsh and Bill Parcells.  As I read Lombardi’s thoughts, I realized they provided an excellent framework for selecting a leader in a church, non-profit, business, education, or athletic organization.
The following are 7 Traits To Look For When Selecting A Leader For Your Church Or Organization:
  1. Proven Track Record Of Success – Lombardi called it a “Winning Pedigree”.  The best indicator of future performance is past performance.  Parcells wanted a quarterback with at least 30 starts with 23 or more of those being wins.  This is an indicator they have faced adversity in the past.  A proven track record also shows they know how to succeed and then how to handle that same success.
  2. Resilience – They must be mentally, emotionally, and physically tough.  How does the leader deal with criticism and disappointment?  A leader must bounce back quickly from failure and learn from it.  Are they sickly?  Do they miss a lot of work?  Your best ability as a leader is your availability.
  3. Hard Work – The leader must set the standard in your organization for hard work.  Basketball announcer and former coach Jeff Van Gundy says, “Your best player has to set a tone of intolerance for anything that gets in the way of winning.”  Laziness, tardiness, and a lack of commitment are sure signs of future leadership failure.
  4. High Functional IQ – You cannot teach passion.  Do they read books?  Do they study to make themselves better?  Are they doing things without being asked to increase their skill set or do they have to be pushed?  Passivity is not an attractive leadership quality.  Successful leaders become experts in their field of discipline.
  5. Natural Talent – Lombardi calls this “The Crib Factor.”  For ministry positions, we would call this calling or anointing.  Are they born with natural leadership giftedness?  Do they have great instincts, hunger, people skills and ambition.
  6. Body Language – Most communication is non-verbal.  Do they have high-energy?  Many leaders look for people who walk fast.  Great leaders have a drive and sense of urgency that you can just feel.
  7. Charisma – Finally, are they a good teammate?  Do people enjoy being around them?  Do people want to work hard for them?  Do they elicit respect from their teammates?  Can they create a sense of loyalty from those they lead?
What do you look for when searching for a leader?
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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

8 Sins You Commit Every Time You Look at Porn

8 Sins You Commit Every Time You Look at Porn

8 Sins You Commit Every Time You Look at Porn
We know that pornography is an ugly and harmful sin. We know that those who indulge in porn have committed the sin of lust, but there is so much more to it than that. When you open your browser and begin to look at those images and videos, you are sinning in ways that go far beyond lust. Here are eight sins you commit when you look at porn.
You commit the sin of idolatry. All sin is idolatry, an attempt to find joy and satisfaction not in God himself but in what God forbids (Exodus 20:3-6). Matt Papa says it well: “An idol, simply put, is anything that is more important to you than God. It is anything that has outweighed God in your life—anything that you love, trust or obey more than God—anything that has replaced God as essential to your happiness.” In the moment you begin to look at porn, you have allowed it to replace God as essential to your happiness. You’ve committed the sin of idolatry.
You commit the sin of adultery. This is the most obvious sin you commit when you use porn. In Matthew 5, Jesus draws a clear connection between lust and adultery. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (27-28). Pornography is lust and exists to foster lust. But lust is simply a form of the wider sin of adultery, the deed or desire to be sexually involved with someone other than your spouse.
You commit the sin of deceit. Deceit is the act of concealing or misrepresenting your actions. Because pornography generates shame, you will hide it, cover it up or refuse to confess it. When you erase your browsing history to keep your parents from finding out, when you use it in secret to keep your spouse from learning about your addiction, when you refuse to proactively confess it to an accountability partner, when you participate in the Lord’s Supper even though you are unrepentantly given over to it, you are practicing deceit. And the Bible warns of the dire consequences: “No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes” (Psalm 101:7).
You commit the sin of theft. The porn industry is being badly damaged by piracy, by people illegally distributing copyrighted material. Some estimates say that for every one video that is downloaded legally, five are downloaded illegally. Fully 60 percent of all illegal downloads are of pornographic content. While we can be glad that the industry is in dire straights, we have no right to participate in such theft, for God says clearly, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). When you use porn, you are almost definitely watching material that has been stolen and, in that way, you are participating in its theft.
You commit the sin of greed. Sexual sin is greed, a form of taking advantage of another person to defraud them of something that is rightly theirs. In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul insists “that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter [of sexual sin], because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you” (6). The word translated “wrong” in this context refers to greedily taking something from someone else. It is to allow greed to motivate fraud, to unfairly and illegitimately use another person for your ignoble purposes.
You commit the sin of sloth. We are called in all of life to “redeem the time,” to understand that we live short little lives and are responsible before God to make the most of every moment (Ephesians 5:16). Sloth is laziness, an unwillingness to use time well, and reflects a willingness to use time for destructive instead of constructive purposes. In that way pornography is slothful, a misuse of time. It is using precious moments, hours and days to harm others instead of help them, to foster sin instead of kill sin, to backslide instead of grow, to pursue an idol instead of the living God.
You commit the sin of sexual assault. A person who drives a getaway car for a band of bank robbers will rightly be charged with murder for anyone who is killed in committing that crime. The person who voluntarily watches sexual assault for purposes of titillation is rightly guilty of that sexual assault. And a nauseating quantity of pornography is violent in nature, displaying men taking advantage of women. Sometimes these women have volunteered for such degradation and sometimes they are forced or raped into it. To watch such horrifying smut is to be a participant in it and to bear the moral blemish of it.
You commit the sin of ignoring the Holy Spirit. As a Christian, you have the tremendous honor and advantage of being indwelled by the Holy Spirit. One of the ways the Spirit ministers to you is in giving you an internal warning against sin. Paul assures that the Spirit warns against sexual sin in particular, then provides a stern caution: “Therefore whoever disregards this [warning], disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thessalonians 4:8). To commit sexual sin is to ignore the Holy Spirit, to actively suppress his voice as he warns that you need not and should not commit this sin. He provides everything necessary to resist this temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). To resist the Spirit and ignore his ministry to you is a serious offense against a holy God.
It is sinful to lust after another person and to enable this lust through pornography. Yet the sin bound up in pornography goes far deeper than mere lust. It extends to idolatry, adultery, deceit, theft, greed, sloth, sexual violence and ignoring the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:12 warns: “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Thankfully, what God demands God provides, and he does so through the gospel. Those who have trusted Jesus Christ can have confidence that Christ has satisfied our account, that he has satisfied God’s wrath against our sin, that he has provided us with his own righteousness. Yet we must also know that he has done this not so we can remain in our sin, but that we can “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
This article originally appeared here.

Engaging Brokenness

Existing for Our Mission Fields

Maybe culturally accepted religious practice and the “return to Judeo-Christian values” many yearn for have done more harm than good to people’s pursuit of true holiness and understanding of the life of following Jesus.
Peter writes the following to Christians living in a society that did not regard Christianity any more highly than our own does:
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on m the day of visitation.” – 1 Peter 2:11–12
Peter’s imagery is poignant. Every Christian is a “sojourner” and “exile.” We live in a land not our own; our language, culture, goals, motives, and hopes are different than the inhabitants of this land. As ministers, we are the leaders of these sojourners and exiles modeling and helping God’s people live out their faith in this foreign land. Peter tells us how to model that well; on one hand, we “abstain from the passions of the flesh.” We do this by fighting sin and for holiness. For ministers, we lead others in the same. On the other hand, we don’t do this by hiding away from the world where God has sent us. Instead, God’s people live out our faith “among the Gentiles”—the first-century word for “not God’s people”! That means we display our true hope in Jesus and declare the gospel in the midst of that society that doesn’t believe in either, and for ministers, we lead others in the same.
Several years ago, I attended a conference session called “For the City.” The presenters—a local church pastor and a non-profit leader who partnered with that church—described four different postures that ministries and leaders often take toward their mission field.
  • In the city: This posture simply exists in a certain locality but has little impact on it; this leads to apathy toward the world God sent them into.
  • Against the city: This posture has a mentality that says the church is good, and the city is bad. This leads to isolation from the world God sent them into.
  • Of the city: This posture look so much like the city that the gospel seems to make no difference; this leads to being taken over by the world God sent them into.
  • For the city: This posture seeks the shalom of the city or its overall welfare, which is found most fully in Jesus; this leads to a deep care for the world God sent them into.
The world around us is broken. Sin and disbelief in God run rampant. Idols seem to be erected every day. Rather than run from the souls God put us in the midst of, rather then give up our convictions and live like the culture around us, and rather than apathy toward the brokenness we see, we must lead our people to engage it—no matter how hard.

GOD’S MISSION: THIS CULTURE

The US Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling for same-sex marriage prompted an outcry from conservative American Christians. This may be overstated, but the theme of the mourning and anger (against both God and man) seemed to be that there had never been anything as evil or reprobate anywhere on earth or at any point in history.
Canadian pastor Carey Nieuwhof responded to the American outcry with a blog post outlining five poignant perspectives from ministering in one of the twenty-plus nations where similar laws had already been passed. His words are a helpful case study as we consider answering the needs that exist in our culture today:
  • The Church has always been counter-cultural: Regardless of your theological position, all your views as a Christian are counter-cultural and always will be. If your views are cultural, you’re probably not reading the Scriptures closely enough.
  • It’s actually strange to ask non-Christians to hold Christian values: Non-Christians usually act more consistently with their value system than you do. Chances are they are better at living out their values than you or I are. Jesus never blamed pagans for acting like pagans, but he did speak out against religious people for acting hypocritically.
  • You’ve been dealing with sex outside of traditional marriage for a long time: If you believe gay marriage is not God’s design, you’re dealing with the same issue you’ve been dealing with all along—sex outside of its God-given context. You don’t need to treat it any differently.
  • The early church never looked to the government for guidance: Rather than asking the government to release him from prison, Paul wrote letters from prison talking about the love of Jesus Christ. Instead of looking to the government for help, Paul and Jesus looked to God.
  • Our judgment of LGBT people is destroying any potential relationship: You were saved by grace. Your sins are simply different than others. Honestly, in many respects, they are the same. People don’t line up to be judged, but they might line up to be loved.
Nieuwhof says in his opening, “Even the first 72 hours of social media reaction [since the decision was publicized] has driven a deeper wedge between Christian leaders and the LGBT community Jesus loves (yes, Jesus died for the world because he loves it).”
I mention the 2015 decision and Nieuwhof’s response, not because of the issue itself, but for two reasons. First, it’s simply one example among many of our shifting culture. Second, it contrasts typical responses that ministers—and Christians in general—can have with some examples of thoughtful, biblical truths. Jesus’ followers need to be reminded of these as we learn to wrestle with our status as “sojourners and exiles” in a land not our own. Similar truths are needed for every issue, sin, and struggle—in our own lives and in society.
The response to an increasingly-pluralistic culture isn’t to retreat; it’s to advance. Christians are light into the darkness, ministers of reconciliation, humble servants of God and man, lovers of neighbors and enemies, and priests who declare the excellencies of Jesus to the world around us. Ministers must lead others to live as if that’s all true.

POINTING OUR CULTURE TO THE ONE TRUE ANSWER

May I close this by musing a bit? Maybe Christianity truly is losing a cultural war. But maybe—just maybe—we have the wrong view altogether, and the realities of a shifting culture are awakening a giant who’s been sleeping since the days of Constantine. Maybe Christendom actually cheapened the true faith and life Christians are called to live. Maybe Christian values were never intended to thrive as an interwoven reality with government. Maybe culturally-accepted religious practice and the “return to Judeo-Christian values” many yearn for have done more harm than good to people’s pursuit of true holiness and understanding of the life of following Jesus.
The second chapter of Peter’s first letter—right after Peter charges Christians to live out their faith in the midst of people who disregarded and even hated them—specifically tells us that part of this counter-cultural life is submitting to the authority of “every human institution, whether it be to the emperor or to governors [or even] to your masters”—even when they’re “unjust” (2:13–18). First Peter 3 tells us that a Christian view of marriage is different than that of a pleasure-seeking world, who pursues its own definition and expression of beauty and self-fulfillment (3:1–7). The rest of Peter’s letter explains that Christians will suffer, for our views and our lives look different than those around us. We’ll be rejected, persecuted, and hated by the very people among whom God calls us to live out our faith.
If we didn’t know better, we might think these words were written about today’s society. Yet they were written 2,000 years ago to Christians like you and me, sent to a culture unlike their own just like you and me, and called to display and declare the gospel to that culture just like you and me, so that “they may see your good deeds and glorify God”—so that God might use our lives, lived publicly for Him, to draw some to Himself.
The truth of Peter’s words—to Christians then and now—is that Christians are free to follow human authorities because our hope lies in One True Authority. We can hold a biblical view of marriage because we realize it reflects something far greater than ourselves. We can suffer well, even for the sake of others, because we know we follow a true King who suffered on our behalf!

“What’s the world coming to?!” It’s coming to the same place as always, but rarely known: a desperate need for Jesus. While that need may have seemed hidden, subtle, or buried during Christendom’s reign over our culture, the need is becoming more and more clear (if it isn’t already). Who are we, ministers? We are God’s missionaries, and we have the answer to every need of the culture in which we exist. Let’s go into the darkness and by God’s grace help our world find the answer to its every need.
Excerpted from A Pastor’s Guide for Everyday Mission by Ben Connelly

How do you approach living counter-culturally in today’s culture?

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Ben Connelly

Ben Connelly, his wife Jess, and their kiddos Charlotte, Maggie, and Travis live in Fort Worth, TX. He started and now co-leads The City Church, part of the Acts29 network and Soma family of churches. Ben also directs church planting for Soma churches across North America, has taught university classes, and has published a few books. With degrees from Baylor University and Dallas Theological Seminary, he writes for various publications, trains folks across the country, and blogs occasionally at benconnelly.net.

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One comment on “Engaging Brokenness

Dennis on
I’ve thought quite a bit about these things, and I agree with much of what’s written here. I really enjoyed the simple stating of the 4 postures (attitudes) the church can take toward their city. That being said, I have a serious question I’d like to ask for a response: As followers of Jesus we’re clearly involved in a counter-culture (“Kingdom of God”) to the culture we see here in the U.S., although we have citizenship in both Heaven and earth. Since we have the “right” (some would say “responsibility”) in this nation to vote for the passing of certain laws, which perspective should we vote from: from the perspective of ‘unbelievers’ who would expand their “rights” for things that would be clearly, biblical sins (since you stated “It’s actually strange to ask non-Christians to hold Christian values”), or, should we vote with a perspective as followers of Jesus who condemned sin wherever he saw it (in both religious leaders and political leaders)?
I truly want your viewpoint on this. To compare the Roman Empire (under which Peter lived) with the U.S. government (under which I live) seems like comparing apples and oranges. Their “voting rights” we’re very limited (and the process certainly corrupt); our “voting rights” are very broad (the degree of corruption is debatable). .
Please take a moment and give your perspective on this, it would be greatly appreciated.