Contrasts

DBL Cover

I’m busy working on Vintage Church, the third book in the series with Mark Driscoll. As I looked at Amazon, I found the cover from the second book, Death by Love. The difference between them is dramatic. The current suggestion for Vintage Church follows the themes set out by Vintage Jesus, the first book. The cover will have a bunch of church kitsch, flannel graph, bad pot-luck Jello fruit salad, satin "Praise" banner, WWJD bracelet, reader board, etc., covered by a brown plasticized cover. Buy Death by Love will be in black and while with red for blood in each picture. The drawings are stark, both the cover and the internal drawings which picture each story addressed by the pastoral letters based on atonement themes. They are very powerful.

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As I’ve been writing, I’ve been thinking a lot about what is gospel, what is the church, whether it can legitimate expression to be multi-site with sermons by video, what part sacraments play in the life of the church. All this comes in the context of thinking what we want to do to Grace to reach to unchurched people who are interested in spiritual things. There are lots of them, but they aren’t likely to come to Grace where we assume a Christian world view and a basic Bible knowledge. That’s not conducive to reaching out to these folk, though it does make for a strong discipleship church where broken people can find a safe place for healing. So we wonder how we can expand to reach this target group. Is it enough to do multi-format services with different worship formats surrounding a similar sermon as the other services? Or do we need to go to being a multi-congregational church, with completely different services and distinct groups of people working under the single church leadership? Or should we just plant a new church, perhaps meeting in our building, but with separate budgets, leadership and such. There are lots of questions coming out of a basic theology of church.

Wednesday I’ll fly to Anchorage for conversations between a church and a ministry organization to see how they can partner to reach people there more effectively. Being involved in the discussions is good, but flying up for Wednesday evening and Thursday before doing an all night flight back for Friday’s graduation banquet. Will there be any energy in my body??

I do like exploring the Flickr site. One category is what they call Little Girl Looks 6 interestingness. Somehow they select images from the huge number of pictures posted on their site. This one grabbed me. The wistfulness of the little girl who is looking for something draws me in. The delicacy of her features reflect her soul. Will she find what she’s looking for? Where is Jesus? I suspect there’s a little boy somewhere whose sadness cannot be eased. Who can not be drawn to help?

I saw snow flakes in the air at 10:30 this morning. They are predicting more tomorrow morning down on the valley floor. For sure global warming is on vacation somewhere.

Sunday’s sermon is on Luke 11:33-12:3. What if the light in you is darkness? Can religion save?

4 thoughts on “Contrasts

  1. I agree that many people say evangelism but don’t really want it or the changes associated with it. We like our stability and predictability. New believers are different and make things harder.

    The attactional missional thing should always be a balance. There is a community of the Spirit at the heart of the sending. The problem for us is that we quickly lose the missional in light of the demands for structures and needs of the community. So “recruiting” and recognition is for second grade girls or the men’s ministry, not reaching the person in the next cube at work. So the missional always seems to require the priority in the mix.

  2. Hi Gerry. I’m wrestling with the same set of questions regarding the church, particularly when it comes to reaching nonbelievers. I’m trying to practice Tim Keller’s adage that “when you speak as if nonbelievers are present in your worship services, more of them will show up.” That’s happening, at least to a point. Worship is a powerful witness. But it’s not happening on the scale I would like to see. New churches seem most effective at reaching new people. So I, too, am wrestling with ‘planting a church within our church.’ That may be a bit of an overstatement, because it would most likely be the addition of a completely different type of service. I’m generalizing now, but I sometimes wonder how much the midwest conservatism here on Chicago’s north shore hampers believers from reaching the lost. People here want new wine (at least they say they do), but they insist on using old wineskins!

    I’ve been wrestling, too, with the balance between being “attractional” vs. “missional” — or, to frame it Christopher Wright’s way, the balance between “centripetal” and “centrifugal.” While the Great Commission is framed in terms of “missional/centrifugal,” there is still an “attractional/centripetal” dimension to the church’s witness which carries over from the old age to the new covenant age. I find it challenging to work this out in a local church setting, because alot of churches/leaders gravitate to one or the other rather than a ‘both/and.’

  3. This is spot on, Terry. Go with the latest is all too common. And multi-site is what makes a church “successful” it seems. A common reason for big ones is that the senior is a hugely gifted communicator and people want to hear him. but building is limited, or people don’t want to drive a long way, so multi-site is the solution. If it really is multi-site with campus pastor, leaders, discipleship programs and such, then it seems OK to me. Other preachers also get lots of chance to do their thing if the model is set up right, but with out the pressure of preaching every week. It can be cult of personality or it can be maximizing gifting. The difference is critical. Lots of issues!!

  4. The multisite issue is a real puzzler. More and more churches in wild, wild, south are going to it. It seems that many do so without much consideration. I fear they are repeating history in merely copying what appears to work in other places without due diligence and applied wisdom. Both my day job and my ministry put me in contact with a very diverse group of pastors in the greater Houston area and I have not met one who sees any measure of discipleship happening via the multisite model. I think maybe the question has to be asked as to whether the main campus is making disciples either.

    There can be good reasons and reasoning behind going multisite…but the thing that troubles me most is this: what about developing lead pastors and planters? There’s no denying that the impact of extension site pastors is greatly diminished by having the Scriptures piped in from another location and preacher, even if it is not 100% of the time. I wonder if we’ve grown intimidated by the cult of personality and shy away from handing the preaching over to another for fear that people just won’t stay if the main guy isn’t speaking.

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