Monthly Archives: August 2007

 

Aug

31

2007

Jared C. Wilson|2:16 pm CT

Jesus the Prophet

A little teaser. This is an excerpt from my book project, currently in the pre-submission final revision. It is a piece from a chapter titled “Jesus the Prophet,” and I have just retold Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. (I named her Barbara, for no good reason.)

“I know that the messiah is coming,” she says. She’s dangerously close to the revelation of an explosive truth. “When he comes, he will tell us all things.”

“Lady, you’re looking at him.”

This is what a prophet does. This is what Jesus the Prophet does. He inserts himself into our workaday lives, he invades our space and exposes our heart. He tells us the ugly truth about ourselves, and yet he does so not to shame or punish us, but to open us up, to provoke us and prompt us, to disarm our defenses and turn ourselves, our whole selves, toward him. He dismantles our bland religion and hypothetical spirituality, he tears down our heartless theology and our faithless works. He infiltrates the very core of our existence and proclaims not our betterment or our improvement or our worthiness, but the glory and power of himself.

Jesus the Prophet calls us to stop messing around, to stop living our own private lives in our own private kingdoms, and he makes us reckon with his challenge. He makes us reckon with him.

Through failed relationships, through the seeking of solace in sex and surface spirituality, this person of despised race and downtrodden gender finds redemption not from a message of self-improvement or empowering spiritual enlightenment, but in the Giver giving himself as the gift. She came for a drink and got swept away by the living water.

I’m really fired up about this stuff, and the work is going well. I hope to share more bits and pieces as I progress.

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Aug

31

2007

Jared C. Wilson|2:00 pm CT

A Theocratic Discipleship: Embracing the Yoke of God’s Sovereignty

The Kingdom of God is His kingship, His rule, His authority. When this is once realized, we can go through the New Testament and find passage after passage where this meaning is evident, where the Kingdom is not a realm or a people but God’s reign. Jesus said that we must “receive the kingdom of God” as little children (Mark 10:15). What is received? The Church? Heaven? What is received is God’s rule. In order to enter the future realm of the Kingdom, one must submit himself in perfect trust to God’s rule here and now.
George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom

I have blogged before on the semantics of practical soteriology, and I mentioned then that I am in love with a phrase indicative of “getting saved” that I first encountered in N.T. Wright’s Following Jesus — salvation means embracing the yoke of God’s sovereignty. Replace “embracing” with “accepting” or “submitting to,” if you like, for either would work just as well, but I prefer the term “embrace” because it more accurately connotes a regenerated will and desire to accept and submit.

The main problem I see with fuzzy salvation semantics is that they don’t do the reality of discipleship justice. You can see from my previous post that I don’t think “asking Jesus into one’s heart” makes one any less saved than some other, more precise words of acceptance. But I do admit that the focus of such phrasing isn’t precise enough.

When a person “gets saved,” he does not, theologically speaking, bring Jesus into his life. Rather, he gets into the life of Jesus. He does not get Jesus into his heart so much as he enters the heart of Jesus. (This is why I believe the little New Testament phrase “in Christ,” so common as to be commonly missed, holds the key to what it really means to be a Christian.)

Such imprecision is partly the result of a misunderstanding of the kingdom of God (or perhaps no understanding of it all, an ignorance or avoidance of the concept). As long as Christians continue to believe that God’s kingdom is still “out there” or is yet to dawn or has no present reality in this age, they will always be attempting to “make Jesus king” rather than living like He already is.

This is a call for a theocratic discipleship. Following Jesus is not about adapting His ways to our lives; it is about living our lives with the quality of His ways. It’s about living incarnationally, with the reality of Christ’s Lordship ever-present and overflowing in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Theocratic discipleship is about living the kingdom life now, not making do until the kingdom comes.

We do still await the consummation of the kingdom, that glorious day still to come. But we live now in the day of the kingdom’s inauguration. Believers are members of God’s kingdom now.

Embracing the yoke of God’s sovereignty means abandoning all that hinders or hurts our relationship with God. It means having no other gods but God. It means that God is in control and we are not and we like that just fine — no, not that we are just fine with that, but that we really, really want it that way, would not have it any other way. Christianity is not effective tools for spiritual growth; Christianity is new life.

Embracing the yoke of God’s sovereignty means praying “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” not just with hope that it will be true, but with faith that it is somehow true already and the love of it being so. It means not just praying that God will do that, but living like God is doing it in you.

In the Old Testament days of Israel, obedience to the Law was the mark that one was a part of God’s kingdom. Obedience to the Law was not committed grudgingly or mournfully; those that loved the LORD, loved His Law and delighted themselves in it. But in the light of the New Testament we know that obeying the Law was not what made those believers citizens of the kingdom. Instead, obeying the Law was the sign of their status within the kingdom.

In the same way, we must discard the notion that following God’s commandments or “doing” Jesus’ commands in the Sermon on the Mount will somehow get us into the kingdom. (Even if we don’t believe that propositionally, many of us live like that is true.) The Sermon on the Mount is actually a great picture of the quality of life inside the kingdom. It’s not the way in — it’s what being in looks like.

Not that no effort is exerted on our part. But I am frequently sobered by just how dang impossible living the Sermon on the Mount is. Still, Jesus tells us that we are to be perfect as He is perfect. And if all things are possible with God, I trust that God’s sovereignty will make a way for fruit in my life where my own efforts will not.

Embracing the yoke of God’s sovereignty means trusting God to bring about the right kind of life in my humble following of Him rather than trusting my own attempts at applying God’s Word to my life.

The good news is that God’s kingdom is at hand. Repent (change directions) and submit to the King, and you will see the kingdom brought to light in your life.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
– Matthew 11:29-30

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Aug

31

2007

Jared C. Wilson|1:53 pm CT

The Gospel of the Beatitudes

Getting a hold of Dallas Willard’s instant classic The Divine Conspiracy is worth it for the chapter on the Beatitudes alone. I refreshed myself with it this morning. Fantastic stuff.

It may not come from Conspiracy (I couldn’t find the exact quote in the book), but here’s a Willard quote on the Beatitudes seen at The Boar’s Head Tavern this week:

The Beatitudes cannot be “good news” if they are understood as a set of “how-to’s” for achieving blessedness. They would only amount to a new legalism. They would not serve to throw open the kingdom — anything but. They would impose a new brand of Phariseeism, a new way of closing the door — as well as some very gratifying new possibilities for human engineering of righteousness.

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Aug

30

2007

Jared C. Wilson|2:16 pm CT

Tips for Worship Leaders

A couple of introductory points:

a) I am talking about the leading of the congregation in worship through music in the context of a worship service or gathering of believers. Every time I mention worship in this context someone tries to remind me that worship is more than music, as if I didn’t know that or didn’t believe it. I do. I firmly do. I just preached on worship a few weeks back in Element’s “Kill Your Idols” series, and while we talked about music a bit, it addressed the total life of Christ-following worship. So . . . save it.

b) I am not a worship leader. I have tried my hand at it a few times eons ago. I am not a musician. I think I can contribute some important thoughts to a casual conversation on the pastoring of worship in the Church, but it is quite likely, due to my lack of hands-on experience and lack of calling, that I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Some thoughts on the leading of worship in the churches and some tips for leadership:

1. Worship leaders, ask yourself while choosing songs and arranging a set list (and even choosing musicians), “What is the purpose of this?” You may say it is to bring people into worship of God, but everyone says that. Look at your songs, look at your arrangements, look at the people assisting you. Are they all on board with that purpose?

2. The vast majority of your congregation is not musically savvy. They need to be able to follow where you’re leading. So don’t get fancy. If you change keys, take long pauses, run words together, change tempos, go too high or too low, or don’t provide a way for those who don’t know the words to know what they’re singing, you may lose them. It may make for a great performance, highlighting the great skill and talent of you and your musicians, but worship is not a concert.

3. On that note, keep it simple. This does not mean simplistic. Contrary to popular belief, repetition is not bad. It is helpful, actually. Droning or mindless repetition is bad. But the repetition of a chorus or melody is helpful for congregants who shouldn’t have to focus on keeping up with you.

4. Remove yourself from the presentation as much as possible. Are you a rock star? Cut it out.

5. Beware of banter. Good worship leaders develop sensitive and strategic ways to shepherd their people into the worship experience. This may include explaining songs or reflecting on their meanings. Maybe it means quoting or reading Scripture. It should include interspersed prayer. It could mean a lot of things, but refrain from speechifying, from lapsing into some extended pontification between songs. Save the preaching for the preacher.

6. When you banter, be mindful of what you say. Is “Are you guys ready to have fun tonight?!” a good way to begin a worship set? It is not wrong or bad for worshipers to enjoy themselves in worship; indeed, they should. But is “fun” what you really want to call their attention to when you begin?

7. Words matter. And they matter beyond their poetic quality. What do the lyrics of the songs you’re singing say about God and about the Christian life? They do not have to be systematic theology set to music — and they probably shouldn’t be — but neither should they be vapid or borderline meaningless. It may sound pretty, but does it reflect sound doctrine?

8. Songs that highlight the gospel (sin, grace) should be treasured.

9. Music matters. Your lyrics can be straight from Scripture, but if the music is kitschy, you are condescending to your congregation. You’re not a Carnival Cruise Line, you’re in the community of Christ-followers. Your lyrics may be easy to follow and substantive, but coupled with complex, “artistic” music, and you may be singing a song best suited for performance, not corporate worship.

10. Beware of musical interludes. I don’t know what you call these exactly. Moments in the songs when singing pauses and just the music plays. Sometimes there’s a guitar solo (or in my Nashville church, it could be any kind of solo — mandolin, fiddle, organ, keyboard, whatever). These are not bad. They can be very worshipful. But they can also lapse very easily into performance mode. Are we highlighting an instrument during this time, and if so, what are we highlighting? The praising of God with stringed instruments, or the sweet licks of our rockin’ guitar god?

11. Pray with your fellow musicians and leaders before you take the stage.

12. Be mindful that you are leading a congregation in worship, which typically and ideally means a cross-section of men and women, youth and old folks, etc. Some, if not most, men may be uncomfortable singing about “going into the King’s chamber” and kissing on Jesus. Some women may be uncomfortable singing about God smiting his enemies with furious vengeance. I think, actually, there are places in worship for both sorts of songs (just as Scripture contains all sorts of portraits of our God), but be sensitive to your congregation’s needs, not necessarily to your own wants. Frequently certain types of songs resonate more with leaders and they can obsess on them; this is great if the “type” is a general theo-centric worship song, but it is bad if the type is a “making out with Jesus at Inspiration Point” worship song.

13. If you lead in a majority white congregation, telling people to “put your hands together” during a song can go terribly wrong. :-)

14. Don’t chide worhsipers for not doing what you want them to. They are not there to respond to your performance.

15. Do ask worshipers to stand frequently. Perhaps not for the whole set, if it is a longish one. Sitting down is comfortable, but it leads to lazy, unfocused worship (in my experience).

16. This will be a controversial one: Careful with female vocalists. This will be especially tough if the worship leader herself is female. My observation over the years is that when women lead worship, because the female voice is naturally “prettier” than a male’s, there is a real temptation for congregants to stop singing along and to listen. I know this is my tendency, and I have observed it many others as well. If a woman is leading or singing, please take care not to get too performance-y. That means no going up and down the scale, or whatever you call that exaggerated Whitney-esque vocal gymnastics. This means no “ecstatic” facial contortions. And for the love of YHWH, tone down the hip swaying.
Female vocalists, mostly inadvertently and unaware, do tend to draw more attention to themselves than male. Which is not to say they can’t or shouldn’t lead worship. There are just different things to be mindful of.

17. Read theology. Read on theology of worship. Read on philosophy of worship.

18. Not all songs are created equal. Some songs may be incredibly worshipful but are not conducive to corporate worship. I love U2′s “Where the Streets Have No Name;” I find it very worshipful. But it is not a good song for corporate worship. You want worship songs that can be sung along to, not just songs that can be sung.

19. When possible, choose songs for your set list that connect to or reflect the theme or message points of the sermon. This may not always be possible, but it does enhance the perception of the worship time as part of a whole service of worship, rather than as a stand-alone element in a program.

20. Talk and work with whoever you have to to get creative with the worship service format. If you always do worship first, talk about placing the message first and worship last. And vice versa. If you have a set routine that works for your church, great. But when done in sensitive and strategic ways — as opposed to abrupt and chaotic ways — the rearranging of worship elements can provoke congregants to really focus on the worship service.

21. Worship the one living God. Is your song only vaguely directed to YHWH God? Is it only vaguely Christian? Could it be sung to Allah?

22. Some people will say don’t sing about us. I would tell them to read the Psalms. The key is not to not sings about “us,” it is to sing songs that tell the truth about us. Instead of singing about how God makes us feel, why not sing songs about our dependence on Him? Instead of singing songs celebrating the great things we have done and will do for God (which is just self-worship, actually), how about singing songs about the depth of our need and the falling short of our efforts that celebrate the great things God has done? It’s not the pronouns “I” and “we” that should be avoided; it’s certain verbs that follow them.

23. Trust the Spirit, not yourself.

24. Exalt Christ.

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Aug

30

2007

Jared C. Wilson|2:05 pm CT

Better Than Best?

Okay, logically speaking, if the first book is about creating Your Best Life Now, how do you do better than that? How do you get better than best?
The new book is Become a Better You. Why should anyone buy and believe this one? If I have already achieved my best life — which I assume means it is as good as it gets — is it possible I can still get better?

Do you see yet that this stuff, for all its claims to create success and satisfaction, is just a self-perpetuating cycle that creates dissatisfaction, discontentment? This “being a better you” stuff is self-idolatry; it is the new legalism, because it exalts the ever-”improving” self over satisfaction with Christ.

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Aug

29

2007

Jared C. Wilson|6:02 pm CT

Where the Gospel Wins Out

I don’t wish to deadhorse stuff around here, but I wanted to highlight a couple of blogospheric compositions related to topics discussed in these parts recently, because I found them extremely touching and poignant, and because I think they cut through the conversational smoke and exalt the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was thankful to have read them, so I am honored to share them.

First, this from a pastor named Scott Eaton in the comment thread of this iMonk post:

Permit me a moment of transparency. As an overweight, 40 year old (in October), graying, unathelic, not so cool pastor who loves Jesus and people and finds his only hope in the gospel, the cross, and grace, your post encouraged me deeply.

Many times I get so discouraged in ministry precisely because I am “not cool.” How stupid is that? Yet, this is the message communicated today. If you are not cool – wearing cool clothes, cool glasses, with cool facial hair, having a cool staff, a cool building, a cool sound system, a cool band, a cool (fill in the blank here) – then you are irrelevant, washed up and ineffective for Christ. It has been enough to make me wonder if, being rather “uncool,” I should continue on in ministry.

But this is foolish and silly. I will not quit the ministry for that reason (I am not that pathetic!). I was called into the ministry by the one who “had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” Additionally, “he was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Sounds completely “uncool” to me.

And I hope I do not have a “cool” ministry, but a minstry that is empowered by the Holy Spirit, centered upon Christ, focused upon the cross, and glorifying to God. A ministry where the “cool” and “uncool” alike can gather together to worship our crucified and risen Lord. A place where people of diverse social, econcomic and racial backgrounds can come together. A place where the Bible is faithfully taught and Jesus is enthusiastically praised.

Now that would be cool.

Ooo, how I wish more ministers had this same conviction in their calling, that they felt this strongly about things this important.
Relevant ministry is being professionalized into irrelevance, and we need more Scott Eatons, whether cool or uncool, who will live and lead with the Gospel. Who will exalt Jesus above pastorpreneurship.

Secondly, this post at Promises Kept reflecting on the recent revelations about Mother Theresa really struck a chord with me. A long excerpt, attempting to do it justice:

But in all the discussion and debate I have read over the last few days I have two other concerns; both of which point, I believe, to our tendency towards self-righteousness or gracelessness. The first concern has already been discussed many times: there is the loud cry of many that Mother Teresa must have been a true Christian, because look at all the amazing self-sacrificing work she did.

Forget about how this relates to any particular individual, including Mother Teresa. Simply look with me at where that statement points. We are pointing at her work. Her labor. Her sacrifice. Her earnestness.

Her merit.

The Gospel points us to Christ’s work, Christ’s sacrifice, Christ’s merit. There is a great difference.

Jesus told us to “let your light so shine before men that they may see your good work and glorify your Father who is heaven”. So we do draw attention to our deeds (they see our good work). Well, then, how do they glorify our Father, and not us, for the good work? There must be words accompanying our workings, words full of the gospel, words full of how our work is a response to his work, how our faith is a response to his Promise, how our fruit is the fruit of the cross and the resurrection and the hope brought to birth and life in Jesus Christ. If, at the end of our lives people are amazed at our endless self-sacrifice and pouring out of ourselves for others, and this what they see and talk about… we will have failed the gospel.

The second concern is perhaps even more serious: there is a tendency in us — if we are honest — to rejoice in the weakness and failings of others. There are some that are quick to draw attention to this soul-struggle that is highlighted, and to say, “I told you so.” We spend our lives comparing and contrasting our standing with that of others. Pastors look at other pastors leading bigger churches and having a “more successful” ministry, and privately think “I’m actually better than he is, if only I had an opportunity to preach to thousands, they would know that. But I face evil opposition instead. My people don’t realize how blessed they are.” And with that mindset, we actually have inner rejoicing when that “more successful” pastor is caught in a scandal. “See, I knew I was better all along. Now maybe my people will appreciate me more.” Others must fall if we are to be raised. And our masks and robes must be carefully worn so that the status we have achieved is not defaced or lessened.

Our merit must be recognized.

I know all too well of what I speak. It’s the idolatry that has run amok in my own life and soul, causing so much destruction; the idolatry that still visits far too often.

It is Pharisaism, pride, and self-righteousness.

Our people need to appreciate Jesus more. His merit. His grace. Not us, not me, not you…and not any other saint. And there is no joy in the sorrows of others. The fact that Mother Teresa struggled in her faith says nothing about the quality, for good or ill, of our own doctrine or the positioning of our ministry. Do those who encounter our ministry encounter the God of mighty works who defeats all our idols and draws all our love? This is the question for us.

Draw attention to the gospel, to the God who is with us in Jesus Christ. Draw out the redemption, the Rescue, that is achieved for souls in darkness when Christ calls from the cross, “Why are you so far from saving me?” and thus achieves for his people the sure hope that they are heard, they cannot be forsaken, they are transplanted into the kingdom of light.

To God be the glory.

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Aug

29

2007

Jared C. Wilson|1:55 pm CT

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Last Sunday evening during Element’s worship set, in between Third Day’s “God of Wonders” and Matt Redman’s “You Never Let Go,” our band led us to sing that great 20th century hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Man, you should have heard our crowd of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings sing this like they’d never heard it before (and maybe some of them hadn’t). The confession and declaration of the song itself brought tears to my eyes, and singing it corporately was such a wonderful prelude to getting to teach on living a life in expectation of God’s deliverance.

One of my faves, particularly the third verse.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

(Refrain)
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

(Refrain)

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

(Refrain)

Words are by Thomas Chisholm; music is by William Runyan

I love that a bunch of young punks were enthusiastically singing a song by a guy who looked like this:

Man, I love the Church.

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Aug

28

2007

Jared C. Wilson|9:00 pm CT

My Jesus, I Love Me

The book I’m working on currently (tentatively titled The Unvarnished Jesus: 12 Portraits of Jesus As He Was and Is) is largely inspired by my investment in “historical Jesus” studies over the last several years. Scholars like N.T. Wright, Howard Marshall, Craig Blomberg, Ben Witherington, and Scot McKight have refreshed and revolutionized the way I read the Gospels.
These studies typically involve historical reviews of previous “quests” for the historical Jesus, and the common consensus is that most quests involve a scholarly look down the deep, dark well of history and result in the looker seeing his own reflection.

But lest we think “Jesus in our own image” is a sin solely owned by so-called “liberal” academics and historians, we should at least acknowledge the Western Church of the modern world is frequently just as guilty. Just because our Jesus looks different doesn’t mean He’s the historical Jesus.

Justin Holcomb has a good post in the Common Grounds archives called Jesus is For Losers:

I am currently reading Stephen Prothero’s American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon, which investigates the various constructions of Jesus in American history. He argues convincingly that what Americans have seen in Jesus has been a reflection of themselves. I haven’t liked most versions of Jesus that Prothero sees in American cultural history—Enlightened Sage, Manly Redeemer, or Superstar—because they are mainly reflections of American ideals and hopes. While reading American Jesus I also read the Gospel accounts of Jesus and saw another interesting version: Jesus as Loser Lover (thanks to Steve Taylor for his brilliant song “Jesus is for Losers”). Jesus loved the spiritual losers: swindlers, whores, and drunkards. These were not people “achieving growth in noble virtues.” Jesus told us what to think about his mission for losers: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

I’d suggest even more errant Jesuses propagated by American evangelicalism — Success Guru Jesus, Mystical Experience Jesus, Politically Correct Jesus, Fundamentalist Jesus, Patriotic Jesus, Co-Pilot Buddy Jesus, Tony Robbins Jesus, Personal ATM Jesus, and last but certainly not least My Own “Personal” Jesus.

How do we sort through these myriad Jesuses, each of which has just enough truth in them (even if just a dash) to make them dangerous, to find the real Person Jesus Christ? I think we ought to start with the Gospels, which usually are the last texts consulted. We think we are quite familiar with them, but we are not. We think we know their stories and have been building on them for years, but the army of false Jesuses marching in the hearts of well-meaning Christians testifies otherwise.

And the Jesus Cottage Industry is making a killing on all the ways we have Jesus without the gravity of His real personality. We have endless books offering alternative histories and secret messages and “what he really said” and hidden gospels. When, if we cared to see it, the four Gospels we already have contain enough truth to challenge, comfort, convict, and create us for eternity.

Yes, I said “create” us. It was G.K. Chesterton who, in his defense of Christian orthodoxy, said, “I did not make it. It is making me.”
Can we say that of Jesus? Can we say the Jesus we believe in, rest in, trust in is the Jesus who is making us? Or is He the one we’d prefer, the one who’s most like us, who’s safer and nicer, who reflects all of our personal or political values and idiosyncrasies? Is Jesus making us, or is he the Jesus of our own making?

It is quite possible to make an idol of Jesus. Which is not to say that Jesus is not to be worshiped. He is the only Man worthy of worship. What I mean is, it is possible to project a self-idolatry onto Jesus, to mistake our own satisfaction with ourselves for authentic discipleship, instead of worshiping the real, living God in the real, resurrected person of Jesus Christ.

Here’s one personal test I subject my own reading of the Gospels to (which actually works quite well when reading any Scripture):
Is it freaking me out?
Am I convicted, challenged, impressed, scared, or inspired? Am I moved?

The Word of God — both the living Word and the written Word — is transformational revelation. If we are not being transformed by Christ and Scripture, we are not reading them right.
And if we constantly find them confirming our sense of self and our prejudices, leaving us unrepentant or unmoved, we have the chief indication we are looking down the deep, dark well of our own heart and seeing our own reflection.

(Previously posted at BCC is Broken)

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Aug

28

2007

Jared C. Wilson|3:50 pm CT

Leadership Conundrum: Rescuing the Trampled On

One of my favorite Gospel stories is that of Jesus’ encounter with the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. This guy had been hanging out there for nearly 40 years, and every day when the water stirred, he couldn’t get in to get healed because he couldn’t move and the crowds stepped over him, around him, on him to push their own way in. Jesus healed him on the spot.

My fear is that our churches are set up like this. With entertainment-driven self-help seminars passing for worship, we stir the waters dramatically and provide “help” for those capable and strong enough to “get theirs.” File in, get what you need, file out till next time. And I believe our churches are full of people who need to be met where they are, who need a touch from Jesus, but who are coming away lacking because they need an intervention of grace, not an invitation to get bigger, stronger, faster.

How do we identify these people? How do we minister strategically to the hurting and marginalized in our churches, the ones not cool or hip enough, the ones not savvy enough, the ones not “ideal” to our demographic or what-have-you?
As we run our churches like businesses, as streamlined and professional as possible, with pastors more akin to CEOs than to shepherds, how do we keep them from slipping through the cracks?
In general, how do we gauge the spiritual health of the people in our local church? Strictly through attendance? I hope not.

I realize not every pastor can personally minister to every congregant. But who does? And how do we ensure it is happening?

Honest questions . . .

(Btw, if you are a pastor/preacher/leader, I’d like to respectfully request you check out my previous Leadership Conundrum entry and submit any feedback you feel appropriate.)

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Aug

28

2007

Jared C. Wilson|3:26 pm CT

Rantsalot Links

Some prime linkage to get my “negativity” off your palate . . . ;-)

Mark Lauterbach has a great gospel meditation on shopping carts. Seriously! Check it out.

When Sermon Illustrations Go Bad. LOL

David Wilkerson’s “Whatever Happened to Repentance Preaching?”. (HT: Transforming Sermons)

A barnburner of a post at Totem to Temple. He names names; prepare yourself. Using some recent headlines from American religious news, he writes strategically, poignantly, bluntly, and prophetically about The Failure of Self-Empowerment Theology.

Happy surfing!

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