Category Archives: Dwell Conference

Dwell Conference Summary

All the audio for the conference is now up.

Here are my notes from the talks. Feel free to copy, paste, and edit as you listen.

Pastoral Priorities: Watching Your Life & Ministry (CJ Mahaney)

Dwelling in the Kingdom Mission (Ed Stetzer)

Dwelling Incarnationally (Eric Mason)

Dwelling in the Text (Mark Driscoll)

Dwelling with Non-Christians (Darrin Patrick)

Dwelling in the Gospel (Tim Keller)

Dwelling Through the Text (Mark Driscoll)

Persuasion (Tim Keller)

A friend of mine asked which two talks I would suggest listening to if you’re crunched on time. I would recommend (in this order) 1) Dwelling in the Gospel; 2) Dwelling with Non-Christians; and 3) Persuasion. I know, but I couldn’t narrow it down to two.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Books & Media, Christian Living, Church, Culture, Dwell Conference, Evangelism, Pastoral, Social Justice

Persuasion

Tim Keller

“Persuasion” – Tim Keller (full .pdf download of Keller’s talk)

I have also included abbreviated notes and the Q&A for Keller and Driscoll that followed this talk:

You have got to convince people through the mind before you can expect to affect the heart.

 

(1)  Paul on persuasion and the cross

     a.    Verbal bullying *using force of personality, witty, and cutting disdain, super-confident and demagoguery to beat the listeners into wanting to be on the speaker’s side)

     b.    (the opposite)

(2)  A basic model for persuasion

     a.    Listeners (‘receptors’) automatically interpret communication from the perspective of their own context

     b.    There are two basic approaches to communication: sender-oriented and receptor-oriented

                i.     We need to put words in the listener’s frame of reference

               ii.     This is analogous to “The Dummy’s Guide to…” The expert is entering into the receptor’s frame of reference and language to explain the truths of x.

              iii.     It is far easier to write a technical journal because we can use our jargon and do not have to do the hard work of interpreting truths so that our listeners can understand.

     c.     Practice

             i.     Listening

                    1.    You have to read what they read, watch what they watch, listen to what they listen to

            ii.     Enter the framework

               1.    What are the strongest held beliefs of your audience

                    a.    Teenagers will think the church is prudish, while Muslims think we’re too loose.                                      Contextualize to your audience.

               2.    Use emotion in a way that fits their context

           iii.     Challenging the framework

               1.    Find things that they believe in 4-6 and show them that something they believe strongly is inconsistent.

                   a.    For example, for college students who hold that justice is primary (that it is wrong for the strong to eat the weak)

                   b.    Then you show them that their belief in natural selection contradicts this because they came to be through the strong eating the weak

           iv.     Completing the framework

 

Table Talk

 

Questions

What are some specific listening strategies you would recommend for us?

[Tim] I regularly read periodicals and newspapers (Village Voice, Nation, New Republic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Review, read the book reviews) Have dialogue with the writer. Imagine what they will say to your sermon. Chronicles of Higher Education. Ken Myers’ Mars Hill audio.

[Mark] Watch some TV and catch the shows your culture watches. Magazines and go to the magazine rack (every picture on the cover is someone’s heaven). Walk the mall and go into stores that you normally wouldn’t go to in order to see what people buy. Talk to clerks and people that are working – Who comes in here? What kind of attitude do they have?

What are some basic and common qualities of wolves?

[Mark] How do you decipher a wolf? They do not have the well-being of the flock in mind. The best way to confront a sin is in private. For those whose default is to go public, this is a red light. Typically wolves will have doctrinal issues. Also, he will typically go after the inner circle of power. He will sugar-up the pastor and wife. We need to be aware of these folks.

[Tim] Every book on conflict usually says there is a difference between someone solving a problem and another who is trying to destroy you. Haugk has a book on conflict in the church speaks of five stages. If you are too fast or too slow to call someone a wolf, you can destroy your church. You need to have people around you to help you discern in a timely way.

What are some challenges to urban church planting and children?

[Tim]The wife will have issues of carting the children around. It can be physically more tiring for the wife than in the suburbs. Raising a child before the age of eight is very difficult.

What about a church planting situation?

[Mark] The line between family and work gets too blurred if you are not vigilant. When you open your house to many people, there will be many devious people who are coming. You need to be very discerning and set parameters around your family.

What does it look like to get rid of wolves in your church?

[Mark] You need to have an extremely small door for the position of elder. The mistake I made at Mars Hill was that I was the only one to carry around the gun so that I was the only one to pull the trigger on getting rid of someone. The time to fire an elder is about two weeks before you have thought about it. “Hire slowly, fire quickly.”

[Tim]  Having a group of people who mitigate the decision are like shock-absorbers. We need to let the offender that you stand behind their decision and hand it over to them (especially in the context of a larger church).

Do you think you are dumbing down the sermon when you speak of being listener-focused?

[Tim] Yes. It is not a bad term. The Gospel is offensive and you want people to understand that it offends them. You want to simplify and interpret the message for people.

How can I accurately discern if I am called to plant churches?

[Mark] Fiorst, you need to have a sense of God’s calling. Second, that call needs to be confirmed by the church (per 1Tim 3; Titus 2). Third, you need to be assessed by a group that knows the ins-and-outs of church planting (not merely a congregation). Invariably, we either over or under-assess our ability.

[Tim] “Counsels do err” (WCF). Even though a counsel may say you are not ready, they may err.

How do you move from a small Bible study to a missional church?

[Mark] Launch the equivalent of a church service. You are going to have several launches. You should do this incrementally. Launch multiple care structures.

Give us an instance where you tried this method of persuasion and it did not take? How did you react?

[Tim] Most people are not persuaded. I am shocked when someone is convinced because people are typically skeptical and suspicious. I don’t have high expectations.

How do you help/encourage your wife so she feels like a partner in ministry?

[Tim] Be attentive to your wife and see how her gifts can be used. Find a spot where she can plug holes in the church and get someone to ask her to help. Your wife should be as active (but not much less) as a mature woman in the church. She should be an example, not an exemplar.

[Mark] Define the role of what the pastor’s wife is and is not. You need to be explicit about this because many people will come in with their expectations of your wife. Your wife should be a mature member of the church. There is no job description for the wife. Take into account the season of life you are in the church and family.

How essential is racial reconciliation in urban church planting?

[Tim] We ought to be as racially diverse as we can (b/c Eph 2 presents this view), but we also need to reflect our community. There are places where the diversity would be superficial – so that we could try to be like Noah’s Ark (two of each kind). You’re never where you ought to be in this area…you have to go after and invite those who are different than yourself. If you make a general call for leaders you will get people who look like you to gather around them. You are leveling the playing field.

[Mark] Going to multiple campuses is our way of trying to reach these various cultures. You can intentionally work towards making your elders diverse (without compromise). 

2 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Books & Media, Culture, Dwell Conference, Evangelism

Dwelling through the Text

Mark Driscoll

Nehemiah

This is a story about Nehemiah planting a church in the city of Jerusalem.

Mark suggests that a church planter should write in a journal. He has been strategically prepared (in education, commerce, etc) in the capital of Susa by God for the re-building of Jerusalem. The information was not new to Nehemiah, but it hit him in the new way.

In the same way, the need for church planting in the city is not new information. There is a need – dead church buildings, apostate seminaries, etc. How will this hit you?

Four or five months after the Lord broke his heart he risked being killed by sitting in front of the king. He is willing to lose his high position (he lives in the palace and has much power) so that he can re-build that which has been torn down.

You need to pray and fast and articulate your plan. You better be able to articulate your plan of action before you go and try to gather finances and people. It should be written down. Everything he does is bathed in prayer. There are times that you will have to be confident and bold enough to ask for policies to be changed (Nehemiah asked for a law to be changed).

He asked the king to vouch for him. When you go out, you need to be able to say that there is a group supporting.

You need to continually look for evidences of God’s grace to encourage and keep you from discouragement. Every time Nehemiah’s prayers are answered he gives glory to God for the provision.

There will be those who will oppose you. How do you deal with criticism? Remember that criticism these days is instant, constant, permanent, and global. You need to flee to the Gospel to get through. Criticism will happen. You must assume that this will happen. Set up strong accountability structures around you so that you can give an answer to anyone that will make a charge against you. If Satan can’t make you sin he will make you busy. If he can’t make you fall, he will make you preoccupied with myriad of things. You will emotionally die as people you love will turn against you.

You must learn to let your critics to be your coaches.

Verse 11: He surveys the city at night so that he will be anonymous. He is doing a contextual survey of his city.

He does not tell anyone because he is motivated by a pervading call in his life. If you do not have a sense of calling, then you will give up.

Chapter 4:9 – The trowel is for building and the sword is for defending what you build. Do you know how to defend your people (theologically, physically, legally)? The job of the pastor is to shepherd the flock of God. You must be cautious to not think that you should shepherd wolves that will break into your fold. You have to get rid of them. The heretics that will sneak into your church will rip your church apart – even more probable than the critics from the outside.

Chapter 7 – You need to surround yourself with men of great character. You need to have a priest, prophet, and king who will meet the needs of your congregation.

Chapter 8 – The word is preached and then priests are released into the congregation to care for those who have confessed and believed in the word preached. This is analogous to small group ministries.

13:8 – Underlying much urban ministry is anger. You need to understand godly-motivated anger so that you do not sin. When you see sin, you should be compelled by anger and compassion to be a change agent. Verse 23: There is no room for cowardice in leadership. You need to take action rather than debate about issues too long. You have to be careful the example that you set for your people. 

1 Comment

Filed under Bible, Books & Media, Church, Culture, Dwell Conference, Interpretation, Pastoral

Dwelling in the Gospel

Tim Keller

Rather than share my sporadic notes on this, I thought it would be best to scan the sermon that was printed in our packet (from which Keller “read”). This may help begin dialogue on what the Gospel is and what the Gospel does.

Dwelling in the Gospel – Tim Keller

 

1 Comment

Filed under Books & Media, Church, Culture, Dwell Conference, Evangelism, Social Justice, Theology

Dwelling with Non-Christians

Darrin Patrick

Preliminary Questions:

Do you love non-Christians? Do you have good friends that are far from God? Is your heart broken consistently for lost people?

Romans 10:15 – It is your job to realize that you have been sent. He wants to take away excuses for why we are not reaching the lost and propel us to go out and accomplish our task of evangelism.

God is the first missionary in that he pursues fallen humanity throughout the biblical narrative. Genesis 12 (Walt Kaiser calls this the Great Commission of the OT). The seed promised to Abraham is Jesus. Matthew 4, Jesus links evangelism, discipleship, and mission together (cf. chapter 28:18-20). John 17 teaches us that we are in the world but not of as we try to reach the world.

John 1 is the seminal chapter on incarnational ministry. An example is Zacchaeus where Jesus tells him that he wants to stay at his house. He doesn’t just tell him a message but lives out his mission in his home.

1Cor 5:9ff – it’s assumed that you will and must dwell with unbelievers. The problem Paul is addressing has to do with not dwelling with those who are sexually perverse and call themselves “Christian.”

There are opportunities for being around non-Christians: Tailgating, pay-per-view events, happy hour, video game times, basketball at the gym, a hobby (photography). “Theology at the Bottle Works” is a mercy ministry of The Journey in St.. Louis. You are not going to happen to step into personal evangelism, you have to be intentional in it. (1Cor 9; Acts 13; 14; 17 – Paul went to places with the purpose of sharing the Gospel story with Jews and Greeks). Get involved in people’s lives. If someone is terminally ill, find out about their illness through study of what they have. If someone is a “foody” find out about the fine dining culture. Essentially, care about people enough to take interest in their interests.

Recommendation: Becky Pieppert books. The problem with Christians is that we don’t know how to be ourselves.

The Seeker movement has rightly challenged us to think through missional worship. That is, helping people understand what is happening in the service (keeping away from Chriistian-ese – lingo that is not easily definable).

This is an investment and a sacrifice. It can hurt your sermon preparation; but it can help it by making you aware of real needs in your community. Christ sacrificed (through his relationships) his reputation as a good rabbi.

Our non-Christian friends need to see how we are similar to them and how we are different than them. If you are a struggling father, admit that. But also talk about what makes your desire to be a better dad. You don’t have to hit people over the head with some ideological principles that makes us distinct from them. They need to see anecdotally how we are different.

What are the people that irritate you? You have to bathe your homophobia, racism, preferentialism in the Gospel. Christ came to redeem all kinds of people.

 

Table Talk

What are the main obstacles in connecting with non-Christians?

Being yourself and honest. It is oftentimes easier connecting with people we do not know than people we do know. We have to allow people to see our lives that we do not have to have it together.

So much of what Darrin talked about has to do with being intentional in our lives and relationships. We need to try and not be so enmeshed in strategic church planting that that is the only thing we can talk about. Our passion for reaching the lost can become an idol. We theorize about how to reach the lost and do not reach the lost.

Our arrogance that impels us to micro-manage the weekly service or other gatherings of our people.

Many times we can find solace in our title as “pastor” around our Christian friends, but around out non-Christian friends there is no pretense in our relationships with them. We can go from conference to conference and leave ourselves with little or no time for people (Christian and non-Christian).

We presume that our friendships with non-believers can only be superficial and we, therefore, miss the imago Dei present within the non-believer. We short change ourselves when we fall into this false view of humanity and being connected. One of the qualifications for being an elder is “hospitality,” which means to be welcoming into your homes.

We do need to be aware of our weaknesses so that if we are tempted to get drunk ata pub, you need to stay away from those situations. That does not mean, however, that you divorce yourself from being involved in people’s lives. You can have people over for coffee or dinner.

Recommendation: Jerram Barrs, Being Human

What hobbies, interests, and activities do I participate in or could I participate in that might enable me to meet and befriend non-Christians?

We need to be reminded that Christ has redeemed us as humans. We cannot expect to be super-human. We are intended to be sanctified and become human – through and through. We need to learn how to integrate our faith into the hobbies and interests we have in the world. We can affirm our desire to go workout, sports bars, motorcycling. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Living, Church, Culture, Dwell Conference, Evangelism, Missions, Social Justice

Dwelling in the Text

Mark Driscoll

This is the hardest thing for him to talk about since much of it is intuitive. You have to know and love Jesus. To do this, you need to spend time in the text. It will impact your life and, subsequently, your marriage.

Six questions he asks himself when he is studying:

  1. What does the Bible say? Prov 35:6. The Bible is verbal plenary inspiration. The Bible is the primary means by which God uses to speak to us. He encourages us to fast a few days a month in order to simply read the Bible – fasting from internet, cell phones, e-mail, meetings, etc. Jesus often drew away from busy-ness
  2. What does it mean? Letting Scripture interpret Scripture. Use commentaries, other people, resources that will help you get in the life of the original hearers.
  3. What is the take away point? Perhaps it is a word, an image, a doctrine (i.e. providence, atonement), an emotion (Naomi changed her name to Mara), or a life study of a person (i.e. Nehemiah).
  4. Why/how is there resistance to what is true? We have a proclivity to suppress the truth. We need to be honest in our own lives (as we prepare) as to whether we have applied this text to our lives. “Before we can live a life, lead a family, lead a church, we have to acknowledge some of our own resistance.” How do we respond to those who will defend themselves. The Puritans would assume a resistance in their hearers, this is why they spent a considerable time preaching (not because they were merely verbose).
  5. Why does this matter? As my witness, my fathering, my husbanding, my pastoring. There are several layers to everything we learn and apply. Our life will affect our families, churches, and culture. The Gospel will be magnified and spread by our faithful application of this text. “The Bible is not just true, it is helpful.” It’s not like the phonebook that is true, but it helps people live better lives. It’s true that it leads to eternal life, but it is also the way to a better life here on earth. One of the worst reductionisms in our Bible reading is that it is just for me. We need to evaluate our lives one these several levels so that we can make an impact on our culture and spread the fame of Jesus.
  6. How is Jesus the hero? When you talk about Jesus, the Holy Spirit likes to show up to do a work on your hearers’ ears. We cannot merely use the Jesus exemplar so that we tell people to live like Jesus. He is the hero and Savior of men, not merely a model on how to be a better businessman or even pastor (though this is an aspect of Christ’s life).
    1. 25% of the OT is prophetic, which are tied to Jesus’ fulfillment
    2. Christophanies

                     i. “the angel of the Lord”

Types

 i.     Figures and institutions (Adam, priest, prophet, king, sacrificial system)

    Events

       i.     The Exodus, Passover, Day of Atonement

    Titles

       i.     Suffering Servant, First and the Last, Shepherd

     

    What is sad about so many in the ministry is that so many pastors use the Bible for other means other than for knowing Jesus. They go to the Bible for approval, self-exaltation, material gain, puffing up with knowledge, for comfort for our spouse. If you do not go to the Scriptures for Jesus, he will oppose everything you do. He will not be content with being a means to an end.

    Bottom Line:

    The Bible’s true, it’s about Jesus. 

    Table Talk

    Church planting is what happens when a man gets excited about Jesus and tells others about Him. What are ways we can get excited and stay excited about Him?

    Are you a closet light beer drinker? No. I am not a hypocrite.

    Why have you changed from being angry to being heart-broken over those who teach false doctrine? What I perceived to be false teaching knew what they were doing. Now I realize that there is demonic deception so that these people do not know they are teaching false doctrine (who believe they are teaching rightly). Also, I think I have become a pastor (as opposed to merely a prophet) to help people think through issues.

    How can a preacher get better at answering objections in a sermon? Preach more than one sermon (get feedback in between services). Ask for feedback among your elders. Bounce ideas off them. Have an on-line discussion board so you can see questions people have. For those who are getting ready to plant a church, it would be wise to plan your first year of sermons in ministry.

    How do we talk about Jesus being helpful without falling into pragmatism? We need to be afraid of compromise not pragmatism. We want to use our doctrine because it works. We do not want to denigrate our doctrine so that something works. He draws a metaphor of prophet, priests, and kings for our present-day context. Prophets want to have doctrinal solidarity. The priests want to minister to the needs of the people. Kings organize well. We need to learn from each of these offices. Finding out what works best is not a sin but compromise is.

    How do you structure your study time? Office at the church and a study at home. (1) saves on commute time. (2) I can study whenever I want. (3) My wife and kids have access to our libraries. (4) Your family see us studying the Bible. You’re integrating your study into your life. You need to set aside a few days a month to get away and spend time alone with God.

    What is the most-effective way a wife can encourage her church planting husband? [Gracie, Mark’s wife responds] That is husband-specific. I erred in trying to answer that question before I asked him; ask it often since the seasons change, Lots of encouragement even though you think he doesn’t need any help, advice, or encouragement. Even correction is encouragement. Keeping your husband a priority. [Mark resumes] A missional thought pattern should also be utilized when we minister to our spouse.

    Apart from the Bible, what are your top three resources? Biographies are huge. You don’t really know if he knows what he is talking about until he is dead and the full effects can be seen after their dead.

    From your own disciplines, how have you used them to meet with Jesus? I am a constant reader.

    How do you intentionally develop your staff? Set up a culture where we really trust the Bible and love Jesus. So much of what becomes the culture of the church is modeled by the pastor.

    We take responsibility even when you don’t feel like it’s your fault. This is seen in the life of Jesus who took our sin upon himself even when it was not his fault to own. Driscoll would discourage building ministries that will allow them to abdicate their duties to their families and the church. Possibly bring all the families together on Wednesday nights, teach them, and equip them to teach their families.

    Your goal should be to see all your men become elders. You want them to be at that level of elder in their doctrine and life. They all won’t get to there, but that is what you aim for.

         Best advice he has received as a church planter:

    “Be a sanctified version of yourself” (John Piper) – advice given to Driscoll he considers the best advice he has received as a church planter.

    1 Comment

    Filed under Bible, Church, Culture, Dwell Conference, Interpretation, Pastoral

    Dwelling Incarnationally

    Eric Mason

    We keep hearing about urban legends, but we do not see the legend. Too many times incarnational ministry is an urban legend – people talk about it, but it is not visible on so many places.

    John 1

    Verse 14: “dwelt” – this is an allusion to the tabernacle of the OT. The glory of the tabernacle and the Temple is now found in the man, Jesus. Jesus is the proto-type of what it means to live for the glory of God. What gives incarnational ministry its impetus?

    Verse 18: Jesus is in eternal community with the Father and brings that community to those who do not know him. His life is about exegeting the Father for the people exesato.

    Heb 2:17-18 – He had to be made like his brothers so that he might become a merciful and faithful High Priest… “He had to be made”: Jesus was authentically human, as well as authentically connected to the culture of the Jews. He did not ask them to submit to the culture of eternity (from where he originated), but he was made like his brothers (Jews).

    We see that he not only had contextual connectivity, but also spiritual connectivity. He did not allow his Jewish-ness impede his spiritual vitality. That is, he had a mission to complete and a faithfulness to the Father that took precedence over his context.

    He was also empathetically connected. “Able to help”: The people’s issues must become your issues. It is one thing to describe what the city is like, but we need to know a deeper reality of what it means to be a member of the community we are seeking to minister to. The public school problems aren’t problems with the city, generically. The public school problem becomes our problem.

    Darrell Guder’s definition of missional living: “By incarnational mission, I mean the understanding and practice of Christian ministry that is modeled by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.” His incarnational ministry includes his Cross and the proclamation of the Cross. With the goal and centrality of the Cross being essential to incarnational ministry.

    Titus 1:5 – Paul left Titus in Crete in order to raise up elders for the churches. Exegetically, Paul begins with practice and ends with the theological to define the practice. Chapter three shows that the Gospel has social implications (that were mentioned prior to). 3:1 Paul tells Titus to have the people be obedient to the ruling authorities. Then, in verse 3 and following he grounds the command in the Gospel. Incarnational ministry is the outworking of the Gospel.

    Principles for Dwelling Incarnationally

    Comprehensive Incarnation vs. Reductive Incarnation (social gospel)

    Just living in a community is not dwelling incarnationally.

     

    1. Dwelling as Servants (Diakonia)
      1. Matt. 20:26
      2. See Harvey Conn, The Secular City. The whole of the idea of service is found throughout the Bible. In order to be a healer of a city, you need to know the wounds and fractures of the city. You know this by understanding God’s view of shalom. If we do not understand God’s perspective we will be trying to stop nose bleeds rather than getting the anti-biotic that is causing the symptoms.
      3. Matt 23:37 – Jesus wept for the city because he understood its true need
      4. Col 3 – keep your mind on things above means having a God-centered imagination.
      5. This may be a housing issue. It is not just housing, but we want to look at what a Gospel-centered family, man, etc look like.
    2. Dwelling as Preachers (Kerygma)
      1. Col 1:28
      2. Acts 14:21ff – preaching the Gospel is not just bringing a message but bringing a life-change for the people
      3. Mark 1:14-15 – Jesus is teaching them about comprehensive repentance (metanoia); he essentially tells people to change their minds about what it means to truly live (it’s not just about getting a job, house, wife, etc)
      4. 2Cor 4:5
    3. Dwelling as Community (Koinonia)
      1. 1Jn 1:3
      2. 2Pet 1:3-4 – God invites us into the eternal fellowship within the Godhead.
    4. Dwelling as Worshippers (leitourgia/Proskynetes)
      1. Jn 4:20-24 – worship is not about location, it is about vocation.
      2. Abraham goes into a land and the first thing he does is build an altar. Worship of God is the ID card of the Christian. Our worshipful living is an apologetic for God.
      3. Worshipping God in spirit and in truth will help us not to embarrass God when we seek to minister to our cities.
    5. Dwelling as Teachers (Didaskolia)
      1. Heb 5:11-14
      2. If your people can’t grow others up in the faith then you are not living incarnationally – and definitely not centered on the Gospel. Every follower of Jesus must be able to build up disciples.

    Incarnational ministry is both programmatic and organic. You train people and they go and train people (on their own time without you even having to know about it).

    Practices of Incarnational Mission (Jer 29:5-7)

    A Practice of Presence

    A Practice of Place

    A Practice of Prayer

    A Practice of Peace

    Leave a comment

    Filed under Church, Culture, Dwell Conference

    Dwelling in the Kingdom Mission

    Ed Stetzer

    2Cor 5:16-21

    2Cor. 5.16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

     

    1.    A Kingdom View (16-17)

    a.    See www.LifewaResearch.com for this study (it’s free): What do un-churched think of the church. 72% agreed that the church is full of hypocrites. We could spiritualize this and say, “Well, we’re all hypocrites.” But we must confess that there is something wrong with how we are viewed in the world. 44% confessed that Christians get on my nerves. (Wow, only 44%!). Would 44% say that other religious affiliations get on their nerves. Probably not. The reason is due to our rally cries, we have made many other things our hills rather than Calvary.

    b.    We do not know anyone in a purely human way. We must see people with a different lens. How do we get there? If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. We are in Christ and are able to see people in a fresh way. In the HCSB the verse reads: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.” There is a new person and a new community because of the reconciliation Jesus brings. The kingdom expression is not merely the kingdom of God within me, but there is a new order that has been instituted by the re-birth of individuals. The old nature and the old order has been swept aside by the New Creation and New Order (1Cor 7:31).

    c.     We can justify our sin with our “defense mechanisms.” We have realize that the Kingdom of God does not show up when your church plant shows up. It already showed up when Christ came. A church planter can be prone to this given the initiation.

    d.    How?

                          i.     We need to co-operate as much as we can on a local level. We don’t need to diminish our differences, but affirm

                         ii.     We need to be careful not denigrate other churches as we talk about the

    1.  Biblically faithful

    2.  Culturally relevant

    3.  Counter-cultural communities

     

     

    2.    A Mission of Reconciliation (18-19)

    a.    Jesus’ mission is our mission

                          i.     To serve: Luke 4:18-19

                         ii.     To save: Luke 19:10

    b.    The Kingdom of Christ (Russell Moore) – book recommendation, which places emphasis on the already-not-yet tension we live in reaching our

    c.     Mark 12:29-34

    d.    The Kingdom of God and missio Dei theology were the theologies that weakened the main-line churches mission and evangelism. But they were poorly defined. The Kingdom cannot be separated from the Gospel. Three words: (1) Be; (2) Do; and (3) Tell the Gospel. “You cannot dwell if you will not tell.” Luke 24:46-49; Col. 1:20.

    e.    Bring Jesus and bring justice. Please don’t think you have brought justice and believe [that by so doing] you have brought Jesus. The would will praise you when you bring justice, but they will condemn you when you bring Jesus.

     

    3.    A Kingdom Mission (20)

    a.  Matt. 10:7-10 – our vision for our ministires must be to minister the

    b.  Matt. 6:33

    c.  Urban church planting is harder than church planting in general

                      i.     You will have to multiply before you think you are ready.

                    ii.     Your agenda must be submitted to the Kingdom

     

    4.    A Cross-Centered Mission for the Kingdom (21)

    a.    2 Cor 5:21

    b.    Mark 1:14-15 – the method by which the Kingdom of God was spread

    c.     Acts 8:12 – the reaction of the people to the proclamation. People believed the message and their lives were changed.

    d.    The world doesn’t “good people standing around good people telling them how to be good people” (Mark Twain). We plant churches because Jesus became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. He wasn’t just acquainted with sin, he became sin.

     

    Table Talk

    We are instructed to come to a consensus for one question we would like to ask Ed. (1) Regarding 2Cor 5, doesn’t contextualization require that we recognize people in a human way. That is, we are ministering to people who are white, black, poor, rich, etc. There is no way to not contextualize the Gospel. (2) How do we utilize the resources around us when the reason for our having planted a church is due to our seeing a void in churches and people reaching the community? Additionally, How do you not come across as a threat to other churches in the area? My table decides to ask question #1.

     

    1. How does a Kingdom focus practically work itself out in our church planting? In other words, “How should we plant if the church is the sign and instrument of the Kingdom of God?

    We should work hard at developing good community. We don’t want to bring in a completely different culture. We want to contribute to the community that is already there. Citing Jer. 29 we want to unpack our bags, live among the people, build houses, and take wives so that the culture is sanctified. We want to have the perspective that we are here to serve the city, not merely to take from the city.

     

    Q & A

    1. How do you choose with whom you will cooperate?

                We live in a landscape of great compromise. When you begin to plant churches in a city, there will be people/churches that will attach to you who are fuzzy in their theology. We need to have a robust statement of faith and doctrine at the outset.

    Level 1: Christ crucified and essentials of the Gospel

    Level 2: Convictional issues (paedo or credo-baptism)

    Level 3: Preferential issues. The problem with fundamentalism is that every preference is an essential (music, dress, entertainment, etc).

     

    We can work with people as long as they hold on to the essentials. If they www.peoplegroups.info (resource for finding others who are engaged with different

     

    Schaeffer spoke of co-belligerence with those we disagree with on the essentials (i.e. human trafficking, poverty, etc).

     

    2. Multiply before you’re ready? How and what criteria?

                You will never think that you arte ready – similar to how we cannot wait until you are ready to have another child. What you celebrate you become. Thus, if you celebrate multi0plication, it will be part of your DNA.

     

    3. What are the most common mistakes among urban church planters

    Naivete: Part of the problem is that you go to a conference and you hear from the speakers. It is an unrealistic picture of what you will never experience. Most of those who will plant churches will have a long, arduous road. [Aside: Stetzer provocatively asks why so many church plants are planted in fast-growing, affluent areas.] We need to be careful not to think that

    Superman syndrome: There are people who are broken. There is a reality that we are going into church-planting with baggage.

    One-size fits all. Much of our method will be dictated by time, place, and person. There are no magic models. You ought not plant a Redeemer somewhere other than Manhattan. We ought not plant a Mars Hill somewhere other than Seattle.

     

    4. How do you know where God is working?

    Eph 3:10 helps us to think through this. We should go to the church and see what the church is doing. In other words, we need to take the time to talk to churches in the area and find out what God has been doing in their community, Humility should replace pride in thinking you are here to save the day.

    Are there other places to look outside the church?

    Yes, but not savingly. He is working in areas of justice. We need to be careful not to say that the church is so ugly and broken that he is not working through her (the issue that came to the fore during the mainline change in theology. They realized the missio Dei was larger than the mission of the church).

     

    4. How would you counsel someone who does not have affirmation by his denomination?

                If your denomination turns you down, you should ask “Why?” Don’t go plant a church because the church won’t let you plant a church. If you are allergic to structures, then you need to ask why you do not want to be contained by a structure. It may be a sin issue.

                Too many church planters want money without strings attached. A denomination will have strings attached (theologically especially). If you are only going to plant a church if the resources are there, then you have built upon the wrong foundation.

     

    5. How do you balance Spirit-led and demographically-led?

                You go with Spirit-led. But you also need to be informed by the demographics. If you are planting because of a report, then you have built poorly. You need to plant in light of demographics and desire, but not because of it. Church plants fail because planters quit. You will quit when it gets difficult. First, you need to ask where the name of Christ has not been named and go. If you are adamant against going to a certain place, you need to place yourself under the lordship of Christ.

                You need to remember that you don’t leave something, you go to something. You need to do the hard work of balancing in faithfulness and fruitfulness. You need an exit strategy for those who decide to leave the church plant that will not be embarrassing. We need to affirm the dynamic nature of God’s working throughout the world.

     

    6. What’s the best piece of advice you received as a church planter?

                “One day you’re going to leave this church and there is one group of people that will go with you – your wife and your family.” 

    Leave a comment

    Filed under Church, Culture, Dwell Conference, Evangelism, Family | Parenting

    Pastoral Priorities: Watching your life and ministry

    Forewarning: The following is not a blurb summary of what CJ Mahaney gave his talk on. Consider this notes from the talk. It is pretty detailed…Enjoy.

    Aware of the time he has, CJ tells us to quickly turn in our Bibles to 1Tim 4. I am not sure how to take this. What is a Mahaney talk without 20 minutes of anecdotes and putting down the Yankees – especially when he is in New York City?!? Verse 16: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” If Spurgeon were here to address us, he would more than likely address us with this passage. In his first lecture (“The Pastor’s Self-Watch”) in his Lecture to My Students, reveals his care for his students.

     

    “This morning wants to address each of you.” Interrupt your preoccupation with church planting, the coming sermon, and ministry responsibilities. The Savior wants to care for you and your wives so that you are discernibly different upon your return home.

     

    We have a sobering reminder of the eternal consequences of our ministries: you will save both yourself and your hearers. Here’s what’s at stake: 1) the preservation of yourself and 2) your hearers by you’re a) life and b) doctrine. Pastoral ministry could not be more important.

     

    1) Watch your life

    As an expression of God’s wisdom we are commended to give full attention to both life and doctrine. We cannot study doctrine without applying it to our life. We cannot watch our life to the neglect of doctrine (and vice-versa). Both must be watched closely (not casually).

     

    I find the easier command to neglect, that of the command to watch my life. Studying doctrine if easier and more desirable than studying my life. It is easy to study hard, but little attention to heart evaluation. We study our congregation and public ministry more than ourselves and personal piety.

     

    Skillfulness and fruitfulness in public ministry is not a substitute for personal piety. Clearly in Scripture it is a man’s character that is the utmost criteria in the minister’s life. There is doctrinal discernment, but the pastor is meant to provide for the congregation a godly example. “Our character must be more persuasive than our speech” (CH Spurgeon). The absence of these godly characteristics in our lives will show that we have neglected to watch our life (and doctrine). Over the past 34 years, Mahaney has observed men who have served with fervency but no longer serve in pastoral ministry because they neglected this command to watch their lives.

     

    What has Mahaney learned from this passage?

    a)    The limitations of sound doctrine. Please don’t misunderstand; this is not optional to the ministry. It is not sufficient apart from grace-motivated obedience (being hearers only and not do-ers). If we assume that merely being present at this conference is sufficient, then we have already begun the process of self-deception – that right doctrine is all there is to pastoral ministry. Owen reminds us: “As we learn all to practice, so we learn much by practice.” Unitl you practice the truth, you have not learned the truth. It’s possible to teach and counsel without paying attention to our own souls. In fact, the mere busy-ness of pastoral ministry can keep us from doing this vigilance. We must be intentional in our self-evaluation.

     

    b)    The war within never ends. Galatians 5:17 reminds that there is an on-going battle  with the old man. Being in pastoral ministry is not an exemption from being in a battle. “If you don’t watch, you will weaken…Heart-work is hard work.” Are you watching closely? Are you watching daily? Are you watching persistently?”

     

    c)    You cannot watch yourself by yourself. We need others to help us discern our lives and hearts. Left to myself there will be a sufficient deficiency in my self-evaluation. He shares the cream-cheese story. And then he shares the story of being in the staff meeting where he was probed further regarding his sin that he had previously confessed. Something to take away from this: we need to be surrounded by those who are not intimidated or afraid of pointing out issues in our lives. By divine design, the illumination of our sin oftentimes comes in the context of relationships – and not merely on our knees in the morning devotional. Quoting Paul David Tripp, he tells us that everyone has a pocket of spiritual blindness. We even get angry and offended when people think they see us and our hearts better than we do ourselves (speaking of the deceitfulness of sin in Heb 3:13). Our vision of ourselves is like a carnival mirror.

     

    a.    We need to ask others to describe what they see. We need to humbly and aggressively pursue the insight of others. More than likely people have observations but are timid about sharing them. You can say, “If you knew that I would not become angry, what would you tell me about myself?”

    b.    Give your wife this gift: Provide a moment of un-hurried time to evaluate. Initially CJ was not excited about the correction that Carolyn gave him before he came to the conference. He began to think that the evaluation wasn’t accurate. But over time God gave him the gift to get cream cheese off his face:

                                                   i.     Do I continually and specifically confess my sin?

                                                 ii.     Do I specifically confess my sin at particular times and places?

    c.     Do others know secret temptations and sin in your life

    d.    Are you easy to correct? Are you presenting to others a carefully edited and flattering presentation of your sin?

     

    Table Talk

    1. Godly character is unquestionably the preeminent qualification for a pastor or church planter, although its cultivation is usually more difficult than learning doctrine, setting strategy, etc. How does a pastor identify and put to death his sinful desires, motives, and patterns?
      1. Surrounding yourself with others. A wife is a great gift for this. Ask her and listen. Do not interrupt and justify your actions.
      2. You need to have a personal devotion life, reflecting and listening to God’s Word.
      3. Have an unhurried time. Even our devotional times should be unhurried. Those pastoral meetings should be ample enough to have good, solid, organic time to talk about life and issues. It takes time to run out of your pastoral mode and façade so that you can (over time) speak about issues.
      4. Try to identify secret sins in your life and work to confess those to others in your pastoral team.
      5. We need to confess specific sins in specific situations. Invite others to ask those questions.
      6. It is easy as a pastor to look to the sins of others and comparing yourself with others so that you don’t think that you are as bad as that person.

     

    1. What are the Scripture’s clear teaching on the deceptiveness of sin and our need for others in the process of sanctification (Heb. 3:12; 10:24-25; James 5:16)? What practices in our life reflect that conviction? What concrete steps can a pastor take to involve others in his pursuit of godliness, making them aware of temptations, and inviting their observations?

     

    Closing Words:

    We have to apply the doctrines of grace in the shadow of the cross.

    The practice Covenant Life has implemented:

    1. Pastors and their wives have been in a monthly, small group setting together – about two-three hours with . Watching is what pasturing is all about. There is a monthly meeting for couples, men, and then women (three meetings a month). These are meetings for the ministering of the soul of each other. Attention to our souls is the best thing we can do for our churches. We are talking about our lives and not strategic planning or budget or ministerial helps.
    2. Once a year, all the couples will pull away for a retreat for three days – geographically separated from where they are ministering.
    3. Watch your doctrine. In watching our doctine-watching wemust never lose sight of the cross. A Quest for Godliness: The preacher’s commission is declaring the counsel of God, but his center is Calvary in that declaration. In the midst of all counseling and preaching, Calvary must be lifted high.

    Watch the Savior work. See the end of 1Tim 4:16. Paul accents human agency in Christ’s work. Although salvation is God’s gift alone, it is given by means of man (John Calvin). There is one mediator (who Paul has already referred to in 1Tim 2:5) and he stands behind our watching of our life and our doctrine. Save for the Savior, this work would be too much to bear. Because of the Savior, we have hope that our watching will have effect. 

    1 Comment

    Filed under Books & Media, Current Events, Dwell Conference, Pastoral

    Dwell: The Opening

    I am at the dwell conference in New York City – a cohort conference of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and Redeemer Presbyterian Church Planting Network. I am here with a good friend from Savannah, GA and have met another fellow in north Atlanta. It is exciting to see people who want to put good theology into good practice.

    People are milling about, grabbing coffee and talking about where they’re from and what they do. I am at a table with five PCA guys and three SBC guys (myself included). Conversations are already begun with regards to what God is doing in their respective ministries and church plants – hard things, good things, attempts to fill a void where the Gospel needs to penetrate the culture. So many of these men have sought to plant a church because, although there are plenty of churches, they are not seeing those churches reach their neighbors with life-transforming truths.

    Scott Thomas (Acts 29 Network) and Mark Reynolds (Redeemer Church Planting Center) welcome us and let us know that the tight quarters we are in should help us appreciate the nature of the city and dwelling close together. They remind us that there are only 400 registered participants.

    This is going to be an integrated, learning experience. I can already see that this is going to be very different than any other conference I have been to. That is, we are not going to just sit and listen, but we are going to interact with each other.

    Tim Smith leads us in singing. We start with “Come, Ye Sinners” with a slide guitar, then “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” finishing with “Man of Sorrows.” The last song was particularly interesting because I could sense the congregation wanting to sing it in the original tune (it was a new rendition that was quite different). At first, I must admit, I was a little uneasy about trying to sing this song I love so dearly in a new key. After the second verse, however, I found myself appreciating the words afresh. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we will and should sing a new song. We begin to appreciate the words more and have a greater tendency to want to mean them when we sing them.

    2 Comments

    Filed under Books & Media, Culture, Current Events, Dwell Conference

    dwell-ing a little late

    I am in the airport right now on my way home to Louisville. I had plans of live-blogging the dwell conference in New York City but could not find a wi-fi spot. Actually I found one, was given a code, but it did not allow me on the network. So consider these next posts as not live (of course) for you, but consider it live as I was writing it. Different than other fellows who have live-blogged, these posts will be pretty dense. Consider them notes from a friend. After I post these notes, I plan on writing my reflections on the conference – what it means for the mission of the church (macro-level) and what it means for me (and you; micro-level).

     

    For those of you who just want a general de-brief of the conference and will not be visiting my posts over the next few days I can offer this: The conference was very helpful due to its intimate nature. There were only 400 people in attendance. I think other conferences would do well to limit their numbers so that praxis can be pushed through dialogue with others – as opposed to thousands of folks. Because the attendees were few, I felt that I had time to get involved with questions of individuals all over the country about what they are doing and their vision for their ministries.

    The format of the conference was conducive to this kind of interaction. We sat at tables of ~10 people and had to discuss the message immediately following the delivery. Additionally, we had to generate a question for the speaker to answer in a Q&A session. This proved to be helpful us as we honed each other’s questions and were spurred on toward new questions with more precision.

    My next few posts will be more like notes that I took at the conference. Imagine them as live blogging that got caught in a time warp and are just being delivered. Enjoy. I pray these are helpful and will start some good dialogue regarding church and mission.

    Leave a comment

    Filed under Culture, Current Events, Dwell Conference