The first crisis the early church confronted was a crisis of integrity. In the book of Acts, a married couple named Ananias and Sapphira pretend to sell their property and give all that money to the church. The reality, however, was they kept back part of it. They pretend to be something on the outside that they are not on the inside. And God’s immediate and drastic judgment falls on them. The apostle Peter, the leader of the church, sees this lack of integrity as an invasion of the powers of darkness into their community of the Holy Spirit. He knows the power of the Spirit will be quenched without truth and integrity. Thus, he calls it out. I have rushed through areas of my leadership more times than I want to remember. I have avoided meetings I knew would be hard. I have skimmed on truth when it was uncomfortable. I have preferred. Read more.
Can we make biblical, deeply changed disciples of Jesus without learning from the successes and failures of our church family over the last 2,000 years – and from the global church today? The answer to both those questions, I believe, is no. Unfortunately, many of us have a limited, often mistaken understanding of how the church unfolded since the book of Acts. This lack of historical memory has done great damage to our approach to discipleship as well as our leadership. This podcast traces the history of Christianity, looking at the two great splits (in 1054 and 1517 A.D.) and how this has impacted us in evangelicalism today. I conclude with two simple, but profound, applications: 1. Be a humble learner. We have so much to learn from our brothers and sisters who have gone before us, especially those who are very different than us. We also have so much to learn from the. Read more.
I love our evangelical stream in Christian history and would not be here writing or leading without it. Yet our emphasis on activity, now joined by the speed of change around us, has resulted in Christ-followers and churches without much depth. We need to learn about slowing down for loving union with Christ in a way that is powerful enough to transform us – and the people we serve. This requires we travel into different territory outside our tradition as evangelicals/Protestants and learn from church history and other Christians very different than ourselves. Let me invite you to download this free e-book on why church history matters for a discipleship that deeply changes lives in our churches today. It represents the fruit of over twenty years of study and thought. And I pray that the powerful truths on these pages will profoundly change your life and leadership as they have changed mine. Warmly, Pete. Read more.
I have been an avid reader and lover of history since college. And I have learned a lot from Scott Sunquist, a close friend for the past 34 years since our days in seminary together. Scott went on to get his PhD in Asian Church history and missiology, and is now a Professor of World Christianity and a Dean at Fuller Theological Seminary. I recently sat down with him around the question: What are lessons we need to learn today on how the Holy Spirit has expanded God’s kingdom these last 2,000 years? Here are a few of his insights: Look for the life of Jesus on the margins. From Jesus and the 12 in Galilee, to the surprising growth of Christianity among slaves in North America and the Caribbean, to the church explosion among farmers in northern Korea in the early 20th century, to the launch of the Pentecostal movement at Azusa Street. Read more.
Human beings have always been in a hurry. God has never been in a hurry. God waited a very, very, very long time, after Adam and Eve, before He called Abraham. God waited almost two thousand more years before entering human history in the person of Jesus. God (in the person of Jesus) waited almost 30 years before beginning his public ministry. God waited to gather and disciple the Twelve. God waited through his arrest and crucifixion rather than call on the legions of angels at his disposal. From the beginning to the end of Scripture, we discover stories of God teaching his people patience. Abraham had to wait 25 years. Joseph waited between 15 and 25 years. Moses waited until he was 80 years old to begin his ministry. Israel waited 40 years in the wilderness. It was Tertullian (204 AD from North Africa) who wrote that, when the Holy Spirit descends, patience. Read more.
Jesus said we must lose our lives to find it. One essential way we do this is by learning the art of interior silence. This choice to turn away from internal and external noise in order to be with Jesus is work…a difficult work. Externally, we face the unrelenting pressure of our culture– the noise, the clutter, the grasping, the confusion, the distractions, the excessive amount of information – all of which make it difficult to hear ourselves think. Internally, our stillness and silence muscles are weak. As beginners, we have problems focusing attention and facing the normal distractions of body and mind. Just like we cannot simply read a how-to book on running a marathon and run, so we must build up muscle and stamina slowly over time. Maggie Ross, in her Silence: A User’s Guide – Volume 1: Process, argues that the tradition of silence was handed down unbroken from the time. Read more.