We invited two young Franciscan friars from a monastic community in the South Bronx to give the sermon at New Life last Sunday. We interviewed them for 35 minutes at each of our three services. [Spirituality and Simplicity – 10.31.10 from New Life Fellowship on Vimeo.] A Panel Discussion with Franciscan Friars from the South Bronx- As part of our Financially Healthy Spirituality series; Matthew 6:24 While we have been learning from Christians from other traditions (i.e.Roman Catholic and Orthodox) for many years, I was very aware that having monks in the pulpit might push the limits of “acceptable practice” for our interdenominational, evangelical church. It did push those limits outward and we had a few uncomfortable moments. Yet it was well worth the rich learnings for our community. These learnings included: 1. We are to be generous, not judgmental. We really are not the whole body of Christ. God is active and moving among people very different than us, even. Read more.
The church, in the Western world in particular, is in serious trouble. The culture has so overwhelmed us that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the church and the world. Historically, when there has been decline in the church, often new monastic movements have emerged (e.g. desert fathers, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, the Cistercians). I interpret the yearnings of the emergent movement and the younger generation towards the contemplative as a cry for something different, a cry for God. I bring with me a strong ecclesiology. I believe God loves the local church bought at the price of His Son’s blood, and the development of mature, healthy communities is essential for global mission. So, after 4 + years of ponderings, I have written a Rule of Life to pilot in our local, missional, evangelical church. I believe that simply calling people to spiritual disciplines as we have for decades is not. Read more.
One of the great challenges for leadership, and the church in any generation, is to see itself as clearly as possible within the large scheme of history so as to not limit or distort the gospel to a cultural, ethnic, or nationalistic agenda. How do I be a Christian in the 21st century West dominated by pleasure, comfort, money, secularism, upward mobility and in a conflict with Islam that looks like it will go on well-beyond our generation? How do we be the church when nominal Christianity is the norm ? Last week my good seminary friend, Scott Sunquist, came and taught a church history course at New Life on Friday night and all day Saturday. For twenty plus years, I have longed to partner with someone like Scott. He is a PHD from Princeton Theological Seminary, a former IVCF staff worker and now a professor at Pittsburg Theological Seminary. He has been studying and writing on. Read more.