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.
This question was uttered by Gordon MacDonald during a recent leadership meeting at New Life. It has caused me to wonder also: “Might it be true?” He noted three things: Society is unraveling and evangelicalism has few answers. Research studies, like Reveal, seem to confirm that mega-churches do no grow deep Christians. Those who do go “deeper” with Christ often leave. 80% of the quotes in evangelical books are from outside our tradition, i.e. from Roman Catholics and the Orthodox believers. Consider also the following data coming out of recent research studies: Studies by several different organizations suggest that about half of men attending church are involved in pornography (Genung, 2005). A significant minority of self-identified born-again Christians, particularly those under 35, has cohabited, and divorce rates are just as high among born-again Christians as among other groups (Barna Research Group, 2001). An estimated 8 out of 10 youth from evangelical Christian homes walk. Read more.
Where we live impacts us. I have been the pastor of a multiracial, international church in New Life in Queens, NY for the more than twenty five and a half years. It is the soil out of which I see the world and the larger church. Thus, I offer the following trends, or concerns, that I believe we need to carry to God in prayer: Evangelicalism will continue to lose young people in their teens, 20’s and 30’s who are genuinely searching for an authentic transformative experience with God. The issue of same-sex marriage and partnerships will increasingly dominate our youth ministries. We will be very slow to equip our youth leaders and ministries with a well-thought, nuanced, theological response. There will continue to be little interest for Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox believers to learn from one another. Marriage discipleship will remain non-existent or superficial in our churches. The high divorce rate, along. Read more.
This blog title comes from Soong-Chan Rah’s outstanding book entitled The Next Evangelicalism(IVP, 2009). I have given over thirty years of my life to the task of building racially, ethnically and culturally diverse communities, first as an Inter-Varsity staff worker and the last twenty-one here in Queens at New Life. Doing theology and leadership,within this context, has been a rich privilege. Along these years I have often felt the need to write a book about racism, reconciliation, and the church There is no need. It has been written by Soong-Chan. I highly, highly recommend it! The following are a few of my highlights from this well-seasoned, thoughtful work on the challenges before us around the world (and not simply the USA) as we seek to build churches that demonstrate the power of the gospel to bridge race and culture. The white, Western cultural captivity of the church is marked by individualism, consumerism and materialism, and racism. Less. Read more.
Last week I took my 18 yr old and 14 year old to Disneyworld for four lovely days. It is probably one of the least contemplative places I have ever visited, but one of the most fun! The creativity, quality, engineering and beauty that Disney has formed has a definite aspect of the glory of God. All I could think of was how the parades, floats, exhibits, even the rides, reflected the image of God in humans who created and shaped such a unique place. Since there was ample time to wait on my girls during the day, I spent a good amount of time meditating on The Sayings of The Desert Fathers by Benedicta Ward. I was grateful that, after thirty years with Christ, I am finally coming to a more integrated spirituality that can enjoy the fun of Disney out of a place of communion with God. (I did meet people who have. Read more.