I have loved studying church history and global Christianity for well over 30 years. This passion has been fed by my thirty-year friendship with Scott W. Sunquist, a gifted scholar who now serves as a Dean at Fuller Theological Seminary. While God led Scott into PhD work and seminary teaching, God led me to pastor a local church. Yet our different paths, along with our common passion for Christ and His mission, have served as an “iron sharpening iron” experience over the years for us. Scott recently released an important book entitled – The Unexpected Christian Century – that captures some important insights as we consider the work of God today. Consider the following image: The graphic illustrates the following: Christian faith has deep roots going back to Creation and the work of God in Israel over the centuries. What holds The Church together is Jesus (God incarnate who has entered our world as. Read more.
Explore how the 5 Levels of Transformation impact change and leadership in this months Emotionally Healthy Leadership podcast with Pete Scazzero and Rich Villodas. This 13 minute conversation examines learning and the slow process of personal transformation and transforming church culture. Click the image below to watch on YouTube or click to listen to the podcast on iTunes.
How is our trip going? It is a bit complex to give an easy answer, but the following are a few ponderings. 1. We have deep rhythms of silence and solitude that we need to acknowledge. See my previous blog for more on this. What does an “emotionally healthy, global partnership tour” look like? What are the unique factors that have to be built in – at least for us? How does the gift of limits apply to Geri and I as we step into this new arena? 2. We cannot develop and release a movement of EHS abroad – it must be God’s doing, not ours. There is great expectation for the movement of EHS as it continues to spread. We will continue to offer our few loaves and fishes, (Ps. 127) as a mustard seed and let Him take care of the rest. It is a wonder that a number of churches and denominations were. Read more.
Tony Campolo frequently points out that Matt.7:1-5 does not teach “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Instead, it means we are to: “Love the sinner and hate your own sin.” Thomas Merton made a similar point: “If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate those things in yourself, not in another.” Geri and I just completed our 3-city tour in New Zealand (EHS in partnership with the Willow Creek Association NZ). I was particularly struck by the generous spirit of believers on issues that are particularly contentious and divisive in the USA. Consider the following: Charismatic Baptists. While I know of one or two pastors who might identify themselves as such, this is quite common in New Zealand. Women pastors and elders. We met many here on this tour. Learning from the multicultural, global church. The church I preached in last Sunday had 38 nations represented. I particularly. Read more.
Participants came from 17 different countries and 30 states, from the largest church in one state to urban storefronts in another, from the Congo to Germany. What struck me, nonetheless, was how similar we are, and how our struggles in leadership are universal. Three major insights emerged, for me, out of our conference: 1. Sabbath-Keeping as a spiritual formation practice is countercultural and extremely difficult for leaders in all cultures and contexts around the world. It truly is the starting point to slow down our lives. 2. Truth-telling is rare in all cultures. One of our pastors modeled “Climb the Ladder of Integrity” out of the Emotionally Healthy Skills 2.0 curriculum. His public admission, and correction, of a simple lie with a New Life coworker shook the conference. 3. The Western church has much to learn from dialogue with the African, Latino, and Asian churches. I was deeply challenged, for example, by the Liberians. Read more.
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.