Pete Scazzero (EHS) and Pastor Rich Villodas (Lead Pastor, New Life Fellowship) speak about a recent leadership conference held at New Life Fellowship led by Dr. Robert Mullholland.
At a Fuller Theological Seminary event I attended last week, a student from the Congo named Patrick asked an Anglican bishop, “How do you forgive those who have killed a member of your family?” The bishop answered, “It is very difficult.” In a private conversation afterwards, I asked Patrick, “Were any of them Christian?” “Yes,” he answered, “But they were of a different tribe.” This put my forgiveness struggles in perspective. Robert Muholland, a theologian and retired New Testament professor of Asbury Theological Seminary, recently said at our New Life Leadership Conference that forgiveness is the most difficult spiritual discipline. I think he is right. I have not thought of forgiving others as a discipline like prayer, Scripture study, worship, etc. This is a fresh nuance for me. It can take weeks, months, even years to forgive certain hurts done to us. The deeper the relational investment, the deeper the wound. Every leader in God’s church I have. Read more.
This comes from Archbishop Oscar Romero who was killed in his church in El Salvador by a right-wing death squad on March 24th, 1980 out of his commitment to the poor. It expresses my prayer for Rich and NLF as we prepare for his installation on Sunday. A Future Not Our Own It helps, now and then, to step backand take the long view.The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction ofthe magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.Nothing we do is complete,which is another way of sayingthat the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said.No prayer fully expresses our faith.No confession brings perfection.No pastoral visit brings wholeness.No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.No set of goals and objectives includes everything. This is what we are about:We plant seeds that one day will grow.We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold. 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.
As part of our month-long celebration around my transition, we invited Gordon MacDonald, one of my long-term mentors to speak at New Life this past weekend. He is now 74 years old. Among the many gifts he offered out of his 50 years of pastoral leadership, were his reflections that a deep, healthy church includes people in every stage of life. Every decade, he argued, has a question. Teens-Who am I and who am I becoming? 20’s-What am I going to do with my life and with whom? 30’s-Now that I have all these responsibilities and obligations, how do I manage all these priorities? 40’s–Am I a success or a failure? 50’s –As I move into the second half of life, who is this younger generation that wants me out of the way and how do I cope with the disappointments in my life? 60’s-How much longer can I do what defines me or. Read more.
Geri and I have led a small group in our home for 25 of our 26 years at New Life. In fact, we begin our next one this coming week. We take a group of 16-18 people, marrieds and singles, and spend an intensive year together. Why do we do it? The answer is simple: this is foundational to being a church where people are deeply transformed. Scripture teaches that both Christian singleness and marriage are sacramental vocations and prophetic. They each make visible the invisible reality of our marriage to Christ and are signs of God’s kingdom to a broken world (See Matt. 19:10-12 and Eph. 5:32). This vision is a far cry from both our secular and present church culture. I am daunted by the number and the complexity of issues bearing down on our people – the sexualization of our culture, dating, pornography, homosexuality, divorce, cohabitation, objectification of people, the challenges. Read more.