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The Future Runs Through the Past: Lessons from History 1

Posted on May 4th, 2008

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 global church history for 25 years. Scott sees the large sweeps of history. The following are my applications for us at NLF and the evangelical church at large today: ( I will give just a few now as this blog is getting long!) First, while Scott spent little time on the desert fathers, our time confirmed for me our need to find a desert spirituality, not as a place of escape but as a means of countercultural engagement in response to the churches’ spiritual poverty. Thus we need to press in on moving our membership and church to a rule of life and calling our people to the riches of contemplative spirituality and the monastic tradition while remaining faithful to evangelism and mission Second, the Bible and theology truly do matter. Scripture has been critical and foundational to the church to combat heresy, twists on the truth, and the church caving in to the wider culture for 2000 years. We too must develop rooted disciples who know Scripture. Third, Jesus started a movement, not an institution. The Holy Spirit is more powerful, creative, and incredible than we realize. Without written NT Scriptures, a plan, a trained leadership, the Holy Spirit exploded through the 11 disciples at Pentecost and penetrated the Roman Empire. We need the church to contain the wine as a wineskin but the wine of the Holy Spirit is what this is all about! What God might be waiting to do if we would be listen to Him?    What might the Holy Spirit be saying to us as the church to break out of old ways in order to follow Him as the church today?

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