Archive for the ‘Missional Church’ Category

1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened this way. While his mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 1:19 Because Joseph, her husband to be, was a righteous man, and because he did not want to disgrace her, he intended to divorce her privately. 1:20 When he had contemplated this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 1:21 She will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 1:22 This all happened so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled: 1:23 “Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” 1:24 When Joseph awoke from sleep he did what the angel of the Lord told him. He took his wife, 1:25 but did not have marital relations with her until she gave birth to a son, whom he named Jesus. – Matthew 1:18-25

Every Christmas season we read these words out of Matthew. We know the Christmas story backwards and forwards, but I often think we miss something very important that comes from this story. This is the story of the incarnation of our Lord. This is not just about the Christ child being born, but it is about God with us – Emmanuel. Think about it…God actually came to live with us. I know that my words are failing miserably to get the point across that I am trying to make, but let me try some more.

Jesus gave us a new paradigm and that is the paradigm of the incarnation. God did not need to send his son. Sure, we have all heard sermons about how Jesus life and death was necessary for our redemption, but we are talking about God here. He could have easily created another means of redemption, but he did not. He chose to come to us. He chose the incarnation. Let’s take a look at the life of Jesus.

1. Jesus came to earth – incarnational birth
2. Jesus ministered to us where ever we were at physically – incarnational ministry
3. Jesus ministered to us where ever we were at spiritually – incarnational ministry
4. Jesus left the earth to leave us with his Holy Spirit – incarnational death

My main point is that Jesus did not come to a church building where people who already believed were gathered. Jesus did not call the people to come to him. Instead Jesus went to us. However, our churches have been using a “come to us” type of ministry for far too long. Jesus never did a “come to me” kind of ministry. In fact, the only times we see people coming to him is when they wanted a specific healing.

What would it be like if instead of building church buildings in the suburbs maybe we should create our ministries where those who are far from God are at. Maybe we should open an art gallery in the bohemian district, a coffee shop near the local college, or relaxation spa near the business district. We could integrate spiritual aspect into the environment and allow spiritual conversations to develop. These new “churches” may look very different, but they would develop new avenue of Kingdom ministry and more people would meet our savior.

Jesus is a savior of incarnation and so must our ministries be incarnational.

Heavenly Father,

We have help up our ministry models as somehow on par with the Bible. We have said you can only preach this way or that way, when we don’t even need to preach to be a real church. Father, give us a new vision to express your ancient Gospel. Help us Lord. Amen.

A Question…

The question is simple. Does the love you have for others look like the love Jesus has for you?

This creed was originally shared at the Emergent Convention, Nashville, May 2004.
By Brian McLaren

We have confidence in Jesus
Who healed the sick, the blind, and the paralyzed.
And even raised the dead.

He cast out evil powers and
Confronted corrupt leaders.
He cleansed the temple.
He favored the poor.
He turned water into wine,
Walked on water, calmed storms.

He died for the sins of the world,
Rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father,
Sent the Holy Spirit.

We have confidence in Jesus
Who taught in word and example,
Sign and wonder.
He preached parables of the kingdom of God
On hillsides, from boats, in the temple, in homes,
At banquets and parties, along the road, on beaches, in towns,
By day and by night.

He taught the way of love for God and neighbor,
For stranger and enemy, for outcast and alien.

We have confidence in Jesus,
Who called disciples, led them,
Gave them new names and new purpose
And sent them out to preach good news.
He washed their feet as a servant.
He walked with them, ate with them,
Called them friends,
Rebuked them, encouraged them,
Promised to leave and then return,
And promised to be with them always.

He taught them to pray.
He rose early to pray, stole away to desolate places,
Fasted and faced agonizing temptations,
Wept in a garden,
And prayed, “Not my will but your will be done.”
He rejoiced, he sang, he feasted, he wept.

We have confidence in Jesus,
So we follow him, learn his ways,
Seek to obey his teaching and live by his example.
We walk with him, walk in him, abide in him,
As a branch in a vine.

We have not seen him, but we love him.
His words are to us words of life eternal,
And to know him is to know the true and living God.
We do not see him now, but we have confidence in Jesus.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a progressive Christian. I know these words mean very different things for different people. So, I thought it would be good for me to define what it means to me and for me.

Progressive Christianity is an understanding of the whole word of God. It is an understanding of the radical nature of Christ message for the whole world.

For example, Christian have not been at the front of the rational environmentalism movement. Yet God says in Genesis 1:26 that we are to be stewards over all creation. Due to the terrible translation contained in the KJV Bible, people felt that we were to have “dominion” over the earth. They thought we could do what we want with it. However, this is simply not what God intended. A progressive Christian understands God gave us the earth as a sacred trust.
Another example. A progressive Christian take to heart God’s call for us to help the widow and the orphan (James 1:27), to help the “least of these” (Matthew 25:34-45). A progressive Christian realizes that works without faith is meaningless and faith without works in not really faith at all.

A progressive Christian realizes that God came to seek and save the lost (Matthew 28:19). This includes all of humanity regardless of ethnicity, gender, culture or any other God created category. A progressive Christian realizes that racism is a sin that gets in the way of God’s plan. We are called to do something about it.

A progressive Christian realizes that God gave us his Word as his divine revelation. We are not to take it lightly, nor are we to try to make it say what it does not say. The Bible has been incorrectly used to justify slavery, sexism and many other forms of discrimination. Yet, God even tells us he loves sinners (of course, sinner includes every single one of us.) A progressive Christian treats all people with the same dignity Christ himself would treat them.

A progressive Christian realizes Christ’s followers worship in many different ways and do not always agree on every detail of doctrine. Yet, Christ did not spend him time giving us detailed doctrinal treaties on the trinity, justification by faith or even the meaning of love. Instead he gave us stories of how we are to live, how we are to treat others, and how we are to love. A progressive Christian lives by the motto, “In essentials unity, in non-essential liberty, in all things charity.”

This is my definition of what it means to be a progressive Christian. I do not claim it is the best or even better than any other. To me it is important both because what it includes and what it leaves out.

I received this question based upon a response I made on another persons blog. It is a great blog I would really suggest you check out call Idle Rambling Thoughts – http://www.whatbox.blogspot.com.

“Hi HumanBean! I’m just curious — this is off topic — if you consider scripture as “infallable” does that mean “literally true” or “spiritually true” — because the definition of “infallable” is questionable, particularly when one considers themselves “progressive”. I’m not being sarcastic with all the quotes, but I’m just trying to understand your views. You can email me if you would rather.”

Here is my response:

I am not sure I would use the terms “literally true” vs. “spiritually true” because I tend to believe it is actually some where in between. Let me explain by using the creation story.

In Genesis we read God created the earth in six days. Some literalist take this to mean God created in six 24 hour periods of time. However, the original hebrew word we translate as “day” does not mean a 24 hour period of time. It really means that God created in six periods of time. These periods of time are not limited in length. In this sense, I take Genesis to be literally true.

Let’s look at another issue in the same creation story. It says God created Adam and Eve. In the original Hebrew Adam simply means man and Eve means woman. So the story is really saying that God created man and woman. It would be wrong to take the story literally and suggest that God only created two people and that all humans came from these two people. Are we to believe the there was a literal Garden of Eden, a literal Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, that a single person named Adam named every single animal? I truly doubt it.

The creation story is God’s way of telling us the magnificent process he initiated and controlled over millions and millions of years to create everything in our world – including us.

Now how does this relate to infallability? For me it is rather simple. When you understand what scripture is actually telling us – not what our modernistic view of scripture lead us to believe it is telling us – then scripture is infallable.

One thing most people don’t understand that scripture is actually many different forms of literature. There are letter, poems, wisdom saying, narrative, allegory, symbolic writings etc. Each form has unique characteristics and must be translated in light of these characteristics. I believe the creation story is largely symbolic, but that does not make it any less infallable. Scripture only becomes fallable when humans refuse to see what God was really doing and saying.

This is why I believe one can see scripture as infallable in the original language and still be progressive in their faith. At some point I will also define what I mean by progressive faith, but that is for my next post.