Laura and I visited Cincinnati today. I was there a week ago and really sensed a leading from the Lord to seriously pursue planting a church there in the urban downtown area. I blogged about it last week. A wise friend told me recently that when you’re looking to plant a new church, you want to see some tangible evidence that God’s hand is in the project and He is working to pull things together. In light of my trip there today, here are some ways that I definitely see God working. 1. This church plant was being planned before I came along. I was fascinated to find out, while meeting the Cincinnati Baptist Association Director of Missions, that his association has determined inner-city Cincinnati as his top priority for this year. While I was thinking that I would have to come into a new city to start a new…
I recently attended the Campus Crusade for Christ fall retreat for the University of Louisville ministry (where I am currently on staff). Our speaker was Dr. Bruce Ashford, who is a prof at SEBTS. He gave a great talk about how movies are made and what are some key things to look for when watching a movie. He specifically mentioned 9 characteristics that you’re sure to see when you watch any particular movie, because all stories tend to be told in similar fashion. These 9 things are characteristics found in every movie, but could be expanded to common elements in any story that is well told, including biblical stories. 1. Every story has a point. If it doesn’t, its a lame story.
There are several streams of ministry desires that have been in my heart for some time. Some seemed more realistic than others. For example, Laura and I have a strong passion for racial reconciliation, but this problem seems so overwhelmingly difficult that I had relegated it to the “would be nice, but…” status. Essentially, the people that I have spoken with who understand this issue well told me that it would be very difficult for a white man to address the complex issues of black America with any degree of credibility.
The folks at Lifeway have done a very helpful survey of pastors, both Southern Baptist and non Southern Baptist, and protestant laity over the issue of alcohol. This was a scientific study (not a blog poll) where the issues are: do you think its a sin to drink? Do you personally drink? Do you think the consumption of alcohol will attract/detract a person from coming to Christ? I’m glad someone decided to do this study, if for no other reason than to get a good pulse on what the current church climate is. Here’s some of their findings I find most interesting:
The word Contextualization will get you shot in some areas. “The gospel doesn’t need to be contextualized” is the mantra. I definitely recognize the inherent feeling of uneasiness about it because it sure does seem like the gospel itself is somehow being modified to suit a particular audience. But that is not the heart behind proper contextualization. To be simple and to the point: contextualization is best positioning the proclamation of Christ to gain a favorable reception without adding to or taking away from the basic content of it. Here’s the kicker: everybody has a context. This is so obvious that its easy to overlook. Here are some traits of the modern evangelical context, and a brief challenge for each.
5. Pentecost triggers the redemption of language. In Acts 2, we witness the great redemption of speech. The effects of Babylon are unraveled: what was scattered speech at Babel became unified speech in Acts. The Pentecost event signals that the Kingdom of God is advancing on enemy territory and the Gentiles will now be invited into the people of God. The final revelation of God, His highest form of communication has come in Jesus Christ. Thus, Pentecost triggers the Great Commission.
After a few days of reflection regarding the 1o myths of communication, here are some of my conclusions. Language is a vehicle for the transfer of information and meaning, but it does not act alone, hence the term “non-verbal” communication. This present sentence, which you are currently reading, is actually the third draft of this sentence because carefully chosen words are essential for meaning to be conveyed. Let me propose a few Communication Truths that I think are relevant to the discussion. 10. We are accountable for our words.
Makoto Fujimura, is a gifted Christian artist and was World Magazine’s Daniel of the Year in 2005. Francis Schaeffer was, in my opinion, one of the most brilliant minds and cultural analysts of the 20th century. Enter Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with its Center for Theology and the arts.