One of the wise practices I believe churches (in general, but not all) are taking up in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic is honoring the stay-at-home mandates issued by city mayors, state governors, and even the federal government. I do not believe this is an infringement upon our first amendment rights, nor is it persecution. Persecution would be if the stay-at-home mandate was issued only for Christians (or any religious group, for that matter). Rather, this is something being issued to as much of society as possible, all to protect from the spread of the virus and to help flatten the curve, as we await possible vaccine options to be uncovered. In a sense, we could say there is an aspect of loving our neighbors as ourselves through this practice of staying at home.
With that, churches have typically moved their services to online streaming on Sundays. Or, as in the case of my own church and others, we are recording the service and posting the videos, all in an effort to help ease technical difficulties.
Through all the streaming and videos of church services, what is interesting to note is the rise in church “attendance” over these past weeks. I put the word attendance in quotes because it is somewhat challenging to track this in the time of the Coronavirus, mainly because all one has to do is watch the video for a few minutes and he or she can be tracked as an attendee. Still, the numbers are saying attendance is up quite a bit. Continue reading
I personally love to learn about, think about, read about, talk about spiritual formation. It’s a popular topic today, I understand that. I don’t want to be involved with this because it’s fashionable. Rather I’m drawn to it because of how my life is being transformed.
Spiritual formation, at its foundation, is about the forming of Christ in us by the Spirit of God. Eugene Peterson identifies it as such in his Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. He notes it is “primarily what the Spirit does, forming the resurrection life of Christ in us.”
I believe one key aspect of spiritual formation is the call to slow down. Spiritual formation will be nearly impossible if we are constantly on the run, in a hurry.
We live in a world – both outside and inside the church – that calls us to do more and do it faster. And do it flashy as well.
Christian spiritual formation calls for us to slow our pace. Continue reading
I’m going to go out on a limb and offer something that will seem very counter-cultural within western, American evangelicalism, especially in light of massive church growth strategies over the past few decades.
I do not believe all Christians are called to be disciple-makers.
Ok, it’s maybe not so problematic. But I know it sounds opposed to all we are taught.
How so? Continue reading
Over the past month or so, I have slowly been wading through a very interesting book. I’m thinking that is my motto with everything I read – slowly wading through it.
The book is entitled The Gospel-Driven Church by Ian Stackhouse, pastor of Guildford Baptist Church just southwest of London. In the book, Stackhouse has mainly taken up the task of challenging the more vibrant church of the UK, specifically relating to the newer churches and more established charismatic churches of the past few decades.
It’s not that Stackhouse is not a charismatic, for he is, or I can only assume he is by his words. But he has still taken aboard to pastorally challenge the church in a few areas. Having lived in the UK from August 2003 to July 2006, I am somewhat aware of the church scene in the UK, hence my interest in the work. I came across Stackhouse’s book soon after it was published in 2004-2005, but only read a few pages. Nevertheless, I liked those few words I did read. But I was never able to get back into the book, as I ended up giving it away to a friend.
But recently I re-bought the book and wanted to go through it. And, to my delight, the book has been an excellent read. Continue reading