Indeed, our faith calls us to action and accountability as God’s people. The Old and New Testaments of the Bible express a preoccupation with justice. For example, biblical teaching found in Isaiah, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression” and Hebrews, “… remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” are just two examples of the ancient Judeo-Christian witness to a God with unwavering commitment to justice.
A REFINING FIRE
An Alliance church in Olympia, Washington, endures hardship and places the needs of its community above its own.
When Pastor Tim Heffer and his wife, Meg, of Hidden Creek Community Church in Olympia, Washington, were returning from a short-term missions trip to Bosnia in 2009, they had one thing on their mind: SEEDS.
The frantic holiday season typically drowns out the beginning of the new year. You might make a new year’s resolution, say a prayer of thankfulness to be done with the last year, or jot down a few things you’re looking forward to. Most of us kick off the year as exhausted and frantic as we ended the last one. Our culture drives us to move from one thing to the next without giving thought to the events that just happened. When we do this, we never engage the happiness, pain, fear, or struggle with our hearts or minds—our bodies are simply moving through it.
“Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:13–14). So wrote Paul, though he was quick to point out that he was not feathering his own nest. He told the Corinthians that he personally was not after any remuneration, only that the church should financially support the work of evangelists generally.
This is the third primary commitment of a missional-incarnational church’s infiltration of society. If the church is living an intriguing new lifestyle that is so marked by goodness that it makes the gospel attractive, then to truly be effective it follows that this lifestyle must be lived in close proximity to not-yet-Christians. Paul took this seriously in his mediation of the Corinthian factions that had split over the issue of eating food offered to idols (1 Cor. 10:27–11:1).
Christian leaders wonder how they might engage in reconciling conversations around injustice, social, and public concerns. They desire a humble, humanizing, and respectful approach that opens the door to reconciliation. Many are looking for a way that transcends human nature and allows the Holy Spirit to work.
The more accumulated time I spend in Scripture, the more I read history, and the more I observe as I grow older, the less confidence I place in my perceptions of how things appear at any given point.
In this podcast, Pete Scazzaro expands on the third quality of a church culture that deeply changes lives: beneath-the-surface discipleship. In a church culture that deeply changes lives, no one assumes people are maturing on the basis of activities such as church attendance, small group involvement, and serving. Instead, they understand maturity is the fruit of the slow, hard work of following the crucified Jesus.
In part 2 of this series on six marks of a church culture that deeply changes lives, Pete explores integrity in leadership. When we have integrity in leadership, we do not pretend to be something on the outside that we are not on the inside. Pete looks at integrity as a continuum, examines what it means to guard the integrity of the ministry or family we lead, and finally offers a few pointers on practical ways to raise the level of your own integrity that will inevitably impact those you lead.
In this Podcast episode, Pete explores the first and most important characteristic of a church culture that deeply changes lives – a slowed down spirituality. This is a church culture where people refuse to allow a hurried world to set the pace for their lives but instead live by rhythms that are slower and more deliberate. They set aside time each day to immerse themselves in Scripture, silence, and solitude, which are foundational practices for their communion with Jesus.
So as an avid commentary reader and one who has made a daily habit of expanding my Biblical literacy, I wanted to write some advice to put you the path to well-informed biblical interpretation. My hope is that you will eventually come to stand on your own and not rely on the interpretive skills of others, even more so, I want you to be able to spot bad interpretation in a sermon, a small group, or in the media. Too often we say to ourselves “that doesn’t sound right,” but we simply don’t know why. Well, read these tips, grab a cup of coffee, and start interpreting.
If the Christian church is to be incarnational and missional, as we believe the New Testament anticipates, and if it’s to abandon an us-and-them mentality, it will need to rediscover the biblical mode of impacting the world around it. The traditional-attractional church thinks about evangelism as sending out church members to share their faith with others and to bring them into the church. But the New Testament writers saw it much more organically.
“People that have never experienced the supernatural power of God will always encounter it in this place because we’ve established a ripe environment for Jesus to show up,” says Merrill Smock, an Alliance church planter in Baltimore, Maryland.
Watch Alliance worship services happening simultaneously all across the globe in 360 degrees!
As someone who helps lead a local church, and as someone who regularly coaches pastors wanting to learn how to lean into this whole ‘missional’ thing, one of the most frequent questions I hear is, “How do I start a Missional Community?”
Our primary job is to try to see where and how God has been working and to partner with him in bringing people to redemption in Jesus. Understanding that all humans are made in the image and likeness of God and in the deepest possible way made for God, we can assume that every human is motivated by spirituality and search for meaning. Let’s let Las Vegas be a case study…
Buildings, budgets and bigshots are the movement killers to the reproduction of churches, leaders and disciples. Recently I was in a pastor’s meeting and many were wondering how their churches would continue. Some were selling their facilities just for survival. Survival is one thing, but reaching a city is quite another.
Here are five basic components for church leaders to emphasize in equipping their members live on mission in community: people, places, proclamation, plan, and prayer.
One way to identify a narrative is by looking at who is missing from our church bodies, or who is uncomfortable in them…and then find out why. The last few years has introduced me to a group often ignored or even shamed in our churches: Introverts.
What does the story of Jesus healing ten leapers have to do with a missionary’s duty? While churches are often ready to applaud missionaries as they run themselves dry, Jesus stands ready to rejuvenate them, take their burdens, and send them on their way.
How will the gospel ever advance among the world’s most resistant peoples? JB, a sent one in Asia, offers his perspective straight from the front lines. His answer? The church–through the unified community of the church the world is coming to know Jesus as Lord.
In this repost from The Upstream Collective, Zach Bradley, the international missions pastor at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, discusses what it means for churches to respond to global terrorism as they send people to the nations in obedience to the Great Commission.
Watch the highlights from the Spring 2018 Greenhouse Environments training intensive.
Back in February 2018, several church leaders met together for a Greenhouse Environments training intensive. Greenhouse Environments is part of the Alliance Southeast’s MIP (Multiplication Impact Process) that is the umbrella initiative that includes Gospel Footprint and Flywheel.
Have you ever heard of The Bible Project? If you have, scroll on down to the next section of this article. If you've never heard of this amazing resource, here's the brief (taken from their website): The Bible Project is a non-profit animation studio that produces...
Watch as Pastor Phil Dvorak explains how Recovery Church in Lake Worth, FL has been tackling the oppressive nature of drug/alcohol/sex addictions in his city for the past 6 years and making strategic efforts to reduce the lostness.
Last spring, I decided I needed to get back into regular exercise. So I invited my national colleague, Célestin, to jog with me several days a week.
We began our morning routine—Monday, Wednesday, and Friday runs—on a route that passes by a forestry camp. We noticed on our runs that a team of camp workers gathered each morning to prep for their daily tasks that include reforesting the barren, treeless areas in our community.
During one run, I got the idea to stop and share the good news with these workers. Célestin agreed.
Some of us serve as lead pastors and/or pastoral staff members of predominantly African-American churches in both the urban and suburban settings. Some of us serve as lead pastors and/or pastoral staff members of multicultural churches in the urban and suburban settings. Some of us serve as lead pastors and/or pastoral staff members in predominantly Caucasian churches as the sole African American on staff. Yet all of us stand on the shoulders of those African-American official workers in the C&MA who paved the way, broke down barriers, and persevered through difficult seasons so we could be where we are today.
Do Christians believe Jesus has an answer for racism and racial inequality? Do we think the Bible provides responses to a world of violence, both domestic and international? Does it involve more than just inviting people to a church service? Of course it does!
“I can’t do what you do,” says the Christian, sidling up to me sheepishly after an evangelism training session. “I’m no good with words.”
The problem is fear. We just don’t fear enough.
When Christians pray, we pray as those who have been freed from praying like the world. We pray as those who first have heard from our God in his word, who have embraced his gift of unsurpassed grace in the person of his Son, and who have no need to earn his favor with our repetition, posturing, and pretense.
Rather, we can ask simply, as children. We can ask profoundly, with new hearts trained on him, not just the things of earth. And we can ask with humble confidence knowing that our Father already knows our needs, and knows them even better than we do, and is even more committed than we are to meeting them in the deepest and most enduring ways.
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Sometimes we preach these truths to ourselves and our hearts aren’t moved at all. We groan, and wish that life was so different than it is (Romans 8:23). We pray and pray and pray, and things only seem to get more overwhelming and more difficult. Sometimes our hearts simply ache with the pain of broken dreams, broken relationships, broken bodies, and broken sinfulness. What can we do?
Those of us who preach have a very important role to play in developing gospel fluency in God’s people. We are called to model being gospel fluent in our everyday lives, but we are also called to equip the church in gospel fluency through our teaching and preaching ministry. So . . . how do we do that?
We talk a lot about being ‘missional’…engaging the culture, and going on the mission of God. And I wonder, is not the mission of God is not only to see people not only reconcile to Himself, but to see diverse bodies of people reconcile to one another as well.
By an Alliance worker couple serving in Uruguay
In previous months, we have hosted 10–15 gatherings in our home, including team meetings, worship and Bible study, and dinners. God is teaching us daily about how to be hosts—not just by welcoming people into our house but also by being hosts of His presence. His Spirit continues to lead us in prayer, guiding us as we walk in our gifts.
After finishing up my morning Bible study several years ago, an idea seemed to just pop into my head: to memorize Romans. Maybe I had a lot of grace that day, or maybe I was a little too sleep deprived, but there on the spot, I decided to do it.
My favorite book on the church and God’s mission is Total Church. I admire Steve Timmis and Tim Chester tremendously and I have learned so much from them. I can say the same for Alan Hirsch, Jeff Vanderstelt and many others that I would consider missional experts.
But eventually I had to stop listening to them.
Christians often perceive that a true missionary calling must be to the other side of the world. For some, this is a reality. For others, their own backyard is their mission field. Situated 30 miles north of Seattle, Washington, Whidbey Island isn’t exactly top of the list for church planters. Yet for Matthew and Stephanie Erikson, this small town is precisely where they were called to be.
I’m an introvert.
Accepting the realities of my God-given personality has been a process of sanctification. I’ve had to repent of people-pleasing and trying to be someone I’m not. I’ve had to humbly acknowledge my limits and weaknesses and to live in God’s strength rather than my own. Ultimately, this process has been about God and his kingdom, not me. The more I rest in his gracious acceptance of me in Jesus, the more free I become to be myself for his glory. And that’s a place where joy and contentment abound.
The Smiths spend most of the rest of their time trying to catch up with “life maintenance”—housework, shopping, paying bills, yard work, running errands, and all the rest. They almost always feel behind or overwhelmed. They genuinely want to serve the Lord in and through His church. They have a good sense of the biblical priorities in life, but they struggle with what often seems too many priorities.
It might surprise you, but in Scripture the idea of calling is not initially a career path we pick, a cause we choose, or a code we use for unlocking God’s will. Biblical calling is, first of all, something done for us. It is God’s summons to the Savior, and to his service.
As an image-bearer of God, how does your work reflect some aspect of God’s work?
Ed Stetzer gives a very honest and insightful article for Pastor’s Families and how to lead as a Father and Husband.
God has imbued each of us with unique passions and desires both within and outside the mantle of motherhood—all for his good purposes.
Distracted, obligatory, ordinary — I doubt any such words came across Moses’s mind as he ascended the mountain. But some three thousand years later, we rarely marvel that God permits imperfect humans into his presence. How did the shocking become so ordinary to us? Is it even possible for our experiences with God to be that fascinating?
In three minutes, Trip Lee explains how he’s seen God’s strength glorified in his weakness. He encourages believers to embrace their weakness and rest in God’s strength.
When the Selfs moved to a new neighborhood, they knew God was calling them to share the love of Jesus with their neighbors. Eight years later, it is evident that hearts are being transformed by the Gospel. Watch the video and see how the Selfs made their neighborhood their mission.
How often do we see prayer as primary to missions? In our desire to fulfill the Great Commission and plant churches, our tendencies may be to rush ahead of God instead of waiting on Him. Sue Danneker, a missionary in Thailand, makes a bold statement: “Proclamation begins with prayer.”
Work is a glorious thing. And if you stop and think about it, the most enjoyable kinds of leisure are a kind of work. Both these facts are true because the essence of work, as God designed it before the Fall, was creativity — not aimless, random doing, but creative, productive doing.
Jesus tells us in the story of the good Samaritan that our neighbor is anyone in need, no matter the circumstances and that we are to show love. The good news for parents is that you have a huge advantage in getting to know and love your neighbors – your children!
The average person will spend about 70,000 hours at work.
That’s a significant part of one’s life, and yet many find themselves lacking joy and purpose in it. We hear people boast about things like vacations and retirement or talk about the value and satisfaction of ministry and missions. All this can leave us sitting at our desk wondering if what we do there matters at all.
Most Christians are aware of the importance of personal reading of God’s word. But just how should our daily Bible reading be done? Are there any guidelines for making the best used of our time and gaining the most from our reading of God’s word? Here, then, are five guidelines that have helped me much over many years of reading Scripture.
Sometimes the hardest part of discipleship is teaching people how to handle the Bible. We know that the Holy Spirit will help us learn as we read, but we cannot ignore that it can be quite daunting and even intimidating. You don’t need a seminary degree to help your friend begin with the Bible; here are a few suggestions of how you can help Bible beginners get started.
Discipleship is not an event…it is an all-of-life, everyday life thing. It’s messy, a little scary, probably frustrating, but the reward worth the challenge.
Chances are you are among the massive majority of Christians who rarely or never fast. It’s not because we haven’t read our Bibles or sat under faithful preaching or heard about the power of fasting, or even that we don’t genuinely want to do it. We just never actually get around to putting down the fork.
We may be passionate in our mission, but we must always lead with humility. This is a good article that helps remind us that we are simply holding treasure as frail jars of clay. Knowledge gained can lead to arrogance. This is true in all areas of life, including missiological thought. A biblical missiology is a humble missiology.
Because we want to make disciples, not mere converts, we need to reconsider standard views of contextualization. It is more than the mere transmission of information. We might grab a lot of people’s interest, but we won’t keep it. Presentations don’t transform people. The gospel does.
Why? The gospel transforms a person’s worldview, not simply his or her doctrine. If this is our goal, then how do we begin to do contextualization?