― Søren Kierkegaard
Seattle and religion. This is a great article by Richard Florida.
As we do disciplined thinking about why Christ died, think through this.
In Mark 11:12-19 we have the account of Jesus clearing the Temple. As you read, imagine being there and observing what is happening. What is Jesus angry about? What does this mean? Here are some reflective thoughts/questions:
Reflection: "I sense my life is cluttered with things that distract me from connecting with God on a more intimate level. What things do I need to clear out of my life? Am I really willing to declutter my life? Am I willing to simply pray and wait upon God? Am I caught up in the anxiety of trying to get 'stuff' done?" I will take time to listen to God and meet with God this week."
Prayer: "Lord, clear out my heart. Do what you will, even to the point of 'over-turning' my tables. Remodel my inner world."
On the second day of Jesus' last week, he made pretty clear work of "setting the record straight." He was anything but weak. He was firmly resolute in making a statement about just what God has in mind for his people, knowing full well that in just a matter of days he would die. So, at the end of that day, Jesus left the city for a rest in Bethany (possibly, he stayed with his friends again...). After a display of strength, the Saviour of the world needed a rest.
Today: Read Mark's gospel account: Mark 11:12-19
May this Holy Week be meaningful for you.
Missional Apologetics is dynamic, not static, as will likely be demonstrated by the additions, deletions, and revisions to this manifesto as time and relevance demands.
I am grateful Washington state has taken a tough stance on Trafficking. There is much more work to be done. All Saints is looking to partner with organizations that want to eradicate Trafficking entirely. Here is a map, and the article to see what is happening across the US.
As a Seattleite, I couldn't be happier for our city. Finally, a team to actually root for. A team that is making some noise in the playoffs. It is really fun for me to watch Seattle really rally around what is happening with the Hawks.
That being said, as a West Coast Pastor, nothing makes me more frustrated. The NFL schedules everything with a priority on the Eastern Time Zone. The "Dirty Birds" (aka, The Atlanta Falcons - at least that is what they were called when the Denver Broncos beat them to win their 2nd straigtht Super Bowl, circa 1999) and their fans aren't worried about a kick off at 10am.
The leadership team at All Saints disussed all the options and we decided to keep things as they are. We are staying with 9:30a and 11a gatherings. We understand that people will want to watch the game and that is fine. We looked at changing gathering times, showing the game at church, and a few other options. But when it came down to it, we figured we will keep everything as it is. If the Seahawks win, next week's kickoff (1/20) won't be an issue for us. Those of you who will want to watch the game should come to the 9:30a gathering next week, just offering that out there.
So, if you are deciding to watch the game, good for you! Call some friends and make it a party. Listen to the podcast later in the week and try online giving, if you haven't done it before.
I am excited about church this Sunday as we look at another aspect of amazing Grace; the mark of a heart changed by grace is a true sense of peace. This peace literally guards your heart from anxiety, it is truly a sweet experience of grace.
See you Sunday, and if not..."Go Hawks!"
We are beginning a new series on the subject of grace. In my experience as a pastor for 20+ years I talk with people daily about receiving and giving grace. I think it is the biggest struggle most people have. It is so powerful to understand, it almost seems unbelievable or unacceptable, but it is!
I love this quote, "I know nothing, except what everyone knows -- if there when Grace dances, I should dance." Yes! We all can have the wonderful experience of dancing in freedom, and losing our bonds by accepting God's FREE gift of grace. We become life givers when we offer grace to others. It is magical what it can do, and did I mention that it is free?! It is not earned or deserved. It is free.
I have been praying my guts out for All Saints Church. I pray that grace will be conveyed to you, because it is so tough to explain. As I look back on my own journey with Jesus, marked by meandering, detours and dead ends, I see what pulled me along was my search and desire for grace. I am not sure how good the Church is at offering grace, but I believe it is the only place where it is found even in small amounts.
I do know that God is big on grace. It has been offered to us in huge amounts, therefore we should give it out in huge amounts. I pray that All Saints is a church that offers this kind of grace to Seattle, neighbors and each other.
Let these words encourage you today:
Amazing Grace, how sweet
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
T'was Grace that taught...
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...
the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares...
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home.
The Lord has promised good to me...
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be...
as long as life endures.
been here ten thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
then when we've first begun.
See you Sunday. Bring a friend, maybe it's grace they need.
Thank you, Andy Crouch for this excellent article. I read an article earlier today with some outlandish remarks made by well known evangelicals. Honestly, I was sickened. Thankfully, Mr. Crouch articulated my feelings perfectly. Please read the article here.
A very good article that you should read. This guy is spot on and without vitriol or shame. I found this in the NY Times.
IT hasn’t been a good year for evangelicals. I should know. I’m one of them.
In 2012 we witnessed a collapse in American evangelicalism. The old religious right largely failed to affect the Republican primaries, much less the presidential election. Last month, Americans voted in favor of same-sex marriage in four states, while Florida voters rejected an amendment to restrict abortion.
Much has been said about conservative Christians and their need to retool politically. But that is a smaller story, riding on the back of a larger reality: Evangelicalism as we knew it in the 20th century is disintegrating.
In 2011 the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life polled church leaders from around the world. Evangelical ministers from the United States reported a greater loss of influence than church leaders from any other country — with some 82 percent indicating that their movement was losing ground.
I grew up hearing tales of my grandfather, a pastor, praying with President Ronald Reagan at the White House. My father, also a pastor, prayed with George W. Bush in 2000. I now minister to my own congregation, which has grown to about 500, a tenfold increase, in the last four years (by God’s favor and grace, I believe). But, like most young evangelical ministers, I am less concerned with politics than with the exodus of my generation from the church.
Studies from established evangelical polling organizations — LifeWay Research, an affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Barna Group — have found that a majority of young people raised as evangelicals are quitting church, and often the faith, entirely.
As a contemporary of this generation (I’m 30), I embarked three years ago on a project to document the health of evangelical Christianity in the United States. I did this research not only as an insider, but also as a former investigative journalist for an alt weekly.
I found that the structural supports of evangelicalism are quivering as a result of ground-shaking changes in American culture. Strategies that served evangelicals well just 15 years ago are now self- destructive. The more that evangelicals attempt to correct course, the more they splinter their movement. In coming years we will see the old evangelicalism whimper and wane.
First, evangelicals, while still perceived as a majority, have become a shrinking minority in the United States. In the 1980s heyday of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, some estimates accounted evangelicals as a third or even close to half of the population, but research by the Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith recently found that Christians who call themselves evangelicals account for just 7 percent of Americans. (Other research has reported that some 25 percent of Americans belong to evangelical denominations, though they may not, in fact, consider themselves evangelicals.) Dr. Smith’s findings are derived from a three-year national study of evangelical identity and influence, financed by the Pew Research Center. They suggest that American evangelicals now number around 20 million, about the population of New York State. The global outlook is more optimistic, as evangelical congregations flourish in places like China, Brazil and sub-Saharan Africa.
But while America’s population grows by roughly two million a year, attendance across evangelical churches — from the Southern Baptists to Assembles of God and nondenominational churches — has gradually declined, according to surveys of more than 200,000 congregations by the American Church Research Project.
The movement also faces a donation crisis as older evangelicals, who give a disproportionately large share, age. Unless younger evangelicals radically increase their giving, the movement will be further strained.
Evangelicals have not adapted well to rapid shifts in the culture — including, notably, the move toward support for same-sex marriage. The result is that evangelicals are increasingly typecast as angry and repressed bigots. In 2007, the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, in a survey of 1,300 college professors, found that 3 percent held “unfavorable feelings” toward Jews, 22 percent toward Muslims and 53 percent toward evangelical Christians.
To be sure, college professors are not representative of the population, and, despite national trends of decline, evangelicals have many exceptional ministries. Most metropolitan areas in the United States have at least one thriving megachurch. In New York City, Redeemer Presbyterian and the Brooklyn Tabernacle pack multiple services every weekend. A handful of other churches, like North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., see more than 20,000 worshipers each weekend. Savvy ministers like the Rev. Craig Groeschel, founder of LifeChurch.tv, are using new technologies to deliver the “good news.”
The pulse of evangelicalism is also shifting, in many ways for the good, from American politics to aid for the global poor, as evidenced in books by the Rev. David Platt, the Rev. Max Lucado and the Rev. Timothy Keller. Evangelicals are still a sophisticated lot, with billions in assets, millions of adherents and a constellation of congregations, radio stations, universities and international aid groups. But all this machinery distracts from the historical vital signs of evangelicalism: to make converts and point to Jesus Christ. By those measures this former juggernaut is coasting, at best, if not stalled or in reverse.
How can evangelicalism right itself? I don’t believe it can — at least, not back to the politically muscular force it was as recently as 2004, when white evangelicals gave President George W. Bush his narrow re-election. Evangelicals can, however, use the economic, social and spiritual crises facing America to refashion themselves into a more sensitive, spiritual and humble movement.
We evangelicals must accept that our beliefs are now in conflict with the mainstream culture. We cannot change ancient doctrines to adapt to the currents of the day. But we can, and must, adapt the way we hold our beliefs — with grace and humility instead of superior hostility. The core evangelical belief is that love and forgiveness are freely available to all who trust in Jesus Christ. This is the “good news” from which the evangelical name originates (“euangelion” is a Greek word meaning “glad tidings” or “good news”). Instead of offering hope, many evangelicals have claimed the role of moral gatekeeper, judge and jury. If we continue in that posture, we will continue to invite opposition and obscure the “good news” we are called to proclaim.
I believe the cultural backlash against evangelical Christianity has less to do with our views — many observant Muslims and Jews, for example, also view homosexual sex as wrong, while Catholics have been at the vanguard of the movement to protect the lives of the unborn — and more to do with our posture. The Scripture calls us “aliens and exiles” (1 Peter 2:11), but American evangelicals have not acted with the humility and homesickness of aliens. The proper response to our sexualized and hedonistic culture is not to chastise, but to “conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12).
This does not mean we whitewash unpopular doctrines like the belief that we are all sinners but that we re-emphasize the free forgiveness available to all who believe in Jesus Christ.
Some evangelical leaders are embarrassed by our movement’s present paralysis. I am not. Weakness is a potent purifier. As Paul wrote, “I am content with weaknesses ... for the sake of Christ” (2 Corinthians 12:10). For me, the deterioration and disarray of the movement is a source of hope: hope that churches will stop angling for human power and start proclaiming the power of Christ.
Simple faith in Christ’s sacrifice will march on, unchallenged by empires and eras. As the English writer G. K. Chesterton put it, “Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.”
John S. Dickerson is the senior pastor of Cornerstone Church and author of the forthcoming book “The Great Evangelical Recession: Six Factors That Will Crash the American Church ... and How to Prepare.”
Roger E. Olson: Against Calvinism
A very interesting and informative read.