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Month: April 2008

Understanding Our Western Story

The three sessions from the Living at the Crossroads: Church & Mission conference are now up for download.  At the sessions we received a packet of all the PowerPoints to go along with these, I'll ask Dr. Goheen if we can release those. Here they are:

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Also, there are three gospel stories by David Fairchild, Jeff Vanderstelt & Caesar Kalinowski, visit the conference session archives.

Living at the Crossroads: An Introduction to Christian Worldview

livingatthecrossroads.jpgFor those of you interested in learning more about how living in the Western Story impacts your Christianity, I'd encourage you to pre-order Michael Goheen's book Living at the Crossroads: An Introduction to Christian Worldview.  The sessions he did at the Church Bootcamp caused a room filled with church planters and ministry leaders to feel overwhelmed with the tensions we live in.

Description: How can Christians live faithfully at the crossroads of the story of Scripture and postmodern culture? In Living at the Crossroads, authors Michael Goheen and Craig Bartholomew explore this question as they provide a general introduction to Christian worldview. Ideal for both students and lay readers, Living at the Crossroads lays out a brief summary of the biblical story and the most fundamental beliefs of Scripture. The book tells the story of Western culture from the classical period to postmodernity. The authors then provide an analysis of how Christians live in the tension that exists at the intersection of the biblical and cultural stories, exploring the important implications in key areas of life, such as education, scholarship, economics, politics, and church.

The Western Story & Evangelism

Thoughts from Living at the Crossroads: Church & Mission with Michael W. Goheen. 

"One of the reasons we have to create evangelism programs is that no one is asking us questions such as, "What is the reason for the hope within you", "Why do you live so differently" or "Why do you love the poor, provide service widows and care for prisoners?" Our churches are so rooted in the Western story that would our neighbors think if we had Jesus removed from our life that our treasure would be removed? Or would they think it would be a small loss in relation to how we live seeking to pursue the American dream along with the rest of our unbelieving neighbors?  In Acts and the early church evangelism was built on questions because of the radical alternative way Christians lived."

Monk Development v2.0

monk-development.jpgMonk Development's corporate site was starting to show it's age and I'm glad I can now show off the redesigned site!  Designed by Designwise with rebuild help by our friend Kyle Sollenberger .

About Monk

Monk Development creates web-based Content Management Systems from the ground up around best-of-class technologies.  We service our clients with our design network to build award winning websites.  Our solutions are used by thousands of individuals, organizations and corporations around the world.

Monk Development began in 2004 in a home office and has since grown to now employ nearly 20 people.  In 2007 we opened development offices in South Africa.  All along we have been able to grow through being a profitable company, investing back into creating the best suite of products and services for our clients. This is is because clients are viewed as partners at Monk Development.  We are committed to create comprehensive solutions to achieve their business goals.  We recognize that our clients success online is critical to the ongoing achievement of our organization.  

Church Websites & CMS

Monk Development is pleased to announce that our design partners continue to demonstrate excellence in their field. Here are a few of the recent church websites and the recognition they have received.

City of Grace

City of Grace smCity of Grace is a multi-site church in Arizona. Currently they have sites at Mesa & Scottsdale but several more are planned. Here are a few of the awards and recognition this site has received:

The City of Grace site was designed by Church Plant Media.

Several of our design partners continue to demonstrate their exceptional ability to serve church clients. Here are a few of our partners award winning sites:

I know I'm leaving out many excellent church designs & designers.  These are just a few samples from the nearly 50 design companies that have used Ekklesia Church Website & CMS to serve their clients.  I'm excited to see where things will go.

Western Confession of Faith

A couple weeks ago, Kaleo hosted a conference Living at the Crossroads: Church & Mission. At this conference, Michael Goheen spent three days helping us understand the current cultural story we live in. The Western Story that we live in is rooted in the faith of progress propelled by reason and science. Our educational, governmental and political systems are built on these notions.  I became overwhelmed with the tension that was presented as it became clear how immersed I am in the American story, with much of its foundations in direct contrast to God's story.  We have drunk from this story so deeply that it defines us.  Goheen presented this story's belief system and faith assumptions (examples: the more goods we have, the happier we will be and if we let the market be free for the economic self-interest of individuals then it will guild us to a better future for all (Adam Smith's ‘invisible hand').  One quote that he gave was a confession of faith based on the beliefs of the West (again science, progress & technology are not bad things but we make them ultimate things).  

Western Confession of Faith

I believe in Science Almighty. I believe in the power of human reason disciplined by the scientific method to understand, control, and change our world.

I believe in Technology and a Rational Society, its only begotten Sons which have the power to renew our world.

I believe in the spirit of Progress. I believe that a science based technology and a rationally organized society will enable me to realize my ultimate goals – freedom, happiness and the comforts of material abundance.

I believe in economism. I believe that the abundance of consumer goods and experiences and the leisure time and freedom to consume them will make me happy. To this I commit myself with all my money, time, energy and resources. Amen.

I preached a message based on these ideas (What Story are You in) asking if we are more shaped by this story than Gods.

Total Church North America Conference

Save the dates of August 12th-14th.  I'd encourage you to attend the Total Church North America Conference in San Diego, hosted by Kaleo Church.  This will not be your typical conference and will radically benefit those who attend so they can walk away changed and refreshed to do mission.

 Total church is a way of thinking about church and mission in the 21st century which sees the local Christian community as integral to Christian living and Christian mission. The Christian life is 'total church' – our identity is communal. The first Total Church was held in Sheffield, UK, in 2007 at the end of October, hosted by the Crowded House.  The conference is named for the book, Total Church -A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community which will be released in the Fall in the US. 

Further Reading:

Total Church Post by Tim Chester (co-author) 

Total Church quotes by Steve McCoy

Total Church review by Mark Moore

More information to come… 

Alcohol, Acts 29 & the Gospel

 Recently, people visited this blog from the Alcohol, Acts 29 and the Missouri Baptist Convention “Straw Man”? article, which lists me by name. It is a detailed report showcasing the continual reference of alcohol at Acts 29 events. Alcohol continues to be a hot topic but how we handle it communicates volumes to the world around us.  It is critical for us to consider our stance as many people already see Christians as more about what they are against than what they are for.  As I talk to the x/y generations this is often their view of Christians and churches.  Therefore churches that functionally disallow alcohol, dancing, etc. are the churches these non-believers and/or people raised in churches are trying to avoid. 

I find that this is an issue that separates church leaders with a modern mindset vs a generational postmodern (identifying with people that  believe modernism isn't going to save us, not meaning a true pomo worldview).  Why is this important?  People with a modern mentality are able to separate out alcohol from their beliefs, while gen pomo people see things less compartmentalized and seek holistic views and thus alcohol becomes a significant gospel issue.  This means it is more than just drinking beer, it becomes gospel-motivated.  Most Christians hold one of 3 common views of alcohol (see: Jesus Christ-King of the Brews):

a. Prohibitionist: The Bible teaches that alcohol consumption is totally forbidden by scripture.
b. Abstentionist: Although the Bible does not expressly forbid the drinking of alcoholic beverages, the consumption of alcohol in our society is reckless and should not be condoned.
c. Moderationist: Alcohol is permitted for Christians as long as consumed in moderation and in a careful manner.

All three of these positions begin in defeat.  Are we willing to say anything is beyond redemption?

"The church, the bride, is a redemptive community.  We live not only the experience of redemption (I'm redeemed/being redeemed) but also the works of redemption (I'm redeeming).  That's why our mission is both words and works, speaking and doing redemption. And if we are working out our salvation through being redeemed and redeeming, then our response to cultural abuses is not to abstain but to redeem. That not only pushes us to maturity by teaching us how to eat, drink, and have sex to the glory of God (though it won't come easy), but it is also a witness to the world that God redeems.

  • The pervert throws away the pornography (abuse) and learns to love sex with his wife (redemption). 
  • The glutton hittin’ up the all-you-can eat buffet 6-7 times (abuse) and learns to order a salad with light dressing instead (redemption). 
  • The alcohol abuser stops drinking until drunk (abuse) and learns to stop enjoy a beer or two as from God’s bounty (redemption).

As long as we make the issue "abstaining," or retracting from culture, we will miss expressing and embodying redemption.  And I'm afraid the message we will send is that good things can be perverted beyond redemption."  (Taken from Celebration According to the Gospel)

All of this most be done with serious consideration knowing that alcohol is and can often be abused.  (side note: Having attended numerous Acts 29 events, I haven't seen alcohol abused.)  But we are finding if people are living life in our community there is a transparency that allows us to speak into their life if they begin to abuse alcohol rather than prohibiting alcohol so they end up drinking in secret.  To move from a place of being a redemptive community to one governed by our own laws (not God's) produces a much more hidden and prevalent sin of self-righteousness and legalism.  And sadly legalism is far more rampant in the church than alcoholism. 

Suggested Reading: Hello, I am a recovering Legalist

Missional Communities and Contextualization

How do you contextualize in proclamation and demonstration as you launch missional communities/churches?  (Contextualization is adapting the declaration and demonstration of the gospel in culturally adaptable forms, holding to the essence of the gospel at the same time.)  Another document from Soma that they use to equip missional leaders.

Download: Missional Communities and Contextualization (pdf) 

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