Archive for October, 2010

Oct 13

What is the Mission of the Church?

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Recommended Link,The Church

That’s an important question. We’re called to do many things, but what is the one thing that informs and makes sense of every other thing we’re called to as Christians and as the church?

Yesterday, Kevin DeYoung posted an article written by Ryan Kelly about the word, “Missional.” In this post, Ryan follows up on his recent round table discussion with pastors Greg Gilbert and Kevin DeYoung on the subject of the mission of the church. Ryan argues for the centrality of gospel proclamation if all of the Church’s doing and helps clarify the relationship between showing mercy in tangible ways and sharing about Mercy in Jesus Christ, between offering help in this life and telling persons about the only Help for life eternal.

Ryan offers three suggestions to help inform the ongoing conversation concerning “the vocabulary and content of the church’s mission.” I’ll paste them here, along with highlights from each explanation. However, don’t waste your time reading it here – go to Kevin’s blog and read the entire article.

1) Insisting on a definition of missional or asking for specifics of one’s view of the mission is not curmudgeon fundamentalism—it’s still needed.

…There are a few take-aways here. 1) Those skeptical of the term missional should give the benefit of doubt about another’s definition until there’s reason to be concerned. The term itself has no necessary bearing on gospel fidelity. 2) Conversely, those who identify themselves with the term missional should be gracious and eager to clarify when another asks him what that word means. I’ve seen too many young pastors get bent out of shape simply for being asked what missional means to them. That’s silly. 3) We should all strive to avoid repetitive empty vocabulary, and instead make pains to be clear about what we think the church should be doing. Again, this is a good discussion if we navigate it openly and graciously.

2) Especially we younger evangelicals have to give a more sober and careful hearing to our fathers in ministry when they warn us with historical examples of when the church’s deeds eclipsed, or became, her gospel.

….Read Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism every five years. Read the work of George Marsden, especially Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism, which chronicles the missteps of both fundamentalism and left-wing evangelicalism in the last century. Surely we don’t think our generation or our camp is so sharp, so vigilant that we are above repeating such mistakes. So perhaps we young, mission-impassioned, ambitious types need to do a little less eye-rolling and a little more prayerful listening when others—especially those more historically astute and/or experienced—seem more cautious and suggest more careful nuance about the relationship between deeds and gospel.

3) Partly influenced by the need to protect the gospel, but mostly based on the Bible itself, it seems to me that there is warrant for prioritizing gospel proclamation over other important commands Jesus gives his followers.

  • While Jesus healed and fed, the gospel accounts culminate with the disciples’ commission to proclaim and make disciples. This doesn’t mean that this is all they are to do, but “famous last words” do seem particularly noteworthy, especially when they are quadruply given.
  • The book of Acts not only begins with another such commission (1:8), but continues with dozens of preaching/conversion stories to makeup a rather overwhelmingly consistent theme.
  • Paul insists that the facts of the gospel weekend—Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection—are of “first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3). Those who want to have social and cultural issues right alongside the gospel have to provide a satisfying explanation of what Paul meant here if he didn’t see any priority. I, personally, haven’t heard one yet.
  • The word “gospel” implies that there’s a message—a message which must be proclaimed. As Carson recently wrote: “…the very nature of announcing or proclaiming (good) news—whether ευαγγελιζω or kηρύσσω—is that words are the primary medium. What we might call the logocentrism of Scripture is massively reinforced by the nature of the gospel itself: it is news, good news, to be proclaimed.”
  • There are some very good NT scholars who have written on the mission of the church and have rather consistently put the emphasis of the church’s mission on its proclamation (e.g., KostenbergerO’BrienPlummer). As I’ve already noted, this seems to be a growing consensus among some of the most prominent missionalleaders as well.
  • Most agree that good deeds are, in part, validation of the gospel message to unbelievers. But by nature this sets up some kind of priority: the validation of a thing cannot be greater than or completely on par with the thing itself.

Again, visit Kevin’s site for the whole article.

Oct 11

Questions about Giving Money (Clarus 2010, Q&A Grudem/Alcorn, Part 3)

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Clarus 10

This post is the third in a series of six from Ryan Kelly’s Question and Answer discussion with guests, Wayne Grudem and Randy Alcorn at Clarus 2010 (Part 1, Part 2).

Where can we go to learn about radical sacrificial love? How much should Christians give?

How should Christians speak with one another about giving habits?

Oct 8

Follow-up to Sunday’s Sermon: Like Father, Like Son

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Follow-Up

If we were to survey a group of Christians with the question, “What is true religion?”, most of us would not be satisfied with the answer James gives in James 1:27: “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” That’s social gospel moralism. What of the cross? What of faith?

In the message on Adoption Sunday we zeroed in on the orphan part of that verse to understand how we come to care for orphans and how this description of true religion relates to the gospel.

In context, James is speaking about the life of those who have been “born of the word of truth,” who know God as, “Father,” who have received “the implanted word” (1:16-27). So, orphan care is something that happens when we believe the gospel. Orphan care is a part of true religion because this is the kind of thing that we do when we know God, who is, as Psalm 68:5 says, a “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows.” We care for orphans because we are God’s children.

Orphan care includes foster care, adoption, defending the unborn, serving orphans in foreign lands, and supporting all of these things financially and through prayer. We’re not all responsible to do all of these things, but we are responsible to be doing something for orphans in their affliction.

Adopting and supporting adoptions is one crucial way to address orphans in their greatest immediate need: The need for parents.

And DSC’s Adoption Ministry is busy helping encourage, network and support adoptions. At the Adoption page, you will find information about a Bi-Monthly Fellowship for adoptive families and those interested in adoption, adoption related videos, resources for supporting and financing adoptions, and many helpful adoption related links.

Also, if you’re not an adoptive parent, but would like to care for an adoptive family, sign up to become a “Spiritual Grandparent.” Spiritual Grandparents get to know a family, pray for them, eat with them, watch the kids at times, pay attention to the family’s needs and love the children as grandparents would. Contact Jason Mancini for more information at jasonm [at] pmi-nm [dot] com.

On the subject, we are especially eager to recommend a book by Russell MooreAdopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches. Also, Dr. Moore recently published an excellent post about orphan care at his blog, Is The Orphan My Neighbor?

Orphan care does not define us, but it does identify us as those who belong to our orphan loving Creator, and it provides the world with a category for the adopting love of God in Christ, who bore our afflictions and carried our sorrows that we might call God, Father.

Oct 5

DeYoung, Gilbert, and Kelly on the Mission of the Church

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: The Church

Kevin DeYoung, Greg Gilbert, and Ryan Kelly were recently featured on The Gospel Coalition blog discussing the mission of the church. In this round table discussion, they work to clarify the relationship of the gospel message to deeds of mercy.

In a recent message, “Summarizing Luke: The Man, The Message, The Mission,” Ryan addressed the question of the church’s mission at greater length.

Oct 1

Questions about Spending Money (Clarus 2010, Q&A Grudem/Alcorn, Part 2)

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Clarus 10

This post is the second in a series of six from Ryan Kelly’s Question and Answer discussion with guests, Wayne Grudem and Randy Alcorn at Clarus 2010 (Part 1).

Do Christians have a responsibility to avoid certain businesses?

How should Christians spend money on entertainment and leisure?