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10 Awesome Things I Learned From Church As a Kid

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Slightly different from last night:

1. Activities outside of worship services
2. A respect for hymns (yeah, I think hymns still rock)
3. Inter-generational friendships
4. Good Sunday school teachers (they impacted my perspective toward the teaching ministry more than anyone else growing up)
5. Decent kids program
6. Faithful participation of the senior saints (who are now passing away)
7. Children participating in the worship experience (I got the chance to read the Easter passages one Easter Sunday. I could barely see over the podium, lol)

Ok. Seven is all I have at the moment.

Written by missional girl

September 4, 2010 at 1:10 am

Is Maclaren Right?

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Just checked my inbox and read a Leadership Weekly article on the potential pitfalls of too much technology in ministry.  Maclaren writes:

That loss of “real presence” is bad for the church, no doubt. But I can’t help but think it’s also bad for us as pastors and leaders too. Because if our ministry is only virtual, it may be that our virtue is virtual as well. When we can’t get hurt, when we can’t sacrifice, when we can’t share the pain of people in their actual presence and in “real time,” something in us may be getting amputated. Paul spoke of “glorying” in his afflictions for the sake of those he served.

Is he right?

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Written by missional girl

October 10, 2007 at 12:59 am

Southern Baptist Foot In Mouth—Again

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I just received this little blurb in my email from Charisma Magazine about the latest controversy involving my former denomination and a visiting Baptist pastor. This is one of the very reasons why I left SBC behind.

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Confessions of a Bapticostal
I discovered the Holy Spirit’s power in a Baptist church. So why are Baptists today trying to censor Him?

This past weekend I celebrated a spiritual anniversary of sorts. It was exactly 30 years ago last Monday that I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. What was funny about the whole experience, besides the fact that I was an 18-year-old kid with an Afro, is that I was sitting outside a Southern Baptist church when God zapped me.

It’s true. I first spoke in tongues on Baptist property!

“The Holy Ghost will not be censored. He will have the last word in this debate.”

I guess that makes me a Bapticostal. I don’t wear denominational labels, and I don’t attend a Baptist church today, but my Baptist roots go so deep you couldn’t pull them up with a bulldozer. I may act like a Pentecostal when I raise my hands, dance or shout hallelujah, but if you cut me open you’ll see Baptist blood. It runs thick in my family.

Some people think “Baptist” and “Pentecostal” are opposites, so to them the thought of matching the two is like pairing a hippopotamus with a hyena. I don’t see it that way. I never would have been drawn into a Pentecostal experience if I hadn’t been taught by Baptists to read the Bible for myself. Baptists taught me that if the Bible says it, I should believe it. So when I read that Christians in the early church spoke in ecstatic, unknown languages, I figured I could too.

And that is why I am so troubled by what happened last month at Southwestern Seminary, the premier educational institution of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). A visiting Baptist minister, Dwight McKissic—who happens to serve on the seminary’s board of trustees—told students at an Aug. 29 chapel service that he speaks in tongues “in his private prayer life.”

McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, told the audience at the Fort Worth school: “Not all Baptists believe that the gift of tongues went out with the completion of the New Testament. Some of the foremost thinkers and leaders and theologians among Baptist life believe tongues is a valid gift for today.”

He did not give a demonstration of his glossolalia, but McKissic testified that he was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1981 while a student at Southwestern. Said McKissic: “I didn’t even believe in speaking in tongues. I was just going through my regular prayer time. As I was praying some strange words began to come out of my mouth.”

There we go again—zapped by God on Baptist property!

McKissic also criticized the SBC’s International Mission Board for its recent ruling that Southern Baptist missionaries who speak in tongues cannot serve on the field. “I think it’s tragic in Baptist life when we take a valid gift that the Bible talks about and come up with a policy that says people who pray in tongues in their private prayer lives cannot work in certain positions,” the pastor said.

Concerned that more seminary students might become Bapticostals, the president of Southwestern, Paige Patterson, officially rebuked McKissic and announced that his offending sermon would not be available on the school’s Web site. Now, some people are accusing Patterson and the seminary of religious censorship. Others are debating whether speaking in tongues should be “normative” in Baptist churches.

Normative? I’d like to ask Patterson and other SBC leaders a probing question. Shouldn’t we be more concerned with what is normative in the New Testament church than with maintaining a religious status quo? Is Jesus going to measure our spiritual fruit by a biblical standard or by a Baptist standard?

Baptists taught me from childhood that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. And my Bible says, “Forbid not to speak in tongues” (I Cor. 14:39). So why are Baptist leaders forbidding and censoring what the Bible promotes? Are they afraid that the Holy Spirit, who cannot be controlled by committees or religious policies, will misbehave?

I know hundreds of Southern Baptists—including many in prominent leadership positions—who have experienced Pentecost. They pray in tongues in their personal devotional time. They also believe in healing, spiritual warfare, casting out demons and many other biblical doctrines that are not on the list of “approved” Baptist beliefs. Many of them, like McKissic and me, were minding their own business when God invaded their ordered world with the Holy Spirit’s untamed passion.

I am praying that McKissic’s bold testimony—and the subsequent backlash against him—will spark a holy explosion among the nation’s 15 million Southern Baptists. The Holy Ghost will not be censored. He will have the last word in this debate, and He will do what He wants regardless of who owns the property.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma .. Join him from September 27-30 for the Charisma Book Expo at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta. Go to http://www.charismabookexpo.com for more information.

Written by missional girl

September 11, 2006 at 3:06 pm

Mark 1:29-34: A Snapshot of the Local Church

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The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law and the subsequent response of the city paints a powerful picture of what the local church can be in the community in which it is planted. Jesus healed one person and empowered that woman to serve others and what happens? The Word tells us that the “whole city gathered at the door” (1:34). Why? Because they realized that Jesus was there and healing had taken place in that house. Whenever Jesus is allowed to be Lord and Head of your church, there will be healing in the house for the hurting and broken. People will be drawn to you and to your fellowships in all their brokenness and sin-ridden displacement. But this will only happen so long as we live out and preach the gospel of the kingdom and offer the Christ of Scripture and not of our particular denominational or even personal making.

I’m convinced the reason why a number of churches do not grow spiritually or numerically for that matter is because they are not houses of healing for the hurting. Instead they become inspectors, looking for everything wrong with a person before that person is allowed to experience the ruthless mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. I believe there is something in us that is afraid of healing—physical, emotional, or spiritual—because it somehow reminds us that we too are in need of the same touch that the “others” are in need of. Yet, we must constantly remind ourselves that wherever there are hurting people, there also will be the Master, always working through His disciples to share the Good News of salvation with people in desperate need of some good news that will change their lives for ever.

Written by missional girl

June 10, 2006 at 9:59 pm

Posted in Ecclesiology

Fellowship: It’s On You and You and You…

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 POHS: Part III

A Blogger’s Ramble on Fellowship

My following thoughts and concerns are fairly fluid and ever changing so do not expect to make much sense out of them, lol.

I could easily craft this post around the principle that real Christians go to church but I won’t because I simply do not believe that. On the contrary, I believe that since real Christians are the Church, we need to rethink what fellowship is according to the Lord Jesus Christ and according to the Scriptures.

The New Testament is clear on the importance of being connected to other believers. Not only is this a matter of ministering to one another (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35; Phil 2:2-5) but also of maintaining accountability in the faith (Heb 10:24-25). In other words, spiritual formation is worked out here daily as we sharpen one another in the faith to obey the commands of Christ and preach the Gospel. That is the heart of the Great Commission itself (Matt. 28:18-20).

The “Stay Away Saint? syndrome where believers Spiritual formation cannot take place apart from maintaining fellowship with other saints. What is changing is the views of some about whether the worship gathering (i.e. church service) ought to be considered the central point of the week. It is clear, however, that there was no either/or mentality when it came to worship gatherings. Believers continued to meet regularly in the temple/synagogue for public worship (Acts 2:46, 4:1, 5:12, 5:17-21, 5:42) but they also met in homes (Acts 2:46-47; 12:12; 18:7).

There are a number of reasons why folks want to stay home. From my own struggles some Sundays, I have found myself bored by the gatherings. Others complain about the routine of the service or the length of the service as being “too long.? Some did not like the music sang. Whatever the reason, I am convinced that skipping corporate worship gatherings is NOT the answer.

A Christ-follower who has been baptized into the body of Christ can no more try to disengage from corporate fellowship with other saints than I can change my DNA and try to get new parents. In addition, the very nature of the body analogy that Paul makes underscores the complexities of trying to function apart from the corporate fellowship of believers.

True, the building is not the church. The actual worship gathering is not the church. The church is the people and those who you meet on your job or in your neighborhood who are Christ-followers. But if Scripture is to be the rule of faith for the Church, I cannot justify ignoring corporate gatherings. The early church didn’t. In fact as we’ve seen, they had both temple gatherings as well as home gatherings. We are the body and the Holy Spirit works through us individually (via the gifts of the Spirit distributed to each one) to edify the whole body of Christ as well as to make disciples of all nations and peoples.

The fact is that we need each other, especially today with all the technological advances that are cropping up daily. Blogging and instant messaging are fast becoming the cheapest ways to talk to others without having face-to-face contact with them. And there is nothing wrong with that. After all, how many folks who read Paul’s epistles ever met him personally? But the big issue here is that blogging and instant messaging ought not become substitutes or excuses for skipping corporate gatherings where believers come together to worship Christ and honor the sacraments of baptism and communion.

There is nothing like being in the presence of live people who serve the same God and who are supposed to be fulfilling the same mission: the GREAT COMMISSION. More importantly, we are commanded to meet together in the first place (Heb. 10:24-25). We are like restless and helpless babes in the wild if we disengage from some form of gathering because our “needs? are not being met.

Frankly, I had to examine whether or not I was being selfish when I flirted with the “Stayaway? issue. I had to examine if my attitude was so focused on what I could “get out of? the exercise of going to church that I had lost focus of the primary purpose of corporate worship in the first place: WORSHIPING GOD. I believed that I had and decided to repent and change my attitude regardless of where I was worshiping.

I also had to come to the understanding that when I attend a worship gathering, I might be able to encourage and admonish other Christ-followers and receive the same. I definitely believe that, especially after my mom went home to be with the Lord very unexpectedly at 52 in January 2004. I’m not sure I would have survived without the local fellowship I was a part of or without the godly men and women through whom the Holy Spirit ministered to me.

And here is where the power and presence of the Holy Spirit is so important. Because He has baptized us into the body of Christ and because He has distributed spiritual gifts for the edification of the body, our unity and connection is all the more important. I can tell people that I have the gift of teaching or prophecy all day long but if I am never meeting with other saints to allow the Holy Spirit to use those gifts for the edification of others, then it means NOTHING.

Fellowship is a matter of the Holy Spirit working through our connection and communion to do the will of God in the earth. How is the Holy Spirit to operate and draw sinners to Christ through a collection of disjointed body parts asserting their right to “be alone?? There are far too many verses that speak to the power of biblical community and unity to give up on corporate gatherings (Act. 4:32; Rom. 12:5; 1Cor. 1:10, 1Cor. 12:12, 25-27; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 4:3-6; Phi. 1:27;2:1-5; Col. 3:11-14; 1Pet. 3:8,9).

This should not, however, be an excuse to ignore some of the reasons why folks are having problems with today’s version of “church.? Corporate gatherings and house gatherings are not an either/or but both/and for me personally. I bet we don’t have this issue when it comes to the sports gatherings. LOL!

The Church must be the fluid, organic body she was called to be so that we effectively
represent Jesus to a sinful world who desperately needs Him.

Solo Christo

Written by missional girl

November 4, 2005 at 5:07 pm

Posted in Ecclesiology

The Power of the Holy Spirit

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“As in truth, so it is in service. The Church is helpless without the presence and power of the Spirit. The Church never talked so much about itself and its problems. That is always a bad sign. The lust for talk about work increases as the power for work declines. Conferences multiply when work fails. The problems of the Church are never solved by talking about them.”

And then another word on the state of the Church:

“The Church knows quite well both the reason and the remedy for failure. The human resources of the Church were never so great. The opportunities of the Church were never so glorious. The need for the work of the Church was never so urgent. The crisis is momentous; and the Church staggers helplessly amid it all. When the ancient Church reproached God with sleeping at the post of duty, God charged His people with being staggering drunk. The Church knows perfectly well what the matter is. It is sheer cant to seek the explanation in changed conditions. When were conditions ever anything else? The Church has lost the note of authority, the secret of wisdom, and the gift of power, through persistent and willful neglect of the Holy Spirit of God. Confusion and impotence are inevitable when the wisdom and resources of the world are substituted for the presence and power of the Spirit of God.”

Those words were written by the great Holiness preacher Samuel Chadwick originally published in 1937.

I was prepared to offer some more thoughts on eMerging versus emerging but after praying and asking God about it, I felt that the subject of spiritual transformation and what might be “missing? from our Church today was where the Holy Spirit wanted me to go.

The diagnosis that Chadwick had for the Church of Jesus Christ in his day is as relevant now as any other word that has come forth about the state of the Church and her powerlessness.

I could say a great deal about the issues that certain segments of the Church are struggling with but I am convinced that the answer to make disciples as our Lord commanded lie not in conferences but in remembering the third Person of the Trinity.

Whether you are a ministry trying to reach Millenials or a traditional church struggling with how to minister to the thirtysomethings in and outside your fellowship, the answer is following the example of our foreparents in the book of Acts.

When I read the Acts of the Holy Spirit, I see several things that would serve the Church well as we break through to fresh ways of presenting the Old Story of God’s Grace in Christ to a world that desperately needs it.

Without conferences every week, the Internet, podcasts, Bible colleges, multiplexes, a bazillion Bible translation or PowerPoint slides, the early church preached the simple gospel of Jesus Christ, were willing to die for it (and did on numerous occasion).

In all that, they were led by the Spirit in tangible ways that are clear for all to see. And that might be the problem we are having. Just like Chadwick noticed in his day, the problem of relegating the Holy Spirit to the dusty corner of creeds or theology books has been a storied problem throughout the Church.

I have seen grown men and women cry streams because of the lack of power in sermons. Their tears are understandable but need to focus more sharply on the real problem. The issue is not a lack of power in sermons but in the people doing the preaching.

We have settled for conferences and “how-to? books from reputable sources. We rush to apply what we have learned only to find ourselves registering for another conference because the last fix “didn’t take.? In an age where we can download the latest information or news with our iPods, we also run the risk of trying to turn our walks with Christ into e-Discipleship exercises.

There is simply no such thing and there are no shortcuts or magic formulas for walking in the power and presence of the Spirit. Over the next several days, I want to share some of my convictions about the power and presence of God that I really hope someone, even if it’s just one person, will be able to apply.

In His Grace 

Written by missional girl

October 25, 2005 at 4:49 pm

Posted in Ecclesiology

Dream Church

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Apart from marrying the man of my prayers and having children, the most prominent thoughts that meander through my head are about the Church. What kind of church or local fellowship do I dream of and see being used in today’s cultural matrix?

The centrality and reality of the Incarnation and Cross of Jesus Christ must permeate every fiber of my being as a believer, leader, and visioneer. This means that preaching and teaching topics will have a focus: the glorification and worship of God. A few years ago, it finally dawned upon me that the best way for the Christ follower and the church to make disciples was to be disciples in their midst. Bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ without the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ is a sham. Leaders especially need to focus as much on followership as we do leadership. As we do that, the presence of the Living Christ will work through us and draw people to the Cross.
 The centrality and reality of the Incarnation and Cross of Jesus Christ must also define and empower the very life of our church. Without the presence of Jesus driving us and the Word of God as our foundation, we are nothing more than a country club dressed up in religious jargon. That is no way to live.
 Live simple, not ascetically or extravagantly but simply. That means we won’t be teaching people how to “get wealth? and try to put a Christian spin on it to make it more doctrinally palatable. I believe in living simply and will seek to both model and teach this approach faithfully because I believe it is biblical and makes our lives a lot easier and less stressful on some levels. That God wants us to lived blessed lives is biblical only so far as it allows Him to define what “blessed? is.
 There are NO “Lone Rangers? in ministry. Pastors and elders will work together to govern the church of Jesus as God has ordained in His holy word. In addition, those in the five-fold ministry are called by the Spirit to equip the saints for ministry. We will not be killing ourselves doing everything while gifts and talents rot in the pews and stink up the joint.
 Intercessory prayer is an absolute necessity–for the entire community. Prayer for our leaders and their families as well as one another is key. But there is something else. Pray for your city. God is going to set the city on fire with His Spirit. What will we do to be a part of that? We must understand our city and present the truth of Jesus and His Word in ways that are relevant for where the people of our community are. It is such a diverse place that we might—no we WILL struggle initially to define exactly who we are to go after. But God will sharpen our vision
 GIVE, GIVE, GIVE! We need to support other churches as best we can. The spirit of giving and not hording must reign so that the kingdom of God and the gospel of Christ are spread to the entire world.
 The building is not the church; the people who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are the Church. Meeting places are fine but when you spend more money building multiplexes instead of people and the work of ministry, then there is a problem. Part of me fantasizes about having a mobile format where you drive a bus into a neighborhood, pitch a tent, and preach. Talk to the people. I would always think about that when I was living in Washington DC. And offer the folks some food while I’m at it!
 De-emphasis on altar-driven evangelism and more lifestyle. I believe that one of the worst things to happen in the last one hundred years of the Church is the obsession with and focus on “altar calls? similar to those that you would see at evangelistic crusades. While I have no problem giving anyone the opportunity to come forward during a service, there must be a lifestyle of bringing Christ to men and women just the way the early church did. That is really one of the main reasons why the church grew so quickly; they didn’t wait until synagogue meetings to compel people to Christ. They lived the message everyday in the workplace and in their neighborhoods.
 The ultimate aim of the assembling of ourselves together is to glorify God. Glorifying God involves an experience where everything—preaching, singing, prayer, giving, call to discipleship—-honors God as subject and object.
 All the gifts of the Spirit are welcomed and embraced. It’s pretty scary to tell the Holy Spirit which gifts we champion the most and not hinder His work among believers and in the world. The bottom line is that we need ALL that is available to us in Christ to mature in Him and to fulfill the Great Commission.
 

Reclaim the arts for the kingdom. My New Testament professor required a creative response for every exegetical paper he assigned. With literary leanings of my own, I normally wrote a poem at the end. Why can free stylers (a rapper) free style for Jesus during a worship gathering? No good reason. I dream of being able to reenact or re-present the stories of Jesus in play form. I also dream of reading through the Scriptures publicly using Eugene Peterson’s The Message. It lends itself to dramatic presentation and it’s easily understandable.
 We need to kill the seeker sensitive versus traditional arguments for “doing church.? We are asking the wrong damn question. The question is not whether churches are seeker-sensitive but whether Christ-followers themselves are seeking seekers. Get that straight and you’ll cut half the dialogical bull trying to pass itself off as authentic ecclesiology.

Written by missional girl

September 17, 2005 at 5:45 am

Posted in Ecclesiology