Ultimate Goal

I went to St. Dominic Hospital yesterday to visit a man named Harlod Roach. Mr. Roach joined Truitt Memorial twice since I have been pastor. He was a missionary to Madison County during the interval time. Mr. Roach and his wife Jan are wonderful people and I always grow when I'm in their presence. Yesterday was no exception.

Mr. Harold helped plant a number of Christian and Missionary Alliance congregations when he was a younger man. He carries with him the Alliance zeal for missions and evangelism. He is now an officer in the Gideons International Organization. He spends most Sunday mornings raising funds to purchase Bibles. Jan and Harold are active in Bible distribution and evangelism through this ministry. God has used them in schools, prisions, hospitals, hotels, and in international locations like Kenya to share His love. They were missional before missional was cool!

During our lengthy conversation yesterday Mr. Harold asked me about our family and Truett Seminary. He then asked, "What is your ultimate goal?" I told him that I wanted to be a good Christian, husband, and father. I then said that wanted to serve a truly missional church. He responded by saying, "There aren't many of those out there. You almost have to start from scratch."

Mr. Harold put his finger on the pulse of the church and spoke truly. We have a two front challenge. 1) Lead conventional congregations toward a truly missional posture. 2) Plant intentionally missional congregations. I'm wondering if there is a way to do these two things at once.

If you have any thoughts I would be appreciative.

Congregationalizing the De-Churched

Brueggemann's constituences of evangelism point to the need for a multi-dimensional approach to disciple making. Ed Stetzer wrote about "evangelizing and congregationalizing" people. Our call is to proclaim, baptize, and teach. I think that Stetzer's insights dovetail with Brueggemann's. It seems to be, "what the Spirit is saying to the churches."

Constituencies of Evangelism

I just finished reviewing Walter Brueggemann's book, Biblical Perspectives on Evangelism: Living in a Three-Storied Universe, for my doctoral work at Truett Seminary/Baylor Univeristy. I found it to be helpful in many ways but was very thankful for his notion of constituencies of evangelism. He says that the constituencies are: "outsiders, jaded insiders, and children-becoming-adults" (p. 12). I think of these as: the un-churched, the de-churched, and the pre-churched. I am wonderding how your disciple-making methods change when you are ministering to persons in these different groups. For example -

How do you share the gospel with those totally outside the faith community?

How do you share the gospel with those that have left the church?

How do you seek to prevent "defection" and its evil twin "false confession?" Can these be prevented?

How do you share with children?

Note: "you" = the church you serve.

Stronger - Smaller - More - Cooperative

Perry McCall joined our family for lunch yesterday. He came to the city from Madden and couldn't pass up fried chicken thursday at Primos. We talked about the future of the church and our congregations. Perry made a statement that I have been thinking about. He said, "I think in twenty years churches will be stronger, smaller, and there will be more of them." I can't help but think that this would be a positive thing. I would hope that these churches would owe one another what Miroslav Volf calles, "sisterly affection" and demonstrate this throuh missional coopertion.

Question -
Do you see the future this way? What would it take to see it become a realtiy?

Society of Siblings

Meredith and I came to the Truitt Memorial Baptist Church in 2002. The weekend I was called to serve as pastor was full of activities and meetings. Saturday night was given to a town hall style meeting where congregants were given the chance to ask any question they wanted. I was literally interviewed by the whole church. One of the theological questions I was asked was about women in ministry. I later found out that a number of church members came from Penetcostal backgrounds that allowed women to serve at all levels of church life, a few even had "preaching grandmothers." I told the church then what I believe now. I think that scripture allows for the full participation of women in ministry. I have never pushed this belief as an "issue" as our entire church can attest. I don't even use the term egalitarian to describe myself. I have not come to this conclusion from a liberal perspective. You may describe it as a Holiness/Pentecostal/Sandy Creek Baptist perspective if you must label it.

In preaching through Romans 16 Sunday night I was called on to share my heart on this issue again. At the very least Romans 16 and a truckload of other biblical passages should give pause to the complementarians that so easily decare "what the bible teaches" on this issue. They can, for sure, offer an additional list that causes me to hold my position with humility. We all should embrace an irenic spirit because this issue is not a matter of dogma.

Charles Talbert of Baylor University (his father pastored FBC Pearl for a number of years) made some comments about this issue that I think are golden. I want to offer them to you for your consideration -

At the same time that one acknowledges the involvment of women in ministry in earliest Christianity, it is important to note that for Paul the offosite of partiarchy was not egalitarianism but something else! Paul's vision was for a society of siblings in which only God was called Father, in which there were differences among members and in which each family member used his or her strengths to enrich the quality of life in the family of God. Within such a family, contributions were not determined by one's sex, one's ecomonic status, or one's race. They were determined by the "measure of faith/responsibility/trust" (Rom 12:3b) God assigned to each. Within such a family, the measure of responsibility assigned by God as a gift of grace was not aimed to enhance the recipient's status but to build up to community. Egalitarianism is based on rights possessed, just deserts to be received, and aims at the enhancement of the status of the one who possesses such rights and who is granted such just deserts. The family of God is based on God's gracious gifts to each of His children regardless of sex, status, or race, which gifts are to be used for the enchancement of others. Egalitarianism is based on power! Christian community is based on human transformation by divine agency: on God's enablement of our transcending our Adamic nature.
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