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The Jesus Method

jesus-carrying-manDoing it like Jesus

The church is growing. Souls are being saved, lives are being changed and God is being glorified. The facts speak for themselves. In poverty-stricken, war-torn third world nations, the gospel is being proclaimed and souls are being saved. Praise the Lord! Too bad it isn’t happening in Europe, the United States, Australia and other “first world” nations.

In these areas, it is not so easy to reach people. It requires something different than what we’ve been doing. “Missional” is the new catch-phrase. We are talking about the necessity of “becoming missional” in order to reach modern, well-off, comfortable Americans, Europeans and Australians. I just finished reading a series of articles on being “missional.” One writer proposed the following:

The thesis I would like to propose is that at its most basic level, a missional hermeneutic is concerned primarily with the articulation of questions–questions that we ask of the text–and more importantly, questions that the text may ask of us. A missional hermeneutic should not be characterized primarily by methodology per se–that is, as something akin to, albeit an improvement on–traditional form-, redaction-, or narrative-critical approaches to the Bible. Rather, in my estimation, a viable missional approach to Scripture will involve asking missional questions–fundamentally, questions about purpose–God’s and ours. [1]

Since I understand some “academese,” allow me to interpret. He says, “We Christians should ask ourselves the question, “What does God say we should do?” Then, without getting fouled-up in methods, we should just do what God says.” Simple enough?

I may be guilty of over-simplification but it seems to me that, as the people of God, we would fulfill our mission if we simply learn what Jesus did and do likewise.

The point needs to be made: this is not anything close to complicated or academic. It doesn’t take a theologian trained in missiology to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Go, preach, make disciples, baptize them and teach them.” Here’s the point: we’re not failing to fulfill the Great Commission because we don’t understand it…we’re failing because we don’t want to do it. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. It’s expensive. Can’t we just all “go to church” and get along?

The answer is no. We can’t. Consider all the stuff we’re doing now: hiring preachers (and staff for every imaginable purpose), constructing church buildings, university buildings, schools, hospitals, gymnasiums (a gym by any other name still smells the same), “attending services” (the list goes on). While these may be beneficial on some level, they’re really distractions from the main job Jesus gave us to do. We tend to forget that Jesus and His apostles did none of these things.

Can a hospital, school or gymnasium be used for evangelism? Certainly. But do we really use them for evangelism? I personally know of two instances where the idea of building an expensive, well-appointed gymnasium was sold to the congregation as a means of outreach. As far as I am aware, in neither case has even one conversion resulted from their construction. Who are we kidding?

If we build a gymnasium that has so many rules and regulations that you need a lawyer to schedule its use six months in advance, is that an outreach?

If we build a school that no one can attend unless their parents are wealthy or they get a scholarship or incur life-long debt, is that evangelism?

If we build a hospital that excludes or expels those without adequate insurance or an auto-maker executive’s salary, is that an evangelistic tool?

If we build a building that lost, broken and marginal people feel uncomfortable to enter, is that going to reach the thousands living around it?

So, how’s all that working for us? Let’s take a moment to get honest. Let’s admit that we are doing a lousy job of fulfilling the great commission because we are too busy not fulfilling it.

The Jesus Method means doing what Jesus did. It means doing things as Jesus did them.

Next time: What Is the Jesus Method?

[1] “’Located’ Questions for a Missional Hermeneutic” Accessed November 19, 2008 at http://gocn.org/resources/articles/located-questions-missional-hermeneutic, on the Gospel and Our Culture website.

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Filed under Christlikeness, church, discipleship, Hypocrisy, Jesus Christ, Kingdom Growth, Missions/Evangelism, Preaching/Teaching, Religion, Salvation

Should the Church Apologize?

It seems that the latest fad is for churches to apologize for hypocrisy, racism, the Crusades, burning heretics and generally being self-righteous jerks. Well, count me out.

I well remember, as a young preacher, talking with an older mentor about some complaint I had with the church for which I was preaching. He said, “Dwight, remember that the church is made up of people, and people don’t always act right. The church Jesus built is perfect.”

That set the course for my attitude for the rest of my life. The church need not apologize to anyone. Some folks in the church probably need to make amends and the sooner the better. I may be one of them but I can only speak for myself.

Anyway, who has the authority to speak for the church? The last I checked Jesus is the only head of the church both in heaven and on earth. The headquarters are wherever He is, not some lovely and ancient city in Italy. I don’t think He would take kindly to me or anyone else speaking on His behalf. You guys who are going around making apologies better shut up and repent…you are overstepping your boundaries!

Furthermore, it was not the church that sliced, diced and fried its enemies. It was a political group under the guise of the church but bearing very little resemblance to it. That counterfeit “church” is guilty, but not the one Jesus built.

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Filed under Christlikeness, church, Current Events, Hypocrisy, Jesus Christ, Politics, Religion

So, you don’t like church?

A lot of people are turned off by “church.” My premise for this article is that people are repulsed not by the church, but by something else that bears that name but is not the genuine article. Let’s start off with a few basics.

First of all, the word “church” is a wimpy translation of another Greek word, “ekklesia.” Trust me…a better translation would be “assembly” in some contexts, “community” in others. If you don’t trust me, check it out for yourself and you’ll see I’m shooting straight with you. In the New Testament we learn some solid facts about the word we translate “church.”

  1. It never refers to a building.
  2. It always refers to people.
  3. It sometimes refers to a gathered assembly.
  4. It sometimes refers to groups or communities in regions.
  5. It sometimes refers to all believers in the world.
  6. It sometimes refers to the un-gathered community of the saved.
  7. There is only one ekklesia or flock belonging to God and all the saved are in it (Acts 2:47).
  8. It never refers to a particular denomination (As in, “Which church do you attend?”).
  9. It is always a noun and never modifies another noun (As in, church building, church treasury, church property, church members, etc.).
  10. Jesus built it (Matthew 16:18).
  11. It is God’s household (I Timothy 3:16)
  12. Christ is the only head of it, eliminating any other head…(Ephesians 1:22, Colossians 1:18 et al.).
  13. Christ sustains a loving, nurturing relationship to the church (read Ephesians 5).
  14. It is His body (Colossians 1:24).
  15. He purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28).

The monstrosity we so often see today is a corrupted, human-manipulated, man-dominated, misguided version of the church (ekklesia) revealed in God’s word. In many cases institutions called “churches” are merely clubs. They do not resemble the “church” of the New Testament in description or function. But make no mistake, if you are a penitent, immersed believer, God has added you to his community, flock, assembly whether you like it or not.

The ekklesia Christ built is a perfect concept. We ought to appreciate it for what it is. It is, however, made up of flawed humans (you and me) and will never be perfect in expression. We ought to struggle for what it can be.


Filed under Change Agent, church, Community, Ekklesia, Jesus Christ, Kingdom Growth, Religion, Salvation