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Jesus Doesn’t need Twitter Followers

 

Ce preferi Twiter sau Facebook?

Jesus Doesn’t Need Twitter Followers

By Brad Powell

 

Q: Our church is full of people who claim to be following Christ but refuse to get involved in the mission he gave us. They aren’t doing anything personally to reach the lost, serve the poor, help the hurting or make disciples. They love attending church and listening to sermons, the “deeper” the better, but they do nothing with them. What’s the problem? How do we change it?

A: You’re not alone. It’s a problem we have to fight in all of our churches. I believe the problem stems from a basic misunderstanding of what it means to follow Jesus. Twitter provides a great picture of the problem.

Twitter is built on the concept of “following” people. But to follow someone doesn’t involve changing your life. All you have to do is click “follow,” and it’s done. Then, you wait. You wait for them to deliver some inspired or helpful golden nugget for you to ponder—or not to ponder.

Interestingly, even if you never read any of their tweets, you are still considered to be “following” them. It’s a very passive relationship. There are no responsibilities. There’s no accountability. There’s just a one-time click on a “follow” button. It’s easy.

Sadly, this has become the perfect picture of what following Jesus means to many professing believers and churches. It’s a passive follow rather than an active follow. All a person has to do is say a prayer, get baptized or join a church, and the “follow” button has been clicked. After that, they just wait for inspiring messages to be delivered. Whether they listen or not, respond or not, change or not, they are still Christ followers. It’s easy.

That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. At least not according to what Jesus taught and the early disciples demonstrated.

Matthew 4:19-20: “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”

Luke 14:27, 33: “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple … In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”

Of course, diagnosing the problem is easy; solving it is tough.

If we’re going to get our churches back on mission, we have to get them actively following Jesus.

They can’t just sit around and wait for the next great teaching about Jesus. They need to be actively applying Jesus’ teachings. As James wrote, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

We all face this problem. We sure do at NorthRidge, the church I’m privileged to pastor. By God’s grace, we have seen thousands of people click the button to “follow” Jesus. But we haven’t done a great job of moving the majority of them beyond waiting for the next inspiring talk or service.

To be honest, I think we’ve unwittingly created this dependency. Our services are inspiring and energizing. All a person has to do is be there.

But this isn’t what makes a true or fully devoted Christ follower. That requires activity—receiving something, leaving something, giving up something, doing something. It demands responsibility and accountability.

We want people to know there’s nothing they can do to earn a relationship with God. That requires passively receiving grace by faith. But we don’t want to leave it there. God doesn’t. We also want people to know that, when grace is genuinely received, it leads to good works. This is the clear, two-sided message of Ephesians 2:8-10.

In recent days, we’ve been seeking to significantly change the way we teach and our strategy for making disciples. While we certainly want the people of NorthRidge to faithfully gather, it’s not enough. We want the gathering to “stir them up to love and good works.” We are now refusing to be satisfied with passive Christ followers. We are now aggressively investing ourselves in creating a ministry that, in love, embraces and encourages the tension that comes with challenging people to get active in their faith—to keep growing into true disciples.

Our responsibility as leaders is to encourage, expect and then provide opportunities for equiping them to genuinely follow Christ. They shouldn’t just passively listen to others teach the Bible. They should actively study it for themselves. They shouldn’t just passively let the church tell people about Jesus. They should actively be telling people about Jesus. They shouldn’t just passively hope the church is helping the poor and hurting. They should be actively helping the poor and hurting. They shouldn’t just passively watch as the church seeks to make disciples. They should be actively seeking to make disciples. After all, they are the church.

Of course, we need to remember that, even if we fulfill our responsibility, there will always be those who follow passively. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, the vast majority of people who followed him turned out to be passive followers. Though we don’t like it, we’re sure the same will be true of our ministry. But we’ve decided to do everything we can to make sure it’s because of their choice, not our neglect.

Brad Powell, an Outreach magazine contributing editor, is the senior pastor of NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, Mich., a 2012 Outreach 100 church (No. 48 Largest). He is the author of “Change Your Church for Good” (Nelson) and consults with church leaders to help them lead their churches through transition.

Sursa: Outreach Magazine

De ce lucrează Dumnezeu și prin predici slabe?

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Curcubeu peste Wilmore, KY, 2010!

 

Aceasta este și întrebarea care răsună în mintea mea foarte des. Cum se face că Dumnezeu vorbește și lucrează chiar și atunci când predicatorul face o treabă de mântuială prin predicare? De multe ori mi se pare că am predicat prost și îmi doresc să nu trebuiască să cobor de la amvon, sau vreau să mă ascund sub amvon. Dar la final, oameni care n-au nici un interes să mă încurajeze îmi spun că Dumnezeu le-a vorbit. Rămân uimit însă și că reciproca este valabilă: de multe ori când mi se pare ca predic așa de bine că parcă simt ca trebuie să cobor de la amvon și să iau notițe, oamenii rămân indiferenți sau chiar reci. Nu mai vorbesc de predici pe care le ascult și îmi pare rău că trebuie să îl numesc coleg pe cel care le predică dar realizez că Dumnezeu îl folosește și îi încununează predicarea cu roade. Cum e posibil așa ceva?

Am învățat că predica trebuie să fie o combinație de trudă, sudoare, în studierea textului Biblic, dar și înspirație și iluminare Divină. Pentru fiecare din aceste părți ale predicării este nevoie de timp, disciplină și dedicare, iar aici, poate să fie secretul predicării de succes. Totuși, lucrurile stau cu totul altfel. Într-adevăr Dumnezeu poate să onoreze timpul, dedicarea și disciplina predicatorului dar ceea ce conferă întotdeauna succesul necesar predicării este că “noi predicăm pe Christos cel răstignit …” (1Corinteni 1:23)! Peter Mead în acest articol afirmă că oricât de diluat ar fi mesajul atunci când Christos cel Răstignit este central, predicarea are rezultate neașteptate. Tonul articolului este unul oarecum acru, deoarece conștientizează declinul predicării în vremea noastră însă afirmația că “Dumnezeu lucrează în ciuda noastră” îl face vrednic de reflexie și de ce nu, chiar încurajator.

Why God Still Works Through Poor Preaching?

by Peter Mead

Last time we noted how Paul preached Christ and Him crucified. Paul understood that people are fully subject to their heart-level desires. They will only ever “choose” what they want to choose, but cannot choose what it is they want. The heart is the issue, and the gospel preached must offer a love so compelling that people will be drawn out of the deathly prison of their self-love.

However, the preacher at times feels the need to twist the arm and will of the listener into conformity to some set of Christian values. After all, if only people and society were more responsible, then we’d be in a better place! The emphasis on duty and morality and law all add up to a big dose of pressure. If you’ve really tasted of the gospel, this has a very empty feel to it. Yet many of us are so used to this kind of preaching that we assume this is proper Christian preaching. Bible texts become launch points for moralistic tirades. (more…)

Biserica și cultura “What if”!

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L-am cunoscut în Los Angeles. Era târziu, eram foarte obosit după ce toată ziua condusesem mașina închiriată, pe care școala mi-a pus-o la dispoziție, nu am prea avut posibilitatea să îmi sun familia și eram sigur că sunt destul de îngrijorați; stăteam la intrarea clubului Mayan din centrul LA-ului. Discuțiile destul de intense ale colegilor treceau pe langa urechile mele fără să mă afecteze prea tare. Vorbeau despre Erwin McManus, un produs al școlii de lideri de la Asbury, care pusese bazele unei biserici “deosebite” în LA, numită Mozaic și care urma să țină un “Serviciu Divin” în acel loc (destul de renumit) de la ora 20:00, înainte ca la ora 22:00 clubul să-și deschidă porțile pentru alte “servicii”. A oprit o mașină în fața clubului și a coborât un bărbat îmbrăcat destul de modest, simplu, care ni s-a adresat cu o voce liniștită, chiar molcomă. S-a purtat foarte familiar cu noi toți deși ne întalnea pentru prima dată, însă ne considera pe toți colegii lui. Am fost impresionat atunci, iar apoi am rămas înmărmurit de cât de profund a predicat mulțimii de tineri adunați în “club”.

În acest articol Erwin McManus încearcă să ne trezească îmaginația și să ne facă să privim spre viitor înțelegând potențialul pe care Dumnezeu l-a investit în noi.

Erwin McManus: Imagine Tomorrow

The reality is that the church is really not a “what if” culture. We’re a “what is” culture. We’re informed by what is, and our precedent has more power than our imagination.

What Is the What If?

Looking back on all of the different things I’ve started throughout my life, I suppose it’s fair to say my addiction or dysfunction is that I’m a serial entrepreneur. While it may appear that I’m unemployed a lot, and I certainly have had a serious number of failures along the way, overall this neurosis has worked well for me.

Much of this has been a journey of self-discovery. Never having obvious natural talent, my passion and hard work compensated for what I lacked in innate gifting. Much of my life has been the result of great burdens, big dreams and fierce ambition driving me to find a way to overcome what was obviously lacking. What do you do when you see a future you must create and know you cannot do it alone?

In contrast, some people have obvious, extraordinary talent. When my daughter Mariah was 2 or 3 years old, it was already apparent that she was a musician. We were changing channels on the television and we hit this orchestra, but when we changed the channel again, Mariah started singing back in perfect pitch what the orchestra had been playing. I told my wife, “Go back, go back … Watch!” Mariah just started mimicking what was on the television. By the age of 3, I started writing songs with her. I’d tell her to just start singing, and I would put it to music and try to connect her with the extraordinary and obvious talent that was given to her somehow in her genetic code.

I admire people who are prodigious, people who have these extraordinary talents—the Mozarts of the world, the Picassos of the world. Maybe you’re one of those people. You just have this incredible talent from your first breath, but I’m not one of those people. I’m one of the people who has been searching for his particular talent all of his life. You know those kinds of people?

I told my son, “If you don’t have any obvious talent, then you have the gift of leadership.”

There are people who seem born to become world-class cellists or Olympic sprinters. They’re mathematical savants, or they have the gift of painting or sculpting. But then there are a lot of us who, in one spectrum of analysis at least, would be in the “No Perceivable Talent” category. That’s why we’re leaders: because we then begin to imagine a creation that is beyond our own capacity.

If you’re like me, you begin to experience a level of angst because you can see something that’s beautiful, but you have never had the talent nor the capacity to execute it or create it. You know that story needs to be told, that a world needs to be created, that a future needs to be shaped. That creates a dissonance between the idea that moves you and motivates you and the reality of your limited gifts, talents and abilities. If anything, I am immensely grateful that God decided to make me so untalented so that I would find myself dependent on the gifts and talents—the genius and beauty—inside so many other people.

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Cu ce se laudă păstorul?

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Uneori suntem ispitiți să privim în urmă și din obișnuința de a face rapoarte, să ne lăudăm cu realizări și cu ținte atinse. Aparent, nu e nimic rău în asta. Mai apare pe ici pe colo câte un raport care anunță numărul de “decizii pentru Christos” în urma unei predici sau a unor selujbe de evanghelizare, iar asta ar trebui să ne bucure. Totuși, nu putem să nu ne întrebăm dacă nu cumva ne lăudăm prea mult cu lucruri care țin într-o măsură foarte mică de noi. Și totuși, o predică bine făcută, studiată temenic și artistic prezentată nu poate să aibă rezultate notabile pe care să le putem și raporta? Mai mult, alte realizări notabile care ne definesc din punct de vedere intelectual, cultural, social, cum ar fi diplome, medalii, onoruri, … nu pot fi ele raportate sau macar amintite în vre-o predică sau discuție? Tony Evans pare a fi de o altă părere. Pornind de la relația personală a păstorului cu Dumnezeu și continuând cu felul în care păstorul se prezintă în biserică și societate el afirmă că nimic din ceea ce am făcut sau obținut nu este mai important decât Cunoașterea lui Dumnezeu. Tony Evans spune: “una din cele mai mari tragedii pentru așa mulți din predicatorii din zilele noastre este că pot pregătii predici, pot studia notițele, pot organiza ideile în schițe, pot fi conștienți de existența lui Dumnezeu, și pot avea toate informațiile corecte … dar să nu îl cunoască pe Dumnezeu cu adevărat.” În acest articol descoperim că prioritatea oricărui păstor sau predicator trebuie să fie apropierea de Dumnezeu și cunoașterea Lui intimă. Ei, asta da pricină de laudă!

The One Boast Every Preacher Should Be Sure to Make

Tony Evans

Knowing God is the most meaningful pursuit in life. Jeremiah 9:23–24 expresses the importance of this better than anything else I’ve seen. We read, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me.'”

It’s amazing how many things we sometimes use to try and lift ourselves up in other people’s eyes. We may do this while we’re preaching, trying to be subtle about it—whether it’s name-dropping or listing big, theological words in a way that makes us sound especially smart. Or we could mention a master’s degree or doctorate in conversation, perhaps throwing in a cum laude we achieved.

God says, “If you are going to lift yourself up in front of others, do it about knowing Me; if you can’t talk about that, then you don’t have much to brag about anyhow.”

Knowing God is more than having a religious experience with Him or explaining how you feel about Him. To know Him is to enter into a relationship with Him so He is the dominant Influencer of your thoughts and actions.

One of the great tragedies for so many of our preachers today is that you can prepare your sermons, study your notes, make your outlines, be aware of God, and have all your information correct … but never truly know Him.

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Biserica și/sau Împărăția

În publicația on-line Church Plants, Howard Snyder, fost profesor la Asbury Theological Seminary face o comparație interesantă între Biserică și Împărăție, punând întrebarea: Cu ce te preocupi; cu Biserica sau cu Împărăția lui Dumnezeu? Oare cât de corectă este o diferențiere atât de radiclă între cele două? Recitim și poate ne lămurim.

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Porter Memorial Baptist Church, Lexington KY, locul in care pentru un an ne-am simtit “acasa”!

 

What Business Are You in—Church or Kingdom?

By Howard Snyder

The church gets in trouble whenever it thinks it’s in the church business rather than the kingdom business.

In the church business, people are concerned with church activities, religious behavior and spiritual things. In the kingdom business, people are concerned with kingdom activities, all human behavior and everything God has made, visible and invisible.

Kingdom people see human affairs as saturated with spiritual meaning and kingdom significance.

Kingdom people seek first the kingdom of God and its justice; church people often put church work above concerns of justice, mercy and truth.

Church people think about how to get people into church; kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world.

Church people worry that the world might change the church; kingdom people work to see the church change the world.

When Christians put the church ahead of the kingdom, they settle for the status quo and their own kind of people. When they catch a vision of the kingdom of God, their sights shift to the poor, the orphan, the widow, the refugee, “the wretched of the earth” and to God’s future.

They see the life and work of the church from the perspective of the kingdom.

If the church has one great need, it is this:

To be set free for the kingdom of God, to be liberated from itself as it has become in order to be itself as God intends. The church must be freed to participate fully in the economy of God.

(Formerly professor of the history and theology of mission, Asbury Theological Seminary (1996-2006); now engaged in research and writing in Wilmore, Kentucky. Professor of Wesley Studies, Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, 2007-2012. Formerly taught and pastored in São Paulo, Brazil; Detroit, Michigan; and Chicago, Illinois. Howard Snyder’s main interest is in the power and relevance of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom for the world today and tomorrow. He has written on a range of topics including church history, cultural trends, globalization, worldviews, evangelism, and various cultural issues.)

Sursa: http://www.churchplants.com/articles/5859-what-business-are-you-in-church-or-kingdom.html