The following article is located at:http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2006/winter/28.129.html
Panel: What's the Most Pressing Theological Issue Facing Your Church?
How can we live our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ in the 21st century? Pastors have been overwhelmed with models and programs designed to make local churches bigger. Each, however, seems only a temporary fix until something new comes along. These models come from mega-churches, and the programs are downsized to fit smaller churches. Unfortunately, it hasn't really worked.
That is why we're committed to discipleship. It works in the smallest churches (and the largest) that desire a deep relationship with God.
Quite frankly, most of my church is tired of "consumer Christianity." They want to be true disciples (followers) of Jesus.
Adversity or Adjustment?
We are wrestling with how to discern the will of God when facing adversity. The renovation and expansion of our building has been difficult, with numerous delays. For two years we have worshiped at another site due to negotiations with the city, neighbors who are reluctant to sign off on easements, and problems with contractor, bankers, and others.
Like many urban areas, property values in our neighborhood are escalating, and the demographics are rapidly changing. Our outreach ministries have been focused on poor African Americans; what responsibility do we have to minister to our new neighbors who are affluent and white?
Is God trying to tell us that we are not ready to return to our building until we adjust our ministry? Are we having so many problems because we are doing the wrong thing, or because we are doing precisely the right thing? Should our focus be on perseverance in the face of persecution, or on introspection, repentance, and re-imagining our ministries as we prepare to return to our neighborhood?
Reading Compassion by Henri Nouwen, Donald McNeil, and Douglas, our staff was challenged that being in relationship with those just like us is not true Christian community. We were assaulted by the concept of "voluntary displacement": entering into relationship with others with whom we share little more than Christ in common.
The arguments of the book are compelling, and the examples from Scripture are plentiful. But what about our church? Should voluntary displacement still be a value in our 21st century church?
We are church of mostly 20- to 30-somethings. Is it necessary for us to voluntarily displace ourselves among different people in our own church? Is it possible to still hold this value and also have a target audience? Are there enough differences in our similar looking crowd to still encourage this value within our own community? Or, must we still voluntarily displace ourselves outside our demographic in order to find it?
How Much Holy Spirit?
Striving for biblical balance, we've presented teachings such as "How to pray for healing with both authority and surrender" and "What did Jesus think about the Holy Spirit?" We constantly navigate a narrow strait containing theological perils on either side: Paddle too far in one direction and we scrape ...