KINGDOM & Scot McKnight: The 4 NT basics of the kingdom and when they do (and do not) relate to social work.

by Scot McKnight, “Secularizing Kingdom,” Pathos, 11/15/10.

… Sit down some afternoon — maybe today — and look up all the “kingdom” references in the New Testament and you will see the following major ideas:

First, kingdom refers to a redemptive society. Second, one must “enter” this redemptive kingdom society by repentance and faith and obedience to Jesus. Third, kingdom society and Jesus are so closely connected one has to say that there is no such thing as “kingdom” apart from relationship to Jesus. Fourth, no one uses the word “kingdom” in the NT for “social” justice that is not connected to kingdom people of Jesus or connected to the fellowship of his followers — the Church.

The best example of “kingdom” work in the entire Bible is Acts 2:42-47, and there the kingdom people, in the context of a local fellowship (church), were making the kingdom manifest. The place to begin with kingdom work is to take care of the society of Jesus’ followers.

But somehow this equation of “kingdom” with “social” work, especially as distinguished from “church” or “spiritual” or “evangelistic” work, is precisely what has happened in our culture. We have all kinds of people who want to do “kingdom” work but by that they mean “social” justice — and by that they mean helping the poor, building homes in Haiti, creating wells of water in Africa, ministering to AIDS victims in the world, showing support for Palestinians in the Middle East, or running for political office. These folks have done the unthinkable: they have secularized the kingdom of God.

Let me say this clearly: each of those activities is good and godly; each of those actions is noble and ennobling. But none of those actions are “kingdom” work unless they are done in the context of the redemptive society of Jesus, and that means more or less in connection with the Church of Jesus Christ, who is Messiah and Lord.

One could say such actions “extend” the kingdom society of Jesus to others; I’m fine with that. But the fundamental idea here is that if we want to talk “kingdom” let’s talk what Jesus actually says about kingdom…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2010/11/15/secularizing-kingdom/

ABOLITIONISTS & The Wesleyan Movement of young pastors who asked “Can you give you life for the cause?”

(Notes on a lecture by Bob Black, Ph.D., at the CCDA conference, Detroit, 2017.)

By Francis Asbury’s death in 1802, the Methodist Church had become the largest church in America. Still, the bishops decided not to rock the boat by opposing slavery, so prevalent in the south. A presiding elder, Orange Scott (what we would call today a district superintendent) opposed slavery on biblical grounds as well as citing John Wesley’s strong condemnation of slavery.

Feeling he could no longer remain in the Methodist Church, Orange Scott  started a magazine called “The True Wesleyan.” He also called for the formation of the “Wesleyan Methodist Church,” titled thus because it was “Wesley’s view of Methodism.” There would be no slavery and no bishops. The movement, though organized in the north, began to appeal to anti-slavery Methodists in the south. A church of 40 antislavery Methodists in North Carolina ask the Wesleyan Methodist Church to send them a pastor because not pastor would lead them.

Adam Crooks, a not yet fully ordained 23 year-old minister in this new movement, left to pastor the North Carolina church stating he was glad he did not have a wife or family because he then did not need to worry about surviving. Within six months had built a church called “Freedom’s Hill” in Snow Camp, NC. Soon they planted eight more anti-slavery churches. In High Point Adam found noose with a likeness of him handing from a tree. He was poisoned and in the church he preached there were bullet holes in the door.

The Freedom’s Hill Church and the other churches in the network became stations on the underground railroad.  Many of these young pastors were harangued, attacked and even hanged. Still, the movement grew under the example of young people who, like Adam Crooks, asked “Can you give you life for the cause?”

 

NEED-MEETING & Maddox shows Wesley did not have a “hole in the Gospel” #need-meeting

Wesley did not overlook the possible positive evangelistic impact resulting from Christian engagement in such open-ended works of mercy. But the specific potential effect that he highlighted was not the enticement of uncommitted persons to embrace the Christian faith by addressing their physical needs. Rather, he hoped to overcome the widespread crisis of credibility of Christian witness through the increased number of Christians who would model authentic loving care for others!” (Maddox, 2002)

Maddox, Randy L. (2002) “Visit the poor” John Wesley, The Poor and The Sanctification of Believers. Kingswood books Nashville, (pg 69).

Retrieved by Salvation Army officer Regina Shull as part of an assignment for LEAD 600.

social engagement action need-meeting

EVANGELISM & Quotes on Its Importance and Holistic Nature

Compiled by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/22/13.


Evangelism relates to people’s eternal destiny, and in bringing them Good News of salvation, Christians are doing what nobody else can do.  Seldom if ever should we have to choose between satisfying physical huger and spiritual hunger, or between healing bodies and saving souls, since an authentic love for our neighbor will lead us to serve him or her as a whole person. Nevertheless, if we must choose, then we have to say that the supreme and ultimate need of humankind is the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and that therefore a person’s eternal, spiritual salvation is of greater importance than his or her temporal and material well being.

  • John Stott, Evangelism and Social Responsibility: An Evangelical Commitment (Lausanne Committee for Evangelism and the World Evangelical Fellowship, 1982), 25.

Evangelism is the first priority of the Church’s ministry in the world (italics Snyder).  This is true for several reason: the clear biblical mandate for evangelism; the centrality and necessity of personal conversion in God’s plan; the reality of judgment; the fact that changed persons are necessary to change society; the fact that the Christian community exists and expands only as evangelism is carried out.  The Church that fails to evangelize is both biblically unfaithful and strategically shortsighted.”

  • Howard A. Snyder, The Community of the King (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press), 101.

When a person dies without hearing that ‘God so loved the words that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16, RSV), it is too late. The best thing that could possibly happen to that person has been denied.”

  • C. Peter Wagner, Church Growth and the Whole Gospel (San Francisco, CA: Harper and Row, 1981).

“By leaving the ghetto behind, the church has implied that its mission is meaningless to the poor, the hopeless and the wretched – except when an ocean separates the church from the ghetto.”

  • David L. McKenna, ed., The Urban Crisis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1969) 138.

Howard Snyder reminds us that, “an evangelism that focuses exclusively on souls or on an otherworldly transaction which makes no real difference here and how is unfaithful to the gospel.

  • The Community of the King (Inter-Varsity) 102.

“Today the sinfulness of the social order offends thoughtful Christians everywhere…. The great inequalities of wealth and poverty among the haves and have-nots, and the revolting treatment meted out to oppressed minorities, are clearly contrary to the will of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  • Donald A. McGavran, Understanding Church Growth (Eerdmans, 1970), 25.

“In postmodern terms, we might say that Jesus came to bring equal access and opportunity to those in substandard living conditions, to give voice and identity to those other than the dominant social elite, and to alleviate the ravages of capitalistic imperialism and colonialist economic aggression.”

  • Lewis A. Drummond, Reaching Generation Next: Effective Evangelism in Today’s Culture (Baker Books, 2002), 179.

Of the current authors you are reading …

  • Were more go focused?
  • Were more come focused?
  • Were balanced?
  • What must you do to prevent imbalance?
  • What is missing between “going” & “coming.”
  • Why is the “missional middle” missing?
  • What must you do to prevent the missing middle?

 

HOLE IN THE GOSPEL & Fewer Americans Believe Churches Solve Social Problems

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I have pointed out in the book “Cure for the Common Church” that Jesus often met people’s physical needs before he told them that he could solve their spiritual needs. Abraham Maslow, in his Hierarchy of Needs, confirmed this as the most effective approach.

Thus, churches today that are leading people to Christ do so by first meeting physical needs to demonstrate our compassion, care and good news of salvation.

Here is an important article that reminds us that most people do not see us in this, but they should! To understand the dilemma read this article. To you understand the “cure” read “Cure for the Common Church” chapters 1 and 2.

Fewer Americans Believe Churches Solve Social Problems
by Bob Smietana, LifeWay Facts & Trends, 7/28/16.

America may be facing problems, but a growing number of people say churches are of no help in solving them.

Four out of 10 (39 percent) say churches or other houses of worship offer “not much” or “nothing” toward solving society’s problems. That’s up from 23 percent in 2008, according to a new survey from Pew Research.

Six in 10 (58 percent) say churches and other houses of worship contribute “a great deal” or “some” to solving social problems. That’s down from 75 percent in 2008 and the lowest number since Pew began asking the question in 2001.

PF_2016.07.13_religionpolitics-02-02.png

White evangelicals (70 percent) are most confident of the church’s positive role in society. Nones (38 percent) are far more skeptical.

But both groups have lost confidence in the role of churches in society.

In 2008, 86 percent of evangelicals and 56 percent of nones said houses of worship contribute “a great deal” or “some” to solving society’s problems. Both groups saw a decline of at least 15 percentage points in the latest poll.

The decline cut across religious and political lines.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/07/28/fewer-americans-believe-churches-solve-social-problems/#.V5nqofT3aJI

Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018

MISSION & Are You Writing a Statement or Living in Mission?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 5/12/16.

I have found that many churches lead by Boomers tend to adopt the approach of focusing on the churchgoers … in hopes of attracting the non-churchgoers. The Millennial Generation  have been raised in this milieu and often see the ineffectiveness of an attractional approach.  In the book ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (Abingdon Press) I point out that researchers find Millennials generally preferring to focus on others before themselves. Not surprisingly I have found Millennial-led churches tend to focus on meeting the needs of non-churchgoers as a way to help the churchgoers mature in faith (and not the other way around).  This is analogous to what Richard Sterns calls “filling the hole in the Gospel.

While conversing with a student on this, he pushed back (which is always fine) responding the spending time on crafting mission and vision statements creates an attraction for Millennials.  He thus concluded, “However, I would stand my ground in that millennials are hungry for something of real substance.  And something can’t have real substance unless it has Christ-centered mission and vision which is clearly communicated.”

I responded that I would restate that slightly, and say, “Millennials are hungry for something of real substance.  And something can’t have real substance unless a church spends more time proactively living Christ’s mission than parsing statements and advertising them.”

I know this latter phrase was not what the student was suggesting, but I find it is often what the Church is doing … and hence, my warning.

HOLARCHY & Why Wesley Used This Leadership-style That is Popular Again #IncMagazine

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: While studying churches that grow in times of crises, I’ve noticed that at these times leaders put authority into their small groups to do most of the ministry work. Such an example is St. Thomas’ Church in Sheffield, England when as England’s largest megachurch they lost their auditorium with three weeks notice. Read about this in the chapter I contributed to Eddie Gibbs’ festschrift titled “Gospel after Christendom” (Baker Academic, 2012). Basically what St. Thomas did was allow all the small groups to do the social-action ministries and even require them to do so. Therefore, instead of top-down organization of social action programs designed by the executive team of the church, they required each small group to look around it’s community and weekly do something to help non-churchgoers. This democratized the organizations outreach through a leadership-style called “holarchy.” storyality-theory-2014-uws-pg-conference-jt-velikovsky-61-638This is exactly what John Wesley required of the small group meetings: they were each required to go out and serve the needy. This became known as Wesley’s “method” and adherents the “Methodists.” Read this article in Inc. Magazine to become acquainted with “holarchy” and how it is much better than top-down autocratic management when managing today’s post modern young adults.

Read more about “holarchies” at … http://www.inc.com/elle-kaplan/want-to-improve-your-company-let-every-person-on-your-team-be-a-chief.html

And read more about Wesley’s holarchy leadership-style here (including a downloadable section on this from my book Cure for the Common Church …https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/small-groups-3-facets-of-well-rounded-small-groups/

Embedded is a chart (click it to enlarge) that depicts a holarchy and was retrieved from http://image.slidesharecdn.com/storyalitytheory-2014uwspgc-jtvelikovskyv2-140715075956-phpapp02/95/storyality-theory-2014-uws-pg-conference-jt-velikovsky-61-638.jpg?cb=1405411334