just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Younger Evangelicals

Well I am definitely not a "traditional evangelical" or a "pragmatic evangelical". I guess that makes me a "younger evangelical".

Talk to me community.


The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002.

According to Webber, traditional evangelicals are defined as those who think of Christianity primarily as a rational worldview and thus appeal to evidential, foundationalist apologetics. Traditional evangelicals tend to link patriotism and Christianity. These churches tend to be rural or neighborhood churches and are pastor-centered; most programs (such as for the youth) are church-centered. Sunday school is primarily information-centered, and the worship style is traditional and restrained. Evangelism is typically in mass form (e.g., crusades), and social action is focused on political issues such as abortion and homosexuality.

Pragmatic evangelicals tend to think of Christianity as answers to life’s needs and thus their apologetics tend to emphasize experiential, personal faith as giving meaning to life. They strive for culturally-sensitive, market-driven approaches to church growth, tending toward the suburban megachurch model. Leadership tends to be developed on a managerial (CEO) model, and programs (such as for the youth) tend to be outreach focused events. Sunday school tends to target generational groups and needs, and the worship style is contemporary. Evangelism focuses on bringing people into seeker-sensitive services in the church. Social action is focused on need driven support groups (divorce, drug rehab, etc.) in addition to larger political issues.

Lastly, younger evangelicals tend to think of Christianity as participation in a community of faith called out by God. Their apologetics, therefore, tend to emphasize community, with a focus on an embodied apologetic and a lived metanarrative. Rather than combining Christianity and American patriotism or striving to be seeker-sensitive, younger evangelicals tend to emphasize the missional nature of the church, striving to be a counter-cultural community within the world. They tend to start up small churches, often in urban contexts. Their leadership approach is often team-oriented, and their programs (such as for the youth) emphasize small group Bible studies, social action, and interpersonal involvement in existing community organizations and relationships. Their approach to education is to seek out intergenerational formation in community and their worship style is often ancient/future – an attempt to integrate word and flesh, past and present, reason and senses in the life of the community. Evangelism and social action are also community-focused, working through the redemption/restoration of individuals, families, neighborhoods, and cities.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

School of Prayer Retreat

Ira, Keith and I had a wonderful weekend in Chicago. Note to self--I need to take more time for spiritual retreat, prayer, journaling and listening to God in quality chunks of time.

During small group prayer and ministry time on Saturday--the Holy Spirit spoke some words that penetrated right into where I am at on the journey.

Thought for today:
"We know we have made God in our image when he hates the same people we hate." So lets get to work licking stamps, making soup, scrubbing floors and going door to door in the world we are not of, while serving the God who is.

Friday, May 06, 2005

But I Just want to be Happy!!??

Here is a painfully insightful piece well worth your perusal and consideration.


May your day complete the sufferings of Christ, as you die to sin, allow Jesus to touch your wounds, and love a broken world.


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Elephants or Donkeys--which is more Christian?

I try not to assume that if someone is labeled a Republican or a Democrat that I know all of the reasons or beliefs behind their association with that political party. I don’t think it is necessary to think that Christians only have two options—to fit into the mold of the core agenda of either Republicans or Democrats. I think it is okay to say that on some issues I am in agreement with Republicans, while on others it is with Democrats. I think it is important that no party has a monopoly on all the issues pertaining to faith and Biblical values. This is my problem with Christians (and certain segments of the church) identifying so closely (in lock step?) with one or the other political party. To uncritically endorse one Party over the other, I believe, does not do justice to the Church being a prophetic voice in our society on a broad range of issues. If you are registered Republican, you should support the part of the agenda that come out of Biblical faith. HOWEVER, you should also be willing to critique and call for the party to address other issues that seem to be ignored or thought about in a way that is inconsistent with Biblical faith. The same goes for those who are registered as Democrats.

Is there a better choice? For me the most important factor in this decision is that we are honestly seeking to be faithful to the Kingdom of God as we live out the Gospel in community with the Church. I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question—is there a better choice. For me, being a prophetic voice means that we will not fit into the categories of Right or Left. Might we need to think of our role as citizens in this country with a new perspective? How about being the “Religious Center?” We will be aligned with Republicans on some issues, and Democrats on other issues. We will probably offend some, but I believe if the Church would begin to take this posture, we could change the tone and substance of the political conversation and process that is going on in our country.

In general, I believe you could make a case that Jesus in his life and teachings was a social conservative, and an economic liberal. Yet, you can’t boil it down that easily because his content was conservative on social issues, but he associated with “sinners” forgave adulterers, ate with tax collectors, had a special concern for the poor. The community he left behind lived a radical way of life that involved generous giving to the poor, community life and worship. Jesus was concerned about issues of personal morality, but also social justice. Which party represents all that this means? I believe that the Church has a unique role to play in society. I fear that the Church gives up that unique role when it aligns itself exclusively with the agenda of one party or the other. We must be able to change the conversation and political process that is happening, so that the ways of Christ are sown into this world through living, flesh and blood ways that address sin.

The church should be a community that discerns sin and the way that leads to life. But, we don’t eradicate sin by just naming it and setting up civil laws that represent Biblical faith (i.e. gay marriage, abortion). The church must be will to get out from behind the protective walls of the judiciary system, and executive branch. The Church has authority to confront sin that goes far beyond (and requires far more) than fighting for legislation. BUT, we must be willing to incarnate the gospel with people who are broken and trapped in sin (sexual, emotional, violence, addiction, etc.). Jesus did not just set up a moral code that let people know that they are sinners. He meets each person personally at their point of brokenness. He was willing to come among sinners and relate to them in a way that opened them up to receive God’s love and the good news of the Kingdom. Are we?

May God give us grace and courage to incarnate the way of Jesus in a hostile, sin-sick, demon-riddled, death-bound world. This is my Father's world.