Last Fall, I began a series on missional living entitled “From Strangers to Missionaries” where I share about a personal strategy to win my neighborhood and city for Christ. After several recent interactions and encouragements, I felt I needed to provide an update and write more about my journey. For a review of what I’ve written thus far, click here.

Why I Hated My City

During the first four years of living in my city, I went from confusion to frustration to hate. I was confused because I was told that I live “in paradise” (sunny Southwest Florida) in what was one of the fastest growing cities in the country. But when my family and I established our roots, the boom town had become the epicenter of the bursting of the housing bubble. During those four years, 14 out of the 17 houses on my street went into foreclosure or short-sale with another one never making it past the cinder block facade.

My confusion led to frustration because, not only did my city suffer the hardest in the foreclosure crisis, but news came out that we also had the worst job performance market in the top 100 metro areas in the country. The frustration stemmed from the economic incompetency of my city to do anything but increase taxes on its citizens. Those years were full of “foreclosure tours” around the city, planned city protests my citizens against its officials, and alarming reports of increasing numbers of people attempting (and committing) suicide.

Over time, my confusion and frustration spiraled into hate. I hated the fact that I live in a city that has no roots. Very few have lived here longer than one generation. I would say that 8 out of 10 have transplanted within the last 10-15 years. They have come from all over the north (Snowbirds becoming permanent residents), from the south (Hispanics and Haitians from the Caribbean), and from the East (Europeans). So many cultures and backgrounds and traditions, there is no one cultural narrative and therefore no real city identity. Everyone is fearful and skeptical of one another, and I live in a city where every neighbor may not only be from a different state but from a different country in the world.

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Easter for the Dead

Tim Brister —  April 17, 2014 — 1 Comment

I’ve been thinking this week about the phenomena of Easter services as a cultural indicator or remnant of Christendom. Why do a rather large people attend an Easter service (and churches cater to these people) who otherwise have little to no interest in God? Certainly we want to seize the opportunity to preach the gospel to those in our communities who are open and accessible during this time (who otherwise would not have interest in God). But I can’t help but wonder if there is a serious disconnect or irony at play here.

I know that some attend Easter services because a friend or family member invited them. Others participate because they were visiting family and live out of town. But among these and others, could it be that the people who attend Easter services have already bought into a message that is alien to the good news of Easter?

The good news of Easter is the climax of God’s rescue plan and purpose in history to save a people for Himself. Easter is about resurrection from the dead. It is about victory over sin, death, hell, and Satan. It is about setting captives free and taking those who were enemies and making them sons. Easter is about a bloody sacrifice, divine wrath, eternal judgment, and an empty tomb. The gospel is good news that “it is finished” and “He is risen from the dead.”

But this is good news for bad people. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Sinners know who they are because they know who God is–and who they are in light of who God is. God is holy, righteous, and just. God must punish the guilty. God’s wrath is necessarily directed toward sin because His righteous character cannot tolerate anything contrary to His likeness. So what makes Easter so precious for Christians is because they know how holy God is, how sinful they are, and how amazing God’s grace is in giving His own Son as the propitiation and substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. They know the greatness of the “Great Exchange” (our sins placed on Christ and His righteousness imputed to us).

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We are just days away from the upcoming 2014 Band of Bloggers gathering. The last update I received is that we have just a few spaces left before the event is sold out. You can still register here. One of the things that I try to do with each Band of Bloggers gathering is connect publishers with this audience of bloggers, authors, and Christian leaders from around the world and give away some of their most recent or forthcoming titles. It’s a challenging task to get all of it together, and as recent as a few weeks ago, only a few books had been secured for the event. But then things just started to fall in place as many publishers and organizations responded generously to support our gathering.

This year, I am excited to share that we are giving away 29 books for every person who attends, for a total of 7,250 books. That’s the largest number we have ever given away. There are 20 physical titles and 8 e-books in all, for a total of $425 (retail price). If you do the math, we are giving away $106,250 worth of books at our event this year that costs only $15 to register. I hope that those who receive these titles below will enjoy them greatly and let the publishers know that by reading, plugging, and/or reviewing them so that others too can be directed to these great resources.

Here are the titles for this year’s book giveaways:

Physical Titles:

  1. Gospel-Centered Teaching: Showing Christ in All of Scripture by Trevin Wax (LifeWay)
  2. Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples by Robby Gallaty (Cross Books)
  3. Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confused World by Andreas Kostenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw (B&H)
  4. Transformational Groups: Creating a New Scorecard for Groups by Eric Geiger and Ed Stetzer (B&H)
  5. Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change by Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer (B&H)
  6. Facing Leviathan: Leadership, Influence, and Creating in a Cultural Storm by Mark Sayers (Moody)
  7. Neighborhood Mapping: How to Make Your Church Invaluable to Your Community by John Fuder (Moody)
  8. United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity by Trillia Newbell (Moody)
  9. Torn to Heal: God’s Good Purpose in Suffering by Mike Leake (Cruciform)
  10. Contend: Defending Your Faith in a Fallen World by Aaron Armstrong (Cruciform)
  11. Eternity Changes Everything: How to Live Now in Light of Your Future by Stephen Witmer Good Book Company
  12. What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman (Zondervan)
  13. Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Illness by Brian Croft (Zondervan)
  14. Know The Heretics by Justin Holcomb (Zondervan)
  15. Proof: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones (Zondervan)
  16. Magnificent Obsession: Why Jesus Is Great by David Robertson (Christian Focus)
  17. The Gospel According to Daniel: A Christ-Centered Approach by Bryan Chapell (Baker)
  18. The New Calvinism Considered: A Personal and Pastoral Assessment by Jeremy Walker (Evangelical Press)
  19. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Paul Tripp (Crossway)
  20. Five Views of Inerrancy (Zondervan)

E-Book Titles:

  1. Reformed Means Missional: Following Jesus into the World by Samuel T. Logan (New Growth Press)
  2. Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever by Michael Horton (Crossway)
  3. Joy for the World: How Christianity Lost its Cultural Influence and Can Begin Rebuilding It by Greg Foster (Crossway)
  4. A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships by Paul Miller (Crossway)
  5. everPresent: How the Gospel Relocates Us in the Present by Jeremy Writebol (GCD)
  6. Captive to Glory: Celebrating the Vision and Influence of Jonathan Edwards by John Piper (Desiring God)
  7. Doctrine Matters: Ten Theological Trademarks from a Lifetime of Preaching by John Piper (Desiring God)
  8. Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God’s Grace by John Piper (Christian Focus)
  9. Losing Your People Without Losing Your Mind by Dustin Neeley
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Something More

Tim Brister —  March 4, 2014 — Leave a comment

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They Do It Better Than We Do

Tim Brister —  February 11, 2014 — 25 Comments

Imagine with me a disciple-making culture that looked something like this.

Disciple-makers have decided to commit a minimum of 9-10 hours a week providing hands-on practical training. This commitment did not coming with compelling arguments. The disciple-makers love it. They want to invest their time in the work. There is a team of disciple-makers–seven in all–committed to making a total of 12 disciples together over the course of several months. The kind of teaching and training they provide is not a classroom lecture, though there certainly is an intellectual component to it. But it is more than that. It is hands-on with a high level of participation and practice where those being discipled have an immediate opportunity to work it out. Along with the practical instruction and increasing depth of knowledge, there is constant encouragement from the team of disciple-makers. Any opportunity to affirm change and progress is acknowledged, not only by the team of disciple-makers but also those being discipled. Corresponding to the high level of challenge is a high level of celebration as it becomes evident that there is a high level of change taking place in those being discipled. The heads (instruction), hearts (encouragement), and hands (practical application) of those being discipled are trained by those modeling the life and work before them in their own context.

Sounds like a pretty amazing disciple-making experience, right?

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