“There is a love for the world that makes ministry impossible; there is a love for the world that produces either the abandonment of ministry or the making of ministry so worldly it’s useless.” – John Piper
“There is a love for this world that is irreconcilable with ministry to the world…more people leave Christ, church, and ministry out of love for the world than anything else.” – John Piper
The preaching of the gospel is a powerful means of grace for the Christian, but is that your expectation? What is the nature of your expectations every time you hear the Word of God preached? A gospel-centered church will have a congregation full of gospel-centered expectations every time the Word of God is proclaimed. The commentary (and lifestyle) post-preaching will evidence the nature of expectations, whether they are God-honoring or not.
When it comes to the preaching of God’s Word (or gospel) . . .
» If you expect to come away with intellectual insights, you will find something to satisfy knowledge cravings.
» If you expect the preacher will say something debatable, you will find something to blog about.
» If you expect to judge the quality of the preacher’s message, you will find something he said wrong or could have said differently.
» If you expect to have a to do list for moral improvement, you will find opportunity for behavioral modification to try harder and do better.
ON THE OTHER HAND . . .
» If you expect life transformation, you will discover the Spirit exposing sin and fostering greater desire for repentance.
» If you expect to become like Jesus, you will be granted fresh eyes of faith to behold Jesus.
» If you expect to be used in the service of the kingdom, you will find the Word empowering and enabling you to bear fruit disproportionate to your abilities.
» If you expect to meet with God, you will find God will not pass you by without glimpses of His glory and grace.
The question is . . . what are you expecting whenever you come under the authority and power of God’s living and active, faith-engendering, sin-exposing, Christ-exalting, gospel-centered Word?
LOVED this. Lyrical theology at its best.
What is hypostatic union? David Mathis (Desiring God) answers here.
Earlier this week, I wrote about a dream of mine, namely the insourcing of the local church. Before I delve into an extended discussion on insourcing, I want to draw attention to the consequences outsourcing in the local church. I think the philosophy of outsourcing has long been the default thinking of the local church with little attention given to the dangerous consequences it produces. If we are going to see any real Great Commission advance in North America, we must begin with the way we think that determines how we operate.
Reflecting on this in recent months, I believe there are four main components at play here: philosophy, process, assessment, and outcome (leading to result). The philosophy determines the process; the process governs the assessment; the assessment shapes the outcome; the outcome leads to consequences that define the culture of the church. For visual learners, here’s a simple flow of these components [please excuse my limited graphic skills!].
Over five years ago, I asked the question about the outsourcing of the local church. It is a question that has not left me since then. I don’t know when it began, how it developed, or why we got here, but we cannot escape this reality that has existed for far too long. Nor am I interested in spending energy to determine who is to blame. Rather, I want to invest my life in the dream of changing the direction from outsourcing the local church to insourcing the local church. Until we have this significant paradigm shift in our thinking, any thought of seeing a serious Great Commission movement in North America is disingenuous.
The Great Commission was given by Christ for the local church. Jesus Christ promised to build His church. When we see the outworking of the Great Commission in the book of Acts, we see the fruit of that promise in the exercise of making disciples, raising up leaders, and planting churches. It is my desire and dream to see churches take greater ownership of the Great Commission with deeper faith in the promises of Jesus to do through the local church what only He can do.
I am not naive to think that insourcing the local church will become an overnight trend. Let’s face it. Outsourcing the responsibilities of the local church is convenient and (sometimes) efficient. Who do we write the check to? To tackle an issue like this requires a philosophical reframing of ecclesiological convictions. By that I mean, our thinking deeply about the Great Commission will require us to give sacrificially in order to focus intentionally on what Jesus has called us to do in His name. It is a stewardship issue, and we cannot shift or shirk the responsibility.
The Great Commission is to be worked out in the context of the local church, by means of the local church, and for the multiplication of the local church. That means disciple-making, leadership development, and church planting (three graduating expressions of the Great Commission) must find their home in the local church where insourcing is the passionate commitment of its pre-determined vision. As the director of the PLNTD Network, we have made that central to our mission, namely that church planting should be done in the church, by the church, and for the church.
Insourcing means that prophets will be devoted to communicating the vision and clarifying the mission of the Great Commission; priests will be devoted to mobilizing people and creating a culture where it is celebrated; kings will be devoted to fostering pathways and on ramps through systems and structures to administrate the vision and bring it to fruition. In the midst of all this, there is a pervasive expectation for multiplication because the mission has been simplified through a focused alignment to mobilize the people of God as a disciple-making family of servants dedicated to the cause of His kingdom come.
The history of outsourcing needs to have a conclusion. The consequences of outsourcing have led to an immobilization of mission and has undermined any Great Commission resurgence we long to see in our generation. A dream of mine is to see that change. In the coming weeks, I hope to explain more of my thinking on this, and in the coming months through PLNTD, I will be working diligently to see this dream begin to become a reality. If this is something you resonate with, I ask that you join me in the cause of insourcing the local church. It is not enough that we talk about. We need to rally together and give ourselves to it. Jesus promised to build His church, and I believe it is time that we make the changes to show that we believe His promise is true.