I love this video from Rebuild Network.
Making disciples of all nations includes the nation — the people group — where you live.
Over the past several years, I’ve seen, read, and participated in a lot of discussions about what laws or commandments we need to follow in the New Covenant, what a Biblical Theology of the New Covenant should be, or what the eschatology of NCT adherents should be. (That last one is a particularly volatile one at the moment, with some amills wanting to kick out the premills.)
In other words, there’s a lot of conversation about NCT orthodoxy.
But what about NCT orthopraxy?
What should a church that teaches New Covenant Theology look like? What are its hallmarks? Continue reading
Not a good example of contextualization.
At his blog, It Is Written, Dr. Bob Gonzales has put together an excellent series on contextualization – a mandatory tenet of missional churches and the bête noire of John MacArthur — or what can better be described as “accommodation.”
In his latest installment, Gonzales helpfully reminds us:
[W]e need to accommodate our communication to the people we’re trying to reach, to the people we’re trying to edify because God accommodates himself to us in his revelation and because the servants of God, like Jesus and like Paul the apostle, accommodated their communication to their audience. Brothers, if we want to win souls, if we want to see our churches grow, if we want to increase the edification of our current membership, then we must become all things to all men. We must accommodate (not compromise) in the area of communication.
Indeed, contextualization properly defined and properly done doesn’t water down the gospel; it makes the offense of the gospel as clear as possible.
Sometimes there’s an awfully long distance between the head and the heart. Francis Chan shows us the difference between knowing and doing:
I’m very moved and motivated by what I see the Rebuild Network (therebuildinitiative.org) doing to plant churches in urban areas. But there’s more to them than planting, and there’s something to learn from them in all churches who want to focus on discipleship and mission.
Here’s a video that tells the story of the first church they planted. I just love this.
On December 15, 2007, 25 families made the commitment to move from Denton, TX to Atlanta, GA to plant a church that was in the city, for the city, and looked like the city. It became the Rebuild Network’s first church plant—Blueprint Church.
About three years ago, we as the elders at our church read Colin Marshall and Tony Payne’s The Trellis and the Vine. I’m revisiting it now as I’m reading it with one of the new deacons in some trellis-and-vine style discipleship.
I’m saddened to see how poorly we’ve adopted what the authors recommend.
Chapter one provides a beautiful parable comparing the work done in churches to a vine growing on a trellis. The authors ask us, are we putting our effort into building a trellis (creating programs) or cultivating the vine (growing people.) The argue — and I agree — that way too much goes into creating structure and force-fitting people into that structure, rather than building, training and growing people for ministry.
Chapter two of the book outlines the “Ministry Mind-Shifts” that the writers recommend and which they flesh out in detail in later chapters. They say we need to transform:
- From running programs to building people
- From running events to training people
- From using people to growing people
- From filling gaps to training new workers
- From solving problems to helping people make progress
- From clinging to ordained ministry to developing team leadership
- From focusing on church polity to forging ministry partnerships
- From relying on training institutions to establishing local training
- From focusing on immediate pressures to aiming for long-term expansion
- From engaging in management to engaging in ministry
- From seeking church growth to desiring gospel growth
Getting buy-in on these as principles is not the difficult part. Getting buy-in on these as actions? That’s where the work is.
No doubt many of you have seen this video from Desiring God about their start through the efforts of my friend Moe Bergeron. John Piper called him a “God-soaked geek” in a tweet promoting this video.
As Dr. Piper wrote, “For decades, Moe was a factory worker and bi-vocational pastor on the rugged spiritual soil of New England. He was one of the first to believe in the power and potential of computers ‘talking’ to each other, and he may have been the first that dared to dream about a radical new way to freely spread the gospel.”
Be sure to visit the site Moe edits: Christ My Covenant and also Piper’s Notes, the original online archive of John Piper.
We’re very excited at Evangelical Church of Fairport to be the 11th Learning Site in the U.S. for the Porterbrook Network.
Our first fall term begins Oct. 3.
Update: we’re postponing the launch until January 2 so that we can get the largest possible participation.
More about the Porterbrook Network may be found on our local site’s website, porterbrookROC.com.
Porterbrook Network is a two-year church-based theological training program with a supported self-study structure with others who are training in a similar field, church or geographic affiliation.
Steve Timmis and Tim Chester, co-authors of Total Church and founders of The Crowded House, created The Porterbrook Network in the U.K. in 2006 in response to a conviction for churches to become more Gospel-Centered and for new Gospel-Centered churches to be planted.
The vision of Porterbrook is to equip individuals and churches to rediscover mission as their DNA, to become better lovers of God and lovers of others, and to proclaim the Gospel through word and action for the Glory of God. Porterbrook is being used in the U.K., U.S., Canada, Italy, Ukraine, India, South Africa, and Australia, and Porterbrook Learning material is currently being translated into Chinese, Russian, and Italian.
The folks at Grace to You frequently condemn the concept of “contextualization” and do so by defining it in light of those who abuse the term. John MacArthur and Phil Johnson in particular have portrayed contextualization as watering down the message so people aren’t offended by it.
Ed Stetzer correctly defines contextualization and the need for it on his blog today:
I have said it many times, but it always seems to bear repeating — contextualization is not watering down the message. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. To contextualize the gospel means removing cultural and linguistic impediments to the gospel presentation so that only the offense of the cross remains. It is not removing the offensive parts of the gospel; it is using the appropriate means in each culture to clarify exactly who Jesus was, what He did, why He did it, and the implications that flow from it. Oftentimes, it is unclear communication (and a lack of contextualization) that contributes to some rejecting something they do not understand. If the feet of those who bring the gospel are beautiful upon the hills, it is at least partly due to the fact that those who hear the gospel understand and appreciate its life transforming truth. This often occurs through critical contextualization.
My often-used definition of contextualization: communicating in a way so as to make the offense of the gospel most clear.