Tag Archives: Preaching

Excuse me I believe your eschatology is showing

I think it is fair to suggest that whatever your view of the end of this age and beginning of the next age (eschatology is the fancy word for this doctrine) is will determine how you both live and engage in mission in this age.

If for instance, you believe that the goal of mission is to “save souls for heaven” – then your primary and over-riding concern will mostly likely be proclamation.  Telling people what they need to know in order to get them ready for heaven.  This life will have one primary purpose to keep yourself for heaven and to tell others about it. Your church will probably have a sharp distinction between word ministry/ proclamation and social works.  If you are really organised you might have a social work programme or two but you will spend large amounts of time making sure people know that you do not believe in the social gospel. But, at the end of the day, what really matters is getting people into heaven through hearing the gospel and making a decision for Jesus.  You might even say this is all that matters.

If, on the other hand, you hold to an in-breaking Kingdom of God paradigm, then you will see the Kingdom as not only, or even primarily, a future reality but crucially as a very real present dynamic.  Through the death and resurrection of Jesus God’s end time kingdom has now broken into this world in the middle of history.  The Kingdom of God was not only announced in the gospel proclamation it was initiated in the life and mission of God’s people, the church.  One day we will see the Kingdom come in all its fullness and glory when our King Jesus returns but now the Kingdom grow largely unseen, through weakness and on the margins of society.

Life among God’s people will be a small and incomplete foretaste of what that Kingdom will be like when Jesus returns.  The people of God ought to be actively and intentionally living lives that embody that coming Kingdom.  Lives of justice, mercy, grace, peace, beauty, restoration and joy. The old discussion of social justice versus gospel proclamation goes out the window within a Kingdom “initiated and yet not complete” paradigm. We are both to proclaim the arrival of the Kingdom (with the cross at the centre of that proclamation!) and live within the in-breaking Kingdom as those who experience the foretaste of the life of the kingdom and who long for the full wedding feast of the lamb.

Some Favourite Quotes from Experiential Storytelling

ImageI previously posted this review on Mark Miller’s Experiential Storytelling: [Re]Discovering Narrative to Communicate God’s Message.  While the book left quite a bit to be desired, Miller can be quite quotable, and includes some great quotes from others too.

“Storytelling is powerful because it has the ability to touch human beings at a most personal level. While facts are viewed from the lens of a microscope, stories are viewed from the lens of the soul. Stories address us on every level. They speak to the mind, the body, the emotions, the spirit and the will. In a story a person can identity with situations he or she has never been in. The individual’s imagination is unlocked to dream what was previously unimaginable.” (33)  (While this may be overstating the case and creating a little bit of an unhelpful dichotomy between facts and story, nevertheless it does capture the value of story well.)

“People can argue doctrine and theology.  They can even sit with arms crossed listening to someone’s convincing reasons why they should believe.  But when powerful stories begin to be told, and when a person can identify with another person’s journey, the arms drop, the defensiveness wanes, and a receptive ear is gained.” (37)

“Stories can hold the complexities of conflict and paradox,” Annette Simmons (38)

“A sermon tells people what to think.  A story forces people to do the thinking for themselves.  It can feel dangerous because it allows for interpretation.  But one of the adjectives used to describe the Holy Spirit is “counsellor.”  Do we trust our people and the Holy Spirit enough to allow them to think for themselves?  Can we leave something open-ended, knowing that conclusions might not come until later that day, week, month, or year?  Can we allow people to own the stories?  Or do we do all of the interpretation and leave nothing to the imagination?” (41)

“Regardless of whether one considers this good or bad, for this generation, aesthetics counts more than epistemology.”  William Dyrness (55)

“The imagination is among the chief glories of being human.  When it is healthy and energetic, it ushers us into adoration and wonder, into the mysteries of God.  When it is neurotic and sluggish, it turns people, millions of them, into parasites, copycats and couch potatoes.”  Eugene Peterson (Under the Predictable Planet) (63)

Is your church plant gospel-centred?

If you are wondering what it could look like for a church to be gospel-centred this is a great post by Steve Timmis from the Acts 29 Western Europe blog.

“It takes the whole Bible to expound the gospel, so reducing it to three sentences is inadequate. But this summary provides a necessary reference point for considering the question of this post: Jesus, God’s promised Rescuer and Ruler, lived our life and died our death. He rose again in triumphant vindication as the first fruits of the age to come. He brings forgiven sinners together by the Holy Spirit to live as his people, under his gracious reign, as we point to and wait for the New Creation.

To be gospel-centred means that the gospel is not only to be the focal point but also that which sets and sustains the culture of our churches.

Our preaching must be the gospel, the whole gospel, and nothing but the gospel. We don’t preach moralism, sentimentalism, emotionalism, behaviourism, abstentionism, antinomianism or legalism. Whether we’re preaching from a podium or teaching in a living room, to whomever, wherever, whatever the issue – we preach the good news that is Christ.

Prayer and singing are opportunities to rehearse the gospel. It is through both that our affections are excited and we’re reorientated around the gospel, which renews, shapes and directs our hearts.

Don’t let business meetings get hi-jacked into being about protocol or procedure. Meeting times, Bible translations, instruments and coffee brands are all gospel issues.

If the gospel isn’t central, don’t be surprised when our youth jump ship. No matter how “sexy” our meetings, we can’t compete with the world’s sizzle. Youth ministry must faithfully bring the gospel to young people.

What will keep a couple together in 10 years’ time is not a compatibility test, but the gospel. Rehearse the gospel in your marriage preparation; massage it deep into the hearts of your men and women.

Train people in, with and for the gospel. The gospel enables them to disciple others, engage with non-Christians, answer critics, respond to hard questions and cope with disappointment & failure, joy & success.

In pastoral care, take people to the compelling truth of a God who, in Christ, justly forgives sinners. It tells me of my sin and of my Saviour. I no longer have to justify myself. Lying becomes unnecessary, forgiveness a reality, reconciliation a certainty.

Our mission is the gospel! We’re not here for our comfort or renown. The gospel is the unique contribution we make to a fallen world. So whatever other legitimate activities we support (relief, infrastructures, emergency aid), the gospel is that which sets us apart.

To be gospel-centred means that the gospel shapes and defines everything we are and do as God’s people. Which, like so many good and vital things, is a lot easier said than done. But, since when has ease of implementation ever been a necessary criterion.”