Have you ever come face to face with an opportunity that is more perfectly suited to your current situation than anything you could have set up yourself?
The kind of opportunity that brings all of your seemingly disconnected visions and projects together into a cohesive focus. The kind of opportunity that allows you to use all of the strengths and gifts God gave you while also teaming up with amazing, like-minded people.
When a person’s life is marked by some kind of deformity or hardship, it is human nature to assume someone is to blame for that person’s suffering. This is no less true today than it was during the First Century, though it might have been more openly discussed then.
As Jesus and his disciples pass by a man who has been blind his entire life, Jesus is asked whose fault it is that this man suffers. Is his blindness the result of something he did wrong, or is he suffering for something his parents did? But, Jesus says this man’s blindness is not the result of sin by anyone. He makes them understand that not all suffering is a result of sin.
It’s easy to read this and assume we would never make the same mistake his disciples do. But, stop and think for a minute...
The second Chapter of John's Gospel portrays two events. And, we see Jesus behaving in two very different ways at these two events. These are probably events you're familiar with. They are two of the most well-known in Jesus' lifetime.
But, we're willing to guess that you've never actually thought about how they relate to each other. In these two events, Jesus responds in completely opposite ways. As you read about the way he responds, we want you to think about how you would have responded to each. Because, sadly, Jesus' responses are not the kind we typically expect from modern Christians in similar situations.
"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault...And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." -Matthew 18:15-17
What does this verse mean to you?
If you have heard anyone talk about this verse while dealing with a Christian who continues to sin after being repeatedly called out on it, then the point was probably that you should stop spending time with them. Treat them as if they are no longer part of your community, and have nothing to do with them.
But is that really what Jesus was trying to say? Nope! That's not what Jesus was saying at all. And here are two reasons we believe this...
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
And this is usually quoted when someone is trying to explain the importance of weekly church attendance. But, is that really what God is trying to say here?
Is this really a command for Christians to sit in rows in an auditorium singing together and listening to a sermon? Or is it something more than that?
"It's not the church you planned on starting, but you have a pretty good congregation here." - said our neighbor while he helped clean up after our weekly block party.
He was right!
When we moved into this neighborhood, we were in the middle of starting a new church in Midtown Sacramento ("church planting," for those who need to hear the insider lingo).
We were renting space from an established local church. We were leading a couple midweek Bible studies. Within a few months of moving into our current house, we left flyers on our new neighbors' doors asking them to help our church collect school supplies for a local collection we partnered with. The flyers had our church logo on it and everything. Pretty official.
But it didn't take long for God to show us the real reason he had moved us to this particular area of Midtown...
Do you know the most common reason people aren't interested in Jesus? It's Christians. That's right. The main thing standing between an unbeliever and Jesus is most likely a Christian.
We know that nobody following Jesus wants to be the reason others refuse to do the same. So we made a list of all the things we could think of that a Christian might do to turn others away from Jesus. Because, if you're developing a missional lifestyle, then you'll want to do everything you can to avoid pushing people further away from him, right?
Now, we know that sometimes people are just turned off by Christianity regardless of what we do. But, we still need to make sure we aren't doing anything to give them more reasons to reject Jesus.
So, we decided to count down the 5 most damaging kinds of Christians and...
A week has passed since the unfortunate deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two black men who lost their lives during contacts with police officers. We have been following much of the aftermath from these two events and talking with people we know as we tried to decide on the best direction for this article.
There are many things that could be said, and most of them have been said many times over. But, since our focus here is to help Christians ...
How do you think Jesus wants you to interact with non-Christians who have a different understanding of morality than you do? Does he want you to yell at them about their sin? Make them feel terrible until they repent? Anyone familiar with the crap spewing out of the mouths of the Westboro Baptists knows that’s not right...
When we started writing, we anticipated that everything we wrote would be a joint venture. That one of us would write and the other would add to each article, book chapter, and anything else we published.
After all, the missional life we live is one that we have grown into together. We've helped shape each other's thinking, and we are a team in every sense.
There are a lot of people out there talking about being missional. Or being incarnational. Or living on mission. Or being missionaries in their neighborhoods. Or...fill in the blank.
But this is a plea from us. We really need your help on this one. We need you to connect us with some people who are really doing it. You know...people who are actually trying to live like Jesus in their neighborhoods. And in their workplaces. And wherever they end up.
And, now that you're here, chances are you're wondering why we wanted you here.
Well, here's what we've noticed (and maybe you've noticed the same). There are a lot of people out there giving advice about how to be more missional (joining God in various parts of his mission in the world). And a lot of those people have amazing things to say. We follow quite a few of them, and maybe some day we'll share some of our favorites with you.
But, we decided something was missing. Not completely absent. But not as present as we think it should be. And that thing is...