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March 06, 2005

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Well, here's one thought. When people are trying to figure out who they are and what they are going to do, even at the level of local church, it often means learning through some kind of pendulum swing. We usually need to correct ourselves after swinging out a little too far in reacting against error. I've seen this in every circle - even emergent churches. As long as we are dialoguing, I think we can come to a healthy position.

My thoughts are, a relevant church is a church that brings the Gospel to bear in people's lives through words and works of redemption. Not through any kind one kind of art or style. This is what affords a conversation like emergent to be comprised of different looking churches.

Wow. I read this from Nouwen when I was a year old Christian (10 years ago). Thanks for reminding me how much he adds to the conversation.

Rather than answering your questions directly, I'm personally struck by the need for all of us to pursue continually the God who has always been powerful, relevant, and spectacular in right ways. We are so interested in making the world see us in certain terms, but I know in my own life those "certain terms" aren't often as "one who knows and walks with God."

How can we pursue relevance by pursuing Christ daily, continually? I think that answer will offer so much for our communities of faith.

Interesting. Very Interesting. The image you used of the devil and jesus was almost as compelling as the article...

I watched the dateline article on 'benny hinn' last nite. and I think he is an example of us if we are not careful. I think the devil often tempts us with 'success' as he does with 'failure'

I was at a missionary conference this weekend, and some of the speakers stated: "You cannot out give God". I agree. But what they failed to note was that God doesn't always 'settle his accounts' here in the shadowlands. Sometimes we have to wait until we are in the summer country to see our reward.

LYB

Seraphim -- It's good that you've reminded us not to lose site of the "other side" of this life. In today's culture of immediate gratification, we often fall prey to the tendancy to defer or even dismiss such thoughts.

Lord, have mercy.

So, in other words, the temptations of "To be relevant. To be spectacular. To be powerful." (the compulsions of the world) are things we should resist. I can relate to this so much because I have been housebound for 3 to 4 years. Just after I became a Christian, I happened to start having disabling health problems. But I didn't even care about the pain or the change in my lifestyle because I experienced so much joy in my salvation. But then, at one point, I suddenly felt so pathetic. I wondered why I am even trying to live a holy life when I am stuck at home and nobody knows I even exist. I think I was tempted in these areas (relevancy, especially) to think that I needed a reason other than God's good pleasure for myself to be set apart for him.

*Are we willing to take an honest inventory of ourselves and our ministries, and admit where our pursuit of the relevant, the spectacular, and the powerful has hindered our pursuit of God himself?

I think the greater question is "will we take the time to ask that question?" I think many would be willing and say its an important question to ask, but would not actually take the time for the hard evaluation an answer would require. The demands of here-and-now always seem to outweigh a careful evaluation like this.

*How much influence should we afford the popular culture in defining our priorities?

I think some priorities are culturally dictated, and others are, or at least should be, continual regardless of our context. I'm a youth pastor and if I did not respond to at least some of the things in today's youth culture, I would not be equipping these kids to resist the very temptations you describe. On the other hand, there are many things - prayer, study, silence/solitude, etc - that are important in any setting. So we have to find that balance between the contextual and the continual, and there will be times when one outweighs the other to a significant degree.

*In what way is our pursuit of success theologically justifiable or... damnable?

All I know is that Jesus never once took a head-count of how many people were at one of His "meetings." The Apostles apparently did that on occasion, but numerical growth didn't seem to matter to Jesus - He knew it would come if He kept on keeping on. Particularly in seeker-sensitive churches (like mine), the only real measure of success is putting people in the seats because that is the only quantifiable way you have to know if people are hearing the Gospel. That obviously lends itself to a great deal of compromise - we pretty much never preach on money or hell, they being the 2 biggest "turn-offs" for the unchurched. As long as we look to making converts instead of disciples, I think a lot of our standards for success are damnable.

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