“Comfort Zone,” right? Monday, Oct 30 2006 

It seems that I have heard the phrase “step out of your comfort zone” in sermon after sermon, conference after conference, youth retreat after youth retreat for my entire life this phrase has been repeated again and again. Attached to this phrase is almost always “…and do missions, even short term missions, in a foreign country and culture.” Personally I have traveled a good amount and experience everything from Brazil to Dominican Republic to London to Budapest, Belgrade, Sofia and many more. All of these different cultures were completely different from mine in some ways and exactly the same in others. I experienced amazing things and surely got to know God in a much deeper relationship. However, the point I rarely hear is that we can step out of our comfort zones in our own lives right now, in our own families, at work, or in our cities. For me, doing evangelism is stepping out of my comfort zone. Going into Boston and walking up to strangers on the street is out of my comfort zone and surely challenges must of how I “normally” live my life. Let’s step out of our comfort zones where we are living right now and be witnesses for Christ here, now. Let us engage our culture for Jesus.

Questioning Church Monday, Oct 30 2006 

This Fall I have had the opportunity to visit a many different churches. Most of these churches have been non-denominational but they have ranged greatly in how they do church. Some churches have a pastor who stands, teaches, and sits down trying to keep himself out of the spotlight while other pastors seem to bask in the glory of being on a stage. Some churches have big, very professional worship bands, others were very unprofessional and one led by mostly college students. This time of visiting many different churches has brought many, many questions up in my mind. The answer I have found to everything is, “How do we do church to bring the most glory to God?”

Should there be a lead singer in worship who seems to become the focus?
How should a worship service be arranged? Announcements, then music then preaching?
Why not lead forth with preaching and respond with worship and offering at the end?
Should a pastor sit on a stage? Should many pastors sit on a stage?
Should the band be on a stage?
Should we sing old songs, popular worship, or write our own new songs?
Should I sit in service for over an hour before preaching starts?
How many services should there be a week? Should it be the same message?
Should we have a “seeker sensitive” church that invited people in with a simple, feel good message? Should we have deep theological training on Sunday mornings?
How long should the sermon be? Fifteen minutes or an hour and fifteen minutes?
How long should a whole morning service go?
Should communion be taken on occasion or every Sunday?

And the list continues on…

Live and Let Jesus Tuesday, Oct 24 2006 

What comforted me most as I was prayerfully thinking through our next season was a lengthy study through the New Testament in which I searched for what God promises to do for the church. As I studied, I learned God promises to grow his church, select elders, save people, bless the teaching of his Word, gift people with exactly the abilities the church needs, and providentially make up for human mistakes if people are repentant of their sins. By the end of my studies, I was confident that our future would be fine because the heavy lifting would continue to be done by Jesus and that we just needed to trust him with obedience and keep going.
-Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, in his book, Confessions of a Reformission Rev.

New England Conference Tuesday, Oct 24 2006 

On Saturday October 21, 2006 Pastor Tom Schaller of Greater Grace World Outreach spoke in Marlborough, Ma during the 2006 New England Conference. He spoke on the wisdom mentioned in Proverbs 9:1, “Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn her seven pillars.” Pastor Schaller spoke on seven pillars in our lives as Christians (not necessarily the seven specific pillars this verse speaks of).
1) Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”
a. This is the fear we have of a train rolling down the tracks, not of a serpent let free in our home. We have a reverence for the greatness of God.
2) Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding.”
3) Proverbs 20:27, “The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.”
4) Proverbs 24:3-4, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established…”
a. The Bible is the highest form of education
b. We learn that:
i. We are sinners (Romans 3:23)
ii. By God’s grace are we saved (Ephesians 2:8)
iii. We live in Faith (Galatians 2:20)
5) Proverbs 10:11, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”
a. The mouth is the well of life
b. No person in the world counsels you more than yourself
i. We have much to learn
6) Proverbs 5:16, “Should your spring be scattered around, streams of water in the streets?”
a. We scatter, or send out, in order to increase
7) Proverbs 11:24, “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.”
a. We have gained more than we have ever lost

The God Delusion Thursday, Oct 19 2006 

Questioning Evangelism Sunday, Oct 15 2006 

After spending the last couple months sharing the Gospel of Jesus with nearly one hundred people in the city of Boston we have come to the conclusion that the most effective way to reach people today might be through starting a conversation using a survey. This causes people to let their guard down while at the same time opening up the opportunity to share Jesus with people.
After talking last night we have decided that we should make a more official survey to make people feel more comfortable. A couple of times we have run into people who were happy to take a survey but became uncomfortable when we were writing our answers in our notebooks. We want to make it more official so please help up to find the best questions to ask people today. Ed Stetzer, missiologist and church planter, said that “we need to find the questions people are asking to which Jesus is the answer.” We need to research culture, find the questions people have, then sort through them and find the ones to which Jesus is the answer. These are the questions we want to ask people.

Here is what we have so far:
1) In terms of spirituality, what direction do you feel our culture is headed?
2) Agree the Bible is a “good” book, what is the most important thought or verse in the Bible?
3) Who is Jesus?
4) What does God require of you?
5) What are you looking for in a church and pastor?

Please share your ideas. Thank you.

*Title from Randy Newman’s book, Questioning Evangelism

Donald Miller Friday, Oct 13 2006 

This week I had the privilege of meeting Donald Miller when he came to speak at Gordon College. Mr. Miller is the author of a number of books including Blue Like Jazz, To Own a Dragon, and Through Painted Deserts. He shared with us how the church has always been trying to keep a foot in two kingdoms. Churches have always tried to represent both God and his redemption while also trying to represent the world and the popular culture of the day. Miller’s point was shown through the evolution over the church through the past 100 years. He said that the church has gone from being a family when that was the most important ideal of the early 1900s, to being part of a team when industry became the center of American thought to how where corporate American has become a focal point of thought in life. “Be profitable for the Kingdom of God,” is a very common thought – we have become workers in the industry of the church. Then he makes the point that we, this culture of postmodern Christians, think “we are not a pawn” and that we are different. But what is the prevailing influence of our culture? Entertainment.
What is a postmodern church? In a theater, nightclub, the pastor is an entertainer. Pastors are supposed to be entertaining, stand-up comedians, provocative not theologically sound. Don called us back to the scriptures and to stop submitting to culture. We are to live unto Christ and not be submissive to culture.
Although I agree with nearly everything Mr. Miller said one thing I would like to caution against is leaving culture. As Christians we are called to be in culture, as Jesus lived in his culture and did not withdraw to himself. We need to find the balance between living in and effecting culture while not being negatively affected by it. “We need to take the never changing Gospel to the ever changing culture,” as Tim Keller says. This means molding, moving, changing our way of doing ministry while never compromising the Truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For His Name’s Sake Thursday, Oct 12 2006 

1 Samuel 12:22 For the Lord will not forsake his
people, for his great name’s sake, because it has
pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.

Psalms 23:3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

Psalms 106:8 Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
that he might make known his mighty power.

1 John 2:12 I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.

It Burns -Rachele B. Monday, Oct 9 2006 

God just basically knocked me over with a burning passion for whatever is going down in Boston. no joke…there is a deep ache in my heart right now. Hes showing me that awesome things can happen if we take Him seriously. Part of taking Him seriously is going to Him in intense prayer about this. So…im not really giving you an option…if you want to see Him move in powerful ways…we’re talking mountains here…we have to pray. Prayer is a POWERFUL weapon…especially when we gather together in agreement. I’m thinking setting aside time during the week to get those who have a burning on their heart for this together to pray and seek the heart of God for this. Even if I am doing it alone…its gotta be done! so…you in?

I am in.

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
– James 5:16 –

Be Challenged. Tuesday, Oct 3 2006 

To challenge is not to take the opposite opinion, not always. To challenge is to call one’s current standing into question. This can be fleshed out in two ways. The first is the common approach, the approach I see so many Christians taking, this would be to take the opposite side of an argument and play the devils’ advocate in the hope that the person in question would move towards the center on an issue. They can become stagnant or lukewarm, convictionless. The other approach, the one I see as the many times the superior approach in the Christian walk is to go beyond and challenge people to go further. This can take the shape of asking a person if they trust God as deeply as they should, if they are studying and enjoying God’s Word as much as they should, are they living life in Christ to its fullest. Are they being “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth?” Are we?
I want to be challenged to go beyond in my Christianity. To go beyond where I currently am and continually grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus. I want to be challenged to grow. to serve. to learn. to pray. to receive grace. to give grace. to know God. to be a witness. to live Christ.