Sunday, December 07, 2008

Christianity is death (and new creation)

"The two constants to effectiveness are: a) getting the gospel right (not moralistic or antinomian, not individualistic or collectivistic) and b) contextualizing the whole church to the culture around (not over-adapted or under-adapted.) To think that the key is in the methodology (organic/incarnational vs organizational/attractional) is a mistake that comes, I think, from a lack of experience."
Tim Keller commenting on church ht: Stephen Murray

And when you get that perspective - I start to see why people were buzzing after our church meeting this morning. Stu Alred continuing our series in 2 Corinthians (5v11-20): Christian life is death, followed by new-creation life in Jesus. I'll post to the mp3 when it comes online later this week.Serious gospel clarity. Christianity can't be an add on to life but is death and life.

When we walked away from the safety of Reading to follow God's call to Exeter (something we resolved to do 20 months) I honestly believe that it was a matter of us dying to our lives and choosing life in Jesus. Pursuing his call to death. The challenge is to continue doing that day after day after day in each situation. Death to me. Life in Christ. Controlled and compelled by the love of Christ - in the big things and in the detail.

Tomorrow I have the priviledge of interviewing 3 final year students for RELAY next year. That'll be a serious death to self 'career choice'. Another on Tuesday, and six more interviews on Thursday. This is great for many reasons. It's one of the occasions when I get to actually work with my Staff on something. And this means I'll sit through hours of students testifying about Jesus. More than that, I get look young men and women in the eye who are prepared to throw their lives away in service of Jesus. It's not the only way they can do it - they could embrace graduate jobs as death too - but it is a way. It is entirely possible to live for self whilst earning nothing and being a pioneering missionary with students for a year - but there are better ways to plan to live for self.

I need to die everyday. For that I need the love of God to control me. I need the gospel of Jesus.


  1. Who could disagree with this? But how on earth do you do point b) as a church leader without it just becoming twiddling with approach issues? I don't know how to get my church to incarnate in our culture.

  2. I think part of the answer to Mo's point might be related to a post I did last week.

    Paul tells Titus that we have new passions, hopes and desires. If we want to incarnate the gospel, it has to be through every member of our churches approaching all areas of society and culture asking "how do I apply my new, gospel passions, hopes and desires here?" What does it look like for them to live out redemption in any cultural or societal situation.

    If that happens, they will incarnate the gospel. And if it does then no amount tweaking church approach to culture will make any difference in the long run. Therefore my take on how to make a church effective through being appropriately contextualised is: discipleship. Developing among all the believers a Christian mind, a biblical worldview, a gut instinct to approach all matters of living in this world through the grid of knowing God.

    Trouble is, tweaking and twiddling with church life seems so much easier, less time-consuming and far less demoralisingly long-term. Which is why we all prefer programmes and preaching scheldules to people-oriented discipleship.

    The rest of my post is here:

  3. Yeh... I dunno... I think that's why my post flowed out of point a) !