An Old Game Plan for the American Church in 2014

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As some of our more astute readers have noticed, I post new content every two weeks at Cross Shaped Stuff. Lazy, I know, but life is busy. Take this December for example. The Sing Off was crammed into two weeks and you can’t miss that. Plus, it’s the holidays so (in the spirit of cross-shaped husbandship) I’ve watched enough Hallmark movies my man-card will be suspended until June: “Moonlight and Mistletoe,” “Matchmaker Santa,” “Snow Bride,” “A Holiday Engagement,” “Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus.” Yes, these are real movies, but my husband-card is better than my man-card so… All that to say that today is a follow up on a Christmas blog I posted two weeks ago on Jesus’ incarnation.

In as practical terms as possible, incarnation means: I step completely into your mess no matter how messy it is; I offer myself, at the expense of myself; I choose to be fully present in situations I want nothing to do with. All because that’s what love looks like.

God showed love can be no less than personal through Jesus. You can’t love someone from a distance or at arm’s length. You must be close enough to feel their pain before they’re close enough to feel your love. So God did.

And I’m no church historian, but it seems to me that every time a generation of Jesus followers gets this right, the church experiences outrageous success, qualitative and quantitative. Look at the church in Acts. After Jesus left, the early church had only 120 people, but they quickly exploded. And why?

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“God in a Bod” – Three Steps to Do Christmas Right

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PHOTO CREDIT

On the first Christmas, God showed up and loved out. And it was that simple, ever since the world hasn’t been the same.

*** JESUS’ INCARNATION ***

In smart-Christian circles, they call this incarnation (in my circles we call it “God in a bod“). It’s a word that gets floated around during Christmas as we reflect on the Word becoming flesh. And during this season of my life, it’s a reality that’s having a most profound impact on me.

In as practical terms as possible, incarnation means this…

I step completely into your mess, no matter how messy it is.
I offer myself, at the expense of myself, for the sake of you.
I choose to be fully present in situations I want nothing to do with.

All because I love you.

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Something pretty much everyone can do to share Jesus with others…

Q: What’s your story?

Dr. Francis Collins has been the longtime head of the Human Genome Project and was appointed by the POTUS as the Director of the National Institutes of Health.  He is one of America’s most accomplished and visible scientists.  He holds a Ph.D. in Physics from Yale University as well as an M.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  And he’s known in the realms of science as a “gene hunter” being one of the leaders in the world-wide project to map out human DNA, or what Collins calls “The Language of God.”

Dr. Collins is now an outspoken evangelical Christian and proclaims Jesus as Lord… but it wasn’t always that way.

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Evangelism vs. Discipleship – So which one is more important???

Q: Should the church be primarily focused on evangelizing the lost or discipling the saved?

Q: How do you balance the two?  Or should there even be a balance? Perhaps the pendulum should swing a little more one way than the other?

Q: Practically, what does this look like in a weekend church worship context?  What does this look like in the way churches teach and train disciples? 

Q: Personally, what should this look like in your life as you grow and cultivate “spiritual disciplines”?

To be honest, I think that when we ask questions like these (though they are thoughtful and pertinent and important questions to work through) we are ultimately asking the wrong question. Because what we have done here in setting up this impenetrable tension is create a false dichotomy that Jesus would have never intended to exist.

Disciple-making is evangelism.  And evangelism is disciple-making.

When you evangelize, fact is, you are becoming a more complete disciple.  And biblically, every single last one of us are called to do it. Continue reading