The Way from Above and the Church

I am encouraged as I am reading The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus’ Path of Power in a Church that Has Abandoned It by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel.

It is essentially a call to weakness that lives in the power of Christ. Recognizing that so much of life is lived under power schemes that are actually unhealthy or evil.

Living the way of Jesus though is not a solitary endeavor. Here is what they say of the church, take it to heart.

Because we are prone to waywardness, prone to walk the path of pride, self-sufficiency, and power, we need the church to ground us in Christ and his way. We cannot live in Christ’s way on our own. This likely sounds right, but many of us functionally doubt our need for the church. Pursuing the way of Christ seems like a “me and Jesus” kind of endeavor. But our focus on ourselves unearths a deep foolishness that owes more to our culture and worldliness than it does to Scripture. We have no hope of pursuing the way from above apart from the church.

After Easter Now What Does the Church Do?

Okay pastor. You have survived Easter. You took out all the stops, you rang the bell and poured on the hospitality. You even preached your heart out. Perhaps attendance was the highest it has been in a long time and it seems some of the visitors might even stick around.

What now? Where do you go from Easter and how do you keep the momentum? May I suggest you preach the gospel and let that drive the church?

Wait you say, I preach the gospel, every year at our revival service! No I mean every week, from every text, for the glory of Jesus and the good of your church.

Enter Jared Wilson’s book “The Gospel-Driven Church: Uniting Church-Growth Dreams with the Metrics of Grace.”

Wilson gives a practical guide to transitioning to gospel-centrality (which believe it or not is not a normal thing in the evangelical world).

Grab the book, hang with other gospel-driven pastors and get going into grace. It is what the church is meant for!

Here are some choice quotes to whet your appetite:

“Healthy, fruitful churches are made up of Christians who are searching out God’s ways and following the trails of doctrine in the Scriptures straight to the throne. “

“Real Christianity cannot be reduced to methods and ordinary human metrics. It must always for the supernatural.”

“May we never mistake our busyness and bigness for the breath of God.”

“The gospel refers to the good news that God sent his Son Jesus to live a sinless life, die a substitutionary death, and rise from the dead so that sinners who repent and trust in Jesus will be forgiven and have eternal life.”

“A gospel-centered church is one that explicitly and intentionally connects its teaching, programs, ministry philosophy, and mission to the content of the gospel.”

“The gospel will hold and sustain your church in a way all the relevant programming, applicational teaching, and worship experiences never will.”

“Gospel-driven preaching is preaching that proclaims and exults in the revealing of God’s glory in Christ.”

“The power of salvation and the sanctification that follows comes only from the gospel, not the law. In other words, the power for to-dos comes not from to-dos, but from the “was-done” of Jesus Christ.”

“The gospel is not fully preached until people have been called to respond. The call can sometimes look like practical application points, but more generally it looks like prophetic pleading that urges hearers to turn from their way and embrace the way of Jesus. “

“A church centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ will be turned inside out because the gospel rightly grasped compels a church to join God’s mission in the world. “

“Over time, the gospel preached, applied, and empowered by the Spirit will coalesce a church around Christ, and from this gospel focus, people can be galvanized to move outward in mission.”

“If you want a gospel-driven ministry, you must resign your will to the supremacy of the glory of Christ and trade your personal ambitions for the beauty of Christ’s bride.”

Worthwhile March 8, 2019

Don’t you just love how Friday can sneak up on you! Well here we are, another week and another opportunity to be encouraged, challenged, or educated by something worthwhile.

Plagiarism, Calvinistic church planting, and a song, in that order.


First off is another take on the Rachel Hollis phenomenon. The social media star and author has a second book, “Girl Stop Apologizing,” making its way around and lots of women are checking it out. There is an itching ear lure to it, you are the dream holder, go get it. But it is quite another gospel as Jen Oshman clearly shows.

So the general message found on the pages is dangerous and not the Christian gospel. But it might also not be genuinely Hollis’. Katelyn Beaty has a piece on Christianity Today that outlines the ways in which this latest book is rife with plagiarism.

Not only is the self-worshiping tome bad theology, it is stolen philosophy at best. Be warned!


What’s the big deal about church planting?

Recently I have found myself in conversations that questioned church planting as a key missional instrument. To be honest I was a bit taken aback that people would see church planting as a detraction from evangelism in the least reached places of the world. Surely no one could be out of step with statistical benefits of church planting when it comes to conversion, and the importance of indigenous churches, I thought to myself.

Then I wondered if perhaps it is the theological environment – like the old accusation that Calvinists don’t evangelize. To the rescue comes Jeff Medders.

Author of Humble Calvinism, Medders makes a point of the relationship between church planting and cherishing the doctrines of grace.

“Calvinism is meant for more than theological headiness; it’s meant for mission… God’s sovereignty in salvation maximizes our mission. When we know that God is the only unstoppable and unfailing force in the universe—and that we are on mission with him—then our hearts and eyes widen for the lost. Far from hamstringing our efforts and endurance, the doctrines of grace energize us and remind us why we plant churches: because God saves sinners.”

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/calvinism-church-planting-old-friends/

Medders goes on to tie TULIP to planting as well as pointing out a couple of great catalysts of church planting, who happened to be Calvinists. And it is worthwhile for those wondering… read it here.


Finally, this week was one full of meetings with other pastors. It was encouraging and at one session the group worshiped together in song. While singing with these men we were all stirred by the truth conveyed in He Is Worthy.

While the style of call and response is new to some, it is a historical way of liturgy in the church and man does it declare Scripture well here.


Have a great weekend. Go to church. Hang with friends. Have an adventure!

Reclaiming a Biblical Pattern of Worship?

Last week Andrew Wilson’s latest book on the merger of eucharistic and charismatic worship landed in the mailbox and I think it presents a clear, if brief, argument for a wise way or pursuing a biblical expression of the church.

Wilson, well known to those in the “Reformed” and continuationist camp (holding to more Calvinistic theology and the belief that the miraculous gifting of the Holy Spirit continues today), invites the church to go both deeper and higher in a way that sounds nearly unfeasible but is actually quite intriguing.

Spirit and Sacrament is a “theological vision for the church that treasures all of God’s gifts, the eucharistic and charismatic, beginning with charis (grace) and culminating in chara (joy).” Marrying the passion of the church for the sacraments (communion, baptism as examples) along with historic creeds and prayers of the church with “low church” expressions where the gifts of the Spirit are passionately pursued.

Given my background and doctrinal positions, the book speaks to my desires in the life of the church but to be fair, it has enough to make each side anxious toward what could come of such a vision.

Wilson warmly persuades those unlikely to call their way of doing church “liturgical” to recognize their own liturgy and inject more of the tested and biblically taught things that adorn the gospel. A call to worship, reciting a creed, call and response, the reading of Scripture (apart from the sermon), and confession etc.

At the same time, he attempts to bring an embrace and fervent pursuit of supernatural gifts to places typically more reserved and cautious.

While ardent cessationists (those that presume the gifts ended with the end of biblical canon or ministry of the original apostles) will not be convinced, since Wilson takes just a brief moment to present a Charismatic basis, the interaction with the church fathers’ experience of the miraculous is worthwhile.

Throughout I was struck that what Wilson is presenting is a full-bodied biblical church. This is the model of the New Testament and should be a rich way forward for the church.

Wilson says this way of worship is aspirational, not descriptive, and aspire toward it we should. All said I imagine this little book will become the start of an increasing call to such things and it is something that I welcome with expectancy.

Here are some key quotes from the book:

“The historic church has always been more “charismatic” than either the cautious conservatives or sectarian enthusiasts have been willing to admit.”

“It must be possible to lament and celebrate, be serious and joyful, at the same time. It is important to consider how this kind of both/and can be cultivated and how being Eucharismatic can help us.”

“Gifts… are like vessels that carry us back to our homeland; they should be enjoyed, but only in that they are taking us to our true source of joy and our true love.”

“We need to plunge ourselves into the depths of our tradition, so as to spring to new heights. Down, into historic prayers. Up, into spontaneous ones. Down, into confession of sin. Up, into the celebration of forgiveness. Down, into the creeds. Up, into the choruses. Down, into knowing God’s presence in the sacraments. Up, into feeling God’s presence in song. Call, and response. Friday, then Sunday. Kneel, then jump.”

“The sacraments should be at the heart of our corporate worship, not peripheral and occasional interruptions to it.”

“If you want to be gospel-centered, be Table-centered. If you want to be truly evangelical, be eucharistic.”

“The chief actor in the sanctification of the believer is not a message, but a Messenger: a person who can be grieved or honored, not just a word that can be rejected or believed.”

“We are under the same covenant as our first-century brothers and sisters, and as such, we should assume that what the apostles taught them, they would also teach us.”

“It is possible, and in fact required of us, both to earnestly desire spiritual gifts – knowledge, wisdom, faith, prophecy, languages, interpretation, distinguishing spirits, teaching, healing, miracles, helping, administering, leading, giving, showing mercy – and to do so with scriptural wisdom, so as to build us the body, serve the common good, love one another, and exalt the risen Christ.”