For the City

The talks are all about 15 minutes in length. Rudy Carrasco Christian business people worldwide are fired up about entrepreneurial solutions for fighting poverty. Business people often feel objectified and misunderstood. We need them for more than just capital. They can bring to the table skills of negotiating, partnership, advocacy, mentoring, skills. We need to listen to them, serve them, and partner with them. Bob Lupton The Western church is on the verge of a major paradigm shift in the way we are doing missions and service. On average, 2 million members of American churches go on mission trips. For all of that compassion we should be saying major changes in poor places. But in reality, the poor are poorer and more dependent, and their work ethic and dignity is lower. Why should we borrow money when the US church will give it to us? One report from the field: they are destroying the entrepreneurship of my people. $8.3 billion given to Haiti before the earthquake; but they are 25% poorer today than when we first started given. What are we doing wrong? We are evaluating our service based on how it affects us, rather than them. There is a massive misappropriation of kingdom resources. The cost of a mission-trip to build a house in Honduras is $30,000. The Hondurans could do it for $3,000. For what it takes to send someone to sponsor a trip to paint an orphanage, we could hire a number of full-time workers and buy uniforms for every kid in the school. We are doing for them what they have a better capacity to do for ourselves. Is our return on investment actually good stewardship? In order for our cities to experience God’s shalom, a whole range of gifts must be employed (architects, accountants, teachers, negotiators, etc.). Under the Lordship of Christ, every gift can be a spiritual gift. Josh Sowers The president of The Mentoring Project (a movement that exists to inspire and equip the faith community to provide mentors for fatherless boy) reads an excerpt from his book, The Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story. When dad leaves, something dies. Father hunger can turn into something destructive. Fatherless is becoming the defining characteristic of a new generation. The last prophecy of the OT before John the Baptist appears on the scene:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4:5-6 ESV)

Are we seeing the manifestation of this judgment? This is not just a social issue but a theological issue. We must adopt a Great Commission lifestyle. We need to step incarnationally into the lives of those who feel branded by rejection. We have to be reconcilers who are reconciled. We must enter into the suffering of a fatherless generation. The shame of fatherlessness can be replaced by the dignity of the Father’s adoption.   Dr. John Perkins Interviewed by Justin Lopez This is a moment in history I’ve been longing for. It seems like God is doing this. Background: He was born in Mississippi 82 years ago. His mother died of starvation when he was 7 months old. His father, a sharecropper, gave them away. He dropped out of school between 3rd and 5th grade, never to return. He went to a Good News Club and learned for the first time of God’s love. Galatians 2:20 changed his life. The relationship between justice and the gospel: The US gave the greatest declaration of justice (“we hold these truths to be self-evident. . . .”) but then the US contradicted its creed through its practice of injustice against Native Americans and African Americans. We can’t go back, though, we have to move forward. The gospel is the good news that the atonement for sin has been accomplished and that justice is possible. Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus has been born and made a sacrifice and the day of Jubilee is hear! Tell me the old, old story! It’s not an individual story of our own prosperity. We have to go back to the basics of the gospel—the story of God’s justice in salvation. God’s grace is his deciding by himself that he would redeem this humanity. Ephesians 2:8-9. He saved us from our past, he saves us in the present, and then he’s going to take us to heaven to live with him and nothing can separate us from that love!

God’s grace is his deciding by himself that he would redeem this humanity. Ephesians 2:8-9. He saved us from our past, he saves us in the present, and then he’s going to take us to heaven to live with him and nothing can separate us from that love!    For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14 ESV)

Ain’t no separation between grace and faith, between love for God and love for others! We are addicted to ourselves, and God has redeemed us from our sin. What passage of Scripture best balances gospel and justice? The parable of the good Samaritan. It’s unfortunate that we have racialized God’s grace. Here are some Samaritans that are branded. Jesus asks, What is justice? There is no virtue in racism. God never intended his faith to be a race. The gospel trumps racism and bigotry, and he has called us to be peacemakers. Justice is a stewardship issue. It’s an economic issue. God was almost a capitalist, but we have not spoken that truth to the capitalists, so they are exploiting. The need today is to pray: your will be done. What does Jeremiah mean when he tells the Israelites to seek the welfare of the city? Israel was to be a people of faith and light to the world; when they weren’t he took them out of their land into a nation. Whenever they went, they would still be a light and a witness. They are in Babylon because of their disobedience, but they are settle down, get married, be a witness before I take you home. It’s a passage about God’s grace and him using his people to carry out his will. What’s our next step? We must place ourselves into proximity of suffering. 84% of his community is being raised without a father. The church needs to be planted there. We need more than just a welfare system. People need more than your used clothes, they need your presence. The family of God needs to be where there are broken families. The gates of hell cannot stop the church. Some churches are just storefront churches, choosing location for a building rather than because of the community. I’ve probably started more parachurch organizations than anyone alive—and I’m praying God would forgive me. It needs to start with the church. What’s the one thing you would encourage folks with? This is not superficial: begin to listen to God. We’re too busy. The first commandment is: “hear, O Israel, the LORD your God is one.” Prayer is not us first talking to God, but listening to him, and our prayers are our response to him—and his word is always “my will be done.” What would God have me to do? Real leadership is taking God’s vision and turning it into passion. And that means we must be involved in discipleship. Propaganda I can’t adequately blog a spoken-word piece (it was on city and culture—“Jesus moved in, he wasn’t a commuter”), but you can watch his G.O.S.P.E.L. word here.

Incarnational Mission

Alan Hirsch A simple but deep text on incarnational mission: Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21 ESV). As the gospel spreads out (from Jerusalem to Samaria to Corinth to Thessalonica, etc.), there is a missional/sending impulse—not only to go to new places but to be his representatives there. There’s a recovery today of the missio Deo. God is a missionary God. He sends the Son. The Son is a missionary, and the Father and Son send the Spirit into the world. Every Christian is a sent-one to participate in God’s eternal purposes. Doing stuff isn’t what makes a missional churches; it’s when mission informs ecclessiology. It’s not that the church has a mission but the mission has a church. Mission belongs under doctrine of God first, not doctrine of the church. As the gospel is planted in a group of people, it begins to reproduce itself. Evangelicals tend to think about the incarnation only at Christmas. It doesn’t infuse our imagination, and therefore doesn’t inform how we live as Christians. If God is a missionary Go then we must be a missionary people. Incarnationality should be part of who we are. Missiology should inform our methodology. The medium is the message. If you’re not doing church this way, then you ought to have a good excuse. Dave Ferguson 80% of people will act their way into a new way of thinking and behaving. Gladwell’s tipping point: if 16% can be inspired to change, a group will follow. Paul encouraged leaders to set the pattern and watch others follow the example (Phil. 3:17). We need to give people a clear understanding of the Jesus mission. Three words: reach (people for Christ) / restore (God’s dream to planet earth); reproduce (the vision in others). For the mission to be accomplished, there must be a movement, which comes through discipleship. Begin with prayer Listen Eat Serve Story Do one of these missional practices every day. Who did you bless this week? At their church, 73% of their missional groups have a focused mission statement, and the church has anointed and commissioned them for this task of living missional in community. Jon Tyson How do you sustain incarnational mission? The only thing that can do this is love. How do you cultivate love? 1. Identification. Is your destiny wrapped up with your community? We normally just start with people who are godly (obsessed with theology). But they we want them to have leadership (obsessed with the brand). Then entrepreneurship (obsessed with the project). But what we really need is incarnational presence (obsessed with people). We need people who will agonize. Jesus was “moved with compassion.” “He wept.” “His heart broke.” Paul spoke “even with tears.” [Note: Unfortunately, he’s pitting theology against these things, like it’s on the same level as branding and projects; I wish it could be both-end, as it is in the Bible.] 2. Authority. We don’t need celebrity pastors with big general ideas. We need pastors whose hears are broken for the people they serve. Ignore contemporary Christian culture. Don’t be stressed out if you’re not missional enough. We need passion for God and compassion for people. Hugh Halter 1 John 2:6, “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” Sacrilege means to challenge inaccurate views about what are holy and sacred. That’s the way the Jesus walked. He’s the first iconoclast (image-breaker). Jesus was sacrilegious with Scripture. He said they searched the Scripture but didn’t find him. The more we know Scripture without practicing it, the more dangerous it is. Pokes fun here at those who want to go deeper. Let’s just totally obey one or two Scriptures, then we can go deeper. Jesus was sacrilegious with the Sabbath. Maybe our churches should cancel their Easter services to serve the poor. We need people who do unorthodox things. We should be the most un-religious people we know. Todd Engstrom A missionary is someone who sacrifices everything for the sake of the gospel. Where? When? What? How? Where do people in your church think community happens? Most think of it as an event. Small group: sitting in a circle talking about Bible and life. How do people in the community think about where it happens? Sports bars; parks; etc. They don’t set up standing dates on Wednesday nights. They gather when it’s enjoyable and convenient What do they talk about? In Austin: food; being active and healthy; people and things. They don’t gather in circles. They walk alongside one another for a common activity. Who are you expecting to be the missionary? Are we asking people without salvation to adapt their schedule to yours. They need to adapt their culture. We had good intention but our forms are not accomplishing the mission of God. How can we gather together in new and creative expressions to land where our city is. We need to lead not only with vision but with tangible practices to live out our faith in our everyday lives. Leonce Crump Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week. This is nearly sin. Many talk about the mission of God, but we are not looking like the kingdom together. Rev 5:9-10 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” It’s a direct implication of the mission of God to see not only reconciled to him but also different people with different backgrounds reconciled to each other not as projects, but as people in community. Lots of people ask: how do we diversify our church? First question: what does your staff look like? Second: what does your stage look like? Third: what does your community sound like? Our churches are still mono-ethnic, mono-cultural, mono-economic. The rest of the world is folding into one another, and the church is playing catch up. How is it reasonable that people without the Spirit of God unite around things that don’t matter, but we can’t unite around the cross? Incarnation must precede mission for mission to have any diverse momentum. Jesus tabernacled; he moved in. How long will we let the status quo remain? We must incarnate the gospel in many different cultures. Mike Breen I was trained as a theologian, and it ruined my ear to hear God’s voice. He shares Schaeffer’s watershed illustration, and says the mission is determined if I decide to live as a wise man and a disciple. Take what the Lord is saying to you; heart it; and by God’s grace put it into practice. Jen Hatmaker We are here today if we’re moved by the idea of missional communities. Consumerism is a cancer for missional community, destroying from the inside out.  Before we point the finger at all these selfish believers who are stealing our time: if we build a church designed to serve the saved, you will draw the sort of people who will crave what you’re offering. If we’re positioned to reach Christians, it’s Christians we will reach. If our limited resources are only designed for saved people, they won’t be on mission elsewhere. What about our consumerism? 1 Corinthians 4:15: “For though you have countless guides [spiritual nannies] in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” We can cherry-pick spiritual leadership from 10,000 guardians—but a nanny is not the same thing as a father. So many of us are spiritual fathers and mothers to people. Paul says “imitate me.” If our people imitated us, most of them would be preparing sermons and going to meetings. We are leaders, but we are also disciples. Heaps of only well-spoken theology impresses only those who are “into that sort of stuff.” We must live a better story and be watched. What if we sold our homes and moved into a neighborhood that really needed us? Let’s dig wells and care for children and build safe houses. Now we have something interesting for people to listen to. Jeff Vanderstelt If we are going to be about incarnational ministry, we have to stay and die. We’re hearing a lot more these days about missional (go) and not much about incarnational (go and stay). “Mission trips” are actually “mission visits,” and longer ones “mission vacations.” We’re not staying. Lots of people are excited about the hipness of going. I’m so tired of hearing about being missional. Jesus came in obscurity for 30 years. Are we willing not to be noticed? Will you stay? It’s going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life. Please don’t come if you don’t want to stay. Let’s stop running and going. Let’s stop and stay. We need to walk in the rhythms of the people God’s calling you to reach. And you not only have to stay you have to live among them. And die. The gospel is so powerful you can be in the middle of a mess and you can be protected and different. Why is it so hard to get people on mission? Because we’ve taught people to be afraid of dying. The biblical attitude is risk because I have nothing to lose. Let’s be willing to die for the one who died for us. Leaders: don’t die for your church and try to be a vicarious Jesus for them. The biggest mistake in starting Soma was taking John 20:21 and saying I want to be incarnate like Jesus among them. Jeff tried to be Jesus to people, and didn’t read v. 22:  “he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'” Send Best talk yet, by far.

For the Gospel

Jeff Vanderstelt is up again. Whenever I read Revelation 5, I think I’m wasting my life. I’m living my life as though that’s not real, as though it’s not really going to happen. I think about how little I pray, how poorly I worship, how poorly engaged I am with my neighbors . . . I come to my senses, and realize I’ve been eating with the pigs, wasted my inheritance. I’m 43—perhaps half my life is done. One of my greatest fears is that I would waste my inheritance. That can leave me with a lot of guilt and shame. Others of us are like the older brother. Someone needs to hear this message—that’s why I brought my friend! But you’re just running away from the Father in a different way. Because you’re still looking to your performance to merit his affection and love. I want to be a pastor to you tonight. I want you to hear good news. Romans 1:16-17:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

From start to finish, we put our hope and trust in him. This is the only thing that will save us from ourselves. It’s not the believers who are in here, and the unbelievers out there. But there are so many areas of our life still marked by unbelief. God’s righteous wrath is revealed against those who put their trust in the creation (Rom. 1:18ff). If what you heard today is, “Here’s what you need to do or it’s not going to change,” you’ve been hearing a false gospel. The gates of hell will not stand against the kingdom—and neither will you and I. You do not have to grovel any longer. You don’t have to be a servant in the Father’s household—you are already sons and daughters. Ephesians 2:8-9. The perfect son of God came and lived a perfectly submitted life to the Father. And he wants to exchange that for our lousy ministry record. The people who need to hear this the most are probably those who are in full-time ministry. Every January we can feel terrible—not enough baptism or numbers. We need to be reminded that Christ went to the cross for the ways we’ve squandered our inheritance, the ways we’ve worshiped the creation rather than the Creator. The point isn’t just so that we would be saved, but that Christ would be glorified. The Father is pursuing you relentlessly. Both sons are running away from the Father. Some of you are tired. God doesn’t care that much what you do for him; he cares that you love him. The doing comes out of the loving. It’s not about trying hard enough; it’s about not knowing his loving approval in Christ. The Father loves you like he loves his Son; Jesus gets what he wants and he prayed to his Father “that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26). Some of you need to be saved tonight—saved from running from God. God is so gracious that he forgives you for rejecting him. God’s grace and love are bigger than your sin. The righteous live by faith, not by groveling. There is also grace for you who are work-aholics, ministry-aholics, missional-aholics. There’s grace for putting more confidence in us and our methods than in God. There’s grace. There’s grace. There’s grace. If you’re wanting more significance, there’s no more secure place than sitting at the highest places with Christ. You can’t be any more loved than how God loves us in Christ. If you’re wondering why your church doesn’t appreciate you more—you don’t need it. The Father is saying I love you, I’m for you, nothing can separate us, there’s nothing more to get. No more significance needed; no love lacking; you have the inheritance of Christ. You are wealthier than you know; more blessed than you can imagine. Your hope is in Christ Jesus. You are invited to the feast where Jesus is at the table. Nothing will get better than that. That’s as good as it gets. Matt Carter Our prayer is that you would fall more in love with Jesus. The gospel will never be powerful through you until it is deeply powerful in you. I’ve been thinking a lot about music and worship. Why did God create music and singing? God tells us to love him with all of our mind; with all of our strength; and with all of our heart and soul. We’re not just to love him intellectually and physically but also affectionally. Few things besides singing connection our affections and emotions to the object of our worship.

    But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. (Psalm 5:11 ESV)

The rest of the talk will be reading from the Valley of Vision, interspersed with singing and worship.