For the Life of the World

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I just want to say one word to you; just one word. Are you listening? One word: ‘Oikonomia.’ Will you think about it? Enough said.”

Last Thursday night the Bush Center for Faith and Culture hosted a showing of the Acton Institute’s new film, For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles. Evan Koons, Stephen Grabill, Dwight Gibson, along with others have put together a seven-part series that explores the concept of “Oikonomia”–God’s program for the world. The film asks the question, “What is salvation for?” Each 20-minute session exhibits a quirky, breezy charm that keeps the viewer engaged. They really have pulled off quite an accomplishment: a series that is as fun to watch as it is thought-provoking. And by “thought-provoking” I mean the series candidly asks the right questions and supplies credible, biblical answers. Here’s a trailer:

The seven sessions cover the topics of:

  • Exile
  • Love
  • Creative Service
  • Order
  • Wisdom
  • Wonder
  • The Church

“For the Life of the World” addresses a serious need in evangelical churches in a winsome, helpful manner. Your Sunday school, Bible study, or small group needs to watch this series. Information about obtaining materials can be found here.

Why All Good Christians Should Celebrate Halloween

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Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared in 2009. Since we are once again approaching Halloween, George Robison’s (Hedrick Chair of World Missions and Professor of Missions and Evangelism) thoughts on Christian participation (or not) in the holiday remain pertinent and helpful. 

October 31st. For most Americans this date means one thing: **Halloween.** Costumes, candy and trick-or-treaters spending to the tune of $2.5 billion making this holiday second only to Christmas in marketing revenue. But good Christians don’t celebrate Halloween. Or do they? Some Protestants may prefer to call it Reformation Day, for after all, that is the date that Martin Luther nailed his Theses to the door at Castle Church in Wittenberg back in 1517. That does pre-date the first usage of the phrase “All Hallows Eve” (commonly known now as Halloween) which didn’t emerge until some 40 years later in 1556.[1]

Ironically, most good Christians that I know won’t be celebrating either Reformation Day or Halloween. Instead, they will be showing support for their local church by attending a “safe and sanitary” alternative called a Fall Festival. This alternative allows good Christians to invite their neighbors and friends to come to the church and get candy, play games and have some good, clean Christian fun. No pagan witches and goblins allowed. But they can dress up as David or Moses or some other biblical character. All the fun without the pagan revelry, right?

I would like to propose another alternative – that good Christians should indeed celebrate Halloween. I think that they should stay home from their church’s alternative Fall Festival and celebrate with their pagan neighbors. Most of them wouldn’t have come to your Fall Festival anyway. And those who did would’ve stopped by briefly on their way to “real” trick-or-treating. I’m sure that some of you reading this blog might be more than a little unhappy with my proposal at this point, but stick with me for a moment.: The reason I propose that good Christians celebrate Halloween and stay home from the “Christian alternatives” is that Halloween is the only night of the year in our culture where lost people actually go door-to-door to saved people’s homes . . . and you’re down at the church hanging out with all your other good Christian friends having clean fellowship with the non-pagans.

Living with missional intentionality means that you approach life as a missionary in your context. I lived with my family in South Asia and we had to be creative and intentional in engaging our Muslim neighbors. We now live in the USA and we still need to be creative and intentional. That’s why for the past 2 years we have chosen to stay at home and celebrate the fact that Halloween gives us a unique opportunity to engage our neighbors. In fact, last year we had over 300 children and 200 adults come to our doorstep on that one night. And we were ready for them!

We had a tent set up in the driveway and gave away free coffee and water to the adults who were walking with their children. Our small group members manned the tent and engaged them in conversation and gave each one of them a gospel booklet (“The Story” gospel booklets are available with a Halloween distribution rate here: http://story4.us/offer). The children ran up to our door while the parents were waiting and got their candy, along with gospel booklets (even if they were dressed as witches or goblins!). In all we gave away more than 500 pieces of literature that night, each with our name, e-mail address, and a website where they could get more info.

I sure wish more good Christians would celebrate Halloween this year by staying home and meeting their pagan neighbors – an option which I believe surely beats the “good Christian” alternative.

__________________

[1] John Simpson and Edmund Weiner, Oxford English Dictionary 2d. ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1989).

In Case You Missed It

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1) From The Gospel Coalition, Mark A. Howard gives a insightful account of the seductions and costs tempting today’s youth. Great resource for those in youth ministry.

2) From across the pond, the blog Think Theology provides excellent theological critiques of life and culture. This recent testimony from Elspeth Barnett illuminates the connection between studying theology and losing or keeping our faith.

3) SEBTS Dean of Graduate Studies, Chuck Lawless offers seven reasons pastors should practice fasting.

4) SEBTS Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Art Rainer lists five good reasons ministry leaders should pay attention to their budgets.

5) Danny Akin reflects on the life of Adrian Rogers and lessons learned from him.