In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project, Dr. Nathan Finn answered a few questions about the relationship between spiritual formation and mission from a new book, Spirituality for the Sent: Casting a New Vision for the Missional Church, which he co-edited with Dr. Keith Whitfield.

In recent years, evangelicals have pursued a more holistic Christian mission and participated in discussions about spiritual formation. Yet these two important movements have developed independently and rarely intersected.

Nathan A. Finn and Keith S. Whitfield want to change that. In Spirituality for the Sent: Casting a New Vision for the Missional Church (IVP Academic, 2017), Finn and Whitfield bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines and ecclesial traditions to address the relationship between spiritual formation and mission.

Nathan A. Finn (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a professor of Christian thought and tradition at Union University, where he also serves as dean of the School of Theology and Missions. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book, mission, spiritual formation and cultural engagement.

 

At his blog, The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls posted an article discussing how “coasting” only becomes an option in the mind of a Christian when we forget we are trying to draw closer to a person. Aaron writes:

How much did you enjoy coasting down a hill on your bike as a kid?

 

You can put your feet off to the side (or on the handlebar if you’re feeling really daring) and let gravity do all the work. Enjoying the wind against your face is the reward for all the effort you spent pedaling up.

 

As a kid, that was one of the greatest feelings, but sometimes things can go wrong.

 

Once, I was going too fast down a hill. I hit a bump, flipped over my handlebars and rode upside down for a few feet before crashing into a briar patch.

 

Attempting to coast spiritually, has put many Christians in a similar predicament without their even realizing it. Coasting is not an option for the Christian.

 

Over Easter weekend, a fascinating conversation took place on Twitter among several well-known evangelical women writers discussing the ideas of Christians building “platforms” and “brands.” Since that original conversation, several blog-posts have been written discussing this topic further. Below, are a few of these:

 

 

In Case You Missed It

Earlier this week at his personal blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared a glimpse into the life of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary as a “Great Commission” Seminary. Dr. Ashford writes:

Southeastern possesses a clear identity, confession, and mission. The seminary is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperative Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention. Its faculty members confess the Bible as the authoritative Word of God and covenant to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith & Message. They further affirm the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Together with the Board of Trustees and the administration, faculty members share a mission in which “Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Mt 28:1920).” In summary, Southeastern is a confessional seminary in the Southern Baptist stream of historic Christianity whose mission is to be a Great Commission seminary.

 

Karen Swallow Prior published an article on the challenge of entertainment at First Things: “Delight in the Good.”

I’m tempted to concur with the diagnosis of our current malaise offered by Carl Trueman: “[E]ntertainment is not simply a part of our world. It is arguably the dominant essence of our world. … [E]ntertainment is now ontology.”

 

I’ve been teaching college students for nearly thirty years, and I can affirm, with Neil Postman, that entertainment has been “the dominant essence” for students for at least that long. I’ve been a member of the body of Christ for even longer, and can attest to a similar attitude of careless consumption in too many pews (and a good number of podiums). Yet the problem, I think, is not that entertainment is ontology. Rather, it is that we don’t know what place to accord entertainment within our ontology. We should beware giving it too low a place, as well as too high.

 

Our human ability to delight in the world means that entertainment is part of human nature. Today, technology makes entertainment so ubiquitous that our only options may seem to be to consume it mindlessly or to reject it mindlessly.

 

Keelan Cook shared some tips on how to map your church members in Google for local outreach. Keelan writes:

We talk a lot about hospitality today. There is no end lately to the blog posts and articles circulating the internet concerning the importance of hospitality in outreach and missions. I have several on this site.

 

Hospitality is an important aspect of ministry that Western Christians often struggle to incorporate into their lives. Compared to other areas of the world, we love our privacy, and  our home easily becomes our fortress of solitude. While homes should be a place for rest, the Bible challenges us to view them as tools for ministry. Can we honestly say we are stewarding God’s gifts well when our single, biggest purchase is never used for outreach?

 

We should change this paradigm in our churches. Homes are not caves. They are not fortresses to protect us from the hectic world outside. They are gracious gifts from our Heavenly Father to be used, in turn, for his glory. This means opening your home up to others. Yes, it means having others from your church over, but it means even more than that. Use it as a staging ground for the Great Commission.

 

When was the last time you invited unbelieving neighbors into your home?

 

Krystal Wilson posted at The Intersect Project on Colin Kaepernick: Looking Past the Outrage.

Athletes: the only people who can go from “pent house to outhouse in seconds.”

 

As a former division one athlete, I’ve heard these words a thousand times, particularly from my father. He too was a former collegiate athlete, recruited by the likes of the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys, and he had become all too familiar with the unique plight of an athlete.

 

Athletes know it is far too easy to fall from the high graces of fans. One moment people are singing your praises, and the next they’re burning your jersey. Knowing the fragileness of the pedestal upon which many athletes sit, it is genuinely surprising when they risk it all for something they believe in. To take such a risk, they must find that their belief or stance is worthy of the consequences of a loss of fan base and endorsements.

 

Which brings us to Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick (and several other NFL players) have decided to silently protest racial injustice in America by kneeling or raising a fist during the playing of the national anthem.

 

Kaepernick isn’t the first athlete to use his platform and take a form of silent protest on behalf of the voiceless. Kaepernick joins the likes of Muhammad Ali and Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos who protested societal ills.

 

As we consider Kaepernick’s stance, let’s look past the distractions and consider some gospel implications and a way forward.

 

Sarah Rainer shared seven tips to address mental health issues in the church. Sarah writes:

One in five people in your church will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime.

 

You will have few people who have not been directly or indirectly impacted by mental health issues. With so many individuals impacted, church leaders need basic knowledge to handle these issues effectively.

 

Church leaders do not need to be experts in psychological functioning, but they do need some basic knowledge in order to offer support to individuals struggling in the church. Here are seven basic pointers that every church leader should consider when dealing with mental health issues.

 

In a recent roundtable discussion posted by The Gospel Coalition, Miguel Núñez, Danny Akin, and Bill Kynes got together to discuss their biggest fear in ministry.

 

In Case You Missed It

Bruce Ashford recently posted at Canon and Culture discussing the question: “Are we voting for a Pastor-in-Chief or a Commander-in-Chief?” Dr. Ashford writes:

More than any race in recent memory, the 2016 election cycle has caused Americans to debate whether or not a presidential candidate’s moral failures should affect his or her viability for office.

In the Democratic primaries, the debate centers on Hillary Clinton in general, and her email scandal in particular. Polls tell us that a large portion of the population perceives her as dishonest and untrustworthy. In the Republican primaries, the debate centers largely on Donald Trump’s candidacy, as he has been criticized for bragging about sexual exploits with women other than his wives and for employing rhetoric that many consider demeaning and unprincipled.

Often, the debate is framed in terms of a question: “Are we supposed to be voting for a Pastor-in-Chief or a Commander-in-Chief?” When asked in that manner, the implied answer is, “Of course we are not electing a pastor-in-chief, so stop whining about a presidential candidate’s track record in matters of morality.” But this question poses a false dilemma, and its formulaic answer is simplistic and unhelpful.

At his personal blog, J.D. Greear recently addressed the biggest questions he gets on Geneis 1 and 2. J.D. writes:

The opening chapters of Genesis are incredibly rich. (If you haven’t noticed, they’ve been bouncing around my head quite a bit recently. Consider Exhibit A and Exhibit B.) But I’ve found that it’s nearly impossible to bring up Genesis 1—regardless of the setting—without certain key questions coming up. For some people, these are the onlyquestions that matter. As you’ll see here, I don’t think that’s the case. But they’re important questions nonetheless.

Recently Karen Swallow Prior published a piece describing what it’s like to be in the middle of a life story, but you just want the spoilers.

This is how it begins:

A faded cotton gown that barely covers me as I lie on a hospital bed, one breast uncovered while the technician glides a probe across my cold flesh.

She stares ahead at the monitor, hunting for telltale signs of death, chatting blithely about her daughter and shopping at Target, and I gaze upwards at dull white ceiling tiles.

At the Peoples next Door, Keelan Cook recently discussed two reasons you should be a missionary.

A few days ago, I described three things that should keep you from going to the mission field right now. They were all character issues, and frankly they are very important. The damage that can be done to the missionary and family, the team they are going to work with, and the work itself on the field is jeopardized when people go who do not possess the necessary character outlined in the pages of the New Testament. It is a big deal.

But I do not want to leave it there, because that is only half the picture.

At the Intersect Project website, Amber Bowen posted: Love the Word: Redeeming Jacques Derrida (The Philosophical Blacklist)

If given the choice, would you prefer to read God’s word or to hear him speak? Which would make you feel closer to God? Which would give you greater sense of certainty?

My guess is that we would prefer the latter. Even those of us who are wholeheartedly committed to the doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture would intuitively say that hearing God’s voice would make us feel we are truly in His presence and have perfect clarity of what He is saying. I often wonder if we subconsciously consider the scriptures sufficient for the time being until the day when we will have true, unmediated access to God by physically seeing his face and hearing his words.

Why is it we intuitively think that hearing God’s voice would somehow be superior to reading his word? I believe the best person to help us answer this question is a contemporary, post-structuralist philosopher named Jacques Derrida.