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June 23, 2008

The Living Church- Chapter Three

The Living Church – Chapter 3
 
In the next few weeks I’ll be posting on John Stott’s excellent new book: The Living Church. Stott is a writer, pastor, and teacher who is well worth reading.
 
This chapter is on Evangelism. Stott points out three types of evangelism: personal, mass, and local church, which he sees as the most ‘normal, natural, and productive.’ In order for the local church to follow through on its task it has to meet four conditions:
 

First, the church must understand itself. Stott begins with theology. Church today has two false images: a religious club that is status orientated and ingrown or a secular mission. Stott prefers a third option: a church that is called out of the world and sent back into it. He refers to this as a God given double identity.
 
Second, the church must orgainize itself. Structure must reflect theology and the double identity. There is plenty more here for the interested reader. Good stuff!
 
Third, the church must express itself. This is to be done through sharing the evangel, ‘the essence of the gospel is Jesus Christ himself.’ Stott see two poles to avoid in our day of pluralism. ‘Total fixity’ where the gospel is packaged like cheap soap, or ‘total fluidity’ when situations and contexts take control of the message. There is a place for preservation and being aware of the need to contextualize, but they must be in dialogue with each other and not opposed.
 
Fourth, the church must be itself. The church is, Stott notes, ‘God’s new society.’ The challenge
is to live like it and to be a sign of the inbreaking Kingdom of God . Church is to make the invisible
God visible through acts of transformed love.

June 22, 2008

Reflection for the Week- June 22nd 2008

When it comes to the Christian faith, don’t be afraid to improvise. That does not mean to make it up as we go along, but to join in with the symphony of Scripture and to find your place in interpreting and becoming part of the composition.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

June 16, 2008

The Living Church- Chapter Two

In the next few weeks I’ll be posting on John Stott’s excellent new book: The Living Church. Stott is a writer, pastor, and teacher who is well worth reading.

Stott now takes up worship. This, he says, is the church’s primary obligation. But what is worship? Four points:

First, true worship is a ‘response to revelation.’ Public Scripture reading and study therefore are central to worship.

Second, true worship is in community. Granted, there is a place for individual worship, but the biblical focus is most often on the corporate.

Third, true worship is ‘spiritual worship’ and spiritual worship is connected to Scripture, the Eucharist, and praise and prayer.

Fourth, true worship is moral. Living Christ like lives both in our hearts and relations is to practice holiness.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

June 15, 2008

Reflection for the Week- June 16th 2008

Despite the many obstacles and false paths we take, Jesus says he is the way, the truth, and the life. Follow him and find community with God.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery 

 

June 10, 2008

Reflection of the Week- June 8th 2008

Might we be living in times where what we have known as church and culture are falling apart and beginning to disintegrate? And if so, where are we going to turn to find renewal and hope? If Western culture and church are to be revived, fervent prayer and the power of the Spirit will be essential. Further, I believe that one of the crucial elements of recovery will have to be a deep commitment to the reading, study, and appropriation of Scripture. Living the practices embedded in the biblical text is central to Christian existence and having an impact on church and culture for the sake of Christ.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery 

June 08, 2008

The Living Church- Chapter One

The Living Church – Chapter 1   In the next few weeks I’ll be posting on John Stott’s excellent new book: The Living Church. Stott is a writer, pastor, and teacher who is well worth reading.  

This chapter sets out what Stott calls God’s vision for the church. Question: What would you see as necessary marks or traits of God’s church? Stott is a person who is about church through and through. His vocabulary for the church is ‘God’s new community.’ Stott argues that all believers should be committed to church, its mission, and its renewal because God is committed to these. Each of the three are essential.  

But what is a living church and God’s vision of church? Stott offers us a picture from Acts 2:42-47:  

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  

‘The early church,’ Stott states, ‘was radically stirred by the Holy Spirit.’ In following Luke’s recounting we notice four marks of this Pentecost event, which will help us in shaping the church today.  

First, a living church is a learning church. ‘Devoted to the apostolic teaching,’ according to Stott, didn’t mean that people left their intellects behind in exchange for a mystical experience or that because the Holy Spirit had arrived they no longer needed a teacher. True, says Stott, the New Testament apostles are no longer with us, but we do have in the New Testament their teaching and witness.  

Second, a living church is a caring church. ‘Fellowship’ is to be taken seriously and we’re to make a difference in extending generosity wherever possible.  

Third, a living church is a worshipping church. Joy and reverence are to be combined in a mixture of both formal and informal structures.  

Fourth, a living church is an evangelistic church. Mission and outreach are to identify the people of God.

June 04, 2008

The Living Church – Introduction

The Living Church – Introduction

In the next few weeks I’ll be posting on John Stott’s excellent new book: The Living Church. Stott is a writer, pastor, and teacher who is well worth reading.

Stott begins his account with a Preface entitled ‘Emerging Churches.’ In spite of all the books today about church, Stott thinks we are in a time of crisis and that the church may be way out of step with the culture in unhelpful ways. He finely balances the need for Christians to be attuned to culture and to also be counter-cultural. ‘Scripture is unchangeable,’ Stott writes, ‘culture is not.’ We are to conserve Scriptural teaching, yet be radicals. Traditional and emerging churches need to be open to dialogue and learning from each other. Persitent practices of both types of churches are to identify with Jesus, avoid the sacred-secular divide, and be authentic communities.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

Reflection of the Week- June 1st 2008

Lamentably, the founding stories of our faith are so often entombed in church buildings that lack the presence of God, or in electronic boxes that perpetrate a mindless faith in consumerism. By contrast, the subversive and radical power of the mission, ministry, and person of Jesus illumines the path towards authenticity. Cherish the Gospels, read them diligently, appreciate their relation and distinction, and above all, live their truth in love.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery