Church - Cause

Using The Whole Bible

From Christopher Wright's The Mission of God's People:

Mission has to do with the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world, [which] means using the whole Bible. It simply will not do to quote a verse or two from favorite 'missionary' bits of the Bible and call that a 'biblical theology of mission.'

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Spiritual Warfare Is All About The Gospel

From Tim Chester on Ephesians 6:

Spiritual warfare is not about naming territorial spirits, claiming the ground or binding demons. It is all about the gospel. It is to live a gospel life, to preserve gospel unity and to proclaim gospel truth. It is to do this in the face of a hostile world, a deceptive enemy and our own sinful natures. And it is to pray to a sovereign God for gospel opportunities. Advance comes through godliness, unity, proclamation and prayer.

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Missional Praying

Our tendency is to compartmentalize the various tasks entrusted by God to the church as a whole, and to label some of them as 'mission' and give other names to other things, and then to assign special prayer to one or the other. But this does not reflect New Testament realities:

We have tended to think of mission as a discrete project (or as discrete projects), often of a cross-cultural kind, with the result that special prayer for this isolable function is called for. But apart from the special calling on his own life as an apostle (indeed as the apostle to the Gentiles), Paul sees mission in holistic, even cosmic terms. The glory of God, the reign of Christ, the declaration of the mystery of the gospel, the conversion of men and women, the growth and edification of the church, the defeat of cosmic powers, the pursuit of holiness, the passion for godly fellowship and unity in the church, the unification of Jews and Gentiles, doing good to all, but especially to fellow believers - these are all woven together into a seamless garment. All the elements are held together by a vision in which God is at the center and Jesus Christ effects the changes for his glory and his people's good. This means that thanksgiving and intercessory prayer, though sweeping in the range of topics touches, are held together by a unified, God-centered, vision. (D.A. Carson)

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The Other Lord's Prayer

From Christopher Wright's The Mission of God's People:

[Matthew 9:36-38] is the only other time in the Gospels [besides the Lord's Prayer] when Jesus explicitly tells the disciples what to pray. And it is unmistakably missional - in context and content. we use the 'Our Father' prayer so regularly in Christian liturgy, and this 'other Lord's Prayer' so spasmodically? What might have been the story of Christian mission if this prayer had become the one we memorized and repeated (and meant) down through the centuries? Of course, it's a dangerous prayer to pray. It tends to become self-answering, as the disciples found. For if they did do as Jesus told them, the very next thing that happens is that they become the answer to their own prayer as Jesus sends them out (Matthew 10).

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About That Newspaper Article...

Recently I was interviewed along with Bob McAndrew, pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church, for an article in The Oconee Enterprise about our two churches meeting in the same space. That doesn't happen often and apparently was deemed newsworthy. The article is out in this week's paper and I thought it painted a fairly accurate picture of the situation: there has been no tension between the two churches, we're extremely grateful to Faith for their hospitality, and we are looking for our own facility.

One sentence, however, jumped out at me as inaccurate and potentially confusing so here is my attempt to clarify. The article states that I said that we are targeting downtown Athens. For a number of reasons that is misleading.

What I said is that it has become obvious to the leadership of the church that by God's providence, we simply can no longer consider ourselves a church for Oconee county. As the article states, more than half of our church are students at UGA and Gainesville. And we believe we have a moral compulsion to help bring the blessings of God's kingdom to the downtown area - particularly in light of the fact that Athens-Clarke County is one of the most impoverished counties in the nation for a population of its size.

In essence, what we're saying is that we believe God has called us to have a distinct footprint in Oconee County (and other suburban areas of the Athens region), the UGA campus, and the downtown Athens corridor. That does not mean we are leaving one part of the region for another; it means that we want to remain open to the needs and opportunities in all three predominant cultures in our region.

To pull back the curtain even further, this means that we are looking for facilities in the Oconee and West Athens area, discussing how we can serves a catalyst for missional engagement on the UGA campus and praying and waiting about how we can help individuals, ministries and churches become part of the fabric of the downtown Athens corridor for the sake of Jesus and the good of the city.

Hope that helps if you were surprised or confused by that statement in the article.

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How We Impact The Nation

From 'Missional Church and Church Planting' by The Porterbrook Network:

As the people of God...we are to be a gloriously transformed community. We are a 'third culture' - neither Jew nor Gentile but the people of God. Under the new King, Jesus, we are to lead lives that are radically different from our surrounding culture, because our lives are being transformed by him. Under God, we seek the good of the city, loving those who are unloved in the city, reaching out and gathering people in, attracting people by the quality of our lives. That is how we have a glorious impact on the nation.

Can you think of ways that your community group is providing a 'third culture' as a concrete demonstration of God's kingdom? How else might you offer your neighbors the opportunity to taste and see that God's rule is good?

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Every Church in Every Generation

A church planted into a particular culture at a particular time can really only last for one generation. Gospel faithfulness and cultural relevance are issues that every church must grapple with, in every generation. This can only be done when we are clear about what the church is, biblically. We can only understand cultural relevance and gospel faithfulness when we have a clear grasp of a biblical ecclesiology.

'Missional Church and Church Planting' from The Porterbrook Network

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