Kinda Christianity

If you like good satire, this book looks too good to pass up. The authors ask, "What would Christianity look like if we were all college sophomores?"

This ground-breaking book covers the following topics (listed from most important to least):

  • Fashion
  • Personal Grooming
  • Finding the Right Workspace
  • Choosing an Emergent Vehicle
  • Naming Your Church
  • Achieving the Right Atmosphere
  • Your Internet Space
  • People You Like
  • People You Don't Like
  • Dealing With Critics
  • Diet
  • Places to Be Seen (and not seen)
  • Hobbies
  • Theology

As you can see, this is a nearly-exhaustive look at all the meat on the bones of emergent. And to aid you in your quest, we also include 16 illustrations, emergent quizzes, and more!

What are you waiting for?

Visit the website or just go ahead and buy the book.

Get to Know Other Pastors

Mike McKinley has some good advice in his excellent book Church Planting is for Wimps:

Can I pause here just to plug the value of friendships with pastors at other churches, especially if you're flying solo? Few things have been as worthwhile as the time I've spent getting to know the other pastors in our area. My goal has been to meet one pastor every month. I email them, tell them who I am, let them know that our church has been praying for them (it's our practice to pray for other churches every Sunday morning), and ask if I can buy them lunch. They usually pay since they are older and more established, but it seems rude not to offer up front. At lunch, I ask them tons of questions about their ministry, their families, and their knowledge of the community.

For the most part, you would be amazed at how much other pastors know and what good advice they have, even the guys who are (shudder) not theologically Reformed. Not every guy is incredibly discerning, but you can learn from just about anyone. Almost every good ministry idea I've ever had has been "borrowed" from another pastor.

So if you're a church planter or a young pastor, get to know the other pastors in your area. If you're an older pastor, get to know the new guys in town and help them out a little.

Conversations That Count

"Conversations that Count: Sharing and Defending Your Faith" is an interactive workshop with Dan McDonald of the Grace Center for Urban Mission and Joe Boot of the Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity. It is designed to help you introduce your faith in conversations with your friends and family in a non-threatening way.

What is the question that you most fear being asked at the pub?

What are the objections that you hear most often?

What are some of your fears when you share and defend your faith?

Evangelism in a post-Christian environment will almost always be a process that involves Christ-centered and Gospel-centered conversations over time. It is not about winning arguments or even about winning people over to our way of thinking. The goal is to help people to move from objections about isolated facts back to the main issue at hand... worship of the Lord Jesus.

Join us to learn how to better engage people with the great news of Jesus Christ!

Please Click Here to Register

Date: May 29, 2010

Cost: $20 includes childcare, lunch, and materials

Location: 41 Britain Street, Toronto, ON M5A 1R7

Time: 9:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M.

Speakers: Dan MacDonald, Joe Boot

Sponsored by the Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity and the Grace Centre for Urban Mission

This looks great. I'm planning to attend.

We Need Gospel Movements, Not Just Better Churches

My latest column at Christian Week:

Most of us, if we're part of a church, are focused on the growth of that church. I've become increasingly convinced that we need to continue focusing on our individual churches, while also developing a concern for something much bigger. We need to develop a vision for a gospel movement within our area, and ultimately in our country as a whole.

Let me give an example. I pastor in Toronto, and I have my hands full just trying to stay ahead of the challenges in my own church. But no matter how well my particular church does, it will never be able to have the kind of impact that's needed on the entire city. Toronto doesn't need one or even a dozen churches to do well. It needs all kinds of churches from all kinds of movements to revitalize existing churches and to start new ones. This means we need to be working together a lot more than we would if we're focused only on our own churches or our own movements.

We all need to learn from others. We're used to learning from big and successful churches in other countries. It's much more effective to learn from good churches in our own contexts. That means that I can probably learn more about effective ministry in my city from other churches in my city, and places like it. The resources I need may not be found within my own movement, but within churches that belong to other movements.

We don't just need more and better churches. We need gospel movements in key areas of our countries. There are some steps we can take to get there.

We can all begin by praying for our own areas. Rather than praying for our own churches only, or even our own denominations, we really need to begin praying for the gospel to advance in our city or town. For instance, I'm hearing of groups in my city meeting to pray for the city as a whole, and all of the churches in it. This is very encouraging.

We can also begin to build networks outside of our own denominations. I've become friends with some key pastors in other denominations. Two are in new churches. Two are in churches that have relaunched. Two of us are from established churches. We have lots of minor differences, but are united by a common theological core and a concern for our city. We're beginning to look for ways to work together.

This group has helped me in ways I hadn't anticipated. We feed off each other's energy and vision for our area. This is good, but even this isn't enough.

As we began to look for ways to work together, we became aware of Tim Keller's teaching on gospel ecosystems. Keller envisions movements within cities that go beyond one leader or one denomination, in which the percentage of Christians is in the city is growing in relation to the growth of the population. Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship teaches that when the Christians in a prison reach 10% of the population, the entire prison changes. The same is true, Keller says, in neighborhoods and in cities.

How do these movements get started? At the core, they begin with an effective, contextualized way of communicating the gospel to residents - particularly city-centre residents in major cities. Around that core, Keller says, cities need a number of church planting movements from within various traditions. Finally, cities need a number of supporting systems and networks, such as specialty evangelistic and mercy and justice ministries. When these are in place, movements will hit a tipping point.

I was a little overwhelmed hearing what has to happen, but I think Keller's right. We definitely need to be thinking of kingdom growth rather than just church growth. We don't just need movements of people between churches; we need the percentage of Christians to grow in relation to the population. This will take our best thinking and efforts, and lots of learning on the way. We can all start by praying and networking and go from there. Let's start thinking about more than the growth of our individual churches. Let's pray, and work toward, a whole lot more.

That One Thing

As quoted by Mike Bullmore at The Gospel Coalition Canada Conference yesterday:

When a man, by constant contemplation of the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord, finds himself so inflamed with the love of God and man that he cannot bear the thought of any man living and dying without the knowledge of God, he may begin to bear the Cross of Christ. If, as he bears it, this longing for the salvation of all men fills all his thoughts and desires, then he has that one thing without which no man can truly be a messenger of Jesus Christ. (Stephen Neill, quoted in The Gagging of God)