DashHouse.com

The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

Our relationship with others

Our vocations - how we live and work in this world

Our ministries

This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

Journey to the Heart of God

I attended a seminar last Saturday at Bramalea Baptist led by Milfred Minatrea, author of Shaped by God's Heart. The topic was on becoming a missional church. Also got to meet Darrell Buchanan, a pastor and fellow blogger from Hamilton, who attended. Seems like we've been in the same room before but it's the first time we met.

I've just posted my notes from the conference:

HTML
PDF (requires the free Acrobat Reader)

Responding to Scripture

I mentioned last week that application is one of the hardest tasks in preaching. It's easy to introduce all kinds of heresies in application or to give people an endless list of to-do's to complete, or become anthropocentric and make the application all about felt needs.

In The Drama of Doctrine, Kevin J. Vanhoozer suggests that the result of good theology is:

...not a set of timeless propositions, nor an expression of religious experience, nor grammatical rules for Christian speech and thought, but rather an imagination that corresponds to and continues the gospel by making good theological judgments about what to say and do in light of the reality of Jesus Christ.

The result, according to Vanhoozer, is the "missing link between right belief (orthodoxy) and wise practice (orthpraxis): right judgment (orthokrisis)."

In other words, we don't need more timeless propositions or rules for how to behave. We need to be formed into people whose imagination conforms to Kingdom reality, so that our actions flow out of our values, which flow out of our beliefs.

Maybe questions like these, from The Great Giveaway, by David Fitch will help. Fitch focuses on responses of faith, confession, obedience, and submission:

How am I to respond to this God?

In light of who God is, in light of what he has done, in light of what he has said, what step in my life should I be taking in obedience?

How should I be seeing a current situation in my life?

What sin should I confess?

What attitude should I repent of?

How should I see myself before God?

What am I not acknowledging about God?

How should I celebrate this in my own life?

How am I to respond in worship?

Taizé services contain long periods of silent reflection in response to what is read or taught. Often the period of reflection is as long as what was said. It would be interesting to preach for ten minutes and then go into a ten minute period of silent reflection using questions like these.

In any case, I hope to do a bit of thinking and writing about how to preach to shape our imaginations and unfurl the reality of the Kingdom rather than to hand out more to-do's. I'm interested in your thoughts.

Hit and run

Charlene and the kids were rear-ended yesterday by a black Mercedes SUV. The driver took off instead of pulling over, which wasn't a very smart move. Charlene got the license plate and we reported the collision to the police and our insurance company.

The plate matched an address not far from here. The officer rhymed off the charges that could be laid against this person - failure to remain, careless driving, failure to report an accident. I checked out the points and it's enough for her license to be suspended. Would have been much less if she had remained at the scene.

When I picked Charlene up at the doctor's today, I pulled in beside - a black Mercedes SUV. The same one. It's a small world. Who knows when we'll run into each other again. Maybe not as literally this time.

Churches must learn to die

This post is from the defunct blog "Dying Church"

My latest column at Christian Week:

Three years ago, I heard a pastor talk about how to make Church attractive. His church provided different musical styles in different rooms concurrently to appeal to different tastes.

I could relate to his desire to make Church attractive. Churches face pressure to meet people’s needs and keep them in the pews. After 30 years of the church growth movement, churches are more contemporary and relevant than before.

But as he spoke, my mind filled with questions. Despite more relevant churches, overall attendance is plummeting. Statistics Canada reported this month that Canadians are practising their faith at home, but increasingly staying away from religious services. The study says Canadian-born residents are losing their faith. Perhaps these trends would be accelerated without the help of the church growth movement, but why are we losing people just as we’re making Church more attractive to them?

And even if this approach works, are there dangers in conforming Church to what people want?

I remember sitting in that conference when a familiar passage entered my mind. I began to wonder what it might mean for churches, not just individuals, to take this passage seriously.

The Church must die

Jesus said in Luke 9:23-24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

We often apply this passage to individuals, but we don’t always apply it to churches. The focus of church ministry is often growth and health, not death.

If we apply it to churches, new questions emerge. What does it mean for a church to die to itself? How can churches deny themselves, abandoning self-interest and self-preservation? Can church ministry become congruent with the call to sacrifice and even die? Do we believe if churches do this, they will really begin to live?

It’s not easy to ask these questions as church leaders. A cartoon shows a long line of antelope, with the pair at the front about to step over the edge of a cliff. “I don’t want to be the leader anymore,” one says to the other.

Nobody likes leading others to die to themselves. For one thing, we have to go first. Yet the call to die to ourselves, both as individuals and churches, is not optional. It is central to what it means to follow Jesus.

How to die

The call to die reshapes how we live as churches.

It’s not about me. It’s tempting to come to church as a consumer hoping that my needs and desires will get met. Former pastor Eugene Peterson writes, “The great weakness of North American spirituality is that it is all about us...And the more there is of us, the less there is of God.” We face the challenging task of orienting ourselves around God and His mission instead of us and our needs.

It’s not about the institution. Neil Cole, author of Organic Church, writes, “You will be amazed what people do for Jesus that they will not do for your vision statement.” It is important, but not easy, for a church’s vision to be more about the Kingdom than the individual church. Following Jesus may involve actions that cost or threaten individual ministries.

It’s not about methods. Methods are important, but they are not the primary issue. We are facing a challenge that cannot be answered by methodological or stylistic changes, but in a fundamental reorientation of our ministries away from ourselves.

It’s not about success. North American culture is obsessed with size, glamour and celebrity, and that spills into the Church. I’m beginning to learn that some of the most effective ministries in Canada are being led by unlikely people in hidden places, although they will never meet our culture’s definition of success.

Dying to ourselves will not solve every problem, but applying this passage to our churches is much better than the alternative. Our greatest challenge may not be making our churches more attractive. It may be leading churches to die to themselves, so they can really start to live.

Churches must learn to die

My latest column at Christian Week:

Three years ago, I heard a pastor talk about how to make Church attractive. His church provided different musical styles in different rooms concurrently to appeal to different tastes.

I could relate to his desire to make Church attractive. Churches face pressure to meet people’s needs and keep them in the pews. After 30 years of the church growth movement, churches are more contemporary and relevant than before.

But as he spoke, my mind filled with questions. Despite more relevant churches, overall attendance is plummeting. Statistics Canada reported this month that Canadians are practising their faith at home, but increasingly staying away from religious services. The study says Canadian-born residents are losing their faith. Perhaps these trends would be accelerated without the help of the church growth movement, but why are we losing people just as we’re making Church more attractive to them?

And even if this approach works, are there dangers in conforming Church to what people want?

I remember sitting in that conference when a familiar passage entered my mind. I began to wonder what it might mean for churches, not just individuals, to take this passage seriously.

The Church must die

Jesus said in Luke 9:23-24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

We often apply this passage to individuals, but we don’t always apply it to churches. The focus of church ministry is often growth and health, not death.

If we apply it to churches, new questions emerge. What does it mean for a church to die to itself? How can churches deny themselves, abandoning self-interest and self-preservation? Can church ministry become congruent with the call to sacrifice and even die? Do we believe if churches do this, they will really begin to live?

It’s not easy to ask these questions as church leaders. A cartoon shows a long line of antelope, with the pair at the front about to step over the edge of a cliff. “I don’t want to be the leader anymore,” one says to the other.

Nobody likes leading others to die to themselves. For one thing, we have to go first. Yet the call to die to ourselves, both as individuals and churches, is not optional. It is central to what it means to follow Jesus.

How to die

The call to die reshapes how we live as churches.

It’s not about me. It’s tempting to come to church as a consumer hoping that my needs and desires will get met. Former pastor Eugene Peterson writes, “The great weakness of North American spirituality is that it is all about us...And the more there is of us, the less there is of God.” We face the challenging task of orienting ourselves around God and His mission instead of us and our needs.

It’s not about the institution. Neil Cole, author of Organic Church, writes, “You will be amazed what people do for Jesus that they will not do for your vision statement.” It is important, but not easy, for a church’s vision to be more about the Kingdom than the individual church. Following Jesus may involve actions that cost or threaten individual ministries.

It’s not about methods. Methods are important, but they are not the primary issue. We are facing a challenge that cannot be answered by methodological or stylistic changes, but in a fundamental reorientation of our ministries away from ourselves.

It’s not about success. North American culture is obsessed with size, glamour and celebrity, and that spills into the Church. I’m beginning to learn that some of the most effective ministries in Canada are being led by unlikely people in hidden places, although they will never meet our culture’s definition of success.

Dying to ourselves will not solve every problem, but applying this passage to our churches is much better than the alternative. Our greatest challenge may not be making our churches more attractive. It may be leading churches to die to themselves, so they can really start to live.