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“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector,” – Jesus (Matthew 18:15-17).

In my experience, most people are terrible at dealing with any sort of conflict or disagreement. I say most and not all because there are some people that are better than others at dealing with such things.

Much of Christs’ teaching has to do with how we ought to relate to others. The above passage is no different. Jesus is here talking about what you ought to do if someone “sins against you.” For our purposes, let’s broaden that a little bit to anything that someone does to upset you including saying something that you may disagree with.

When someone becomes offended or upset I most often see one of two reactions: 1) The hurt person goes and complains to someone else about the particular situation or, 2) The hurt person says nothing but stores up bitterness towards the person that has upset them. Both of these reactions, although prevalent, are extremely problematic and poisonous. Let’s say someone says something that I disagree with. Is that unfortunate? Maybe. However, what is even more unfortunate and just flat out poisonous is if I react in one of the two ways listed above. Let’s look a bit longer at the above responses.

1) If you are hurt or upset by something that a person says your reaction ought not be to run and complain (“tell”) to someone else for, “a gossip separates close friends” (Prov. 16:28 ). Gossiping can very well fuel your own discontent towards the person that has upset you. Sharing and gossiping with someone about how terrible another person is for saying such a thing simply gets you more worked up and angry at the person that has done the hurting and this in no way resembles the love and grace we are to show others. Yet this happens every single day. People are hurt all the time and their first reaction is to tell someone else (now certainly I’m not saying that you should ALWAYS approach the person that hurt you because in some cases this may not be safe, but I’m simply talking about your average situation where something was said that you may disagree with etc). When will we learn to practice better, more constructive ways of dealing with hurt?

2) Likewise, if someone says something that is upsetting to you it is unwise to do nothing and allow yourself to become bitter. Paul exhorts the church in Ephesus to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice,” (4:31). Bitterness ought to have no place in Christ’s Body. Likewise, the writer of Hebrews says we ought to “see to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many,” (12:15). The writer of Hebrews teaches that bitterness can “cause trouble and defile many.”

As Christians, we *ought* to relate to people differently. If we are upset about something that has been said we should not react by gossiping or becoming bitter because these reactions are not reflective of being created anew. We are made *new* in Christ and ought to demonstrate a better way of living, that includes a better way of dealing with conflict and hurt. Jesus prescribes a better way when he says, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you,” (Mt. 18:15). If we truly believe this and do it we can save ourselves all of the hassle that comes with the previous two options and in so doing we can actually demonstrate a better way. When you go directly to the person to show them their fault (instead of going directly to someone else to show them someone else’s fault!) you eliminate the gossip. There is no chatting amongst people. There is no hearing things from third or fourth or FIFTH parties! If you are hurt, go directly to the person and let them know you are hurt. When this happens and it is kept “just between the two of you” then “you have won your brother over” and it is an edifying experience for all those parties involved: People are encouraged by one another, the truth is spoken in love and we are able to grow *together* as a Body and rejoice in that! (The same cannot be said about gossip). Likewise, if we handle conflict in such a way it leaves little room for bitterness. If you are hurt and go to the person to talk about it and share your hurt with them and they listen to you then you both grow closer and there is mutual healing and edification. This eradicates any bitterness because you are left healed and encouraged.

I think that the Church has much to learn in the area of dealing with hurt/conflict, however, when I see Jesus I see hope. As Christ’s Body we can demonstrate a better way! In fact, this is our DUTY! So let us do away with childish things such as gossip and bitterness and let us pursue truth and reconciliation, and over these things let us put on love.

Grace and peace.

JT.

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this is nothing new. people have been talking about this for along time, however, i’m beginning to experience it for myself. so here it is.

if you live anywhere in the developed world, like myself, you know what it’s like to walk into a mall. shops of all sorts and sizes. they are renovating the mall close to my apartment to add in new stores. we have shops that sell 50 different kinds of popcorn, shops that sell clothes for big ladies and small ladies, shops for skater kids and kids that want to be in the next abercrombie commercial, sports shops, jewelery shops, nutrition shops, zellers and restaurants. if you like yoga, go lulu. TVs? try the sony store. whatever you want, it’s there. clothes, food, gadgets and books. all under one roof. all you have to do is show up with your family or friends and stroll down the halls, stopping in at the shops you like and purchasing whatever you want. give me what i want.

and, if you live anywhere in the developed world, like myself, you know that this attitude isn’t reserved for the mall. people are completely detached from products, people and places and they have this notion that whatever they want, they can get. just go out and buy it. out with the old, in with the new. when you live like this, it effects all aspects of your life. so what happens when you go to church?

well, if you live anywhere in the developed world and go to church, like myself, you know what it’s like to see church become yet another commodity. next time you meet a churchgoer ask them, “why do you go to your particular church?” in all likely hood they will probably go on about some sort of program for their kids or the great worship or the preaching or the 3-ply toilet paper. is this healthy? is this church? when you attend a particular church because of what that church can offer you, aren’t you just strolling around the mall? but the problem is, this isn’t the mall, this is a community of faith. the problems with this consumer mentality when it comes to church is that it never ends! maybe you attend your church because they have a great kids program. well suppose the childrens minister leaves and you hear of another church across town that has an even better kids program. “let’s go there!”

my point is simply this, church isn’t meant to be another thing that you consume. can we be honest and call this what it is? it’s selfish, it’s self-centered and it’s not reflective of the renewal of one’s mind. when we gather as a community of faith, we gather not to consume, but to be consumed. we gather with the hope that Christ will consume us, all of our strengths and our failings, and that he will in turn, send us out to be consumed by others. so it’s not about great programs or crappy programs, it’s about committing yourself to the Body and playing your part, whatever that is. it’s about dying to yourself and your own crappy desires and being renewed by the Spirit so that you can learn to desire rightly. it’s about realizing that you are important to the local Body, even if you’re the body part that releases excrement.

church is all about consumption. just not the kind we’re used to in the developed world. so lay down your life, pick up your cross and be consumed by Christ so that you can become food for others.

grace and peace.

jt.

thus far we’ve looked at different ways that the evangelical church in n.america has typically measured success. simply put, “bigness” is typically how success has been measured. however, this is arguably not a good way to measure success for a number of reasons. as David Fitch puts it, “our focus on numbers, bigness, and large institutions is therefore rooted in two of America’s sacred cows: the autonomy of the individual and the necessity to organize for economic efficiency.” as well as this, merely counting numbers doesn’t necessarily mean anything if sanctification does not accompany justification. finally, if a church gets too big there are many hurdles to overcome in order to be the Church, therefore, pursuing bigness in and of itself can deter the church from actually BEING the Church.

so, this being said, how ought we measure success?

i think a far more beneficial way is to see success as faithfulness.

Fitch puts it this way: “this vision for success aims toward faithfulness in being the body of Christ before the watching world. the goal is not bigness. the goal is to inflame the inner workings of his body…the goal is to immerse the stranger into the salvation of Jesus Christ.”

what would it look like then, to have practices that measure faithfulness? surely we will still measure or count things, however, we will measure and count DIFFERENT things than under the assumptions of modernity. Fitch argues that we ought to use the following as measures of success in being the Church:

1) count baptisms instead of decisions.
“let us have ways of initiating converts into the salvation of Jesus Christ and the work of God in the world that mean more than an isolated decision. let us take a person who has made a new decision to follow Christ from that initial decision into a step-by-step process that leads to baptism.” we must deny isolated decisions and look for ways that this persons decision will become the decision to be a faithful follower of Jesus. this kind of decision will only make sense within the immersion into the body of Christ via baptism. as Fitch says,” these baptisms are powerful points of entry into the world where Jesus is Lord, and th new initiate is born into service for Christ and his kingdom. baptisms then mean something…”

2) use qualitative measures of community.
we ought to really measure community. let’s go beyond survey questions about the quality of preaching, the worship, the usability of kid’s care services and let us ask questions in our surveys like this: “when was the last time someone spoke a hard truth into your life? was it done with love?” “when was he last time you confessed sin to someone you felt safe with in this community?” when was the last time you prayed with someone over an issue of needs or discernment in this body?” “when was the last time someone in this body visited you in the hospital or brought over a meal when you were sick?” “when was the last time a homeless person was brought into this congregation and made whole?” these are the types of questions that Fitch says we ought to be asking. QUALITATIVE questions.

we should ask each other questions that test the manner of life that we are living in order that we might be used by God as the body of Christ. Yoder puts it this way, “what needs to be seen is rather that the primary social structure through which the gospel works to change other structures is that of the Christian community. here, within this community, people are rendered humble and changed in the way they behave not simply by a proclamation directed to their sense of guilt but also by genuine social relationships with other persons who ask them about their obedience; who (in the words of Jesus) ‘bind and loose.'”

as Fitch says, “let us then turn from only measuring church attendance to measuring the life being lived in Christ…then we will be able to tell if being a Christian makes a difference. we will be able to tell whether what is going on within these boundaries is really the functioning body of Christ.”

3) measure the number of new church plants, not the size of church buildings.
“let us count the number of local congregations each church has formed outside itself instead of the attendance figures on sunday morning or the increased size of the worship facility…if indeed the facts are true that the greatest conversion growth occurs in churches when they grow from fifty to two hundred people, why is it that we insist on building bigger churches after they have reached one thousand?”

more can be said on all of this of course, and be sure to add your thoughts, but i’ll wrap up with that.

peace.

jt.

for our intents and purposes here i’d like to restate what i think it means to be successful (and even now i hesitate to use this word) as the Church. simply put, success as the Church comes when we *are* the people of God, not only within our church buildings, but in the world that is watching. to be the people of God is to be immersed in the way of Jesus, a way that is completely different than our current culture in north america. this means not only having different “beliefs” but more-so, actually LIVING differently and in a way that reflects the values and teachings of Jesus as revealed in the Scriptures. more will be said on this later but a few examples would consist of resisting materialism and the drive to build up for ourselves kingdoms on earth, loving one’s enemies as opposed to practicing vengeance and practicing justice and mercy as a community of believers as opposed to individual justice. in other words, we are called to EMBODY the gospel of Jesus as opposed to merely SPEAKING the gospel of Jesus. secondly, the Church is successful as the Church when the inner workings of the Church are practiced and lived out in the community of faith.

the later point is what i would like to examine at the moment. i think that scripture suggests, along with many others since, that the Church is DOOMED from actually being the Church if our goal is to “get bigger”. i wish to challenge the idea that a larger church necessarily is more successful at “doing church” (whatever exactly that means) especially given the fact that a church, if too big, is actually hindered from BEING the Church in the sense that it is harder to practice and live out the inner-workings of the Church.

a goal of the Church ought to be to bring new believers into maturity as followers of Christ and participants of salvation in the context of community. the question, as Fitch puts it, is “what kind of organization facilitates the inner workings of a local body of Christ that are necessary to properly mature new believers into followers of Christ and participants in his salvation through the body of Christ?”

again, i wonder if these inner-workings of the Body are at all hindered if a church becomes too big. the following is a lengthy but great quote from Fitch:

“once we see it is the quality of these inner workings of the body of Christ (not the quantity) that are necessary for the nurturance of each new convert, we can no longer manage the body of Christ as if its size is irrelevant. in fact, in critique of modernity, we should note that largeness and organizational efficiency risk crushing the goals and substance of what it was we were organizing for in the first place. if we make bigness and efficiency a goal in itself, we may leave the church void of its original calling to be the living workings of the body of Christ before a watching world. therefore, it will not do any longer to naively measure success via the size and efficiency of an organization to manufacture decisions for Christ. instead, we must have measures of success that locate whether an organization is indeed functioning as a living breathing body of Christ. this does not require that bigness in itself is antithetical to being the body of Christ. but what it may uncover is that bigness is a hurdle to overcome and not a goal to be sought in being the successful body of Christ.”

when decisions become a goal in and of themselves, then obviously it makes sense for the church to organize itself in such a way as to be efficient at accomplishing this goal. “but if we see that salvation is more than one’s personal transaction with God, if we see that salvation is the invitation into God’s cosmological work of redemption over sin through Jesus Christ, our idea of church changes and we must organize accordingly.” when we no longer separate one’s sanctification from justification but rather, recognize that one’s sanctification is dependent upon membership into the body, then our idea of the church shifts and we must organize differently.

Fitch sums up a quote by mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder by saying: “it does not make sense for the church to seek decisions for Christ as an end in itself apart from being his visible body on earth, which makes it possible for people to make such decisions. the church is much more than the machinery that produces decisions for Christ. it is the social space, under his lordship where the Holy Spirit works to build up believers and equip the saints (Eph. 4). it is the social foretaste of his reign where God is taking the rest of the world. it is spatial because we are a people “called out” from the world to be the ecclesia.”

it is only when the world sees the life of this new society (the Body) that they are made aware of their lostness and separation from God. out of this new life, the decision to a call for Christ, to repentance from sin and new life in Christ actually makes sense to those who are lost without Christ. Fitch carries this on by saying: “when we see the church like this, we cannot organize blindly for the manufacture of decisions. we must organize toward the goal of being the body of Christ, the manifestation of the work of his Spirit among his people, into which the lost are invited to be saved. we must organize for the facilitation of the inner workings of the body, not for the end result of decisions regardless of whatever it takes. we must measure for the quality of these inner workings that mark faithfulness to the call to be his body, not just measure numbers of decisions, which can be meaningless without a context that allows them to make sense.”

wow. so, in other words, the church must not organize itself in such a way as to simply manufacture or collect decisions for Christ. we must, as the Body, organize “toward the goal of being the body of Christ” and for the “facilitation of the inner workings of the body”. as we live this out and as we actively BE the Church in the world, then people see this alternate society that is under the lordship of Christ and can make decisions to become a part of this kingdom. NOW these decisions can actually make sense. they are no longer arbitrary. they are no longer self-serving. for they arise out of a longing to submit to Christ Jesus and to participate in a BETTER way, the way of the kingdom. on the other hand, people will never know what they are signing up for (sorry for the choice of words) so to speak, if the Church isn’t actively BEING the Church because we are merely settling for the manufacturing of decisions.

however, the problem is that these inner workings of the Church (that allow the Church to actually BE the Church and therefore draw out decisions that make sense) become more difficult the larger a body becomes. please note, i’m not saying that the inner workings of the Church are impossible if a church becomes too large, only that they become significantly more difficult. so, what exactly do we mean when we speak of the inner workings of the Church?!

as the body of Christ we:
– speak the truth one to another in love (eph. 4:15)
– we bring things out into the light (eph. 5:8-13)
– we gather together to resolve conflict and forgive one another (matt. 18:15-20)
– we discern and make decisions (matt. 18:15-20)
– we share the gifts of the Holy Spirit with one another for mutual upbuilding (1 cor. 12, 14; rom. 12:3-8; eph. 4:11-13; 1 pet. 4:10-11)
– we confess our sins one to another and pray for and anoint the sick (jms. 5:14-16)
– we gather to take part in the Lord’s Supper in his special presence and worship (1 cor. 11)

Fitch argues that, “activities such as these define the church as Christ’s body. they can happen here in a way like nowhere else. these inner workings, however, rely on interpersonal community that resists larger more efficient forms of organization.” the reliance of these inner workings upon genuine community means that larger communities may, in fact, hinder the Church. take the exercise of spiritual gifts in community as an example. for Paul and much of the new testament, the spiritual gifts define the very essence of the church. in order to fully exercise these gifts, “church members need to recognize, affirm, test each other’s exercising of the gifts in the arena of Christ’s body (1 thess. 5:19-21). this requires that we know one another. therefore, the exercise of one’s gifts will become more difficult the larger and more impersonal the church gets.” there are many other examples like this. in the same way, true community diminishes with increased size. and there really is no way for a larger church to mass-organize thousands of people for the goals of community. Fitch takes this a step farther saying, “it is nigh impossible to organize multiple groups who can genuinely come together to pray for one another, edify one another, support and affirm one another, correct and forgive one another. because in mass, groups will always tend to come together based upon affinity instead of the Lord’s Table. groups will not come together as black and white, Jew and Gentile, woman and man, poor and wealthy. such groups, when mass organized, easily degenerate into self-fulfillment enclaves that last only as long as we each have need of specific services and supports.” without a pastoral leader willing to guide this “inner working” of true community, it will be lost.

to wrap up, here is Fitch one more time:

“the body of Christ is an alive organism of the Spirit, which cannot be manufactured. it truly is a culture as opposed to a company. through our worship and conversations, our reading of the Word and ensuing hospitality, we learn a new way to speak and a new narrative to live. the body of Christ is a way of life lived and practiced, not a set of programs and activities volunteered for…evangelicals therefore should pursue a version of success that is formed out of faithfulness to God’s call to be his body as opposed to success via numbers. we should organize ourselves consciously away from the goal of getting big toward the goal of being the body.”

peace.

jt.

i want to continue on with the idea that numbers aren’t necessarily the best way to measure success as *the* Church. to clarify, i think success as the Church has nothing to do with size of building or the amount of programs running etc. rather, i think we are successful as the Church when we are actively BEING the people of God in our world and the inner-workings of the Church are taking place (more on this in another post).

what i’d like to talk about at the moment is the separation that has occurred between justification and sanctification.

Fitch names individualism as one of america’s ‘sacred cows’. he describes individualism as, “namely, the individual who validates everything in America by making an autonomous, critical, authentic decision.” to all my Canadian’s, essentially the same thing can be said about us.

since individualism has such a grand effect on evangelical christianity the question is then raised: “should ‘decisions’ be a measure of success for evangelical churches? the question is not ‘do decisions for Christ matter?’ rather the question is ‘are decisions for Christ significant and of ultimate importance if they do not represent an individual’s actual decision to follow Christ into a life of discipleship and become part of the kingdom of God via the body of Christ?'”

really when it comes down to it, it’s not about how many people raise their hand while everyones heads are bowed and eyes are closed (no one looking around now!). rather, it’s about “successfully immers[ing] lives into the life of Christ and his kingdom.”

decisions only really make sense when taken in context. unfortunately, we try to manufacture decisions for Christ in no context at all and therefore run the risk of those decisions not making any sense. as fitch puts it, “apart from a context, a decision will appear to be an arbitrary act made on the spur of the moment for short-term immediate gain with little long-term consequences.” decisions only make sense in the context of a life story/narrative and one’s cultural context. if we simply make decisions about raising your hand on a sunday morning we can’t truly make sense of that decision. here is why: “often a new convert makes a decision for Christ solely for the “benefit” of “one’s escape from hell.” the decision was not presented as a call to repentance and a life of service and redemption under the lordship of Christ. as a result, many decisions are shallow and last only as long as one is concerned about death or never go any further than one’s initial ticket out of hell. many of the decisions we count then are decisions made for self-oriented reasons in the purest of consumer senses, a transaction to get out of hell with no understanding that eternal life is “the end of one’s sanctification” (Rom. 6:22).” because of this, “decisions” are often a poor measure of kingdom activity “and indeed the focus upon them leads to the abuse of the gospel message into a purely self-serving selfish gospel that rejects the essence of “denying one’s self, picking up one’s cross and following me,””.

we must, as evangelicals, christians, jesus followers or whatever we may call ourselves reexamine the theology that allows us to separate one’s justification from one’s sanctification (the theological basis that allows us to place so much importance upon a “decision”).

for most evangelicals a “decisions for Christ” represents the changing of legal status before God. in other words, when a person “accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior” they go from being unjustified and outside of God’s grace to being justified, covered by grace and rendered righteous before God. the problem arises when we separate that decision to accept Christ’s atonement for sin in faith, justification, from one’s ensuing sanctification. as Fitch says, “inherited from the Lutheran Reformation, this distinct separation is what keeps us from associating salvation too closely with its outworking in one’s life, in other words with a salvation of “works.” as inheritors of the agenda of the Reformation, it keeps us from the “Roman error,” to make salvation somehow connected to or even dependent upon the outgrowth of works in a new convert’s life.” so, at the risk of acknowledging a “salvation by works” we tend to over-emphasize one’s decision to accept Christ and be justified.

Fitch describes how we ought to counter this trend: “amidst a fragmented culture, however, with many competing ways to live, a decision must be followed by the serious engagement of that decision maker into a way that makes that decision intelligible. we must preach salvation not just as an escape from hell, but as an overall repentance and turning away from a world gone awry into its own self-indulgences. we must preach salvation not merely as a personal ticket out of hell but as the entrance into the reality of the lordship of Jesus Christ where God is working to bring about his kingdom unto the day that he returns. this may require bringing together justification and sanctification into a more unified ordo salutis where one simply cannot make sense without the other.”

this makes sense scripturally doesn’t it? certainly so. rarely, if ever, do the new testament writers use the term salvation to focus only on justification. “instead, salvation entails justification, the decision to repent, the invitation into new life, sanctification, and healing. indeed, salvation is the invitation to repent and become a subject of the kingdom of God (matt. 3:1-3). when one is converted, he is converted to a different way, to following Christ.”

finally, allow me to end this brief discussion with one last quote from Fitch:

“in a post-Christian culture where so many have no foundation in the Christian life and even worse have been totally immersed into the ways of a self-indulgent consumerist paganism, preaching salvation may require substantive ways of initiation wherein one’s decision is led immediately into a path toward baptism, discipleship, and a life of service to Christ in the world.”

amen.

peace.

jt.

i’ve just begun reading david fitch’s book, ‘the great giveaway: reclaiming the mission of the church from big business, parachurch organizations, psychotherapy, consumer capitalism and other modern maladies’. how’s that for a title? anyways, i met david back in march 2007 at a conference in the GTA and after having the opportunity to chat with him a little i decided that i very much need to read his book. i’ve only made it through the first 50 or so pages but let me tell you, i’m already loving what i’m reading. so borrow it from a friend and read it! i’ll be writing about some of my thoughts as i read.

the first chapter is titled ‘our definition of success: when going from ten to a thousand members in five years is the sign of a sick church’. essentially, the thesis for this chapter is stated on page 29: “numbers, on their own, say nothing qualitative about what is going on in the church when viewed as the body of Christ.” to this i would say, bang on (that’s what she said…zing!).

let’s get something straight here. the Church is not an organization in  need of CEO’s to run it. the Church is not a business. in this sense, the bigger the church does not equal the more successful a church. you can draw in thousands upon thousands of people at a given sunday morning gathering and still not actually be “successful” (i don’t quite like this word when speaking of the Church). take the pastors of the prayer palace in toronto, ON, for example, and i don’t mean to pick them out, they just so happen to be an easy target. the prayer palace is one of the largest churches in toronto. however, the pastors (a father and two sons) preach a bullshit message to their congregation having to do with living “your best life now” and reaping God’s material blessing. it seems obvious to me that if you tell poor people (the prayer palace is located a weston/finch and a large number of the members come from the jane/finch area and, therfore, live in poverty) that God wants to make them wealthy, then you can quite easily fill your church with poor people. my point is this, just because there are lots of people at a given church does not mean that the church is successful when it comes to actually being the church in a watching world.

if it’s true that numbers don’t necessarily equal success as the church, then i think there is a problem when we, as the Church, aggressively seek out “decisions for Christ”. that is to say, when we seek out “decisions for Christ” in and of themselves. Fitch argues, and i would agree, that the concept of “decisions for Christ” is rooted and grounded in individualism, a modern malady that the Church as the Body of Christ ought to deny.

there is no denying the effect of individualism on western evangelicalism (that’s a lot of ism’s). as Fitch puts it, “all of this works to center salvation in the individual and private experience. as a result, church becomes a place where saved private individuals come to be ‘fed’ intellectually, to serve out of their personal duty to Christ, to get in touch with an individual experience of worship, and to pool their resources as individuals to further the mission of getting the gospel out to more individuals.” one of the many problems with this is that, “once the internal working of the Body of Christ is not a legitimate goal in itself, the central focus becomes, how can we best organize to produce the largest amount of decisions and the best quality of services for Christian growth most economically and efficiently to the largest number in this geographical location?” then, “there is no need to organize for any other goal when the salvation of each person is not dependent upon any inner organic dynamic going on in the church itself.”

most of us would agree that the Church is essentially, the people of God in the world, working with God to bring about his future kingdom now. Paul talks much about the Church as the Body of Christ. in Paul’s own words (my translation) it makes no sense for the foot to say, “i don’t need the rest of the body” and go off on it’s own. for the foot makes no sense, and is of no use, in and of itself. the foot only makes sense and can only fully be the foot in the context of the body. likewise, the Body of Christ is not merely a load of individuals coming together, rather, it is people dying to themselves and immersing themselves into the Body to be made whole and fully human. more on this to come later.

with this in mind, it is obvious to see that modern individualism is a cancer when imposed on the Church.

the answer, Fitch argues (as does Scripture) is that, “at the end of modernity, evangelicals can no longer oversimplify and just pursue personal decisions of faith from people. we must seek ways to successfully immerse lives into the life of Christ and his kingdom.”

i shall post a wee bit more tomorrow on decisions and then later we can talk about some better ways to measure success that don’t involve sunday morning head counts.

PEACE.

jt.

today i went to a luncheon at our lady of grace parish here in aurora. it was really neat. i got to have a delicious lunch (and i mean delicious! we have a some kind of beef loin that was stuffed with goodness, with these great potatoes, brocolli, gravy and this dessert that looked way too good to even eat!) with a number of local pastors from a variety of theological backgrounds. there was myself from the pentecostal church, 2 pastors from the host catholic church, and 1 pastor each from the anglican, baptist and united churches. it was really neat to gather together with nothing on our agenda but to get to know one another better and chat. i’m glad i went because i found out about a number of things that are happening in the community for poor. i’m really hoping that we can get involved in that.

that kind of leads me into a bit of a sidenote. in my experience, one of the weaknesses with the PAOC is the hesitancy of the pastors to get involved with other churches and things that are already going on in the community. in my experience, PAOC pastors seem to think that they are theologically superior to pastors from other denominations. in addtion, rather than getting involved in a soup kitchen that is being run by the united and anglican church, a PAOC pastor would tend to want to start up their own soup kitchen.

again, i realize that i am generalizing here but this just seems to be much of what i’ve experienced in the PAOC.

my thinking is that the PAOC are not the only truthbearers in the community. rather, where there is Jesus, there is Truth (captial ‘T’), because Jesus IS Truth (Truth as person rather than right understanding of concepts). and it would seem to me, that if there are hungry people being fed, then Jesus is probably present, so why not get involved in that? light is light. right?

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last night i went to see the raptors take on the suns with jon gordon. first of all, any evening with jon gordon is a treat because his sense of humor and honesty really turns my crank. secondly, it was the highest scoring game i’ve ever attended with a final score of 136-123 in favour of the visitors. the raptors certainly didn’t have any problem scoring (despite the fact that they were without both bosh and bargnani). however, their defense (or lack thereof) was horrendous. jon and myself were repulsed at the number of open shots the raps gave the suns. it bordered on rediculous. barbosa must have had at least 5 wide open 3’s for the suns (all of which he made). all in all, a fun night.

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this past summer we at momentum did a week long mission trip to toronto where we served alongside urbanpromise toronto. yesterday i met with matt janes from STM network to chat about more STM (short-term missions) trips we could do in the summer of 2008 and again in 2009. so lots of exciting stuff there.

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the jetta is giving christina and i trouble. not good. but we’re thankful we have a car.

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christina and i leave for HERE in like a week (dec. 16). it will be amazing to get away for a week and relax. we’re obviously both PSYCHED for this trip!

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i feel like i’m learning more about God as time goes on. yet i still feel like i’m no where near ACTUALLY knowing him. but i feel like i’m home. i feel like for a long time i was away, lost, and now he’s led me home. what a nice feeling.