Archives For Church

 

I recently finished reviewing this superb new book for our fall print magazine issue. 
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ACTS: Belief Commentary Series
A Theological Commentary on the Bible

Willie James Jennings

 
Hardback: WJK Books, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 
I’m excited to share the following excerpt from this book with you, which I take as one of Jennings’s central (and most timely) themes in this commentary. 
 

Reprinted from Acts: A Theological Commentary on the Bible
by Willie James Jennings.
Used by permission of Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.

 

Word of God against Word of God.
A Reflection on the Story of
Peter in the House of Cornelius
Acts 10-11

(Pages 118-121)

 

“You have heard that it was said, . . . but I say to you . . .” (Matt. 5). These often repeated words of Jesus set the stage for our interaction with the living God, whose words to us are living, because they are bound up with the source and giver of life itself. Acts 11 is a moment of reorientation where the Spirit is teaching us a crucial lesson that the church must constantly remember: God yet speaks and word of God always presses against word of God. What God has said in the past is pressed against by what God is saying now. Israel shows us that the human creature is always positioned between these two words and destined for yet more hearing from a God ever extended in grace toward us. This in-between position  has often been painful for us as we try to grasp clarity of thought and action on a walk of obedience to God on a well-lit path, albeit with multiple twists and turns. (Ps. 119:105) In this regard, the struggle of the church has been twofold: we struggle to hear the new word that God is constantly speaking, and we struggle to see the link between the new word and the word previously spoken.

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The Wonder of Love and
the Call of Justice

A Feature Review of 

Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church
Carol Howard Merritt

Hardback: HarperOne, 2017
Buy Now:  [  Amazon ]  [ Kindle  ]

Reviewed by Phil Snider

 

Have you ever been afraid in the hallways of your high school because you couldn’t find any of your friends from church, and you thought the rapture had occurred and you were left behind?

Have you ever been inclined to “come forward” to the altar just one more time, to make sure your heart is sincere, even though you’ve already committed your life to Christ on multiple occasions yet somehow can still never feel secure in your salvation?

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Won’t You Be A Neighbor?  Getting the Church Back in the Neighborhood
 
 A Review of 

The Neighboring Church:
Getting Better at What Jesus Says Matters Most
Rick Rusaw and Brian Mavis

Hardback: Thomas Nelson, 2016.
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle ]

 
 
Reviewed by Alex Joyner
 

Nothing is more difficult for leaders in late-stage bureaucratic institutions than trying to navigate through a morass of well-intentioned policies and procedures in order to do the simple things needed to accomplish the institution’s mission.  Gordon MacKenzie called this leadership challenge Orbiting the Giant Hairball in his 1996 book of the same name [Viking: 1996].  “Orbiting,” MacKenzie said, “is responsible creativity: vigorously exploring and operating beyond the Hairball of the corporate mind set, beyond ‘accepted models, patterns, or standards’ — all the while remaining connected to the spirit of the corporate mission.” (33)

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Our Book of the Month for November/December is…

Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church
By John Nugent

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2016.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

We will be reading through the book this month, and posting discussion questions as we go. We hope you will read along with us, and share your thoughts and questions. (Or, even better, get a group of people at your church to read through the book together!)

NOTE: Our read-along of this book will likely go through the end of December…

Previous Parts of this Conversation:
[ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ]  [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ] [ Part 6 ]

 

Part 6:
Chapters 20-23

Here are some quotes and questions, please use the comments below to share your own thoughts and questions.

Chapter 20: Vocation

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Our Book of the Month for November/December is…

Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church
By John Nugent

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2016.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

We will be reading through the book this month, and posting discussion questions as we go. We hope you will read along with us, and share your thoughts and questions. (Or, even better, get a group of people at your church to read through the book together!)

NOTE: Our read-along of this book will likely go through the end of December…

Previous Parts of this Conversation:
[ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ]  [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ]

 

Part 6:
Chapters 17-19

Here are some quotes and questions, please use the comments below to share your own thoughts and questions.

Chapter 17: Fellowship

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Our Book of the Month for November/December is…

Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church
By John Nugent

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2016.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

We will be reading through the book this month, and posting discussion questions as we go. We hope you will read along with us, and share your thoughts and questions. (Or, even better, get a group of people at your church to read through the book together!)

NOTE: Our read-along of this book will likely go through the end of December…

Previous Parts of this Conversation:
[ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ]  [ Part 4 ]

 

Part 5:
Chapters 14-16

Here are some quotes and questions, please use the comments below to share your own thoughts and questions.

Chapter 14: The Better Place in Action

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Our Book of the Month for November is…

Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church
By John Nugent

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2016.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [  Kindle ]

We will be reading through the book this month, and posting discussion questions as we go. We hope you will read along with us, and share your thoughts and questions. (Or, even better, get a group of people at your church to read through the book together!)

NOTE: Our read-along of this book will likely go through the end of December…

Previous Parts of this Conversation:
[ Part 1 ]  [ Part 2 ]  [ Part 3

 

Part 4:
Chapters 10-13

Here are some quotes and questions, please use the comments below to share your own thoughts and questions.
 

Chapter 10: God Calls the Church to Embrace a Better Place

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Our Book of the Month for November/December is…

Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church
By John Nugent

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2016.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [  Kindle ]

We will be reading through the book this month, and posting discussion questions as we go. We hope you will read along with us, and share your thoughts and questions. (Or, even better, get a group of people at your church to read through the book together!)

Q/A with ERB Editor Chris Smith

As an offshoot of our readthrough, John was kind enough to answer some questions that I had about the book…

Chris:  

My take on the book in brief:
I absolutely agree with you about ecclesiology. Our primary call is to be faithful together as communities of God’s people, and this ecclesiology is missing from the activism of many well-intentioned Christians. My experience concurs with you in wanting to call out the sort of activism that too often omits the role of the church from the salvation of God’s coming kingdom. That being said, I wonder if you might be swinging a little too far in reaction to this sort of activism that you minimize the role of the local church in action in its place?  I wonder if there might be a perspective that is located between the ones that you call world-centered and kingdom-centered. Perhaps I could call it incarnation-centered. To begin imagining such a view, let’s start with your chart on page 112, and particularly the two columns on the far right hand side. I’m not completely comfortable with the labels for either of these columns, but it seems with a tiny tweaking of the verbiage, an incarnation-centered view could have incorporate these two as a both/and and not an either/or.  Yes, God is ultimately “replacing the fallen order,” but scripture also speaks of God redeeming and reconciling all creation. (More on this in a moment). The final column “Christians begin fixing fallen order,” also is problematic. I agree that we don’t “fix” the world by our own human wisdom or human strength. But the nature of God’s design for creation is one of collaboration, and God has provided the Holy Spirit to guide our churches into an active life that embodies Christ among our neighbors in ways that they can engage and be transformed. So, to the extent that we faithful discern the presence of the Spirit in our midst, we become part of God’s “fix” for healing a broken creation.

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Moving Toward the Other

A Feature Review of

Befriend:
Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear
Scott Sauls

Paperback, Tyndale 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by Ashley Hales

 

After America’s recent election, we’ve discovered (again) how divided we are. It is not simply that one-half of the nation disagrees with the other, but that each half is afraid of the other, as noted by ABC News. In a climate of fear, Scott Sauls’ Befriend is a timely book. Its subtitle, “create belonging in an age of judgment, isolation, and fear,” speaks to a human desire for community that transcends divisions based on race, class, socio-economics, politics, and sexual orientation. It plots a way forward for the church.

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Our Book of the Month for November is…

Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church
By John Nugent

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2016.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [  Kindle ]

We will be reading through the book this month, and posting discussion questions as we go. We hope you will read along with us, and share your thoughts and questions. (Or, even better, get a group of people at your church to read through the book together!)

NOTE: Our read-along of this book will likely go through the end of December…

 

Part 2:
Chapters 3-5

Here are some quotes and questions, please use the comments below to share your own thoughts and questions.

Chapter 1: Toward a Better Vision of a Better Place

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