Here’s an interesting interview with a father and son representing two fairly distinct approaches to gospel, church, and ministry issues. As you read it, ask which side resonates with you, and ask what the blind spots are that you are missing. The younger participant wisely remarks that the younger generation is probably missing their blind spots. And that should give some pause before dogmatism.
My friend Mark Snoeberger has some good thoughts here on the Detroit Baptist Seminary blog (which you should be reading regularly) about the leadership of God and our decisions. It is something Dan Philips (I think) once called the GTM card—God Told Me. It is hard to argue with God, so when someone says, “God told me” or “God led me,” it automatically puts them in the driver’s seat. While this occasionally (though not often enough) gets a little critique from the area of cessationism, it even less often gets critique from the third commandment regarding not using God’s name in vain. I think the GTM card is a violation of the third commandment, at least potentially, because you are using God’s name in vain by using it for something God wouldn’t use it for. Mark apparently felt led (or maybe it was just an act of wisdom) to follow up here, so read that too.
Closing out with a two-fer, here are two articles on urban ministry in two different kinds of places. The first is about a brief trip to McKeesport, PA and “The Land that Time Forgot.” It highlights urban areas of blight and devolution. The second is about church planting in NYC. Both are areas of need, and both require a heart of sacrifice.
My friends at Inter-City Baptist Church are hosting a few college students this weekend for an urban ministry emphasis on the topic of church planting in Detroit. Detroit is perhaps the most well-known of the cities facing huge problems, perhaps virtually insurmountable problems. But I am grateful for those who are living in the city and taking some risks for the sake of the gospel.
There are a number of people I know who have moved in and daily face danger both to property and their family for the sake of the gospel. It may not be for everyone, but I have long desired to see a gospel church planting effort in the city.
Some years ago I dreamed of a “Ten in Ten,” that is ten church plants in ten years in various strategic areas around Detroit. Maybe God will raise up some young people with the heart and energy, who are willing to take solid theology and boundless compassion to areas hit hard by urban blight.
Here’s one of my core beliefs though: You can’t plant a church from the outside. So if your goal is a nice home in a safe neighborhood with a white picket fence, then live there and pray for people in the city.Maybe send some money to these under-resourced ministries. But realize that if you are a “drive-in” pastor or church attender, you will always be viewed as an outsider who is too good for the neighborhood. You will always be viewed with skepticism. Your ministry will be limited.
So if you are going to plant a church or work in a church in the city, then do what my friends Mike and Clete, or Jay, or Jon or others have done and move into the city, and live, shop, exercise, eat, associate, and hangout in the neighborhood you want to reach with the gospel. And then preach the gospel to them, both in and out of church.