Renewing the Institutional Church

The church has fallen on hard times. Some have checked out, some have fought back. Both are responding to the hard times. James Thompson, in his well-researched book The Church according to Paul: Rediscovering the Community Conformed to Christ, opens with this story, and notice that last sentence, which will lead to our own story: Shortly [Read More…]

How Our Culture Challenges Church

Each of us is implicated in culture’s challenging the very idea of church and the way church is to function as church. The Western world, North America, the USA, and in particular Christians in that culture challenge church at its core. This is not about youth culture, this is not about the youthicization of the church, [Read More…]

Time as Christian Discipline

Formation results from practices, though not without attentiveness to the Spirit and the work of God’s grace in us. One of the practices Christians have learned is time — that is, Sunday and fast days and the church calendar. Hence, Andrew McGowan’s last chp in his exceptional book, Ancient Christian Worship, concerns time. He begins with [Read More…]

René Padilla, Kingdom and Church

Because René Padilla has been so concerned with the marriage of gospel and social justice/action, he has also been concerned with the relation of the church and the kingdom. He outlines his view in his book Mission Between the Times. He sees Jesus himself as the present reality of the kingdom. He dabbles (not all that [Read More…]

Spectators or Participants? (RJS)

I am traveling this week – and leading a rather time-intensive (and exciting) experiment.  As a result here is a favorite, lightly edited post: Are we fans or players? The following was making its way around Facebook. It is not new, however. There was a similar list on the door of the bathroom (where it [Read More…]

Building Blocks of a Christian Worldview

One of the least known and most insightful theologians and Christian leaders I have met is Brian Harris, at Vose Theological Seminary in Perth, Western Australia. He’s not only a delightful person and Christian, not only a President of a seminary, but he established a flourishing church that encompasses far more than the typical come-to-our-church [Read More…]

Re-Engaging the De-Churched: Four Strategies

In their book Church Refugees, Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope sketch four reasons why some active Christians become the Dones: They wanted community.. .and got judgment. They wanted to affect the life of the church.. .and got bureaucracy. They wanted conversation.. .and got doctrine. They wanted meaningful engagement with the world… and got moral prescription. Their [Read More…]

Micro vs. Macro Ethics and Church Refugees

When I was in college I heard John Stott speak at Calvin Theological Seminary. During his talk he spoke about the distinction between some Christians fussing about “micro” ethics while ignoring “macro” ethics, and he talked about movie going and drinking a beer vs. justice and poverty and economic exploitation. Jesus, as you know, talked [Read More…]

The Problem(s) with the “Institutional” Church

No matter how many define it or (don’t define it) and no matter how many are using the expression, lots gets packaged into a tight and hot bundle when someone critiques the “institutional” church. Here’s “Daniel”: Daniel: I see the institution, the hierarchy, the bureaucracy as crippling the body of Christ. I see it as [Read More…]

Community without Judgment(alism)

Church refugees — those active former church folks — are sometimes called the Dones. They are done with church but not with their faith, not with Christianity, not with God, and not with Jesus. They are Done with church (as they have experienced it). Why? The number one reason traced and mapped by Josh Packard [Read More…]


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