INTEGRATIVE MINISTRY

Tim Keller London Church Planting Consultation, 2008-09

Introductory note: By rights, each of the four ministry fronts should have its own paper devoted to it. But that might obscure perhaps the main point—that these ministries must all be present and inter-dependent. So we cram all this into one paper—the longest of the series.

1. The Balance
Churches that thrive in cities should be characterized by an integrative balance of four ministry areas: evangelism, community formation, justice and mercy, and the integration of faith and work. Christians should seek personal conversion, deep Christian community, social justice, and cultural renewal in the city. This is one of the most striking things to observers about churches with the ‘Gospel DNA.’ Many churches are committed to evangelism, preaching, and church planting, others to significant involvement with the poor. Some churches put great stress on fellowship and cell groups. There are also churches (usually called ‘artsy’ by others) that are concerned about cultural engagement. But it is rare for a church to combine several of these emphases in ministry, and extremely rare to have them all. One of the reasons is that the leaders of these ministries often resist and resent the others. The leaders of evangelism see the emphasis on the poor as a distraction. The advocates for the poor sometimes resist emphasis on conversion and repentance. Those stressing community, discipleship, and holiness often think those emphasizing church growth are producing spiritual shallowness. Those working with the poor think ‘integrating faith and work’ is basically elitist. However, there is no reason to pit them against each other. The ministry of evangelism connects people to God, while community formation connects people to each other. The ministry of Justice and mercy connects Christians to the needs of the whole city. Finally, the integration of faith and work connects Christians to the public life of the culture. When viewed this way, we see they do not contradict, but rather supplement each other. But we can go further. They not only supplement each other, they are inter-dependent. • Evangelism is supported by wholistic ministry, in two ways: a) first, some people being given practical help find their way into the church and come to faith. but b) secondly, the entire city is more likely to listen to the preached Word when they see Christians working sacrificially for the common good, not just their own community. If the world sees us only evangelizing and not serving, they will conclude we are simply out to increase our own tribe and its power. Justice and mercy, are a necessary context for any convincing evangelistic call to believe in Jesus. • On the other hand, wholistic ministry is dependent on evangelism. Evangelism creates the vital, new lives in Christ that are necessary if the church is to serve others. The irony of the mainline churches is that, though they want to help the poor, they do not produce converted people, renewed and empowered by the spirit to sacrificially serve others. • Christian community and evangelism are also symbiotically related. On the one hand, converted individuals form deep Christian fellowship. But it is also true that strong, loving fellowship attracts people, gives the gospel credibility and brings about converted individuals.

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There are hundreds of other ways in which the ministries stimulate and support each other. Vocational fellowships (see below) of Christians in a particular field (e.g. medicine, finance, the arts) often has great evangelistic potential, drawing non-believers. Projects of service to the poor are also great ways to include and meet non-believers in your neighborhood. Ministries Christians in business, law, medicine, and other professions naturally ‘plug in’ to programs that work with the poor, where they can offer their expertise pro bono. Only if we do all of these ministries at once will any of them be effective. They are interdependent and inter-locking.

If and only if we produce thousands of new church-communities which regularly win secular people to Christ, which seek the common good of the whole city especially the poor, and produce thousands of Christians who write plays, make movies, do creative journalism, begin effective and productive new businesses, use their money for others, and produce cutting-edge scholarship and literature--will we actually be doing all the things the Bible tells us that Christians should be doing! And it is the only way to see our cities comprehensively influenced for Christ. Two important introductory notes: 1. See the ‘Church and Culture’ paper on the difference between the ‘institutional church’ and the ‘organic church.’ The ‘institutional’ is the local church under its officers, gathered mainly to evangelize and disciple. The ‘organic’ refers to Christians united in a host of formal and informal associations, seeking to renew the city and the culture. Since the local church’s main calling is evangelism and discipling, the four ministry fronts are given commensurate and inter-dependent emphasis, but are not carried out all in the same way. a) The local church does Evangelism and community formation/discipleship very directly. b) It does some diaconal (justice and service) work directly as a part of community formation. There is no way to love the brethren without the sharing of practical resources. c) But much of Christian renewal of the city is carried out through various associations not directly under the church, though all Christians within them are being discipled by the church. d) This is also true of ‘cultural renewal.’ The local church should disciple Christians in film-making to integrate their faith with their work, but it should not start a film company. 2. Despite the insistence that these ministries should be carried out as an integrative balance, we should recognize that no church can be equally effective at all four. Pastors and leaders will have different gift-mixes, and the context of the local neighborhood will have an impact as well. If your church is in a poor area, or a wealthy area, or an area filled with artists—it will have to have influence on the relative strength of your ministries. Nevertheless, a balance is to be strived for.

I1. The Four Ministry ‘Fronts’
A. Connecting people to God – Worship and Evangelism
Introduction – Center-city churches must be highly effective with skeptical people. Rather than simply confront contemptuously those who disbelieve, we sympathetically find ways to address baseline cultural hopes and aspirations with Christ and his saving work. In the paper ‘Missional and Contextual’ we have already covered much that has to do with evangelism. A missional church is in every aspect open to inquirers and doubters and adapted to the culture around it. In that paper there is more about evangelism. In addition to that material—we offer the following.

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but now. "But you are a chosen people. is theological. Zion. (See also Psalm 47:1.’ On the one side. that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Biblical-theological basis for evangelistic worship God commanded Israel to invite the nations to join in declaring his glory. there will be a need for more specifically evangelistic venues and experiences in addition to worship that for non-Christians to get questions answered and issues fully addressed. They frame the debate like this--“Who is the Sunday service for--non-believers or God?” Their answer. The main problem with the two models.) How? "Sing to him.) God is to be praised before all the nations. of course. namely that you cannot reach both Christians and non-Christians in the same gathering or service. And.) In other words.In a missional church. in a nutshell. the risen Lord now sends his people out singing his praises in mission. The Psalmist challenges them to "make known among the nations what he has done" (v. prayer. Christians grow through the application of the gospel to every area of life. 56:6-8. Christians worship instead during the week. a people belonging to God. We can do both deep edification of believers and effective evangelism in worship at the same time because the gospel of grace is always the main thing that everyone needs. But that is main thing non-believers need as well. Yet. But the key and the core of both evangelism and edification can be the weekly worship service itself. however.) "Let this be written for a future generation. and community in addition to worship for Christians to grow into maturity. They both assume that worship cannot be highly evangelistic.) This shows us that the church is challenged to the same witness that Israel was called to--evangelistic worship. I want to show that this is a false premise.12:18-24. Peter tells a Gentile church. A key difference: in the Old Testament. Below is a way to see corporate worship as a way to connect every present—believer and un-believer—to God. My thesis. a holy nation. And of course it is.. the center of world-winning worship was Mt. it is ‘evangelistic worship. a royal priesthood. tell of his wonderful acts" (v. 2.2) Thus believers are continually told to sing and praise God before the unbelieving nations. there will be a need for more intense experiences of learning. calling the nations to join both saints and angels in heavenly UPL24Feb09 3 .’ 1." (I Peter 2:9. and his praise in Jerusalem when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord" (Psalm 102:18. Sunday corporate worship does develop Christian community and edify believers. Zion is to be the center of world-winning worship (Isaiah 2:2-4.so the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion. ironically. and as he is praised by his people. even corporate worship is evangelistic worship.. most of those critics share the same premise. Therefore. is that the weekly worship service can be very effective in evangelism of nonChristians and in edification of Christians if it does not actually aim at either alone but at worship which is gospel-centered and ‘in the vernacular. Many churches see the Sunday gatherings as mainly times of edification and teaching for Christian believers. 100:1-5. sing praise to him.1. wherever we worship Jesus in spirit and in truth (John 4:21-26) we have come to the heavenly Zion (Heb.) Psalm 105 is a direct command to believers engage in evangelistic worship. the nations are summoned and called to join in song. A widespread premise The ‘Seeker-Sensitive’ church model developed by Willow-Creek of Chicago rests on the assumption that you cannot reach both Christians and non-Christians in the same gathering or service. There have been many severe critics of the seeker-driven or seeker-sensitive model. But it is a missed opportunity to see corporate worship as strictly a matter of edification. is that the Sunday worship service is purely for God. on the other side. that a people not yet created may praise the Lord. They therefore designed weekend ‘Seeker Services’ which are not Christian worship but are instead outreach events.

It is natural to study this passage in order to figure out what tongues and prophecy consisted of and whether they continue today. If. the gathered congregation. In this passage. even as God stands over his redeemed and sings over us in joy (Zeph. Fee. We saw last week that in v. exclaiming. Paul is addressing the misuse of the gift of tongues.' " Obviously. 'God is with you.12). Morris.) c.24.) He insists that the Christians should change their behavior in order that the worship service be comprehensible to the non-believers. they are first made very interested ("amazed and perplexed they asked one another. Nevertheless. and b) and also because this worship is "in our own tongues" (v.37-41) occurred at the end of an "after UPL24Feb09 4 . Paul Barnett is interpreting 'prophecy' as a form of preaching--and I don't know what your interpretation of that is.25.writes about 1 Cor 14:24-25. a crowd gathers (v. Thiselton. then the unbeliever "will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all" (v. Most readers today get distracted from this fact because of Paul’s discussion both of tongues and prophecy. 2:17. but the actual conversions (v.11.) So you can’t avoid the conclusion that Paul is telling the Corinthians to alter their worship in such a way that it both edifies Christians and convicts non-Christians. I Corinthians 14:24-25. Virtually every major commentary (e. etc. and 2) because is convicts and converts unbelievers. The result: "so falling on his face.20-25 is to tell the Corinthians to stress prophecy over tongues for two reasons: 1) 1st because it edifies believers. "Despite all efforts to devise 'programs' for evangelism and outreach. Acts 2 When the Spirit falls on those in the upper room. and worship is being done "unto edification". etc. Surely the argument of v.25.24-25 is that the reason to use more prophecy than tongues in worship is because it converts people. Now here he tells us worship must also be done in such a way that it leads to evangelism. but in the wrong ways. and later they are convicted deeply ("they were cut to the heart and said.) Of what does this conviction consist? "The secrets of his heart will be laid bare" (v. 'what does this mean'" v. remains a potent force for gathering in the 'outsider. Why else would he go through a fairly elaborate description of how a non-Christian comes to conviction in worship? Paul Barnett-.11).) a.15-17 Paul insists that worship of God (‘praise’) be done in such a way that it leads to edification. b. etc. Barnett) says that the gist of v.37. I Cor 14 pictures conversion happening on the spot (which is certainly possible.5) because a) they are hearing the disciples praising God ("we hear them declaring the wonders of God" v. Barnett is concluding what I think is inescapable. he will worship God.. He complains that if unbelievers enter a worship service and hear tongues-speaking they will think the Christians are out of their minds (v.g. in its life and ministry. Jesus himself stands in the midst of the redeemed and leads us in the singing of God's praises (Hebrews 2:12). an unbeliever "or unlearned one" (an uninitiated inquirer) comes in.) In Acts 2 the non-believers are shaken out of their indifference (v. must ensure that the word of the Lord is intelligible and powerfully taught so that the visitor will indeed say. however.doxology. Bruce.11)..' Churches and their ministers. There are obvious differences between the two situations.23. (I think he is saying that tongues only makes non-believers feel 'alien' and judged--but that kind of judgment does not lead to conversion.) As a result.) It may mean he realizes that the worshippers around him are finding in God what his heart had been secretly searching for. 'God is really among you'" (v. however.'Brethren. This is all debatable--but there is one thing very unmistakable. what shall we do?'" v. Paul urges Corinthians to worship in such a way that edifies them and still convicts the outsider. It may mean the worship shows him how his heart works.) This is quite a remarkable passage.

It is normal to make all sorts of UPL24Feb09 5 . eventually they will be there in reality. God wants the world to overhear us worshipping him. But students usually are looking so carefully at what the two passages teach about tongues and prophecy that they fail to note what they teach about worship and evangelism.meeting" in which Peter explained the gospel (v. This task is actually comes second. But the reverse is the case. We must address their "heart secrets" (I Cor 14:25. Three practical tasks for evangelistic worship (2. the "nations" must be directly asked to come. God directs his people not to simply worship. The numbering is not a mistake. The only way they will have non-Christians in attendance is through personal invitation by Christians. 2) Non-believers must find the praise of Christians to be comprehensible. Paul in 14:23 expects both "unbelievers" and "the unlearned" (literally "a seeker"-. It is a false dichotomy to insist that if we are seeking to please God we must not ask what the unchurched feel or think about our worship. Just as in the Psalms. Christians will instantly sense if a worship experience will be attractive to their non-Christian friends. 3) Non-believers can fall under conviction and be converted through comprehensible worship. but celebrate the gospel before them. In I Cor 14 it happens during the service. 14:24-25 or Acts 2:12 and 37--they are cut to the heart!) We aim to be intelligible to them. and yet know that their non-believing neighbors would react negatively. (In I Cor. It is hard to overstate how ghetto-ized our preaching is. So no outsiders come.) That means we must remember what it is like to not believe. It is normal to make all kinds of statements that appear persuasive to us but are based upon all sorts of premises that the secular person does not hold.14-36) and showed them how to individually receive Christ (v. but nearly everyone thinks it come first! It is natural to believe that they must get nonChristians into worship before they can begin "doxological evangelism". But the main stimulus to building bridges and invitation is the comprehensibility and quality of the worship experience."one who does not understand") to be present in worship." We are not to simply communicate the gospel to them. we must remember what an unbelieving heart is like. 3. They may find a particular service wonderfully edifying for them. a vicious cycle persists. Therefore. Therefore. we conclude: 1) Non-believers are expected to be present in Christian worship. Pastors see only Christians present. From our survey.) It is often pointed out that the tongues in the two situations are different. Our purpose is not to make the unbeliever "comfortable". It should not be missed that Paul tells a local congregation to adapt its worship because of the presence of unbelievers. Non-Christians do not get invited into worship unless the worship is already evangelistic. so they lack incentive to make their worship comprehensible to outsiders. Christians who are there (though perhaps edified themselves) do not think to bring their skeptical and non-Christian friends to church. But since they fail to make the adaptations. Making worship comprehensible to unbelievers. They do not think they will be impressed. but to sing his praises "before the nations.38-39. And so on and on.) Getting unbelievers into worship. (1). And so the pastors respond only to the Christian audience. but in Acts 2 it is supplemented by "after meetings" and follow-up evangelism. And if you worship as if. How do we do that? a) Worship and preaching in the "vernacular". the best way to get Christians to bring nonChristians is to worship as if there are dozens and hundreds of skeptical onlookers.

' (e. Especially avoid citing the Bible or making explanations with tone 'Everyone intelligent knows this!" Watch how you cite authorities. pompous. Imagine reporters in the audience. UPL24Feb09 6 . praise.references using terms and phrases that mean nothing outside or our Christian sub-group. or who aren't sure just what you believe. for art makes ideas plausible." "I could never keep it up. Though there is danger of pastoral verbosity. But any outsider who comes in. emotionally manipulative 'inspirational' talk Instead we engage the culture with gentle. the qualifiers. objections. even expressing the language of their hearts. b) Explain the service as you go along. disrespectful comments about those who differ with us. This way you continually instruct newcomers in worship. As you write the sermon. they usually have a personal relationship with the music-presenter. will be bored or irritated by the poor offering. Listen to everything said in the worship service with the ears of someone who has doubts or troubles with belief. Why? Their faith makes the words of the hymn or the song meaningful despite its artistically poor expression. with a "devotional"--a brief talk that explains the meaning of worship. showing continual willingness to address the questions that the unbelieving heart will ask." "It can't be wrong if it feels so right. and reservations of the skeptical or of 'spiritual pilgrims' with the greatest respect and sympathy. In the preaching. thanksgiving. Express sincere sympathy for their difficulties. non-jargony explanations of each new part of the service. "When we confess our sins." "I don't feel worthy." It is good to begin worship services as the Black church often does. I am too bad. imagine an particular skeptical non-Christian in the chair listening to you. who is not convinced of the truth and who does not have any relationship to the presenter. Speak respectfully and sympathetically to people who have difficulty with Christianity. and dismissive. but dealing with our guilt. and explain carefully the basic theological concepts." "I don't see how my life could be the result of the plan of a loving God. "I've tried it before and it did not work. Articulate their objections to Christian living and belief better than they can do it themselves." Give them many asides. Talk regularly to "those of you who aren't sure you believe this.) Always grant whatever degree of merit their objections have. and further." "I just can't believe. The power of art draws people to behold it. even when challenging them severely for their selfishness and unbelief. Admonish with tears (literally or figuratively. learn to give 1 or 2 sentence. Add the asides. we are not groveling in guilt. So avoid unnecessary theological or evangelical sub-culture "jargon". It is extremely important that the unbeliever feel you understand them. • Avoids sentimental. If you deny your sins you will never get free from them. In many churches. typical 'prayer language') • Avoids 'we-them' language--disdainful jokes that mock people of different politics and beliefs. • Avoids 'tribal' language--unnecessarily stylized evangelical pious jargon and archaic language that seeks to set a 'spiritual tone." d) Highly skilled art.g. the quality of the music is mediocre or poor. the extra explanations necessary. • Never talk as if non-believing people are not present. and so on. always expect to be overheard by members of the non-believing press. but it does not disturb the faithful. such as confession of sin." "Christianity is a straightjacket. The quality of music and speech in worship will have a major impact on its evangelistic power. We always. Good art and its message enters the soul through the imagination and begins to appeal to the reason. A brief checklist if you want to preach and worship-lead in the ‘vernacular’ • Take great pains to explain theological terms in ways that are readily understandable to those without theological background. self-deprecating but joyful irony the gospel creates. c) Directly address and welcome them. Constantly anticipate and address the concerns.

(See below for more on addressing unbelievers during communion. The leaders of most towns see "word-only" churches as costs to their community. The meaning of baptism should be made clear.) Therefore. A moving. we'd have to raise everybody's taxes. It teaches us to say "no" to ungodliness and worldly passions. For example. If it is explained properly. f) Present the sacraments so as to make the gospel clear. abortion is "doctrine D". gracious justification and adoption is not just the way we enter the kingdom. This does not mean we should not preach the whole counsel of God. e) Celebrate deeds of mercy and justice. There may need to be opportunity for the baptized to offer personal testimony as well as assent to questions. while mediocre or poor aesthetics exclude. It is best that offerings for mercy ministry be separate. The gospel of free. churches will only realize they are not Christians during the fencing of the table after an effective sermon on the meaning of the gospel. the deeds of the church will be far more important than words in gaining plausibility. evangelistic worship services should highlight offerings for deed ministry and should celebrate through reports and testimonies and prayer what is being done. but we must major on the "ABC's" of the Christian faith. not a value. This church is channeling so much value into our community through its services to people that if it went out of business. Effective churches will be so involved in deeds of mercy and justice that outsiders will say. while we wait for the blessed hope--the appearing of our great God and savior Jesus Christ. saving message of "grace alone" that consequently leads us to sanctified living: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. a sermon on abortion will generally assume the listener believes in the authority of the word and the authority of Jesus. A worship service that focuses too much and too often on educating Christians in the details of theology will simply bore or confuse the unbelievers present. The low level of artistic quality in many churches guarantees that only insiders will continue to come. excellent aesthetics includes outsiders. but also the way we grow into the likeness of Christ. upright and godly lives in the present age. the Lord's Supper can become a converting ordinance. If the response to this is "then Christians will be bored". joyous. Many seekers in U. and it is based on "doctrines A. personal charge to the baptized (and to all baptized Christians present) should be made. and to live self-controlled. "we cannot do without churches like this. For many outsiders or inquirers." Many Christians are "defeated" and stagnant in their growth because they try to be holy for wrong motives. and C. In other words. For the non-Christian. Baptism. They say "no" to temptation by telling themselves "God will get me" or "people will find out" or "I'll hate UPL24Feb09 7 . Titus 2:11-13 tells us how it is the original. it shows an misunderstanding of the gospel. and does not believe in individual moral autonomy. We live in a time when public esteem of the church is plummeting. the attraction of good art will have a major part in drawing them in.In other words." Mercy deeds give the gospel words plausibility (Acts 4:32 followed by v. the unbeliever will have a very specific and visible way to see the difference between walking with Christ and living for oneself.33. should be made a much more significant event if worship is to be evangelistic. The one message that both believers and unbelievers need to hear is that salvation and adoption are by grace alone. people who don't believe or understand doctrines ABC will find such a sermon un-convicting and even alienating. The Lord's Supper will confront every individual with the question: "are you right with God today? now?" There is no more effective way to help a person to do a spiritual inventory. In addition. B.S. and especially adult baptism. This brings before the non-Christian the impact of the gospel on people's hearts (it makes us generous) and the impact of lives poured out for the world.) g) Preach grace. attached (as traditional) to the Lord's Supper." Therefore.

If. right on the spot and directly. "Do not consider his appearance or his height. Acts 2 seems to show us an "after meeting." In v. it has been found very effective to offer such meetings to unbelievers and seekers immediately after evangelistic worship. for I have rejected him. but the LORD looks at the heart. and they are often most teachable and open. no time is given to people who are under conviction for offering up their hearts. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment. prays very briefly. Sermons which are basically moralistic will only be applicable to either Christians OR non-Christians. in response to a second question "what shall we do?" (v. but others were disturbed and asked "what does this mean?" Then Peter very specifically explained the gospel. b) After meetings. This is not to doubt that God is infallibly drawing his elect! That knowledge helps us to relax as we do evangelism. To seek to "get them into a small group" or even to merely return next Sunday is asking a lot of them. and. they’ll bore and confuse unbelievers. (3. (1 Pet 3:3-4) UPL24Feb09 1 8 . which is of great worth in God's sight. Some may come to Christ during the service itself (I Cor. the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. Titus says it "teaches" us.12 and 13 we are told that some folks mocked upon hearing the apostles praise and preach. Historically. and moves immediately into the final hymn. such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. through your Son Jesus. but. it will bore the saints. Receive me now for his sake. If the Sunday service and sermon aim primarily at evangelism. A "prayer of belief" could be prayed by the pastor (or printed in the bulletin at that juncture in the order of worship) to help people reach out to Christ. take Christ. however. Therefore. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. a) During the service.37). One major way to invite people to receive Christ during the service is as the Lord's Supper is distributed. Instead. They may be also "amazed and perplexed" (Acts 2:12). Man looks at the outward appearance. Receive him in your heart as those around you receive the food. but. I can be more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I turn from my s2 But the LORD said to Samuel. so we can get you ready to receive the Supper the next time as a child of God.myself in the morning" or "it will hurt my self-esteem" or "it will hurt other people" or "it's against the law--I'll be caught" or "it's against my principles" or "I will look bad". This affords people time to think and process what they have heard and offer themselves to God in prayer. as they come around.) Leading to commitment. If they aim at praising the God who saves by grace they’ll both instruct insiders and challenge outsiders. Some or all of these may be true. come up here and tell an officer or a pastor about what you've done. the one basic message that both Christians and unbelievers need to hear is the gospel of grace. It can then be applied to both groups." (1 Sam 16:7). do not take the bread and the cup. it should be that of your inner self. 14:24-25. We say: "if you are not in a saving relationship with God through Christ today.) Others must be "followed up" very specifically." Another way to invite commitment during the service is to give people a time of silence after the sermon. but Titus tells us they are inadequate. I thank you that he lived the life I should have lived. We have seen that unbelievers in worship actually "close with Christ" in two basic ways. the logic of the gospel will work. explained very specifically how to become Christians. and it is best to "strike while the iron is hot". it argues with us. knowing that An example: "Heavenly Father. If they aim primarily at education. and paid the debt and punishment I owed. I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed. Convicted seekers have just come from being in the presence of God. the preacher ends his sermon. Then immediately afterwards. preaching the gospel both grows believers and challenges nonbelievers.1 Sometimes it may be good to put a musical interlude or an offering after the sermon but before the final hymn. Only the grace of God. But Christo-centric preaching.

The doctrines we must not shy away from include: a) that Jesus is the only way to God (a defense of Christian 'exclusivism'). i) imputation. g) total depravity and inability. With this view of worship. But the Westminster Confession tells us that God ordinarily works through secondary causes. Second. l) last-day judgment." After meetings may consist first of one or more persons who wait at the front of the auditorium to pray with and talk with any seekers who come forward to make inquiries right on the spot. 50-50 kind of emphasis every week. Other seasons of the year it would be good to give more attention to mature believers and their needs and interests. c) the reality of hell.---but I got a lot of "MEGO" looks from people. and less mature believer. Often the teaching can be applied in different ways depending on your audience. after meetings should also consist of one or two classes or small group experiences targeted to specific questions non-Christians ask about the content. You must also have in mind the thrust of the text you are expounding. The text and the time of year usually mean edification or evangelism take some precedence. But the congregation sure does. Ironically. Many young ministers fresh from theological training don't know the difference between a theology paper and a sermon. In short. and credibility of the Christian faith. relevance. At that time you may wish to preach to the non-believer. to invite people into a follow-up meeting immediately is usually more conducive to "conserving the fruit of the Word. it is healthy to have an approach to corporate worship that prevents ministers from trying to load into the service all the Biblical teaching we want the people to have. After meetings should be attended by skilled lay evangelists who can come alongside of newcomers and answer spiritual questions and provide guidance as to their next steps. and the m)reality of transcendent moral absolutes. d) the sovereignty of God over every circumstance including trouble and suffering. I explained all the reasons for our church’s position on baptism. "this is surely something I need to work through--but today I need some food for my soul. Q: Won’t “evangelistic worship” mean Christians won’t get the deeper. charismatic gifts. j) justification by faith alone. normal social and psychological processes. At some times in the year there are more new people and inquirers coming into the services. and so on. new believer. b) the inerrancy of Scripture. we should make a distinction. h) propitiation and penal substitution. many preachers ignore the felt needs UPL24Feb09 9 . But that doesn’t mean that in evangelistic worship we stay away from the central controversial issues. but often the text’s meaning is much more evangelistic—or not. e) the sinfulness of sex outside marriage. We must also keep in mind the difference between a sermon and a lecture." A lot of pastors who really don't understand the ways of the heart very well (and just don't know people very well) make their sermons into lectures. that doesn’t mean we have a wooden.) Third. Evangelistic Worship and teaching. we should keep in mind the cycles of the church year. Third. meatier teaching? A: First. Therefore. while we seek to both edify and evangelize in our services. The sermon is more oriented to the affections. A second after meeting can consist of a simple question-and-answer session with the preacher in some room near the main auditorium or even in the auditorium (after the postlude. including homosexuality f) the Trinity. ("My Eyes Glaze Over") They said. it is best not to spend too much time on those subjects.conversions are not dependent on our eloquence. Some people may mean by ‘deeper and meatier’ a discussion of denominational distinctives or other controversial issues such as different views of baptism. k) sanctification by faith alone. however. I must confess that I used to give lectures under the title of sermons. 4. Every Christian will need to get eventually in to Biblical and theological details that are inappropriate for a sermon.

Christian community is not simply a supportive fellowship but an alternate society. and power. With money: We promote a radically generous commitment of time. The Function of Christian Community. Jesus says that the main way people will believe that Christians have found the love of God is in the quality of their unity. atheism and other religions also produce individual 'heroes' of unusual greatness. that our deep unity is the way. Connecting people to each other– Community and discipleship Introduction. We also must do radical economic sharing with one another—so ‘there is no needy among us. money.' showing the world how radically different a Christian society is with regard to sex. In John 17:23 Jesus says this directly. Just as the single most formative experience is being members of a nuclear family. The quality of our community is the real secret of mission. the church must go beyond ‘fellowship’ to embody a 'counterculture. and power being used in life-giving ways. the gospel creates relationships of service rather than of selfishness. Because the gospel removes both fear and pride.We seek to spiritually form people mainly through community. people get along inside the church who could never get along outside. Because the gospel calls us to holiness. the immigrant. and transform our identity. The essence of disciple-making is here—to put it colloquially. We also exhibit love rather than hostility or fear toward those whose sexual life-patterns are different. With sex: We avoid both the secular society's idolization of sex and traditional society's fear of sex. you become like the people you hang out with the most. First. attractive. Thus the gospel creates a human community radically different from any society around it. or even in coming to large worship gatherings. relationships. Growth in grace and wisdom and character does not happen so much in classes and instruction. sign of the kingdom. the economically and physically weak. and to see people united in love who could never have been brought together without the power of the gospel to humble. money. Second. 1. and b) far more inviting and encouraging to join up with. though such individuals may inspire us. For effective mission. it is easy to conclude that they are just that--unusual and unattainable standards for the rest of us. When the world sees exceptional community it is both a) more convincing of the truth of Jesus' message. For Mission. a. They happen mainly through deep family-relationships and in countercultural communities where the implications of the gospel are a) really worked out cognitively and b) and 'worked in' practically in ways that no other setting or venue can afford.’ UPL24Feb09 10 . in which the character of Christian community is itself a convicting. But what atheism and other religions cannot produce is the kind of loving community that the gospel can produce. the people of God live in loving bonds of mutual accountability and discipline. They are more personally comfortable making arguments than curing souls.' Amazing. b. so the main way we grow in grace and holiness is through deep involvement in community. and living space to social justice and the needs of the poor. Because the gospel points us to a man who died for his enemies. We must show sex. I once heard Jeff White say that exceptional character in individuals does not really prove the reality of Christianity. B. Classes and studies and reading don’t really change you unless you do your study in community. affirm. 'the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. money.of others as a way of meeting their own felt needs.

more “connected. What does it mean to follow the Biblical sex ethic as a single Christian? It means: a) you should not have sex until you are married. Your friendships and social relationships are often. We are not to gravitate only toward the people who are more attractive. We are not to use others. we see that he did not educate his disciples in a classroom. A classroom relationship is one in which the students and teachers contact one another on the intellectual point only. 1 Sam 16:7. eat together. Our modern society is very secular (oriented to the concrete “now” rather than to spiritual or eternal values) and therefore it is rationalistic and mechanistic. If we read how Jesus taught his disciples. Western believers usually think that we show the world ‘Christ-likeness’ through our individual lives as believers. emotionally. not academic settings alone.” more powerful.c. So it is quite possible to be following the letter of the law in your individual ethics and still miss the importance of showing forth God’s glory in our community’s ways and practices. the people you network with and relate to are not persons (subjects) but objects. Therefore. But the Trinitarian/Christian view of reality tells us that relationships are ends in themselves. Jacques Ellul’s book The Technological Society is a Christian analysis of the centrality of “technique” today. That is. Relationships often become not a good or an ‘end in themselves’ but rather a means to further your own interests. and spiritually as well. How should Christians as a community show the difference Christ makes in the area of sexuality? Here is one idea. The example of career advancement. A Christian counter-culture must be a place where relationships do not work like that. What if we were a community in which the single men didn’t only date good-looking women but actually assessed a potential partner’s worth primarily on the basis of her character? And what if we were a community in which single women didn’t only date prosperous men but actually assessed a potential partner’s worth primarily on the basis of his character? (cf. usually. appearance. or always based on their usefulness for reaching your economic and social goals. the crucial (though not exclusive) venue for discipleship is in communities. and b) you should not marry someone who does not share a similar commitment to Christ. and contact one another socially. In this environment you choose to spend time with people who will ‘open doors’ for you. Ellul says that this modern sensibility shapes everything including our relationships. even the more conservative ones. where there was plenty of time to work out truth in discussion and dialogue and in application. They are means to ends. But does that exhaust what it means to be a ‘light to the world’ in the area of sex and relationships? Jesus told us to ‘let our light shine forth’ to the world as a city--as a counter-culture. This is one way that we could be an alternate society--in the way sex and dating is carried out within our midst. not classes. We are not to relate to people in order to further our own personal agendas. Here are just a couple of examples. With power: We are committed to power-sharing and relationship-building between races and classes that are alienated outside of the Body of Christ. But it is just as important to exhibit ‘Christ-likeness’ through our corporate life together. UPL24Feb09 11 . The practical evidence of this is that we need to be as multi-ethnic a body as possible. Rather he created communities of learning. For Character. In other words. Jesus did not set up a classroom relationship between himself and his students nor between his students with one another. When we think of “sex ethics” we usually think very individualistically. They do not live together. are basically ‘conformed to the world’ in this area. fellowship groups and friendships. Yet it may be that most churches. The example of dating. and money are all-important in mate-selection. 1 Pet 3:3-4)2 In our culture looks.

we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases. But that is because Jesus expected us to be walking as a community and determining these things as a community. but it is (as we saw) a demand that we commit ourselves to a corporate body and not live as autonomous individuals any more. Why? 1) It is far. So most of the 'ethical principles' or 'rules for behavior' in the Bible are not just code-books for individuals but descriptions of the new community of love and holiness. having him “to myself” now that Charles is away. you will never see it in yourself. We are to honor (Rom 12:10). But this is common sense. In a very famous passage (I’ve quoted it so much it is now famous!) C. We are to stop gossiping and slandering (Gal 5:15) or being 'fake' (Rom 12:9) with each other. One example is all the warnings against greed.S.. The 10 commandments were given to Israel at Mount Sinai to form them into an alternate society that would be a light to the nations. the more we shall all have. Friendship exhibits a glorious 'nearness by resemblance' to Heaven. Two friends delight to be joined by a third.S. we simply will slip up and fall away constantly.Character is mainly shaped by the people with whom we live--with whom we eat.. And Lewis noticed that-In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. For Spirituality. I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. We are to cheer and challenge (Heb. admonish and confront (Rom 15:14. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity. and study. pray for and confess sins to one another (James 5:16). seeing Him in her own way. 3) If we read all the rules as individual codes rather than as community standards. Romans 12:1-2 call to "present your bodies a living sacrifice" is usually interpreted as a call to individual consecration. In this. They don't spell out just what to do in every situation. we will more likely fall into the error of legalism and of seeking to merit God's favor by our behavior. I have less of Ronald. The more we share the Heavenly Bread between us.3:13). Lewis describes a very close friendship that existed between Charles (Williams) Ronald (J.Lewis. forgive (Eph 4:2. Jesus' call for us to be a 'city on a hill' means we must read the whole Sermon on the Mount as a description of this new community. counsel. accept (Rom 15:7). communicates that unique vision to all the rest..R. Hence true friendship is the least jealous of loves. This best worked out in community.S.32). converse. says an old author. When are you spending too much money on yourself? Greed is so insidious. Holy' to one another (Is 6:3). Then all of Romans 12 should be read as a description of this new society. In the same way. Gal 6:1-6).R. Now that Charles is dead. 3:16). 'Holy.'. 2) Many of the ethical prescriptions of the Bible seem maddeningly 'general'-not specific enough. really.. That. is why the Seraphim in Isaiah's vision are crying. share possessions (Acts 4:32ff) and submit to the needs (Eph 5:21) of each other. bear with (Col 3:1213). Far from having more of Ronald.) Then Charles Williams died. Unless we make ourselves accountable to a body of believers. warn (1 Thess 5:14). and three by a fourth. Unlike adultery. We are to bear burdens (Gal 6:2). play.Lewis (The Four Loves) UPL24Feb09 12 . far harder to live godly lives as individuals. All the 'one another' passages of the Bible apply to this aspect of Christian community. that unless you do some talking with other Christians about it. and instruct one another (Col.C.Tolkien) and Jack (C. It is therefore our primary social community that makes us what we are at the deepest level. which is nice and clear--greed is hard to define.. Holy.for every soul. For Ethics. I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far more of the Biblical ethical prescriptions is addressed to us as a community than as individuals.

You need to see the person with others. As we will see next week. like living stones. how much more so with the Lord. stay sexually pure--and I need to go to fellowship". transformed character. It is itself part of the good news. Sum: It is a typical mistake of Christians to miss the centrality of community. it becomes the most intense. It is the way we do 'ethics'. "Ah. the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-. we see that their identity is now rooted more in who they are in Christ than in their family or class. and the more intense the experience. It is demonstration of the good news of freedom in Christ. Jesus has knocked them down.Lewis’s point was that even a human being is too rich and multi-faceted a being to be known one-on-one. but then they are thrown together into a life or death situation. You think you know someone. 'community' is the way we are to do all that Christ told us to do in the world. since in Christ you have spiritually died and been raised to new life. There have been countless ‘buddy movies’ about some group of soldiers who are extremely different in all kinds of ways. 'Hermeneutics' apart from community is a recipe for a cult. Community is no longer natural or easy under our present cultural conditions. the gospel creates community with the changes it makes in our hearts. stronger then blood. learning from others before us. for the good news is--"This is what Christ has won for you on the cross-a new life in the people of God. But we have a secret weapon—the gospel of grace. it is." 2) We often think of community as simply one more thing we have to do in the 'rules' of behavior. outside of Christ. 2. the builder simply lays next to each other and they interlock into a solid and beautiful temple. I have to read my Bible. now a deeper identity marker than our family. The more intense the experience. When we speak to others who know God’s grace.) And because of this common experience of grace. when we come together. foundational event of our lives. (Eph 2:1-6. it is the way we do learning. or social class but who has experienced the grace of Jesus Christ through the gospel. but now you have been brought near. race. like going through a flood or battle together. pray. Well. we find we ‘fit’! ‘As you come to him. But actually. but it is itself a declaration and expression of the gospel. Strong community is formed by powerful common experiences. created insurmountable barriers to our relationships. it becomes the basis for a deep. Once you were alienated from others. When Christians experience Christ’s radical grace through repentance and faith. It will require a deliberateness and an intentionality greater than that required by our ancestors.) Like stones that already have been perfectly shaped by the mason. the more intense the bond. You can’t really know Jesus by yourself. race. When they come through it together. the more intense the community. permanent bond. The Gospel and Christian Community. and uncomfortable to most of us. Example: We really only learn to study the Bible in community. There is nothing more dangerous than someone who feels that their interpretation of a text is right even though no one else thinks it is. When we meet someone from sharply different culture.you also. But here we've seen that 'community' is not simply the result of the preaching of the gospel. Community grows naturally out of shared experience. As a result we sense a bond that circumvents those things that. or culture. but you by yourself can’t bring out all that is in the person. Rom 6:4-6. you are looking at someone who has been through the same life and death situation. How exactly does the experience of gospel grace create community? UPL24Feb09 13 . 1) We often think of it as simply a result of the gospel. are being built into a spiritual house’ (1 Peter 2:4-5. And if that is the case with a human being.

because of the nature of my self-image. then I can either be confident but not humble (if I am living up) or humble but not confident (if I am not living up). nor. If we regard ourselves as superior we “provoke” (the Greek word means ‘to challenge’). everything we do is out of self-love. starved for significance. some people’s ‘glory-emptiness’ takes the form of self-deprecation and self-loathing. though we want to be our own masters--at the deepest level we know there is a God that we should be living for. We are intimidated or disdainful. -. It is when we have [“vain-glory”] that we. not for how they make me feel about myself.. Why? Because if I am saved by my works. To the degree I am still functionally earning my worth through performance (i... we are not over-dependent on the approval of others. The gospel. economically. creates a whole new self-image which is not based on comparisons with others (Galatians 5:26. wracked by both impulses. Therefore we suppress and repress the knowledge that we are not living as we ought (Rom 1:18-20. So the gospel humbles me before anyone. I will be forced to be superior or inferior or to swing back and forth or to be one way with some people and another way with others.provoking one another.e. The gospel makes us neither self-confident nor self-disdaining. Jonathan Edwards says that until we have experienced grace. I am continually caught between these two ways. but both bold and humble at once.. UPL24Feb09 14 . We do not work for the sake of the work. we do not relate for the sake of the person. to that degree I will be either operating out of superiority or inferiority. This condition is rooted in sin. envying of one another.but if we regard ourselves as inferior we “envy. we have a very narrow 'range' for our relationships... honor. I relate to others for their sakes. so. mentally.The Holy Spirit has opened their eyes to see both their own sin and unworthiness and also the importance and value of.” In both cases our attitude is due to ‘vainglory’ or ‘conceit. telling me I am loved and honored by the only eyes in the universe that really count.) We do not earn our worth through approval from people nor through power over people. But it also emboldens me before anyone.“Let us have no vainglory-. We are doing it all to bolster our own self-image--to derive it. And until the gospel changes us. physically) or much worse than us--the sharp dynamics of superiority and inferiority kick in to play. (Gal 5:26). on the other hand.Stott (The Message of Galatians) Our natural condition is to be ‘glory-empty’. essentially from others. and a sense of worth.adopt one of these two attitudes. to the degree I am still functioning in works-righteousness). 6:3-5.. When we meet anyone who is much better than us (socially. we are generally 'using' people in relationships. As Paul says. are we afraid of commitment and connection to others.people in the sight of God.. This radically changes all my relationships. So the gospel gives a boldness and a humility that do not “eat each other up”.’ to our having such a fantasy opinion of ourselves. Some people’s ‘glory-emptiness’ takes the form of bravado and pride.. In other words.) In different people these deep currents express themselves in different ways. Most of us are in the middle. But when the gospel changes me. So my relationships are all about me. Until the gospel changes us. on the one hand. Sin makes us feel both superior (because we are trying to prove to ourselves and others that we are significant) and inferior (because at a deep level we feel guilty and insecure.J. This verse shows that our conduct to others is determined by our opinion of ourselves... telling me I am a sinner saved only by grace. but can increase together.. apart from the gospel.Very different is that love which is the fruit of the Spirit..) This guilt subconsciously influences us in all we do. I can enjoy someone for who they are in themselves. We are capable of reciprocity and mutuality only with people a lot like us. however.

I am accepted This "converts" people. status. your church is heading in the direction of being a consumer-center rather than a community. But the gospel makes the church impossible to categorize 1) Justificationby-faith brings deep. and most people see themselves living there temporarily. We must work for the common good and show our neighbors we love them sacrificially whether they believe as we do or not. By a "positive" view of the city we do not mean a simple celebration of everything within it. Or mid-size groups could be started and then members encouraged to start small groups within. the gospel of the cross and the kingdom brings deep powerful social changes. power through service. and intimate community. These are usually 4-10 people who meet for study. This changes our attitude toward the poor. Therefore God is not just concerned for the salvation of souls but also for the removal of poverty. In sum: We did not want to emphasize mainly evangelism (as conservative churches do) or mainly social justice (as liberal churches do) but give a UPL24Feb09 15 . Indifference to the poor and disadvantaged means there has not been a true grasp of our salvation by sheer grace. It defies the values of the world--power. and injustice. sharing. City-centres are very expensive and difficult places to live. hunger. Practical issues: • Building community in a city-centre is the most challenging of the four ministry areas. The gospel is triumph through weakness. and the resurrection of Jesus shows that he is going to redeem both the spiritual and the material.God created both soul and body. small groups are tend to look inward. went forth. • The two methods that most city churches will need to use for community-building are: • Mid-size ‘parish’ groups. Secular people have a strong belief that religion is really just about social power. The person. most people are working enormously long hours while there. C. Though I am sinful. who does not generously give away his or her wealth to others is not merely lacking in compassion. We are neither to condemn it or just celebrate it--but to love it and see it as the most strategic place possible for Christians to live and serve. Christian churches must work for justice and peace in their neighborhoods through service even as they call individuals to conversion and the new birth. Connecting people to the city – Justice and mercy Introduction . • Unless the number of people in mid-size and small groups is at least ½ the number of the people who gather for worship and teaching on Sunday. The gospel opens our eyes to the fact that all our wealth (even wealth we worked hard for) is ultimately an unmerited gift from God. wealth. therefore. largely because of the mobility of the population. 2) On the other hand. This makes it difficult to build community. toward our own status and wealth and careers. wealth through poverty. "My chains fell off. recognition. While mid-size groups are more outward-faced. • You should find ways to encourage Christians to ‘settle down’ and raise their families in the city (Jer 29.3. They eat together regularly and consider how to reach out and serve the surrounding community. • Small groups may be used to form the mid-size parishes (that is—3-5 functioning small groups in a particular area could be united to become a parish community. Ask people who were going to stay just for school to get their first job in the city. • The most practical way to build community is to build into people a positive view of the city. These are usually 20-60 people who live in a neighborhood or parish. • Small ‘house’ groups. There is a need to place every church somewhere on the ideological spectrum from "Liberal/Left wing" to "Conservative/Right wing". and followed Thee".) Ask people who were going to stay 2 years to make it 3-4. but is unjust. my heart was free. powerful psychological changes. I rose.

let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. within the immediate neighborhood the church should show its sacrificial love by the meeting practical needs of people whether they believe as we do or not. Biblical-theological concepts. Christians are to "show mercy"--eleos. ’ • The key verse is 2:24-So you see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. "How can a man be happy when he has to serve someone?" Then Jesus makes the startling statement that Christian greatness is the polar opposite to the concept of the world's. James to the ultimate verdict of innocence pronounced over a person at the last judgment. but not by a faith that is alone. “What good is it. throughout the whole city the church should disciple Christians to band together into for-profits and non-profits that seek to serve and lift up the needy of the entire city. where Martha is preparing a meal for Jesus. Luke 8:3). but sometimes it specifically refers to helping the poor and needy. Jesus asks the question: "who is greater? the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? (diakonia)" This question is remarkable because in the value of the Greek culture of the day. keep warm and well fed. We should care for one another’s practical needs—economic. emotional—with the utmost generosity and care.141-142. A group of women disciples followed Jesus and the apostles and provided food and other physical needs. In 'traditional values' America a church can lack this combination will still have credibility. two of the key passages in the Bible about wholistic ministry. • Third. physical. If one of you says to him.” (James 2:14-17) The latter part of chapter 2 is famous for its seeming variance from Paul’s own teaching." but does nothing about his physical needs. the context makes it clear. There have been innumerable excellent studies and books that show that there is no actual contradiction here. James writes: “judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. While a sinner can get into relationship with God only by faith (Paul). Mercy. the ultimate validation [proof] of that relationship takes into account the works that true faith must inevitably produce (James).Moo.” (1 John 3:17-18) b. Paul refers to the initial declaration of a sinner’s innocence before God. it was considered highly demeaning. medical. how can the love of God be in him? Dear children. my brothers. In Luke 22. "Go.very high emphasis to both. if it is not accompanied by action.” ] 3 “James and Paul use ‘justify’ to refer to different things.27:55. The root meaning of the word diakonia is to feed someone by waiting on a table. The Letter of James. and this ministry is called diakonia (Matt. The work of providing daily necessities for the widows in the early church is diakonia (Acts 6:2). D. Plato said.3 [“We are saved by faith alone. This word means to humbly provide for the most basic and simple needs through deeds. “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him. An example is in Luke 10:40. social. This word is used to describe wholistic ministry in Luke 10:25-37 and James 2:14-17. • Second. Service. within the church community itself there should be radical sharing of economic resources. That is not the case on the 'secular mission field'. In general ‘holistic’ ministry should have three focuses: • First. a. faith by itself. 1. I wish you well. what good is it? In the same way. What is the meaning of the word here? As Doug Moo says in his commentary. Christians are to "serve"--diakonia. p. if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. This is one of the main way we make people look twice and take our message seriously. UPL24Feb09 16 . A gospel-centered church should combine 'zeals' that are ordinarily never seen together in the same church.’ (2:13) ‘Mercy’ sometimes has a general meaning." A diakonos! A busboy! This is the Christian pattern of greatness and the pattern of Christ's work. is dead. "I am among you as one who serves (diakonia).

• • • However. you will continue to base your identity in your performance and status and continue to evaluate people’s beings in terms of their economic/social status. fully accepted and loved.if it is not accompanied by action. love. since out in the world he gets nothing but acclaim. is dead. has no trouble weaving them together. James says if you have faith but look at others without adequate resources and do “nothing about his physical needs. the controversy over the relationship of Paul to James has masked what the “works” are that James asserts are absolutely. Wow. • And on the other hand James proposes that the rich person who becomes a believer would spiritually benefit by especially thinking about his or her new (in the gospel) realization of sinfulness before God. Someone who does not show any signs of (at least gradual!) identity transformation along these lines does not give evidence of having really grasped the gospel. But if you are a sinner saved by grace that has to change.. Why would he say that? In James 1:9-10 he says that the poor Christian ‘ought to take pride in his high position’ but the rich Christian ‘ought to take pride in his low position. since out in the world he gets nothing but disdain. gospel-faith.’ This is a wonderfully paradoxical statement. untainted by worldliness (a very ‘conservative’ sounding value!) is an equally important commitment to help those without social and economic power (a very ‘liberal’ sounding value!) James. Notice that along with a pure heart.. This of course is true if you are a Christians regardless of your social status. and practical concern for the poor is dead. • Here we see why later James can say that concern for the poor and generous sharing of wealth is the inevitable sign of someone who has understood the gospel of grace.. But in the gospel these things are de-moted and made peripheral. because he will pass away like a wild flower. unlike the contemporary church.” (2:16-170 What then are the ‘works’ that James is talking about? He is saying something very radical: “A life poured out in deeds of service to the poor is the inevitable sign of any real. We are all spiritually bankrupt and saved by sheer generosity. If you believe that you are saved by your goodness and merit. • This reinforced in 2:1-4 where James warns Christians not to show preference or favoritism for the rich within the church. inextricably linked. It’s not gospel faith.. He writes: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”Sit on the floor”. ‘If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothing and say. Every Christian in Christ is at the same time a sinner who deserves disintegration and death and an adopted child of God.. His worldly riches (his identity as a wealthy person) is spiritually worthless.have you not discriminated among yourselves?’ The poor person.” but say to the poor man. • The world makes these things into bottom line identities. and clothing are disdained in the world.” James essentially says the same thing in 1:27 when he ties the so-called ‘spiritual’ and ‘social’ aspects of living together into a seamless cloth. Gospel faith in the heart inevitably expresses itself in such a life. “Here’s a good seat for you. Nor should the wealthy be treated with inordinate respect. • But James proposes that the poor person who becomes a believer would spiritually benefit by especially thinking about his or her new (in the gospel) high spiritual status. it will pass away. manner. must not be treated disrespectfully in the community of Jesus. UPL24Feb09 17 . true. what good is it? Faith.. You are your social status and bank account--that is the basis for your self-value and self-regard. inevitably the product of saving faith. The gospel gives us new identities that completely undermine the roles assigned to us in the world. whose rough speech. Thus James can say that faith without respect.

less visible but no less wicked. the wicked are [those who are] willing to disadvantage the community to advantage themselves. Justice. job and vocation. how we seek and use corporate profits. He gave his blood for the undeserving. Oh my dear Christians! If you would be like Christ. 2004) p. Objection 3."Now dear Christians.. with far greater truth.`though he was rich. that most would despise it. Answer: Christ might have said. and so will you be. he left the ninety-nine.) Evangelicals tend to translate that word ‘live righteously’ and generalize it to mean general Christian obedience to God’s word. to the vile and poor. That isn’t accurate. including family and sexual relationships. Remember his own word. And those things are. And this means going well beyond what is legally required of us. some of you pray night and day to be branches of the true Vine. Living justly means the constant recognition of the claims of community upon us. especially not when understanding the term in the Old Testament. you pray to be made all over in the image of Christ. M'Cheyne c. p.. give freely. This works itself out in every single area of life. yea. and came after the lost. `The poor are undeserving'.” 4 Most people think of ‘wickedness’ as disobeying the Ten Commandments by lying or committing adultery. A CEO who ‘wears justice as a robe’ as Job says cannot be thinking only of his shareholders’ profit. yet he gave his own blood. but also the good of his employees and the community in which the business operates. If so. through no fault of their own.M. `The poor may abuse it'.. yet for our sakes he became poor'... All kinds of things that a bank and its managers can do legally are. wicked! But lying and adultery things are only the most visible tip of the iceberg of wickedness. Christ knew that thousands would trample his blood under their feet. use of wealth and possessions. Just below the surface. But no one argues that it is the children’s fault! Of course it is possible for youth born into poverty to break out of it--but it takes Waltke. 96. that many would make it an excuse for sinning more. according to the Bible. According to the Old Testament. (1). citizenship. God’s justice means to share food. It is not your money I want. shelter. "It is more blessed to give than to receive" -..R.96. `my blood is my own. Chapters 1-15 (Eerdmans. What is ‘doing justice?’ Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke can define justice in this startling way. give much. my life is my own'. In all these ways you disadvantage others by advantaging yourself. There are places where believers are told to ‘do justice’ or live ‘justly. is not feeding the poor when you have the power to do so. the thankless and the undeserving. Answer: Christ might have said the same.shall I lay down my life for these? I will give to the good angels'. It is not just done in courts or legislatures.Objection 1.. you must be like him in giving. and other basic resources with those who have fewer of them (Is 58:6-10. of course. `They are wicked rebels. But no. Answer: Christ might have said. See Waltke’s article “Righteousness in Proverbs” in Westminster Theological Journal 70 (2008):207-24 UPL24Feb09 4 18 .’ (Micah 6:8. how we form and conduct friendships. or taking so much income out of the business you own that your employees are paid poorly. how we communicate and present ourselves. but your happiness. it means disadvantaging ourselves in order to advantage others. how we pursue our leisure. inner city children. For example.. unjust.) (2) Why is meeting basic human needs called not just mercy but justice? We do not all start out with equal privileges and assets. may grow up with vastly inferior schooling and with an overall environment extremely detrimental to learning. give often.then where should we have been? Objection 2. or shoveling snow from your own driveway without even thinking to do the same for your elderly neighbors. Now we see ‘doing justice’ can be something that we do everyday.” The tzadiq [just] are [those who are] willing to disadvantage themselves to advantage the community. Conservatives may argue that this is the parents’ fault or the “culture’s” fault while liberals see it as a failure of government and/or the fruit of systemic racism. `My money is my own'. Christ is glorious and happy.

(3) Why should we do justice? God tells Israel: “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. It is the gospel that motivates us to act both in mercy and in justice. independence. On the other hand. A balanced motivation arises from a heart touched by grace. A balance of analysis—justice and mercy. If we were born in other circumstances we could easily be very poor through no fault of our own. the other underemphasizes it. ironically. In short. It is one thing to want to help the poor. Now they are to treat all people with less power or fewer assets as neighbors. A liberal ideology will not put enough emphasis on repentance and personal change. and 2) their personal commitment to ameliorate injustice through personal giving. for you were aliens in Egypt. the liberal “justice only” motivation leads to great anger and rancor.” (Lev 19:34) The Israelites had been ‘aliens’ and oppressed slaves in Egypt. This may come from a belief that poverty is mainly a matter of individual irresponsibility. So the basis for ‘doing justice’ is salvation by grace! Christians may disagree about the particular political approach to the problems of injustice. The problem is simply an unjust distribution of opportunity and resources. One of the main reasons this happens so often is because of the two unbiblical political ideologies and reductionisms that reign in our culture today. Now they are to treat all people with less power or fewer assets as neighbors. Poverty is seen strictly in terms of structural inequities. for you were aliens in Egypt. But all Christians must be characterized by 1) their passion for justice. which has lost its superiority-feelings toward any particular class of people. (You can’t ask an illiterate 8 year-old—soon to be an illiterate 17 year-old--to ‘pull himself up by his bootstraps’!) Why does this situation exist? It is part of the deep injustice of our world. UPL24Feb09 19 . doing love and justice to them. and won’t be cognizant of the more invisible social-cultural factors contributing to the problems. doing love and justice to them. They did not have the ability to free themselves--God liberated them by his grace and power. One over-emphasizes individual responsibility. If we have the world’s goods they are ultimately a gift. A conservative ideology will be far too impatient and probably harsh with a poor family. creativity. While the conservative “compassion only” motivation leads to paternalism and patronizing. Love him as yourself. d. Both views. some children grow up with about a 200-times better opportunity for academic and economic success than others do. become self-righteous. and courage to simply go to college and get a job than it does for any child born into a middle class world.” (Lev 19:34) The Israelites had been ‘aliens’ and oppressed slaves in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. They did not have the ability to free themselves--God liberated them by his grace and power. It misses the fact that the ‘haves’ have what we have to a great degree because of unjust distribution of opportunities and resources at birth. To fail to share what you have is not just uncompassionate but unfair. So the basis for ‘doing justice’ is salvation by grace! We said at the beginning of this section that this balance of mercy and justice—of seeing the both the personal and the social aspects and causes of poverty—is necessary for a church’s ministry to the poor to be wise. Let’s keep something very clear. unjust. God tells Israel: “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. It is extremely easy to become involved in the life of a poor family and make things worse rather than better. Love him as yourself. It is another thing to go about it wisely. sacrifice. One tends to blame the poor for everything. the other to blame the rich for everything.many times more fortitude. many ‘liberals’ are motivated to help the poor mainly out of a sense of indignation and aborted justice. and generosity. This misses the fact that individual responsibility and transformation has a great deal to do with escape from poverty. Many ‘conservatives’ are motivated to help the poor mainly by mercy. I am the Lord your God.

but he "broke the fangs of the wicked and made them drop their victims" (Job 29:17). there is development. Development. and find other kinds of aid. or even development? For theological and practical reasons. and Reform. As a general rule. 25:37. corrupt business practices (Amos 8:2. I believe it is the church should be involved in the first of these. a. Lev. when a slave's debt was erased and he was released.24:17.15:13-14). This means that Christians should also work for a particular community to get better police protection. who are deeply involved in caring for the poor have found it UPL24Feb09 20 . believers should work through associations and organizations rather than through the local church.19:15).6). Finally. So too the African-American church. and resources for a new.2. as a corporate witness to the community of Christ’s transforming love. But should the church be doing reform. on community development. It is not easy to dogmatically draw lines here. and as an important ‘plausibility structure’ for the preaching of the gospel. under the extreme conditions of slavery and near-slavery. there is reform. there is relief. and ministries should be organized to do the second and the third. Others say that the second and third levels are too complex and it is not within the skill-set or mandate of the elders of the church to manage them. better laws. Relief programs alone can create patterns of dependency. however.S. Ex.19:35-37. selfsufficient economic life (Deut. Daniel calls a pagan government to account for its lack of mercy to the poor (Dan. the church’s ministry to the poor makes great sense as a corporate vehicle for Christians to fulfill their Biblical duty to the poor. With this in mind. Others say they are too political and would require that the congregation be too allied with particular civil magistrates and political parties in ways that would compromise the church in various ways. help them find housing. Why? Many would argue that the second and third levels are too expensive and would take away financial resources from the ministry of the Word. However. tools. food and clothing services for people in dire need. Relief. Different social and cultural conditions can effect how directly the church is involved in addressing issues of justice. the church should recognize different ‘levels’ of ministry to the poor and should know its limits. direct aid to meet physical/material/social needs. “Development" for an individual includes education. Their job is the ministry of the Word of God and prayer (Acts 6:1-7. and the addressing of social structures. and this continues to this day. I would only observe that most of the churches in the U. took on all three levels of ministry to the poor. that the institutional church should concentrate on the first and part of the second level—on relief and some individual development. and so on. social reform. Social reform moves beyond relief of immediate needs and dependency and seeks to change social conditions and structures which aggravate or cause that dependency. crisis counseling. God directed that his former master send him out with grain. But development for a neighborhood or community means re-investing social and financial capital into a social system--housing development and home ownership. other capital investments. in which people in need are given active assistance to get legal aid. Practical Issues. I cannot here give that process the time and space it would require. a system of lending capital that gouges the person of modest means (Lev. what is needed is to bring a person or community to self-sufficiency. zoning practices. The prophets denounced unfair wages (Jer. medical services.22:25-27).) All of these arguments have some merit but would need to be nuanced and worked out in order to do justice to my thesis.22:13). legal systems weighted in favor of the rich and influential (Deut. Job tells us that he not only clothed the naked. As we look back on it now. and so on. job creation and training. in general. In the OT. When it comes to the second and third level. we applaud whiteAnglo churches that preached against and worked against the evils of African slavery in America. the answer is. but voluntary associations. First. Second.4:27). organizations. Common relief ministries are temporary shelter for the homeless. more just and fair banking practices. A more active form of relief is "advocacy".

both those that live with the poor and those who help from the outside. We need compassion and respect. justice and mercy. Who should we help? How ‘needy’ must someone be? How do we define ‘need’ and be sure we are serving those we should? What if someone in your church says: “We are helping him? Why he’s not so bad off!” 3. rather than seek to do them directly through the local congregation. UPL24Feb09 21 . race relations. Justice or only mercy? In what way do we help? We mentioned that justice ministry can consist of helping individuals through simple relief--but it could also mean taking on the unjust social systems within needy individuals live. As soon as a church engages in wholistic ministry it will soon run up against a number of practical policy issues. D.wisest to spin off non-profit corporations to do community development and reform of social structures. Any church will have to come to consensus on them. but allow the deacons real freedom to carry out wholistic ministry of mercy and justice especially within the congregation (Gal 6:10. and evangelism. Evangelistic ministries in a neighborhood may need diaconal support to be sure that we meet all the pastoral needs of the individuals who are inquiring and seeking. b. Living there or coming in? From where should we help? This is not simple. and so on. The primary way to help members with financial needs is through the friendships within the person’s house church. Practical issues. and so on. Conditions or unrestricted? When (under what conditions if any) do you help? What should be required of those we help? Anything? Do you require that the persons come to your church or some ministry? Should you work more with members than non-members? 4. This was because they were not facing radically non-Christian values in their public life-at work. the diaconate can step in and supplement and support the housechurch. the use of community resources. few conditions first and more requirements as time goes on. Should the church ‘get into politics’ or stick with feeding the hungry? 5. in their neighborhood. The Diaconate. Keep this in mind--a) always try to ‘err’ on the side of being generous. They include: 1. Respect or just pity? With what attitude should we help? Do we help the poor by deciding what they need or by asking them. c. They did not need (or they did not think they needed) to reflect deeply about a Christian approach to business. Here I must speak out of my experience as a Presbyterian. surrounded by a very non-Christian culture. Often people with the same basic vision will disagree on them. art. sharing power with them in making decisions? How do we do that when they often seem (to us) less capable? How do we answer these questions? Each church will have to come to a position that to some degree is a ‘both-and’ answer since each of these controversial areas is problematic because we need to hold in balance different aspects of the Bible’s teaching. How much should we help? Justice/service ministry is very expensive. believers need much more by way of training. b) always stay flexible and open to cases that don’t fit the old policies. How much of a priority should it be in relationship to other ministries? Should a church wait until it is bigger and established before you do something in this area? The needs are endless--so how can you know what percentage of the church’s energy and money should go into it? 2. Level of priority. however. but if the problems are complex or protracted. learning from them. Connecting people to the culture – Integrating faith and work Introduction – In the west during the time of ‘Christendom’ the church could afford to confine its discipleship and training of believers to simply private-world skills such as prayer. Acts 6:1ff) and in the immediate neighborhood.) Elders are over the deacons. under the elders. Defining ‘the poor’. But I can’t speak highly enough of the historic Reformed practice of having two offices in the church—elder (over the ministry of the Word) and deacons (over the ministry of deed. Bible study. In a missional church. Should we move into areas of ‘need’ or work from where we already live? Will ‘moving in’ only lead to gentrification? 6.

The charge of intolerance is perhaps the main 'defeater' of the gospel in the non-Christian west. That takes reflection and creativity. and about how to work with Christian distinctiveness.’ Since we are saved by the purity and rightness of our lives. b) Also. in a missional church. evangelizing. in a missional situation. The problem of dualism. • Strong. you tend toward a Pharisaical obsession with ‘ritual purity’ or ‘cleanness. distinctiveness. it encourages people to stay very much within the church where we don’t have to deal with unbelievers. while the secular world is bad and polluting. Biblical love and tolerance in "the public square" toward those with whom we deeply differ. The “everything black or white” world of legalists cannot cope with that kind of flexibility and uncertainty. • We therefore support Christians' engagement with culture. rather than allowing the gospel to shape they way they actually do art. 1. • The opposite of ‘dualism’ is ‘world-viewish’ Christianity. and scholarship. public and private. It originally had roots in Hellenistic thought that viewed the material world as bad and the spiritual world as good. It sees the church and its activities as good and untainted. media. (Note: recall the remarks above and in the ‘Church and Culture’ paper about the difference between the institutional and organic church. helping them work with excellence. business. and accountability in their professions and in ‘secular work.why Christians are culturally marginal. the laity needs theological education about how to 'think Christianly' about all of life. This has effectively removed Christians from places of cultural influence for generations.) Finally. discipling.• • • First. a) When you don’t grasp the gospel of grace. Kantian philosophy has accentuated it. It is also an interpretation of (and a distinct way of understanding) everything in the world. They are extremely concerned with knowing what the exactly right Biblical position is on everything. The two are related! Legalistic Christianity leads to dualistic Christianity. it is normal for believers to ‘seal off’ their faith-beliefs from the way they work in their vocation. in life. It must bring a distinct UPL24Feb09 22 . • Our western cultures continue to hold to the Enlightenment ‘fact-value distinction’.’ (See below) Second. lay people renewing and transforming the culture through distinctively Christian vocations must be supported and celebrated as the work of Christians in the world. Christianity is not simply a set of beliefs to be held in order to save my individual soul. ‘Dualism’ separates the spiritual/sacred off from the rest of life. Christianity is seen as a means of individual spiritual peace and strength and not as a comprehensive interpretation of reality that affects everything we do. • The second result of dualism is that it ‘seals off’ our personal beliefs and faith from the way we actually live and work in the world. All religious and ‘value’ beliefs are considered ‘subjective’ and are to be kept private. namely that only things that can be proven scientifically are ‘facts’ and are the basis for public work and discourse. (Kant made a sharp division between the public world of ‘objective facts’ and a private world of subjective values and spirituality. In such an increasingly post-Christian and anti-Christian culture. government. This tolerance should equal or exceed that which opposing views show toward Christians.) • The first result of dualism is the widespread belief that the only way to truly serve God is through direct ministry--teaching. Christians will have to use the gospel to demonstrate true. urban ‘Gospel DNA’ churches should be as known for moving people out of “dualism” as for moving people out of “legalism”. while the Bible does tell you a great deal about how the church should operate--it doesn’t give details about how to run your business in a Christian way. The few who resist usually do so by being outspoken about their personal faith.

employees. What then is our vision? We do not want Christians to privatize their faith away from their work. • Fourth. entered. Our work then. beauty. and methods we use in our work. Some ways that the gospel shapes work. nor to express it terms of a subculture. helps us see that even simple tasks such as making a shoe.) It can’t produce only profit/flourishing for its shareholders. On the other hand. According to the Biblical account. • Christians medical professionals will see that some practices make money for them but don’t add value to patients. and ethics. • First. For professionals. matters greatly to God. Believing cultural production is rearranging the material world in such a way that honors it and promotes human flourishing. but it doesn’t actually reshape the very way the work is done. i. who are prone to overwork and anxiety. Rather we want to see growing Christians working in their vocations both with excellence and Christian distinctiveness. financial profit. it directs us to ‘work unto the Lord. mending broken bodies. • Sometimes this is not the case. and of God’s love and care for it. This re-conception of work means: • Christians resist the modern world’s tendency to value only expertise and those things that are difficult to do and therefore command more money and power.) • But there are many other vocational fields in which one’s world-view has a significant effect on how you do your work. If you believe the universe happened by accident (rather than believing it was created. tilling the field. and the company’s neighbors (in the community where the work is located. And these issues determine how you live your daily life. (That is. practicing law. What is a Christian shoemaker? A fair answer is— ‘someone who makes great shoes at a fair price. For working-class people. in many cases our faith gives us the basis for re-conceiving the very way in which our kind of work is done. our faith changes our conception of work. our faith provides high ethics for Christians in the work place. The business must really enhance the lives of customers. • Christians resist the modern tendency to see ministry success in terms of only one ‘bottom line’. and character. right and wrong. UPL24Feb09 23 . All of our work matters to God.’ • Second.• perspective on human nature. the gospel prevents us from finding our significance and identity in money and success. we also believe that the gospel shapes and effects the motives. conception. who are prone to captivation to what Paul calls ‘eyeservice’ and drudgery. God matters to all our work. whatever it is.’ In that—the Christian shoemaker’s faith retools motivation. Every vocational field is distorted by sin and idolatry. That is. and redeemed by a personal. We agree with the original Protestant Reformers that so called “secular” work is as valuable and God-honoring as Christian ministry.e. and this should always lead them to function with a very high level of integrity in their work. our faith changes our motivation for work. justice. A robust theology of creation. • Third. (These were mentioned in the ‘Church and Culture’ paper. When you use your gifts in work--whether by making clothes. manner. he or she will do shoemaking exactly like every other good shoemaker. Tri-une Creator God) then you will have to have a different view of every one of these fundamental issues. and digging a ditch is a way to serve God and build up human community. 2. or nurturing children--you are answering God’s calling to serve the human community. thus transforming the culture in which we live from the inside out. work creates products for human flourishing. filling a tooth. Many things that are technically legal but Biblically immoral and unwise are out of bounds for believers.

But we spend most of our week in our vocational field--and we need to hear how other Christians have dealt with the same problems we face every day. and wealth without equitable benefit to customers and other colleagues. Christian artists particularly will find that their art ‘narrates’ differently than the work of other artists. and holiness. Much spiritual nurture in the church is very general and only addresses more generic or private-world matters. and many changes of residence. They increasingly require travel. There is a need for Christians in the same profession to mentor each other. A Christian world-view provides believers with ways to analyze the philosophies and practices that dominate their field. There are particular ethical quandaries. we reject the 'mainline' approach which stresses social justice and cultural involvement but does not call us to repentance. (Working 'accountably'. Vocation-specific spiritual nurture. and other questions that confront the Christians in that profession. First. On the other hand. UPL24Feb09 24 . We want to disciple our people for work in the world out of a Christian world-view. For example. Should there be groups that meet only monthly face to face but weekly online? Should some church staff be released to do more one-on-three shepherding and discipling? The second problem is that each vocation presents many spiritual and moral issues that are peculiar to the profession. THREE FACTORS Vocation-specific spiritual nurture (working 'accountably') World-view development and training (working 'distinctively') Cooperation and cultural production (working 'excellently') a. We reject the conservative/sectarian approach to culture. or. Members of such churches are told to either evangelize and disciple through the local church. Creative ways of 'delivering' spiritual nurture need to be devised. seasonal migration patterns. This addresses two common problems. They also require long and/or changing weekly hours. give guidance. status. many who are 'moving up' in their careers find it difficult to access the normal venues for spiritual nurture--the Sunday services and the weekly weeknight small group. shepherding oversight--that both a) fits the time-patterns of those in a particular vocation and b) addresses the life-issues of those in a particular vocation. Christians in government have been influenced by Biblical ideas.) First. the very idea that all slavery was wrong per se. learning in community. there is a need to provide the basic 'means of grace'--prayer. There is no support or appreciation for being a Christian through work. urban jobs and careers increasingly do not fit into the traditional "40-hrs and week-ends off" pattern.• • • Christians in marketing and business will discern common practices and accepted patterns of behavior that accrue power. There will be three factors necessary for us to become a church like this. Throughout history. and bring renewal and reform to them. Some ways the church can help people to integrate faith and work. was a very new idea in human history. conversion. if not. mutual/peer ministry and accountability. So we want to avoid simple cultural confrontation or cultural assimilation and instead become an agent for 'cultural renewal'. namely withdrawal or indifference. temptations. and arose from reflection on the Bible. 3. support and help each other. to at least send in their tithes so the rest of us can please God. discouragements. Some vocations are so hard and demanding that Christians will drop out of them without a great deal of specific encouragement and support. As a result.

Plenty of people will not want or need spiritual nurture that is vocation-specific. and 3) teachers knowledgeable in the Bible. whose art and work is shaped by the gospel every day of the week. (Working 'distinctively'. directly inviting them to come to Christ. how will his work be any different from that of a person with radically different beliefs about human nature. It is fairly easy to divide life into the 'secular' and the 'sacred'. Often members of your profession who don't believe will be attracted toward thoughtful and supportive fellowships of Christians whose work they respect.g. But there are many others who will not get nurtured and/or will not be given the care they need to handle the temptations and quandaries of their vocation.) While there has always been some efforts to band Christians together by vocation for outreach. In many ways it would be as wrong to completely segregate Christians by vocation as it would be by race. It is easy for a singer to feel he is using his gifts for Christ as he sings 'The Messiah'. and then the #1 and #3 groups have to forge answers to those questions that are both Biblical and UPL24Feb09 25 . and church history. (e. arriving Christians in a field. does he act in all his dealings as if every human being is made in the image of God. but how does the gospel make the rest of his work distinctive? If he is an opera singer. b.) But we don't know how to 'work for the Lord' when going about normal cultural tasks. 2) newer. theology. The #2 group has to be sure that the right questions are being addressed. But how does the gospel make the rest of her work distinctive? Will she have the same view of corporate profits as a person with different beliefs about human nature. that it is coherent and beautiful. Out in the world there is a lot of hostility between members of certain kinds of professions. When we sing a Christian song that talks of Jesus. So a Christian singer can sing about Christ in church to people. and it is liberating and healthy in the Christian community to build friendships across these kinds of barriers. or a Christian singer. there has been far fewer efforts to help Christians work distinctively. and fellowship. and the meaning of life? Will the only difference be that he doesn't sleep with his co-stars? It is easy for an MBA to feel she is using her gifts for Christ as she sits on the board of a charitable non-profit and/or serves as a trustee for her church. because they don't see any way to move ahead and stay true to their principles. At this moment in history. vocation-specific fellowships often have an interesting 'evangelistic' edge. that there is a meaning and purpose they were created for. But then.) Is the singer being just a singer who is also a Christian. By the way. God. a balance must be struck here. as they 'go up the ladder' will do so at the expense of their conscience.Of course. So they either abandon or water down their beliefs. and the meaning of life? What is the real purpose of a company? Is "to make a profit" the ultimate end or just the means to other ends? In other words. God. accomplished Christians in a field. World-view development and training. so precious that God would lose his Son for them? Is his real motive for what he does career advancement or witnessing to the goodness of creation and the meaningfulness of life by the excellence of his art? (Skillful art always testifies to even the most intellectually skeptical people that this world is not an accident. nurture. when we raise money for a Christian ministry that will work for conversions. during the week. Many Christians. hardly anyone combines theological acumen with cultural accomplishment. we know we are 'working for the Lord' when we directly use our gifts to convey Christian messages. Another way to put the dilemma. Do we believe that Jesus is Lord of every area of life? Do we train each other on how to practice that Lordship? How will we learn how to move ahead here? In general this has to arise out of intentional learning communities that bring together: 2) older.

This may take the form of mentoring relationships or counsel and even straight instruction. And what kinds of questions will they be asking? At the very least. but today it is a wonderful institution for education. the arts. bad world' but rather working together (and almost always with those who don't believe) in order to serve the world. On the other hand. There may need to be small cross-discipline groups (made up of #1. In general. The different possibilities are endless. of course. This means different things for each vocational area. unselfish. But these three factors will not be equally important in all vocations--or not all at the same time. Those who are more experienced and accomplished in their field should be moved by the gospel to make themselves available to those who are newer in the faith and/or the field. especially in light of our common roots in Hebrew narrative theology. recreation. with diligence and excellence. fair. or making a movie. If a Christian is regular office worker. a person in the corporate or financial world will (certainly early in her career) probably need factor 1 pre-dominantly. Different vocations and the three factors The goal is for Christians to be distinct in their work in the world in such a way that renews the health and strength of the culture. to burn out. If he is unusually kind. Factors 1 and 2 will mean little here. Many 'Christian businesses' are simply those that only hire born-again Christians and which have daily Bible studies at the office. The venues will probably have to be many.#2. The public-mindedness of most city Jewish institution should be instructive to us.wise/practical. There are strong temptations to neglect the family. yet it does so from a fairly distinct moderate secular Jewish perspective. Conferences could be held. and trustworthy in all his dealings. for example. factor 2 and 3 will UPL24Feb09 26 . This will take a great deal of work and years of effort. Cooperation and cultural production (working 'excellently') The third factor is logically last (though in reality they all work together. when rising into management. and often many ethically 'gray' areas present themselves. this means real cooperative ventures. b) what practices are antithetical to the gospel and must be rejected. This is not going to happen until Christians shed their sectarianism and become much more 'public spirited'. or individual artistic projects. 'cooperation for cultural production' does not so much mean Christians banding together to leave the 'big. they should be looking at a field and asking: a) what practices in our field are common grace-good and can be embraced.#3 people together) that work on specific issues. Journals and newsletters could serve as forums.) Christians must support and help one another to actually do their work well. etc--that serves to enrich the life of all New Yorkers. he is more likely to contribute by factor 3--working excellently and diligently. And example: when will Christians form the counter-part of the 92nd Street Y? The irony of course is that historically this was the 'Christian Association'. In some areas this means mentoring relationships. or a new journal/periodical. It could mean new business companies. or artists and non-artists creating and purchasing a permanent art gallery. c. Many 'Christian art' productions are really just ways of pulling artists out of the world and into a Christian sub-culture. The reason I put this factor last is also to remind us that if factors 1 and 2 are neglected Christian cooperative ventures are often poorly conceived. In other vocational areas. c) what practices can be adapted/revised. Later in the career. informed citizenship. and if he makes other workers and customers happy by his conscientiousness--he will enrich the lives of the office and the customers it serves. rather than a business that has thought out its whole mission and financial and personnel policies theologically.

Gotham Fellows is a program for young adults out of university less than 5 years. A final example is someone in the creative professions. but the most prominent is the Entrepreneurship Forum. UPL24Feb09 27 . Second. a. b) society. and practitioners come together to think out gospel implications for issues in a field. Are you thinking 'world-viewishly' about your work? Are you asking questions like: • What worldview(s) are predominant in my profession? • What are the underlying assumptions about meaning. not doctrinalist nor pietist. These are still on the drawing board. and so on. c) to witness to Christ? 4. ‘Working distinctively’—takes two forms at Redeemer. Some have monthly meetings. Practical ways to carry these ministry tasks out. Sometimes weekly small groups of mid-size ‘neighborhood parish’ groups (see above) can be based not on a geographical neighborhood but on vocational commonality. c. They get a mentor in their field and are trained in theology. destiny? • What are the idols? What are the 'bogeymen'? what are the hopes? What's the 'story line' of the culture in which I live? • How do those worldviews effect both the form and content of my work? How can I not just work with excellence but with Christian distinctiveness in my work? • What parts of the dominant views/theories are basically in line with the gospel and which I can agree with and use? • What parts of the dominant views/theories are basically irresolvable without Christ? How can Christ 'finish the story'? Where. • Have a positive regard for the city. The Vocational Fellowships. must I challenge my culture? • What opportunities are there in my profession for serving a) people. Plans must show gospel faith-work integration. ‘Working accountably’—can take the form of what we at Redeemer call ‘Vocational Fellowships. Almost immediately all three factors are necessary to grow and survive. • Neither over or under adapt to the culture of those in their surrounding neighborhood and culture. Some vocational fellowships consist simply of period ‘big events’ where they meet. recognize that it is the most strategic possible place for ministry. and arts initiative. annually. morality. of course. and world-view reflection.’ These are Christians banded together in their same vocation to minister to one another in the ways mentioned above. not individualistic or collectivistic. pastors. also address ‘working distinctively’ issues at times. who are in their first jobs. Bible. SUMMARY Churches will be effective in city-centers that: • Hold the historic Christian gospel--orthodox and Biblical in doctrine and practice. in other words. there could be a weekly or every-other-week meeting of 40-60 artists. but are neither legalistic nor liberal. we want to establish think tanks where theologians. in which. ‘Working excellently’—takes several forms. b. First. So for example. a business plan competition is conducted and grants given to the best plan for a for-profit.become much more important. origin. non-profit. listen to speakers.

music.• • • • • • Are intensely. especially through cell groups. and pastoral care. education. creatively evangelistic and effective in reaching not just people who are already traditional or conservative but who are very secular. Relentlessly emphasize and seek to build strong. Are arts and culture-friendly. both supportive of Christian witness in ‘secular work’ and willing to train people for cultural leadership. Have a bias toward being multi-ethnic--seek to be at least as multi-ethnic as their neighborhood. ministering in both word and deed to their community and the poor in extremely creative and generous ways. UPL24Feb09 28 . ‘thick’ counter-cultural Christian community in cities. Are holistic. not just church leadership See church planting as a ministry as natural and important as discipleship.