The “other” site

For any and all who are interested, we have a family website that we’ll be posting some pictures on, as well as some family updates.  We realize that everyone we’d like to keep up with may or may not be interested in the same content – thus, I’ve started this blog to post about current topics regarding what I’m learning and thinking about in terms of ministry, and we’ve started a family site with news and updates about the Gensheer family.

So go here and enjoy some recent pics of us out and about on Halloween!

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Sex is for community

I recently heard a pastor say this at a lecture up at Covenant Theological Seminary (previous post here) and have been mulling this over a bit in my head. I think I get what he meant, but want to solicit your unbiased (by my thoughts) from anybody out there.

What do you think it means: sex is for community?

Evangelicals and Reductionism – Can we really have community and not mission in our churches?

I have to say that I’m sorry its been so long since I’ve posted.  Its been a crazy few weeks, with a 4 day trip back home to Augusta.  Anyway, here’s a great post over at The Resurgence site, dealing with Evangelicalism and reductionism.  There’s alot in it, but this last thought is really great.  What do you guys think about this?

The danger I face…is that I, too, can reduce the Church’s real problems to simple solutions just like the next person. The real problem is a spiritual and theological one, not a management or programmatic one. This calls for spiritual and theological solutions, not pat answers. This frustrates busy, pragmatic Americans who want programs that will solve their problems. Thus the reductionistic problem just keeps getting recycled over and over again.

The place we must begin to counteract this reductionism is in seeing that our mission is not merely an activity of the Church, but rather that the Church exists for mission. Mission is the result of God’s activity within the world and that mission is to restore and heal creation. The Church is a community of the redeemed and exists to serve that mission. This is the meaning of John 20:21. God is a missionary God and we, as his people, are a sent people. The Church is not the purpose of the gospel, or even the goal of the gospel. The Church is the instrument and witness of the gospel. Only when we get this right will be begin to be the community that God intended for us to be.

So, do we as North American evangelicals operate in ways that reduce the gospel – in our gospel “presentations”, ministry objectives/approaches, etc?  Do we tend to see the church as serving our need for community, or as God’s ordained instrument in accomplishing His mission? 

Thoughts, comments, suggestions!

Tim Keller – Contextualization

timkeller.jpgThis is the best quote I have come across on contextualization, and it happens to come from…you guessed it…Tim Keller. Much thanks to Darrin Patrick for talking through this and pointing to this definition about contextualization at the FSI Lecture Series this weekend on the Emerging Church (check out http://covenantseminary.edu in a couple of days/weeks for the audio – if they post it.)

Quote on Contextualization:

Contextualization is not giving people what they want. It is giving God’s answers (which they probably do not want) to the questions they are asking and in forms they can comprehend.

Preaching – Is it a pointless task?

Disclaimer – I am a big fan of expository preaching, and do not believe it is a pointless task.  I ask this only because I’m wrestling with how to construct and deliver sermons.  I’m used to the style that packages a Biblical text into a nice and neat 25 minute speech, complete with nice picturesque illustration (or, human interest accounts, for the homiletically well-versed), but find myself drawn to preachers like Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll (who quite affectionately referred to a 25-minute sermon as an “introduction”) who sometimes seem to just open up the Bible and “talk it out”.

Yet, I can see and understand the opposite spectrum that says that passive listening is the least effective form of delivery for transformation – which is after all the aim of Biblical, Expository Preaching.

So what is the best way to communicate God’s Word from the pulpit (or music stand, coffee table, whatever you use)? I found this post a bit interesting in teasing out some of these thoughts.  Here’s something that stood out to me as interesting, and you tell me if it has any merit.

What I have since discovered is that lecturing a passive audience for 20 to 40 minutes, what Doug Pagitt calls “speeching,” has been repeatedly proven to result in a very low retention of content. Likewise, adult education experts testify, along with a multitude of unregenerate pew sitters, that passive learning rarely transforms values. Does this mean we should abandon instruction in the church? Of course not. After all, we are commissioned to teach people to obey everything Christ commanded. It simply means traditional preaching is not the best medium for skill training and instruction.

But preaching is wonderfully designed for the prerequisite component of Willard’s spiritual formation model—vision. Preaching this way will not always have the end goal of application, but rather inspiration. As Willard says, “It’s the beauty of the kingdom that Jesus said was causing people to climb over each other just to get in.” Only after people have a vision of God (the love, beauty, justice, and power of his kingdom) will they be ready to intentionally seek and employ the means to experience him through obedience—an aspect of spiritual formation that occurs most effectively in smaller settings through the medium of relationship.

CT Article on Gospel Coalition

The Gospel CoalitionColin Hansen has an article for CT about The Gospel Coalition.  Its a good excerpt, and worth reading to understand what I think is an exciting and important trend for the shaping of future ministry, particularly in the U.S.   Here are a couple of good quotes (from Keller, yes!), but do go read the rest of the article (click here).

“I want to see more churches and leaders joining hands across denominational and network lines to think out how to do effective mission based on the historic, classical understanding of the gospel as it has come down to us from the Reformation and through the Awakenings.”

“If we seek service rather than power, we may have significant cultural impact,” the statement says. “But if we seek power and social control, we will, ironically, be assimilated into the very idolatries of wealth, status, and power we seek to change.”-Tim Keller

$5 – Get your Piper on! Piper on Justification and N.T. Wright

Piper, Justification and N.T. Wright

If you’re at all interestd in this topic, John Piper’s new book is going on sale for $5 through the month of October as a pre-sale special. Check out the details on their blog.

Gospel-Centered Sexuality – Session 1

These are the notes I took from the frist session of Scotty Smith’s “Gospel-Centered Sexuality” class. I found these things very helpful in understanding how the gospel transforms and re-orients my view of sexuality, and figure these might provide some interesting “springboards” for further thought. I’ll try to put up the Saturday sessions later on.

Friday PM: Session 1

Intro – Story-line of Scripture

• We’re not going back to Eden—we’re going to Paradise! The future (eschatology) is far better and grander than the beginning!
• We were made for a relationship and intercourse with, that can only be truly fulfilled in Jesus! (Quote in handout)
• Q: What is this, exactly? Sounds a little fruity to me? (referenced: “neither given or given into marriage” in Heaven/Paradise)
• Right Use—-Mis-Use—-Dis-Use—–Abuse of Sex
• Q: What does “dis-use” of sex drive at?
• A: So busy with life…or comfort…that sex, within marriage, is minimal, if not non-existent.

Song of Solomon 4-5

• The fact that we can’t read this “shame-free” is evidence that we live in a fallen world – we have been robbed of something precious to us!

Ephesians 5: 31-33

• Nothing else but the Gospel could ever give us the hope of being able to say, “I hold nothing back from you” [my finances, imagination, fears, tears, dream, hopes, hurst…genitalia]
• v. 32 – There is a fulfillment of Gen. 2 that is reserved alone for Jesus Christ
• Q: What is this “fulfillment”? Is it the idea of “shame-freeness” that you’re driving at?
• A: If you consider intercourse as genital-to-genital interaction, you’ve missed the point.
• Sex serves cleaving! (Wow, that makes sense). Sex has a context, and when we take it out of context, monsters are created.

Sex and Subversive Nature of the Gospel (from Tim Keller; also S. Smith, The Reign of Grace)

I Corinthians 6:12-7:40

• Paul isn’t just saying, “Stop sleeping around.” He is saying, “You were made for deep, connection with Jesus!”
• In a sense, you have to demote your human relationships in relation to your relationship with Jesus.
• Being the “bride” of Christ doesn’t just mean that we are faithful and not sleeping around, but that we are in love and fully engaged with our lover!

Nature of the Gospel

• Where does the true gospel become the real (functional) gospel in your life? (Great question!)
• “When Jesus died on the cross, He got down on one knee and proposed to us.” – anonymous
• Legal and Existential side of the Gospel
• “If all you have is the legal/penal side of the Gospel, you have the lyrics, but where is the music?”

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

• Sex is for community (needs more development)
• Eschatologically speaking, to speak of “intercourse” with Jesus is to refer to unlimited, unbounded, intimacy and communion with Him and His creation – the ultimate community; the grand city within a city!
• The Gospel (and Sex in the Context of the Gospel) is about giving not getting!
• We’ve got to learn to demote certain things in our lives and culture to line up with the Gospel – like money, sex, and power!
• Not suggesting to stop longing to be married, but to realize that our longings are only met and fulfilled in Jesus!

Thoughts on Preaching (pt. 2)

Found an interesting little post by Steve Mathewson over at Preaching Today’s blog about preaching and application (Guys who have been part of the Moralistic vs. Christ/Gospel-Centered Preaching discussion and conundrum, this is an interesting take, I think). Steve spells out what I have had a hard time putting my own finger on – how do you “do” application without creating “to do” lists for people in our churches and ministries that become over-burdensome, yet at the same time, preaching the Word so that it connects and calls people to action (or maybe, a better word, respond).

Steve names the “life application points” that we usually tack on to the end of a sermon as “reductionism” – boiling everything down to a few specific things we should do. To correct this, he offers an approach of giving people “leads” – sharing a few illustrations of how other people applied/lived out the passage, or something like, “Image what our church/city/world would look like if we…[fill in the blank].”  The basic idea is that we preach the content of Scripture, and give “lead ins” for people to pick up and act on the application, without spelling it out for them with “situational specificity” (Bryan Chapel term).

Guys, what do you think about this approach? Does it avoid the trappings of “reductionism” in application? If so, does it fail to “call people to action/response” based on God’s Word? Could you see this improving or impeding your own preaching?

Thoughts, comments, push-backs…bring them on!

30 hour day anyone?

I needed to hear this yesterday, as I skipped out on some lectures to finish up a Word Study Paper.  I slipped into one of the afternoon sessions, where the speaker was talking about Pastoral/Ministerial priorities, when he mentioned this book. What a great quote!

“Have you ever wished for a thirty-hour day?  Surely this extra time would relieve the tremendous pressure under which we live.  Our lives leave a trail of unfinished tasks.  Unanswered letters, unvisited friends, unread books haunted by quiet moments when we stop to evaluate what we have accomplished.  We desperately need relief.

But would that longer day really solve our problem?”

– Charles Hummel, The Tyranny of the Urgent

I know the extra time wouldn’t help – I’d still be a stressed out, anxious wreck right up to the last minute before the assignment is due.  But what I needed yesterday wasn’t “quiet moments”, but loud, rowdy moments with my wife and two children climbing all over me, wrestling, tickling each other and laughing to get some of my priorities re-aligned.  I was struck through this speaker, and this quote, to something I heard Mark Driscoll mention on a talk given to church planters about there are really only 7 things anybody can really focus on in life – 7 priorities.  What amazed me was that he listed the responsibility of being a pastor at number 5.  After you know that you’re alive and healthy, connected to God, loving and in love with your wife, and loving and shepherding your children, then its time to tackle your responsibilities as a pastor.