So when people criticize all the gospel-centered this and grace-focused that coming out of the few Christian publishing houses committed to producing them, I get a little concerned. First, because gospel fatigue is a real thing, and it is spiritually dangerous. Secondly, because while I share a concern about The Gospel becoming just a fad, I think there are a lot worse fads (to be honest), and also, until the CBA charts are dominated by “gospely” books, I’m not gonna be overly concerned about it. But most importantly, I am happy for gospel books because gospel books change lives — they historically and remarkably awaken souls and influence the Church for the good of the world and the glory of Christ.
Values don’t have to collide, but when they do, leaders must decide and declare which value wins. For example, a ministry can value excellence and leadership development. But beneath the surface the values can be at odds with one another. A children’s teacher struggles to hand responsibility to another because “it won’t be excellent enough.” A groups pastor who talks often about development can struggle to hand the microphone to another because he wants “this meeting to be the best ever.”
Here are four common value collisions in ministry. Again, it is completely possible for both to exist at the same time, but when collision occurs, leaders must choose wisely.
Jonathan C. Edwards:
Sociologists have issued the same conclusions regarding our exhaustive use of social media and technology. Our beloved social media platforms bring us unending entertainment, distraction, meaning and perceived communal connectivity. We’ve come to believe in our online community’s ability to bring forth true, lasting friendship. But, the generation tethered to digital connection and online content sharing more than any other is using online interactions as substitutions for face-to-face relational connectivity.
But discipleship, just like the truck, can stall. My church has a process for discipleship. While we have several avenues for discipleship, there is a more formal one that seems to be working well. For the past couple of year, we have groups of people work through materials which take them through most of the core doctrine of the church and how we can walk with Christ on a daily basis. The response has been, overall, very positive. Many people have said this process has not only given them a better understanding of their faith but has also motivated them to live it out. But one of the components is that after walking through this material, they must then turn around and take others through it. This is where it seems to stall. A very small percentage have made the turn from going through the discipleship process to leading the discipleship process. Discipleship has stalled.
In the church I’ve learned about the value of pro-life candidates, fundraising for local pregnancy centers, and the national sin of abortion and God’s impending judgment. But I haven’t learned much about positive, practical efforts to cultivate a culture of life within the congregation.
And I’m not the only one.
Since my divorce, people have asked me over and over again: “Were there any red flags when you two were dating?” The truth is: not any glaring ones.
I know that isn’t what people want to hear. They want a way to ensure the person they marry won’t disappoint them. Fail them. Become someone else. But when you get married, as Elisabeth Elliot points out, “you marry a sinner.” You commit yourself to a fallible person and an unknown future. If you are also committed to walking in obedience and pursuing God’s glory, when disappointments and trials come in marriage, you can cling to the God who never fails or forsakes his children.
A favorite from the archives:
It’s rare for me to feel anything but excited when I see people being baptized. Every time they happen at our church, I think back to my own baptism and being able to publicly declare myself to be in Christ. To participate in one of the two most ancient customs of our faith and celebrate the grace of God. I say “rare” because there has been one time when I felt something other than joy.
Once, I actually felt grief as I watched.