Yesterday we hosted a conference at which Ed Stetzer spoke. He is spooky smart (is it the beard?) and I mean that in the most positive manner possible. Here are several of my takeaways.
1. Do not forget that Jesus said, “I will build my church.” Do not forget the who. It is God who will build his church. This doesn’t mean we don’t discuss the how. But we must do so in response to the who. The who is Jesus. Jesus builds his church.
2. Stetzer re-coined a popular expression to say, “God’s mission has a church.” Many times it is stated that “God’s church has a mission,” which is true. But Stetzer’s point was to make clear God is the starting point. Then move from him to his mission and kingdom and church. Ultimately, this all concludes with the glory of God.
3. You can’t lead what you won’t live. This should not be a novel message. But it is critical. Are you living in the ways you are leading? It is much easier to talk about justice than practice it. It is easier to say “Love your neighbor” than to actually do it. Don’t call people to something that you’re unwilling to do. That’s hypocrisy.
4. The gospel needs proclamation and demonstration. We need to share and show. Most churches migrate toward one or the other. Churches need both. A true witness to the gospel demands both. Does your church tend toward one more than the other? How might bringing a balance enhance your gospel reach?
5. The gospel is both cosmic and personal. Matt Chandler calls it the gospel on the ground and in the air. Why is this significant? The cosmic aspect of the gospel shows that God’s plan is much greater than just you. The personal aspect shows that God’s plan includes you. The gospel includes both cosmic and personal.
6. The cross is central to both cosmic and personal aspects of the gospel. So whenever you find people and churches neglecting the cross there is reason for concern.
7. Christians are losing societal influence (especially with young people). Let Stetzer explain. Picture 4 equal sized groups. One consists of non-Christians, a second group of nominal (i.e. in name only) Christians, a third is congregational (i.e. church attending) Christians, and a fourth are Christians by conviction. Ed shared that the second and third groups used to see the fourth as their chaplain. They do so no longer. The second and third groups are increasingly taking their cues from non-Christians.
8. The squishy middle of American Christianity is disappearing. Ed believes the second and third groups are slowly disappearing. Previously there have been higher degrees of cultural Christianity. This is disappearing and will continue to do so. Ed does not believe this means the sky is falling. But it may mean things will be more black and white. And for Christians, specifically, things will get more difficult.
9. The church is to be in rebellion against THE rebellion. The world is engaged in THE rebellion against God. All of us were a part of this rebellion at one time. Through grace, God rescues and redeems some out of THE rebellion. Now we are to rebel against our former rebellion (Some mistakenly understand this to mean the church fights against all the sinful, rebellious people. That’s not it. Our fight is not against flesh and blood but rather the spiritual forces inciting rebellion throughout God’s creation.). What can make this hard is we can still be drawn to elements of our prior rebellion.
Those were just a few of the many insightful comments Stetzer made throughout the day.
1. Do any of these comments resonate with you?
2. How might your church benefit from one of these truths?