Category Archives: Issues and Theology

What the Church and Pastors Need to Learn from Ferguson

Chris Brooks & Matt EricksonThis blog post is co-authored by Chris Brooks and Matt Erickson. 

As I watched things unfold in Ferguson recently, I felt a surging of different thoughts and feelings within me. There was a mixture of sadness and fear, anger and helplessness, and my mind raced to come to terms with what this means not only for our nation but for the church. I’m a pastor of a multiethnic church in Milwaukee. Our church has been a community that is diverse ethnically, socio-economically, politically, and in other ways. As I sat and watched the events and all that has followed since, I wondered, “what is required of the people of God when such difficult and painful things grip our nation?”

As I have reflected since that painful evening last week, I have reached some preliminary conclusions. Let me suggest the following things we need to do as Christians, and a few action steps specifically for church leaders in light of the events of this past week and the ongoing national dialog.

1. Humble yourself: A posture of humility allows you to hear God’s voice above the political commentators and the ungodly opinions of this fallen world. In this situation, humility means that we are willing to step beyond our own desires, fears, and pride to consider things from God’s perspective and desires.

2. Think theologically: This is not just a social issue, this is a theological issue.  God created all of humankind in His image, yet not all are necessarily treated as “image bearers.”  This should cause unrest and lead to repentance within our Churches and Christian Institutions. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Issues and Theology, Multiethnic Church


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Unity – the driving aim in Jesus’ prayer

2014-11-13 13.14.09A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting the Middle East, in order to spend time with some friends and church partners there. Jordan is one of the most stable countries in the midst of a particularly turbulent region, thanks to a variety of factors, including . Even though the Christian population of Jordan is less than 3% of the entire nation, the relative stability of Jordan gives tremendous opportunities for the church and individual Christians to touch the lives of those who are seeking refuge in their country.

In one part of the country, where refugees are spilling over the border from neighboring Syria and Iraq, I witnessed a number of people and groups from various backgrounds working together. The needs are massive, but the total amount of work being done was much larger than what one person or group could do on its own.

It is amazing what happens when people come together to serve a great need with greater unity. Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , , , ,

5 Must-Read Statements on the Church

Given my recent sermon, “Connecting Together,” on what it means to be the church, I wanted to share again some thoughts from one of my favorite thinkers on the church, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His book Life Together is, in my opinion, the best book written on the nature of true community in the church. Here are 5 must-read statements on  the Church from Bonhoeffer:

  • “Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world.” [26-27]
  • “Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” [27]
  • “Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together – the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.” [28]
  • “If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is not great experience, not discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.” [29]
  • “A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men….Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren.” [29-30]

[These quotations are taken from John W. Doberstein’s classic translation of Life Together. A more recent translation with thorough annotations and a helpful introduction is found in Volume 5 of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works.]


Tags: , , , , , ,

Lausanne Young Leaders Consultation

This week, I am participating in a gathering of young leaders in North America hosted by the Lausanne movement. The goal is to bring young leaders together to discuss, pray through, and apply the Cape Town Commitment within the North American context.

From the website:

Lausanne is a global Movement that mobilizes evangelical leaders to collaborate for world evangelization. It grew out of the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization convened in Lausanne, Switzerland by Rev. Billy Graham and Bishop Jack Dain. The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (October 2010) in Cape Town, South Africa, brought together 4000 Christian leaders, representing 198 countries. The resulting Cape Town Commitment serves as the blueprint for the Movement’s activities.

Dividing by different topics, we are working in more specific groups as follows:
– Business as Mission/Workplace Ministry
– Developing Christ Centered Leaders
– Discipleship
– Unreached People Groups
– Ministry to the Marginalized and Poor
– Focusing on Cities
– Theological Education
– Truth in Arts and Media
– Unity in the Church
– Evangelism to Muslim People


Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Discipleship, Issues and Theology


Tags: ,

Fred Luter and the Multiethnic Church in America

This past week, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), a denomination which has its roots in slave-era disputes in the United States, elected Fred Luter as its first African American president. Luter was elected to the post of Vice President last year, and about ten years before that was the first African American to preach to the SBC’s general assembly.

While Luter’s presidency is about much more than ethnicity and race, it is still a milestone for the largest Protestant denominations in the United States. Most people generally accept as true the statement that Sunday morning is the most segregated time in our nation.

What do you think about this move by the SBC?

How is the church in America doing at reflecting the multiethnic realities of our country?

You can read more about Luter’s affirmation as SBC president at the SBC web-site here, Christianity Today’s web-site here or CNN’s web-site here.


Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Issues and Theology


Tags: , , , , ,

The Real Good News

“To recover the old, authentic, biblical gospel, and to bring our preaching and practice back into line with it, is perhaps our most pressing present need.” J. I. Packer wrote these words in his 1958 introductory essay for a reprint of John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. While Packer went a pertinent direction for that period of time, his statement is no less applicable to us today.

In fact, we find the same concern Packer raises in 1958 coming to the fore of the Apostle Paul’s thoughts in his first century letter to the Galatians:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. (Galatians 1:6-7a)

That ‘old, authentic, biblical gospel’, Paul says, is something you have set aside for a new gospel that is … well, to be honest, not even a gospel at all. Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Books and Quotations, Issues and Theology


Tags: , , , , ,

Intimate Love and the Song of Songs

Whether using provocative sexuality to advertise products or acclaiming sex as the pinnacle of human experience, there is no doubt that our culture is sexually charged. Unfortunately, Christians often react to this aspect of culture in two less than helpful ways. The first is to lambast the glorification of sexuality as evil, at times avoiding healthy conversation about sexuality entirely. The second tendency is to ‘Christianize’ the sexual emphasis in our culture. Thus, some churches have developed a “40 days of sex” focus without giving careful thought to the implications for our views of human person-hood.

Sexuality is one aspect of our essential ‘good’-ness as created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-31). Sexuality is not a result of the Fall into sin. At the same time, like any other aspect of our humanity, our sexuality is often bent by sin and brokenness. Although originally ‘good’, our sexuality needs redemption.

This is where the beautiful poetry of Solomon’s Song of Songs speaks so powerfully. Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 11, 2011 in Issues and Theology


Tags: , , ,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,808 other followers