The Weekend Wanderer: 27 June 2020

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.


Vince Bacote CT“Another Run at Freedom” – From Vince Bacote: “Many minorities would rather talk about anything else. We would much prefer to converse over the joy of sports, music, cinema, the beauty of nature, and many other topics. But many feel like we have to keep bringing up the topic of race, often in an exhausting effort to get other Christians to see that our concerns are not imaginary. From the personal to the public domain, we keep talking to pursue a life of flourishing in the church and society. There remains not only a need to say, ‘Racism is part of reality’ but also, ‘We need to construct paths toward fruitful life together in this world.'”


Warner Sallman - Head of Christ“How Jesus became white — and why it’s time to cancel that” – One of the greatest challenges in our faith is not to merely see Jesus and Christianity through the eyes of our own culture or personal perspective. The current moment has brought that challenge into heated focus around depictions of Jesus as white. As A. W. Tozer wrote in Knowledge of the Holy, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” In some ways, this is true with the literal pictures we have in our minds of what God looks like or what Jesus looks like. While I don’t necessarily with the framing of this current situation or cancel culture, this article by Emily McFarlan Miller at RNS highlights some of the current discussion points and challenge areas.


Jon Tyson - Portals of Belonging“Portals of Belonging” – Jon Tyson, Pastor of Church of the City in New York, writes about hospitality: “I couldn’t help but think how different New York would be if these portals of welcome became normal. If they broke out in taxis and on trains and in office buildings and in parks and everywhere in between. And of course, it’s not just New York that’s in need of hospitality. Alan Hirsch, a missiologist and fellow Aussie, and Lance Ford, a missional church leader, wrote, ‘If every Christian family in the world simply offered good conversational hospitality around a table once a week to neighbors, we would eat our way into the kingdom of God.’ Encounter by encounter, hospitality would deconstruct fear and reconstruct a shared humanity.”


President-Robert-Briggs“American Bible Society Names Robert L. Briggs as President and CEO” – “American Bible Society, one of the nation’s most enduring nonprofit organizations, announced today that Robert L. Briggs has been appointed as president and CEO of the 204-year-old Bible ministry. Briggs, who served most recently as interim president and CEO following the retirement of Roy L. Peterson, has served at and led American Bible Society through various leadership roles for nearly 20 years.”


DACA Supreme Court“Priest Balances Christian Conviction and Legal Strategy in DACA Case” –  Here’s one from last week that didn’t make it into last weekend’s edition: “Among the thousands of immigrant Christians, church leaders, and advocates praying for a victory in this week’s US Supreme Court decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA), one was an Episcopal priest on the team who worked on the case. Armando Ghinaglia is himself a DACA recipient, a native of Venezuela who was raised in Texas. A curate at Christ Church New Haven and a law student at Yale, Ghinaglia worked for the Connecticut legal clinic that argued against the Trump administration’s rationale for rescinding DACA in 2017. The Supreme Court ruled in its favor on Thursday.”


_113093310_d0e8e9a3-d0c5-4bce-9387-9c49a83bed81“Massive Saharan dust cloud shrouds the Caribbean” – In the midst of other challenging moments in our world, I heard from a friend about this unique weather pattern moving from the Sahara toward the Caribbean. From the BBC: “A huge cloud of Saharan dust has darkened the skies over parts of the Caribbean. The dust has been moving from Africa over the Atlantic Ocean. On Sunday it reached Puerto Rico and has since covered Cuba and parts of Mexico. The Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique are suffering their worst haze for at least a decade, and health officials in Cuba are warning it could increase respiratory problems. The dust cloud is also affecting parts of southern Florida, including the city of Miami.”


Bethel College“Dozens of Christian College Faculty Eliminated in Spring Budget Cuts” – From Christianity Today:”Five evangelical Christian colleges and universities have eliminated more than 150 faculty and staff positions this spring. While some officials cite COVID-19 as the reason for the cuts, most say the financial reckoning comes in response to the ongoing crisis of higher education and their efforts to prepare for the future.”


Music: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, “Summertime,” from Porgy and Bess

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

Next Steps After MissionsFest 2018

Multiply Series GFX_16x9 TitleIn response to our MissionsFest focused on multiplication with messages from me and Dr. Paul ‘Bobby’ Gupta, I mentioned four words that I think are helpful for us in applying what we have learned this past week.

  • Befriending: Become friends with those around us, inviting them into our lives and homes that they might come to know Christ. Also, become friends with our international partners and workers that they might have friends here at Eastbrook.
  • Praying: If it is true that God knows us closer than anyone else, then the most direct way to another person is through God in prayer. Even if we cannot go around the world, we can join in with God’s global work through prayer.
  • Giving: Eastbrook has a strong history of generosity toward local and global mission, and I want to encourage us to continue moving forward with that. However, let me stretch it just a bit further. What would it look like for us to sacrifice something of our lives here – a weekly latte, upgrading our broadband, buying  a new smartphone – so that we could give those funds toward the work in China, the Horn of Africa, or the Middle East?
  • Witnessing: As I talked about in my message this past weekend, we are called to be witnesses, but it is essential that we open our mouths to share with those we encounter about the grace and truth of God accessible to us in Jesus Christ. The arms of God are open wide, waiting to bring all humanity within His embrace, but He will not force Himself upon anyone. Let us be those who witness to God’s embrace by talking with others about Jesus.

Also, our mission team put together a list of next steps as a response, which I have slightly edited for online readership below.

  • Read a Book! Want to know how you can be involved in multiplying? We recommend you start with The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life by Dustin Willis and Kirby Heyborne. To hear how God is multiplying around the world in difficult contexts, we suggest Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus by Jerry Trousdale. Both available through Amazon digitally or in paperback.
  • Pray for Eastbrook’s global workers. Over the next month, use the prayer insert to pray for our international field workers. Pray for God to use each member of His Church to multiply disciples locally and globally.
  • Grow. Stop by the booth in the lobby to learn more about our upcoming class “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” which starts in January as well as upcoming Trinity Evangelical Divinity School classes. Visit www.perspectives.org or www.eastbrook.org/teds
  • Get Involved. It starts at your own dinner table. Invite a friend, neighbor, or co-worker over for dinner and watch God use relationships to multiply His Church! If you want to take the next step in connecting with what God is doing globally, join us for our Mission Engagement Class during second hour on Sundays.
  • Step Out. Did God stir something in your heart during this week and you feel you may be called to personally go to multiply disciples around the world or here at home? Don’t let that feeling fade. Connect with Pastor Dan or Pastor JC to explore where God is leading you.
  • Thanksgiving.  November 22nd is coming.  Invite an international student to your home to share a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Questions? Just ask! Sign up at the Missions Fest ministry booth in the Lobby this weekend or contact Laura.
  • Support. Eastbrook’s Missions Budget financially for 12 months and help fuel the ministry of multiplying around the world. Visit the Eastbrook website for more information on how you can financially support the Missions Budget. eastbrook.org/giving

We’ll Leave the Light On (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message at Eastbrook Church this past weekend, “We’ll Leave the Light On: Becoming a Radically Welcoming Church.”

Discussion Questions:

1. This week at Eastbrook Church, we conclude our “Pave the Way” series with a look at hospitality. When have you experienced such deep hospitality that the welcome touched your soul?

2. Explore the following Scripture passages and discuss the role that hospitality plays in Jesus’ ministry and teaching:

Pave the Way

This coming weekend, we will begin a three-week series at Eastbrook Church called “Pave the Way.”

As we head into the ministry year, we want to pave the way for people to move toward Christ and community at Eastbrook Church. This means we need to take bold steps with God as His obedient people. We need to reach out beyond ourselves. We need to be the community of God. We need to welcome the stranger.

I will be teaching this entire series, and the series outline is as follows:

September 15/16 – “On the Road Again: Being the Church, Not Going to Church”
Text: Acts 1:8; Ephesians 6:19
Summary: We need to reach out beyond ourselves. We need to share the good news of Christ with our words. We need to take steps to actively reach out to those who are far from God. We need to embody the love of Christ with our actions. We need to join the mission of God.

September 22/23 – “Roadmaps: Finding Our Place in God’s Community”
Text: 1 Corinthians 12
Summary: We need to be the community of God. We need to do our utmost to help everyone at Eastbrook find their way into meaningful community at some level. We need to take live into the reality that everyone has a gift and calling within the body of Christ. We need to do simple things to facilitate community life at Eastbrook.

September 29/30 – “We’ll Leave the Light On: Becoming a Radically Welcoming Church”
Text: Matthew 25:35; Exodus 22:21; Hebrews 13:2; Romans 15:7
Summary:
We need to welcome the stranger. We need to do our utmost to be a radically welcoming church. We must do some simple things to help activate our church campus for even greater ministry facilitation and welcome of those who are new.

Are We Radically Welcoming?

A number of months ago, while studying in a coffee shop, I entered into a conversation with a guy sitting next to me about church. He was a follower of Jesus, but had some hang-ups with church and previous experiences. Let me say that he was not a young guy but a middle-aged guy , so he’s not one of those “I’m sick of the church” young adults. He is actively involved in a solid church in the area.

One of the things he mentioned that had frustrated him about churches, especially in the greater Milwaukee area, was that he has never felt overly welcomed and loved from the moment that he has arrived. Instead, he has more often felt like people in the churches were asking him why he was there, like he was under the microscope as a newcomer.

Now, I know that many churches strive to be welcoming places, but do not always succeed. So, after talking with this guy, I couldn’t help but ask a series of questions about churches in general, and my church more specifically:

  • Are we radically welcoming?
  • Do we help people feel loved from the moment they enter our parking lots to the moment they enter our worship center or get to classrooms?
  • How do we go out of our way to greet new people and ask them questions about their lives?
  • How good are we at making it clear how people take next steps to find their place at our church?

I would love to hear from you about how you are answering those questions at your church, but also what your experiences have been – whether positive or negative – of going to a church for the first few times.