Tucson

How the Church Can Stop Eating Its Own Tail

How the Church Can Stop Eating Its Own Tail

It was our youth pastor, Dustin Tramel, who first made the pitch to me. I had just recently come on staff at New Life and he encouraged me to consider attending the Tucson Pastors’ Prayer Summit. He guaranteed it would be one of the most important things I did. He was right.

A couple of weeks ago I attended my fourth Pastors’ Prayer Summit on Mount Lemmon alongside Pastor Greg and Ryan Paonessa. It’s a three-day event that gathers forty pastors from around Tucson to pray for the city and one another.

In many eras of the church our theological disagreements have divided us. Those disagreements still persist, but I believe stronger even than those theological disagreements are our own competitive impulses. More than ever it is the fine and elusive line between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of [insert your church’s name here] that has created division in the church. It’s impossible to build unity in the Kingdom of God when we subconsciously believe our local church is the Kingdom of God.

This, of course, is a monster that is almost impossible to stop feeding. Christians float in our doors from other churches, wooed by our children’s program or music, and then float out to another church, wooed by its student ministry or preaching. We are the Ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail, pastors and parishioners swapping out positions as mouth and tail. We consume one another with an insatiable appetite.

And this is why I need the Prayer Summit.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.     Do You Treat Church Like a Cruise Ship? Or a Restaurant? Trevin Wax considers just how powerful the consumerist mindset is among American Christians: " The problem with viewing the church as a restaurant is that it amplifies the cruise liner mentality in that the service is all directed one-way. The attender pays with time or money and expects a religious service. This is consumerist, not missional. But the bigger challenge is that the person isn’t even committed to the cruise."

2.     Breaking Down the Living Organisms By Weight: Among the fascinating factoids here are that there are three times more viruses by weight! than human beings.

3.     What is the Rapture? David Chapman concludes that the best interpretation of the "rapture" passage is, " This would imply that, at Christ’s appearance, Paul expects the dead in Christ to be raised, followed by the lifting up of the living believers to welcome Jesus in the air, before Jesus descends to earth with his people in order to judge the world and establish fully his kingdom on earth."

4.     The Seven Bitter Fruits of SinColin Smith considers what happens when we live a life in rejection of God, "What you believe about sin will shape your convictions about missions and evangelism. How we engage in this work, and what we think needs to be done, will in large measure be shaped by what we believe the human problem really is."

5.     Aerial Tucson: I love our city and I love these videos.

Why Aren't You Going to Church?

Why Aren't You Going to Church?

Pew recently released a survey[i] on why Americans do and do not go to church. While 73% of Americans identify as being Christian[ii], surveys say Americans who report going to church weekly is only around 35%.[iii] Our best estimates for our own city (Tucson) are that less than 3% of the population is in church on Sunday.[iv]

I write this as an appeal to the 65% nationally and 90%+[v] in Tucson who don’t attend church regularly.

First, I want to understand you and your reasons for not attending. In a recent survey, those reasons were expressed this way[vi]:

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      What Kind of Home Can You Get for $200K? Property Shark breaks down just how much home you can get, from Cleveland to Manhattan. Tucson is tucked right in the middle at just shy of 2,000 square feet.

2.      Are You in an Abusive Relationship? An important post for those who are asking themselves this question. Justin and Lindsey Holcombe say, "[B]ecause he is so good at deceptively wielding control, it can often be difficult to discern if you are being abused. From the perspective of outside observers, these signs of abuse may be cut-and-dry. But for those trapped in the cycles of abuse, making sense of these complicated relational dynamics—especially when the relationship is intimate—can be suffocating and confusing."

3.      Considering Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for LifeThomas Brewer weighs in with a thoughtful response to the meteoric Jordan Peterson's book. Brewer reflects that, "Much of [Peterson's approach] can be helpful, admittedly. The way he describes the benefits of not lying, of taking on risk, and of doing good in the world are broadly applicable and relevant to daily life. But for all of the insights, fascinating stories, and general helpful advice for encountering suffering in this world, Peterson’s advice falls short. All he can say is, “We know evil exists, because suffering is evil. Therefore, choose to stop needless suffering.” A powerful moral vision, to be sure, but a vision that’s incapable of saving us."

4.      When You Just Can't Pray Anymore: Brianna Barrier Wetherbee promises us that when we pray real prayers to our Daddy, there is transformation: "But here’s the deal. Straight up. I truly believe that there is always a purpose in our pain. That swell of “sacred sorrow,” that deep, gut-wrenching suffering that goes beyond words? It changes me. Every time. God allows us to hurt to make us more like Jesus."  

5.      You Must Disappoint SomeoneThere's so much wisdom in what Jon Bloom says here, "Why do you spend your time doing what you do? Why do you say yes to doing some things and no to doing other things? Are you saying yes and no to the right things? These are unnerving, exposing questions to ask... How other people perceive us — or how we think they’ll perceive us — has an extraordinary influence on how we choose to use our time. Coming to terms with ways we seek people’s approval or fear their disapproval will force us to face humbling truths about ourselves and may require repentance and uncomfortable change."

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Arizona's Monsoon Season Begins: Incredible footage of an incredible season here in Tucson. 

2.      How the Worst Moment in My Life was Also the Best: David Murray shares the story of Matthew Bryce and considers it in light of our salvation: "Just over a week ago, Matthew Bryce decided to go surfing off the Scottish coast. Within a few hours the tide and wind had blown him thirteen miles out to sea. He watched the sun set, knowing he would not survive the night."

3.      How Self-Forgetfulness Makes us Happier: Randy Alcorn on how self-forgetfulness makes us happier: " However, people who think a lot about Christ and His grace, the great doctrines of the faith, and how to love and serve others tend to be happy people. By redirecting attention from ourselves to God, we adopt a right perspective that brings happiness."

4.      What to do when singleness lasts longer than expected:  Marshall Segal shares, “Marriage is a good gift and a terrible god. Most of my grief in my teenage years and even into my twenties came from giving more of my heart to my future marriage than to God. It’s easy to anchor our hope and happiness in a wife or husband and to define our growth, maturity, and worth by our marital status. And when we worship love, romance, sex, or marriage—and not God—we welcome the pain and disappointment.”

5.      7 Things to Consider Before You Make a Political Post: Thanks to Tim Challies who pointed me to Scott Slayton’s sage advice.  

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations
  1. Long Hours and Laziness: "Sometimes we work long hours because we're lazy." Insightful reflection by the always good Andrew Wilson.
  2. The Future of Christian Healthcare Sharing: Healthcare prices continue to dramatically outpace inflation. In its wake, there has been a growing alternative of health care sharing (our family is part of Medishare). 
  3. How to Discover Your Calling and Hope in the Workplace "My work station is my worship station." Ken Costa, investment banker, and one of the founders of the enormously impactful organization, Alpha, talks with Carey Nieuwhof.
  4. Tucson drone video: A beautiful video that captures some of the beauty of Tucson.
  5. The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak: Everyone believes we should love our neighbor. But do we?