Dave Black is participating in a discussion at The Gospel in 3D. He adds this story:
Allow me to tell you a story, Bro. Lionel. Not long ago I heard about a congregation of mostly home-schooling families. The church was, of course, age-integrated (no Awana, no youth group, no children’s church, no VBS), elder-led (and no elder received a salary), and focused on edification during their meetings (rather than on “worship”). My kind of church exactly! One day they heard about a very traditional Baptist church across town that needed help with their Awana program on Wednesday nights. Seems they didn’t have enough adults to listen to the children recite their memory verses. Do you know what that age-integrated congregation of home-schooling families decided to do? That’s right. They said, “Well, we’re not doing anything on Wednesday nights. Why don’t we go over and help them?” And that’s exactly what they did.
“To build the kind of church Jesus envisioned in John 17 we must help our people realize that it is not about us or about our church. It’s about His kingdom, a kingdom that centers around Christ’s glorious act of self-sacrifice. If we think we can present the Gospel without surrendering and forsaking everything in us, then we have not understood the Gospel.” Source: Dave Black Online
Andrew Thompson at GenXRising has written about the idea of Christian America and recent studies that suggest we’re becoming less Christian.
The post and the entire comment thread are worth reading, but let me quote the following:
The gist of it is this: There never was such a thing as ‘Christian America.’ And the Christians in America shouldn’t worry about that.
There cannot be such a ‘Christian America,’ in fact, because citizenship and discipleship can never be synonymous terms. Christians owe an allegiance to Jesus Christ above the allegiance to the nation. And that means that a Christian’s primary frame of social reference is not society at large but rather the church.
Dave Black, author of the forthcoming book for which this site is named, commented in the thread:
I’m enjoying this thread, Andrew. If I understand the New Testament correctly, the church is to take on a nonconformist and prophetic identity over against the structures of the world. This is not to say that I am unconcerned about politics or about the improvement of society through legislation. Such improvements are, however, questionable if they proceed from an assumption that they will issue in a Christian America. My concern is that the church be the church, and to do that it must proclaim victory not through a political agenda but through the Christian Gospel. The Christianity of the New Testament presents not simply a more demanding ethic but rather a cross that means the death of our desire for prosperity and power. I therefore view my participation in the culture wars not in terms of calling for a macro-political utopia but in terms of the church’s calling to be the conscience and critic of culture. I’ve tried to make this point in my forthcoming book, The Jesus Paradigm.
In our foreign policy America must use its military power reasonably and with a scrupulous concern for peace. A superpatriotism that calls for unfettered power is both un-American and un-Christian in my opinion.
I would in turn link this to my own post asking just how often our answer to any question or solution to any problem is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I certainly hope this discussion will grow in the blogosphere.
At the heart of my journey has been my personal quest to find Jesus. Not the Jesus of my childhood, neatly compressed into a glossy magazine. Nor the Jesus of my academic research — an analyzable datum of objective linguistic investigation. Not even the Jesus of Southern churchianity — a fossilized relic deeply embedded in literary limestone and hidden from sight by the attendance boards and manger scenes so visibly on display in our sanctuaries. Recently, some scholars have sought Jesus in social convention — a Mr. Nice Guy who models societal decorum for our children. Others see nothing but the Jesus of politics — either the political revolutionary or the societal transformer who eagerly uses our tax dollars for spiritual causes. Oddly, I found Jesus in none of these places. The Jesus I know and love is found in the Scriptures about Him, the Gospels themselves. Here I find the most beautiful life that was ever lived, a life devoted to placing the needs of others over His own needs, a life willing to go all the way down to wash the feet of outsiders and sinners. This Jesus said of Himself that He did not come to be served but to serve. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He is the Model Missionary. And it is like Him I am seeking to become.
Source: Dave Black Online
To build the kind of church Jesus envisioned in John 17 we must help our people realize that it is not about us or about our church. It’s about His kingdom, a kingdom that centers around Christ’s glorious act of self-sacrifice. If we think we can present the Gospel without surrendering and forsaking everything in us, then we have not understood the Gospel.
From DaveBlackOnline (April 8, 2009, 7:52 AM):
The basic thesis of my new book The Jesus Paradigm is that discipleship goes far beyond mere lip service. Like Bonhoeffer, I seek to emphasize Nachfolge — the German title of Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship. The German word simply means discipleship. Followers of Jesus Christ are expected to, well, “follow” Him! As Bonhoeffer puts it, “Only the believer is obedient, and only the obedient person believes.” (The German original is fantastic: “Nur der Glaubende ist gehorsam, und nur der Gehorsame glaubt.”) Declared righteousness ALWAYS produces practical righteousness if it is genuine.
The Jesus Paradigm web site is designed specifically to help carry out the mission of the book by the same name.
What do I mean when I say that this book has a mission? It’s simple. It’s author wrote it in fulfillment of the gospel commission. I’m publishing it for the same reason.
There are many things that get written about a book as it is released. There are press releases, a catalog page, reviews, and commentary. But this site is different from all of them. Everything here is about this book and what it means for Christians. I believe that Dr. Black has presented some material that we, as Christians, need to hear. I want it discussed. I hope and pray that it will be lived as well.
So watch this space for more as we approach the release date of July 20, 2009. You’ll see the theme change as the cover design matures. You’ll see announcements about the advance copies. I sincerely hope you’ll see challenging discussion of the concepts this book presents.
But you’ll only keep up if you check back regularly!
In the comment thread to this post, feel free to discuss this book openly, honestly, and courteously.
–Henry Neufeld, Energion Publications