mission

McCoy Family Update!

After 12+ years pastoring at Doxa Fellowship in Woodstock, Illinois, I've accepted a new job working for Ed Stetzer and his Mission Group. I'll be doing work as a Content Strategist for Mission Group to help develop resources to equip the Church for the mission. Molly and I, along with our four kids, are very excited about this new chapter of life and ministry.

Our plan, God-willing, is to stay in Woodstock for Jack's senior year and to move near Wheaton, Illinois soon after that. My last Sunday at Doxa is this Sunday, October 2nd.

Thanks for your prayers during our time at Doxa and we ask that you might ask God to help us through this transition, for our needs as we hope to stay local for a while longer for the good of our kids, and for our church as we leave.

The Darkest Places

At Soma School a few years back I got to know Chris Thomas. I resonated with Chris' personal story, his family's situation, his dedication to ministry, and his willingness to sacrifice to be a missionary where he lived. Soma and TGC have put out a video and article called "Dope Church." It's well worth your time. Here's a blurb. Go to TGC to read the rest.

Cherie sits on a bed and speaks life into Bill and his girlfriend, Katie, while they eat turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce. A motel room is a really weird place for a Thanksgiving dinner. It’s an even stranger setting for a memorial service.

We reminisce and thank God for Tom’s life, read the 23rd Psalm together, and sing “Amazing Grace.” That night, a room where people shoot dope and women are exploited became a fitting place for a holy God to do some healing.

Stephen Um & City Mission

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Stephen Um, coauthor with Justin Buzzard of the new book Why Cities Matter: To God, The Culture, & The Church (Amazon | WTS), writes on Resurgence about how to be on mission in the city. Here are his 5 points.
  1. Get Grounded In The Gospel
  2. Learn Your City's Story
  3. Engage In The Life Of Your City
  4. Discern Your City's Idols
  5. Retell Your City's Story With The Gospel

Go read the rest of the post.

Evangelism: Prime the Pump

Pump

When I was in high school I worked in landscaping: trimming hedges, mowing lawns, planting trees, hooking up decorative fountains and surrounding it with decorative rock. It was hard work, but something I enjoyed as a young man. And it provided me with a killer tan.

The owner of the business lived on a farm that had a well. This wasn’t a bucket on a rope well; it was equipped with a pump. And if you’ve ever pumped water from a well you know that the pump never works right away. You have to “prime the pump” by cranking the lever a few times. A pump that hasn’t been used for a while is full of air from the pump down closer to water level. It takes a couple of pumps on the handle for the water to fill the tube that delivers it above ground. It’s those first couple of pumps that bring the water to ground level and to usefulness. 

As missionaries and evangelists for the supplier of living water, we have to prime the pump in our own hearts so that we are ready to tell all of our King. We need Gospel-readiness and Spirit-reliance right there at ground level. We need to battle with sin and push back against apathy. Evangelism is one of those things that takes God-confidence, courage, and risk. We need a heart that has been primed through dying to self, a reoriented life, a renewed mind, fixing our eyes on Jesus, filled with His Spirit, meditating on His Word, loving Him with all our strength. 

Too often we haven’t prayed as we should and wrestled with our fleeting emotions, doubts, and timidity. We haven’t developed a state of readiness and anticipation. We won’t dispense living water efficiently and effectively unless we prime the pump of our hearts, remembering who God is, what God has done, who we are, and what God has called us to do. We need daily motivation for Gospel-readiness.

When we drink from the stream of living water at the outset of our day, and throughout our day, we’ve already brought it to ground level and are ready to point others to it. We will not only find our thirst quenched, but we will be motivated by our own satisfaction in Jesus Christ to help others to quench their thirst. 

What do you do to prime the pump for evangelism? What resources do you use other than Scripture?

Creature of the Word | The Mission Chasm

Creature

If the church leaders say to people, "Living on mission in our city is vital," yet they rarely if ever offer opportunities for people to serve the city, then a chasm exists between how the leaders see the church and how others see her.

Creature of the Word (Kindle, WTS Bookstore), by Chandler, Patterson, & Geiger, pg 97.

Books | Ministry to the Poor

The poor

I asked on Facebook, Twitter, and to one particular friend through email which books would be most helpful in thinking about/doing ministry to the poor. Here's what I got (with an attempt to put them in order of those most mentioned). I can't comment on most of them because I haven't read them, so don't see this as my recommendation. But you might want to look into these. I am. Also feel free to add more recommendations in the comments.

Most Recommended

Other Recommendations

Related Resources I'm Checking Out

How We Appeal To Unbelievers To Believe The Gospel

Center Church Crop

Tim Keller discusses biblical contextualization in his book Center Church (Kindle version). In one section he talks about how to persuade unbelievers, and specifically that you can't only persuade in one way only since "people of different temperaments and from different cultures reason differently." (p 114) We can't take one biblical story and draw out a one-size-fits-all appeal to believe the Gospel. Here's Keller's list of the different ways we appeal to unbelievers to believe the Gospel. He explains them further in the book with Scripture, so please go read more on pages 114-115.

  1. Sometimes the appeal is to come to God out of fear of judgment and death.
  2. Sometimes the appeal is to come to God out of a desire for release from the burdens of guilt and shame.
  3. Sometimes the appeal is to come to God out of appreciation for the “attractiveness of truth.”
  4. Sometimes the appeal is to come to God to satisfy unfulfilled existential longings.
  5. Sometimes the appeal is to come to God for help with a problem.
  6. Lastly, the appeal is to come to God simply out of a desire to be loved.

"Satan In The Suburbs" by Seth McBee

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Seth McBee has written a helpful article called "Satan in the Suburbs." You'll have to read it to figure out why the photo fits. Here's how he opens the article... 

Satan. Lucifer. Beelzebub. The devil. Whatever you want to call him, most of us treat the adversary as though he is a biblical fairy tale. Historically, it seems as though Satan gets too much play or none at all. We either blame everything (including burnt toast) on him, or nothing. Rarely have we dealt with him in the middle, knowing he’s against us, but understanding our Father is greater.

For my life, I’ve mainly dealt with the devil as an afterthought. I have believed in Satan because as the song goes … the Bible tells me so, but I have never believed that he influences my everyday life.  He’s there, but don’t mention him.

Here is what I have found out, practically, about the devil as I have tried to live out the mission of making disciples in my suburban neighborhood:

  1. Satan attacks disciple making.
  2. Don’t be surprised when he attacks.
  3. God is glorious, so we don’t have to fear others, including the devil.

Go read "Satan in the Suburbs" as Seth fleshes out those three points with specifics of how Satan has been at work in his family and neighborhood.

Make Jesus Non-Ignorable

Ray ortlund

From Ray Ortlund's sermon on mission from August 12th at Immanuel Church (emphasis his).

...we live in a city and in a world that ignores [Jesus]. Sometimes we ignore him. ... We are not happy that the real Jesus is still ignorable in our city and far beyond. We don’t accept that. We’re making it our church mission, and I am asking you today to make it your life mission, to make the real Jesus non-ignorable in our city and far beyond.

[...]

Every one of us can be involved, because this is not for spiritual high-achievers; this is for broken sinners. God’s power comes down on weak people. So, you’re the one he wants to use. What are you going to do for Jesus that just can’t be ignored? What are we going to do together that can’t be ignored? That purpose is going to take us beyond routine church life. Routine church can be ignored. And it is our mission to change that, which we means we need to change first. The more repentance the world sees in us, the more repentance we’ll see in the world.

While I Was Away...

I was very isolated from my laptop on vacation (which lasted 2 weeks), but I did find stuff that looked interesting on my feed reader and my Twitter feed and then saved them for later. Here are a few things that caught my eye...

Francis Schaeffer & L'Abri

Schaeffer

Over the last couple of weeks I've been enjoying working out with Jerram Barrs audio from his two classes on Francis Schaeffer (Early Years & Later Years) at Covenant Seminary. Specifically, I've been listening by streaming through the Covenant Seminary Worldwide Classroom app on my Android phone.

I've thought for several years that one of the best things that could happen in American churches is that we would take a more L'Abri-like approach to our mission. You can read the Schaeffer's ministry at L'Abri in The Tapestry (out of print, but I just picked one up used but in perfect condition for $25) and L'Abri. I think churches like Soma Communities are doing this kind of thing better than most.

Whether or not you pick up the books, please go pick up these very helpful, free audio classes from Jerram Barrs are hard to beat as resources in thinking about mission, apologetics, living missionally, hospitality, etc. Download Francis Schaeffer: The Early Years and Francis Schaeffer: The Later Years now. You can get them through iTunes, or stream them over the Worldwide Classroom. While you are at it, find more great stuff from Jerram Barrs including his books The Heart of Evangelism and Learning Evangelism From Jesus.

Tim Keller | "Changing the World Through Cities"

Tim Keller recently spoke at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee on "Changing the World Through Cities." Go listen and/or download.

UPDATE: There were three talks given, all available online. (Also note the 2007 talk.)

Life On Mission | Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt of Soma Communities talks about how missional communities (mc's) do mission. If you aren't familiar with missional communities, or the way they are done at Soma, this is fascinating. He talks about every member mission, how and why mc's write their own covenants after choosing a people group they intend to reach together, how the church commissions them for the mission, coaching mc's get, and more. The covenant answers: "What would it look like for us to radically reorient our lives on a daily, weekly, monthly basis to reach those people together?"

Open-Air Preaching

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Here's my growing list of open-air preaching posts, quotes, and as I find ones worth recommending, resources. I'm only going to link the resources I like best, and there's a lot of stuff I don't like. For future reference, this page can be found under "Compass" on the right side-bar.

MY POSTS

  1. *The Gospel in the Open-Air Again | start here
  2. Guidelines for Open-Air Preaching
  3. Open-Air Preaching is Optional?
  4. Missional Open-Air Preaching
  5. Steps Toward Open-Air Preaching
  6. Open-Air Preaching, Gospel Power, & Interruption
  7. Preaching Has Great POWER
  8. The Future of the Evangelist

QUOTES

MY RELATED POSTS

First three are precursors to the open-air series above. I didn't know they were going to spark so much on the blog. 

  1. The Public Square and the Open-Air 
  2. The Kids Downtown
  3. Know Your City - Remember the Poor

RESOURCES

Charles Spurgeon

Lectures To My Students | Two chapters on open-air preaching. Easily the most helpful stuff I've read on the subject. I believe he shows the best grasp of the goodness of and need for open-air preaching. His teaching on the how, where, when is just as relevant today as ever. Principles stay the same.

Open-Air Preaching: A sketch of it's history and remarks thereon | Not sure how much of this is from Spurgeon's book or elsewhere. 

Michael Green

Evangelism in the Early Church | One of the key sources I've used to think about open-air preaching as seen in the Bible.

Thirty Years That Changed The World: The Book of Acts for Today | There's a small section in which Green talks about Acts preaching and then proposes some ways to do open-air today. I don't love all his suggestions, but it's worth checking out.

The Gospel in the Open-Air Again

This is first post in a series. Here are links to posts that follow.

----------

Something has been burning in my belly. I can't shake it. I have a picture in my head of movement of preachers that, I believe, will shake up the culture and change the face of American Christianity in a myriad of good ways. I have much more to say about it, but let me start simply.

John Bunyan Open-Air Preaching

What if evangelicals hit America with 200, or 500, or 1,000 theologically strong, gospel-centered pastors who start preaching in open-air and public places in their cities, beyond their Sunday morning worship services, at least once a week for the rest of 2011? What would happen? What if even more did it, or what if it was done more often (Whitefield preached an average of 20 times a week for 34 years)? This idea has been on my mind in some form since my first few weeks as a new Christian (almost exactly 17 years ago). It continued through seminary as I did many outdoor evangelism projects and wrote a paper in seminary on open-air preaching. I've discussed it over the past few years with Joe Thorn. In the last few weeks I believe God has pressed this idea into me. I'm compelled to put it out there knowing many will probably think I'm stupid or crazy, and I'm ok with that.

In my opinion and in no particular order, here are some things that will probably happen if a movement of solid preachers would take to the open-air in America...

1. The Gospel would spread, maybe in an unprecedented way, across our land. It would be heard by people who would never set foot in our churches. It would spread in other ways explained below.

2. Our pastors and our people would be forced to learn to explain the Gospel simply, answer objections, etc. This would spark more training in theology, evangelism, apologetics, etc, but this time with a sense of need rather than something we too often learn for our "personal growth" only.

3. A *buzz* would grow among our neighbors. Suddenly it would be hard to miss seeing and/or hearing the Gospel where we live and in the places we go. People will stumble across it sooner or later, and probably more than once, and it will shake people up. Instead of being the odd guy down at the outdoor mall, it will be respected, calm, thoughtful, theological, loving people doing it. It will open a conversation as to "why" this is suddenly everywhere.

4. Persecution of one form or another (or all forms) would naturally increase. We are mostly left alone in our buildings, but when we preach with biblical power in the open-air the Devil will not be pleased.

5. The stereotype would change of open-air preaching and open-air preachers as the "turn or burn" and "sandwich board" folks would be drowned out by good, biblical, evangelistic preaching. It would come across as more normal because good preachers are doing it, yet it would still shake things up.

6. The media would take notice and start asking us what's going on, and we'd get free airtime to talk about Jesus. It would spark a growing public conversation about things on our agenda instead of merely getting asked to chime in when we fit in with the world's agenda. 

7. Dozens, hundreds of doors for personal evangelism would open up in every place public preaching is done because some of our people will attend and strike up conversations with those who stop to listen. In other words, we create a clear pathway for immediate personal evangelism. The preachers cast nets to draw them in, our people cast hooks, and together we work out our different roles in evangelism.

8. We would begin to pray with a new fervency, boldness, and deep need like in the end of Acts 4.. We would find ourselves relying on God in ways we've ignored because we take few risks. Our prayer meetings would, without question, see less "pray for aunt Sally's leg" and see more prayer for salvation, for strength, for the words to speak, for courage and boldness, for the many different issues that will result from the preaching, and so on.

9. Our churches would immediately start to see more visitors. The seeker kind. The skeptic kind. The curious kind. This would come because of the people who want to hear more from the preacher and the people who have connected personally with Christians during public preaching. They will come because this is the preacher who doesn't play well with others, and this time not because they spew judgments but because they won't stay away in their safe, warm buildings.

10. Christians will be separated from "Christians." Dead churches and denominations, the ones that don't have nor preach the Gospel, will start to look clearly different from evangelical ones. Our preaching will force the issue because people of various "Christian" groups will hear and react differently. Christians without Christ will be challenged to leave their Gospel-less churches and denominations. It will create a challenge to the peaceful, live-and-let-live relationship happening among all groups called "Christian" in our cities and it will reopen a necessary discussion on issues of Gospel, truth, theology, heresy, etc... and all in a much more public way.

I'm sure you can imagine that doors would open for a hundred other things. We don't know all that would happen as this has essentially been left untried. I don't believe there is even a need to discuss whether or not this is biblical. If anything preaching only in our buildings is what needs to be biblically challenged. Spurgeon wrote on page 254 of Lectures to My Students...

No sort of defense is needed for preaching out of doors; but it would need very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has never preached beyond the walls of his meeting-house. A defense is required rather for services within buildings than for worship outside of them. 

I believe that if in the next couple of months hundreds of preachers in America would embrace this, and public preaching started happening all over the place, especially with the spring and summer months coming as the perfect opportunity, that we would see amazing things happen by the hand of our good and gracious God. I believe we would see mighty works by the Holy Spirit. I believe it would be amazing, but we would have to do it in order to see it.

A lot of questions remain, I know. A lot of doubts. You may be skeptical that it can work. You may be wondering where you could even do it in your particular community. You may have fears of doing it and desire to stay in the comfort of your pulpit. I hear you, but I think there are good answers and motivations for all of this. More soon.

My prayer as this goes up is that God will stir in us by His Spirit a movement of preachers who preach the Gospel publicly, beyond the walls of our buildings. I'm praying first for myself, then for many of my friends and pastoral acquaintances by name, and then for a number of well-known pastors who I think God has put in places of influence for their theological strength and solid preaching of the Gospel. I believe we need older, mature pastors to lead us in something like this. God help us to preach the Gospel boldly and publicly.

10 Commandments For Reluctant Evangelists

Fisherman Net 2

Some helpful stuff for "reluctant evangelists," or any Christian! Here are 5 of them, but go read all "10 Commandments for Reluctant Evangelists." Would you change any? Add some? Delete some?

1. Shut the lid on your computer.
2. Get out among people. When Jesus saw the crowds he was moved with compassion.
3. Set aside a regular time/s each week to share the gospel. Don’t come home until you do.
7. Be accountable to someone to stay on track.
8. Spend time with people who share their faith and make disciples. Learn from them and catch their heart.

Puritan Reformed Journal

Prts journal

If you haven't checked out the Puritan Reformed Journal (from Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) before, I suggest you grab a subscription. The seminary gave me the two most recent copies at the Desiring God Pastors Conference and so far it's outstanding...

1. It's book size rather than magazine size. Great for shelving and referencing rather than sticking it in a magazine file. And it deserves book space.

2. It covers more categories than most theological journals.

  • Biblical Studies
  • Systematic & Historical Theology
  • Experiential Theology
  • Pastoral Theology & Missions
  • Contemporary & Cultural Issues
  • Book Reviews
  • Joel Beeke's Book Endorsements

The issues I have contain at least 3 articles in each category, often 4 or 5, at times even more. So that's 20+ articles plus reviews & endorsements. And because of the wide variety of articles and categories, this isn't just a journal for scholars. From Reformation 21: "I have increasingly been finding theological journals rather esoteric, philosophical and generally unhelfpul (with some exceptions, of course), but PRJ is a fine blend of confessional, experiential and practical theology." 

3. The articles I've read so far are really strong.

For example, Joel Beeke's "The Age of the Spirit and Revival" was a big help for my current sermons on revival. Joe Thorn read and recommended to me for my studies "Preparationism as Taught by the Puritans" by Cor Harinck and "An Uncommon Union: Understanding Jonathan Edward's Experimental Calvinism" by William M. Schweitzer. I've yet to read "Samuel Davies: On of America's Greatest Revival Preachers" by John E. Skidmore or "Jonathan Edwards and A Divine and Supernatural Light" by Kevin C. Carr. Tons of great stuff just for my current series.

Yet revival only covers a small bit of the articles. There are articles on specific Scripture passages, comparing confessions of faith, concerning Jeremiah Burroughs on worship, considering the relevance of John Bunyan for today, on raising a spiritual family with Jonathan Edwards, on theological writing, and tons more.

*****

There is no theological journal I've seen that I've been this excited about. Themelios is another one I enjoy, it's free and has some great content. But I feel compelled to plug PRJ for putting together an outstanding offering to the church out of a rich, reformed, Puritan heritage. A subscription is $20 a year.

Books on Revival

Revival SermonSlide 3

Here's a list of books I own on revival that I'll be using in one way or another for my current sermon series Revival: Longing for a Surprising Work of God.

I tried to list them in the order of how much I expect to use (or depend on) each one for this series. I'm referencing a number of other things as well (articles, audio, websites) but this list is for books alone.

UPDATE 2.8.11: I added some new books at the bottom, and a few comments in parentheses where I have something to say, so far.

Additions as of 1/20/2011...

Additions as of 2/8/2011...

I'd love to hear your suggestions for other books on revivals or about revival. I also assume as I peruse my personal library I could add a few to this list that I overlooked.

A God-Sized Vision - Revival Stories

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I'm reading A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir (Kindle edition) by Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge on my Kindle right now. Loving it. Need it. The church needs it. Tim Keller digs it...

The importance of spiritual revival and the necessity of conversion is being questioned in many evangelical and Reformed circles. I'm so glad that this book is appearing now, as a witness both to how God has worked in the church in the past and what he can do in the future. --Tim Keller, Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church 

Keller recently wrote on revival at Redeemer City to City blog, and Jared Wilson pointed to it and talked about it today. I think it needs more attention. I've amassed my "revival" books for reading and review this year. Maybe I'll put up some posts on the issue soon.

Let me also say, as folks are asking, I'm REALLY enjoying my wi-fi Kindle (also check Kindle 3G). My wife and kids are enjoying it so much they are asking or their own.