CCEF works and prays to restore Christ to counseling and counseling to the church. JBC serves this mission as a publishing ministry of CCEF. Why is this mission important? Why does it take work to restore Christ to counseling and counseling to the church? Let me set the stage by describing the issues at stake.
Why restore Christ to counseling? The wider counseling world views Jesus as irrelevant to understanding and addressing people’s deepest personal and interpersonal troubles. He might as well not even exist. Whoever he is, whatever he did, whatever he is doing, whatever he will do, and however he does it—it’s all intellectually and practically insigniﬁcant. The Jesus Christ of the Bible does not appear in self-help books, in classrooms, or in the licensure of mental health personnel. He apparently has no traction when it comes to the problems that break down lives and break up relationships.
But we believe that true, life-explaining insight into people necessarily involves thinking Christianly. Loving, lasting help necessarily involves practicing ‘counseling’ as one aspect of consciously Christian ministry. The deeper you gaze into what actually goes wrong with people—the weight of our sins and sorrows—the more clearly you see that Jesus Christ is essential to making it right.
Why restore counseling to the church? The wider counseling world views the church as mostly irrelevant to resolving people’s troubles. At best, churchy communities and religious practice might offer auxiliary support services for clients who happen to be religiously-oriented. Churches can be only incidentally useful to someone else’s agenda.
But we believe that the message and life of the body of Christ connects to the core of what is going on in disturbed relationships and in disturbed, disturbing people. Christ’s church is necessary—life-or-death necessary—for all people, whatever their current religious or irreligious orientation. This doesn’t mean that churches are islands of paradise on earth. Sinners and sufferers inhabit churches. In fact, the better a church is, the more broken people will be drawn, and the more problems will be present! But Jesus came, comes and will come to build his church, his ekklesia, a people who gather in his Name.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
The author’s well-placed concern is that many church leaders are woefully inadequate at equipping their congregational members to connect Sunday worship with Monday work. Even though ministry leaders seek faithful gospel ministry, many are overlooking a vital stewardship in the comprehensive outworking of the gospel in this already, but not fully yet moment in redemptive history. Sherman writes,This looks like a very good book. I've added it to my "wish list" of books to get.American workers, on average, spend 45 hours a week at work. That’s about 40 percent of our waking hours each week—a huge amount of time. If church leaders don’t help parishioners discern how to live missionally through that work, they miss a major—in some instances the major—avenue believers have for learning to live as foretastes.Ministry leaders often use the language of stewardship when addressing financial wealth, but they seldom talk about vocational stewardship so passionately or seriously. Sherman calls Christian leaders to become more theologically informed and intentional about vocational stewardship.
Monday, February 13, 2012
I don't think pastors should pretend to be experts on international finance, or try to handle political and policy questions beyond their knowledge. What they can do is equip people to discern the calling of God to productive work.
Imagine pulpits across America clearly and consistently preaching:
- God is calling you to spend every day making the lives of others better through productive work in your home, workplace, and community.
- God is calling you to be a spiritual leader who gracefully sets that expectation for others - because everyone made in God's image is called to productivity - and for our nation.
Productivity is a critically essential component of both discipleship and good citizenship. In the long term it is the only protection against both pietistic subjectivism in our churches and also economic collapse in our nation.
Sunday, February 05, 2012
The main impetus behind superficial contextualization is church growth, not gospel communication. As a result, missional may mean: "You can grow your church by getting a cool worship leader, an edgy venue, an anti-religion message, and a preacher with hip clothing."
When we become primarily concerned with church forms---building, music, service, website design---we dip below superficial contextualization into syncretism, blending Christianity with another religion, in this case consumerism. Christian consumerism gives people what we think they want, instead of calling them to what they need: repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. Instead of cracking the missional code, many churches have cracked a consumer code, attracting people to culturally bland but comfortable services while occasionally injecting them with the feel-good serum of social justice. But if Jesus Christ is Lord, his lordship should produce particular expressions of the gospel---music with local flavor and gospel-rich lyrics, community that incarnates grace in the neighborhood, culture-making that reflects his grandeur, and fresh language that awakens locals to grace.
Some versions of missional are simply a new form of church growth that caters to consumer Christianity. Underneath superficial contextualization lurks a consumeristic impulse that gathers people around church forms instead of Jesus Christ as Lord. This misuse leads us to contaminate both contextualization and the gospel. We try to get people to buy in to a new form of church instead of dying so they might live for Christ. This is troubling.