Thursday, March 2

What I'm Reading Right Now

What I Just Finished:

The Out of Bounds Church? by Steve Taylor. This is Steve Taylor a pastor in New Zealand, not the 1980's Christian musician and songwriter. Although I have to say that I liked that Steve Taylor, too.

The Out of Bounds Church has revolutionized my thinking about the Church as it relates to college-aged people. The book is put out by Emergent YS, and discusses the role of the Church in the emerging culture.

As my good friend Andy has said, a lot of emerging culture resources take the perspective that "Jesus is a punk rocker" and that if the Church doesn't look at Jesus that way, it's wrong.

This could not be more different from Steve Taylor's perspective. He recognizes that culture is changing, but that Jesus is relevant yesterday, today and forever. Jesus is relevant in any culture. The Out of Bounds Church discusses how we can make Jesus relevant to the members of the emerging culture.
Taylor draws on ideas he has seen in his travels literally around the world. He includes lots of practical ideas, plus lots of places to go on the internet for resources, ideas, and to test out some of the concepts for the book. If you are interested in making the church work for teens and twenty-somethings, I think this is a must read.

What I'm Reading Right Now:

Adventures in Missing the Point by Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo. The book asks the question if we as Christians, and if the modern Western Church has missed the point on a number of issues.

They cover everything from Salvation and Theology to Environmentalism and Homosexuality to Doubt and Truth. Each topic includes a discussion by one of the authors, followed by a response by the other author. And the two don't always agree.

The book challenges assumptions many (most?) churches and many (most?) Christians have had for a century or more. There are times that I think they are right on the money. There are other places where they have changed some of my thinking. There are other places that I don't completely agree, but they still have made me think about what I believe in completely new ways.

And I think that's part of their point.


TheBGRT said...

I have heard of Steve taylor from my Youth Min classes and Brian McLaren is an author that I have read a few times in my Youth Min classes. I like how McLaren makes you really think, like or dislike he gets the gears grinding upstairs.
I would agree with you Tim on that we need to find a way to keep Jesus relevent in todays culture, but "relevence is not about comformity, but rather it is clarity and connectedness" (Erwin McManus, The Church in Emerging Culture) That is a great book, and I highly recommmend reading it if you are in anyway involved in the Ministry in any aspect.

Tim Gleason said...

You (and Erwin McManus) are absolutely right about about relevancy not being about conformity. The message of Jesus is the same no matter where or when you are or what the culture is like. It's much more about portraying the message in a way to show its relevence to the people who live in the culture you are operating in.

lpangelrob said...

Continuing a discussion from long, long ago...

How much exposure should a Christian have to allegedly "unhealthy" elements that the world partakes in, in order to stay relevant? For example, homosexuality, pornography, or even popular culture?

TheBGRT said...

Good Questions Robert! I do not believe this is easily answered. I do believe however that there needs to be authentic exposure, not the "oh well time to hang out with the sinners" mentality. Not saying that anyone here does, just a statement. As to how much and what we expose ourselves to depends on our own inherent strenghts and weaknesses. One of the things that I noticed about Christ was that He did spend time preaching and telling people to come to repentance, but He did it in roundabout ways, ie. parables and stories. His other approach was to simply be in relationship with the sinners and to be their friend.
I think that is the most important thing that we as Christians can do for non-Christians, simply being their friend. If we are truly seeking after God then the world WILL know.
That is my two cents.
-BGRT signing off...

Tim Gleason said...

You ask how much exposure to the "unhealthy" elements of contemporary culture we should have. When Jesus was praying for his disciples before he left the earth, he said "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it." (John 17:15-16).

So, Jesus specifically prayed that we would not be taken out of the world. So Christians can't be separatists when it comes to society and culture. At the same time, we are not to be "of the world." That means where the culture conflicts with Christ, we need to follow Christ.

The key, then, is to be in the world but not of the world. Sometimes, figuring out where the line is is easier said than done.