books christianity church

Another Wells Excerpt

Another great selection from Above All Earthly Pow’rs by David Wells here.

This is probably the best book I have read in the past two years…

assimilation books church theology

Consumerism and the Church

A great quote from David Wells:

Churches which preserve their cognitive identity and distinction from the culture will flourish: those who lose them in the interests of seeking success will disappear.

In our churches we may have made a deal with postmodern consumers but the hard reality is that Christianity cannot be bought. Purchase, in the world of consumption, leads to ownership but in the Church this cannot happen. It is never God who is owned. It is we who are owned in Christ. Christianity is not up for sale. Its price has already been fixed and that price is the complete and ongoing surrender to Christ of those who embrace him by faith. It can only be had on his own terms. It can only be had as a whole. It refuses to offer only selections of its teachings. Furthermore, the Church is not its retailing outlet. Its preachers are not its peddlers and those who are Christian are not its consumers. It cannot legitimately be had as a bargain though the marketplace is full of bargainhunters.

For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s Word…” II Cor 2:17

No, let us think instead of the Church as its voice of proclamation, not its sales agent, its practitioner, not its marketing firm. And in that proclamation there is inevitable cultural confrontation. More precisely, there is the confrontation between Christ, in and through the biblical Word, and the rebellion of the human heart. This is confrontation of those whose face is that of a particular culture but whose heart is that of the fallen world. We cannot forget that.

David F. Wells, Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World, pg. 308-309

HT: Reformation Theology

books christianity church leadership missional

Missional Authors | The Forgotten Ways

This image from The Forgotten Ways has a great breakdown of some authors who have influenced my thinking.

Missional Author Diagram

From: the missional family tree according to leadership journal : The Forgotten Ways.

books christianity church leadership missional

unChristian 6

The thesis of Chapter 6 is that Christians must move from being perceived as naive and disengaged (“Sheltered” is the title of the chapter) to informed and involved with sophisticated nuance.  The creation of Christian subculture has done great damage to the overall integration within the culture at large, and therefore diminished influence and the capacity to speak into the lives of those around us.


  1. “Most young outsiders…see following Christ as something like belonging to a social club that adheres to a nice set of principles” ~Page 124

    I would say that this is the single largest threat to the bride of Christ in this generation.  Predominantly the previous generation of churches have cultivated a country club mentality of leisure under the guise of “community” without calling believers to walk the hard road of discipleship into mission.  The great joy, however, is seeing our generation respond to the challenge and desire earnestly to engage the global mission of God and share the gospel of the kingdom.

  2. “Currently more that one-third of children born in the United States are born to unmarried mothers” ~Page 127

    This is an absolutely staggering statistic.  Through ministry to high school students while I was in college, a simple non-scientific poll showed that over 50% of the students I was reaching out to were from broken homes.  This truly is a fatherless generation in desperate need of Godly leadership from men.Ministry to young men is the single most important part of what I am called to in Austin, and I pray that God would raise up men.

  3. “One thing that prevents us from engaging the world is the fact that our connection with outsiders dissipates as we enter the Christian enclave” ~Page 130


  4. “If we allow the actions and attitudes of outsiders to shock us, we become either isolationists or crusaders, and neither extreme will have much influence on outsiders” ~Page 131

    The true nature of the unbeliever is hell bent toward sin, and we ought not to react with surprise and contempt when we see that true nature come forth.  As our culture continues forward without the knowledge of a great and glorious God, we should not adopt a Chicken Little, the sky is falling posture, but instead plead with God to change hearts that new culture might flow from the broken and contrite heart.

  5. “When people say that America is a mission field, it would be more accurate to say it is many diverse mission fields.” ~Page 134

    I have thought long and hard on this particular question, and am still continually perplexed by the idea of a people group in an American/Western context.  How can such an individualistic society be understood through this basic missiological lens.  I often wonder if the success of mega and micro churches in our context is because of their ability to recreate strong social fabric that most medium sized churches cannot match (mega has a high level of specialization and deep resources, and micro naturally develops intimate community).

The main usefulness of this chapter is for an older generation to begin to comprehend and reach down to a younger.  Older church leaders would benefit from not only reading, but actually digesting this material as they seek to engage a younger generation and exegete its culture.  I think many young believers hunger for a different expression of Christianity than the glorified country clubs of most suburban churches, and it will require a significant adaptation in order to leverage the older generation effectively in the mission of God to the younger.

books christianity church

unChristian 5

Chapter 5 is title “Anti-homosexual”, and the thesis of the chapter is that Christians must become known more for there love of individuals regardless of sexual brokenness, rather that against the sin itself.  I understand the basic premise, and agree with the conclusions, yet the latter half of the chapter is subtitled “A Biblical Response” which is woefully lacking in biblical content and exegesis.  If the authors’ desire is to change the hearts and minds of Christians, then this section ought to include more than mere opinion and quotation, but actually resolve a biblical argument for the “complexity of the issue”.  This is still my main beef with the book as a whole: a woeful lack of biblical and gospel engagement to the findings of their research.

Below are a few of the quotes that stuck out:

  1. “Our concerns about preventing the advancement of homosexual rights often translate into a desire for unrealistic boundaries on people’s lives” ~Page 97

    This argument is definitely an interesting one, and is the issue concerning the legislation of morality.  It would seem that the authors would be in favor of extending political rights in order to create greater personal freedom, and yet we must draw some legal lines for legislation of morality.  The sticky question is where.  All legal authority is based on some definition of morality, and we must decide at what point on the scale we draw the moral line.  The issue is enhanced, however, because in an American context, this is both a moral issue and a personal rights issue, and the two certainly collide here.  The majority of Americans would side with a more conservative stance on morality, and yet the minority is advocating for personal rights, which is in part why the conversation is so muddled.

    Basically, I’ve confused myself, but the bottom line is political engagement on the issue is a very complex topic.  The next quote will resolve something of my opinion on the issue…

  2. “You change a country not merely by bolstering its laws but by transforming the hearts of its people” ~Page 106.

    A hearty amen to this comment…for too long the Evangelical right has thrown countless resources at reforming a nation through political engagement.  Political engagement is absolutely necessary and the call of all Christians in a democracy, but we must understand that it will never have the power to transform, only to conform to morality, which is no saving grace at all.

    When political posturing becomes our the Churches primary means of engagement, and not focusing on the call of believers to make disciples (baptizing and teaching), then we have put our trust in a false savior.  I believe the call of the authors to be correct as they invite individual and ministerial engagement with homosexuals, rather than political and pulpit posturing.  Platforming is a dangerous bedfellow for Christians and the Church when it is not accompanied by a similar commitment to relational ministry.

  3. “Born again Christians are more likely to disapprove of homosexuality than divorce” ~Page 94

    This is an unbelievable frustrating statistic, more from the perspective of the political posturing of the “pro-family” stance of most evangelicals.  The abject failure of the church in the area of marital fidelity should shock us, and force us to remove the plank in our eye first.  Perhaps we ought to demonstrate our commitment to the sanctity of marriage within the church before defining it outside the church…

This chapter was probably the weakest I have read so far, most likely because the scope of the issue is beyond the book.  It did whet my appetite to delve more deeply into the complexity of biblical engagement in the politics of this issue.