Radical or Regular?

radical

Does the Bible advocate a radically missional lifestyle or a quiet, peaceful one?

I’ve often been conflicted when reading of Paul’s exemplary life of self-sacrifice and single-minded focus on spreading the Gospel at any cost.

For example, Philippians 1:20 says: “it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”

That life-or-death urgency that Paul brings can be discomforting to those who enjoy a quiet, peaceful life. In his book Radical, David Platt writes about that same idea, that:

“we were created for far more than a nice, comfortable Christian spin on the American dream. An idea that we were created to follow One who demands radical risk and promises radical reward.”

Perhaps that means traveling to a another country and getting involved in an NGO or attempting to do missions work in North Korea or Ethiopia. Perhaps it means moving into dangerous neighborhoods of Chicago and volunteering at a youth program. Is this every American Christian’s duty?

Yet in 1 Timothy 2:2 we’re told to pray for “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” Similarly, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 says “aspire to live quietly, and to mind your affairs, and to work with your hands.

So, which is it? Are we supposed to radically risk our lives for the sake of gospel, or is it okay to pursue a quiet and peaceful life in the suburbs?

This debate has been heating up among evangelicals for a few months. Books like David Platt’s Radical, or Shane Claiborn’s Irresistible Revolution, or the intense sermons of Francis Chan push us more toward the radical lifestyle that shuns the comforts of a middle-class lifestyle. They suggest that the model of Paul and Jesus should move us to give away our wealth, and move into the ghettos to fight poverty.

At the same time, pushing back against this single-minded intensity, evangelical writer Matthew Lee Anderson argues that the radical lifestyle isn’t the only way to live faithfully:

“Discovering a radical faith may mean revisiting the ways in which faith can take shape in the mundane, sans intensifiers. It almost certainly means embracing the providence of God in our witness to the world.”

Echoing this message, Anthony Bradley at the Acton Institute’s blog, writes that “Radical” Christianity can be susceptible to both legalism and narcissism.

What if the  radical life of missions in a foreign country is just a way to show that you are more committed than anyone else? What if your missions trip to Mexico was only done so you could avoid the shame of appearing like you’re not giving your life to Christ? What if it is, as Bradley says, it’s just “shamed-driven pressure to be awesome and extraordinary young adults” trying to make an immediate tangible difference in the world?

What do you think? Do you feel shame and guilt for not being “radical” enough? Do you think it’s possible to live a faithful Christian life in the suburbs?

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6 Ways to Make Disciples

Caesar Kalinowski, a missionary, entrepreneur, church planter, and strategist, has some great ways to incorporation disciple-making into your life.

He suggests 6 Rhythms to use in your community. These are things that you can be intentional about, without making them additional things to add to your already-busy life.

1. Know the story – We all have a story. We must put our story into the context of God’s story, rather than the story told to us by our parents, or the media, or or boss.

2. Listening – We’re always listening to someone, but are we listening to God? We must listen to the Holy Spirit, and cultivate a rhythm of listening to God in community.

3. Celebrate – Life is living in a rhythm of celebration. Everyone has a birthday, and holidays, and graduations are over. Join that rhythm by celebrating our joy in eternal life.

4. Eat – We’re already eating every day. What if we were to have meals with people who we want to disciple?

5. Bless – Ask the Spirit to reveal to you 3 people you could bless each week. Imagine everyone in your neighborhood each blessing three people a week. It could transform a place.

6. Recreate – The rhythm of rest and work. Rest in Christ’s completed work, and then out of that, create beauty and value through our work. It’s the idea of Sabbath.

Via – The Verge


Christians Are . . .

Christians are

Ever since our fall into sin in Genesis 3, the effects have permeated everything and broken everything — bodies, hearts, minds. One of the effects on the mind is that there is a skewed understanding of what Christianity is about.

To some degree, our understanding is re-invented every generation; the effects of sin don’t change, but culture and sin’s pressure points do change. We are often fighting off accusations of being violent, or extremist, or close-minded. In order to address this image-problem, we can be proactive in avoiding those stereotypes when we interact with others. Sociologist and scholar Christian Smith, who wrote Lost in Translation, suggests that we can do this by being:

1. Convicted, but charitable, capable of good and constructive arguments.

2. Committed, but interested in reasonable, rigorous, fun conversations.

3. Serious, but not rigid or reactionary.

4. Evangelistic, but interested in other people not just as souls to save but as real people to learn from, as gifts for us to receive.

5. Caring about the right ideas, about truth, but interested in reciprocity.

6. Critical of the world, yet appreciative of the good in it as God’s good creation.

The 20s Mission is working to disciple and support young adults Christians as we articulate our Christian identity in the midst of many cultural changes.

If you’re in the Chicago area, come to one of our monthly events, where you can hear from other professionals and Christian leaders and discuss what it means to be a Christian in your environment.


Who is in your community?

life-together1

 

We’re all social creatures, or as David Brooks put it “Social Animals.” We are highly influenced by the people around us, our friends, family and coworkers.

That is why Jesus set up the Church, for us to build up one another according to God’s teaching and be able to live with, and influence one another to become more like Him.

This is how Dietrich Bonohoeffer put it in his great book Life Together:

“Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and In Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this.”

This means:

1. Christians need each other because of Jesus Christ.

  • “God has willed that we should seek and find His living word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man.”
  • “The community of Christians springs solely from the Biblical and Reformation message of the justification of man through grace alone; this alone is the basis of longing of Christians for one another.”

2. Christians come to one another only through Jesus Christ

  • “Christ became the Mediator and made peace with God and among men. . . . Christ opened up the way to God and to our brother.”
  • “Only in Jesus Christ are we one, only through him are we bound together.”

3. In Jesus Christ we have been chosen from eternity, accepted in time, and united for eternity.

  • “If, before we could know and wish it, we have been chosen and accepted with the whole Church in Jesus Christ, then we also belong to him in eternity with one another.”
  • “He who looks upon his brother should know that he wil be eternally united with him in Jesus Christ.”

Navigating life after college

The Navigators group over in Florida recently put up a blog about post-college life. The writer, Sammi Feliciani, shares her experience of emerging from college with big dreams but no sure plan. With the world before you, but no structure or order to navigate it is daunting. It’s easy to get paralyzed.

But when the fifty-first person asks me, “So, what’s next for you?” and writes me off as an aimless slacker based on my, “Uhh, well, I don’t really know,” answer, I think about Emily, Sam, Victoria and Nicki. These are some of the women who have poured into me over my college years. They’re ladies I have admired, learned from and imitated. I would be overjoyed to be a woman like any of them someday. But I don’t admire them because they’re perfect or because they never question or mourn or mess up or struggle. In fact, as I have seen each of them walk through death’s shadow, seen their own plans and dreams fall apart, and heard them share their hearts: the raw, real, sticky, tangled mess of lives wrecked by sin but redeemed through Christ, I’ve seen what trusting God really looks like. These women who have shepherded me didn’t always have everything together. In their moments of weakness, though, Christ’s strength was displayed most powerfully. These women brought me to Jesus, not to themselves and not to some amazing be-the-best-you-can-be life plan. He was, and is, more than enough.

When life seems to be losing its sense of order, and we encounter challenging new territory, our best bet is to look back to the rich heritage of blessings he has given us, through mentors, friends and family. God does not drop us off at the curb of life, or end after four years of undergrad. He has a plan for our lives, and that is to live with him in righteousness and peace.

Have you felt paralyzed by life after college? What have you learned about God’s faithfulness during transition?


Grad seminar at University of Illinois

On November 3rd, 20s Mission Chicago met up with the Navigators collegiate group at the University of Illinois for a seminar with some of the senior class.

Students heard from Jay Neuharth about transitioning in the the workplace. Recent graduate of the U of I, Matt Morris, also shared his experience of school-to-work transition.

Thanks to everyone who came! We hope that wherever you go after you graduate, that you will stay committed to Christ and find a committed group of Christians or a 20s Mission. If you end up in Chicago, we hope you’ll join us!

The next Senior workshop will occur on December 1st at Ball State University.


How to be a Mentor

Tim Elmore, author of Generation iY and founder of Growing Leaders, a nonprofit in Atlanta dedicated to developing emerging leaders. He offers the following tips to mentors:

What Is Supposed To Happen In A Mentoring Relationship?

So—what is it we are called to do if we’re to be life-giving mentors? Good question. Over the last several years I have made it my aim to distill the ingredients that make a good mentoring experience. The following word-pictures represent what I believe are the most helpful goals you can shoot for as you attempt to invest in someone.

1. PAINT PICTURES

Pictures stick, longer than mere words. Your mentee likely grew up in the digital generation—with MTV, photographs, videos, DVDs and movies. There are screens everywhere and images abound. I believe the surest way to deliver a memorable message is to paint a picture in their mind. Use metaphors, images, word pictures and stories to drive home the principle you want them to catch. I try to live by the axiom: give them a point for their head and a picture for their heart.

2. GIVE “HANDLES”

Everyone possesses some knowledge of truth. Most people, however, are hard pressed to own it in such a way they can use it in everyday life. Simply put, “handles” are things we can grab onto. Every door has a handle; every drawer has a handle. We give people “handles” when we summarize truths or insights in a user-friendly fashion so they can wrap their arms around it. Truth becomes a principle they can live by. When someone has a “handle” on something, it means they “own it” and can practice it as well as communicate it to others. A good mentor can distill or crystallize truth so that the complex becomes simple. For instance mentors may provide a “handle” for their mentees by summarizing the truth they are discussing into a brief phrase, slogan, metaphor or jingle. They may choose to add a memorable experience together. An example for service may be working in a soup kitchen or serving in a retirement home.

3. OFFER “ROADMAPS”

Roadmaps give us direction in our journey and a view of the “big picture.” When we give someone a “roadmap,” we are passing on a life compass to them. In the same way that maps help us travel on roads we’ve never been on, these life roadmaps show us where we are; they help people not only to see the right road, but to see that road in relation to all the other roads. They also help a person stay off the wrong roads. They provide perspective on the whole picture. This generally happens only when we communicate intentionally, not accidentally. While there is a place for spontaneous interaction, planned opportunities to speak into a mentee’s life are necessary. Friendship may happen by chance, mentoring happens on purpose. Roadmaps help mentees navigate their way through life.

4. PROVIDE “LABORATORIES”

When we provide “laboratories” for our mentees, we are giving them a place to practice the principles we’ve discussed with them. Do you remember science class in college? Science always included a lecture and a “lab.” By definition, laboratories are safe places in which to experiment. We all need a “lab” to accompany all the “lectures” we get in life. In these “labs,” we learn the right questions to ask, the appropriate exercises to practice, an understanding of the issues, and experiential knowledge of what our agenda should be in life. Good laboratories are measurable; they can be evaluated together; and they provide ideas for life-application. In these labs, mentors can supervise their mentees like a coach. They can oversee their experimentation like a professor. They can interpret life like a parent. Every time I meet with my mentees, I have a “laboratory” idea to accompany the principle I want them to learn. This forces me to be creative, but I believe in the axiom: information without application leads to constipation!

5. FURNISH “ROOTS”

One of the most crucial goals mentors ought to have for their mentees is to give them “roots and wings.” This popular phrase describes everyone’s need for foundations to be laid and for the freedom to soar and broaden their horizons. The foundation we must help to lay in our mentees involves the construction of a “character-based life” versus an “emotion-based life.” This means we help them develop core values to live by. They should leave us possessing strong convictions by which they can live their lives and the self-esteem to stand behind those convictions. The deeper the roots, the taller a tree can grow, and the more durable that tree is during a storm.

6. SUPPLY “WINGS”

The final word picture that describes what a mentor must give a mentee is “wings.” We give someone wings when we enable them to think big and expect big things from God, from life and from themselves. When someone possesses wings, they are free to explore and to plumb the depths of their own potential. When mentors give wings, they help mentees soar to new heights in their future. Consequently, it’s as important to teach them how to ask questions as how to obtain answers. Mentors should empower mentees to take the limits off what they might accomplish with their lives—and cheer when their mentees surpass their own level of personal achievement.

Read the whole thing on his blog.