As 2017 comes to a close, I decided to review the top 5 posts from Declare & Display. I started blogging a little over a year ago out of a desire to declare and display the gospel in all of life. I wanted to speak to the issues of disciple-making, engaging culture, and church planting. The Lord has been gracious to allow me to contribute to the discussion on many of these issues. However, I have learned much more about them than I have contributed to them.
#1: Book Notes: Our Secular Age – It doesn’t take much observation to realize that we live in a secular age. But how can the church be a faithful gospel witness in our secular age? The Gospel Coalition’s Our Secular Age seeks to answer just this question.
As I read Our Secular Age, I grew in my understanding of the secular age in which the church finds itself. I also grew in my conviction that the church has hope for entering into this secular culture, challenging it, and appealing to it with the unchanging message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
#2: Parenting Towards Purity – Serving in student ministry puts me in regular conversation about how to help teenagers pursue purity in a sex-saturated world. The good news is that God’s Word is up to the challenge. Here are four steps parents can take to help their teenagers pursue purity.
It is almost expected that teenagers and young adults will choose impurity over purity. And the opportunities to do so have only seem to keep increasing. We should think seriously about this challenge facing our children. Yet, things are just as they have always been. Driven by sinful desires, we are tempted to and often choose the temporary, fleeting pleasures of lust over the eternal, satisfying delight in the Lord. We should not shrink back in fear or sit still in ignorance.
#3: Strengthen By Grace: An Essential Resource for Making Disciples – Making disciples isn’t about strategy as much as it is about being strengthened by grace. The former will come and go, but the latter is the essential resource for making disciples.
Paul reminds us that passing on the faith is not dependent first and foremost on our strategies. Nor does it rest on our resources or personality. Making disciples is a spiritual task requiring spiritual strength. The strength needed for making disciples is the grace found in Jesus Christ.
#4: We Are Planting a Church – Earlier this Fall we shared this exciting announcement. God has long been working to bring us to this point and it is was a joy to officially share our plans with others. This summer we will be moving to Ann Arbor, MI. To learn more about our plans, check out tccannarbor.com.
Ann Arbor draws some of the brightest and most ambitious students from all over the world. And yet it is also a place where people are crushed by overwhelming expectations, disappointed by unfulfilled desires, and searching for meaning and significance. It is a place in great need of the transforming power of the gospel. And if the gospel is to transform Ann Arbor it will take a multitude of healthy, Christ-exalting, Spirit-led churches that seek to multiply disciples in every area of life. This is what excites me most about planting a church in Ann Arbor. My prayer is that what some call “the biggest little town in the Middle” will become a hub for seeing the gospel advance in Southeast Michigan, the Midwest and North America, and to the ends of the earth.
#5 (Tie): Teens & Sexuality: Addressing Sexuality with Teenagers – In our families and in our churches, we are far too often late to the conversation about sexuality with our teenagers and reactionary once we speak up. Here are four imperatives for addressing sexuality with teenagers.
Within our cultural climate we cannot retreat out of fear or remain silent out of ignorance in either the home or the church. Now is the time to engage. Now is the time for honest answers to hard questions. Now is the time to listen well and speak truth in love. Now is the time to address the issues of sexuality with our teenagers.
#5 (Tie): Want to Grow in Your Prayer Life? Pray Until You Pray – We know we need to do it more. We resolve to grow in it each year. Yet we often find ourselves discouraged by our prayerlessness. This simple principle seems obvious. However, when we really get it, it will change our prayer lives.
I can’t think of a year that I haven’t desired to grow more in my prayer life. This year is no different. As I listen to others, it seems this is a shared desire among many in the church. For some it is a lack of consistency. For others it is a lack of desire. Still others feel overwhelmed and distracted when they pray. What is it for you?
I was recently reminded of a sermon my pastor preached a few years ago on pray. He gave this encouragement: pray until you pray. Huh? That was my first reaction. What exactly does that mean?