The Center for Faith & Culture—Olivet Nazarene University

Congregational Ministry

Life and ministry in the local congregation are located directly at the intersection of faith and culture. How can we do ministry and lead congregations faithfully and effectively? It seems to be getting harder to see a clear or simple answer to that question. In this column we will look at ideas intending to help us navigate the challenges of ministry and congregational life in changing cultural contexts.

Lauren Seaman, an urban missionary in the city of Chicago, invites us into his journey, reconsidering how we think about discipleship and engagement with the people around us.

 

Featured Article

Food for Thought – Reconsidering Discipleship

Discipleship is a word we use a lot in the church, and yet it is something I am not sure we entirely understand. Peruse a church’s website, and I am certain that the word discipleship or the phrase making disciples or another similar conglomeration of words meaning the same thing will be found among the top mission statement priorities. Words matter. Mission statements matter, or at least they should. However, if we don’t engage with the practical implications of what our words mean, then they are only, and merely, words.

I recently came across a phenomenon known as semantic satiation. It is a term that describes what happens when a word is repeated so often, it eventually loses its meaning. The idea was first described in 1907 by E. Severance and M.F. Washburn in The American Journal of Psychology. Incidentally, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series that same year, winning another championship the next year, only to lose for the next 107 years. In Cubs lore, the phrase “there’s always next year” falls into this category. It is a phrase that has been repeated ad nauseam and has, in effect, lost its meaning.

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Recent Articles

A Missional Framework for Holiness Ministry in Our Post-Christian Culture

 

In his recent book The Mission of God, Christopher Wright wrote, 

"This worldview, constituted by putting the mission of God at the very center of our existence, is disturbingly subversive and it uncomfortably relativizes one’s own place in the great scheme of things. It is certainly a very healthy corrective to the egocentric obsession of much Western culture – including, sadly, even Western Christian culture. It constantly forces us to open our eyes to the big picture, rather than shelter in the cozy narcissism of our own small worlds." (534)

Wright describes both the challenge facing discipleship and the solution: an "egocentric" culture that manifests itself in individualism, consumerism, and materialism; and a worldview that puts "the mission of God at the very center of our existence." As the core of discipleship content, this missional worldview is necessary for shaping a people out of Western culture and into the kingdom of God, a community of generous and sacrificial love.

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Tags: Holiness
 

Authority of the Worship Leader



Reflections on the Role of Artists in
Contemporary North American Evangelical Worship

The Big Question

“So, here’s my big question…”

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Authority of the Worship Leader



Reflections on the Role of Artists in
Contemporary North American Evangelical Worship

The Big Question

“So, here’s my big question…”

3 Comments Read More
 

Christmas Comes to the Nazarenes

On Tuesday morning, December 25, 1906, when Los Angeles Nazarenes came to Sixth and Wall and walked into First Church for their annual Christmas Love Feast they had a lot on their mind.  In April, their Nazarene brothers and sisters in San Francisco had gone through the nightmare of the great earthquake.   By summer, the Azusa Street Revival taking place only a few blocks away had spilled out into their neighborhood and called into question their identity and caused some friends to leave the Nazarenes.   In October, First Church hosted the General Assembly where delegates from the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America had come to observe and discuss a union to form a nationwide holiness denomination.  The LA Times had reported on each of the three events.  Nazarenes might have thought about the latter two issues that Tuesday morning because the Nazarene Messenger printed articles on them during December mixed in with their announcements of the twentieth renewal of the Christmas Love Feast.

When representatives of the APCA attended the General Assembly, the Church of the Nazarene had spread as far east as Chicago and had organized themselves  into four districts: the Northwestern District where Elsie Wallace served as pastor in Spokane, Washington; the San Francisco District where H.O. Wiley pastored at Berkeley;  the Southern California district with Lucy P. Knott as pastor of the Mateo Street Church and Mrs. A.F. McReynolds as Superintendent of the Spanish Mission; and the Chicago Central District with churches from Topeka, Kansas; Flint, Michigan; Seymour, Indiana, as well as Chicago.  C.E. Cornell pastored Chicago First.  And the district had a missionary in charge of a Swedish Mission in Chicago.  The APCA brought to the possible union churches from Washington D.C. to Brooklyn, New York to New England. Both denominations had connections to foreign mission work in India.

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From the Immutable Lectern to the Conversational Table

 

 

About a year ago I was visiting a church I had not been to before.  I found myself sitting in on the youth Sunday school lesson and had witnessed an exchange that I will probably never forget. 

The previous week the teens had taken a quiz on the Old Testament and this week they were going through their answers to see how they did.  As the Sunday school teacher was going through her answer sheet, she came upon a question dealing with who wrote the Old Testament.  The answer, according to the Sunday school teacher, was “God.” 

One of the students, who had gotten this answer wrong, spoke up and asked, “But didn’t Moses write some of it?”  Having a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies, I felt that this was a good question for a teen to ask that could lead to some interesting conversations.  Before I could try and engage the students in discussion, the teacher turned to the student and sharply said, “The answer is God.”  The teen changed her answer, put her head down, and remained quiet for the rest of the morning.

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