If you are new to this blog....

Welcome! The primary purpose of this blog is to explore and encourage around what it means to be winsome and sent into the world for God's glory. If you are new here, the definition of "lighthouse-searchlight" or our missional journey is a good place to start. Come peruse the blog and add me to your RSS feed!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

the big sort

I have been reading lately about what is being called “The Big Sort.” It’s a kind of sociological observation (see www.thebigsort.com and also Michael Kruse's blog, where I first read of it). The gist of The Big Sort is related to the red state, blue state phenomenon, but is far more startling and comprehensive. The author looks at voting, religious preference, ethnicity, education, economics, and other factors at the county level across the nation, and the trend in almost every case is from a blended “melting pot” in these categories to an increasing withdrawal of like with like.

There is much more that could be said here, but the point I want to make is that evangelical Christians are participating whole-heartedly in The Big Sort, and baptizing the withdrawal into our all-Christian enclaves with Scriptural warrant where I don’t see any. In fact, this kind of withdrawal looks exactly like the American culture around us – our withdrawal is, in fact, a part of the world, not distinctly Christian behavior.

Let me say this clearly: it is not God’s desire for us to withdraw from the world!

Why can I say that so definitively? Listen to Jesus’ prayer in John 17…

I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (John 17:15-18)
Jesus declares (and prays!) that we are not of the world. He prays for the Father to send us into the world, set apart (sanctified) by the Word and Spirit of truth.

We are not to withdraw! We are to turn from sin and cleanse our hands and hearts on a regular basis. But we are supposed to get our hands dirty. We are supposed to have friends who are not Christian – lots of them! We are supposed to leave our Christian enclaves and mix and mingle “out there.” We are supposed to be salt and light in the world, not a warehouse full of unused saltshakers and boxed light bulbs!

What about hot issues and thorny topics? While the exact strategy and words and tone will vary from situation to situation, I can tell you that we are supposed to be active, engaged, and plugged into the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. That is the commitment of our (Good Shepherd) leadership and something of which I am convinced. We may be convinced of the Bible’s clarity on issues of morality and sexuality, but if we either give in to the world’s view or cut ourselves off from those struggling with those issues, we have missed God’s mission altogether.

We know how to be a lighthouse – what to do when people seek out the church and seek out the Lord. But our great challenge and our great mission is to fully embrace our calling as a searchlight church – a sent church. God has given us all we need; Jesus has even prayed for that specific mission. That is our prayer; that is our mission!
Excerpted from the April 19 sermon - text and audio HERE.

Tag Cloud

2014 2015 accountability acts advent archive art arts ash wednesday aslan assurance audio auditions bands belief bigotry blessing blob bloggers blooper reel bluegrass body of christ book book reviews boomer boundaries breadth of worship builder bus calling Calvin Symposium cd ceilidh change character of god chart christmas church church partnerships civility commandments commentary communication community con ed confession confirmation contemporized hymns crisis culture D.Min. dance darkness death definitions denomination depth of worship discernment discipleship discourse dismissal dissertation drama early church easter ecclesiology ecpc emergent church error evangelism excellence exile exodus experimentation facebook failure faith family of God father fear fellowship fellowshippres following forgiveness friendship frost fruit frustration funerals GA ga219 ga220 GAhelp generations genX gift gifts girl scouts good news Google gospel grace gracious witness gspc youth hands health highlights holy spirit holy week hope hospitality humility humor hymn image of God imago dei improvisation incarnation inclusion index information insider language institutions interns invitation iTunes james jazz Jeremy Begbie john piper jonah joy judgment Keith and Kristyn Getty kids kindness language law lay renewal leadership legalism lent license life light lighthouse linked articles links listening liturgy loneliness love lyrics maddie shuler meme mentoring mercy metanarrative mgb commission millenials ministry networks miscellaneous mission missional missional identity missions moderator montreat mumford music narnia neighborhood neighbors new wineskins new year news newsletter NEXT NEXTchurch nicaragua noticing obedience obstacles organizations outreach palm sunday parenting participation pastor pastoral ministry pcaus pcusa peace performance peter pgf pictures plagues planning podcasting poetry politics ponderings pornography post-modernism prayer preaching presbymergent presbyterian global fellowship presbytery publishing questions racism reader reconciliation recordings recycled goodness redemption reflection refugees relationship relationships retreat righteousness risk roadblocks rss rules sabbatical safety salt samaritan satan satire scotland searchlight searchlight 2.0 sectarianism self-righteousness seminaries sermon snippets sermon-song sermons shalom sheep shepherding sin small church social media song songwriters songwriting spheres of influence spirit spiritual lessons spiritual power stewardship stories story sub-culture summary sunrise talent challenge tears technology teenagers Ten Commandments terrorism testimony theater theft theological education top posts tragedy transformation translation travel trees trinitarian worship trinity trust truth twitter union with christ valentines VBS video virtual reality vision waiting website wednesdays out wee kirk welcome witness word cloud wordle words workshop worship writing year-end YL you tube youth