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I am deeply grateful to Tim Keller and his teaching on this text. Over the years it has had a major influence on my understanding of Jesus’ teaching/storytelling and my understanding of God’s grace in my own life. Tim has also written a book on this parable called “Prodigal God” that explores this parable in more depth.

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“Evangelism is not sharing certain facts about Jesus as if we have no obligation before or afterwards. But actually evangelism takes place in the context of a relationship – that is called discipleship – that can go a whole lifetime.” – Alan Hirsch

Great short video talking about evangelism and discipleship that makes it clear why this can’t simply be a program of the church or the job of church professionals.

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One of the great features of the Internet is that we can have access to so many good teachers and they often do a much better job of articulating an idea than I ever could.  In the video below David Platt talks about the difference between legalism and “radical” living (If you have not read his Radical book yet – it is worth the read).  I’ve substituted the word “missional” for “radical” because it is basically working with the same idea and I’ve heard a criticism from some corners of the blogosphere that “missional church’ is is just a new form of legalism. I would agree that the temptation is always there, but to call missional living “legalistic” is missing the point entirely. Listen to David:

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This is an interesting “fresh expression” of church happening in the UK that sounds very similar to Tidelands in some ways (Thanks for the link Corey). Clearly the Holy Spirit is moving faithful people in similar ways around the globe! Check out the article on City:Base to read more.

I think this balance we are trying to strike between the ‘centre’ and the ‘edge’ is an interesting one; we have our gathering once a month and Simple Church throughout the week to encourage the life of these simple missional churches to grow the life of our prayer and mission base at the centre.

City:Base in Sheffield, UK

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I heard David Platt speak at a recent conference. He reminds me a lot of another preacher that I know who speaks very controversially in order to get people to really consider what is being said. Without hearing the rest of the message (I don’t like how the video cuts off at what seems to be a crucial point) I don’t know what to think about all that he is saying. However, I do find it interesting that we often take things for granted without really thinking through them. For example, what does it really mean to “make disciples?”  I wonder if we have substituted a prayer for what used to be marked by baptism? And yet, we find throughout the New Testament the call to “believe” or “repent” and be baptized (cf. Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 16:21, John 3:36). It seems only natural to give people the opportunity to respond in prayer and express that belief to God. The point, perhaps, is that if we think we have made a “Christian” or a “disciple of Jesus” by having them say that prayer then we are kidding ourselves. Disciple-making is more of a long-term commitment, isn’t it? It can’t be done from a pulpit on Sunday morning and it requires a lot of leadership to carry out faithfully in a community.

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Here is a video from the Presbygrow website. This video has an interesting compilation of responses to five questions. These are the same five questions that we work through at the beginning of the discernment process. Click on the picture to watch the video.