By Michael C. Mack
This month we focus on the urban church. This topic may bring about disagreement among readers. Our cities, after all, often serve as the stage for highly charged emotional issues in our culture. In addition, we also tackle the contentious question of online church; is it really church? And how do we even discuss debatable issues in a sane and unifying manner? (We cover that too.) Finally, I want you to know about a few changes we’re making to serve you better.
What Urban Ministry Means to You
As several writers point out, the New Testament church was mostly an urban church; city was the context for and environment in which they did ministry. What does that mean for us today? Probably more—and, at the same time, less—than we think.
The church—that is, Christ followers individually and collectively as the body of Christ—needs to be proliferating in our cities; we have tremendous opportunities there to be salt and light that far surpass the monumental inherent challenges. But our purpose, even in this movement, is not to restore the settings, environment, programs, or forms of the New Testament church, but the functions—that is, the timeless principles, the spirit, and most importantly, the Spirit of the church Jesus envisioned.
What You May Disagree With
As I read and edited the articles in this issue, I found some of my ideas, preconceptions, and assumptions challenged, and I think you will too. I expect you will disagree with at least one statement or premise in some articles. I ask that you read and respond with a humble spirit. Take the advice of Sonny Smith in David Dummitt’s interview (in his “Movement” column), to “overcome insensitivity and defensiveness. We need to pursue humility and be willing to admit when we don’t have a clue. We need to be willing to come alongside one another to ask questions, learn, and understand different perspectives.”
Like Christ, we live best when we empty ourselves, which means surrendering our opinions, preconceptions, attitudes, and ways of thinking (Romans 12:1, 2), no matter how tightly held. That doesn’t mean a lack of conviction. Instead, it means we are convicted by God’s Word more than our own ideas (even about God’s Word!). Scripture often has to rebuke us and correct us (2 Timothy 3:16), even those of us who have studied it for years and teach it.
Don’t miss Jon Weatherly’s humorous, convicting, and applicable article, “How to Debate Debatable Issues: The Art of Godly Disagreement.” This article will serve as a guide for how to debate debatable issues.
What Changes We’re Making to Serve You Better
You will notice a couple changes in this month’s issue and on our website. Our “Communion Meditation” and “Headlines” will no longer appear in our monthly print magazine or app, but new material—meditations, news, and more—will appear weekly in our newsletter and at ChristianStandard.com.
These changes will allow us to focus our energies on producing not only more timely news, but also several news-features each month that will appear only at those two venues. In addition, we will continue to post a new Communion meditation each week on our website. (Keep in mind, our site is already home to 300 such meditations.)
To stay current on news, events, information, ministry resources, and other support for church leaders, please subscribe to our newsletter at ChristianStandard.com.
We’ll continue to add daily to our website content that’s relevant to your leadership and ministry; ChristianStandard.com will be a central place for our churches to keep up-to-date with current news in our movement, find resources for leading effectively, and connect with other churches and organizations. Because . . . we are all better together as Christ’s body than any of us can be alone.