Citizenship, Culture, and the Church

Citizens_SermonSeries GraceChurch

I have lots of thoughts on this week’s sermon, Citizens: Identity. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch below:

It’s important to remember the context of this message, that the sermon is primarily for Christians, the body of Christ. Likewise, virtually all of the Bible was written to those who follow God, or at least say they do.

As the pastor (Matt Williams) said:

“We have to train a culture of Christians to think courageously, and look at the Scriptures and apply them to us.”

Therefore, none of what I say here should be taken as “Those people should do this,” or, “What if someone else (not a Christian) wants such-and-such?” Those may be valid points and worthy of discussion. It’s just not the focus here.

What IS the focus? Click here to keep reading…


Thinking Strategically About Education in South Carolina

richard riley statehousereport

Recently, former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley gave remarks to the S.C. House Education Task Force. The context was a State Supreme Court decision in favor of more equitable funding for high-poverty, rural school districts.

His remarks are worth reading in full, but here are my take-aways:

  1. “Don’t get boxed into a construct that making positive change is too expensive, too complicated, and can’t be done.”
  2. “Have a sense of urgency. Recognize that now we are catching up. . . . Over the course of 20 years [when this case was brought before the Supreme Court], our State policies left behind 25 percent of our children.”
  3. Attract and retain effective teachers and leaders. (I agree, and agree.)
  4. Focus on early childhood education. (I agree again.)
  5. “Raise the expectations of 7th and 8th graders through pre-career, technology, occupational and college exploration opportunities.
  6. Provide engaging after school and summer learning programs. (And of course I agree.)
  7. “Art and music are a part of a high-quality education.”

Click here to read Mr. Riley’s entire statement.

Related Links:

7 Thought-Provoking Articles

reading rgbstock lusi

Here are some great articles I’ve been collecting. Each would be worthy of more in-depth summary and analysis, but I’m running out of blogging room (and time). Scan the titles and snippets, and click through to the one or two that interest you the most.

Worship Through Serving

“Our worship cannot be contained by songs, but must be expressed through serving, giving, being merciful. . . . Jesus saturated himself in the sadness and brokenness of our world, and only when we mirror His heart will justice roll down like waters and righteousness like and ever-flowing stream.”  (Aaron Ivey)

Getting Clear on Evangelism

“When evangelism is often discussed, it tends to focus on how churches mobilize their people to get out and connect with unbelievers. But when we think in these terms, the definition of evangelism can be mistaken as a maneuver, rather than proclamation.”  (Jonathan Parnell)

Things No One Tells You About Going on Short-Term Mission Trips

“If at the end of your trip you say, “I am so thankful for what I have, because they have so little.” You have missed the whole point.

You’re poor, too. But maybe you’re hiding behind all your stuff. . . . We all have to acknowledge our own brokenness and deep need for God before we can expect to serve others.”  (Michelle Acker Perez)

Telling Stories in Our Neighborhood

I’m no saint. I’m nothing special. I’m not paid by the church. I’m not paid by the community. God pays me money through my business—not to hoard it, but so I can be making disciples who make disciples in the neighborhood where I live.”  (Seth McBee)

The Top 12 Government Programs Ever

“The principles that seem to generate successful programs: removing unjust barriers to opportunity and membership, maximizing the social returns from government assets, strengthening work incentives for the underemployed, simplifying regulation where possible, and providing public goods for all and the necessities of life for those who can’t provide for themselves.”  Peter Schuk

More on Ferguson and White Privilege

“The challenge with white privilege is that most white people cannot see it. We assume that the experiences and opportunities afforded to us are the same afforded to others. Sadly, this simply isn’t true.

Privileged people can fall into the trap of universalizing experiences and laying them across other people’s experiences as an interpretive lens. For instance, a privileged person may not understand why anyone would mistrust a public servant simply because they have never had a viable reason to mistrust a public servant. The list goes on.”  (Matt Chandler)

How Can the Fatherless View God as Their Father?

“The brokenness in our cities – high school dropout rates, behavioral issues, criminal activity, incarceration, etc. – will not change until individual followers of Jesus Christ respond to God’s call by walking with and discipling the fatherless. Programs are great, but only to a certain degree. We need people caring for people.”  (Justin Lopez)

 **image courtesy of lusi via