Tim Keller on Community & Millennials

I thought this was a surprising and insightful response from Dr. Keller. I think he brings up a very significant challenge for us as we lead the millennial generation towards a healthy practice of church family life. This came from Jefferson Bethke’s youtube channel. 

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The People of God: Empowering the Church to make disciples

People of God CoverBut you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2.9-10

I’ve been anxiously awaiting when I can tell you about the book I recently wrote. It’s titled The People of God and it is debuting this week at Together For the Gospel. The team over at B&H took a risk on myself and my good friend Trevor Joy and I am grateful they did. I am honored the book’s official release is at such a great conference like t4g. Oh, and one thing real quick…LOOK MOM!!! I WROTE A BOOK!! thanks guys, had to get that out. feeling better now.

For my part, this book is the fruit of 12 years as a part of the Summit Church Family who has loved on and invested into me and my family in so many deep and meaningful ways. The same is true for Trevor over at the Village Church, a true sister church to the Summit in every sense. His pastor Matt Chandler wrote the foreword, and my pastor & friend J.D. Greear wrote the afterword. Both Trevor and I now have the humble privilege of coaching churches around the world towards a healthy practice of making disciples in the local church. This book is the fruit of our time here in the trenches, hoping it will be helpful to other men & women down the line in their trenches of ministry.

In short, this book is a message of hope for the church. I know the church can be screwed up. I went through some messy church stuff growing up (an entire chapter is devoted to this problem). Yet the people of God remain the bride of Christ. We have been called TO something together. And I believe the church can be the family-on-mission God has designed it to be.

We worked hard to make this a practical theology for the church. That is, this book will discuss a theology of community, but then give you some very practical steps to take to implement that theology. I’m not gonna lie, now that it is in print and available for you to read, I’m a little nervous.

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Summit Cancels social media small groups


R.I.P. social media small groups. You lasted One glorious day: April 1, 2014.

Yes, yesterday’s post was a good old fashioned April Fools Hoax. While I enjoy the occasional social media surf, the Summit will not be launching online small groups. Danny Franks & I would like to thank those who played along to make this possible.

The Summit remains fully committed to face to face church family life. If we got you, and i know we got a few (one of our pastors even called me while deeply troubled by this around 5pm yesterday), maybe that was God’s way of stirring you towards leading a real in-person small group! You can begin that process today!

This was one of the best responses to an April 1 post I’ve had. Coming in second only to April 1, 2011: Advance Conference =dd’s U2′s Bono.

back to For-Realzies now.

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Summit Launching Social Media Small Groups



With easter fast approaching, the Summit Church is rolling out a new initiative called socialMEdia™ Small Groups to connect more people into community at this critical time in their faith journey. To make this dream become a reality I’ve had the great privilege to work alongside one of my best friends in ministry, Summit Connections Pastor Danny Franks. We pulled together some of the genius tech minds in Raleigh-Durham (this area dominates in that category) who are members here at the Summit and shared our dream with them. Danny wrote the formal announcement for our church and I’ve copied portions of it here for you as well:

we know that getting into a small group is tough. Every month we see hundreds of people attempting to join a group, and the truth is, it’s hard to keep up. We want to have well trained group leaders, but training takes time. And time is something that prospective leaders and members just don’t have.

But one thing Americans (even American Christians) seem to have time for is social media. Whether you love it or hate it, most of us are tech junkies. We love our Twitter, our Facebook, our Instagram, and our MySpace (shout out to our 90′s brethren!). So last year several of our pastors asked the obvious question: Why can’t we do both?

Why can’t we increase involvement by CHANGING commitment?

Why can’t we lower the risk and give a better return?

Why can’t we – for lack of a better term – dumb down the process?

So that’s exactly what we did!
We took the best that social media had to offer and applied it to the fast paced lifestyle of the 21st century disciple. We worked with some of the best and brightest tech people out there to flush out the kinks in the system. We vetted the go-getters of the online community to build a new kind of community, and we think you’re going to love what you see.

Here is a bit on how it works:

Imagine: what if you could have all of the benefits of a small group without the difficult commitments? What if you could connect with your fellow disciples anytime, anywhere? What if you never again had to walk into a strange living room, endure a long and awkward prayer request, or risk rejection from a group that’s already gelled before you showed up? Maybe you laugh at those examples, but then again, maybe you’ve never had to face these realities.

socialMEdia™ Small Groups changes all of that. For starters, you choose the group that’s right for you. When the SMSG site launches, you’ll complete a profile that describes your preferences. You can tag your profile with any descriptor from seeker to serious, from dog lover to Democrat, from Lecrae devotee to Larry the Cucumber fan club president. From those tags and profiles, our database will run an algorithm that will generate up to ten social groups that might be right for you, much like E-Harmony or Match.com. You can pick one or several, and try them out at your leisure.

Some groups will meet weekly, much like our traditional groups. Others will meet at more random times: sometimes every other week, sometimes several times a day. Because there are no houses, childcare, and schedules to deal with , the sky is the limit.


socialMEdia™ Small Groups don’t officially launch until mid-May (just in time for your summer travels), but you can join the waiting list and fill out your profile starting today. Simply follow the link to get started.



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Gene Bartow, Joshua, & Risk

This January I gave a talk to our small group leaders on taking risks for the glory of God. The genesis of the talk came out of some personal conviction God was doing in my life through reading and meditating on Joshua Chapter 1. My lead pastor, J.D. Greear, posted the article on his site today and I hope you will take a look at it. J.D. takes great care to make sure he is constantly putting great resources out for his readers so if I were you I’d make that a regular stop on your internet cruise. Since you can read the article there, I’m going to do you a favor and show you a favorite movie scene that captures the tone (albeit not the theological underpinnings) of what I wanted to get across:


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Rend Collective: A fresh call to church life

February 13, 2014 Leave a comment

I was introduced to the music of Rend Collective just a couple of months ago. Today while listening to their music I came across their campfire experiment. I love it. Truthfully I want to give it a shot if some friends with some musical talent will join me. Who is in with me? God created us to be creative just like him. Fresh expressions of timeless truths will engage fresh generations. That’s where i want to live & interact. I’m grateful for this group and their love of the church. Below is their explanation of the campfire experiment.


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Abortion pt 2: The Morality of Abortion

January 22, 2014 Leave a comment

I’m taking a few posts to lay out what I believe to be some key things to think about when approaching the abortion discussion. You can see a summary of these topics in the opening post. Today, as legal abortion turns 41, I pray with everything I have we as a nation will have the veils lifted off our eyes at what we are doing.

In this post my hope is to examine the morality of the act of abortion, and then to examine the role of government in legislating on abortion. Now you and I know far more has been written by far better thinkers than what you will see here. Nonetheless, this is something I’m particularly passionate about so I’m going to give my best shot here

The Morality of the act of abortion

I won’t dwell long here as it is likely most reading this will affirm what I write. But maybe it will be clarifying to some. Peter Singer, a respected ethicist and distinguished bioethics professor at Princeton, once astutely outlined the argument against abortion in a simple syllogism:

  1. It is wrong to kill an innocent human being.
  2. A human fetus is an innocent human being.
  3. Therefore it is wrong to kill a human fetus.

In the past, the argument by pro-abortion advocates usually denied the second premise. But Singer, himself a staunch pro-choice advocate, finds this impossible to maintain. There is no point in the development process where the fetus moves from “non-human” to “human.” This is why he believes the first premise, not the second, must be denied. This is where the conversation is shifting. And this is where we must be compelling and consistent in defense of the inherent worth of human life.

The reason abortion is morally wrong is that abortion is the killing of innocent life (premise 1). The killing of innocent life is in direct violation of a pillar of one of our culture’s guiding moral principles. We as a culture believe people posses certain unalienable rights. Unalienable (or natural) rights are those not granted by a legal system but are considered universal applying to all people at all times, of which Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are just a few. Life is perhaps the most valuable of all of these rights.

We weep when our soldiers die, when our friends lose cancer battles, when a relative is lost to tragedy or crime, and when our neighbors pass on of old age. We weep because life is so valuable to us. Indeed there is nothing more valuable to us as Americans than the right of the individual to a free life.

As a Christian I believe this guiding principle is universal and was declared when God formed man in his very image. And like a messenger carrying the seal of his king, I believe we are all owed respect because of the seal we carry with us. When an innocent human person is killed by poison or a puncture wound to the head, I weep because what we value most was just taken from us. I get angry because injustice was committed. I am horrified because when that injustice is applauded.

But in your smart way of thinking you reply…”the right to live a free life is the very right that we must protect by allowing the woman the right to have an abortion.” Thank you for using my own words against me, it makes me feel smart. The difference of course is the difference between pregnancy and death. Pregnancy is a season, death is permanent. Pregnancy is difficult, death is irreversible. Pregnancy is life-changing, death is life-ending. Do not think for a second I take pregnancy lightly. I’ve lived it alongside my wife 5 times first hand over the past 5 years. It is fragile, scary, and exhausting even with a good support network. But the right to terminate a pregnancy cannot trump the right of another to live. And because it does not, abortion is morally wrong.

Legislating Abortion

Perhaps the most common defense of legal abortion used, indeed the one used in Roe v Wade, is that the state cannot interfere with a woman’s right to privacy. And according to that 41-year-old ruling, her pregnancy falls under her right to privacy.

Our nation has many laws protecting the lives of the innocent and defenseless. These laws are a reflection of that guiding principle discussed earlier. Now that technology (you can hear & see a baby’s heartbeat at 8 weeks) and philosophy (refer back to Peter Singer) affirm that human life indeed begins at conception, our laws must be updated to uphold rights to life. As Wesley Smith observes in this fantastic commentary, Roe v Wade is not the first ‘dehumanizing’ gaff our Supremes have made that has needed correcting.

Legislation is not the magic bullet, and incredible work is being done to turn the tide on abortion despite its present legality. Let us remain grateful for God’s grace through these workers and see it as hope for a day when all Americans once again exalt life as an unalienable right.

The next post in this series is on the ‘Normalcy’ of Abortion.

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