As I type this, my teenage sons are in the next room, and I can hear them laughing and talking. They are on Zoom calls with their youth group from our church. In the midst of this Coronavirus pandemic, they are finding a way to connect, to hear the Word of God, to be discipled together. I am wiping away tears from my eyes, but I don’t quite know why. Partly it’s because this reality is unbelievably sad. And partly it’s because the despite-of-it-all nature of the church is unbelievably beautiful.
In the past couple of years, The Austin Stone Institute has grown from a single development program (The Austin Stone Development Program) and a residency program to an entire ministry seeking to train leaders in many different ways, from written resources and seminars to classes and new development programs. In many ways, we’ve been in the startup stage of the business lifecycle. We have—and still are—constantly trying new things and adapting to feedback and input from those we minister to.
As a Black person, working alongside a majority white staff at a majority white church with a white supervisor can sometimes be extremely difficult. This can be due to a number of things, including a general lack of awareness about the Black experience in America or neglecting to ask for Black people’s perspectives. There are also personal pressures—the cranking out of excellent work in a season of collective trauma for the Black community can be exhausting.
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
— Philippians 2:3-4 ESV
When we talk about Christian leadership, we look to Jesus, specifically, His example of servant leadership. He did not lord His authority over others; He served, washing feet, feeding the hungry, and healing the sick. We also turn to Paul, who teaches us that Christians ought to “count others more significant” than themselves. Read More
“Dad, what is 365 times 8 times 24?” my oldest son asked from the backseat of our car, about as nonchalantly as if he were asking for the time of day or what was on the menu for dinner.
“I don’t know buddy, let me see,” I replied as I reached for my phone/calculator.
“Looks like 70,080. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, just curious how many minutes I have been alive. Dad, how many minutes have you been alive?”
“Ugh, a lot more, buddy … (punching numbers in the calculator) … looks like 324,120 minutes.”
“Dad! That is a lot of minutes. What are you going to do with the rest of them?”
God, give me the courage to walk through this. Give me the faith to rely on you. I can’t do this on my own. I need you.
Those words appeared in my journal almost eight years ago today. I am also certain I prayed these same words yesterday, as I cried out to God for the umpteenth time during this coronavirus quarantine.
If you are anything like me, you’ve been on more Zoom calls in the past two weeks than in the previous two years. COVID-19 and the social distancing we are all living through has changed the way we work with each other. It has been quite a learning curve for me as I figure out how to keep my staff team of nine people connected, motivated, and encouraged in their work in this season.
Ross Lester, West Congregation Pastor, kindly allowed us to republish his thoughts on how faith can inform our politics. If you enjoy this article, consider joining us to hear from Dr. Russell Moore next month. He will address faith and politics at our seminar on April 16.
I am an exhausted evangelical, and I don’t think I am alone. Between the constantly churning news cycle about the 2020 election, the political feuding on Twitter, Facebook, etc., and conversations participated in or overheard at church, coffee shops, and grocery stores, I am weary. Worn out. Exhausted. But I am not prepared to leave the fold of evangelicalism, because rightly defined it is a camp to which I belong based on creedal beliefs. That is how the group was always defined. It had more to do with doctrine than it did to do with politics. It is morphing into a hot-button, describe-all term for a broad political block that I can’t be part of, but my beliefs are evangelical in nature, and my tribe is with the people who adhere to those beliefs regardless of their political convictions.
I remember having a conversation with a Christian brother who was curious about why I’m so passionate about racial justice and the lack of multi-ethnicity within local churches. At one point in the conversation he asked, “I get as a minority you care about other minorities, but honestly what have people of color contributed to Christianity and theology?”
The question shocked me. After a moment of stunned silence, I said, “Besides the Bible, core theological doctrines, and defending orthodoxy, I’m not sure.”
In many Christian circles, conversations about the sanctity of life wend toward abortion and the pro-life movement. That application of the sanctity of life isn’t wrong. God cares about all life, including the lives of the unborn. It is, however, limited. Sanctity of life refers to more than the unborn. It covers the expanse of human life, from the baby arriving in four months time to the woman with dementia. It concerns men and women, young and old, Muslim and Christian, White and Black. Sanctity of life includes every human, because every human receives inherent dignity and worth from being made in the image of God. His image sanctifies life, every heartbreaking and heart-lifting moment of it.