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Hey All,

Here’s a link to a pretty well followed blogger taking on Rob Bell and his teaching on the Gospel: http://trevinwax.com/2011/02/27/rob-bell-and-the-judgmentless-gospel/.  An interesting and maybe a controversial note on Bell’s understanding of our ultimate need for God’s grace through Christ.

What do you think? How do you interpret Bell’s teachings/writings?

Food for thought.

Peace,

Nate

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Change, and no I’m not talking about the change you get after paying for your latte in cash, although they both could be considered annoying. I’m talking about the upheaval of the unconscious drive between the grocery store and your house. Having lived in four different states and moved almost every 12 months for the last 11 years, I can testify, there comes a point when you can drive from your house to work or to school without using any brain power. This is the point when the change is over. And you have become comfortable and this good in some ways. It allows you to settle into a routine, rest more, possibly enjoy the day to day more. But is this what God wants? And if this unconscious drive to the grocery store is inevitable and it happens after every change, why is the change so trying? Why do we fight change? Why do we long for the ability to live on auto pilot?

Well for one- It’s terrifying. Change means that we don’t always know ‘what’s next.’ It is harder to predict what tomorrow will bring and we might not be prepared for it. Two- it costs. It costs money, a new job, different income, different insurance, and different commute. It costs emotional energy. Trying to maintain healthy relationships in the midst of change takes work. If you move, you have to arrange to call you best friend who used live next door. You have long conversations with your partner because much of life is new.  It costs finically and emotionally. Three- It forces us to rely on God. This is the undeniable truth about change. When we embrace that God is in control of our lives, that he directs our every step, change is God’s and not ours. Change forces us out of the driver seat and into reliance on God. Recognizing God’s control in our lives is not easy. Yet it is inevitable. Our lives will always change. Our lives are not meant to stay the same. God made us to grow and change for him. And he promised to take care of us even in the ‘costs.’

The first reason we don’t want to change because we are afraid of tomorrow. In Matthew we hear “Do not worry about tomorrow…” God says ‘I take care of the birds of the air, I feed them. How much more valuable are you than a bird?’ And the second reason we resist change is because of the cost of money and the cost of emotional time. We need to be reminded that God’s the ultimate banker; all the resources in the world are his. Whatever the financial cost is God will provide. And the emotional cost, He is the one that binds each relationship to the other. He has called us to love one another and he’ll help us do that well. And final challenge to change is giving up control of our lives to God. Wanting to control our own lives is an audacious claim in its self. It’s like asking to fly a shuttle to the moon when we don’t even have our driver’s license. We aren’t qualified to run the universe, so we might as well give that up to God, the one who created it.

So let’s embrace change. Let’s lean into change. Let’s embrace the chaos. Let’s abandon the unconscious drive to the grocery store in exchange to see God alive and at work in our lives as we change for Him

 

Just some thoughts…

– Sam

 


February 13, 2011

Dear Friends and Family,

2011 is off and running, isn’t it? January slipped right by us and we’re already into February, already mid-February. Before we get too far into the new year we’d love to share with you how God continues to bless our church planting efforts.

First, we’re excited to share that our church plant now has a name: Center Point Community Church! We believe the name Center Point aptly fits our location within the Denver Tech Center (DTC) and challenges us to keep Christ at the center of all we do. It also appeals to our focus group: young professionals in their 20’s and 30’s who, while working terribly hard at their jobs, have very little community and aren’t connected with a local body of believers. They are both un-churched (having never had a relationship with Jesus) and de-churched (having had a relationship with Jesus, but no longer connected with a local church). We’re also currently working on other branding aspects (website, logo, etc.), selecting an appropriate worship site, and we’ll soon begin some active community penetration.

Second, God continues to bless us as we recently began a six-week study group with 15 people focusing on the core values of Center Point. We’re framing our discussion around three themes (1) Our Message: Proclaiming the Gospel; (2) Our Posture: Engaging Culture; and (3) Our Action: Expanding God’s Kingdom. These themes will shape and mold Center Point’s vision and mission. Out of this study we will develop a leadership team. We’re blessed to say that many of those attending the study have already committed to joining us.

Third, many of you responded generously to our year-end giving request. Thank you! Our goal was $26,500 and $18,500 came in through cash donations and pledges. Praise the Lord! That still leaves $14,500 to be raised between now and June ’11 for our 2010-2011 budget. We also are beginning to look toward 2011-2012. We anticipate needing to raise our annual $96,000 plus facility, technology, and other supply costs for our worship site. We trust that God will continue to provide. If you’d like to renew your support or begin to support our efforts of sharing the gospel in the Denver Tech Center see the note at the end of this letter for details.

As a family we are doing well. Elijah, or Eli as we call him, is growing up before our eyes. He’s a healthy and strong 14 lb. little guy at only 2 ½ months. Sam and I are adjusting to balancing both our jobs as planters and our roles as parents. C.J., our chocolate lab, is adjusting well to having Eli around too. Besides a few stuffed animal thefts, she is a sweetheart with him.

We thank God for all of these blessings and we thank you too for your prayer support. Without your prayers we could not continue this good work. We do ask that you continue to lift us and our efforts up before God. Please pray that…

• God would provide the right worship site for Center Point within the DTC.

• God will continue to draw a core group of people interested in expanding His kingdom to us.

• God will continue to draw the un-churched and the de-churched to Himself through our efforts.

• We are given wisdom and discernment as we begin to work on some of the practical challenges of starting a new church (sound systems, filing for non-profit status, insurance, etc).

• Funding continues to come in as we begin to expand our impact in the DTC.

• God continues to hold us close to Him, that our faith walks be ever strengthened and that we might become more and more like Jesus.

Your prayers are coveted and we thank you for them! 2011 has begun and we are excited to see what God has in store for Center Point Community Church this year. We trust His call on our lives to launch this new part of the body of Christ and we wait in anticipation for His continued leading. Thank you for all of your love and support. Without you this would not be possible. We love you!

Peace,

Nate, Sam, and Eli

 

Approximate Funds Raised to Date:
Family and Friends $41,500
CRC Denomination $25,000
Supporting Churches $18,000
Classis Rocky Mountain $3,500
Total Raised to Date $88,000
Approximate Funds Needed:
Total Raised thru June ‘11 $81,500
Total Needed thru June ‘11 $14,500
Total Raised for July ’11-June ‘12 $6,500
Total Needed for July ’11 – June ‘12 $88,500

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to donate to our efforts Eastern Hills Community Church is receiving tax-deductible donations on our behalf. Please note your gift is intended for Nate and Sam in the memo line of your check. You can mail donations to:

Eastern Hills Community Church

Attn: Nate and Sam

25511 E. Smoky Hill Rd.

Aurora, CO 80016

P.S. As always, feel free to contact us for any reason and let us know if we can pray for you in any way. Also, note that our cell phone numbers have changed.

Sam’s Cell: (303) 502-0981

Nate’s Cell: (303) 502-0980

SamanthaDeJongMcCarron@gmail.com

NateDeJongMcCarron@gmail.com

https://dejongmccarron.wordpress.com


 

 

 

 

 

 

As we prepare to plant Center Point Community Church an aspect we wrestle with is our understanding of biblical justice. In particular, we ask, “How socially minded should we be? Should justice be a priority in our planting efforts? How do you balance evangelism and justice action? Or are they one in the same?”

In his book, Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just, Tim Keller argues that as Christians we aren’t simply called to bring about justice in the world around us, but we should be propelled by the reception of God’s grace to be intimately involved in bringing God’s intended Shalom to every aspect of His world. The book provides a powerfully, biblically based argument for Christians living justly in an unjust world. Keller posits that fundamentally we are called to empower and equip the poor regardless of the possible outcome. We should not worry about their track-record, whether or not they will use the aid we provide for the right reasons. For Jesus forgives and provides for us sinners time and time again, especially when we fail to use his aid appropriately. If we’re really called to imitate Christ, if we’re really called to become more like him shouldn’t we do the same?

Keller also considers some of the sources of injustice in society. He acknowledges the fact that most injustice and poverty is a problem that goes deeper that either the simplicity of a personal inability or a systemic problem. In fact in most cases the poor are poor due to a complex combination of individual choice, environmental state, and systemic powers of oppression. As Christians we are called to impact all three areas as we work to restore the poor to an equitable level.

But, what then is the role of the church? Are we to be a social service agency? Is that our corporate call to justice? Keller answers this question by pointing to Abraham Kuyper’s concept of sphere sovereignty. Kuyper, a turn of the 20th century theologian and one time Prime Minister of the Netherlands, believed that the individual, the church, and the government each had differing responsibilities within society. In regards to our conversation on justice, Keller argues along with Kupyer that the church as an institution has the primary task of expanding God’s Kingdom through the preaching of the gospel. That being said as individuals we are called to be active in the restoration of justice. So in essence the church must continue it’s focus on proclaiming the good news, while equipping it’s people to bring God’s Shalom (for definition see note at bottom) to a hurting and unjust world.

If you are looking for a challenging conversation on biblical justice, I strongly recommend you read Generous Justice. Keller doesn’t settle for a simple trite answer, but digs deep as to the what, why, and how of justice within the christian life. Check it out, give it a read, and let me know what you think.

Peace,

Nate

Note: Shalom is a Hebrew term used throughout the Old Testament to signify a holy peace. It isn’t simply a peace without conflict, but it runs deeper as it is a restorative peace that brings healing and health working towards reclaiming things as they should be. It has implications for poverty, abuse, neglect, power, and injustice. It’s a deep word with a holy goal.


 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the greatest phenomena of growing up in the church is witnessing the mass exodus of young adults from it in their college and post-college years. It’s a challenge that the church has faced for several generations now and for the most part it’s a challenge that hasn’t really been given it’s due. All too often we simply throw up our hands and say that it’s just a phase. We console ourselves by choosing to believe that they’ll simply come back once they get married or have kids. We settle for the comforting thought that sooner or later they’ll find their own way back into the church. We rationalize that they really are good kids and we trust that God knows what he’s doing – they won’t stray too far…

Have you heard these comments in your community? Maybe you’ve even said some of them yourself?

In his book, Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults are Leaving the Faith and how to Bring Them Back, Drew Dyck argues that this phenomnon is in fact true and that it is much more serious than our churches are willing to admit. Throughout the book he outlines six different types of young adults who leave the church: Postmodern Leavers, Recoilers, Modern Leavers, Ne0-Pagans, Rebels, and Drifters. He considers their typical reasons for leaving and outlines some key strategies the church can use to re-engage them. Overall it is a great book with some very helpful and accessible suggestions on how to connect these six types of leavers.

But even more important than his work on the profiles of the types of leavers is his recognition that this is a serious problem for the church today. Our common rationalizations, that they’ll come back after kids or that they’ll re-engage when they get married, are fairy-tale thoughts. Yes, that may have been the common scenario 20 or even 10 years ago, but there are several factors today that make that the rarity. Dyck argues that (1) the average age when individuals get married is getting older and older. The average young adult isn’t getting married at 22 or 23 anymore, rather the average age for a first time marriage is 27 or 28. This means that instead of only being gone from church for 4 or 5 years pre-marriage, today’s young adults are gone from the church for 9 or 10 years. This increased absence tends to decrease the likelihood of a return. Dyck also points out (2) that while an exodus has been common for many generations – the extent of the exodus has not. He quotes Harvard Professor Robert Putnam and Notre Dame Professor David Campbell who write, “Young Americans are dropping out of religion at an alarming rate of five to six times the historic rate (30-40% have no religion today verses 5-10% a generation ago).” Dyck concludes that, “Comparing today’s young people with their parents, may be like comparing apples and oranges.” (pg. 188)

So what are we to think about the exodus of young adults from our churches? Can we afford to be complacent and simply wait for their return? Dyck would argue a strong, “NO!” and I have to agree with him. We must reach out to these leavers and work to re-engage them with the transformative message of the Good News. For with out it they may never return.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Peace,

Nate


I just ran across this blog post by Tim Keller on the Family. Give it a read and tell me what you think? Is he right to suggest that as Christians we are more prone to procreate because of the hope we have in the Kingdom of God? What do you think about his comments regarding Western Christianity’s idolization of the Family? Do you agree with this affirmation of Hauerwas? – That “both singleness and marriage are necessary symbolic institutions for the constitution of the church’s life… that witnesses to God’s kingdom. Neither can be valid without the other.”

What’s your take?

February 2011
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