You are currently browsing natedejongmccarron’s articles.


Hey All,

I know we haven’t been active here on Sparks of Faith for a while. We’ve moved most of our online activity over to our website for Center Point at www.CenterPointDenver.org and just recently we launched a blog – https://centerpointdenver.wordpress.com – designed to enhance our discussion of our recent messages on Sunday mornings. Thank you all for following us here and we invite you to follow us through these newer formats.
Peace,

Nate and Sam


For the last little while I’ve been working my way through reading Leviticus and now I’m into Numbers. Now, if you’ve ever taken the time to read through these books of the Bible you’ve probably had your eyes glaze over at one point or another. These two members of the Pentateuch are not thrilling accounts. Rather, they’re composed of lengthy lists of rules and detailed instructions. They aren’t real page turners. And up until just recently that’s too often how I viewed them – literary deserts with the occasional oasis of life giving text.

The other night God challenged me on this view. These two books are primarily about how the Israelites are to order their society so they can maintain a healthy relationship with a holy God. They are chuck full of purity laws, sacrificial requirements, and tabernacle blueprints. Here God outlines how they can best organize, manage, and maintain their corporate lives.

Here’s where the crossover struck me – as church planters in a pre-launch stage our main responsibility is to work to craft a corporate culture that helps people best achieve a healthy and growing relationship with God. And to be honest, sometimes this work makes my eyes glass over too. Our preparation often isn’t glamorous. Whether slogging our way through the creation of articles of incorporation and bylaws, working on the supporting leadership structures of organization, or striving to put together a budget for the next year – the details of how to best plan for and structure a new church can get tiring. The to-do lists can get monotonous. The responsibilities can seem unending.

Sound familiar? That night, God pressed upon me the fact that in many ways our current stage of preparation and formation, as we work to plant Center Point, mirrors the biblical books of Leviticus and Numbers. Similarly to how God instructed Moses and the Israelites, he continues to instruct us, his people, as to how to best create a church body that encourages people into healthy relationships with him. Like those ancient texts, our work isn’t always page-turning stuff. But the details are still so important. Moses and the Israelites went to great lengths to follow God’s leading those thousands of years ago and we too must be willing to go to great lengths as we prepare, implement, and organize a church community for his people today.

So, the next time you crack your bible to Leviticus or Numbers ask this question: How do God’s instructions to the Israelites challenge and inform how we should work to structure our churches?

And as you read these books, pray for the organization and preparation that goes into the creation, maintenance, and growth of the church of Christ today.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Peace,

Nate


Yes, this is another comment on Rob Bell’s newest book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. No it won’t be lengthy, no it won’t be bombastic. As Sam and I have read Bell’s book, talked with friends, listened to interviews, and reflected on it I believe I’ve come to a place of peace regarding it all.

Initially this wasn’t the case. Initially I was flummoxed by Bell’s writing, by his questions, by his unwillingness to answer the questions of others. I got frustrated, even angry. I railed against him. I even felt betrayed by him.

As time has passed, as I reflect more and am frustrated less, I think I’ve come to a place of peace regarding it all. Let me explain. First, let me explain what I believe Bell is not trying to do with his book. I don’t believe Bell is trying to fly in the face of 2000+ years of Christian teaching regarding heaven, hell, and the afterlife. I don’t think that was his goal or desire. He may have done that in part – particularly around the topic of Hell – but I don’t believe that was his intention. I don’t believe he set out to cause a ruckus in the Christian world.

But what then was his purpose? I believe Bell set out to challenge contemporary American Christianity, particularly contemporary fundamentalist American Christianity. From my understanding, he desired to challenge the typically negative approach many of us have used in our evangelistic efforts. Traditionally, we’ve approached the topic of evangelism as a necessity to avoid death, punishment, and hell. We’ve argued that you should become a follower of Jesus, otherwise you’ll end up suffering a terrible torment. And I have to agree with Bell that this is a particularly negative way to approach good news. Instead, Bell challenges us to approach the good news of the Gospel in positive way. Rather than saying, “You should become a Christian to avoid hell;” we should say, “You should become a Christian because the Creator of the universe loves you and wants you to experience a free and full life.” Do you see the difference in approach? The former has a negative posture, while the latter has a positive one. And so I believe Bell’s ultimate goal is to challenge our Christian contexts to evangelize with this positive posture, pointing out the goodness and love of God for the lost, broken, and lonely.

Now, with all that said I think Bell could have done a much better job making that argument. I struggle with the lack of clarity in his writing. His stream of thought lacks a certain theological depth and I believe that lack is dangerous. Dangerous not only to the reader as it encourages some doctrinal divisions that can lead to heresy, but also, as is more and more evident, dangerous to Bell himself. He’s been beaten up again and again by countless evangelical leaders. He’s been accused of heresy, of being unorthodox, and misleading. If he had been clearer in his presentation we/he could have avoided this dangerous dance. I understand that his style is provocative and conversational. However, when dealing with such deep theological issues he cannot afford to be flippant or unclear.

In the end, I agree with Bell’s intention. For far too long we’ve approached the good news as a technique to avoid hell. While the true nature of the good news is in fact that it is actually good. The gospel shouldn’t be a way to avoid hell, but rather a way to celebrate, enjoy, and expand God’s love and our experience of a heaven that is both “already” and “not-yet.”

That being said, I cannot stray with Bell and ignore the reality of God’s holiness and the necessity for restitution for our sins. I do believe that God’s holiness is so important that those who do not find their rest in Christ, those who are not covered by his sacrifice, will experience the penalty for being an affront to  the holiness of God. It really is that important, it really is that big of a deal. So I, like Bell, hold out hope that God is a God of surprises, that he does in fact include more people under the sacrifice of Christ than I know. I hope that God does in fact save most if not all of us from an eternal conscious hell.

However, here’s where Bell and I differ: I am called to share the good news as it has been revealed. I cannot teach these hopes of mine. To do so would be irresponsible. To do so would supplant the authority of the scripture. Rather, I can only teach what is found in the Bible. So while I hope for a universal salvation, I can’t get there from scripture.

Alright, so this ended up being a little longer than I thought. Let me know what you think.

Peace,

Nate


April 7, 2011

 

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope you’re enjoying the rebirth of spring; the trees budding, the warmth of the sun, and the promise of new life. We are loving the beautiful weather here in Colorado and we’re excited to update you on our progress in starting Center Point Community Church this upcoming Fall!

In the last little while we’ve been busy with all kinds of entrepreneurial pieces involved in starting a new church. We decided on a logo (see above). We bought a domain name for Center Point’s website – www.CenterPointDenver.org. It isn’t operational yet, but hopefully before the start of summer the site will be up and running. We continue to explore possible locations to hold worship services. We’ve met with a lawyer concerning the legalities of becoming a non-profit corporation. The list goes on.

One of the most exciting experiences we’ve had as of late was attending a weeklong training conference for church planters called Thrive. There, we were challenged to develop along two tracks: our own spiritual development as pastors and our practical strategies and practices as church planters. The Holy Spirit was present and we emerged from that week better equipped both as people and as planters.

One of the ways the Spirit convicted us following that week was in the area of prayer. Prayer is foundational for our work. Your prayers are foundational for our work. In light of the Spirit’s conviction we are assembling a prayer team with whom we can share more regular prayer needs. Our goal is to enlist the prayers of at least 50 prayer partners who provide us their email addresses and promise to lift us up in specific prayer. If you want to be a member of Center Point’s Prayer Team please email Sam at Sam@CenterPointDenver.org. She’ll add your email address to our Prayer Team list and you’ll begin to receive regular emails highlighting our more immediate prayer needs. Please consider joining us as Prayer Team members.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12

We ask for your prayers as we bring light into the darkness of the Denver Tech Center. Pray that God will use us to flavor the Tech Center with His life changing salt. Pray that we might be a city on a hill, shining a light for all to see.

Thank you for your continued support. Financially we are so close to our goal for 2010-2011 and we have already begun to raise funding for 2011-2012. We look forward to God’s continued provision as we anticipate additional needs in the upcoming year (equipment for worship, facilities costs, promotional costs, etc.). Thank you for partnering with us in this Gospel work.

We’d love to hear from you and pray for you in any way we can. Thanks and God bless.

Peace,

Sam, Nate, and Eli

Approximate Funds Raised to Date:
Family and Friends $44,000
CRC Denomination $31,250
Supporting Churches $18,000
Classis Rocky Mountain $3,500
Center Point Members $5,000
Total Raised to Date $101,750
Approximate Funds Needed:
Total Raised thru June ‘11 $94,750
Total Needed thru June ‘11 $1,250
Total Raised for July ’11-June ‘12 $7,000
Total Needed for July ’11 – June ‘12 $89,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to donate to our efforts Eastern Hills Community Church is receiving tax-deductible donations on our behalf. Donations are accepted both through their online giving at http://ehills.org/about/about_giving.html (make sure to select Center Point in their dropdown menu) or by sending a check to the address below (note your gift is intended for Center Point in the memo line).

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 both our cell phone numbers and our email addresses have changed.

Sam’s Cell: (303) 502-0981

Nate’s Cell: (303) 502-0980

Sam@CenterPointDenver.org

Nate@CenterPointDenver.org

https://dejongmccarron.wordpress.com


The other day I stepped three feet and heard an awful thud. I turned around to see that my son had just pushed himself off the couch. In less than a second I snatched him from the floor and enveloped him in my chest, shushed him, and told him, “I’m so sorry and I love you so much and if I could take his pain away I would. I love you, I love you, I love you.”  I started to cry as I tried to sooth his pain and fear.  I cried because he was upset and scared and probably a little sore. We cried for a bit then he fell asleep in my arms, helpless and precious.

As painful as the other day was, I feel like I have a picture now of how God feels when we hurt. When someone dies or is sick, when we are emotionally bruised or have fears about past events, God envelopes us in his arms squeezes us against his chest and tells us, “I love you so much! I want to take your pain away. I’m so sorry you hurt so bad.” And then he cries with us. And this in itself is absolutely amazing. The creator of the universe holds us close when we hurt. But what makes God, God, is that he does this even when we hurt ourselves. Even when we like Eli, we push away from safety, even when we push away from God, when we cry in our own self-inflicted pain God picks us up raps us in his arms and says, “I love you so much! I want to take your pain away. I’m so sorry you hurt so badly. I love you, I love you, I love you.”

So when you hurt- picture God enveloping his arms around you and saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you,” until you fall asleep in his arms, helpless and precious.

And a challenge, as imitators of Christ, how can we love on those in pain?

Because Christ first loved us. He loves us when we push off the couch and thud on the floor. He loves us.

 

– Sam


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


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

July 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

DeJongMcCarron on Twitter

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10 other followers

What We've Written

%d bloggers like this: