The Mission of the Church: A Response to Peter Leithart

If I could hand out one book at a large gathering of evangelicals, I would strongly consider What is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert. In this book, the authors argue that the church’s mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, and that therefore churches should focus their efforts on Great Commission tasks and avoid the pitfall of spreading their efforts into too many good causes that would distract from what they have been sent in the world to do. It is a book that brings great clarity and focus to a discussion that has too often lacked it. It needs to be read far and wide, and if it is, it will be for the good of the church.

Peter Leithart recently wrote a response to the book in which he makes two major arguments against its main thesis. My aim is to respond to these two arguments. Continue reading

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Christians and Culture: What Is the Way Forward? (Part 5)

See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 first.

It turns out that none of the four (or five, according to Niebuhr) models surveyed is free of weaknesses, and that seems to be owing to the fact that all of the models are ultimately reductionistic. Among the ones surveyed, I personally believe the two kingdoms model offers the broadest theological vision for navigating this issue, but it must be supplemented by insights from other models as well, lest it become imbalanced. Continue reading

Reflections on the Southern Baptist Convention 2016 Meeting, Part 1

I had a great experience this week at the annual meeting of the SBC in St. Louis. Although there are a few areas where I hope we can do better in the future (see the next post), I have a strong sense that the best days of our denomination are still ahead of us. There is much to be excited about regarding the future of the Southern Baptist Convention, and I’ll list here just a handful of observations about the meeting that led me to that conclusion. Continue reading

What Does Church Membership Mean?

Baptist churches have always been free churches as opposed to state churches. Historically, in a state church setting, infants who were born into the church’s territory were simply baptized as a matter of course into the membership of the church. Church membership was not regarded as an act of personal commitment but simply as an aspect of one’s identity from birth.

Free churches, by contrast, operate apart from the state. Baptist churches, as a subcategory of free churches, require a personal act of voluntary commitment on the part of one seeking membership. Infants, who are incapable of performing such an act, cannot become members, and therefore they are not the proper subjects of baptism. Only those who profess faith in Jesus Christ are to be baptized and, as a result, are to become members of a local church. Continue reading

Making Disciples Means Planting and Building Up Churches

My church, Cornerstone Community Church in Jackson, Tennessee, does not have a creative mission statement. Essentially, our mission statement is the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. The reason for this is because we believe the mission our Lord has given to his church, and thus to every local church throughout this present age, is clearly laid out in Scripture, and thus is not something we can improve on. Of course, that mission will be carried out in different ways from location to location, but the mission itself never changes, and that mission is this: Continue reading