“Since the world isn’t perfect, why would we need a perfect being to explain the world or any feature of it?” This question was asked of premier Christian philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, in the New York Times Opinionator. I interacted with Plantinga’s most recent work on science and faith in a post called, “How Christian’s Can Affirm Evolution.”
Here is Plantinga’s response to the original question, “If the world isn’t perfect, then why do we need a perfect creator?”:
I suppose your thinking is that it is suffering and sin that make this world less than perfect. But then your question makes sense only if the best possible worlds contain no sin or suffering. And is that true? Maybe the best worlds contain free creatures some of whom sometimes do what is wrong. Indeed, maybe the best worlds contain a scenario very like the Christian story.
Think about it: The first being of the universe, perfect in goodness, power and knowledge, creates free creatures. These free creatures turn their backs on him, rebel against him and get involved in sin and evil. Rather than treat them as some ancient potentate might – e.g., having them boiled in oil – God responds by sending his son into the world to suffer and die so that human beings might once more be in a right relationship to God. God himself undergoes the enormous suffering involved in seeing his son mocked, ridiculed, beaten and crucified. And all this for the sake of these sinful creatures. I’d say a world in which this story is true would be a truly magnificent possible world. It would be so good that no world could be appreciably better.
Read the rest of the interview.
We’re just finishing up our second round of Deacon interviews. I’ve been overwhelmed and the godly caliber of men and women who have gone through our training process and eagerly aspire to be lead servants in our church. As the elders interviewed each candidate, we asked them 5 main questions:
1. Based on the character qualifications of 1 Tim 3, where are you the weakest?
- We followed their answer up by asking for specific examples.
- We inquired how they are experiencing growth and change in this area.
- We looked for a personal and specific application of the gospel to their weaknesses and helped them with this, which created a great pastoral moment to exhort, encourage, & counsel
2. Do you have a budget and how much debt do you currently have?
- If deacons are exemplary servants, they need to be exemplary with their money.
- If they are handling finances for the church, we should be handling it well at home.
- Follow up questions about good vs. bad debt and plans to pay off.
3. Are you in a Fight Club (discipleship group)?
4. Do you have time in your schedule to commit to being a deacon?
- We laid out general expectations and emphasized flexible but regularly monthly commitment.
- Monthly deacon team meetings work to create collaborative environment for ministry.
5. Why do you want to serve as a deacon?
- This gets to the heart and allows us to see if this is all duty or a calling.
- Was a blessing to hear some of the responses.
It’s no surprise to anyone living in Austin that our city is growing. As of July 1, 2012, USA Today reports Austin as the 11th largest city in the country and the highest growth rate since the 2010 Census at 6.6%. That same month City Planners released an updated schedule for Neighborhood Planning Areas, which channel funding and chart infrastructure to make Austin truly a city of neighborhoods. This, of course, is how many larger cities function. San Francisco and New York both spring to mind. What does this growth mean for church planters in Central Texas? How should this growth shape how we plant new churches?
On February 6th, we will hear about this kind of church planting from the future. Jon Tyson, Pastor at Trinity Grace, New York, has established a thriving and multiplying a parish model of church planting in the largest city in the country, New York. Over three sessions, Jon Tyson will make the case for a parish model of church planting as the future of church planting in growing cities. He will share his story of multiplying parishes at Trinity Grace and how to disciple and grow leaders within your church. All of this, Tyson says, requires an understanding of how to move beyond relevance to discerning contextualization.
Join us for what promises to be one of our best and most relevant MicroConferences yet.
Over the past five years we’ve trained, failed, and multiplied a lot of missional communities. Several years ago we moved to a more formal training (and re-training) process to set and reset the identity and commitments for each missional community. We found this is important because it’s human nature to drift from your values and commitments.
A group may start off with bold aims for engaging non-Christians with gospel hope, showing mercy to their city, and being a “family” not meeting. When we set out with these aims, we’re driving upstream, against our self-centered, cliquish cultural current. However, everyone experiences mission and community drift. In order to remain focused and stay behind Jesus, not cultural currents, we need reminders, guides, and communally formed commitments. This is why we created a Missional Community Primer.
- Every missional community goes through the Primer at the beginning of the year.
- The process is very conversational, with the aim of applying our core values into clear, firm commitments
- We conclude the process by drawing up a Missional Commitment that everyone agrees on
- We occasionally pull it out through the year to celebrate, repent, or redirect.
Feel free to check it out, copy it, download it, improve upon it, or whatever you like (just include a link back or footnote for folks to find it).