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PROFILE OF A DOMAIN ENGAGER!

by Bob Roberts Jr

I’ve known Paul Larsen for a few years now.  He illustrates how to use your background and expertise to serve humanity in the name of Jesus as much as anyone I know.  I love what he does and his story – here is an interview  I did with him:

1.  What is your job?  I am founder and Director of 128 Foundation and VP of Strategic and Faith-based Partnerships of Cheetah Development.

2.  What is you vocation?  I understand vocation to mean calling, and my calling is to help the western church to recapture a more holistic theology of human flourishing that includes economic and social flourishing along with spiritual flourishing.  And then provide actions steps for those called to carry this out in the developing world. Read more

WHY AMERICA DESPERATELY NEEDS THE GLOBAL CHURCH

by Bob Roberts Jr

I just returned from Jakarta, Indonesia where I was with one of those global pastors whom God has used to reach tens of thousands.  There were 19 of us that gathered from all over the world.  Only two of us were from the US. The other pastor from the US was African American.  I had one of my spiritual sons with me and I asked him, “How does it feel to be one of only two white guys here?”  He responded he loved it.

The African American pastor that was there told me he had never been a part of something so diverse and yet unified as this gathering.  Everyone present had an equal voice.  This pastor’s church is huge, and so is his impact.  He’s connected to everyone from Presidents to athletes and business leaders – you name it.  Yet, this was very different for him – something he had never tasted before and he wanted a lot more.

We are not the pastors of the largest churches in the world, but some of the others present are.  What we all have in common is we have started a church which starts churches like crazy.  One man wouldn’t have over 1000 in his “movement”. It’s conceivably the hardest place in the world to reach people.  Everyone agrees he has earned a spot at the table.  Read more

WHY THE CHURCH CAN’T BRING PEACE TO FERGUSON

by Bob Roberts Jr

But, 6 things it can do to prevent the next FERGUSON if it starts

NOW

Most of the people involved in the crisis in Ferguson would have some kind of “church” background and involvement.  There are African American and Anglo American Christians, there are African American and Anglo American pastors – and still they have virtually no voice or influence.  Why?  Because there are African American & Anglo American churches!  That’s the problem people.  A person has a race, ethnicity, heritage, and culture.  However, not the church -  that is a direct denial and rejection of what the essence of the church – the bride of Christ, the community of saints is to be.  Paul writes it several times, neither “Jew nor Greek” (race), “male nor female” (gender), “bond nor free” (class) are acceptable divisions in the body of Christ, the church today.  What made the church unique was everyone was at the table.  The same three dividers of humanity sociologically in Jesus are done away with.  The biggest problem the 21st century church has is trying to keep the erected barriers from the 19thcentury in place instead of getting in line with a 1st century Jesus Church!  Read more

THE ONE THING I’D PUT IN A NEW CHURCH FROM DAY ONE

by Bob Roberts Jr

The Biggest Issue The Church Faces Today

Extreme radical limitless love is THE most important ingredient I’d put in a church from day one.  Love, is the differentiating mark by which, Jesus said, people would know that we are his followers.  But honestly, who thinks of love as a place people go to church looking for?  One of my spiritual fathers – Jim Hylton – asked that question in a small group I was in not long ago – and I can’t escape it.

We fight for relevance – and I believe that is good.  What good is it to have the greatest message in the world and not communicate it in a way that people can understand and apply?  When people gripe about relevance are they promoting irrelevance or past sentimentality for a world or culture they miss?  Making disciples – that’s the mandate of Jesus, but if our “disciples” love like everyone else, and there is no difference in how or who is loved – has a disciple really made?  Read more

PLEASE DON’T QUIT

by Bob Roberts Jr

Last week I was with several church planters who are at at different stages in their ministry, but all pushing hard.  Some of them were about to start and faced obstacles and were wondering if they could really pull it off.   Some of them were in the middle of it and didn’t have answers for obstacles.   One church planter is a now full-fledged “church” and was wondering if he shouldn’t start another church because of the struggles, the new and excitement had worn off.  I was also with some pastors of established churches – some fairly large and influential – one was weary of the constant complaining, another weary of dealing with staff issues.  I was with a married couple who was hanging on by a thread.  I was with a young man whose job didn’t work out and he was feeling like a failure.  Everyone, no exceptions, regardless of the situation would love to simply escape.  I was recently with a prominent pastor who is now 80, and he  told me of everyone he went to seminary with and started out in the pastorate, only three made it to the finish line.  One my mentors and heroes, now with the Lord, told me a few months before he died that as we get older things actually get more difficult and challenging. Read more

THE UNIQUE ROLE OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCH & BELIEVER GLOBALLY

by Bob Roberts Jr. 

I believe the sleeping giant of the American Church globally is its African American believers.  The narrative most often related to biblically with the African American is that of Moses and deliverance being applied to the African American experience from slavery to the Civil War to Civil Rights to our first African American President Barak Obama. 

The world is ready for African Americans to be on the global public stage in a bigger way.  There are many who have paved the way – but in reality, in this modern period, no one more than Colin Powell.  He could have been President had he wanted it, by both parties and by all races, he is a leader xtraordinaire.  When President Obama was running for the Presidency and then won, his crowds globally were unprecedented for an American President – the world was ready.  Read more

RAISING “LITTLE COMMUNIST”

by Bob Roberts Jr

It’s true.  August of 2001 Ti Luu from Hanoi, Vietnam, came to live in our home with my son when he was a senior in High School and my daughter was a freshman.  It’s true, this year Nikki and I have Minh Hoang living with us.   It’s true they are Vietnamese and from a communist country, yet they don’t have any political affiliation at this point – that I’m aware of!  But, it was one of the greatest things, hands down, that I’ve done in my family.  I know it sounds crazy, having someone with a government opposite of yours, a faith that is not yours, as a part of your everyday life, especially as a pastor and with his kids in the home, as with Ti.  But, if you ask my children, the best thing we ever did to prepare them for the world and open their hearts to loving others through Jesus, hands down, they’ll tell you it was Ti living with them.  Read more

“THE CHURCH IS THE WORLD’S HOPE”

by Bob Roberts Jr.

I’ve heard this quote a lot over the past 20 years from many different people. I’ve even said it myself.  I believe when functioning properly as the body of Christ, it is.  In a technical sense, it is Jesus that is the hope of the world, but Jesus in Acts has a new body he establishes, a body called the “ecclesia” (called out ones, colony as an outpost).  In Luke Jesus had a physical body, in Acts it’s a spiritual body as a community of believers.  When those believers are connected to Jesus, the HEAD of the church, their FEET move in the direction he wants them to.  What Jesus came to do as one, we also do as one, but as a community of Jesus followers with diverse gifts, callings, and ministries.  It takes all of these in operation for the Good News of Jesus to spread and for lives and communities to be transformed.  It is to be the church that actually brings the Good News of the Kingdom of God and the peace of the Kingdom to life and the world, whether it always does or not.  The Kingdom of God will always have its church, yet the Kingdom is bigger than any single, local church.  I learned 20 years ago, when I was first discovering the kingdom, that what was good for the Kingdom would always be good for the local church, though at times it hurt a specific local church – we aren’t to hoard and hold on to, but give away and spread around. Read more

THE SKELETONS IN GOD’S CLOSET

by Bob Roberts Jr
I absolutely loved this book.  You have to read it slowly, or at least I did, and I had to think a lot.  Most “new” books, except for people like Willard, don’t make me do that a lot, at least not at a deep level.   As to his writing style and content – this young man is simply incredible.  I predict we’re going to be reading a lot more of his books, at least I hope.  I’m not sure I understood everything he said, or that I would agree with everything – but candidly I don’t read books that simply reinforce what I already think about stuff.  I read this as a favor to Rick McKinley because he is on staff as the glocal outreach pastor with Rick at Imago Dei in Portland, Oregon.
This book actually deals with questions that people ask – questions most believers want to avoid.  He focuses on three questions:  Hell, judgment, and war.  Theologically he develops them in a very consistent way.  He deals with the Biblical content both in terms of text and context and yet frames things in a very fresh way.
I believe his views are also shaped by what he has seen working with the poor, human trafficking, turbulent people and places, and other inner-city ministries.  That is the BEST context to look at Scriptures.  To try to interpret the Bible absent of people and the struggles they face is to make God cold, impersonal, and an ogre.
He takes three very dark subjects and makes them all objects of hope, justice, and mercy from a God who wants every person to experience him.  Make no mistake, these are dark issues – but not because God is dark.  As the cross was a horrible thing – yet for followers of Jesus it’s pain was a thing of beauty that accomplished our redemption and hope in Jesus.  God is not a Sadist, harming the things he creates, but a loving and merciful God who is about the business of reconciliation.  This books makes that incredibly plain and clear.

Evangelism: Who’s Job Is It Anyways?

Guest post by Beau Crosetto

If you are anything like me then you struggle with this tension too: Who is supposed to make things happen in evangelism, God or me?

When it comes to seeking conversion in our friend’s and families lives, we don’t want to be annoying and pushy, but we don’t want to sit back and wait forever either. Some of us are more temperamentally on the side of things that says, “I need to make something happen” while others of us are more the “If its going to happen then God is going to do it”.

But effective evangelism is more nuanced and partnered than this. Both statements above assume a black or white reality when God is inviting us into the blended.

In my book, Beyond Awkward, that just released last week, I help us dive into the awkward tensions that keep us from sharing our faith. My hope is to help us move beyond them so that we can see breakthrough in the people around us. One of those tensions is “Who’s role is it anyways when it comes to evangelism?” We don’t want to miss the moments God intends for us to have so how am I supposed to engage? Read more