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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

“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

WHY START A MOVEMENT WHEN YOU CAN JOIN THE WORLD’S GREATEST MOVEMENT – THE JESUS MOVEMENT!

by Bob Roberts Jr.

I had so much fun last week speaking and participating at the SENTRALIZED CONFERENCE put on by Lance Ford and Brad Briscoe.  As usual Alan Hirsch is brilliant and listening to Ori Brafman was a treat.  I always learn something from Neil Cole.  Brad and Lance we’re really good.  Caesar Kalinowski really did excellent teaching on the Holy Spirit.  Michael Frost brought such a great word on grace . . . I could go on and on.  One of the things I like about this conference is the freshness of questioning everything – even themselves!  That’s transparency and real thinking in my book.  So as we began the session Saturday morning they talked about the whole “missional movement” and where it is heading, where it is running out of steam, why that is, if it is, and what needs to happen?  The answers were simple, Brad talked about loving people, Caesar talked about being filled with the Holy Spirit, and Michael talked about living in grace.  I’ve heard some mega-church pastors have the same conversation about the “mega-church movement”.  Read more

Blog: Lessons of local engagement through adoption

Special guest post by Mitch Jolly, Teaching Pastor at Three Rivers Community Church

At our church the pastors are all bi-vocational and while being part of the fabric of our town I began serving as a board member for the Department of Family and Children Services. One challenge we have in our town is that we have 200-300 children from new-born to 18 years old in foster care with roughly 7-10 foster / adoptive homes available. You do the math. There are simply not enough homes for orphans or those that are about to become orphans.

In 2007, Jennifer and I had two boys, spaced 2 years apart. We wanted a third child and began to feel the desire to adopt a child from our town, being part of the solution to our town’s evident need. We began to pray and soon found our desires to adopt matched the sex, age and race of a child in need of adoption. We both wanted a 2 year old, African-American, boy. We wanted a 2 year old because that would make our boys 6, 4 and 2. They would be able to wear hand-me-downs! We wanted a boy, well, because he could wear the already boy stuff we had. Finally, we wanted an African-American child because that was our desire that we believe God put in our hearts.

This story is deeply complex and nuanced and more than can be written in a single blog, but there are 5 lessons we learned from our adoption inside the context of the town we serve that I would  like to share them with you. Read more

Blog: God’s Promises Every Church Planter Should Know

By Bob Roberts Jr.

SO YOU’RE GOING TO START A CHURCH!!! HALLELUJAH!! CONGRATULATIONS!!! No doubt, you’re reading books, heading to some great conferences, in a cohort, talking to former church planters and pastors, gathering all the information you can to plant a church that glorifies God, extends the kingdom, and reaches your city and the world. There are some things that are very important to understand, to the degree that if you don’t – you could “lose” you’re soul in all the stress, challenges, and learning you’re about to do.

First, stay obsessed with Jesus! Read more

Blog: 10 Marks I Look for in Exceptional Church Planters – Part 2

By Bob Roberts Jr.

6. An exceptional church planter knows their context. Len Sweet says, it’s “knowing your zip code”. Who lives there, education, background, history, culture, values, traditions, nuances . . . all of these things are critical. There is always a growing church somewhere because someone doesn’t just love Jesus, they understand the people and have the ability to think deeply and design communication in light of who is present. It isn’t enough to know what is, but what’s coming. What’s coming, in terms of demographic shifts, psychographic shifts, economic shifts, racial shifts, etc? Another key issue is, what are the questions that the broader culture is asking? Thirty or twenty years ago, those questions were easy to ignore if you wanted to. Read more

Blog: 10 Marks I look for in Exceptional Church Planters – Part 1

By Bob Roberts Jr.

When I started Northwood in 1985 no one was really talking church planting that much. Pastors coming out of seminary definitely were not doing it – Rick Warren & Bill Hybels were anomalies. Today, it’s just the opposite, no one wants to pastor an established church and everyone wants to start a church. Sad to say, in my day many started churches because they couldn’t get an established church – but some were called and gifted and went out because of that call. Today, some, but not all, start churches because they see it as the quickest way to grow a church real big real fast.

1. An exceptional church planter has dealt with their brokenness. A church planter with a checkered past or a checkered present, that is being kept hidden from everyone else, sooner or later comes to the surface. Read more

Blog: War – Who’s It For, Who’s Against It & Why

Does your faith allow you to go to war?  Under what circumstances is war acceptable in your faith?  How do you respond to the killing of innocents in war?  What does God think of war?  How does Jesus view war? Is there a disconnect between what you believe about war and how you view specific nations? 

The world is boiling with war with no end in sight.  Sadly, often those wars are driven or supported by religion.  What do the faiths really teach about war and how do we use our faith to prevent them, instead of promoting them?

At the www.globalfaithforum.com we will not ease into it – we will tackle big issues from the very beginning.  The very first night, Thursday, I will bring a brief overview of multifaith and why we are gathered.  We will then have Orthodox Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger from Jerusalem, Imam Zia of the Irving Islamic Center, Rev. Doug Skinner of Northway Christian Church, and Dr. Nguyen Quoc Tuan of Vietnam give their philosophical and theological view on war.  Read more

Blog: WHAT THE CHURCH OUGHT TO BE . . . IT IS BECOMING OR DYING

by Bob Roberts Jr.

There are some things that are not always clear – black and white – so knowing what to decide and what to do can be tough.  There are other things that are so clear that doing nothing is a sin.  I’m convinced that when we stand before God the greatest judgment we will face is not over the bad things we did, but over the good things we chose not to do.  Many churches are great at pointing out various sins and God’s judgment on people who do those things, but not as good at recognizing sin as doing nothing.  There are three or four public hot buttons that when you push them all evangelicals rally around morally – which is fine.  But often the spirit and attitude of how these things are addressed is not Jesus- like in the least.  But what about poverty, racism, hunger, persecution, and the list goes on?  Read more

Blog: Seek Jesus . . . . . Nothing Else

by Bob Roberts Jr.

Recently I met with a group of pastors and we prayed for God to move in us, our churches, our cities, and our nation.  It made me think deeply about what we were doing and how we should pray and especially me, personally.

All throughout world history and American history God has moved.  Some movements lasted longer than others – some have been more impactful.  Columbus believed when he discovered America that it was for some divine purpose – at the same time the Protestant Reformation was beginning in Europe.  The Puritans came for the express purpose of religious freedom.  The Great Awakenings have become a part of American history.  Church planting exploded with the western movement of the US.  Revivals became common place.  With the Azusa Street revival there was a new found power in worship.  Read more