Author Archives: shaneshaddix

About shaneshaddix

Christ-follower, husband, seminary student, church member, book lover, sports fan

The Sufficiency of Scripture

I’m reading a book about Scripture, and the author gives this definition of the sufficiency of Scripture:

“Because of the ways in which God has chosen to relate himself to Scripture, Scripture is sufficient as the means by which God continues to present himself to us such that we can know him, repeating through Scripture the covenant promise he has brought to fulfillment in Jesus Christ.”

About this definition, he explains, 

“It does not replace a living, dynamic relationship with the Lord with the study of a book. Instead it asserts that the Lord who wants to create living relationships with people comes to establish those relationships through the Scriptures.”

These are both worth meditating on. His point is, at least in part, that God has given us the Scriptures to reveal himself to us, so that we might know him in them. Thus, we do not approach the Bible as a book to be analyzed, but as a source of cultivating the covenant relationship we have with God in Christ.
 
Let me encourage you, as you read your Bibles, don’t simply study them. Instead, seek to know God in them. Ask, “How is God revealing himself in this text? How is he making himself known here?” One simple practice that helps with this is to pray before reading the Bible, “Lord, open my eyes to how you have (already) made yourself known in this text, that I might see myself and my life in light of who you have revealed yourself to be.”

What is the Mission of the Christian?

 

I’ve been doing some thinking about the question, “What is the mission of the church?” This is a complicated issue, to be sure, but whenever I’m pastoring, I want to be able to lead my people to faithfully fulfill the purpose for which God has redeemed us.

As I’ve started thinking through this a little, I thought I’d post a few thoughts and get some feedback. This particular post has less to do with the church as a whole and more to do with individuals. I think that any way you look at it, asking what the mission of the universal Church is inevitably leads us back to the individual. God has a purpose for the universal Church, to be sure, and he will accomplish those purposes, but identifying her purpose is not the same thing as identifying her mission.

However, since the universal church is nothing more than the sum total of all individual Christians, can we, by looking at what Scripture tells us is the mission of the individual, infer what the mission of the Church (universal) is? (The next step is then to ask how these relate to the mission of the local church, but that’ll be for another day)

What is the mission of the Christian?

So, the question at hand is “What is the mission of the Christian?” And the answer I would give to that is something like this:

  • [a] to grow into a mature disciple of Christ (holiness, doctrine, affections),
  • [b] to live as a mature disciple of Christ (proclaiming the kingdom in both word and deed), and
  • [c] to make disciples of Christ

Yes, I know. They’re all connected. You can’t grow into a mature disciple that doesn’t “do,” and you can’t just “do” without having the right heart and doctrine behind you’re “doing.” Likewise, you can’t consider yourself to be mature if you are not reproducing yourself in other disciples, nor can you reproduce yourself if you are not yourself mature in both the [a] & [b] senses.

So, what do you think? What’s good? What needs to be added or taken away? I appreciate your feedback.

[Note: By “mission” here, I do not necessarily mean “chief end,” as in ‘to glorify God and enjoy him forever,’ or that type of thing. I’m more talking about what Christians are to be doing. If it would make you feel better though, you are welcome to add “To glorify God by growing…living…making…” I’m down with that.]


CHURCH AS COMMUNITY – (Part 1) Community and Identity

This is Part 1 of a series of posts entitled “Church as Community.” Collectively, these posts will explore the various implications of the biblical truth that the local church is, by definition, a community to which believers belong. You can review the Introduction to the series here.

We’re busy. I get it. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m the chief of sinners in this area. But seriously, it’s ridiculous how much stuff is going on. It doesn’t take rocket surgery to note that we live in a culture that celebrates individualism and hinders true and deep relationships from forming simply because there’s so much happening. So how do we get everything done that needs to get done and still have time to do church well?

I submit that one of the deepest-rooted problems in the Western Church today is that we are trying to do just that. Whether or not we ever admit it, most Christians think of church as one of the things on the calendar. It is something to be done. It’s an item. No, it doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be a joy, but there’s something fundamentally wrong when church is something we do or are even a part of, rather than who we are. Consider Ephesians 2:14-19:

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. (ESV)

As future pastors, one of the great challenges we will face is getting people to stop doing church. We will be fighting all the schedules, jobs, activities, and yes, sports allegiances that occupy our people’s time and affections as we try to help them understand that foundational to the Christian life is the Church. This is not because it offers them anything—though it does—nor because it is helpful for their marriage and family—though it is—but because the church was woven into the marrow of our being the moment Christ covered our sin with his blood. In doing so, he brought us into his family and gave us a new identity.

Because community is an identity issue, it’s also a maturity issue. If we find ourselves in love with theology and God’s Word but not in love with the Church—longing to be with her, to serve her, and to build her up—then we are in some sense immature believers. There’s no other way to put it. If we identify ourselves more with our work, our city, our socio-economic status, or our sports team more immediately and more practically than we do the church, we have a maturity problem.

Pastors, when you’re leading your people to grow into maturity, help them ask the identity questions: Who am I? What is the church? How do those things go together?

True community will flow from biblical answers to these questions.


CHURCH AS COMMUNITY – (Intro) Misconceptions About Community

This is the introduction to a series of posts entitled “Church as Community.” Collectively, these posts will explore the various implications of the biblical truth that the local church is, by definition, a community to which believers belong.

 

“Community” is a buzz word in many Christian circles these days, not least of which is the young missional crowd. Everyone is trying to find out how the church can hone in on what community is and how it can be cultivated in the context of the local church. I think this is, so far as it goes, a good thing. However, I would like to think some about the proper category for an idea like “community” (henceforth without quotation marks) in a local church. There are, I think, at least a few misunderstandings. In this post, I’ll explore some of these misconceptions, and in later posts I’ll try to provide some constructive suggestions for how a church can think about community.

Misconceptions

First, some churches think about community in terms of a ministry of the church. When we talk about community as a ministry, we often look to passages like Acts 2:42-47, or Acts 4:32-37. These passages depict the church gathering together, meeting one another’s needs, and worshiping together regularly. These are all great things for a church to do, but therein lies the problem. If we view community as a ministry, then it becomes something that the church “does.” It can be turned on and turned off as need arises and abates. Community mainly happens on Sundays and Wednesdays. If we’re really edgy, we might even get some community going at an in-home small group on a Tuesday or Thursday (but don’t go longer than an hour and a half!). Our view of community is often betrayed by how we talk about it. You might view community as a ministry of the church if you use community with action words. We “do” community, “make” community, and “pursue” community. These are good, but does that tell the whole story?

Other churches think about community as a distinctive of the church. You see this in language such as “having community” or “living in community.” These churches may recognize that people do not get a sense of belonging in their jobs or through their kids’ soccer teams, so they believe that cultivating such an atmosphere will meet a need. It’s a place where you can get to know people, go over to someone’s house, and babysit one another’s kids. Certainly this is a good thing. We need more churches that recognize this and actually do it. But I wonder if community is not deeper than this. Is being marked by community a means to an end, making the church a collective therapy session where isolated people can meet other isolated people and thus avoid loneliness? And this might be a little picky, but is it possible to have a church not marked by community? Shouldn’t all churches display this sense of community? (If so, can it really be called a “distinctive”?) What is a church that doesn’t have community?

Still other churches view community as a context. In this sense, you are a community church if you are composed primarily of people who live or work in the same area. Your kids go to school together, do boy scouts together, and play on the same baseball team. The alternative is churches that pull from various parts of the city—a commuter church, if you will. To me, this seems like the weakest understanding of community, because it is merely a consequence of circumstance. There is nothing convictional about it. It just happens.

I’ll go ahead and play my cards. I’m going to argue that community is not simply a ministry of the church, nor is it just a distinctive of a church, nor is it a product of context in a church. Instead, community is in the very identity of the church. A church is, by definition, a community. Community is not something we do; it is who we are. And it is this fact that affects how we serve, minister, live, and grow together. I’ll try to develop this more in my next post.


Replenishing People

May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me—may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus. (2 Timothy 1:16-18 ESV)

If we take the Apostle Paul’s life as the standard, it would be gross understatement to say that the life of a pastor is hard. We have several passages that catalogue his difficulties, beatings, shipwrecks, and imprisonments. In addition to these external oppressors, he had what he calls the daily pressure of his anxiety for all the churches (2 Cor. 11:28). And while most pastors in the Western hemisphere will not go through quite as much external persecution (though they should be ready to do so), there is much about pastoral ministry that is physically exhausting, mentally draining, and spiritually grueling. To be sure, the same could be said of the Christian life in general. How do we respond to such a burden?

In college, I took a spiritual discipline’s class in which the professor strongly recommended that we all find what he called “replenishing people” to serve us in the same way that Onesiphorus served Paul in the passage above. These are people who, for one reason or another, the Lord uses in our lives to give us grace. They are people who don’t even have to try, but simply by being around them you gain a fresh desire to serve faithfully and live obediently. They give you encouragement without effort, and they sharpen you in casual conversation. If hard conversations need to be had, they are the ones who can rebuke you and lead you to the cross in the same sentence. These are true, gospel friendships, and every pastor needs to have them.

Paul’s burden for the churches was not unhealthy. It was right. It was a consequence of his calling, and it should be shared by all God’s undershepherds. But that does not mean pastors need to bear this burden in isolation. They cannot, and they should not. Pastors, make it a priority to seek out and cultivate relationships with those replenishing people that God has placed in your life. Praise God for them. Let these people know the ways in which God is using them in your own life. Admit your need for God’s people and celebrate his good provision in replenishing people.

As for me, one of the great privileges of my time in college was meeting many of those who would serve as replenishing people in my life. Two of those guys I now share this blog with, and I am excited to continue to grow with them as we pursue Christ. I’m grateful to God for these two brothers, and I trust we will all be replenishing one another along the way.