Another Response to Guest Blogger – Worth Reading Twice

Bill Lewis wrote a great article which is a recent blog called “Guest Blogger – Worth Reading Twice”. He has recently circulated some responses he received from this edition of his e-newsletter. I thought several were worth adding to the web site…

From: Jim Mann, Denton, Texas

Hi Bill –
Just read your article “Let’s Face It” re. the end of the Charismatic movement…and I’m not sure how to respond. My mind is spinning and smoke is coming out of my ears – so I am thinking and ruminating on it. I recommend Phylis Tickle’s “The Great Emergence” if you have time. It describes the church remaking itself every 500 years – the last was the Protestant Reformation. That means we are due. So what replaces the movement??

Hi Jim – I think we are at that 500 year mark and something is coming our way. The day of enterprise Christianity has to give to a reality of a new kind. – Bill

good riddence! -Jim

The Death of Enterprise Christianity

Die Again

As Martin Luther walked the streets of Rome, he bought the relics and trinkets of Christianity of the 16th Century. Museums of artifacts, authentic and fake, were laid out for the pilgrims to look at, venerate, buy. The surreal scene finally repulsed him. He left Rome disenchanted with religion, but passionate for a real Christ.

Today, we are walking the streets of western culture and once again, we are inundated with the massiveness of the industry of Christianity. You can buy crosses, rings, books, t-shirts, and so much paraphernalia that supposedly makes you a Christian. We have malls in churches. The whole scene, even though it is modern and chic, is still a long way from the reality of Christ.

It is time for the enterprise to die again. Some move of God has to come and clear away the jetsam and flotsam of enterprise Christianity. It is said that a major change comes in church history about every 500 years. We are there. It is time.

Response to Guest Blogger – Worth Reading Twice

Bill Lewis wrote a great article which is a recent blog called “Guest Blogger – Worth Reading Twice”. He has recently circulated some responses he received from this edition of his e-newsletter. I thought several were worth adding to the web site…

Bill writes: This is a quote from an e-mail response from Robert Fox in Missouri: The quote is attributed to David Reyser

Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise. Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old, barely out of diapers, and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, “An enterprise. That’s a business.” After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “Yes, Martha.” She asked such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued, “But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?” The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground.

I was pondering Martha’s question again one day, and considered the question, “What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?” I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would happen if God stopped paying me?

It’s a Whole New World Out There

It’s a whole new world out there – but, really, it is simply running parallel to the world as seen and experienced by the first Church as recorded in the book of Acts in the New Testament.

A fairly large segment of the population today do not have a “Christian memory”. I borrow that phrase from a course on prophetic evangelism by Doug Addison (which I highly recommend, by the way). They have not been brought up with a Christian worldview. They have not attended church on a regular basis. They have not been baptized or confirmed. In fact, those words are meaningless to them. They have not read the Bible and, in many cases, do not own one and have really never seen or held one.

Yes, I am talking about North Americans – not some third world nation which claims another world religion as its predominate way of life and the basis for its moral behaviour. Many people today have no “Christian memory” because they were not and are not church attendees and were not raise in a home with Christian values. As a result, they have no reference point for much of what the average Christian shares with them today. They do not know the basic Bible stories, they have no idea who Christ is and what He claims to have done. They do not watch Christian television nor listen to Christian radio (thank God).

This realization has changed the way I approach people in the skateboard parks, those sitting on the grass enjoying the sun at the many parks in my city, and those sitting having coffee in the coffee shops located near my home – youth and seniors. When approaching them to strike up a conversation I realize that I need to present biblical truth without using bible words (or at least explain the words I use). That takes practice. And, if they receive Jesus as a result of my time with them that they will actually be “first-generation Christians” in a society that is hostile to the born again Christian faith. Much like the book of Acts and the early Church. This raises its own unique challenges that the Church of my generation has not had to face before.

But, I also need to do this for those who are believers – even born again believers. I have discovered that many of them do not know or understand the basics of the Christian faith and that they have their own definitions for words that Christians commonly use when talking among themselves. I always knew this about groups like the Mormons who have a “different Jesus, a different Holy Spirit and a different Gospel”. But, there is so much craziness that is being believed – in both Christian and religious circles – that we must not assume, when talking to a believer or a religious person, that the words we are using have the same meaning to them as they do to us. We live in a day-and-age when people, even born again believers, have taken some of this and some of that and put it all together with an opinion or two and come up with their own “personal belief structure” that they sincerely believe is right and biblical.

And, as I realized this, I have made some serious changes in the way I preach and teach the Bible; not just in the way I reach out to the unsaved. I now explain words and concepts that I simply take for granted. This is more than watching how much Christianeze I use – as I am fairly good at not using those big religious words. I’m referring to explaining any word I use that may be unfamiliar on the street or in the coffee shops. So, “Paul’s epistle to the Philippians” becomes “Paul letter to the believers in the city of Philippi”. You get the idea. Because, let’s face it, Christians today are often simply Bible illiterate.

But back to reaching out to those potential “first-generation Christians”…

Reaching out to and seeing the people in our community who are without Christ and do not understand the Bible or the message of the Christian Church, does not happen without intentionality. If you’re not intentional about reaching the unchurched, you just gravitate toward meeting the needs of the other members of your Church or the other believers whose company you enjoy. You see, nobody speaks up for the unchurched. The unchurched – that aren’t coming to your church or mine – aren’t going to gripe and complain about how you are not meeting their needs. They just silently go on their way without knowing the hope that you have.

So, you have to make a quality decision to reach out to them with the true gospel. Then, you have to add some time to your regular daily events – grocery shopping, buying gas for the family vehicle, walking the dog … so that, when opportunity arises to share your faith you are not pressed for time. But, you have to first relate to where they are at and what it is that is going on in their lives so that you can share the good news in a meaningful way that will actually be listened to and result in some good interaction leading many to meet Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour. And, as you share remember that they have no “Christian memory” and live in a society that is anything but Christian in values and lifestyle – so choose your words and approach wisely.

It is time for true believers to truly connect and interact. It is time to get out there and intentionally interact with their world as true ambassadors of Jesus Christ.

Michael Jackson

Well, it is deja vue all over again. Another internationally known entertainer has died. Michael Jackson – the King of Pop – dead at 50 from yet unknown causes. But, they suspect a mixture of perscription and non-perscription drugs certainly did not help his heart to keep beating. Shades of Heath Ledger, Anna Nicolle Smith, Elvis Presley and others over the years.

Now the whole world is paying attention. Hour upon hour of cable news and talk radio is dedicated to his life, his death, his fans, his music, his legacy, his stupidy, his financial trouble, his impact on the music world and on and on and on.

Am I the only one who thinks there might be more important news to be reporting on – or, at the least, more important and interesting people to report on? How about the kid down the block selling lemonaide and donating the money to some charity further down te block. Ah! That’s better.

The Bible addresses just the issue we are looking at – people’s lives out of control because their money got ahead of their character. 3 John 2 states: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” And, these people had more financial prosperity then their soul could handle. Their character had not kept pace with their income. Their soul had not prospered spiritually.

And when I say “spiritual” I am not referring to L. Ron Hubbard and the cult of Scientology. It seems many of the entertainment world believe in what this heritic preached and wrote. Sad. When I refer to one’s soul prospering I’m talking about having your spirit person fed on the Word of God daily because “man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” I’m referring to having your mind renewed by the Word of God so that your thoughts line up with God’s thoughts – lining up a little closer than most people’s do on any given day. Afterall, God did bluntly state that “His thoughts are greater than our thoughts and His ways different than our ways.” And, we must not forget the important area of submission – where our will is submitted to His will. Our mind, will, emotions – our soul – will prosper when living according to God’s Word. Nothing more and nothing less.

It seems Michael Jackson failed to recognize this in spite of his mega millions of records sold and a large fortune earned (and spent). As did Anna Nicholle Smith, Keith Ledger, and Elvis Presley. And, it seems that the thousands of Michael Jackson fans are celebrating a legacy that just may not be worth even remembering. And, the whole thing is fed by a media frenzy – especially in the summer months when important news is hard to find and slow in coming.

Well, I got more reading done than normal – I switched off all news channels and news broadcasts as well as all talk radio because I, for one, was simply tired of hearing about a 50 year old man who was not an example that I would want my children to emulate. It has made for a quiet couple of days.

Christian or Christ-follower

For a number of years I have been convinced that many in the evangelical church in North America simply exchanged one religion for another – mind you, a born again religion but religion nonetheless.

We call people “Christians” and yet they are not – not in your wildest imagination. Their life style, their priorities, their interests, and their actions all tell us that they “hold to a form of our religion but denty the power thereof” In context Paul is writing about the power to bring life change.

Now before you jump down my throat and say that as a Christian I should not be judging – you know, ‘judge not and you shall not be judged”. Let’s really understand what the Bible states about judging a person. We cannot judge their heart because only God truly knows a person’s heart. However, we can judge the fruit in their lives – or the lack of it. The Bible states:

1 Corinthians 5:12-13 “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'”

Let’s look at those two verses taking the first half of verse 12 and adding the first half of verse 13 to it…then the second half of verse 12 adding the second half of verse 13 to that… it would then read: “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? God judges those outside. Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'”

So, we may not be able to look at the roots but we can examine the fruit and from there decide if this person really is a Christian or is simply someone who said a sinner’s prayer and is holding to the outward form of our religion. Afterall, if the Christian faith is about a personal relationship with God – and God states, “I am the Lord, I change not” then it is obvious who will be doing the changing in the relationship – we will be! No change – then maybe we have the right to ask, “where is the fruit that should be a natural result of a relationship with God?”

When we embraced Jesus as our Lord and Savior we became disciples – or Christ-followers. He said that if we would follow Him “…He would make us…” so we would be transformed and changed. We would truly, as apprentices, become more and more like the Master we are following. Being a disciple or follower implies motion, movement, change, adjustment, transformation…. One pastor I was reading lately stated: “We almost never refer to people as ‘Christians,’ and have almost exclusively adopted the language of ‘Christ-follower,’ … Christ-follower implies movement… and speaks of ‘authentic conversion’.” I agree – totally agree.

We need more people who are truly converted and have come under new ownership and not just some sort of temporary new management as they try out Jesus to see if He will meet their needs.

We need more people who respond to the Gospel message with true godly sorrow and repentance because without repentance there is no salvation.

We need more people who are truly seeing the night-and-day difference Jesus is making (1 Peter 2:9 The Message) and are not afraid to tell others about the supernatural changes they have and are continuing to experience.

We need more true Christ-followers and fewer who hold to the outward form of our religion but are not constantly changing and growing into maturity under the power of the Holy Spirit.

We need to look at our own life and see if we are holding to this outward form without experiencing the power and life change that should be normative for all those who are following Jesus.

Time to take a good look – time to call a spade, a spade. Time to get serious and actually preach the true life-changing Gospel – sharing it with others. But, first, you need to be experiencing its life-changing power daily yourself.

Let the Church Die

Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Life is lived forwards but understood backwards.” In other words, without understanding the history of the Church of Jesus Christ – including the mistakes of the past – we are doomed to a flawed future.

In fact, another philosopher and poet, George Santayana, stated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So, it is good to study the Old Testament and see the roots of the faith we hold to and defend. It is good to read the New Testament and see the life of the early Church and what our roots are and where we have come from over the last 2,000 years.

It does not take much to recognize that much of what we do in the Church today is not found in the Bible. And, with a little bit of study of the early history of the Church (the first 600 years) and the culture (society) in which this Church found itself – the roots of what we hold to be true today can soon be seen. And, a vast majority of what we hold close to the heart is not biblical. In fact, the words of Jesus to the religious people of His day would still ring true for many of today’s believers. Jesus said, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?”

So, we are now entering a new season in the Church when the Head of the Church – Jesus Christ Himself – is asking us to look at what it is we believe and how it is we live out these beliefs to see if they are truly rooted in the Bible or simply a matter of man’s interpretation of the Bible. He is asking true followers to look at every aspect and action of our corporate life and see if they are rooted and grounded in the Scriptures as written (and not twisted or seen through traditional, man-made lenses). What is truly of God and what has come about due to man’s rules and regulations, man’s traditions, and man’s need for control and security. Failing to respond to the Holy Spirit and what God is doing in His Church today will result in the Church and individual believers simply following traditions and thus repeating the mistakes of the past which have led us to this point in our history. A rather pathetic and powerless point in the history of the Church.

God is wanting to restore the true Church – His Church – and to do so He is needing to remove from the face of the earth man’s design for the Church … the organizational Church must die and the organic, life-giving, Spirit-led Church must emerge. And it will!

Guest Blogger – Worth Reading Twice

Let’s Face It!

We avoid. We run. We refuse calls. We are silent. We are avoiding the obvious. We ignore the elephant in the room even though it is huge and smelly.

Problems do not go away just because we pretend they are not there. In fact, the problem gets worse when ignored. Disobedience is emboldened, rebellion is encouraged from tacit silence.

We have been pretending that it is business as usual, even though we are in the midst of some drastic changes. The Charismatic movement is over, emphatically over. Let’s face it, it is gone, done, caput. It is time to put it in the history book and move on. We can celebrate the history and the joys, but, come on, it is over.

The young people are hungry for a move of God NOW. As long as you live in the past, you cannot embrace the present or the future. The emerging church of 20’s and 30′ need the impact of God in a move for their generation. I need the move of God to stay with the cloud of His glory and present-ness.

It is time to be bold. Forget the Obama’s and Pelosi’s and remember God! Concentrate on God, not on politics. Look to God’s economy, not the world’s.

Lee Grady in the latest issue of Charisma Magazine put it quite well. “1. The charismatic movement as we know it has ended. I celebrate what God did in recent years to bring the Holy Spirit’s renewal to the church. My life was totally changed by it. But the cloud is moving, and we cannot pitch our tents around the revivals of the past. While we embrace the eternal things He gave us in those days, we must discard the styles and methods that are no longer fruitful so we can advance. That doesn’t mean we throw the baby out with the bathwater. We cling to what is good. But we must leave behind the excesses, extremes, and flaky doctrines that give us a bad name. The one-man show is over. The prosperity circus was a failure. We must abandon the deceptive hype of the past. People today are craving authenticity-not shallow words and empty promises.”

So, let’s face it. It is over, it has been over for a long time and we have been ignoring the elephant in the room. Quit longing for something that is gone, lest we be as Lot’s wife and turn into a pillar of salt staring back at what was.

This is a time for bold pursuit. Pursuit of what is not known, pursuit of God who is ready to continue His labors with willing vessels. Looking at the moves of God beginning with the Book of Acts, we have some dimensions of His move missing. We no longer have the house to house daily excitement. People are dependent on the weekly meeting to sustain themselves. The house to house dimension during the week is missing; yet I find that some of our young people are almost daily with each other, talking of what God is going to do. (That is the seed of revolution).

Biblically, prophetically, there is going to be a great falling away and at the same time, a great in-gathering. So, that means that the falling away part has to be those who were with God and the in-gathering has to be with those who have not known Him. If you are the church goer, you are the one in danger of the falling away. You are the one who may look back. You may be the one who says the giants of the present are too much for you. Woe unto you. Hebrews talks of those who once tasted of the glory of God who fell away. Woe to you if you fall away from lack of interest. Do not say, I am not a sinner. Jesus talks about those who prophesied in his name and healed in his name, these he told depart from me, I never knew you. Take heed.

Let’s face it. The old is over, the new is coming. Are you in for the new? If you let the circus of the past, the people of the past who hurt you, keep you from God, how sad it will be.

Bill Lewis is an apostle with ATM and ATMi centered in Celina, Ohio. I will be with him and a number of apostles from his network July 25 to July 29, 2009 for an apostolic roundtable.

Hell in the Hallway

Here in my area of the world there seems to be an unspoken belief that if you are having any real difficulties in your life then you are out of God’s will because God’s will done God’s way should not be filled with trouble and hardship and all your needs will be supplied.

Christian seem to think (although they don’t always put it in words) that because they are on God’s side their life should run smoothly and they get all bent out of shape when things don’t go as planned and they reach a hard place in their lives.

Christian leaders seem surprised that their ministry has issues and that people are not happy with what is happening – resulting in the budget not being met and people leaving. They seem surprized when people do not respond as they hoped they would and their ministry does not appear to be a success (at least in their own eyes). They get discouraged.

We forget, it seems, that Jesus said that we are to expect trouble in this world. The Bible tells us that we will go through trials, tests and even tribulation. Maybe it is the Word-Faith Movement that has taught us that believers should be “victorious” and I believe that ultimately we will be (afterall, we are going to Heaven when it is all over here) but meanwhile we might find ourselves in a struggle or two as we walk in God’s will for our personal lives and our ministry.

Paul the apostle was in God’s will for his life and ministry. When facing King Agrippa he states, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision…” but was doing exactly what God had declared he would be doing on behalf of the King and the Kingdom. Yet, he went from one difficulty and problem to another on both a personal level and in his ministry and calling.

If we are doing what the Lord has called us to do we will face opposition and will not find our lives to be one without trials and tribulations. It will not be easy. Wer will not always have every need met exactly when we think it should be. We will go without and find ourselves having to simply “make do” with what we have while others in the world move ahead and seem to prosper in spite of not walking with the Lord.

If we are walking by faith – and all believers should be – we will be in unfamilar territory and find ourselves seriously challenged and stretched as we reach towards the goal the Lord has set for us. John Wimber use to say that you spell faith – r-i-s-k. I agree with him. To walk by faith means facing difficulties, being stretched emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and mentally. It means facing challenges and meeting them – often at great personal expense and some difficulty. It is not – and was not meant to be – an easy ride from one mountain peak to the next. We will walk through many a valley – but the key is we are to “walk through” and not “camp in”.

Mike Yankoski in his great book “Under the Overpass” writes…

“What if following Him is hard? What if along the way He asks you to accomplish difficult tasks or to overcome intimidating obstacles? What if it requires more of you than you have to give? Listen, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Those places of need are where you and I discover ourselves, our faith, and – best of all – our God. It’s there, in our weakness, that He shows Himself true, faithful, powerful, gracious, and loving. More likely, your journey will lead you toward utter dependence on the King of kings and a resolution to follow Him wherever He may ask you to go. That might be to the streets, to your friends and family, to your neighbor, or to a stranger you haven’t even met yet.” (page 220)

So, maybe, just maybe, Christians and especially Christian leaders should stop complaining. Yes, we live in difficult times. Yes, it is not an easy time or season to be ministering. Yes, people are not responding to the Gospel as they once did. Yes, things are difficult as the three “B’s” are in trouble (buildings, bodies and budgets). Yes, we are entering a difficult season of ministry as we adjust to many changes – both in the world and in the Kingdom. Yes, you are facing challenges and may not have everything go your way and happen exactly when you want it happen. Welcome to walking by faith and not by sight. Welcome to the Kingdom.

I like what Graham Cooke had to say about walking by faith. He likened it to leaving one room that you know and are familiar with and even like and going down the hallway to another room where God is asking you to go – a new area of ministry, a new calling, another level of maturity, new skills and new challenges – and you are still in the hallway having left what is familar and comfortable and not yet reaching where you know the Lord would have you. You are in the hallway between what you know and the destination the Lord has called you to. Graham states that your walk of faith is the “hallway” and that it is often “hell in the hallway”. I agree.

But, listen believer: if God called you to this walk of faith (and He did) then stop complaining and being negative and rise to the challenge the Lord has placed before you – don’t look back – and move forward into the adventure He has called you to…

The Believer’s Good Works

We have been redeemed from lawlessness (Titus 2:14); from every man doing what is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6). We were purchased by the blood of Jesus shed on the Cross of Calvary for a reason. The reason: so that He could purify a people to call His own so that we could then share our life with Him and He could share His life (and life’s work) with us. Tutus states it this way: “…to purify for Himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

The good works He is talking about here is the call on every true disciple of the Lord to do as He did and continues to do today through His Church. Jesus said: “The things that I do you shall do also and greater things than these shall you do…” (John 14:12). These are the “good works” that He prepared for us to do before we were even born (Ephesians 2:10). It is these “good works” that cause us to be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16). It is these “good works” that His written Word – the Bible – “completes us and equips us” to accomplish (2 Timothy 3:17). It is these “good works” that we are called to devote ourselves to – that we are to focus on (Titus 3:8a, 14) in our everyday life.

The good works that we are called to do have always been to share in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ who came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). This was His main focus and everything else He did – healing, casting out demons, teaching, raising the dead, cleansing lepers, giving sight to blind and hearing to the deaf – were instruments in His ministry to draw others to the Father and ultimately salvation and Heaven. So should it be in our lives today.

We must be sure that the main thing remains the main thing and that we don’t become sidetracked and thus major on the minors. When members of a Church focus on reaching their communities and city for Jesus, life is released into all their activities and health returns to the local church resulting in spiritual growth for individual members … a growing number of new converts and an increase in the number of people attending.

Appointed and Anointed By God

We are in a time of great social change and tremendous economic upheaval. More than economical and financial – this is also a time when values and beliefs are undergoing close scrutiny as people begin to question much of what they have simply assumed to be true – social security, annual holidays, a regular job, owning a home and a car.

Churches are undergoing terrific chanllenges as they see their incomes shrink and people becoming increasingly busy with life and less active in the local church. Staff are being laid off in many churches. Some are in the process of losing their buildings due to financial shortfalls. Leadership is having to rethink their approach to ministry and evangelism as well as rethinking their priorities and methods. Attracting the community to the Church is no longer as imporant as sending God’s people out into the community. Programs and strong personalities are not having the results they use to and the big three (buildings, budgets and bodies) are becoming harder to maintain.

In the midst of all this change – people are not becoming less spiritual but are actually becoming more interested in things spiritual as they are seeking spiritual solutions and comfort. They are looking into the spiritual realm and thinking about spiritual issues. People are interested in the supernatural. However, due to our reputation and focus over the decades these people – young and old – are not looking to the Church. Instead they are looking to New Age, spiritism, and eastern religions. The Church, it seems, has done such a poor job on letting the world know what it is we are all about and what our true message is – that people are not generally looking in our direction for comfort, solutions or answers in their search for spiritual truth and the supernatural.

This is not a season for laying low or keeping the status quo. We must know deep inside us that we have been called and anointed for such a time as this. A challenging time. A time when many are turning away from the Church and others are looking for spiritual truth anywhere but the Church. A time when what has worked no longer works. A time of questioning of values and beliefs. A time of decreasing interest in the Church but increasing interest in the spiritual and the supernatural. We, the believers, need to know that we were born for such a time as this and thus not skrink back and hope this all blows over one day. No, it is a season to be aggressive and proactive.

Leaders – it is a time when we must have God-given assurance that we are in the right position, at the right time, equipped and able, with God’s help, to do the assignment that He has placed before us in this season. We could grit our teeth and barely survive while dreaming of the better days – the past which is never as good as we remember or the future that is yet undetermined and may not be as good as we hope it will be. Or, we can know that we are apppointed by God for this time and place – this challenge and set of circumstances – and thus stand up in the raging storm and be prepared to take the blows without complaining while persevering and continuing to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is able to save a man’s soul.

We are called to be salt and light in a world that is tasteless and in the dark. The world today needs people willing to connect with their neighbors and become a real part of their communities and thus becoming the salt of the earth and a light in the world. Our culture today needs people who actually live in hope and are quick to explain the reason for the hope that they have. The world (and the Church) needs leaders who know how to lead in the midst of uncertainty and turmoil and who will not back down in the face of opposition even as the darkness continues to grow and thus the challenges become even greater. Men and women of hope who can ignite hope in others.

It is time for the Church to be the Church and to stop playing Church.