A Characteristic of Him who founded Christianity
A review of Gary Comer's ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement
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Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Written by Edna Davidsen ∴ Tuesday, Januar 9, 2018
1. Church and State
In blog post number 01, Could Gary Comer’s Soul Whisperer help Shane? Published on Edna's Blog | OurChristianBook.com March 2017 I reviewed Gary Comer's (Soulwhispererministry.com, TW: @gcomerministry) book Soul Whisperer: Why the Church Must Change the Way It Views Evangelism, published 2013. In today's blog post number 26, A Characteristic of Him who founded Christianity, I'll review a second book by Gary Comer ReMission - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement (Whitaker House, January 2018). The author teaches and trains the audience about topics and techniques; we haven't thought of ourselves because they're seldom brought to the tongue among contemporary church leaders. The overall perspective in the two books I've read is an author who gives a characteristic of Him who founded Christianity, which has a chance to appeal to my generation, the Millennials because it's clear and challenging. I'm glad to include Gary Comer's books on the blog because the author's message is salt and light in the Christian Affiliate Marketing I work with when I'm not reviewing books. God did not give us a spirit of fear, and the author shows us how to overcome the fear and walk in faith with the two books included on OurChristianBook.com. While Soul Whisperer was written to all Christians to learn the deeper influence pattern of Christ, ReMISSION is different. It aims at teaching church leaders to inspire and educate the congregation to become more mission-oriented. I'll cover the following topics in this blog post: • Four areas where we must educate church members. • North American church culture compared to church culture in the Kingdom of Denmark. • The question about whether state and religion can be separated? • The book's intention. • The danger of pretending we know what we're doing. • The importance of experimental practice among church members. • Church leader level resistance. • The traditional suggestions that don't work. • Why the church should welcome everyone. • The martyrdom. • Culture and principle Jesus was lead by. • Sum up. I've done my best to include many references to inspire those who write Christian book blogs, how it can be done. Among the references are: The literary critic John Freeman, Martin Luther, the queen of Denmark, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, Soviet and Nazi Germany, Descartes, Locke, and Newton, Robert Kiyosaki, John Lennon, the martyrs, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Tim Ferris, Arnold Schwarzenegger + Seth Godin. Gary Comer's books come at an hour of need. Unless we do something about the topics mentioned in these two books now, we may unintentionally bring our churches into more significant troubles than they are facing already within three or four generations. Pastor and church leaders are Christians in business. They need to know the answer to: 1. Why are we here? 2. What are we supposed to do? 3. How do we do it? Let's go learn with Gary Comer how to walk in faith in our Christian Affiliate Marketing, in our churches, and in the world.
Only time will tell how the church-story will unfold. The clouds on the horizon are apparent, though. It'll not be a storm in a teacup. But remember, God did not give us a spirit of fear.
OurChristianBook.com's review will be more of an introduction to the problems presented in Gary Comer's book ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement than an in-depth analysis. Qua my unique geographical position, with my feet solidly planted in the Greenlandic snow, between Northern Europe and Northern America, I'll draw some parallels. I'll paint a picture of the differences between the church culture in these two areas. Greenland is a part of the Kingdom of Denmark. The Kingdom of Denmark, plus the other Northern countries are fascinating areas regarding church-history because of their contact-surfaces between church and state. Gary Comer writes: "As leaders, [ED: in the church] we must raise up our people to enter into the all-important conversation. Church members must learn how to have respectful, loving, constructive dialogues with unbelievers in the marketplace, the neighbourhood, and elsewhere. Church planters today must be able to address the prevailing thoughts and demonically erected “pretensions” within the culture. The church must raise up writers, bloggers, radio hosts, media conduits, film producers, apologists, and evangelists. Will the future church be ready to face the next ideological landslide that is coming if we are not producing critical thinkers willing to meet people right where they are?"
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 238, Whitaker House, 2018)
The points brought to us in this paragraph by the author will play a primary role in the upcoming blog post passages. Therefore, let's pin out four qualities church needs to teach its members: 1. The ability to have respectful, loving, constructive dialogues with unbelievers in the marketplace, the neighbourhood, and elsewhere. 2. The skill to address prevailing thoughts. 3. The competency to write, blog, produce radio and film. 4. Critical thinking. As a Christian Affiliate Marketer, I'm tickled pink about pin three and four. In blog post number 23 Let's go Learn How to Make Money published November, 2017, I've outlined how Christian Affiliate Marketers and Christian book bloggers can do this. I adhere to what the author says when he writes: "We are losing the literacy battle, and we need to shore up our position on the front-lines by opening the mind conceptually, broadening vocabulary, and building the confidence of people to engage with a culture thoughtfully. Reading is still one of the most potent means of getting it done."
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 239, Whitaker House, 2018)
How can we, the Christian book bloggers and the Christian Affiliate Marketers, broaden our vocabulary? How can we »shore up our position on the front-lines« with our Christian book blogs, helping our audience, and ourselves, to open »the mind conceptually«? In what way can we build confidence to engage with a culture thoughtfully, while working with Christian Affiliate Marketing? Here's the answer, which I know the author will agree with me on because it's a principle he practices in his authorship:
Include multiple references and provide cultural context.
Gary Comer asks: "How can we raise our people if they haven’t sat in and sized up the culture’s thinking?"
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 239, Whitaker House, 2018)
Let's go learn how they did 300 years ago while turning our eyes towards Sweden, England and early American colonies in the eighteenth century. In his impressive book The Tyranny of E-mail, the American writer and literary critic John Freeman (Freemansbiannual.com, TW: @FreemanReads ) writes: "In Sweden in the eighteenth century . . . the Lutheran Church issued an injunction that everyone must be able to read the word of God, and a massive literacy campaign was launched. Within a hundred years the nation boasted a 100 percent literacy rate. The decline of illiteracy in England was equally sharp but took much longer. Between 1500 and 1900, literacy rates rose from 10 percent to 95 percent for men and from less than 5 percent to 95 percent for women. In the early American colonies, where religious injunction required that believers be able to read the Bible themselves, men had a 100 percent literacy rate.
(Freeman, John. The Tyranny of E-mail: The Four-Thousand-Year Journey to Your Inbox (p. 31). Scribner. Kindle Edition.)
The impact Christianity has had on people's ability to read and refer to reason is rarely recognised. It's obvious, however, how large role handwriting and hearing the Holy Word has had since the seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther. It boosted the literacy and lifted up language to a level never seen before. With this in mind, we'll examine the relationship between the state and church as an introduction to the topics presented in Gary Comer's book. In the Kingdom of Denmark (Denmark, Greenland and Faroe Islands) we have a State Church. We have freedom of religion, but not all religions have equal status.The queen of Denmark, Margrethe II of Denmark, is the first member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (Folkekirken.dk, TW: @folkekirkendk). The reigning monarch in the Kingdom of Denmark is the church's supreme secular authority. A law adopted by the Danish parliament, and authorised by the queen of Denmark from 1992 prescribes how the church should be organised. Danish pastors have to follow this law. This is one of the main differences between the state-supported church in Denmark and many Northern American churches. The United States of America has fewer Holidays than the Kingdom of Denmark. The Kingdom of Denmark has several church-related Holidays that we won't find in America. Another significant difference between Denmark and the United States of America is the protection of the Sunday. Most stores in Denmark cannot have open 24-hours a day seven days a week because we protect our Sunday. The situation in the Kingdom of Denmark is unique compared to many other countries, among them Northern America. America is a religion-mix although 70,6% of the adult Americans define themselves as Christians. The one question it all boils down to is this:
Is it possible for a state to equally value all religions?
Is it possible to remove religion from the public space? I doubt it. As far as I know, we have no countries where it has been possible to separate church and state, and where the state is neutral towards religion. The United States had this intention, but the American churches get paid millions via tax deductions. It's understandable. The church has always been the leading supplier of ethical norms. In the future, the Christian book blogs will be heavy lifters in terms of delivering a characteristic of Him who founded Christianity. Christians in business will have a tremendous responsibility regarding their possibilities with their websites. The Western world is built upon the idea about Christian Charity (cf. The Parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37). The Christian ideal has led to implementation of hospitals, elderly care, social protection, the tax system etc. Many modern people doubt, and ask if we have to justify these institutions by referring to religion? I'm not in a position to answer this question, but I can say the following with confidence. First, until now in History, we haven't seen any sociological, political or philosophical justification of what's included in the Christian Charity ideal. Secondly; I'd not prefer to live in a completely secular state where »anything can happen« as we saw it in Soviet or Nazi Germany. Even if God did not give us a spirit of fear, It'd be a scary place to live. What's the takeaway here?
The state cannot be separated from the church without devastating consequences.
The church is, whether we like it or not, deeply dependant on the contemporary culture. We are Christians in business. Gary Comer is aligned with this fact in his book, and it brings relevance to his message. If the church wants to reach the millennials with its message about the gospel it has to respect this matter of fact. The above reflections on the relationship between church and state are an attempt to provide a historical context for the problems within contemporary North American churches described in Gary Comer's ReMISSION. It was a fundamental idea in the United States Declaration of Independence, 1776 to keep religion, politics, church and state separated. When we consider the historical background this becomes understandable. Europe had seen lots of religious tyranny from the state, and those who dreamt about a new beginning in the United States of America didn't want History to repeat itself regarding church suppression. As the sayings goes: A burnt child dreads the fire. It was evident, many countries suppressed the free churches, which was why it was a general goal to get a government without religious influence in the 18th century. The enlightenment period with Descartes, Locke, and Newton is a ship that has sailed. Their thoughts are still standing, for example, the idea that religion is a private matter, which should be restricted from public practice. In the next section, we'll navigate back to Gary Comer's book ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement to draw some parallels to contemporary Christianity and North American church culture with our focus on Christian leadership.
2. A Church without Walls
We can say, Gary Comer's advocates for »a church without walls« in this book. The Google Dictionary defines mission as: "the vocation or calling of a religious organization, especially a Christian one, to go out into the world and spread its faith."Let's take the book's title first. It's ReMISSION. Two words re + mission. The Google Dictionary defines re as: "in the matter of - or - about; concerning." ReMISSION is a suitable title since this book is about a mission, in particular, related to the Northern American church.
Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.
Gary Coomer (Soulwhispererministry.com, TW: @gcomerministry) addresses Christian leaders (and readers) in the following quote from : "Do you realise that the deck is stacked against you and against the success of your group, mission, or church? We could lay down on the table quite a few cards that do not line up in your favour. Though I write to Christians on all continents, let me begin in my own backyard."
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 24, Whitaker House, 2018)
The »cards that do not line up in our favour« according to Gary Comer are: • Secularism. • Pluralism. • Hedonism. • Relativism. • Moralism. Gary Comer wonders if we: "are even remotely prepared for the wave that is building."
It's a strength and a characteristic of Gary Comer's writing-style that he includes extensive references and follows best practices for proper academic writings. Let's go learn this in the Christian online community and the Christian Affiliate Marketing as well because following these best practices has two significant advances: First, it helps moving focus away from pathetic and personal/subjective observations towards a more objective representation of the problems and perspectives we write about on our Christian business blogs or in our books. Secondly, the content indeed becomes more complete and compelling. The book's intention is, with Gary Comer's words: ". . . to restore the status and conditioning of church membership as a movement."
In the book Rich Dad's Prophecy Robert Kiyosaki (Richdad.com, TW:@theRealKiyosaki) an entrepreneur and investor writes about a lesson his rich dad taught him at a time when Robert Kiyosaki had problems with managing a business because of poor business skills: "Rich dad had been my teacher since I was nine years old. He was a very loving and caring man, but when he was angry, he was not a polite man. This particularly heated lesson in business management went on for hours. Finally, I agreed to shut the business down, liquidate the remaining assets, and use the money to pay the taxes and the employees. "There's nothing wrong with admitting you're incompetent," said rich dad, "but there is plenty wrong with lying about it and pretending you know what you're doing. Lying and pretending you know what you're doing is a bad habit, and I want you to stop that habit now. If you want to be rich and successful, you need to learn to tell the truth quicker, ask for help quicker, and be more humble. The world is filled with arrogant poor people, educated and uneducated, people who cannot admit they do not know something. The world is filled with people who go through life pretending they are smart, and that makes them stupid. If you want to learn quickly, the first step is to admit quickly you do not know something.
(Kiyosaki, Robert: Rich Dad's Prophecy, p. 17-18, Plata Publishing, 2013)
Robert Kiyosaki does a tremendous job educating young and old people about the skills needed for running small or big businesses. The point from the Robert Kiyosaki lesson above is about the importance of telling the truth, asking for help quicker when we don't know what to do, and in general being humble in our approach to people and life. Let's go learn how to do this. I wish to draw a parallel to Gary Comer's book ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement with this lesson. First, a principle Gary Coomer (Soulwhispererministry.com, TW: @gcomerministry) states in his book: "You can’t produce mission formation if the format doesn’t involve experiential practice."
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 79, Whitaker House, 2018)
Gary Comer gives an example: "It’s like surfing. You can’t learn to surf just by hearing someone talk about it. Even if your instructor is a pro, learning to surf occurs only by getting out in the waves. Feel, positioning, technique, and conditioning are all critical; to think anything otherwise is laughable. This mission rule applies to other biblical values, as well. Thus, if you are teaching people about the value of community, and yet your form of gathering is not leading people into deeper, more honest relationships, then don’t be surprised when none of your listeners “gets” the community thing. I once watched a membership course implode at a major church, not because the content was bad, or that the presenter wasn’t ably prepared, or that the church wasn’t truly behind it. No, it died, and rightly so, because the form did nothing to produce the desired formation. The class attendees sensed this disconnect and stopped coming. When the pastor realized what was happening, he threw in the towel."
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 79-80, Whitaker House, 2018)
The Christian artist and songwriter Justin Teseniar (Justinteseniar.com, TW: @justinteseniar) has a wonderful song called You Are My God, published on Justin's YouTube-channel. July 2015. It’s a song about what can happen when we walk with Jesus and apply what He has taught us through His word. Experience is the best teacher.
Rich Dad taught Robert Kiyosaki a crucial business management lesson. It was time to stop what he was doing, reflect and correct. He stood corrected and threw in the towel. Gary Comer ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement is a similar incentive to Christian church members, in particular, the leadership. He questions the North American church leader level by asking if the church has understood the characteristic of Him who founded Christianity? Teaching cannot solve the problem. Practice makes perfect. Teaching people to be like Jesus in manner and message requires something else: "Missional formation, or discipling people to be like Jesus in manner and message, does not occur in a non-skill, non-practice, non-participatory way. Nowhere is this principle more vital than in the most difficult area of development: evangelistic disciplemaking." It took hours for Robert Kiyosaki to learn the lesson taught by his Rich Dad. They talked for a long time, and the waves went high. Gary Comer characterises the North American church as stuck in a time warp. It'll take not only hours but weeks, months or years with waves going high at church leadership level to get the church out of this time warp. The author realises it'll be challenging to reach missional development without church leader level resistance. Gary Comer: "I realize that my proposition may elicit a reaction from the most didactic of devotees, who are likely to reply with the usual line trotted out by most Bible teachers: “All we need is the Word! We just need to preach — nothing less, nothing more.” Can you hear the refrain: “If only people knew their Bibles…”? I realize how valid that sounds to some. But it’s refracted, not accurate. Possibly arrogant. Definitely unhelpful. All told, it is hurting the church. We need ReMISSION in this area to revitalize the whole body. I would also argue that this view is not biblical. We have a way of selectively truncating our interpretation of Scripture according to our gifting, so that we see what we want to see, and fail to prize what is there within the full range and discipline of hermeneutics. The Scriptures have an exhaustive content about mission dynamics, and yet pastor-teachers often fail to appreciate how crucial these details are for their people to learn, and how this understanding must be developed along unconventional lines. The difference between lecture and laboratory is skill acquisition. Hands-on learning. Situational feedback. Heightened self-awareness. Follow-up coaching. Compounding insights. Your people need to learn it and then live it to get it."
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 80, Whitaker House, 2018)
Gary Comer's deliberating straightforward declarations as in the example above are among the reasons why I've spent time reviewing two of his books on Edna's Blog | OurChristianBook.com. Soul Whisperer, which I reviewed in blog post number 01, Could Gary Comer’s Soul Whisperer help Shane? Published March 2017 came with the same to-the-point language. The author has the courage, which gives him the capacity to chase and capture topics most Christians wouldn't challenge. Christians in business have a lot to pick up from the author here. How many Bible teachers have we heard say: »All we need is the Word?« Once, we understand the perspective Gary Comer outlines in his authorship, the phrase: »All we need is the Word!« seems almost as naive as when The Beatles sang: »All You Need Is Love« written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney, 1967. Let's systematise the suggestions and solutions that don't work according to the author: • "All we need is the Word!"• "We just need to preach." • "If only people know their Bibles. . . ?"The author goes beyond »not working« in his assessment. He wonders if this approach is arrogant? I'd say it is. It's for sure unhelpful in the Christian Affiliate Marketing field and on Christian book blogs. And at the end of the day, it's hurting the North American church. Let's relate the Robert Kiyosaki lesson above to Gary Comer's theme by asking: "Are the North American churhces filled with educated and uneducated people who cannot admit they do not know something?" "Are these churches filled with people who go through life pretending they are smart?" Is it time to realise at church leader level that if we want to learn quickly, our first step must be to admit quickly we do not know something?"
It is time to move focus to a church without walls, where we welcome everyone without exceptions and expectations. The author exemplifies this with Nick's story (one of the book's many examples): "Nick, an agnostic, hangs around church every week but has never gone into a service. Covering himself, he says, “I know what they are saying in church doesn’t make sense, and the evolution crap they are teaching in the schools isn’t right, either.” He remains on the outside, trapped in his self-protective cage. If Nick is to be won, he must be drawn into an ongoing conversation where there is no expectation that he will change his views,"
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 209, Whitaker House, 2018)
Let's go learn how to be an eager beaver about this task. The church needs to be a church without walls if people like Nick are to be won for Christ. The North American contemporary church has built a wall so thick around itself that it has created a territory for church-people, and no one else. The door is closed for outsiders, and the key is thrown away. It's time for a change. Gary Comer gives the following church characteristic: "Mind-set also troubles me. Though every Christian church should be a place of the widest inclusion, Christian culture has been become known as one of closed minds and closed doors. Yes, we praise God that we are reaching some — and we rejoice when even one is willing to join. However, conversions and new memberships are becoming rare."
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 35, Whitaker House, 2018)
Have we become too self-satisfied in the North American church? Have we forgotten to go out with the gospel to the giant group of spiritual searchers who are shopping around among available religions for »something more that lasts longer than today, tomorrow and the next day«? The author gives several examples of how a church without walls looks like in practice. Among them is the JC's Girls story. JC is short for the Jesus Christ's Girls or the JC's Girls Girls Girls Ministry. JC's Girls founders Heather Veitch and Lori Albee created this evangelistic Christian woman organisation for female workers who wish to leave the sex-industry in the United States of America. In ReMiSSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, the author lets Lori Albee share here thoughts on how it's been to work for Christ among these girls. The organisation has (unrightfully) been widely criticised within the North American church. Examples like this show, we have an author advocating for a vision, which goes beyond what the »church establisment« sees as comme it faut. Cary Comer highlights one question in ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, which we in the Christian online community should ask ourselves:
What does God want to do with the totality of my life, including my gifts and resources?
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 251, Whitaker House, 2018)
The question will according to the author bring us »into another stratosphere of thought«. Once we've found our answer, we can propel forward with confidence. Jesus called us to go to the earth's end (Mark 16:15). Gary Comer's book is about what skills we must have to take this trip. The author's message is, the journey will require much more than us telling of Jesus' life and divine interventions. What we must learn first is to become more aligned with Him, who founded Christianity. If we hope to reach modern people with the gospel, we are required to: "(1) start where they [ED: the people we adress] are, (2) read what they need, and then (3) know where to take them."
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 258, Whitaker House, 2018)
At the top of this blog post number 26, A Characteristic of Him who founded Christianity published January 9, 2018, I emphasised four qualities, the North American church needs to teach its members according to Gary Comer (Soulwhispererministry.com, TW: @gcomerministry). He said: 1. Let's go learn how to have respectful, loving, constructive dialogues with unbelievers in the marketplace, the neighbourhood, and elsewhere. 2. Let's go learn the skill to address prevailing thoughts. 3. Let's go learn how the competency to write, blog, produce radio and film. 4. Let's go learn critical thinking. Another aspect the author relates to these four qualities is that times have changed according to the context where these skills and qualities will be used. "Shrinking are the days of solo savior-missionaries sent as the lone gospel representatives to unreached people groups across the globe. Leading churches now send teams of people who provide one another with intrinsic support and who are better able to spearhead indigenous church-planting efforts."
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 266, Whitaker House, 2018)
As a Christian Affiliate Marketer, I'm working with the third quality daily on Edna's Blog | OurChristianBook.com. Christian Affiliate Marketers and Christian book bloggers do also need a team. It may look like we're working alone with the Christian Affiliate Marketing. Nevertheless, it's more likely most Christians in business have a strong team behind us where we can seek support, inspiration and share experiences. I recommend Gary Comer's two books, which I've reviewed on Edna's Blog | OurChristianBook.com to the Christian online community because they're relevant and raise questions we, the content producers in the Christian online community and on the Christian book blogs, have to be familiar with. By reading the two books I've recommended, we will in all likelihood do much lesser product pitching than our respected Christian Affiliate Marketer colleagues and Christian book blogger colleagues. Why? Because we were fortunate to learn how to focus on building relations instead from these two books. It'll lead to longer and better content in the Christian online community. It's a win-win situation. Gary Comer says: "What’s life when it’s played too safe, when our ship remains anchored to the shore? And what are ships for? We need courage if we are to reach the greater world. The church has always grown by the blood of its martyrs."
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 267, Whitaker House, 2018)
I agree with the author. Life, when played too safe isn't worth living. I wish to bring some context when Gary Comer writes: »The church has always grown by the blood of its martyrs«, because the martyrs and their role in early Christian history are often widely misunderstood. The martyrs were windows to the public for the ancient church. They're often treated by modern writers as if they were more or less crazy with masochistic behaviour. What we ought to remember is this: The martyrdom was a rational and to a high degree effective weapon. People always believe in those who go for the extraordinary. Truth be told, there weren't that many martyrs - but »all martyrs were on the stage«. Their martyrdom was described accurately and widely written about. Contrary to the popular perception, the martyrdom should not be seen as an expression of how »dangerous« it was to be a Christian in the Roman world. In Roman world, the early Christians lived peacefully among the people. The martyrdom was above all a powerful propaganda package.
3. The origin of Christianity
The overall task Gary Comer wishes to solve with this book, as I see it, is to give the reader, mainly the North American church leader, tools to take their church-teams to a new discipleship path. The new discipleship path is founded in Him who founded Christianity and thus in the origin of Christianity. The author asks:
What is a missionary?
And he gives an answer in book-form, which is worth reading by pointing the readers to principles Jesus was lead by. In his answer Gary Comer emphasis the importance of: "Finding what works for a culture — the contextualization of the gospel . . ."
(Comer, Gary: ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, p. 269, Whitaker House, 2018)
I appreciate the emphasis Gary Comer gives culture in his gospel dissemination. Cultural knowledge is crucial for Christian content producers whether it's in the North American church, in the Christian online community, or in Christian Affiliate Marketing. The primary reason for this is: A culture has a limited metaphors or patterns in which our thoughts find their forms. If we don't use these forms, we cut ourselves off from being understood. Our modern culture, where we prioritise »the inner life« values news. The news is a plus-phrase. Tradition tends to be a thread and thus a minus-word. In most work-environments tradition is seen as something toxic and tribe-related. In the modern work-environment, we have to be innovative and able to identify new trends while imagining how a profit can be passed on to the company account so they can pay our paychecks. In the Western world, routine-work is a dead duck.Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States of America reports, the average number of jobs held in a lifetime among the baby boomers (people born in the years 1957 to 1964) is 11,7. God did not give us a spirit of fear, yet, we run away from job to job, scared of getting stuck in routine and boredom.
Here's my sum up after reading Gary Comer's ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement. The book acknowledges that religions, among them Christianity, can take many different forms. The question the reader is encouraged to consider is this:
Which form do we want to fight for?
It's not Christianity that's at stake here. The gospel will always be heard across the world, also in North America. The question is if the contemporary church will survive? The author thinks it's time for significant changes in many North American churches. The underlying fear is unless the church becomes better at addressing the millennials, it's co-existing culture, and so forth, then it's questionable if it'll survive the upcoming storm. Perhaps it's time to realise, the church is an institution, which is just as dependant of the society in which it operates as any other company or organisation? The church analysis Gary Comer puts forth in ReMISSION goes beyond what happens in the church; it includes culture and society.
The online entrepreneur, blogger and author, Tim Ferris (Tim.blog, TW: @tferriss) once interviewed Arnold Schwarzenegger (Schwarzenegger.com, TW: @Schwarzenegger). Arnold Schwarzenegger is best known for the Terminator movie, but what's interesting for our purpose is this: Arnold Schwarzenegger (born 1947 in Austria) won the Mr Universe title at the age of twenty. At this time he was dominating the bodybuilding world. In 1968 he emigrated to America and won five Mr Universe titles plus seven Mr Olympia titles before retiring from competitive bodybuilding. As a preparation for the interview,Tim Ferris had brought a photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger along. It was an Arnold Schwarzenegger picture when he was 19 years old, taken just before he won his first competition, Junior Mr Europe. Tim Ferris: "Your face was so confident compared to every other competitor. Where did that confidence come from?" Arnold Schwarzenegger: "My confidence came from my vision…. I am a big believer that if you have a very clear vision of where you want to go, then the rest of it is much easier. Because you always know why you are training 5 hours a day, you always know why you are pushing and going through the pain barrier, and why you have to eat more, and why you have to struggle more, and why you have to be more disciplined…. I felt that I could win it, and that was what I was there for. I wasn’t there to compete. I was there to win."
(Ferriss, Timothy. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (p. 177). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.)
In blog post number 24 Hostgator Network Solutions for the Christian Business Blog, published December 2017 I quoted Seth Godin (Sethgodin.com, TW: @ThisIsSethsBlog), who has written more than fourteen bestseller books, for saying: " . . . people sabotage themselves because the alternative is to put themselves into the world as someone who knows what they are doing. They are afraid that if they do that they will be seen as a fraud. It’s incredibly difficult to stand up at a board meeting or a conference or just in front of your peers and say, “I know how to do this. Here is my work. It took me a year. It’s great.” This is hard to do for two reasons: (1) it opens you to criticism, and (2) it puts you into the world as someone who knows what you are doing, which means tomorrow you also have to know what you are doing, and you have just signed up for a lifetime of knowing what you are doing. It’s much easier to whine and sabotage yourself and blame the client, the system, and the economy. This is what you hide from—the noise in your head that says you are not good enough, that says it is not perfect, that says it could have been better."
(Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series) (Kindle Locations 291-296). Amazon Publishing. Kindle Edition.)
Gary Comer puts himself into the Christian church leader world »as some who knows what he's doing«. He steps out of his self-protective cage with ReMISSION. The author dares to debate and defend Christianity in a delightful way that's honest, without walking away from controversial Christian topics. Gary Comer is here to win. He's here to win souls for Christ. With this book, he stands up at the board of Christian church leaders, saying: »I know how to do this. Here is my work. It took me a year.« I mentioned at the beginning of today's blog post number 26, A Characteristic of Him who founded Christianity, and again later that I reviewed another Gary Comer book, Soul Whisperer back in March 2017. Therefore I thought it was natural to ask the author what readers of Edna's Blog | OurChristianBook.com get in the new book ReMISSION - Rethinking How Church Leaders Create Movement, which was not included in the first book, reviewed on OurChristianBook.com, and how he got the idea to write ReMISSION? Gary Comer answered: "ReMISSION began when I decided to pull three leadership chapters from Soul Whisperer's initial manuscript, keeping that treatise focused exclusively on evangelism. But a second significant moment was when I studied the word "remission," the definitions, especially the fourth description of "restoring the status and conditioning" of something, struck a major chord with me. It elevated the distinction of what the current church has become, and what God meant it to be as a mission entity. ReMISSION, thus, is my attempt to reconcile the two, bringing it back to missional health. In answer to the comparison of the two books, and what ReMission brings uniquely to the table, Soul Whisperer was written to all Christians to learn the deeper influence pattern of Christ. ReMISSION, on the other hand, addresses a different question: With so many members being missionally ineffective, how can leaders raise the mission empowerment of the body. Because this has been such a conundrum, the book offers analysis with solutions to face the complexity, affording churches a realistic shot at success. The three sections of shaping their interface (culture), empowering their influence (channel), and charting their training (course) all work together to achieve a higher and more effective mission formation of members."
If you appreciated blog post number 26, A Characteristic of Him who founded Christianity, I’d be grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, the most relevant person is probably your pastor since this is first and foremost a book for church leaders. A share on Twitter or Facebook will also help the author getting the book's message out to more people how are in a position to change the course of the North American church before it's too late. Furthermore, you can support by leaving a comment below.