Summer Sermon Series

Dear Discover Church Family,

The United States is in a crisis. We have instant access to information…and misinformation. Advertising and opinions are thrust invasively in front of our eyes. These come through written text that can be published in a moment without the requirement of using resources to transfer ideas into print print with physical qualities. These come through images…still photos and moving pictures, typically in short form. These come through sound bytes, and often without context.
We often feel forced to make decisions and come to conclusions without considering the bigger picture. Our interaction and engagement with this information can draw us into a surreal picture of reality, in which we feel a surface connection with many people, while failing to acknowledge this is also creating a shallowness of connectedness with the few who are within arm’s reach.
In our current crisis, the influence of identity formation has largely been handed over to corporations that see people of all ages simply as a means to a profitable end. They grow their influence and power at the expense of the local community, sowing division where there was peace. A wedge is driven by marketing to the preferences and pleasures of different demographic groups, making the challenge ever more difficult for people of different generations and backgrounds to relate with one another. The Covid pandemic and the responses to it that disrupted normal rhythms of life had the effect of accelerating this process.
The opening sentence was missing three words, a prepositional phrase: the church in. Because the church in the United States is in a crisis. Last week I watched a news video titled An Uncivil War: An Evangelical Divide and I’ve been seeing a lot of concern from other pastors over “Christian nationalism.” In a casual poll of Evangelical pastors on a single biggest challenge facing the church, this was the one mentioned by the majority. 
Many Christians are migrating from churches they were a part of for many years not because of matters in which doctrine was compromised, but because of positions on masks. Because pastors were too political, or they weren’t being political enough. Many churches began streaming online, and as many churches were already struggling to be the expression of Christ-centered community as the Bible laid out for us, watching a sermon and a few songs on a screen at home didn’t feel all that different from going to a church service. 
While the impact that national politics are having on the church is evident, there are many other factors, and what the church is experiencing today is the fruit of seeds that have been planted for decades and even centuries. We can find books printed by U.S. presses as old as 100 years that prophetically recognize the things we are seeing today beginning to take root.
Throughout the history of humanity, the formation of identity has been nurtured primarily within family and local communities. As communities developed, collaboration would happen to help others in those communities into have the values and tools that were needed for their own survival and thriving as well as the community’s, as these were intertwined and instrumental in creating identity. When the church was established as a gathering of born again disciples in Jesus Christ, it would be become unlike any other social entity the earth has ever known, the only community in which a person’s identity is formed having been restored into an eternally life-giving relationship with the Creator of everything.
Where is this leading? 
This has been on my heart for some time, and these themes continue to emerge in what I read and in conversations with people in our church family. We are going to take an intentional detour from the book of Mark to explore the key points in Scripture from Genesis through Revelation about God’s love and intention for the people he has redeemed, who come together in Christ to form this thing we  call (the) “church.”Notice—the emphasis here is not the church…it is the coming together of the people Christ has redeemed.
This is about your identity: who you are in Christ and within the community he established to come into healing and wholeness, to know and experience and then represent the God of all creation in Christ, the hope of the world.
As we continue forward together, would you please pray Ephesians 6:10-20 for me and for Discover Church?

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