Dan Kimball Catalyst Lab (#Catwest)

Dan Kimball is on staff at Vintage Faith Church, a church in Santa Cruz, CA planted in 2004. He is the author of books including They Like Jesus, But Not The Church, The Emerging Church, Emerging Worship, Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches, and Sacred Space: A Hands-On Guide to Creating Multisensory Worship Experiences for Youth Ministry (with Lilly Lewin). Dan currently serves as an Adjunct Faculty Mentor at George Fox Seminary where he is also pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree.

When Dan first walked into a Christian gathering he noticed lots of pastel colors and the music sounded like commercial jingles.  His 2nd experience was very formal with a pastor wearing robes like Hugh Hefner speaking in hushed tones.  Not sure why they were supposed to be kneeling at the front and not sure what they were supposed to say when passing the communion cup.  Dan’s friend passed the cup saying: “the cup of wonder.”  So much of what we do doesn’t make sense to someone who is new!

Three things we must be communicating:

1. If we love Jesus , we must love the church despite our messiness.  Too often we have unrealistic expectations.  Leaders are people too.  We need to create space for people to ask questions.

2. We can hold the church’s historical view of sexuality and not be a fundamentalist or hateful.  Do the people we serve understand how to interpret and apply the Scriptures (rather than quoting verses out of context)?  We should be teaching about difficult issues proactively.

3.  When we think the Gospel can be expressed with deeds and social action, we miss the power of proclaiming the good news with our words. Do the people we serve know how to help someone they know follow Jesus?  The Gospel is “good news” about the Kingdom life now and in the life to come.  “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” -St. Francis of Assisi.  Don’t forget that St. Francis gave speeches too! Too many of us avoid reaching out in the very way we were reached.

How are you addressing these three issues?  Are there other issues we need to be addressing better?

Showing 6 comments
  • Michael Cordich

    I’m not sure if the word choice you have used is yours or Dan’s, but the gospel is not proclaimed with deeds and social action. The mere use of the word proclaim implies the use of words. The very understanding that the gospel is “good news” means that in order for someone to understand it we must speak it. Secondly, the gospel is not about “Kingdom life” it is the proclamation of repentance and the forgiveness of sins as Jesus makes clear in Luke 24. Or as Paul put it in I Corinthians 15, the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He say a nothing about “Kingdom life.”. Thirdly, there is strong evidence that St. Francis never said those words attributed to him, not to mention they are totally false. Preaching the gospel is only done with words it is never accomplished through our lives – meaning, no one has repented of their sins and found forgiveness in Christ because of the observations they made of a Christian.

    By the way, could you elaborate on point two more, it is vague.

  • Eric Bryant

    Dan’s point was the importance of a historical understanding and application of the Scriptures in terms of a commitment to the local church, healthy sexuality, and proclaiming the Gospel.

    Michael, I think you are diminishing the importance of holiness when you state categorically that “no one has repented of their sins and found forgiveness in Christ because of the observations they made of a Christian.” Saul observed the stoning of Stephen, and as a result had a more receptive heart when he heard the words of Jesus. I could name many more from my own life and from the Scriptures. Too often Christians don’t take seriously God’s call to live a transformed life and to serve others. Just saying the right words is not nearly enough.

  • Michael Cordich

    Eric,
    I don’t diminish the importance of holiness, but a holy life is insufficent to turn a heart to Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can turn a heart to believe in Jesus Christ and he does that by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17) The problem is not that I diminish holiness, the problem is that Dan and those like him seem to think that holiness is the gospel, but nothing could be further from the truth. The gospel is God is holy, we are sinners and Christ died to pay for our sins and rose from the dead to provide us his righteousness. That is the gospel that Saul came to understand when he was knocked off his horse by Christ. That is also what he proclaimed to Jews and Gentiles. He did not point to the holiness of his or anyone’s life, but to the cross of Christ. I would agree that Christians should be holy, that’s what we’re called to in Eph. 1:4. I would also agree that “saying the right words” are not enough either. What transforms someone’s life is the Holy Spirit, but as stated earlier he does so by means of the Word of God not the holiness of men. Consider the words of Peter in John 6 when all the multitudes rejected Jesus, the holiest person ever to walk this earth, he turned to the disciples and asked them if they wanted to leave also. Peter responded by saying “you have the words of eternal life.” The gospel is good news not a good life!

    By the way, you make a claim about Saul’s heart being softened the stoning of Stephen, but there is no scriptural support for such a claim. If in fact Saul’s heart was softened at Stephen’s stoning, the stronger argument would be that it was softened by the preaching of Stephen and his final words saying that he saw heaven open up and Christ was seated at the right hand of the Father, a statement of his resurrection. You also make a claim that others in the Bible found faith in Christ because they observed someone’s transformed life, I’d like to know who they are?

  • Eric Bryant

    Michael, are you reading the posts before commenting? Dan’s entire point was to say we should be communicating the good news of Jesus rather than equating serving others as being missional. Being missional means proclaiming the Gospel.

    Let me ask you, why do you think we are called to live transformed lives?

    I imagine you would answer that the goal is to give God glory. On this I assume we would agree.

    Why then does God want to be glorified?

    When we glorify Him, others discover His majesty, love, grace, and righteousness. Some reject Him. Some choose to follow Him.

    You seem to be implying that as long as the Gospel is preached it doesn’t matter how you live. Am I reading your comment correctly?

    The power of the Gospel is a transformed life! I cannot think of anyone in the New Testament that wasn’t influenced by a believer whose life was transformed! Saul became Paul because he was so transformed! Part of a transformed life is communicating the truth in love.

  • Michael Cordich

    Eric,
    Thanks for your continued dialogue in this matter. In answer to your question, I am reading the post before I comment. What I was responding to and asking about was the one line you wrote in which Dan said “If we proclaim the Gospel with deeds and social action, it doesn’t mean we don’t equally proclaim it with words.” My concern in this comment is that the Gospel is not deed or social action. Being missional may mean in your words “proclaiming the Gospel,” but if you include in the meaning of the word “proclaim” deeds and social action then you miss understand what the Gospel is.

    If you are understanding me to be saying that a transformed life is not important then let me clarify. When God calls those whom is saving it is to a life of holiness (Eph. 1:4). The Bible is also clear that as we continue in the faith the Holy Spirit is working in us to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). So then a transformed life, as you have put it, does have great value as we make the Gospel known. However, a transformed life is not the Gospel. It certainly is the fruit of the Gospel, but it is not the Gospel. The Gospel is an event. It occurred on a cross upon which Jesus Christ – God in human flesh died. It is an event where my sins were nailed to that cross, where Jesus suffered and died to take the penalty of God’s wrath against those sins and through His resurrection I have been justified before God having been given the righteousness of Christ as my own. That event is the Gospel. Not my good deeds or my transformed life.

    With that said, there may have been people in the NT who have been influenced by someone’s transformed life, but no one in the NT came to faith without responding to the event of the Gospel. As I said earlier, no one got saved by observing the life of another, only by hearing the truth of the claims of the Gospel, repenting of their sins, and turned to the living and true God by faith, receiving His forgiveness.

  • Eric Bryant

    Michael, it is funny to me how poorly we communicate with each other. It is like “who’s on first?” sometimes. 🙂

    In this instance, I completely see what you are saying now. I did a poor job explaining Dan’s point. I have now changed the first sentence on #3 from: “If we proclaim the Gospel with deeds and social action, it doesn’t mean we don’t equally proclaim it with words.” to the following:

    “When we think the Gospel can be expressed with deeds and social action, we miss the power of proclaiming the good news with our words.”

    His entire point was similar to what I think you are saying. The Gospel means “Good News” which is to proclaimed in words.

    I still think you are undervaluing the power of a transformed life or even the beauty of creation (Romans 1:20) in pointing people to God.

    Unfortunately, I know too many pastors and Christians who think all they have to do is say the right words without being concerned with living out the rest of the commands in the Scriptures to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit and to meet the needs of those who are hurting. In other words, I believe both Romans 1:16 and Romans 2:4 are true. My response was made thinking you may be thinking as these other pastors and Christians do. Forgive me if my assumption was incorrect.

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