Serving Millennials on the Journey Toward Significant Life
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Church Talk

I’ve been working through Walter Brueggemann’s wonderful book Cadences of Home: Preaching Among Exiles. It’s a book comprised of various essays he wrote in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Though it is a book about the craft of preaching, it’s more a book on a theology of exile. Over the next few weeks I’m going to highlight a few insights the book provided for me, giving a foundation for conversations needed some 25-30 years after his original thoughts were expressed.

The context for the work as a whole is a comparison between the current cultural climate in America for Christians and the climate for the Hebrew people in captivity through exile, written about extensively throughout the Old Testament in books such as Isaiah. While we could debate this comparison, the move within our society away from a traditional Christian perspective on faith is apparent and has left many with a sense that they are no longer at home where they exist.

This prompts several necessary questions:

—How do we support and equip Christian believers within an exile context?

—How do Gospel-sharers speak to a society that no longer speaks the same language they do?

These are the questions we’ll be leaning into on this post and several to follow.

One big issue for Christians today is the lack of Gospel proclamation that speaks to both the believer and the lost. Our sharing of the Good News about Jesus that is only understandable to the believer becomes insulated. Our sharing of the Good News about Jesus that is only understandable to the outsider becomes worldly.

Brueggemann paints a picture of bridging this gap through “church talk” also functioning as “public talk” without ceasing to be “church talk” (pg 80). In this, I think he has articulated one of the great issues with how Christians engage the society they find themselves in. Here’s how he paints this picture:

“Preaching addresses exiles but believes at the same time that its claims addressed to exiles have pertinence and compelling authority to the Babylonians as well.”

Or to say this differently, the Gospel has something vitally important to say not just to believers, but to everyone!

One way I’ve tried to incorporate this perspective in my preaching ministry is by beginning with an overarching question about life that applies to everyone, whether believer or not, such as, “What’s the goal life life? or, “Is a life focused on simple pleasures actually fulfilling?” These questions provide grounding for me to say “we all long for the same things.” Then I spend the rest of the time showing how the Gospel stands in contrast with the prevailing notion of our day in answering that question.

This, however, must be bigger than just a preaching technique. It must be the way we approach conversations with everyone, whether people of faith or not. The saved need consistent reminders of how the Gospel speaks to their lives today, and the lost need the opportunity to hear how the Gospel can reframe their entire lives.

While some may question the power of the Gospel to speak to the hearts and minds of people today, often it is the Gospel proclaimer’s inability to bridge the gap between the world of the believer and the world of the lost that leads to an ineffective message. Gospel proclaimers must work to understand the times they are in so that the Good News has something to say to everyone, not just those who have already taken steps of faith.

Let your church talk always function as public talk without ceasing to be church talk.

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Chelsea Patterson Sobolik on the Pain of Childlessness (Called Out Episode 020)

chelsea patterson sobolik podcast

One of the often unspoken realities is that 20% of women are facing childlessness, whether through miscarriage or inability to get pregnant. Churches are filled with women and couples who carry with them the pain of their loss or unmet desires. This is a subject that must be addressed in order for people to be able to experience the healing Christ offers.

On this episode of Called Out hear from Chelsea Patterson Sobolik on how her personal journey has shaped her unmet desire for motherhood, and how to support women who are struggling with the pain of childlessness or loss.

Chelsea currently works for The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission as the Policy Director, with previous experience working in Washington D.C. in various policy oriented capacities.

Listen to the full episode below:

You can also find this episode anywhere you listen to podcasts, including:

Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Google Podcasts || Overcast

Links from the episode:

—Chelsea Patterson Sobolik’s first book Longing for Motherhood is directly related to the subjects discussed in this episode, and is definitely worth your time.

—You can find Chelsea on Twitter @ChelsPat.

Private Life is a feature-length film available on Netflix.

—Tish Harrison Warren recently shared about experiencing loss as a mother on the Betwixt podcast, with focus directed toward lament as overlooked and needed.

—Check out the 7-day Bible reading plan titled “Grieving with Hope After Miscarriage and Loss.”


Called Out is a show helping the church move from the reality of its brokenness toward the healing power of Christ. 

You can follow the host of the show on Twitter @tylerbraun.



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The Sunday Morning Battle

Last fall I shared a sermon with my church from Hebrews 4:1-10, with verse 3 from that passage continuing to stick with me weeks later. The whole section in Hebrews 4 is a comparison between the New Testament Hebrew people and the Israelites who failed to enter the Promised Land because they did not take God at his word, that he would give them the land. Verse 3 then answers the question: if this rest is still available to us, how do we enter it?

“Now we who have believed enter that rest.” Hebrews 4:3

It is by faith that God’s rest is entered into. This is not only a Sabbath rest from work but also a salvation rest, leading to eternal rest. Rest in the Kingdom of God is approached only through faith. It is not merely abstaining from work, but rather seeing all of life with eyes of faith.

This insight surrounding rest has caused me to consider whether I approach other areas of life through faith or sight. It is quite possible to be a person of faith and not live by faith. I can believe in Jesus, trust in him for salvation, and yet navigate life by what I can see, touch, feel, and understand. Living by faith has prompted several questions for me:

  • How might I approach parenting my kids by faith instead of sight?
  • What does it look like to engage with God’s Word by faith instead of sight?
  • Can I approach conversations with people differently if I’m navigating them by faith instead of sight?

One of the shifts I’ve been trying to emphasize is Sunday morning. As a pastor my Sunday mornings are tied up with leading the church in worship, in prayer, and often in opening God’s Word to teach from it. I love the gathering of God’s church. It’s always a high point of my week. But Sundays are relentless. They keep coming. Just as one finishes, planning for the next one begins.

As with anything routine, it’s easy for me to approach the Sunday morning church gathering time as just another week, no big deal. But here’s the reality of the church gathering on Sundays: they’re a war-zone. God’s Word is clear that the enemy “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1st Peter 5). Paul also reminds us that our battle often takes place in what is unseen (Eph. 6).

Eyes of faith help us to see and understand that anytime there is an effort to worship, glorify, and submit to God, the enemy will be prowling, seeking to thwart those plans. Satan desires that our pursuit of God would be incomplete, fake, and impotent. Jesus desires that we might see the transforming power of God’s presence in our midst, made possible through His sacrifice and unending life.

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Trevin Wax (Called Out Episode 019)

For many people the goal of life is finding their authentic voice, and then expressing it to the world. This could be described as the “you be you” attitude. In order to find happiness within ourselves we want to know who we are and then have the freedom to express it within inhibition. As self-expression continues to grow as a value, it also invades the church despite the call of Christ for followers of Jesus to lay down their lives in order to take up His cross.

On this episode of Called Out, Trevin Wax joins me to discuss self-expression. We discuss the subject from various angles: how it can produce positive results, why it produces negative results when it becomes our sole focus, and what churches can do to navigate the reality of our age of expressive individualism.

Listen to the episode below:

You can also find this episode anywhere you listen to podcasts, including:

Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Google Podcasts || Overcast

Links from the episode:

—You can find Trevin Wax on Twitter @trevinwax.

—Trevin has written a number of books, including This is Our Time and Eschatological Discipleship.


Called Out is a show helping the church move from the reality of its brokenness toward the healing power of Christ.

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The Power of Encouragement

I came across a video from a few years back, featuring Maggie Rogers in her recording class at New York University. The class has a guest presenter in Pharrell Williams, most widely known for his hit song “Happy”, which my daughter thinks is the greatest song ever. Watch the video below (click here email readers):

As of this week, Maggie has one of the top newly released albums in the world, and just a few months before this she was the featured musical guest on Saturday Night Live. In the music industry, Maggie has made it. Yet only 30 months ago she was a college student, completely unknown to nearly everyone outside her classmates. How did this happen?

Well first, Pharrell liked her music, which caused music executives to take notice. But I wonder if there’s something deeper that took place during the 10-minute video.

The entire video is absolute gold:

  • her timidness around a music star
  • her side glances while he listens to see if he likes it
  • his facial expressions while listening to her song
  • her shock when he shares some feedback

It’s quite possible she has far more confidence in herself and her music than she displays around Pharrell, but it’s also quite possible she needed to hear Pharrell say it was good, in order for her to believe it.

I think that’s how most of us are. We have at least some confidence that we’re doing a good job. This confidence comes and goes. Some days are better than others. But this confidence is always mixed with the question: are we doing a good job? The answer is usually up for grabs.

What most of us could use more of is encouragement; little reminders that people around us notice about the things we easily overlook. God is aware of our need for encouragement, to the point He commands it through his Word: “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today” (Hebrews 3:13).

I must confess, encouragement does not come naturally to me. I have to be hugely intentional about sharing affirming words with those around me, because most often I just assume people know they’re doing great. Here are a few encouragements to you if you want to become a better encourager:

1. Ask God to help you become a better encourager. It makes sense that if God commands something, He can also help you grow in that area.

2. Make encouragement part of your daily prayer time. If you pray for other people consistently, you are half-way to encouraging them.

3. Be specific, when possible. Specific encouragement is always better than general encouragement.

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Drew Dyck (Called Out Episode 018)

In Paul’s list of the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 one fruit is clearly overlooked compared to the others: self-control. Though looking through the self-help section of the book store shows how in vogue focus on self-control is, godly self-control has little to do with the self-advancement of a self-help book or it wouldn’t be a Fruit of the Spirit of God.

Recently Drew Dyck endeavored to make self-control a bigger part of his life. This involved research into how self-control works in our brains, and what self-control means in the Bible. In the process Drew wrote a book I found to be incredibly insightful so we got together to talk through what self-control is, why it’s valuable, and how you can move toward having more of it.

Listen to the full episode below:

You can also find this episode anywhere you listen to podcasts, including:

Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Google Podcasts || Overcast

Links from the episode:

—Drew Dyck’s book on self-control titled Your Future Self Will Thank You. Highly recommended.

—Drew’s two previously released books Yawning at Tigers and Generation Ex-Christian.

Thanks for listening and supporting this podcast!


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