Christianity in Today's America
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Jeff Goins

Originally from northern IL, Jeff Goins lives in Nashville, TN with his wife and dog.

Posted 12/11/11 at 3:47 PM | Jeff Goins

Tuxedoes and Missionaries: Do the Two Mix?

Missionaries in Tuxedoes

"Why y'all dressed up?" the African-American man asked me, waiting for his drink at the bar.

"We're missionaries," I said, unbuttoning the coat of my tuxedo and leaning on the bar.

"Y'all are missionaries?" he asked, his eyes wide as he sipped his martini.

"Yep." I couldn't help but grin. I looked around to see if anyone else was nearby. Nope. It was just the two of us.

A few long minutes ticked by without a word. The sound of laughter and clinking glasses in the background made the silence even more uncomfortable. I cleared my throat.

Then, after glancing around the reception hall full of black ties and long dresses, he turned back to me. "Why?" he asked, earnestly.

It was a simple question, and I knew what he was asking. Why all this — this hoopla — for a bunch of missionaries? Why the largesse? Why the fanfare?

The irony of the situation didn't escape anyone present. No one felt comfortable in those penguin suits, picking hors d'ouevres off a silver plate. This is the same question others have asked, the same one that, admittedly, haunted me. FULL POST

Posted 12/7/10 at 5:28 PM | Jeff Goins

Thoughts on Advent (and Christmas)

We evangelicals don't do a very good job of celebrating Advent, something many mainline denominations and the Catholics have been doing for quite some time now.

But recently, I've fallen more in love with the liturgical calendar. I've come to relish the importance of the seasons of Advent and Lent and the symbolism they represent. I love that they represent more than a split-second decision, that they speak to the journey of life. FULL POST

Posted 10/13/10 at 11:05 PM | Jeff Goins |

8 comments

Is Christianity About Going to Heaven?

Lately, I've been hearing people talk a lot about Christianity in terms of dying and going to heaven. It's especially prevalent from the evangelical pulpit. You hear things like, "When we go to heaven..." or "In heaven..." -- phrases that are usually followed by some great human conflict resolved.

But I'm struggling with this paradigm. I fail to see it expressed in Scripture. FULL POST

Posted 6/18/10 at 9:56 AM | Jeff Goins

Jesus and the Good News about Suffering

It's about time that we in America were a little more honest -- about life and about our spirituality.

Let's face it: life is hard. There are lay-offs and kids with runny noses and sleepless nights and stupid bosses. This should be no surprise to you that times can be tough.

No, that's not to say that every day is an insurmountable challenge to overcome. There is grace and peace and rest. But most days -- at least for those who work hard and go to bed tired -- consist of a good amount of struggle and toil. FULL POST

Posted 6/19/09 at 6:18 AM | Jeff Goins |

2 comments

Is the Gospel of Jesus Still Relevant?

I recently had a debate with a friend, regarding sharing the gospel and cultural relevance. He asked me, "What's the worst that could happen if you unwaveringly shared the gospel with someone, not caring about being sensitive to their situation or culturally relevant?"

His reasoning was sound, and it challenged me. I had grown up in an irreligious home where we were skeptical of "Jesus freaks" and people who took religion and the Bible too seriously. When I became a Christian, I was passionate about telling everyone I knew about heaven, hell, and salvation. After I didn't see anyone responding to my clarion call to repent, I wondered if something was wrong with me, or if it was the message I was presenting.

For awhile, I dismissed it with the fact that Jesus said just as the world hated him, it would hate us. Then, I read what Paul wrote to the Corinthians: FULL POST

Posted 3/29/09 at 3:31 PM | Jeff Goins

Why Discomfort Is Not a Christian's Enemy

Today at church, we had a discussion about praying "dangerous prayers."

A few people in the class admitted that they were afraid of asking God to do certain things in their lives, because they didn't trust him. This is a pretty bold and unapologetically honest group, so I appreciated the candor. We talked about how tough it is to trust God sometimes, because it feels like he's less concerned with our happiness than we are. He sees the big picture and is much more okay with pulling us through glass if it makes us a little bit more like him.

I got to share at the end of the discussion and said something that had been on my heart for awhile: "Our lives aren't that great that we should want to do without discomfort." In other words, life is kind of bland and meaningless without some danger. FULL POST

Posted 1/31/09 at 10:50 AM | Jeff Goins |

1 comment

What Does Missional Mean?

There is a lot of talk in churches and in the blogosphere these days about being "missional." We used to call it being "outreach-oriented," but now there's this new buzzword: missional. It sounds cool, but what, exactly, does it mean to be missional?

One blogger explained being missional like this:

There was a day when people believed in institutions and joined them. People wanted to be members of churches and clubs. That day has passed. We can mourn its passing if we want, but it would be a waste of time to try to recapture the importance of the church as an institution. Reggie McNeal... is hard on us institutional types (like me) when he says that people these days are simply not interested in joining a religious club. They do not want to be a part of a group whose main purpose is to continue its own existence. From my own observations, I agree. We can figure out how to be the best religious club the universe has ever seen, and still go out of business in this post modern world.

My church has been raising these same questions, wondering what it looks like for us - a small fellowship that meets in a high school in middle Tennessee - to live more missional lives.

FULL POST

Posted 1/14/09 at 3:45 PM | Jeff Goins

Revolutions and Kingdoms: Why Jesus was more than a revolutionary

There is a major difference between a revolution and a kingdom. Revolutions come and go every few decades. Kingdoms often last for centuries. Every generation seems to have its own revolution of sorts, but when was the last time a generation established an entirely new kingdom?

It takes a lot of gumption to turn a revolution into a kingdom.

There's a lot of talk about "revolution" these days, especially in regards to how the church should be making an impact on its surrounding culture. The 1960s and 1970s had its own religious revolution with the Jesus Movement. More recently, social justice advocates, including the rock star Bono, have called for a revolution to "make poverty history".

Image of Che Guevara, courtesy of Wikipedia.com. Che helped lead the Communist Revolution in Cuba and in several other countries in the mid-20th century.
Ernesto "Che" Guevara, courtesy of Wikipedia.com. Che helped lead the Communist Revolution in Cuba and in several other countries in the mid-20th century.

It's fun to talk about revolutions and movements. It's trendy, even. As the Beatles once sang, "You say you want a revolution? Well, we all want to change the world..." Moreover, there's nothing particularly wrong (or right) with a revolution. It's an important catalyst to change, but few people ever talk about what happens after the revolution is over.

Take the story of Che Guevara, for instance (pictured to the right, courtesy of Wikipedia.com). Che is a 20th century symbol of political revolution. You've probably seen his face on a T-shirt in a mall somewhere. Early in his life, Ernesto "Che" Guevara was a doctor, and a man of incredible compassion. During his travels throughout Latin America, he was so moved by the endemic poverty that he joined up with Castro and was a major player in the Cuban revolution. Unfortunately, his compassion and drive was twisted into ruthless violence.

Revolutions are exciting, but often short-lived. Without the right end-game, they can definitely turn into something ugly. Here's the rub: Jesus didn't come to start a revolution without establishing a kingdom.

According to our friends at Wikipedia, a revolution is a "fundamental change in power." According to that definition, Christ's campaign to set humanity free from slavery to sin, to break social mores, and to forever alter the course of history definitely fits under the category of "revolution." Jesus was, indeed, a revolutionary. FULL POST