The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries, by Rodney Stark. Joining sociology and history, Stark contributes much new insight to the amazing rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire—and he reaches some surprising conclusions.
For several years I was an associate pastor on the staff of a large congregation. I often found myself preaching on the Sunday following Easter, a Sunday that's sometimes called "low Sunday." In the rhythm of life among God's people, low Sunday is the calm after the storm.
I like the energy and talent in our praise group, but invariably I'm the one who asks if the bass player could turn
down his amp. I've also been known to ask if we could sing more songs that let
Jesus down off of the cross.
Fruitful leadership in an established
church requires learning the congregation's story. God's vision
will emerge partly out of that history, and leaders must be able to connect
the new vision to past visions.
Although Jesus is called teacher in the Gospel of Mark, that Gospel includes little of the teachings of Jesus. His parables confound his listeners rather than leading to greater understanding. Jesus’ teaching in Mark is performative, says Brian Blount; Jesus taught by the way he lived. He doesn’t teach love as a concept, he acts it out by touching lepers and allowing diseased people to touch him, engaging women as equals, associating with the marginalized, and breaking laws that don’t promote human well-being. If we want to teach the reign of God as Jesus taught it, then we need to craft a curriculum that does more than inform (Interpretation, April).