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Amid conflicting ideas about what the church should be and do in a post-Christian climate, the missing voice is that of Paul. The New Testament's most prolific church planter, Paul faced diverse challenges as he worked to form congregations. Leading biblical scholar James Thompson examines Paul's ministry of planting and nurturing churches in the pre-Christian world to offer guidance for the contemporary church. The church today, as then, must define itself and its mission among people who have been shaped by other experiences of community. Thompson shows that Paul offers an unprecedented vision of the community that is being conformed to the image of Christ. He also addresses contemporary (mis)understandings of words like missional, megachurch, and formation.
Leading biblical scholar James Thompson explains that Paul offers a coherent moral vision based not only on the story of Christ but also on the norms of the law. Paul did not live with a sharp dichotomy of law and gospel and recognized the continuing importance of the law. --from publisher description
What is the ultimate purpose of pastoral ministry? What emphases and priorities should take precedence? In the day-to-day emphasis on various pastoral roles and pragmatic concerns, what can sometimes get lost is the theological foundation for understanding pastoral ministry. James Thompson is a New Testament scholar with a concern for relating biblical studies to practical ministry. Here he does a careful study of several of Paul's epistles in order to see what Paul's vision and purpose were for his own ministry. He finds that Paul's aim was an ethical transformation of the communities (not just individuals) with which he worked, so that they would live lives worthy of the gospel until Christ's return. Using this as a framework, Thompson offers suggestions for practical application to contemporary ministry.
Utilizes material from the award-winning Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible to introduce theological interpretation through a book-by-book survey of the New Testament.
"There are many introductions to the life, thought, and letters of Paul the apostle. Some concentrate upon his life, while others focus upon his thought, and still others on his letters. A few of them, like this book, try to integrate all three of them -- including on occasion material from the book of Acts -- into a useful portrait of the man and what he said and thought as revealed through his letters." - from preface.
We live in a wired world where 24/7 digital connectivity is increasingly the norm. Christian megachurch communities often embrace this reality wholeheartedly while more traditional churches often seem hesitant and overwhelmed by the need for an interactive website, a Facebook page and a twitter feed. This book accepts digital connectivity as our reality, but presents a vision of how faith communities can utilize technology to better be the body of Christ to those who are hurting while also helping followers of Christ think critically about the limits of our digital attachments. This book begins with a conversion story of a non-cell phone owning, non-Facebook using religion professor judgmental of the ability of digital tools to enhance relationships. A stage IV cancer diagnosis later, in the midst of being held up by virtual communities of support, a conversion occurs: this religion professor benefits in embodied ways from virtual sources and wants to convert others to the reality that the body of Christ can and does exist virtually and makes embodied difference in the lives of those who are hurting. The book neither uncritically embraces nor rejects the constant digital connectivity present in our lives. Rather it calls on the church to a) recognize ways in which digital social networks already enact the virtual body of Christ; b) tap into and expand how Christ is being experienced virtually; c) embrace thoughtfully the material effects of our new augmented reality, and c) influence utilization of technology that minimizes distraction and maximizes attentiveness toward God and the world God loves.
In this volume, two of today's most respected authors help pastors recover their gospel identity and clarify their vision of Christian leadership. Eugene Peterson and Marva Dawn reconnect pastors with biblical texts that equip them to be countercultural servants of the gospel. In his chapters Peterson explores 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, drawing from them scriptural images for pastoral identity. In alternating chapters Dawn turns to Ephesians for instructions to churches seeking to live faithfully against societal tides. This book is for anyone involved in church or parachurch leadership or for anyone now preparing for ministry.

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