In case you haven't heard, we love churches. We love those who have been partnering with us for many years as well as those who have just joined. To help you better know some of these churches and their leaders, we want to feature them here. Today, we meet L.T. Chuong, pastor of A Seat at the Table Church (ASATT), to hear about his conversion, bi-vocational ministry, and ASATT's vision to be a growing multiethnic and multigenerational church that can reach the unreached of the greater Houston area and beyond.
In an age where we're easily divided into camps, churches must fight to remember our common purpose. We must make an effort to be counter-cultural, not only in what we believe but also in the way we live it out. At UBA, we're proud to have several examples of churches doing innovative collaboration, pooling resources, and working together to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are just a few of those stories:
De todas las historias de la bíblica, una de mis favoritas es la visión de los huesos secos en el capítulo 37 del libro de Ezequiel. Dios lleva al profeta a un valle que según los primeros versos estaba “lleno de huesos” y “secos en gran manera.” Entonces Dios le hace una pregunta muy extraña al profeta: “vivirán esos huesos?” A lo que el profeta contestó, “solo tú, Señor lo sabes.” Dios quiere y puede darle vida a su iglesia. Nosotros deseamos ayudarle.
Of all the stories in the Bible, one of my favorites is the vision of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. God takes the prophet to a valley that was "full of bones" and "dried up in a great way" according to the first verses. Then, God asks a very strange question to the prophet: "Will those bones live?" To which the prophet replied, "Sovereign Lord, you alone know." God is willing and able to give new life to your church, and we want to help you, as well.
The church is getting some tragically and disturbingly well-deserved bad press these days. I do not excuse the bad actions of any who are a part of the church. We are all responsible for being light and salt in our world, and the church must take care to provide a safe and secure environment.
However, when my adult daughter and I have conversations about the state of the church, I remind her of her grandma, a powerful example of a loving life. Even in the midst of bad publicity we've brought upon ourselves, the church is still filled with good people quietly doing good things. That's worth taking a moment to remember.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:1-3 that in order to walk worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus, members of the church body must work diligently to keep the spirit of peace which holds us together. But why? Why is the unity of the church such a major doctrinal concern? If it is “work,"—and especially if it is a work in need of “diligence,”—then there must be something larger at stake when unity in the church is failing. Why is unity important in the church body? Allow me to offer three biblical reasons from Ephesians 4.
I just finished the 1st of The Houston Chronicle 3-part series on sexual abuse within Southern Baptist churches. Like other SBC pastors and church members, my response is one of grief and sadness for the victims and frustration for those who were never brought to justice. Yet, I also understand that while calls for a response and a denominational fix have been given for years, the nature of church autonomy—as addressed briefly in the article—puts the SBC in a unique position as compared to other denominations. Nevertheless, denominational polity is not something that will concern most readers of the story. For those who are victims of such abuse, it shouldn't.
On my last sabbatical, I researched the early church. I studied the time from right after the resurrection of Jesus until the time of Constantine and wanted to see how they survived and thrived during a time when they were not the cultural norm and experienced intense persecution. I grew up in a Christian culture where Christianity was not only accepted but also encouraged by the culture. Getting to know the early church taught me many important lessons, some of which were hard to learn.
If you ask me today, “What do you do all week?” and then again next week, the answers will probably be different. It’s just one of the many reasons I love working for UBA. Like everyone else on the team, I love churches. I love bringing them together, and I love helping them share the love of Jesus effectively. It takes all of us working together to reach our city. It’s why we’re better together.
This month is Pastor Appreciation Month, and we've been talking about it quite a bit. It's a time to show your pastors how much you love them and appreciate their ministry, and I'm glad we have the designated time. But what should you get them or do for them? Hopefully, we don't need a designated month to remember to love our pastors well, but here are a few suggestions of how you can serve them all year round.