unity of the faith: an authentic congregation

“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13 NRSV)

If I agree and I do that the gifts described in Ephesians 4:11 emphasize living outside the church’s internal life.  I must accept responsibility for my gifting. If gifted as an apostle I acknowledge that God sends me. If gifted as a prophet I boldly and unapologetically proclaim the will of God. As an Evangelist, I spread the good news, as a pastor I minister to and protect the congregation, or as a teacher, I serve as an instructor of the Christian life. And with that acceptance, I must be sure that I carry out my work in such a way that I am equipping other followers of Christ for the work of the ministry. Responsible for building up the global church, until all of us, come to the unity of the faith. These gifts whichever I possess open up the opportunity to move the body of Christ to a place of united-ness, emphasizing a continual, dynamic relatedness of diverse peoples – to work toward moving the whole congregation toward intercultural life.

There are verbal and written desires for the worship on Sunday to reflect the residents of countless communities. For our communities of faith to become more culturally diverse. Does the average faith community understand the implications of such a racial shift? Does average faith community know that this move is about becoming an agent of racial reconciliation and authentic diversity? Are whole congregations willing to move toward intercultural life? And how would this cross-cultural life be authentic not just visible in the community?

Such a shift requires an ongoing commitment to diversity in worship and understanding that other people’s experience and response to Spirit in worship may be different and uncomfortable. Congregations must be willing to discuss openly the pain of racism that persists in America. There must be acknowledgment that the ever-changing nature of the church, relationships and contexts; calls for real engagement and mutuality; and pays attention to narratives of large and small similarities and differences (Branson & Martinez, 2011), and ultimately takes action steps to bridge the divide, which will prayerful propel us to authentic community.

If intercultural life is to be authentic whether apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher each must perform responsibilities in such a way that the congregation understands these implications and benefits. As a congregation, people of faith must hear and validate the narratives of every individual’s ethnic heritage and those of the surrounding cultures in our community to understand better our identity and our responsibility in the world (Branson & Martinez, 2011).

While leading the migration toward social reconciliation across cultural barriers the focus is not solely on demographic data but encompasses discerning and moving toward unique ways of unity and diversity. Congregations should look at the diversity that exists, while not evident at first glance. Cultural diversity within a community of faith can first be found within the unique heritage of those that gather together. Many Anglo-congregations have members, regular attendees, and casual seekers from Europe, Asia, South American, Africa, and the Caribbean. However, these influences play silently in the background to a Euro/Caucasian American experience. The challenge that we face and are working overcome is to allow these influences to be a visible part of our experiences together.

While there is no clear map toward goals of intercultural life, attitudes and convictions must continue drive the congregation toward completing the work necessary to understand our uniqueness, celebrate our diversity and stay the course toward becoming a multiethnic church, allowing our various ethnic and cultural backgrounds come together to form an authentic congregation (Branson & Martinez, 2011).

Branson, M. L., & Martinez, J. F. (2011). Churches Cultures & Leadership: A Practical Theology of Congregations and Ethnicities. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.

Product Review: 5.11 Tactical – Raven Range Tight


5.11 Raven Range Tight

5.11 Tactical debuted the Women’s Raven Range Tight at Shot Show 2016, and I stalked their website until there release for sale to the public. I think I got one wear out of them before having to take them out of the wardrobe rotation in 2016, tacticool does not always equal bump friendly. I was excited to pull them out this year and put them through the paces of mom life. On the front end let me say that I have not be compensated by 5.11 Tactical, Target, gracie’s gear or any affiliates for this review. I own 5.11 Tactical products, gracie’s gear and shop at Target.


What 5.11 Tactical says:
“Meet the greatest tights ever invented and your new best friend. Made from Ponte di Roma fabric, a durable stretch knit with a smooth, flattering finish, our Women’s Raven Range Tights deliver the comfort of a traditional yoga pant with operator- inspired utility. A wide elastic waistband, belt loops, and abrasion- resistant panels support your belt and holster, and the inseam ensures superior movement. Stay sharp and comfortable all day, whether you’re at the range, the gym, or just lounging. Pretty much perfect” 5.11 Tactical Women’s Raven Range Tight (Tundra). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.511tactical.com/womens-raven-range-tight.html.

What I say:
I love these yoga pants, as a new mom, I truly appreciate the slightly padded knees, which may serve no practical purpose for target practice at the range. The padded knees do offer a cushion for crawling around on the floor with an infant whose “roller game” is on point, for play, tummy time or just for mommy fun. To the non-shooters in the audience don’t let the words operator and tactical scare you, these are the best mom pants especially if you like to spend time on the floor with your little one(s).

Comfort and wearability, I have worn them to church, around the house, quick errands, and road trips. The look is classier than your standard yoga pant which makes them easier to dress up for “dress” casual settings with booties or flats. Practical for a workout or casual situations paired with sweatshirt and running shoes etc.

Durability, while the care instructions are tedious, I have worn them at least 16 times since mid-January 2017 and washed after each wear, and they still look good, I cannot speak to durability if you don’t follow the care instructions or varying water or detergents. Mine have held up nicely.

As I said before as a new mom, I believe these are ideal, and 5.11 may be missing out on a target audience for these tights, the slightly padded knee alone makes the price point almost worth it. I say almost because do you know how much baby gear you can purchase with $89.99. I would buy again at the least the first pair at that price point. Total cost was $96.07 with tax and free shipping on February 8, 2016. Would I like another pair, of course, but with an infant, I cannot justify the price, my husband can, but I cannot, should have taken advantage of the sale some weeks back, but we got baby gear instead.

Delicate wash and air/line dry. I would probably wear them more often if the care were not so labor intensive. Yes, the material dry’s quickly, and yes, I have other air dry clothing, but I have the same grip. And yes, most yoga, exercise clothing says air/hang dry but let’s be honest how many of us are air/hang drying our workout wear purchased at the local Target.

Which brings me to my other con, the price point, as a 5.11 fan girl I get it, you pay for quality and wearability but seriously $89.99 as much as I love these tights I am not sure it was worth the price point. Okay would I purchase the first pair again at that price, of course, did you miss the part where I said I stalked the website for them? I firmly believe these are ideal mom wear but am realistic the budgets of households with and without little ones. I have no idea what the cost of production is for these range tights however a price point of say $59.99 or 64.99 (comparable to the Men’s Fitness Vandal Short) would open a new market for 5.11. Minimally it would be nice for 5.11 to develop tactical mom wear that offers budget friendly prices for mom’s.

The other issue that others have commented on is no pocket, not even one, as a former runner I know the value of a “workout” pant with a pocket; I would suggest 5.11 reach out to gracie’s gear for a partnership. I have tanks and capris from gracie’s gear that offer a pouch that these 5.11 tights so desperately need. Gracie is a former colleague and while gracie’s gear has experienced some up’s and down’s, I love her products.

Final Thoughts:
I love the raven range tight. I have no regrets about this purchase. While I was not a mom when I made the purchase as a new mom they are the best thing ever. Just remember belt required.

Wesleyan Accent: Anxiety in Worship

This article is a repost of an article on a topic that is near to my heart. It has garnered feedback and sparked important conversation in the church. I invite you to re-read, read for the first time, and share…May your Resurrection Sunday be filled with the peace and love of God. – Elizabeth

{The full post can be found at World Methodist Evangelism}

Note from the Editor: We’re pleased to feature this important piece on mental health, anxiety, and communal worship. It also may be helpful perspective for clergy leading Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday services.

“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” – Hebrews 11:25 (MSG).

What if worship has become so creative that 18% of the population is on the outside?

The pendulum for creative contemporary worship has swung so far in many regions across denominations that segments of the population cannot assemble with others. Many Christians gather weekly and experience a one-sided worship celebration. It is one-sided because, even though everyone is welcome, these worship gatherings are not for everyone.

Continue at World Methodist Evangelism…