Each month the research assistants at Evangelical Alliance NI are sharing their thoughts on a variety of podcasts, books and videos that have taken their interest. Here they discuss three resources that have challenged and encouraged them, and they recommend that you invest some time exploring them too.
What we have been listening to: This Cultural Moment by John Mark Comer & Mark Sayers
“This Cultural Moment” is a new podcast brought to us by Portland’s John Mark Comer, and Melbourne’s Mark Sayers. While covering a number of topics, the podcast’s primary focus is following Jesus in the post-Christian, secular, “progressive” society in which we find ourselves.
Sayers stands second to none in cultural commentary (particularly post-Christian), whilst Comer prods, pursues and interprets Sayers' assessment of life as a Christian in a post-Christian society. The wide-ranging discussion includes, defining post-Christian culture, assessing the impact of digital capitalism and highlighting what the church did right (and wrong) when engaging with secular society in the mid 2000’s (expect speciality coffee and making church not look like church).
At Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland, we are passionate about seeing our society and culture flourish, so, it should come as no surprise that this podcast made its way around the office so quickly.
Saying that, we have found Comer and Sayers assessment of culture to be an illuminating addition to the discussion of the church’s place in the increasingly secular metropolis’ of Melbourne, Portland, and in our case, Belfast.
At twenty to thirty minutes per episode, the podcast is succinct, informative and can be listened to in its entirety in around two hours.
We recommend this engaging podcast, which combines theology with immensely practical application; well worth thirty minutes of your time!
(If podcasts aren’t your thing we recommend “Strange Days”, written by Mark Sayers.)
What we have been reading: Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller
“Counterfeit Gods” is a short and very readable book by Tim Keller. The premise is that Christians have made idols out of both good and bad things – building our lives upon things designed to only give limited satisfaction. The misplacement of love, trust and hope leads to discontentment as we end up pursuing the wrong things in life.
Tim Keller frames this book from the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. Abraham loved Isaac too much and was the source of his joy, similar to many things in our own lives today. God has blessed us with many things which have become our security and stability instead of God himself.
This framework is then used to explain people’s over-love of many things, including relationships, money, power and politics. Tim Keller explains that our object shouldn’t be to love these things less, but to love and trust Jesus more. We must not put our hope in earthly things which give temporary satisfaction, but trust in God whose steadfast and eternal hope doesn’t waver.
We’re living in a time of accelerated cultural climate change, and at Evangelical Alliance we’re passionate about demonstrating a deep love for Jesus which operates with confidence placed in him and not things of this world. Even in times of great political uncertainty, our heart is to reveal a hope placed in Jesus, not the powers and politics on earth whilst still looking to operate within this context.
“Counterfeit Gods” has challenged and convicted us, but also brought us great encouragement as we’ve been reminded that God is faithful and when we decide to lean in to him, he gives us all the satisfaction we need.
What we have been watching: Start with Why - How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek
Sinek’s TED talk gets us thinking about why we do what we do, and how we communicate our motivations to those around us. Sinek explains that all great and inspiring world leaders think, act and communicate in the same way. Most organisations and individuals know what they do, and often they know how they do it- but very few know why they do it.
What sets leaders apart is knowing and communicating the ‘why’ behind what they do. He looks to Martin Luther King Jnr as an example. Why is it that MLK led the Civil Rights Movement? He wasn’t the only great orator in America at that time, nor was he the only one who had suffered in a pre Civil Rights era. That said, in the summer of 1963 over 250,000 people showed up in Washington DC to hear MLK speak. This wasn’t because of who he was, but because they believed what he believed. MLK didn’t tell people what needed to change in America, he told people what he believed.
Sinek points out "people don’t buy what you do, they buy why they do it. What you do, serves as the proof of what you believe." Great leaders inspire people. Sinek points out there’s a difference between leaders, those who have power or authority, and those who lead and inspire us. We follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we believe in why they do what they do. Those leaders who start with communicating ‘why’ have the ability to inspire those around them- and in turn find others who inspire them. What’s the purpose, cause or belief which drives your actions?