Written by Manny Ortiz and Susan Baker Thursday, 04 June 2015 10:11

Why should we plant churches in the 21st century? Stuart Murray wrote in his book Planting Churches in the 21st Century, “I am convinced that church planting is crucial for the continuing mission of the church and the health of the Christian community.” But why is this true? The overarching dynamic that is requiring us to rethink how we do church is globalization. Globalization equates to movement - movement of people, movement of economies, movement of religious influence, movement of data.

Urban Church Planting

What does this mean to us in the U.S. and in Philadelphia in particular?

Between 2000 and 2010 the total number of foreign-born people in the U.S. increased by 7.5 million. Most of the increase came from Asia (2.5 million), Africa (.6 million) and Latin America (4.5 million) whereas the number of foreign-born from Europe actually decreased by almost .1 million.

What does this mean to the church?

It means our churches must be able to effectively minister to a much more diverse population. Where can we find this diversity? Mostly in the cities as people are drawn to existing family and friends as well as a variety of economic opportunities. Urbanization has increased to a point where over 80% of the U.S. population can be found in urban areas.


Written by Dr. Milton Eng Tuesday, 02 June 2015 16:18

Many years ago when I considered going to seminary, Biblical was one of my options. I wrote the admissions office and they sent me some interesting materials. Among them was an article authored by Dr. Allan MacRae entitled, “With the Rich in His Death.” Dr. MacRae was the co founder and first president of Biblical.

Study Hebrew

In the article, he does a wonderful job of unpacking the meaning of Isa 53:9, “And he made his grave with wicked, and with the rich in his death.” (KJV) This prophecy of Christ is actually alluded to in the brand new NBC mini series A.D. The Bible Continues. In the very first episode, “The Tomb is Open,” Caiaphas, the high priest is dismayed to hear that the deceased Jesus has been placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea – in fulfillment of Isa 53:9! (You can view the scene by skipping to about 20 minutes in).

Dr. MacRae demonstrates how even just a basic knowledge of Hebrew can open up the Scriptures in new and fascinating ways. He shows how careful attention to the text will not only curb the tendencies of modernist interpreters, but also confirms in greater detail the Bible’s divine inspiration.


Written by Drew Hart Thursday, 28 May 2015 14:07

Most American Christians would probably say that at the center of the Christian life is the Bible, and being biblical. Most are convinced that being biblical separates the sheep from the goats, but this is not so.

Jesus and Allergies

The problem with this framing is not that a ‘biblical orientation’ demands too much but that in reality it demands too little. It is too vague rather than too specific. It still remains a wide path rather than the narrow one. Merely using the term biblical does not necessarily call one to the concrete and particular life set free by our Creator. In fact, people have used the Bible to justify almost every way of life. Rarely in the Church in the West has what has been considered ‘biblical’ aligned very well with a life formed after the birth, ministry, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Too often, claims of living biblically has left those unwilling to accept the costs of following Jesus with creative theological justifications for having discipleship to Jesus allergies.

Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.

There’s a good chance that all around you folks are suffering from discipleship to Jesus allergies. It’s a terrible illness. And it seems to spread in the Church like weeds.


Written by Manny Ortiz and Susan Baker Thursday, 07 May 2015 12:49

In our years of experience working in several major cities and continuing to do so in New York City and Philadelphia, we have noticed that the church panics when it is looking for leaders who are both contextually and theologically prepared. Therefore, many have reached outside the local church to solicit help from those who are theologically sound but may not be contextually relevant, or they are contextually relevant but lack theological training.

Urban Leadership

When that panic button goes off, another venue might be to solicit help from other urban churches. In any case there is a problem of orientation and re-education into a new context, because in the city the cultural and social dynamics vary a great deal from community to community.

The urgent call for us is to prepare leadership from within the local church to advance the kingdom of God in a diverse and changing world. One means to this end is to be intentional about growing leaders both for the local church and for the missional work of the church through church planting. This begins with an identification/selection process.

We believe that the local church has within itself all the necessary gifts to carry out its unique ministry. The question is how do we identify potential leaders and then select them for a process that continues from that point on. This is best done in a non-formal setting developing leaders through relationship building, reflection, and response.


Written by David Lamb Monday, 04 May 2015 11:21

This day has a special significance in our family. On May 4, 1997 our younger son Noah was born. He turns eighteen today. He’s now an adult.

Today also has special meaning for fans of the movie franchise, Star Wars, and in recent years there’s been a movement to brand it as “Star Wars Day.”

Star Wars

Why call it Star Wars day?

May the fourth be with you.

Painful, but slightly clever. When Noah was younger, he really loved Star Wars, perhaps this explains it.

After a decade long hiatus, another Star Wars feature film will come out this Christmas, see trailer here. In each of the previous films, the phrase, “May the force be with you” has been spoken at least once, so it’s safe to say it will appear in the next one as well.

Why is the phrase so popular?


Written by Dan Hyun Thursday, 30 April 2015 00:00

As a church planter and pastor in Baltimore, my soul is burdened with all of the hurt and pain in my city this week. Though it has been encouraging to know that more people from around the country are praying for my city than ever before, right now I wish the city I love could be famous for different reasons.

Riots in Baltimore

The injuries sustained by Freddie Gray and his subsequent tragic death in police custody have rallied Baltimore residents, who had peacefully protested for weeks. Based on the coverage from major media outlets, however, one would believe that the protests have been all about random riots, looting, and fires.

I’ve seen many on social media asking why someone would destroy the neighborhoods where they live and that none of this would be happening if people simply made better choices or parents did a better job of raising their kids. However, we must avoid the temptation of letting the media paint us an overly simplistic picture of Baltimore and her issues.

These protests and riots are not merely the culmination of the past few weeks’ events. They are the collective groaning of years of brokenness from systemic sin in our city under a brewing simmer that had finally reached this boiling point. In a city experiencing the gentrification of its neighborhoods, urban renewal often comes at the expense of the poor and disenfranchised. We are observing the collective despair of a city that has been like a powder keg waiting to explode, and the tragic events with Freddie Gray have been the match to light the fuse.


Written by Dr. David Kirkner Tuesday, 28 April 2015 00:00

Journey with Jesus

A Chronology of the Life and Ministry of Jesus is a linear history of Jesus's life and ministry and a tool for realizing Jesus is the Representation of the Godhead, the Good Shepherd, the Head of the Church, the Radiance of God's glory, our Hope, and the One to whom we are to be conformed. It may serve you as a devotional, a source for deep study, a "wake up" from a season of dry quiet times, or perhaps it will be a vehicle for deepening your knowledge and intimacy with the Messiah. No matter the reason for its use "A Chronology ..." has been authored for the sole purpose of "wowing" you with a unique and transformational awareness of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul writes: "God chose us before the foundation of the world to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-30). Why then, should we not get to know Him, to see and understand how He lived in His historical context 2100 years ago so that we can imitate Him and learn how to live in our context in the 21st century.

A Focus on Connectivity and Readability

The Gospel accounts have been integrated so that there are no parallel columns, no duplicate paragraphs on top of one another, but simple narrative from the New English Translation Bible that spells out the entirety of Jesus' earthly ministry.

In addition, each Gospel has a respective color so that when you see RED you'll know you're reading a portion from Matthew, MARK is blue, LUKE is orange, and JOHN is purple. Parallel passages have been indicated in their respective colors.

The following is an example which comes at the beginning of Jesus' Year of Inauguration.


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