March 12, 2021

Building community, an interview with Craig Bean

Building community, an interview with Craig Bean

Craig Bean is a close and dear friend and, I think, one of the very best to talk about intentional culture creation. Most people believes the culture to our congregations walk in the doors and leadership should respond to the culture in the pews. 

Craig talks about how to foster and create the kind of culture where Christians actively make positive change the places they are. Craig is a smart guy, and he's been a blessing to me for many years. I pray he is the same for you.

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Transcript
Kenny Embry:

In this episode of balancing the Christian life, we talk to Craig being about creating community. Welcome to balancing the Christian life. I'm Dr. Kenny Embry. We'll talk about how to be better Christians and people in the digital age. Let's go. Thanks for joining. So, what's it like going to your church? I think all of us have answers to that question. It seems to me that the controversies and problems we have in the culture at large, often get reflected in our particular congregations. The me tube movement coincided with several high profile sex scandals, and some Margaret churches, the Black Lives Matter of movement has caused many Christians to reexamine race in the church. I think some of these are important and relevant to how we act as Christians. Yet, it often seems like the culture shapes our Christianity, instead of Christianity, shaping our culture. In sports, we often talk about how a new coach will lead a team and drastically change the culture of the team. In other words, they see things that are working and either amplify or maintain those things. And at the same time, take the dysfunction and get it out. Church is obviously different than a sports team. In most sports, there is the opportunity to get rid of the bad apples. But in churches, most of the work is done by volunteers. However, I think there are important lessons we can and should learn from people who change things where they are for the better. This week, I'm talking to a close and dear friend, Craig being Craig is a minister in Wisconsin and one of the two guys who I think just get me. When I asked Greg to be on the podcast, he listened to a few episodes, and then asked when he could fly down and talk in my dining room. That's the kind of guy Craig is, once he's in. He's all in. Craig is good at creating communities. And I wanted to see what he had to say about this. I think it's fair to say Craig is a smart and cerebral guy. It takes a couple of listens to understand everything we both have to say. But I think what he says is gold. So Craig, what do you think about social media?

Craig Bean:

Well, I think it says great, incredible tool. And like any good tool, you got to make sure that you knowing how to use it to the best potential. Personally, I am not technically on social media, Craig, I'm shot. But my wife is, and my wife keeps me really informed. And all of my kids are. In fact, my youngest son. He is a social media strategist. And I mean, that's his full time, job and world. Yeah. And so I have all these touch points that keep me connected. That being said, our local church family that we are a part of, has a great website and a great online presence that we've been able to use as a really incredible tool for years now. And one of the things in trying to explain, and it's usually to older people. Okay, just what the dynamics of this look like, yeah, you know, cuz you say, a web presence, and they may not even know what you're talking about at all right? And I explain that our web site is what the Yellow Pages used to be. Yeah. And that's usually something that they can connect and relate to, right, or it's what the sign out in front of the building used to be. It communicated. It was an introduction, and often our invitation now, this is who we are. And we'd love for you to come and check us out. And these digital formats of introduction are incredibly useful tools that can be used for the betterment and the spread of the gospel in just some wonderful, wonderful ways. Yeah. So we have had the experience over the last couple of years. We have been putting online just short five minute little teaching videos. Yeah. And not because I'm involved in them, because it's all in the editing, as you know, can it's all in the editing. Yeah. That make it look palatable. and engaging. Yeah. And then, of course, with the the health crisis and the pandemic. We've gone to live streaming, which is another great tool. And yes, there are, you know, all kinds of red flags and warnings and things, but just, there's so many positives that can come out of this. And they have come out. Yeah. For us, we have experienced on more than one occasion, people walking through the front door, they walked right up to me. And they say you don't know me, but I feel like I know you. Yeah. Because they've been engaging online. Or they've been watching these teaching videos. We had a family come to us had just moved. And it was a huge, life changing move for them and for their five kids. And they walked in the door on one Sunday morning and said, We're here. We're going to place membership today. We have we have absolutely devoured your website. And we we feel totally comfortable. Even though this is our first time setting foot through the door. Yeah. Placing membership with this group of God's people. We had a woman walk through the door again, same scenario, she walked up to me and she said, I know you. Because I've been watching online. I want to be baptized today. Big just from the engagement on on the website. Yeah. Another man, the exact same thing. The woman's name was glory of men's name was Michael he walked through the door. And he said, I, I have tried to re trace how I found your website. And you know how that is one thing comes up, and then it takes you to something else to something else to something else. But somehow in this string of I don't know how long he was online, he found us. And then he stayed there. And he processed through things. And he walked through the door and he said I want to be baptized into Christ today. That says, That's incredible. People that are reaching out to us, literally from all over the world that are engaging with us through livestream. Those are some pretty powerful positives.

Kenny Embry:

I completely agree. There are negatives.

Craig Bean:

There are too many me the negatives is the easy is that comes with digital connection, as easy as it is to connect. It's just that easy to disconnect. Yeah. And you know, the thing that I think so many people are just kind of irked about social media and devices that are in people's hands all the time, is that there is constantly a level of distraction. Real Life doesn't have your full attention, nor does the device have your full attention. Right. And so engagement on that level? You know, I don't know, and what's the percentage? Are you getting 50% 40% 60%? I don't know that.

Kenny Embry:

The fact that

Craig Bean:

it allows you to participate as avoider and that you aren't personally engaged. I'm intrigued by more and more online churches. And I'm talking a very wide diversity of fellowships. How they are trying to engage with the online community more and more. Yeah. And I'm, I'm seeing and I'm hearing preachers with an online presence. And they're saying things like, type, amen into the chat line. And, you know, we're here today, and we're going to be talking about power. So type in the word power, you know, and it's just a way of trying to engage the dynamics of God's people being together, are challenged by digital community. But there's a dynamic to this, that's amazing that we are able to connect with people literally around the world. And digital communities usually are based on interest, rather than geographical location. Yeah. Well, the interest of course, is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I mean, that's the dynamic that we're talking about. Yeah. And that's an incredible interest. And I think that that has a great potential to engage and empower and motivate people. You can be talking to a guy in India. And you're saying, Look, he's got the same challenges I've got. These are first world third world issues or problems. Now this is this is life. And this is how the gospel of Jesus Christ addresses or meets that need. Yeah, I think that's incredibly, that just puts a smile on my face.

Kenny Embry:

While we do, you and I have talked about this community is one of those things you're either going to fall victim to, or you're going to start creating one. And when you start thinking about a virtual community, and I do believe online is a community, and not just one, it's many, that there are all these different communities, and I think you are exactly right, their interest based. And when you don't have the interest in kamado grills anymore, you just dropped out of that community, and it's fine, that's fine, right? We didn't expect you to stay there for your entire life, just as long as you were interested in the topic at hand. But when the topic becomes Jesus, and when the topic becomes the values that you're going to choose to live your life by? How do you create a community?

Craig Bean:

Wow, there's something to the fact that God has already created it. There is the dynamic of on this rock, I will build my church. It's the Lord's church, he is the architect of it. And he has designed this thing that we call community. The word community does not appear in our English New Testaments. But the concept is there. And in fact, the word is there. But it just usually isn't translated that way. In the first few chapters of the book of Acts, we see with Unity, they were united to gather, well come unity. The Latin origins come with Unity. That's what it is. So we see. And then we see the dynamics of literal community of the early church, all throughout the book of Acts. Yeah. So creating a community, we're not talking about creating something outside of what God has already created, right? We're working within that dynamic. And typically, what we always talk about is the universal church and the local church, right. And there's a sense in which we always have this mindset, that, you know, it's from the first century all the way to now it's, you know, the, the dead saints, it's the living saints, it's people all over the globe. What digital formats are allowing us to do is to be able to connect more and more with, not with dead saints, but with the living saints that are all over the globe. Yeah, at once. That That's powerful. Yeah, there's nothing new under the sun, right? This is unique. And we have a great opportunity to take advantage of engaging with one another.

Kenny Embry:

We've all been in that group of people. And it doesn't have to be a church. It can be a group project that you're a part of, and the group is doing really well. And then that new person comes in, and just everything is out of whack. For some reason, they have figured out how to take every everything that's working, and just wreck it. That's somebody who's creating a community.

Unknown:

Oh, yeah.

Kenny Embry:

How do you intentionally make a community that works? Well?

Craig Bean:

Is there a deliberate? working it? Yes, there has to be that comes out of maturity, in just Time In the Word and time with the Lord, and time with people. There's a real dynamic that I see built into the church that Jesus died for. Yeah. On the one hand, there is this dynamic that the church is it's the pinnacle, and it is so ideal, and it's intended to be that way by design, right by God's design. And so you know, we are told that we are the pillar and we are the support of the truth, right? We don't create truth. we uphold the truth and so we Have this unbelievable, high standard. And we see that reflected over and over again through the epistles through the book of Acts. You know, sin is not to be tolerated, right? So we have this incredible high standard, well, alright, that's going to shape your community. But at the exact same time, in that same reality, we have this other dynamic, and they're sort of held in tension. And the other dynamic is, is that God's Church was designed to be a hospital. Yeah, and we are recovering centers, and every single one of us, we don't deserve to be there. we stumble. And we pick ourselves back up. And there's a built into this integrity of what the true church is, yeah. This at the same time, this incredible high standard. And at the same time, we are all in this hospital of recovering centers. I mean, literally, they're their sons, Sunday mornings, I feel like getting up and saying, Hi, my name is Craig, I'm a sinner. And, you know, let's just start there, and I am a sinner saved by grace. Yeah. And so, those two components, those are like the two pistons, that drive community. Yeah. And whether we're talking about in person, or whether we're talking about through these digital connections, that sense of community and that, that there's, there's as much as it is planned, orchestrated by God. What, what I appreciate, are those moments when you just kind of look around, and you see, okay, this is way bigger than me. And you know, that the other dynamic related to community and related to the outsider. Acts, chapter 14, Paul assumes that there are going to be unbelievers that are part of the assembly, or part of the community. And that their reaction would be God is really among you. And so that, again, that becomes part of the dynamic of and informs us of what this community is supposed to look like. Yeah, and, and how it's supposed to function. And I grew up in churches that focused a lot on decent and in order. And I value that, I appreciate that. But at the same time, there are so many aspects of our coming together. That is supposed to be like, the ideal Thanksgiving family gathering around the table, that there's a spontaneity to it. But there is definitely a structure to it. Yeah. And I'm not taking anything away from the structure. But the the, the joyfulness and the spontaneity of, of that, that joy just brings to something. I remember no gospel preacher one time said in a prayer, he said, Lord, just let something happen today in the service that isn't already written out in the bullet.

Kenny Embry:

That was a great perspective. Yeah, yeah. I love that. I think my own sense is that communities often top down

Craig Bean:

the part of the country where I currently live in the group of people. The community, the local church, yeah, that I am a part of the vast majority of them came from different religious backgrounds, most of them came out of very formal, very high church. liturgy driven, very ceremonial kind of worship structures. Sure. Almost by default, that's your assumption of how it's supposed to be. And again, there is structure to what God has given to his people. Yeah. But there is this family dynamic and one of the things that we really top down, try to communicate to people and get them to see from their own engagement with Scripture. Is that walking in, sitting down, ticking a box, getting up and walking out? That isn't what this is about, right? And in fact, we go so far as to say, okay, you're sitting in a Pew, but don't think for a second that you are the audience. You are the participants, you are the worshiper, right? God is the audience, right? That perspective. And it permeates everything. And it changes. I'm, I'm blessed. We're part of what I call a talkback congregation. You know, we have people that aren't afraid to say Amen. And I have come to really, really appreciate that. I mean, I know I know, you got to be careful with a young preacher, you know, saying a men in a sermon for a young preacher. He thinks that's the green light, I can preach 10 minutes longer than I was planning to. I don't look at it that way. I see it again, as God given and built into God's plan. that builds community. Yeah. Because when we, when someone says Amen. Or when we all say amen. At the end of a prayer, or, you know, there are a couple of hymns that are written in such a way that you sing an Amen At the end. I always wonder why why do we drop that off? You know, when we are engaged together? That is, to me critical to community building? Why did we come together in the first place, right, again, whether in person or online, we're coming together, because we're drawn by something that connects us and binds us right? In the assembly of God's people. I note the fact that the Hebrew writer calls it a joyful assembly. And that one of our reasons for being there. Number one, it is absolutely absolutely vertical. It's to praise and worship and honor God. Sure. But then there is this incredible horizontal dynamic as well. We are teaching we are encouraging, we are building one another up. And for the very reasons when we say Amen, that's intended to encourage and validate what what what was said. We all agree with that. Right? And we are in this assembly of people. And these are the truths that we hold to be self evident, right. That's why we share the supper together. Right? Is because we are proclaiming the Lord's death until he comes there is a there is a preaching that's going on, even in the silence of watching other brothers and sisters. This means the same thing to them that it means to me. Yeah. Okay, that that is not only God honoring, but it does the very thing that Scripture tells us that we we honor the body. When we do this.

Kenny Embry:

Yeah. You call this a hospital for centers. I could not agree more with that characterization. Yeah. Because I think one of the things I have tipped my hand on this multiple times, I think families are created to reflect a spiritual reality. I think it's no mistake, that God calls himself our father. I think he created fathers for us to understand that relationship.

Craig Bean:

Yes.

Kenny Embry:

I think one of the things that happens, and you talk about the Lord's Supper, you know, every night I have supper with my kids, too. Yeah. Sometimes they don't want to be there. Sometimes they have sometimes

Craig Bean:

they don't want to be there. Sometimes you don't want to be there.

Kenny Embry:

Sometimes they don't want to be there. Sometimes I don't want to be there. Sometimes the conversation is not that great. But you know what? They're all here. Yeah. And you know why they're all here. They love each other. Yeah, they love me. Yeah, the thing that makes church work or not work? Is that care. It's that love and if you want to wreck it real fast. start hating on people. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. So, you know, one way to start defining how to create a culture is to define how do you record culture. So Craig, how do you record culture Wow.

Craig Bean:

often talk about it this way, first of all, momentum, building momentum. And it's such a critical thing. The dynamics of it that proverbial snowball, at the top of the hill, it picks up speed and size as it goes down. It's getting it started. That when you have it, if you're part of a local group, and it's got momentum, it's, there's a sense that this is a joyful assembly, man, appreciate it, appreciate it, value it deliberately keep an emphasis on that. How do you wreck it? Yeah. Be afraid of it. Be afraid of where this could go? Or where it could lead?

Kenny Embry:

unpack that a little bit?

Craig Bean:

I appreciate the slippery slope mentality. I really do. And I don't want to have any part of that. But you know, if if you have a really joyful assembly, doesn't mean that you have abandoned principle, and you have embraced emotionalism. It doesn't automatically mean that it might, but for it to be alive and active, and attractive. Yeah. And I'm not talking about creating something that is not of the Lord. Listen, if this isn't the Lord, I don't want to have anything do with it. Right. But if it's genuine, I'm putting my confidence that what God designed meets all of our needs. What God designed, I think some of us have the mentality that to be on the straight and narrow means it's going to taste like dry toast. Every step of the way. Yeah. Yeah. And that's not the circumspect perspective of what God has in store for us, right. I mean, the same God who said, and explains to us about the straight and narrow, also says, Don't forget, mind has not thought I has not seen ear has not heard. The things that I have in store are God is an incredible god of imagination. And he is able to work within our world in such a way that we can see those expressions and appreciate them. You can you can wreck something 1000 different ways, right? It's kind of like bank tellers, dealing with money and counterfeits, you can counterfeit something, an incredible amount of ways. And when government agencies come in and talk to tellers, and they explain the differences between real money and counterfeit, they actually don't spend a lot of time talking about all the different ways that you can counterfeit money. They just focus on become really deeply familiar with the legitimate and that in a heartbeat, you know, teller handing out or rifling through $100 bills, and just yeah, I can't even put their finger on it. Something about this isn't right, right. And that's really my approach to studying God's word. You know, I don't have to talk about every demon that's out there. And every new way that Satan is coming to, you know, introduce false teaching. Let's just stay in the word. And the more familiar that we are with the real and the legitimate. I think it when something isn't right, it just becomes evident.

Kenny Embry:

But Craig, you don't understand the people I go to church with. Most of them are idiots. Most of them just don't. They love to fight. Yeah, they don't know what they need to know. And quite frankly, they're kind of short sighted. And online. That preacher if that preacher would just be quiet once in a while. I mean, you see, yeah, there's, there's all these problems with all these other people, Craig? Yep. How you gonna help me here?

Craig Bean:

How you gonna help me? Again, it's a matter of perspective. Yeah. And by the way, if that kind of message is being communicated to your kids, don't be surprised if your kids when they are out on their own. They walk away from everything. The dynamic of the body of Christ. So, a couple of things to acknowledge number one, what we see in the book of Acts is explosive growth, almost out of control, growth. And growth, in and of itself has all kinds of problems. And all of the problems that we see in the book of Acts are related to people. Yeah, every single one of them, and by different groups of people from totally different perspectives, being integrated into the body of Christ grafted in, as Paul calls it. That dynamic of how God created his church to thrive and function actually thrives in that kind of environment, what kind of environment and environment of while we are all have the mind of Christ, that it's not a cookie cutter approach. If a group is growing, and it's healthy, by definition, you are going to have people that are at different places and different stages, you are going to have mature people, you are going to have newborns, you are going to have people that are in their adolescence spiritually. And they're acting like Yeah, I heard a preacher recently. He described it as saying, we have gone from an X chapter two world to an X chapter 17x. Chapter Two, everybody's got the exact same foundation. They all believe in the one true God. The gospel is presented in probably what was no more than a 20 minute sermon. Right? And you've got 3000 people responding, right. Compare that then to Acts 17. Yeah, where now the world is very much a pluralistic society very much like what we are engaged in today. Yeah. And there are all these different reactions to it. There are some people that are literally scoffing at the very idea. There are other people that are going I have no idea what you're even talking about. And then there are just a couple handful of people that go. I want to hear more about this. And what's interesting in city of Athens in Acts chapter 17, we we don't hear of any baptisms. We're definitely we have shifted from an ax to World Tour next 17 worlds. Yeah. Which means that the people that are coming into the church are even from more diverse backgrounds. Yes. You know, let's face it, your next door neighbor's I mean, this, we've left leave it to beavers neighborhood A long time ago. Yeah. Now, you know, the person on the other side of your fence, a conversation with, with Steve and Adam could be really interesting. The doctor from India that lives next door to you. And you know, these just some of the dynamics in my neighborhood?

Kenny Embry:

Should we be harkening back to a different time? Should we be pining for a bunch of days that are long past?

Craig Bean:

I am always intrigued by something that is said in the very first gospel sermon. When Peter is addressing the crowd and sharing the gospel, for the very first time, he makes, what to me is one of those wait a minute verses. He says it and it all it's like it reaches out and grabs you, it pulls you back and go, Wait a minute. Why did he say that? In reference to David? Peter says David served his own generation. On the one hand, you go, Well, duh, you know, like, what other generation can you serve? Right? Well, it isn't a matter of which generation it's a matter of whether or not you serve it or not. Yeah, that's exactly right. You know, for me, where I live, it is in South Eastern Wisconsin, of all places. And that's where the Lord has put me and those are the people. I, I will either serve them or I won't. I will either serve this generation or I won't. Yeah, man. 100 years ago, there was an old him give me that old time religion. Yeah. If you really listen to the heart of that song, it's not talking about 100 years ago. It's talking about 2000 years ago, perspective is everything I I am living every day trying to be a first century Christian living in the 21st century.

Kenny Embry:

In my opinion, everybody that Jesus surrounded himself with, kept on wanting him to become a king. They wanted him to have a political agenda, right. They wanted him to lead an army. They I wanted him to basically be back Rome. Yes. Jesus kept on not doing that. Right, right. And what keep what Jesus kept on saying was, you know what? Be a good person. Be kind. love other people. Yeah, but how are we going to kill Caesar? Be nice. Whatever is true, whatever is good, whatever is honorable. What do you think about those things? Yes. And it seems to me that if we're looking to create a community, we actually have a pretty good formula for it. We do. It's just that we don't take advantage of it very often.

Craig Bean:

We're called to be like Christ. Yeah. We are called to be like Christ individually. Yeah. And we are called to be like Christ, collectively. Yeah. So the passage that you just refer to, you know, if it's excellent if it's praiseworthy think on these things. Yeah. Like this comes out of the book of Philippians. And in fact, there are two statements about thinking that are made in that book that sort of are like bookends. He says it in in chapter two. And it's usually translated as have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Yeah. Newer translations typically say have this attitude. That's a good good translation. But the original Greek actually use the word that we would connect with thinking. The lexham English Bible translates Philippians, two, five this way, think this in yourselves, as was in Christ Jesus. So think this? And then Philippians? Is the thinking man's book for the gospel? Or the thinking person, I should say? Think? Yeah. And think about how you think. And think like Christ. That's an incredible dynamic. We're living in a world that I don't think we know how to think anymore. Now, because we let so many things that come to us through social media. We are very comfortable with letting them do the thinking for us. And the process of thinking, so what is it exactly? And just think about it, think think of the goal of telling someone think this. I've set for a long, long time it it takes a lot of goal to be a preacher. Yeah. I mean, it really does. It really does. But the whole perspective of the New Testament is think this. Yeah. Well, okay. If you're going to tell someone think like this, you better have something to back it up. Well, and of course, Paul does. He's got the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Yeah, he's got the whole mind of God, coming to bear, right. But what's interesting to me is in this thought process of think, what Christ thought, is actually what he's saying what Paul is saying. And then Paul launches off on this great dialogue of what Christ gave up. And what he set aside how he emptied Himself. And it's this downward progression like stairsteps, what I've come to appreciate lately, he leaves the glory of heaven, and equality with God, he sets that aside. And he steps into our world, right? There's never been a bigger transition than that. Yeah. But when he comes into this world, he doesn't come in with pomp and ceremony. He isn't born in a palace. He is born humbly he is born and laid in a manger. He takes on humanity. There's a word again that the lexham English Bible uses again, it's very accurate. Most translations say that Jesus took on the form of a servant. I have a great appreciation for that word. There's something that's very deliberate about me serve I'm choosing to serve. The more accurate term in my understanding, that uses the word slave, he became a slave. And to our minds, I think we think slave is something thing that you don't have a choice in. But the very dynamic of how Paul is setting this up is that's what Christ chose. That's what he accepted, different to our thinking about slavery, which, again, is a talking point in our culture right now. slavery in the ancient world, it carried with it a branding. We could talk about branding in our culture for quite a while probably the notion of branding you brand something to put your ownership on it. Yeah. And whether we're talking about a car, or whether we are talking about items on the shelf at the grocery store. Branding is a key component. We even think now in terms of branding related to political parties and political movements and brandings. Really big. Branding just simply shows ownership. So Jesus Christ chose to become a slave. branded by God. Yeah, have this mind in you. All these stairsteps down, and then Therefore, God, and now the ascension up. Alright, so transition is all over that text. I can't begin to tell you how many times transition is just become this buzzword for the times that we're living in? Yeah. Well, the mind of Christ is meant to guide us through transition. Look at all the transitions he went through, have this mind in you, right was in Christ, think this. So how am I supposed to think about transition? Right? Well, how did Jesus think about transition? So now now we have some some tools. And the very notion of think this. Now, it gives body it gives meat to all of these things. Yeah, that Christ said. Alright, so we come across these incredible statements. If a man compels you to go within one mile, go with him, too,

Unknown:

right?

Craig Bean:

All right, that that's a tall order. But put it in the context of thinking it through. Yeah. Alright. So we know we understand. Josephus a great historian, you know, he tells us that one of the things that just irritated the Jews so much a chafed was the Roman domination, and that Roman soldiers had the ability. It was law. They could call on anyone who wasn't a Roman citizen, to carry their luggage their armor for one mile, right and legal mile, right? Well, and it became known that this is what the Jews just hated the most. So it almost became a game. If you're a Roman soldier, and you're in Judea. Who are you going to pick out? What are you going to pick out the dude, that looks the most important? You know, the guy that's got the prayer shawl that comes all the way down to the ground as Jesus described? Sure. You're gonna pick out the leader of the synagogue, you're gonna pick out the chief priest. Alright, you come here, carry my stuff. And just seething and writhing with animosity and hatred. Well, now you put it in the context of Jesus is saying this to one of his own, your mind. You're branded. You're my slave. You're my child. But you're my slave. Like I thought,

Kenny Embry:

right.

Craig Bean:

So how do you approach that? If I'm the guy, I'm the guy that's called you carry someone else's luggage? Yeah, for a mile. Yeah. So now I know what I'm supposed to think. I grab it. smile on my face. And it isn't that it's easy or that it comes naturally. But I'm, I know what I'm supposed to think.

Kenny Embry:

Right. Right.

Craig Bean:

All right, let's go. Where are we going? and had a beautiful day. What's your name? Where are you from? My name is Craig. Let's go. And at the end of that one mile. I'm keep going. Yeah. So tell me more about your wife and your your kid back home?

Kenny Embry:

Yeah, I think what you're talking about, there's so many of the conversations that we have so many of the controversies that we have, have to do with power. And what God says is I got it given. Exactly I've got I've got all the power you could ever want. Just give it up. Yeah. It's not worth anything. Let me tell you what is worth something. Love one another. Be decent to one another. Especially if they're not decent to you.

Craig Bean:

Yeah. Think, to me that the quintessential example of thinking like Christ is Steven. Yeah. As he is literally saying the same words that Jesus said on the cross. Yeah. What an incredible powerful example of someone who is thinking, the mind of Christ, at a most critical moment, the moment of his death. And he says, Father, forgive them.

Kenny Embry:

It's interesting that you should talk about Steven, I wrote a book about that episode. And what strikes me the most about Stephen? He doesn't reference himself at all in his own defense. No, he doesn't. He doesn't. He doesn't say you've got the wrong guy. He doesn't say I deserve better than this. He He never defends himself, he keeps on defending Jesus. Right? It's the perfect story. Because Stephen lost his identity to gain one. Right. So I mean, that That to me is is it's a powerful lesson. So Craig, let me come back to I want to create a good community. I want to create a community that transcends all these political movements. How do I do that?

Craig Bean:

Well, on one level, I can't do it. It's got to has to do it. He's got the power. And he's created this incredible thing called the church. It's his community. I get to have a part in that. I'm not the architect of it. But I'm one of the living stones being built into it. Yeah. I, as a shepherd, as a servant, to the body of Christ. I try to live a good example. And I try to intentionally drive not only the narrative, but the actions. So I'm mindful that. You know, Paul tells us if someone's caught in trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one. There's there's a sense in which everybody has ownership, but yet at the same time, pick the right people to address the right problem. Again, from a dynamic of community, size isn't the problem. Size isn't the issue, right? Acts chapter six. They really had a problem related to size. Someone was being overlooked. They're fallen through the cracks. Right, right. Right. These Grecian widows. Yeah. And the solution to the problem wasn't while were to, yeah, that was an IT. There is a way a god way to address the problem. And when they address that problem, the community keeps on growing and getting bigger and bigger. Yeah,

Kenny Embry:

yeah. Yeah. At what point Have we ever had the perfect church?

Craig Bean:

The old saying, look, if you ever find a perfect church, don't go there. You'll mess it up. So you're absolutely right. Yeah. You

Kenny Embry:

think about the apostles, quite frankly, a bunch of misfits Yeah. You think about Israel and the Old Testament? Oh, yeah. A bunch of misfits. Yeah. You think about any group of God's people. You think about the the name by which Israel's gold? It talks about somebody who is a complete and utter misfit. Yeah. God has always worked with much less than perfect material. Yes, to make something exactly right.

Craig Bean:

So there's hope for all of us. Yes. In Christ. There is hope for all of us.

Kenny Embry:

My family is not perfect. It never will be. You know, my kids will be pigheaded. I'll be pigheaded. Yeah, that doesn't mean we don't love each other. Yeah, the best definition of a marriage that's working is our two people who are working at marriage. Yes. It's not the milestones. Yeah, it's are we do we keep trying?

Craig Bean:

Yeah. In a local group of God's people, I think the critical things are, what's going to matter. 100 years from now, Grace covers a multitude of sins. Yeah. I'm not perfect. Am I expecting more of them than I'm expecting of myself? How can I let Christ work through this situation or this scenario? And be looking for opportunities? I have a lot of a lot of disagreement with Mother Teresa. doctrinally. Yeah. But I am captivated by something that she said which is related to someone asking her one time about how do you deal with enemies naysayers? How do you Find the strength to just keep going and serving the at the lowest of the low. Yeah, you know, one of the most populated cities in the world? And her answer was, when I look in their face, I see Christ. What builds a community, that mindset. Yeah. And that even though this, this brother irritates the daylights out of me, and if, if we didn't have Christ in common, yeah, I would, I would never, most likely even talk to this person. Right. But because we have Christ in common, we have everything in common. Yeah. You know, you get to pick your friends. You don't get to pick your family. Right? We're family, right? You're stuck with me?

Kenny Embry:

And I'm not complaining?

Craig Bean:

Well, even if you were it wouldn't change.

Kenny Embry:

Well, Craig, is there anything that I missed about community? It's an amazing thing.

Craig Bean:

It changes my perspective, when I go to the book of Hebrews, and the writer of Hebrews, and he talks about in contrast to the Jews that came to Mount Sinai, but you have come to Mount Zion. And he describes it is such an incredible description of community. And what it does is, not only does it make us aware and appreciate the visible community, but he incorporates the unseen realm, and the 1000s upon 1000s of angels that they're singing right along with us. That's incredible. Yeah, that's community with Unity.

Kenny Embry:

I end all my podcasts with be good and do good, what is good,

Craig Bean:

what is good at the end of the day, to be able to look back and say, thanks, Lord. At the beginning of this 24 hour period, I had no idea what you had in store, you did. And, you know, I stumbled my way through it. But here we are, at the end of the day. And by your grace, I can lay my head in the pillow. And tomorrow morning, if you allow me to see the light in the morning, I'll thank you and I'll praise You for Your mercies that are new and fresh every day.

Kenny Embry:

That's a good day. If somebody was going to try and get ahold of you, man, how would they get ahold of you?

Craig Bean:

Well, you can find the Christians that meet at Spring Street, on Facebook, and on YouTube. Our channel is the Spring Street Church of Christ for both of those. You can contact me through email. s c. Mack been@gmail.com.

Kenny Embry:

Oh, Craig, I really appreciate you doing this. This has been a lot of fun for me. I've enjoyed it.

Craig Bean:

I have enjoyed it immensely. It's always a great time. Whenever you and I get together No kidding. Well, I

Kenny Embry:

hope you agree with me. Craig is outstanding. I have never made the connection between phillipians and culture creation. Thanks, Greg. You never cease to both challenge and build me up. I want to again invite you to share any episodes with people you think these ideas would help. It would mean a lot to me. Next week, I'm doing something completely different. Deron Curtis is a friend and appeared on episode 16. He and I had a harebrained idea to try something different. So he's going to host by podcast and interview me about failure. And I'm going to interview him on his podcast, the leader Smith, and talk about risk. We just recorded that conversation. And you'll have to trust me for now. It was both fun, and I think good. I have met and made friends with some of the best people because of this podcast. Thank you for helping me make it a blessing. So until next week, let's be good and do good.