Introducing A New HCSB Audio Bible [Review]

[Update 9.2.11: The audio version of the HCSB New Testament is now available on youversion.com for free.]

There is a new voice only recording of the Holman Christian Standard Bible New Testament read by Dale McConachie. Dale kindly gave me a free download for review and I have to say, I really like it. Ever since YouVersion added access to audio Bibles, I’ve found myself listening to the Bible a lot. Since they have yet to include an HCSB audio Bible, I was excited about this new audio Bible since it is my translation of choice.

To begin, let me say that there is already an official audio recording of the HCSB read by actor David Payne that can be bought on Amazon for $63. The product description says, “Audio edition of the complete HCSB translation on 64 compact discs, dramatically and dynamically read by actor David Payne.” This virtually ensures that I will never use this audio version. I can’t imagine paying $63 and uploading 66 books of the Bible to my computer from 64 cds. I’m also turned off by “dramatically and dynamically read”. I’m further turned off that there is background music.

So, again, I’m excited to announce the voice only audio version that Dale is working on. Before I go into some of the reasons why I like Dale’s version, I should say that I primarily use the NLT audio Bible and have enjoyed it to some extent but this new HCSB version is fast becoming my favorite.

Elders and Deacons Are Essential to the Grace-Giving Mission of the Church

Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus: To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons. (Philippians 1:1 HCSB)

In Paul’s greeting to the Church in Philippi, Paul greets “all the saints” but specifically calls attention to the overseers and deacons. Since this is the only time Paul specifically greets both the overseers (or elders) and deacons, it’s interesting to note how he begins his letter to this particular church.

“Grace to you”

In the first eleven verses of Philippians, Paul uses the word grace twice and the word gospel twice. “Grace” and “gospel” play leap frog in this text, and to Paul, these words are two sides of the same coin. The gospel is the story of God’s grace. Paul’s first use of the word grace is in a common greeting formula: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This was a common greeting because continuing in grace ought to characterize the common practice of the church.

Daring to Become the Parachurch God Had in Mind?

I was doing some studying for a sermon and remembered reading Erwin McManus’ book An Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church God Had in Mind. Man, this stuff is still really, really good.

Check it out:

In many ways the emergence of the parachurch reflects the paralysis within the local church. When we stopped calling youth to the mission of Christ, Youth With A Mission emerged. When we ignored the opportunity to reach university students, Campus Crusade emerged. When we settled for church attendance and neglected discipleship, Navigators emerged. When we hesitated to call men to the role of spiritual leadership, Promise Keepers emerged. Yet while the parachurch was rallying and mobilizing men and women whose hearts were longing to serve Christ, it was at the same time accelerating the spiritual anemia and decline of the local church. The church became a fortress from the world rather than the hope of the world. This disconnnection from our present context exemplifies the need for holistic ministry. Seekers are looking for spiritual integration. This means that we must provide community with cause and meaning with healing. Having one without the other only leaves us fragmented. We must transform the fragments into a mosaic.

Where has the church gone wrong? When did we begin outsourcing mission to other agencies when only the Church can ever truly be the hope for the world? How can we once again become the church that God had in mind?

God’s Vision and Mission for the Living Church

From The Living Church: Convictions of A Lifelong Pastor by John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011):

The Mission of the Church

We believe that the church has a double identity. On the one hand we are called out of the world to belong to God, and on the other we are sent back into the world to witness and to serve. Moreover, the mission of the church is modeled on the mission of Christ. He himself said so. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). His mission meant for him the incarnation. He did not stay in the safe immunity of his heaven. Instead, he emptied himself of his glory and humbled himself to serve. He actually entered our world. He took our nature, lived our life, and died our death. He could not have identified with us more closely than he did. It was total identifacation, though without any loss of identity, for he became one of us without ceasing to be himself. He became human without ceasing to be God.

And now he calls us to enter other people’s worlds, as he entered ours. All authentic mission is incarnational mission. We are called to enter other people’s social and cultural realit: into their thought-world, struggling to understand their misunderstandings of the gospel, and into the pain of their alienation, weeping with those who weep. And all this without compromising our Christian beliefs, values and standards.

A Lack of Multiplication (of Disciples, Small Groups, and Churches) Leads to Division

Most American churches are doing lots of addition, subtraction and division. Few are doing multiplication.

+ It’s easy to settle for addition. At least it is positive growth. Addition is safe. Addition is comfortable. But addition is often the result of a lack of mission and vision. Church leaders get bogged down in caring for the urgent and the existing members are happy because the attention is all on them. Sometimes people move into the area and just naturally look for a church. Put out a sign and we can probably grow through addition.

However, addition is just a step away from subtraction. People start to withdraw from the church when the church has no purpose. I bet more people leave the church out of boredom than from being asked to step up and pursue the Great Commission.

How to Raise Funds, Recruit Prayer Partners and Plant Churches

Though I lived for four years on full-time support as a church planter in Boston, I am far from an expert on this topic.

Though I had people on my prayer team from dozens of countries and all over the US, I am far from an expert on this topic.

Though I helped plant a church in Boston, I feel I made more mistakes than successes.

I am no expert here!!!

On the other hand, I know good talent when I see it and I want to highlight a blog of some friends of mine who I think are starting their journey to plant churches well.

The Bennett’s Journey to Paris

My friends Ryan and Erin Bennett are partnering with World Team to plant churches in Paris, France. They have been blogging about their journey, sending partnership letters, and recruiting prayer partners.

Here are a few things they are doing well:

1. They live now the way they hope to live then

Right now, Ryan and Erin are in the US working jobs, raising support, praying, studying, and more importantly, practicing obedience to God. Ryan organizes the small groups at his local church and has a vision to see those groups mature and multiply in a context similar to the one he and Erin will be in in Paris. They both are active in outreach through their local church and are a part of a prayer counseling team at their church. If you want to be successful at church planting, you need to be “faithful in a few things…” now.