Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
To offer spiritual, emotional and practical support, irrespective of the decision taken by those for whom we are caring.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
We need more than a pastor and/or teacher leading a congregation. A missional church requires pioneering, innovative, organizationally adaptive, and externally focused leadership, and this means a five-fold understanding of ministry leadership.
Hirsch argues that: Missional churches require all Five aspects of ministry Leadership on the team. His five aspects are taken from Ephesians four–Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. I'm not sure what he makes of the exegetical arguments about the text–are they apostle-prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers, or apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers?
We're reading Jon Ortberg's Everbody's normal till you get to know them in our Book Club at the moment. It's a book I read some time ago and just dipping into it a second time reminds me how much I enjoy Ortberg's writing.
Cain is jealous of Abel and kills him. Lamech introduces polygamy to the world. Noah–the most righteous man of his generation–gets drunk and curses his own grandson. Lot, when his home is surrounded by residents of Sodom who want to violate his visitors, offers instead that they can have sex with his daughters. Later on, his daughters get him drunk and get impregnated by him–and Lot is the most righteous man in Sodom!Abraham plays favourites between his sons Isaac and Ishmael, they're estranged.Isaac plays favourites between his sons Jacob and Esau; they're enemies for twenty years. Jacob plays favourites between Joseph and his other eleven sons; the brothers want to kill Joseph and end up selling him into slavery.Their marriages are disasters:Abraham had sex with his wife's servant, then sends her and their son off into the wilderness at his wife's request. Isaac and Rebekah fight over which boy gets the blessing. Jacob marries two wives and ends up with both of their maids as his concubines as well when they get into a fertility contest.Jacob's firstborn son, Reuben, sleeps with his father's concubine.Another son, Judah, sleeps with his daughter-in-law when she disguises herself as a prostitute. She does this because she is childless since her first two husbands–both sons of Judah–were so wicked that God killed them both; and Judah reneged on his obligations to her.These people need a therapist.These are not the Waltons. They need Dr. Phil, Dr Laura, Dr. Ruth, Dr. Spock, Dr Seuss–they need somebody.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
If you don't like being one among a long list of email addresses, then you might find this website useful. It sets out the simple principle behind using the "BCC" field rather than the "To" field if you're sending out a mass mail message.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Ungrace turns forgiveness into something that works for the one who needs to forgive rather than for the one who needs forgiveness. We trade it like a commodity. You give me humility, you take all the blame, you own up to what you’ve done to hurt me, and I might, if I think you’re sincere, if I think you really mean it, I might just forgive you, but there will be conditions.
I will store up this memory and use it at my convenience to remind you of your failure.
When I make a mistake, I will use your failure to demand forgiveness for mine. I will remind you that your sin was worse than mine ever could be and that mine would not have happened if you hadn’t failed in the first place. I will shift the blame.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
- Data projectors with long-throw lenses
- Solutions to our interference problem between the PA system and data cables
- Bible study software for the Mac
- Companies who can provide creative and thoughtful solutions to our low balcony
- Information about Conversational Evangelism
- Any up-to-date information about DMin courses and Continuing Professional Development for ministers (it's time I stretched my brain again!)
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
A missional church is one where people are exploring and rediscovering what it means to be Jesus' sent people as their identity and vocation.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Todd Hunter, President of Alpha USA, explains what Conversational Evangelism is and why it’s important.
Preaching in large venues worked well in the 20th century. The modern world respected, demanded and loved its experts. If something went wrong with our car we expected to find an expert mechanic. If we suddenly developed a health issue, we demanded expert medical care. It was a totally normal part of life. Add to that the realities of Christendom wherein pastors, teachers and evangelists were those experts in religion, it created an atmosphere wherein seekers could feel comfortable looking up to the religious expert on the big stage. That kind of environment fit the way they sought expertise in every other facet of life.
Today it is different. Most seekers don’t want to be talked down to from a stage in one way communication. They need to talk, they need to tell their story, they need a place to unload all their fears and pre-judgments about religion, etc. This requires a conversation. It requires that we come down from stages and sit with seekers around a dinner table, letting them set the pace and direction of the conversation.
Some people fear that letting “non-Christians” talk will lead to compromise. They say “why would you let a non-Christian go on about false doctrines or wrong beliefs”. It’s not like God is surprised to hear what they are thinking! We create an environment in which they can get it out and then hear feedback from their seeking peers and the guides of the group. We are always amazed by the way the Holy Spirit works in these settings. Some seeker will say something crazy or blasphemous and another seeker will, tone him down or set forth an alternative view, etc. Over a period of ten weeks the Spirit is able to find pure gold out of the dirt and rocks sifted in the group through honest conversation.
1. Door to door evangelism is seen as an unwanted invasion.And he ends with this comment:
2. Initiating conversation at Starbucks is welcome.
3. The evangescript is perceived as invasive and fake.
4. Showing how real-life concerns connect to the gospel is well-received.
5. The churched are often as clueless about the gospel as the unchurched.
I am convinced that in my suburbia unscripted, conversational evangelism is generally a better way to share Christ with strangers than reading from a tract, or reciting a script. My culture requires more natural conversation skills that are developed through practice. It demands a strong theological framework from which we can make connections between real-life concerns of the people we meet to the gospel they need.
The Cultural Context for Conversation
The modern world loved and valued its experts; you could even say we have come to demand them. In the Christendom world, the church sat at the center of society as the trusted expert on God, morality, society, etc. Both modernity and Christendom are giving way to postmodern and post-Christian realities. These shifts call for new ways of doing evangelism—more conversational, less one-way communication. It is not so much that “truth” is up for grabs these days…but “how people come to truth” is changing. Even when important things are shaking, the Kingdom of God is never at risk. God faithfully called and equipped his people in the pre-modern and modern world. We can be sure he will do the same in the postmodern world. In this session we will learn to stand in that flow—to contextualize without compromise.
Introducing Three is Enough
Todd is forming Three is Enough Groups as an antidote to the massive image problem currently ascribed to Christians and Christianity. This unfortunate viewpoint stymies most attempts at evangelism. TiE Groups have a double meaning: they are three friends or colleagues doing three simple and humble activities together (reading, praying and serving others). Functioning in members’ most natural places of community – the workplace, school, or at the local coffee shop. TiE Groups will go on the Journey Inward of spiritual transformation and the Journey Outward of serving others. Spiritual transformation into Christlikeness has always been the true goal of Christian faith—now it is utterly strategic. TiE rescues evangelism out of the program category and relocates it back in the natural context of spiritual formation.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
“I believe that the local church is the hope of the world. I believe to the core of my being that local churches have the potential to be the most influential force on planet earth. If they get it and get on with it, churches can become the redemptive centres that Jesus intended them to be. Dynamic teaching, creative worship, deep community, effective evangelism, and joyful service will combine to …strengthen families, transform communities and change the world”
Now I've talked about the local church as the hope of the world before and I'm probably not the first nor will I be the last person to use that line. But today we did something a little different.
Having talked about the model of church I see in Acts 2 and setting out our vision, mission and purpose, I introduced the quote. And then I asked a question.
"What kind of local church is the hope of the world?"
We did a little interactive thing with a flipchart and wrote down our answers. Using different words, we basically described the early Acts community. If you do that you realise something rather significant.
We get it.
We actually understand what a local church needs to be and do in order to be the hope of the world. And if we get, we need to get on with it! I don't think we need more teaching, I think we need more opportunities to get on with it.
God added, on a daily basis, to the church because they got it and got on with it. Is it really that simple? If we get it, and we do, then if we get on with it, might not God respond to that and do what does best as we seek to do what he's called us to do.
I know that God is no slot machine. I can't pull some theological lever and get him to deliver the jackpot. But I do believe God honours what we seek to do that brings him glory.
So, since we get it, why don't we just get on with it! What have we got to lose?
Saturday, May 10, 2008
This was the headline for an article in The Times, Thursday 8th May. The article goes on to say:
Churchgoing on its knees as Christianity falls out of favour
Church attendance in Britain is declining so fast that the number of regular churchgoers will be fewer than those attending mosques within a generation, research published today suggests.Perhaps, having just started a focused time of prayer for the mission of the church, it's a timely reminder that whilst governments and banks worry about credit crunches, oil prices and global terrorism, the need for a saviour slips by unnoticed. Sadly I fear that too many Christians are also so caught up in worrying about the price if a litre of petrol or their mortgage rate that we too lose sight of the greatest challenge we face.
You can read the whole article here.
Friday, May 09, 2008
- What should we be doing as a result of this message?
- What should we be doing differently as a result of this message?
- What should we be praying faithfully about as a result of this message?
- What question do we need to consider as a result of this message?
Thursday, May 08, 2008
And I'm worried about evangelicals.
I'm worried because I can't help thinking that the historical commitment of evangelicals to biblical teaching and authority is turning us into a movement so quick to criticise each other that we are in danger of pushing the self-destruct button. The problem is that we don't seem to be able to engage in constructive dialogue mixed with genuine encouragement of each other to pursue God's highest calling for our churches and the world we are so desperate to reach.
What has caused this concern to surface in me? Recently I stumbled upon a website that appeared almost to revel in what the author saw as an admission by Bill Hybels that Willow Creek has failed in the process of disciple-making. Their recent major survey of the effectiveness of their ministries was one of the bravest investments I think I've ever seen a church make. That they were willing to share the results on a wider scale was also incredibly brave. And what is more, I don't think their survey discovered anything many of us in ministry were not either aware of or afraid of.
The simple truth is that programmes only help when someone commits to the programme. I know, I go to the gym, I have a plan, I have a personal trainer. But if I only trained when the trainer was there I wouldn't get very far. I need to develop consistent habits for myself.
Anyway, that's not the point of this post. My point is this: I don't necessarily agree with everything I see in the evangelical church. I don't always agree with everything I hear other evangelical leaders say. But if we are all trying to serve God and reach or communities I want to encourage that.
And as for Willow, well I hope they continue to do what they do best. I hope they continue to ask tough question because I actually think they are one of the few expressions of church who will actually take seriously what they discover about their effectiveness and seek to do something about it.
1. Silence...a time of releasing the spirit.A state of alertness standing in God's presence. This inner stillness and a state of attentive listening and total surrender to God's word in the depth of one's being. This leads to spiritual poverty and self-emptying. (Matthew 5:3, Luke 6:20, Romans 8:3-11).
During a period of silence, we turn from words to seek some place where God shall speak in a voiceless but varied language. At its best silence becomes solitude and we realize that God is wrapping us with His presence.The sanctuary of silence is the rallying place of the spirit, the rendezvous of the soul with God.2. Bible Study (lectio) -- what does the Bible say to me?"Give the sacred text a special place in your room and it will begin to exert a meaningful influence - calling one regularly to prayer and reading."Read the Bible as if you are reading a letter from a friend.Linger over the words. "We linger over the words, savor them, and allow them to soak into the very center of our being, because we know that in this letter we are being addressed by someone who loves us." (John Mogabgab)Read the Bible with your mind and body. Get inside a scripture, walk in it, be one of the characters. Listen between the lines of scripture for God to speak. Jesus often walks with us, like the road to Emmaus and we may not recognize Him. Getting to know God leads us to know and accept ourselves, weaknesses and all; then we can relate to others.3. Meditation - examination of my own life in light of the scripture you have been reading.Reflect on its meaning for the sake of illumination of one's own life.4. Prayer - A time of pouring out my soul to God."I look at Him. He looks at me and we are happy."When we pray we should be as beggars approaching Christ. An experiment in prayer:
- Companion Prayer - Take the analogy of a friend whom you are showing your world for the first time. Make God a part of your life. Show Him your world.
- Soaking Prayer - We do not ask for anything special. We just rest, let go, breathe in, and soak up the healing light of God which embraces us. We rest in it, breathe it, and allow it to work its transforming renewal in us.
- Prayer of the Heart - Pray for Jesus to come into your heart. Pray: "The living Lord is within my heart and bringing new life to me, He is re-energizing my soul, restoring my sense of purpose, and leading me to be in His presence."....Open your hands upward when it feels right. Sense the power or God's spirit within.5. Contemplation -- making my life like putty in God's hands."Not my will, Lord; but thine be done."6. Obedience - obeying God's will in my life.(Hearing a rhythm in life that is not ordinarily heard. God needs men and women whose hearts are in tune with His.)
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Monday, May 05, 2008
I had some very positive feedback. I don't think any of us will read the Exodus description of the Tabernacle construction in quite the same way ever again!