photo | Joe Lanman via flickr

A fresh agenda

Everyday Ministry

I have never migrated from one country to another. The farthest I have ever moved was 500 miles from our family farm to go to university in Sydney. It was more than 30 years ago, but I can still remember the swirling sense of excitement, anxiety and disorientation of those early months in the Big Smoke. New streets, new transport, new housemates, new church… new everything. (more…)

→ Start with the heart

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Tim Zulker, one of the contributors to GoThereFor.com, on where to start in evangelism:

We often discuss barriers to outreach: fear, lack of knowledge, rejection, cultural disconnects, etc. These may be real barriers. And there are more. But the deeper barriers to fruitful outreach are what hinder the glory of Christ from shining out from our hearts: willful, unconfessed sin, and broken relationships between Christians in the church. If the gospel is fundamentally a heart issue, then it stands to reason that that’s where the battle will be—in our hearts. If we’re at odds with the Spirit, by consciously allowing sin to fester, we will be out of step with the Spirit and not seeing his fruit. In other words, we will not be abiding in Christ.

→ The ninjas

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I love this story about the Trellis and Vine ninjas from Miami:

Let me tell you about the Ninjas.

It started at a Trellis and Vine Workshop Marty Sweeney and I were running in an old weather-board Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia. We’d been invited there by a young black pastor (whose presence in Atlanta was a remarkable story in itself), and our job was to do what we have done over the past four years since The Trellis and the Vine became an unlikely bestseller—and that was to help a bunch of pastors and lay leaders talk through the ideas in the book, and figure out what it meant in practice for their ministry and their church.

Keep reading to find out who the ninjas were, and tell us what kind of thing you would do (or are doing) in your church along these lines.

→ A ministry manifesto

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Tony Payne explains what the thinking behind GoThereFor.com is about:

GoThereFor.com is a platform where gospel-minded Christians can find ideas, encouragement and resources for fulfilling Christ’s commission to make disciples of all peoples.

The team behind GoThereFor.com longs to see the fruit of the great commission in our lives and churches; we want to see Christ’s disciples go out with urgent love to the communities and peoples around them, to make new disciples and to teach them to obey all that Christ has commanded.  This is our vision because we believe it is God’s great plan and mission as revealed in Scripture, and we hold the Scriptures as our supreme and sufficient authority.

I’m interested to hear what you think of this statement about Christian discipleship.

→ Just do what I told you

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Steve Leston has a great post in the GoThereFor.com Ideas section on what God has asked us to do:

When he asked me that question, I did not realize at the time how important that simple question is in all areas of life. It is amazing how often we as humans fail to do what people ask us to do. In school, marriage, work… we can often get side-tracked doing all the things we were not asked to do, while missing the very essence of what we aresupposed to do.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the ministry. Jesus is so clear with what he asks of ministers in his church, yet we can get so caught up in the things he said not to worry about. What did Jesus ask his disciples to do? Jesus made it pretty clear that they were sent out to do something very specific…

A visit means more than a text

Everyday Ministry, Life, Sola Panel

One of the things I admire about my mother is that she gets involved in other people’s lives.

Now that she doesn’t have children at home, and is working less, on her way to retirement, she could use her extra time for herself. Instead, she uses much of it for others.

She helps out at the local primary school. She looks after an elderly lady in a local nursing home. She cares for her brothers and sisters. She visits the sick.

She’s like those older women – the Bible calls them “widows” (which my mum is not, but I think it’s a similar stage of life) – who use their time and energy to serve (1 Tim 5:9-10; Acts 9:36-42). I hope to be like her one day.

Here’s a story that encouraged me to get involved too.

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Supporting military Christians

Everyday Ministry

Military people have a very unusual role in our society. Along with the police, law courts, and legislators, they are agents of “kings and all who are in high positions”, responsible for maintaining the peace and justice that we have come to take for granted. (more…)

→ Deliver us from inconsequential successes

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Tim Brister has written a great post about responses churches make to the Great Commission:

When it comes to the Great Commission, there are basically three responses a church can have. A church can do nothing, something, or one thing.

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This is where we need to be brutally honest with ourselves. As a church, are we hitting the target? Are we making disciples of Jesus? More pointedly, are we making disciples who make disciples of Jesus? The sobering fact is that I don’t know of a single church who does not struggle with this. The difference is there are those who want to grow through their struggles while there are others who, unfortunately, are happy to substitute some other target other than the Great Commission that is easier to hit. A proper handling, or stewardship, of the struggle means that we deal honestly with our challenges that recognize our dependence on Christ and our determination to keep the main thing the main thing, even when we are not that great at it.

Where do you (and your church) land?

→ Children’s Bibles

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Jean Williams has investigated and briefly reviewed a whole host of children’s Bibles over at her blog:

“Of the making of many children’s Bibles there is no end, and much study wearies the body” (Eccles. 12:12, paraphrase). That’s pretty much how I feel after investigating lots of children’s Bibles for this post.

It’s a far cry from my childhood, when the only children’s Bible we had was an enormous tome written in old-fashioned prose. (I suspect it might have beenThe Golden Children’s Bible, still a decent choice for a kids’ Bible.) Apart from that we read adult’s Bibles and discussed them with our parents during family Bible time. I don’t think it did us any harm.

That said, modern parents should be very grateful for the huge number of excellent resources available to us. Obviously we want to expose our kids to the Bible. We want them to get to know the Bible stories. We want to read them Bible stories in a format they can understand and relate to.

She has some recommendations for different age groups, and some personal favourites. It’s really worth reading through.

→ The world’s most liveable city

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Pete Sholl, a missionary in Mexico and Latin America, writes a thoughtful piece on the trap that comes with the good things about living in a wonderful city:

The trap is, that living in one of the most liveable cities in the world can lull us into thinking, we’ve got it all. Heaven is here for us now. We’re living in “God’s country.”

That has a lot of implications for us – including where we put our hope and what we think is important. But it also makes it difficult to leave.

Worth reading and pondering the questions he raises.

What a Muslim teaches us

Everyday Ministry

Back in 1981, Christian hearts thrilled to see a mainstream popular film treat Christian conscience positively. The film was Chariots of Fire and the Christian conscience was that of Eric Liddell, the man who refused to run in the Olympics on a Sunday. It was just so different to see a man of genuine faith presented in a film as a hero instead of a moral failure or a narrow-minded hypocrite.

Yet there was something odd about the insistence on the Lord’s Day Observance. If we were going to stand for principle somewhere should it really be about not running on a Sunday? It was not like having sport organized for every Sunday in opposition to Church as we have it today. It was the once every four years Olympics drawing people from all over the world to Paris in 1924 for a short period of competition. Is it really forbidden in Scripture to run on a Sunday in such a circumstance? (more…)

Challenging the rushed ministry decision

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel

Every person involved in leading or organising a church or Christian ministry activity will have had the experience of a member dropping out at short notice, leaving sudden gaps to fill, even gaping holes at times. (more…)

→ The disgrace of Christian outreach

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Chris Little, minister out at Albury Bible Church, writes about the perfect disgrace of our Lord, and what that disgrace means for our evangelism.

The whole Bible shows God’s concern for the whole world.

The first three quarters of the Bible maintain focus on one people: Israel. The final one quarter is where God’s word goes out to all, freely offered to all cultures, languages and people.

Why the difference? And what made the change? A short passage in Hebrews powerfully captures the switch. It tells me that God spent great effort establishing a system of imperfect honour so that he could trump this system with perfect disgrace.

Good stuff. Go read the whole thing.

Isaiah’s discipleship masterclass

Everyday Ministry

I had the privilege of preaching Isaiah 50 on a weekend away not long ago. It contains the third of the servant songs, and what particularly struck me was the way in which the Servant describes himself. (more…)

→ Persevering in Evangelism: Reflections on a godly stranger

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Geoff Robson has just written about the contact he had with a man called Russel that changed his life:

The Russell I’ve been thinking about is a man who changed my life. But I don’t even know his last name, and I met him just once more than 15 years ago.

I met Russell in the food court at Westfield Miranda – not usually a venue for life-changing encounters. I’d just finished lunch and was heading for the escalator when Russell politely stopped me and asked if we could chat. Russell was a Christian, and he wanted to talk to me about Jesus.

But I wasn’t interested.

Go read the whole story. It’s a really encouraging read.