A deep and abiding passion to see our churches grow is a very dangerous thing.
That may seem an odd observation to make, but it is a critical one. If we run with a passion to grow things without at the same time being aware that it is one of the most dangerous passions you can have, then the passion will destroy us and our work.
One of the great Sydney Evangelical Anglicans, Bishop Ken Short died this week. Alongside parish ministry, he’d been a missionary in Tanganyika (later Tanzania), a military chaplain, Dean of Sydney, Bishop of Wollongong, then of Parramatta, and of the Australian Defence Forces. (more…)
You’ve had this experience too, haven’t you? It’s a warm Sunday morning and you’ve managed to arrive at St Churchins early enough to be there for the start of the service. You’ve enjoyed seeing fellow Christians, and you got to sing something other than In Christ Alone. (Great song, but it’s had a nice decade-long run.) (more…)
We had a talkfest here in Sydney recently called ‘The Festival of Dangerous Ideas’, at which participants could experience the frisson of discussing daring and explosive concepts with a soy latte in hand. Most of the ideas were in fact rather conventionally dangerous in a green-left sort of way, although gay activist Dan Savage received special marks for his dangerous idea that abortion should be made mandatory for 30 years to make a dent in the worldwide population problem. (The audience, having escaped the womb safely themselves, felt confident to clap.) (more…)
Reproduced with permission from the reviewer. Copyright 9Marks, February 2013. (more…)
We live in a time of unprecedented change. For the first time in history we have access to the world in our pocket. The Internet has changed everything. The way we work and learn, communicate and connect has dramatically altered. And while some may argue that this is not good, it’s here and we can’t turn our back to it. How can we possibly ignore the billions of people who use social media every day?
This raises many questions. One of the most important is: how will the church adapt to make the most of this new situation to advance the mission of Jesus? (more…)
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.
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?
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.
Multiply the workers. Deploy the workers aggressively. Remember, the work is evangelism! Remember, evangelism means Christ!
The detailed tactics must change in a different time and place, but well over a century later, I reckon this is still a pretty good strategy for reaching a large urban diocese where the vast majority are un-churched.
On any given Sunday, my church has four non-English services. Furthermore, 54% of people from one of our English services are not from Anglo-Saxon or Celtic backgrounds. So while the Sunday school I attended was 100% Anglo, my daughter will most likely go to Sunday school with children from just about every continent of the world. And this trend is not restricted to our churches; it reflects our wider society. In fact, it seems to me that while in the past we had to get on a plane, the ends of the earth have now arrived in Sydney! (more…)
Within the heart of the Christian faith is an astounding truth. God—who created and sustains the universe—became incarnate. The immortal and perfect Son of God shared our messy, sin-prone death-ridden lives of flesh and blood; he became human, walked with us, suffered with us, and subjected himself to our temptations. Ultimately, he died for us, satisfying God’s wrath, destroying death. While we all exist firmly and squarely on the ‘human’ side of the God-human divide, the incarnation means that we rebels can share in intimate fellowship with God himself through the Spirit of the risen Lord Jesus—now and for all eternity. (more…)
I’ve just started reading (rather belatedly) What is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin de Young and Greg Gilbert. From what I have read so far, and from the reviews I’ve seen, it promises to be an excellent book on the relationship between disciple-making and social action. (more…)
flickr: Gary Soup
In our previous post, we looked at a story that has often been used as analogy for the way that Christians can use secular wisdom in gospel mission and ministry. This is the account of the Israelites, plundering the gold of the Egyptians as God rescued them from slavery (Exodus 3:19-22). The analogy works because at least some of the Egyptian gold probably ended up being used to worship God (Exodus 25:1-8). But keen readers will notice that there’s another place the Egyptian gold ended up too:
Rock performances. Accounting textbooks. Voice coaching sessions. Self-help books. Leadership seminars. Adult education techniques. Sociological surveys. Jazz piano lessons. Child safety courses. Food safety courses. Statistical surveys. Statistics lectures. Corporate management textbooks. Primers on psychology. Magazine articles on cosmology. Blogs on modern communication techniques. Tips on writing style. (more…)
Just recently I came to realise that I had been treating a part of the Bible like a Mr Squiggle picture. Mr Squiggle was a kids’ TV show I used to watch. Children throughout Australia would draw little random squiggles–a couple of lines or curves on a piece of paper–and mail them in to the TV network. During the show, Mr Squiggle–a marionette puppet with a pencil for a nose–would add extra lines and curves to the squiggle, from his own imagination, to transform it into a recognisable drawing of something nice for the young audience (a cat, a house, a bunny rabbit). It was riveting viewing. Really. (more…)