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Archive for the ‘Mission’ Category

The latest issue of Mars Hill MP3 journal is now online.  I highly recommend it for those interested in some of the current discussions surrounding worldview and culture from some of todays leading christian thinkers. The contributions of Smith and Hunter are particularly significant given the influence of their recent books .

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal
Volume 101
January/February 2010
Part 1
James Davison Hunter, on how the most prominent strategies of Christian cultural engagement are based on a misunderstanding about how cultures work

Paul Spears, on why Christian scholars need to understand their disciplines in ways that depart from conventional understanding

Steven Loomis, on why education needs to attend more carefully to nonquantifiable aspects of human experience

Part 2
James K. A. Smith, on how education always involves the formation of affections, and how the form of Christian education should imitate patterns of formation evident in historic Christian liturgy

Thomas Long, on how funeral practices have the capacity to convey an understanding of the meaning of discipleship and death

William Cavanaugh, on the distinctly modern definition of “religion,” and how the conventional account of the “Wars of Religion” misrepresents the facts in the interest of consolidating state power

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The following article is by my sister Rachel.

——

Red brick terraced houses and grey concrete yards. Broken glass cemented into high walls. Back alleys and winding streets. Meandering rivers lined with disused factories. Vibrant football stadiums towering over forlorn churches. Angry boys singing working class anthems. Old men with cold dust entrenched in wrinkles. Drizzling rain and stoic faces. This is my England.


This is the England that called me back.

It called me back from Chicago, the city of D.L. Moody and Barack Obama, of Oprah Winfrey and Walt Disney, and latterly… of Rachel Swales.

Chicago, and more specifically, Moody Theological Seminary, had been my home for a year. Although it had been an immense culture shock, it has also been a time of blessing. The teaching and example of the professors provided me with a renewed vision for the city; a vision I was eager to put into practice back home in Elswick, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The creation of an internship opportunity that combined biblical study with practical ministry allowed me a euphoric return to England. For the last six months I have been working with my church here, focusing on reaching the children of our inner-city community. It did not go as expected, but I think it turned out better that way…

The classrooms at Moody may well be a veritable hotbed of learning, but the streets of Elswick are perhaps even more so. It was upon these very streets that we began, armed with clipboards and fortified with chocolate digestives. Our textbook? Census data and a trusty AA street map. Our teachers? The people of Elswick. Our subject? Community Analysis. The intentional exploration of the community acted as a useful tool to discover the felt needs of children in the area. Just as Paul used his knowledge of the community to preach in Athens, so we hoped that our Community Analysis would help us to share the gospel of Jesus Christ more effectively.

The results of our analysis were perhaps not surprising but were certainly a stark reminder of the issues facing under 18s in inner-city communities. The area suffers from significant relative poverty, with rising unemployment rates promising to do little to change this state. Unemployment, drugs and alcohol abuse were thought to be the main problems faced by the children of Elswick. The idea of the church answering these needs was laughable to most interviewees and ‘faith’ was the lowest perceived need for living a ‘happy life.’ Though we knew Christ to be the only answer to true happiness, the community itself were indifferent. “What can churches dee?!” summarised one lady, “They cannet drag the bairns in, can they!?” She was right, we couldn’t drag children into our church services and weekly clubs…but we could drag ourselves out of the church building and into the community. We could be, as the buzzword goes, incarnational.


Incarnational ministry is one that seeks to follow Christ’s example by living in the community we are seeking to reach, intentionally sharing Christ through both word and deed as we live life with our neighbours. To seek to share Christ with the community of Elswick, it could be argued, we would need to be in the community, actively showing the transforming work of Christ. Although the programmes that we had already set up in the church acted as a great base for structured biblical teaching and an important link to local families, it became clear that the priority in my internship was to be people not programmes.

The people that became my priority were a small group of girls, all living typical lives in the community. They became my guides into life in Elswick and, in turn, I sought to be their guide into life with Christ. Several times a week we met together in Elswick. On a Sunday this took the form of more formal Bible study, expanding on the narrative-based learning the girls received at our other weekly clubs. However, throughout the week we also spent time together informally: visiting parks, walking to the library, painting pictures and so on. The aim was to show the children an authentic Christ, a living Saviour who is relevant in all aspects of life. Take, for example, the camping trip to Whitby…

The camping trip has been going successfully until the last night. High winds and a bargain-basement tent proved to be an uneasy combination. The adults on the trip had little sleep: 3am saw us carrying bricks across dark fields to weigh down the edges of our flimsy home. The girls slept soundly throughout this and, on reflection, it is clear why:

Earlier that day we had walked past a plaque on the pier, which had the words from Psalm 93 engraved upon it, “Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— 
the LORD on high is mighty.”

We read the Psalm together that night, above the waves of Whitby and huddled around our little camping lantern. We prayed that our canvas home for the night would stand firm. I was still a little worried so one girl turned to me and said, “Don’t worry Rachel, God’ll look after us.” Then the girls snuggled down into their sleeping bags, and did not stir until the morning. The God that has power over nature and who cares for them was more apparent to them, in real daily life, than He was when I had told them the story of Jesus calming the storm in our weekly club earlier that year. Yes, the children needed that Biblical knowledge as a foundation, but they also needed to see the outworking of this in real life. Unless Christians are by their side in this real life, there is little hope of this academic knowledge coming alive to them. Unless I can share and demonstrate a Christ that is vibrant and relevant and wholly able to love them in a transformational way, then the few hours learning in church each week may simply lie dormant.

Often children’s workers are given the encouragement that, “You just never know when they’ll bring these stories to mind…in years to come they might really understand what this all means.” This is cruel encouragement, and if we rely solely on this hope we perhaps have no hope at all. I simply cannot truly share Christ as a distant figure only seen twice a week teaching stories from the front of church. I must be out there, with the children, in their community, as a sister who loves them and sharing a Saviour that redeems.

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Following on from the first Bible and Church Conference in London in 2009, the same three scholars unite together again to seek to confront head on the big questions about the reliability of the records about Jesus. These day conferences are aimed at equipping ordinary Christians to understand the historical basis of the Christian faith and to share it with confidence. It is on Sat June 12th 2010

The conference brings together experts to:

  • Expose false claims about the New Testament
  • Show how the New Testament can be trusted
  • Equip ordinary Christians to share their faith with confidence

In Bible and Church 2010 attendees will not only be presented with classic evidence for the faith, but also with previously unheard arguments for the reliability of the canonical gospels.

Evidence of Eyewitmesses
10:30 – 11:35 AM
Evidence of Manuscripts
12:00 – 1:05 PM
Evidence of History
2:15 – 3:20 PM
Your Turn!
3:45 – 4:45 PM

Waged: £5
Unwaged: £2.50

At
St Helen’s
Bishopsgate

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Here is an advertisement from Trinity College, Bristol website about their summer conference.

TRUTH WITH A MISSION

Trinity’s Summer Conference
15-17 June 2010

The challenges of relating the Gospel to aspects of today’s western culture: how can we speak about truth with integrity? How should we respond to the ‘new atheism’? What should be the church’s mission in a ‘post-Christendom’ world? What will incarnational mission involve?

We invite you to join us this summer:

  • hear some stimulating talks from well-known teachers and writers

  • discuss the vital topic of  Christian mission in today’s complex world

  • come to a public lecture by Prof. John Drane on ‘Down to Earth Mission’

  • attend the AGM of the Trinity Association and meet other former students and staff

  • find out about Trinity today from current students

  • enjoy Trinity’s 13-acre campus in a quiet part of Bristol, near the Downs

Speakers

Our speakers are eminently qualified to address these issues from their many years of writing and engagement with the relationship between gospel and culture:

Alister McGrath

Revd Professor Alister McGrath 15 June
Professor of Theology, Ministry and Education, and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture at King’s College, London; author of many books on apologetics, theology, science and faith.
More about Alister McGrath

John Drane

Revd Dr John Drane 16, 17 June
Biblical scholar and minister who writes and speaks on modern culture, spirituality and mission; author of introductions to the Old and New Testaments and (among others) The Macdonaldization of The Church

Olive Fleming Drane

Revd Olive Fleming Drane 16, 17 June
Theologian and minister who writes and leads workshops on faith-sharing, spirituality, creative worship, visual arts, clowning ministry and dance; author of Clowns, Storytellers, Disciples and Faith in a Changing Culture.

John and Olive Drane are authors of Creative Arts and the Bible.
More about John and Olive Drane.


Provisional programme

Tuesday 15 June with Alister McGrath, from 9.30am

Alister will speak at a morning and an afternoon session on ‘The God Delusion? Engaging the “new atheism” ‘ and ‘The Joy of Faith: reconnecting the gospel and our culture’

Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 June with John and Olive Drane, from 9.30am

John will speak on Wednesday morning on ‘Post-Christendom Mission’ and in the afternoon he and Olive will be leading workshops, along with others, on aspects of gospel and culture. In the evening John will give a public lecture on ‘Down to Earth Mission’. On Thursday morning they will speak on ‘Mission, spirituality and lifestyle’. The AGM of the Trinity Association will also be held on Thursday morning.

The event will finish on the Thursday after lunch.

With a Garden Party on the Tuesday afternoon, a special student presentation on engaging contemporary western culture, the AGM for alumni, and many opportunities to connect with students past and present, this event will be the highlight of Trinity’s year.

Registration costs

For each day’s programme:
Tuesday and Wednesday: £10 per day for Trinity alumni; £15 for others (includes lunch and supper)
Thursday: £5 if staying for lunch.
Overnight accommodation: £15 per night per person B and B

Early booking recommended!

Book online: save the attached form (Word document), fill it in and email it back.

Those who receive the newsletter in the UK will have had a booking form enclosed with their copy.

Queries or requests for a paper booking form to Mrs Jean Williams at Trinity. Email Jean Williams.

Truth with a Mission poster

Download a brochure: pdf (two A5 size on A4 sheet)

Download A4 poster

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For His Name’s Sake

Over the last few  weeks I have been thinking  about the nature of God and askign myself why he does what he does.  Tonight I sat down and with the help of logos bible software looked up and meditated upon every verse in the bible (ESV) which uses the words ‘name’ and ‘sake’.  I found  that in the NT the church is called to suffer for his name’s sake. In the OT we see that God calls, creates, judges, leads, saves for the sake of his name. Furthermore we see that  prayers, particularly in the Psalms, often appeal to God to act for the sake of his name. I encourage you to take a few moments to read prayerfully through the following verses.  Sola Deo Gloria!

1 Sam 2:22

. 22 For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own.

1 Kings 8:41, 2 Chronicles 6:32

41 “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake 42 (for they shall hear of your great name fand your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house,

Psalm 23:3

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake

Psalm 25:11

For your name’s sake, O Lord,

pardon my guilt, for it is great.

Psalm 31:3

For you are my rock and my fortress;

and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;

Psalm 79:9

Help us, O God of our salvation,

for the glory of your name;

deliver us, and atone for our sins,

for your name’s sake!

Psalm 106:8

Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,

that he might make known his mighty power.

Psalm 109:21

But you, O God my Lord,

deal on my behalf for your name’s sake;

because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!

Psalm 115:1

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,

for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Psalm 143:11

For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!

In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!

Isaiah 45:4

For the sake of my servant Jacob,

and Israel my chosen,

I call you by your name,

I name you, though you do not know me.

Isaiah 48:9

9 “For my name’s sake I defer my anger,

for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,

that I may not cut you off.

10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;

I have tried1 you in the furnace of affliction.

11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,

for how should my name2 be profaned?

qMy glory I will not give to another.

Isaiah 66:5

Hear the word of the Lord,

you who tremble at his word:

“Your brothers who hate you

and cast you out for my name’s sake

have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified,

that we may see your joy’;

but it is they who shall be put to shame.

Jeremiah 14:7

“Though our iniquities testify against us,

act, O Lord, for your name’s sake;

for our backslidings are many;

we have sinned against you.

Jeremiah 14:21

Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake;

do not dishonor your glorious throne;

remember and do not break your covenant with us.

Ezekiel 20:9

9 But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt.

Ezekiel 20:14

But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, win whose sight I had brought them out.

Ezekiel 20:22

22 But I withheld my hand and acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.

Ezekiel 20:44

44 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.”

Ezekiel 36:22

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.1

Daniel 9:19

O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”

Matthew 10:22

22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. but the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Matthew 19:29

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

Matthew 24:9

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.

Mark 13:13

And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Luke 21:12

2 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake.

Luke 21:17

17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.

Acts 9:16

6 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

Romans 1:5

through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,

1 John 2:12

I am writing to you, little children,

because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.

3 John 7

For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.

Revelation 2:3

I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you

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Elaine Storkey has a new piece over at the fulcrum website looking at what the future may hold for the Church and culture at large.  The closing paragraph ends with a call to action and cultural engagement.  I agree with this and simply want to comment that evangelical leaders are (aim to be) pretty good at consuming time, energy and resources from their congregation in maintaining and expanding the Church (church gathered, institutional church). We need a holistic missional ecclesiology in which the CHurch (dispersed,body) looks beyond the Church (gathered, institutional) and  seeks to shape culture and the world.

Unless Christians move out of their parochial concerns and address the issues which are dominant in the rest of our world, we will be increasingly marginalized, and our contribution to the events of the coming decade will be minimal. Not only that, but the way people hear the Gospel and the implications it has for the whole of life, will be blurred and confusing.

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Thanks Steve for the link

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I preached a sermon on the idolatry of science and technology last week. The audio can be found here, it is the evening service on 22/11/09

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Today I had the pleasure of sharing a few insights on mission and worldview to the members of the ‘College Green’ pastoral group at Trinity College.. This group has pioneered and developed a chaplaincy which seeks to serve and bear witness to the young people who gather outside of Bristol Cathedral. Further information can be found here. The session today was intended to provide a theoretical/theological/philosophical basis for using worldviews in evangelism. On a practical level we will be using a modified version of the UCCF worldview questionnaire to engage in discussion.

If any church or group would like me to come and lead an interactive workshop on  ‘Worldview and Mission’ then I would be more than happy to assist. There would be no charge for any group in the Bristol area and for anyone else, within reason,  I would only ask that traveling expenses be covered. If interested then just leave a comment on this post. I can get references for those who want to know that I am kosher and can communicate effectively. I have previously discussed this material at West Yorkshire School of Christian Studies, local churches and a ‘Exploring Vocations’ retreat.

The following is primarily aimed as a resource bank for the pastoral group.

My presentation can be found using the following link.

I mentioned 2 books in my presentation.

Walsh and Middleton, Transforming Vision which introduces the reader to a Christian worldview. This book, if i remember rightly, takes a look at the worldview questions.

Where are you? Who are you? What is the problem? What is the solution? Where are we going? It will be worth checking out my  mate, Mark Roques’ website who has a great page on the worldview questions and sketches out a number of answers from different worldviews.  Also check out his podcasts.

I also recommended N.T Wright’s ‘New Testament and the People of God’ which provided the story, symbols, q+a, praxis part of my presentation. This book is great and will greatly assist you in hermeneutics and study of the New Testament. It is meaty and is not directly related to mission or evangelism. If this is your first year of theological training it may be best to leave on hold for a while. I think that it would be great to try and sit down and sketch out the worldviews of some of the young people you have met. What is their praxis? symbol? story? answers to worldview questions.

If you are interested in the Christian metanarrative and a holistic understanding of mission then check out some of the audio lectures by Micheal Goheen.

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Jake Belder, via his blog, introduced me to the book ‘Who gets to narrate the world?’ by Robert E. Webber. My copy arrived today and I have ploughed through the first few chapters.  So far, so good. Webber encourages us to look at the comprehensive biblical narrative which is desperately needed as Christians face real problems, both internal and external, in the 21st century.

However, I was surprised, given this book calls us to move away from a reductionistic understanding of God’s story and mission to find the following,

The overriding theme of this book is to respond to these challenges by understanding and practising the fullness of God’s narrative. Whether you are a pastor, a youth worker, a worship leader, an evangelist, a teacher or active layperson in the church, the effect of restoring God’s narrative is manifold. (page 19)

Why, please tell me, does a book which is against reductionism, have as its target audience people who work in a church? Surely the call of the gospel is to people working in all spheres of life. I have taken the liberty of re-writing the above paragraph and would be happy for Robert to use it in in any future editions of the book.

The overriding theme of this book is to respond to these challenges by understanding and practising the fullness of God’s narrative. Whether you are a pastor, baker, butcher, scientist, artist, teacher, economist, lawyer, candlestick maker,  the effect of restoring God’s narrative is manifold.

If this potential new edition contains the above paragraph I would only ask that a glossy picture of myself be included on the back cover. This would have the added advantage of increasing sales…..

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