Sunday, July 31, 2016

Holy Spirit

At our church planning conference, the devotion was on Ephesians 5:18-21.

The speaker touched on Graham Cole (whom I was privileged to hear speak at St Swithun's many years ago), amongst others, so I decided to advance my reading in this area.

Ages ago I read Kuyper and Bruner on this, and used them in a talk I gave for an Alpha group, substituting for the somewhat heterodox view of Nicky Gumbel, but time to update.

Here's my list:

Church planning

Today we had a conference to discuss planning for our church's future.

All up,  a few lessons:
  • the agenda was too long: we had half a day for a two day agenda.
  • we started with a devotion, prayer and song; good, but time consuming
  • the lead 'input' person, the administering minister (I eschew the word 'lead') was also the facilitator: doesn't work
On the good side; was great to be talking about such things. The meeting was far more engaging than our typical 'service' Now that's the format we should use! A bit of up-front talking, but sitting in loose circles of 5-8, and being able to move around part way through. Excellent.

Doing workshops: they are a delicate thing. They need expert facilitation, preferably using an adaptation of Checkland's Soft Systems Methodolgy. Here's a summary.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The lastable church

Thom Rainer sets out a list that he thinks will see a church into the future.

I added this comment:

Reads like a recipe for a sales firm or a local club!

I'd start with: most members practicing bible reading, prayerful devotion and a giving life; then

2 the bible, church history, christian theology and 'world awareness' (that is world view understanding and critique) are taught: systematically for young christians, with a clear statement of  biblical knowledge growth at age of high school entry and university/workforce entry;

3 a consistent embedded practice of prayer in all church services, meetings and small groups.

Nothing else matters.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

5 habits 2

Now that we're past the rule-bound structure of the 5 habits, let's think: how could it work.

What counts is (a) relationships, and (b) content. I would think that most Christians ('think' based on listening to them talk) would be unable to really explain Christian faith to another either theologically or in terms that make sense it today's language, today's thought forms and the other's life-world. Nor would they be able to defend it in the face of the ever present mish mash of philosophical materialism (which half the church supports anyway), new-age panentheism, and solipsistic consumerism.

But here's an approach that thinks through some of those things.

Its an article by Rich Robinson What can we learn from atheist Christopher Hitchens, published in the Jews for Jesus Australasian Newsletter July 2016.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

5 Habits

Our small groups are using Michael Frost's book Surprise the World.

It's about the 'five habits of highly missional people'; an obvious knock off epigram of Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.

The 5  habits are represented by the acronym BELLS: bless, eat, listen, learn, sent.

I thought this was generally pretty good. But I got hung up on two things (aside from the rather too cool neologism 'missional').

In true Baptist fashion, its been codified and made into a rule that one is 'accountable' for (another Baptist boogy word).

Indeed, there's a table of objectives (or maybe its examples, or encouragements, but...)

I will 'bless' three people....I will eat with three people...
And so on.

This is as much a turn off as the old fashioned button hole your friends and ask them to repent, tell them the four spiritual laws, the two ways to live....the you're not a real person to me (because we don't start with what love is in relationships). It misses out on one critical thing: as a rector of an Anglican church I used to attend said: one has to earn the right to communicate the gospel to another: be trusted be conversing on a two-way street be a real person.

Of course, there are some good ideas in this list, but it has reduced them to a mechanism which is completely unachievable for many people: eat with three people (not family) a week. Man, I couldn't do that in a year! Get real.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Benediction: how not to.

Our  benediction at church this morning:

"Please stay for a cup of tea or coffee and a chat. Nice to see you."

I much prefer somthing like:

"Go in peace to love and serve the Lord."

Thursday, July 14, 2016


The woman who runs our church's Alpha experience spoke of her current course in progress. She mentioned the discussions recurrently referring to Hawking, at the prompting of one of his fans who is attending.

I don't know if the discussions unpick the philosphical materialism of Hawkings position, or its sub-premise structured on an Idealist theology, but a search revealed a useful web page on Hawking. There are plenty of links at the bottom of the page.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Just kids?

In some church services there's an uncanny habit of the service conductor (that is, the one conducting the service: I do like the Presbyterian term 'moderator' for this role) to speak as though we the congregation, are junior Christians, as distinct from the 'senior Christian' rank of the conductor.

That is, we are talked down to, and not as equals striving in the life of faith.

It occured on Sunday, and I'm sure it was inadvertent, and maybe it was my own mood that misread the words, but the conductor spoke as though we were all new to the vicisitudes of an adult Christian life.

That's Baptists for you...the front person often arrogates to themselves a depth of experience that they deny others. This is particularly true if the person is young (under 30) and a musician.

At heart I must be an Anglican, because I find none of this in the Anglican Prayer Book: BCP or AAPB; not sure about the most recent one, as AAPB is my preference.