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Showing posts from September, 2013

Urban Ministry: People I

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In my last urban ministry article, I suggested that it was important to separate the principles (valid in all ministry situations), from the application.  I think this really helps us when we come to thinking about people.

One of the big buzzwords in mission and evangelism at the moment is contextualization.  At it's best, this is thinking as clearly as possible about how to present the unchanging gospel to different cultures and people groups.  However, I think it's possible to jump too quickly down the contextualization route - especially because it's quite interesting.

A Reader in my previous church often used to say when he came to the application section of his sermons that although the particular Bible passage was written X number of years ago, that people are basically the same now as they were then.  I think that's an important point to grasp when reaching urban people groups, especially if they are very different in lots of external ways to the people group w…

A Future Church of England

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There's undoubtedly quite a lot of debate about the future of the Church of England, particularly on the issues of gender and sexuality. These are undoubtedly significant issues. They are issues that may well destroy the denomination.

There's also quite a lot of debate about some more practical issues.  There are problems with finances, buildings and numbers of clergy, which could also lead to the collapse of the denomination depending on how they are addressed.

And of course there are the political issues.  How does an established church fit in with a largely secular society?  What about church schools?  What about bishops and the House of Lords?

However, with or without the Church of England, i.e. by reformation or by collapses, the Lord will build his church (Matthew 16:18).  With that in mind, I wanted to write a series of blogs reflecting on the Church of England now and what I think it should be aiming for in the future and even how it might get there.  Clearly that will…

Overflowing Faith

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Here's my next magazine article.  I'm currently reading and enjoying David Jackman's Understanding the Church, which it appears is now out of print.  That's a shame, because it's very helpful and is providing the stimulus for my current articles for the magazine for the churches I serve.
See what you think if the next article.
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On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:37-38 NIV)
It seems that everyone has a strategy, or a plan, or a technique for getting churches to grow. Yet many individual churches are in fact declining and the overall picture in the UK is a picture of decline. I suspect the underlying issue is not that church leaders are using the wrong techniques or strategies (however useful some may be!). I suspect the problem is spiritual.
It'…

Resources on Ruth

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Over the last few weeks we've been preaching through the book of Ruth in church.  It's been a great joy as we've seen God's sovereign kindness in his plan of redemption both for Ruth and Naomi and for us.
As I've been studying to preach, I've used a number of really helpful resources. More for the preacher, I found Barry Webb's chapter in Five Festal Garments to be really helpful at the literary and biblical theology end. Leon Morris in TOTC was useful at the background and verse-by-verse end.
At a more popular level, but extremely useful still for the preacher were Iain Duguid's sermons, which are free from the Preach the Word website. I found careful attention to the text, clear explanation and thought-provoking application. I also read John Piper's A Sweet and Bitter Providence, which is from a set of sermons on Ruth. It's excellent. Faithful to the text. Theological. Applied. Passionate. All the things you would expect from Piper. It is also f…

Urban Ministry

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In recent times, conservative evangelicals in the UK seem to have been beginning to switch on to the need to reach out with the gospel to those in urban priority areas in the UK.

Currently, Tim Challies is doing a series of blogs on the 20Schemes project in Scotland.  Tim Chester has recently written a book called Reaching the Unreached and there is a regular conference of the same name.

This is a good thing.  It addresses the fact that the evangelical church and perhaps especially the conservative evangelicals, have tended to be rather middle-class.  This wasn't always the case if we think back to the Wesley and Whitefield revivals.  However, it would probably be fair to say that most conservative evangelical churches are middle-class, most seeking training for full-time ministry are middle-class and most of the money (not surprisingly!) resides in middle-class congregations.  To be fair, those things are probably true outside conservative evangelicalism.  Certainly within the C…