Friday, April 10, 2015

Changing (or not?) face of Christianity in Britain

21st Century Church....


'You are a Christian because somebody cared. Now its your turn'
Warren Wiersbe

John Bingham has some interesting and depressing stats on belief in Britain in his recent Telegraph article.

A Vicar pal sent me this film from a recent service in Lichfield Diocese and asked me for my thoughts. Where do I begin. My thoughts are simply that 40% of the clergy of the C of E are due to retire in the next 10 years and the average age of a congregant is rapidly advancing towards 70. Also, according to YFC, apparently 85% of children will leave school having had no participation at all in church. David Keen has plotted the latest C of E data and 'minus' seems to be the theme. The C of E is sadly on course to become little more than a minor sect in a post-Christian world to which, according to Bingham, the Chinese will be sending missionaries.

Don't get me wrong- it's a huge challenge with no quick fix and we are, as one local church, trying to write (and pray for) a very different story- as this post encourages.

What would Hudson Taylor and C T Studd have made of it all I wonder?

And the plan is?

Did I mention I wrote a post called 'Why plant churches?'

Instead of spending the next year having shared conversations about human sexuality we could perhaps better focus our energy talking about mission, evangelism and church planting in the post-modern world? Check out Hillsong London (below on USA Today) for one of the fresher faces of contemporary Christianity planting churches in the UK.

Which of these two expressions of Christianity would you want to engage with if you were 19?

'Touch the sky when your knees hit the ground'

It's just a thought......

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Shared Conversations

The Church of England has embarked on a season of shared conversations about human sexuality as a result of the Pilling Report.

There are two competing schools of thought currently on this issue. What the Archbishop hopes to achieve through this process is 'good disagreement' in light of it being unlikely there will be consensus:

1. One school (my own) reads from the Bible to the culture which lands you in a place that acknowledges the shift in the culture but seeks to remain faithful to the teaching of the Bible and the historic position of the church on issues and definitions of marriage and sex. The C of E (as overseen by its Bishops), for the time being, remains doctrinally in this place.
2. The other (taken by revisionists) reads from the culture to the Bible and seeks to change the churches position on the nature of marriage to line up with shifts in both attitude and practice in (Western) culture.

I personally found this discussion an interesting and informative one that covers quite a few of the critical issues that will no doubt be raised and discussed at length during these many shared conversations. The content offers no radically new material for those who have, like me, read and thought a lot around this issue but it does collect most of the arguments helpfully into one place. Jackie Hill's short description of why Jesus is good news to all of us is well worth watching at the end and really blessed me.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

A Book List on the Holy Spirit

We are starting a new preaching series on the Holy Spirit taking us through Pentecost and into the summer. The theme of our church weekend away in May is 'The person and work of the Holy Spirit' which I am really excited about.

As a result, I have started to read afresh quite generally on the Holy Spirit and also am taking delivery of a new book by J D Greear called 'Jesus Continued'.

Here are some of the books I will revisit, dip into and reread over the next few months:

God inside out, Simon Ponsonby

The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts, Max Turner

God's empowering presence, Gordon Fee

I Corinthians, Gordon Fee

Keep in step with the Spirit, J I Packer

Come. Holy Spirit, David Pytches

Spirit-shaped Mission, Andrew Lord

Forgotten God, Chan

Come creator Spirit, Cantalamessa

The Descent of the Dove, Charles Williams

Jonathan Edwards on Revival

Nine o'clock in the morning, Dennis Bennett

Know your spiritual gifts, Stibbe

The way in is the way on, Wimber

Power evangelism, Wimber

More, Simon Ponsonby

Be filled with the Spirit, David Watson

A new pentecost Suenes

Encounter the Holy Spirit, Morgan

Prophesy, Bruce Collins

Understanding Spiritual gifts, Arthur

When heaven invades earth, Johnson

The works of John Owen (Vol 3 on the Holy Spirit)

What happened to the power of God? Brown

Great Revivals, Whittaker

Joy Unspeakable, Lloyd-Jones

Spirit-filled church, Virgo

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

A good read, pastry and resurrection

We had a good Easter.

Tom Wright's tlittle phrase that when we die in Christ we say 'Good night and see you in the morning' has really stuck with me.

A book I spotted while clicking about is 'Redefining rich' which I may, at some point, read.

Sometimes, listening to a Jonathan Martin sermon is just what my soul needs.

Yesterday we made a pie. I have been reading this cookbook for more pie inspiration.

Darryl has been helped by reading Honest evangelism which has a good first line.

A pal sent me this book called 'Jesus Christ the Lord' which was a gift to me from its author who is part of my friends church (I can't find a link to the English version). By the way, he's looking for an Associate Vicar is you know anyone who might fit the bill.

This post called 'The dead end of sexual sin' is one I am pondering. I was particularly struck by her post-conversion emotions and turmoil that characterise all of us, to varying degrees, after we are born again.

'Conversion brought with it a train wreck of contradictory feelings, ranging from liberty to shame. Conversion also left me confused. While it was clear that God forbade sex outside of biblical marriage, it was not clear to me what I should do with the complex matrix of desires and attractions, sensibilities and senses of self that churned within and still defined me.'

If you are happy and you know it clap your hands :)