Thursday, May 29, 2014

Getting to the point

'If you want to win the world to Christ you are going to have to sit in the smoking section'

Neil Cole

To continue my musing on discipleship this by Trevin Wax is good:
'The term “evangelism” gives many Christians the willies. We immediately think of canned presentations that seem stiff and unnatural. We are paralyzed by the thought of knocking on a stranger’s door and talking about Jesus.
In response to these images of evangelism, we promote the idea of “building relationships” before sharing the gospel. We call it friendship or relational evangelism.
I think this development is (overall) a healthy one. We don’t share the gospel apart from who we are as witnesses. The most effective evangelism takes place within the context of relationships where the life of the Christian is on display.
But sometimes, I wonder if our emphasis on relationships might cause us to turn all our focus to relationship-building and indefinitely postpone gospel proclamation. So someone asks you, “Are you sharing the gospel regularly?” and you think, Of course! I’m building a relationship with an employee at a coffee shop; I’ve got a friend who watches football with me; I’m getting to know the parents in my child’s preschool class.
Weeks and months (maybe even years) go by, and we’ve made friends, but no disciples. We still haven’t spoken about our Christian faith and what it means to trust in Jesus.
It’s true that effective evangelism usually takes place after trustworthy relationships have been built. But something is amiss when we can “get to know” people well over a period of months and never talk about Jesus'
Full article (which is well worth reading) is here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How did you get on?

Jesus called us to make disciples? It might not be a surprise if he asks us how we got on with what he asked us to do.

Krish points everyone to some good resources and thoughts in his recent post. Anyone involved in a local church spends a good deal of time thinking about discipleship and this might be a prompter put it on your agenda afresh.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Prayer, golf, money, mourning and a film

Rather a lack of posting I'm afraid.

I love Ellie's post entitled 'What day is it?'

Mrs C and I have just finished watching Broadchurch which is simply brilliant TV drama. It seems to have passed many of us by but now's the time to discover it.

If you haven't listened to Simon's talks yet then do. Session 2 on Psalm 119 is worth the time and will get you opening your Bible. While you are at it Barry Kissell, who is part of our church family, spoke on 'Anxiety' last weekend which is a don't miss.

We have started The Prayer Course in our home and we are using it in our community groups. It's going down a storm and is just BRILLIANT. So simple, practical and we are all learning how to pray together. We had some amazing testimonies from last week of people praying and God responding in his love and power. This is a super post-Alpha journey about prayer for any group or run it as a home group or staff team or just with a small bunch a friends.

If you struggle with prayer this book seems like one to read.

We are showing The Legend of Bagger Vance at our Film Night. It's about golf (only a bit) but it's really about the Holy Spirit :)

Just finished Francis Chan's chapter called Tuning your engine.

We are starting a new series on the Ten Commandments. One man in our church has been so blessed reading Just 10

This talk on tithing is an interesting one about generosity. As we have 30 churches in Southwark under threat of closure because we don't have money, we could clearly do with a bit more teaching on money around the place. I am preaching on not coveting this weekend. Jesus seemed not the least bit shy on the subject. I do love a bit of James MacDonald who may not be everyone's cup of java but he does preach the Bible with a bit of wallop.

I had to preach at the funeral of a stillborn child and was so grateful for this book.

The story of Bishop Kivergere moved me today in my BIOY notes.

We're getting hold of hay bales because we're having a Barnes churches Barn dance. Must get myself a check shirt and a pair of braces!

My takeout from this Rick and Kay Warren interview was never to say the words 'At least'. Make time for this. Quoted some of its content yesterday in my talk.

Loved hanging out with the excellent Rev Jon Kissel and the folk of St Georges Tolworth on Wednesday night.  Such a great bunch.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Real Hero

'For most of my ministry, I've believed in what I'll call "the mythic pastor-as-ultimate-hero story.".My fallen heart has often craved this version of the leadership story. It's a story that puts me at the centre. I must be ever-competent, invincible, irrepressible, and even righteous (or semi-righteous, or at least more righteous than most people) spiritual leader who can serve God heroically, without making mistakes- at least noticeable ones.

Once I buy into the pastor-as-ultimate-hero story I'm trapped. I remain stuck in my unhealthy patterns and sinful desires: I remain a slave to fears of failure and disapproval. I work harder and ignore the work of the Spirit. I don't depend on God because I want to be the hero of the story. But if God can humble me, helping me to admit my mistakes, confess my failures, and embrace my limits, then he alone receives the worship and praise for the story of my life.

When God is the hero of the story, when he is the director, producer, narrator, and star, then my failures don't imply automatic defeat because they point people to his greatness, not mine. My failures don't end the story, because ultimately the story isn't about me'

Nathan Conrad in The Road We Must Travel , Page 50  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Newton's five pillars of an 'Inner conversation'

'Newton had his own ideas of what an inner conversation was like. In his biography of Newton, Jonathan Aitken describes how Newton reduced the core of his spiritual life into five principles he believed would guide him in his leadership with people and his walk with God. He determined

  • to begin and end every day with God;
  • to peruse Scripture with diligence and attention suited to the dignity of the subject;
  • to spend the Sabbath entirely with the Lord
  • to choose for my companions only good people from whom I may derive some improvement; and 
  • to become all things to all men in order than I may save some'

Gordon MacDonald in The Road We Must Travel, Page 13

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Theography of Hope

'For all the usual evaluative purposes, the large and global churches are obviously the most important. But for deep spiritual renewal, the recognition of identity, the birth of awe, the small, local church serves every bit as well. Perhaps, they serve even better. In my history of small, local gatherings, the rooms were full of characters-divorced bankers, cantankerous physicians, drama queen choir members, faithful janitors. Characters. I have never been able to look upon people in any other way since. I hope I learned something from praying with the same lady who taught me English, from singing with the same man who bagged our groceries, from listening to the same preacher who also tucked me in at night. A small church like that, one big enough to house the people that you meet each day, can be both lonely and grand and simple. It is as good a place as any for the experience of learning to be content in any and every circumstance. Save a piece of locality like that intact, and it does not matter in the slightest that only a couple of hundred people every year will go into it. That is precisely it's value; a theography of hope'

John Blase, Theography of Hope

Quoted in 'Letters to a young pastor ' by Calvin Miller, Page 27

Monday, May 12, 2014

Getting away

'The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion'
John Wesley

Here's what I (we) learnt on our Church weekend

1. We are loved by God.

2. Hanging out as a church family is what we were made for.

3. The Bible is God's living word and reading it is life to us.

4. Children are not the church of tomorrow they are the church of today

5. A good walk and a cup of tea with folk beats most other things.

6. As much prayer happens around tables with food as it does in meetings 

7. God never runs on schedule

8. If the Gospel doesn't make you cry you may not yet have understood it.

9. Breakfast is my favourite meal.

10. I like my own bed.

I have posted the HTB Leadership talks but to be honest if I were you I would listen to Simon Ponsonby's talks on the HT Barnes website. 

They will most surely bless you:

Talk 1 is on Adoption (Romans 8)

Talk 2 is on The Word of God (Psalm 119)

For the pod: Leadership conference talks

The HTB Leadership talks are now up here so do put them on your iPod and listen to them:

1. The Rick and Kay Warren interview: Lots of things struck me from this as they spoke so movingly about the loss of their son. This was the talk of the conference. 

2. Rick Warren: This talk made me fall in love with the local church afresh.

3. Nicky Gumbel: He spoke about Jesus and Friendship and if you are a pastor or belong to a local church this will bless you.

4. Kay Warren: So powerful on what it means to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

For the pod: RT Kendall on 'Interpreting the Bible in the Spirit'

A few weeks back now, I spent the afternoon with R T Kendall (who stepped into MLJ shoes at Westminster Chapel). This talk on the Bible and the Spirit is well worth your time and do get out a note pad and pen.

If you preach you would do well to listen to this one.

LC 2014: Please forgive Germany

I have spent the week attending and now processing The Leadership Conference in the Albert Hall.

I will post more but this was for me the most moving and truly history moment that brought us all to tears.

Pass and tweet it forward.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Fishing, Rev and a few good reads

I had my first days fly-fishing which I know will excite readers. A lovely few days break in Somerset and time to reflect on Easter and all God has graced us with and time to rest with Mrs C.

We baptised Madhu on Easter day and you can hear her amazing story here.

I read 'Letters to a Young Calvinist' having read this review and so enjoyed the writing of James K Smith. His most recent book is about Charles Taylor.

My next read is this by Francis Chan and friends (Hybels, Peterson and Gordon MacDonald). Why not read this book with me slowly chapter by chapter and chat about it with pals to share what you learning? One review reads:

'I read a lot of books and I have read a number of books by authors in this collection going back many years. Few books really captivate me from the beginning these days. This book did, from starting to read the introduction I could hardly put the book down'

Rev has ended and you can have some perspectives here and James wrote a good piece in the Guardian here. I think it's brilliant telly but watches more like a documentary about the state of the C of E rather than a sitcom. However, with six thousand church leaders meeting on Monday for this there seems to be life in the old girl yet.

Eating alone is now a restaurant opportunity.

A word for the discouraged (h/t Dash House)

A friend highly recommended this talk on Sexual Confusion entitled 'Who are you?' I plan to listen to it in the coming weeks. My Bishop spent a good chunk of his sermon to his clergy in the Cathedral speaking about human sexuality and gay marriage. As Pilling is debated this isn't likely to be removed from top of the agenda any time soon in the C of E.

Furtick was on shouty form on Easter day and I loved his preach about the woman at the well.

We watched The Bible episodes on the Cross and the Church on Maundy Thursday as a parish open event. There were very few dry eyes in the house. The depiction of Paul and the birth of the church is done so well.

I have been so enjoying The Trip. I am not sure if you weren't a middle aged man born in the late sixties if you will find it funny but in my book it's comedy genius.

R C Sproul has a few punchy protestant thoughts on the newest saints.

James Emery White has written about 'The rise of the nones'. I love his writing.

Times Magazines fascinating World's 100 Most Influential People. Enjoy scrolling through.

(h/t Ann Voskamp)

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Big Story

'Stories are how we remember; we tend to forget lists and bullet points' 

- Robert McKee

I've really enjoyed reading 'The Big Story: How the Bible Makes Sense out of our Lives' by Justin Buzzard.

I am always looking for books to give to people who are on the brink of faith or who I long to be. This has gone near the top of my 'why not read this' giveaway list. 

I really do recommend it. 

Saturday blog-sweep

 Some interesting books for pastors The State we're in Attack at dawn Joseph Scriven Joy comes with the morning When small is beautiful