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Full/part-time paid/voluntary set-apart gospel ministry? Trying to find the best language for raising up the next generation of…

A lot of people recognise that Jesus’ words about the workers being few (Mark 9:37) are as true today as it was in the first century. I was recently standing in the garden of a friend, who’s the vicar of a rural parish, and he pointed north, south, east and west to neighbouring parishes where there were congregations without any meaningful pastoral oversight. And that’s just maintenance. If we’re talking about really getting into the unreached parts of the field and harvesting those outside the church then it’s going to need a lot more workers. If churches are going to be planted in significant numbers and at a significant pace across the UK then we’ll need hundreds more church planters in the next couple of decades.
But as soon as we start talking about raising up workers for the harvest field we run into difficulties finding the most helpful language to use. ‘Christian ministry’ or simply ‘the ministry’ has a long history of use as shorthand for ordained ministry but is unhelpful in…
Recent posts

Making the gospel for all - Duncan Forbes at Keswick - Part 2

My notes from Duncan's second seminar at week two of the Keswick Convention. Sharply insightful and very practical. Thanks so much for this Duncan. Lord give me a the grace to repent and do this.

Justification by faith – we’re all in the wrong, we’re clothed with Jesus’ righteousness - so we can take a critique, we don’t need to be defensiveWe don’t need a new strategy – we need repentance - acknowledge the prejudice in our hearts and cry out to God to change our heartsNarratives that we’ve been sold – e.g. middle class parenting better than working class values/parenting or this ethnicity is lazy or people with this accent are less intelligent – need to be challenged by getting to know peopleTake a missionary approach – rather than a colonising mentality. What are the wrappers of our Christianity that might be putting people off: Preaching – instead of alienating illustrations and assumptions we need to: work on thinking through the different groups of people we…

Why the gospel is not for all - Duncan Forbes at Keswick - Part 1

My notes from Duncan's first seminar at week two of the Keswick Convention. Wonderful gospel framework. Powerful critique. Lord give me a the grace to receive this and repent.

Justification by faith – we’re all in the wrong, we’re clothed with Jesus’ righteousness, so we can admit we are wrongFalse gospel: “Becoming a Christian is converting to middle class culture”False discipleship: “Better yourself but stay in your lane”, “Majority culture disciples minority culture (not vice versa)” 1 Cor. 1:26-31  Not many were wise by human standards Not many were influential Not many were of noble birth But God chose… to nullify… so that no one may boast – gospel is subversive, nullifies pride and idol of class We need to help each other find our primary identity in Christ rather than to boast in our culture (which is what comes naturally)
Jesus’ mission statement: preach good news to the poor (Isaiah 61, Luke 4, Matt 18 cf. Gal. 2:10)
'Preaching good news' is not s…

6 English sins

I asked a friend who's been in the UK just over a year for his outsider's perspective. What are some of my (English) culture's particular sins that we are largely blind to or tempted to excuse within the church? He'd clearly already given this quite a bit of thought as he quickly gave me six:
Dependence on government rather than God. In a place where systems work well and the state provides a lot of excellent services - health, emergencies, financial - it is easy to grow an entitlement mentality and a reflex to look first to the state as our provider and protector. You say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” (James 4:13) That's how we operate. There is a presumption we will not only last the night and wake tomorrow but that we will almost certainly live for several more decades. We don't live as if we are a mist that vanishes.Materialism. Accumulation of stuff. Ambition for stuff.Worship of…

Why it's good not to be settled

Since coming back to the UK we've been asked many times 'how we're settling' and 'whether we're settled yet.' And this has all been the warm concern of friends for which we're very grateful. It's good to be be rooted back into a good local church. It's good to rebuild a network of relationships. It's good to find some measure of stability. But more and more recently I've been seeing references to stability in the Bible that are sharply negative. It is the complacent, those without Christ, who are settled like the sediment at the bottom of a forgotten wine bottle. God's people have a deep rest and joy in Christ but in this world they have trouble and turmoil and frequent change.

Because change is good for us.

"The Scripture says, "They have no changes, therefore they do not fear God" (Psalm 55:19); and so they go down to hell quietly and securely. Oh, but it is otherwise with God's children! They are tossed up and d…

The rise of Asia and Africa and why that matters to church planting in London

David Kim of London City Mission shares some of his research showing why any strategy for church planting in London needs to take into account the rising demographic, economic and missionary power of Asia and Africa.
People power and urban dominance “According to the World Heritage Centre, by 2020 the urban population of Asia will be around 2.5 billion, having doubled in twenty-five years. By then more than half of the urban areas of the planet will be in Asia, and those urban areas alone will contain over one-third of the world’s population. The same organization predicts that the cities of Asia will be growing twice as fast as cities in the rest of the world.” (Glen Smith, Lausanne) Just as striking are the figures on Africa which is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent: 1.2 billion people and 54 countries. Africa's average population is the youngest amongst all the continents (with advantages of quicker learning and greater cultural adaptability) …

Planting churches as Great Commission obedience

Another great piece from Zim Okoli: 

What I want us to see is that, planting churches is absolutely central to obeying the great commission.

Now let me be clear. I’m not saying church planting is the only way to obey the Great Commission. For instance, one implication of the Great Commission is evangelism. Many Christians are committed to evangelism without being involved in church planting.Rather what I want us to see is that it's pretty hard to find a more fitting, more all-encompassing way to obey the Great Commission than planting churches.
Going means mission by the churchTherefore go and make disciples… (Matt. 28:19)From the outset, Jesus’ intention is for his followers to be outreach-focused not inward-looking. Jesus is saying, Make disciples by going out on mission to the lost.He already gave his disciples a taster of this back in Matthew 10. Back then he sent them out to preach the gospel to Jews, saying to them, “As you go, proclaim this message” (Matt 10:7). That translati…