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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 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 success and status. We want to succeed, we want our children to succe…
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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…

Above the clouds

I had the privilege of flying above the clouds in January. I always find it stunningly beautiful. Especially seeing the sun rise or set over the rippled snowfield. And this time I was reading an article by Dane Ortlund - Jonathan Edwards, the Christian life and calm. And I got to this Edwards quote:
‘The Christian temper is to be meek and calm and not easily provoked, to be undisturbed by affronts and injuries. The Christian is above these things; he is out of the reach of them; he does as it were dwell above the clouds, out of the reach of winds and storms, and enjoys a perpetual serenity and tranquility.'
Edwards never saw what I was seeing out of the Airbus window. But in a sense he did. By faith. He knew what it was to be seated with Christ, above all rulers and authorities and suffering and sin, to set his heart and mind on things above, to consider himself dead and his life hidden with Christ in God, hidden in Christ seated at the right hand of the Father, hidden in Christ wh…

On the pitfalls of over and under contextualising

Zim Okoli leads New Life Catford with Remi Adedire. Here Zim brings to bear research on the history of the Nigerian church on the issue of contextualisation. 

“To over-contextualize means you can make an idol out of their culture, but to under-contextualize means you can make an idol out of the culture you come from.” (Tim Keller, interview 2010)
What does it mean for a church to be rightly contextualised? What does it mean to have a ‘native church’? A Lithuanian church that is rightly Lithuanian? A church for Catford which is appropriate to Catford? Two indigenous missionaries of the 19th and 20th century, Samuel Crowther and Garrick Braide, pioneers of early evangelicalism in Nigeria, represent different ways to go about contextualisation and helpful ways into answering the question of what does it mean to establish a church which is both biblical and culturally appropriate?

Samuel Ajayi Crowther is a great figure in the history of evangelical ministry in Nigeria.A former victim of t…

A beautiful picture of diversity

Loved this sermon from Tope Koleoso at the Nations in the City conference a few months ago.

"We need to go Beyond integration... to acceptance Beyond toleration... to love Beyond political correctness and native culture and demanding perfection of expression... to kingdom culture and hearts of grace and making every effort Because that’s what Christ died for. "So my approach is this: preach Christ in the morning, in the afternoon and at night time because he alone is able to reconcile all people to himself."