Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Church - The New Exodus II?

Two correspondents to the post Church - The New Exodus? have taken up the topic on their blogs with some interesting insights.

Check out Jamie's post here, and Shannon's here. Shannon has compiled an interesting list in response - I particularly like his last 3 points, which are:

8. Let People work through their problems! There is a great deal of hurt in peoples lives and most of the time it isn't resolved quickly. People need time and room to wrestle with issues and figure out who they are in God. It's our responsibility to just be there when they need us.

9. No Perfect People Allowed! If you think you're perfect, you won't fit in here. If you think you're perfect, you won't like us.

10. Accommodate the imperfect! Go out of your way to welcome and develop relationship with messy people. A messy church is the greatest church!
I think this is an extremely pertinent topic and one that we'll keep coming back to in the future I am sure. While I don't want to seem like I am always bagging the church (something I have been known to do from time to time) I do think that we have to face the facts and ask the questions that need to be asked if we are going to move forward.

About 7 years ago I read a book that really grabbed my attention. It was called Exit Interviews: Revealing stories of why people are leaving the church. I think (even though I read it such a long time ago) that I can recommend it to those interested in this subject.

Growing Christ Centred Youth - The Final List

Back in October I asked a few questions around the topic of growing Christ centred youth. The last few years have been a particularly challenging time for me in this area and the questions I asked reflect my experiences and local context. While I didn't actually get too many responses to the questions (probably a reflection of my complete lack of experience in this area and 'lameness' of my questions) I did find the process of writing them down and thinking about them worthwhile.

With that in mind - here are the questions and their (tentative) answers. Thanks to those who did participate and feel free to come up with suggestions, fixes or complete makeovers!

Question 1:

How do we grow/disciple youth in a way that is biblically grounded and "deep" in a culture that seems to think it needs entertainment?


Keep working with the ones that are making the moves in the right direction and encourage them to become "salt and light". A committed few is better than a non-committed, entertained multitude.

Question 2:

How do we get youth that are churched or do profess a commitment to Christ to look beyond their own (perception of their own) needs?


By loving them, modeling a Christ-centred life of service to others, by teaching them about Jesus Christ and his way of living and by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in them as they mature, as humans, and as followers of Jesus.

Question 3:

How do we effectively reach unchurched kids in a way that is going to lead them into relationship with Jesus Christ? I certainly don't find it hard to get involved in non-Christian kids lives - I do it everyday and have great relationships with many of them - but I have no idea how to get them to think seriously about eternity.


By living missionally and entering into their world and building genuine relationships with them. By loving them, accepting them, modeling a Christ-centred life of service to them, teaching them about Jesus Christ and his way of living and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in them and draw them closer to God's kingdom.

Question 4:

Is it too much to expect a committed relationship with Christ (see question 2) in the teenage years?


No! A committed relationship is not too much to expect, but it is too much to expect them to do it own their own. The road to, and with Christ is not a road travelled in isolation (Romans 15:1). We also need to remember commitment isn't neccessarily going to look the same in a young person as it does in a mature adult - there will be times when the spiritual thermostat will be high and many other times when it'll be low. The main thing is that there are other, mature, committed Christians around to set standards, to carry the load and to care when needed.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Missional Apologetics - Not Just Sprouting Facts About Science and the Bible

I am almost embarrassed to say it. Until not-all-that-long-ago my basis for apologetics was arguments for biblical truth based predominantly around science, and more directly, how the Bible and science were completely compatible.

While my views on creation, the universe etc. may not have changed, my status as a bona fide 'creation scientist' may soon be under review. You see, over the past couple of years I have been starting to feel uncomfortable about my previous, narrow approach, to introducing people to Jesus. While generally, and when compared to some, I think I was a soft-touch in this area, I do know that I have, at least on a couple of occasions, been guilty of arguing my point of view to the detriment of the kingdom - and, unfortunately, without too many opportunities for apologies. Needless to say, I haven't seen my victims since!

So - now confession time is finished - I was interested to read John Smulo's list entitled Apologetic Insights. It seems that much of the same "emerging" themes seem present in this list. In a missional sense, even apologetics is conducted relationally.

So here's his post - I think it is a good, thought provoking starting place for the topic of missional apologetics.

FOOTNOTE: To those who care - I am still a convinced creationist - Don't want anyone to lose any sleep! :)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Church - the New Exodus?

In response to yesterday's 'tongue in cheek' post, Church - It's Harmful, Shannon posted the following comment:

I'm afraid there is a reason that 28 million people left the church in the last decade. Maybe they found it hazardous to their health. Or worse yet. Maybe church became hazardous to their spiritual welfare!
This got me thinking. If this figure is true (and I haven't any reason to doubt it) why are so many people leaving the church? Is it really because of harm inflicted on them by Christians? If so what sort of harm? Are all these "exiters" bailing out on God? Or is this just the proof in the "emerging" pudding - is it because many Christians are disillusioned with the way Christianity is represented in western culture?

I'll throw my 10 cents worth in once I hear back from some of you!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Church - It's Harmful

This picture was the end result of a group session at work last week. We were brainstorming activities that could cause harm and we then 'unpacked' a few of them.

All of them were the guys suggestions - note number 2! Though we weren't able to assertain what it was they thought was harmful about church - other than maybe choking on a communion wafer or drowning during baptism - my suggestions, not theirs!

Gotta love 'em!

Horribly Wrong and Incredibly Right

I was talking with an acquaintance on the weekend when he popped into the conversation that he had heard I was starting a "new" church. I told him this wasn't exactly what was happening, that the meetings we were starting were still a part of Binningup Beach Christian Fellowship, but provided an alternative for people who found the more traditional way of doing things difficult to understand or participate in.

He isn't a Christian (as far as I know) so I was interested to hear what he had to say and that he was interested in and had been thinking about our plans. I described to him the loose format we were taking and that it would hopefully be a place where people could feel comfortable being themselves.

He didn't respond directly to this, instead he began talking about his time as a hippy in the late 60s. "You know." he said, "we got it horribly wrong when it came to the drug side of things. We have given our children and our grandchildren a heavy burden to carry there, what we started is now out of control. But we did get something right, and that is the sense of belonging and acceptance that existed within the movement - the sense of real community."

He didn't say whether or not he would come along when things kick off in February, but he did reinforce something for me. The importance that exists in finding a place to belong (I posted on this same topic a few days ago - The Lost Art of Relationship).

And he's right. Where the hippy movement went wrong, it went terribly wrong. But the real strength behind, and perhaps even the reason it lasted as long as it did, wasn't the drugs and the "free love", it was the sense of community it generated. It gave people a safe haven, a place of refuge and belonging in a confusing world at a confusing time.

Unfortunately though for the hippy movement, the freedom that characterised it was its undoing. The ideals of the youthful leaders were unsustainable and it failed to endure.

The church on the other hand has endured. It has been with us for 2000 years. I won't repeat what my friend went on to say - it was personal - but he linked the actions we're taking to the positives of the hippy movement. I got the impression he could see the potential for something he had experienced once, in a place far removed from the modern church, in what we are trying to achieve in our community.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 CEV
Here's a link to a film website about a guy who was a kind of "emerging" hippy back in the 60s. It seems his life even sort of mirrors the title of this post.

Lonnie Frisbee -
Imagine if John the Baptist came of age during the 1960s counter culture, the charisma of Jim Morrison flowing from the mantle of an Old Testament prophet. Meet Lonnie Frisbee, a seeker turned Jesus freak evangelist who compelled thousands towards a profession of Christian faith. It was during a trip into a canyon that Frisbee claimed that God gave him a vision of his future as an influential evangelist to the hippie generation.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Are you a "Christian" or "Jesus-Follower"?

Rick Meigs at Blind Beggar picks up the issue of labelling and, in particular, the way we label ourselves.

The argument goes something like this:

"Christian" is a biblical label, therefore we should call ourselves Christians. But, "Christian", at least in some circles - and certainly outside the bastion of the western world, in Asia, Middle East, China etc. - can and does have negative feelings attached to it. So how do we get around this and should we even be trying?
Rick had this to say:
From shortly after the Creation when Adam gave names to all the animals to the present time, humans like to label stuff. It helps us to put things in boxes we can understanding. Non-believers and believers in the years after the resurrection and during the expansion were no different. They needed a label for these disciples of Jesus. We find two that were coined mentioned in Acts: “The Way” and “Christian.” In fact, “The Way” is more common (Acts 9:2, Acts 19:9, Acts 19:23, Acts 24:14, and Acts 24:22). So, is “Christian” a biblical term? It is in the sense that its in the Bible as a man made label, but it is not biblical in the sense that we have been commanded in the scripture to use it as our identifier.

We should be sensitive and careful in the use of any term that create even more barriers to communicating the gospel which is already a stumbling block to many. Next time you are in dialog with a not-yet-Christian, try Jesus Follower instead of Christian and see what the reaction is.
You can read the whole of Rick's post HERE and he also links to another discussion taking place elsewhere.

Which do you prefer and why?

The Lost Art of Relationship

One of the biggest challenges facing Christians today is the prevelance of social isolation. I think one of the reasons blogs and sites such as You Tube and "MY Space" have become so popular is through these virtual reality hubs, people can reach out and find something they are not able to find in the real world. They can find acceptance from likeminds and a sense of belonging.

Below's a link to a video montage from You Tube that I think illustrates this point well. I found it strangely moving when I first watched it. If you want to watch it you'll have to click HERE. It is rather long (about 10 minutes) and contains a few seconds of material that some people may find offensive (a lesbian kiss as well as the "F" word).

I think it is obvious people are screaming out to connect and belong. What are we - as the church - going to do about it?

Mike O also dropped by and left some comments relating to the way evangelicals handle the art of relationship that I thought were very relevant.

Mike O said:

I am a conservative, evangelical Christian. But I have found that I do not have to compromise my views to talk to people who don't share my beliefs. What we have at OTM is common ground. I agree that we do risk "gracing people" away from God, and I've expressed that concern there. But at the same time I think we need to look at it from the non-Christian's perspective. Will they listen if all we do is harp on them about the truth? If we can't just talk without constant "intentionality," how well will those relationships really work?

The way I see it, there is a relational breakdown between the body of Christ and the rest of the world. And until we fix that, nobody will listen anyway.
Here are some links to articles and posts at OTM that detail his own "emerging" journey into a biblical missiology.
It is time the church rediscovered the "art of relationship".

Thursday, November 23, 2006

We've Had a "Visitation" - Jim Henderson Drops by MM

A couple of days ago I posted some ramblings on the recent "Revolutions" conference and a couple of bits and pieces related to posts on the Off the Map (OTM) "Conversations at the Edge" blog.

I guess I am learning something about blogging. That is that while in the confines of my skull my thought threads seem cogent, by the time they make it to the blog-page - without any editorial oversight (something I thought would be a good thing while a journo) - they can come across as much more pointed and deliberate than they ever where while still in my head.

So in that light I want to clear a couple of things up, and then brag a little.

Firstly - most of my struggles with OTM relate to the stuff being "dealt with" at "Conversations". I think I understand what is being attempted there, but I guess some of the postings really do just grate against my good ol' conservative background. It is easy for me to forget that there is a whole lot of life and interaction and talking and thinking going on beyond the posts I read on the blog. But I seem to find myself worrying, at times, that in some places the gospel ends up falling through the cracks in an effort to accomodate "everyone's" views. And this concerns me because I am concerned for those who might get the wrong end of the "relativity" stick and be "graciously" encouraged down a path that leads away from relationship with Jesus rather than toward it.

And that finally brings me to Jim Henderson and his comments about the Mercedes driving pastor and my opportunity to brag a little.

When I read AKA Lost it was like a breath of fresh air. I really hadn't any idea about anything to do with this "emerging church" business but knew that what Jim was writing about was indicative of a path God had been leading me down for years. I knew AKA was something I could give to those people I had been working along side in my church who were still struggling to come to terms with the kind of change of direction in life and ministry I had been advocating. It said a lot in a way that I hadn't been able to and presented concepts that were easy to understand and implement in everyday life. Most importantly it was about building relationships with "those Jesus refered to as Lost". Those who were not-yet Christians.

So, when I read Jim's comments regarding a suggested picket of a hypothetical Mercedes driving pastor, I found them to be out of (what I had assumed) was Jim's character.

But - and this is where I get to brag - Moved Mountains was paid a visit by none other than Jim Henderson himself today. And he has graciously taken the time to set me straight on the whole "Mercedes" issue. It turns out it was a joke intended to provoke thought and conversation and perhaps was posted a little out of its original context where I found it. You can read what Jim had to say about it, and more, down in the comments section of the post in question.

I want to conclude by making an excuse for myself! I am a questioner by nature. It has always got me into trouble and will probably continue to do so. But, it has also served me good stead. I am always (usually? eventually?) ready to be shown where I have been wrong or where I have jumped to the wrong conclusions. And if bagging out the authors of my favourite books gets them to drop by my blog - I think I will probably continue to do it! ;)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Food for Thought - On Pastors and Pastoring

Dan Kimble wrote the following in an article on The Next Wave entitled,Pews, Pulpits, Pastors, Preaching and other things that can get in the way...:

Pastors - I am a "pastor", so I am not suggesting we don't use that word - but the biblical defintion was a gift of "shepherding" - not a title tagged limited mainly to a paid person who went to seminary. In the early church it was all small house churches and there were the "shepherds" (pastors) who were leading and caring for the people. So there is leadership needed, but not as a formal title given only to paid professionals, which was a spiritual gift. When someone in any church over 75 or so people call the person who gets up front "pastor", it becomes different than the "shepherds" who knew all their "sheep" by name etc., which was possible to do in smaller house church settings. But as we use the now use the title "pastor" for the person who gets up and teaches - it is not the way it was in the New Testament. Again, I am a "pastor", but I am wondering if how we title ourselves like this can be detrimental to people not understanding there are also many of them who are "pastors" , who have that gift. We seem to only use it for the paid professionals (we only do that in our church currently, because of the current cultural defining of the word). But as we look at the separation of "clergy" and the people, we can force more and more barriers between them. Even robes and how pastors may dress differently sets up a culture of having people feel more and more less likely to understand biblically they can be "pastoring" people themselves. Reading the history of why clergy wears robes or suits is fascinating and it all stemmed from cultural issues we aren't facing today. But many never have changed the dress that was once developed for reasons of specific time period and made sense then, but today may even be counter-productive to the reason they were word originally. I am not against robes or suits, depending on the context and tradition. But I wonder when what we wear causes people to think less of themselves and what they could grow into and their roles in a church.
Dan's point on the adornments of the office - the dress of the clergy - reminded me of something Patrick Johnston wrote about in his book The Church is Bigger Than you Think:
I well remember preaching in a parish church in Colombo some years ago. It was a hot and humid tropical climate and the parish priest was putting on all his robes that were designed to keep the clergy warm in unheated, medieval church buildings in north western Europe. He swung round to me and blurted out, "It's all your fault I have to wear this!" Isn't this a parable of what has happened so often through the history of the Church? It has held on to the forms and let go of the principles (p. 156).
I don't want anyone to get me wrong - It's not like I hate pastors or anything. Some of my dearests friends and most influential people in my life are pastors. In fact I am employed in a pastoral role myself and about to embark on a process of denominational "pastoral" endorsement. I just think, generally, we need to look again at the hows and whys of pastoring and get back to the model the Bible gives us for leadership. The church has to benefit from this paradigmatic shift!

If you haven't already, check out the review (Emerging Jargon - APEPT) of Part 4 of The Shaping of Things to Come. I think it presents a more biblical model for local church leadership.

The Life of Brian

Well, in my search for answers about Brian McLaren I haven't actually got very far, so far. But here is a link to an interview with Brian by the fellas at The Next Wave (which is a good, online read for those interested in the Emerging phenomenon).

Now my question about this interview is - when talking about hell etc. was Brian being deliberately cagey?

Now I also heard that Brian is a great guy - Scot McKnight reveals more of Brian's character and ways here (this was a really thought provoking post and I am thankful to Scot for it).

I also want to be clear that I am never, in any questions I ask, calling into account Brian's character.

I am really going to have to hurry up and read The Church on the Other Side [I called it something else yesterday, but that is what I meant:)] - but gotta finish Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church first.

I can see this becoming a bit of a series - which I am finding is a good thing when it comes to blogging - gives you (me) something to think about and write about at those times I otherwise struggle to come up with ideas.

Looking forward to hearing what you have to say. Maybe you've met Brian or heard him speak.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Revolution Conference and Other Ramblings

I have been following some of the lead-up to and after-effects of the recent Off The Map "So you say you want a revolution" conference.

I am really struggling to understand where some of these guys are at. I read Jim Hendersons book "AKA Lost" about 6 months ago and really enjoyed it - I found it refreshing and used parts of it as a basis for some evangelism workshops I was running. I have also been a lurker and sometime-commenter on the "Conversations at the Edge" blog over at Off The Map.

The thing is I don't really understand where these guys are going. I don't understand a lot of the stuff I read there or a lot of the comments made by the Off The Map people and the people that operate their various blogs. Some of it seems really good and they have given me loads of ideas for reaching out and fresh (albeit American) perspectives on modern culture, but other stuff leaves me frowning (here's one example of a wrinkle maker).

Here's a link to a blog post at the Resurgence site by Gary Shavey from (I think) Mars Hill. He makes some comments on the "Revolution" conference and casts a few more shadows over what is actually going on there.

I am interested, in particular, in trying to understand the difference between the Emergent/Emerging church. It seems like the Brian McLaren side of things (the Emergent?) is what I would call quite theologically liberal and in not what I would see as a positive way.

I am quite possibly going to be at a conference with Brian in May next year and would like to know where all of this fits before hand - forewarned is forearmed - not that I am going to make any trouble! I Just want to know what to expect.

I have Brian's book The Church on The Outside waiting in the pile of reading next to my bed. It's the next in line and I am looking forward to seeing what he has to say. Someone told me it's his best (it's also his first book I think).

Anyway - I'm struggling to get my head around where these guys are coming from - here's another example of something from Conversations at the Edge. It seems like they are throwing the baby out with the bath water and making God into a narrow 2D, "god of my own understanding", and this disturbs me. I've managed to restrain myself and haven't commented - yet :) ....

I'll probably end up writing a bit more on this issue and in particular this post (the one linked to above) at "Conversations...".

Monday, November 20, 2006

Once Valuable - Now Worthless

It's a bit quiet at Kick Start today. The really busy stuff will start next week when I am forced to run around like a headless chook (= chicken) trying to finalise exit plans for the last lot of young blokes to go through for the year.

I brought a "Surfers Bible" in today for one of the guys - he didn't show up and so the Bible's sitting on my desk. I picked it up and started reading Philipians. I am often struck by how complex and how simple Paul can be, all at the same time.

In 3:7-11 he wrote:

But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as rubbish. All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to Him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised Him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, so that somehow I also may be raised to life. CEV

Forgive me Lord for the times I have put other things, religion, in front of simply knowing Jesus Christ. For the times I have made worthless things more valuable than your Son. Thank you for loving me and accepting me anyway and allowing me to belong to you!

You can read it in the ESV here.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Emerging, Emergent, Emerging Missional?

What is the difference between the Emergent Church, the Emerging Church and the Emerging Missional Church?

If I had to pick one label out of these that most closely described where my head is at, at the moment I would pick the Emerging Missional Church. Which are you and why?

Symbols Without Words are Meaningless

Why Icons Cannot Preach the Gospel

Suppose that a person wants to become a missionary and bring the gospel to a tribe that had never heard it. But the person finds the process of preparation too long, difficult and expensive: years of language training, preparation to live in a primitive culture, raising financial support, etc. So the would-be missionary comes up with a brilliant idea�travel to a key place where the tribal members meet, sneak in at night, construct a huge cross, and leave the country without saying a word�and carries out the plan. The next day the entire tribe gathers to marvel at the cross and ponder where it came from and what it meant. Perhaps, in time, they would even come to relish the cross and see it as a sign from beyond their world. [...Read More]

Emerging Heresy

Well the title should get a few clicks!

Found THIS post on the EMERGING TULIP. Not sure where the author actually got this from. From the contents of it I think he made it up himself.

I posted a comment and asked where it came from but haven't received a reply as yet - somehow I don't think I will.

As an aside - this is representative of the kind of exposure I had to the emerging church early on in the piece.

Rwanda Mission Partnership

I have just started a new blog site for the Rwanda Mission Partnership - a partnership between the Christian Unity Fellowship (CUF) in Rwanda and Day 4 in Australia.

This partnership has been in operation for nearly 4 years now and has been involved in community aid and development projects, church planting and evangelism and church development.

I led a team to Rwanda in 2004 where we took part in a number of activities and we are going back in 2007.

The CUF is led by an amazing man, John Mihigo. John took his church and family from a regular neighbourhood in Kigali to one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the city where they minister to victims of the AIDS epidemic, orphans, widows, and some of the poorest of Kigali's people. I am privellaged to be able to count John as one of my best friends.

Rwanda is my second home, I just wish I could get back there more often.

The website/blog can be found at Hopefully John will be a regular contributor to the blog. He should be on the air with his wireless broadband in a couple of days which will make things easier for him.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Mountain Moved

My earlier melancholic mood is passing, thanks in a big way to Mike's simple post, Things I am Thankful for.

I also found a new blog from a link on Mike's blog - Dying Man's Daily Journal - this is a brave project. Mike's blog also pointed me towards a 30 minute documentary called The Dancing Outlaw which also touched me. Most of us know or know of someone like this but never take the time to get to know them in the way the filmaker has.

Yes - I'm still blogging - at least for now! :)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Emerging Jargon - APEPT

APEPT Leadership

I haven't been much of a fan of the currently popular Pastor-at-the-top model of church leadership for a long time. In my experience it creates a self fulfilling cycle of sorts, where church members expect pastors to be spiritual Jack-of-all-trades, responsible for the "ministry" of the church while the "laity" (a word I loath) do their bit by rocking up to church on a Sunday. This can create situations where gifted members of the church are unable to be involved in the ministry of the local church, particularly if their gifting is in areas that clash with those traditionally belonging to the pastor. It also creates, either intentionally or otherwise, a perception of two classes of Christians - those who are "called" to ministry and those who are not.

Frost and Hirsch deal with this in part 4 of The Shaping of Things to Come and present what they have called the APEPT model of leadership. APEPT is an acronym based on the 5 leadership giftings of Ephesians 4:1-16; the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher.

Basically the APEPT model or mode of leadership recognises the 5 APEPT leadership giftings as crucial to growing and sustaining healthy missional ministries. The authors also see a broader application of these gifts across the general population of the church. While in a specific sense these gifts exist individually for leadership they are also broadly represented across the body.

" comes the revolutionary paradigm. What we have called the ministry matrix [the broad application of the APEPT gifts] suggests that the fivefold ministry belongs to, and describes in some way, the whole church".

Frost and Hirsch describe the APEPT gifts in the following way (they make the point that these 5 gifts should not be seen as offices - they are functions based on obvious gifting and not roles or career positions):

  • Apostolic function: usually conducted translocally, pioneers new missional works and oversees their development.
  • Prophetic function: discerns the spiritual realities in a given situation and communicates them in a timely and appropriate way to further the mission of God's people.
  • Evangelistic function: communicates the gospel in such a way that people respond in faith and discipleship.
  • Pastoral function: shepherds the people of God by leading, nurturing, protecting and caring for them.
  • Teaching function: communicates the revealed wisdom of God so that the people of God learn how to obey all that Christ has commanded them.
While I did not see it explicitly spelled out in the book, I get the impression that Frost and Hirsch are recommending the APEPT leadership ministry belong to the Elders in the local church context and that Elders be recognised based on their APEPT gifting rather than elected in a democratic sense. This would signify a return to what I have always seen as the more biblical way of leading the local church - where the pastor is one of the Elders, not over and above the Elders. It would also signify a sharing of ministry responsibilities rather than simply expecting the Pastor to take on every role, from counsellor to accountant, regardless of gifting or personal strengths and abilities.

Frost and Hirsch promote the APEPT model as the only way for the local church to achieve spiritual maturity and effective mission. I see this as being an important point as Paul does seem to be linking the exercising of APEPT leadership and broader church giftings to Christian maturity in the Ephesians 4 passage.

Hirsch and Frost conclude,
if this is true, it is impossible to estimate what terrible damage the church has done through the loss, even active suppression, of this crucial dimension of New Testament ministry and leadership ... Perhaps the fact that APEPT has not been intentionally nurtured and practiced might have something to do with the immaturity we find in the Western church ... Verse 14 [of Ephesians 4] could well be a description of church history in the West - we have been tossed about, immature, infantile.
To me this chapter really just stated what should be the bleedingly obvious, that leadership should be shared and based on obvious spiritual gifting. Yet because of traditions and in-built mechanisms within the human psyche that seek to abrogate our individual spiritual responsibilities, this ideal has been overlooked for centuries.

In the end I really appreciate what Frost and Hirsch have achieved in this book and particularly in this chapter. If the established church is to change in order to become more effective in its mission the first area that is going to have to experience this change is leadership. A move into the missional will not be possible while church ministry is driven from the top and while class distinctions exist within the body.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Accountability vs Control

It seems that in church leadership, somewhere along the way we've mixed control up with accountability.

I was talking about this with someone the other day. I mentioned how, in my work I had a high level of accountability but that I also had the freedom to work out of my strengths to achieve better results and implement new ways of doing things. I was asked how this worked, and I replied that basically, it meant that I had to keep those above me in the chain informed of what I was doing and I had to be prepared to take full responsibility for my actions - in other words, I would be held accountable for my actions.

In my church work things tend to work differently - accountability means something else.

Generally, I come up with ideas, I take them to the church leadership. The leadership thinks about these ideas for several weeks or several months and then, with prompting from me, tells me what they think of them and whether or not I can implement them - in other words, the accountability relates to my possible future actions or my thoughts.

When I pointed out the obvious contrast in these two different situations the person I was speaking with said, "Yes, but things need to be done differently in the church - that is the difference between spiritual accountability and worldly accountability".

This didn't sit right with me at all. As I understand it, accountability has always related to actions, not possible future actions or even consideration of possible future actions. Our entire legal system is based on this, as was the Mosaic Law as will God's future and final judgement. Sin is not something we might do (with perhaps the exception of "murder and lust" which Jesus talks about in Matthew chapter 5) it relates to something we have done.

What I have described in the second example is actually the antithesis of accountability - it's control and it hamstrings progress. It also appears to be an entrenched practice in many church leaderships, ironically, while people outside the leadership are often allowed to run around and do whatever damage they please with absolutely no accountability at all.

Spiritual accountability, when built on a foundation of trust and acceptance of giftings and abilities frees people up to do the work of God while ensuring action can be taken swiftly, if and when it's necessary.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Shoot-First Apologetics

I just came across this one on the Christianity Today site. As someone whose been known to "shoot first" I thought it was quite poigniant.

I was chided recently by someone who was upset with me because of my extensive dialogues with Mormon scholars. "How can you engage in friendly conversations with people who believe such terrible things?" he asked me. I tried to explain that if we are going to criticize Mormonism, it should be on matters that they actually believe, not on what we think they believe. I said the best way to know Mormon beliefs is to actually engage in dialogue with Mormons.
The rest is HERE.

In case, like me you're wondering - this is a grackle.

It's Happening ...

As of January I'm coming off the preaching roster for Sunday's and Alyssa and I are starting our alternative gathering! I presented the idea to the leadership at a meeting on Monday night. and while I am not sure everyone exactly gets where we are coming from, we were given in-principle support.

At this stage it looks like we'll be starting in February. So now it's off into the unknown again - and, I can hardly wait!

Coffee in the Arvo will be kicking off again in January as well. I have had a bit of feedback from last weeks cafe afternoon and it seems that a few of our church goers just couldn't help themselves. A couple of "invitations" to Bible studies went out to some of the guests from the community. Hopefully it was all appropriate and we will get to see them again, but I couldn't help cringing when I found out.

House Church or Neighbourhood Church?

JR Woodward (don't know his first name - only his initials) of Dream Awakener points out that the house-church only model of church may be limited in its true scope when trying to cultivate a truly missional church. He advocates the "neighbourhood church" where house churches are a part of the bigger picture.

...I am more of a fan of the neighborhood church of 100 to 500 that seeks to embody the good news to the neighborhood, than I am of the house church "only" model. In my context, I sense that providing public weekly gatherings of worship alongside of home groups or house churches enables greater transformation as well as builds richer community. This combination creates opportunity for God to work in each of these various spaces. It is probably one reason that the early church gathered at the temple grounds and from house to house. I often wonder if the house church "only" movement is primarily a reaction to the mega-church and those who have become disillusioned. While I am a fan of the house church, I am a greater fan of the neighborhood church.
You can read the whole post HERE.

I'm a Stoner and they Know it.

How do we get youth ministry to get real? In my neck of the woods, particularly in the town where I work, youth ministry seems mostly to be about conformity.

In this light, I think the church has been working on cloning for a lot longer than the scientists who last week received government permission to create human embryo's for experimentation.

In my lunch room at work I have a copy of a contemporary version of the NT which stays on the table. It's aimed at young blokes and the cover looks like a magazine. A couple of weeks ago one of them made the comment - "It looks really cool on the outside but when you read the inside it's really weird."

I thought he was talking about the Bible itself - but it turns out he was talking about all the "helpful" advice scattered around every page for the Chrisitian kids who are reading it. Stuff like "10 ways to impress your parents", and "how to let a girl know you like her". The later included the advice: "read your favourite Bible passage to her" - which even I think is lame!

Now the last thing most of these young rebels want to do is impress their parents or gushingly quote scripture at their love interest. But it's these bits of the "Bible" the guys are fixated with - not the actual Scriptures themselves. They are great for a laugh, to take the piss out of Christians, and reinforce what they are already thinking about following Jesus Christ, i.e. to follow Jesus means to become a lamo wimp who gets off on the kind of stuff they are reading in this version of the Bible. In otherwords, conformity to a foreign culture that has no baring or relevence to their daily lives.

"I'm a stoner, I look like a stoner and they know it. I don't fit in and they don't know what to do with me", this is how one of the guys I was working with last year described his past attendence at a church youth group. He went a couple of times but ended up giving up on it. He was definitely interested in Jesus Christ (and thankfully still is) but couldn't find acceptance among His followers.

I am going to keep the "cool on the outside - wierd on the inside" Bible on the lunch room table. Even though the "helpful" bits make me want to cringe, it at least provides an opening to talking about the real stuff - the important stuff, including the fact these guys really do matter to God and that they don't need to be come mamby, pamby wimps in order to follow Jesus. I only wish I had more time with them or at least had somewhere to send them where they would feel accepted and not feel the pressure to conform.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Lost Evangelist

Last year I befriended a 17 year old who was heading off the rails. We'll call him JT (not his real name or initials). On the outside JT was a tough guy who liked the fact that people were scared of him. He was the kid that the other kid's mums said they couldn't hang around.

He was getting into drugs and booze and crime. But underneath the tough image was a guy with a heart of gold.

One day I asked JT if he wanted to find out more about Jesus, he said he did and so we arranged to meet over pizza on a Friday evening. At 7.30 on the dot JT arrived and brought two mates with him. We talked about Jesus and watched a video. JT said he would be back again the next week. And he was, this time with 4 others.

This was the start of our youth ministry. 5 unchurched kids meeting in a community hall over a slap-up dinner and juice to learn about Jesus.

That was nearly 2 years ago. 4 of those kids have since decided they want to follow Jesus. 3 new kids have since joined in and 2 of them have made the same decision. It's up and down and plain hard going at times. They don't have the support of Christian families and, to the chargrin of some, don't come to church on Sundays, but we meet and do our own "church" on a Wednesday night and they keep coming back.

JT moved away but we stay in touch. He hasn't admitted to following Jesus yet but he still rings me to ask me to pray for stuff that's going on in his life. He no longer does drugs or crime, but he's still a tough guy and he will always be the guy who started our youth meetings and our "lost" evangelist.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Book Review - Why Men Hate Going to Church

This one's for my mate Shane F.

Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow.

It was the title of this book that first grabbed me. Here was something, I thought, I will definitely be able to relate to. Unfortunately, the title was almost as good as it got!

Perhaps I'm being a little hard. David Murrow has tackled a controversial and timely topic in this book. While overall the book reminded me of a late night infomercial, it did manage to get me thinking a little harder about the problems we have in our own church community in engaging men.

There's no doubt Murrow has a point. He has recognised the lack of male presence in many traditional congregations and asked "why?". But his view of church and ministry is, unfortunately, quite narrow, and so too are his solutions. He holds up the American mega-congregation as the prime example of successful church, he encourages the traditional top-down approach to ministry where the pastor is "the man" and he paints a picture of true masculinity that includes pick-up trucks, the outdoors, and killing things.

Now, the first two things in the above list - the mega-church and the CEO pastor - are pet hates of mine, but the third I can relate to. I am an outdoorsy kind of bloke, I owned a 4 wheel drive pick-up (or ute as they are known in Oz) for many years and still own and use a 4 wheel drive wagon. I have spent my fair share of time hunting poor defenseless animals (and enjoyed it!). But I also know that there are vast numbers of blokes out there who don't fit this picture of masculinity, especially in urban centres populated with New-Age Sensitive types and young professionals. We need to be ready to be "all things, to all men", as Paul says it in 1 Corinthians 9:9-22, by knowing our community and its culture, and knowing that masculine culture in general is nowhere near as easily defined as Murrow makes it out to be.

On the other hand, I think most men would agree, there is a part of the masculine spirit that seeks adventure and danger and Murrow does try to capture this. He also aptly addresses the descent into femininity of the modern church - a place of flowers, feminine motifs and romantic love songs to Jesus. Murrow says men need to be able to; "Imagine Christ as [their] Commander, Coach or Scout, not [their] Boyfriend". He recounts the experiences of "Tony", attending his first men's ministry event:

Tony was asked to introduce himself and share about his life. Next, he was paired with a stranger and asked to share one of his deepest fears. Then everyone was asked to share a prayer need or a praise report. The men read from the Bible, taking turns around the circle. Finally, the men stood in a circle and held hands for what seemed like hours, while one by one they bared their souls to God. One man was quietly weeping. The guy next to Tony prayed for ten minutes straight, and his palms were sweaty. Once the meeting was over, Tony didn't stay for cookies. He hasn't been back.
Murrow rightly points out the need for change in these areas of ministry, if we are to be real when it comes to getting men involved with Jesus Christ. Where he goes wrong is in seeing the masculinising of traditional ways of doing church as the answer.

We can change the way things look on a Sunday, we can get all bloke-friendly, but at the end of the day the problem lies in the image the church has in general and the methods it uses to try and draw people to it - the "build it and they will come" mentality. It's going to take more than just ditching the doilies or holding special events for men that focus on masculine pursuits to solve the real problems.

Murrow's continual use of generalisations about what "men like" and "dislike" are also annoying and a little condescending and his regular deference to consumer-driven models of church, frustrating.

If you are really interested in captivating men and leading them into the adventure of following Jesus Christ, John Eldridge's Wild at Heart is a better starting point. It doesn't offer all the quick fix solutions of Why Men Hate Going to Church but it paints a far broader picture of the masculine spirit. Even so, Murrow has touched a nerve in contemporary church culture and, if nothing else, has opened the door to deeper discussion on the way men's ministry is approached by the local church.

I give it 2 out of 5 pick-up trucks!

Murrow has a website called Church for Men.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

You Can't go to Church!

An appropriate post for a Sunday -

Do you know that it is impossible to go to church? No place in the Bible do you find Christ followers “going to church.” But all to often we talk of the church as a denomination, building or place where certain religious things happen. We talk about “going to church,” or I’m a member of such and such church, or we attend so and so church. As Dan Kimball says in his book “The Emerging Church,” we see the church “as a dispenser of religious goods and services. People come to church to be fed, to have their needs met through quality programs, and to have the professionals teach their children about God.” This is not the Biblical meaning of church and it often has a profound effect on how we view who and what we are as Christians.
Read the rest ...

From Rick Meig over at The Blind Begger

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Growing Christ Centred Youth - 5

I want to deal with questions 3 and 4 today.

I spent the day with a young bloke I've known for a couple of years now. I first met him when I was filling in as a Sunday School teacher, he was 11 or 12 at the time. I didn't see him again until he was 15, by which time he had developed a pretty serious drug dependency.

Now, at 16, he has reached the end of the road. He appears to be suffering from psychosis and experiencing some heavy demonic activity and - this is the best part - he wants Jesus Christ in his life. We prayed, we cleared out the demons, he committed to following Jesus and then we hung out. He had a day without drugs for the first time in a long time. Now he needs love, care and to belong. I hope we can meet these needs, as God's people and as his Christian family, and I hope he can continue to be motivated to get the ongoing help he needs to deal with the layers of spiritual, emotional, psychological and physiological scar tissue that has built up over the years.

When I started looking at these "Growing Christ Centred Youth" questions again I began to think about my day, and it became clear the answer to question 3 is very much the same as the answer to question 2.

Question 3 is:

How do we effectively reach unchurched kids in a way that is going to lead them into relationship with Jesus Christ? I certainly don't find it hard to get involved in non-Christian kids lives - I do it everyday and have great relationships with many of them - but I have no idea how to get them to think seriously about eternity.
In question 2 I was wondering about self-centredness, and getting youth to look beyond themselves. But after thinking about it further, self-centredness is the very thing that keeps us all from Christ anyway - it's what Dominic Steele in Introducing God calls the "declaration of independence", it's when I tell God to "bugger off" and I decide to do my own thing because, after all, "I know best"!

So, after a day with my young mate, I think the way to effectively reach the yet-to-be-reached youth, leading them into a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ is:
by entering into their world and building genuine relationships with them. By loving them, modeling a Christ-centred life of service to them, teaching them about Jesus Christ and his way of living and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in them and draw them closer to God's kingdom.
In light of this, question 4 is pretty easy to answer:
Is it too much to expect this (see question 3) in the teenage years?
No! A committed relationship is not too much to expect, but it is too much to expect them to do it own their own. And this is something we all need to remember - the road to, and with Christ is not a road travelled in isolation (Romans 15:1). We also need to remember commitment isn't going to look the same in a young person as it does in a mature adult - there will be times when the spiritual thermostat will be high and other times when it'll be low. The main thing is that there are other, mature, committed Christians around to set standards, to carry the load and to care when needed.

Please remember my young friend in your prayers - he has just started on what is likely to be a difficult journey and he has a long road ahead of him.

One Month On - New Perspectives

Back about a month ago I made my first post to this blog. In it I expressed my feelings about and perceptions, as they were at that time, of something called the "Emerging Church".

Over the course of the last month I feel like I have learnt a lot. My view of the EC has changed rather dramatically. I am still excited - perhaps even more than I was originally - and the concerns I started with, have so far, been mostly allayed. I have realised that my approach to the EC was pretty naive and heavily influenced by a smattering of overly critical opinions.

I have learnt about the intrinsically missional aspect of the EC, particularly in Australia, and am encouraged. I've just finished reading The Shaping of Things to Come by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch and found it to be incredibly helpful in understanding the EC. I will probably blog a bit more on this book in the days and weeks to come.

Unfortunately I have also managed to rub some up the wrong way - not my intention and not something I feel good about.

I am about to begin reading D.A. Carson's Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church for another perspective.

I guess the highlight of the last months journey for me has been the way in which a lot of the things I have been doing and the paths I have been treading for the last few years (even the last 7 or 8 years) are also being tread by many others all around the globe. This has been incredibly encouraging and confirming.

In a practical sense the journey here in Binningup is continuing. I feel like the idea I have had for well over 2 years now of starting an alternative meeting is about to find its fruition. At this stage I am going to be working towards a February launch, but stay tuned to Moved Mountains for more info and updates on our progress.

So, the adventure continues.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Missional Church is not:

  • A missional church is not a dispenser of religious goods and services or a place where people come for their weekly spiritual fix.
  • A missional church is not a place where mature Christians come to be fed and have their needs met.
  • A missional church is not a place where "professionals" are hired to do all the work of the church.
  • A missional church is not a place where the "professionals" teach the children and youth about God to the exclusion of parental responsibility.
  • A missional church is not a church with a "good missions program." The people are the missions program and includes going to "Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
  • A missional church is not about a new strategy for evangelism.
  • A missional church is not missional just because it is contemporary, young, hip, postmodern-sensitive, seeker-sensitive or even traditional.
  • A missional church is not about big programs and organizations to accomplish God's missionary purpose. This does not imply no program or organization, but that they will not drive mission. They will be used in support of people on mission.
  • A missional church is not involved in political party activism, either on the right or left. As Brian McLaren wrote, we need "purple peoplehood" — people who don't want to be defined as red or blue, but have elements of both.
[The Creature: I guess this last point relates particularly to the American context - I am sure there is an Australian analogue but I am not sure it is quite so clear-cut, particularly given the two-party preferred system we operate under here in Oz, i.e. we don't actually vote in our Prime Minister.]

Taken from Friend of Missional website.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The War of the Clones - Killing in the Name of Science

Well, today, Melbourne Cup Day 2006, we entered the new race to clone a human. We gave sanction to distinguishing between two kinds of embryos - one born to live and the other created to die. I think it's a very sad day for Australia. Senator Ron Boswell on ABC's AM program

One of the things I am really passionate about is the God given right all humans have to a life. With this in mind I was outraged this morning when I awoke to the news that the Australian Senate has passed (a 32-34 majority) the so-called Theraputic Cloning bill. We are now only a short step away from Australian scientists growing humans for the sole purpose of killing them in unecessary acts of mass murder.

One thing I just don't get is the way some scientists and politicians are so hell-bent on taking human life when the real progress in stem cell research is being made in the area of adult stem cells (and HERE also) while embryonic stem cell research is yet to yeild even one promising result.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Islam - The Question that has to be Asked

One of the key characteristics of the Emerging Church is a move away from a reliance upon a propositional approach to evangelism. This move has been prompted by a perception that contemporary culture (post-modern/post-Christian) has reached a place where claims of absolutism are no longer accepted and personal experience and tolerance are the prevailing attitude when it comes to religious beliefs. It is characterised by the postmodern cliche "there's no such thing as absolute truth".

While thinking about this I was prompted to ask the question - if propositional Christianity is failing to win interest in Jesus Christ from our culture, why does Islam, a religion which uses an overtly propositional apologetic to win converts, seem to be growing in popularity among westerners around the world?

This is particularly interesting given the amount of bad press Islam has received post 9/11.

While I was researching this (I found it difficult to find much in the way of objective facts and figures on the web) I did come across an article, reprinted from a Western Australian weekend paper, posted on an Islamic website which raised some interesting points.

The report featured interviews with a number of western converts, asking what attracted them to Islam in the first place. The responses were similar in content - all said they were attracted to the sense of community that exists within Islam and all said they had rejected Christianity because of Islam's own propositional apologetic - railing against the historical accuracy of the Bible - and all said Islam's provision of a clear set of rules for life was attractive. One convert is reported as saying "In Islam, there's a rule for absolutely everything – how I eat my food, how I go to the toilet, how I get married, how I lend money".

Most of the interviewed converts seemed to have come from a Roman Catholic background. One found the lack of a heirarchy in Islam particularly attractive. He said "...with Islam ... there is no hierarchy above me, no priests, no bishops, no Vatican. Imams (holy men) lead you in prayer. But beyond that it's just you and Allah. You're talking directly to God, that simplifies things.".

There are some obvious points of interest for the emerging church in the comments made by the converts - not the least of which is the interviewees perception of a lack of authentic community in other religions (particularly Catholicism) and their otherwise unmet personal search for existential meaning in life.

But the one question that remains for me is: If contemporary Christianity is failing to reach the world because of its tendency to revert to a propisitional, truth based apologetical approach, why is Islam seemingly having so much success using very similar methods?

Discussion Starters and Ice Breakers

I was looking for some discussion starters to put on tables at our community coffee afternoon and came across this list - it's designed for youth ministry but I don't see why most of them couldn't be used with adults or modified to suit adult conversation.

You might be able to pick up a few other ideas over at Off-the-Map or from Jim Henderson's book - AKA Lost.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Coffee in the Arvo

Well yesterday (Sunday) afternoon we had our first "Coffee in the Arvo" cafe afternoon at the Binningup Community hall. I hired a real, ridgy-didge, u-beaut coffee machine from Bunbury, paid $30 a kilo for some decent freshly ground coffee and prepared to remember how to make a latte.

We promoted the activity around town for about 2 weeks before hand and church members were encouraged to personally invite their mates - the idea to create a "proximity space" of some kind and provide an opportunity for us to get to know new people and give locals something a little different to do on a Sunday afternoon.

The end result, around 40 people turned up, 7 from the church and the rest from the community. We started at 4pm and I expected people to hang around until about 5-5.30, but was pretty stoked (and really knackered - I was the only coffee maker!) when the last people left at about 7 o'clock. The atmosphere was relaxed and everyone just stayed and chatted, and stayed, and stayed ...

So, despite what some of the detractors said, our experiment in producing a "proximity space" was a resounding success! From January we are going to run them monthly and hopefully will continue to get a good turnout. There are no cafe's within a cooee of Binningup and nowhere for people to just hangout and chat so it may be this little venture will fill a bit of a hole in the Binningup communities social life - and God only knows where it will lead.

Are we Really Reaching our Community?

I made the following video a couple of months back for an evangelism workshop I was asked to run for a local church. I got the idea from a similar video, shot in the U.S., that I saw on the Off The Map website.

I asked a set of questions to around 10 or so people on the streets of Bunbury, a major rural centre on the south coast of Western Australia. What surprised me most about the answers I got was the lack of contact local people had with Christians.

You see there are around 33 churches in my part of the world - an area with a population of about 72 thousand (based on the populations of the Bunbury, Harvey, Capel and Dardanup Shires). A few of the more consumer friendly/purpose driven congregations are quite large compared to historical church attendence in the area. However even the largest of these only has an attendance rate of, at the best, about .7% of the local population (based on local newspaper reports on the activities of this church which put its membership at around the 400 mark give or take 100).

The bigger, attractional churches in the area are quite vocal about the amount of community contact they have and the number of people they are reaching with the gospel. I have always had my doubts about the real numbers in this whole equation as most of the population of these larger churches seems to have come from the other, less consumer friendly, congregations around town.

Even though the sample included in my interviews is small, when I couple this with the numbers of un-churched people I deal with everyday in the course of my work, I find it very difficult to believe that the local church, when the rubber hits the road, is even begining to scratch the surface. It is my guess that, at least in the case of the larger churches, the old "bums on seats" formula is creating a false sense of success and security, while the smaller churches - perhaps those best placed to take advantage of the lack of real missional activity in the larger churches - are busy licking their wounds.

The other thing that surprised me was the very different way Aussies responded to similar questions asked of Americans in the Off The Map interviews. Where the American's answers where quite emotionally charged, most of the time the Aussies really didn't have a clue!

Anyway - enjoy!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What if George Lucas made Lord of the Rings?

What more is there to say?

Growing Christ Centred Youth - 4

The search for answers to "Growing Christ Centred Youth", question 2 has proven a bit of a stumbling block.

2) How do we get youth that are churched or do profess a commitment to Christ to look beyond their own (perception of their own) needs?

I'm going to throw out some possibilities of my own but I have to be honest - I really don't have an easy answer to this question.

One of the biggest problems we face as a culture is the predominance of high impact, highly stimulating entertainment. Our modern youth have grown up with Play Stations, big screen TV and rampant consumerism. They may be "Gen Y" but they are also "Gen I" - they are used to getting what they want, when they want it.

The teenage years are a time of self-centredness as young people struggle to form a sense of self identity and of their place in the wide-world, however culture seems to be amplifying this normal developmental stage and creating monsters along the way.

Outside the church I face the end results of this undirected amplification process on a daily basis. Kids destroying their lives with drugs and alcohol. These kids have a completely unrealistic perception of life - they think they can leave school at 14, smoke pot daily, and still end up with a $60,000-a-year job. They seem genuinely surprised when employers or work-experience providers don't want them back because they have only attended 2 days of work out of a whole week.

As is so often the case - the problems facing culture are often replicated within the church. We really don't do a great job of being "in the world but not of it". I think parenting has a part to play in the solution in general - but I won't go down that line now.

It is my opinion that the only possible solution to the difficulty of engaging young people in a way of life that puts the needs of others first is, again, relationship. It is through regular interaction with adults who genuinely care about them and can model a Christ centred, servant-life, that young people will, eventually, begin to reflect the same attitudes in their lives.

So the answer to question 2, looks something like this:

We can encourage young people to look beyond their own needs by loving them, modeling a Christ-centred life of service to others, by teaching them about Jesus Christ and his way of living and by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in them as they mature, as humans, and as followers of Jesus.

Now I don't think this is going to be easy, and it may be that the fruit will take a while to become evident, but I can't think of a better way of doing it!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Emerging Church Defined - by Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight has this week published his presentation to the Westminster Theological Seminary Student Association Forum on the Emerging Church. It is an interesting read and can be downloaded in full (.pdf) right HERE. (Right click and select "save target as" for fewer browser-related complications!).

There is an interesting discussion on a key point of McKnights presentation over at Backyard Missionary that's also worth looking at - it centres on evangelism and a perceived lack of focus in this area within Emerging circles.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Christianity - "Founded on Western Traditions of Reason"

I was listening to the ABC's (that's the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for all you Yanks!) AM program on the way to work yesterday morning. Political reporter Chris Uhlman was interviewing Tony Abbott, Federal Minister for Health, on the topic of religion and politics.

Key to the discussion was the issue of sparation of Church and State. While lots of interesting points were raised during the interview one comment stood out like warts on a pigs backside. While discussing the topic of chaplains in government highschools, the following comments were made:

"TONY ABBOTT: Well, I think religion has a very important role in society, but when people enter politics they do so motivated by civic values as much as by religious values. The beauty of Christian social teaching is that it's based on reason, not revelation and that's why I think that Christians certainly have much to contribute to our political process.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And wasn't that Pope Benedict's point, that Christianity is founded on the western tradition of reason, and Islam believes that faith transcends reason, and it's very difficult to have a conversation, much more difficult than people think, across those world views.

TONY ABBOTT: I think that's a very fair point.

To claim Christianity as having been founded on anything western at all is to completely misunderstand the historical Jesus; the true "foundation" of the Christian faith.

In the Jesus I never knew, Philip Yancey writes:
Alone, of all people in history, [Jesus] had the privilege of choosing where and when to be born, and he chose a pious Jeiwsh family living in a backwater protectorate of a pagan empire. I can no more understand Jesus apart from his Jewishness than I can understand Gandhi apart from his Indianness. I need to go back, way back, and picture Jesus as a first century Jew with a phylactery on his wrist and Palestinian dust on his sandals."

How far from our first century roots have we come when a supposedly learned and educated Aussie journo can publically claim Christianity as "founded" on "western traditions" and an equally learned and educated Aussie politician agree with him?

You can read the whole interview with Tony Abbott, here.