Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2014

The Church 6: Timothy and Bucklebelt Bible Church

The Church 6: Timothy and Bucklebelt Bible Church
‘Thank you for visiting our church this morning.  We hope that you enjoyed your time with us and that you will come again,’ said the youth minister of Bucklebelt Bible Church to the strangely dressed person who had hung around after the service until almost everyone had left.  Then he added, ‘Where do you normally go to church?’
The stranger, who was dressed in a simple tunic and sandals, replied with a question, ‘I’m not quite sure what you mean by ‘go to church’—are we not always the church if we have been baptized into the body of Christ?  As Paul wrote, ‘For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-- and we were all made to drink of one Spirit’ (1 Cor. 12.13).  If we are the church, what sense does it make to say that we ‘go to church’?
The youth minister straightened his cap and decided to evade the question, which struck him as a semantic quibble from a slightly off-balanced person that w…

The Church 5: Western Christians in a Post-Christian Culture—Merry Christmas!

The Church 5: Western Christians in a Post-Christian Culture—Merry Christmas!
Introduction:
This brief reflection on a major issue is meant to stir some discussion: I truly hope it brings some change.  The larger issue is, “How are Christians to Live as Christians in a Post-Christian Culture?”  In order to offer a crisp reflection on an otherwise huge topic, I will focus this on the matter of Christmas.  And, Merry Christmas to all reading this post this month!  The subject of mission involves, among many other things, an understanding of the Church as a distinct entity—Christ-focussed—within a larger society that reaches out to that society.  A “Christian” holiday gets to the heart of such a matter.
The Present Post-Christian Situation
Living in England some years ago, we were amazed to find children in the local Church of England primary school who did not know what Easter was about and who were encouraged to practice Buddhist meditation as an exercise in the classroom for a religious e…

The Church 4: Confessing Sin as Congregational Testimony

The Church 4: Confessing Sin as Congregational Testimony
Introduction:
Ah, confession of sin in the weekly worship service!  Here is a division between various forms of worship in Evangelical churches.  Some churches do, some do not—and who knows why anymore? Here follows my appeal to reinstitute this practice where it is not present, and to understand one role it plays in the worship service where it is already practiced: congregational testimony.
I have been a part of a great variety of worship forms over the years: Assemblies of God, Baptist, Evangelical Free, Presbyterian, Kaley Heywet, and Anglican in particular.  High Church worship—liturgical worship—and Reformed theology seem quite comfortable with a confession of sins by the congregation.  Confession of sin is an ancient part of Christian liturgy.  Theologically, it fits well with a Reformed ecclesiology that sees the local church in covenantal terms: that is, as consisting of “Israel” and the “elect” within Israel: not all in t…

Issues Facing Missions Today 25: The Theology of Well-Being

Issues Facing Missions Today 25: The Theology of Well-Being
Introduction:
The discussion of spiritual versus social Gospel—or both in a holistic Gospel—has now been extended to include issues of health, fitness, diet, well-being, medical mission (which fits in but is an older emphasis), psychological health, and so forth. While the new emphasis is something that has been going on under our noses for several decades, a theology of well-being seems to have come of age only recently.
A ‘theology of well-being’ involves some very subtle shifts, sometimes with the same terminology, taking place. 'Holistic,' e.g., used to mean 'not only spiritual but also social' in theological circles. Now people are using it to refer to 'not only spiritual but physical'. This theological move is seen as extending of the tracks rather than a different line for the Gospel train.  Just what is driving this new theological dialogue?  The present essay examines possible forces at work to…

Issues Facing Missions Today 24: Some Methodological Questions for Leadership Studies

Issues Facing Missions Today 24: Some Methodological Questions for Leadership Studies
Introduction
In the following essay, I would like to ask three questions related to the study of ministry and challenge the idea that ‘leadership’ helps us in this study.  The questions are: (1) How should Christian ministry appropriate the social sciences? (2) Is ‘leadership’ an appropriate concept for Christian ministry?, and (3) What exactly are terms for ministry in the Church, and do they involve the notion of leadership?
Three Questions
First, ‘How should Christian ministry appropriate the social sciences?’  The issue here is not whether the social sciences are worth investigating, but how they should be engaged.  One approach might be to adopt a theory from the social sciences as a starting point.  Another, opposite approach might be to try to derive a theory from Scripture.  For example, methodologically one might begin with pedagogical theory from the field of education or one might attempt to d…