Tag Archives: Mission

Discipleship and Huddles

These were some of the gems I gleaned from the Mission and Discipleship training day that was run by Central Baptist.  There were many gems here.

First was the tension between covenant and kingdom, and how we love dualisms which separate these, rather than living in the tension between them.

Talked about the different triads that live within Covenant (Father, Identity, Obedience) and Kingdom (King, Actions, Power).


A lovely little aside that the move from Abram to Abraham and Sari to Sarah means that each one of them of is given part of YHWH’s name. Continue reading

Pope Francis – Untying The Knots

Francis often quotes the words of the German poet Holderlin
“may the man not betray what he promised as a child” (page 25)

Francis knew some familiar struggles

“One regular gripe was that vocations to the priesthood had fallen in Buenos Aires in his time” (page 121)

On Rafael Tello, the Liberation Theologian silenced by the Church
“Nobody who has opened up new paths leaves without scars on his body.” (page 138)

“Guilt by itself… is just another human resource.  Guilt, without atonement, does not allow us to grow” (page 146)

On going out to the peripheries (a now famous speech before the conclave and given here) the surge needs to surge forth to the peripheries.
“The Church is supposed to be the mysterium lunae, the mystery of the moon is that it has no light, but simply reflects the light of the sun” (page 155)

“It’s about a shift in our understanding of Church. The community which presides in love; that is putting the Pope back in the college.  It is ecclesiastically radical.  He has thought through what he is doing.  It is the produce of the many years of practical theology.” (page 166)

He calls for “a church that gets out in the street and runs the risk of an accident” rather than a church which “doesn’t get out and sooner or later gets sick from being locked up” (page 180)

Joy and Money

Illustration of someone gathering art at a big city museum – they don’t think about the fact that they can’t take them out.  “Sure, they’re mine.  I’ve got them under my arm.  People in the halls look at me as an important dealer.  And I don’t bother myself with thoughts about leaving.  Don’t be a killjoy.” (page 188).  Such is the folly of the accumulation of wealth.

Continue reading

Mend The Gap – Chapter 7

From Velvet Elvis:

Imagine what happens when a young woman is raised in a Christian setting but hasn’t been taught that all things are hers and then goes to a university where she’s exposed to all sorts of new ideas and perspectives.  She takes classes in psychology and anthropology and biology and world history and her professors are people who’ve devoted themselves to their particular fields of study.  Ist it possible that in the course of lecturing on their field of interest, her professors will from time to time say things that are true?…What if she has been taught there’s not truth outside the Bible?  She’s now faced with this dilemma: believe the truth she’s learning or the Christian faith she was brought up with… (page 119)


On the commitment demanded of Mormon young people

They may only convert one person for every thousand doors they knock on, but it’s easy to esee why this kind of dedication has led to the numbers of Mormons in America increasing by over 100% in the last ten years.


In the UK many children from Muslim families return home from school each evening and straight away start two hours of Koran study.  Many Jewish children attend at least one evening a week of Torah instruction. (page 128)



The answer doesn’t lie in simply giving our congregations the right answers to difficult questions: ‘If someone asks you where dinosaurs fit into God’s plan, then this is what you need to say.” (page 120)


Workers for the harvest

Matthew 9 – send workers into the harvest field.

Jesus and his mission – 21st January 2013


Ortberg on the need to send workers into the harvest – that Jesus does not create a Church and then give it a mission, but create a mission and then gives it a Church.


That Jesus does not ask us to pray for consultants, for experts, for managers, but for workers, and the response to this is to pray.


Also great thing about something built as a troop ship which got turned into a luxury liner – it was meant to carry troops but instead was used to entertain and give comfort for the rich and the comfortable.


Vision beyond 2020


Statistics on Church

There is an alarm going off.


2000 – total in rolls – 607,714

2010 total in rolls – 445,646

2030 – is the 121 moment, 121,000

2037 total in rolls – will be 0


We have found a language to explain away the numbers that say there is a major meltdown happening in our Church.  But perhaps there is an alarm going off.


David talked about when he was beginning to look at this, an alarm went off.  And then he presented this, and his alarm went off.


Mark 3:13 – he called those he wanted – and he appointed “that they might be with him” and “that he might send them out to preach”


What is Jesus and Pizza.  Jesus was looking for company before he was looking for service.


Acts 2:42-47 – the essential marks of Church.  There are sermons galore in this vision of Church


Ephesians 4 – vision of the Church – it was he Jesus who gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – until we all reach unity in the faith and become mature.


We foster the ministry of the pastor-teacher at the cost of the other ministries – evangelist, apostle and prophet.


Not a building mentioned – living, breathing people that are used in this exercise.


Neil’s reflection on Neil Millward

Remember Neil Millward and his vision for the Church – I can’t remember what it was, but it was involved, informal, committed, with lots of different things going on, new things and the structures got rid of.


Instead it has been taken over by the Baptist Church.  But Neil did some other things.  He did the thing that caused me to be a Christian, and he did the thing that caused me to be here, and I met him in a corner of Abernethy, and it was a conversation about how God had spoken to us in different places.


The Changes in the Church

We should not let the sociologists dictate Church to us.


Sofa so good – Granny’s sofa was so good and you never got into the front room.  The fantastic sofa was something that you never got to sit in.  Were you a minister back in the 1950s you would have sat on perfect sofas.


It is the builders who will make decisions about the future shape of the Church because those are the only people who can come to Assembly.


The most over-subscribed with folk who want to chair a Kirk Session meeting, and people who want to be Session Clerks.


Boomers – couch potatoes – ministers are in this group – so caught up in the coal face that we don’t have time to do strategy.


Generation X – Friends generation , worked to live, not lived to work; enjoyed family and personal time, if you want loyalty, buy a dog.


Cossetted sofa – Gen Y.


Gen Y and Gen X not shaped towards those in the Church.  Neither is Ministry of Word and Sacrament.


The Church beyond 2020 is something that we have to do, and create space in the Church for this to happen.


What are the biblical visions – this is different from the Reformed tradition.


A Time For Growing

Looking at projects, and vulnerable Church plants.  Something hear about learning lessons in our institution.


We need to look at a vision locally for growing the Church – invite the general assembly to support this vision – that in every parish, there will be the beginnings of a new experience or expression of Church, appropriate to that particular Parish.


Take insight and wisdom that these souls at the coalface have discovered.


  • Financial support


  • Structures which need to be adjusted to accommodate this.


  • Visionary leaders


  • Affirm networks of support


  • Add to our existing training


Church Beyond 2020

Is that dream going to become a reality, or are we going to be caught in the ongoing maintenance of something that is going to die out.


Rick Warren on the balance between the different gifts.  If you have evangelists, then you all have seekers.  If teachers then everyone starts bringing their notebooks.


Suggest that they ask their children and grandchildren why they don’t go to Church.


Which organisation would run with only HR – is that the Church – look for the strategists, for the evangelists, the sales, the people who do the thing?


The Divine Go



Also remarkable is the way that Abram is called when he is old, and quotes Craig Groeschel who says “If you’re not dead, you’re not done.”


But you don’t go by sight, you don’t get to know what is happening.


Looks at Terah who goes on the journey and can’t leave, and stops at Haran, which like Ur (according to Ezekiel) is known for idolatry.


Abram goes into the land and builds altars, which is the beginning of prayer and worship in a regular way, and illustrates that to go out, we also have to go up.


Jesus comes to Abraham’s land many years later and he sends people out saying “I will be with you” – this is the with God life, it always sends you out, and always means that we have to rely on God to be out there.


Great passage where he says (although can’t find this)


Abraham was the wrong age – and God says “Go”

Moses has the wrong skills – and God says “Go”

Gideon was from the wrong tribe – and God says “Go”

Ruth was from the wrong nation

Rahab was from the wrong profession

Joshua was sent to the wrong city – and God says “Go”

Reaching up, in, out – with God

–          Don’t wake up in the morning and surrender your heart and your Spirit

–          Don’t look to Jesus during the day when you need wisdom

–          Don’t ask for his peace when you feel anxious

–          Don’t confess your weakness when you feel tempted

–          Don’t get on your knees and repent of your sin when you defy God

–          Don’t ask him for a generous spirit when resources come your way, because they will come your way

–          Just don’t cultivate the habit of looking up to the transcendent reality of a God who is with you every day

–          Get used to living within the boundaries of your own inadequacy and anxiety

–          Live as if there is no Good Shepherd watching over you

–          Live as if all things are not possible with God

–          Live as if we though we don’t have a God who can move mountains, and therefore whatever mountain it is that you face, that mountain is going to defeat you and dominate you and define you

–          Then, live as if death will be the end of your existence.


Fundamental to this is the idea contained in John 7, that out of one’s belly comes rivers of living water.  The idea of the belly is very fundamental, we can teach our faces to lie, but not our belly.


The modern equivalent would be our abs, and having life-giving, admired abs.


This comes from the with-God life, that God keeps in perfect peace those whose thoughts are fixed on him (Isaiah 26:3)


I think the evil one would say to our Church, make it about whether you like the music or not, make it about whether the preacher is entertaining, make it about the numbers, make it visible and human and impressive.


But instead we need to reach up, to look to God, and God who is with us.


Then we need to reach in.


Then talks about the word “fine” is used, and it ought to be a Christian swear word, because it is what keeps us from each other, it is what prevents us from opening up.

We keep ourselves from love and from opening up and from transformational reality by saying that we are doing “fine.”


How many of the people of scripture, if you had gone to and asked them how they were doing, would have said “fine”.


Hey Joseph, sold into slavery by your brothers, languishing in prison, how are you doing?

Hey Daniel, separated from your homeland, caught in service to a tyrant, in a den of lions, how are you doing?

Hey Jesus, rejected, betrayed, beaten, spat upon, whipped, nailed to a cross, how are you doing?


And then there is going out.


Reaching Out

The devil might say to us, “Whatever you do, don’t go out, Don’t risk it, don’t try it, Stay in the cloister, Stay on the bench, Remain in safe little relationships with safe little Christians, What can one person do?  What difference can you make? Keep your faith in Jesus a secret.  Lot of people in the Bay Area are hostile to Christianity and they might ridicule you and that would be unbearable.”


The way to change the world is not to try to change the world: that has been tried.  The way to change the world is to live in it with the “with God” life.


Hospitals got invented by accident by friends of Jesus who remembered that Jesus healed lepers

Orphanages got invented by Christians who remembered Jesus who said let the children come to me

Mechanical clocks got invented by monks who need to pray

Eye glasses got invented by monks who needed to be able to read the scriptures after a lifetime of reading the text


You Go Reign

There is a remarkable statement from Paul in Romans 5, that if death reigned through one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.


It doesn’t say that Christ will reign here, although he will, it says that we will reign.


You are to go into the places in Christ, and you are to reign, that these places may be places where the kingdom comes.


Then a closing pray from the prayer of St. Patrick:


God, I arise today through a might strength, the blessing of the Trinity,

God’s strength to pilot me


God’s might to hold me

God’s wisdom to guide me


Christ within me

Christ before me

Christ beneath me

Christ above me


God, I choose above all else to live this day with you

I joyfully offer you my time, my attitudes, my energy and my words.


With your help, I will fill this day with obedience, gratitude and humility

And a little pizzazz


In Jesus’ name,



Risky Mission

By the mid-eighteenth century the Dutch were baffled and furious to find that there were more Catholics than members of the Dutch Reformed Church in Ceylon, despite all its official favour, and when Dutch rule ended, the Reformed Church there collapsed unlike Catholicism.  The initiative by an insider to the subcontinent showed how an indigenous foundation might survive when Christian missions begun and run by Europeans might rise and fall in step with the ability of Europeans to sustain them.


(page 704)


The boldest experiment in India was made  by an Italian Jesuit, Robert de Nobili (1577-1656).  He took the unprecedented step of living in southern India as if he were a high0caste Indian, adopting dress appropriate to Indian holy man.  Becoming fluent in the appropriate languages, he also took particular care to point out to those to whom he preached that he was not a Parangi (a Portugese).  Higher-caste Hindus still tended to ignore him, but his strategy did produce results in establishing his guru status among lower-caste people.  The Portuguese authorities fiercely opposed de Nobili, but finally lost their case against him in Rome in 1623l his reports back to Europe in the course of these disputes are among the earliest careful western European accounts of Hinduism and Buddhism.  Whatever success the Church had in the Tamil country of south India was entirely thanks to Nobili and his Italian successors, but their work suffered during the eighteenth century both from sever Muslim persecution and, as in South America, from the general suppression of the Society of Jesus.

(page 705)