Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The personality-driven church
Many have already commented on Mark Driscoll's (of Mars Hill, not to be confused with Rob Bell of a different Mars Hill Church!!) entry into blog world, especially this post at "Out or Ur" on homosexuality.

Today on his own blog he has posted on how his church has become "multi-site". Its always good to hear about growth, but a few things about the post left me with questions.
Multi-site here means using a video for the"sermon" with worship "live" in each location.
Commenting on that he suggests:
"The most common criticism of video venues is that they are impersonal. But the hard truth is that, generally speaking, if a pastor is a gifted preacher, their church will grow. As it does, people will be watching the sermon on screens at the back of the room, or watching a video feed on an overflow screen in another room. Furthermore, as a church grows, the relational center of the church is not one pastor but rather a team of leaders that makes a church healthier and more diverse. Subsequently, the alternative to an impersonal church with a gifted preacher is a personable church with a less gifted preacher. If the goal of the church is to reach new people and not just connect with existing people, then a degree of inaccessibility to the preaching pastor must be accepted and other pastors must be raised up alongside of him to care for people"

It may be a cultural thing (USA to UK) but that doesn't sit well with me!
Firstly "if a pastor is a gifted preacher, their church will grow"- in the UK that would be by transfer from other churches! And while I think preaching still has a significant place in church life, I think it puts too much emphasis on it. I really think the equation of "good preaching = numerical growth" is from another era, its just not that simple!
Secondly the notion that the senior guy must preach at all venues because he's (usually he!) gifted also seems to contradict the desire that the centre of the church should not be one person. It seems to me that you end up building personality-driven churches, based on the stand-up man's charisma! (of course this is a problem as old as the Bible with one following Paul, and another Apollos etc.). This seems to be a very "top down" and modern approach.

His analysis that: "Subsequently, the future of the church in America seems to be moving toward very large multi-site megachurches and very small house meta-churches. " is telling, and it will be interesting to see how much the UK and elsewhere differs in that respect, with our history of the "parish church".



Monday, January 30, 2006

When poor turn out isn't so bad...
I had a LBA youthworkers lunch today - and only had one youthworker come!

There's a certain irony here as yesterday I had been doing a service based around Jesus' story of the banquet where no-one turns up (Luke 14:15-24) and was talking about how it feels when that happens! Guess you should be careful what you preach...

Anyway today it worked well as one-to-one was helpful, so I'm not disappointed.
Although I did wonder if I should drag anyone in to join us!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Church we easier when...
Just getting some stuff ready for the weekend. Video clips, response stuff, interaction. Yes its necessary, but I sometimes have nostalgia for an era when church was easier.
When creativity was limited to the

(pic from http://www.thefeltsource.com )

I'm impressed you can still get them. Must see how much money is in the budget for this year...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Yesterday I had an interesting discussion with colleagues around hell, wrath and judgement. It was prompted by reading M'Cheyne. Towards the end of his life he seemed to preach a lot on hell: "in the last 9 months of his ministry he preached on hell at least 4 time to his own congregation". I've just read a couple with great titles like:
"Future punishment eternal"
"The vessels of wrath fitted to destruction".

I asked 2 questions: Have we lost something by not talking about these things so much?
If that was a message for the people of his day (to promote living faith in church attenders) then what is the message for our day?

Not sure we came to any conclusions, but we had a variety of views!
The last time I posted on this subject was last year when Mclaren's The Last word... was a hot topic. Andrew Jones ran a poll on "is the gospel primarily information on how to avoid hell?" (I think I went for a view somewhere in the middle - which seems most people did!).

Friday, January 20, 2006

18th - 25th January is the week of prayer for Christian Unity.
Tonight I'm off to a prayer event at my home church as part of that. It was a good time last year.

"That they may be one as we are one" Jesus, John 17:22

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Blog comments
Blog comments are strange things! You seem to get lots at times and few at others - and its never the posts you expect that get the comments.
Doug Paggitt has decided that for him blogs are not the place for good discussion.
Jason Clark has posted a good list of how to have a constructive conversation on a blog.
Andrew and Ian have linked to this post about "De-lurking" (It was de-lurking week last week apparently). Lurkers are those who read but never comment. Good word "lurking" - brings back some funny memories from when I first shared a house in Ealing (but I'll not say more!).

Anyway feel free to lurk!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The danger of being a (Southern) Baptist blogger
(warning - if you're not a Baptist this might make no sense!!)
As the Baptist Times reports Denton Lotz of the Baptist World Alliance calling for unity and cooperation with the SBC, I came across something which amazed me!
Seems the IMB have removed a trustee for blogging!! See Ethics Daily for story.
Seems Wade Burlson's calling for a less narrow definition of who's in and who's out, and reporting of debate on his blog wasn't too popular.

So be careful how you blog!!

Lots of ideas buzzing around at the moment. Feels like stuff is happening and building some momentum with London Baptists.
Met with a couple of youth workers from East London yesterday, and they had some good thoughts on joined up working and resourcing urban youth (which I need to process before saying more!).
Yesterday evening I was in a gathering of a new "Mission Forum" for the
LBA. A room full of enthusiastic evangelists can be a scary place!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

God was there first.
Jonathan Brant has written an interesting article in this months
Youthwork magazine concluding his series on "youth evangelism". He draws on the stream of missionary stories where connection with the people makes those doing the mission realise God is already at work. (Of course this is something missiologists have been drawing on for sometime, starting from Acts 10).
He suggests that is where we are to begin if we are to be effective in mission to [young] people:
"We should not try to impose a pre-packaged message or attempt to run through the production line of our evangelistic strategy. Instead we should look for God's fingerprints in people's lives...".

As Leonardo Boff put it:
"The Triune God always arrives before the missionary"! ("Good News to the Poor", p69)



Sunday, January 15, 2006

10 years
10 years ago a bunch of us started a monthly youth worship event called "Back to Reality Celebration" in Ealing. The plan was to try 3 events and see if they worked. Last night I was invited back to lead worship at the 10 year anniversary (I gave up leading them about 18 months ago). Amazing.
It's strange to think that people who were in school year 7 when we started are now 21! Great to remember those who are now going on with God, doing good stuff in music, missions, business or whatever.

Last nights event was good, the original rhythm section still rock (thanks Ollly and Matt!), Sarah blessed us with her flute, and God was working. The speaker, Simon works in Burundi and challenged us all to get serious with Jesus (which has an added weight when you hear about his context).

Back to Reality has a new website - www.b2r.org.uk. which looks good!

Friday, January 13, 2006

After 2 years decided to change my picture on here - people say in reality I don't look too much like this any more!

Made the new pic at http://illustmaker.abi-station.com/index_en.shtml!
Just one complaint - the hair is a bit too long to really be me!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bill Wilson
Surprised to see Bill Wilson, of Metro Ministries, New York on the BBC London news with Bishop Michael Reid of Peniel Pentecostal in Brentwood Essex.
Seems Peniel are hosting a conference with Wilson, John Bevere and others.
Not sure I'll be rushing to book though...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Seems every is being affected by the march of technology!

Today I noticed the "sinner or winner man" (see pic) had replaced his trust megaphone with a new mic and speaker combo. He was preaching louder than ever, the same old message - why be a sinner when you can be a winner? (except today he added something about smiling if you had Jesus).


Monday, January 09, 2006

Ministry that lasts?
Interesting post
Lets play church (at blogs4God), discussing some youth ministry trends in Malaysia.
" The youth church started in a bang and ended in a whimper. It follows a pattern for every other youth program in church for the past 1-2 decades. They try to emulate the successes of surrounding churches’ youth church without realizing all these youth churches started out small and grew. "

Some good insights around the danger of wanting to be big rather than allowing for "bottom up" growth through relationships and cell groups.
This is not a problem confined to Malaysia! The number of churches who employ youthworkers or start events in order to get numbers and feel like somethings is happening is way too high (even if they wouldn't admit to that motivation). Patience is often lacking. Ministry that lasts requires long term investment, and less pressure to get "results".


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Been a good weekend: not working and spending lots of time hanging out with friends.
Friday evening with Neil and Amanda was fun,(if a bit random!) including a game of Bible Baffle at which I did much worse than I had hoped!
Saturday we were car hunting (for the other people), eating and watching movies with other friends.
And today we spent the afternoon with Matt and Hazel.
All in all a good time, and probably the last work-free weekend for a while!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Couldn't have put it better myself...
"In times of immense change the key question for the Church shifts from 'how do we do things?'to the more fundamental 'what?' questions, i.e. what is the Church, what is the gospel, what is evangelism, what is mission?" (Martin Robinson in Cell UK magazine)

I would want to add that alonside "what" we need "why?"
Now to me "what" and "why" for youth ministry, like so many areas of church life, are not asked anywhere near enough!


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Why don't you...
One of our unspoken resolutions seems to be to "switch off the TV and do something less boring instead" more often!
The result has been listening to more tunes, and re-discovering old records.
Recently we've been delighted by the sounds of Toto, especially the 1988 album "The seventh one"!
Ok so it might not be "cool" but its well played!
Today its been Misty Oldland and her fantastic album "Supernatural".

Sweet UK funky soul. Classic!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The start of the year has meant mail out time for the last few years! It gives me a chance to do a unique "youth" mail out rather than the usual general ones that go out from the office to LBA churches.
This afternoon I was just getting into the envelope stuffing routine when I spotted an error in the letter to go with the stuff - not major, but enough to warrant a re-print. I then spotted another mistake in the booking form for a forthcoming training. So that's 700 sheets wasted then...
I knew admin. wasn't my gift!
Now that's what I call a gadget...

USB hub and cup warmer!!! And under £6! (from Savastores)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Gone back to Blogger's own comments system - Haloscan was good, but the Blogger one is much improved from a year or 2 back. So that means previous comments are lost - sorry!But then they disappeared after a few months on Haloscan anyway!
I nearly lost all my layout trying to swap back - but rescued it I think!

Also following the crowd by tagging some stuff - probably not all though!

Update: discovered previous Blogger comments are back (in the archive), so just Haloscan comments of more recent posts lost!

Work, Rest & Play?
One of the weird things for me is that I find it easier to be focused "spiritually" - in prayer, scripture etc. when I'm busier. Maybe its because working in "ministry" forces you to focus, or maybe I have to learn the difference between being and doing. Or maybe its healthy to "switch off" a little during down time?

Whatever the case one of my aims for 2006 is to get a better "rhythm".
3 days in to the year its back to work day and I've not really started - oh well there's always tomorrow...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

This blog is 2 years old tomorrow!! (although things didn't really get regular until May 2004).

Meanwhile Roy has a great post - "reflection on 2006"! Lets see how much of that comes true!!
Also Jason has a great set of resolutions on Youth Ministry Forum most of which I would echo (although number 3 doesn't apply to me!).