Renewal of the Church?

Ideas-Make-or-Break-Your-BusinessAs I prepare to begin my MA in Mission (Celtic Mission and Spirituality) course in the autumn of this year,  I’m starting to think towards the big D….the dissertation.  Although I haven’t had any formal conversation with the college yet, my current thoughts are to make a study of Celtic New Monasticism…in particular, what role it may or may not have in the renewal or reinvention of the church for post-Christendom UK.  I’m convinced that the renewal of the church will come from a form of new monasticism, just like Bonnhoeffer was.  I was convinced of that in my Salvation Army days, and am equally convinced now.

What is clear to me is that even some of our most successful churches in the UK are running on ‘Christendom-shaped’ paradigms.  Professional staff, audience of worshippers, programme based, etc.  When this works, its fine.  But by and large, it isn’t working because it takes a huge of effort to pull it off.  I know this full well….I’m at the helm of trying to make a church like Trinity tick.  There is still a place for this form of church, of course, but it is fading.  I’m not being pessimistic, just realistic.

People protest – ‘the Lord will build his church!  Why are you saying it is failing?’  I think we need to understand, again and again, church is people – the body of Christ.  Church is NOT our structures, ways of being and doing.  The people of God will continue to grow and form the body of Christ.  The question is, what does the body of Christ look like for our generation.

On Wednesday this week (18th June) I’m going to publish a short vision document.  It is an idea, a hope, a something that has been with me for a long long time but which is coming into maturity and also into sharper focus.  I’ve sung  General Booth’s line ‘The revolution now being…send the fire today.’  Now is the time to have a stab at it!

Please tune in!!!

Blog feast

Now, seeing as I’ve been on a forced blog fast, allow me the indulgence of having a blog feast. The main blog for today is the one before this, but let me just chuck in a few bits from recent weeks

I attended an event (which shall remain nameless) recently which contained a great preach in the AM for folks to be born again…great, powerful, would have responded if I weren’t born again already….only the preacher forgot to tell the audience how to be born again. Oops. Repentance and faith.
On Spiritual gifts…I used to be a ‘you get one or two and your stuck with them’ man. Not now. Spiritual gifts are an arsenal at our disposal which we can (a) pray for and (b) be given as God determines…ie, gifts of grace. In other words, we’re not limited to one or two or even three. You can heal, prophesy, speak in tongues, interpret, have words or knowledge or wisdom as good as the next man. God wants you ministering in his power, not your own. There are several keys in the scripture to support this view as opposed to the more traditional view on spiritual gifts. If you’re interested, drop me a line.
Hey…Christmas is a coming. Make the most of it in your outreach and in your opportunites to serve and bless the poor. Hannukah is also almost upon us…friends, please remember to pray for Israel, especially in light of recent attacks against them by those who seek the ruin of all peace.
Here is a hint…start praying Luke 10:2 everyday at 10.20 – that the Lord would send labourers into the vineyard (especially our corner). Couple of hours later, pray for the General. Not a bad idea at all.
For those of you in the UK (not sure they do international orders), can I encourage you to ‘google’ ‘Lifewords’? Formerly Scripture Gift Mission, this organisation produce excellent little booklets and scripture portions that can be received free and given away for free. As a charity, they do appreciate donations to keep the ministry alive, but God bless them for placing accessibility of the word of God above profit.
Do your corps activities/ministries/social events/gatherings exclude the poor among you due to pricey choices of venues/activities? Lets be careful, inclusive and just.
A William-Boothism: “I must assert in the most unqualified way that it is primarily and mainly for the sake of saving the soul that I seek the salvation of the body.”

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!

Came across this cracking article by Todd Frield from A good read. Will be sure to post part two for you.

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!
Salvation Army President Predicts Demise of The Church

Part One

Any Fifth Street Promenade tarot card reader would be thrilled to nail a prediction as accurately as William Booth did one hundred years ago. “I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.”

Was the founder of the Salvation Army accurate?

>Is there religion without the Holy Ghost? With a red face I confess that we conservatives have veered from the zany antics of televangelism into a ditch with little recognition of the active work of the Holy Spirit.

>Is there Christianity without Christ? Have you been to an Episcopal church lately?

>Is there forgiveness without turning from sin? Ask Dallas Theological Seminary.

>Is there salvation without regeneration? Google “Carnal Christianity.”

>Is there politics without God?

>Is there heaven without hell? Paging Rob Bell.

How was General Booth able to make such an accurate prediction? He surveyed the doctrines that were under assault, and then forecasted where that errant theology would take us. What deficient theology did he see? He witnessed a forsaking of the preaching of the Law. While he did not know what the result would be named, he knew that anti-nomianism (no law, lots of grace) had to lead to what turned out to be watered down mainline Protestantism and the seeker sensitive movement.

Now that General Booth’s predictions have been fulfilled, we would do well to survey the latest threat. “Isn’t the seeker sensitive movement the latest threat?” you ask. I would suggest it is not.

The seeker sensitive movement is the result of the squishy, anti-nomianism that General Booth witnessed; it is not a new threat. Seeker Sensitive is the manifestation of bad theology. Seeker sensitive is merely a fad (a bad fad, but a fad, nonetheless), and it won’t be long before it is replaced by another fad that is the result of new bad theology. What is the bad theology of our day?

Redefined justification.

Nearly 500 years ago, God used Martin Luther to recapture the foundational doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone. Every puritan who followed in his wake recognized that justification is the core doctrine of Protestantism.

How did they define it? Man=sin. God=holiness. Consequence=hell. But God chose to demonstrate His kindness by taking the punishment we deserve by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a sinless life and die on a cross, rise from the dead and defeat death. Therefore, if people will repent and trust the Savior, the righteousness of Jesus will be imputed (credited to our account) that we might be made the righteousness of God (see II Cor.5:21) so that God can be glorified for His kindness. That is justification.

But alas, today’s “progressive” theologians have decided we need to take a fresh, new look at our cherished corner stone. Emergent leader, Brian McLaren says he simply wants to have a conversation and re-think long-held evangelical assumptions.

While he acts like he is taking us on a journey whose destination is unknown, Mr. McLaren seems to know exactly where this conversation is headed: a new definition of justification. From the article “Interview with Brian McLaren about ‘A Letter to Friends of Emergent.’”

Interviewer: I think with all the other change going on, one thing we’ve got to hold firm on is the Gospel.

McLaren: What do you mean when you say “the Gospel?

Interviewer: You know, justification by grace through faith in the finished atoning work of Christ on the cross.

McLaren: Are you sure that’s the Gospel?

Interviewer: Of course. Aren’t you?

McLaren: I’m sure that’s a facet of the Gospel, and it’s the facet that modern evangelical Protestants have assumed is the whole Gospel, the heart of the Gospel. But what’s the point of that Gospel?

In part two, we will put on our General William Booth predicting hats to predict where this conversation is headed. Trust me, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.