The Way of Life

I’ve been reading (and, let’s face it, publishing) a lot of books recently about discipleship. New discipleship programmes are a bit of a booming industry at the moment: Neil Cole, Frank Viola, Tony Dale, Tim Miller, Mike Breen, Alan Hirsh, the list goes on and on, and the premise of each of their books is essentially this: “What would it look like if the Early Church wrote a discipleship training manual? Read more about The Way of Life

Base ecclesial colonialism, part 3

I was planning to write a post defending Rick Warren (which, let’s face it, is news enough) from the suspicion and criticism aimed at his plans to establish a Saddleback Church franchise in London. I was going to say something like this:

I’ve been on both sides of this debate: initially as a Christian when a new denomination was looking to plant “one of their churches” in a very well-churched area; and then on the other side right now, as I’ve been questioned for planting churches in an area which area does have churches in it. I don’t believe as some (including the agency we work with) that church planting is necessary the best way to share the Gospel, nor do I believe it is the commission we’ve been given. (which I think said something about disciples and nothing about churches, which makes it a lot harder to carry out. If I can plant a church, then any fool can.) But there is still a merit in planting churches, even in an area with lots of churches already. First, people are different and we should contextualize the Gospel to as many tastes and subcultures as there are—no single local church can hope or expect to serve everyone. So there is always room for a church which is bringing something new to the area. Second, what’s the threshold for describing an area as well-churched or under-churched? You may actually find that an area which appears well-churched actually has difficulty serving all the people in that area, if you just try running the numbers.

Obviously the first point doesn’t apply to Saddleback, since it is practically the apotheosis of franchise Evangelicalism—it both defines and reflects the culture which many, many other churches are trying to achieve. Which leaves point two: try running the numbers and see. So I tried running the numbers. Read more about Base ecclesial colonialism, part 3

What is to stop me from being baptized?

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We did Acts 8 in house church Bible study a couple of weeks back:

So Philip started speaking, and beginning with this scripture proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him. Now as they were going along the road, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water! What is to stop me from being baptized?”

Some as pastors and teachers

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Bible reading in church today included Ephesians 4:11:

It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.

I’ve been involved in quite a few pastorless churches recently and I know how much they have cried out for a pastor to come (and save them?). People find it really hard to be in a church without a pastor.

Reading today’s passage, I can’t help wondering what would happen if we found it just as hard to be in a church without apostles, prophets, or evangelists. Read more about Some as pastors and teachers

To the women first

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When Jesus rose from the dead and appeared first to the women, he must have known that, in those days, the testimony of a woman would be considered half as valuable as that of a man. He must have known that the disciples would not believe them.

In fact, if he knew those things and he knew what he was doing, then he must have appeared first to the women because he knew that the disciples would not believe them. Read more about To the women first

Theologically acceptable translation

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As a student of linguistics*, a lover of the Bible, a missiologist interested in contextualization, and a frequent transgressor of the Eleventh Commandment, (“Thou shalt not hold strong views on controversial issues”) it’s no real surprise that I have a thing or two to say about the Son of God translation fracas. It seems very reminiscent of the equally silly debate about whether or not Bible translators should use the word Allah for God in Arabic translations of the Bible. Read more about Theologically acceptable translation

Is the church a "power spot"?

On Saturdays we try to have a family day off together, so often on Friday nights I spend a lot of time looking through tourist information and what’s-on web sites trying to think of something interesting to do. If you look at the official Kyoto city tourist information web site, you will find that the number one most accessed page was (until the new aquarium opened) Kyo Power Spots. So what’s a “power spot”? From the same page: Read more about Is the church a "power spot"?