Simon's blog

Reflections on an emerging church

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While we were in the UK, we were part of one of the Church of England’s Fresh Expressions communities. Fresh Expressions is basically the CoE does emerging church. A few people have asked me if I would write up my thoughts on that time. I think now after a few months away I probably have a little bit of critical distance to be able to sit back and do that.

But not very much critical distance; writing about a community of people that you know and love is really fraught. My intention here is to think about what it meant to be church together, and not to call out anyone for anything in particular. So I’m going to file all the names and numbers off this post, because even if the principals involved may recognise themselves, I don’t think it’s fair if Google picks anyone up. Read more about Reflections on an emerging church

Rethinking people groups

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So Ernest Goodman and Eddie have both weighed in on the people group theory of mission, and apparently George Verver gave quite a critical appraisal of it at a Lausanne circuit meeting recently.

A while back I wrote a rant in response to Paul Eshleman’s truly extraordinary paper for the Lausanne one-way “conversation”, which I softened up for academic publication and then promptly did nothing with. Now the time seems right to dust it off, convert it back into rant format and post it here. Read more about Rethinking people groups

Are we God's co-workers?

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OK, so on Monday I’m about to preach a sermon for a bunch of doctors. The theme of their conference is “reconciliation”, and I’ve managed to add in a bunch of a fairly standard (for me) missio dei references as mission motivation. But now I’m having second thoughts about an element of it. Read more about Are we God's co-workers?

Free Bibles which aren't, again

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Is there some rule that whenever someone comes along with free Biblical material, they have to add batshit crazy clauses to the license agreement? Here’s yet another diglot anomaly, courtesy of the SBL Greek New Testament. A free compilation of the GNT with critical apparatus is an astonishingly great idea, and yet they have to add this howler to the end:

History will slaughter us (that's my opening line)

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Verkuyl (1978a:168-75; cf Durr 1951:2-10) identified the following “impure motives” … the motive of ecclesiastical colonialism (the urge to export one’s own confession and church order to other territories).

What missions and missionaries had often exported, was their idea of the gospel that they had mistakenly associated with the gospel itself. The result of Presbyterian mission work among Syrian students had been “on the whole … to make them foreign in their manners, foreign in their habits, foreign in their sympathies”. The explicit policy of the mission should therefore not be to control the course of the gospel but to trust the gospel and “let go”. The West has no edge on the type of Christianity that should be spread throughout the world (cf Hutchison 1987:80-82).

- Bosch, Transforming Mission

It’s probably too soon to be asking this but I wonder how history will view John Stott. Read more about History will slaughter us (that's my opening line)

For where your heart is, there your treasure will be also

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If you tell me that something is vital and important, but you don’t fund it, that’s not a “paradox” - it just means that you don’t actually think it is vital and important, no matter how much you like to talk about it.

You can measure what a church considers vital and important by its budget. Or, as Jonathan Ingleby put it, “principles are costly, and if they cost us nothing then they are probably not our principles.” Read more about For where your heart is, there your treasure will be also

A contextual reading of the concept of sin in Japanese culture

So that title sounds like an essay - and maybe it will become one - but I’m just thinking through some thoughts at the moment. The other day I was at a meeting where someone was talking about how their friend didn’t have a sense of sin, thought they were a good person, didn’t do much wrong, and so on. That’s a typical Japanese approach to sin. Read more about A contextual reading of the concept of sin in Japanese culture