From one of our missionary’s prayer points:
We were able to distribute 3,000 flyers for the Christmas candle service around [our area]. One 75 year-old lady came as a result.
I don’t have any smart comments on this one. Over to you. Read more about This is what mission is like in Japan
I’ll say this about current organic/simple/house church proponents: they certainly understand the value of a good story. They’re excellent at finding words and pictures to express what they’re doing and why it’s good. But a metaphor is, by definition, not the truth but something that stands for the truth. Read more about House church metaphors and narratives
So much digital ink has already been spilled on the subject of Wikileaks that I wasn’t sure there was any interesting contribution left to make. But yesterday I was helping to teach our MA course on leadership and organisational change, and we were looking at the idea of the third wave and what it means for organisations.
During the session, I mentioned that I thought Wikileaks was an incredibly important demonstration of what Manuel Castells calls decentered interconnectedness. At which point Rob said “and look for the rest on Simon’s blog in the next few days.” Which I took to be a challenge… Read more about What Wikileaks says about us as a species
I love Twitter. I love the interaction, the openness and the flatness of it all. But it does have its downsides. And Christian leaders on Twitter, my goodness, drive me up the wall.
There are a number of factors at play. Partly there’s an echo chamber effect where people retweet and pass on things uncritically around a circle of friends, hardly interacting with those who have a different opinion. And 140 characters isn’t much space to develop an intelligent thought. But for Christians there’s an added danger: they’re trying to be inspiring. And everything else, like truth, be damned, in this hunt for twee repeatability. Read more about Tweeting and tweeness
Last week my mentor challenged me about my devotional life. I confessed that I often only dipped into the Bible these days when I’m preparing a sermon or similar. Sometimes I do pick it up just to read, but not regularly.
When I was at All Nations I came across a great book called More Light On The Path, which gives you one verse of Hebrew, one verse of Greek and one sentence of commentary, plus any vocabulary you need. It’s devotional hardcore, but it’s about twenty pounds, and we have the Internet these days. I set myself the task of creating my own. Read more about Devotions, the hard way
There are some people who believe that to be Christian means to be a cheerleader; to be unstintingly and cloyingly positive about everything, particularly the things that they hear from Christian leaders. John Stott could get up on stage and fart the national anthem off-key and you would surely find people who’d tell you that it’s an innovative and significant message for the global church. Because, after all, we’re nice people, and we like to be nice about things.
I know that positive voices are easier to hear, but I’m just not very good at that. Perhaps I’m a cynic; I prefer to say that I’ve been blessed and cursed with a critical mind, and I have this naive idea that what people say in public shouldn’t be a load of rubbish. And if it is a load of rubbish, I don’t see a problem with pointing that out. The odd things is that when I do point out that the emperor doesn’t have any clothes, I start hearing from other people who’ve noticed the same.
Take Lausanne, for instance, which we’re all supposed to cheerlead because it’s the biggest and most expensive gathering of evangelicals ever, or some such. It started with a clarion call for a new commitment to truth. I am hoping, then, that a little more truth will be appreciated.
My feeling, as I heard some of the reports from friends and bloggers about it, was that things were bad. So I said so. Now I’m starting to get people telling me quite how bad it was, and I’m surprised, shocked and somewhat angry. Read more about Lausannigans
I’m helping to teach a course in “contextualized theologies in tricultural contexts”. The idea is I do an introduction to the subject, then spend three hours on different Asian theologies. Then there’ll be four hours of teaching time (two two-hour sessions) on African theologies and four hours on Latin American theologies.
This seems reasonable at first glance. Last night, though, I wondered if we should distribute the teaching time based on the population of each region. Read more about If Asian theology gets three hours...
So, the other day we were in church and the wide-eyed preacher was encouraging us to get into mission with the scary-sounding statistic that 98.5% of the population of this country did not have any connection with a local church.
That’s an interesting statistic because it gives the lie to the whole getting-nearer-the-goal approach to mission that says we’re on a trajectory from 0% Christian to 100% Christian and then Jesus comes back. Uh, no; fluctuation happens. But hang on, 98.5% of the UK have no connection to a church? Read more about Always fact-check the preacher
I see myself as a critical friend to the whole organic/simple/house church world.
A friend, certainly: I spent a lot of time studying and documenting it, translating books about it, and putting it into practice. My community here in Gloucester is seeking to live out that life. It’s also how we will be planting churches back in Japan. I speak from a place of commitment.
But a critical friend. I’m doing this because I think it’s the best way to spread the Gospel in Japan, not because I believe some of the more outlandish claims of proponents. I really don’t think it’s the One True Way to be church. Read more about Where did the organic church come from?
Well, I complained they weren’t setting measurable goals, I suppose. Doug Birdsall, Lausanne, during the opening session:
By the time there is a next Lausanne Congress the number of unreached people groups will be zero. The number of languages that have no translations available in their languages will be zero.