Where did the organic church come from?

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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?

The evangelisation of the world in our generation (This Time For Sure!)

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.

Lausanne in the age of the Internet

Mary de Muth asks if the Lausanne Conference is a colossal waste of money, brains and time. I’m not going to bury the lede here: forget the question mark; I think it is.

I don’t know Mary at all and I don’t intend any disrespect to her, but by blogging about this she’s provided me some raw meat to get my teeth into. Let’s have a look at why she says it isn’t a waste, as that’ll help me spur my thoughts about why it is. Read more about Lausanne in the age of the Internet

Great book, but how to spread the word?

OK, here’s a question. Over in my Wide Margin guise I have just published what I think is a wonderful book. It’s a discipleship and church planting manual from the house church in Japan, and I think it can and should benefit quite a wide audience. I’ve tried a number of ways to promote it so far, but I’m sure there’s more I can be doing, so I want to try asking the audience: Read more about Great book, but how to spread the word?

And note that we say "to Japan", not "in Japan"

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In which I try, once again, to justify my existence to myself

We’ve been back in the UK for nearly two years now - two years away from the mission field, two years not doing what everyone thinks a missionary should be doing. Now nobody knows what we’re doing. My father-in-law asked me the other day what we were actually doing here. It’s hard to be a missionary to Japan when you’re not actually in Japan. Read more about And note that we say "to Japan", not "in Japan"

Theological difference

Certain folk may misinterpret this post and think I’m commenting on a specific situation. I’m honestly not. I just read a book and thought it was interesting. That’s all.

I’ve been searching for inspiration to help me prepare my “Scripture, Strategy and Missionary Theory” lecture. This should be my pet topic, as I’m really into missiological hermeneutics, but I’ve had a bit of writer’s block after finishing planning the other lectures. Knowing that the best way to get the juices flowing again is to be stimulated by what others are saying, even if it’s not quite in the same area, I picked up a book that has been sitting unread on our shelf for a year or so now - “The Fall of Interpretation” by James Smith.

It’s about how we see the process of reading the Bible, and whether we should look for unity or plurality in our readings. Smith, coming from a Pentecostal background, argues in favour of plurality. Read more about Theological difference

Zipf's law and house churches

As a former computational linguistics geek I feel ashamed at how long it’s taken me to make this connection.

Zipf’s Law states that rank-frequency curves follow a power-law distribution. In other words, the most common distribution of stuff goes like this: a small number of very big things, a medium-sized number of medium-sized things, and a lot of small things.

Does this distribution apply to our churches, and what does it mean for the house church? Read more about Zipf's law and house churches

Cry freedom

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Discovered this lovely verse from a lovely hymn today:

Cry ‘Freedom!’ in the church when
honest doubts are met with fear;
when vacuum-packed theology
makes questions disappear;
when journeys end before they start
and mystery is clear!

Apologetics should take the Bible seriously

The Simple Pastor links to a FAQ about the difference between Mormonism and what the Gospel Coalition grandly calls “Biblical” Christianity. (This is already a red flag for me; is there any other kind?) It turns out to be the sort of thing that makes me sad for the state of apologetics. The FAQ is a dubious collection of proof-texts with no developed argument and no exegesis. Biblical Christianity is, apparently, a facile and one-dimensional Christianity. Read more about Apologetics should take the Bible seriously

Hauerwas on American Christianity

It’s been a working Greenbelt for us, helping out with a couple of worship slots and occasionally manning the Redcliffe stand, so we didn’t get to see many talks. But I did want to get to see Stanley Hauerwas, especially once I saw that he was giving a talk discussing

the misconception that the “god” often appealed to in US political and religious rhetoric is the same triune God worshipped by the Church and confessed in the Christian creeds.

I’ve long believed that American Christianity is fundamentally unrelated to Christianity, and it seems that Hauerwas believes it too. Read more about Hauerwas on American Christianity