Friday, 20 January 2012

Man Up For Pete's Sake

Apparently there's a crisis of masculinity.  Apparently we need to rediscover how to be men.  Apparently there's a particular need to learn what it means to be a Christian man.  Mmmm...

As one who finds it hard to raise much interest in this stuff, one who is positively turned off by organised chapathons I must confess to not paying much attention.  Occasionally though the odd OTT nutty roaring muscles its way into my attention and from time to time I come across an article or blog post that seems worthy of note.  All of which is a very long winded way of saying that I think that this from Mark Sayers is worth a read.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Mark Driscoll

I know this is a few days late but I've decided to post something about Mark Driscoll.  (Come to think of it in some ways it's a few months late, and in other ways a few years late.)  The reason I'm so tardy is that I've been successively composing and trashing a whole series of posts.  (Good to see that the old Holy Spirit filter isn't entirely shot full holes.)  Anyhow, I've finally come up with something that I believe to be true, that genuinely expresses what I feel and that I'm prepared let out. 

Northern Baptist Theological Consultation

We are holding another theological consultation for Baptists in the North of England.  The idea is to stimulate conversation and encourage research (formal and informal) within the denomination in our bit of the country.

This year's event will be held from 10.00 until 3.30 on March 29th at The Blackley Centre in Elland just two minutes off the M62.  Come and listen.  Come and discuss.  Come and present your ideas.

Dr. Pat Took will give the keynote address. If you would like to present a short paper (20 minutes) on any area of theological interest please send a title and a 100 word abstract to Dr. Anne Philips at: Northern Baptist Learning Community, Brighton Grove, Rusholme, Manchester, M14 5JP.

The cost of the day is £25.00.  Please pay in advance sending a cheque (payable to Northern Baptist Theological Consultation) to Dr Sally Nelson at: 4 Station View, Church Fenton, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire LS24 9QY by 10 March please.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Church Family?

Warning!  This one's a bit Baptisty.

I find it hard to get too worked up about the wavelet of conversation about the language of church family or Baptist family currently swashing around the Baptist blogosphere.  Just worked up enough to have a bit of a blog myself.

Seems to me that family language became popular to emphasise the relational aspect of church.  This was part of the whole cuddlyfying process that was a much welcome dimension of the charismatic movement per se and the wider informalising of culture of which the movement was a manifestation.  As such it was part of the reaction against an overly formal expression of church life.  The use of family language helped to contribute to toning down the institutional feel of church that many of us encountered when getting involved for the first time in the 60's / 70's. 

Thing is though no one image can do everything.  Each metaphor runs the risk bringing unwelcome and unintended connotations to the table. That's in the very nature of metaphors, they are allusive, evocative not definitive.  

Some advocate speaking of the Baptist movement rather than family.  I can see why this might be attractive at a time when we wish to emphasise the missional nature of church and further downplay its institutional life.  But movement language might run the risk of de-emphasising the relational dimension of church life. 

We oughtn't to imagine that by switching metaphors we will somehow get it right.  I reckon that if we are to bespeak the (ideally) rich reality of church we need to deploy a range of metaphors.  By all means let's stir up the language, keep it fresh, use it to finesse our meaning and to promote our political priorities but let's not thin it out.  By all means emphasise movement but let's not stop aspiring to become family at its best.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Do I Hear An Amen?

Do I hear an Amen

Nope?  Thought not.  Saying Amen was once the only opportunity (hymn singing apart) that free church congregations had to join in with worship.  Now, it seems, this little Hebrew liturgical fragment is going the way of house sparrows, milkmen and phone boxes. And we are left to mumble and stumble our way through services like a bunch of sullen teenagers with p.m.t.

This bugs me.  I know it shouldn't but it does, bugs me bad.  So much so that more than once I've considered printing little cards with AMEN in big bold letters, handing them out to the congregation before the service and asking everyone to read from the card when prompted.  Do you think that would help? No?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Seminar on Evangelism at Luther King House

Here's some details of a day long seminar that I'm leading on the subject evangelism as part of the series of "Church Saturdays" here at Luther-King House.  If you are in the Manchester area and fancy joining in a conversation about how we understand and undertake evangelism why not join us?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Evangelistic Fragment Five: Faithful and Distinctive

(The fifth of an as yet undetermined number of thoughtlets on evangelism that have dribbled out of my brain, down my arm and through the keyboard.   Mainly because I'm preparing to teach an MA module on evangelism.)

The previous fragment spoke of evangelism in three modes: being doing and saying.  All three modes depend upon the maintenance of a distinctive identity, distinctive practices and a distinctive message.  No distinctiveness, no news. 

Monday, 2 January 2012

Evangelistic Fragment Four: Communicating The Gospel In Three Modes

 (The fourth of an as yet undetermined number of thoughtlets on evangelism that have dribbled out of my brain, down my arm and through the keyboard.   Mainly because I'm preparing to teach an MA module on evangelism.)

When I describe evangelism as that aspect of mission that is concerned with communicating the gospel I have in mind far more than talking. 

Communicating good new should happen in three modes – being (how we are), doing (what we get up to) and speaking (what we have to say).  We need to be present, we need to be active and we need to be articulate or, if you prefer, we witness as we embody, enact and express the gospel. 

All three modes of communication are necessary: being alone is too passive, doing alone is too ambiguous and speaking alone is too facile.