Monthly Archives: July 2009

The final word

I’ve just finished my last day in the office at Reevoo, the best shopping website on the internet. Up now for me is 6 weeks of holiday, helping on kids’ camps, and getting prepared for the next step, which is joining the St. Helen’s Associate Scheme.

There’s definitely a measure of regret at leaving a great company with lots of great people, but at the same time I’m looking forward to getting on with what I hope will be the way I spend the majority of my working life: helping the people God brings me into contact with to get a better understanding of him by studying the Bible together.

It might seem crazy to think that even if there is a God, we could understand him in the pages of a book which has material ranging from 4 to 2 millenia ago, and which – let’s face it – has some things in it that people in our culture find pretty weird.

But honestly, I think that this collection of material contains the most powerful message on the planet. My experience has been one of skepticism that these particular stories about this particular nation (Israel) and person (Jesus) could really be what God would communicate to us.

But when I stop putting God a box that fits my preconceived notion of what God should be like, I find the amazing coherence of the Biblical theme of God’s plan to create a people for himself, first by choosing Israel but ultimately through Jesus. I see the authenticity of the accounts of Jesus’ life that force you to conclude that Jesus really is the Son of God, even as he voluntarily died an ugly death at the hands of a people that had rejected him.

When you put those themes together and understand that by punishing Jesus for our sin God has provided a way of saving us to be his people, you find a story that is inexhaustible in its depth and beauty.

It’s this message that’s so powerful and so important that I am really keen to understand better myself and help others to understand. It’s the kind of message that it’s not really possible to remain neutral on. I’ve decided that the Bible does mean what it says, and for me that decision has lead to me quitting my job to spend more time learning from Jesus in the Bible. (Although it won’t be appropriate for most people to quit their jobs, even if they do believe what the Bible says!)

My question is, if this book is powerful enough to shape the life of one apparently-sane young man, isn’t it possible that you should give it some serious consideration?

Words of Life by Timothy Ward

As a footnote, while I’m away hoping to read Timothy Ward’s ‘Words of Life’ – a book all about defending the power and truth of the Bible as God’s Word to us. I’ll let you know what I think about it when I get back.

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Many mustard seeds better than one acorn?

One of the biggest trends in evangelical circles at the moment is the idea of missional church plants. Instead of one large church, create lots of small churches that each individually grow quicker than a larger church because they have a more welcoming culture, a more dynamic culture of evangelism, and innovate more quickly. Examples from the US of tiny church plants to megachurches like Mars Hill have gotten a lot of people very excited by the idea.

I have to say it’s an idea that appeals to me personally. I like the idea of finding things out for myself without too many established structures, and coming from the background of working for an internet start-up in London, I’m interested in how lessons from entreprenurial start-up culture could be applied to the church.

However, it is important to consider how central the ‘missional church plant’ model should be in our tactics for church growth here in the UK. How strong is the evidence that it works? If it worked there, will it work here?

Tony Payne of Matthias Media has some interesting thoughts on how the missional church planting model may be a better solution for church growth in America than in Australia:

I am grossly simplifying, but in most parts of the US, it is far easier to put up your shingle and gather a reasonable crowd than it is in most parts of Australia. The society is just more ‘churched’, with a vastly greater number of vaguely or culturally Christianized people who are willing to come to church if presented with the right package. In this context, starting a new church can be an excellent way to evangelize because you are drawing in unconverted people who are nevertheless quite willing to come to church.

In a more pagan, unchurched country like Australia, there may be many contexts in which ‘getting people to church’ is not the wisest way to evangelize them. Evangelism will happen in the workplace, at the pub, through personal relationships, in the neighbourhood, at school, in the marketplace. In this context, planting a new congregation may well provide a good home-base for reaching out to new people, but how we reach those people will almost certainly require a willingness to think outside our traditional structures and methodologies of ‘getting people to church’.

The question is, what about the UK?