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Big Church, Little Church, Cardboard Box 3

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[Don't forget the podcast which is on the issue of having people in church who may or may not be Christians]

So I've written a couple of blogs (Part 1, Part 2) about what might be good models for church in the future in areas like the one I minister in. It's a kind of thought experiment: Suppose I had access to a few hundred solid Christians, what would I like to see set up?

So far, it might be fair to say that I've revealed that I'm not too convinced about a focus on large central churches. It might be reasonable to say that one key reason for that is that I really don't think that is going to work for reaching deprived areas.

At the other end of the spectrum, you might say the best thing is to have lots of small, independent/unconnected local churches spread across an area. There is some reality to this in our context. There are quite a few small congregations formed, often in frustration (e.g. a split), around particular people or issues. Often (although by…

What would reform of the Church of England take?

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There is an ongoing debate among conservative evangelicals about whether to stay or go with respect to the Church of England. We have seen a number of principled defections in recent months, although, especially with Lee Gatiss’ recent blog series written up into a book Fight Valiantly, the majority, following the Church Society lead, seem committed to fighting for the reform of the Church.
One important question to ask in light of that is: What would reform of the Church of England take? The most obvious line of argument to take for an episcopally governed church would be to suggest the reform of the House of Bishops. This was, of course, significant in the original reformation.
If you were following that line of argument, you would might also want to consider: (a) the reform of General Synod (a new force since the reformation) and (b) the reform of the links with parliament, a much more secular (and anti-Christian) lay influence than initially intended. But let’s start with reflect…

Big Church, Little Church, Cardboard box 2

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[Don't forget to keep up with the podcast. There are two on different aspects of baptism from an Anglican and Baptist perspective for you to have a listen to: baptism podcast 1, baptism podcast part 2]

So I've begun thinking a bit about the best model of church and last time I noted that it seems to me like we're drifting towards a mega(-ish)-church model. There seems to be a little bit of biblical support for this kind of assembly, as one presumes that the meetings in the temple together was fairly large (Acts 2:46). What are some of the pros and cons of such a model. Here are my suggestions:

Pros:

The potential for high quality ministry, e.g. teaching, music, children's ministry, evangelistic events. In turn this gives the opportunity for well-trained disciples of Christ who can seek to reach the world and a good context to which to bring interested friends and family, where the only embarrassment should be that of the gospel.The potential for members to be released …

Big Church, Little Church, Cardboard Box

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[Don't forget the podcast, where we talk about the value of the term evangelical this week.]

What sort of model of church would be best for reaching the UK or my area in the 21st Century? I know that there is a basic answer to that - a biblical model of church. That is clearly right and undoubtedly one of the biggest problems in our attempts to reach the UK and the west in general is our looseness to the Bible in both doctrine and practice.

But taking that critique on board, suppose I had a few hundred Christians in an area (I don't, so this is entirely a thought experiment on my behalf!), what would I set up? Would the best model be one, big, central church aiming for a mega-church? Or how about one big-ish resource church not aiming to reach mega-church status, but aiming to spin out church plants and revitalisations to the local area? What about a fairly tight network of small churches that covered different geographical areas? Or what about a much looser network of more i…

Why might we burn out?

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Over at the podcast Steve and I had a discussion about things like self-care and burnout in the ministry, especially thinking about our contexts. So I thought I'd jot down some of the reasons why I think people in my kind of situation might burnout. I'm sure these are true in lots of other contexts, especially if you generalise them slightly. If we can identify the areas where there might be problems then we can probably address them. Do listen to the podcast, where we get the opportunity to really toss these things around.

Anyway, here's a smorgasbord of reasons why...
Small Church Self-Management In think the most up front reason in any small church is that the buck largely stops with the one member of the church who is employed. I'm grateful in our churches that people are willing to take on lots of roles, otherwise they would fold! However, the risk is always that it comes back to you, or more to the point, you let it all come back to you.
This simply leads to ove…

All Things For Good

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[Don't forget the new edition of the podcast which is all about reaching out to Muslims]
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIVUK) In the middle of life’s ups and downs it’s not always easy to see where God is. At times we can feel distant from God and not loved or cared for by him. Perhaps a sequence of things have gone wrong, whether we’ve lost a job, crashed the car, been bereaved, lost some money or whatever it may be. Of course, for some Christians their experience of living in God’s world involves intense persecution as well, as we have seen in recent days in Sri Lanka.
In May we’ll be looking at Romans chapter 8 in the morning services, part of which is teaching us about what it is to live as Christians in a broken world now (in the middle of life’s ups and downs!). In that context, Paul writes the verse above, which is a huge encouragement.
So, who is Paul encouraging? How…

Growing Contentedly Old

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One of the disadvantages of the Twenty First Century is all the outrage. Don't get me wrong, there's is plenty to be frustrated about and our access to frustrating, outrageous and sad things is much greater. Social media can very effectively feed my anger, sadness and frustration. It's sad that it seems to be much more effective at doing that than feeding my joy, my appreciation of beauty and the like.

The truth is that in a fallen and broken world, there's already enough in my real (as opposed to my virtual) life to bring sadness, stress, frustration and pressure.

But I don't want to be characterised by that. I have been struck a number of times in my life by older people who seem to grow old with such grace and contentment often despite the circumstances. I'm struck with the contrast to others who seem to grow increasingly sad, or bitter, or hardened to the world. I want to be the former, but I wonder how easy it will be to pull me toward the latter. Easy wit…