Showing posts from March, 2014

April Magazine Article: The Cross at Easter

This is my article for the Easter edition of our church magazine.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. (1 Peter 3:18a NIV)
At Easter we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. We know the story almost as well as Christmas. Jesus arrives in Jerusalem on a donkey to the acclaim of a king, but soon enough he is betrayed by a friend, abandoned by his disciples, tried unjustly and crucified even though the judge knew he was innocent. Of course, the story doesn't end there. Having been laid in a tomb, three days later he rises again, a miracle witnessed by hundreds of people.
While the Easter story hasn't been so amenable to the greetings card industry as Christmas - no cute babies and cattle lowing - it has left Christianity with its most enduring image: the cross. It's an enduring, but also a bemusing image. Why do Christians focus on what seems to be the darkest point in their history - when their leader died? Paul…

Preaching from the Church Fathers up to 1200AD

A very brief summary of the history of preaching from the just after the New Testament to the Middle ages. This is from some work for my MA dissertation.

Both Dargan (1905, pp.26-28) and Ker (1888, pp.1-3) note the varying fortunes of preaching in the remaining history of the church. For example, Dargan (1905, p.26) suggests a weak period following the apostolic period, although in the early Church Fathers we find preachers and preaching to be held in high esteem. For example in the Didache, which was written in the second century (Richardson 1953, p.163), we have "My child, day and night 'you should remember him who preaches God's word to you,' and honor him as you would the Lord. For where the Lord's nature is discussed, there the Lord is." (4:1) (Richardson 1953, p.173) (Stott 1982, p.18). Ker (1888, pp.44-45) and Stott (1982, pp.18-19) both look to Justin Martyr's description of Christian meetings from the middle of the second century: "And on t…

Urban Ministry: Resources I

I think one of the most obvious issues of ministry in more deprived urban areas (although it's by no means exclusive to those areas), is the issue of resources.

One level of this is the straightforward financial issue. On average the people in the area have less money.  So on average less money is given to the church.  In practice I think this means a very constrained church.  For example, how do you keep a building going (especially an old crumbling one) without any money?  And if all your money goes on very basic stuff, how do you pay for mission?

Traditionally church and evangelicalism in particular has been thought of as successful to the middle-class, but not so much outside that.  I wonder how true this is, but certainly there are a lot of tougher towns around the north where there is at best a very struggling gospel witness.  I wonder if there is, at the root of this, a financial problem.  Certainly the pastor of a poorer church will necessarily be setting sights financial…

Book Review: Made to Stick

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath is a fascinating book about why some idea stick and other don't.  They try to get to the heart of what you need to do in presenting an idea so that people understand it and remember it.

In summary they the presentation should be:

SimpleUnexpectedConcreteCredibleEmotional Stories They make their point using both examples of sticky ideas and research into what sticks and what doesn't.  It's fascinating stuff if you've got any interest in communicating ideas (and if you're a preacher or an evangelist, then you do right?).
Loads of the stuff in here, if you are a preacher or and evangelist you will do anyway.  We all use stories to help make our points and we all make things concrete in application (or at least we know we should).  Interestingly I think you'd find quite a few of the approaches in the Bible and they actually use a couple of Bible stories as examples.  But there is a lot here to make you think and refine your proces…