The Evangelical Alliance UK’s latest research report explores whether evangelicals really love their neighbours.
Before going on my summer holiday/vacation, I looked around my office and grabbed the books that I want to read. The ones that inspire me the most and help me to be restored, re-focused and replenished. One of those booked I grabbed was my copy of God’s Epic Adventure, by Winn Griffin (US link here).
This summer I’m trying to get into my bible more, to soak in the story of scripture and grasp more of the bigger picture of God’s mission in the world. I want my own story to be framed by the narrative of scripture - with God’s story as the measure for my life instead of all the other stories that compete for my attention.
Those other stories tell me my church isn’t big enough, I haven’t been successful enough for my age and stage in life, I haven’t accomplished enough personally or professionally. Those stories lead to anxiety, fear, worry, decisions and attentions for my life that are not about my life in Jesus.
There are several ways I have been trying to have God’s story furnish imagination - reading the bible through in a year, daily office prayers that take me through the whole bible, memorising verses of scripture to recall when I need to measure who and where I am.
But I have also sought the help of some travelling companions, writers who help bring the bible story into perspective into greater contact with my daily life.
Winn Griffin with God’s EPIC adventure has been one of my key companions.
Why do I find it so helpful?
1. Story/Narrative Method: Winn uses the model from N T Wright (inspired by the idea of theo-dramatic from Hans Urs Von Balthasar), where he compares the drama of redemption to a Shakespeare play, most of whose fifth act is missing.
The church has the first four acts (creation, fall, Israel, Christ) but must work out the fifth act (church) for herself, all the while remaining in character. It is not enough for the actors “merely to parrot what has already been said”; they must go beyond the sacred page and find—improvise!—the conclusion. Still, the first four acts are the “authority” for the fifth act, hence the idea of “improvising with a script.”
Winn uses this approach to work through and provide an overview of the whole of the bible in 5 acts.
This method also avoids just trying to memorise verses parrot fashion, or breaking the bible down into facts to know. Instead it helps us see the bible as an unfolding story of God’s mission in the world, and our place within that.
2. An overview of the whole bible: Use Winn’s book to take you through the whole of the bible and you will get an picture of the whole of the bible.
3. My church and christian location: Winn come from my church tradition as a charismatic evangelical. That means I get a tour of the bible where God is seen alive and at work today.
I had the most wonderful time in Sweden last week with Vineyard Church Family at their summer camp. There were 1,200 people from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland along with visitors from Estonia and Lithuania.
Whilst I enjoy teaching, I love even more the time time spent in-between - talking with people, sharing, and praying. I came away refreshed myself, and so excited to see the quality of the leaders and people in the Vineyard Churches.
It was a privilege to be invited to teach and speak. I spoke at two main sessions, and then some seminars and forums. My main session talks are online here.
The theme for the conference was transformation and my teaching took that as it’s focus and inspiration.
My first talk was titled “Under Pressure: The Violence of the Cross and Power for Transformation.”
It was about bodies, power and the violence of the cross. I talked about how life is inherently violent, how things take hold of us and direct us in ways we don’t want - and how it takes the power of the cross to break those things that seize us in life.
In other words how so many things in life take hold of us and cause formation in us, and how the cross is the source of power to break us free from those powers and transform us into a different identity as Christians. (My slides for that talk are online here).
My second talk was titled “A Vision for the church: The community for transformation.”
It followed on from my first, and was about the Church - a vision for the Church from 1 Peter. I talked about how it takes a group to know a person, and it takes a community to know Jesus.
I also explored some of the current tensions around Church in modern relationships and how the Church remains vital to anyone ever becoming a Christian and growing in faith.
In other words, how the Church is the primary community and place for experiencing the power of the cross and for transformation. (My slides for that talk are online here).
Mark Clement has a free to download ebook, about church communications. It’s titled ‘What People Wish Their Pastors Knew About Church’.
It really is very good. If you are wanting to improve communications in your church, grab it, read it and take the advice in it.
Some of the things it covers:
- The true purpose of vision statements
- What is the #1 most important thing to your people
- What you can learn when people leave
- People want to be led
- Why there is a significant gap between people and their pastors
- What you can do to bridge the gap and change the communication culture in your church
I’m looking forward to being with Vineyard Church family in Sweden next week as the Nordic Vineyard Churches gather for their annual summer camp.
I’ll be main session speaking, leading seminars and discussion groups during the week.
Amongst other things I’ve been asked to speak about an understanding of, a vision for, and the need of Church. I’ll be doing seminars on Church planting, as well as one exploring the affects of consumerism on worship.
Some of the sessions are being live streamed.
The first ever street party by my church exceeded our hopes and expectations. We invited our local community, agencies we work with and friends who live in the area.
With 100 volunteers we provided a free hog roast, ice creams, magician, face painting, indoor play area, Wimbledon/Tour de France/Formula one in HD. We had 270 people from our community visit with us.
A wonderful day captured in a short video montage here.
Leading Change Without Losing It: Five Strategies That Can Revolutionize How You Lead Change When Facing Opposition, is the best book on leading change that I have read yet.
It’s simple, short, clear and with 5 strategies, i.e 5 practices you can quickly implement.
So if you are in the midst of leading changing, or wanting to lead change, this book is a must read.
In short it deals with one key problem of change - the voices of people who don’t want to change, and how to navigate that, ie. how to discern between critique that is needed and at the same time navigate the volume and noise of those who are determined to undermine change.
It’s the time of year when my church reviews our last years income and expenditure, against out vision and mission.
This year we wanted to try something different than our usual report on and instead show more about the impact and ministry ‘footprint’ of our church.
It was exciting to get information on so many things our church makes possible, and the lives we touch, and share a little of that today.
We say every Sunday that sundays are vital to us, but only a small part of the life of our church. It was great to have something that shows that to be the case.
Our impact report is here.
I’m excited to be teaching and speaking at the Vineyard USA Big Sky Region conference Monday 16th June. Also excited to be with my extended church family.
I’ve been asked to teach on ‘Theology and Practice of the Kingdom’. I’ll get my notes and link to recording online as after the conference.
I’ve been looking forward to James K.A. Smith’s latest book, How (Not) to be Secular, and it landed on my desk yesterday. Mind you I could have been reading it sooner if I’d bought the Kindle version.
Why would I encourage you to read this book? I think Tim Keller gives reason enough when he says, “As a gateway into (Charles) Taylor’s thought, this volume (if read widely) could have a major impact on the level of theological leadership that our contemporary church is getting. It could also have a great effect on the quality of our communication and preaching. I highly recommend this book.”
I have the theology students I teach read Taylor, or at the very least I suggest to them that if there is one book on the secular they must read it is Taylor’s ‘A Secular Age’.
Taylor’s book is 900 pages long and is very academic. Brilliant but a lifetime of reading to digest and understand. In fact I am still reading it page by page, and plan to re-read for the next few years. It is worth every moment I spend in and with it.
This is where James K.A Smith comes in. We get the genius of Smith, who distills, and shares with us the key insights of Taylor, and does with critical engagement.
In other words this book by Smith is now ‘The’ essential companion to Taylor’s work.
As Smith puts it at the beginning of his book, you might move from a predominately Christian location in the US to a more secular location, from Jerusalem to Babylon so to speak (or in the UK you might move from the relatively Christian landscape of North Ireland to London).
When you get to those secular locations you will find people are not looking for answers to missing parts of their lives, with questions about God just waiting for you talk about Jesus.
Instead they have a way of life to make meaning that provides for all they need. The secular world is not like the Mars Hill of St Paul, with people worshipping false Gods, open to the idea of worshipping the true God. Instead we find that in the secular, people have created a world in which there are no God’s and no need to consider the divine at all.
So how do we bear witness in a world like this? That’s the question James K.A Smith seeks to answer with Taylor as his primary guide.
So moving to wordpress was not as straight forward as I hoped with my domain DNS settings and MX records for google apps. As I seek technical support my posts will continue here on Tumblr.
I’m going to be moving my blog from tumblr to wordpress over the next week. My URL www.jasonclark.ws will automatically redirect to the new site.
I’ll be focusing more on church planting, sharing resources and materials about that endeavour. New post series will pick up from this one about leading and managing change in church.
Since then we’ve been playing catch up with what God was already doing. We now have several people in our church fostering and adopting and considering fostering and adopting.
What has grippes us the most is the vision that we can all be engaged in this generation changing ministry. Here is what we are pursuing together as a church family.
1. Kids experience: that the kids experience life in a church family and as part of a church family whether that’s for a few weeks, or a few years
2. It takes a church to raise a child: All our church members are able to support parents and families with skills and support resource needs (i.e accounting services, house alterations, child care etc)
3. Culture of Normal and Consideration: That it would be normal for people in our church to consider fostering and adoption and want to be involved
4. Home for Good with Local Authority: Engage our local authority with us and other churches to address the local need for fostering and adoption
Father’s day is coming, take a look at the Home for Good resource for that Sunday.
I’m excited to be speaking and teaching at the Vineyard Nordic SummerCamp this coming July.
I spent last monday with my colleagues at George Fox Seminary, reviewing the Leadership & Global Perspectives Doctor of Ministry program that I lead.
Looking at the video highlights from our London face to face time last autumn, I am very excited at the experience we have lined up for our time in Cape Town this coming september.