The Dangerous Allure of “Sexy Christianity” - why I think this article is brilliant

Seems me putting this article by Kyle Donn on Facebook and twitter (I tweeted that it was ‘brilliant’) gave rise to some people less enamoured by the article, wondering why I thought so highly of it. 

So here are some of my thoughts as to why I liked it so much.  If you are going to respond in the comments please make sure a) you read the article and b) actually refer to it before making claims about it :-)

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Any form of Christianity that wants Jesus, radically pursuing him is in danger of something due to that pursuit.  The mediums and experiences of our culture in pursuing Jesus can become something we love more than the Jesus that got us into our modes of expression in the first place.

In other words we can love the culture of our Cathedral architecture and choral music, more than the Jesus that birthed those contextual engagements in following Jesus.  We can love the size of our mega church, numbers of people, programs and resources, more than the Jesus we pursued in the first place that led to those radical cultural expressions.

And a warning from the author, owning his own generation and context.  The things he values and enjoys about his cultural expressions of Christianity - the thing he loves the most, that he and his friends think is amazing about the ways they are radically expressing their faith in a changing culture can get become something to love instead of the Jesus that gave rise to those expressions in the first place.

He doesn’t criticise the desire to be radical, or the modes within his own church life that he engages with- he affirms them clearly, but wants to stand back and make sure he and his peers don’t fall fowl of a problem that can affect us all; preferring our modes of worship, and culture of faith instead of the ongoing real costs of following Jesus.

In short, don’t mistake the ways we like following Jesus, for following Jesus.  He took aim at his own faith and context, honestly and openly, instead of criticizing others.  

Now that is ‘brilliant’.

Stanley Hauerwas: Being a Christian Should Scare the Hell Out of Us

James KA Smith in London - audio now available!

I got to attend the Jamie Smith event hosted by Theos at Westminster Central Hall, London.

Jamie was superb as ever, great material and wonderful interaction with people over questions and conversations.  

His first session was a great summary of his recent work - how we are formed and shape through what we love not more than what we think with our heads.  

The second session was some new material from him on understanding the secular - equally brilliant.

If you missed it you can download the audio from Theos, and access some other great Theos event talks here.  You can also view the conversation with people tweeting during the event at #theossmith.

What are the practices of a missional people? - my editorial for Journal of Missional Practice vol. 3

I was asked to be the guest editor for the third Volume of the Journal of Missional Practice.  That volume is now online and is free to view here.

My editorial review of the Journal is here. I provide an overview of this volume of the journal, and critique of the key articles in it.  The keynote article is by Alan Roxburgh.

Take it for a spin and let me know what you think.

Album Art
Jason Clark

The Power to Change: your best year ever?

The Power to Change: your best year ever in 2014:

1) change your story 2) make bold changes 3) do all that with others.

My teaching from last Sunday at Sutton Vineyard Church.

My #Verse2014 and hope for this new year: Galatians 2:20 http://jason.so/gal2-20 what’s yours?

My #Verse2014 and hope for this new year: Galatians 2:20 http://jason.so/gal2-20 what’s yours?

Best blog posts of 2013: Krish Kandia on Tim Keller and women in ministry

Krish Kandiah is one of my favourite bloggers.  His post on egalitarianism and Tim Keller was one of the best posts I read this year.

Imagine the nativity if Facebook existed 2,000 years ago

What’s the point of church? Your thoughts?

I’ve been asked to write a short article for the Evangelical Alliance UK magazine, Idea.

So for any of you reading this, and before I write the article, if someone asked you ‘what’s the point of church?’, what would you say to them?

James K.A Smith in London on Christian formation, secularism and postmodernity - Jan 16th 2014

Now open for booking: Two Theos Events with James K.A. Smith

  Christian Education and Formation in a Secular Age

and The Secular is Haunted

Thursday 16th January 2014,  Central Hall Westminster

 

Come and join the Theos team for two events with renowned philosopher and theologian James K. A. Smith in January 2014. Looking at three of his areas of expertise, Christian formation, secularism and postmodernity, this is a rare opportunity to engage in person with the author of Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning,and Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works,and Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-secular Theology.  

 

These events are open to all, so please circulate this invitation to friends and colleagues. 

 

Details and booking information below.  In order to cover costs, we are charging a small entry fee of £8 for each event.

 

Event 1: Christian Education and Formation in a Secular Age

3.00pm-5.00pm at Central Hall, Westminster

Tea and coffee served on arrival

Aimed primarily at Christian educationalists and church leaders,  but open to all, this session will explore how formation works in a 21st century context, whether in schools, universities churches or beyond.

Click here to book a place at this event. Tickets are £8. 

 

Event 2: The Secular is Haunted

6.30pm-8.30pm at Central Hall, Westminster

Drinks reception on arrival.  Lecture will start at 7.15pm.

Why our world is more complicated than the new atheists would have you believe.

If we are “secular”  does that mean we no longer believe?  Is a “secular” age synonymous with atheism?  Does the loss of transcendence mean we are left in a flattened, “rational” world?  In this talk, drawing on philosophy, literature, and poetry, as well as his upcoming book on Charles Taylor, James K.A. Smith will offer a very different account of our “secular” age - not as non-religious or atheistic, but as an age of believing otherwise.

Click here to book a place at this event. Tickets are £8. 

Some things you may not have heard about the Holy Spirit

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There is an ongoing trend of an emerging post-charismatic group f Christians. Partly I think as a response to the cultural excess and burnout of many charismatic traditions. 

I think that burnout has often arisen from a focus on what Holy Spirit does in terms of the dramatic, gifts, power, and manifestations etc, with too little understanding of who the Holy Spirit is, and the work He was sent to do by the Father.

How the Holy Spirit is a person in relationship with the Father and the Son, with His work within creation, to transform us and creation in power, is something we mustn’t lose sight of.  Who the Holy Spirit is, is much bigger than taxonomies and checklists of spiritual experiences.

Relationship Not Manifestations
The primary work of Holy Spirit in the New Testament is not about manifestations, but about an invitation into two key relationships, and two key confessions (1 Corinthians 12:3 & Galatians 4:6):
1) Abba/Father, and 2) Jesus as Kurios/Lord
The first thing the Spirit does is to bring us into relationship with God the Father and Jesus, in worship.  
We become charismatic, not when we speak in tongues, prophecy or have strange feelings, but when we confess, and order our lives around Jesus as Kurios/Lord and God as Abba/Father.
What and how the Spirit manifests, takes place out of that relationship and reality, as side effects of that transformation.  Locating my relationship, my identity, my work, and my aspirations within those realties of Abba Father and Jesus as Lord, takes the power of the Spirit.
The power that created the universe itself is required for the ordering of our lives around those confessions, because you and I are bent on living out of everything but that reality.
Three Misunderstandings of the Holy Spirit

Read More

Giving into my addictions changed my life

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I’ve always loved technology.  I built a computer when I was 11, programmed in machine code, and have always technology early when I could.

When I planted my current church in 1997, I embraced virtual officing and I have had a mobile phone since 1993.   I still remember my first blackberry and the wonder of push emails 24/7.

Now addictions to technology are a serious issue, and maybe my use doesn’t border on an addiction (you’d have to ask my wife).  But I have some serious technology habits and compulsions.

I have tried fighting them, the daily habit of rising and reaching for my phone.  After turning off my alarm, I check my emails, read my various feeds and updates.  I realise that this habit sets up my day in ways I don’t want.  I kid myself that I can do this every day and still get around to what I need to do.  And it doesn’t work, and no matter how hard I try, I still reach for that phone each morning!

So I’ve tried something else the last few weeks, I’ve embraced that habit and addiction, and fed it differently, and it has revolutionised my mornings and life.

I started with setting up an account with lift.do.  I put into there, my daily habits I want to attend to.  For me those are prayer, reading my bible, reading something inspiring on leadership, memorising scripture and exercise.

So now when I reach for my phone, I have lift.do greet me, and see those habits that I need to tick off in order to start my day.

So instead of reading my email, I now compulsively do my other habits and compulsively tick them off on my lift.do app.

Then I’ve fed my addition and habit even more.  I’m reading the bible through with www.bible.com reading plan in the free You Version app.  I’m memorising bible passages by using the Nav Press topical memory system available on android and iPhone.  More things to tick, and complete on my phone.

But the outcome is not a sense of ticking things on my phone, it’s that my life has become full of the habits and practices I’ve wanted for so long.  

I’ve used one practice and habit to help me leverage new habits into my life.

One of the most amazing things ever to happen in my church

I must admit to have heard about Home for Good from my good friend Krish Kandiah.  I know it’s a worthy project, and I wanted him to share with my church about it.

But our church is already engaged in so many other community and social action projects, that even with Krish as a friend, how would this be more than noise in the pile of new invitations that make their way into my inbox?

So last Sunday I had Krish speak and share in our morning service.  It was one of the most profound, powerful and moving times our church community has ever had.

Krish told his story about being adopted, and spoke from Galatians 4 about the experience available to us being adopted by God as our Father into His family.  Krish then interlaced that with sharing about the Home for Good vision and initiative to see how 15,000 churches in the UK could respond to the need for 15,000 children who are in need of fostering and adoption in the UK.

Some many things happened, but here from my perspective where the key ones that I observed and experienced.

1.  Gospel Power:  The invitation of the gospel to know and enter into a relationship of adoption, was palpable.  We could hardly breath as we sensed the holy spirit reminding us of who we are and can be in Christ.

2.  God’s timing:  Several people in our church have been becoming foster carers, and several other considering this.  The morning catalysed that for them, and they came forward, several of them in response.  One of those times when we realise that God is doing something already with people in our church that we need to catch up with.

3.  Worship and Mission go together:  The sharing of the word of God, the worship of some of his people with him, opened us to an experience of him, that then propels us out into Mission.  We are now exploring how to embrace Home for Good in our church, with a vision for our town, and even wondering what the impact could be through our church movement.

4.  The Presence of God:  We are a charismatic church, we believe God shows up and meets with us, goes before us and invites us, moves in power in our lives.  A friend came in late into the service, and commented that he knew something was going on when he got out of his car, he could feel the presence of God as he walked through the car park and into the entrance, long before he got into the space we were meeting in.

5.  There is nothing like the local church:  Churches are so often in the media, who love the stories of downfalls, disputes and conflict.  But what if the 15,000 churches in the UK amongst the Evangelical networks that exist, saw one child per church adopted and fostered.  That would be a very different story for people to see.  

Not to mention that one of the largest groups in the UK who are in prison, who struggle with addictions and benefit dependancy are people who went through the care system, without a home.  Imagine what it might do to a generation if the church provided a home to those kids before they arrived at that kind of expected future.

So what had seemed like a worthy project that I wondered how we might have time for, seems to be something God has for us and has prepared people in our church for already.  Then there is all God will continue to do with us for our adoption and identity with him.

So if you are reading this, why not invite Krish to speak at your church and with your network?  See what the Lord might do with and in your church too.

You can also listen to the talk by Krish from last Sunday here.

What’s your favourite fact?

This Sunday 17th November we have guest speaker Krish Kandia coming to speak. I excited to be hearing him myself but also for our church family to meet and interact with him.  He’s written some well-known books and you can find out more about him here: http://bit.ly/17qGZgT

He’s on Twitter as @KrishK where he’ll share rather fun facts with you including “We drink about 70 million cups of coffee a day in the UK.”!

What’s your favourite fact?!

What are your triggers for growth?

This past summer we conducted a survey of our church family, about their discipleship and growth.  Two key things came out of that survey.

Firstly people know the key triggers for their own growth, and indicated those are prayer, worship, teaching, and small groups.  They also indicated that whilst they knew those were the greatest triggers for growth, they were the ones they struggled the most to engage with regularly.

Secondly they indicated that being Christlike, have Jesus be their identity and central to how they live daily was the biggest gap in their growth.

So we have loaded the gun so to speak, for our Sunday services and small groups over the next few months, and invited people to pull the trigger on their growth.  We’ll be going through the whole book of Galatians to make that exploration.

We are going to explore why despite knowing the things that grow us we often don’t pursue them, and we are going to explore how being Christlike is key to pursuing those very things that grow us.  The two issues are related - doing what grows us and growing into Christlikeness.

The introduction to this season/series Sunday talks/teaching from Galatians are online here.

About me

trying to make safe spaces for diverse and healthy conversations about church, culture, mission, theology and motorbikes

Ask me anything