Evangelism and friendship, procreation and romance: an analogy

I am reading Marriage: Sex in the service of God at the moment. In it there is a reflection on the tension between marriage as a place of relational intimacy and as the proper place for having kids.

How do the two relate? Must we be thinking about conceiving every time we have sex? Doesn't this reduce marriage and sex to mere functionality?

The important thing, Christopher Ash writes, is that we realise that we are dealing not merely with function but also with being. People are deeply personal. Child bearing is deeply personal. We cannot melt one purpose into the other.

Now that has a lot of relevance to the way we think about loving people and being good friends and at the same time seeking that people be saved.

We cannot make friends in order to evangelise, nor can we evangelise without seeking to be friendly. We must not melt one into the other.

Kill your TV

This Piper article gives his reasons for not owning a TV.

It's a model of careful, nuanced argument. He has strong views on the matter but he rarely overstates the case, which is cool.

I like his point about not wasting your life. I think there's a fair point on the triviliaty of television, although I there is a lot of intelligent television and also a place for lightheartedness in human life.

Isn't it great haven't people like Piper and Driscoll hanging out in the same room? It forces us to think through an issue very thoroughly.

H/T Dave Miers

Resources to live as Christians in the workforce

At the Moore Church Planting Conference, Justin rightly commented on our failure in Australia to uphold Christians in the workforce.

Tim Chester has recently posted about the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity. I found their books 'Thanks God It's Monday' and 'Supporting Christians at Work' to be extremely helpful and practical.

One of my plans for University ministry in 2010 is to work hard at supporting graduates to work with integrity.

Christian facebook updates

Please don't clog up facebook with things like:

Sally Field is reflecting on the Cross

Tom Carmichael is delighting in God's grace as found in Ephesians 3

Kate Bilson a church planter is lead by God's Spirit and motivated by God's grace

Everyone just wants to hide your updates but they feel guilty because they're all so horribly spiritual. All we want is for you to tell us you are eating a cupcake or that you have "Man in the Mirror" stuck in your head.

It's not trite, it's called conversation and like it or not whether online or off a large part of conversing with people is sharing the little things in our lives. You can be my friend if you care about me, even the little things in my life.

[Edit: see Part II - Positive ideas about using Facebook Updates]

Col Marshall on radical MTS part II

Radical re-focus of MTS apprenticeships
The apprenticeship is not about training church workers, but about training missionaries.

People need to have the vision to find and gather 2, 5, 10, 20 people in clusters to make disciples. Gather around the word and grow in Christlikeness.

Therefore the distinctive of the apprenticeship should be to reach ten people over the two year period.

  • Do you want to become a church planter? Then start by planting a group of ten.
  • We as trainers will only reproduce who we ourselves are. So where am I finding and building ten new disciples?
  • We need to do a thorough 'training needs analysis' in order to suit the training for that task.
We need to have evangelism as the main thing, not church planting. We have a naive view of church planting and need to reality check - you haven't even reached one person for the Christ yet!

Col Marshall on radical MTS part I

Bernie and I have blogged some stuff on the MTS National Recruiters Convention over on the MTS TAS blog.

Here I'd like to share a few of the radical, experimental ideas that Col Marshall through at us during one of his sessions.

Ongoing weaknesses and strengths of the MTS movement
Weaknesses: because the MTS movement is still too dominated by clerical/professional ministry. Still too dominated by Sunday services. Still too dominated by pulpit ministry.

Strengths: a hybrid of church-based preaching and 1:1 discipleship. Without exposition, discipleship becomes legalistic/cultish. Without discipleship, exposition becomes an institution.

Great need: remain flexible and radical in vision of discipleship

  • The normal Christian lifestyle is to be committed to making disciples.
  • The normal Christian lifestyle is to walk the way of the cross, as slaves to Christ.
  • Help people be personally free to be who God has made them to be.
  • Help people be structurally free to create whatever we need to.
  • MTS is, basically, a Bible reading movement. You need Bible reading movement to have disciplemaking movement. And you need a disciplemaking movement to have a churchplanting movement.
  • We will find the Phillip Jensen's and Mark Driscoll's along the way, but we need to recruit and equip all people. Some will build their ministry in 1:1 ministry, some through pulpit ministry.

Ed Stetzer gives rave review of Sojourn's new CD

Yay Sojourn.

Bishop Al to become Captain Plant

Tassies are getting there first with brining the hottest news to the blogsphere!

Tassie Anglican Will Briggs posts PFJ's announcement to appoint Al Stewart to a new role in the Sydney Diocese:

Dr Jensen said "I have come to the conclusion that Bishop Stewart is the best one to lead this vital work as Director of the Department of Evangelism (Evangelism Ministries). The board of EM has warmly recommended his name to me and foreshadowed discussions within the board on the reshaping of EM and a new name to reflect a new emphasis on church planting."

"Al Stewart bring expertise, energy and firm leadership to this vital task."

"I recognise that Al has served for only a short time as Bishop of Wollongong and his leaving the region will no doubt come as a surprise and a disappointment to many. Nevertheless I believe that others will be able to build on the good work he has done in the Wollongong region."

Very exciting news. Shows the generous, evangelistic, gospel heart beating away in the Sydney Diocese.

No Driscoll 09. Yes Oz network

Andrew Heard and Al Stewart are still determined to bring together some kind of Australian network-of-networks and there will still be a Nov-Dec 09 conference.

The most exciting thing about "Oz29" was not Mark Driscoll, but the possibility of a united, national vision for church planting. And just as exciting as Mark Driscoll, in my mind, was having men like Al Stewart and Andrew Heard taking the lead.

Nick reports from the Moore Church Planting Conference.

Menu of student ministry issues


Nick's blogging the Moore College Church Planting Conference

Starts here.

Microblogging the Moore College Church Planting Conference

Nigel Fortescue will be.

Why are young men in such a hurry?

Wayne included this quote from Dick Lucas in a recent post:

Why is it that some of our young men are in such a hurry?...It's because they don't trust the Word. They haven't read the parable of the seed growing secretly – it takes time, it takes time.

The folly of 'spiritual warfare'

Describing one of the most famous outbreaks of demonization in 17th Century France, Aldous Huxley writes:

After six years of incessant struggle, the Church Militant gave up her fight. Its enemies promptly disappeared. The long orgy was at an end. If there had been no exorcists, it would never have begun.

Warning against the power of good oratory

Spoken by a good actor - and every great preacher, every successful advocate and politician is, among other things, a consummate actor - words can exercise an almost magical power over their hearers. Because of the essential irrationality of this power, even the best-intentioned of public speakers probably do more harm than good. When an orator, by the mere magic of words and a golden voice, persuades his audience of the rightness of a bad cause we are properly shocked. We ought to feel the same dismay whenever we find the same irrelevant tricks being used to persuade people of the rightness of a good cause. The belief engendered may be desirable, but the ground for it are intrinsically wrong, and those who use the devices of oratory for instilling even right beliefs are guilty of pandering to the least creditable elements in human nature. By exercising their disastrous gift of the gab, they deepen the quasi-hypnotic trance in which human beings live and from which it is the aim and purpose of all true philosophy, all genuinely spiritual religion to deliver them. Moreover, there cannot be effective oratory without over-simplification. But you cannot over-simplify without distorting the facts. Even when he is doing his best to tell the truth, the successful orator is ipso facto a liar.
- Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudun (emphasis mine)

Big news: no Oz29; no Driscoll

I'm sorry to report that we've decided to pull the plug on the original plan for a network-of-networks with Guy, Steve, Al, Andrew and myself. As a result, Driscoll has decided not to come back to Australia at the end of this year.

Al Stewart writes:

We've decided that Our coalition of 5 isnt' going ahead at the level of one organisation. We've decided we won't try to run one legal entity holding all this together as the network of networks is too complicated, we'll get on with it, and cooperate as we can at an informal level. We plan to keep each other in the loop and work cooperatively where ever we  are able. With regard to Mark Driscoll not coming, I think we can just say it's not possible at the end of this year, we hope sometime in the future to invite him again.
This was not a personally negative, political or theological decision. It was a practical matter. We were not convinced that a national organisation, especially organised for a December 09 deadline, would be a wise move in the long-term.

Each of us will continue to work at promoting church planting in our various networks and States with the Sydney Anglicans, RICE, Vision 100 and a new initiative in Melbourne.

Stay tuned for more news about what will unfold. Stay tuned for possible plans for Driscoll to visit in 2010. Stay tuned (no doubt) for the possibility of Driscoll exploring options for an Acts 29 Australia or even a Mars Hill Australia campus.

Please pray for each of us that we can have a clear view of what's the best next move. And please pray for Australia. An explosion of church planting in Australia is not contingent on a national network nor on Driscoll. Rather it's contingent on God choosing to bless the people who are getting on with it, whether Christ Church St Ives, Docklands Melbourne, Kingston Reformed Church Tasmania etc ....

Off the grid

Taking two weeks holiday, one week in Hobart, one week in Coles Bay.

See you when I get back.

Matt Jensen reviews 'Just Do Something'

Looks like the American answer to Guidance and the Voice of God, perhaps?

Keeping it real: leading barefoot

Stephy hits the mark.

Jolly reminisces on church training

We called it Fightclub. We used to do it every Sunday afternoon, except for the last Sunday of the month, from February to November. The first week of the month was a lecture/sermon, followed up a variety of seminars. Each month was devoted to one of the MTS training strands - evangelism, thinking theologically and so on.

We used to write our own material. All the elders and several other men and women in the church. We covered a vast number of topics, generally running up to three seminars on the one afternoon. Most of us were about 22 years old.

It was overkill and it began to exhaust the entire church. We shut it down at the end of 2005, after running it in one form or another since 2000.

It was overkill, but, as Jolly recalls, it has an immense amount of value. In fact that value was not only for those who attended, but also for those who researched, wrote and taught the material.

University Fellowship of Christians sermon backlog

One of Sam's great strengths is DIY. He has taught himself how to build a basic website and published a huge backlog of sermons.

Sam can be a very fresh and original theological thinker and he is very earnest in his faith. The best of these sermons demonstrate this.

Lessons on preaching

Justin is posting a great series on the things he's learned.

I like the way Justin's personality comes through in his posts and the way his opinions come across without him seeming opinionated. That's some of what makes for a good blog.

Brothers in Christ

Fiona describes the blessing of spiritual family. A beautiful post.

Dirty Don books for free

A small selection of free Don Carson books.

H/T Craig

I need your help with Forgiveness

I've got to somehow narrow down the topic I've been given and lead a discussion table at an upcoming Womens Winter Festival (Crossroads and Cornerstone run three evenings over winter each year for women, each evening has a bible talk, yummy food and drinks, and discussion tables, about 50 turn up).

My topic is forgiveness.....eeek

What subtopic should I do?  The spectrum goes from intellectual to personal experience, the aim is to get the girls talking, but also to leave the table having learnt something.

For those who know me, is there something that I personally can bring to the table? 


Two weeks in fundraising blues

I think Bob Dylan might have written a B-side with a title like that during his Christian period.

I've been having good fun doing fundraising over the last couple of weeks for my work next year with University Fellowship of Christians. There's been many, many encouragements.

But I'm stuck inside a mobile with the the two weeks in fundraising blues again.

I've had about half a dozen significant knockbacks. Wonderful, encouraging, godly knockbacks. But knockbacks nonetheless. And I'm yet to have any concrete, confirmed, locked in pledges.

I am confident that it will all come good.

But there's an anxious little person inside me wondering how many more knockbacks I can afford. Tassie's a small state, so it does not have bottomless resources. And interstate supporters, I am finding, are hard to persuade to invest in a ministry outside their hometown.

Christian art gallery

Cecily goes to our church. She's on our Board of Management and she does some of our printing.

She's also an artist, seeking to express things about herself, her relationship with God and her walk through the world in her work.

You can visit her new, online gallery here.

I care deeply about artistic expression and love to see thoughtful and creative Christians who see their artistic work as one aspect of their worship of God.

Forms, forms, forms

Whenever someone has a great idea to do something big and exciting, my first reaction, sadly, is to tense up.

Let's have a stall, let's give away free soup, let's hold a market.

Always great ideas. But what kills me is the forms.

We're planning to give away free soup in the centre of the city, in a park called Franklin Square, where emos, skaters, businessmen and bogans all hang out. It's an awesome idea.

But now I have to fill out:
  1. Temporary food outlet form,
  2. Place of assembly license form,
  3. Temporary structure form,
  4. Park or reserve booking application,
  5. Temporary occupancy permit.