empowered by the spirit for mission

Transforming Communities

I thought this quote from a recent post by Jonny Baker was interesting:

Something really interesting continues to bubble up in the church in the UK – small missional communities… that had moved into a particular area (often one with a lot of deprivation and poverty), meeting together in a bar or home or allotment, seeking to follow Christ but their focus is simply helping transform their community – in arts, environment, in social needs… and so on.

Jonny was at a meeting in London discussing new churches being planted and this was the gist that he felt came out of that meeting. I think it is brilliant that God is working through Christians to transform their community. This is bringing values of the kingdom to play in our local settings. Of course leaving your church to set up something new in a new area is for most people.

How can we join God in transforming communities?

From my perspective I have always felt to be involved in my local church and be involved in my local community at the same time. I feel that if we just mix with our own church folks we miss so much of God’s purposes. It can be a challenge to some Christians to get to know their neighbours and they might feel more comfortable with their church friends. On the other hand if some people my have good links with their community and friends but struggle to be joined to local church.

What are we doing to help?

My wife is much better at community involvement than I am. She is part of our local residents association where she is very involved in a number of local projects such as community gardening in our local grow space growing vegetables together and our annual in Britain in Bloom.

As a couple we have also started a local job club called WorkShop helping people in our inner city area look for work and are very involved with a local charity called Karis Neighbour Scheme.

Recently my wife has been knitting items to sell on local arts and crafts stalls to help raise money for Karis and loves the idea of making saleable items out of scrap material.

This an important first step in extending God’s kingdom

There is of course more to the gospel of the kingdom than just community transformation and at some point we need to introduce people to Jesus. But for many Christians I think that getting to know our neighbours and showing God’s love for our community is an important first step.

Related Post

Reaching the Inner City

October 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

Hometown Prophet by Jeff Fulmer

A book review

Hometown Prophet is a novel with a message. That message is this: don’t be sidetracked by some of the more judgemental aspects of evangelical subculture, God calls us to love everyone especially the marginalised.

This book is aimed at Christians. Jeff Fulmer assumes that you know the gospel and are familiar with charismatic churches. The novel isn’t intended as a gospel tract even though it opens with Pete’s encounter with God and many of the Nashville Bible-Belters come back to God at the end.

I found Hometown Prophet’s plot gripping and unpredictable and the characters believable. The observations throughout made me laugh out loud in recognition. There were also poignant moments that had me in tears – particularly the scenes involving Jesse the homeless man.

Prophetic dreams and predictive personal prophecies, like those of Peter Quill, are not how most charismatics hear from God and in reality would need a lot of sifting. I was impressed how this loner on the fringe of the church worked at involving others especially his pastor in figuring out his dreams – even if he doesn’t always get his own attitude right.

That’s right, not every aspect of Pete’s behaviour is exemplary, far from it sometimes, but God still uses him to challenge the deliberately hurtful, irresponsible and hypocritical behaviour of others.

If you are not already convinced about some of the points that Hometown Prophet makes such as how we should relate to Islam or to the environment or how we should interpret the Bible responsibly then hopefully this novel will drive you to find out more and put into practice what you learn.

Jeff Fulmer can definitely tell a great story, But Hometown Prophet is more than that. It has an important message to the church today.


October 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

3 Steps To Doing What The Bible Says

I am glad that I am part of a church that takes the Bible seriously. As a charismatic I believe that what we read in the Bible can be experienced today. God still speaks today and God still answers our prayers – sometimes miraculously.

An important part of being missional is to relate and be relevant to the culture that I am in. I am often aware of my need to correctly interpret the Bible. But having done that I also need to accept what it says. With both of these settled I can then fearlessly act on what the Bible says.

1. Accurately interpret the Bible

When trying to understand the Bible I am often aware that I need to examine the verses or passages that I am reading in context. This is not just the context of a verse or passage in a whole book but also to understand the historical and cultural setting the passage was written in.

Understanding the differences between Bible times and my situation today helps me to apply the Bible correctly. Some issues are clearer than others. No-one would apply some of the Levitical laws to today but other issues we find differences of opinion. I don’t always find this easy and it needs much prayer.

2. Accept what the Bible says

When I have settled on an understanding I sometimes need to muster up the courage of my convictions and accept that truth and be willing to act on it without being influenced by my fear that people won’t like my conclusions or accept them.

The Bible is a challenging book. I cannot use the fact an interpretation will be inconvenient to me or offensive to others say that is not what the Bible means. It may throw me back to re-examining my initial conclusions. Nevertheless when I am convinced that I have understood the Bible and applied it faithfully then I can move on with a conviction that this is what God says.

3. Act on what the Bible says

When I am confident in my understanding and ready to do whatever God says then I can begin to act on what the Bible says.

For example, a few months ago convicted about what the Bible said about gluttony I began to take control of my eating. Similarly for many years now I have been convinced that God heals today. So when faced with friends with serious illnesses I begin to pray expecting God to heal them.

Having accurately interpreted them and accepted them I now act on these verses boldly. I go to bed hungry. I pray for my friends to be healed even if it means saying ‘I can’t explain why you’ve allowed this or why you haven’t done anything yet but even if you don’t do what I think you should I will still believe you Lord.’

Having confidence in my interpretation of the Bible helps me to accept it wholeheartedly and to act on it boldly.

October 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

What is the Interpretation of Tongues?

Generally tongues are languages that cannot be understood by the hearer. However Paul talks about tongues being explained to everyone by an interpreter. Many years ago I asked God for the gift of interpretation and began interpreting tongues.

Tongues should be interpreted as prayers

Paul argues that the purpose of speaking in tongues is to speak to God. This indicates to me that an interpretation will not be in the form of God speaking to us. Rather the interpretation will be in the form of a prayer. In my experience this isn’t so much a personal prayer but a prayer that gives insight into the heart of his people towards him – our longings and frustrations, our rejoicing and thanksgiving.

How I began interpreting tongues

After seeking God for the gift of interpretation I found that often when I spoke in tongues I began to understand what I was saying. It wasn’t that I now knew the language and could now translate anything I heard in it. But when I spoke I felt that I intuitively knew what it was about.

In my own devotional times I began to speak in tongues and then speak out what I felt I had said. The next step was to speak out in tongues when we came together as a church and then to interpret that tongue. Also as I listened to other people who spoke in tongues I found that I had similar experiences of understanding. So when people spoke out in tongues I started to also come forward directly after they had and speak out what I believed they had said. It was great to be in a church where there was freedom to do this.

Can we use interpretation in mission?

I have already found that speaking in tongues throughout the day helps guide my silent prayers. I wonder if the next step is to offer to pray with my non-Christian friends when they have a need. Praying silently in tongues to myself first and then praying out the interpretation.

October 9, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)

What is the Gift of Tongues?

The gift of tongues or the gift of languages is the supernatural ability to speak in a language that you have never learnt. Although it can be an earthly language, as it was on the day of Pentecost, often it is a heavenly language that is unintelligible to human hearers unless it is interpreted.

Are tongues the sign of baptism in the Spirit?

In Pentecostal circles speaking in tongues is often understood to be the initial sign of baptism in the Spirit. Baptism in the Spirit is not automatic upon becoming a follower of Jesus. It is a definite deep spiritual experience accompanied by some outward sign. My own experience was that I did speak in tongues but I cannot see from the scriptures that tongues are necessarily the sign of baptism with the Spirit.

How should we use speaking in tongues?

Personally I have found that praying in tongues silently in this way can be a real help as I go about my daily life. It strengthens me enabling me to be confident enough speak out or help someone when I need to and it opens up a channel through which God can guide my prayers.

Also in many charismatic circles there is a practice of everyone speaking in tongues at the same time. It appears that Paul tells the Corinthians that this isn’t the way to use these gifts. It is selfish and will course any guests or visitors to doubt the sanity of the group.

Paul indicates two ways to use tongues. Either one person at a time should speak in audibly tongues and someone else should interpret so that the rest can understand what is said or they should be speak in tongues silently holding the words inside their head.

I have discussed some these points on speaking on tongues before on my previous blog here.

Related posts on CharisMissional

When I Spoke in Tongues at Greenbelt
How Often Do You Speak in Tongues?

October 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)