CharisMissional

empowered by the spirit for mission

What can we learn from the Quakers?

Continuing the series on what we can learn from other Christian traditions I want to look at the Quakers. The Quakers stand somewhere distinct from the liberal and liturgical traditions that I have covered and also from the evangelical and charismatic traditions that I would see as my own. They have an interesting relationship with all four from which we can learn a lot.

Quaker_definition_logoFrom my readings about the Quakers I would say that a key belief of the Quakers is that we can directly hear from God. Their founding principle was that we do not need the church and priests to mediate between us and God. We can directly experience God for ourselves through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Quakers and the liturgical church

Quakers very much rejected most of the trapping of the liturgical church on their foundation – choosing rather just to worship together as the Spirit leads relating to one another as friends. This has a number of implications:

• Many will still have prepared worship with planned readings, songs and sermons but also have a time of just waiting on God with more spontaneous worship.

• Though they reject the idea of ordination many groups recognise those with gifts of speaking within the congregation – including women – but do not dress in any way that marks them out as special. Quakers usually have elders and a few may even have a paid pastor.

• Quakers reject the sacraments of communion and baptism. They believe that breaking of bread simply refers to sharing meals together and that baptism just refers to our spirit baptism when we come to know the Lord.

• Quakers reject the church calendar. They would advocate a living a simple life all year round rather than giving things up for lent. They believe in commemorating Christ’s death and resurrection every day of the year and not just at Easter.

There is much to commend in these ideas such informal worship style and belief in the priesthood of all believers but many would see their ideas of rejecting all sacraments as going too far.

Quakers and the evangelical church

The Quakers have always emphasised a personal relationship with God through Jesus. Like evangelicals they would believe in personal Bible study and prayer that involves conversing with God through Christ and by the Holy Spirit.

George Fox - founder of the Quakers

George Fox – founder of the Quakers

In the 19th century, due to the influence of the Great American Awakenings, some Quakers became more evangelical and began to put more emphasis on Jesus as Lord and Saviour and on his atoning work on the cross.

Again, they have always taken the Bible seriously but do not appear to have bought into modern evangelical proof-texting or debates about the inerrancy of scripture. They also honour other revelation. But their idea of the God speaking through the scriptures is one both evangelicals and charismatics would generally applaud.

Quakers and the charismatic church

A main focus of the Quakers has always been on listening to God’s voice as an inner experience that comes both through reading and studying the Bible and directly through the leading of the Holy Spirit – where thoughts will come to mind with a sense that they are from God. Quakers refer to this as the Inner Light.

During their time of waiting on the Lord anyone may bring a contribution. After some silent reflection and seeking God another contribution may be brought. This is rather like a charismatic meeting where gifts of the Spirit are shared such as prophecies except traditionally there are much longer periods of silence.

Their spontaneous worship and reliance on hearing God and being led by the Spirit are vital lessons. Of course we need to take care that this doesn’t lead us into error as it can be a subjective experience open to many unconscious influences. The Quakers emphasis on the Bible is an important balance but it has not always stopped them straying from the orthodox faith.

Quakers and the liberal church

The Quakers have for a long time stood for social justice issues just as many liberals do today. Among other things they were also known for opposing slavery and being pacifists – being conscientious objectors during wartime choosing to form an ambulance corp in the First World War rather than fight. Peace is a major emphasis in their understanding of God as is valuing others equally as we all bare God’s image.

They have also sought to be an influence for the kingdom of God in this world. They have always sought to live a simple lifestyle. Quakers have founded businesses that are very well known today such as Cadbury’s and have a great philanthropic heritage in trusts and charities and even among non-Christians now have a very positive reputation.

In the 19th and early 20th century they were also influenced by liberal ideas in interpreting the Bible including modern ideas of higher criticism, from the 70s by Universalist ideas and even more recently non-theistic ideas. So much so that some Quakers today would even place themselves outside of orthodox Christianity. Despite this, I feel that there is much in their heritage that we as evangelical and charismatic Christians can learn from today.

Lessons for today?

The Quaker Star

The Quaker Star

From my little study of the Quakers, despite some of their faults, I would say that there are many ways that we should aspire to be like the Quakers:

• Hold onto some elements of planned worship but strongly embraced spontaneity and informality.

• Cultivate a personal relation with Jesus including salvation though the atonement. This is experienced in our daily life and through Bible study and conversational prayer.

• Be led by the Holy Spirit and experience his work in our lives and hearing his voice daily – something I often feel like a beginner in, even after many years.

• Live simply, stand for social justice and seek to be an influence for God’s kingdom in the world.

If you have experience or knowledge of Quakers please let me know if you think this assessment is a fair one and let me know what you would add.

Further Reading

Quakers on Wikipedia
Quakers – on the BBC’s website
Ask a Quaker on Rachel Held Evans blog

June 7, 2014 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)

What Can We Learn From the Liturgical Church?

Continuing this series on what we can learn from other branches of the church I want to look at the liturgical tradition.

Liturgical church By liturgical I am referring to churches that have planned and set words such as readings and prayers that are read out and rituals that are dutifully performed on a regular basis. This is one of the oldest branches of the church and represents many tradition including Presbyterians, Anglicans, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.

Problems with the liturgical church

Charismatics have usually frowned on the idea of liturgy. One of our defining characteristics is our intimacy with God. We experience a wonderful sense of God’s presence both in our own devotional times and when we meet together. Prayer is not just an intellectual activity it is also an emotional one where we experience freedom from guilt

How to talk to God

God is our father – our daddy. We can approach him any time and tell him how we feel and ask him whatever we like. We do not have to follow a formula to come into his presence. It is not that we have to perform the right rituals or even the right behavior to be allowed into his presence. We should not be frightened of doing or saying the wrong thing.

Liturgy and history

Very quickly in church history this extemporary worship gave way to planned liturgy. Worship also began to involve patterns of Old Testament worship such as priests, sacrifices and altars, which the New Testament had clearly done away with. As such ordinary worshipers became distanced from God, especially as they became more onlookers than participants.

Protestantism dealt with some of this but in the 60s the Holy Spirit began to be poured out on the liturgical church in what became known as the Charismatic Renewal. The legacy of this today is that many within liturgical traditions have experienced the Holy Spirit in dynamic ways. They are often in a process of moving away from their liturgy to express this intimacy with God.

What value is liturgy?

The liturgy that remains may have been made more contemporary and in denominations such as Anglicanism has included more space for those who wish to express their freedom. Those who’ve experienced the freedom and grace may look down on liturgy. But it still remains and is valued by many.

Is there anything that we can learn from this? What elements could we non-liturgical churches if any incorporate into our worship? In considering this question it important to recognise that using liturgical element as and when we feel they are appropriate is very different from being bound by them.

What can we learn from the liturgical church?

Planning

When worship is well planned activities don’t get neglected if there isn’t time for it. Important elements such as communion and praying for current affairs can be scheduled in each week. Having an overall picture can mean that what is sung, preached, read and prayed can be planned to fit together seamlessly and the whole experience makes more sense to the worshipper.

Preparation

Sometimes the emphasis is on the priest leading but often today parts of the liturgy are delegated. People who wouldn’t be confident enough to take an initiative themselves in more spontaneous worship can feel at home in taking part enabling more people’s gifts to be used in worship.

Shared words and actions

The biblical emphasis on us being the Body of Christ points to worship being corporate. Shared words read together and actions such as taking communion together can be a great expression of corporate worship. I wonder if planning to include carefully prepared elements from our liturgical tradition might add to this sense of corporate worship.

Elements to include from the liturgical church:

Sacraments

We must take care not to forget the very real spiritual impact of physical acts. I believe that in a sense God is present when we break bread and surely meeting with God and enjoying his hospitality is the very reason we gather. Similarly let us remember the very real power of baptism in freeing people from their sins and the importance of anointing with oil in prayer for the sick.

Songs

In a real way our worship songs are for many churches a new liturgy. Those with lyrical depth, good theology to ponder and tunes that are easy for congregations to sing are often the great hymns of the past. Let us not forget these hymns when planning our worship. There is plenty that we can learn from these for those who compose new songs for us to use to sing God’s praise.

Prayers

When words are crafted ahead of time they can have a poetic depth that may be lacking with off the cuff contributions. Everyone praying the same words together adds to our sense of corporate worship. Finding or writing such prayers could be done in contemporary style meetings especially if they are projected on screens so that they people hands are free to be raised.

Art

Church artwork is present in ancient buildings but fear of idolatry has often meant it has been avoided in more recent protestant churches. Yet beautiful images can sometimes help our concentration in meditation together in worship. Today we can incorporate photographs of God’s creation and classic artwork in images we project during worship for all to see.

Calendar

The Christian year gives us an excellent thought through plan for our worship and teaching. The knowledge that this is being followed by many others outside of our own church adds to the sense of corporate worship. This shared focus can even enhance discussion of the Bible with other believers outside of our local congregation, especially now we have the internet.

So…

The liturgical church can severely lack an intimate relationship with God. Nevertheless those of us that have that intimacy with God can enhance our corporate worship by planning and preparing to include these elements from liturgical worship into more contemporary style worship as and when we feel appropriate.

June 7, 2014 at 10:00 am Comments (0)

Changed Priorities Ahead

Today for January’s Synchroblog several bloggers are posting on the title “New Beginnings”.

changed priorities ahead

Photo by R/DV/RS on Flickr

This post is my contribution. Please also read other contributors to the synchroblog by following the links that I will add at the bottom of this post.

Changed priorities ahead

Changed Priorities Ahead is a common road sign in Britain. It is often used where the road layout has changed. It is a warning for those who may think they are familiar with the road that something has changed and they may have to give way to other traffic at a point where they didn’t used to.

Christianity has a lot to say about changed priorities ahead. Many Christians look back to a time when they were born again and their life was set on a new course by a deep experience of God’s salvation. Often they experienced many changed priorities ahead in their lives.

My changed priorities are still ahead

My experience occurred over a period of two or three months in the summer over 30 years ago. Many years later when I recounted this story I was asked “But when exactly did you ask Jesus into your life?”

“I don’t remember any exact moment.” I answered. “In fact come to think about asking Jesus into my life is something that I still continue to do to this day.”

Changed priorities ahead – not just a one-off change

We can easily forget that the new beginning that God gives us is something we can continually experience as we let God change our priorities on an ongoing basis to be a better match with his priorities.

Rather than thinking of “Changed priorities ahead” as being a one of experience when we first became a Christian I wonder if it might be better to think of this as a continued lifestyle.

Changing your priorities

January marks a beginning of a new year. As such it can be a great time to look at how we might change those priorities and reflect on a few questions:

What will this year bring?

Will the continuing recession dominate our experiences? Will unrest and war loom on the international horizon? What about the effects of climate change hitting us with extreme weather? Perhaps rather then worrying and waiting for these things it’s time to take hold of your destiny yourself.

What are you doing that is new this year?

Our church is reshuffling our groups and so I am learning to meet with a set of new people. It does require some change but this can be really helpful in bringing us fresh insight as we interact with different people. I wonder what changes will bring new opportunities for you.

How can you change your priorities this year?

New Year’s resolutions can be based on musts and shoulds: “I will stick to my Bible reading schedule.” The danger is that when you fail to keep them you are tempted to give up. If you want to adjust your priorities you’d be much better off setting goals especially regularly reviewed SMART goals.

How can this year bring you one step closer to your dreams?

This is a good question to ask as you are setting our goals. What would you really like to do if money was no object? What would you do if knew you couldn’t fail? You may need to break these dreams down and think of small steps towards them.

Where can you take an initiative this year?

Sometimes these new things are decided by others outside ourselves whether globally or locally. But other times we can start something new ourselves. Initiatives are worth it. Three years ago my wife and I started our own little project – a job club in our neighbourhood which is just now taking off.

What should you stick at something and when should you change?

Sometimes you might be best sticking at things even when it’s difficult and not working out as fast as you thought it would. Other times you might need to refocus and do something different. This is a difficult question that perhaps only you can answer. But it is one that is always worth asking.

The way ahead

Keep reviewing your priorities

Though we have set ourselves goals and are working towards them there are still things that may need readjustment as we go. I am sure that these are questions we will continually come back to time and time again.

Keep reminding yourself of your priorities

Yes, looking at our goals can be a time to change them but also it is a time to remind ourselves to press on with them. And as we get on with your lives throughout the coming year let us press on with what God is giving us to do each day.

Related Posts

An Alternative To New Year’s Resolutions – on my other blog Authentically Positive where I tend to discuss issues to do with positivity, psychology and coaching.

January 21, 2014 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)

What Are the Essentials to a Missional Movement?

Missional Question

What are the essentials to a missional movement?

Missional answer

Discipleship, discipleship and discipleship!

Related missional posts

Missional Living
The Forgotten Ways Handbook
The Forgotten Ways
The Shaping of Things to Come
The Forgotten Ways: Apostles in the Emerging Church

January 14, 2014 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

6 Aspects of Justification in the New Perspective on Paul

I’ve recently been trying to get a clearer understanding of the New Perspective on Paul. This is an approach to understanding the doctrines outlined in Paul’s letters that is gaining increasing popularity among evangelicals. Tom Wright’s book on Justification is one book that gives a good outline of this approach.

I have jotted down six main aspects of justification from the new perspective. These are just starting points in my understanding of this viewpoint. But I trust that they are helpful in seeing some of the similarities and differences of the new perspective and traditional evangelical understanding of the teachings of Paul.

1. Justification is the result of responding to the gospel.

The doctrine of justification is not the gospel. The gospel is primarily the message of Christ’s death and resurrection. Justification is the result of responding to the gospel. When we have done so God not only takes away our sin through Jesus death but also gives us righteousness through the Christ’s resurrection resulting in our justification.

2. Justification depends on the righteousness of Christ

The new perspective denies the doctrine of ‘imputed righteousness’ – i.e. the teaching that Christ’s righteousness is transferred to individuals so that on judgement day that is what God sees. But Wright still says God declares us righteous on the basis of Christ’s righteousness. So how can this be? The next two points explain.

3. Justification is the result of us being ‘in Christ’

Rather than Christ’s righteousness being given to us God simply declares us righteous because as we are ‘in Christ’. As I understand it this means that, rather than God looking at us each in turn and seeing the righteousness of Christ, God looks at Christ and he sees us, the church, as the body of Christ standing there together.

4. Justification is collective rather than individual

Justification & New Perspective on PaulWright argues that the Bible’s narrative culminates in both Jews and Gentiles coming into Christ as one new man. God’s purpose is not primarily about individual salvation but about the creation of a community. Together as part of this new creation we inherit the promises God made to Israel and so enjoy the blessings of the covenant.

5. Justification also depends on the Holy Spirit

Wright emphasises the need to trust in Holy Spirit to keep us ‘in Christ’ so that ultimately we will be judged to be righteous ‘in Christ’ on the day of judgement. However I don’t think Wright is saying that it is possible to lose our salvation as he also argues for the doctrine of assurance. Indeed, the sixth point emphasises this.

6. Justification fills us with joy and anticipation

As Christians we have been declared righteous in Christ. Eschatologically we look forward with great joy to the day when this same verdict will be announced. We live out our righteousness and make every effort to remain in Christ. We have the joy of knowing that our standing before God doesn’t depend on our efforts but God’s Spirit.

What do you think?

I trust that some of these points will add to your understanding of the New Perspective on Paul. I have tried to put them in my own words and I am still trying to get this viewpoint clear in my mind. Please feel free to let me know what you think about how I’ve expressed these six aspects and what you might add to this list.

Related Posts

Justification: Has Wright Got It Right? – a post from a couple of years ago on my old blog

Further Reading

Understanding Justification – a short review and some quotes from N.T. Wright’s book compiled by David Matthew

Current Trends of Thought on Paul and the Gospel by David Matthew

Justification and the New Perspective – a post by Scott Lencke from 2009

The Justification Debate: A Primer – a Christianity Today article from 2009

A Summary of the New Perspective on Paul from The Paul Page

September 24, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

Walking Through God’s Creation

Today for September’s Synchroblog several bloggers are posting on the title “Loving Nature – Is God Green?” This post is my contribution. Please also read other contributors to the synchroblog by following the links at the bottom of this post.

Sundays in August

IMG_5871In August our church spends time out doors – we go for picnics in parks or walks in the countryside. These replace our usual Sunday services and are great times to invite friends to. I always love these times and get to as many as I can.

These are times when we can eat our packed lunches together and enjoy each other’s company but they are also times to revel in God’s creation. These are often opportunities to get out of an urban environment to walk in woodlands or at least to relax in the greenery of one of Birmingham’s parks.

It is great to be outside worshiping God through creation. God’s creation is important. It’s times like this that I feel reminded by God that we all have a part to play in looking after this beautiful world that he has given us.

Worshiping God through creation

IMG_5868What I like is both getting some good healthy exercise and time to wonder at the greatness of our king in making and sustaining each shade of colour in the trees and the sky. I must confess to sometimes finding a sense of oneness with God, of wholeness and peace on such occasions.

It can be just great to look up at the trees, to see an awesome horizon in the distance or even hold a leaf and meditate on its intricacies. Yes, I do things like that! God created all of these from the greatest to the smallest. This is the God that I know and intimately experience.

As Christians thinking of creation often leads to the creationist debate that puts the Bible at odds with science. Perhaps we need to get beyond such unhelpful debates. Instead we need to get to grips with the amazing wonder of creation and with our mandate not just to rule creation but also caring for creation on God’s behalf.IMG_5888

Why God’s creation is important

The Bible teaches we are stewards of God’s creation. God has given it for us as humans to rule on his behalf. This means we are to care for it and treat it respectfully. Just because we can increasingly control elements of the natural world does not mean that we can do with them as we please.

Damaging our environment will have consequences that we will have to live with perhaps for many generations. I know this idea may jar with those who expect Jesus to return at any moment. But I believe that we need to take such a long term view and it is irresponsible not to care because you think, ‘It will all burn anyway’!

We all have our part to play

I am glad that environmental issues are now more mainstream than they used to be – and not just the domain of extreme left-wing politics or new-agers. It’s now the norm to recycle much of our waste – at least here in the UK. Some of us also compost food waste. It’s a pity that others have led the way in this and as Christians we have been so slow of the mark to speak out on to the Bible’s teaching of stewardship.

I think it is great that we are now beginning to hear more of a positive Christian perspective on environment issues. If you want to know more you might be interested in exploring my brief selection of links below from such organisations as the Evangelical Alliance, Christian Aid, and Christianity Today. Don’t forget take a look at what other bloggers think on this issue too.

Further Reading

Christian Aid has a number of resources including these Climate Change Policy Papers
The Evangelical Alliance has a list of Christian Environmental Groups with more links to follow.
One of the groups listed, Christian Ecology Link has a number of leaflets such as this one on Ethical Investment

Related Posts

Planting New Life in Detroit’s Vacated Landscape – a link post to a Christianity Today article on Urban Agriculture.

Posts taking part in this synchroblog

September 17, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)

New Wine School of Missional Leadership – Part 3

Concluding this series here are the rest of my notes from the School of Missional Leadership.

Missional leadership on purpose

The following day Mick Woodhead said something that really spoke to me at the beginning of his talk: ‘The place for healing is on the mission field not at the front of the church”.

He then went on to explain how in last ten years people can follow many people over the internet – but it is good to follow people who are next door and available.

As a starter he suggested listing the top ten people who are most likely to see you as a role model (apart from your family).

His main point on how to find people to lead involved what he called the 4Rs

Recognise

From Luke chapter 10 he told us to look for what he called “the person of peace”
• the person who likes you – they chat with you
• listens to you – they are interested in you
• serves you – they get you a cup of coffee
Of these people particularly choose those who people gather around or who go round to people.

He suggested include University students if you can as these are the most under reached group in our country

Raise them up

Linking back to what Nick Haigh had set he encouraged us to meet with them, huddle with them (even if it’s just four of you briefly over coffee once a month), get them on board.

Release

Give them opportunity to serve and apprentice them.

Resource them

Provide them with everything you have

Missional Leadership: What will be!

Mark Carey rounded off the school by looking getting us to think what we had learned and to begin to think about planning for the future.

Discipleship

His main concern was that we were discipled primarily by Jesus but also by someone following Jesus – mainly in character but maybe also in competence – but could find that elsewhere – it’s up to you to look.

A test he suggested for those you attempt to make yourselves accountable to is do they say “how have you got on with what we talked about before?” If they say this – especially if it makes you squirm because you haven’t done anything – this is a good sign that they are good people to disciple you.

Mark Carey has a monthly huddle via skype call including others being huddled. But it might be better for it to be more often, he said.

“I need some accountability I need someone to say, “How are you getting on with this”? I cannot do this on my own or I will be continually picked off by the enemy. You have to go after and find other people you can be accountable to.”

Kairos

God's TimeMark encouraged us to take small steps – not too many steps at once or we miss out too much. Focus more on the process for our sake and those we are leading not too much on the destination. It may involve deliberately stopping something or letting some things slip so that you can concentrate on what God want you to be doing.

He encouraged us to get on and ‘Just do something’ and then evaluate it as we go.

The Greek word Kairos in Mark 1:14 the time he explained means an opportune moment – a time of breakthrough. In this time we are to repent by observing, reflecting and discussing and then believe by planning accounting (being making yourself accountable) and acting:

Mark Carey concluded by exhorting us in our missional contexts to look at what has happened, what is happening now and set goals of what will be.

September 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)

New Wine School of Missional Leadership – Part 2

Here are more my notes from the School of Missional Leadership including the Character of a Missional Leader and a Disciple Who Makes Disciples as well as an extra seminar on by Andy Hawthorne who has initiated a number of missional enterprises.

Character of Missional Leader

Jesus followed a cultural model of a Rabbi when he invited people to follow him. How do we invitee people today into our lives?

I don’t usually like football but I was deeply touched by this powerful clip that Diane Kershaw showed us from Chasing Eric that highlights to importance of building relationship and working together.

Dianne went on to outline some principles of team work. Talk to God about people more than you talk to people about God she said and Challenge those who want to be in a challenging environment but leave others alone.

Jesus modelled vulnerability – people saw him in his most dire moments going to the cross. Be vulnerable – recognise where you’ve got things wrong and admit it – good spiritual recovery involves forgiveness and repentance.

Some people may feel unsafe if you are too vulnerable but there are some you can talk more deeply with who will be helped by you sharing your weaknesses.

New day of enterprise

Later that day I went to another additional seminar with Andy Hawthorn of the Message Trust.

Andy Hawthorn said that three things that vulnerable people who come to Christ need: a job, a good home and a supportive community. But today 20% young people unemployed, 10% graduates.

The Eden Project brings together Christ centred domestic enterprise (giving people jobs), creative arts and community transformation.

Following in footsteps of Booth’s Salvation Army match factories – the Message Trust developed 5 enterprises: hair & beauty, café, wedding business, cycle recycling and a building team.

Andy Hawthorn believes that the church is positioned perfectly to provide work for unemployed people.

A disciple who makes disciples

On the next day Nick Haigh explained how we all have different personalities some prefer to be a sheep – happy in our relationship with Christ – others prefer to be shepherds and activists.

Some of us need to make an effort to realise our responsibility to disciple others rather than just take time on our own to pray – others – visa versa.

He encouraged us to meet in a ‘huddle’ with those 4 to 12 people we are doing mission with. Discuss how you live your life in 3 dimensions – up (spirituality), in (support network), out (service) and ask how it is going for them, he said. You may need to explain spirituality however it is appropriate if they are not Christians.

September 10, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)

New Wine School of Missional Leadership – Part 1

One of the aspects of New Wine summer conference that I really enjoyed was the seminars. The main set of seminars that I went to was the school of missional leadership. Over the next three days I plan to blog some of my notes from them. Sorry these are so rough and sketchy. I trust that they will make some sense to you.

What is Missional Leadership?

Reporter's notebookMark Carey led the school and began by quoting Mike Breen’s definition of a missional leader “someone who mobilises God’s people to join his redemptive work in the world”

It is important to get to the point where you hear what God is calling you to do and don’t just keep things going in the church. Get other people to this point too. Get others on board with you. Build a team. Multiply!

Get others to imitate you – don’t just do it all yourself. Giving work over to others may mean settling for a lower standard. It might be the most unlikely one will travel with you – some may be there for a time – like booster rockets.

All can be on this mission – even those with special needs. But it requires being a radically committed disciple.

Low Control and High Accountability

An important principle was one of low control but high accountability. What did he mean by this?

Low control means we need to get them to a point to hear God for themselves rather than telling people what to do. This may involve allowing people to make mistakes and learn from their mistakes.

High accountability means reminding people of the goals they set themselves and ask people how they are doing with respect to these goals. I think if they haven’t yet achieved them then we could ask questions such as: Has anything changed? What are the barriers?

Group Work

As well as a talk most days we also had time for group work. In this first session Mark Carey finally asked us to discuss what God had highlighted to us from this and what we were going to do about it.

Listening for Deeper Mission and Multiplication

In addition to the missional leadership school I also went to this additional seminar on listening for deeper mission and multiplication with Bob and Mary Hopkins where we looked at ‘360 degree listening’. This complimented what we were learning in the school well.

Examine the ‘mission field’ of the community you wish to reach – spy out the land – observe and listen to your community – as well as wider society and observe and listen to your people/team/church/etc as well as to God and to the scriptures

Collect information e.g. facts and figures, but also use intuition/instinct and inspiration (what God shows us).

Where are the hubs where people gather? Try to understand how relationships work in your area for instance we could ask “Are there networks based on location?” and “Are there networks by association?”

We were encouraged to test out things and reflect as our assumptions about the mission field may need adjusting!

God has a complete answer to our situation and so we need to plumb the depths of the gospel in how we present gospel. For instance as we build friendships we show people that God wants to be people’s friends.

More tomorrow…

September 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

The Evangelicals You Don’t Know by Tom Krattenmaker

Who is this book for?

This book is for anyone who wants to be introduced to the activities of some key names in a growing cluster of younger born again Americans. These are believers who don’t adhere to the right wing politics of many of their predecessors and so would not necessarily identify with the Religious Right of the Republican Party.

So who are these evangelicals?

Rather than focusing on church leaders within this grouping Tom Krattenmaker’s book outlines the work of a number of community activists and writers. He profiles such people as Kevin Palau, Stephanie and Shoshon Tama-Sweet, Tony Kriz, Lisa Sharon Harper, Dan Merchant, Paul Louis Metzger, Gabe Lyons and more.

He shows how each of these have worked on different issues related to social justice and on showing God’s love especially to the marginalised. He then goes on to explain how this fits into the current social and political scene in the States.

What impact might this book have on its readers?

You may find that The Evangelicals You Don’t Know introduces you to a new set of reading but more importantly that it gets you seeing your God given mission with new eyes.

Hopefully your appetite will be whet for more information on these evangelicals who pour themselves into social action rather than proclaiming the sort of moral rhetoric that all too often alienates people.

As you search the internet for blogs and articles about these activists and their work I pray that you will begin to see how God is beginning to do a new thing in many areas of America. And hopefully their efforts will inspire you do work on your own mission field in this way.

Do I have any criticism?

American flagThis book is the result of a lot of detailed research. The casual reader may find this heavy going. This is not helped by the writer going back and forth between issues and not always staying with the person concerned. Nevertheless, this did not spoil my enjoyment.

What did I particularly like about the book?

Tom Krattenmaker is not an evangelical and so as an evangelical myself I was pleased with his fair and objective assessment of these people.

I also liked the way that the book filled in many gaps in my understanding of American politics. Coming from outside the USA I found his assessment of current thinking of Americans on such topics as gay marriage, abortion and environmentalism very helpful.

Why would I recommend The Evangelicals You Don’t Know?

The people outlined in this book may be new to you or you may have already heard of some or all of them perhaps through blogs or social media. Either way this book gives you a fairly systematic introduction to a number of current movers and shakers who are not to be overlooked.

Please read this book and let me know what you think.

8/10

Thanks to Mike Morrell of the SpeakEasy network for sending me this book to review free of charge. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my true opinions.

Further Reading

Tom Krattenmaker’s blog
Tom Krattenmaker on Facebook
Tom Krattenmaker on Twitter

Tom on the StoryMen podcast
StoryMen – Krattenmaker interview on YouTube

Tom Krattenmaker also writes for the Huffington Post. Here are a couple of his articles that are particularly relevant to The Evangelicals You Don’t Know:
6 Evangelicals You Don’t Know… But Might Want To
A Progressive’s Confessional Journey to Focus on the Family

Buy The Evangelicals You Don’t Know at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

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August 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

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