Church Feed

Blog banter on church leadership and fresh expressions

Up at 4am this morning. Interesting blog banter going on from 3 Brits:

1. Richard Passmore on Fresh Expressions

"I think FE may actually hinder change in the longer term because of the gravitational pull of the institution and accompanying orthodoxy. I think we are already seeing dissenting voices being marginalised as FE spreads and the orthodox centre gathers pace. I was talking the other day to someone about how some of the most pioneering imaginative work (both inside the Church of England and outside) i see are not part of FE. Is Fresh Expressions a Movement?

 Fresh expressions comment on passmore

2. Mike Breen on church leadership.

At the end of the day, what most pastors want (and have been trained to want!) is minions to execute the most important vision of all. Their own. In doing this, they effectively kill people’s ability to get a vision of their own. Why the leadership movement is leaving your church leaderless

A good sharp post by Mike Breen! Worth a read. I left a comment regarding the choice between leaders and entrepreneurs. My comment hasn't popped up yet [don't you miss the coComment web service that stopped in March 2012?] but I have blogged on this before:

"Leaders help move the existing and sometimes struggling structures forward into greater productivity and encourage people to follow. Entrepreneurs invent and innovate new structures tailored for the changing situations, but not without continuity with the past. In a world of relentless change, entrepreneurs rule. If the church expects their impact to continue, it needs to create and celebrate a culture of innovation, finding precedents in the Scriptures [come on . . . look harder] and examples in the developing non-western world." Tallskinnykiwi, Entrepreneurs or Leaders? 

3. Phil Wood explores the impact of Mennonites on fresh expressions/emerging church with his post entitled Mennomergent


The Dreadlocked Barefooted Bishop of Wellington

Update: Watch the news on TV and read May 5 NZ Herald interview.

Original: Some very exciting news. The papers are ablaze this weekend with the announcement that Justin Duckworth has been elected Bishop of Wellington, New Zealand's capital city. 

"The Anglican Church needs to be ''dusted off'' and it believes a dreadlocked, barefooted priest is the man to do it." Dominion Post

"The 44-year-old . . . said he felt "humbled, privileged, excited - and terrified" to have been chosen as bishop." NZ Herald

"He has dreadlocks, for starters. He’s usually in shorts and bare feet, too. But the voters in the Diocese of Wellington saw past that. They saw instead that he’s been at the cutting edge of Christian ministry “to the last, the lost and the least” in Wellington for 25 years." Wellington Scoop

"The new bishop speaks candidly about his love of marathon-running, mountain-climbing and directing stage musicals – and advises he may soon be recruiting members of the clergy to take part." Stuff.co.nz

 Justin and Jenny founded the Ngatiawa contemporary monastery where they now live and where my family have erected our yurt. You might have already read about the Duckworths on my posts "Prophets of the New Order" and "Covenant Making is Not Always Evil" or from their book, On the Waka Against the Tide, Towards the Kingdom. Justin is also working on his PhD which deals with how monastic orders and radical discipleship movements have enabled the church to renew itself and reemerge as fresh and vital. 

justin duckworth signs offer of bishop of wellington appointment

Justin Duckworth, behind a desk, signing his acceptance of this appointment and hiding his feet at the same time.

Continue reading "The Dreadlocked Barefooted Bishop of Wellington" »


Charles Colson Passes

"There’s much about the emerging movement that I applaud." Charles Colson to Andrew Jones on Tallskinnykiwi.

Charles Wendell "Chuck" Colson passed away today. It was good to see so many bloggers and Christian leaders speak well of his life and ministry for a few days before his death. I hope his family shared some of those compliments with him. Best article was "Setting the Captives Free" by Emily Belz on WorldMag.

Colson was a great man and a worthy critic of the emerging church and its dealings with postmodernism. Many of us responded to Colson's critiques which were bold and sharp but not always on target.

One of the posts I had written in 2003 in response to Colson's "The Postmodern Crackup" became a really well-read post, especially for those Princess Bridge fans. In fact, I still read this post to give myself a giggle. 

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In 2006, I responded to another of Colson's articles, this time called "Emerging Confusion". My response was very tongue in cheek and full of insider jokes - probably meaningless to people who have not read Colson's books, but nevertheless quite fun to write. 

"I just love how Charles Colson keeps bouncing back with more articles on the same thing, each time getting closer and closer. It's a life sentence to habitually write these articles and a true act of loving God. What perseverance! The man is certainly born again." TSK, Colson takes another shot.

It was always a joy to respond to Colson. He had an approachable manner, apparently something that he also carried in the White House. And unlike many EC critics who never turn up to discuss or defend their criticisms, Charles Colson interacted with us, influenced us, and was influenced by us.

Princess bride

I am grateful that Chuck took the time to talk to me in 2008 which helped to smooth out some misunderstandings. I summed up our correspondence this way:

". . . [Colson] wrote an article on postmodernism and I don't think we saw eye to eye. Later on, things came to a head when Colson wrote Soothing Ourselves to Death? and I responded with Reclusing Ourselves to Death? But it sounds like we are all in a happy place now, and its good to see emerging church people quoted in Colson's book." Link

Praying peace for the Colson family.

Respectfully, Andrew Jones

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Original Post: Watergate figure Charles Colson is not expected to live much longer. He had a brain surgery operation a few weeks ago and he is not recovering from it. Pray for Chuck!

"There’s much about the emerging movement that I applaud." Charles Colson to Andrew Jones on Tallskinnykiwi interview.

It's true that Chuck and I had a few clashes on the internet regarding the emerging church and postmodernism but these were friendly and congenial learning experiences and I look back on them fondly. It was a privilege to have Charles talk about his book "The Faith" on my blog.

charles colson on born again

Charles Colson leaves a huge legacy with his books, the worldwide Prison Fellowship movement, and what he might most be remembered for, his leadership alongside Richard John Neuhaus  to produce the groundbreaking document called“Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium.”

Chuck, you did well, you rocked the world, you kicked ass! We applaud you!

DID YOU KNOW . . . that he "Born Again" book cover image of Charles Colson was based on a photo by my friend Spencer Burke?


Archbishop Rowan Williams stepping down

Archbishop Rowan WIllams has announced that he will step down from his position by the end of December 2012 and that he has accepted the position of Master of Magdalene College at Cambridge.

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As I mentioned last September, Rowan Williams has been a huge source of encouragement and balanced wisdom for the fresh expressions movement, emerging church and alt. worship churches, as well as paving a way forward for a "mixed economy" of church. He will be sorely missed.


Sisters, skin-color, and sustainability in church planting

Church planting is a man's world, baby! The sisters have moved on to more holistic missional enterprise. Multi-ethnic churches are only part of the solution. Africa must move beyond a handout-mentality and embrace a more sustainable way of doing ministry if it is to be a global player in missions.

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Efrem Smith's response to my blog post got me thinking and out of respect to Efrem, and to get a few things off my chest, I have posted some thoughts here.

A little intro: A lot of people resonated with my post "12 Reasons Not to Plant a Church in 2012, even if it was a little . .  well . . . provocative and sensational. A few days ago it was translated into French [thanks].

And some people didn't like it at all. Thats OK.

The most well-thought out response was by Efrem Smith, church planter and a speaker at Exponential. I tried a few times to leave a comment on his blog but was unsuccessful. So instead I will just give some quick response to his objections which he called "My Take on, 9 Reasons Not to Plant a Church in 2012"

Efrem

One, the advice on church planting begins with C. Peter Wagner’s outdated principles on church planting. If this is where we are beginning, not only should we not plant churches this year, we should stop completely. Planting churches doesn’t begin with what C. Peter Wagner says, it begins with what Scripture says. For example, “How does the book of Acts speak to whether we should plant churches or not?”

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Efrem, I agree that we should start with the Scriptures but the impact of C.Peter Wagner on the church planting movement seems obvious to me. Pick up a few books on church planting or read some articles and you will see his influence.

'This is why a leading missiologist like C.Peter Wagner can say, "Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven." Tim Keller, Why Plant Churches, PDF

Continue reading "Sisters, skin-color, and sustainability in church planting" »


2012 Report: Emerging churches in deprived communities

Somebody say H.O.S.P.I.T.A.L.I.T.Y . . .

"There were two messages about how the groups understood mission. First, mission meant an incarnational presence in the everyday life of the community. Second, mission meant engaging with residents to restore their capacity to act, to articulate needs and to seek to have those needs met.

Hospitality was the main means by which this presence and engagement was offered. Two groups ran cafes and three others had a house in which people could gather. Hospitality created the sense of belonging together which made it possible to raise questions of belief."

2012 Report: Poverty and Fresh Expressions: Emerging forms of church in deprived communities, Church Urban Fund, [Full report PDF]


American church: Not dead yet

"Most of our churches are built around feeding consumers." Mike Breen

My English friend Mike Breen just wrote an article called "An Obituary for the American Church" in which he outlines 3 problems he believes could kill it: a culture of Celebrity, Consumerism and Competition.

Not dead yet church

Well said. I agree with Mike and recommend reading his article. But I think the "obituary" word is a little too alarming for me.

There is hope for the American church. Its not dead yet. Not by a long shot.

Mike Breen is right that the American church needs to reject its Celebrity, Consumeristic Competitive nature that stem from its temptations of Appetite, Affirmation and Ambition [Mike alliterates like a good Baptist] but there is a huge stock of examples and stories from America's past that will help it move into more holistic, effective ministry in the future. This is happening already and its good to see.

I met Mike Breen at St Thomas Crookes,  Sheffield in 2000. An amazing church with an amazing history. Mike has just blogged some of that story and why he chose movement over mega-church. I had the privilege of preaching there a few years later.


Pioneer Mission Leadership Training

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Great news for training for Anglican ministry and ordination, especially young people working in pioneer urban situations. I have blogged about this a few times along the way because we have been supporting this process in a number of ways. Heres the news:

CMS has been given the BIG THUMBS UP to train ordinands in pioneer ministry. Press release here.

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Well done, everyone. Especially Jonny Baker who is very very excited about it and also Mark Berry who is berry berry excited.


New Christian websites

2 new Christian websites are launching soon that you should know about:

OpenChurch.com from USA (January) courtesy of Kent Shaffer.

Christian.co.uk from UK (February). Everyone say hello to Ian Matthews.

Both are open for Christian content, articles, blog posts, etc. Go check them out, join them and submit something before the crowds come. What other similar Christian websites are launching this month????

Also, I am getting traffic from Goodsearch.com, especially on my Prayer of Jael post. Does anyone know who is doing this website?

And more:

Julia Mitchell has an iPhone app to help women pray called GodFirst.

40 Baptist Voices from the UK.


The English church that went up a mountain but came down a hill

I have lived in USA for ten years and UK for five. In both countries I worked for the churches. They are different, the churches in USA and UK, something that became more evident this weekend after Mark Driscoll suggested the UK church was the poorer for not having any well-known teachers. Interview is here.

Somebody say CULTURE-CLASH!

"The problem for us is not that the church is full of "cowards", but the problem affecting the way Driscoll sees it is that he doesn't know any "big names", which he feels we need to have.. . . As a nation, we are extremely uncomfortable with personality cults surrounding leaders and "celebrity pastors . . " We Mixed our Drinks

"To write off a whole nations worth of preachers based on the criteria that they need to be “well known” is unhelpful anyway. It plays to the celebrity culture that Driscoll has become enmeshed in." Krish Kandiah

Some differences I have noticed that affect the way we do church in USA and UK:

While Americans memorize their presidents during school and expect other countries to name the most famous of them, the British do not see politics as a celebrity sport but more in terms of policies and parties.

While many [although probably not you, if you are currently writing a nasty comment on my blog] Americans are attracted to spectacle and superlative, the British feel more comfortable with balance and understatement. They would rather call the mountain "a hill" and be corrected, than being accused of making something bigger than it really is.

Back to church cartoon

While Americans stress innovation, the British stress continuity.

While Americans audiences were getting rocked by loud bands on a stage, the British developed club culture in which the stage disappeared and was replaced by a DJ in a booth, putting the lights not on the artist, nor the music, but on the participants themselves. The alternative worship movement in British churches developed along similar lines.

While many American church leaders see thousands of church attenders as the sign of success, some British say 40 is the highest number of church attenders that will still allow an acceptable working dynamic of interaction and intimacy with each other. Any more than 40, and people slip through the cracks or become mere spectators.

While Americans saw the emerging church embodied by a few celebrity pastors and top-selling authors, the British point to the small alt. worship churches and the Fresh Expression movement. Interestingly, out of those 3000 Fresh Expressions that have emerged in the past few years, most Americans could probably not name a single leader. Tell me if you disagree.

Interestingly, while American church attendance has decreased, the British church has noticed "significant increases".

The church in USA is different than the church in UK. While both countries can learn from each other, exporting value systems across the Atlantic does not always help.