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February 2012

Posts from January 2012

Pioneer Mission Leadership Training


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.


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: from USA (January) courtesy of Kent Shaffer. 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, 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.

Religion: Love it and Hate it

Discussion going on about a YouTube video released this week with 10 million hits already. "Why I hate religion but love Jesus" by spoken word artist Jefferson Bethke, was also the most watched video on Facebook. Jeff seems a nice guy and his message sounds like mine when I was his age. Some people are confused by his take on religion and statements that Jesus came to abolish it. Here's my take:

There is such a thing as dead, empty, powerless religion which God rejects.

"I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies." Amos 5:21

And there is also religion done right.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

In my youth, I tended to reject the word 'religion" outright as always negative and something to contrast the way of Jesus against. But now in my fourties, I tend to embrace the word more and try to redeem it by showing and attempting to live religion done according to the way of Jesus.

I probably agree with Kevin DeYoung who had some email exchange with Jefferson and  . . . well . . . its all good, bro!

Interesting sidenote. Back in the day, the word "religious" was only used to describe monks. Later on the meaning widened to include non-monastic believers in Christ. These days, we argue whether the word is helpful at all.

The wonderful and lonely path of Dieter Zander

Dieter Zander is one of those guys who make a huge impact on you. In the eighties he pioneered one of the first GenX churches in USA. In the nineties was a well-known pastor and worship leader at Willow Creek. But even then he was a lovely person [its possible!!!] and success had not gone to his head. He and his family moved to San Francisco at the encouragement of a few people, including myself, to follow a harder path. But that path became even move difficult when he endured a major stroke and found himself unable to lead worship or function as a minister.

He calls it "this wonderful and lonely path."

Since then, he has been gaining physical coordination very slowly. He has also become quite the photographer. I got an email today from him and it points to a YouTube video in which he shows some of his work as part of his own struggle and narrative. It's called Stroke of Silence. Thanks Dieter, you are an amazing individual.

Guys in dresses preaching to grandmas

What does a sex-drenched society need most of all? Another book on sex, perhaps? Some preachers think so. In Texas, Ed and Lisa Young are promoting their new book on sex from the rooftop of their house as part of a Sexperiment.

[Sounds like "Buy our book or we will do something you will regret!"]

Rooftop ed young

And on the blogosphere, Mark Driscoll is promoting the "sex manual" that he and his wife wrote by slamming the British, apparently calling their Bible teachers "a bunch of cowards who aren't telling the truth" and suggesting that young men wont go to church so long as there are  "guys in dresses preaching to grandmas!" [Link]

It's called PR Driscoll style, but it is quickly turing into the Battle of Superlatives.

Word to the wise: Never insult the British because they are quick-witted, more clever in their use of the Queens English than you are [they invented it], and boast the sharpest critics in the world. And even though they are a small country, they are a great one, too. Or so said Hugh Grant.

Mark driscoll

In my opinion, its better NOT to stir them up at all. But Driscoll has indeed stirred them up and they are responding.

At the center of the discussion is an interview with Justin Brierley in which Driscoll shares his perspective on the British scene and is either quoted as saying some really dumb things OR has his words taken out of context. We dont yet really know.

Driscoll calls the interview "“in my opinion, the most disrespectful, adversarial, and subjective."

Both Christian Today and Christianity Mag will run articles on Driscoll. Christianity Mag was known as Christianity and Renewal Mag when it interviewed me back in 2004 on the emerging church and Premier Radio chatted with me the same year. That was back when the emerging church was an interesting subject. Nice people. I will watch for the interview with Justin Brierley.

[update: interview is posted here]

In the meantime, Driscoll has A Blog-Post for the Brits and it would be unfair not to read it first if you were thinking of blogging this conversation.

I, for one, do not have time for the discussion. Neither do I want to focus on the sex issue. I actually agree with Al Mohler [surprised?] that there are some things we as leaders DO NOT have to talk about. There is a place for discernment, for mystery, for some intimate secrets, things left unsaid. The bedroom is one of those places.

If you want the skinny on the controversy, and have already read Rachel Held Evans [who hasn't?] and you dont want to stick your head in the Twitterverse, and you are waiting for Adrian Warnock to say something, then I suggest starting with Bill Kinnon who is getting a lot of blog-action. And Bill points us all to WenatcheeTheHatchet Blog and also to one of England's finest Bible teachers, Chris Wright, who does not, repeat NOT, wear a dress! At least he didn't when we were teaching together in Cape Town.

Some related old posts: Is the blogosphere ready for Mark Driscoll? and Mark Driscoll: The Skinny

The books: Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together [by Mark and Grace Driscoll] and Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy with Your Spouse [by Ed Young]

Jasmin Jones in the house

No relation, but musician/surfer-chick Jasmin Jones from the band Triplet is in the house. Make that IN THE YURT, because a few days ago we managed to fix up a storm damaged yurt and move into it.

Jasmin is the Ozzie-born daughter of a Kiwi dad and Portuguese mum and is in NZ for a month. She has a new album called Lost in Rainbows that is less hard-core than her earlier Triplet stuff and more chilled indie-folk-surfer music. I think so, anyway. Watch her on Youtube.

Practices of a new Jesus movement


I visited a number of Asian countries in 2011 and was amazed at the dynamism and commitment of the young Jesus followers.

One network, in a country that I will not mention, stuck out to me as an outstanding example. They have started almost a thousand new communities, many of them multiplying into the second and third generation. And like many new movements in the non-Western world, a Sunday worship service as an evangelistic entry point for potential members, has not been part of their ministry portfolio. Which was the subject of my somewhat provocative post a few days ago, 9 Reasons NOT to plant a church in 2012.

So if they didn't start worship services, how did they start a replicating movement of Christian communities and how do they maintain such a high level of spiritual growth?

Of course it's hard and a little presumptuous to claim which elements of their ministry are the most important but . . . here are 11 practices that I think have contributed to their success:

1. Bible study.

The Bible studies were simple and regular. And there was a lengthy program of discoving Jesus in the gospels which took months to complete. Most who completed the study decided to follow Jesus by the end. Discipleship was based on an "obedience-based approach" to the Scriptures that happened around their 3 simple Bible study questions [see 4. Simple habits]. When the group meets again, everyone is held accountable to do what they said they were going to do and this way the Word becomes an integral part of life.


2. Open houses.

The people were hospitable to visitors who seemed to come at any time of the day or night. Their houses were full of young people living there while their lives were being transformed. I did not see any buildings used for worship or church functions. Bible studies and events took place in the houses, with young people sitting on carpets and mattresses, but I would not classify it as a house church movement, since there was no regular worship service to invite neighbours into.

3. Fringe focus.

The primary influx was young people from the margins, the underbelly of society and those discarded by it, drug addicts, and postmodern sub-cultures rather than mainstream folk. I have seen this trend all over Asia including Japan. Most of the leaders I met had come from these backgrounds also.


4. Simple habits.

Nothing took a lot of skill. Teaching Bible, sharing jesus, leading AA-type meetings, no need for a charismatic superstar to attract an audience and in fact, there wasn't one. Anyone could lead after a short time of instruction. The Bible studies, for example, were based on the same pattern:

After reading a passage together, they all answered 3 questions:

1. What does it say?

2. What does it say to me?

3. What I'm going to do about it?


5. Good business products.

Financial sustainability came partly from their micro-businesses. The organic products from these businesses were among the best and healthiest in the country, even if they had not yet found a way to promote or distribute them widely. They had also innovated in the production process and believed God gave revelation that is helping them produce more and better goods and in a way that blesses the environment rather than taking from it.


Continue reading "Practices of a new Jesus movement" »

The Christians stole my camera

If my blog has been lacking in cool photos recently, its probably because I no longer have a camera. The Christians stole it.

It was in Cairo, Egypt, last November, when I found myself pushing and shoving inside a thousands-strong mob of Christians trying to enter the Cave church for all night prayer meeting. I didnt even feel them open my bag and take out my camera. But they did. The Christians. They stole my camera.

What do you do with that?

Christians arent perfect just forgiven