Category Archives: Church

What the Roman Catholic Church should be doing – by Clive Simpkins

A colleague and friend of mine, Clive Simpkins is a deep thinker and spiritually enlightened all round nice guy (who nevertheless always tells it straight). He has great insights on a wide variety of subjects. Today, on Good Friday, he has posted a reflection on the Roman Catholic Church which is really worth reading.

Clive’s professional work is in communications. He is a great communicator himself, and helps others to improve theirs. He brings these insights to bear on how the Catholic Church has responded to fresh allegations of child abuse by some of their priests – especially in Ireland and Germany. I think his suggestions are spot on.

Read his article here.

Jesus and the “Social Gospel” – by Dr Reg Codrington

Originally posted on 1 June 2008

There was such a great response to a recent post of an article written by my father, that I thought I’d post something else by him. Anyone who grew up thinking that the “social gospel” was a problem would do well to read this.

Jesus and the “Social Gospel”

Dr Reg B Codrington

INTRODUCTION

When I was growing up, the denomination of which I was part used the term “Social Gospel” almost as a swear word. We were taught that “liberal” denominations who placed a focus on meeting social needs were guilty of, and I quote, “sending a well-fed sinner to hell”. The focus had to be on “saving souls” and everything else had to be subjugated to that aim.

Now let me make it clear at the outset that I still believe that the most important thing that can happen to a person is that he or she enters into a vital, living relationship with Christ and lives in accordance with His teachings, as revealed in the Word of God. But I have become increasingly convinced that what I was taught as a youngster was just a part of a much bigger picture which, sadly, I only began to understand nearly forty years later! What a serious responsibility lies in the hands of teachers of the Word to ensure that they teach the whole gospel to our young people!

Continue reading Jesus and the “Social Gospel” – by Dr Reg Codrington

What I believe… about the church (the short, reactionary version)

Originally posted on 1 September 2007

I have recently been accused of only asking questions and not “putting it out there”. I therefore thought it might be good to state what I believe. It’s not a magnus opus, it’s not a systematic theology, it’s not a comprehensive description of all I believe. But it is enough of a starting point if you’d like to interact with me.

The original context of my discussions and interactions had to do with what the church is meant to be. Someone said “Acts 2:42 – simple as that”. I asked why they didn’t read the rest of chapter. Using that as a basis, then, this is what I believe.

I believe that it is fairly dubious to use the book of Acts as a manual for church praxis in the 21st century. Not because I don’t believe it’s God’s Word, but because there are so many different models presented in the book of Acts that you can base almost anything you want on it.

Continue reading What I believe… about the church (the short, reactionary version)

The marks of a genuine Christian – reflections on a sermon

This morning at church, we looked at the first six verses of Colossians chapter one. Our pastor titled the sermon, “The marks of a genuine Christian”.

He’s a good communicator and preached well. But this morning did expose a weakness in the evangelical desire to chunk the Bible up into ‘bite size chunks’ and preach verse by verse exposition. The Bible was not written in chapters and verses – and there is a danger that we impose an artificial structure onto God’s Word that distorts its meaning.

I don’t want to sound like a whiner about this, but it really does irritate me when evangelical presuppositions result in glaring omissions from Biblical exposition. To put it simply, I think our pastor got it wrong this morning – not in what he did say, but in what he didn’t.

Today’s sermon gave us three marks of a genuine Christian: Faith in Jesus (v4); Love for other Christians (v4); and, Hope of heaven (v5). But what about verse 6 – that the Good News of the Gospel is bearing fruit? The New Living Translation helpfully translates verse 6 as the Good News “is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives since the day you heard and understood the truth about God’s grace.”

This emphasis on changed lives in the here and now is then reiterated powerfully in verses 10 and 11.

In fact verses 8 through 13 just repeat what was said in the first six verses. The “three marks of a genuine Christian” are repeated again, but it seems to me that there is clearly at least a fourth sign: that our lives are meant to demonstrate that the Gospel has come (I also think there is something there about growing in our depth of understanding of what God has done for us – but I’ll leave that for another day). If everything we believe makes no difference to how we live now, what is it worth? And that does not simply mean some spiritual longing for a better life somewhere else. It means that we strive hard to “make it on earth as it is in heaven” – just as Jesus taught us to pray!

Faith in Jesus, love for others and the saints, and hope in heaven are definitely signs of being a genuine Christian. But they are not enough. The Bible is clear and consistent in its witness that you prove your Christian beliefs by your good works. Colossians 1 itself is clear on this. Why do evangelicals so easily and consistently miss the “good works” theme of the Gospel when it is in such plain sight?

The Jesus Manifesto – by Len Sweet and Frank Viola

Originally Posted on 23 June 2009

I was sent an email today that contained an excellent manifesto from one of my favourite thinkers and authors, Len Sweet.

It’s titled: “A Magna Carta for Restoring the Supremacy of Jesus Christ, a.k.a. A Jesus Manifesto for the 21st Century Church”
by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

You can read the original at their blog: http://ajesusmanifesto.wordpress.com/

It really is worth it. Thought-provoking and powerful. I like it a lot, and think we need to take our Christ-centric nature more seriously.

The seven streams of church – a sermon podcast

Originally posted on 7 August 2008

Last week, I preached my final sermon at the church my family has attended for the past 5 years. I relied heavily on a sermon preached by John Broom, of Meadowridge Baptist, on the occasion of his last sermon after over 20 years of ministry at the church.

The sermon was the final part of a series on “What Jesus would say to…”. The essence of the sermon was that “church” has been expressed in at least 7 distinct ways over the course of church history. Today, as the church in the West enters a “post Christian” world, it needs to recaptures the “instincts” expressed in these seven streams, and become the holistic church God intended.

Listen to the sermon by downloading it here (7 Mb, MP3 file).

The summary of the seven streams is below…
Continue reading The seven streams of church – a sermon podcast

Church is not the end, it’s the means

Originally posted on 22 June 2005

Too much of what happens in the typical local church is focused on the activities of that church and its people. I believe that this is due to a fatal flaw in the way most people think about church. They tend to see church as an end, as an entity that exists for its own purposes.

But church is not an end. Church was never meant to be the goal of Christian endeavour. God is not interested in empowering us to create better churches. No. Church is simply a means – a means to an end.

God is interested in extending his kingdom throughout the whole world. He is interested in empowering his church to impact of the world. In particular, God is interested in empowering local churches to impact local communities in very practical ways. After all, Jesus came to “preach good news to the poor… to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Churches that focus the majority of the time, resources and facilities on their own internal programs, including worship, preaching, youth ministry, Bible study, young adults, women’s groups, etc, have lost sight of the purpose of their existence.

I believe this is one of the primary emphases of the emerging church movement – to bring the church back to its primary calling to be a vehicle for the establishment of God’s kingdom in this world. The church is not the end, it is only the means. It is not an institution – it is a strategy to assist us become the people of God.

Liberal politics, freedom and the role of Christianity in Britain

Originally posted on 1 September 2009

I don’t agree with the political leanings of The Spectator magazine in the UK, but it certainly contains the finest writing in the English language of any magazine in the world. I read the mag regularly, just to experience excellent English. It also contains the type of opinionated columnists I enjoy. They get you thinking, and they’re inteliigent.

In their Christmas edition, there was an excellent analysis of what the official religious institution of England (The Church of England) should do. I need to think this one through in more detail, but I hope it sparks as much thought for you as it did for me.

Does England need an “official” church? Would it be better, both for the church and State, to change the current state of affairs? The original article can be found here, or read it below.

The C of E should follow John Milton’s lead

by Theo Hobson, Friday, 12th December 2008, The Spectator

Milton was a great poet but an even greater theologian, says Theo Hobson. His vision of tolerant Christian liberalism should be our template for the future
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Gary Hamel speaks to church leaders on Shifting Tides

Gary Hamel is one of my favourite management gurus. His books are well written, and I have heard him speak live and in person on a number of occasions as he addressed business leaders in South Africa a few years ago. Gary was initially famous for his thoughts on innovation and helping companies create the right type of environment for innovation. More recently he has shifted his focus to the “future of management” – analysing the environment in which companies must now operate, and the structures that will help them achieve success. His book on the Future of Management is a great read – buy it at Amazon.co.uk or Kalahari.net.

What I didn’t know was that he was a Christian and has done some research on the challenges facing the church at the moment (especially in the USA). He spoke at his home church a while ago, and the talk was recorded and made available. After cataloguing the problems, he goes on to recommend some responses. And he brings his usual insightfulness to all of it. Well worth taking an hour out and watching.

Continue reading Gary Hamel speaks to church leaders on Shifting Tides

A Passion for Life, March 2010, UK churches

The senior pastor of our church, Richard Coekin, is the national co-chairman of “A Passion for Life”. This is a month long programme of events in hundreds of churches around the UK, leading up to Easter 2010. The goal is to share the Gospel with friends, family and neighbours, and create a multitude of opportunities for them to connect with the church and its message.

It has taken two years to work up to this point, getting different churches interested and involved. It seems that a great spin off is the collaboration between churches, and the sharing of resources that is taking place.

You can find out more at: http://www.apassionforlife.org.uk/

It’s not too late to get involved. And, if you’d like to find out more about how Christians view life, and their passion for it, connect with a church near you and ask them.