Category Archives: Church

Eddy Gibbs on the Emerging Church

Originally posted on 19 September 2005

In a lecture presented to the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa a few months ago, Eddy Gibbs, a long-term voice for change in the church, talked about his view of “emerging church”. What found really interesting in the report I received, was his list of emerging church characteristics. He since wrote a book on the topic. While it is now slightly outdated, I do think that the picture he presents of the “ideal” emerging church should be aspirational for all church leaders.

“For the past three years I have been working with a younger colleague at Fuller Seminary, interviewing around 100 emerging church leaders in the UK, the US, and other areas of the English-speaking world in an attempt to answer those questions. Here is our tentative list:

  • Their churches are worship-inspired with everyone playing an active role in creating the worship experience.
  • They are mission focused, committed to responding to the needs of their community and especially in serving the poor.
  • They are shaped by context, i.e. seeking an indigenous expression of church that is culturally appropriate.
  • They seek to contextualize discerningly, ensuring the integrity of the message and refusing to soften its radical impact.
  • They disciple intentionally, which means that they are more concerned to challenge people to live as Christ-followers rather than gathering a crowd.
  • Their churches are structured relationally rather than hierarchically. This means that everyone has their place to belong and ministry to which they can contribute.
  • Their churches grow organically, which means that they are reproducible, much like a strawberry plant sending out runners that set down new roots and produce more strawberries.
  • They network extensively, usually by means of regular contact with the internet, with chatrooms and blogs.
  • They gather together periodically the smaller cell churches for times of celebration and re-tooling for mission.
  • Lastly, they serve compassionately, in that they are committed to holistic spirituality, rejecting any separation of the spiritual from the secular, which occurred under modernity.

I like it a lot.

What the Incarnation Means for the Church

Originally posted on 1 May 2006

These are notes I used for a study on the issue of the Incarnation.

One of the greatest mysteries of the Christian faith is the Incarnation. This is a technical theological word that describes the fact that God became a human. Jesus Christ was both 100% a man and 100% God. The implications of this has kept theologians both thinking and fighting with each other for the past 2000 years. I am not sure that we will ever fully understand the Incarnation, but I want to share with you tonight what I believe the Incarnation means for the church – for us, today.

When Jesus was on earth, he taught us how to live lives pleasing to God. It is not just His words and his preaching that are important. Its His example and what He actually did that are important, too.

When we think of the Incarnation as a model for us, we probably immediately think of missionaries who leave the land of their birth and go to a far off country where they have to learn a new language, wear strange clothes and participate in weird customs. But that isn’t the only application of Jesus’s example. The Incarnation is a model of ministry for us here in our church.

Right at the start of His ministry, Jesus called a select group of 12 disciples to be with him, and live with him in community for 3 years. In addition to this group, there were at least 72 others who regularly lived with the disciples and travelled with them. There were many hundreds who offered them hospitality and, of course, many thousands who would come every now and again to hear Jesus preach.

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A Conference Parody: Our Gospel is Bigger than Yours

A Parody of The Perfect Conference from Tall Skinny Kiwi. Andrew Jones is one the most established commentators on the emerging church, and a fresh voice in the blogosphere. I was sent an email attributed to him, but can’t find the piece anywhere on his blog – so who knows where it comes from. It certainly could be his. But, whatever its source, I laughed out loud at this parody advert for a Christian leaders conference…

Our Gospel is Bigger than Yours

Cost $599.99

Location: Nashville with telecasts in Louisville, Dallas, Seattle, LA and Orlando

Speakers are 10 White Men, 5 of which wear suits and 5 of which cuss and wear Ed Hardy shirts.

Music will be led by a good natured bearded folk singer with “edgy” lyrics about sovereignty and reworkings of really old hymns of proper theological content all with never ending crescendos … and his pregnant wife.

Each sermon will be 45-50 minutes long, unless more time is desired. Topics will include:

  • The Primacy of Sovereignty in Theology,
  • The Primacy of the Word Primacy in Preaching, The Primacy of Men in Relationships,
  • The Primacy of Church Discipline,
  • The Primacy of the Pastor’s will being done as an indication of His role as God’s Appointed,
  • The Primacy of the Heresy of Emerging Christianity,
  • A Discussion of the Heresy of Brian McLaren by the 10 speaker in which no one is allowed to dissent from the norm,
  • Why Our Bible is better than yours,
  • Why the Atonement is Not a Rose, but is a Tulip and
  • Why We believe in Depravity of Man and the Sovereignty of God but Are Still Right about Everything.

Generations @ Church

Originally posted on 19 February 2005

Based on a chapter in my 2004 book, ‘Mind the Gap’, here are some insights into the generation gap in church.

The era in which you were born shaped your value system more than you probably realise. Your value system is that part of you which helps you decide what is right or wrong, good or bad, normal or weird. Your value system is largely cemented in place by the time you turn ten years old, and the events and forces that shape you in those first ten years are critical in shaping your value system.

Over the past century, global events have become more and more influential on people across the planet. With increased communication, telephones, television and now the Internet, its possible for single events to influence billions of people at the same time. ‘Where were you when” type questions become increasingly familiar. Where were you when the planes crashed into the twin towers on 9/11? When Mandela was released in 1990? When the Berlin wall came down in 1989? When Neil Armstrong stood on the moon, or when JFK was shot?

Global events like these can shape the value systems of all the young people of a particular era. That means that people about your age may have a similar worldview to you. And you probably differ dramatically in outlook to those people older and younger than yourself.

Generations @ Church
There are few areas in our lives where the generation gap is greater than it is in the church. The church throughout the world is in crisis as an increasingly greying clergy is not attracting youthful priests and pastors. Youngsters don’t relate to people a generation or two older than them as role models, and the older generations boycott ‘youth services’. And so we see a vicious cycle of falling figures, both in church attendance and people prepared to don clerical robes.

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Why Men Can’t Lead – and faulty logic about women in leadership

Originally posted on 30 May 2007

I was sent this by a friend – its meant to be a joke and quite funny. It is. But there is a shred of sad truth in these ten reasons why men can’t lead… the sad truth is that this is the same type of logic many churches still use to exclude women from leadership.

TEN REASONS – ACCORDING TO THE NATURAL ORDER OF THE WORLD, SOCIAL CUSTOM, AND THEOLOGY – WHY MEN SHOULD NOT BE ORDAINED

    1. The male physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as picking turnips or de-horning cattle. It would be “unnatural” for them to do other forms of work. How can we argue with nature?

    2. For men who have children, their duties as ministers might detract from their responsibilities as parents. Instead of teaching their children important life skills like how to make a wiener-roasting stick, they would be off at some committee meeting or preparing a sermon. Thus these unfortunate children of ordained men would almost certainly receive less attention from their male parent.

    3. According to the Genesis account, men were created before women, presumably as a prototype. It is thus obvious that men represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.

    4. Men are overly prone to violence. They are responsible for the vast majority of crime in our country, especially violent crime. Thus they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.

    5. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. His lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinate position that all men should take. It is expected that even ordained men would be unable to withstand the natural male tendency to buckle under pressure.

    6. Jesus didn’t ordain men. He didn’t ordain any women either, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

    7. Men are simply too emotional to be ordained. Their conduct at football matches, in the army, at political conventions and especially at Promise Keepers Rallies amply demonstrates this tendency.

    8. Many men are simply too handsome to lead public worship. They could prove to be a distraction to the women in the congregation!

    9. To be an ordained pastor is to nurture and strengthen a whole congregation. But these are not traditional male roles. Throughout the history of Christianity, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. If men try to fit into this nurturing role, our young people might grow up with severe gender role confusion.

    10. If the Church is the Bride of Christ, then it goes without saying that all ordained leaders should be female. It just makes theological sense!

Developing Kingdom Vision (by Reg Codrington)

This was originally posted on 19 April 2006

I have enjoyed interacting with my father over the past few years.  For most of my life, he has been many miles ahead of me on the spiritual journey we’re all on.  But, in the past few years, we’ve found ourselves journeying together on a new path. 

He recently sent me some thoughts he had put together after reading a book I think I have him for Christmas last year.  He calls these writings his “Wooden Spoons” (for stirring).

Here is what he sent me.

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I am a social justice Christian

Recently, the crazed Fox “News” commentator, Glenn Beck, argued that social justice was a foil for Nazism and Communism (see the original clip on his radio show on 2 March 2010, or an extended version on his TV show on 23 March 2010, part 2, 3 and 4).

I don’t want to give his crazy notions more airtime. His fundamental error happens in the first few minutes of his program, when he basically defines social justice in a way that no-one would recognise – in a way that plays completely into his own agenda. In fact, one of the best video responses (see it here), points out how ludicrous it is to see “social justice” as a “progressive” plot. Ronald Reagan was a big supporter of social and economic justice, and I don’t think you can accuse him of being communist or socialist! Another video response (here) comes from Jim Wallis, the man Beck attacks.

It seems to me that it could just be a case of bad terminology and definition. (Although to see the real problem with Beck and Christianity, you need to look at part 3 at about 07:00 – he wants Christianity to be completely internal and unrelated to public policy at all). We’ll see how it plays out.

Over the past weekend a group of Christian film makers started a project to get people from around the world to submit video messages proclaiming their support for social justice. See the campaign website here, and respond to the YouTube video here.

Concidentally, just last week I posted one of the best defenses of Christian social justice I have ever read at this site. If you didn’t read it, do so now – I am sure you will find it very helpful.

For the record: I am a Christian. I am a social justice Christian.

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!

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