Tag Archives: mission

Beyond the Pew Part 1

There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.-Gandi

At the feeding of the four and five thousands, in the upper room at passover and the beach at breakfast time. Jesus illustrated who God was by meeting their physical needs. As they received from God they consumed more than nutrients for life, but a spiritual awareness of who God was that would possibly lead to a deeper spiritual awakening.

The redundant crypt of the church…might be the saving grace for these despairing people.

Rev D. Robbins- quote from the book Entertaining More Angels-

So in Leeds in the 1930s the Revd Don Robins, at that time priest of St Georges, in response to the poverty he saw. Opened up the crypt, a place for the dead to be buried and instead turned it into a place to offer a life line for people, and so began a story of resurrection that out of the tomb new life could be offered. That story has continued today, with the church crypt and community working in tandem. This is a story of the church on the margins, of meeting the needs in practical and spiritual ways, underpinned by the love of Christ.

 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Matthew 25:31-46

Fast forward to 2013 and the inception of the light house offering a church service to the community that had grown up around the crypt. The Rev Jon Swales continues to lead that team, in their ministering to the needs of the community around St Georges, to those for whom life circumstances had become difficult.

In 2013 realised that the ordinary church wasn’t speaking to many of our friends here.

Rev Roger Quick- Chaplin to the Homeless- excerpt from Entertaining More Angels

The Light House offers lunch bible study, worship, fellowship, education, trips and above all hope. Rooted not in the shifting sand of life but the solid rock of a more eternal perspective. This hope is one that is lived out, on the rough edges of life, where deeds speak louder than words, actions hold greater authenticity than sound bites. A place where trust is won, respect is forged in the fires of struggle. Any other hope not seasoned, tested, lived out, would fall on deaf ears, be discarded like a disused cardboard coffee cup.

See Beyond the Pew Part 2

How Evangelism Needs To Evolve

Evangelism (sharing the good news) is a sensitive issue for many in my context, both inside and outside the church. Traditionally since the church’s conception, evangelism has been the way it has shared the gospel. However, for many it is such a sensitive issue, causing some people simply not to read this blog post. But for the undecided and wary, please do continue, it will be ok. 🙂

In these days and for some years the word ‘evangelism’ and associated activities have become outdated for a good number of people, apparently incongruent with modern society. Others would prefer to use the word ‘mission’ or perhaps evangelism with a focus on a small ‘e’!

What Evangelism Means

The English word “evangelism” comes from the Greek word euaggelion. Most literally translated in the noun form, euaggelion means: “gospel” or “good news.”

Evangelism traditionally became the communication of the gospel message, including a warning, an explanation and a call, which perhaps underlines a problem in our evangelistic methodology.

In the bible, the New Testament imparticular uses the term ‘preaching’ or ‘sharing the gospel’ over fifty times. The bible says little on how we should share the good news, just that we should. Other than that there are particular people who are specially gifted for this, but that all believers have a responsibility for sharing the gospel.

Although it is broadly accepted in the church that all Christians bear some responsibility for sharing the good news in all kinds of ways, our methodology and how we live out evangelism is important.  It needs to be good news for others, to begin with. No doubt we all have stories and an awareness of times when this has not been the case and in that, we have let ourselves and God down.

The Fruit of Evangelistic Outreach

What fruit of the Spirit has grown through our evangelistic endeavours? In answering this we find two responses. I have met many of whom, myself included, have responded to a particular type of evangelistic outreach – listening to a preacher at a Christian event – has brought them into faith… setting them conversionon a Journey with all its twists and turns, where they have grown, struggled, stuck it out, but kept faith with God regardless of life and because of all God has done in their lives.

However, as painful as it might be to read, some have a very different perspective indeed. Places where the fruit has not flourished and has fallen on rocky ground.

 In an article in the local news this week, based on how the church should do more to combat racism, commenters described the people in the church as ‘bible bashers, nosey, bigots, racist, sexist, and murderers’!

For some, when the church speaks and people do not hear our words but act on their own prejudices, influenced by their own or other people’s interactions with the church. Is this the flip-side of how evangelistically the church has at times viewed the world?

Scripturally, evangelism is sharing the good news. How we share the good news needs to be right for our context, whatever that looks like, traditional approaches or new ones.

I wonder though if our context has become weary of street preachers, placards or church notice boards that have witty Christian posters on them that condemn people. I am concerned that society has become increasingly cynical and apathetic of what we are about, and our hidden agendas to get more converts or bums on seats?

A New Evangel

Perhaps we need a new form of evangelistic methodology, one where absolutism is sidelined for the possibility that our internal image of Jesus is blurred by our own theological bias. St Paul, as he writes about love in his first letter to the Corinthians, speaks about not knowing God fully but one day we will all be known fully.

Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 

Our evangelistic outreach needs to be mindful of how we are and have been perceived and the effect our actions will have on our context where sacred meets secular. We need an evangelism that does not pit us against them, but rather sits at eye level with them in dialogue. Conversation_(5556628632)

The kind of dialogue where the certainty of our own conviction takes second place to that of listening to Gods spirit. His words should be our primary focus. Thus our evangelism becomes more about togetherness, and a generous heart than Team Jesus versus everyone else.

Evangelism isn’t wrong in itself, but the church has been misguided at times in its working out of that word. Too often we have hurt rather than helped, sidelined and marginalised rather than included and collaborated, being blind to our own prejudices and reacting without compassion and grace to others.

As disciples today, for whom evangelism is a primary focus, let us check our eyes for the logs or tree trunks that might be stuck there, as we pick the splinters out of other people’s eyes.

Let’s seek a new narrative as we engage with society. One that is seasoned with respect for the other, filled with grace and rooted in the love of Jesus, bringing good news for a contemporary generation and time, that sits with people rather than imposes a doctrine.

Get Your Faith Lift Here!

Has your faith become sanitised, tame, lukewarm? Is church ‘run of the mill’, no more challenging than what you might pick for breakfast in the morning? The video below that reminds us otherwise; the sheer challenge of the gospel, the agony of the early mission leaders to choose Jesus every single time.

Today in ISIS held land Christians are facing the kind of hate these early missionaries experienced. And just see what God does with that. The story is based a long time ago, but it could be a story and narrative that happens today. Not in our comfortable, westernised lives perhaps, but where people live in fear from those who would have them killed for their faith, this story is real and relevant.

Be warned, the story in this video is not for the faith hearted!

Finally, what does your faith mean to you?  How far would you go?  What would you give up for the sake of the gospel?  As you listen to the words, the story alongside blows you away.

Don’t Just Tell Me About Jesus Show Me

Don’t just tell me Jesus has risen from the dead, show me. Over Easter the church gets rightly excited and clicks on its keyboards the awesome reality of the resurrection, the true meaning of Easter.

Some pics are a little too judgmental for my taste, but on the whole my social media feed is full of a joyous, worshipful cacophony of praise to the faith we profess and the reality of resurrection we hold to. Both of Jesus and ultimately ourselves, as we eventually step into an eternity prepared for us.
The church doesn’t just tell the world that Jesus has risen from the dead. At its best it shows this in a number of ways, but let’s begin, in no particular order, or in anyway a full list here are three examples.

Continue reading

Easter Day: Told You So…

entry two in a disciples diary might read:

Dear Diary,

Not really sure where to start, apparently i have been a bit short sighted, my self loathing of yesterday has been overturned, to mind bending joy. I cannot really totally believe it.

Apparently God you can walk away from crucifixion, who knew! And me and the guys are acting like we knew it was all part of the master plan. But diary, i didn’t know. Am wondering if  I should scrub out yesterdays entry, I should have listened more, maybe I would have released.

I suspect i am not the only one who didn’t know, I wonder if the 12 knew? The chosen Jesus team, I saw one of them yesterday, if they knew he was coming back, they weren’t showing it. Anyway not one of them has said i told you so yet!

So what now, everything was true about Jesus, what does it mean? I am not sure which is easier, believing he was dead and it was all over. Or dealing with the ramifications of Jesus rising from the dead…

Since then 2000 years ago  believers has been figuring out what Jesus resurrection might mean, for how we worship, and live for God. There have been colossal mistakes along the way, illustrated by damaged people who have left, and those who think Jesus is still dead. There has also been an awesome, global outpouring of charity motivated by the love Jesus showed, which has begun schools and hospitals, feed and clothed the hungry and poor, and has and continues to fight for the rights of the oppressed and not listened too.

Lets Pray

Lord forgive our imperfect attempts at building your kingdom. May the power of the cross that broke you, also break our pride, busyness, personal agendas and give way to renewal of self and your calling to the church. Show us lord what you see.Amen

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