Local Church in an Urban Landscape

There is a rising number of ‘resource church’ labels being bandied around these days. It is a fresh take on the old latimer model and with the size of the urban centres increasing exponentially the Cathedral system needs greater support. It is not a bad thing but it may be helpful for these churches to know what they are resourcing, what the strategy is and if there is a need for them to be bunched together.

This is not a rant but a plea for some fresh thinking. Local church takes on a whole new understanding in a large urban sprawl that has good transport links. Community looks different in many places and there is a willingness for many to travel. A local church can be a fair distance from where you live because local is smaller (not the same in an estate – there are exceptions, especially for those for whom travel is not an accessible option) but this tends to be less likely for the poorer families and communities. Their local is not quite the same.

Wouldn’t it be great if the resource churches used their resources to enable those with less freedom rather than use resources for ‘bigger and better events’ in their own setting? This is the intention for many but can easily be forgotten…..let’s make sure we keep it on the agenda so that every community has access to ‘local’ christian witness, whatever your definition of local.

Church Planting

“Church planters must seek to understand what is the irreducible ecclesiological minimum, or the basic essence of the church, for the church to be a church among any people. It is this irreducible minimum that the church planters must seek to translate to their target group. Anything less than this minimum fails to teach the new believers the doctrine of the church; and anything in addition to this minimum, though not necessarily wrong, possibly hinders the multiplication of indigenous churches.” J.D.Payne

Team or Celebrity?

Currently, the football (soccer) world was taken by storm by an unheralded Leicester team that won through an emphatic season. Their was no stand out stars although certain names began to emerge. Similar to Greece in 2004 when they won the Euros with a group of players that were unknown to a wider audience. This is unusual, most teams will have a player who is considered a star and if the team is fortunate, they will have a number of stars (cf Real Madrid and their Galacticos).

However, it should be remembered that in team sports, a star player cannot win on their own. Think Pele with Brazil, Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, Kobe Bryant with the Lakers. None of these celebrity players could have won on their own – they needed a team around them, most of whom remain forgotten in the mists of time but were essential to the success of the team.

So it is with Church. There are many who would choose to be the Apostle Paul (yet shy away from the persecution and suffering), yet even Paul needed his support people. Many would like to be the author of a great book, new course, on the platform at the global conferences etc. etc. but we cannot ever lose sight of the community of faith. We are all called to play our part and to engage with the mission. Not all of us will receive the credit, praise or be given a platform but all of us are called to love one another, seek each others best interest and to honour the name of God.

Let’s serve the team and be humble enough to accept our place within it. Lets be satisfied to be the Horace Grant, Steve Kerr, Brian Shaw, or Wilson Piazza on our team.

Let’s play!

Follow Jesus

Follow Jesus into your neighborhood with fellow followers of Jesus. Allow the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ to form your imagination for faithful presence. That means taking your bodies, your location and your community very seriously, as seriously as God in Christ took them. Faithful presence invites you to act on the belief that God is giving you what you need to be formed as disciples within your location.

Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, Dwight J. Friesen

God is up to something in the neighbourhoods

“God is up to something in neighborhoods, on the ground in real places. The church, in all its diversity, needs to figure out how to join in. We think God is putting forth a dare that, if practiced, could both revitalize church traditions, and develop a growing unity among members of various denominational expressions in the parish. More than that, it could help the church learn to give itself away in love to the world around it.”

Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, Dwight J. Friesen

Goals are killing us…

In a work place that demands higher productivity, greater rewards and demands visible success it is no surprise that people are falling ill, requiring medication and suffering continual stress. The bottom line is market dominance, share price and brand awareness and if we are honest, this thinking has invaded the evangelical church to such a point that we are losing sight of God and building a church that is the bridesmaid and not the Bride.

We can quote sport stars that tell us ‘some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen and others make it happen’ (Michael Jordan) and put unknowing pressure on ourselves to perform. We need our church plants to be financially viable but try and model our churches on a franchise set up without reference to the community they serve, we want to see full pews in buildings that were built in a different generation…..the list is endless.

If you quoted that previous quote at Jim Elliot (missionary to the Aucas) his ministry would have seemed like failure. With the years that have passed, we can now credit the success of the ministry but it is only now that we can celebrate knowing that the Auca people met Christ. The disciples sat huddled in a room as their messiah was dead and defeated but in time they discover their resurrected Lord had conquered death.The missionary to London who has sowed seeds of faith continually in their neighbourhood and may never see the rewards but the person that follows…..Boom!

Goals are killing us…..because we are setting the wrong goals. The goal is to be faithful to a living God, to worship Him, living a life worthy of the calling we have received. We must not remain idle, we are fellow workers with Christ and will be held accountable for what we have done but we must reset the balance and set the right goals, otherwise our goals will kill us. It is not the balance sheet, it is not the numbers of seats filled, it is not the number of churches we have planted (they may be indicators of something…but do not over estimate their value) but the obedience to our call and the way we live our lives.

Set the right goals…..and know life.

God is up to something

“God is up to something in neighborhoods, on the ground in real places. The church, in all its diversity, needs to figure out how to join in. We think God is putting forth a dare that, if practiced, could both revitalize church traditions, and develop a growing unity among members of various denominational expressions in the parish. More than that, it could help the church learn to give itself away in love to the world around it.” Soerens and Friesen