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Quote – John Dewey March 31, 2017

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Genuine ignorance is profitable, because it is likely to be accompanied by humility, curiosity, and open mindedness; whereas ability to repeat catch-phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions, gives the conceit of learning and coats the mind with varnish, waterproof to new ideas.

John Dewey

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Quote – Michael Horton March 25, 2017

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This is a challenging quote – what do you think?

As evangelicals we have tended to see the church and its public ministry of Word, sacrament, and oversight of spiritual and material needs of the body as “maintenance” for those who were evangelized once upon a time. They’re already in. But evangelism and mission have to do with going outside the church and its ministry to say and do something else. The cleavage between church and mission is often stated explicitly in evangelistic appeals: “I’m calling you to believe in Jesus, not to join a church.” But what does it mean to make disciples—what does that really look like on the ground? Furthermore, how do we deal with the challenges of religious pluralism and the rising sentiment in evangelical circles that salvation does not require explicit faith in Christ?Michael Horton

Planting from Scratch – Gathering a Prayer Team March 22, 2017

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Gathering a prayer team is critical for us as we begin the new community. There are those that pray on the ground in a local setting and those that are more distant. Our target is 100 people praying from outside the locality and this has been surprisingly simple to set up, the age of social media is your friend in this.

We have spread the net wide and have chosen a ‘zero policing’ policy, so I will not be checking up on who is following through on their commitment but have deliberately kept the bar low – pray intentionally at least once a month and I will commit to pray for them too, as well as informing them regularly.  So the plan is as follows;

  1. 100 people in the wide net – these folk are gathered from friendships, contacts and social media. They commit to pray intentionally once a month and in return they receive information to fuel their prayer and I have committed to pray for them too.  They receive information via email or a private Facebook group, maximum twice a month.
  2. 12 people in the boat – these 12 are close friends where I can share more deeply in the issues for prayer. These folk will be those that have shared a much deeper interest and are known to be warriors in prayer. This takes a while longer to set up and is still a work in progress, but vital.
  3. 3 Officers in charge – 3 prayer commandoes who meet to share guts and all, for prayer and encouragement.

It is impossible to know who wants to join prayer lists for ‘nosey faith encouragement’ but if people make a level of commitment, you must trust them.  The close at hand people have to be trusted friends because you are sharing more personally.  This is only right.

I have been blessed with a prayer team and whilst still in formation, we have seen many good answers to prayer and have known our arm is strengthened in ministry. We value our prayer support team, they are incredible.

 

Quotes about the Bible March 20, 2017

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God is not the Bible. To make the Bible into God is idolatrous. The Bible is God’s communication—in the form of words—with us. We can trot out here all the important words about the Bible—inspiration, revelation, truth, etc.—and they deserve to be. But those are not enough. Behind all of these words is the astounding claim we Christians make: the Bible is God’s communication with us in the form of wordsScott McKnight

The Bible does provide norms for life. This is all true, but several problems arise with using the Bible principally as a kind of “rule book” for life. First, large chunks of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments have a relatively small proportion of imperatives or commands. Much of Scripture seems to be descriptive rather than obviously prescriptive. Much of Scripture doesn’t tell us to do anything at all, particularly the historically oriented booksMichael Emlett

 

The Posture of a Learner March 17, 2017

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In my previous post on starting a missional community from scratch the first point was to “adopt the posture of a learner” but what does this mean? How do we do this?

Adopting the posture of a learner demands patience, time, listening, observation and most of all, an attitude of continuous learning.  When you are in a new environment and do not know people, where do you begin? How do you progress?

  1. Observe: where do people gravitate to? Watch were people go shopping, where they gather to relax, which community events are on, what is happening within the community. This will teach something of the lifestyle of the people around you.
  2. Listen: As you open up conversations, listen to what people are saying and why they are saying those things. This is critical in listening and most often forgotten. As you listen, assume that you know nothing, put aside your own viewpoints, your own learning. The people whom you are listening to are the professors and you are the child in kindergarten – this may help you to listen well.
  3. Patience and Time: Do not rush your listening, you will never have all the answers and if you jump to the wrong conclusions you will find yourself less effective. Time is the greatest gift that you give to your community.
  4. Attitude of Continuous Learning: There is not a time when you know it all, the community constantly changes (especially if it is living!) and the answers from a previous season do not always translate to the latest season. We are all aware of people who have stopped learning and growing, their stagnation smells horrific, don’t become that person but be willing to learn afresh, change your ways and act accordingly.

The posture of a learner keeps you humble and prevents you from “lording it over others” – missional communities should be a place where we are constantly in change, growing, developing and loving. Adopt the position of a learner and see what happens…..you may be glad you did.

Shortest Book Reviews (Church and Mission) March 15, 2017

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How To Pioneer” – David Male – A good practical handbook for anyone who wants to engage missional in their community. An excellent resource that is practical, sensible and evidence that anyone can engage in pioneering ministry. 10/10

Neighborhood Mapping” – John Fuder – A helpful book with practical wisdom for getting under the skin of your community in order to serve as a missionary church. You think you know your community but maybe you need to think again and put a strategy in place for getting to know it better. This book is gold dust for practical thinkers. 9/10

Church Planting Thresholds” – Clint Clifton – A manual for church planters from a reformed theological perspective. It is very detailed and full of practical wisdom, biblically loaded. It is not for everyone but useful for church leaders who are looking to plant a new church and recruit a team. 6/10

Starting a Missional Community from scratch February 28, 2017

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You know that you want you community to be a place where Jesus is seen and accepted but how do you begin with a missional community. Most communities start with a team but there are occasions when you have nobody…..what then?

1)Adopt the posture of a learner – it can be easy to make assumptions and to think that you know a community well. However, demographic studies, stats, maps and more stats are no replacement for legwork in the community and getting under the skin of the place. You need to be ready to learn more, listen more, observe continually and accept things may be different to what you perceive. Be ready to learn, be willing to learn and spend a great deal of time listening. Adopt a learning attitude.

2)Seek someone who will inform you – who is the person of peace, someone who imbibes the community, who will share their knowledge and is a friend. They do not necessarily hold your beliefs of faith but they are willing to share with you. Their willingness usual strengthens when you adopt the posture of a learner and not that of  teacher.

3) Build relationships – as you talk with people, seek them out again, develop friendships, go deeper and let this rootedness in the community help you to flourish. Not all relationships will be tight, see it more of a spiders web with a central strength and a growing network beyond the fringes. Relationships are critical.

These first three steps are very practical and the holy people reading will ask, ‘what about prayer?’ Prayer is the most necessary component and I have assumed it will underpin, surround and inhabit everything. Without prayer you have nothing and the steps above only help begin a social club, not a missional community. Prayer is the blood running through our veins….do not abandon it.

All the above takes time….it is worth it!

 

 

The net of Peter January 28, 2017

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These words from a song by Steve Camp are such a constant reminder of our life of faith. Keep struggling in the net….

I’ve done battle with the world today, and again she brought me down

The lady took my pride away, as she claimed her victor’s crown

I’m weak and oh so broken, and upon these words I’m choking

For I’m just another one struggling in the net of Peter

I grow so weary trying to run this race

Though my heart starts out sincerely, all too soon it is disgraced.

Some people place me on a pedestal, but the air is too thin up there you know

For you see I’m just another one struggling in the net of Peter, struggling in the net of peter

When you’re fighting to stay alive it’s easy to get burned, I need you as my constant defender

Be patient with your child, you know I’m slow to learn – that you’re constantly changing the heart of this pretender

As I pray for my protection from the evils of this day,

May You work on my affections, let it be burning me page by page

Oh bury its truth deep in my bones, Let your love remind me that I’m not my own.

That I’m just another one still struggling in the net of Peter, well I’m struggling in the net of Peter

You are my constant defender

With You on my side I’ll never surrender, no no

With You in my life I’ve got victory

With You in my heart there is hope for me

white paper exercises January 11, 2017

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We dream of a blank sheet of paper, we often talk about people acting as if they have a blank piece of paper, but is it really possible? We all have our own agendas, ideas and ‘baggage’ that we bring to the table. A genuine ‘white paper exercise’ is rarely that, there will always be a smudge, always something that will rear its head.

However, it is possible that the smudge becomes a vignette that surrounds the ideas, that helps focus the mind and liberates the soul. In truth, a whitewashed exercise will rarely create anything – we need the creativity, the added colour, the freedom to express. What we need are not white paper exercises but freedom to contribute.

When around the table, allow everyone a voice. Tolerate every…yes, every, idea. Explore all options. Let the creativity loose and see what happens.

City of Dreams December 5, 2016

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