Haverim – Paul Clayton Gibbs
I read this one on recommendation and came away encouraged but not blown away. This book is a great place to start if you are new to leading a small group bible study and will give plenty to get your teeth into, practically as well as for thinking. It lays out good practice, handy tips and a philosophy of learning that would be good for more people to adopt. 7/10
Canoeing the Mountains – Tod Bolsinger
A book on leadership that bounces off the story of explorers, Lewis and Clark, and utilises the experiences of the author in dealing with new and unexpected challenges. There are the usual aspects of leadership theory, good practical helps and a solid framework on which it all hangs. A well written book that will provide good resonance for leaders who need a level of creativity. 8/10
There have been significant changes within the mission world, during the last 2 decades, that are beginning to re-shape our world. Like all things, some are ahead of the curve and others lagging but they are happening as the para-church agencies, and churches, are grappling with seismic shifts that are enforcing new ways of working.
3 of the most important moves have been:
a) a move to partnerships – there is recognition that we are unable to work alone and have to begin working together. This is apparent in both mission agencies and church denominations.
b) Church being central – Agencies in particular are realising the need to work with and alongside the church, rather than ‘for’ the church. For some agencies, this is a change that has radically re-ordered their ministry.
c) Equipping – many mission agencies are moving beyond the ‘doing’ to equipping the saints for works of service. This allows and provides opportunity for a greater contextual ministry in a globalised world and helps the church seed new initiatives. Training is in vogue again!
How these changes are being managed is open for debate but they remain essential. These are exciting days.
“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 words” Scott 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 books” Michael Emlett
“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
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!
Reading Dirty Glory from Pete Greig has been both a real challenge and encouragement. This afternoon, the opportunity to walk around Tabernacle Street, Wesley’s House and through to Aldersgate Street came my way. It was great to think and pray….there were no great revelations, no great insights, just gritty prayer and a fresh desire to see the City, Nation and World transformed. Come Lord Jesus!
For a while now, English Christian circles have loved the word ‘community’ as an expression of our engagement with the local area. The changing face of the urban landscape challenges our use of the word to a point that it appears to be losing its meaning. What is our ‘community’? Does the Church use it consistently?
It still has value but I do wonder if we need to engage again with using ‘neighbourhood’ as a better term. It has a tighter feel, more depth to its use and is probably a better expression for those engaged in reaching their location with the love of Christ.
I may start using ‘neighbourhood’ more and see if it makes a difference.