An excellent starter for all church people in which they can begin to discuss how the subject of race needs to be faced, attitudes changed and unity across all peoples can be a light to our world. This book forces you to look hard at the truths we have so often ignored and gives helpful discussion questions so that you can think through how we must change. A must read. 5/5
More short book reviews
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
Changes in the Missions World
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.
Quotes about the Bible
“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
Shortest Book Reviews (Church and Mission)
“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
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!
Community, old hat?
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.
People of Courage
An article that I wrote for Changing London Magazine (Spring 2015) – the magazine of London City Mission
People of courage
A foundation of faith
Over the last twelve months we have – rightly – seen numerous references to ‘men of valour’ and heard of innumerable acts of courage during commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.
Courage takes many forms, however. The Bible narrative which speaks most clearly of a courageous life is that of Caleb, son of Jephunneh, who we read about in just a few passages of scripture – primarily Numbers 13-14 and Joshua 14. The
life of Caleb is marked out as one of courageous perseverance in the face of hardship as he lived a life of radical obedience to God. This life was built on a foundation of faith, enabling Caleb to stand firm for God and push through, whatever the cost – so
much so that God says of him, ‘Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly’ (Numbers 14:24). Caleb’s trust in God was a foundation stone for all he did, and proved to be a marker for a life which was exceptional in many ways.
Caleb knew what it meant to stand firm for the word of God. He was among the spies sent out into the Promised Land. After forty days in a foreign land, the spies came back with stories of a land flowing with milk and honey but
inhabited by giants. Of the spies, it was Caleb who saw the difficulty but recognised the hand of God and honoured God’s word that the people of Israel would take the land. The stand he took with Joshua almost led to their death by stoning, and the Lord had
to intervene. Caleb stood firm and exhorted the people to not rebel against the Lord (Numbers 14:9). People of courage stand firm for the truth: they hold on to the word of the Lord, and they are immovable in this.
One example of this in London City Mission can be seen at Forest Gate. Our old centre is next door to a beautifully modern Sikh temple and just a few doors away from a well-attended mosque. On a daily basis, we have seen the staff here
stand firm for truth in the midst of hostility and misunderstanding. It takes courage to work here, but we have a God who stands with us as we act as salt and light in the community.
The result of Caleb’s courage? Forty years of ‘ordinary’. The people of Israel walked the desert for forty years, and all of Caleb’s friends and peer group (except Joshua) died. For forty years, Caleb was not heard of within
the people of Israel’s narrative, apart from a few references to his faithfulness; he walked, toiled and laboured along with his fellow countryfolk. He lived on a diet of manna and quail, but knew first-hand of the fruit of the land which was so close. Caleb
had been in the Promised Land, he had walked its paths and tasted its fruit, yet, we hear no word of complaint or bitterness from him as he waits forty years for the promises of God to be fulfilled. His life was ordinary within the context of the people, but
the foundation of faith remained strong. Faithful in the daily routine, plodding on through the desert years, waiting for God’s moment. This is courageous perseverance in the extreme.
We recently heard the story of a man, S, who first came into contact with the Mission twenty years ago. For twenty years one of our missionaries prayed for him. Last year, this man came to faith in Jesus. For twenty years, the ordinary
life remained trusting in God, in prayer, before a wonderful transformation was seen. Praise the Lord!
Whatever the cost
At the end of the narrative, Caleb comes to Joshua and reminds him of the word of the Lord from the previous generation. Caleb is still eager to do battle in his old age, still willing to take the difficult land and still recognising
it is God’s will he is serving. This was the last of the conquest; Caleb had sacrificed his own agenda for the sake of God and the people; he was willing to pay any price to see God’s name honoured and glorified.
Caleb’s life story is one of costly forbearance, where he risks stoning, faces forty years of ‘ordinary’, battles for others before himself and puts aside his own agenda to serve God.
Mission work is costly for the individuals who serve. I am regularly astounded by the work of our staff team at London City Mission as they give themselves for the sake of the Lord, so that they may share the gospel with others. It is not
just the staff members but their families, too, who share in this ministry: children taunted at school because they are part of the ‘God squad’; spouses who have to cope with ‘all hours ministry’; the list is endless. Yet we have a team of dedicated people
who serve consistently with courage and perseverance, whatever the cost.
So Caleb’s story helps us to see what it means to be people of courage – people who will stand firm, push through, whatever the cost, for the sake of Christ and the gospel.
Such courage can be found daily in the streets and on the estates of London. The men and women of London City Mission, whose stories often remain untold, supporting vulnerable people as they seek to survive each day, coming alongside local
estate residents who share their harrowing life stories, sacrificing the ‘good life’ – a career in a well-paid profession, a comfortable life in a beloved home town – so they may tell of the transforming love of Jesus to London’s least reached communities.
We are grateful for those who stand with us in this not-so-glamorous ministry to the least reached of London. Thank you for partnering with us in this gospel outreach.
Assurance of salvation
latest facebook devotional for Emmanuel Beach Team
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1 John 5:11-12 (NIV)
If you were to buy an autograph or an artefact, it is likely to come with a certificate of authenticity. This is the guarantee that what has been bought is genuine and it ensures that the buyer can have confidence in the item being bought. We often want to know that the results of our work our good, we want to know our destination.
So it is with our faith, how can we know that we are saved? How can we know that we have eternal life? Our certificate of authenticity is Jesus. He guarantees our life, ensures life and it is all assured- Jesus certificate is sealed with his blood and cannot be rescinded. How wonderful a thing this is.
If you have Jesus, you have life. Guaranteed!