I've just been trying to sort out some new resources for our church community. A while ago I was looking at issues around equipping people for the workplace and 'faith at work'. I stumbled across a website called Christian Life and. It has some great resources that come from London School of Theology (previously London Bible College) - an outstanding Bible College. I found that they not only have a resource for Christian Life and Wrok but also Christian Life and... : Global Mission; Today's World; Children. I think these are fantastic resources. Many of today's resources aren't exactly transformative. Many are too simplistic and get you to do things like fill in the missing word in a simple sentence (e.g. Jesus is ... (you write in the word 'Lord')). The Christian Life and series promotes a nice combination of knowing, being, doing and feeling for the sake of transformation. For example, in the Christian Life and Children series, you speak about your own thoughts and feelings about children and their faith; you interview a child; you watch children's TV programmes and browse and children's toy catalogue (try to understand the world of children); you are introduced to developmental models for children and their faith (stages of faith) and then you have to do a SWOT exercise (strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats) on your church and their attitude to children and then consider what might be some of the practical implications for your church. I think that this will be more transformative (in terms of discipleship and church life) than simply filling in the missing word.

Have a look at the website and let me know what you think...

For anyone who's interested in all things 'emerging church', Paul Windsor's written a very thought provoking article. We all tend to view Christ through our favourite lenses (e.g. preachers think Jesus was all about preaching) and I think some of the emerging church tends to see Jesus through 'postmodern' lenses rather than 'postmodernism' through the lens of Jesus.

Paul's point that history's more of an 'adding lanes to a highway' than an eclipse model could be made even stronger. I don't think postmodern thought is anything terribly new. It has strong historical antecedents in Romanticism, Pietism and the Renaissance. There's an outstanding article by Martin Sutherland (a historical theologian) called "Pine Trees and Paradigms: Rethinking Mission in the West" in a collection of essays for Brian Smith that critiques much of the simplistic talk about 'paradigm shifts' in culture. If you're interested in getting a copy then please let me know - I'll do my best.

THANKS ROB!!  

1 comments Posted by Andrew

Sheesh! Rob Kilpatrick and the team at Tranzsend won't let us off the hook easily will they? Last week the theme of Self-Denial was they (the poor) are found wanting. This week the theme is we are found wanting. The Tranzsend handout says:
Millions of people in the world are exploited for their labour. Slavery still exists. Bonded labour and sweatshops entrap millions including children. We can change that. By setting up business enterprises that teach skills to the unskilled, pay fair and just wages, pass the profits back into the communities, and encourage self reliance, we are effecting change for generations. No longer do these people have to sell themselves into a hostile labour market or worse. If we do business for the right reason, from the right world view then we are doing mission. If we fail to ensure justice exists then in God's sight, we are found wanting.

This week's message is that God holds us accountable for the poverty of others. That God will judge us not just for the bad we have done but also the good we have failed to do (e.g. turn a blind eye to exploitation and child labour). How do you feel about this? On the one hand I feel worried whilst on the other I feel a bit beaten up by some of these things. How does this make you feel?

FOUND WANTING  

5 comments Posted by Andrew

This week we begin our annual Tranzsend Self-Denial appeal. This year the theme is "found wanting". This week's message is based around the theme they (the poor) are found wanting support. I did quite a few history papers in my theology degree. What struck me most in reading about the church's history is how often we separate personal morality from systemic morality. For example, we're quite happy to shout and yell about what goes on in the bedroom (sexual ethics) and homosexuality but we're often silent on issues of war, poverty, famine and justice. It's interesting to notice how much air time the Civil Unions Bill got in the Baptist (our deniminational newspaper) compared to how much air time the issues in Zimbabwe (or AIDS or Fair Trade or atrocities in Sudan or poverty in Africa or even the G8 summit) got. There were pages and pages of debate on the Civil Unions and our silence screamed on these other issues. When we turn to look at Jesus we find that he said a little bit about sex and nothing explicitly about homosexuality! And this was in a culture where homosexuality was rife and would make our society today look very Victorian! On the other hand, Jesus' favourite topic was the Kingdom of God and he spoke most about poverty and money. Now, I don't want to open up the can of worms that surrounds homosexuality but I do want us to consider the fact that often what's important to us wasn't important to Jesus and what was important to Jesus sometimes isn't important to us. Perhaps this Lenten season part of us realigning ourselves with God's purposes means realigning what's important to us with what's important to Jesus. Any thoughts? And especially any thoughts on how we might support the poor and needy - those who are found wanting.

This week's sermon text is Lk. 10:38-42 - the story of Mary and Martha. We have to be a bit careful about how we make sense of this passage. It seems to me that Martha gets a rough deal. She slaves away for Jesus in the kitchen, preparing a, no doubt, fantastic meal that would've taken hours to prepare and Jesus seems to tell her it's not good enough. Does Jesus want us to let the dishes pile up so we can all sit starry eyed at his feet? If I was Martha, I think I'd be banging the pots together and making as much noise as I could in the kitchen to give Mary the hint to get up off her backside and come and give me a hand in the kitchen as well!! Fred Craddock says "if we condemn Martha too harshly she may abandon serving altogether. If we commend Mary too profusely she may sit there forever!"

What strikes me as important is asking what is Martha's point of reference. When Martha speaks she reveals where her interests lie: "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me." Martha is anxious to get Jesus to help her achieve her goals. Martha tells Jesus what she wants him to say whereas Mary sits at Jesus' feet listening to what he does have to say. It's interesting to compare Martha's request with Jesus' request of God in Gethsemane. "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done". But is this still condemning Martha too harshly?

A couple of blog posts that might be of interest - Paul Windsor's asking some good questions about the modern obsession with spiritual gifts. Last week Joseph and I went to hear Brian McLaren. It was nice to hear and meet someone in the flesh who you've only known through reading their books. Steve Taylor, who was involved in organising the visit, had Brian speaking at Opawa Baptist last week and he has some really good notes and reflections on what Brian spoke of here; here; here; here; here; here; here; and here. It's well worth a read. Stu McGregor also had him at Mt Albert Baptist and felt that some of the people there finally got the point that the Kingdom of God does not equal heaven.

Sorry that my output has been a bit slow lately. Last week was a very hard week. My sister, who was 18 weeks pregnant, lost her baby (on my birthday). She went to have a scan to find out the sex of the baby and was told by the doctor that they couldn't find a heart beat. Obviously it is devastating for her and we're devastated as well. If you have the chance to pray for her and our family it would be really appreciated.

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