Thursday, September 28, 2006

Effective Church...

This kind of dovetails nicely with the discussion

"Most effective churces emphasise three areas: the head, which is good theology and biblical foundation; the heart, or a passion for worship and for reaching the lost; and the hand, meeting the needs of the community... many churches are one-prong churches".
More here

Pope, R. (2005) Civil Engineers. Leadership Journal. Spring 2005 pp 25

"Many churches are one-prong churches" .... I think that was what I was getting at.


BTW - I am having problems replying to comments. Bear with me!!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Lost Themes of Mission - Worship...

Interesting that 'liturgy' is related to Leitourgia which is work or to act in a way that benefits the public at large Bosch asks "can we hope for such renewal of our celebration that it returns to this authentic liturgy?"

I must have got to that sad stage in my blogging life where I do repeats, or it could do something with my age! But this modern day parable does the trick for me everytime I read it.
One day after dinner, while finishing dessert, a father sent his boy out to cut the lawn. Smiling broadly, the son said, "No, Father, I just want to stay here experiencing your presence, expressing my love for you, my dear Father." The father frowned and said, more firmly this time, "Actually, Son, I would rather you go out and cut the lawn." But the boy acted as if he didn't even hear his father, and he replied, "Dad! Guess what? I just wrote a song expressing my love for you!" The son began to sing, his eyes closed in sincerity and intense emotion, and the father left the table to go watch TV. The boy didn't notice, but kept singing, with tears streaming down his face.

At that point the father wanted the boy to experience obedience (which may entail heat, sweat, thirst, sunburn, strained muscles, hunger, endurance, and fatigue) even more than the warmth of his presence.

(A is for Abductive Sweet, McClaren)

When did we accept worship that is solely about what we sing, even songs that implore us to seek the faded music leads us down that lane that is emotive singing. If "worship is the 'raison d'entre' and primary objective of the Christ Community" how is it possible that we have lost that sense of worship that reflects "the moment-by-moment acknowledgement of obedient and loving service" the worship that God values.

Bosch points out that "Celebration divorced from caring and pursuit of justice is welcomed by the demonic and rejected by God. I cannot delight in your sacred ceremonies! Spare me the sound of your song! But let justice roll on like a river'' (Amos 5.24). A gift brought to God is welcomed only if the giver is first in shalom with others (Matt. 5.24)."

Interesting that "celebration is acceptable to God only when the Christian community is involved in demonstrating and proclaiming His reign with signs of shalom"

So when the music fades and we simply come, when all is stripped away what is left? "the avant garde of the new creation?"; the "experience of shalom we are called to manifest and promote?"; an explicit representation of the Kingdom, His reign? Or the next lovely sequence of chords.

As long as that is all that is left worship remains a lost theme of mission.


Lost Themes of Mission - Holiness...

Lost Themes of Mission - Righteousness...

Lost Themes of Mission - Agape...

Lost Themes of Mission - Jubilee...

Lost Themes of Mission - Salvation...

Lost Themes of Mission - Shalom...

Lost Themes of Mission - Compassion...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Coutts Quoted...

I was on a college staff retreat on Sunday. General Coutts was quoted twice...

Apparently General Coutts had three Concerns
  • The way some salvationists speak about the Army
  • The way some officers speak about their colleagues
  • The way in which some letters are written within the Army
somewhere else he said

"There is plenty of good news to be celebrated in TSA, and yet many within TSA are quick to talk themselves down. They need to hear good news and rejoice in what God is doing. Incidentally it is one of the few movements that make themselves the butt of their own jokes. The Anglicans make fun of the Baptists and vice versa. The Salvationists mock themselves."

Not a bad rule of thumb in the blogging world and beyond!

Friday, September 15, 2006

"no ..... please no...!"

We were inside the shop when we heard the shouting.

The scene opened up as we all gazed out at a man walking up the street with a huge stick clenched in his fist, shouting and swearing. Then we saw another man terrified, cornered. We and the rest of the shop were transfixed at the scene. A drug dealer seeing off the competition.
As I look back I see Bethan mouthing "no ..... please no...!"

Then the violence exploded, a punch a headbutt a kick as the man reigned blows on the other. I run to the door of the shop and look over my shoulder at the other shoppers in hope that a posse would soon be at hand to stop the violence.

As I look back I see Bethan mouthing "no ..... please no...!"

My heart is torn - something needs to be done as the man staggers to his feet to be hit again. But as quickly as it started the scene is over. The stick brandisher drops his weapon and runs off to catch a bus. The beaten man gets to his feet and walks off shaking his head.

A little shaking hand almost in relief slips into mine. There's some things I wish my daughters didn't have to see.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 1/9

When successful, spiritual reformation unites the divided heart and life of the individual, and such people can then bring remarkable harmony into the groups where they participate". (Willard 2002)

Mission and Spiritual Formation...

Exploring Spiritual Formation is going to be a big part of our new role as we move on from Poplar to be Spiritual Programme Directors at The Salvation Army Training College. I've been trying to make sense of this latest twist of our journey in ministry. Dallas Willard sets the foundations for Spiritual Formation and makes a comforting connection for me - Mission and Spiritual Formation are intrinsically linked.
"The individual's life is often divided into incoherent fragments. Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control (Prov 25:28). In a world deeply infected with evil and ,stuff' that just happens, the usual case is that the individual does not consistently do what his or her own heart says is good and right. When successful, spiritual reformation unites the divided heart and life of the individual, and such people can then bring remarkable harmony into the groups where they participate". (Willard 2002:36)

Willard, D(2002) Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ

I'm fast coming to the conclusion that what unifies churches - whether institutional or em., large or small, neo-monastic or radically primitive, whatever it is that scratches your ecclesiastical itch - is the propensity for distraction.

We become pre-occupied with what we sing, what we don't sing, what worship looks like what worship could look like, what U2 lyrics to use to a clip from Whalerider, what U2 lyrics not to use to a clip from Whalerider. We become pre-occupied with our preference our choice. I look at the conferences we sign up for; the books we buy; the techniques we salivate over I wonder if we would all save a bit of money if we identified our 'divided incoherent fragments' of life and got back to the alternative way of living and being as modeled in the life of Jesus.

"If we fail to put the focus on [the] principles and absolutes,... we will wander off into a state of distraction. And that is where most of our local congregations actually are. They wind up majoring on minors and allowing the majors, from the New Testament point of view, to disappear." (Willard 2002:26)

The point is that an distracted heart contributes to a distracted church, a distracted church brings dissonance rather than harmony to its community. A focused heart contributes to a focused church, a focused church brings remarkable harmony where ever it may participate.

Monday, September 11, 2006

when two elephants fight...

There is an old Swahili proverb that says something like...

"when two elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers".

I've used this before but it seemed appropriate for TSA in the UK this last week.

Whatever the issue ...

I feel a little flattened!

I'm not wanting to have any SA political comments for those astute enough to work out what is behind the cryptic - so for the first time ever I have disabled the comments.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Our view of God...

We found our new dentist in Camberwell and we all have had our check ups. I was worried that Kate may have booked us into a private clinic. The laminate flooring and trendy warehouse type brick affect reception was worlds away from what I was used to - I searched for threadbare carpets and 5 year old readers digests in vain.

Minutes later I walked into the consulting room and was struck by the most fabulous and elaborate hand painted mobile - calming not distressed babies in a cot but distressed dental patients. I smiled at the idea as I was given some sunglasses and asked to open my mouth. Feeling a little distressed I decided to make use of the mobile fish above my head. But the underside of the mobile was shapeless and colourless. Babies unite with distressed dental patients, shout at the injustice!

I've been reading a little of Von Hügel's concept of faith development. He looks at three stages that relate to Infancy - where we absorb information, Adolescence - where we make sense of what we know in our context through questioning and then Adulthood - where we have a growing awareness of an inner consciousness relating to God who is incommunicable and mysterious.

The mobile made me think how easy it is to remain protected and secure in the development of faith, content with a partial view and understanding of God. Gerald Hughes in 'God of Surprises' talks about a passive acceptance of God that remains partial and entrenched within a 'fear of disloyalty' in what he calls religious infantilism.

Sit and I wonder what religious infantilism looks like in TSA?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Walk into Camberwell...

The girl's and I have found the answer to the world famous emporium of Poplar - Steve Best's. Everything in this shop is 99p a veritable treasure trove of temptables for both Bethan and Eryn and at 99p a cheap walk to the shops.

As we walked I saw a situation brewing on the other side of the street. Two men expressing views. The shouting turned to pushing and the pushing to good old fistycuffs! The fight was stopped before it got going. I was interested in Bethan's obsvervation.

"Bit posh here isn't it?"

I looked around and struggled to see what Bethan based her observation.

"Posh...... why?"

"Well when that fight happened everyone stopped to watch, when it happened in Poplar no-one was bothered enough to look!!"


Monday, September 04, 2006

Being in tune with God ...

Paul Fromont at Prodigal Kiwi(s) has been interviewed at NextReformation. This quote caught my eye and encouraged me in my life post-Poplar as I work on Spiritual Formation material for TSA Training College.
"Spirituality, it seems to me, has a lot to do with what David Bosch describes as being in tune with what God is doing in the world and participating in God’s work (missio Dei). It also has to do with being in tune with what God is doing inwardly in us – for this too is part of the missio Dei."
Mission without holiness makes as little sense as holiness without mission!

Friday, September 01, 2006

A bittersweet view of London...

House Three at theTraining College has an amazing view of the London skyline. I took in the irony of the beauty of a skyline that for the mother I'd just been to see represents a city that stole the life of her son.

Francoise arrived a couple of days ago.

There was no staff at the college over the weekend so it fell to me. Francoise needed somewhere to stay in London, originally from Congo Brazzaville she now lives in Paris. She had to come to London because last week her son on holiday in London was murdered.

I had a conversation with someone last week that was bemoaning the college's lack of missional edge! I'm not so sure - it felt good to be part of a reaching out to this family that are search for peace and justice.