Saturday, 22 August 2009

ELCA decision

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have voted 559-491 for allowing gays in "life-long, monogamous" relationships to serve as clergy.

"We live today with an understanding of homosexuality that did not exist in Jesus' time and culture," says a lay delegate during the debate. "We are responding to something that the writers of Scripture could not have understood."

Um... really? That's rather a statement. And anyway, the writers may not have understood how modern culture will look and act today necesssarily, but the Author of Scripture most certainly would. My post from last year spoke on similar issues so I won't repeat myself: read it here.

John Piper has added to the discussion already this week on his Desiring God blog. Some have already jumped on the bandwagon and hurled obvious accusations his way. What John is saying is that, regardless of "coincidence" or otherwise, we need to take all our assumptions, prejudices and own desires, and compare them to what God wants. To quote John: "The church has always embraced those who forsake sexual sin but who still struggle with homosexual desires, rejoicing with them that all our fallen, sinful, disordered lives (all of us, no exceptions) are forgiven if we turn to Christ in faith." Judging those outside the church and judging those within are two very different things (see 1 Cor 5.9-11 - love the lost, but do not approve of sinful conduct amongst His own).

Regardless of how others around us may choose to live, those of us who are genuinely God's children are expected to live life His way. That is unconditional and essential. His Word tells us how.
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Thursday, 20 August 2009

Book review: "Church Unique", Will Mancini

This book was originally brought to my attention by Matt Hosier's blog and I'm very grateful that he did so.

If you're a church leader, no matter how large or small your flock might be, then give this book a strong consider for your to-buy list (I know, I know, my own to-buy list is eternally 50-plus, no matter how many I buy, beg, borrow or steal*, so I know what it's like whenever another leader recommends further material!) (*except the steal part. Honest.)

Will Mancini has a clear, deep-seated passion to see church leaders around the world press further into God's purposes for them, for those in their care, and for the communities around them. I'm always wary of books that appear to enjoy "corporate"-speak, and have pretty diagrams and flow-charts that visualise the "process" discussed and so on. This is the glorious church of Jesus Christ, and I'd hate for us to reduce His bride down to number-crunching and conveyor-belt systems that enable "growth". So, having said that, I trust you'll take my word for it that this is not one of those books. It is possible that upon a quick glance or a scan "Church Unique" can come across as such, but spend time digesting it and you'll see Mancini has the right heart for Scripture-based, Spirit-soaked dependence whilst still being deliberate for the kingdom.

So, what's so special about this book? I won't list all its features and points - this is a review not a rewrite! - but, in a nutshell, Mancini's message is this:

  • Every church has a unique call by God.
  • Vision-casting formulae cannot be lifted from one "successful" church and transferred to your own.
  • We need to discover how to enable growth and health uniquely for ourselves.

A brief rundown of how Mancini helps us do so is thus:
  • Discover your "Kingdom Concept": if we take a close look at the resources God's given us (always unique), combine them with the local need(s) (always unique), and filter them through what it is that most prayerfully stirs our leaders' hearts (always unique), we find our specific calling. Mancini says, "Whoever you are and wherever God has placed you, therein is uniqueness. Whoever co-labours with you, in front of you, behind you, all around you, therein is uniqueness." So true.
  • Once discovered (over a decent period of time; it doesn't take a 2 hour meeting!), Mancini then leads us through how to ensure the vision is pursued: decent collaboration (team development, outside counsel, etc), articulating the vision through mission, values, strategy, and measures (he articulates these in a new way; read it to find out!), and the need for excellent communication and use of language.
And THAT's the slightest of overviews, so it skips all the meat, but I trust at the very least it captures the essence of the book.

Being deliberate in leading our churches is essential: take a closer look at Rev 19.7-8. Familiar verses to most, but as well as a glorious picture of a day to come, don't they also tell us of an intentional attitude? That we clothe ourselves, not wait to be clothed? We've got some work to do...

My own heart has always been that we learn increasingly how to be church, not how to do it. That's been the apostle Paul's message throughout his letters, and it compels me to pursue how we see that unfold for ourselves today. "Church Unique" is a book that helps us on our way.

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Saturday, 8 August 2009

Naked tweeters

After the social networking outages this week, it appears the light has been shed on how much emphasis people place on internet "relationships"...

Read this CNN article on folks' responses: Twitter blackout panic

One girl's reaction was "I was pretty upset... It feels like a lifeline for me ..." Another said, "I did absolutely nothing. It's like my heart was gone."

Now, I've swum over to Twitter to reduce my online time, setting my Tweets to appear on Facebook automatically (a few seconds on Twitter saves me minutes or hours on FB; I tend to only go there for a message or an odd Scrabble move now, and it's done me the world of good...) And I'm determined to ensure I allow my posts/tweets to His advantage as well: by using such sites to actually network and to post Truth amongst my random movie references, it can be used for good and not for otherwise (I'm with John Piper on this)

For some, however, perhaps this past week would be a bit of a wake-up call, don't you think? Or perhaps not...
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Sunday, 2 August 2009

How to ensure that "Every day's an adventure" with Him...

The reality of praying for our "daily bread"? Both immensely challenging and humbling.

(credos to Josh Harris for sharing)

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