What does the fox say? – and the hedgehog know

“The fox is a cunning creature able to devise a myriad of complex strategies for sneak attacks upon the hedgehog. Day in and day out, the fox circles around the hedgehog’s den, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. Fast, sleek and beautiful, fleet of foot and crafty p-the fox looks like the sure winner. The hedgehog on the other hand, is a dowdier creature, looking like a genetic mix up between a porcupine and a small armadillo. He waddles along, going about his simple day, searching for lunch ad taking care of his home.”[1]

But every time the Fox shows up with a clever strategy to get the hedgehog, the hedgehog simply rolls up into a ball.  It is safe.  The world is divided into foxes and hedgehogs argues Jim Collins in Good to Great. Foxes are those who look at the world and see lots of complexity and have lots of ideas and strategies. Hedgehogs are those who simplify the complexity. [2] Or to quote Isaiah Berlin, “The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” [3]

From this, Collins developed his Hedgehog principle. This is the idea that great leaders keep the main thing the main thing. They focus on one important thing and don’t get distracted. For Collins this is based on three factors Continue reading

Why you must wait until you are married before you have sex

Two Sundays ago, I preached on the Great Commission and said that Discipleship will mean challenging people about things they don’t want to be challenged about. I said

“Teaching people to obey Christ will mean being willing to challenge and correct.  You will not always be popular. In fact, you will often be unpopular for it.  You will have to say deeply uncomfortable things to people

‘No, you cannot date a non-Christian’

‘I know you will find this hard but God calls you to stay with your husband/wife through good times and bad and not give up on your marriage.’

‘You must wait until you are married before you share a bed together.’

‘What you are doing/saying is dishonest. You need to fess up and tell the truth even if it will make life awkward for you.’

‘What you just told those three people in your small group ‘in confidence for prayer’ was in fact gossip and it has to stop.’

And we could go on.  Each time, you will be challenging people about difficult things. You will be concerned about the danger of legalism, that they just try to follow some rules. They will be overwhelmed thinking that it is impossible to change…”

I thought it would be useful to pick up on a couple of those statements and explain a bit more about why they are important to discipleship.[1] As soon as we challenge believers about things like dating, sex and relationships, we are going to be accused of “laying down the Law” and if we are challenged on those things then we are going to feel like we are being subject to Legalism.

Here I want to deal with the whole question of dating and sex. Continue reading

Why Marriage is Permanent

In Matthew 19, some people ask Jesus about the circumstances in which divorce is possible. Jesus basically tells them that they’ve got it all wrong. Marriage is not a contract which you can choose to end at a given point and so they shouldn’t be looking for the get out clauses. The only reason when a divorce can come into play is when one party has committed sexual immorality.  In other words, it is only when the person has been unfaithful. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul gives us a bit more expansion on that when he describes circumstances where an unbelieving partner deserts the marriage. Continue reading

The Numbers Game (part 3): What is the data telling you?

One of the biggest problems with numbers and data is that people (in the church and the world) report and react to data without necessarily understanding it. In fact worse than that I’ve seen people not even try to react to it. Continue reading

The Numbers Game (Part 2): Success or faithfulness

In part 1, we saw the dangers in terms of trying to measure how a church is doing in terms of numerical success. But does that mean that we can’t ever really know how things are going?

Tim Keller is very helpful on this. He starts his book “Center Church” by describing how people often try to measure how they are doing as a church by counting conversions, members etc. He says that: Continue reading

The Numbers Game (Part 1)

“How’s your church doing?” They ask you. “In what particular way?” you respond.  Usually, somewhere in the conversation the question will come down to “How many are attending” and whether or not the church is growing.

Actually, there have been plenty of occasions where I’ve had to say honestly that I don’t know.  You see, even the “numbers” and “growth” question is complex.  I’ve noticed that it is normal for blurbs about speakers and websites to describe churches as “growing” and I can’t remember the last time I saw someone advertise their church as “shrinking” or even “plateauing.” Continue reading

The Female Doctor and a message about gender

So, what do you make about the choice of a female to play the role of Doctor Who?

  1. Couldn’t care less
  2. Delighted -this is the change the show has been crying out for to bring it fully into the 21st Century
  3. Disgusted – this is ruining a great show.

All three of those viewpoints have been expressed since the announcement. Indeed, given that a female regeneration has been the worst kept secret for a while, the delight and outrage in equal measure has been going on for much longer. Continue reading