Church planting: Can two views be right at the same time?

Pre-millenialists believe that Jesus will return and reign for 1000 years until then, the church must patiently endure and remain faithful. There will be times of persecution including one great tribulation. Christians should expect to be in the minority.

Post-Millenialists  believe that Christ’s millennial reign is happening now, before the return of Christ. They expect great growth in the church and Christians to have influence and power, even seeing Christian governments formed.

Both viewpoints claim to have evidence that their view is right. Pre-Mills point to the way that the church is small minority and the rise of hostile secular governments. Post-Mills point to great gospel growth around the world. Evidence seems to support both perspectives because at any one time, the church is seeing fruitful growth and struggle depending where you are.

I was thinking about this when reading two articles about church planting last week. Stephen Kneale argues that church planting has become popular -it’s the in vogue thing to do and there’s a certain status that goes with being a planter.  Ryan Burton King has responded by arguing that planting carries very little honour and there’s very little interest in  church planting.

Can both be right? Continue reading

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Churches and Church plants, Pastors and Church Planters – what’s in a name?

Stephen Kneale has been writing about church planting and specifically about “church planters.” He’s been asking whether it is right to refer to people as “church planters.” His argument is that you are either a pastor who has a congregation to pastor or youu are someone who could be a pastor if and when you have a congregation. His main issue is with people describing themselves as church planters and their churches as church plants years after they planted. Continue reading

Who do you think you are? (John 8: 31-59)

  1. Who do you think you are? Is a TV show where celebrities trace back their family tree in the hope that their forefathers will have been related to royalty. To their embarrassment, half the time they discover that their ancestors were semi-literate convicts. Continue reading

“I am not a criminal” Guilt, shame and decriminalisation

There were some notable moments of passion in the House of Commons emergency debate on abortion in Northern Ireland last Tuesday.[1] Notably these included the contributions from Sammy Wilson and Maria Caulfield who challenged MPs to focus exactly where they did not on the life of the unborn baby.

There were also passionate and moving speeches by supporters of the motion including Heidi Allen and Jess Phillips who both spoke as women who had been through abortions. From their point of view, access to abortion was part of a woman’s right to control her own body, a right they had been able to benefit from but denied to women in Northern Ireland. Continue reading

The danger of taking shortcuts in urban mission

I’ve suggested that the first step in “urban mission” is to step into and live in the culture. JH Bavinck writes about this stage in “The Science of Missions”

He is of course writing about traditional cross-cultural mission and he is writing 60 years ago but in that context, he says about the missionary:

“as soon as he sets foot in the place where he is going to work, he must face the question as to how he should approach the people. How must he win their confidence? How can he understand their inner life?” [1]

One of the biggest challenges is that the missionary is so completely different to the people he is going to witness to. Continue reading

Sabbatical Week 2 – An urban conversation: meeting Stephen Kneale in Oldham

Friday 6th June meant a train and tram trip up to Oldham which, headlines as the most deprived town in the England, where Stephen Kneale is pastor of Oldham Bethel.

The area (Glodwick ward) was originally white working lass but has seen first of all afro-Caribbean immigration and then in the 1970s Bangladeshis and Pakistanis meaning that there is primarily a Muslim area. It’s typical of a lot of inner city areas, terrace houses and Mosques -are church buildings are also there but how full they are on Sunday and how much the reflect the local population is open to question. Continue reading