What Kind of Church? -A Fire proof Church

The city I grew up in was full of old Victorian Mills. These were impressive buildings but they were also very vulnerable.  Every night, one of them would go up in flames. They were highly flammable so it wouldn’t take long for the fire to take hold.  By the morning there would be little left of a once impressive structure.

How do you know that your faith is built to last? How do you know that you will keep going through the tests and trials of life?  How do you know that you really will be raised with Christ to new life and have assurance of eternal salvation? Continue reading

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The joys of urban church life

We nearly didn’t come to Bearwood. We first saw and advert inviting someone to come as a pastor to this church in 2009. The advert described Bearwood as a place 3 miles from Birmingham.

The location and even the name contoured up images of a leafy English village with cricketers on the common and old ladies riding their bicycles to the post office.

How wrong we were. And it’ s a good job we checked 1. because Bearwood is right at the heart of one of Britain’s largest urban conurbations,  home to a couple of million people from  every nationality. That’s exactly the sort of place we wanted to be.

Now that’s not because we are against rural church ministry. Our villages need Gospel churches too. It’s just that this is where we felt that our focus should be. God calls different people to different places.

So I wanted to give you a little flavour of what urban church life is like. If these things fill you with excitement then maybe urban church planting and revitalisation is for you. Continue reading

What Kind of Church? – A Growing Church (1 Corinthians 3:1-9)

We have a guest post this week as Sunday’s preacher was a visiting speaker.  Here’s John James’ notes.

A friend – let’s call him Dave! has an anger problem. He has been a Christian for a while. He reads his Bible, he has joined a church, he prays and can see areas of his life where there have been real changes. But he struggles with fits of rage. Sometimes it all bubbles up inside him and he explodes. Continue reading

Dave’s Booklist – What I’m reading at the moment

I try to share  few lists of interesting reading from time to time. Here’s simply  list of my current reading. Different people have different reading habits.  Some like to read one book at a time. I often have a few of different types on the go. Usually one big, heavy read and alongside that some shorter lighter book.

So my lighter reads at the moment are from Ed Stetzer. Planting Missional Churches and also Come Back Churches. Very practical books  on church, mission and evangelism. If you have an interest in  church planting and revitalisation  pick them up for 99p each on your Kindle!

The heavy read at the moment is NT Wright Paul and the Faithfulness of God. I’m on the second volume after a year’ s break. My honest assessment is that it’s needlessly long, rather wordy and could have used a firmer editor. It’s ironic when an author can write a book over 1000 pages long and still say ” I haven’t got space to go into detail here!”  Volume 1 is historical, religious, social and political background the theological meat is in the second part. It might be worth starting with a shorter introduction to the background or skim reading part 1 then getting on to part 2 with the first book handy for reference. Useful if you want to get a good sense of Wright’s approach to the New Perspective.  I still am not convinced personally by his arguments for a different take on justification  ( I’m not even sure that a New Perspective take on 2nd Temple Judaism necessitates it!). His argument for Paul’s Trinitarianism is however interesting and illuminating.

Just arrived in the post yesterday ED Hirsch, Cultural Literacy. For those who don’t know of him, Hirsch is an American Literature Professor who has argued strongly that there’s been a decline in literacy because we teach kids skills without first teaching them knowledge. You need shared cultural knowledge to give context otherwise you feel like you are reading something abstract which then is harder to read. This book is focused on an American context but  I am guessing it will read across to the UK. In fact, the book has been influential on people like Michael Gove so if you want to know what he was trying to achieve in schools it’s worth a look at this and “The schools we need and why we don’t get them.”  My guess is that you will find some common sense and provocative ideas here but that if you create a slavish education curriculum  out of it for all the things you gain there’ ll be a lot that you lose!  Could be helpful for preachers and teachers to think through. Is there a shared cultural literally you that enables people to understand what we are communicating?

 

 

A risk worth taking? (more leadership jottings)

Leaders have to be managers too.  That may be counter cultural in a day and age when everyone wants to be a leader and managers are trained to lead. Leadership is presented as a step up from  management – a level above, even  a way out from the humdrum of day to day operations. Continue reading

Who is evaluating you?

At the end of last Sunday’s sermon, we looked at these wonderful words.

“15 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.”

This is tremendous good news.  Continue reading

#PlantBC Update (Spring 2016)

We’ve been encouraged over the past couple of months to start hearing from other people who have an interest in church planting in the West Midlands. A big part of talking about #PlantBC is simply to encourage people to pray about and consider this area. We want to get church planting in places like Smethwick, Oldbury, West Bromwich, Wednesbury, Tipton, Dudley etc up The Church’s agenda. Continue reading