Church Planting Maths

One of the great encouragements of Gospel work in the West Midlands has been the 2020 Birmingham partnership.  2020 Birmingham set out in 2010 with the aim of planting 20 churches by 2020. As a church with a small building but a large heart to reach the community around us, we’ve found the advice, support and encouragement of our 2020 partners a big help. Continue reading

Urban Mobility

A speaker at our CPI Urban Midlands Hub recently touched on the challenged of mobility amongst urban communities. They commented that at one point they were part of a church where they said that every year they had to grow by 30% to stay the same size. In other words, they saw about 1/3 of the congregation move on every year. Continue reading

Exegeting my own heart

Preachers need to do three types of exegesis

1. We need to clearly understand the text

2. We need to know the congregation we are speaking to

3. We need to be aware of our own hearts.

 

The third one, exegeting myself, means being aware of where God is challenging us, this includes where he disagrees with and rebukes us but also where he encourages and comforts us. In other words, I pray “Lord speak to me that I may speak…”  It means being aware of where my biases, hobby horses, cultural assumptions etc are.

Here are some things that might help us to do this. Continue reading

Singing in the midst of suffering (2) How do I stop from seeking revenge?

So, Revelation 15-16 means I can sing now instead of seeking revenge. How do I do this?  Here are a few suggestions I hope you will find helpful. Continue reading

Singing in the midst of suffering – the reality for urban churches

On Sunday, we looked at Revelation 15-16 and we saw that God’s people are seen here singing, even though they have been suffering terrible persecution and living in a world under judgement. Our main application was that we could “sing even when suffering.”  By this we did not merely mean the ability to join in on a Sunday but singing as representing an expression of joy, trust and hope in the Lord throughout the work demonstrated by how we act and what we say, particularly about the gospel.

We noted two challenges to this:

1.       It may seem easier for those who have already come through the other side to “sing” than for those of us still in the midst of life’s troubles

2.       It is hard to have that sense of joy and hope when what we want to do is seek vengeance for what others have done.

Now, let’s be blunt, the second item is not trivial or light. I realise that when I preach a message of this kind there are people who will have experienced deep and painful suffering and abuse. A congregation may include: Continue reading

The urban mission field is not a playground

There are a number of parachurch organisations dedicated to encouraging people to get involved in evangelism and world mission. There’s often a focus on young people and an emphasis on short term missions. Continue reading

A fringe movement?

CPI’s Hub magazine focuses on urban planting this month

I was talking to a friend and Gospel Partner the other day and he described his longing to see a Gospel Movement reaching into our urban areas. He also expressed the concern that work in our urban areas is too often seen as a fringe thing for the mavericks. 

Alongside that I’ve picked up on some real tensions among those working in urban areas – even an air of grievance. This is reflected in recent letters to Evangelicals Now expressing concern that church planting is targeted at student, graduate and more prosperous areas.  Additionally, on twitter and blogs I see the occasional challenge to put workers, funding and resourcing into neglected urban areas instead of into student/graduate areas.

In response to the letters in Evangelicals Now, I wrote a couple of letters of my own. I argued that

          There are natural reasons why we see a lot of activity and movement among student and graduates.

          We should not decry what God is doing in those areas. Those mission fields bring their own challenges and so we should praise God when there is fruit Continue reading