Sunday, August 23, 2009

poor preaching

Every now and then I get to watch some DSTV and I see some of the "big" preachers. But I find myself normally walking away feeling very disturbed. This weekend it happened again.

I listened to the pastor of a very large and popular Australian church talk with a worldwide music ministry. I use the word talk because it was NOT a sermon and he did NOT preach. It was honestly one of the worst public addresses I have ever heard in a church and I was deeply saddened. His message was unbiblical at best and heretical at worst. He barely quoted scripture and when he did he twisted it so say what ever he wanted it to. It seems pretty clear that his message is predefined and then he uses the scripture to say what HE wants to say rather than what GOD wants to say.

We all make mistakes and certainly there are sermons that I look back on and I sometimes laugh, other times I get embarrased! But this was something else. I find I must stay close to God's word when I preach becuaseI am not sure that I trust my own opinion enough to work without it.

If you are looking for a church - find one where the preacher preaches God's word - where the sermon is saturated in the scriptures, where the preacher attempts to help you understand the text rather than his or her own ideas.

Preaching is the way that God has chosen to spread the message of Jesus love and atoning sacrifice - so we'd better do it well!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Praying and reading publically

We want to get people involved in praying and reading scripture in public worship to get a better participation. To this end a number of people have said that they are prepared to do this. So I’d like to give them some pointers as it is very different to speak up front than what it is to do so in private.

But in talking with a colleague he related the story of how a young girl recently was given some pointers, but now her praying has become stayed and conservative instead of the slightly ‘messy’ but real and passionate style she started off with.

Which got me thinking. What’s important and what is not? I’d like to give some direction, but would not want to box or limit the prayers into one narrow-minded style – a couple of people who pray just like me are not what I want!

A couple of key things that I will be looking at are:

  1. Trinitarian prayers – my pet peeve is when people thank the Father for dying on the cross when it was Jesus who died on the cross (you could perhaps theologically argue differently, but this issue is about not being conscious of how we pray)
  2. Repeatedly using some name for God. I know a person who will repeat one of God's names every fifth or sixth word. This is not helpful, we don’t speak like that to our friends, why should we do so to God.
  3. The prayer would be helpful to be spoken in a communal style as is Our Father... not My Father...
  4. We are not talking to those present but are voicing their prayers publically to God...sometimes we sermonize in our prayers
  5. Keep it simple, conversational and directed
  6. It’s OK to write your prayers out – to pray spontaneously is not necessarily more Spirit filled!

What else do you think would be important principals?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sunday notices letter

Dear Friends,

In all of this discussion, debate, preaching and reflecting on the life of the church and what it means to be the church I have found my own understanding hugely challenged by things I have read and other things people have shared. In a moment when was feeling concerned about some of this debate, one of the older and wiser members said this to me “Don’t you think that a whole church discussing, talking, arguing about “love” is great? I may be na├»ve but I think that it only be beneficial.” And I think he is right.

Sometimes we need to go back, rework, discuss, debate and even disagree on things. It’s when we become complacent that we miss the work God is doing. So it has been really good to talk through these things. Our love for God and for each other are of primary importance to us being the church.

This week I have seen the church exhibit love in the following ways: Two people reconciled a difficulty in their friendship. Council and prayer given to a family in a tough place. A member offered a job prospect to another who needs additional work. Brothers and sisters met over a dinner that included some who are not part of Jesus church so as to plug them into Jesus. Some men shared together their deep joys and confusing difficulties and what they are learning from God through these times. People brought food to help those in our midst who are hungry. A father who has experienced deep pain gave a gift to encourage someone who is now facing what he has already gone through. Others have given of time money and resources to bless people whom they have never met outside the life of our congregation.

The church is built on our care and compassion for each other in the power of God’s spirit. I have been moved by what I have seen. Let’s continue from strength to strength making every effort to BE Jesus church in every way!



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Missional church?

There is a lot of talk in various parts of the world about being missional. Every person has their own interpretation of this, like the other much bandied about word: emerging. But it does reflect a new way that people are looking at how churches focus themselves. Stetzer and Putmun in “Breaking the missional code” reflect this shift in thinking in this way:

  • From programs to processes
  • From demographics to discernment
  • From models to missions
  • From attractional to incarnational
  • From uniformity to diversity
  • From professional to passionate
  • From seating to sending
  • From decisions to disciples
  • From additional to exponential
  • From monuments to movements

This resonates hugely with me as many of these are things our church has been beginning to grapple with. When I started at Protea Valley we where a small church and we have more than doubled in size. But as we have, we’ve had to be more deliberate in the way that we do things. We’ve intentionally not committed to programs but rather are investing into groups where real life change happens. We are beginning to grapple with many of the above mentioned shifts.

Like all things these are journeys and we’re just starting this one.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Members Course

Our church had its new members orientation week 1 session last night with 20 people in attendance and another 4 awol. Great to see so many new faces in the system. Our new program is much more comprehensive than before and it will be interesting to see how people respond to the progress.

We’re trying to work pragmatically with different people following different ‘streams’ dependant on their background and maturity of the faith. This is still a work in progress but at the moment it looks something like this image:

It means that we will have everyone go through orientation – 2 weeks to outline who we are, what we believe and what membership entails. Then they will all be interviewed. Those who are devoted followers of Jesus (perhaps transferring from another congregation) would come easily and quickly into membership. Those who are new to the faith would go through some doctrine course to outline the important essence of the Christian faith to ensure they know what they believe and that they have in fact been born again. They would also complete a spiritual gifts course to ensure they knew how they are gifted. Service is not optional but part of being the body.

We may at some point change this, like I mentioned it is a work in progress, but we believe that we are on the right track...It also means that people who do not get through the system for any reason will go into pastoral counseling so that they can be pastored into the system rather than lost as in the previous way of doing things.

What do you think?

Community and faith

In an article on churches and reaching the iGen , the 20 somethings, John Peacock who ministers at Willowcreek said this:


“People belong before they believe or behave”


Very powerful and this is where old school membership gets the horse before the cart, because belong never features at all. Homegroups are key tools in instilling belief and behaviour in people. The old model of Sunday worship is the church is only effective to a point. Makes for some really interesting reflection...