Post-Coronavirus: What Could The ‘New Normal’ Look Like?

This might seem like a very odd question to ask in the middle of the worst pandemic to engulf the human population for 100 years, but just like the Spanish Flu pandemic and all other pandemics, plagues and pestilences since the dawn of time, eventually there will be a post-Covid-19 world to live in. But what might it be like? In what ways will it be different? In what ways might it even be better? Let’s explore…

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Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

Processing the present and preparing for the new normal

Like many of you I’ve been facing the challenges of navigating and leading during this crisis. You probably realised a while ago that the plan can’t be to just ‘sit this out’ or ‘weather the storm’ until life returns to normal. We have to accept that some things won’t be the way they were. The world has changed. People are talking about BC and AC – Before Corona and After Corona.

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Reaching the community during lockdown

In the midst of this crisis we know God is at work, and hearing stories of hope and of how God is working through others reminds us that his hand is on this situation. The following post, from the Chaplain at Nazarene Theological College, demonstrates why we must continue to share the love of Christ with others during lockdown:
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8 Things The Coronavirus Is Teaching Us

I awoke this morning in Naples, Italy’s third city to have been placed on lockdown. Public gatherings, including church services, have been forbidden. Weddings, funerals, and baptisms have been cancelled. Schools and cinemas, museums and gyms, have all been closed. My wife and I just returned from a grocery-shopping trip that took two hours due to long checkout lines. Italy currently has the highest reported number of Coronavirus cases outside of China: 9,172 cases and 463 deaths. As a result, 60 million people have been told to remain in their homes unless absolutely necessary. How are we, as Christians, to respond to such a crisis? Answer: with faith not fear. We are to look into the eye of the storm and ask, Lord, what are you wanting me to learn through this? How are you seeking to change me? Here are eight things we’d all do well to learn, or relearn, from this Coronavirus scare.

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Hope does not disappoint

The Evangelical Alliance has called the UK to believe for a hopeful future following the outcome of the General Election which returned a majority Conservative government.

In a statement responding to the election outcome, Gavin Calver, CEO, said: “I am hopeful for the future of the United Kingdom as we head into 2020.

“Not because one party has won and another has lost, but because we believe in a God who is powerful.

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Young people call for flight-free mission trips

Global Connections’ CEO John Baxter-Brown recently spoke to Premier Christian Radio. Here is what they reported:

A group of young people is urging mission organisations to consider a ‘greener’ approach to overseas trips in a bid to cut carbon emissions.

12 year old Jamie Hawker has written a letter to the Global Connections Short-Term Mission Forum to request project organisers provide flight-free options for volunteers wishing to serve on international short-term projects. His letter, which has been signed by a further 20 people under the age of 30, highlights the impact climate change has on the poor communities that mission trips seek to serve and suggests there are alternative ways to help whilst reducing damage to the environment.

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The Culture Gap

This past weekend I just happened to watch two movies which were about the Pacific conflicts in the second world war.  Both movies brought out the point that there was extensive difference between the Japanese and the British/American culture. For example, the Japanese thought their opponents were cowards because they surrendered rather than fighting to the death.  The Allies thought the Japanese were fanatics because they preferred death to surrender.  These assumptions coloured their treatment of each other on the battlefield and in the POW camp. But this misunderstanding arose due to a lack of appreciation of culture.  The Allies weren’t cowards, but they valued life and preferred to live to fight another day.  The Japanese on the other hand, valued honour, and would prefer to die honourably in battle than live with defeat.

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Integrating international students into local church ministries

These were some of the perspectives (misattributions?) I encountered when I asked students why they joined mono-ethnic Christian groups:

“Why did you form a Hong Kong small group? Why not join your church’s student group?”

“We found the bible studies superficial.”

“What do you mean?”, I asked, thinking of the church’s in-depth inductive bible studies.

“It’s all text book answers – what does the passage say. But people don’t share how they feel, or how they struggle to live it out.”

and…

“Why did you join the Afro-Caribbean Choir instead of the Christian Union?”

“The Christian Union isn’t passionate about Jesus.”

“How so?” Thinking, “yes they are!”

“They don’t worship at their meetings. How can God’s people come together and not want to sing his praises?”

Apart from the fact that students feel more comfortable in such groups, they are often effective at reaching non-Christians from a similar cultural background, and in a way, more efficient at discipleship because methods and messages are tailored to the audience.

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The Future of Mission?

This week I spent 24 hours at a Global Connections’ conference on the future of mission. The keynote speaker was Michael Stroope, author of Transcending Mission – one of the most important books on mission to emerge in the past decade (read my review here). It was a stimulating couple of days and it’s always good to catch up with old friends and to talk about important things. That being said, I’m not sure that I heard anything new or surprising, apart from a couple of very challenging personal stories. There is an ongoing problem with these sorts of meetings in that the people who are essential to push for change; church leaders and agency board members, rarely attend them. Meanwhile, the “mission nerds”, as someone described those attending the meeting, talk about the importance of change and new models of mission, but little actually changes in the Western mission movement.

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