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Can a “nation” practice Christianity? (Part 2)

This is part of a 2-part series by Interserve’s Steve Bell. See Wednesday’s post for Part 1.

It’s hard to understand Europe without a grasp of Christianity’s role in shaping it. The old sacred/secular divide is disappearing as religion (not least Islamic) crashes into ‘public space’. But can Christians help a bewildered secular society to find its bearings?   

Last time I pointed out that it’s ‘individuals’ (rather than ‘nation-states’) who follow Christ. Nations are impacted as national leaders who are imbued with the values of Europe’s Judeo-Christian heritage implement it in the public good. Examples of this include Margaret Thatcher, Teresa May and Angela Merkel – all raised as the daughters of pastors.

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Can a “nation” practise Christianity? (Part 1)

This week we have a fantastic 2-part series from Interserve’s Steve Bell. Come back for part 2 on Friday!

Hitler’s Germany almost destroyed Europe by “pathological nationalism”. It now threatens it by “pathological altruism” as Angela Merkel makes history by inviting the world into Germany – a move that may yet trigger the demise of the EU.

Has it ever occurred to you that the instinct to defend the defenceless (although not unique to Christian teaching) originates in Europe’s ‘Judeo-Christian heritage’ (i.e. the biblical worldview embedded in our society, which insists individuals have both rights and responsibilities – see Mat.22:34-40). But how can ‘the heritage’ impact a secular Europe today?Read more

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The Two Pastors Met Again for Coffee a Couple of Months Later

A follow up to the blog posted on 25th August 2016 entitled ‘Two Pastors met for coffee’

 

Mike: It was good that Andrea, the Pastor of the Church of the High Priest Jesus Christ, was able to come to our Evangelical Pastors’ Prayer Group last week.

Dave: Yes, I found the way she prayed very moving.

Mike: And Dave and Pete seemed happy to fellowship with her too. I didn’t know that Dave was so fluent in French. They really seemed to establish an entente cordiale. Also I hadn’t realised how much Christians have suffered in the CAR.

Dave: Put in that context it was easy to understand why the knowledge that Jesus as High Priest is ever interceding for us has come to mean so much to the church. Andrea’s explanation of that sent me back to Hebrews again and I realised that I haven’t really appreciated Christ’s heavenly work for us.Read more

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I Will Tend

Let me begin with a confession, I am not very good at cross-examining the theology of the hymns I happen to be singing. Tom Wright’s wonderful book, Surprised by Hope, did leave me wondering where I had missed spotting Buddhist eschatology, Gnosticism and Platonism in some of my favourite and not so favourite hymns,  but like many others I can be sucker for a good tune disguising some ropy theology. However, this Sunday I was caught off guard singing the hymn, I the Lord of Sea and Sky. It is a great hymn based loosely on Isaiah 6. The first half of verse three goes like this:

I the Lord of wind and flame,

I will tend the poor and lame,

I will set a feast for them.

My hand will save.

At least it goes like that if you take the words from Complete Mission Praise. However, in the equally incomplete, Complete Celebration Hymnal there is a minor change, just the change of a letter in fact. Here the “Lord of wind and flame” will send the poor and lame. In the changing of a single letter the poor and lame cease to be those ministered to, to whom we are sent (chorus: Here I am Lord……I will go Lord…) and become the agents of mission. One letter turns the theology on its head and raises some helpful questions.

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Giving: good. Fundraising: bad?

Zoe Bunter from The Leprosy Mission was one of our speakers at our Integral Mission Forum on the 13th September 2016, in which fundraising from a Christian perspective was considered. Here are some of her further thoughts on the matter.

As followers of Christ we are called to help people in need. Jesus demonstrated this throughout his ministry, and the parable of the good Samaritan is an example of how practical Jesus makes it – help the person who others ignore, give them what they need – whether that is medical help, money, shelter or transport.Read more

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Deep roots for dry times

Have you noticed that mission workers are often expected to be spiritually self-sufficient, able to sustain themselves by feeding on God’s word alone, with little or no access to relevant church or fellowship groups? Curiously, the people who assert this are often those who tell Christians that they cannot survive spiritually without regularly attending church meetings, Bible studies, home groups…. Why are mission workers expected to be so different?

The truth is that most of us are not different. We struggle to maintain our spiritual vitality without friends around us. Our spiritual disciplines can fail under the pressure of demands on us. We can become discouraged when we labour long in the mission field with apparently little result. We dry up inside, and our relationship with God can be little more than going through the motions.Read more

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Three in a marriage? – reflections of a ‘team directorate’

Let’s be honest, team-working is often only an aspirational value in both church and mission agency. I say this because it’s fine until we talk about doing it in top-leadership – i.e. a “team directorate”. This is ‘sacred ground’, which provokes questions such as “Is it biblical?”; “Someone has to be the buck-stop?”; “What when you disagree?”; “How does accountability work?”

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Breaking the Silos

“Resilience in member care is an important idea, but when I began looking I found that lots of areas of study have been wrestling with the idea of resilience.  We just need to tap into it.”

The student giving this presentation was voicing a frustration that is familiar and important.  Knowledge and ideas tend to sit in silos of information that often do not interlink.   Sometimes a certain silo will become quite excited about a certain idea or approach and it will swirl in a vortex of excitement and newness.   If enough energy is gathered it sometimes spills over into other areas, but all too often it doesn’t and just stays in one area.

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