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the church as alternative politic and way of life

The following is a sermon I preached in my community on Sunday 28 July, 2013. I have been asked by quite a few people to post it, so here it is.

The first two paragraphs of this written version of the sermon have replaced a much longer section in which I told my story of being hurt by the Church in greater detail. I shared this story with my community, and I feel that it should remain there. I hope the remainder of the sermon makes sense, even without this background story, and that it is helpful and challenging for people.

MCA


In some ways it is a strange thing for me to speak about the Church, particularly for those who know my story well. In recent years I have experienced a fair amount of pain at the hands of churches, not least because of my theology, but also due to personal relationships.

I do not say this to evoke sympathy. I do not want it. My story is merely a description of a part of my life, the seemingly inevitable experience of the ugly side of the Church. Indeed, my story is by no means the worst experience of the Church and many others, including some in my own community, have lived through far more terrible injustices. Such people have too often been left hurt, with deep scars and a lingering distrust of “the Church”.

So why would I want to talk about the Church? Read the rest of this entry

holistic community engagement

The following is a post I wrote for The Greenhouse Effect, a church-planting blog run by Churches of Christ in NSW. It’s fairly general compared to my regular posts, but hopefully you get something meaningful out of it.

The Church is meant to engage with the community that it finds itself in – most would not doubt such a statement. But how are we meant to go about such engagement?

Many church planters begin with a desire to ‘grow’ a church. Such church’s community engagement becomes necessarily characterised by a need to convince people to attend a program. Not only do people in a community tend to see through such shallow motives and relationships, but also this is not how God calls the Church to engage culture. Keep Reading

community confusion

“…so how do we go about creating kingdom communities?”

It’s interesting looking at the history of the church-planting movement over the last couple of decades. It seems that many planters have gone out to build new church communities in order to simply “grow” in numerical terms. This has usually been the result of an unsaid partnership between church-planting and church-growth paradigms. However, such a measurement of growth (numbers) is not necessarily what the Kingdom of God is about (Jesus, after all, said the kingdom looked like daily bread and forgiven debt, not packed out Colosseums).

The question above (italics) was one that I asked a friend of mine in a phone conversation about a week ago. Not happy with the idea of simply starting new churches believing this would not necessarily lead to the kingdom coming to the world, my thinking was that we needed to create kingdom communities. These would look different to “churches” in their lack of institutional structure and more organic organisation, as well as their existence being about God’s mission, not institutional survival.

But in reflecting on that conversation, I’d missed a simple reality. Keep Reading…

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