Monday, August 14, 2017

2,500,000 conversations for $3.50

Our church has an outreach committee. It is really an 'in-drag' committee, because I don't see much outreach happening: that is, going OUT to REACH people.

Doesn't happen.

The committee at last count has 3 members.

I've been at this church for 7 or 8 years. Let's say 7.

If every committee member spent one hour in conversation each working day with one person outside the church (like chatting in coffee shops, or dare I say it, pubs), in that 7 year period they would have 'reached out' in 5250 conversations.

That's a big number more than their efforts have achieved!

But what if every paid Christian in Sydney did that, and had been for the past 10 years?

1000 paid Christians, 10 years, 250 conversations a year: 2,500,000 conversations for the price of a cup of coffee.

Darn lot of conversations!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Batman

What you see when without camera!

A church in Ashfield was advertising its latest evangelical bright idea. A Batman movie!

I kid you not.

I was told that one of the church members was handing out promotional cards for the film at the local school.

So this is how we represent almost 2000 years of Christian tradition, and the most life-building news ever: come to a Batman movie!

Meanwhile people are born free, and everywhere in chains.

I wonder how many turned up....I wonder what they made of it. In Mcluhan terms.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sgt Schultz

I think at our church we have the Sgt. Schultz approach to Christian education.

If you don't know, Schultz is a character in the ramschackle comedy 'Hogan's Heroes', set in a a prisoner of war camp in WW2.

Schultz maintained his calm by 'knowing nothing' about anything...I think we are training our kids to be the same about the Bible and their faith...know nothing.

On the weekend I was talking to a young teenager and mentioned the word 'apostle'. She asked me what an apostle was!

After 7 or 8 years in an evangelical church, she didn't know a basic word of our faith.

I wonder what else she didn't know.

I asked another young person about the studies in youth group. I asked if there was any structured program that took them through knowledge of the Bible, etc. Stone dead silence. He may not have known, of course, but basic to teaching is to tell your student what they are learning.

For a faith that includes the idea of knowledge in its writings and heritage, the fact that we don't seem to care about it astonishes and disappoints me.

By year 8 at high school a young person should know the basic structure of the Bible, how we got it, the text-critical issues that scholars have dealt with, the 'trajectory' of salvation, something of the historical movement through the Bible and contextual history: in outlines.

In practical terms they should have had some exposure to public Bible reading, praying and talking about their faith: maybe practiced in Sunday School/Kids' Church and youth group. For those who are interested, regular participation in services should be encouraged.

Then there's apologetics. They should know the basic points of resistance to the gospel and how to deal with them.

But....nothing!

We put a ton of effort into 'outreach' but put nothing into the mission field within our walls!

Heaven help us.

Monday, August 7, 2017

How church?

I left our morning service flat, despondent, disappointed. What is a service for?

We had long meandering intro chat about a bunch of things, sang two songs consecutively (we like to say 'back to back' these days, as though one song is sung in reverse), somewhere we had a prayer, a Bible reading and a sermon, then communion (remember when Yeshua made grape juice at the wedding...you guessed it. We have grape juice in little medicine cups. Disgusting).

Some people at our church have an aversion to 'performance' as though there is some puritanical aversion to doing things so that people enjoy them, their time is not wasted with disorganization, and feel uplifted by the environment, content and order of the service. Paul enjoins order, remember.

I pine for my Anglican roots.

We went throught the Bible on a three year cycle, at each service read from OT, NT and Psalms, joined together in the creed and prayers in an orderly and I think dignified manner, and had time for extemporary prayers, but never the corny Baptist prayers, which could be abbreviated as "just...Lord...just....Lord..." sometimes there's a bit of pleading content, but often not. Its as though people don't know how to pray or what prayer is. Or they haven't thought beforehand about what they will say.

I  know Anglican churches differ, but I also enjoyed, in a spiritual manner, the efforts of the choir, the organist and other intrumentalists in helping us sing to each other (another of Paul's statements.)

I'm thinking.....thinking...where to?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

100 years!

Our church recently celebrated 100 years as a going concern.

We had an afternoon tea, cake cutting and immediately a dinner consisting of spit roast meats and an assortment of salads and vegetables...but you don't come here for cooking info.

I would have made a bit of a show of the evening, a couple of short speeches covering old and new, then some interesting entertainment of a decent sort; exerpts from Mozart's great mass in C-minor perhaps (to which I listen as I type this)??

The next day in our service all was well done...again no Mozart, but we're Baptist! Give us a break.

People were invited to pop up the front and share their reflections on the church's recent history, although we have one member of our congregation who was born before the church was commenced! She's still alert too, and turns up under her own steam!

One of the speakers reflected on the relationships with people (naturally, what else is there?) and looking forward to seeing them again...."if it's all true".

Yikes...did I miss something? The voice of one filled with the Spirit?

A later speaker reflected on the great 'teaching' over the years; she wasn't kidding either!

Still, the minister cannot control what people understand from sermons, Bible studies, their own reading, weekend seminars and retreats....ahhh....let's just stick with sermons; clearly the least effective means of communicating new information and producing attitude change.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Heaven here we come...

In her helpful book Heretic, Ayaan Hirsi Ali mentions that Christians look forward to heaven.

Wrong!

The long arc of salvation ends in the New Creation...we don't expect to waft around disembodied, we expect to have fun in the permanent company of our heavenly father and creator. Thus the kingdom of God is likened to a wedding party, or a many roomed mansion: all good stuff.

TV Cops

This morning I caught the end of a police reality show just before the morning news (which is also a police reality show). The reporter was talking to a policeman who was discussing his job as including shooting bad guys. She asked if he had any religious qualms about killing people. He fluffed a bit, but didn't really have any.

What he should have said was: correction, lady, the 10 commandments prohibit murder, not killing, but as I'm not an ancient Jew, they are inapplicable to me. On the other hand, Paul in Romans 13:4 tells us that the state has the sword for good against those who do wrong and that's what I'm doing.