Nov 25, 2010
neil

It’s not enough to plant churches

If we are to reach a city with the gospel it is not enough to plant churches. We have to plant churches that will plant churches.

From one plant comes many

Church-multiplication comes when it is not enough to see a new church planted but the goal becomes ‘multiple churches planting multiple new churches, which in turn plant multiple new churches. This is the basis of not just a network, but a movement.’ (Viral Churches: Stetzer & Bird)

And where do we learn that model? In the early church in which spontaneous expansion through multiplication of churches took the gospel across the world.

Nov 25, 2010
neil

Which marketing genius dreamt this one up

The coolest fusion of blues and rock anthem!

Nov 24, 2010
neil

My God, my city, my church

Birmingham Skyline by Helen Ogbourn

I love living in Birmingham.

I’ve lived here for over 30 years and  at our church on Sunday we held our annual Serving the City Sunday. Three statistics highlight the challenges and the opportunities that face the church in Birmingham.

1) Birmingham has the highest unemployment rate of any major city in the UK.  At 12.5 per cent it is twice the national average.  Youth unemployment is a staggering 24.4 per cent. Unemployment rose more sharply here than in any other city during the recession.

2) The UK average for church attendance stands at around 10 per cent but for Birmingham it’s just 6.3 per cent. No wonder Birmingham has fewer evangelical churches than many large cities in the country.

3) The church must change to meet the rapidly changing make-up of the city.   The Muslim population, currently standing at over 14 per cent, is due to exceed 20 per cent over the same time. Many others are finding a home in Birmingham – how can we help them find Christ?

City Church is working with others as part of 2020birmingham, a network of churches working together to see 20 churches planted in the city by the year 2020.

Please pray with us and for us and for this great city.

Nov 23, 2010
neil

Mr Muddle and the missing gospels

Maybe you’ve avoided reading The God Delusion because you just fear there might be something in it. Joan Bakewell in her Guardian review writes ‘Dawkins comes roaring forth in the full vigour of his powerful arguments.’ Claire Tomalin is persuaded too. ‘There is not a dull page…a book that makes me want to cheer its clarity, intelligence and truth-telling

Well can I urge you not to lose too much sleep. I quite like sections of the book and it’s an entertaining read. The problem is that I kept stumbling across mistakes and I mean really basic mistakes. You know, the kind of stuff you’d expect an undergrad. to get right let alone a distinguished Professor.I guess that’s the problem with claiming more than you know.

This is the first of a series of posts that highlight from Dawkins own words why we have nothing much to fear from his book. Each time we’ll look at a basic claim in the book and then dig a little deeper. And each time we can’t help but draw the conclusion ‘well if he got something as basic as wrong as that why should I trust him with the rest?’

How many gospels?

According to Dawkins then, p.121 Continue reading »

Nov 22, 2010
neil

the complete anti-God state of mind

the sin that hides itself – part 2

‘I have no vices. I am a hero. Go and look it up in the dictionary and you will find a picture of me.’ That at least is what Chris Eubank told me.  But Chris was wrong for he was overlooking one crucial truth; pride is the greatest vice of all.

CS Lewis, who died this day 47 years ago, observes that pride is ‘ruthless, sleepless, unsmiling, concentration on the self’ and we surely as the ‘Hello’, ‘OK’, and Facebook generation are the generation most at ease with our pride.  We love life centred on ourselves.

And for those of us who doubt that pride has yet to infect us Lewis suggests a test.  ‘If you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off?’

The virus that infects everything

Pride is so dangerous because it turns everything I do, the good as well as the bad, into sin. It takes a great act of kindness and Continue reading »

Nov 21, 2010
neil

Is it me or are Mars Bars getting smaller

We all know that size is relative. Just think how big the Eiffel Tower must appear to the eyes of a four year old. And so as we grow up so our memory plays games with us. We remember how steep the hill we used to cycle down was and how immense a width of the swimming pool seemed until, that is, we experience them again as adults and they assume their normal proportions.

Well what about when it comes to Jesus? Did he seem bigger once upon a time to you? CS Lewis in Prince Caspian reveals why eternally will never grow dull to the eyes of faith in this conversation between Lucy and Aslan:

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “You’re bigger.”

“That is because you are older, little one,” he answered.

“Not because you are?”

“I am not. But every year you grow you will find me bigger”

May it be so.

Nov 19, 2010
neil

it is not just what you do, it is what you are excited about

Earlier this week I attended an event organised by Church leaders and attended by over 2000 Christians. The meeting was a call for Christians to step up and play our part in serving our city; working with other agencies to redeem our communities.

What was striking was that at a gathering of Christians not once was the name of Jesus mentioned by any of the hosts and when it came to songs all we were invited to sing were soul classics such as James Brown’s ‘I feel good’.

Did those who organised the event love Jesus? I’m sure they did. Do they desire that many would come to share their faith?  Absolutely. So what was it that most troubled me? Simply that the call to Christians to engage in social action was made without Continue reading »

Nov 19, 2010
neil

The sin that hides itself – part 1

What is pride?

CS Lewis in Mere Christianity describes pride as the greatest sin.  What makes pride so deadly and so dangerous is that pride is the essence of sin (for all sin entered the world through the arrogance of one who thought he knew better than God) and yet the most hidden of sins. Tim Keller describes it as ‘the sin that hides itself.’

Thomas Hooker put it like this:

Pride is a vice which cleaves so fast unto the hearts of men, that if we were to strip ourselves of our faults, one by one, we should undoubtedly find it the very last and hardest to put off.

Nov 17, 2010
neil

Art for the glory of God

Fujimura and the 4 Holy Gospels

As someone married to an artist I’ve experienced something of the uneasiness of Christians when it comes to the arts. But why should it be the case that we are pleased to affirm the good and the true but so slow to recognise the beautiful as an expression of God’s image in God-created humanity.

This short video featuring the work of Makoto Fujimura is both inspiring and informative.  As Francis Shaeffer has written  in Art and the Bible “A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God.”

Crossway have commissioned Fujimura to undertake an illuminated edition of the four Holy Gospels to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

Fujimura – 4 Holy Gospels from Crossway on Vimeo.

Nov 16, 2010
neil

Does Religion really poison everything?

Ideas have consequences.  They refuse to stay on paper or merely live on in the minds of those who hear them in the lecture theatre, classroom or worship room. When it comes to matters of belief one of the tests for truth is livability; what sort of individuals and society does such a belief produce. Ravi Zacharias in his book The Real Face of Atheism has said ‘The realities of life, powerfully reinforce the viability of faith in God.’ Christopher Hitchens in his book God is not great: Religion poisons everything profoundly disagrees.

Recent evidence seems to suggest that Hitchens is on the losing side when it comes to the livability test. Toby Young in his blog in today’s Telegraph highlights the conclusion of a mammouth 5 year study into religion and it’s impact on society.  The authors of the Continue reading »

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