reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Local church - hope of the world

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 7 comments
Both my brother and Tim Chester have drawn my attention to this report on the role of the local church in sustainable development work.

It makes interesting reading, and is a wonderful commendation of God's Gospel community modelling his grace to the world.

Tim makes the suggestion that Tearfund's next logical step should be to start planting churches for the poor.

I admit to having several reservations about that. Church planting nearly always needs to be organic in my experience - resulting from believers being somewhere and meeting together. I'm not sure how a very corporate (in a good way) organisation like Tear Fund can faciitate that without being controlling. I may be wrong - it happens.

My other reservation may come from my professional status! But there does in many church circles at the moment seem to be an appeal to church planting as a panacea to all ills. I have come across a rather unappealing macho "how many churches have you planted?" approach to ministry.

My experience of local church is that even at its best it is not a brilliant driver to new and radical projects. Furthermore, I think the real risk of church planting for particular people is that church quickly becomes homogoneous - a church for the poor unchurched and a different one for he middle class churched.

I heard Tim Keller say recently that church is there to be broad (heterogeneously, not theologically) and para church is there to take us deep - to lend the church particular expertise in getting deep into a particular subculture, in the hope of drawing those people to being Christians who love others different than them.

I applaud Tear Fund highlighting the work of the local church which is, after all, God's expression of his wisdom. But I would, if they were to ask my advice (and they haven't!) counsel against churches being "set up" for particular groups of people.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Some thoughts about the law

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 9 comments
So, I have been having some thoughts about the law.

I have always been of the mind that stresses the differences between the way believers related to God in the OT and the way that they relate to God now. So, God promised to rescue his people, the law was "put in charge" to show us our sin, and then Jesus fulfilled the law and introduced the way that we can know God as sons.

I have had several prompts to rethinking this recently:

1) The long discussion about the Angel of the Lord on The Coffee Bible blog. Now, I'm still not convinced about TAOTL being Jesus and I am really not convinced that I have to believe that he is to avert myself from pluralism, but it did highlight to me that I do need to think through how OT believers were saved.

2) On another totally different tack, I have just attended a really excellent week of lectures on the topic of sanctification given by a committed Presbyterian. They were really inspiring, both in content and form and gave me much to chew on. I wondered though whether in my task of working out how OT believers and NT believers can be saved in the same way his approach to the law might help me. So, I have been thinking maybe my mistake is I have been thinking very flatly "people are saved by Jesus, so I must be able to find that in the OT". How about "people are saved by following the law, which is trusting God, and Jesus does that perfectly and we are in him"? You got to give me that it is snappy.

It has the advantage that I have always wondered why OT believers loved the law so much. It has the disadvantage of leaving me in a right old quandary about Galatians 3.

Hmmm. Lots to consider.