Monthly Archives: June 2006

links for 2006-06-30

links for 2006-06-29

All Have Won And All Shall Have Prizes: Another Chance To Eat Methodist Fudge

The Methodist Church, in which I am a minister, is desperate to maintain unity and avoid a split, especially over homosexuality. Yesterday’s Conference decisions on civil partnerships illustrate this. Evangelicals like me get the decision that we shall not conduct formal blessings of civil partnerships and a reaffirmation of the traditional teaching that requires fidelity within marriage (which can only be between a man and a woman) and chastity without. Liberals get the chance for ministers to pray privately with couples plus reconsidering the resolutions of the 1993 Conference in Derby that have just about held us together so far. Paul Smith of Headway clearly knows the danger that what ministers might pray in private might not reflect the official position, but has to leave it to trust.

This is the same Conference that has received a report from the Faith And Order Committee entitled, ‘Living With Contradictory Convictions’ (Word document downloadable on this page). It is a report that does somersaults to emphasise the ‘contradictions’ in Scripture (e.g., Paul versus James), many of which have been rebuffed by scholars over the years. It makes huge play of how Christians have changed their minds on various issues down the years (e.g., slavery) and is right to a certain extent about the need for humility in holding certain convictions. But the real danger is that we are being asked to be short on conviction and long on unity, without sufficient foundation for that unity.

It is an important question to ask exactly what does unite British Methodists. Some at theological college put it satirically this way: “You can doubt the Virgin Birth, you can doubt the Resurrection, but God help you if you doubt infant baptism or feminism.”  (And feminism has of course become the major issue between ourselves and the Church of England in talks regarding the Covenant we agreed.) Others would add matters of ‘connexionalism’ – the idea that we are all connected, and that with the circuit system we endorse a system in which the strong support the weak. Fine – there’s something quite apostolic about that to me. Or John Wesley’s notion of holiness as social holiness – except that seems to be pushed in a direction that sees holiness as no more than social justice.

Now I practice infant baptism (although I tend towards a rigorist position). I hold an egalitarian view of the sexes. I think connexionalism has much to commend itself. And I believe in social justice. But important as these things are, they are surely not foundational Gospel issues, even if they most certainly express the Gospel. What worries me in a nutshell is that we are not seeking to establish unity on a Gospel foundation. Where is the Christology, for example? Where is the soteriology? The civil partnerships resolutions and the Faith And Order report both suggest to me that the dubious path of ‘unity at any price’ is being trod by some.

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Small Groups

So how does this apply to small groups in a church context – especially those who are task-oriented? (E.g., a cell in a cell church, with its overt mission dimension.)

Edward Hall: The perfect group size = 8-12 – Signal vs. Noise (by 37signals)

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Leadership: Rôle Versus Person

Just what you need to read after a lousy church meeting – the April 18th article here:

Athens First Christian Church

Link via Maggi Dawn.

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Provocative article by Kim Fabricius:

Faith and Theology: Ten propositions on preaching

Link via Richard Hall.

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links for 2006-06-27

links for 2006-06-27

links for 2006-06-25

Church As Mission

Brilliant three-part series on being a Mission(al) Church in postmodern culture starts here:

Eternal Perspectives » Becoming a Missional Mission Church

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