Here’s more on the Transitioning To Both And conference which The Crowded House is hosting …
I recently received an email with this question: “I’m currently leading a church of about 30 people. We’ve been going for three years or so. The network I was a part of has ‘dropped’ me because I’m not financially self-sustaining and, even though it’s not been said, I’m therefore not ‘successful’. Is there any reason I should believe I’m doing something wrong or that I should stop leading because we’re not growing numerically? Have you every struggled with this issue?”
Here’s my reply …
Transitioning to Both And is a two day conference designed for the leadership teams of churches who want to think through how to move towards a ‘missional’ church model. The conference will be limited to 30 people to create space to discuss issues, learn from each other, identify obstacles and consider best practice.
This conference, hosted by Steve Timmis, is for those who recognise the need to re-structure their churches around a mission-shaped theology. It is aimed at leaders of churches with a congregation of 250+ people.
The conference will begin with lunch on Wednesday 16th October 2013 and will conclude with lunch on Thursday 17th October. The format will be largely discussion based with some plenary sessions to start those discussions. Accommodation will be provided.
Location: 215 Sharrowvale Road, Sheffield
If you would like to book or to enquire for further details, please email Matthew Spriggs.
Here’s the blurb: “Many people find it easy to understand about God and Jesus, but struggle to understand quite how and where the Holy Spirit fits into the picture. Who exactly is he? And how does he work in our lives? These short, simple books are designed to help Christians understand what God has said about these questions and many more in the Bible. Suitable for all Christians – especially those who are struggling with questions about who the Holy Spirit is.”
Click here for a sample.
Desiring God have interviewed Jonny Woodrow, along with Gerrit Scott Dawson, on why the ascension matters.
Jonny and I have recently published The Ascension: Humanity in the Presence of God, the first in a new WEST Porterbrook series with Christian Focus. It’s available in the UK from thinkivp.com and in the US from amazon.com.
An eBook version has been available in the UK for a while.
A review of Mike Barnett and Robin Martin (eds.), Discoveirng the Mission of God: Best Missional Practices in the 21st Century, IVP, 2012.
Guest reviewer: Amanda Hill, Administrator for the Porterbrook Network.
UPDATE: thinkivp are offering a special price of £20 if you buy through this link.
Weighing in at 600 plus pages, Discovering the Mission of God leaves no stone unturned in its quest “to take you on your journey into the mission of God” (18). The collection of 38 essays (with 16 additional essays posted online) is divided into three parts: the biblical case for God’s mission, the historical development of God’s mission, and the state of God’s mission today.
The ten essays of part one establish the missional focus of the Bible. The authors address and analyse various “missions” passages, and use Paul’s travels and letters to make a case for prioritizing mission work in places where no Christian witness is present.
Part two is an extended treatment of the history of mission, starting with the apostles and spanning the early church, the Middle ages, the monastics (a very engaging chapter by Karen O’Dell Bullock), post-Reformation missionary activity, and the modern missionary movement.
The final part, which makes up the last half of the book, is concerned with various aspects of the state of modern mission. It includes a chapter on statistics, a helpful section on culture, worldview, and contextualization, and what I suppose could be called “tips” from the experts on issues like spiritual warfare and prayer.
On the whole Discovering the Mission of God successfully carries out its stated purpose. It provides the reader with all the information he needs (including repeated reminders that the real work belongs to God) to make an informed decision about his involvement in international missionary work. The book is broad enough in its subject matter and authoritative enough in its facts to be a valuable resource for future international missionaries. As, I imagine, was at least part of the editor’s intent, it will make an excellent textbook for seminary or university-level mission courses and missionary training programs. With that said, it is also very readable, and, while scholarly, not so cerebral that it wouldn’t be useful for the general public.
Yet, while I believe this book will be instrumental in developing a new generation of missionaries in the years to come, there are one or two limitations. It is written for a specific audience. Its aim is to inform—and, through compelling information, inspire—Christians in the American suburbs to embark on a career in international missions. As a result, it all but ignores the global Christian community who, in most cases, already live on the mission field the book is trying to inspire its readers to reach.
Second, because the authors’ desired outcome seems to be the evolution of a new generation of international missionaries, the book only addresses the Ends-of-the-Earth aspect of Acts 1:8. It even goes so far on a few occasions (see pages 23 and 135, and chapter 36) to warn readers that a focus on the mission opportunities in their local context may be an act of disobedience. I doubt this lop-sided approach is the result of bad theology. It is simply what happens when we take a big truth—in this case, the truth that God’s mission is that all the peoples of the earth might be blessed—and squeeze the message into a specific mould, directing it at specific people.
I think this book is an invaluable resource for learning the basics of international missions. It is most definitely worth a read for anyone who is seriously considering doing mission work in a context outside his home country. However, if you live in a place where the nations are on your doorstep, in a place where your neighbours have no cultural context for engaging with the gospel, you’re going to need more than these 600 plus pages to discover your role in the mission of God.