Everyday evangelism (audio)

This is the last in the series of ‘everyday theology’ talks I gave at the Total Church Conference 2010, Sheffield, UK.

Everyday Evangelism

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Thursday Review: Neil Cole on Organic Leadership

A review of Neil Cole, Organic Leadership: Leading Naturally Right Where You Are, Baker, 2009 purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US.

Neil Cole is the author of Organic Church purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US and, as the title suggests, in Organic Leadership he takes the approach of Organic Church and applies to leadership and training.

Cole begins by suggesting that many leaders who sincerely desires gospel fruit in fact impede growth because what they do – and what they have been trained to do – is lead an institution. “What is consistent in both Organic Church and Organic Leadership is my belief that the kingdom of God is relational, spiritual, and natural – without all the artificial stuff we tend to use to prop up our ministries today.” (15) What Cole criticizes in his opening deconstructing section is “institutionalization, corruption of leader character, legalistic leadership, the monopolization of truth, the hierarchical chain of command, false views of reality, and parasitic ‘ministries’.” (30) “What we think of as being needed can in reality be our neediness … A drive to feel significant compels them and being needed affirms their sense of importance.” (39)

Cole then asks why, when many churches complain of a lack of leaders, other churches seem to have lots of leaders. The difference, he suggests, lies in whether your approach to finding leaders is recruitment or reproduction. “Recruitment is a practice in subtraction – taking people from one ministry to work in another. Reproducing leaders from the harvest and for the harvest is a practice of multiplication.” (134) The only biblical example of recruitment is Barnabas recruiting Paul in Acts 11:22-26. When in Luke 10 Jesus tells his disciples to ask the Lord of the Harvest for works the only place from those workers are going to come is the harvest itself. “If your ministry is struggling without leaders, do not re-evaluate your leadership development program. It is time to re-evaluate your disciple-making system. If you are doing next to nothing to reach lost and broken people, your leadership development system will yield very few results.” (139) Continue reading

Wayne Grudem’s Christian Beliefs DVD Course – a punter’s view

A review of Wayne Grudem, Christian Beliefs: 20 Life Transforming Truths DVD Course, Clear Cut Media. purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US

Yesterday I reviewed this great resource from Wayne Grudem and Clear Cut Media. But I thought it would be worth getting a second opinion – from someone for whom the material aimed. So here’s a review from Dan Richardson, a young man in our congregation.

What is God like?  What is the Trinity?   What does it mean to become a Christian? What are sanctification and perseverance?  What will happen when Christ returns?

Would you like to have a better answer to these questions? If the answer is yes, or if you’d like help in teaching this to others, read on.  In this 6-DVD box set, Grudem gives lectures on these topics and more.  It’s biblical doctrine designed to be accessible to all.  In total there are twenty lectures, all about 40 minutes in length, with a Q&A session after every talk. There’s also a study guide included.

You know what content you’re getting if you’re at all familiar with Grudem’s work as he basically presents the content of Christian Beliefs purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US, a condensed version of Systematic Theology purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US. For those desiring a better grasp of fundamental Bible doctrine, it could be a very valuable resource.  As it does a good job of balancing depth with accessibility, I can see a motivated post-Alpha group, for example, gaining a lot from this course. For mature Christians, the lessons will be good revision.  I particularly enjoyed the Q&A sessions at the end of every lecture where Grudem addresses a lot of (commonly asked) questions from the small audience.  I also appreciated how Grudem prioritised explaining a number of views on controversial topics, affirming unity as Bible-believing Christians between those who differ on secondary issues.

The product does have its niggles.  There is a large advert for the producers and publishers behind Grudem which I think detracts from the atmosphere of the room, and sometimes the camera switches to awkward angles (like looking straight up at Grudem from an area seemingly right next to his left shoe). It isn’t the kind of polished media product that Mars Hill, for example, produces, however those are only aesthetics.

In conclusion, is this worth the £69 it sells for?  To be used as the basis for group lessons and discussion, I’d say yes.  There’s a lot of good material here and I can’t think of any other comprehensive, stand-alone DVD lecture series covering these topics.

The Christian Beliefs DVD Study Pack is available in the UK from Amazon UK and will be available in the US in February 2010 at ClearCutMedia.tv/us.

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Thursday Review: Christian Beliefs DVD Course by Wayne Grudem

A review of Wayne Grudem, Christian Beliefs: 20 Life Transforming Truths DVD Course, Clear Cut Media. purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US

I’m very excited to be able to commend this resource. It’s basically ‘the film version’ of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US, all packaged up as an accessible and helpful training course. The course could readily be used for personal development, leadership training or even in a house group. I’ll be using it to train our gospel community leaders.

The DVD consists of Grudem speaking to an audience. So we cut from head and shoulder shots to congregation shots  to Grudem writing on a whiteboard. It’s nothing fancy, but there’s plenty to keep your attention. Sometimes the video moves to one side to allow summary text to be displayed on the screen; sometimes a heading or Bible reference along the bottom. The sessions are in effect lectures with truth being set out clearly, but it’s all done with warmth, passion and a smattering of anecdotes to bring the truth alive.

There are twenty sessions, each about 40 minutes long (see below for the session titles), plus an accompanying book with brief summaries and discussion questions.

It adds up to six DVDs with over 16 hours of teaching. The sessions have breaks built in where you can pause the DVD for group discussion. Each session ends with a call to ‘know it’ (broader discussion questions), ‘do it’ (application to life) and ‘teach it’ (a challenge to pass on what you’ve learnt). The call to ‘teach it’ is particularly welcome as having to articulate truth for ourselves always helps embed it in our minds.

The Christian Beliefs DVD is based on Grudem’s book Christian Beliefs purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US which is itself a summary of his Bible Doctrine purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US and Systematic Theology purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US. So many readers will know what to expect. The theology is evangelical and Reformed (without being stridently so) so it should appeal to conservatives and charismatics alike.

Grudem has a great section in the session on the church on the need to pursue both unity and plurality with a recognition that sometimes there can be a tensions between the two. I would judge his Christian Beliefs DVD to be a good example of getting the tension right. Grudem is a Baptist, non-cessationist, complimentarian and premillennialist. But when he addresses these topics he presents the different views fairly and graciously. Those who take differing positions need not fear using this material. (That said, I would supplement the material on millennial views to give my understanding of amillennialism a better run for its money!)

What excites me about this resource is that it makes theology available for a non-book generation. Here is truth on which you can build your life and ministry presented in a modern and engaging way. It gives your church the capacity run a course on systematic theology.

Here’s a sample. If you’re familiar with Grudem’s Systematic Theology purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US or Bible Doctrine purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US and watch this trailer then you’ll have a pretty good idea what you’re getting!

Tomorrow I’m going to post a second review of the Christian Beliefs DVD – this time from a typical ‘punter’.

The Christian Beliefs DVD Study Pack is available in the UK from Amazon UK and will be available in the US in February 2010 at ClearCutMedia.tv/us.

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Review: Rock Solid

The Good Book Company have produced a new edition in book format of a workbook they originally produced for the London Men’s Convention with a new title, Rock Solid: 12 Gospel  Truths to Live By. It’s essentially an introduction to systematic theology in an engaging format. The contributors are all luminaries of the UK conservative evangelical scene. Each chapter includes a summary of the truth, a Bible study, an historical profile, a real life story that shows why the truth matters, discussion questions and (sometimes) a ‘sing truth’ section with a hymn that encapsulates the truth in question. It would be a great book to give to someone, but an even better resource to work through with one-to-one or in a small group. The chapters are short enough to be read out loud in a group setting.

Here are the contents:

Introduction: Why is doctrine so important? – Richard Coekin

1. The unique supremacy of Christ – Trevor Archer

2. The depravity of sin – Mike Ovey

3. The penal substitution of Christ – Bob Horn

4. Justification by faith alone – Garry Williams

5. The sovereignty of God the Father – Liam Goligher

6. The regeneration of God the Holy Spirit – David Field

7. The reality of judgment – Justin Mote

8. The priority of evangelism – Roger Carswell

9. The authority of the Bible – Christopher Ash

10. The centrality of Bible teaching – David Jackman

11. The importance of the local church – Jonathan Stephen

12. The necessity of holiness – Vaughan Roberts

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Students talk about training

NTI LogoLast week I posted some information about the Northern Training Institute. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what some of the current the students make of it …

You can listen to more student feedback on NTI here.

For more information go to www.northerntraininginstitute.org.

I’m going to be at Week One of the Keswick Convention next week so if you have any questions about NTI come and find me – look me up in the programme and then loiter outside one of my sessions!

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Training for ministry in the context of ministry

NTI LogoIf you’re looking for an affordable alternative to residential Bible college that integrates training with work and ministry then the Northern Training Institute could be for you. NTI trains people for church leadership through:

  • guided reading and short assignments
  • two week-long residentials each year
  • seven seminar days

The residentials and guided reading allow us to cover the ground with a focus on biblical, missional and pastoral implications rather than academic debates. But the real genius of NTI are the monthly seminar days. Each seminar day we take a theme for the day and students prepare papers on that theme – some looking at biblical issues, others coming from an historical or systematic perspective, and others looking at the missional and pastoral implications. It means that through the day we really wrestle with the topic while all the time students are learning to think theologically and apply theology to practice.

Because students can combine NTI with ministry and work, NTI is much more affordable that residential alternatives. But it also means the interplay between theology and practice happens naturally.

I think it’s great, but then I’m the Director! So here’s what current students say:

If I’d set out to design a training programme ideally suited for me it would be NTI.

The monthly seminar days have been invaluable to my learning and applying learning to my context. I have very much enjoyed leanring alongside fellow practitioners. NTI is great!

I’d recommend NTI to anyone.

NTI could be for you if …

  • you want to be a church leader or a church planter
  • you want affordable theological training while remaining in ministry or work
  • you can commit 10-15 hours each week to study
  • you’re a graduate or have experience of Christian ministry
  • you have the support of your local church
  • you’re based in the UK

For more information go to www.northerntraininginstitute.org.
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Proposal for a new seminary

Steve Timmis recently sent me this link. It’s an article by John Frame putting the case for a new type of church-based training for ministry. It’s a great statement of the rationale behind the Northern Training Institute which we’ve started to train people for church leadership through “an affordable, Bible college-level programme of study that enables students to integrate theological training with involvement in ministry through residential weeks, seminar days and guided reading”. But don’t take my word for it …

(PS. My blog’s been a bit quiet lately because I’ve been transfering my life from my old Windows XP computer to my new iMac.)