The ecclesiological bottom line

Talking to Cid Latty of the cafechurch network, the question of ecclesiology came up. Like many successful evangelistic ventures, cafechurch are finding some of their gatherings being viewed/used as the primary location of church for some of those who attend, rather than as a stepping-stone for people to find their way into the church congregations that began them. (I know of Alpha courses, youth groups, pensioners’ groups, and other places where the same thing has happened.) Cid, responsibly, asked the question, if the cafechurch is becoming church, what does it need to be? A cafechurch meeting typically involves an element of teaching, probably with some presentation of a Bible text, although it might not be straightforwardly read. It involves discussion...

Read More

Being insulted by a great resource

Last BUGB/BMS Assembly post (I know it’s ugly, but I refuse to call it ‘The Baptist Assembly’ as the organisers do – we’ve got a Baptist Assembly here in Scotland, and there’s one in Wales, and so on). It’s approaching five years since Heather and I moved up here, and so five years since we’ve been to this particular Assembly. The highlight, unquestionably, was reconnecting with old friends and seeing and hearing how vocations and ministries have developed. I also rediscovered some circles I was once a part of. One was the Baptist Union Initiative with people with Learning Disabilities (BUILD), which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and continues to do creative and amazing things that are more gospel-shaped than...

Read More

Expository preaching

At the BUGB/BMS Assembly, I had the privilege of giving the George Beasley-Murray Memorial Lecture, on preaching, and of listening to several excellent examples of the art, notably from Pat Took and Lauran Bethell. Sally Nelson’s Whitley lecture, whilst not preaching, was academically excellent, pastorally sensitive, and personally moving – an impressive combination. I made a comment in passing about ‘expository preaching’ in the course of my lecture which has led me to further reflection on the theme, following the thoughts of Haddon Robinson. He cautions, in his Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages, that we should understand ‘expository preaching’ to be a philosophy of preaching, not a...

Read More

Living in the real world

I’ve commented fairly often in conversation that the only downside of having moved to St Andrews is, when faced with the most irritating comment that comes to pastors and academics alike, ‘But you don’t live in the real world, do you?’ I now simply have to admit, no; this strange and marvelous town is many things, but it is just a little too like fairyland to be ‘the real world’. The thought came back to me when I noticed that several friends (including Andy and Craig) had launched an initiative at the recent BUGB/BMS Assembly called Real Life Worship. The stated aim (in a post by Andy) is this: It is an attempt to connect real life to worship. Worship that forms us relationally, politically, socially and economically. Now, I...

Read More
get facebook like button