26 July 2008

Alan Hirsch

Tam and I spent last weekend at the Together in Mission Summer School. Tam is working on an MA in Missional Leadership, while I'm a tutor (teacher) on several topics (Church Planting, Church Growth, Missions History, Mission & Empowerment) and was there to attend the Master Class with Alan Hirsch (www.theforgottenways.org).

Alan is originally from South Africa, but has spent most of his life in Australia, planting churches, leading a church planters and leadership training organization. He's written a couple of books, and has recently moved to America. He was one of the speakers at the National New Church Conference in April of this year. He's a deep thinker arising not from academia, but as a practitioner.

I first met him several years ago when he was on a speaking tour in the UK with Michael Frost. I ran into him a couple of years ago while at a class at Fuller (he was teaching, but I was in another class), and we had a couple of meals together with another Aussie who was in the class I was attending. He also did a wonderful job on the Saturday morning explaining some of the finer points of rugby as we watched the tri-nations match between the Wallabees (Australia) and the Springboks (South Africa).

In this Master Class, what was one thing he said that captured my attention? Especially as it applies to what we're doing in thethirdplace? He brought me back to something about the church growth being seen in China. The dynamic there is not "how do we grow?" but 'how do we multiply?" Added to this is the view "every believer is a church planter, and every church is a church-planting church." Why is it the western church is conditioned to think so differently than this? Why can't I think this way?

One other statement by Alan: "Christology determines mission which determines ecclessiology." That is, what one thinks of Jesus then defines what I perceive I ought to do in response to him, and that then shapes what the church looks like in any given culture. What we often do, is have a view of church that we attempt to impose upon other people and cultures; it is a western view and is a kind of ecclesiastical imperialism.

Food for thought!

22 July 2008

Bits & Bobs

A few things that have happened since writing last....

The 4th of July weekend had no fireworks, but I did play in an ice hockey tournament in Sheffield. We came 14th out of 15 teams with a 1 win, 3 losses, and 4 ties. Games were 15 minutes running clock. We obviously didn't do as well as we hoped but we had a great time. Pictured are some of the lads that played. From the left back row John, 'H', Colum, Roger, Chris, then Darren, Gaz, and Maggit, and Matt our goalie. We had two players, Shornie and Aaron go out with injuries. I felt and played better as the games progressed each day, and in the end had a great time. One funny story from the training session the week before the tournament. John, the fellow on the left in the back, said to me, "I can't believe you're a (expletive deleted) vicar and you play ice hockey. You play it well and you're a (expletive deleted) vicar." Thank you John, for the compliment.

The last weekend in June was the delegate conference of the Fellowship of Churches of Christ. The conference was held in Leicester at a school where Lighthouse Church meets. Lighthouse joined the Fellowship last year, and this year the conference was followed by an ordination service for Richard. Richard (and Dan, pictured) was a printer who increasingly sensed a call to leadership in the local church. He was instrumental in Lighthouse joining our network of churches.

The 3rd weekend in June we said farewell to Aaron, Diane, Reece, and Fin who will be stateside until their return to the UK in early April 2009. The going away party for them at Dickens Heath Village Church also marked DHVC being entirely on its own without outside leadership. Our church plant, conceived and birthed earlier this decade, has matured past infancy, toddlerhood and adolescence, and is now a young but independent adult. It leave us full of mixed emotions as does considering our own adult children. God is good. It's not about us, it's about Jesus. We love Aaron and Diane and boys, and they have been great teammates to us in so many ways. We already feel a sense of loss that their next placement upon return to England won't likely be with us.