Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Cage Football in Shrewsbury

Sometime in the next couple of weeks a Football Cage is arriving in Shrewsbury!

It has been quite a long slog to get here, with the usual highs and lows, setbacks and successes.

But now we are about to launch a really high profile community project looking to encourage young people across the town and help the different agencies serving young people to have a bridge to connect to them with.

So we can go out with the fire service and the cage to an area where the young people might be bored and setting fire to stuff.

We can go into schools and help run citizenship lessons and PSE activities using the cage.

We can go with the Police to a community fun day and gather young people and give them information about drugs awareness.

Preventing a public nuisance. Teamwork. Healthy eating. The Church, other local community agencies, the public services, all working together for the good of our society.

There are already 5 Churches looking to use the Cage: 2 Anglican, 2 newfrontiers and one Baptist.

Let's do it!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A very important 10 minutes

The ten minutes from 44 minutes on in Dave Stroud's talk here is absolutely spot on.

When talking about our theological positions:

1) We must not be "Sloppy in our attitudes, language or use of media"

2) We should not "Create a culture that does not actually back the doctrinal position we stand upon"

3) and "we can encourage men without a cost to us in other areas"

He quotes from Tim Keller, who holds a very (in my view) well balanced view of complimentarianism.

Dave then talked about how we have in some ways moved to the edge of evangelicalism.

I agree.

He says we love the WHOLE body of Christ. But we have not always been as smart as we could be in how we have communicated it. I agree.

He says there should be no air of superiority. No exclusiveness. We should love people without agreeing with them. We should be more generous.

"Amen" does not even come close to covering it!

A real shame

As alluded to in my previous post, yet again Mark Driscoll caused an online furore over facebook comments.

The question "So what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you've ever personally witnessed" was completely inappropriate. In content, in tone, and in context.

Driscoll has since made a statement suggesting that the elders at Mars Hill have "had a word" which is good news. Although it is a great shame that the "word" they have had did not cause another word.


Dave Stroud did an excellent talk at Together on a Mission which I will blog on next when he addressed issues surrounding the discussion on gender (44 mins onwards), and he uses expressions like "Sloppy in our attitudes, language or use of media", "Create a culture that does not actually back the doctrinal position we stand upon" and "we can encourage men without a cost to us in other areas".

He was talking internally within Newfrontiers but I can certainly see the parallels.

There are many problems with the conversation Mark Driscoll started.

Firstly that he was so flippant (his word) about something so serious, so important, and so sensitive. And with thousands of people watching his every move: people both for him and against him on many issues.

Secondly, he resorted to stereotype. Many people his side of the fence on these issues resent being stereotyped by those holding egalitarian views. Do unto others as you would have done to you. And you reap what you sow.

Thirdly, in doing so he brings shame on anyone who happens to hold onto elements of a similar theological construction regarding the created order, gender and leadership in the local Church by going about it in this way.

Finally, when he came to the newfrontiers conference a couple of years back he was very clear, outspoken and positive about his experience of our corporate worship. He praised us for it.

The worship at the conference is led by different men and women. Kate Simmonds and Lou Fellingham stand out as excellent worship leaders. Whatever the attributes of the women who led worship and helped contribute towards the amazing worship he experienced: they must have displayed feminine characteristics.

Yet an "effeminate" guy leading worship is a figure of fun?

The guy who presumably when leading worship shows the same feminine attributes (gentleness, kindness and sensitivity?) as the women worship leaders who are to be praised?

Not only does that cause offence, it does not even make sense.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Being a real "man"

Yet again Mark Driscoll is in the public eye for shooting his mouth off before engaging his brain.
Interestingly some people have used this as an excuse to raise questions about Newfrontiers, because Mark Driscoll spoke at our conference in 2009 (As well as a weekend church planting conference in Northern Ireland in 2010). Terry Virgo tweeted a word of thanks recently for his insights in 2009 that really challenged us and have been the precursor to great change regarding Terry Virgo handing on much of his oversight role to new teams of leaders.

It seems a bit odd to have to defend yourself from the actions of a speaker at a conference two years ago, whose total input into your movement of Churches specifically amounts to a little over 3 hours.

3 hours spent talking about the work of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts and common problems Church movements face.

Sure, some individuals within Newfrontiers are very influenced by Mark Driscoll, alongside Bill Johnson, Tim Keller, Bill Hybels etc. Amongst the people I know and work with someone like Tim Keller gets a lot more respect, air time and has his books quoted.

Who was the last person I heard at a Newfrontiers conference talking about men?

Carl Beech.

Who gives a good, clear counter to some of the hot air crossing the Atlantic just now. It says it is not pointed at "One man" but it certainly rings true of a counter to several Driscollisms.

Points 2 and 3 really nail it for me:

"2) I believe there is no one-way of being a man. Portraying stereotypes is unhelpful and shallow. Human beings are far more complex than any stereotype. People hear my accent and see my build and assume I’m into everything that’s macho and despise anything that looks weak or wimpy. Assumption is the mother of all catastrophe. I play piano, write poems and don’t like football. I also love to cook and don’t mind watching a chick flick with the girls. However, it is true I also love gadgets, shooting stuff, meat, fire and loud music. Big deal. I have testosterone. Some of my mates who also of course have testosterone like none of these things. Big deal. Lets get on with the real task in hand. Millions are dying without Christ. We need all our talents, eccentricities and personalities on task.

3) Projecting ‘macho” as the only type of man speaks to me of deep inadequacy and insecurity. If you were truly a man (of whatever type) you wouldn’t keep needing to talk about it. You would simply live it, demonstrate you are truly comfortable in your own skin and point beyond yourself to Jesus. We tend to bleat on about what we struggle with most. Be mindful of this next time you get a hobby horse!"

There is a guy in our Church who is really creative, and he makes handbags. I encourage him in this hobby. They are beautiful. He recently brought in a painting he had done of Calvary. We used it within our worship in our Good Friday meeting and it is now displayed in our main coffee lounge.

In November 2009 I wrote of Mark Driscoll "The flip side is that whenever I hear a message from him he always makes a comment of some sort I am certain aged 50 he will regret."

Not much has changed since then, for me (except to be more and more frustrated by Driscoll's ability to start a fight in a phonebox), or sadly, for him.

One final point: criticising Terry Virgo for his links with Mark Driscoll is not only plainly unfair, it is also very self defeating. If anything Driscoll needs people like Terry Virgo speaking into his life, now more than ever.