Friday 10 May 2013

Reports from Cwmbran

Two people I trust have been to Cwmbran and I am delighted to read their experiences.

Click their names to see their reviews.

Graham Pyman leads Jubilee Church in Derby.

Andy Robinson leads Kings Church Horsham.

My list of things I want to look out for as I approach stories of God being at move...

1) Lots of talk about Jesus - using the bible to explain the good news
2) Lots of emphasis on personal salvation
3) No-one trying to push me over
4) No heavy sell on "sowing into the revival"
5) Little emphasis on outward manifestations

It sounds like what is happening in Cwmbran is genuine and exciting.

I can't wait to go and see it for myself.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Another year, Another outpouring...

I have been hearing a few things about Victory Church in Cwmbran over the years.

Their Pastor Richard Taylor came to do an outreach event for us, and so I was able to meet him personally.

He seemed like a genuine bloke - he is obviously quite a strong character, but I trusted him.  I think he is straight.

He used to be part of Renewal Centre in Solihull.  He places a high priority on the preaching of the word.  He says the right things about it being about Jesus not people.

What I find quite interesting was that he was one of the most outspoken critics of the "Lakeland Outpouring", of Todd Bentley and of what was happening in Dudley.  He took to youtube to publically lambast what was happening and call people to not get caught up in the daftness.  With hindsight, he was right in many ways.

News of "another" outpouring no longer excites me, but rather makes me feel a little twitchy.  "Here we go again" is in the back of my mind, and yet the fact he is in the middle of it makes me particularly interested.  Not because of anything special about him,  but because I think he calls a spade a spade and the fact it is in his Church, given his previous views on similar claims by others, well it is just too intruiging to let go.

The week after next I will be fairly close to Cwmbran and so am thinking of swinging by and taking a look.  If God is at work I am up for seeing what is happening.  I don't want the excess or the nonsense of the past rob me of the blessing of the day.

So I go there very alert, yet to be convinced, and hopeful of being blessed.

Thursday 21 March 2013

There is another skywalker

There is some amazing news in the Matthias household.

The kind of mind blowingly, amazingly large news which makes me really happy.

It has not all been plain sailing

And reading back that post I realised I used the "Not all plain sailing" line before.  Well it wasn't!

And this bit sounds daft, but I am actually really blessed by 227 "likes" on facebook for that photo.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

"Newfrontiers" now

Our Church website is about to be updated.

Where we were "part of Newfrontiers, member of the Evangelical Alliance and a charitable company number..."

We are now "A ChristCentral Church, part of Newfrontiers, members of the Evangelical Alliance and a charitable company..."

Imagine a father had several sons.  Those sons went on to have families of their own.  Each new family has its own identity, but they still bear the family name.  A new identity and a historic loyalty.  Both exist.

I have my own family, and I still bear my Father's name.  My family is my family, but we are all "Matthias".

So the new movements which have been released out of newfrontiers still bear the name "Newfrontiers" alongside their new identity.

In the UK the scene is still very organic, but we see (In no particular order):

ChristCentral led by Jeremy Simpkins

New Ground led by Dave Holden

Catalyst led by Dave Devenish

Relational Mission led by Mike Betts

Commission led by Guy Miller

Regions Beyond led by Steve Oliver

When I say "led by" and then a single name this is in fact a misrepresentation because each situation described is a strong team representing several different Churches and bringing different gifts.  So the ChristCentral team Jeremy leads includes Church leaders of significant stature in their own right from Leeds, Cockermouth, Huddersfield and Derby who bring different gifts to the table and provide accountability for Jeremy.

What has been fascinating to watch has been the way this has been led by relationships, rather than geography.

So for example churches in the UK with long standing friendship with Steve Oliver in Dubai relate to him.  And then all these groups already extend into other nations.  ChristCentral is working in Canada, Relational Mission into Scandinavia, Regions Beyond is someone from Dubai working into the UK.  Towns / cities next to each other in the UK may find themselves working in completely different networks, while also loving one another locally.

So we planted a Church in North Shrewsbury.  The leader went to plant a Church in Stockholm.  We now find ourselves working within different networks - ChristCentral and Relational Mission.  Next month he is coming to us to preach.  In the Lord he is my brother, and in Church terms he is probably now my cousin.  Not that I am too bothered by any of that because ultimately he is our friend.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Are you in a denomination?

This is a question I regularly get asked.

In a recent post I considered that newfrontiers was not a denomination and this was challenged by commenters.

Firstly - please consider my previous comments about Anglicans, Baptists, and Methodists before being concerned I am having a dig at anyone.

Secondly - several friends of mine from university days are Church leaders - Newfrontiers, Vineyard, Anglican etc.  I have seen those go the "denominational" route, and those within church movements, and have witnessed a difference in structure.

Thirdly - I was pointed to Webster's definition of a denomination in respect of newfrontiers

a religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices
And I guess it is the "religious organisation" bit which is where people consider differences.  What is the actual organisation? The whole discussion always comes back to definitions.

I would consider denominations to include the Church of England, Methodists & URC amongst others.

I would consider Church movements to include Newfrontiers, Vineyard, Salt & Light, Ground Level, Plumbline and NCMI.

Wikipedia has a surprisingly interesting piece on this which says
"Nondenominational" (or "Non-denominational") Christian institutions are those not formally aligned with an established religious denomination, but are historically Protestant, or that remain otherwise officially autonomous. This, however, does not preclude an identifiable standard among such congregations. Nondenominational church congregations may establish a functional denomination by means of mutual recognition of or accountability to other congregations and leaders with commonly held doctrine, policy and worship without formalizing external direction or oversight in such matters. Some nondenominational churches explicitly reject the idea of a formalized denominational structure as a matter of principle, holding that each congregation is better off being autonomous.
 And guess what, Newfrontiers & Vineyard appear in the list of such groups.

The definition of formal denomination and functional denomination is probably most helpful.  Because when I say "we are not formally a denomination" others say "yes, but you are by function", and perhaps we are both right.

I have a few questions (not an exhaustive list, just where I see differences between me and some of my friends) regarding a Churches legal framework which would certainly help to decide how "formal" a denomination was.

1) Who owns the property / assets?
2) What legal rights / legal roles does the central organisation have and how are these enforced?

3) Does money have to be given centrally?
4) Who pays ministers?  Who provides pensions?
5) Does the central body own: property, educational establishments etc?
6) Is there a designated HQ?
7) Who sets policies and procedures for Churches?

8) How is church oversight apportioned?  Geography etc?

So if I answer those for my own Church the answers are

1) Our local charity
2) None
3) No
4) Our local charity, a private pension provider
5) No
6) No
7) No-one - likeminded Churches have affiliated
8) Relationally, voluntarily.  Often this links to geography because you get to know people locally

Friends of mine in other Churches reply in very different terms to almost all those questions.  There are strengths and weaknesses both models.  This is not a "look who is best" but rather a genuine attempt to show what I mean.

The mission of my independent Church is gathered into a bigger mission, with other similar Churches, which functionally looks like a denomination, but if we left newfrontiers (or ChristCentral) tomorrow all we would do in reality is change the logo on our literature, lose some valuable spiritual input, and miss many friends.