Volume 6 Number 6

1. At a conference I attended recently, Alan Hirsch desribed our age as one of Rapid Disconintuous Change (RDC) as opposed to Gradual, Continuous Change (GCC). Whereas 20 years ago a church could develop 5, 10, 20 year plans on the basis of reviewing the past and projecting into the future, now we can look ahead no further than 3 years, and even then we need several plans that get reviewed constantly.

2. At the same conference, another speaker, C. B. Samuel observed that it is first world tourists who come to poor countries like India and give up their faith in the face of suffering. People in the third world don't do this.

3. A reflection came to me out of attending this conference. Many of the speakers challenged us with the failure of the church to have answers to the great systemic and structural problems the world faces. We are too focussed on a personalised, individualised spirituality, they said.
However when I read my Bible, I don't see a major focus on Christians to have the answers to the world's problems. Yes we should speak out against injustice. But has God spoken to us in such a way that we need to have an answer to these large-scale problems? I think we are being made to feel guilty for something that Christ doesn't demands of us.

4. Someone has said "Christianity began in Nazareth with one man. Then it moved to Jerusalem and became a movement. Then it moved to Rome and became and institution. Then it spread across the empire and became a culture. Then it moved to the USA and became an enterprise."

5. Some sins/follies that need to preached against: cynicism, apathy, lethardy, despair.

6. Missiologist Ralph Winter described Paul and his team as a particular manifestation of 'church' - a 'sodality'. By conrast, the Jerusalem church was the more familiar manifestation of church - a 'modality'. Is it true that both the missionary team and the established church are properly understood as manifestations of church? Is this a 'way forward' in thinking about the church?

7. In church's that claim to have moved beyond 'worship services' and 'preaching' and 'institutions', they don't get that far. They moved all the things that are so good about these things into the world of 'conferences', 'training intesives' and 'plenary sessions'. I think I'd rather keep them as part of the regular spiritual life of the church myself. And I think preaching is a better word than 'plenary session'!

8. 'Paradigm shifts' are important things. Conversion is a paradigm shift. Deciding to give one's life to full-time Christian ministry is a 'paradigm shift'. Trying to position a church to be committed to evangelism (or anything else) is a 'paradigm shift'.

To achieve a paradigm shift two things are needed. We need to paint the radical contrasts between what we need to be doing and what we are currently doing. There needs to be an awareness of the radical break. But if we only do this, we can cause reactionary thinking. Those who find it hard to make the shift feel defensive. Those who are on board with us might take things too far.

Therefore you also need to show how what people are already doing is related to where you want to take them. You need to affirm what's already there, and show how that will contribute to where you want to take them.

9. Words of wisdom from theologian Mark Baddley: Some people want to try and derive everything aspect of theology out of the trinity. They seem to argue that everything that is can be understood from this starting point.

However, as Calvin points out at the beginning of the Institutes, we also need to know about cretaion. For we believe in creation, God made something other than himself. More than that, he created the world freely, it didn't have to be the way he chose to make it.

Therefore you cannot derive your understanding about everything purely from your understanding of God. You also need to understand the world that God has made as a distinct sphere of knowledge.