'Training Mind-shifts' - old skool style

The Art of Minsitry Training, the course that MTS runs for pastors wanting to get into the movement, has a paper called 'Training Mindshifts'. I like this paper because it captures the spirit of the MTS movement, resonantes with many of the best bits about the emerging church movement:

  1. From running programs to building people
  2. From an event strategy to a training strategy
  3. From using people to growing people
  4. From filling gaps to training new workers
  5. From solving problems to helping people make progress
  6. From ordained ministry to team leadership
  7. From church polity to ministry partnership
  8. From relying on training institutions to establishing local training
  9. From immediate pressures to long-term expansion
  10. From management to ministry
  11. From church growth to gospel growth

Uni Ministry Wears a White Hat

Some brute facts of uni ministry? This is an opportunity for actual observations and facts, as well as to come clean about your own actual experiences of uni ministry.

  1. I was converted, in part, by a uni ministry while in high school.
  2. This uni ministry was used by God to save a decent number of people and fire up a whole bunch of Christians.
  3. This uni ministry was at its best when it worked in close synergy with a local church.
  4. I know that throughout history, Christian Unions have been used by God to raise up large numbers of preachers and missionaries.
Other facts you wanna share?

Why We're Not Emergent - By Two Guys Who Should Be

Just this week I was thinking that a book like this was needed. I don't know if this is the book I think is needed. I like the title a lot. I hope it is.

But even if it is good, emerging church people will probably say the authors haven't understood the emerging church properly. How can we be sure that they haven't understood it? Because they have said something negative about it.

It Takes Years not Weeks

Change takes years. Really thorough change involves the whole church culture evolving. Bear this in mind when you pass on constructive criticism to your pastor. Bear this in mind if you *are* a pastor and feel like you are achieving nothing.

A Crossroads example:

  • 2005 - We didn't have any music at church;
  • 2006 - We started having music at church and it was hectic, inconsistent and stressful;
  • 2007 - We bought songbooks, organised a team of bandleaders and began troubleshooting;
  • 2008 - The music is consistently pretty good.

Uni Ministry in the Bowels

The red thinking hat is emotions. What does uni ministry make me feel?

  1. Bored. It is a predictable ministry for young, progressive evangelicals. Another training course. Another opportunity to point out the inconsistencies of secular humanism. Another
  2. Thankful. God has converted, strengthened and motivated so many people; many people I love dearly and many people who have influenced me deeply.
  3. Exhausted. The thought of ringing up 150 first year uni students to encourage them to come to the welcome BBQ. The thought of filling out 10-page-long tables of Bible verses at Mid-Year-Conference. The thought of attending the 10-day National Training Event in Canberra in December each year which includes a 5-day 'mission'
  4. Relieved at doing ministry without the creche roster, music team or Session meeting.
  5. Sad when it does not bear fruit.
  6. Baffled when Christians don't get involved in their CU while at uni.
Come on, it's your turn. Share your feelings.

Why Uni Ministry Sucks

What are some things that really suck about AFES-style uni ministry?

  1. You are spending a lot of time doubling up - training and pastoring people who are already being trained and pastored by local churches. If the local churches aren't doing their job, perhaps it'd be better to tell people to move churches, rather than picking up the slack in parachurch.
  2. Uni ministries work best when they are supported by a church with a strong uni-ministry. So why not just have the local church?
  3. You are pretending to be a student union while in practice being run by an external minister. It is dishonest.
  4. It is tacitly supporting the Student Union concept, which may get in the way of sharing the gospel with Young Liberals.
  5. Universities are no longer hubs of social and cultural activity, so it is less of a legitimate mission field.
  6. More time ends up be spent in training than in evangelism. An evangelistically-driven uni ministry may look very different to current AFES-style ministries.
Anyone else got thoughts? I plan to follow this up with a post about the Why Uni Ministry is Totally Bodacious, but for now let's leave our Black Thinking Hat on. I reckon there are enough people who read this blog to come up with another 6 reasons at least. Come on, I dare ya!

Sermon Introductions

My introductions are often preparatory comments, apologetic reflections, related topics that-we-don't-have-time-to-explore-today, broader systematic categories within which the exposition sit and so on. I trust that I can do this in a signficantly interesting way that you'll want to hear the rest of my sermon.

My friend Des Smith tends to give big illustrations in his introductions. But they are not illustrations of the 'big idea' of the sermon, but rather the big idea that was going through Des' mind as he was writing the sermon.

Mark Driscoll tends not to have introductions. He just starts talking in that husky phone voice of his and we're all ears.

Phillip Jensen says that it's good to find something intriguing in the text of Scripture itself. That way, from the very beginning you are grabbing people's interest with the Bible.

Deep Work

At our Art of Ministry Training course last week, Col Marshall articulated a part of his ministry philosophy: Do a deep work in a few.

I like this. Rather than imposing some grand program on the whole church, devote time and love and prayer to encouraging and helping a few people in a profound way. Over time, this will have an enormous influence on the growth of the kingdom of God.

Col Marshall: There is a Call After All

The latest version of 'The Art of Ministry Training', the 'how to train an MTS apprentice' course has recently been released. Col Marshall, former director of MTS has spent a long time working on this stuff and the new edition is a vast improvement.

It is easy to summarise a movement one particular way, and not make allowances for the fact that over time, the movement learns and adapts. It develops nuances and subtleties that answer earlier criticisms. And so with MTS, it is easy to criticise it for what it *was* ten years ago, or how it is *implemented* by one pastor in one place. The movement as a whole, however has moved on.

Early MTS was pretty gung-ho in dismissing any concept of a call to ministry. The gospel itself is the call to ministry, any other 'call' is unbiblical mysticism. The only questions we should be asking about paid minsitry are more practical ones such as giftedness and godliness.

In the latest version of AMT, there is a more nuanced approach, by equating 'call' language with
'sending', 'appointing' and 'stewardship' categories:

Given God's call upon all his children, it is clear that God also 'calls' particular servants through whom he revelas his will and purposes to his people. God calls or sends or appoints [emphasis mine] particular ministers to proclaim his Word and lead his flock. The distinctive of this ministry to which some are called and appointed is in stewardship - the degree of responsibility...
The Bible does not speak in terms of an inner call to ministry. The call comes from God through his ministers and by the recognition of the congregation. However there are some passages which touch on the personal response. The desire for the ministry of oversight is commended because it is a good work....
Calvin taught of a secret or inner call but this does not seem to be a mystical experience but rather a burden for the ministry deriving from godly motives as reflected in 1 Peter 5:1-4... and then the Institutes are quoted.

Fostering the Creation of a Movement

'Vision 100' wants to promote a church-planting movement in Tasmania. You can't build a movement, you have to promote it, foster it, nurture it. For a long time Vision 100 has been many things: An office, an idea, a label placed over the top of existing church plants, a bunch of conferences.

But how do we really foster a movement? Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Begin with preaching and prayer: The starting of three prayer days each year, with short sermons at the beginning and end of the prayer has been a big step forward. They are the embodiment of the movement.
  2. Define clearly who the partners of the movement are, and what partnership in the movement involves. Movements are so foggy. Some people assume they're in when they're not. Others are unsure if they're in. Some kind of formal 'movement partners' list helps solidify the movement's self-identity and its communication.
  3. Begin with locals not guests. A movement needs to be indigenous, autocthonous, organic. Guest speakers won't be able to speak to the specific movement. We need to lift up those who have a prophetic voice within the movement and call on them to define the movement's values and to serve as figureheads for the movement.
  4. Begin with those who are on board, before trying to win others on board. Again, the existing movement partners need to forge strong relationships before there even is a movement for others to join.
  5. Provide many opportunities for mutual learning, encouragement and discussion. This seems to me to be the very heart of what a movement is about.
  6. Raise funds by targeting specific projects, not by asking people to give to the 'movement'.
  7. Select focal places. Just jumping from one church to the other, one venue to the other so as to 'include everybody' means that the movement doesn't develop a 'sense of place'. Find good central places to run events over a period of time.