Movement

You foolish Lilydalians

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Matt Glover, freelance cartoonist and pastor, is an advocate for same-sex unions.

His church, Lilydale Baptist, is in turmoil. They've only just found out via this gay website or maybe this one?

A church meeting to deal with the issue was cancelled a few days ago. A newspaper report states confidently that Pastor Matt has the numbers.

I'd be surprised.

Matt assured the reporter that his church members were not "homophobic," just a bit uptight about public displays of affection between gay couples."

[Ed. I suppose if any church members were "homophobic" they may need psychiatric treatment. Homophobia is not to be confused with homilophobia (fear of sermons) or homichlophobia (fear of fog), or hobophobia (fear of beggars). Anyway, let's hope there's counselling and medication available for any sufferers out there].

I remember Lylidale Baptist as a thriving evangelical church of around 400 people, once active in planting churches like this one.

The article states that "Lilydale Baptist has a strong community presence, offering financial services, counselling, an opportunity shop [pictured above], cafe, food bank and welfare assistance. Besides the usual youth and play groups, it has a Burmese congregation and a Tuesday night meeting of 'hard-core'' music fans."

All these ministries were set up before Matt arrived by previous pastors who were evangelical.

Lilydale Baptist is in trouble. Expect the church community shrink, and the ministries above to become unsustainable, if they aren't already.

The tragedy is, this was all avoidable.

If you want to know what decline and decay looks like at a local church level, this is it. This story is being played out all around the western world, in mainstream churches, missional churches, theological seminaries, and denominational headquarters. The drift starts with the clergy who are less likely to uphold biblical orthodoxy than ordinary disciples.

Matt is not the only well known Baptist leader who has come out publicly in support of gay marriage. What has happened at Lilydale is part of a general trend in the local denominational leadership.

The slide gains momentum because nobody wants to admit there's an elephant in the room.

Decline and decay is always the result. There may be a time lag. But there are no exceptions.

You foolish Lilydalians. Get back to basics.

UPDATE

The Baptist Union of Australia has made it's position clear by defining marriage as  the union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life, although not all Baptist pastors, college lecturers and denominational executives agree.

UPDATE

Paul Kelly, editor of the Australian, on the political and social agenda behind the push for "marriage equality."

UPDATE

Rev Matt Glover is no longer the minister at Lilydale Baptist Church. The Age newspaper reports that he had been "sacked" at a "secret meeting." Rev Andrew Woff, acting Director of Ministries for the Baptist Union of Victoria (BUV), denied Rev Glover had been sacked. Although Woff agreed the process was not "all fair." On behalf of the BUV, Woff stated, "He [Glover] is a competent and gifted minister, and there is no reason he can't be called by another church."

So where does the BUV stand on same-sex unions?

He who holds the creation in his hand . . .

From the birthplace of our faith, a hauntingly beautiful Christmas carol from Eastern Christian traditions of the Feast of the Nativity. Byzantine free chant in Arabic (Antiochian Orthodox) from a recording featuring both Melkite Catholic and Antiochean Orthodox chanters.

HT: Andrew Bolt

Getting people excited about CPMs

iStock_000011381440XSmalled.jpg A question from Ray:

Hi Steve

I’m starting to get a feel for the extent and potential for church planting movements (CPMs).

Do you have any suggestions on how to excite an existing church and transition them into a church planting church?

Ray

My answer:

Hi Ray

Thanks for the question. It’s an important one. The good news is I think that after twenty years of championing CPMs, I’m beginning to learn something about how to help existing believers and churches transition.

Don’t try to change/excite/motivate/convince anyone. It will only lead to frustration for you and the people you are trying to get on board. You may even add to their resistance.

A far more effective strategy is to follow Jesus’ example. You get out among people, share the gospel, make disciples, form communities. As you do, you share the stories of what God is up to. You offer training and look for obedient and fruitful people.

Typically only 10-15% of people are ready and willing to dive in and get involved. They’re the people you’re looking for. You want to train them in how to share their faith and make disciples and get them doing it immediately.

Meanwhile the majority of people need to hear the stories of lives changed and disciples made. Give them permission to come on board at their own pace. You want them to know what is going on, and to be encouraged, and be praying. The more you pressure them, the less open to change they will be.

It’s much wiser to cast vision, then pilot and experiment with early adopters, rather than imposing a new model of church and ministry on existing believers.

On the podcast I’ve interviewed, Dave Lawton, Tim Scheuer and Jeff Sundell. Each of them have done a great job of leading by example and inviting existing believers to get involved without alienating those who are not ready.

Perhaps 5% of people will oppose any attempt to reach lost people. Rebuke them gently and pray for their souls. Most people will get excited if you communicate well and give them the freedom to buy in at their level. 10-15% are ready to do something now. Go find them.

Steve

Seven themes of fruitfulness

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In March 2007, a group of 300 practitioners met for five days in Southeast Asia to discuss what the Spirit is doing as they seek to facilitate communities of Jesus-followers among Muslims.

A list of the findings:

1. Sharing the Hope within: Fluency

2. Engaging Hearts and Minds: Storying

3. Exemplary Lifestyle: Reputation

4. Redemptive Bonds of Trust: Social Networks

5. Getting the Word Out: Scripture Use

6. Faith, Community, Leadership: Intentional Reproduction

7. A Holy Sacrifice: Prayer

This study is essential reading, regardless of your ministry focus group.

Thanks to the International Journal of Frontier Missions for publishing the results and to Dave Lawton for giving me the heads up.

Drifting in calm waters

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Our nature lies in movement; complete calm is death.

Blaise Pascal

I caught up with an old friend a few years ago over coffee. He confided in me that he wasn’t sure if he believed in hell any more. He was a church leader with an evangelical background. He didn’t seem concerned. After all, he told me, it could have been worse—he knew a church leader who wasn't sure if he believed in heaven any more.

Over time, movements tend to plateau, institutionalize and decline. At the heart of their demise is often a drift to a more secular faith that is led by religious professionals.

By "secularized" I mean that this life becomes more important than the world to come. Conceptions of God become vague and distant. Moral restrictions on members are relaxed and, the exclusive claim to truth is surrendered (see Stark and Finke).

It strikes me as curious that we would take upon ourselves the right to exchange biblical beliefs that no longer suit us. As though we had the power in ourselves to determine what is true and what is right.

At a whim we abolish heaven and hell. We recast the image of God in our own likeness. We sit in judgement on scripture rather than let it judge us. We redefine sin and remove the need for the Cross.

Worst of all, is the harmony carefully preserved within Christian movements as they calmly drift from the gospel.