studies

Update on the Camel

This just came in from a friend somewhere in Asia.

Hi Steve

We leave for a trip tonight. Looking forward to it. Will visit many mosques and share the gospel with whomever we can.

I looked at your blog this morning and saw you have something on the Camel.

You might be interested to know that most people who use camel find that ti works best with those who know something of the Koran or at least read the Koran, that is why it works well in mosques.

Typically though most muslims don't know anything of the Koran so sometimes the Camel is not always the most suitable method.

I have found in our region, if you ask someone something about the Koran or bring up what is said in the Koran to the average muslim they will tell you to talk to the imam as they don't know anything about the Koran.

In these types of situations another approach will work better — something like storying is good as everybody can relate to stories.

There are 6 or 7 redemptive stories that can be told using OT figures whom muslims consider are prophets that finish with Jesus. These typically are very well received.

I've asked my friend to send through details on the redemptive stories when he gets back.

It won't work here!

Earlier this year I traveled to Orlando Florida to run a workshop on church planting movements. That’s where I met Neil Perry.

Neil was the pastor of a growing church who found himself preoccupied with “butts on seats” rather than making disciples. Enter Jeff Sundell who had spent ten years in India and Nepal learning how to fuel church planting movements. Jeff was now back home in North Carolina applying what he’d learned.

Over a three hour cup of coffee at McDonalds Jeff turned Neil’s life around.

One of the new believers in Neil’s church was Chuck Cole, a former crack cocaine dealer who had run a prostitution ring in his basement. Chuck had left that all behind to follow Jesus. With Jeff’s help Neil took him aside and taught this former crack dealer to make disciples and plant churches.

One former contact knocked on his door and said, “Hey you’re mowing your lawn and you own a car. Crack addicts don’t cut their lawn and own their own car! What’s changed?”

Another couple got touch with Chuck and his wife because the police had come to arrest them and they needed someone to come and take care of their baby.

Now Chuck runs a simple church for his former friends and associates in his basement where he once sold cocaine and ran prostitutes.

Neil Perry is still leading the church he planted but instead of counting backsides on seats he’s baptising new believers, making disciples and teaching them to make disciples and plant churches. I recorded Neil's story, it's just five minutes of amazing testimony to what God can do.

Whenever I tell a story like Neil's the response is normally, "that won't work here." Doesn't matter where Neil is, or where they are, it just won't work "in our context."

I'm not sure if this response springs from a lack of faith, or resistance to change, or both.

No one excluded except the real Jesus

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It's a serious thing to sack a seventy year old priest. The Catholic church has a shortage of them.

Yet it strikes me as strange that someone who doesn't believe in the Trinity, the virgin birth—who doesn't believe Jesus ever existed—should want to be a priest, or should even expect to remain a priest.

Father Kennedy has found a new faith supported by the Socialist Alliance and other activists. He new faith that rejects the notion that Jesus ever existed, or that God listens when we pray. He has rejected the idea that God intervenes in human affairs, citing the horrific massacre in Norway. How can God be good and powerful if he allows such tragedies to happen?

He hasn't lost faith altogether. He still believes in "the beauty of life and the goodness of people." I'm not sure how long that faith can last when confronted with the reality of human evil such as we have witnessed in Norway.

I would rather live with unanswered questions, and put my faith in a God revealed in a crucified Savior. Jesus was crucified on a very real cross, by real soldiers, in real history.

A sign outside St Mary's read, "Everyone has a place in the church. Every person without exception should be able to feel at home and never rejected."

It seems there is one person who was not welcome in Father Kennedy's church, his name is Jesus of Nazareth.

Catholic church sacks Father Kennedy. Father Kennedy sacks Jesus.

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At the end of a long dispute the Catholic church has finally decided to excommunicate Father Kennedy.

Two years ago the Socialist Alliance posters outside St Mary's Catholic Church in Brisbane said it all. "Dump Intolerance, not Father Kennedy." "Who would Jesus sack?" The father in question is Peter Kennedy, the 70-year-old Catholic priest who is being forced out of the church he has turned into a green-leftist New Age drop-in centre.

This is a version of the church refashioned ad lib in the likeness of its members. The well-heeled congregation at St Mary's -- many of whom are from the upper echelons of the church's lay bureaucracy -- have been dispensed by their priest from the need to subscribe to the particulars of any credal statements or articles of faith that might prove problematic. The trinity, the virgin birth, the divinity of Christ and his bodily resurrection, not to mention their own; in short, all the perennial stumbling blocks to faith have been in effect discarded. All that remains is a commitment to social justice, feminism and deep green ideology.

Father Kennedy's response?

Sacked Catholic priest Peter Kennedy says he hasn't given up on God and prayer, but no longer believes in Jesus.

Father Kennedy, dismissed by the church for unorthodox practices, says he now considers Jesus "a fable". The rebel priest made headlines in 2009 when he formed a congregation in exile. Fr Kennedy says he still believes in God, just not a God who intervenes in the affairs of humans. "It's true I've given up on that sort of a God, that sort of a 'being' that sits up there in heaven somewhere and intervenes in human affairs," he said today.

"If you believe in a God that intervenes into human history why didn't God intervene in the massacre in Norway? Whatever God is, God is not that sort of God, obviously. "That's what I'm trying to say." Fr Kennedy said he still believed in prayer, but not asking things of God. "For me prayer is just standing in wonder and awe at the mystery of life, the beauty of life, the goodness of people." Praying in church was not about talking directly to God, he said.

But he said he had not believed in Jesus for some time, calling the son of God a "fable" and a "metaphor".

The Socialist Alliance banner asked, "Who would Jesus sack?" It appears Fr Kennedy has sacked Jesus.

021-Jeff Sundell Reports In (1)

Amie & Jeff Sundell

Amie & Jeff Sundell

We've just hosted a three day Community of Practice for leaders that are applying church planting movement (CPM) principles around Australia. We brought Jeff and Angie Sundell (above) out to facilitate the peer learning.

Here Jeff Sundell talks about his efforts to apply what he learned about CPMs in India and Nepal, back home in the US.

This is the first of three sessions. They will be valuable for anyone wanting to multiply disciples and communities in a western setting.

Anyone for a walk?

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Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Matthew 9:35-38

I keep bumping into people starting “missional communities” and doing “incarnational ministry”.

Let’s hope the intention is to return to the example that Jesus set in the Gospels and the disciples followed in Acts.

Let’s start with Jesus. What did missional community and incarnational ministry look like for him?

One word: movement. Literally—Jesus never settled down in one place. He never went deep in one location. He was always on the road.

Schnabel suggests that Jesus followed a plan, seeking to visit all towns and settlements in Galilee to preach his message of the dawn of God’s kingdom, with no particular town really being his ‘hometown.’

He walked from settlement to settlement and taught men and women, large crowds and small groups, in synagogues and in open fields, in small market places and in private houses.

In his three year public ministry, Jesus could have easily visited the 175 towns and villages throughout Galilee. It would have been difficult to find any of the 200,000 people of Galilee who had not encountered Jesus in some way. Most of the half million Judeans would have heard of him including many of the 100,000 inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Why was Jesus always on the move? He wanted to give as many people as possible an opportunity to repent and believe. He was looking for responsive people. He was training the workers who would one day go to the ends of the earth.

So if you want to join Jesus' missional, incarnational community you had better put on your walking shoes. Jesus just left for the next town.