Monday, August 20, 2007

Baby Obadiah?

Following a sermon by Rev'd John Cheeseman on 1 Kings 18:1-16, Obadiah has suddenly shot up the possible names list for young master Lloyd. John informs us that the name means "servant of Yahweh" and encouraged us to have it as our highest priority for our children that they might be devout believers in the LORD (v3) who honour the word of God and worship the LORD since their youth (v12). What a wonderful witness Obadiah's name would have been in the dark days of wicked king Ahab.

I think it would be good to have a name that's shortenable and play-around-with-able. You can't do much with Marc!

And even if it is a bit posh, it seems to me, the more middle names the better!

But Jonathan (sort of vaguely after Yvonne's father, John, and Jonathan Edwards, the great American theologian - not the tripple jumper) Owen (after John Owen and 'cos its a bit Welsh) Andrew (since there's a bit of a middle name thing going on in my family there) remain the favourates. Maybe one doesn't want to use up Edwards and Owen on one kid?

And maybe they're a bit too dull?

I had a great grandfather called Zechariah (see Luke 1:67ff), so maybe that should be resurrected - though its not as cool as the now fairly common Zach?


Mother's Day (or, properly, Mothering Sunday) is an important fixture in many church calenders, often seeing a bumper congregation.

To be honest, in our church, like many churches, we probably have more grandparents than parents (if you see what I mean).

I know it might feel like a horrible commercial Americanism, but I wonder if we as churches should make some use of Grandparents' day? We could encourage grandparents to bring their little dears to church on that day and have a children's talk that recognises wider family or the dignity of age, or whatever.

In the US, grandparents day is an official holiday falling on the first Sunday after labor day, the 9th Sept this year.

My quick Google Search didn't throw up much of use for grandparents day in the UK, but the Clinton Cards website seems to put it on Sat 22nd Sept 2007, which is also Yom Kippur.

Work Experience at Church

Why not encourage the teenagers at church to do their work experience with us? We could always find them plenty of useful jobs to do and by the time they shaddow the vicar, the curate, the office manager, the verger, other volunteers and leaders, and in our case the coffee and gift shop staff, we could give them a very useful, interesting, diverse experience. It would be a bit like a mini-apprenticeship.

Indeed, perhaps we need to think about flexible, part-time apprenticeships too. Maybe that 17 year old could give 4 hours a week to the church, the students could be involved in the vacations and so on.

Maybe some of the retired may be interested in apprenticeships too?!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

English Prayer Book: allowed?

Do you think An English Prayer Book (OUP, 1994), the work of The Church Society, which is largely a modern language adaptation of the Book of Common Prayer and is intended to preserve the doctrine of the BCP and 39 Articles, as the note about Interpretation on p4 states, falls within the discretion allowed to the minister under the provision of canon B5?

Could a PCC and incumbent decide that it does (c.f. Common Worship, Authorization, p vii)?

The question would be, is it a matter of "substantial importance... according to particular circumstances" (Canon B5, p20, 10/00)? Is "no one understands the BCP (here) anymore" a sufficiently particular circumstance?

If a question is raised, the bishop may give "such pastoral guidence, advice or directions as he may think fit, but such reference shall be without prejudice to the matter in question being the subject matter of proceedings under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdication Measure 1963." Does anyone know if a Bishop has every said anything relevent (to this!!!) or if there have ever been proceedings?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Building Mother Kirk in England

There seemed to be a broken link on the Christ Church, Moscow, ID web site, but what I want to know is this:

Could an Anglican Church in the UK affiliate to the Confedreation of Reformed Evangelical Churches, or whatever its called?

If we basically more or less buy the Mother Kirk / Against Christianity vission, how, under God, do we make in happen in the UK?

Do we just start doing full on liturgical services in fancy dress or is it slowly slowly catchy monkey?

Do we look out for an incumbancy near Oak Hill and go from there or just start up in the chapel on Sunday?

Dear Heathen

I got this from the Christ Church, Moscow, ID website, where Doug Wilson is the Pastor:

A. A. Hodge, the child author, went on to be Professor of Theology at Princeton:

Dear Heathen:

The Lord Jesus Christ hath promised that the time shall come when all the ends of the earth shall be His kingdom. And God is not a man that He should lie nor the son of man that He should repent. And if this was promised by a Being who cannot lie, why do you not help it to come sooner by reading the Bible, and attending to the words of your teachers, and loving God, and, renouncing your idols, take Christianity into your temples? And soon there will not be a Nation, no, not a space of ground as large as a footstep, that will want a missionary. My sister and myself have, by small self-denials, procured two dollars which are enclosed in this letter to buy tracts and Bibles to teach you.

Archibald Alexander Hodge, and Mary Eliz. Hodge,
Friends of the Heathen.
(June 23, 1833. A letter to the "heathen" from ten-year-old A.A. Hodge and his sister Mary Elizabeth, given to J.R. Eckard, a Princeton Seminary graduate who was to go to Ceylon. Quoted in Princeton Seminary: Faith and learning 1812-1868, v. 1, p. 193)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Confusedly or Confusingly

I've just been reading an excerpt from Rowan Williams on Maurice Wiles at Michael Jensen's blogging parson.

MJ tells us to note that Williams says doctrine (or something) is ofetn very variously and very confusedly articulated in our primary documents (such as Scripture).

The word I am duly noting here is confusedly.

Note that it is not confusingly (which would tell us about Williams: that the Bible confuses him) but confusedly (which tells us about the authors, human and divine ?, that they were confused).

Williams may be able to hold on to some sort of idea of the authority of the Bible, but he has lost its perspicuity or clarity, so for my money for all practical purposes he has given up on the functional authority of Scripture.

What is his practical substitute, I wonder?

Maybe the Revd Mr Jensen can enlighten us?

I doubt Williams can.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Prayers for Reformation Sunday

As Reformation Sunday is only a lesser whatnot in the C of E, there is no Collect for it. Some of these 15 collect-length prayers look pretty good to me. Set prayers and special days are not entirely against the spirit or letter of the Protestant Reformation, of course, though some seem to think they are and it is true that some of the hotter sort of Protestants might have fumed against this sort of thing, perhasp with more heat than light.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

False Teachers in the Church of England

Here are some comments I made over at Daniel Newman's new blog (a wordpress thing with a funny latin title about the Trinity, I think). He is considering seeking ordination in the C of E sometime and from the little I know of him and it, I think he should go forward with that.

Who says you should publicly say so whenever you disagree with the Bishop or Archbishop on a serious issue? Surely no one assumes you agree. Disagreements in the C of E are all over the papers. I would have to spend a lot of time placarding my disagreements!

Always remember the distinction between believing and teaching many false things (which no doubt we all do) and being a False Teacher who will be damned and lead others to hell, with whom we must not associate or even eat.

And whoes job is it to deal with false teachers? Granted that there may be some false teachers in the C of E, they should be excommunicated by the church, its elders and people acting together after a due public quasi-legal process. It is not for you or me to excommunicate them on our own on our blogs though we must do what we can to promote biblical church discipline. As an elder, next year, d.v., I will have a responsibility to take a lead in that in my own congregation (under the vicar's oversight, under the Bishop...). Till then, if he's baptised and says "Jesus is Lord!" and is in good standing with the church, I'd have to have a pretty serious case made for having nothing to do with him.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Why The Reformation?

I'm very excited. God willing, on the Lord's Day morning Rev'd John Cheeseman will preach at Holy Trinity, Eastbourne on "Why The Reformation?" from Galatians 1:1-9.

I assume that's the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century, but I don't know. Maybe John will speak about the "reformation" in Judaism with the coming of Christ or the need for another Reformation today, especially in our own church and nation, or all three.

But really I bet John has in mind the events which, more than anything else, where sparked by Rev'd Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenburg on 31st October 1517. The theses mainly protested against the Roman Catholic practices of penance and indulgences on the basis of Luther's growing understanding that the Word of God clearly states that believers are justified (declared in the right) before God in Christ by grace alone through faith alone and not be works (doing good things, or the mediation of priests though the Mass or penance).

An English translation of Luther's Theses can be found at:

By the way, why not arrange a Reformation Day Party as an alternative to Halloween this year? Maybe its something we should do as a church, for the adults and the kids?

Speak up at the back there!

Our church services are pretty liturgical and the liturgy is good stuff - most of it from the Bible or there abouts. So let's do it approprietly: loudly, enthusiasticly for the creed, as if we really do believe it, hearty deepfelt "Amen"s, air-punching, "Lift Up Your Hearts" cheers, that sort of thing. Maybe we need to practice our war cries. Perhaps see how they do it down the football stadium.

As Revd Douglas Wilson puts it:

Those against liturgical worship will often caricature it as lifeless, cold, and dead. But too often the friends of open liturgy do everything they can to confirm the many prejudices. They mutter the creed, instead of wanting to shout it from the housetops. They mumble through psalms or hymns, rather than singing them the way they were written to be sung. The organist thinks her job description is to be a ball and chain attached to any hymn that threatens to get too robust. Instead of roaring amen at the conclusion of prayers, the corporate sentiment appears to be huh" (Mother Kirk, p. 151).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Action Group

I noticed today that our church evangelism committee is called the "Evangelism Action Group". That seems to me to be a good thing. Nevertheless, we appear to be having a committee meeting on August 13th. We shall see what action points arise.

Towards a Strategy for our children's and youth work

I’d love to hear from church members, qualified and / or practicing youth / children’s workers, or indeed anyone who’s interested, about how we can develop our church work in this area, which I think its fair to say is struggling relative to the rest of our church life.

We’re a large conservative evangelical Anglican church in the centre of town with no schools and few residential homes in the Parish. We have 400 on the electoral roll and a strong ministry to holiday makers.

The aims of our church’s children’s and youth work are really the same as those of all its work: to present everyone perfect in Christ (Colossians 1:28f), in this case, particularly, young people.

This will involve evangelism and discipleship. We want to see people go from having no Christian contact to training others to make disciples of others.

In practice, this will probably mean (at least) some groups and activities directed mainly at out-reach and evangelism and some aimed at nurture and Bible teaching. There will need to be training in ministry and some will need specialised training in training others!

As a minimum, we should be seeking to provide evangelism and discipleship for everyone and as far as we can for each sub-group.

We need things outreach opportunities that church children are enthusiastic to involve their non-Christian friends in.

In the case of children and youth, the work most naturally divides up into age groups. So, we need groups or activities directed mainly at evangelism and others directed mainly at discipleship for our 0s to 30s.

In all this we seek to support parents who have the primary responsibility before God for the discipleship of their children. The church’s ministry to parents will be a ministry to their children.

None of our children’s activities should be merely babysitting services.

Some of our most important discipleship and nurture Bible teaching of children might be done in a Sunday School during the main morning service, but increasingly and as much as possible our children and young people should take a full part in the Lord’s Day service of covenant renewal. At the moment, the children and young people are in for the first part of the service (in which there is usually a children’s talk) and they re-join us for the Lord’s Supper (when it is celebrated once a month in the morning service).

We currently have a staffed crèche on a Sunday morning (0s to 3s) and a full children’s Sunday School: Whizz Kids (school years: Reception, 1 & 2), Explorers (school years: 3-6), Pathfinders (school years 7-9) and IMPACT (school year 10 and over).

There is no reason why a reasonably bright 14 year old should not profit from a serious 30 minute sermon. If the sermon usually seems dull, irrelevant and off-putting to the 14 year old, then the chances are that it will seem like that to many adults too. A grammar school child of 11 should manage to benefit from a sermon too. Even with younger children, it may be better for them to stay in church (even if they don’t understand much) with their families rather than go out of the Lord’s Day service. Children and adults will all want their own dedicated teaching and groups at other times (just as adults belong to a homegroup).

For most people, after their 30s and until their old age, their age becomes a less important defining factor for which groups or activities they might be involved with. Things like their education, employment, gifts, interests, background, shape of family, free time might be more significant factors.

All our groups and activities should have clear aims and plans about how to seek to fulfil them that we can prayerfully review.

In our current programme, HT Club (a weekly parent and toddler group, with Bible songs and a story) and SNAP club (Saturday Night All Play, a monthly meeting for 7 to 11 year olds, games with a short Bible Talk) are our only regular outreach events. We need to expand our outreach to ages 4-6 and 11+.

HT Club seeks to encourage parents and children to be involved on a Sunday morning and in our mothers and others Bible Study and is quite effective.

We have probably not seen anyone move from SNAP club to Sunday church involvement in the last 5 years. Although sometimes about 25 kids come along and are taught something of the Bible, the group is not really effective in moving kids on or in reaching parents. About a third of the children attended are involved at some other church.

We have a fledgling Youth Group (for the 14s+) meeting on a Sunday after the evening service. This looks very promising but I’m not 100% clear what it’s for yet, what it will do or how its different from the IMPACT group during the morning service for those in school year 10 and above.

A few students are involved in the church during the vacations.

There are some students and some foreign language students in the town, but our church does not seem to reach them.

Our 20s and 30s used to have a reading group, but that kind of folded because they were involved in home groups and other things anyway and there wasn’t wild enthusiasm for it.

In the past the church has employed a youth worker. We have the cash to do so again and there’s been some talk of perhaps buying a house to accommodate a worker but we’re not sure what the best thing might be.


Bible Orthography

Some friends of ours are working with Wycliffe Bible translators in Africa with a people group who do not currently write or read the language that they speak.

Our friends described the people’s excitement and amazement at seeing their language, which they had spoken for as long as anyone could remember, written and read for the first time.

It must be a wonderful witness to such people that our friends and others would travel across the world, learn their language and work out how to write it down, all so that the people can receive the Word of God in their mother tongue. The Word of God must matter very much and these missionaries must have great love for them.

I was reminded of Calvin’s response to Gregory the Great’s argument that idols (or images) are the books of the uneducated. Calvin simply said that if they can’t read we must start schools and begin teaching them! Bible orthography projects take that to a whole new level.

Calvin’s case also points the way to an education system that is oriented towards discipleship and away from idolatry.

We distinguish!

After much waiting and not a little cajoling, Rev’d Neil T. G. Jeffers, MA(Oxon), MTh, CertMin (distinction!), has finally entered blog-land at Distinguo. You have to forgive him the completely unnecassry latin. At least there are unlikely to be spelling mistakes over there.

He rightly urges us to distinguish. In other words, to ask of every statement, “in what sense?”.

At Oak Hill, “we distinguish” is something of a mantra and to be honest it can get a bit tiresome. But you only have to read a newspaper, or indeed listen to many a preacher, to realise how vital it is. We must never allow boredom or laziness to cause us to fail to distinguish. If we do, we will find ourselves slipping into heresy – or, depending on our situation and temperament - mounting an entirely unnecessary witch-hunt.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Why Do The Nations Rage?

Here are some headings for a sermon I preached at Holy Trinity, Eastbourne. There are some more jottings here.

Why do the nations rage?

Psalm 2

(1) The nations stupidly rebel against the LORD (vv1-3)

(2) But God has established his King (vv4-9)

(3) So “kiss” the Son (vv10-12)

God’s enemies: fear – flee to the Son

God’s people: fear, rejoice, serve, blessed, safe, refuge
Confidence and boldness in evangelism

Invitation to the Good Life

Here are some headings for a sermon I preached at Holy Trinity, Eastbourne. There are some more jottings here.

The Secret of Happiness

Psalm 1

An invitation: (1) to the Psalms
(2) to the good life (“Blessed” / Happy, v1)

2 Ways: a stark choice
now & later pictures - 2 directions & destines

(1) Avoid the way of the wicked

Don’t waste your life!

(2) Choose the way of the righteous

Don’t you want this kind of blessing?

The secret of the good life: “on his law he meditates” (v2)

How will you do it?

The Blessed Man

Trust in Him