Saturday, October 30, 2010

What to say to the JWs?

Mrs Lloyd would like to know, please, with special reference to the doctrine of the Trinity and the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Bible verses are required.

"Please go away and never come back" is also being considered.

Jono has suggested that perhaps we should put them in the bin and take them to the dump. A guest suggested that perhaps they should be recycled, though not in a Buddhist way, of course.

Pagan Eucharist

I heard a report on Radio 4 this morning of a pagan wedding service where, amongst other things, the couple ate bread and drank mead to represent the body and blood of the earth. The reporter mentioned that the rituals seemed largely to have beeen borrowed.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A New Name on the blogs

Mrs Emma Scrivner has entered cyberspace. Watch that space!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Towards a humbler science

Although its not cheap and I fear I may not agree nor find it entirely inteligible, this might be an important new book for Dawkins et. al. to get their heads around. It also might have some important things to say about the difficulty of proving causation. Discussion of it on Radio 4's Thinking Aloud made me wonder to what extent causes might (just) be thought of as God's habits or the way he likes to do things, as a rule, though I don't know what the authors would make of that idea as compared to convetional scientific orthodoxies, which they regard as unproven and perhaps unprovable. One of the authors described himself as agnostic but he said that he thought it was absurd to claim that science somehow ruled out faith.

The case for an evening service

The Old Testament commands morning and evening sacrifices on the Sabbath.

Psalm 92 (For the Sabbath day) v2.

Do Not Clap!

Apparently John Chysostom once preached a sermon against interupting the preacher with applause which was itself interrupted by applause!

Preaching Questions for "Us"

Some of these may be (!) leading questions and I ask them to myself too!

Do we contemporary British Conservative Evangelicals generally believe, with Luther and Calvin and the Reformed tradition, that the Minister's preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God?

How does our preaching compare to the preaching that is preserved in the written Word of God? Does our preaching tend to over emphasise instruction and application over and against the Bible which speaks the Word of God of Christ? Do we tell people about Christ (or indeed other things) or do we aim for them to see / hear / meet / taste Christ?

How is it that in the past preachers seem to have given fewer specific applications and instructions concerning marriage in their sermons, and yet many hearers had better marriages?

Does our preaching tend to produce an effect at the time, to be affecting there and then? Are we over concerned that our preaching should be memorable or helpful later rather than moving?

Do we preach to the heart, mind, will, affections, conscience, inner / whole person?

Is our preaching mainly thought of as a natural or a supernatural event?

Is preaching basically teaching with application or a visitation of Almighty God?

Would our people call our preaching powerful or rather faithful and clear? What do we pray for? If God were specially to bless your preaching one Sunday, what would that look like / how would you know?

Do people call your preaching somewhat engaging and interesting? Do people call our sermons "nice"? Are you satisfied with that? Would people say the same of the Sunday papers? What are your great aims and ambitions for your preaching?

Do people love to hear your preaching because it is the voice of heaven on earth? Does it contain the deep and infinite or is it rather light and breezy, even at times frivilous?

Does your preaching ever batter or break or thunder?

Is it clear from your preaching that you can see far more than you can express and that you know there is much more that you cannot see?

Is our preaching a tedious, pedantic, dull Bible class? How concerned are we to show our workings or to do the work?

How much warning, promise, encouragement, comfort and rebuke is there in your preaching? What replaces them?

Do we tell jokes and entertain and lighten it up or rather is our preaching basically a serious, solemn business? Is our preaching terrible, awesome and wonderful? Does it have a gravitas without pomposity or pretense?

When did someone (including you) last cry or cry out durring one of your sermons? Are people (ever) heart-broken or over-joyed when you preach? Are people appreciative of your sermons or rather silenced and awestruck by Christ as a result? Does our preaching tend to produce love, joy, faith, sorrow, zeal or rather smiles and nodding heads and better informed sinners?

When preparing our sermons do we hunt great game and make sure that we roast it and serve it up?

Is prayer the chief part, or indeed hardly part at all, of your preparation? Could it be said of your preaching that you "have not because you ask not"?

When you preach do you realise that you stand between your hearers and God on the brink of eternity? Do you preach as one who has the 4 Last Things (heaven, hell, death, judgement) in view or as someone looking at the prospect of some grand and beautiful scene to which he invites his hearers?

Do we read the great preaching of the past who move you?

Is your preaching consistent with your life? Do you ever speak of Christ outside of the pulpit as you seek to in the pulpit? Do your people sense that you have a moment by moment sense of what you try to say on a Sunday and that it moves you yourself?

Do your people want to hear 2 of your sermons on a Sunday? Why not? Would your people come to hear you midweek?

You are concerned for people to come to your church, but would it be worth their while?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Keeping going as a Christian

I liked the way Tony Baker's headings fell out of the text of James 1 on Sunday morning and were memorable:

(1) Look forward (to the crown of life God has promised) v12

(2) Look within (to temptation from your own evil desires) vv13-15

(3) Look up (to God the giver of good gifts) vv16-18

Better Wise Up!

God-willing I will be preaching on Ecclesiastes 7 on Sunday morning.

I may or may not to some extent plagiarise Vaughan Roberts' sermon from the St Ebbe's church website that goes:

(1) Embrace suffering (vv1-6)

(2) Avoid temptation (vv7-10)

(a) Extortion / bribery

(b) Impatience

(c) Anger

(d) Nostalgia

Above all, (3) Fear God (vv11-18)

(4) Accept limitations (vv19-)

Reccomended Reading

As I think about moving on to become a "senior" pastor / incumbent / proper "Vicar" in a rural setting a friend reccomended the following reading:

George Herbert, The Country Parson, naturally, though some people want to kill him!

And the Letters of Samuel Ruthford for the sake of pastoral conselling / conversations / preaching that is full of Christ and moves affections and will etc.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Do not let your hearts be troubled

Some jottings for a sermon on John 14vv1-14. The audio should appear on our church website in due course.

John 14:1-14 - Antidotes to Troubled Hearts

How to face the future / live without the physical presence of Jesus

V1 – “Trust in God; trust also in me”

3 Reasons for confidence in Jesus:

(1) Jesus promises us a prepared place in his Father’s house in heaven


Plenty of rooms

Jesus prepares a place for us by going to the cross

Even for rebels and failures (13:38)

Heaven being in the Father’s house with Jesus (Phil 1:23)

(2) Jesus is the true and living way to the Father (vv5-11)

A unique exclusive claim: Jesus personally is the only way

An inclusive invitation: a way open to all (v2)

The Way for the lost; direction

Truth for the deceived, ignorant, confused; meaning; real, authentic; reliable

Life (1:3-4) for those dead in sin; abundant (10:10) / eternal life (17:3)

We can know God the Father (v7) because Jesus perfectly reveals the Father (vv9-10) – mutual indwelling (vv10-11); to know God, look at Jesus

Jesus words and works are from the Father and prove he is the Son (vv10-11)

(3) Jesus will do even greater things through his disciples when they ask in his name in prayer(vv12-14)

“anyone who has faith” (v12)

“because Jesus is going to the Father” (v12) – cross, resurrection, Spirit

“asking in Jesus name” (v13, 14) = according to his will (1 Jn 5:14)

for the Father’s glory (v13)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sussex wont be druv

Today I was urged to remember that "Sussex wont be druv" or driven, or forced into anything against its will.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Vision Statement

Vital or a big waste of time or possibly helpful in some ways? Discuss.


Under God, what are your specific measurable attainable relevant goals for your church and ministry for the next year and the next 5 years in the following areas?


Discipleship & fellowship


Sturucture / admin /support of ministry / finance

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Church Key Performance Indicators

What are the key performance indicators for a church?

These must be clearly objective and measurable. They should be as easy as possible to measure and record. And they should be related as closely as possible to the church's core mission of evangelism and discipleship. A couple of measures are needed. Too many would be too tricky and time consuming and complicated.

How do we tell if we are being effective and what is working?

(1) Attendance

(a) average or usual attendance?

(b) Sunday or all events or specific events?

(c) unique visitors or total?

(d) new comers or non-members

(2) Contacts

(a) compiled by church or opt in

(3) Membership

(a) electoral roll

(4) Friends of St So and Sos list

(5) Baptisms

(a) infant or adult?

(6) Confirmations

(7) Ordinations

(8) Financial

(a) income

(b) profit

(c) planned giving

(d) fund raising

(e) outward giving

(9) Ammount of publicity or evangelistic material given away

Jesus Serves

John 13. Jesus serves - and so saves. (1) The master serves self-sacrificially (2) so similarly the servants should serve selflessly

It might be good to be able to reduce all sermons to 140 chrs Tweets?! cf. Proc Trust / Cornhill theme and aim sentences

Some further jottings so far:

In fact, Jesus saves by serving

(1) The Master Serves Self-Sacrificially

Real love is expressed in practical, down to earth, nitty gritty, undignified, menial, humble, self-sacrificial undignified service

The kind of thing a servant does, a slave – e.g. 19th Century costume drama, carrying luggage about, setting the fire, bringing breakfast in bed, cleaning the muddy boots - an aristocratic guest to the house would never do such a thing. The servants would be shocked at the idea, let alone the family or the other guests.

Service comes from strength.

Power empowers us to be / seem weak.

Dignity leads to humility. True dignity does not stand on its dignity.

We have the right to give up our rights, and we are right to do so.

Greatness leads to putting yourself last.

And putting yourself last leads to greatness.

Jesus serves us in his incarnation, life, death and resurrection

Servants need the master to serve them.

If servants will not accept the masters service they are not and cannot be true servants

(1) So The Servants Should Serve Similarly

No servant is greater than his master so if the master served the servants, how much more should the servants serve the servants

(We serve the (absent) master by serving the servants)

Not just the hidden humble jobs in the limelight!

Not just lip-service to self-sacrificail humble service! Urriah Heap - ever so humble. Not seeking a reputation for humility.

Not just words, or the grand gesture, or the promise of future service or in the big things of life but in the daily nitty gritty grind of the moment by moment little things of life we must love and act as Jesus has done

If we don't do it here in this now, we'll never do it there in that then. Martyrdom starts here, now, in this.

What Did Jesus Do?

What will we do?

We need Jesus forgiveness and help and the power of the Spirit.

Friday, October 01, 2010

New Christians Welcome

How do you make your church attractive to new Christians (and others) who move into the area? How does a small church encourage people to give it a try rather than driving to a larger church elsewhere?

Good noticeboards and clear, straightforward, useful information

An attractive website

Services at a regular convenient time

Obvious provision for children

Encourage people to contact the Vicar or members of the church for a chat if they are thinking of moving in to the area

Deliver a welcome pack to anyone who moves into the parish and invite them along. Offer them practical assistance in the early days.

Have coffee before or after church so that it is something of a social event too and there is more of a chance to get to know people

Make sure the church is at the hub of the community so that it is the best place to find out about life in the area and what's going on

Be friendly and welcoming to people when they come, but not too needy! Be ready to involve people, but perhaps don't leap on them to be on the flower and coffee rota on their first visit. Take an interest in people without being too nosey or pushy. Perhaps introduce people to others with whom they might get on / those in a similar life situation (e.g. have you met Tom - who is another elderly man who has just moved into the village from the North having retired from the fishing industry, just like you?).

Have good publicity / information leaflets available in church taylored to different types of people (e.g. What's on for young people at St Ethelburger's?)

Perhaps offer to follow up new comers with a visit etc.

Make sure the Sunday services are an excellent shop front / advert for the church. Make sure it is warm enough in church in the winter. Aim for people to want to come back for more.

Some possible service times








Midweek - any day or time you like

Select in order of preference (1=prefered, 2=less prefered etc.)