Like many of the contributors to this volume, I ﬁnd myself, as a Christian and a minister, very much in Don Carson’s debt. For that reason, I consider this festschrift in honour of his 70th birthday to be well-deserved and welcome.
Testing the calibre of those preparing to enter Christian ministry
During the days of the Cold War, Brother Andrew began what has become the work of Open Doors.
He felt the call of God to run Bibles secretly into Communist countries to beleaguered churches and Christian leaders for their encouragement. It is interesting to read in his famous book, God’s Smuggler, about how the ministry expanded and how he tended to select people to join the work.
‘It wasn’t that we couldn’t find volunteers – almost every time one of us spoke someone offered himself for our work. The problem was to know whether or not these were the people God was sending us. In an effort to weed out the novelty-seekers and the merely curious I often said: ‘As soon as your own ministry of encouragement is started behind the Iron Curtain, get in touch with us and let’s see if we can work together.’1
For those offering to join his ministry Brother Andrew’s approach was to set them a working test of initiative and discipleship…(to read more click here)
Rebecca and Eleanor investigate the joys and challenges of the unmarried Christian worker
Biblical Christianity values singleness like no other world religion.
It is a prized and precious gift, an encouraged option for a fulfilled life of service. Yet many Christian singles struggle with this ‘gift’. A huge proportion – our estimate is more than half – of women in full-time ministry are single1. We conducted interviews with over 50 people 2 in order to investigate the challenges and blessings for single women working in UK churches, para-church organisations and on the mission field, with the aim of encouraging and affirming them and better equipping those working alongside them.
We will report our findings in a series of three en articles. Here, in the first, we share our summary observations.
Our respondents were eager to talk of the privilege and joy of serving the Lord. They felt that their singleness forced them to rely on God in deeper ways than colleagues with a spouse to talk to, and several spoke of the sweetness of uttering their first and last words of the day to Jesus. They rejoiced in the.…(to read more click here)
Mike Mellor, of Hope Church, Ferndown, encourages us to minister hope in times of need
She was frail as a sparrow.
Her legs were like pencils and her ill-fitting teeth barely kept up with her mouth as she spoke. But on asking how she was as she lay in her bed, Gracie’s china blue eyes twinkled mischievously as she beamed and chirped: ‘I’m packed and ready to go, pastor!’ And indeed she was and she did, as a few days later the Lord gathered up another of his jewels. It had been my immense privilege on my visits to seek to make her transition a little more comfortable.
I would frequently receive the same message: ‘Gracie’s fallen again.’ I knew the cause of the fall before I called on her, of course. Those legs were just not built for speed. However, I lost count of the times I returned from visiting her thinking the same thought: ‘Just who ministered to whom there?’ Once more I would be reminded of the eternal dimension to this work of ‘visiting the sick’, and the blessing that God grants to those who go in Jesus’s name.
Bible teacher and author Warren Wiersbe rightly states.…(to read more click here)
I’ve been thinking about 20th-century church growth logic.
I graduated from seminary in the 20th century. The church growth strategy that had been implanted in my imagination was similar to most other ministers from the 20th century: ‘When you’re leading a church, focus the congregation on the future of the church, the youth.’
Logically, the first agenda item for a new minister became the employment of a youth minister. And the logic seemed sound back then. After all, for most of human history young people have outnumbered older people. They were the largest market segment.
The Boston Matrix
In the 20th century the Boston Matrix was one of the business tools that some church leaders found helpful as they grew their churches. This matrix allows you to divide ‘your markets’ and your subsequent ‘product offerings’ into four distinct segments.
The two really important segments for churches were the ‘STARS’ where new growth, new products and the future lies and then there are the ‘CASH COWS’. This unfortunate use of a bovine image allows you to identify your ‘established markets’, ones that can be ‘milked’ in order to feed the more exciting outreach into the future, into those ‘STARS’.
I don’t know how widespread the use of the Boston Matrix became but I noticed that it clarified what many churches were doing instinctively. The church needed to focus on the youth and get the older folk (read: people in the second half of life) to give their all to ensure that young people came, stayed and brought in their parents. The future of the church was young people in families, or so we were told.
Two Americans, the editor of The Journal of Youth Ministry, Thomas Bergler and Professor of Youth and Family Ministry, Andrew Root, have helped 21st century churches to see the unhealthy trajectory of this strategy as it worked.…(to read more click here)
Ian Buchanan is Director of Marketing and Communications for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society.
A survey asking for your experience of older people’s ministry in your church can be found at www.pilgrimsfriend.org.uk
If you are a preacher, the following is a checklist you may find helpful.
It is not intended to be used by the whole congregation, but to be given to a friend to check out some of the nuts and bolts of your preaching.
☺ Hearers are blessed.
😦 Hearers are bored.
@ A helpful story or illustration*.
John Delius is a university teacher, who on retirement, with his wife spent several years as a Christian worker in an East Asian country
But remember there can be no good preaching without prayer. Acts 6.4 ‘We will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word.’
Have you been wondering why there seem to be fewer 20s-30s in your church? Have you spotted the gap of young adults, or are you too busy catering for all the children in Sunday school and parents in the congregation? Where has this generation disappeared to? If they’re not in your church any more, where are they? Kay Mumford offers us some answers.
Kay’s book is a very practical and thought provoking insight into the generation of 20-30-something young professionals who seem to be dwindling in numbers in our churches. The book is probably aimed more at church leaders in terms of its practical suggestions, and I do believe it is a must read for anyone involved in church ministry wondering where all the young people have gone. However, anyone who has a heart to care and minister to the whole church family must also read it, and hopefully that’s all of us.
What Kay does brilliantly is help us to understand what it feels like to be in the category of graduate/young adult — or, in other words, not yet married with children; and how little our churches actually cater for this age bracket. Not all of her suggestions are going to be possible in smaller congregations (she is from a large well-staffed church), yet there is something there for all of us to take away and think through about how we can be better at reaching out to young professionals.
She uses all sorts of real life examples, which I think make the book come alive a little bit, helping you to see that this isn’t just a to-do list or a recipe for change, but actually has had a real and lasting impact. Kay also offers us warnings of what a struggle life can be for this age group, and also how the church will be missing out if we don’t look after them well.
Read it and be challenged; I was!
involved with the London Women’s Convention and in students-30s ministry at Chertsey Street Baptist Church, Guildford
This article was first published in the November 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
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