Showing posts from September, 2013

The Seven Marks of a Healthy Church

Continuing the exploration of healthy church - Robert Warren's excellent 'Healthy Churches Handbook' contains a number of helpful steps.I've used these headings to provoke discussion amongst leaders in various contexts over the years, also finding them personally useful in my own setting. Whilst Warren writes to provoke life in established Anglican churches that have lost their purpose, his challenge remains relevant and provocative for those of us who consider ourselves to be in more progressive movements.

Understanding Warren's primary target church audience means we are not going to import everything he suggests, but the thinking process involved in his seven 'marks' is well worthwhile. I will simply paraphrase his marks below without comment. As you reflect on your own context, you will find they speak for themselves and leave you making mental notes and adjustments. They may even send you running for the whiteboard with your leadership team! Perhaps I w…

Healthy church - Tolkien v Friends

In our early church planting days, we were hugely impacted by an influential book called 'Natural Church Development' by Christian Schwarz. It was such a fresh voice at the time amongst a raft of church growth books, in that Schwarz majored on qualitative development in church communities, rather than just strategies for numerical growth.
Over the years since, these principles remain valid, although I now prefer to talk about 'Healthy church' and to shy away from any strategies that seek to overquantify growth in percentage terms.
Essentially, church communities who have prayerfully assessed their strengths and weaknesses, aware of their unique culture and context, will begin to engage more fruitfully with the mission that God has for them. This focus on the quality of our life and call together, rather than just a count of numbers attending, is a much more truthful measure of life.
God has given us a model in nature - A healthy plant will simply grow. Give it the right c…

Lost Generation

I've been listening to the Rizzle Kicks on the radio on the drive into town today, with their sound commentary on the vacuum of real life for the average 21st century Brit. Those Rizzle boys may be fresh faced, but they do behavioural studies like old pros, grasping the emptiness that leaves a gnawing hunger in the unsatisfied hearts of our lost generation.
The underlying question is one of what or who we are worshipping-  Really? We all give ourselves to something, someone. A person, a lover, a child, work, money, sport. We define worship with this question - What or who are you giving yourself to? 
As men and women made in God's image, we are designed to give ourselves, dedicate ourselves to Him. That's how life is supposed to work: We're designed to live out our adventures within the deep safety of a secure relationship with God. In a hostile chaotic world, God still calls us to dedicate ourselves into his care and purpose.
It's always been that way. The big story …