Monthly Archives: June 2008

Raunds Methodists squeeze loads in

Today was a crazy day for lots of reasons (see 42: Exhausted but can’t stop and  42: I do still exist – I think).

But the first service of the day was a definite highlight for me.

I was at Raunds Methodist (my local if you like) with Les as the Worship Leader. The service included Mark’s baptism, Carol’s confirmation & reception into membership and Paula’s reception into membership. Oh and communion.

We wanted a nice big space in the centre for the baptism which meant we only just fitted enough chairs in, a problem I do love to have.

I got quite a few people on the edge of their seats, worried I was going to burn down the building, when I was demonstrating that 3 foot high flames from a gas stove were a much better symbol for how the Spirit can be at work in us than little tea lights.

Mind you I think my reputation at Raunds for longer services is getting worse. Just before we started, at 10:30am Clarice, our pianist whispered to me that she needed to leave my 12. I pointed out that I needed to be in Thrapston by then (see 42: Thrapston Praise in the Park), however, Clarice was on time but I was not.

Powerful worship with a full Church is a wonderful thing to be part of.

Thrapston Praise in the Park

Today (Sunday 29th June) was yet another Hope08 event in Thraston.

This time "Praise in the Park". We had a big lorry trailer for the band and PA, despite a very short set-up time they managed to get a good sound out (so thanks to Raunds Methodist Church for the loan of the PA, and to Peter W for sorting out all the bits we needed).

In the excitable words of Lindsey (writing to the team who organised this for us):

FANTASTIC-MAGNIFICENT-WHAT
WONDERFUL WORSHIP, it was all I hoped for, and more, much more. Thanks for
all your hours of hard work. What a wonderful climax to a fantastic
weekend. Great to see so many people [church and non church]. Cant wait
for next year. Reports of it from all over town, beautiful. God was really
with us this weekend. Please pass on to band members our thanks, they
were great. The
greatest thing to me, personally [after, of course, worshipping God] is all
the churches working as one, long may it continue, we work well
together for God and Thrapston. Thanks again,its great being part of a
great team

 

GOD bless each of you, you are very special people

 

love Lindsey.
 

Exhausted but can’t stop

A few days ago in 42: I do still exist – I think I wrote "My diary this week has some tricky days."

Well I have reached the end of the four services I have been part of today (2 leading and preaching, 1 with a worship leader and one as part of a team).

But it is not over yet. Our oldest son is on his way back from a Circuit Youth outing to the seaside and then I have to drive him over to Northampton (takes longer with the A45 closed) for a 6th form induction party at a night club, I then have to go and collect him at 12:30am.

Yippee.

Thrapston Charter Fair

Today was the biggest community event of the year in Thrapston – The Charter Fair. For the third time (that is every year since I arrived, not sure what happened before that) all the Churches joined together to take part.

This year was our biggest effort by a long way. All four Churches had many volunteers and together we provided a huge range of FREE activities. For the last year our policy has been to offer back to the community during the Charter Fair and so nearly everything is free (except teas, books & donations for the flower festival).

This year we made the Thrapston Charter Fair one of our 15 or so Hope 08 events, so we really went to town to offer something special to the people of Thrapston.

In the High Street, by the ally that leads to the graveyard we focused on prayer. Everyone was invited to write a prayer on a card attached to a helium balloon and at 4pm at the end of the fair we launched around 140 prayer balloons into the sky. We also had a large sheet of cloth on which you could draw around your hand and then write a prayer in it. From here we also encouraged people into the Churchyard.

In the Churchyard we had so many things to do that I lost count. There was an information tent particularly focusing on Space2Be (our Saturday place of quiet) and the kids games (hook a duck, frog hoopla, play dough, giant connect 4, stilts, big Jenga, inflatable darts, a competition to win a goody bag and more).

In the Church there was a flower festival, colouring and cartoons to watch (the theme of the Charter Fair was Cartoon Characters) and a book stall

Then there were the teas in the Church Hall.

The weather was so good that whole groups of families just spread out on the grass while the kids enjoyed themselves. My guess is that for most of the afternoon there were several hundred people in the Church and grounds, nobody could remember seeing so many people coming in and out of the Church in an afternoon (and they made more money on the teas than ever before).

It has been a joy to see the growth in the involvement of all our Churches over the years. There was a time when it was pretty much just the clergy with a few helpers, now we had loads of people getting involved and wandering around in Hope 08 t-shirts. That is especially good as this will be the last year with this team of clergy (Arthur: Baptist, Brian: Catholic, Paul: CoE and me) as Paul finishes his curacy real soon now. In fact the organising group (who have been working hard on this for months) was itself larger than the total number of helpers in past years – Hope 08 has really energised the Churches in Thrapston.

So a great success and looking forward to our next Hope 08 event in Thrapston which is tomorrow – Praise in the Park. We have a big lorry, a band with PA (thanks to Raunds Methodists for the PA) and the promise of a great time together (games for younger kids). bring your lunch and join us from noon at the Peace park, Thrapston. If it is wet then we will be in the Methodist Chapel in Market Road (opposite the cattle market).

The teaching at Revival Fires, Dudley

I have transcribed part of the teaching from Revival Fires at Dudley. It comes from this clip YouTube – Hearing Aids No Longer Needed Day 36 at about 3mins 35secs.

"If the Word could have changed this nation … If the word could have done it then we should have been in a place where this nation was changed but do you know what? People have got tired of the Word because it is devoid of power"

"People are beginning to get a deep conviction again that is based in his power as Thessalonian’s says rather than just in words of wisdom"

Some questions:

  • I am unclear about what is actually meant by "the Word" in this teaching. The usage seems different from my normal understanding. Is it a printed book? Is it Jesus? It is the preached gospel? How does "the word" relate to "words of wisdom"?
  • Is it possible to say this nation has not been changed by the Word of God (however "word" is understood)? Seems an odd reading of history. Try telling Wilberforce, or Wesley that!
  • Which Thessalonians and where in it? Maybe 2 Thessalonians  2:9-12?

9 The coming of the lawless one will be
in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays
of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10
and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They
perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie  12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

It seems that displays of power, signs and wonders are not always truth. We cannot simply look for power and say there must be the gospel.

15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

No indication that the first teaching from words (verbal or written) must be replaced by signs of power, instead we should hold firm to it – because the first teaching has power.

4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you,  5
because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with
power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived
among you for your sake. 6 You became
imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the
midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Clearly the gospel is not words alone, it is not words without power, but it is also clearly not power without the words. Would it not have been good to look at this in context (well a good start would be to actually mention what the text is and maybe even read it). So we could consider 1 Thessalonians 1:13

13 And we also thank God continually
because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us,
you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of
God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.

Where is the lack of power of the Word in Thessalonians?

Overall what does this teaching really mean? Not a lot in one sense, however, I can easily see how hearing this might leave you understanding that the power you see at work in this meeting should be replacing the word as revelation of God. That goes against the clear and simple reading of 1 and 2 Thessalonians which demonstrate the sound basis of the teaching and the need to hold to it while being ready for the experience of the Spirit.

Thessalonians makes clear the need for the Word and Spirit together, in no way does it support any idea of supplanting the word as I understand this teaching to be suggesting.

It seems to me that this goes a long way to supporting the understanding that people from Raunds have come away from Dudley with see 42: The Todd Bentley revival.

[Update]

I have now written several posts on Todd Bentley you can find the others at:

The Todd Bentley revival

I had not planned to write more on Todd Bentley and his revival meetings at Lakeland in the US, but the meetings in Dudley are having an impact here in Raunds.

Of the bloggers I read most, Peter Kirk is still the most positive towards Todd Bentley and indeed I found his post Todd Bentley lifts Jesus high quite reassuring. So in the spirit of Henry Neufeld’s post Danger, Will Robinson! I have been doing some more research and thinking about whether I should travel to Dudley as Phil has: see Visit to Dudley (part 5) (well part 5 is the summary and has links to the other 4 parts).

However, my greatest motivation for finding out more is not my own curiosity, but concern for the Churches I minister within. Some people have already been to Dudley and others are planning to go. I have been listening to them and been prayfully reflecting on their (and my) concerns.

Now I don’t think Peter really approves of my doing this (see Who has the right to test interpretations of Scripture? Although I thought I had a better example from Peter but can’t find the post at the moment). On the other hand I believe that the Methodist Church expects me to, otherwise why would my ordination service include:


In all things, give counsel and encouragement
to those who Christ entrusts to your care.
Pray without ceasing.

Let no one suffer hurt through your neglect

After prayerful consideration I amd concerned that saying nothing about Todd Bentley and the Revival Fires meetings in Dudley would risk those in my care suffering from my neglect. I have three reasons for thinking this:

  1. Violence
  2. Prosperity Gospel
  3. Place of Scripture

Let me flesh these out.

Violence

Go and watch these two video clips:

That is one from Todd Bentley in the US and one from Trevor Baker in Dudley, UK. Peter Kirk attempts to justify this in Violence and the Kingdom – and Todd Bentley again. I totally disagree with Peter on this one, particularly the interpretation of Matthew 11:12 which is about violence against the Kingdom of heaven.

The simple test of comparing this to Jesus is clear, the idea of Jesus ever using violence to heal is bizarre. Remember Jesus is the one who would not let violence be used to protect himself from an unjust death. How can violence ever be part of the healing work of the Spirit?

Can you say "Hey I serve the Price of Peace, so be healed by this kick in the face, or groin"? Absolutely not.

Prosperity Gospel.

I have written before that Todd preachers this. See 42: Todd Bentley and prosperity. Peter seemed sure this was not the case in Dudley, Phil was not so impressed Visit to Dudley (part 3). However, the description I heard this weekend from a Dudley meeting last week was a very simple summary of the Prosperity Gospel "Give money generously in order to be financially blessed". It especially worries me as this is such a simple "no brainer" to fix. If you do not believe in the prosperity gospel then simply say so on your websites and in your meetings. It is not as if it is any surprise that people are going to be concerned about this – and if the label does not fit then it is so easy to fix, but at least so far I can see no attempt has been made to do so.

Place of Scripture

Again this is not a new concern. In  42: Todd Bentley and prosperity I wrote:

Note
that it is worth reading the whole of this "teaching" and noting the
place of scripture within it (almost none existent) – another concern
for me.

After their visit to Dudley last week, one person was bubbling over with enthusiasm for what had been taught about revelations beyond Scripture, how the Bible was incomplete and there needed to be more gospels and how tghe supranatural was needed to take us beyond the Word.

I don’t know about you but alarm bells are going off left, right and centre in my brain at that point.

Now, of course what I write here about a meeting I was not at is hearsay and yes of course communication and understanding of a message is not perfect. But if our teaching can leave aChristian believing that they now need something more than the Bible and that they need to be finding extra gospels and experiences that take them beyond scripture then I submit that something is deeply wrong.

Conclusion

I have grave concerns about this "revival" but my primary concern is how to support congregations who are always eager to hear and experience more of God and so will go and receive exciting experiences wrapped in bad teaching.

[Update]

I have now written several posts on Todd Bentley you can find the others at:

I do still exist – I think

So I have been very quiet for a while. There are several reasons for that. Firstly, I have been very busy with work particularly:

  • Hope08 in Thrapston
  • preparing for Annual General Meeting in Raunds
  • work on our Circuit Vision

All that coincided with a significant over-run upgrade to the main server at home (to Ubuntu 8.04 and Sun Ray Server Software 4.0) – Ubuntu is an easy install, SRSS is a pig. With very limited time it has taken a couple of weeks.

So anyway. What is good?

  • Hope08 in Thrapston.

A huge weekend ahead with the town Charter Fair on Saturday. As part of Hope08 we have a huge presence with loads of stalls in the grounds of St James, plus prayer balloons and stuff in the High Street.
On Sunday we have Praise in the Park with live music on a big trailer.
Recently we had an update meeting to share news of all the projects under way and those we are starting to plan for later. Another good turnout and lots of enthusiasm.

  • Circuit Vision

We have released our vision paper to the Circuit and had a discussion at the Circuit Meeting. We now have until July 31st for feedback before a special Circuit meeting to decide how to proceed. The staff are all pretty fired up with our proposals which include a radical shakeup of Methodism in this area – all based on huge focus on Mission with 3 key elements Outreach, Worship & Small Groups.

  • New Toys

I’ll blog about them separately, but anyweay I have two new toys. A Garmin Edge 705 Bike Computer (sat nav etc etc) – fantastic. Also one of the new 8.9" screen Asus Eee PC’s (tiny notebook computer running Linux) – superb for travelling around.

What is not so good?

  • Recent stress with a son going through GCSE’s
  • My diary this week has some tricky days.
    • Thursday:
      • AM: Take son to Northampton. Christian Bookshop. Visit District Chair.
      • Lunch: Meeting far side Northampton
      • PM: Lead worship at Strawberry tea (Ringstead), Cook and lead worship at WOT (Raunds), Lead Bible Study (Thrapston)
    • Saturday
      • AM: Mission Consultation at Ringstead (finishes at 1)
      • PM Charter Fair Thrapston (starts at 12)
    • Sunday
      • AM: Service at Raunds. 1 baptism, 2 confirmations, communion all with 50 guests
      • Lunch: Praise in the Park Thrapston
      • PM: Anniversary Service & Tea at Thrapston. Evening Worship at Old Weston

Anyway good to be back. Bye for now.

A Peculiar Prophet: NON-SYNOPTIC CHURCH LEADERSHIP IN CHURCH

Bishop Will Willimon writes

In the complex and conflicted human organization called today’s church, Rendle says that leaders can no longer function well with either problem-solving or strategic planning.  It is unproductive in a conflicted organization where people feel very differently about many different subjects to spend so much time negotiating, bargaining, and planning for a distant future.  Now leaders must act, even if they aren’t sure if they have a consensus backing them up, even if they are unsure of the results of their actions.  This is "non-synoptic leadership."

Sounds a lot like the sort of thing that Martyn, President of the Methodist Church in GB is saying, see 42: Renewing Methodism.