Monthly Archives: November 2009

Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism in Britain Project

I got an invite from the Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism in Britain Project to a day conference called Christian Fundamentalism and British Evangelicalism: Exploring the Relationship.

At the same time they asked me to publicise it. I was initially uncertain about doing so. I am quite determined that 42 not become in anyway commercial.

However, I have been thinking about it and after checking my diary again I have decided to go.

The Conference Information is all available as is a flyer (pdf).

The key speakers are:

  • Professor Alister McGrath of King’s College, London
    • ‘Evangelicalism, Fundamentalism and Science’
  • Dr Stephen Holmes of the University of St Andrews
    • ‘Evangelicalism, Fundamentalism and Theology’
  • Professor David Bebbington of the University of Stirling
    • ‘Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism in Britain’

The conference will consider the ways in which Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism have expressed themselves in the social and historical conditions of Britain and
engage such questions as:
• Who have traditionally been Evangelicals and Fundamentalists?
• What doctrines have they upheld?
• What attitudes have they maintained?
• Have Evangelicals displayed the anger often considered characteristic of Fundamentalists?

The location is King’s College Chapel, London, on Tuesday, 15 December 2009. The cost is £10

It would be great if some of those who I have crossed swords with over the years (yes Adrian that would include you) were able to have a meet up at this conference.

Mission 21 – Martyn Atkins


[Update] Martyn's talk is now online as an MP3. Also Martyn has joined the 24×7 Discipleship stream.

"It is more fun making babies than building coffins"

The need for variety in models of Church.

"Indigenous" to "pilgrim" continuum (I've been seeing this in Stuart Murray's book Church Planting: Been reflecting on that for a while for myself (and I have a bias towards the Pilgrim end). Martyn points out both are always needed in every church with different shades and hues.

Martyn looks at tensions in this continuum.

  • Seems to be God designed tension
  • balance creates variety and health (he notes that often we get them wrong way round we are pilgrim when we should be indigenous and vica versa.
  • Both gospel based John 1:14 Indigenous = incarnational. Pilgrim = the divine tabernacled with us for while (2 translations of same text).

Both will change when society changes. One will take the lead in renewal at a particular time – but today with variety we need Both/And. Need synergy.

He connects with history. We need to learn lessons and so need synergy and movement between both.

If we have more variety of Christianity then we need more to work out what holds it together. Considers a time traveller view of Christianity as a world faith. Christendom in recent times has restricted variety.

Holds us together:

  • Scripture
  • The person of Christ
  • Rule of life/lifestyle
  • A community of faith and practice
  • Models of discipleship

Two key indications of authentic Christianity

  • Disciple-making (key to all renewal movements)
    • If you make disciples among new people then renewal comes. Mark of a renewal movement
    • Acid test for fresh expressions/church plants
      • Work in progress on thinking about evangelism
        • you will …!
        • Will you …?
        • Please will you …?
        • Will you pretty please …?
        • Why won't you …?
        • Why wouldn't you (want to)?
        • You wouldn't want to!
      • last two are key for today, they are long and hard and attractive
    • Wanted: varied authentic Christian disciples
  • Varied Communities
    • engage with and transform the world. Not for personal health and personal balance
    • varied communities – communities of place and communities of practice
    • dispersed as well as gathered
    • communities of holiness
    • human communities
    • importance of Christian community in building communities
    • Christian churches regarded by society as both dangerous and essential

Call for greater diversity in church plant and fresh expression and faithful risk taking.

Be more radically indigenous and prophetically pilgrim and ever more open to the Holy Spirit!!!

Mission 21 conference


I'm at Mission 21 in Bath, we are just in the welcomes at the moment starting with our host Katei Kirby. Lots of Methodists here which is great. 1st main speaker is going to be Martyn Atkins the Methodist General Secretary/Secretary of Conference.

Currently a welcome from Steve Clifford General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, 1st time I have heard him and he is coming over well, inspiring.

Quiet Sundays in rural Northamptonshire

or more accurately Quiet Sundays in rural Northamptonshire NOT! Today has been fun and far from quiet.

This morning I was at Irthlingborough Methodist Church leading worship. We were able to pray over all the Christmas shoe boxes they have collected for the Samaritans Purse project Operation Christmas Child. Part of the goal seems to be to build a wall of shoe boxes to hide the minister.

The service also included a few other firsts.

  • We used our new projection screen. I am really pleased with this, we fitted it on Monday night and it looks and works great. So often screens look terrible in Churches. However, this fits very neatly in the refurbished church. It is central, nearly 2m above the platform and can be easily removed so that nothing remains when it is not being used. It is designed to be fixed to a wall with a rigid frame and the screen is tensioned between them. For us it rests on a ledge and is tied back to the old choir balcony rail. Anyway the results today were superb.
  • It was also my first use of my new laptop for a service. First time I have had a Linux machine capable of playing a DVD and working well with dual screens. All went pretty well, a little fumble with the switch between OpenOffice Impress and the dvd but other than that all ok. Not very excited about the performance of OpenOffice on this machine given it has a dual core 64bit processor.

Anyway I loved the service. We were looking at Mark 13:1-8 and some of the themes of that passage connected very powerfully with our situation. See Dave Faulkner's Sermon: Christ-Centred Priorities where he makes some similar points (and that sermon was very helpful in my final preparation).

I used the human rainbow method I learned from the Mennonites to add a bit of interaction as we considered our attitudes to the return of Jesus. It led to some good sharing and the encouraging news that the congregation are looking forward to the return of Jesus – even if several said they would prefer to have the Sunday lunch they had prepared first :-) Methodists really do like sharing food, possibly nearly as much as Jesus according to the gospel accounts.

I am really enjoying getting to know the church here, it is a real joy to be with them at this stage in their life with so many things taking off following the huge refurbishment.

I was there  on Thursday morning for one of those – Little Fishes – a toddler group that is refreshingly open about the gospel message and full too. On Wednesday they start a regular lunch for the community on the day when nowhere else is open in the community.

Sadly, I had to dash off soon after the end of the service – the preacher had gone on a bit and we had lots of singing (yes it was me and I know it is all my fault, but I hate rushing worship) – as I had a Church council meeting at Thrapston.

It was an important milestone for our small congregation there. Our first Church council since Enid, our friend, organist and Church Council Secretary died from cancer in the summer (see 42: Changing lives about the funeral). On Friday several of us had been to a Requiem and Thanksgiving service at Bishop Stopford School which was packed.

So it was a big moment for us. But the congregation are lovely people who show great care and thoughtfulness and deep faith so we prayed, reflected and planned together. Next summer will be the Churches 125th Anniversary and plans are being made for that (so if anyone reading this has connections with Thrapston Methodist Church over the last 125 years please do get in touch).

After the Church Council it was back home for a while, not with Jane though as she was dropping one son in Northampton for a concert rehearsal and collecting another from the station after a weekend in London with an Aunt.

Our paths did cross a little later. Jane was driving home up Primrose Hill with our youngest son while I was driving down it on the way to our 4th Circuit Taste and See service – so we waved at each other.

This Taste and See was at Kingsway Methodist Church, Wellingborough and was a Taizé style service. Like all the others in our series (so far we have had Contemporary, Traditional and Cafe) it was ably led by a team of our Circuit Local Preachers – several of whom go to Taizé most years. The numbers attending these fortnightly services have been really encouraging as have the discussions and feedback afterwards over tea. Our last one is in two weeks (29th November) in Thrapston at 3pm – a Community Carol Service with the Thrapston Town Band.

From Wellingborough I went straight on to Northampton where I met Jane at the Dearngate Theatre for a "Youth in Concert" performance. Our oldest was in the Sax choir (in the lobby before the start), County Concert Band and County Youth Orchestra. A fantastic set of performances from those groups plus the County Big Band, Brass Band and Choir. Again we gave thanks that the Methodist Church sent us to Northamptonshire, our oldest son has had such wonderful opportunities through the county music service.

Mind you, as we have looked at schools around the country recently we are also reminded how thankful we are for the excellent education they have all had in Raunds, particularly from Manor School.

Anyway finally saw everyone at the same time for the first time this weekend at just after 11pm Sunday night. Anyone who thinks weekends are quiet here has not been part of our family.

Off to bed soon, busy week as I am away Tuesday through Thursday at a conference on Church planting called Mission 21 Planting Life – very much looking forward to it.

My favourite UK city

Today I am in my favourite UK City, I brought my son here for a visit and had an enjoyable time wandering around old haunts.

The city is of course – Manchester. Where else could it be after all?

He is back now so back into the car for the ride home.

Datasoul – Free Open Source Church Presentation Software

What a nice surprise. I have been doing some setup on a replacement laptop (after much abuse all 3 USB ports have given up on my old laptop which is a big problem for mobile internet access, presentation remotes, external hard disks and cameras).

Anyway I decided to have another look for free software for Church services (I can't yet find my SongPro CD and anyway would prefer to use open and free software, plus it helps if it runs on Linux).

Anyway, good news. I found Datasoul – Free Open Source Church Presentation Software. It is already excellent, written in Java and immediately ran on my new Dell Laptop running 64bit Linux as well as on Windows.

I have spent the last couple of days exchanging emails with Samuel and Jean-Philippe with some ideas for making it work a little better for our small Churches (Samuel is in Brazil in a Church of 4,000 so has rather more complex needs than the Churches of 40+ that I serve).

I have already been able to download the source code and start making some sense of it. Java coding has changed a huge amount in the several years since I did any (especially when it comes to designing forms in Netbeans – wow!). So the learning curve is a bit steep.

I am very hopeful that I'll be able to use it for services very soon (my needs relate to not usually having an operator and so needing to move through the whole service using a remote presenter with next and previous buttons. I think it is going to be great for several of our churches and of course the fact it is free software produced by a worshipping congregation is very attractive too.

There are some really nice features of Datasoul that are better than the commercial stuff I have found in the past.

  • One is the very simple text files used for service plans which are self contained and so contain all the song words.making it much easier to move them between machines.
  • Another is the way a song can be changed, either in the library for all future uses or in just this service (eg miss a verse out).
  • The interface is very simple and straightforward so it is really easy to use (and from our conversations going to get better too).

This is a great find and I am really excited about it. If there are any other Java programmers in your churches who would might like to get involved that would be fantastic and your Church could then get something really good at the best price.