Syston Methodist Church are celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible this autumn. We have three related events
Bible Reading Challenge
Starting at our Church Anniversary on Sunday 9th October we have a challenge to read the whole New Testament in 30 days. I am delighted that having put the notice out last week we already have over 20 people signed up for this.
The key objective is to Deepen our Discipleship (Our Circuit Mission is: Deepening Discipleship. making New Disciples) through encouraging us all to read the Bible more and improve our understanding of Scripture. This reading challenge will help especially with understanding God's big picture and also improving our experience of the relationships between the books, characters and events of the New Testament.
However, we have added a little side objective which is to raise some money for the mission of Syston Methodist Church and for Bible Translation. So there is a £5 entry fee (gets you the reading plan), opportunities for sponsorship and a £10 "fine" if you give up before the end.
If anyone out there in Internet land would like to join in, I am happy to recieve donations amd then email you the reading plan.
We are also making sure we support and encourage those on the challenge so we are offering two suppoert groups that will meet weekly starting the week before the challenge. So far just over half those signed up for the reading challenge have also signed up for the small groups which means both are going ahead.
Towards the end of the Bible Reading Challenge we are putting on a Bible Exhibition with a lareg collection of Bibles in different languages & formats. It will include a guide to English translations and also people's own Bibles with their stories of why they are important to them. We hope to have a number of other exhibitors as well.
The Exhibition will then feed into a new monthly event (normally 1st Sunday evening of the month, starting 6th November) at Syston at 6pm titled "A Fresh look at the Bible" which will be led by our Superintendent Minister Rachel and myself. We had a good session planning this today and I am really looking forward to this.
So a busy time, but the reactions have been great so I am very excited about what God is doing here.
For many people it seems the Methodist Church has a reputation for having lost it's radical edge. Many people are apparently unaware of the many ways in which Methodists have been radical upsetters of society in the past.
For me one of the joys of being a Methodist Minister is seeing the radical fire within many in our Church and the different ways in which that radical passion is being freed, supported and even celebrated. In many different places and ways I see the fire of radical Christian discipleship burning brighter in the Methodist Church than I have ever seen before in my lifetime.
Given the perception of so many that the Methodist Church is staid, dead and not at all radical I found it very interesting last night to attend my first Leicester Cycle City Workshop.
When I compare that workshop with the other meetings so far this week I give thanks for the opportunities I have to work with fantastic, radical, exciting, passionate, loving people in the Methodist Church.
Christiian discernment (see a bunch of definitions from Google) is about seeking to understand God's will, about discerning the difference between good and evil and truth and falsehood. Mark Driscoll is mis-using the term to refer to visions of past events in peoples lives (often that they apparently knew nothing of). His claims have nothing to do with Christian Discernment and ignore the demands of Scripture to test gifts of the Spirit. See Romans 12:1-2, Philippians 1:10 and 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22. See this post assessing Driscoll by the views of Tim Challis.
This is not Christian pastoral care. If you did discover abuse or adultery then telling people in the ways Driscoll claims would be hateful. Even if he were right in what he claims to know (which given the above I sincerely do not believe) his behaviour towards the survivors is dangerous, cruel and unloving. I suspect that in the UK it is potentially illegal, I would have thought that if nothing else it would be a significant problem for UK safeguarding due to the way it would undermine any legal proceedings.
This is not Christian teaching. The content and presentation are inappropriate, it would never be right to share so many details should not be shared (my guess is that people within the Church will be able to recognise some of the people referred to). The presentation is close to pornography. To claim that he is different to TV preachers is a deceitful when made to a video camera on a clip that will be uploaded to Youtube.
What to do?
I cannot see any alternative but to call for Mark Driscoll to be removed from his role at Mars Hill. However, this is unlikely to succeed given his tight control over the elders of that Church.
As far as the UK is concerned I would hope that all Churches could unite in making it clear that this is not Christian discernment, not Christian teaching, not Christian practice and firmly reject this.
While I reject this teaching and example I do not wish to throw babies out with the bathwater. Unlike several of the blogs I have linked to I am not cessationist. I do believe that the Holy Spirit is at work today. However, not in ways that adopt Biblical terms and use them for behaviour wholley unrelated to their use in Scripture.
I would be very interested to know what others think of this, please let me know.
A few observations on how a Circuit Meeting ought to be:
Friendly & welcoming with refreshments as you arrive (thanks Rothley, good job! Sue they were great biscuits!!!)
Interesting and encouraging (helped by two recent video's made by our Superintendent of a youth weekend and Birstall Messy Church). Also an upbeat presentation on Synod by the senior Circuit Steward etc etc
Theologically demanding. I was presenting a potential mission project for support by the Circuit and the Circuit Leadership had required me to include the theological basis for the project and show how it fits with the circuit mission ("Deepening Discipleship. Making New Disciples"). Fantastic, exactly what we should be doing at Circuit Meetings.
High expectations. The contributions from the meeting indicated that the Churches have high expectations of the Circuit. They expect things to be done to a high quality and are willing to invest to allow that to happen. We saw this in discussions of the Mission projects, worship resources, in relationship to manses and elsewhere.
Well led. The chair needs to be recognisable by their spiritual leadership, their professionalism and their love for God, the people and the tasks. All these and more are clearly visible in our Superintendent, but don't tell her I said so
Moving. We had a great presentation on a proposal for a Leicester North Christian Counselling Service (still to have a proper name). The focuses on prayer support, professionalism and the needs of our community were strong and so was the response from the meeting – very encouraging for something that promises to be excelllent and which is now fully approved with resources committed
Team. Our Circuit Leadership team always sit at the front of the Circuit Meeting and all lead at least one agenda item. Others from the Circuit also present items. The overall effect is one of teamwork. The Circuit Leaderdship team have already (and recently) discussed all the items on the agenda so again it comes across as a team effort.
Altogether now "I do like to be in the Leicester North Circuit, oh I do like to be in the Leicester North Ciircuit. Oh I do like to be beside the Soar and ride through Watermead" H'mm, might need a little more work on the lyrics there