The Church plant Point Community Church announced today that it would be closing soon. For many years, this ministry ran beside mine in the same urban area. We discussed hosting them in my own Church, too. This Church plant had some strong pluses, which I listed at (click here) Point Community Church. However, the Church was hampered by instability of venue and ministry, and (I felt) lacked a few vital ingredients -- above all, a part but not whole appreciation of "ministry by members". Perhaps it could have combined its worship with others as an outreach, say a home. That would be quite a trick, but possible, and could broaden a Church's make-up and even establish a venue. OBSERVATION: I have welcomed Church plants. In practice, these very seldom set established Churches at risk, in fact complement them and enrich them.
Sunday, August 19, 2018
Last month I attended, for the first time, a Church Meeting of my old city Church. There were some marked changes -- major changes. One of these was the absence of decisions by Church members -- only referrals to the Diaconate. Yet it is a Congregational Church, which is synonymous with members' decisions. While on the surface of it, it seemed like a participatory meeting, in reality it was not -- at least, not as one finds in Congregationalism. It was a system of referral, as one finds in Presbyterianism -- which is, referral to a "representative assembly", so called. This is what previous generations of the Church had hoped to avoid, by entrenching Congregationalism in the opening lines of the constitution. OBSERVATION: One might argue that there were no decisions to be made -- yet a Church runs on decisions. This is not just a matter of who holds power, but it is of core spiritual importance. There is more on this blog if one searches for "Congregationalism".
Saturday, August 18, 2018
OBSERVATION: And not only a service, but an upgrade. For the second time, my camera has come back to me with new innards -- at the least, new firmware. A mind transplant. But I think it is more than a mind transplant. I took the photo of my car's hooter.
It's what one would expect of a Scarborough. Son M received decisions back from his three doctoral examiners. The first said accept. The second said revise. The third said reject -- or rather, re-register and re-submit. It's a split, of the most perfect kind. M has not yet seen the reasons for this in detail -- but a supervisor says not to worry. One simply follows a process recommended by the doctoral degrees board. OBSERVATION: Someone said that I, by way of contrast, sailed through my Master's degrees. On the surface of it, yes. In fact my degrees went through deep waters. My own impression of M's doctorate is that it is excellent.
Friday, August 17, 2018
One often hears people say in Churches: "Our greatest assets are our assets." Therefore preserve the assets, and develop them, as a priority. Unfortunately this is never true. At best, one might say that it it is true in the short term. A Church's greatest assets lie in its ministry. But not even that. The Church runs on the presence of the Holy Spirit. It has been said that it grows or implodes on that. OBSERVATION: In some way related to this, my first major Church needed to decide whether it would build, or call a minister. It made the right call, and it is blessed by that to this day.
Glasstree Academic. I began serious work on this in 1981, and got this far in many stages. Subtitle: "A Total, Integrated Philosophy For Our Time". OBSERVATION: The link I provided before was inconsistent.
There's been a funny side, too, to my recent "forced removal". I met someone who has been quite ill, and I greeted him: "So, the rumours of your demise were premature." He said gently: "As if you can talk." Then there was a report that went round on WhatsApp that "The Boss" had been abducted by gunmen. It turned out that The Boss was me, a wealthy property owner. I joked that I would be putting in a land claim soon. OBSERVATION: The first exchange above is an example of how I sometimes deal with serious illness. Sick people get so much seriousness. They can do with a break. But I take it seriously, too.
Thursday, August 16, 2018
I observed recently that my old city Church did not (I thought) have the "password" for recovery. Apart from that, it has a few big obstacles. An obvious one is that, if certain people presided over its decline, one can realistically expect that they will preside over further decline -- although miracles are possible. There is, too, an elephant in the room. People remember that the minister was assaulted in his robes. They know what happened to major agreements entered into. They know this whether the minister had spoken or not -- the news got out through multiple channels. If there isn't a brave attempt to address such things, there may be a weight on a Church for a generation.
I stumbled upon this old post today, which I inexplicably shelved: "Last month, I completed my Master's degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in LA. This morning I received my provisional, overall grade. I obtained 3.9 GPA (94%). Thanks to God for an extraordinary chapter in my life. Special thanks to my academic mentor Rev. Ken Jackson, my Course Co-ordinator Chris Nelson, and Programme Director Dr. Mark Hopkins. Fuller is the largest non-denominational seminary in the world." OBSERVATION: People asked me what happened to the missing 0.1 GPA. I joked that it was that no-good academic mentor. I originally posted this 27 September 2011. It was the same year that my wife died. I wondered whether I could continue that year, but I did.
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
I asked my Bible study group to list their three most important Bible teachings, and to explain one. I was quite impressed with their answers, and their explanations were really lively. They prioritised them more or less like this:
• Salvation through Jesus
• Love for others
• The attributes of God
• The divinity of Christ
• The work of the Holy Spirit
• The results of sin
• The need for repentance
• God’s grace
• The fundamental importance of faith
• The resurrection of Christ
• The Second Coming
• God’s judgements (including the Last Judgement)
• God's blessings
• The existence of evil and Satan
• The hope of eternal life
• Good works through faith
• The priesthood of believers
An elderly woman B threatened to withdraw her financial support from the Church if we did not permit her to lead the worship during the Sunday service -- and she reminded us continually how wealthy she was. We kept a friendly tension going, and did not permit her to lead. Then one Sunday we had a guest preacher, a Methodist minister. B came forward and began to lead the worship. The Methodist minister insisted that she step aside. B left the Church, and never came back. Our record of individual giving was practically anonymous (no single person held all the facts), yet we had the figures of total giving. We studied these to see signs of where she had been. We could not find any sign that anyone had withdrawn their financial support.