Thursday, July 24, 2008

What on earth are we here for?

This cartoon is appearing in the latest issue of Private Eye (Note for Ian Hislop - please don't sue me - I want people to go and buy your mag!!!!) and it just sums up exactly what I think the problem is with the church right now.
It is, in my humble opinion, both incredibly accurate and a damning judgement form a secular mag on the sort of pathetic navel-gazing that goes on. As long as the church (and not just the C of E) insists on obsessing over issues such as gender, sexuality, the atonement etc at the expense of actually looking outwards and seeing what needs God has placed right on our doorstep how on earth can we claim to acting in the will of God. The simple answer is that we cannot. Whether conservative, fundamentalist, reformed, liberal or whatever, if we place this sort of truth above the mission in our society we have got it very badly wrong.
Rant over ...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The New Conspirators - a book review

A new Tom Sine book is one of those publishing events that, even with working in the industry, I find myself getting excited by. Tom is perhaps best known for his books The Mustard Seed Conspiracy and Mustard Seed versus McWorld.

With The New Conspirators Tom wanted to chart the rise of a number of new Christian movements, as well as try and plot some of the future direction (his speciality). He identifies four main new streams:

  • Emerging church
  • Mosaic, multicultural church
  • Missional church
  • Contemporary monastic movement

The book is divided into five ‘conversations’

  • Taking the New Conspirators Seriously
  • Taking the Culture Seriously
  • Taking the Future of God Seriously
  • Taking the Turbulent Times Seriously
  • Taking our Imaginations Seriously

The first section is a superb overview of what is happening – mainly in the United States and the United Kingdom, but also including some interesting stuff in other commonwealth countries, from inner city churches, social action projects to new forms of community. The stories are inspiring and really practical – a refreshing change from what you often see (heavy on theory, lacking on how to actually do it!).

The next three sections are all analysis of where we actually are as western culture – from religion through to commerce and society. The sections on the global village, the global mall (a phrase I first heard in the wonderful
Colossians Remixed) and the imbalanced lifestyle of the west are helpful and provoking. After this, when discussing global poverty it starts to get a bit bogged down in detail and loses some of the inspirational impact.

The final section, Taking our Imaginations seriously, is far better, and much more engaging. It allowed me to feel the breadth of opportunity and possibility that exists when the messages of our culture are no longer limiting the way we might live and the impact we can have.

Overall a great book that is a useful addition to the whole discussion of where the church is going and what it can do.

What are we here for?