Re: The bus evangelist - did I do wrong?
I agree entirely that cultural sensitivity is the determining factor. Whether it'll do more good (ie the conversion of one person) than harm (ie the distancing of many) is something harder to weigh.
Interesting story, Colin. Reminded me of taking the bus into the centre of the small market town where I grew up - 40 years ago - still a teenager. Was in a dash to get to the midweek prayer and Bible study, ran for the bus Bible in hand. The bus conductor didn't wait for me to catch breath and pounced, 'You're not one of those Christians, are you?' Had to 'fess up in front of a crowded lower deck. 'You don't believe the stuff in that book, do you?' So followed an intense interrogation about the Bible, God, Jesus, Christian, faith, salvation, my own testimony. At the bus station, the bus emptied and the conductor kept asking questions until the last passenger alighted. He grinned and said, 'Hope you didn't mind. I always do that when I spot another Christian!'
Have often wondered about that captive audience and how many times that conductor, over the course of a life on the buses, extracted a somewhat flustered testimony from a church-bound Christian. Like me, he was Hampshire born and bred ... so it wasn't a West African thing in his case. I think he recognised his mission field and was well-schooled in questions worthy of the Queen of Sheba. At the time, I took what he did as a spur to 'lose your shyness, find your tongue, tell the world what God has done'. Since then the story has come back in different contexts to challenge me to be innovative, counter-cultural, and bolder in mission, when I've been in danger of accommodating too much to a comfortable norm.
I have experienced this in SE London, again most likely by West Africans, a woman on a train (twice) and a guy on a bus the other day. At first I cringed like Colin, but when it happened again I found myself praying for my courageous sister/brother and hoping to be willing and able to give a word of encouragement - so far not the opportunity. I agree that it is insensitive, but maybe God will use them 'by all means to win some'.
Re: Homeless spikes, vulnerable people
Thank you Anna, what an insight. I had just never thought how different it might once have been in a homeless person's past....
Re: Going digital - interactive Bible stories
Excellent! Honoured to be mentioned, delighted to be of service: long may the series live!
Re: '20m meals given out in last year'
I don't know all the ins and the outs of the statistics but it seems to me that the situation is something like this: There once was a dam which created a reservoir which, in turn, enabled the people around to receive adequate amounts of water even if their own private wells dried up but the government discovered that people who had enough water in their wells were still helping themselves to water from the reservoir. It was decided that the dam should be reduced in size and patroled more rigorously so that "undeserving" people could not help themselves. Unfortunately when the dam was part demolished the lost water caused major flooding and people started to drown. When the problem was pointed out the government said that the numbers drowning could not be relied upon and that eventually the excess water would disappear and the rates of drowning would decrease." Not a perfect analogy I admit but we have a situation where the reasons for the policies are understandable even if you don't agree with them, as would have been the reason for reducing the dam, but the short to medium term effects (which could have been anticipated) are effectively being denied instead of addressed.
Re: Bapticostal congregations
A late comment from me. The key thing, to me, is that congregational government provides a healthy amount of checks and balances against leaders misbehaving in some way. There are plenty of examples (primarily overseas) of this happening and church members being left battered and bruised, with their faith in tatters, as the result of authoritarian pastors and the like.
The problems that others have stated are the result of a poor approach to congregationalism, not congregationalism in itself. Congregationalism doesn't require congregational micromanagement. Church constitutions / rules / trust deeds etc need to be written to give the elected leadership the power to handle the day-to-day running of the church as they see fit. Decisions like what colour to paint the toilets are not matters for the members' meeting, nor even for the leadership (deacons or whatever) - they should be taken by the building or fabric committee.
I've become convinced that accountability of church leadership is essential. Congregationalism may not be the only way to achieve this, but we must make sure that any alternative systems are equally effective.
Re: June 2014: Let's talk about worship
Hi Chris thank you for that. I attended this years Assembly and it struck me as more than a little ironic that while your theme was Higher Deeper Wider, the brevity of the event hardly reflected that. And it will be even shorter next year...!
Re: Living cross-shaped lives
One way we can all live cross shaped lives is by our commitment to non violence, which is an expression of what the cross (and resurrection) means. An insight Yoder was famous for.
I hope I'm speaking for all of us in the BU when I express my disgust at the murder of the three Israeli teenagers
. This is an atrocity and as Christians we stand with the victims and pray for their loved ones.
I’ve noticed in the press David Cameron’s comments that we are Christian country
The poverty and justice Bible published by the Bible Society has 2100 + references to the idea of poverty and injustice. It also comments about wasting food... but I would have thought that wasting energy equally important.
At the present time it would not be too difficult for householders to be able to get their fuel bills to around zero through the use of solar panels extractors and better insulation and I would have thought that this was a sensible use of resources especially given the problems of global warming which have been highlighted by Christian aid.
I would also thought that with extreme weather conditions that at the very least churches might be able to help people to stay away from the extremes of weather particularly the growing number of homeless people. This would seem even more sensible given present international tensions which are likely to raise price of oil.
Were you there in 1914? Where? – at the laying the Foundation Stone of Hoddesdon Baptist Church. Probably not! But maybe a relative of yours was present that day; if so, we would love to see you at our Anniversary Thanksgiving Service at 10.0am on Sunday 27th July. Contact the church at Burford Street, Hoddesdon, Herts EN11 8HX for more details.
Hoddesdon Baptist Church, Hoddesdon