‘The search for the authentic self is both fraught with danger (there’s always the risk you become exposed as inauthentic), or incredibly selfish: What would you not do, not risk; who would you not jettison in order to become your authentic self? The challenge to the people of God who are called to sincerity within the context of trustful relationships is all too obvious. Marinaded as we are in a discipleship program Monday to Saturday that proclaims authenticity as the highest good, we are calling people to godly sincerity. Steeped as the culture is in self-fulfilment, self-promotion, self-actualisation, we are calling people to the self-denial personified by Jesus.’
Church signs, of the kind described here, are very much an American phenomenon. But British churches still put signage outside their building and our websites can suffer from these same problems. We need to be sure that what we communicate is both clear and worth saying.
‘Westerners are so used to incurring courtship-related psychological crippling, nobody thinks it’s a big deal to have walking broken people among them. It’s a rite of passage, we think. Grandpa did it, we think. Well, Grandpa Kioko probably died of chronic bronchitis too. I doubt God intended this.’
Numbers 1 & 2 are key. I’m hoping our guy joining us next month takes on board number 4 (though I sense I would be the one more likely to be in trouble for looking scruffy). Number 6 is vital for all of us and number 7 an unfortunate but brutal reality.
‘It’s good when pastors wisely open up. But opening up about mental health? It’s one thing to talk openly about spiritual battles and temptations (though not in too much detail, except to a few close friends); it’s another matter entirely to admit to depression. Right? But when circumstances and personal confidence allow, it can be of great benefit to a congregation when a pastor is open about this issue—for several reasons.’
‘As most church plants go, we have many visitors checking us out week to week, hoping we might be a good fit. Of course, as most church plants also go, the folks we have are often busy getting things set up, ensuring the kids are taken care of, and catching up with friends pre-service. If we’re not careful, we will let those good and necessary things prevent us from welcoming new visitors as we should.’
‘The call to faithfully preach the Word remained constant and, without a doubt in the eyes of any who care to look, the Lord gave the increase. We just happen to be ministering in a time and place where, for Iranian people in Oldham, this is an “in season”.’