Is preaching past its sell-by date?

One issue I often have to address in my itinerant preaching is the abiding relevance of preaching. One interviewer said to me after hearing me preach, “But don’t you think you put too much confidence and emphasis on preaching? People have their Bibles now. Shouldn’t they simply be encouraged to read their Bibles and then come together to discuss what they are learning from their Bible reading?” That is the popular mindset. Men and women do not want to be told what to believe and how to live. They want to share their opinions. This is particularly observable in the blogosphere. Continue reading

Attitudes toward the Holy Land: spiritual places and sacred spaces

When I was younger, I saw church buildings as being different to other places. I couldn’t imagine us gathering there to watch an important sports match and all screaming and waving our supporters flags. Neither was it even thinkable that we could hold one of our regular social functions there, with beer flowing and people making all sorts of colourful jokes. The church building was a holy place; a sacred space for serious religious activity where God (and the minister) was watching. So, from a young age I started thinking of some spaces as spiritual and others as not. Later, when I became a Christian, it didn’t stop. I dreamed of climbing onto a plane and visiting Israel – the Holy Land! The place where the dramas of Scripture unfolded – where Abraham walked, where David reigned, where the prophets are buried and the events in the Gospels took place.

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Jerusalem and Galilee seemed somehow sacred to me all those years ago, as if God is more present there. Continue reading

Theme of the month: Church buildings

This month I will be publishing a post summarizing the chapter in Pagan Christianity about church buildings. Frank Viola and George Barna provide some interesting facts about the history of church architecture and thoughts on how meeting in a “sacred building” affects our faith. I will also be adding a few new bible re-mixes about church in the “Scriptures about church… as we live them” series, this time about church buildings. I hope to have some interesting discussions with you about the types of venues that you attend Christian gatherings in – whether it be a cathedral, a cinema or a home – and whether or not they are an important factor in ‘how we do church’.

NotreDameParis

The Notre Dame Cathedral

Recently, I visited the famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. It is a very impressive building – especially if you like Gothic architecture – dating back to around AD 1100. As I stood and looked at it, I couldn’t help thinking about how much had changed since the days of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; Continue reading

Scriptures about church… as we live them #5

Alan Knox runs a great website called The Assembling of the Church which touches on many of the issues tackled in the book Pagan Christianity that we are discussing from a different angle. One series that he does is called “Scripture… as we live it”, where he ‘edits’ bible verses to expose how we sometimes do church unbiblically. I think it’s a great concept. Here’s a slightly changed example of how Alan thinks we often live out Scripture:
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And they devoted themselves to listening to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread to passing out small bits of bread and small cups of juice a few times each year, and the prayers a few of them attended the weekly prayer meeting. (Acts 2:42 re-mix)
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Let me know what you think about how these early Christians lived as seen in Acts, and whether it differs to your experience of your church community… What do you think Alan is pointing out here with his re-mix?