Snippets from the interweb (9th December 2018)

The curious case of the growth conference

‘I went to a conference recently that left a rather curious taste in the mouth. If you’ve been around the church for a while, especially in a leadership capacity, you may even have been to it yourself. It was called the Growth conference, and it was all about how people can get bigger. The speakers were all large people, especially the Americans. The audience, if conversations in the coffee queue were anything to go by, were all there because they wanted to be large themselves.’

Once more: Jesus was not born in a stable

Ian Paul has reworked an article that has previously done the rounds but bears remembering again. It is more helpful to remember it now, at the start of December, rather than on 25th when it’s too late to change anything.

Why increased churchgoing at Christmas is problematic

‘If we allow ourselves to think that our neighbours coming to the carol service and enjoying it will do for our evangelistic efforts this winter (or, let’s face it, this year), then lo! Our churches will once more be at normal numbers (or slightly down) in the New Year…  Because no one in heaven is rejoicing about church attendance at Christmas. The Son of God was not born a human so that we could sing carols by candlelight. Heaven rejoices at a sinner who repents.’

Should we make a priority of diversity in church leadership?

I have answered this question before. Here, Tim Challies offers some thoughts. Given that all areas are diverse in some respect, and all churches ought to reflect the diversity of their area, it is hard to answer this question in the negative.

God grew up in a forgotten town

‘Our Lord, being fully God and perfect man, didn’t make for the big city first chance he got, or insist he dwell where all the action was. Rather, he gave nearly the entirety of his life and public ministry not grasping for Jerusalem, but humbling himself in Galilee — in a man-forsaken town called Nazareth.’

Is your mission agency in crisis?

I don’t know where this series is going but this is an interesting opener. ‘British mission agencies face two significant problems. The first is defining what their mission is in a world where the “mission fields” often have far more believers than the “mission sending countries”. The second is the whole issue of the future and support of the agency in the face of a decline in the UK churchgoing public and the increasing number of agencies actually looking for support.’

From the archive: Happy winter festival?

‘I’m not saying you have to like Christmas nor do I insist you must partake of the religious if you are decidedly secularist. I am not saying you can’t enjoy Christmas and nor am I telling you how you must celebrate. But please, please don’t rewrite history to suit your own agenda and offer a wilfully thick understanding of how culture develops propped up with an equally shady justification of “the Jews and Muslims might not like it”. Let’s just acknowledge that Christmas is Christian, we celebrate it because of our Christian heritage and give thanks that Christianity has won you a culturally endorsed week off work.’