The church’s greatest (missed) opportunity

A while ago I called my friend J John and he said, ‘Hey I was just talking about you! I’m here with Michael Harvey – do you know him? You should connect!’ We did, and it was very enlightening, so much so I had him address our team this morning. He  co-founded Back To Church Sunday and I urge you to check out his site. He’ll join us as a guest at Launch 2018 and I’d love to hear more from him in 2019 too as I believe his message is vital for the church to grab hold of and implement. Here are my notes from his presentation.  How does invitation play a role in how people find their way back to God? How would you rate yourself as a church in welcoming? How would you rate yourself as a church in inviting? A lot of the time we have been intentional about the first, but not the second. We can make invitation around certain points of the year Christmas… Easter… And what about the Sunday after? It can sound […]


How Do We Raise Up Evangelists In Church? The Answer Is Not What You Think.

What is God’s will for the church? Maturity. That the people in it grow together as the body of Christ reaching out to the world around us. God wants all of our churches to grow up. But the church has developed a strange view of maturity. We’ve equated it with knowing more Bible verses than someone else, or going to more meetings. That’s not how God measures maturity. Ephesians 4:15 says, ‘We must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.’  We’re meant to grow up, in every way, into Christ, the head. Head of what? His body. What’s his body? The church. You can’t grow into the maturity God wants for you outside of the church of which he is the head. So how does that happen? The answer is in the same chapter; the way that ‘all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ…’ is when we release all the gifts of […]


Crispin Fletcher Louis – The (High) Priesthood Of All Believers

Crispin’s background growing up around church was that things would go great and the Spirit would move – the church would grow, but that was not sustained and that was often because of leadership dynamics, the way churches were led, with abuse of power at times, leading to unhealthy results. There are some concepts to be grasped here that will need a lot of time to think through the implications of. We looked at questions from the outset to open up the day such as; What do we mean by the priesthood of all believers? How do you figure out your calling? Why did priests, and particularly the high priest, dress in particular special garments? Why does bullying happen with the people of God? What does it mean to be made in the image of God? There is an old dualistic/ platonic view of what that means, which comes from Philo who tried synthesise various views with the OT creation picture. That only our spirit/soul/rationality are created in the image of God. That’s not a faithful picture of what Genesis […]


Malcolm Duncan James 4, 5 – LOSE IT #SH2018

There is a single thread that links this all together and if we get it, it can keep us in the right place. HUMILITY The book pivots in 4:7-10 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. CS Lewis described humility as not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. The test of humility; When you work into a room do you need everyone to see you Do you always need to have the last word? Do your ideas always have to be best? Tim Keller The Freedom of self forgetfulness – based on 1 Cor 4 So look […]


Malcolm Duncan – Tame it! Living a life of freedom

James 2 & 3 Faith and works James wants us to link our faith convictions with our attitudes. Our WISDOM, WORKS and WORDS. But he’s not a linear thinker,  one issue then another – these motifs occur in various places. He keeps looping back round in a cyclical way and intertwining them so we connect what we believe with how we will. Like going round a spiral staircase and passing the same thing over and over but from a different perspective. But what’s at the centre is not ‘WORKS’ but WISDOM. James is about living a godly life. And you can’t do that without godly wisdom. It’s like a tapestry and the threads are wisdom, in how you speak and live – woven together. Chapter 1:20 was about how we engage with anger. How to respond based on God’s perspective. ‘Your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.’ = Don’t assume your anger equates to God’s anger. You may feel you are angry for truth when in fact you are angry for your preference. He says ‘be angry and sin not’. How […]


A Consuming Fire – Matt Lynch of @wtctheology

We were privileged to host Dr Matt Lynch at Ivy last night where he gave great teaching on the subject of how we encounter our God who is ‘a consuming fire.’ My (unedited) notes are as follows –   Exodus 24:17  To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. What does the Bible mean when it says our God is a consuming fire? It occurs a number of times in the Bible and the OT occurrences seem pretty scary! Eg Isaiah 30 See, the Name of the Lord comes from afar,     with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath,     and his tongue is a consuming fire. 28 His breath is like a rushing torrent,     rising up to the neck. He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction;     he places in the jaws of the peoples     a bit that leads them astray. God comes and settles his presence on a mountain but then warns the people not to come anywhere […]


LEADERS ARE READERS – MY TOP TEN LEADERSHIP BOOKS

My friend Steve Barnett who runs St Andrew’s Bookshop has asked me to put together my top ten recommended books on Leadership. This is very hard! There are more books on leadership than anything other than romantic fiction. Thankfully as I never read the latter I have lots of time to spend on the former, so here goes (these are just Christian ones, when I teach on Transformational Leadership at Westminster Theological Centre I have many more eclectic, business focused and academic suggestions for students too). I’d love to know which ones you would add to the list? Leadership Axioms Bill Hybels Willow Creek’s founder distils decades of leadership at the sharp end on issues such as envisioning others, people skills, financing the dream and releasing the power of everyone. My favourite axiom? ‘Don’t say anybody else’s no for them.’ 76 short chapters to dip in and out of over and over again. Down to earth and actionable – itself a model for leaders and communicators. The 360 Degree Leader John Maxwell I was going to say I’ve read everything Maxwell […]


The Characteristics Of A Strategic Mission Mindset (Acts 2) – Dr Kate Coleman

This was an incredible talk that I will return to over and over. Its implications for the church and its mission are inestimable.  Dr Kate Coleman The characteristics of a strategic mission mindset (Acts 2) There are themes here for us all. Main event = PENTECOST Acts 2:1-13 Acts 1:13 tell us the disciples were gathered. Doors locked. In fear. This room = their place of security and bonding together. They had encounter and hope there. They got fired up there! They were where Jesus told them to be. They were united there! It was very special place – but also potentially a very dangerous place. It had the potential to become their prison. We have to be willing to engage in ‘the mission before the mission.’ To keep an ‘upper room mentality.’ Attached to the last encounter, the last paradigm, the last place Jesus spoke to us. Waiting for lighting to strike the same way, twice. People say ‘This where God did this and that, I loved it then, it used to be packed out.’ Hoping for a repeat […]


What If We Got John 3:16 Wrong?

I was reading a post written by my friend Ian Paul on his fantastic blog today as I prepare for my talk on Sunday night where I’ve been going through the Lord’s Prayer. At theological college Ian was always the smartest guy in the room, and I highly commend you subscribe to the blog as I do. There’s always so much to think about even in the throwaway lines, as he boldly goes where Anglicans usually fear to tread. In this example, Ian mentions as a Greek scholar something which has quite profound implications that I want to ponder. Ready? “John 3.16 does not mean what most people think: ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son…’ but rather ‘God loved the world in this way that he gave his only Son…’ That was the meaning of ‘so’ in 1611 but is no longer today—but the traditional rendition is so powerful that even Bible translators have lacked the courage to make this clear.” I love it! It’s the manner of love that’s being described and not the […]


Leader – Don’t Accept The Default!

What internet browser do you use? Why would it matter? I was reading a fascinating book, Originals by Prof Adam Grant, a fifteen year study on creativity, looking at who makes breakthroughs in every area of life, science, the arts and business, nobel prize winners and so on. He cites a study of an office, a sales environment – where they picked out fairly easily the individuals who were pushing things forward. People who had longevity in post, stuck at their tasks longest and who ‘took the initiative to see the vision fulfilled.’ They looked for similarities. They couldn’t find any. There were all sorts of backgrounds, shapes and sizes. Then on a whim someone looked what internet browsers everyone used – and was stunned! Because the ones who used Chrome or Firefox stayed at their jobs 15% longer than those who used Internet Explorer or Safari. They missed work 19% less. They also performed way higher – making shorter calls, but lots more sales. They rated themselves happier, their customers rated them better. So what made the difference? They […]