Tag Archives: Church

A new Ephesians recording

I know I kinda suggested I would make one a week of these, and have failed dismally to do that.  But since we’re about to leave the summer break and re-enter term time and our series on Ephesians this Sunday at King’s Church, I figured it would be handy to make a new recording for people.

I’m afraid it’s my voice again, but the reading is from the New Living Translation which is a little more straightforward in terms of the language it uses (more phrase-for-phrase instead of word-for-word in translation philosophy).

Feel free to listen here, or download with the link and listen at your pleasure elsewhere.

[ca_audio url=”http://peteandemma.co.uk/public/Ephesians-NLT-PeterWilliams.mp3″ width=”500″ height=”27″ css_class=”codeart-google-mp3-player” autoplay=”false”] Peter Williams (NLT)

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Ephesians

It’s been a very long time since I wrote anything on my blog, and so I have decided to pick up and move it all to a new website and test out some fancy new facebook integration.

I’m now posting from peteandemma.co.uk/blog and have every intention of actually doing something with the rest of the domain too, other than just having a neat e-mail address for me and emma!

Anyway, to the point…

At King’s Church Leicester we have just embarked on a journey through the book of Ephesians.  It’s a short but very dense and exciting book full of amazing truths.  To help myself to digest it carefully over the coming months I am planning on a quick read through of the book every week.  This only takes about 20 minutes or so, and to make my life even easier I have started to gather recordings of the book being read so I can listen to it as well.

So far I have a recording of myself reading it, and of Mark Loxton, and I plan on bugging more people to record it for me as time goes by.  I am gathering all of the recordings on the blog, you can find a permanent link to all of them (all available for instant listening online, or to download) here: Ephesians recordings

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Sheffield Fun

I know I said that I would update on my time here in Sheffield last night, but it turns out finding free time to sit down and write is quite tricky when you’re staying with friends!

After a busy day of thinking hard we got back to Iain and Liz’s last night to be told that we were going out to a Kurdish restaurant shortly for dinner. So after a brief sit down we were out again and at this wonderful little place which served fantastic Kurdish kebabs. I was absolutely stuffed by the time we finished eating and it was a real joy to meet the owner of the place, who is a good friend of Iain and Liz (hence why we went).

Then when we did get back for the evening, Iain and Liz went out to their home group and left me and Richard, who is also on the summer school and staying in the same place, to our own devices. This resulted in us having a long and winding discussion about all sorts of theological things (as if a working day full of Bible study wasn’t enough!), including predestination, the nature of God’s sovereignty, and the destiny of the Church.

Anyway, other than all the fun at my hosts house, we have been spending the last three days working our way slowly and carefully through the book of 1 Peter. I came expecting some specific training on preaching, but what we are actually doing as a group is careful study of the Bible, and that’s all. The day is broken up by lunch and a morning and afternoon coffee break, but the rest of the time we are simply reading a little bit and discussing it in detail, ironing out exactly what Peter was saying to the Church at the time, especially focusing on more difficult words and phrases in an attempt to fully understand accurately what Peter meant. Then some of our discussion is also focused on the question “how would you preach this?”.

It’s been an eye opening experience, and an immense amount of fun. In three days we’ve just managed to get to the start of 1 Peter chapter 4, and we might even manage to finish the book tomorrow (our last day here). I feel that my understanding of the book is clear, and I would be readily able to explain it to other people now which is excellent. More than that though, I feel that I have invested a week of my life into making great friendships with a group of likeminded people, with the express intention of understanding the Bible together. This has been such a wonderful experience, and the truths we have been studying have deeply effected me already, and I know will continue to long after this week is over. More than anything it has reawakened in me the desire to really properly study the scriptures, in particular with other people and not in isolation.

When I’m back in Leicester I really look forward to grabbing my friends and wrestling with scripture together with them.

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Where is the Cross in your Church?

There are two senses in which I want to ask this question. The first is physically where is the Cross? Do you have one on display somewhere? If so is it somewhere focal, or is it in the periphery?

I have been in a few different Churches, and I know that they pretty much always have something on display. In a Church building it might be ornate stained glass windows, or engraved Bible verses on the walls. In a rented place its more likely to be handmade banners hung up somewhere. I have never been in a Church where there was nothing (although Im sure some Churches do go this way). So if youre going to display something, it should probably be the Cross first and foremost. A picture of a rainbow is lovely, but the rainbow was a promise pointing towards the Cross. A Bible verse is great, but the whole Bible is about the Cross, so why not that.

The second sense in which I ask is where is the Cross in the actual service? Is it in the welcome when you invite people to take a seat and thank them for coming? Is it in the conclusion where you invite people to stay and share tea and coffee with you? How about all of the many parts in between?

I sincerely hope that the Cross is a major (or better, the major) focus of the worship, and of the sermon. But what about the other parts of the service? How can we best display Gods grace through the Cross in the way we do Church?

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Is preaching central to Church services?

Something that was pondered over at the Pyromaniacs recently was the question of how should we structure a Church service?As usual the post sparked some considerable debate, and as well as the expected variation across Churches in the way they do things, there was also a wide range of opinions on why they do things too.

So here is my big question, is preaching an essential ingredient in our Sunday morning service?

And the why behind that question is by far the most important part here. If you think preaching is essential, why do you think that? Where do you back that up in the Bible? How did you come to that viewpoint? Are other forms of service without a sermon acceptable (cafe-style Church where you basically run a seminar with lots of interaction for example)?

If you think that preaching isnt essential, then again why not and how do you justify that from the Bible? Also what alternatives are there? Do you still draw the line somewhere (i.e. there must be some sort of Bible teaching, it just doesnt need to be preaching)?

I guess integral to this question as well is the question of what we call preaching, so it might be helpful when youre thinking about your answers to try and have a clear definition of preaching in your mind to start with. Otherwise how can you tell preaching has happened in a service!

I will come back to this in a few days and try to express my answers.

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Preaching happens in the context of Church

Technology is a wonderful thing, and is extremely useful for Christians. It gives us access to countless Bible study resources for free, different translations, concordances, Bible dictionaries, even some commentaries. It also gives us access to some really great preaching from the likes of John Piper, Tim Keller, and any number of others depending on your personal preference. There is a great danger here though, which we all need to guard ourselves against.

These preachers are not actually here.

Obviously I dont mean theyre dead, I just mean that arent here right now in the same place as you. They dont chat to you after their sermon, you cant ask them questions about the bits you didnt understand, and they dont see you during the week or next Sunday and ask you how youre doing. Listening to sermons outside of the context of Church can and should be a great blessing. Its a wonderful thing that we have such ready access to such great Bible teachers. But we must always remember that God designed Church to be Church, not a digital download straight to our iPods.

Sermons do not sit alone in the life of a Church, they are complemented by fellowship, by conversation, by applying what we hear to our lives during the week. We do that application together with the other people in our Church. When we get it right we rejoice together, when we get it wrong we mourn together, and pick each other up.

By all means listen to great Bible teaching wherever you can get it, but dont forget about your Church in the process.

For some more on this, here is a great post on the subject from the Pyromaniacs.

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Preaching should impact the congregation

Yesterday I wrote about taking the congregation into account when you preach. I also mentioned that this relationship between preaching and Church life is two-way, so today I want to discuss the impact that preaching should have on Church life.

A wonderful and dramatic example of this on a large scale would be when Simon Pettit preached at the Brighton Leaders conference in 1998 on Remember the Poor. The impact this had on New Frontiers was enormous, God spoke through that message and the whole of New Frontiers was transformed. Social action now is a massive part of the ministry of New Frontiers, and I believe always will be as a result of Simons talk.

Of course its unlikely that we will see changes so dramatic as this in our local Churches, but there should at least be some signs of change. This is good news for Church leaders, because the pulpit is a truly effective place to lead from. If there are issues of disunity within the Church they can be addressed from the pulpit, if there are is a lack of zeal for evangelism then it can be addressed from the pulpit. Lets not forget though that the work has to begin with the preacher, in wrestling throughsermon preparation the life changing effect of the word should have begun before Sunday morning so that the congregation dont just hear it, they also see it worked out in his life.

This is also useful in some ways as a litmus test for your preaching and for the spiritual life of the Church. If you are seeing very little change resulting from the preaching then something is probably wrong. Not necessarily your preaching itself, but that would be agood place to start looking.

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Preaching should be impacted by the congregation

Preaching is important, and I believe hearing preaching should be a central part of Christian life. It is also important to place preaching in its proper context, which is as a part of Christian life, and in particular as a part of Church life. Preaching does not sit alone and isolated from the other aspects of being a Christian, and it doesnt stand above the rest of Church life, untouched by it.

This works in both directions, the life of the Church must have an impact on the preaching, and the preaching must have an impact on the life of the Church. As a Church you might be in the process of moving buildings, or perhaps working through planting a Church elsewhere, or maybe are involved in merging with another local Church. Maybe you are growing rapidly, maybe slowly, maybe not at all, or maybe even you are shrinking in size. Perhaps its the middle of thesummer and your congregation has halved due to everyone being away. Maybe youre just approaching Christmas or Easter and the Church typically swells for a few weeks.

All of these things should have some impact on your preaching, because they are all having a significant impact on the people who are listening. This doesnt mean pandering to the itching ears of the congregation (2 Timothy 4:2-4), we still need to preach the truth that people need to hear, not the niceties they want to hear. This does mean though that when the topics and Bible passages are being chosen, and when the sermon is being prepared, we need to take the audience into account, we must consider those who will hear.

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Church planting

It’s a real blessing to be part of a family of Churches which are consistently outward looking.  There is a constant emphasis in King’s Church on evangelism, and the same is true on the wider scale as well.  New Frontiers willingly labels itself as a Church planting movement, and that isn’t just a label, it’s pretty clearly one of the big aims of New Frontiers because they do so much of it!

So I got quite excited when Dave Bish pointed out a new website set up detail the progress and future plans for Church planting in New Frontiers.  It’s even more exciting that by the time I finish my year of Relay this resource will be jam packed with opportunities for people like me to grab hold of!

http://www.ukchurchplanting.org/

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