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We update our blog several times a week, with news and comment on ministry, theology, the Bible, liturgy and issues of the day.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 13 Nov 2019

Peter Jensen explains why the job of senior minister in a church is the hardest of all in his latest editorial for Churchman.

In his latest editorial for Churchman, Peter Jensen discusses a job he’s never had: that of the church leader. Peter reckons this to be the hardest job of all, for many reasons, but especially because of the task of preaching week in, week out to the same congregation:

“There are a large variety of tasks and obligations which fill the life of the ordinary minister, from planning small groups to chairing meetings to putting the coffee cups away at the end of the day. In some churches, especially ones with teams, the vicar is nowadays more akin to a manager than to a minister. And there are many relationships which are formed and must be tended. But it is preaching which concerns me, for here the minister stands and publicly confesses the faith which is his faith for all to hear. Here is the test and the business of ministry at its most obvious. If this is not done well, little else can flourish.

And here is the problem. For it is very hard to preach well over many years in the same place to the same group of people.”

Why is it so hard? Making the time for preparation, avoiding falling into habits or relying on the same presentation methods, drawing on every field from exegesis and biblical theology, to doctrine, church history and philosophy. Peter explores the problems and pitfalls but also offers some important insights for encouraging better long-term preaching ministry in our local churches. He considers the vital role of theological colleges, the need for ongoing self-education, and constant interaction with God’s word itself, finally reaching the conclusion that, “In the end, great preaching is a product of great faith.”

Read the full editorial and other articles in the latest edition of Churchman, available here.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 11 Nov 2019

Sam Allberry's talk from the 2013 Junior Anglican Evangelical Conference

In this talk from JAEC 2013, Sam Allberry explains how we can reclaim the good news of the gospel in the area of human sexuality.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 7 Nov 2019

The 2020 Fellowship Conference, featuring R. Kent Hughes, will be held from 3rd-5th February at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick.

When God’s Word is preached faithfully, what is it that God intends to be changed in us? Is it to give us truth for our mind? Is it to give therapy for our soul? While our intellect and feelings matter deeply, the transformation God desires of us from His Word is the transformation of the heart! But to do that, preaching needs to challenge our affections, our imagination and our cultural assumptions, while being practical, awe-inspiring and centred on Christ. That’s what we want to explore together in this Fellowship Conference.

SPEAKERS
R. Kent Hughes has more than forty years experience in preaching and pastoral ministry as well as training pastors in biblical exposition and preaching at Westminster Theological Seminary and through the Simeon Trust.  The author of many books and editor of a commentary series for preachers, Kent will be speaking on Preaching to the Heart in the three main conference sessions.

Jason Ward is vicar of St Mary’s, Chaddesden, near Derby. Jason is a trustee of the Fellowship of Word and Spirit and also serves on the Church Society Council. Jason will be giving the Bible readings each day, Following in the Footsteps of Failures, based on sermons from the book of Acts.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 6 Nov 2019

A day conference in 2020 on understanding power, control, abuse and church as a safe place.

Church as a Refuge is a day conference designed to enable better understanding of power, control and abuse within the church. The aim is for church leaders to learn how to create a safe culture and healing environment for abuse survivors, as well as a safer culture to prevent abuse. The conference is particularly relevant for church leaders, Christian organisations, theological students, mission organisations, therapists, counsellors and church safeguarding leads.

​The keynote speaker, Dr Diane Langberg, is globally recognized for her 47 years of clinical work with trauma victims. She has trained caregivers on six continents in responding to trauma and to the abuse of power. She also directs her own counseling practice. Among Dr. Langberg’s books are Counsel for Pastors’ Wives, Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse, On the Threshold of Hope (with accompanying workbook), In Our Lives First: Meditations for Counselors and Suffering the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores. Dr Langberg will speak about abuse, power, and control, and the dangers within our churches. She will share her knowledge on creating a safe culture within the church to help victims and survivors heal from trauma.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 5 Nov 2019

The Autumn 2019 edition of Churchman (Vol 133/3) is now published.

Somewhat later than usual, with our apologies following some unavoidable delays in the production process, we are pleased that the latest edition of Churchman is now published and on its way to subscribers.

Peter Jensen’s editorial reflects on “The Hardest Job Of All” - that of being senior minister in a parish church, tasked with preaching week in, week out to a congregation. He considers the importance of doctrine, the ongoing learning and development of the pastor, and the need for our laity to be to be well-educated in the ways of the Lord.

Other articles include an examination of the baptismal ecclesiology implied in the Common Worship Ordinal, an investigation into the practical implications of the warning passages in the book of Hebrews, George Whitefield’s theology of preaching, and an assessment of John Henry Newman’s lectures on justification, showing them to be flawed and unsuccessful.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 4 Nov 2019

Gerald Bray speaks about the qualities needed in evangelical leadership in this talk from the 1996 Reform conference.

Gerald Bray explores the characteristics required of both lay and ordained leaders in the church. He argues that we need people who are spiritually discerning, theologically penetrating, pastorally sensitive, and missionary minded. Sadly, Gerald is already predicting the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the UK and wondering what the church’s response will be.

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Posted by Julie Woolford, 31 Oct 2019

Julie Woolford reviews The Mind-Muddler by Johanna Boddam-Whetham, illustrated by Rebecca Watts.

If you are like me, you may take care when explaining to children that sin is more than just doing wrong things, it’s an attitude of rejecting God’s good rule. I’m sure that many times, my attempts have sounded too much as though sin is a mood swing that we should adjust, when actually the problem is the more serious issue of total depravity. The Mind Muddler expertly joins the dots to expose the faulty thinking behind our sin.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 28 Oct 2019

The second of Jim Packer's two talks from the 2002 Reform Conference.

Jim Packer continues his discussion of the problem of pluralism by turning to Acts 17 and the question of other faiths. Since 2002, when these talks were given, the need to assert the uniqueness of Christ in our pluralist society has only increased and Packer’s careful unpacking of Paul’s sermon in Athens equips us to do so confidently.

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Posted by Julie Woolford, 24 Oct 2019

Julie Woolford reviews this book of Bible stories for young children by Dandi Daley Mackall.

Cover of My Bible Animals storybook

This fun approach to the Bible storybook format takes you through the Bible via a zoological route. From Genesis to Revelation, 30 stories are shared, all of which contain different animals. Each story is carefully paraphrased to use simple words that young children can access; then there are ‘Amazing Animal Facts’ before a ‘What it means to me’ section, Bible verse and prayer.

I read through this book with my six and four year olds. The structure – story, facts, application – is easy for children to follow and just the perfect length/mix for bedtime concentration spans. Their eyes light up as the time for amazing animal facts is announced. We’ve read all the stories increasing our knowledge of creatures great and small along the way. Did you know that a goat’s eye pupil is rectangle shaped?! I also loved that each story ends with some application, that is well pitched for their ages. I developed the pattern of breaking the closing prayer into short sections for my children to repeat after me, which worked well due to the good use of simple language.

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Posted by George Crowder, 23 Oct 2019

George Crowder suggests that we need to look again at the true nature of gospel fruit as we consider what counts as 'success' in ministry.

I have heard people say, “We used to put on an explorers’ course and people would just come.”  Now we find we are working hard in what some would term the field of ‘pre-evangelism.’  No longer is it like planting a seed in soil; it’s more like trying to cultivate a patch of desert. 

Our model of evangelism has changed from public rally to personal relationship, but this is no bad thing.  In fact, it is a positive development.  Altar call commitments can abate as quickly as they well up within the shallow tidal zone of human emotions.  Conversational engagement and story-telling testimony are not only more effective at plumbing the depths of the heart, they hark back clearly to the example of Jesus and the Apostles.

Gospel fruit seems less abundant in this spiritual desert we live in, but what do we mean by gospel fruit?  I am grateful for those who have put the spotlight on the expediency of our evangelistic model.  Don’t we also need to carefully consider our success criteria?

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