I know the western church has many idols, but I am frequently confronted by one which seems to be too easily and uncritically erected where Jesus belongs. That is the idol of church growth. When the bottom line of your church is growth, when your church exists primarily to grow (whether that is through church planting, multiple congregations, multi campuses or multiple services or just a really big auditorium) then it is inevitable that eventually you will find yourself doing what works to promote growth rather than what God is really asking you to do, and by that stage you wont even realise it.
Does the Body of Christ need to go on a diet?
The bottom line of any Christian church should be faithfulness to Jesus. Pastors and the people they lead need to get over the idea that they are here to do something or acheive something for God's benefit. God doesn't need you. The bottom line of church, the sine qua non of Christianity, is not to do something but to be what Christ has made us; is not to acheive something but to receive what Christ has given us. Our focus on technique and "leadership" takes us away from the source, for "neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." Churches that are faithful to being and receiving will likely see growth, but when it happens they will know it is God's work and not their own and they will know that what is being built is a living temple and not a tower of babel that God will have to knock down at some point. Even if they don't see growth they have still fulfilled their purpose, "to declare the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light."
Thursday 6 December
9.30 am – REGISTRATION
10.00-10.10 – mihi
10.10-11.00 – Keynote speaker: Robert Myles – Fishing for Eyewitnesses in the Fourth Gospel
11.00-11.30 – Morning tea
11.30-12.00 – Lyndon Drake – Economic Capital in the Hebrew Bible
12.00-12.30 – Anne Aalbers – Resurrection and Celibacy: Two Sides of the Same Coin?
12.30-1.00 – Jonathan Robinson – "And he was with the beasts," (Mark 1:13): Ambiguity,
Interpretation and Mark as a Jewish Author
1.00-2.00 – Lunch
2.00-2.30 – Ben Hudson – Ethical Exhortation and the Decalogue in Ephesians
2.30-3.00 – Csilla Saysell – The Servant as 'a covenant of/for people' in Deutero-Isaiah
3.00-3.30 – Afternoon tea
3.30-4.00 – Jacqueline Lloyd – Did Jesus minister in Gaulanitis?
4.00-4.30 – Mark Keown – Jesus as the New Joshua
4.30 – AGM
Friday 7 December
9.30-10.00 – Ben Ong – Pākehā Readin…
It's so typical isn't it? You are preaching all day long, training your disciples, sparring with the Pharisees, encouraging the poor and down trodden, healing the sick and casting out demons, all day, day after day, and even when you go up a mountain to get a rest the crowds hunt you down and follow you up, and then the one time you get a bit muddled up with some of the details of a biblical text . . . that is the one they write down in the first gospel - verbatim. At least Matthew and Luke had the good sense to do some editing. But Mark, he always had his eye on giving the public the "historical Jesus" whoever that is supposed to be . . . warts and all. Thanks a lot Mark!
So, my PhD must be going well because I have just spent the morning updating my blog pages for Current Research and brand spanking new Book Reviews page. But it is not just procrastination, it is good to stop and and get an overview.
I had totally forgotten about half the book reviews I had done on this blog, they go back to 2009! I am still working on writing the sort of reviews I really enjoy reading, but now that I'm regularly doing reviews for journals it is great to also review books on this blog where I have stylistic freedom and no space limitations. I had always hoped this blog would be a good source of free books, but while it was a source of free books they were not good ones. Reviewing for journals (as a PhD student) has been much better and is helping me keep my broader education going even as I delve deep into my PhD subject. Looking at my old book reviews helps me realise how far I have come. Hopefully, much growth as a blogger, scholar and human being (perhaps not i…