Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Best of Blogs

"Grace is that bizarre missing ingredient that mucks up all human foibles, flaws, and fears. Grace is the thing that turns lives upside down. It is a sweet, beautiful irritant.Grace is scandalous. It makes murderers into apostles, it makes victims into forgivers."
Jared @ Shizuka Garden

"All of them will die, many of them without returning to church. Some of those will be our brothers and sisters in Christ who were in sin. I fear that many of them will not have been our brothers and sisters in Christ,
and so they will slip into a Christ-less eternity, face a good and just God
while they are still pleading their own merits for salvation, and fall under
God's deserved penalty forever. We could have helped them, like the man in
I Cor. 5 who was caught in sin (and may have repented II Cor. 2?), or like
the man in Gal. 6:1. But we didn't."
Mark Dever on The Southern Baptist Mistake

"Resolved: Not to plant a church or support the start-up of a church without understanding the existing church landscape, cooperating and supporting in some tangible way existing churches in the area, and considering the community impact of another local church."
Thabiti Anyawile on The Visible Disunity of the Church

"It is not feeling the Spirit that proves my saved state
but the truth of what Christ did perfectly for me;
...It is not inner sensation that makes Christ's death mine
for that may be delusion, being without the Word,
but his death apprehended by my faith,
and so testified by Word and Spirit."
Valley of Vision, cited by Jared @ Shizuka Garden - "That I may always live near the cross"

Meanwhile Ed Goode and Ceryn Oakes have been blogging variously from John Piper's Future Grace, whilst Paul Huxley has been reading Mark Driscoll's Confessions of a Reformission Rev.


  1. good to have you back man!

  2. Hi Dave, welcome back.

    I like the Anyawile quote.

    There was a considerable amount of research done on the effects of having too many churches. Robin Gill's *The Myth of the Empty Church* suggested that one of the reasons for the decline of British Christianity from the late ninteenth-century onward was the over supply of churches (and even of the over supply of seats in each church!). Have you come across it? I reviewed it when it came out in a second edition a few years back.

    [Gill in summary: The Victorians built massive numbers of churches/pews, especially in rural areas. Many of these were competitive plants (Anglicans vs Methodist vs Free Churches etc). Too much competition meant that many churches inevitably *appeared* to be more and more empty (in fact there were the same number of - or in some cases even more - people going to church, but they were more spread out!)

    The result was a sort of loss of confidence in Churches that appeared to be less than successful. Would you rather worship in a small building with 40 people crammed in, or a massive building with 100 people sitting on separate pews?

    When such Church 'hyper-inflation' inevitably bursts, churches close - but critically Gill argued *the actual buildings are rarely demolished*. The effect is that people see boarded-up derelict buildings - again a misleading image of Church decline, which has a feed-back into attendence.

    Gill's conclusions were: close small churches, work together, remove unused seating, move to smaller buildings.

    I've always aimed at ecumenical involvement, and I've used his theory at services: when I used to print less orders of service/put out less chairs than I knew I'd need, human psychology meant that there'd be a feel-good factor when there weren't any more orders/chairs left! If I prepared too many orders/seats and less people turned up, it looked a failure...

    The only problem with Gill is that he may be a bit out of date - I wonder whether Postmodern Christians increasingly actually prefer to be in smaller groups (which can fit with their more particularised identities) rather than in busy churches - do more people belong to CU cells than go to main CU meetings, I wonder?

    Gill's background is that he was having a tilt at the old-style 'inevitable' 'secularisation thesis': that a multiple wammy of new evolutionary theory, popularisation of text-critical scholarship, urbanisation and the loss of tradition rural identities, plus the trauma of the 1st World War made religious belief increasingly untenable for most people.

    I think I buy some of his ideas, especially the ones I can do something about...!]