Both were dynamic church planting movements. I identified five common themes each starting with the letter P, as follows:
I will expand on each of these in later posts, to help us in our context today.
A couple of weekends ago we decided to go away to stay in a cottage in Mount Evelyn to celebrate my birthday and our wedding anniversary. We also drove out to Warburton, some 70k north east of Melbourne, for a walk along the river. Deciding to stop for coffee, we were once more surprised at the increasing prevalence of New Age.
We went to one coffee shop and having sat down for a few minutes had to make a quick exit – the pictures on the walls seemed to us to be disturbingly dark and oppressive. The more we looked, the more evidence of New Age was all around, such as advertisements for palmistry, tarot readings and the like. There were a significant number of shops displaying New Age influence.
It is so very sad to see some of our most popular venues coming under the shadow of New Age and the eastern mysticism that it promotes. Pray for the churches and Christian believers in Warburton and surrounding areas, that their witness may be strong and powerful.
See also my Reflections on New Age and the Strangler Fig.
Democracy is a blunt instrument, and the responsibility of governing our country is considerable.
Use your vote wisely. Be informed. Be careful with preferences. Pray for our leaders, and pray for our nation at this critical time.
The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. (Acts 11:26)
Antioch is significant in the book of Acts for two reasons: firstly that Greeks in that place became some of the first Gentile (non Jewish) believers, and secondly that it was there that followers of Christ were first called Christians.
For the Primitive Methodists their “Antioch” was the village of Belper in Derbyshire. It was there that they were first called “Ranters”. It was not a name they would have chosen for themselves. In fact the name was most often used as a term of derision, scorn and abuse. Many a young convert experienced verbal assault as their persecutors and opponents mockingly called them a Ranter.
However, there was an upside to the name. It was most often used with negative overtones. When word got round that a Ranter preacher was coming to town, a curious and sometimes hostile crowd would gather. It meant that you could not ignore the Ranters. You were either for them or against them.
Early Ranter preachers often faced a barrage of eggs, rotting vegetables, mud and worse as they preached in the open air. Violence and opposition was part of the package for the early pioneers.
What’s in a name? A great deal, it would appear.
Now my concern is not so much with the self-obsessed celebrities in our media dominated culture. Rather it is with “Me Centred” Christians. For the self-centred Christian, going to church and being part of a church community is an exercise in WIFM – What’s In it For Me. In other words, I’m in it for what I can get out of it.
The journey of being a disciple of Christ is learning to put Christ at the centre of our life. Only when we have a right view of the world, does the world make sense. Rick Warren opens his book “The Purpose Driven Life”, with the now famous words “It’s not about you”. It’s not about me, either. It’s all about Christ.
How do followers of Christ change from being “Me Centred” to “Christ Centred”?
The Barna Research Group surveys religious belief and opinions in an American context. Their results are both surprising and a cause for concern, particularly in our understanding of young adults. I suspect that their results apply in an Australian context too.
This has triggered my thoughts for a series of posts on discipleship, and the importance of helping Christian believers develop a Bibical “worldview”.
One survey, now some years old, from 2003, found that a Biblical worldview has a radical effect on a person’s life. In other words, how we see and understand the world has highly significant effect on our attitudes and behaviour. It seems kind of obvious doesn’t it?
However the research indicated that whilst everyone has a worldview, relatively few people have a biblical worldview - even among devoutly religious people. The survey discovered that only 9% of born again Christians have such a perspective on life.
For the purposes of the research, a biblical worldview was defined as
- believing that absolute moral truths exist;
- that such truth is defined by the Bible;
- and firm belief in six specific religious views, as follows:
So if only 9% of born again Christians have such a perspective, there is a lot of ground to cover. This statement begs many questions, such as
See the full research paper here