Thursday, August 30, 2018

Training for Urban Ministry: UMP Lite and Webinars

You can now do parts of the Urban Ministry Program through online webinars with me. Here's what you need to know:

1) I've broken the UMP down into smaller chunks (called UMP Lite). This means you can just start off with a 4 week interactive online course (1 evening a week), and see if its for you or not. If you want to progress onto further modules, you can. If you want to call it a day, that's cool too.

2) I'm teaching the UMP online through webinars. This means, as long as you have a webcam, and internet, you can join me one evening a week for training (from anywhere in the world). Its an interactive course, so you can ask questions, and we can have some back and forth, as well as going through the UMP curriculum.

3) The first module I'm teaching in November is Exegesis part 1. We'll do this on Thursday nights 8-9:30pm. This is designed for everyone, from recent converts to mature believers. We'll cover exegesis vs eisogesis, and how to use the following tools: co-text, cross references, different translations, systematic theology, Biblical theology, community. We'll discuss principles, and examples, and then for homework you get to practice it. The cost is £5 per session plus materials, but if you can't afford that, I'll sort you out anyway. Sessions are 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd Nov - unless I get lots of feedback asking for different dates. Sessions are recorded, so if you miss one, you can catch up. There will be homework to do in the week too.

4) The second module is Exegesis part 2. We'll do this after Christmas. This will cover genre specific exegesis, such as how to interpret OT narrative, or NT epistles, or the Psalms etc.

5) The third module is How to Teach the Bible in the urban context. You can take this module without having done the previous parts. We'll do this in the Spring. This will include how to preach to the heart, and how to preach to a variety of different types of people and cultures at once.

If you're interested, contact me here
If you'd like me to do something a bit different for your particular context, then please let me know, and I'll see what I can do.

If you want to know more about the Urban Ministry Program, go here

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Reaching the Unreached 2017 conference videos now online!

Here are the videos from last years conference focusing on real growth in council estate ministry. Obviously, the workshop session where small groups discussed how they're seeing growth in their context was not filmed - but hopefully you get the gist.

Part 1 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Contentment amongst Discouragement

I've faced a lot of discouragement the last few years, but I feel so content. I hope that the following thoughts might help others facing discouragement.

Father God loves me so much
I spent months bedridden with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. This included taking 20 minutes to manouvre to the bathroom, and an almost impossible trip down or up the stairs. The whole time I was in excruciating pain, and keep dislocating joints. The thing that kept me going, was how much God loved me. At times, I could feel his love welling up inside me, other times, it was just through meditating on scriptures about his love. This truth was my anchor through the storm, and my lifeline to hold on to, whilst the waves buffeted and almost drowned me. I'm now content to have extreme chronic pain and mobility issues knowing Dad loves me so much (Jer 31:3).

I am clothed with Jesus' righteousness
During this time, the devil stirred up some gossip & slander that really hurt my wife and I. In my weakened state, I tried my best to biblically deal with this, but sadly it didn't get resolved. On some occasions I was having difficult meetings with people whilst my ribs were dislocating, and other times people were refusing to even talk to me. Without anyone wanting to set the record straight, I had no-one to go to except Christ - the one who sets our record straight! I'd tried Matt 18:15 and Rom 12:18, now all I could do was rest in what God thought of me because of Christ's righteousness. Whenever the devil repeated to me what others had said, I imaged God saying, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?" (Zech. 3:2 NIV). I'm now content to hear the gossip (and even laugh about it), whilst knowing that what God thinks is more important.

I'm Stronger in Weakness
I'd often preached about not relying in own strength, but now in my weakened physical state, I needed more strength from God than ever, and realised how self dependant I'd been. As I mined the Scriptures, and cried out to God for strength each day, I began to learn how being weak was a massive advantage. Similarly, as our church unsuccessfully asked for help and support, I realised that we were actually stronger by not receiving man's help. I'm now content to be weak in my health and ministry (2 Cor 12:6-10).

My Identity is in Christ
I thought that I believed this, but there's something about being in a wheelchair and being pushed around your estate that impacts this. There's plenty of times I've had to stand up for my family and let people know I'll physically defend my family if I have to - but now, it was common knowledge that I couldn't do that anymore. This shook me, and it became clear that part of my identity was in being strong. To make matters worse, my wife was 8 months pregnant, and I couldn't protect her, and she couldn't even push my wheelchair. From this place I had nowhere to turn except who I was in Christ. Whereas Paul voluntarily considered his identity markers rubbish (Phil 3:3-12), I'd had mine stripped away (involuntarily) so that I had nowhere to get identity, other than in Christ, and knowing him in his suffering. I'm now content to have a weaker public identity, but a greater identity in Christ as one of Dad's kids.

So why do I still speak out on issues?
So why Duncan if you're content, do you post stuff about what's wrong with our theological tribe? Because, whilst content with my life and ministry, I'm not content with the practices of our theological tribe. So, I want to use my voice to help others who might be going through what I went through, or who might even be putting others through the same things. And, from the feedback I get, it appears to be quite a few!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Elon Musk, the Thai Cave & Paternalism: OR When a Church offers you a Submarine!

I don't know how accurate the Guardians's story is about this - but I've seen the sentiment many times.  Someone from outside the culture steps in to offer their help, they give their advice from their viewpoint, and expect it to be followed. However, Musk's submarine wasn't needed and in the end all the boys were rescued, and under Thai leadership, as it should have been.

In the church scene, plenty of us at the margins have experienced similar stories. We go to a well known church leader for help. This leader knows nothing about our particular type of ministry but immediately starts dictating how we should do ministry. We say that we're only asking for a little financial help (like Paul asked churches), but get told, 'No, what you really need is a submarine! And we'll run it!'

Not only have I been told I needed, and been offered submarines before, but I've also been told that the diving equipment and strategy I have is no good. Our home grown methods (that came about as the Holy Spirit grew a church in our local area and led us through his word), are sub par in their eyes, even without examining them.

I have many stories of these, but perhaps the specifics would hinder people seeing how it might have played out in their context. Paternalism has been hurting many people at the margins for a long time, and it didn't stop at the missionary compound years ago. The sad thing is that many of the paternalistic leaders of our day, would deny its something they exhibit. And whenever I've tried to explain the problem, I'm usually interrupted with an explanation of how I either should have accepted their submarine, or need to make my myself and my methods look more like a submarine.

Paternalism is part of the prejudice gospel, but like any sin, is something that can be repented of. We're not counted righteous because of a lack of paternalism, but because of Christ's imputed righteousness, so let's freely confess it and turn from it, to our humble saviour, who teaches us to humbly serve each other.