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I hope you find material here to enrich, resource and inspire you as you learn and grow in your own discipleship and ministry.

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Can evangelicals be redeemed?

What do you do when you find someone in your family behaving badly and bringing the family name into disrepute? There are two main strategies: either you can try and reason with them to bring them round and restore your shared reputation; or you can leave the family, change your name, and hope that the bad publicity stays at a distance.

Tony Campolo has decided to follow the second strategy. He has announced that he ‘did not want to be known as an evangelical Christian any more.’ In doing this, he appears to have two kind of the concerns. The first is reputational: the term has too many negative connotations, especially amongst non-Christians. But Campolo also feels that evangelicals in the United States are simply not being true to the teaching of Jesus:

Evangelicals in the United States are anti-environment… If you say you’re an Evangelical you’re anti-gay, you’re anti-women, you’re pro-war…In the southern states, eighty percent of the people go to church at least once a month [and yet it’s] the strongest supporter for capital punishment.

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Do we need more vicars?

The Church of England has just released two related reports on numbers in ordained ministry. These are not related to annual ministry figures; the last figures (from 2015) were released in June, and caught the headlines for a number of reasons. These reports are related more to the aims of the Renewal and Reform process, […]

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How soon will God act?

Unless you are a deist (even perhaps a moral therapeutic deist) then belief in the orthodox understanding of the Trinity implies an expectation that God, by his Spirit, is at work in the world and in the life of the believer. In 1 Corinthians, Paul describes the active work of the Spirit in the congregation at Corinth; in Romans 8 he particularly focusses on the work of the Spirit in the individual believer; Luke in Acts recounts how the work of the Spirit amongst the apostles and others in the early church continued the work and ministry of Jesus amongst them and in public ministry. The claim of the New Testament is that, even though we live in different times in history, we inhabit the same theological time: the season of the post-Pentecost outpouring of the Spirit, and so (in some way or other) we should have the same expectations.

But any sense of expectation will, as anyone in pastoral ministry knows, also bring with it the inevitable frustration, disappointment and even heartbreak when it seems as though God fails to act. This ranges from the trivial, when something in everyday life doesn’t happy the way we wanted or hoped after praying about it, to the tragic when we witness the death of a friend or relative, and are left asking ‘Why?’

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Can we fix Bible translation?

The translation committee of the English Standard Version has announced that there will be no more revisions to the text, which now becomes the Permanent Text. The ESV is not one of the ‘big hitters’ in translation like the NIV (it is used by around 8% of American Bible readers) but it has been the preferred […]

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Food, culture and the gospel

There is a small number of television programmes that I love to watch when they are on. The week is regularly bracketed by University Challenge on Mondays and Gardener’s World on Fridays, but there are two less regular mid-week programmes that I love. One is Michael Mosley’s ‘Trust me, I’m a Doctor’ which conduct pioneering […]

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What does ‘full inclusion’ mean?

Andrew Goddard writes: At the heart of much discussion about sexuality is the subject of inclusion. A number of developments in the last few weeks have helpfully highlighted the problems and limits of this language. Full inclusion as full participation in lay and ordained ministry in the Church Last weekend the recently appointed Bishop of Grantham […]

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Why we need a new vision for education

I have benefited hugely from selective education. My parents were the archetypal middle class couple—mother a teacher, father an accountant working in the City—and we lived in the south-east London suburbs. My parents paid for my older brother and sister to be educated privately, but by the time my turn came they had run out […]

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Why is preaching so hard?

Many people in public ministry find that preaching is one of the most demanding things they are involved in. To put yourself and your theology on the line, to seek to offer an illuminating and life-transforming insight, week in, week out, is very tough! But why exactly does it feel so hard? There are some […]

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Compassion and power in John 11

If someone is in a fix, do you listen sympathetically and show you understand, or do you try and remedy the problem? Of course, that is a false dichotomy, but it a challenge we face often. If you want to take a stereotyped or generalised view of sex difference, by and large women tend to […]

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The Bishop of Grantham and ‘crossing a line’

This week I was planning to reflect on the relationship between compassion and power in John 11, and on what helps disciples to grow. But quite a lot happened over the weekend, and it deserves some comment. The one that has grabbed the headlines was the announcement by the Guardian, late on Friday night, that […]

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How often did Jesus and his followers fast?

How often did Jesus and the first generation of his followers fast? Was it an occasional thing, focused on specific events or causes? Or was it something more habitual and regular, an integral part of their devotional life? As most studies of the subject point out, fasting in the Old Testament was associated either with […]

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