Thursday, June 25, 2020

A road map to a healthy church culture


One of my favourite authors Scot McKnight has a new book being published later this year that explores creating a "goodness culture" in our church families.

Our first instinct may be to think well that automatically exists in a local church! Tragically, in recent years, Christians have gotten used to revelations of abuses of many kinds in our most respected churches--from Willow Creek to Mars Hill. We are not immune to this in the UK. In the last couple of weeks, we have read of a well-know leader announce his resignation with trustees citing concerns around an unhealthy church culture and specifically a culture that led to racism.

I am sure that no Jesus follower who hears the call of God and sets off to dedicate their life to serve God by planting or leading a church, expects to arrive at a place where they have to resign and suffer the consequences.

However, it seems to be happening with too much regularity at this moment in time. Our behaviours, beliefs and practices contribute so much to the culture we create. Let's take a time out to ensure we are taking steps towards health rather than a disaster.

Scot gives lists 7 characteristics he has noted in unhealthy church culture and 7 that help create a healthy culture.

(Below are my paraphrase of what I heard on a webinar and not exactly what was said)

Characteristics of a toxic culture
  1. Narcissism is allowed.
  2. Fear is common.
  3. Care for the institution can trump the care of people.
  4. False narratives are formed (e.g. to protect the institution)
  5. There is a large emphasis on loyalty.
  6. Celebrities and hero leaders are common.
  7. A greater emphasis on leadership than pastoring.
Characteristics of a healthy culture
  1. A high degree of empathy for others.
  2. Shaped by grace and nurtures grace.
  3. People are put first.
  4. The truth is told even when it's hard. (no spin)
  5. Justice is nurtured (do the right thing even when it hurts)
  6. A culture of service is built (particularly in leadership)
  7. Christlikeness is developed and valued (Christoformity)
An extract from Scot's book - A Church called Tov

Toxic, flesh- driven cultures breed a lust for power, success,
celebrity, control through fear, an emphasis on authority, and
demands for loyalty. These values may not be explicitly stated,
or even outwardly recognized, but as they fester in the heart of a leader, they can’t help but bear bitter fruit, damaging the culture of the church and seeking to destroy anyone who gets in the way.

A Spirit- formed, Christlike culture, on the other hand, nurtures truth, offers healing for the wounded, seeks opportunities to
show redemptive grace and love, focuses on serving others (rather than on being served) and looks for ways to establish justice in the daily paths of life. A Christlike church culture always has its eyes on people because the mission of the church is all about God’s redemptive love for people.

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Holy Spirit at work in Acts 4

Dr Luke's history of the birth and growth of the early church is named "The Acts of the Apostles" may well be better titled the Acts of the Holy Spirit. As like us those early followers of Jesus were totally reliant on the Holy Spirit in everything they did.

The Holy Spirit at work in Acts 4
  • When we proclaim Jesus the Holy Spirit does the rest v4
  • The Holy Spirit arranges incredible opportunities for us to tell others about Jesus. v5-6
  • When telling others about Jesus it's a good thing to be "filled with the Holy Spirit". v8
  • The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say when telling others about Jesus. v8-12
  • The Holy Spirit gives us boldness. v13
  • The Holy Spirit specialises in using unlikely people. v13
  • The Holy Spirit silences even the most sceptical. v14
  • The Holy Spirit at work is a powerful sign to unbelievers. v16
  • The Holy Spirit compels us to tell others about Jesus. v20
  • The Holy Spirit can work a miracle in an instant even if we have been waiting 40 years. v22
  • It was the Holy Spirit speaking through David that wrote the Psalms. v25
  • Empowered by the Holy Spirit David, prophecied about the victory of Jesus. v25-26
  • The Holy Spirit heals and performs "signs & wonders".
  • The work of the Holy Spirit can literally share the ground under your feet. v31
  • An outcome of being filled with the Holy Spirit is boldly telling others about Jesus. v31
  • The Holy Spirit gives the power to share your own "Jesus" story. v33
  • The Holy Spirit gives us the favour of God. v33
  • The Holy Spirit at work in us destroys selfishness and inspires incredible generosity. v34-37

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Holy Spirit at Work - Acts 3

Dr Luke's history of the birth and growth of the early church is named "The Acts of the Apostles" may well be better titled the Acts of the Holy Spirit. As like us those early followers of Jesus were totally reliant on the Holy Spirit in everything they did.

Acts 3
  • The Holy Spirit gives us gifts to give away v6
  • The Holy Spirit can instantly make limbs that have never been used strong enough to jump v7
  • The Holy Spirit can take a lifetime of hurt into pure joy v8
  • The Holy Spirit in action fills even those who are not followers of Jesus with "wonder and amazement". v9
  • The Holy Spirit at work often draws a crowd v11
  • When seeing the Holy Spirit work through your life often people can reach the wrong conclusion and think you have superpowers. v12
  • The Holy Spirit gives us the words to say to the crowd that points back to Jesus. v13 - 16
  • The Holy Spirit empowered the Old Testament prophets to talk about the coming of Jesus. v21

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Holy Spirit at Work - Acts 2

Dr Luke's history of the birth and growth of the early church is named "The Acts of the Apostles" may well be better titled the Acts of the Holy Spirit. As like us those early followers of Jesus were totally reliant on the Holy Spirit in everything they did.

Acts 2
  • The presence of the Holy Spirit can sound like "mighty rushing wind" v2
  • The presence of the Holy Spirit may be seen on occasions. This time as fire. v3
  • Experiencing the Holy Spirit is often likened to being "filled". The greek word for filled can also be translated "to be under full influence". v4
  • The Holy Spirit can give someone the ability to speak a language they have never learned. v4
  • The Holy Spirit draws people to God v6
  • One of the reasons the Holy Spirit gives the supernatural ability to speak in another language is that people who speak that language can here the Gospel. v6
  • The Holy Spirit tells people about "the mighty works of God". v11
  • Being filled with the Holy Spirit can be so overwhelming it can look like a person is drunk! v13
  • The Holy Spirit was promised in the Old Testament. On this occasion, the prophet Joel is quoted by Peter. v16
  • The Holy Spirit is for every believer not a select few. v17
  • A sign of the Holy Spirit is prophesy v17
  • A sign of the Holy Spirit is visions v17
  • A sign of the Holy Spirit is dreams v17
  • The Holy Spirit fills both male and female v18
  • The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin. v37
  • Receiving the Holy Spirit is an integral part of salvation. v38
  • The Holy Spirit is for every believer from the day of Pentecost onwards. v39
  • The work of the Holy Spirit brings "awe" v43
  • Signs of the Holy Spirit are "many wonders and signs" v43
Can you add any more?

Acts 3 tomorrow