Mirrors 18th May 2018

  1. A review of my book The Good Life in the Last Days
  2. What an amazing, creepy, sad episode of the amazing Atlanta’s amazing second season!
  3. Lots of treats here from Capitol Baptist Training seminars: download and use in your ministry!
  4. Intriguing comments on why Catholic Colleges dominate NCAA: history and sociology of the Catholic Church’s engagement with inner city communities. Starting at 9:34
  5. Inerrancy, dictation-theories, reading the Bible literally, genre, ‘complicity’, hermeneutics and much more in this sermon on The Humanity of Scripture
  6. Free eBook: Do More With Less Time.
  7. A pretty awkward and adrupt Q&A interchange with (at 1 min 35) . But kind of fun the way he won’t allow the person to respond ‘Well ok’: ‘NO, not: “well ok”‘ 😛

Christian Leadership Focuses on Priorities… but also does the weeding

I have one of those gravel driveways that over time, especially in autumn and winter, begins to sprout weeds. There will come a point when we’ll need a whole new load of gravel, or worse still, to rip it all up and start over again. But for now, every gravel drive or path needs a steady weeding. Just when I’m out that way, I pull up the weeds I see, just giving 3 minutes to it every day or two.

If you don’t do that, sooner or later you have a driveway or path (or cracks in the concrete) full of dandelions.

Now weeding is not a high priority for me in life. It is not a high priority for my family life. It is not even of first importance in home maintenance. But if I don’t do it regularly it becomes a Big Job. Or you’re living in a jungle of weeds. And nobody wants that.

There are those things in life, right? And what’s true of home maintenance or personal care is also true of ministry leadership. Our churches and ministries need leaders who will help us manage the weeding so that it doesn’t get out of control.

Many of us who are in leadership don’t like this kind of stuff. We didn’t end up in full-time Christian leadership because we are good at this type of stuff. And perhaps we are even the type of (in general) guys who don’t notice or care much about actual weeds or ironed shirts or vacuumed floors… and this obliviousness flows over into the ministries we lead!

Some of the weeding that we need to oversee in church life

The list is endless really, isn’t it. The literal and metaphorical thorns and thistles we have to take spring up all over the place. A short and non-representative list:

  • Actual weeds and other cosmetic and simple repairs of your church facility — even if you are hiring a building you care how it looks and you maybe be the impetus for regular upkeep by the landlord.
  • Keeping databases and other admin up to date an culled of duplicates and out of date data.
  • Ensuring website, announcements and advertising material are all up to date.

You don’t need to do it yourself

It’s not your job. You shouldn’t have to do it. You should focus on prayer and the ministry of the word. Sure. But you need to ensure that it’s done. And notice that it’s done, so that you provide encouragement and accountability for the person who is overseeing such things.

 

 

Guest Post: #4 More on the Future of Campus Ministry

I love praying for missionaries directly involved in creative and reflective evangelism. Not only do I get the joy of partnering with them in their work… but I get to learn from them and steal all their ideas that they share in the prayer newsletters!

These little notes were sent out by Paddy at the end of last year. Bear in mind they are very much sketches of ideas sent out to prayer supporters, not fully-formed articles and arguments, so read them with that in mind. They are reprinted here with permission.

You can support Paddy Benn

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Here are four more reflections on the future of campus ministry:

  1. Training others: Being in a large campus ministry group, and having a large staff team is often a wonderful privilege and opportunity. However, one of our particular responsibilities should be to have an almost continual focus on training in all that we do. I was reflecting just last week that while we work hard at training others in their personal evangelism I have not done as much as I could have, to equip them to be training others in evangelism. So, rather than having 50 people per year really well trained as personal evangelists perhaps we should also aim to have those 50 as evangelism trainers so that as they serve in the wider church they can replicate what they have been taught. If we were to commit to this then it would require us to write a different style of material, and also to work more closely with some of our key people. However – it may encourage more to consider becoming ministry apprentices – as they are a key way in which we train others. But what impact could it have? How might it change and shape the culture of our local churches?
  2. Engaging with the current culture: Unless you have been in hiding you will appreciate that our country is continuing to move further away from a Judeo­-Christian value system. And I suspect that it will continue on this trajectory for the near future. While this will be potentially more challenging with regard to evangelism (see item 4) what is clear is that we need to keep helping EUers rightly see the trajectory of our culture and remind them that the gospel is unchanging and speaks powerfully into this culture. We are not yet at the point of significantly preparing our students in retreating from the public space, but we should consider what this might look like.  Please pray that as staff we would be diligent in training our students to use the gospel to diagnose their culture, and to know the gospel to speak into their culture.
  3. Less-Reached, Less-Resourced opportunities: One of the wonderful successes in the last few years has been the work that Celia (a fellow senior staff member) has been doing in encouraging EUers to consider serving in Less Reached and Less Resourced (LRLR) places. An increasing number of pastors recognise that this is a key value of the SUEU. One of our future challenges is how to increase the numbers of EUers keen to move to LRLR places – and what encourages them to actually leave and stay in an LRLR place. Please remember to pray for the nearly 220 EUers heading off on our 16 LRLR missions in the next two weeks. Please also pray that EUers would consider moving to LRLR places to serve in their local church.
  4. ‘Cross cultural’ evangelism: For many (myself included) we often think that cross cultural evangelism is cross­-ethnic evangelism. This is a massively important and key thing for those of use living in Sydney! However, one of my more recent observations is that for many students as they speak with their friends their conversations feel like cross­-cultural ones in that they have very little in common with their friends worldviews, etc. What might it look like if we trained all our students that in our post­-Christian world all their conversations will be cross-­cultural? How might this change the manner in which they relate and engage with their friends? What impact might this have in their evangelism? What could be learnt from experienced cross-­ethnic practitioners?
  5. Conscience : This one is not directly related to the campus but from some thinking I did on study leave recently. Have you noticed how in the current debate around religious freedoms that Christians have appealed to a ‘freedom of conscience’ approach? This argument often runs along the lines that I, as a Christian, should be excused from a particular action because that action goes against my conscience. However this argument is weak and misunderstood in two ways.  Firstly, the secularist understands conscience simply as one aspect of the decision making process which is inevitably driven by emotion – and if it is felt then it must be right. Therefore why is your Christian conscience any more valid than my secular one? Secondly, it underplays (and misunderstands) the significance of Christian conscience which is that sense of wounding and the causing of pain/guilt that occurs after we have committed an action that is contrary to God’s good word. My suggestion. As you speak with people about conscience try this line – “If you ask me to carry out this particular action it will be against my Christian conscience, and this will wound me and cause me pain. Because what you are about to do will be painful for me could you please re-consider asking me, and perhaps ask someone else.”

 

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You can support Paddy Benn

Guest Post: #3 The Future of Campus Ministry by Paddy Benn

I love praying for missionaries directly involved in creative and reflective evangelism. Not only do I get the joy of partnering with them in their work… but I get to learn from them and steal all their ideas that they share in the prayer newsletters!

These little notes were sent out by Paddy at the end of last year. Bear in mind they are very much sketches of ideas sent out to prayer supporters, not fully-formed articles and arguments, so read them with that in mind. They are reprinted here with permission.

You can support Paddy Benn

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As I get to the end of ten years on campus here are some thoughts as to the future of campus ministry:

  1. Personal Bible reading and prayer. Like many growing ministries, we can be in danger of thinking that we need to keep developing and ‘fixing’ our programs. However, we need to remind ourselves to work towards personal growth in character and Christian maturity as we follow Jesus. I am keen to keep encouraging people to develop their Bible reading and prayer life and for this to be deeply embedded within their expectations. I sometimes find this difficult but need to remind myself that it is ‘core business’ so have tried to work more proactively on personal Bible reading this year (I used the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan). Please give thanks to God that I have spent more time in personal Bible reading and prayer this year. How is your prayer & Bible reading going? Do you have a plan for the next few weeks? Have you found the right time that works for you?
  2. Time with non­-Christians. We continue to encourage EUers to be spending good amounts of time on campus so that they would have time for their academic studies, time for EU activities and time to relate and engage with non-­Christian friends. I think that this will become somewhat more difficult especially if the culture of the day moves increasingly further away from our current culture (the EUers feel like they have less in common – which creates challenges for evangelism). Spending time with non-­Christians will continue to be a pressure point for our students, but we have found this year that having more time on campus as an ‘all­-EU’ goal has produced great benefits, for example more people in small groups, more people at Public Meeting afternoon teas, and more evangelism. Please pray that the EU would keep developing a culture of looking outside itself and seeking to reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus. Please pray that I would continue to rightly encourage students to develop and deepen relationships with their non­-Christian friends.
  3. Having a vision for local church. How do you encourage students to participate actively in local church, especially when they could be spending more time on campus? We need to keep navigating this so as not to fall on either extreme (all church no EU or all EU and less church) and help students make good decisions – since the decision making learning will help them in years to come. As I interviewed a graduating student last Friday he mentioned that he and another EUer had started an evangelism team at church to do local cold contact evangelism. Another student last year organised and ran a mini­-festival style mission at their church. Both of these are modelled off our evangelism strategy and practice within the EU. In both cases it was in great discussion and with the blessing of their ministry team at church. Praise God that these students were innovative in undertaking these evangelistic endeavours. The ministry that we are doing has an immediate impact but can also serve and strengthen the local church. Please pray that we might continue to train and equip our students to be loving and generous servants of their local churches (now and for the future).

Please continue to thank God for His great kindness shown to the EU and the ministry that is being undertaken on the campus. Please ask that the Lord might continue to raise up more workers for this harvest field, and that all our financial needs for 2018 and beyond will be met by our Lord – our great provider.

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You can support Paddy Benn

Guest post: #2 The Culture on Campus by Paddy Benn

I love praying for missionaries directly involved in creative and reflective evangelism. Not only do I get the joy of partnering with them in their work… but I get to learn from them and steal all their ideas that they share in the prayer newsletters!

These little notes were sent out by Paddy at the end of last year. Bear in mind they are very much sketches of ideas sent out to prayer supporters, not fully-formed articles and arguments, so read them with that in mind. They are reprinted here with permission.

You can support Paddy Benn

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The end of this year brings me to ten years of serving the students of the SUEU at Sydney Uni campus. I thought it would be a great time to write to you — my supporters — with some reflections on the last ten years, and also to say thank you for your support over this time. My plan is to send out three updates with each one covering a particular aspect of campus ministry and the changes and challenges of the last ten years. One of the key reasons why I was appointed to the role st Sydney Uni was not to be the evangelist but rather to affect the culture of evangelism within the SUEU. Ten years on is not a bad timeframe within which to consider how the culture has changed.

The Culture of the Campus

How has the campus changed in the last 10 years? Here are a number of my personal observations (some of which are true across other uni ministries, or even in local churches).

  1. Students live out their individualism more obviously. Students have always been individualistic – but now we see this being lived out with less concern for others. You see it in the little things – more people wearing headphones and on their phones as they walk around. We’ve stopped leafletting because people refuse to take them (10 years ago 7/10 would take one, nowadays it is less than 1/10).
  2. Students package uni around what they want to do. It is not uncommon for students to cram a ‘full­time’ degree into three days on campus. Many of them are also working a couple of days per week (a national study indicated that the hours worked by uni students was on average 16hrs/wk). This means they have less disposable hours while they are on campus for spending time with friends (Christian or non­Christian), less time to participate in SUEU activities, and I suspect are more tired across the week, which affects their academic studies as well as their church participation.
  3. The campus is much more ethnically diverse. When I arrived the campus was roughly 55% Caucasian, but now this is down to about 25%. There are still broadly the same percentage of international students but we now see that the campus is much more reflective of Sydney’s ethnic mix.
  4. There is a much stronger ‘progressive’ element on campus. The socialist collective has always been on campus. There have always been people advocating for ‘gay rights’. However in recent years there has been a more heightened, and continual presence of a progressive, seemingly tolerant and inclusive agenda. However the words tolerance and inclusivism seem to be understood differently! You might have seen the viral video of a group of protestors arguing with some at the Catholic Society stall (some of whom had ‘No’ campaign banners).

While these things together may seem more difficult for the gospel, we have not actually seen this being the case in the last ten years. Yes, there have been some challenges (such as when the Student Union sought to refuse our constitution around faith-based membership), but generally the SUEU is free to run all the activities it wants to. As I mentioned last week we are still seeing people becoming followers of Jesus, when our EU Street teams go out to undertake cold contact evangelism sometimes it takes longer to get into a conversation with someone – but once started there seems to be a deeper longing to know about what Christians believe and why.

Friends, the current age is a great one in which to be taking the gospel to people. Sure, there are challenges – like how to persuade students to spend more time on campus and less time in their part time employment for the sake of gospel opportunities, or like encouraging students to be bold about sharing Jesus with their friends, especially when it feels hard and confronting.

But then is this not what uni is for – to train people for life? And the theological formation and personal disciplines we are seeking to instil in our Christian students will help them not just now but also for the rest of their life as they seek to navigate how to balance work, family life and church. Thank you for your support that enables me to be serving on the campus, and training students in this discrete phase of life, and for much of their life that is to come as they serve Jesus through their local church and in their lives.

Please thank God for the ministry of the SUEU, for the freedoms that it has, and for the many wonderful opportunities that we have as we meet with students, read the Bible with them and hep them to follow Jesus. Your support enables me to do this.

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You can support Paddy Benn

Mirrors 20th April 2018

  1. Raj Gupta’s blog about strategy and church growth
  2. The more I hear the case for a specialised use of ‘saints’ in Ephesians (to mean Jewish Christians) the less convinced I am. with on podcast — link to the episode here.
  3. My lecture sermon thing on ‘Why Expository Preaching?’
  4. Priceless 3 part lecture series by Don Carson on Expository Preaching and biblical theology. So gold! Much teaching! Very inspiration.
  5. New bite-sized Australian Christian podcast: Holy Hacks
  6. What does the ‘Perspicuity of Scripture’ mean? What doesn’t it mean? My sermon for the University Fellowship of Christians.
  7. I am now a David Robertson fanboi. An evangelist’s evangelist. Great fun interview.

About Xian Reflections

Xian Reflections is written by Mikey Lynch.

Mikey graduated from the University of Tasmania with a Bachelor of Arts in 2002. In 2000 he became one of the founding leaders of Crossroads Presbyterian Church where he was the lead pastor for 7 years from 2003.

Mikey now works as the Campus Director of the University Fellowship of Christians, University of Tasmania, Hobart. Mikey is the chairman of The Vision 100 Network (Tasmania) and a founding director of Geneva Push (national) – both church planting networks. He is also a chaplain at Jane Franklin Hall and the chairman of New Front Door: the Church IT Guild.