Re: No liberal: in defence of Rev
As a pastor in an inner London borough (well, our teachers get Inner London weighting), my wife and I enjoyed the first two series of Rev. It was good to see a TV vicar in a programme that, though humorous, was still true to life. Every minister I know in a similar situation would agree with me that the situations portrayed were all to real.
I would make two caveats about the latest series. Firstly, we were disappointed with it because it was no longer funny. The desire to be some sort of spiritual allegory overwhelmed any humour. It was the humour that made the serious thinking points in the first two series digestible.
Secondly, the assumption that Christians are a small, beleaguered minority in such situations is not true. Although the percentage of nominal Christians in the census, here, is among the lowest in the country, church attendance is among the highest in the country. Even if a church like Adam Smallbone's was not strong enough to support itself, there would be flourishing 'ethnic' churches queuing up to pay to share its building!
I have not read the article referred to, but have read this one. I'm not a minister, but have been ministering in inner-city Churches for the last 20 years - both here and in a third world country. I have watched 2 episodes of Rev. I have meant to watch more, but just have not gotten around to it. Much of what I have seen has made me extremely uncomfortable. On the one hand, I can see the challenges that he faces and know that there are ministers out there that genuinely face similar challeges, but I'm not comfortable at all with some of his decisions and the compromises he makes.
While we will often have to make compromises, for me, any compromise that conflicts with the Word of God is going beyond where I am willing to go. God cannot be expected to bless a ministry that is in direct opposition to His Word.
So, I can see how there are those who would feel very strongly about 'Rev's' character. They are justified in feeling so. But it also serves to highlight some of the very real issues our ministers face daily and you are right in saying that we should not judge them.
For me, the Sitcom has served to influence my prayer life in praying more fervently for those who face these daily challenges and decisions - that they will be strengthened and encouraged, and that God could give them wisdom and discernment to make the right choices that will ensure that they are and will always remain in the centre of His will.
May God help us all!
A great article Michael, far too triumphalism in the negative comments towards Rev, I to struggle because it is too close for comfort.
Re: Spiritual children of western missionaries
The meaning of a missionary is at the heart of the confusion that your term " reverse missionary" or "reverse mission" connotes. I use Paul's three missionary journeys as a guide. Yes! Paul preached to Hellenic Jews but you will agree with me that Paul was mainly a missionary to the gentiles.
However, when compared to your reverse missionaries we find stack differences. Your reverse missionaries are setting churches up for their kindred folks in foreign lands in the main. It is happening in the United Kingdom, In Greece / Cyprus, in China etc, the picture is the same. I say in very strong terms that the reverse missionaries are "ghettorizing" Christianity. The situation is so bad that when these reverse missionaries take over churches in the U.K. the "natives" / indigenes desert them in droves because of their slant on Christianity. As one who has worked with a few Baptist pastors I know what I am talking about, your so called reverse missionaries are nothing more than economic migrants (that is the simple truth).
I would not endorse Idu's language, and would utterly reject his final comment on "economic migrants". However I do think he has a point: to what extent are these reverse missionaries working cross-culturally amongst the long-standing "white" population, rather than setting up "ethnic" churches?
I realise that, in part, this is due to the rejection they experienced in the past (as Israel says), and also the natural desire of all people - especially expatriates - to gather with their own kind and speak their own language (you see it among white Brits in Spain, for example).
But reverse missionaries will surely only be true to their calling if they end up in the rural shires and leafy suburbs of "middle Britain", working with existing churches or setting up new congregations which aim to reach all-comers. It does happen sometimes - the Church of Scotland has long had Malawian pastors, for example - but it seems to be a different kind of activity to what Israel is generally describing.
Perhaps what we see today is a temporary phase which will gradually peter out as new arrivals in Britain (and not just African!) become assimilated within the wider population over the next two or three generations.
By the way, I write as someone who served for some years as an "ordinary" cross-cultural missionary in West Africa ... and very aware of some terrible faux-pas which I committed during my time there!
Re: Taking action on climate change
Thanks for this Sarah
The IPCC have now released the the third part of their assessment thus completing the trilogy. We now have the views of the scientific community on the magnitude of the problem; the need for adaptation to produce resilient communities in the face of future impacts; and the urgent need for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the magnitude of the impacts to that to which it is possible to provide adaptation.
Each section of the report is accompanied by a "Summary for Policy Makers" giving the headline conclusions. It is important for us in our churches to familiarise ourselves with these so that we are able to hold our policy makers to account regarding the effectivness of their response to the report.
Part three of the report emphasises that many of the decisions that need to be made lie in the realm of equity and justice rather than being solely scientific and it is here that christians have a particular perspective to bring.