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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Thursday
Jul222010

Between the pew and the pavement - Praising with the people of Paarl

I am always honoured, and humbled, to be invited to address Churches or groups.  Tonight I had the privelage of sharing with a group of men at the Protea AFM Church in Main road Paarl thanks to my friend Nic Slabber who invited me.  I first met Nic at the Global Day of Prayer conference in May.  

At that conference I did my talk on social media (twitter, facebook, blogs etc.) and how these technologies are changing the global landscape.  The premise is simple - Christianity has shifted its location throughout history.  It started in the Middle East, moved to Europe, form there is went to North America, and then on to the developing world.  Next, however, Christianity is moving on to the internet!  I used Philip Yancey's great quote to illustrate this shift:

As I travel, I have observed a pattern, a strange historical phenomenon of God “moving” geographically from the Middle East, to Europe to North America to the developing world.  My theory is this: God goes where he’s wanted.

If facebook were a country, it would be the third most populace country on earth (third only to China and India).  At the time of writing this post facebook had more than 500 million registered users - that means that 1 in every 14 living persons is on facebook!

The question is - where is the Church?

What struck me this evening was the simple truth:  If the Church's primary means of evangelism is its Sunday service, then the Christian faith is in for some serious challenges!  

There are two basic problems with Sunday services.  First, a Sunday service does not serve the real needs of a community in a tangible and practical way!  It doesn't feed people, it doesn't help people to face hardship, conflict or some of the most basic needs in life (this may be a general statement.  I'll concede that there are some Churches that do these things in addition to the regular 'Sunday service' activities. But, on the whole most Churches do not).  I'm not saying that a Sunday service is not valuable or necessary - it is!  It is an act of worship! But, I AM saying that it is a VERY innefective tool for evangelism.  

The second reason why it is not effective as a tool for evangelism (in the sense of bringing the Good news to bear upon the world) is because it is framed around propositional evangelism i.e., the preacher will make claims and statements about God and the Christian faith that his or her congregation will have to make a decision about.  Most of the claims (e.g., God loves you, Jesus died to set you free form Sin, God wants to meet your physical, emotional and spiritual needs etc.) cannot be substantiated by an experience or encounter in the service.  So, if we say that God loves us, how will we facilitate an authentic encounter with that love in a synthetic environment?  The problem of propositions is compounded in a world of competing truths!  The Church will have to move beyond the Sunday service if it wants to move from the pew onto the pavement with the Gospel!  

The act of worship should be the catalyst for evangelism and mission!  If you want to see how Monday can become an extension of Sunday then please see the incredible work of my friend John van de Laar at www.sacredise.com.  John is doing some amazing things to extend worship into the world of work (and general life), and bring the world of work (and general life) meaningfully into worship!  Please keep an eye on John's site for his new book which is sure to give some fantastic practical insights into this topic.

So, my presentation suggests 5 mind shifts, paradigm shifts if you will, that we shall need to go through if we wish to live for legacy, impact our community for the Gospel and not just out Church.  In other words, these are things that we shall need to do in order to shorten the distance between the pew and the pavement!

Thank you to the men for their hearty engagement, the great coffee, and most of all to Nick for the exceptional worship!  Nic is truly a gifted worship leader!

So, here are my slides:

 

 

Please feel free to use them!  The video that I used, called 'Shift happens' is one of the most asked for clips when I speak publicly.  Here's a copy of the video:

Lastly, if you would like a more detailed discussion of the 5 paradigms please see these tags - There is even an audio recording from a Radio Pulpit show on the 5 paradigms after the jump. And I wrote a chapter about this in my new book 'Transform your work life' (Chapter 3 entitled 'Big plans, big purpose). It has both the content and some useful references and illustrations to help one practically consider the implications of such mind shifts.

How many Churches do you think have understood the relationship between the pew and the pavement?  Can you give any creative examples of how the Church can shorten the distance between the pew and the pavement?  I'd love to hear from you!

Reader Comments (1)

hallo dion
i made a casual joke last night at AFM Protea regarding how updated you are with your blogs. well, this morning i was not surprised to read your wonderful summary of last night. thank you for coming to us in Paarl to bless us. we appreciate that which God has invested in you. all your compliments are humbling and make me realise how much we need to surrender to Him.
i share your sentiments of getting the Word "out there!" (from pew to pavement) Ed Silvoso, as you mentioned last night, helped me to change this old paradigm of "Sunday faith." Christ is the head of His church and we're responsible for reaching and discipling the nations. (not building church building empires!)

thank you once again. i would love to come and visit the Power group. may the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you...
nic slabber

July 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternic slabber

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