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Showing posts from July, 2016

Mission as Theological Education in Africa: 2. The Healthy Church, Growth, and Ministerial Training

The changing demographic of the Church in Western countries is a microcosm of the changing demographic of the global Church itself.  Mainline denominations in the West have been in serious decline in the West since the 1960s, but that does not mean that the Church is in decline in the West.  As David Goodhew and others point out, churches are multiplying and growing most everywhere.  Generally speaking, much of the decline, where it is happening, is due to a lack of health. The question to ask is, 'What makes for a healthy church, whether in the West or Africa, and what ministerial training will contribute to it?'
Church Growth and Decline in Britain
What is happening in, say, Britain is not simply a story of secularization and Church decline but rather a changing of the guard for the Church.  The mainline denominations are declining (with Baptists the exception): it was announced this year that attendance at worship in the Church of England has fallen to below 1 m…

Mission as Theological Education in Africa: 1. The Growth of the Church in Africa and Its Need for Theological Education


In several posts, I intend to explore aspects of mission as theological education in Africa.  I begin here with the simple observation that the Church is growing in Africa and that this is one reason to keep mission activity focussed, among other things, on theological education in the decades to come.
The Growth of the Church in Africa
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, one of the great and growing challenges needing our attention in missions is theological education in Africa.  This is because the Church is growing in Africa more than anywhere else in the world, Africa faces greater academic challenges more than anywhere else in the world, and Africa has a growing responsibility to provide leadership in the Church worldwide.
Perhaps the most well-known statistic on Christianity in the world in our day is that the centre of Christianity has shifted south and into Africa.  This centre (it is located in the region of Timbuktu!) is symbolic, showing where the aver…

The Church: 18f. The Pastoral Care of Sinners and False Teachers

The past few weeks have entrenched immoral practices and the teaching of error in whole provinces of the Anglican Communion.  The affirmation of same-sex unions for laity and clergy in the Scottish Episcopal Church (and the Church of Scotland, with whom the Church of England has a relationship) and the Anglican Church of Canada have so compromised the Gospel at many levels that the mission of these 'Churches' is no longer viable.  The Church of England may well be on the same trajectory. 
The only way to regain the ministry of pastoral care for sinners is to pursue with all diligence a movement of God's Kingdom and its righteousness outside the Church of Men and Women.  True pastoral care involves the shepherd's crook and the shepherd's rod, not the false unity of a sheep pen for sheep and wolves.  The ministration of divine mercy in pastoral care--particularly in the Church's mission in the West--requires the merciful call to repentance rather than…

The Church: 18e. Pastoral Care and the Mission of the Triune God (V)

The Pastoral Care of God the Holy Spirit
This is the fifth and final post on the pastoral care of sinners in light of the Church of England’s present crisis over the proposal to accept the practice of same-sex relationships through a so-called ‘pastoral accommodation.’  Earlier posts have countered that what is needed is ‘pastoral care,’ and that this care must be understood as pastoral care for sinners.  They have, further, suggested that the Church is ably instructed in such care by the mission of the Triune God toward a sinful world. 
In this post, we begin with some words about the pastoral care of God the Holy Spirit.  Then we turn to examine the close parallels that the early Church (particularly in the General and Pastoral Epistles) faced to what the Church faces today: false teachers seeking an accommodation of Christian faith to the sexual culture of the Greek and Roman world of the first century.  Finally, we conclude with a comment on present proposals about past…