Category : Ministry of the Laity

Albert Mohler–The Wrath of God Poured Out — The Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention

The last few weeks have been excruciating for the Southern Baptist Convention and for the larger evangelical movement. It is as if bombs are dropping and God alone knows how many will fall and where they will land.

America’s largest evangelical denomination has been in the headlines day after day. The SBC is in the midst of its own horrifying #MeToo moment.

At one of our seminaries, controversy has centered on a president (now former president) whose sermon illustration from years ago included advice that a battered wife remain in the home and the marriage in hope of the conversion of her abusive husband. Other comments represented the objectification of a teenage girl. The issues only grew more urgent with the sense that the dated statements represented ongoing advice and counsel.

But the issues are far deeper and wider.

Read it all.

Posted in Baptists, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Violence, Women

The rector of Saint Helena’s, Beaufort, writes his Parish

From here:

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are warned repeatedly in the Scriptures (Psalm 131:1, Romans 11:33-36, etc.) that there are many things our infinite and perfect God is doing that are beyond our comprehension and understanding, yet He is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). From time to time by the power of the Holy Spirit, God shows us what I call Kingdom convergence — the ability to glimpse His guiding hand in the midst of things that might not initially be seen as connected. Allow me to give three examples in the life of St. Helena’s today.

  1. “Why the Battle?” Series — Through this teaching series at the Rector’s Forum and the availability of these resources online, many of us are gaining a greater understanding of how important this Gospel struggle is to the greater call of discipleship. We are truly dealing with different worldviews and seeing the necessity of being sharpened in our ability to speak persuasively for our position.
  2. Recent TEC Court Filings — Imagine how important it is for us to be united in this stand for the Gospel when we got word yesterday that TEC has asked the State District Court to begin to distribute the properties of the diocese and the parishes to TEC based on their winner-take-all strategy (read the motion HERE). Never mind the fact that the US Supreme Court is still considering our petition for writ of certiorari, this is a tactic that is designed to deflect our attention and begin to strike doubt in the hearts of our church members. This is why it is so important that we stay focused on our Vision.
  3. Fripp Island Summer Services — Kingdom convergence is so visible here because we are moving out with raising up worshipping communities this summer at Fripp Island. This is not a time to shrink back, but a time to be bold. My encouragement is that God has raised up this outreach through the members who live on Fripp, and we as a Body are being drawn into this fine prayer and planning through the work of servant leaders. The long and the short of it is that St. Helena’s will offer a beach service at 9 am on Fripp Island in front of the beach club beginning Sunday, May 27, and going through July 8. This is an outreach service designed to sow the seeds of the Gospel to the numerous weekly visitors to the island. Kingdom come!

All three of these things and many others are going on in the life of St. Helena’s. We are being guided by the Holy Spirit and our Vision to stand firm and continue to be focused on the least, the last, and the lost. I hope you see the Kingdom convergence that I do. Indeed, “God is working His purposes out …”

With hope,

–(The Rev.) Shay Gaillard

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(The ARDA) David Briggs–Tradition bound? Many Orthodox parishes struggle with change

It is not as if congregational leaders do not recognize the necessity for change. In a major new study, 7 percent of parishes reported things are fine just the way they are.

Among other congregations:

• Thirty-nine percent of parishes reported they were making the necessary changes to ensure a bright future for the congregation.
• Thirty-two percent of parishes said they need to change to increase their vitality and viability, but the parish does not seem to realize it or does not want to make the necessary changes.
• Twenty-two percent said, “We are slowly changing but not fast enough, nor significantly enough.”

“More than half feel they are too bound to Orthodox tradition,” said study leader Alexei Krindatch, research coordinator with the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. “But they cannot change.”

The top two obstacles to change? More than half of parishes reported a lack of resources, particularly energy and finances. Forty-four percent said their congregations lacked a unifying vision or direction.

The unresolved stresses on congregations are taking a toll.

Read it all.

Posted in Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Orthodox Church, Parish Ministry

(St. Philip’s, Charleston) Penn Hagood–Fighting the Good Fight, In Medias Res

In some ways, this is how I see my service at this time in the life of St. Philip’s. I have dropped in, in medias res, in the middle of the story. St. Philip’s has a long and distinguished
Godly history, and, by His grace, she will continue to be a light for the Gospel in the city of Charleston and beyond for generations to come.

Today, our church and the churches of our diocese are involved in an ugly conflict. In the midst of it, it is helpful to think in historical terms. This legal battle is but a small part of a much larger struggle between the Christian and the secular worlds. Some historians trace the roots of this present fight back to the Enlightenment in the 1700s. Others cite theological
differences that began in the mid-20th century and rose to a crescendo in the early 21st century. Whatever its beginnings, there is a long history to this fight. No matter how it ends
for us, it will not end with us.

While the fight can seem lonely at times, we draw comfort from the recognition that we do not stand alone. This is not just a struggle within the Episcopal Church. All denominations
are wrestling with these issues. Our Diocesan disassociation with the national Episcopal Church formally occurred in 2012, but we were not the first, nor likely to be the last. We
are a small part of a global battle that has fractured the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT Editorial) We Need an Independent Investigation of Sovereign Grace Ministries

For six years now—and more intensely in the last few weeks—charges and counter-charges (see links…), accusations and defenses have been conducted in public forums and in the courts, without a satisfactory conclusion. This has left many, many observers bewildered, angry, and deeply suspicious of SGC. What’s worse, these unseemly events reverberate outward, mixing with the #ChurchToo discussion and lingering anger over the Roman Catholic Church abuse scandal. Many now wonder if there has been a habit of covering up and denying child and sexual abuse in evangelical churches in general—if there is something in the evangelical DNA that makes us hesitant to deal with accusations quickly, openly, and truthfully when there is the suspicion of grave sin in our midst.

We call for a fresh and thorough independent investigation not because we believe SGC guilty of every one of its critics’ charges. We are as bewildered as anyone and simply don’t have enough information to make a confident judgment on the matter. We see, however, that SGC and some of its individual congregations—and pastor C. J. Mahaney (founder and former president) in particular—are under a cloud of suspicion. A former ministry partner of Mahaney turned critic, Brent Detwiler, has been chronicling the controversyfor many years and claims that 100 pastors, 300 small group leaders, 40 churches (including his own), and 12,000 members have left SGC churches largely over what they claim has been abusive and deceitful leadership.

Given the prominence of Sovereign Grace, especially in Reformed evangelical circles, this puts the gospel we preach under a cloud. If, in fact, they are as guiltless as they have proclaimed, and if, in fact, the incidences are as few as they suggest, it would be great news for the evangelical community and the cause of the gospel.

At the same time, if the many charges prove to be true to a larger extent than they currently acknowledge, it would be sad and troubling—but not without hope if it leads to truth-telling and repentance. The truth of sin that leads to repentance is one of the most glorious moments in our life in Christ.

 

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

Saint Helena’s, Beaufort, reports on last week’s South Carolina Diocesan Convention

From Rev. Todd Simonis, Senior Associate: I very much appreciated Bishop Lawrence calling local churches to have a mission mindset. It was great to have conversations about the changing demographics of the Lowcountry and how we, as the church, must be ready to reach out to those demographics. As always, it was an encouraging time to be with others from the diocese.
From Rion Salley, Senior Warden and Delegate: Bishop Lawrence shared how a little intentionality can go a long way for the Kingdom of God. First, as sowers of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ we can take more time to familiarize ourselves with the people in our community and build deeper relationships with those God has put in our midst by walking through life together as Jesus did.
From Rev. Chuck Pollak, Priest Associate: For me a highlight was the sermon by Bishop Lowenfield, who described his difficult decision to leave the Episcopal Church, and the joy he now feels as a member of ACNA. His journey is similar to one that many of us have experienced, and we know how wrecking that decision has been to us and to others as well. His message is one of hope.
From Jane Manos, Delegate: It was great to be with the Parish Church of St. Helena at the convention – a true honor! From Bishop Lawrence’s address, what stood out to me: “Uncertainty is WHY we need to sow the seed (of the Gospel).”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Adult Education, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

Prayers requested for the historic diocese of South Carolina Diocesan Convention which meets beginning Friday

You can find an overview of information there, including links for the workshops and a schedule for both days.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Church Times) IICSA hearing likely to prompt more disclosures of abuse, C of E safeguarding officials say

The Church of England must be prepared for new revelations and disclosures of clerical sex abuse during, and in the wake of, a public hearing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA), a spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team (NST) has said.

Starting on Monday, the public hearing in London will consider the extent of any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Anglican Church.

It will use the diocese of Chichester as a case study to examine the “culture of the Church” and whether its “behaviours, values, and beliefs inhibited or continued to inhibit the investigation, exposure, and prevention of child sexual abuse” (News, 2 February).

An NST spokesperson said on Tuesday: “High-profile cases that we have been involved with before, such as independent reviews, have led to more disclosures. We must assume that people will come forward for the first time: we would not want to rule that out.”

The public hearing is due to conclude on 23 March.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

Samuel Wells’ sermon from last Sunday–Investing in the Kingdom

Now the Church of England was largely established, and for many centuries run, on the benefactor model. Some decades ago the sums ceased to add up – not because of a decline in congregation size, but because of sociological changes like what constitutes reasonable provision for people in their retirement, how long retired clergy live, whether the noblesse feel as obliged as they used to, and the shift of the majority of the population to cities, where relationships of unspoken obligation are different from the abiding practice of the country. And so in the last two or three generations a church that depended on squirearchy has morphed into a church that rests on congregationalism. By congregationalism I mean the assumption that the basic unit of Christianity is the local church, that each local church should seek to be self-sufficient as regards the provision of its stipendiary ministry, building upkeep and administrative costs and liturgical requirements, and that such expenditure should be met almost entirely through the voluntary stewardship of members of its congregation. Congregationalism can be inspiring with the sense of a team achieving great things together, but it has two drawbacks: it shrinks the understanding of church to simply the regular attendees; and it tends to obscure the vision of mission almost altogether.

And so to chapter five, in which this all comes home to roost. At St Martin-in-the-Fields we worked on the benefactor model longer than most urban churches. In the 1980s we awakened to the fact that the sums didn’t add up. The costs of the building and the extensive outreach ministry far exceeded the potential of congregational stewardship. The answer was to create a commercial enterprise. Over the last 31 years we’ve steered a course between two poles. The first pole is to try to make the commercial enterprise the complete embodiment of all our aspirations for what it means to be a world-facing church. That sounds like a great idea, but it largely removes the profit that pays our bills, and leaves us back with external benefaction and congregational stewardship together facing an unassailable annual target. The alternative pole is to try to ensure the commercial enterprise makes so much profit that congregational stewardship becomes unnecessary. That sounds attractive, but it’s not the answer: if we succeeded it would end up so professionalising our life that it would eradicate the central role that voluntary discipleship plays in what it means for us to be a church.

The answer is to combine the four activities that make up our life. First, we strive to be a real church, where people find and grow in faith, care and receive care, participate in and lead worship, meet Christ in the stranger and the disadvantaged, seek to proclaim and advance God’s kingdom, and become one body. That’s what our congregational giving pays for. Second, we seek to be a place where we offer food, music, event spaces and commodities that people come here to find and are glad to pay for. That’s what our commercial business does, and in addition it offers good employment and pays for day-to-day maintenance costs. Third, we ask strangers to join with our longstanding mission to homeless people in London and around the UK. That’s what the Charity and the Connection do. Fourth, we invite wealthier people and foundations to invest in us as an institution and look to the long-term well-being of our fabric because they believe in where we’re going. That’s what the Trust does. Take stewardship away and we stop being a church, take business away and we lose our building, take homeless work away and we’ve lost our mission, take the Trust away and we’ve got no future. All four are vital, indispensable, and wonderful.

St Martin-in-the-Fields is a delicate balance between many things that occasionally seem very different and on the odd day can feel in tension. But most of the time it’s a miracle of divine initiative and human response, ordinary effort and sublime gifts, simple goodness and astonishing grace, and we all feel privileged to be a part of it. As a congregation we know it’s not all about us: we humbly recognise that lots of good things happen here, which we enjoy, participate in, and encourage; at the same time it’s not all down to us: we gratefully welcome others whose work, custom and kindness pay the majority of the bills. But if the careful ecology of St Martin’s is to continue to flourish, we as a congregation need to play our part, with our time and energy, absolutely; but also, crucially, with our money.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Stewardship

The Latest Enewsletter from the Diocese of South Carolina


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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

C of E releases Setting God’s People Free Resource for parishes

Setting God’s People Free (SGPF) is a programme of change to enable the whole people of God to live out the Good News of Jesus confidently in all of life, Monday to Saturday as well as Sunday….

—SGPF looks beyond and outside Church structures to the whole people of God at work in communities and wider society – not to ‘fixing’ the institutional Church.

—SGPF challenges a culture that over-emphasises a distinction between sacred and secular to a fuller vision of calling within the all-encompassing scope of the Gospel – not to limit vocation to church based roles.

Read it all download the whole booklet (16 page pdf).

Posted in England / UK, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(NPR) Amid #MeToo, Evangelicals Grapple With Misconduct In Their Own Churches

In the Andy Savage case, Jules Woodson alleged in her blog post that the senior pastors in whom she had confided did not discipline Savage adequately or report him to the authorities and even threw a going away party for him when he moved to another community.

Kelly Rosati of Focus on the Family insists it’s important to separate the evangelical belief about distinctive gender roles in the church from the exploitation of power differentials between a pastor and his flock.

“What you saw in that [Andy Savage] incident was a conflating of those two issues,” she says, “and a failure to understand that what one person might describe as a sexual incident is really about those other things, power and abuse and violation.”

The reaction among evangelical women to the #MeToo movement, Rosati says, suggests it may be a watershed moment for them that will end up “shaking out the ground a little bit in the evangelical community.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(CEN) Andrew Carey–The problem of of defining ‘spiritual abuse’

Spiritual abuse is a thorny and difficult subject.

The recent case in Oxford Diocese was a clear-cut example of spiritual abuse. An Abingdon Vicar took an intense interest in mentoring a teenage boy to the extent of moving into the family home and ordering him to stop an adolescent relationship.

This kind of spiritual ‘mentoring’ in which a priest manipulated a young life under the guise of prayer and counselling resembles ‘heavy shepherding’ — one of the charismatic movement’s worst episodes. But even at the time this was not a very widespread phenomenon in Anglican circles and this kind of controlling behaviour has always been thought to be the preserve of new cults rather than established churches.

But according to an ‘online survey’ (two words that always raise alarm bells for me) conducted by academics from Bournemouth University on behalf of the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) a very high number of Christians have personally experienced spiritual abuse.

Of 1,591 responses, 1,002 said they had personally experienced spiritual abuse. This is too high a number to be believable and there must be widespread caution about the survey. In fact, all it is really useful for is to make the point that more research would be extremely valuable with a wider and more representative sample of Christians.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture