The disconnected church: online lecture

5 March, 2014 — 2 Comments

In November 2012 I gave the Baptist Research lecture at the annual Baptist Assembly (The Gathering) which was held in Hamilton, New Zealand. The recording of this lecture has recently been put online. If you’d like to hear me give an introduction to my PhD research, click the image below to have a listen – it will take you to the Resonate website that also contains the PowerPoint from my talk.


The Resonate website is a storehouse of mainly sermons recorded at many different churches around New Zealand. Baptist Research have a few lecture recordings on Resonate and I list them below:

Baptist Research (the New Zealand Baptist Research and Historical Society) state their purpose as:

We aim to resource New Zealand Baptist churches for mission by stimulating and promoting research into Baptist life, thought and history.

Click the links below to listen or download other Baptist Research lectures online.

The Baptist Research website is also the home of The Pacific Journal of Baptist Research, an open-access online journal which aims to provide an international vehicle for scholarly research and debate in the Baptist tradition, with a special focus on the Pacific region.

Baptist Research lectures online

Kingdom come: this is that, then is now
Brian Smith, Principal Emeritus, Carey Baptist College

Vessels of the Spirit: A Baptist Vision of Leadership
Martin Sutherland, Vice Principal (Academic), Laidlaw College

Baptist Leadership in a Collaborative Culture
Andrew Picard, Lecturer in Applied Theology, Carey Baptist College

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  • DrDon

    Mike – an interesting blog, yet more interesting is the title “The Disconnected Church”. Is it the church (the people) who are disconnected, or is it the institutionalised church (those who purport to be ‘leaders’) who are disconnected. Then the question ‘disconnected from whom/what?’ must be asked. Maybe some research would help to answer that question. Yet the mention of ‘research’ raises another question, ‘what is research trying to achieve?’.

    I had a quick glance through the Pacific Journal of Baptist Research, and even with two doctorates ‘under my belt’, my reaction was essentially ‘what a lot of intellectual twaddle’. Yet there was one article (Designing a Forgiveness Course) which if condensed down to a simple truth, may help to answer the original questions. The simple truth is that people can only be helped in their learning and understanding, being reconnected to God, and growing in their own faith, is when the learning environment is friendly, interactive and facilitated, and with a very clear goal. This truth is the antithesis of directed events such as lectures, seminar speakers, and preaching to the converted.

    The essential role of the church is to be available to God for His mission to the world – it is not about ‘me, myself and I’. Essentially, this truth suggests that the church is disconnected because leadership has drawn us away from the essential truths of Scripture.

    To support this argument, I suggest a quick glance (if not a read) of The Divine Mentor: Growing Your Faith as You Sit at the Feet of the Savior by Wayne Cordeiro. Instead of people thinking they are teaching, the focus should be on reconnecting people with God through the inspired scriptures, learning from walking in the shoes of those who have gone before. After all, what right does a preacher think they have to put themselves between God and his people. (What does the Gospels reveal about God’s thoughts about the religious leaders – were they an example of the disconnected church?).

    • Hello DrDon.
      I agree that use of the word “church” means different things in different contexts and to different people… In the heading “The disconnected church” I mean it to be the whole church expression in NZ, meaning all the people who are Christian, and all institutional structures. Broad, but also simplistic. When I interviewed people outside the church, when they think or talk of “church” it seemed like they were lumping all sorts of expression and variations together, so, for example, a person might one minute be talking of Brian Tamaki, and a few minutes later Anglican missionaries 200 years ago, and they are all the same thing (“church”).

      I suspect a lot of lecturers in learning institutions such as Carey and Laidlaw in NZ are not trained or educated much in adult education (I can think of one who has a masters degree in this area), so there is still a lot of traditional teaching methods being used such as the directed events you list. I agree that there is room for alternative forms of teaching. And I neither want to agree or disagree with your claim that the Pacific Journal of Baptist Research is “a lot of intellectual twaddle”. Being an academic yourself, surely you must see a place for academics sharing and testing ideas through the traditional form of peer-reviewed journals? Both yours and my doctoral theses will be full of references to such material – as we stand on the shoulders of others gone before us, and perhaps our work is referenced by others… I think there is a skill in taking ideas from the academic ‘world’ and bringing them into usefulness for the ‘everyday’ person – or, since we’re on the topic of church: typical church goers.

      Would an ideal learning environment be something along the lines of one-on-one mentoring through relationship and example? (or even a few people taking on the role of “mentor”) – this would be friendly, interactive and facilitated. In fact, is this not one dimension to what we call ‘discipleship’? I am part of some mentoring relationships – on both sides, and I would suggest this is far more significant than any institutional leadership role within the church setting.

      Preaching is an interesting topic – I sometimes wonder what the point is, and sometimes find myself bored while listening to them, and other times I am captivated and transformed. I sometimes preach in the church where I pastor, and find it most significant when I get a chance to talk to people about it post-delivery – either in small group settings or one-on-one – so I see the sermon not as an ‘event’ in itself, but something a bit like the end of a swimming pool that allows people to push off from – particularly people who don’t get the time to study the text like I sometime have.