One of the outcomes of my research on church and society has been to help church people see how something is different now in terms of the church and its place and engagement with society. I have used the concept of Christendom/post-Christendom as one way to illustrate this. Another concept that can be useful in showing this difference is secularisation. In this post I hope to provide an introduction to secularisation and why it’s not bad for the church.

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The word ‘secular’ simply means not connected with religious or spiritual matters, so a secular society is a society not concerned with religious or spiritual matters. Secularisation refers to the historical process in which religion loses social and cultural significance. Continue Reading…

This is my book review of Unwelcome: 50 ways churches drive away first-time visitors, by Jonathan Malm (foreword by Kem Meyer), 2014, published by the Centre for Church Communication, USA. I suspect every church would benefit from something in this book – if you ever get first-time visitors, or you hope your visitors will become part of your church family.

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It’s a short book divided into five sections: First impressions, Worship, Programming, Communication, and The Big Picture, raising mainly practical, and sometimes philosophical issues that can easily be thought about in your own local church context. Continue Reading…

I don’t actually care about the movie that has kept the internet buzzing over the last week. What I care to write about is how the church is perceived in society, and issues of communication around this. What I have observed this week from the Christian perspective could fit into my series on cringe communication from the church.

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Headlines like “Fifty Shades of Grey is sign of apocalypse – Dallas pastor”, and a Cincinnati Archbishop saying the Fifty Shades of Grey Movie is a “direct assault on Christian Marriage and on the moral and spiritual strength of God’s people.” Also, requests for families to boycott the film have left me wondering how many R18 movies families usually go and see? Continue Reading…

2015 lineup

11 February, 2015 — 8 Comments

My hiatus from writing is over and I’m again aiming for weekly posts. The last two months have been full including visits to Bangladesh, India, and Thailand to see what New Zealand Baptists are doing there. I finished being a pastor in Christchurch New Zealand after my position was made redundant. I had a break in Motueka and walked through the best bit of New Zealand: the Abel Tasman National Park, and ten days ago I shifted to Auckland.

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I’ve had plenty on my mind to write about, and here’s a list of 19 things I plan to engage with over the next few months, most of which fit within the themes of communication, church and society, in no particular order: Continue Reading…

Many people living in New Zealand would have noticed church signs or billboards, often advertising events like the Alpha course, and sometimes displaying pithy one-liners or puns that suggest the reader of the sign is a sinner going to hell unless they go to a church service on Sunday.

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This is another post in a series where I give some real-life true stories of what I call cringe communication from the church. Click here for the introduction to this series where I basically say I believe we can improve the communication of the church by eliminating cringe communication. Continue Reading…

I’ve been made redundant

16 October, 2014 — 17 Comments

This is not my usual kind of blog post. Here is some news and reflection about my own personal situation right now: Sunday 21 December 2014 will be my last day as Assistant Minister at Oxford Terrace Baptist Church in Christchurch New Zealand.

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My position being made redundant was no surprise, and I have been a willing participant in the process the church went though over a ten-month period. It was decided that on financial grounds, the church is currently over-staffed, and in the end the church members concluded they could no longer sustain an Assistant Minister. Continue Reading…

In August Baptist Research held two mid-winter lectures, one in Christchurch with Stephanie Robson, the other in Auckland with Professor Paul Fiddes. The recordings of these lectures are now available online by clicking the images below. I appreciate these are probably more interesting to people of Baptist persuasion:

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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:

Continue Reading…

This is another post in a series where I give some real-life true stories of what I call cringe communication from the church. Click here for the introduction to this series where I suggest we can improve the communication of the church by eliminating cringe communication.

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One church in New Zealand that often features in the media is the Destiny Church led by Bishop Brian Tamaki. I want your feedback: do you agree that my example below in this post is bad communication? If not why not? Continue Reading…

The 3 yearly general election is happening in New Zealand next month which is something I like taking notice of. I enjoy talking to people about politics, so a few days ago I held a “politics party”.

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It was specifically for people who weren’t sure about the political system, perhaps because they were young and haven’t be eligible to vote before.

There’s this thing I say to people when it comes to voting: Continue Reading…

In my doctoral research I interviewed people outside the church who have never been Christianized. If you’ve read other things in this blog you’ll probably know that there wasn’t a lot of positives in the perceptions people outside the church have of the church. However, some amazing good had been noticed by these people outside the church, and in this post I explain this significant contrast.

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The interviewees noticed some Christians who were committed to the practice of their faith (rather than just belief), specifically: Continue Reading…