Friday, July 31, 2015

Go Big or Go Home: How "Big" Has Invaded the Church

Is our obsession with big churches rooted in mission or just our desire for “big”?

We are a nation in love with big things. We are told to dream big, live large, score high, rack up an impressive following, and measure success in ever-rising numbers. Measuring is key to success—we need proof and we need it often. Trusting in God is all well and good, but that will hardly help us raise the money we need for our Big Screen lives.

The church was never meant to be in the business of “big”; still, we can’t seem to escape its perpetual temptation. Where once our love of scale took the form of Cathedrals grand enough to offer a foretaste of heaven, today, we covet leaders with big visions for growing the church and innovative programs to implement them. (If there’s a pastor search document in America that reads: “We’re looking for someone to shrink the church,” I’d like to see it). As the Church is just a bunch of folks as susceptible to the love of “big” as the culture has proved to be, she’s fallen prey to the 21st-Century American telos: big = best.

But the concept of “big” outside of God himself is simply not part of the gospel. In fact, the word only appears four times in the whole New Testament, most tellingly in a cautionary tale: the Parable of the Rich Fool who looks for shalom in his bounty. “I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain" (Luke 12:18). Isn’t this exactly what we do when we build big churches? We seek to “store up” the faithful—our faithful—to secure the proof that our lives of Kingdom work have not been in vain? We create a thumping worship experience to mirror the buzz of the Holy Spirit, who can’t always be counted on to show.

“Sure,” we say, “As soon as the new building is finished, or the new sound system is installed, or we’ve hired a new pastor to take care of outreach, well then, yes, absolutely, we will send our people and resources out into the mission field.”

Herein lies the danger of “big”: tangible growth is easy to credit as blessing, but releasing our bounty back out to his Kingdom goes against every self-preservation instinct we have in our bodies. Keep reading

Photo credit:  Fox News Radio

How to Respond When Mass Tragedy Strikes Church Members

A plan for responding to the media and increase in inquiries is critical.

I serve on staff at a church that has been touched by more than one mass tragedy. There is no perfect set of rules to navigate these issues—they are unexpected, they bring feelings of grief so deep we wonder if the cavern of loss has an end. They feel inexplicable and they happen in a blink. The following is not an exhaustive list of how to manage, but rather a set of starter notes for leaders on how to honor God and the families who suffer most when mass tragedy strikes. Keep reading
The church bombing in Peshwar, the devastating earthquake in Nepal, and the mass shooting in Charleston point to the need for churches everywhere to have a plan for dealing with large-scale tragedy affecting church members. This plan will need to take into consideration the community, the region, and the country in which the church is located. What might be a workable plan in the United States might not work elsewhere. Does your church have such a plan? How might it be improved? 

Equip, Don’t Enable

One of my great concerns for the church in America today is the consumer mentality that has become so pervasive. Unfortunately most pastors complain about it a lot but then propagate that reality in their churches unintentionally. Rather than equipping our people, we are enabling them. Ephesians 4:11-13 has an important word to offer to us to that end. Consider these words:
“And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.”
I see four major implications of this text that must not be missed by church leaders. Keep reading

The Podcast Pastor

Many Christians find biblical and spiritual nourishment from faithful podcast preachers. This is a good thing. It gives people the opportunity to build God’s Word into their lives during the week as they jog or drive or clean or just sit and listen. But with this benefit comes the question, How should we encourage these same Christians, who are benefitting from podcast preaching, to orient themselves toward their pastor(s) in the local church? Keep reading

How to Playfully Remember God’s Story

Invite your congregation to experience Scripture

In this series, I’ve considered the importance of playing with Scripture and the significance of public Scripture reading as a time for communal remembrance of God’s actions in history. Now in this final segment, I’ll provide some practical ways to heighten the communal experience of hearing Scripture in worship. Keep reading

Also see
Playing with Scripture
Playing with Scripture Helps Us Remember

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Spanish Inquisition

In 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain sponsored Christopher Columbus and his voyage to the New World. But in 1477, they were behind something far more infamous. In that year, the Spanish monarchs petitioned Pope Sixtus IV to revive the Inquisition, targeting Muslims and Jews. So began the reign of terror known as the Spanish Inquisition.

The Spanish Inquisition occurred in the larger enterprise of ecclesial and secular courts imposing conformity to the Roman Catholic Church and stamping out all dissent. Rome sponsored inquisitions as early as the eleventh century. But the Spanish Inquisition was unique. First, it was controlled by the monarchy, rather than the papacy, and would be even more politically motivated than other inquisitions. Keep reading

The Problem With Incremental Change

So you want to bring about change but you’re afraid of the pushback that you know the change will create?

Totally understand that.

So you’re tempted to do what many leaders have done. Instead of bringing about the deep or radical change you know needs to happen, you decide to introduce change incrementally.
Rather than remove the furniture you know needs to go, you move it an inch a week, hoping nobody will notice.

Rather than fire the poor performer, you transfer them to a new position and hope one day they’ll leave.

Rather than kill the programs that need to go, you add a few new ones instead and skirt the real issue.

Rather than make all the changes you know need to be made, you create a 10 year time line, thinking that people will better accept the change the longer you delay.
Sound familiar?

What’s wrong with this picture?

More than a few things actually. Keep reading

What Does Courageous Leadership Look Like Today?

Years ago when I spoke of “courageous leadership” I typically meant the willingness of a pastor or leader to take risks, defy conventional wisdom or stand up to cherished, but no longer useful, traditions.

Today, “courageous leadership” has taken on a new meaning. It no longer simply refers to leading our congregations through much-needed, but fiercely resisted, change. It now includes leading them through a gauntlet of cultural and legal landmines resulting from an increasingly hostile spiritual environment.

If you haven’t noticed, the former “silent majority” has become the “silenced minority.” Those of us who dare to publicly espouse or live by biblical values often face a fierce backlash. We’re blackballed, boycotted or labeled as dangerously backward for holding views that until recently were considered mainstream and widely accepted by both Christians and non-Christians alike.

It’s left many Jesus followers fearful, frustrated and angry.

Unfortunately, fear, frustration and anger don’t foster a heart for the lost. Instead, they turn our focus inward, toward self-preservation, something that can be seen in our current tendency toward two extremes: isolation and warfare.

The problem with isolation is that it separates us from the very people we’re called to reach. It puts up walls where we’re supposed to build bridges. The problem with warfare is that it turns our mission on its ear. Instead of seeing the lost as victims of the enemy, they become the enemy. They become adversaries to be overcome, rather than captives to be rescued.

As pastors and leaders it’s our job to point our people toward a better way. When despair runs rampant, we must proclaim the certainty of biblical hope. When anger reaches a boiling point, we must call for Jesuslike love and humility. And when everything becomes a battleground, we must show them how to pick their battles wisely.

That’s not easy to do. But it can be done. And a man named Daniel shows us how. Keep reading

Seven Keys to an Effective Church Social Media Strategy

Social media is here to stay, and some churches have done well as early adopters of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. But many churches are still either hesitant to use social media or are using it poorly and not seeing any positive results.

As the pervasiveness of social media grows, it would be unwise to continue to ignore your church’s social media strategy and presence. And like any other ministry in the church, social media needs planning (a strategy), people (someone in charge), and a purpose (measurable goals) to be effective. These seven keys will help your church engage both members and guests on social media. Keep reading

The Church on Mission: Three Articles - Free eBooks

The dangerous calling of Christian missions

America’s evangelical Christians are facing a critical time of testing in the 21st century. Among the most important of the tests we now face is the future of missions and our faithfulness to the Great Commission. At a time of unprecedented opportunity, will our zeal for world missions slacken?

Just as doors of opportunity are opening around the world, the church seems to be losing its voice. A virtual re-paganization of Western culture is occurring around us at a velocity unprecedented in human history. At the same time, we are also witnessing the rise of militant Islam. One need only consider the rise of extremist groups such as ISIS to see just how dangerous the missionary enterprise has become.

Christians therefore live in the midst of two competing worldviews, both of which are hostile to the claims of Christ. Yet, we also offer the only meaningful alternative to rampant secularism on the one hand and militant Islam on the other. In other words, America’s secular elites do not have a compelling response to the theological claims of Islam. This fact highlights that one of the fundamental problems among Western elites is that they cannot understand a theological worldview — particularly the theological worldview of Islam. Being basically rational and secular in their own worldview, Western elites find it almost impossible to understand the radical actions of Islamic terrorists. Keep reading

8 traits of a missions-centered church

God chose the church to be His messenger and make a powerful impact on the world. It doesn't matter if it has 10,000 or 20 members; a church is called to reach the nations with the Gospel.

The International Mission Board asked pastors, mission and mobilization specialists around the globe to give some insights into what makes missions-centered churches.

They boiled it down to eight traits that indicate this type of congregation.... Keep reading

Are You Planting a Worshipping, Witnessing, Living or Sending Church? Free eBooks

In past years, the church has discovered that to fulfill God’s plan and purpose, we need to grow numerically. Much of that teaching comes from the Book of Acts’s account of the birth and growth of the early church. If we want to learn about planting churches that grow and accomplish Jesus’s mission, we don’t have to look any further than to the examples of the churches in Acts. I have learned (and continue to learn) so much from the early churches about planting churches. In Acts 1 after Christ’s resurrection, Jesus is teaching His disciples about the Kingdom of God and tells them to “wait in Jerusalem.” Then just before He ascends into Heaven, He shares with them Acts 1:8.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV).

Notice that the promise of power begins in Jerusalem, then moves to Judea and Samaria, and from there to the ends of the earth.

But I believe that God gives His disciples a strategy, purpose and plan for the church that goes beyond geographical. God gave us this growth plan to show how the church develops from one stage to the next, moving from the first stage to the second, the third, and finally to the fourth stage. Keep reading

Photo credit: Baptist Press

Why is it so hard to talk about our faith with friends, and how do we get over it?

I have a secret and sophisticated evangelistic technique. In Acts 24, it says that they talked about Jesus wherever they went. When we think of evangelism, we think of sermons, crusades and events. But in Acts, more often than not the gospel spread through relationships. So, my secret is: talk about Jesus wherever you go.

But how do we do evangelism in relationships? Talking to our family, friends and work colleagues seems simple in theory, but why is it so often a challenge in practice? Keep reading

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Prayer Book for a Gospel-Centered Church

By Robin G Jordan

With the Prayer Book in preparation the Anglican Church in North America’s College of Bishops is putting the perpetuation of a particular cultus—“a set of religious beliefs and ritual”—before fidelity to the gospel and its propagation. At the heart of the Reformation, in England as well as on the Continent, was the recovery of the gospel, which had become lost during the period between the apostolic times and the sixteenth century. This cultus was the main reason that the gospel was forgotten, having first obscured and hidden it and then replaced it with a different gospel—a gospel of sacraments and good works.

Among the reasons the English Reformers drew up the Articles of Religion was to safeguard the truth of the gospel. Having recovered the gospel, they did not wish to see it lost again. The principles of doctrine and worship laid out in the Articles have this common purpose.

While what is happening in the Anglican Church in North America involves the occupation of the place of power by those wed to this cultus and their entrenchment of the cultus in the denomination, it goes beyond that. It is not simply a matter of one group in the denomination imposing its convictions and preferences upon the other groups in the denomination. It is actually a matter of life and death. Hearing the gospel, experiencing God’s effectual calling, and repenting of sin and trusting in Christ are essential to salvation (Romans 10: 13-14). Receiving the sacraments and performing good works will not save those alienated from God by sin. It may soothe their consciences but it will leave them dead in their sins.

Where this cultus has flourished in the North American Anglican Church, it has overshadowed the gospel rather than served it. It has subverted the gospel rather uplifted it. It provided the Episcopal Church with an ambience which, while it drew a wide variety of people through its doors, has been “a shield against the encroachment of the presence of God.” It has produced “a wide variety of resistances to the proclamation of a gospel that calls people to a personal faith.” It has also been a major contributing factor to the introduction of liberal theology and its spread in that denomination.

The central task of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. By disciples the New Testament means followers of Jesus Christ—those who have accepted him as not only their savior but also their lord. It does not mean adherents of a particular cultus. This was the position that Council of Jerusalem took when it ruled that Gentiles need not adopt the ceremonial law of the Jews in order to be followers of Jesus Christ.

The normal way of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is to first hear the gospel. The Holy Spirit works through the gospel and in the hearts of sinners to bring about their rebirth in Jesus Christ. Only those who have been born again, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, can turn from sin to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit works in them to will and do what is pleasing to God.

Having come to faith in Jesus Christ, they make a public declaration of their faith in him, undergoing baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptism points to their receipt of the gift of the Holy Spirit and new birth and their death to sin and resurrection to new life in Jesus Christ. Having received the gift of Holy Spirit and the new birth, they have become members of the Body of Christ, his Church. It is the sign of God’s good will and mercy toward them in having called them to himself and given them the gift of the Holy Spirit and the new birth and grafted them like young vine branches into the rootstock of Jesus Christ the Vine. Through baptism God enlivens, confirms, and strengthens their faith in Jesus Christ. It is not the beginning of their faith journey but it is an important milestone along the way. Their faith journey began the moment they experienced the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit.

The next step after their baptism is to receive instruction in the “commandments” of Jesus Christ, his teaching, as attested by the New Testament. This instruction may have begun before their baptism and will continue throughout their earthly lives. It is through hearing, reading, and studying God’s Word that their minds will be renewed and they will be more closely conformed in character to Jesus Christ their Head. A disciple, after all, is someone who always learning even when he himself is a teacher.

We find nothing in the New Testament about making adherents to a particular cultus, particularly a cultus that teaches that priests are intermediaries between human beings and God, offering the sacrifice of the Mass on their behalf, when the New Testament itself tells us that we have direct access to God through Jesus Christ and have no need of such priestly intermediaries. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross on Galgotha was sufficient for the sins of the world for all time. There is no need for Christ to keep offering himself through a priest on the altar at Mass.

If the Anglican Church in North America is to serve God in the twenty-first century, it must proclaim the unadulterated message of the gospel. It must plant churches that are centered on the gospel. It must produce liturgies that are shaped by the gospel. It must train clergy and other gospel workers to spread the gospel and to lead local congregations in making the gospel know to all people groups in their communities and beyond.

If the Anglican Church in North America is to serve God in the twenty-first century, it is going to need a Prayer Book that is shaped by the gospel and embodies the teaching of the Scriptures. Only with such a Prayer Book will it be able to follow the example of its Lord and seek and save the lost. What it does not need is a Prayer Book that is nothing more than a manual for a cultus that fundamentally teaches a different gospel from the New Testament gospel and wherever it flourishes overshadows and subverts the true gospel. 

Five Keys to an Incredible Greeters’ Ministry

It’s the one thing all churches can do to reach more people, but it’s one thing most churches give little attention.

Most churches can take five simple steps to create and/or improve their greeters’ ministry and potentially see dramatic results. Let me give you a simple example of the potential impact.

A church of 200 in worship attendance may get 150 first-time guests in a year. Can you imagine the transformation that would take place if one-half of those guests connected with the church and became a part of the congregation? The church of 200 in attendance would become a church of 275 in attendance – in one year!

In our surveys of first-time guests, we hear repeatedly that one of the keys that caused them to return was a friendly first impression. Like it or not, it’s often a make or break issue for the guest.

So how can you be certain that your greeters are doing everything possible to provide an incredible first-time impression? Here are five “best practices” where churches have dynamic greeter ministries, and where the return rate of guests is high. Keep reading

10 Symptoms of the Unaware Leader

A couple years ago there was a consistent problem in one of our areas of ministry. It was something which I would have quickly addressed, but no one brought it to my attention. Thankfully, I’ve learned the hard way that what I don’t know can often hurt my leadership or the church the most, so I’m good at asking questions and being observant. Through my normal pattern of discovery I encountered the problem, brought the right people together, we addressed the problem and moved forward.

End of story.

If only that was the end of the story every time. I’ve missed problems equally as much.

It reminds me — the leader is often the last to know when something is wrong. I have consistently told this to the teams I lead. You only know what you know.

And many times, because of the scope of responsibility of the leader, he or she isn’t privy to all the intricacies of the organization. Some people, simply because they would rather talk behind someone’s back than do the difficult thing of facing confrontation, tell others the problems they see before they share them with the leader. Without some systems of discovering problems the leader may be clueless there is even a problem. Keep reading

Everything You Need to Know about Small Group Models

There are many things you need to know about small group models, systems and strategies. Too many to include in a single article!

Here are three very important things to know (and links to other key posts on this topic)....Keep reading

Babies Halt the Great Commission

Over the past century, the Good News has taken off faster than at any other time in history.­­

It took nearly 2,000 years for the gospel to spread from the early church to nearly half the world’s population. In 1900, 45.7 percent of people everywhere were aware of the gospel, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. More than 100 years later, that number has grown to more than 70 percent.

Given that the number of mission organizations has grown from 2,200 in 1970 to 5,100 in 2015, the whole world should soon hear the Good News, right?

Not so fast, said the CSGC. By 2050, it predicts only another 2 percent of the world’s population will be evangelized, totaling 72 percent.

The root of the slowdown: babies, rival religions, and the painstaking work of building disciples. Keep reading

The New Episcopal Church: What Hath General Convention 2015 Wrought?

The Anglican Communion Institute has followed with care and interest the decisions of The Episcopal Church’s (TEC’s) General Convention 2015. We have pondered key aspects of these decisions, and spoken to a range of participants and members of the broader Anglican Communion.

In summarizing our reflections, we note that the following things are clear.... Keep reading

Religious freedom addressed in survey

Americans believe firmly in religious freedom but think atheists are more welcome than Muslims in the United States, Nashville-based LifeWay Research finds.

More than 90 percent say people should be free to choose and practice religious beliefs. Nearly 7 in 10 call America a nation of many religions.

Yet Americans acknowledge the nation embraces Christians and Jews more heartily than atheists or Muslims. While 92 percent agree America is a welcoming place for Christians and 87 percent agree for Jews, the number drops to 67 percent for atheists. LifeWay released the study Wednesday (July 29), based on a survey taken last fall.

Muslims are the least welcome, in Americans' estimation. Fifty-seven percent say America is a welcoming place for Muslims, and 35 percent believe it is not.

"Americans are deeply committed to religious liberty, but they can look at today's culture and see America does not always welcome everyone," Scott McConnell, LifeWay Research vice president, said. "Welcoming people of all religions means being open to both immigrants of other faiths and citizens who choose to change their beliefs." Keep reading

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Gospel and the Anglican Way

By Robin G. Jordan

What are the characteristics of the genuine Anglican Way? How do we distinguish those who are authentically Anglican from those who, while they may identify themselves as Anglican, are following a different faith tradition?

1. They hold the Christian faith as professed by the Church of Christ since primate times and particularly as set out in the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed.

2. They recognize all the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as inspired by God, as having plenary authority in all matters of faith and practice, and containing all things necessary for salvation.

3. They recognize the historic Anglican formularies, including the two Books of Homilies, as the longstanding standard of doctrine and worship of the Anglican Church.

4. They believe that justification is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ, that every human being is wholly enslaved to sin, and that only by God’s prevenient grace, which is the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, are human beings given the faith that results in justification.

5. They recognize only two sacraments ordained by God—Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

6. They recognize that the threefold ministry of deacons, presbyters, and bishops has antecedents in the New Testament and that the offices of presbyter and bishop were originally one office which evolved into two offices in post-apostolic times. They further recognize that, while the office of bishop may benefit the life of the church, the office of bishop is not essential to the existence of the life of the church. Consequently they recognize as a part of Christ’s Church other Protestant denominations that “do not have an episcopal ministry and do not require episcopal ordination of clergy” even though they themselves practice episcopal ordination.

7. They embrace an “evangelical comprehensiveness,” the bounds of which are set by the principles of doctrine and worship laid out in the Thirty-Nine Articles.

These seven characteristics are the distinguishing characteristics of the genuine Anglican Way.

With its fundamental declarations taken from the Common Cause Partnership’s Theological Statement the Anglican Church in North America has put forward its own revisionist redefinition of the Anglican Way.

How does it differ from the genuine Anglican Way?

1. With their choice of language the fundamental declarations essentially negate the historic Anglican formularies as the Anglican Church’s doctrinal and worship standard.

2. With their choice of language they also do not exclude the existence other sacraments beside Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Note the absence of “the” and “only” in the statement, “We confess Baptism and the Supper of the Lord to be Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself in the Gospel.”

3. Like the Chicago Quadrilateral that the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops adopted in 1886 when Anglo-Catholicism was at its height in the Episcopal Church and Anglo-Catholic bishops dominated the House of Bishops, the fundamental declarations assert that the episcopate is an essential part of the apostolic deposit and therefore absolutely necessary to the unity of the Church. With the Chicago Quadrilateral the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops “unchurched” the Protestant denominations that did not have the episcopate and did not practice episcopal ordination. Like the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches the fundamental declarations maintain that “the episcopate is of the essence of the very existence of the life of the Church.” As the late Peter Toon drew to his readers’ attention, this position excludes a very large segment of Anglicans who hold that the episcopate is “of benefit to the life of the Church” but is not essential to its existence. It excludes the English Reformers and the benchmark Anglican divine Richard Hooker. It also excludes the seventeenth century Caroline High Churchmen who, while they believed that God had blessed the reformed Church of England with the benefit of the episcopate, recognized the orders and sacraments of the Continental Reformed Churches that did not have bishops.

This revisionist redefinition of the Anglican Way permits those occupy the place of power in the Anglican Church in North America to take that denomination away from the genuine Anglican Way in the direction of the unreformed Catholicism of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. The College of Bishops’ endorsement of Texts for Common Prayer, including its latest additions, and To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism show that they are indeed taking the Anglican Church in North America in that direction. In the process they are denying official standing to the beliefs and convictions of those who are true to the genuine Anglican Way and to the practices associated with these beliefs and convictions, excluding them from the Anglican Church in North America.  

Exclusion does not have to involve the actual shutting of Anglicans faithful to the genuine Anglican Way out of the Anglican Church in North America. It may involve taking steps to discourage what they believe and practice from flourishing and spreading. This is what happened in the Episcopal Church and is now happening in the Anglican Church in North America. Texts for Common Prayer and To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism are being used for this purpose. No room is being made in what is expected to become the official Prayer Book of the Anglican Church in North America for the beliefs, convictions, and practices of Anglicans loyal to the genuine Anglican Way.

There are sufficient grounds for the GAFCON Primates to intervene on the behalf of Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America true to the genuine Anglican Way. There are also sufficient grounds for Anglicans outside of Anglican Church in North America faithful to the genuine Anglican Way to reconsider their recognition and support of the Anglican Church in North America.

There is also ample reason for Anglicans in North America loyal to the genuine Anglican Way, in and outside the Anglican Church in North America, and others who share their beliefs and convictions to form a second province within the ACNA or independent of that body, depending upon what would best serve the gospel. The bounds outside which those occupying the place of power in the ACNA are taking that body are the bounds of the gospel. The bounds of the “evangelical comprehensiveness” set by the doctrinal and worship principles set out in the Thirty-Nine Articles are essentially those bounds. One of the fundamental purposes of the Thirty-Nine Articles was to safeguard the truth of the gospel. The sacramental system of the Roman Catholic Church and its views of apostolic succession, the sacraments, the priesthood, and grace and justification that Texts for Common Prayer and To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism are establishing as the official doctrine of the Anglican Church in North America lie outside of those bounds. They fundamentally teach a different gospel. The formation of a second province is not only essential to securing a future for the genuine Anglican Way in North America but also and more importantly it is essential to the preservation and propagation of the gospel in North American Anglicanism.

Disconnected from the doctrinal and worship standard of the historic Anglican formularies, North American Anglicanism has shown a tendency to gravitate toward extremes—Anglo-Catholicism and liberalism. These extremes do not fully accept the Holy Scriptures as the ultimate rule and standard of faith and practice. They do not profess and proclaim the true gospel. 

Why Multisite Campuses Fail

When a multisite campus fails, there always needs to be an autopsy. After all, isn’t that just plain ‘ol good leadership? Learning from your mistakes?

There are several factors that contribute to a failed campus, like a lack of clarity, systems, funds, strategy, and prayer. However, we would be remiss to take the campus pastor out of the equation. After all, campuses rise and fall on leadership; particularly, the campus pastor’s leadership.

So before you apply to the seemingly endless amounts of campus pastor job postings, make sure that the role is a right fit for you. This is the third post in this series, so make sure you read the first two before finishing off this one:
10 Signs You Shouldn’t Be a Campus Pastor
Campus Pastors NEED to Take Risks
In my previous post, I explained the first five signs that were intended to help you discern whether or not you were cut out to be a campus pastor. Here’s the rest of the list. Keep reading

Issues in Church Leadership: Three Articles

5 Traits of the Aware Leader

he longer I’m in leadership, the more I realize I don’t always fully know the real health of my team or organization at any given time — at least as much as others do.

Don’t misunderstand — I want to know, but often, because of my position, I’m shielded from some issues.

I’ve learned, right or wrong — agree or disagree — that some would rather complain behind a leader’s back than tell them how they really feel. Others assume the leader already knows the problem. Still others simply leave or remain quiet rather than complain — often in an attempt to avoid confrontation.

I’ve made the mistake of believing everything was great in an area of ministry or with a team member, when really it was mediocre at best, simply because I was not aware of the real problems in the organization.

It can be equally true that a leader doesn’t know all the potential of an organization. Some of the best ideas remain untapped for some of the same reasons. People are afraid of their ideas being rejected, so they don’t share them. They assume the leader has already thought of it or they simply never take the time to share with them.

If a leader wants to be fully “aware”, there are disciplines they must have in place. For example, as a leader, do you want to easily recognize the need for change and the proper timing to introduce it? That comes partly by being a more aware leader. Keep reading

Three Reasons Leaders Must Constantly Ask Why

Wise leaders constantly ask “why.” Not because they find joy in questioning everything but because they want to ensure the thinking beneath the decisions is sound and the motivations beneath the actions are pure. Instead of mindlessly executing, they think deeply about what is beneath the execution. Instead of simply implementing, they care about the theology and philosophy underneath the implementation.

Here are three reasons wise leaders must ask “why”... Keep reading

Three Reasons Leaders Must Constantly Say "No"

Steve Jobs famously said, “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” He was ruthlessly focused as a leader. Many of us have a difficult time saying “no,” but leaders must do so for at least three reasons.... Keep reading

Playing with Scripture Helps Us Remember

God’s people must never forget what God has done

We don’t need examples of how we are forgetful people. I’m reminded of my forgetfulness every time I go to the basement and stand there because I’ve forgotten what I wanted to get. On occasion I’ve met people with impeccable memories, who remember things like what I was wearing the first time we met. This astonishes me. I am good at remembering which years my husband and I took certain vacations. He remembers the route we drove to get there. But mostly I forget stuff.

It’s helpful to remember we’re forgetful. And remembering our forgetfulness is useful in worship too. Keep reading

Why Children’s Ministry Might be the Most Important Position on Your Team–An Interview with Gina McClain [Podcast]

Many senior leaders dismiss family ministry as something that simply needs to be done but don’t assign it the priority deserves.

That’s why every leader needs to hear Gina McClain.

An incredible leader, Gina has spearheaded thriving family ministry at and at Faith Promise Church and shares so much…including how to hire the ideal family ministry person to help your church grow. Keep reading
Children' ministries that create positive experience for children will prompt first time guests to return because their children are excited about what they experienced and want to go back. They also foster positive associations with church attendance in children. This associations can last a life time and encourage ongoing church attendance at other stages in their lives. 

5 Simple Ways to “GOSPELIZE” Your Youth Ministry“

“Gospelize” is an old English word for evangelize. It’s a cool word with an old flair that engages our postmodern teenagers with the ancient quest of going into all the world to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19.) If you really want to get your teenagers engaged in telling “the greatest story ever told that’s hardly ever told” (to quote my good friend Propaganda) then here are five simple action steps you can take right away in your youth ministry.... Keep reading

Pakistan: 1,000 girls forced to convert to Islam every year

Every year, at least 1,000 Pakistani girls are forced into Muslim marriages and made to convert to Islam, according to a new report.

The 'Forced Marriages and Inheritance Deprivation' report from the Karachi-based Aurat Foundation claims that between 100 and 700 Christian girls, and around 300 Hindu girls, are married forcibly each year and forced to convert to Islam. Keep reading

Monday, July 27, 2015

New Member to Join ACNA Bishops' Club

By Robin G. Jordan

The Rt. Rev. Roger Ames, the Bishop of the Anglican Church in North America’s Diocese of the Great Lakes, has issued a call for the appointment of a coadjutor bishop for the diocese. The Diocese of the Great Lakes adopted the second method for the selection of a bishop in the Anglican Church in North America. The canons of the Anglican Church in North America commend this method to the founding entities of the denomination and prescribe it for new dioceses and networks affiliating with the denomination.

Whether the canons prescribed this method for such dioceses and networks was a subject of heated debate before the adoption of the canons. A representative of the Governance Task Force maintained that a grouping of congregations affiliating with the denomination was free to adopt either of the two methods, arguing that Article IV(7) of the constitution guaranteed the right to “establish and maintain its own governance, constitution and canons.”

However, Article IV(7) of the constitution contains this proviso, “not inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution and Canons of this Province.”

Canon III.8. 4.4 states, “Where the originating body is newly formed, that body shall normally nominate two or three candidates, from whom the College of Bishops may select one.”

The Guidelines for Submitting an Application Form to the Provincial Council for Recognition as a New Diocese/Network or as a Diocese/Network “In Formation contain these instructions:
All groupings are to be united by a bishop (Article IV) except those “In Formation,” which may be led by a Vicar General at the discretion of the Archbishop (Canon I.5.6). The College of Bishops has authority in the election of bishops as set out in Article X.5. Canon I.5.5 states that the application shall contain the name of the recommended nominee or nominees for Bishop. In the case of a newly formed originating body, Canon III.8.4.3 states that that body shall normally nominate two or three candidates. In the case of a single nominee the College may grant consent for his consecration, or in the case of multiple nominees the College may choose one and grant consent for his consecration (Article X). Canon III.8.3 provides further criteria for the episcopate, to include the stipulation that an eligible candidate for bishop will be a duly ordained male presbyter of at least 35 years of age.
35 is also the minimum age requirement for a Roman Catholic bishop. See Canon 378 § 1. A comparison of the section of the Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church in which this canon is found with the corresponding section of the ACNA canons show that the latter was to a large extent based on that section.

Nowhere in the guidelines do we find anything that informs the grouping applying for recognition that it has the option of electing its own bishop and submitting the name of the bishop-elect to the College of Bishops for confirmation. Clearly the intention of those who oversaw the drafting of the canons and the annexed guidelines was to make the second method of selecting a bishop the primary method and then the sole method of selecting a bishop in the denomination.

The guidelines also state:
Article IV recognized the right of each grouping to establish and maintain its own governance, constitution and canons not inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution and Canons of the Province. While not required at this time, future canons may require each grouping to write a constitution and canons in support of the Provincial Constitution and Canons.
Why would this method of selecting a bishop be more desirable than the first method - election of a bishop by the diocesan synod and confirmation by the episcopal college of the province? The first method is the oldest method of selecting a bishop, going all the way back to the primitive Church.

In the days before the adoption of the ACNA constitution and canons the main reason given for the desirability of the second method was the claim that it was based upon the method of selecting bishops used in one of the African provinces. The explosive growth of the African provinces was attributed to their bishops. It was inferred that the selection of bishops by this method would produce the same results in North America. It was also claimed that it would eliminate the problems associated with the election of a bishop by a diocesan synod.

An examination of the history of this particular method shows that it has its origins in the Roman Catholic Church. In the Roman Catholic Church designated nominators submit the names of suitable candidates for the episcopate to the Pope who in turn selects one of the candidates. The Pope, however, is not required to select one of the nominees. He can appoint whomever he chooses. Where it has been adopted by a number of Africa provinces in an adapted form, it has proven to have a set of problems of its own.

In the ACNA adaptation of the method the College of Bishops replaces the Pope. Under the provisions of the ACNA canons the College of Bishops can reject all the candidates that a diocese nominates and keep rejecting the diocese’s nominees until the diocese nominates a candidate to its liking. The College of Bishops is not prohibited from nominating a candidate of its own and appointing that candidate as bishop of the diocese. Whether the College of Bishops is bound by the provisions of a diocese’s constitution and canons is debatable. The ACNA canons contain no provision requiring the College of Bishops to abide by the provisions of these governing documents. It is one of a number of areas in the ACNA canons where the lack of necessary details in its provisions leaves the College of Bishops free to do what it likes.

The ACNA adaptation of the method enables whatever group or faction that wields the most influence in the College of Bishops to determine who joins that exclusive club, ensuring that the episcopal college is made up of bishops who hold its views and share its aspirations or who will not prove an obstacle to the direction in which it wishes to take the Anglican Church in North America.

It is the ideal method of episcopal selection for ideologues seeking to entrench their views in the Anglican Church in North America and to exclude from the College of Bishops those who do not agree with them.

Finding the Right Church Plant Model: An Introduction to Church Models (Part 1)

Which church planting model is best for you? Multiple options exist, and it can be tough to decide.

We just got another car. Well, truthfully, Donna (my wife) made me get one. To be completely honest, she went and bought it and brought it home and basically said, "You're getting another car."

You see, I hate car buying. I hate picking the right make and model. I just want my car to get me from here to there.

So, I pick a car model based on the purpose—getting from here to there. And, that's how we should choose church planting models: based on the mission. Keep reading

Sola Scriptura or Sola Cardia?

Protestants speak of the term sola Scriptura as foundational to our understanding the Bible. But, what does it mean? And, why is it important?
The Reformation principle of sola Scriptura has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture as our supreme authority in all spiritual matters. Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. (John MacArthur via Ligonier)

“The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.” — Westminster Confession of Faith
You’ll notice that the terms sufficiency and authority are spoken of here. The point is that God has intentionally provided his people with sufficient answers and guidance to the things that really matter. We can be assured that we have what we need to faithfully live the Christian life and make the decisions that need to be made.

Most Christians would not deny this. On paper we embrace and love the Bible. However, in practice we may find ourselves denying sola Scriptura and embracing sola Cardia (the heart alone). How so? Let me give you four common ways Evangelicals can deny sola Scriptura.... Keep reading

Teach the Bloody Bible

Why teaching the strange and disturbing stories in Scripture is essential to outreach and spiritual growth.

You don't have to read Richard Dawkins anymore to encounter objections to the Christian faith. Just log onto Facebook or Twitter. Many of the objections center on the "problem passages" of Scripture, those stories where God seems capricious or cruel. The Genesis flood, the Canaanite genocide, Levitical laws, Sodom and Gomorrah, Ananias and Sapphira—all have become fodder for Internet memes and reverse apologetics sites attempting to undermine the Bible and the God it proclaims. We can no longer avoid these parts of the Bible. So how can we teach them in honest and redemptive ways? We talked to two pastors who have tackled the topic head-on. Joshua Ryan Butler is pastor of outreach at Imago Dei Church in Portland, Oregon, and author of The Skeletons in God's Closet (Nelson, 2014). Dan Kimball is a teaching pastor at Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California, and author of the forthcoming Crazy Bible? (Zondervan, 2016). Leadership Journal managing editor Drew Dyck sat down with Butler and Kimball. Keep reading

The Bible and Same Sex Marriage: 6 Common but Mistaken Claims

I’ve been hearing a lot in the public square about trajectories. In these conversations God’s Word is used to argue that the church needs to change its view on same-sex marriage, even though Scripture seems uniformly against it. This comes not only from newspaper columnists, such as Steve Blow in the Dallas Morning News, but also from evangelical commentators who claim the direction of the Bible takes them there. I understand this desire to love well, taken from the great commandment (Matt. 22:39), and I also see that one can ask such questions not out of a desire to rebel, clear a new path, or conform to culture, but out of sincerity.

Sincere questions deserve sincere responses. This article is designed to engage those who say the real thrust of the Bible is to joyously enter our brave new world with open arms and hearts. I’ll discuss various claims arguing that Scripture either doesn’t clearly address our specific contemporary situation or that Scripture is open and inconsistent enough to allow room for a category previously rejected. Keep reading

The Evangelism Conversation No One Is Having

I was listening to a podcast recently that confirmed what many of us have intuitively known for a long time.

People are having spiritual conversations every day…they just never think of turning to a preacher or the church for answers.

I’m not talking about people who have other religious backgrounds. I’m talking about your neighbours, your friends, maybe even your family members as well as cultural leaders and thought leaders in our cultural context who are unchurched.

It’s not that people aren’t interested in spirituality, it’s that they don’t think the church can help them. Keep reading

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Evangelicalism Is a Seedbed of Anglo-Catholicism?!

By Robin G. Jordan

David Virtue has posted an account of Archbishop Foley Beach’s address to the recent International Congress of Catholic Anglicans on Virtueonline. Archbishop Beach’s description of evangelicalism as a seedbed of Anglo-Catholicism was particularly troubling. It presumes a movement from evangelicalism to Anglo-Catholicism, which the Congress organizers are seeking to encourage, and which from all appearances Texts for Common Prayer and To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, the Anglican Church in North America’s collection of rites and services and its catechism, are designed to facilitate.

Archbishop Beach’s description of evangelicalism as a seedbed of Anglo-Catholicism in his address does not suggest that he has a strong commitment to authentic historic Anglicanism.  He has in a previous address equated Anglican confessionalism with adherence to the catholic creeds and not the Articles of Religion. While Beach attended an evangelical seminary, Gordon-Conwell, he also attended the School of Theology of the University of the South. The prevailing ethos at Sewanee, while it is not traditionalist Anglo-Catholic like Nashotah House, is High Church. Beach was originally ordained in the Episcopal Church, which is not known for its overarching commitment to the Anglican formularies even in conservative circles.

What concerns me are the implications of Archbishop Beach’s statement. From all appearances the College of Bishops selected Beach as Archbishop because he is not a strong proponent of authentic historical Anglicanism despite his evangelical background. At the same time his evangelical background increased the likelihood that he would enjoy the support of evangelicals

What Beach may have in part been alluding to in his statement was a shift in his own doctrinal views from evangelical views to views closer to Anglo-Catholicism. To my knowledge Beach has not abstained from voting or voted against endorsement when the College of Bishops voted on the various additions to Texts for Common Prayer and on To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism. He voted in favor their endorsement. Both documents embody unreformed Catholic doctrine; Texts for Common Prayer mandates or countenances unreformed Catholic practices. Texts for Common Prayer and To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism reflect the influence that traditionalist Anglo-Catholics and the new Anglo-Catholics, those who have come to similar views through the influence of the ecumenical, liturgical, and convergence movements, assert in the Prayer Book and Liturgy Task Force and in the College of Bishops. The two documents conflict with the teaching of the Scriptures in a number of places and show very little evidence of the influence of the principles of doctrine and worship laid out in the Anglican formularies.

Among the apparent purposes of these documents is to transform the Anglican Church in North America into a hotbed for forcing the growth of new Anglo-Catholics. Through the medium of the catechism newcomers will be indoctrinated in unreformed Catholic doctrine; through medium of the rites and services they will be further shaped as unreformed Catholics. Archbishop Beach’s statement suggests that he goes along with the use of these documents for this purpose.

Archbishop Beach’s predecessor, while describing himself as a “High Church evangelical,” has shown decided unreformed Catholic leanings. He has criticized the Elizabethan Settlement, which has shaped Anglicanism since the sixteenth century, and has advocated a “new settlement,” which would turn back the clock to a period before the English Reformation. Both he and Beach give all appearances of sharing a common vision of the Anglican Church in North America—that of creating an environment that favors the rapid transformation of charismatics and evangelicals with a penchant for liturgy into full-blown Anglo-Catholics.

Such a vision of the Anglican Church in North America is consistent with a “Catholic Revivalist” agenda that seeks to reshape the Anglican Church along the lines of the purportedly undivided Church of the early High Middle Ages before the East-West Schism in the eleventh century. Those pushing this agenda claim that this was the real intention of the English Reformers, and not to bring the doctrine and practices of the Church of England into conformity with the teaching of the Holy Scriptures as the Reformers themselves claimed in defense of the reforms that they instituted.

“Catholic Revivalists” in the Anglican Church in North America fall into two groups. The first group is composed of traditionalist Anglo-Catholics—those who have acquired unreformed Catholic views through the influence of the Anglo-Catholic movement. The second group is composed of charismatics, evangelicals, and others who have come to similar views through the influence of the ecumenical, liturgical, and convergence movements.

When “Catholic Revivalists” talk about the renewal of the Anglican Church, what they are referring to is the renewal of unreformed Catholicism in the Anglican Church and the transformation of the Anglican Church into a Catholic Church. They are not talking about the renewal of historic Anglicanism, which would involve the continuation and strengthening and in some cases restoration of the Biblical and Reformation doctrines and convictions of the English Reformers, the reaffirmation of the Elizabethan Settlement and the reinvigoration of the Protestant, reformed, and evangelical character of the Anglican Church. What they seek is an entirely different outcome from what the renewal of historic Anglicanism would bring with it.

Those who desire the renewal of unreformed Catholicism in the Anglican Church and those who desire the renewal of authentic historic Anglicanism are at cross-purposes. This explains why the “Catholic Revivalists” are taking advantage of the positions of influence that they occupy in the Anglican Church in North America to entrench their views in the denomination. They are ideologues and their agenda is ideological. While they are to some degree a diverse group, this diversity should not be permitted to obscure the fact that they are committed to moving the Anglican Church in North America and its clergy and congregations closer to the unreformed Catholic teaching and practices of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. They desire to create their own version of a Catholic Church while retaining the Anglican brand name.  

In seeking to impose a particular set of beliefs and practices on the clergy and congregations of the Anglican Church in North America through what may eventually become its Prayer Book, this group of ideologues is not any different from the group of liberal ideologues in the Episcopal Church. They may be to a certain extent more orthodox in that they ostensibly accept the teaching of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds but believing in the uniqueness of Christ and the other core doctrines articulated in the creeds does not justify their imposition of their convictions on Anglicans and other Christians who do not share these convictions, especially when their convictions conflict with the Anglican Church’s “primary formulary”—the Bible—and its “secondary formularies”—the two Books of Homilies, the Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 and the Ordinal annexed to the 1662 Prayer Book. They may be convinced of the soundness of their views but this conviction does not justify what they are doing either.

Having left the Episcopal Church whose liberal agenda kept their aspirations in check, this particular group of ideologues now feels free to pursue their own vision of the Anglican Church. They, however, are not the only group that left the Episcopal Church and they are not the only group that forms the Anglican Church in North America. They are presently able to do what they are doing because there is a lot of confusion in the Anglican Church in North America about the Prayer Book that is in preparation for use in the denomination. This may be attributed to a number of factors.

First, a rumor to the effect that the Prayer Book in preparation is based on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer has been circulating in the Anglican Church in North America. A comparison of the rites and services in Texts for Common Prayer, including its latest additions, with the rites and services in the 1662 Prayer Book show that this rumor is unfounded.  The rites and services in Texts for Common Prayer are based on the 1549 Prayer Book, the 1928 Prayer Book, the various Anglican missals, and the 1979 Prayer Book. They incorporate some textual material from the 1662 Prayer Book but often use this material differently from the way it is used in the 1662 Prayer Book. Their doctrine and liturgical usages are decidedly NOT those of the rites and services in the 1662 Prayer Book. Any resemblance Texts for Common Prayer bears to the 1662 Prayer Book is superficial at best.

Second, a surprising number of people in the ACNA want to believe this rumor. They do not want to hear that the Prayer Book in preparation is not based upon the 1662 Prayer Book and that it diverges significantly in its doctrine and liturgical usages from that of the 1662 Prayer Book.

Third, a sizable number of people in the ACNA are not familiar with the rites and services of the 1662 Prayer Book or acquainted with its doctrine and liturgical usages. They are former Episcopalians, come from other denominations, or have not attended a church since their early childhood if at all. The three Prayer Books with which they may be familiar are the 1928 Prayer Book, the Reformed Episcopal Church’s versions of the 1928 Prayer Book, or the 1979 Prayer Book. The 1928 and 1979 Prayer Books introduced radical changes into the American Prayer Book and one of their characteristics is their significant divergence from the doctrine and liturgical usages of the 1662 Prayer Book. The REC versions of the 1928 Prayer Book share this characteristic. Consequently, these people are not able to judge for themselves how the doctrine and liturgical usages of Texts for Common Prayer diverge from that of the 1662 Prayer Book.

Fourth, an equally sizeable number of people in the ACNA are not familiar with the history of doctrine and worship in the Anglican Church and the different doctrinal and worship traditions in the Anglican Church. They often have the mistaken belief that what their church believes and the way their church worships is what Anglicans have always believed and the way Anglicans have always worshiped and is what Anglicans believe and the way Anglicans worship everywhere. They often accept doctrines and practices because their church accepts them, not realizing that the church belongs to a particular school of thought in the Anglican Church and does not represent the entire Anglican Church. The doctrines and practices their church accepts may conflict with the teaching of the Bible and the doctrinal and worship principles of the Anglican formularies. While their clergy may claim that these beliefs and practices are Scriptural and Anglican, clergy who belong to a different school of thought in the Anglican Church would not agree. Consequently they are not able to discern whether a particular doctrine or practice that their clergy claim is Scriptural and Anglican is what their clergy claim that it is.

Fifth, a number of people cannot bring themselves to believe that one group in the Anglican Church in North America, which has strong convictions, is seeking to impose their convictions upon the other groups in the ACNA even though leaders of this group have openly declared that it is the aim of the group to Catholicize the Anglican Church and the group has a long history of working to achieve this aim. Their reaction to the observation that this is what is happening in the Anglican Church in North America and it has happened in other jurisdictions is one of disbelief. They do not want to believe that it is happening.

Sixth, a number of people, while they admit what is happening, do not believe that the group of ideologues in question will be successful in accomplishing what they are endeavoring to do. They believe that the risk of causing clergy and congregations to secede from the denomination and to affiliate with another body serves as a deterrent. They believe that the Anglican Church in North America will not be able to enforce the use of the Prayer Book in preparation and clergy and congregations will continue to use whatever service book that they are presently using. They dismiss the provisions in the canons requiring the use of the Prayer Book upon its formal adoption and withdrawing with its formal adoption authorization for use of any other service books that are presently used in the ACNA. They also dismiss the canonical requirement that all clergy in the ACNA conform to its doctrine, discipline, and worship.

As a consequence of these factors the Prayer Book and Liturgy Task Force and the College of Bishops have not received any serious push back. If they have received such pushback, they are not publicizing it. The advantage of keeping everyone in the dark is that they only have to deal with the objections of individuals rather than those of a sizable, organized group that is gathering support.

What the Prayer Book and Liturgy Task Force and the College of Bishops need to receive is serious pushback that is public and organized. They need to be presented with a thorough critique of the rites and services that are going into the Prayer Book in preparation and specific proposals for the revision of these rites and services and for alternative rites and services. The Catechism Task Force and the College of Bishops needs to be presented with the same thing in relation to the catechism.

At the same time the group that presents these critiques and proposals also needs to draft a canon that--

(1) recognizes the plenary authority of the Bible in matters of faith and practice and accepts the Anglican formularies as the established standard of doctrine and worship for the Anglican Church;

(2) acknowledges the existence of longstanding differences of opinion related to the essential nature of the office of bishop in the Anglican Church and exempts those who hold to the plene esse view of the episcopate from the requirement that they accept the fundamental declaration on the episcopate in order to become members of the Anglican Church in North America;

(3) authorizes the formation of groupings of congregations within the  Anglican Church in North America for the purposes of developing and using their own collection of rites and services consistent with the teaching of the Bible and conforming to the principles of doctrine and worship laid out in the Anglican formularies and developing and using their own catechism consistent with the teaching of the Bible and conforming to the doctrinal principles set out in the Anglican formularies; and such other purposes as are delineated in their instruments of governance;

(4) authorizes such groupings to adopt, amend, and revise their own instruments of governance; to nominate and to elect their own bishops; to impose term limits on their bishops, and to implement such other episcopal accountability measures as delineated in their instruments of governance.

In addition the same group needs to draft an amendment to the constitution of the Anglican Church in North permitting this change to the canon.

The development and presentation of these  critique and proposals and the drafting and submission of the canon and constitutional amendment should be done in the open. The interchange with the various task forces, the College of Bishops, and the Provincial Council should be made public. What this will accomplish is that it will focus attention on the issue of the College of Bishop’s lack of commitment to a policy of comprehending all schools of thought represented in the Anglican Church in North America.

If it fails to achieve the desired results, the next step is to proceed to establish such a grouping of congregations any way and put the College of Bishops on notice that it will be developing and using its own service book and catechism and taking other necessary steps to secure a future in North America for Anglicans who recognizes the plenary authority of the Bible in matters of faith and practice and accepts the Anglican formularies as the established standard of doctrine and worship for the Anglican Church and who hold to the plene esse view of the episcopate.

Only by playing hardball with the College of Bishops, by taking the initiative and acting in a forceful and determined way, will orthodox Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America faithful to the Bible and loyal to the Anglican formularies be able to accomplish anything. Any refusal on the part of the ACNA’s bishops to budge on the issue of orthodox Anglicans wanting to be orthodox Anglicans, not unreformed Catholics, will reflect poorly upon them and will diminish their credibility with evangelicals and others who have supported the Anglican Church in North America. Any retaliatory measures that they may take will hurt them further. It will reveal the true intentions of the leadership of the Anglican Church in North America. 

5 Things to Look for in a Church

First, that it be a church. The Reformers argued that there are three distinguishing <b>marks of the church—the Word, sacraments, and discipline. That means your campus ministry isn’t the church; your podcasts are not the church; your family sitting around the table is not the church. But it also means that those institutions claiming to be the church that lack these things are not the church. If a church refuses to exercise discipline, excommunicating the unrepentant of gross and heinous sins, it’s not a church. Keep reading

Hitting the Reset Button

Jon Acuff talks about making plans, dealing with transition, and how pastors can help that process.

What does it look like to be caught in transition and learn how to move forward? Author of the new book Do Over, Jon Acuff, spoke with us about this process and how church leaders can help people through such a season of life. Keep reading

How the Bible Gets Personal [PDF]

“O Lord, Thou didst strike my heart with Thy Word and I loved Thee.” – Augustine

It is a marvel how personally the Bible applies. Te words pointedly address the concerns of long-ago people in far away places, facing problems that no longer exist. Tey had no difficulty seeing the application. What they read was personal application. But nothing in the Bible is written directly to you or about what you face. We are reading someone else’s mail. Yet the Bible repeatedly affirms that these words are also written for us: “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction” (Rom 15:4).1 Application experiences how the Spirit reapplies Scripture in a timely way now. Keep reading

Building relationships with Muslims: Klaassen draws from experience in new book

CS: You spent time on the mission field in North Africa with Muslims. Describe your experience with Muslims and what you learned in your time there.

JK: We spent almost 20 years overseas working with Muslims and loving every aspect of what that was — developing friendships and relationships, and going deep with a lot of friends where we were able to share the gospel in a way that was meaningful and understandable. What we found when we went overseas is that the average Muslim is a friend; they’re family. And as you develop that relationship, you enter into their family and you become a part of who they are. And it’s an incredible experience to know and love and have friends that are Muslims.

CS: How are you reaching out to Muslims in your present context?

JK: We work through our church [Highview Baptist Church] to spend time with them, especially immigrants and refugees as they come into the country. Refugees, when they come into the country, are in desperate situations. They come with a suitcase or maybe two suitcases and nothing else. We help them set up apartments, we help them get food, we teach them how to go to the grocery store, and then we spend time teaching them English and working with their children in school. And through all of that we build relationships — they come over to our house and they eat with us, we go to their home and we eat with them, and we become family with them. As a result, we’re able to share the gospel, that Jesus loves them and he’s brought them here for a reason. Keep reading

Also see
Book Review - Engaging with Muslims

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Late Peter Toon Foresaw the Present State of the Anglican Church in North America

By Robin G Jordan

The second Anglican Church in North America is following in the footsteps of the first Anglican Church in North America—Anglo-Catholic ideologues occupying the place of power, entrenching their views, and excluding those who do not agree with them. This development points to the unhealthy state of North American Anglicanism. Disconnected from the Biblical and Reformation doctrines and convictions of the reformed Anglican Church, it gravitates toward extremes—liberalism in the Episcopal Church and Anglo-Catholicism in the Anglican Church in North America. Only an embattled group of clergy and congregations in North America are sticking faithfully to the genuine Anglican Way.

The late Peter Toon popularized the phrase, “Anglican Way” in his writings. The Common Cause Partnership appropriated the phrase and used it in the coalition’s theological statement. The coalition identified what it considered were seven elements that characterized the Anglican Way. It would make acceptance of these elements requirements for membership in the coalition and subsequently the Anglican Church in North America.

Dr. Toon would criticize the original draft and the final version of the Common Cause Partnership’s theological statement. Among his criticisms of the final version was that it included a commitment to a doctrine of the episcopate that put “a particular spin to the 1662 Ordinal” and prohibited "the comprehensiveness that has always been part of the genius of the Anglican Way." It excluded “most Anglicans worldwide today,” he pointed out, and excluded “the millions of evangelical Anglicans who have been faithful Anglicans over the generations.” [1]

Dr. Toon argued that in order to have “a new, orthodox Anglican province on American soil,” “it must be set solidly on the rock of Scripture as the primary Formulary and then on the historic Anglican Formularies as a secondary foundation and guarantor of a truly Anglican identity.” [2]

The genuine Anglican Way, as Dr. Toon would point out, did not, like the nineteenth century Protestant Episcopal Church, and I would add the twenty-first Anglican Church in North America, outlaw the bene esse view of the episcopate. [3 ] In this view the office of bishop is recognized as ancient and allowed by Scripture and even beneficial to the well-being of the Church but not essential to its existence. The same view takes the position that apostolic succession is not a succession of bishops but in the words of Bishop John Jewell, “a succession of doctrine.” A bishop is not a successor to the apostles due to his consecration or pedigree but because of his faithfulness to apostolic teaching.

Dr. Toon would further point out that no Anglican province was bound by the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral unless the document was adopted by a synod of the province. While the Lambeth Conference might have endorsed the document, it was not binding upon the provinces of the Anglican Communion. The Lambeth Conference was a conference of bishops, not a synod of bishops, and could make only recommendations to the Communion’s provinces. [4 ]

Dr. Toon believed that Canon A5 of the Church of England provided a more than adequate doctrinal foundation for a new, orthodox Anglican province in North America.
“The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.”
This canon, Dr. Toon would point out, shows that the Anglican Way is fundamentally “a particular way of reading, interpreting and receiving the truths of Holy Scripture as the Word of God written.” [5 ]

Dr. Toon maintained that if one wished to discern what were the principle characteristics of the Anglican Way, one should examine the historic Anglican formularies, including the two Books of Homilies. When these characteristics were compared with what the Common Cause Partnership considered to characterize the Anglican Way, there was a notable disparity. [6 ]

With the Statement on the Global Anglican Future the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans would recognize the words of Canon 5A as expressing  the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism—what defines core Anglican identity.

Three years before the formation of the Anglican Church in North America Dr. Toon recognized the lack of a commitment among the leaders of the Common Cause Partnership to the kind of comprehensiveness that is itself a distinctive characteristic of the Anglican Way. The past nine years have shown that Dr. Toon’s observations were prophetic. In doctrinal statement after doctrinal statement those who occupied the place of power in the Common Cause Partnership and now occupying that position in the Anglican Church in North America have moved that denomination further and further away from the genuine Anglican Way in the direction of unreformed Catholicism.

While the genuine Anglican Way permits a degree of High Churchmanship, it holds in common with great Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century that the Scriptures are “sufficient to govern all believers in matters of faith and practice and that the scriptures teach that justification is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ.” It stresses “a robust federal, or covenant theology” and holds that “man's will is wholly bound in sin,” and that “only the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit” can “give the faith that results in justification. [7] It recognizes only two sacraments that have a visible sign or ceremony commanded by God—Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The five other rites that the Roman Catholic Church receives as sacraments—confirmation, absolution, matrimony, ordination, and anointing of the sick and dying with oil, the genuine Anglican Way recognize as in part developments from “a false understanding of apostolic practice” and in part representations of “states of life allowed in the Scriptures.” [8]

From its endorsement of a radical revision of the Ordinal to the recent statement on blessed oils and their use the Anglican Church in North America’s College of Bishop has shown an unwillingness to comprehend in the denomination the Biblical and Reformation doctrines and convictions of the genuine Anglican Way. It has made a laughingstock of the evangelical Anglicans who gave their support to the denomination, showing that it has no respect for what they believe.

[2] Peter Toon, “The Articles of Religion - One of the Formularies of the Anglican Way”
[4] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[8] The 39 Articles: A Re-statement by Philip E. Hughes ©1988