Chester has a really helpful set of expectations that he uses to evaluate and keep leaders accountable.
Archive for the 'Tim Chester' Category
Who was I kidding? There’s no way I’m going to find the time to write a series of ‘top 8 for 2008′ posts between now and the end of the year so instead I’ll simply cram them all into one post. So here you have it, my top 8 for 2008 of everything!
Top 8 things I did or experienced in 2008:
- Got married! (October)
- Got engaged! (March)
- Started planning and implementing a church plant (All year – but especially last three months)
- Heard Piper, Driscoll, Chandler and Mahaney at the Resurgence Conference at Mars Hill in Seattle, spent time at the Journey Church in St Louis and met a whole lot of great peeps from Acts 29, and others, in the States (February)
- Was taught Deuteronomy by Gary Millar – the best Old Testament teacher I’ve been taught by to date (September)
- Road up Sani Pass – my first real 4×4 experience behind the wheel (October)
- Decided to stay in Cape Town long term – gotta love this city (March)
- Had my thinking about the gospel deepened and enriched ten times over by Tim Keller through numerous mp3s, articles and the odd blog comment (throughout the year)
Top 8 Blogs I followed in 2008 (See my 2007 list here):
- Church Planting Novice – Jonathan Dodson. A newcomer to the list, this blog has been perfect for where I’m at in my thinking at the moment. So much wisdom and insight from a guy on the ground.
- Between Two Worlds – Justin Taylor. Last year’s number 1 drops down one place – but still a great blog.
- Tim Chester. Up from last year’s number 7 spot. Tim’s writing never stops enlightening, challenging and encouraging all at the same time.
- John Scheepers. Give it up for the Saffa bloggers! John is a friend of mine who writes a great blog and brings a welcome voice to the South African Christian blogsphere.
- Drew Goodmanson. Down from #2 – sorry Drew. Drew doesn’t post very often, but when he does its almost always worthwhile.
- Justin Moffat. Another newcomer to the list. Justin writes an informative and challenging blog with an Anglican slant – I’ve enjoyed it a lot this year.
- Michael Jensen. Michael drops down from last years 3rd but still turns out great post after great post. Plus he sent me a copy of his new book which I’ll be reviewing here shortly.
- Jason Allen. Jason was one of the first people I became ‘blog friends’ with when I started blogging. I’ve always enjoyed his blog and the sanity he brings to some current trends that rage through the church blogging world.
Top 8 Books for 2008 (books I read this year – most of them are older than 2008 – please note that the books are a little one-sided topically because most of my reading this year revolved around my dissertation):
- Total Church – Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. Ok so I first read it in 2007 but I’ve read it several times this year because of my dissertation and I still think its the most important book I’ve ever read on ecclesiology.
- The Reason for God – Tim Keller. The first apologetics book that I feel comfortable giving to my friends.
- Planting Missional Churches – Ed Stetzer. Great book with practical insight. Really helpful for where I’m at.
- The Forgotten Ways – Alan Hirsch. Really good yet at times frustrating. I’m on the same page as Hirsch with a number of things – I guess I’m just a bit more conservative on one or two others.
- Breaking the Missional Code – Ed Stetzer and David Putman. Another great help on all things missional.
- On the Incarnation – Athanasius. I delved into a bit of church history this year and thoroughly enjoyed this one.
- The King of God’s Kingdom – David Seccombe. Dr Seccombe (Doc) was my New Testament lecturer this year and so I got a chance to have a crack at his book. It’s a great overview of Christ in the gospels.
- Jesus and the Victory of God – NT Wright. Vintage Wright – I don’t agree with him at every point but this is an important book.
Top 8 places I visited in 2008
- Seattle, Washington, USA
- St Louis, Missouri, USA
- Castleburn, Drakensburg, KZN
- Sani Pass, Lesotho
- Lost City, Sun City, North West Province
- Franschoek, Western Cape
- Betty’s Bay, Western Cape
- Durban, KZN (my old stomping ground)
That’s my year in a nutshell. It’s been the year with the biggest changes in my life to date. Not only did I get married but we decided to stay in Cape Town and plant churches here rather than in Durban. Things have come a long way in the last 12 months – here’s to an equally exciting 2009.
Merry Christmas all – have a great one!
After making a biblical case for the necessity of living breathing community as the best context for the gospel and the work of the gospel, Steve Timmis and Tim Chester put forward the following caution:
‘If you warm to this vision of Christian community then start where you are. Sell the vision by modelling the vision. Don’t become a pain to your existing congregation, telling them everything they are doing is wrong. Become a blessing by offering hospitality, showing practical care, dropping in on people. Create around you a group of Christians who will share their lives and encourage one another in the faith. You might start with your home group. Often home groups are little more than a meeting. Make yours a community by acting like a community. You don’t have to mount a campaign for change – just get on with it and make community infectious. Create something that oter people want to be part of. And think about whether you could establish a context in which people in your church can hang out together and invite unbelieving friends: something like a regular cafe night, an open home or football practice‘ (Total Church, p.48)
What I appreciate about Steve and Tim is that they somehow manage to be radical, challenging, mature, sensitive and patient all at the same time. My temptation is to err on one of those at the exclusion of the others. Its easy to be radical and just forge ahead disregarding all the genuine people of God around you who might not be ready to go where you lead. Its easy to make a lot of noise about your newly found convictions and not worry about whether or not you are alienating others. Having read much of Steve and Tim’s literature, following Tim’s blog and listening to all their talks from the recent Total Church conference in San Diego, I’m convinced that these guys know how to bring balance and sanity to the missional conversation which is, by nature, a very radical conversation. I’m greatly encouraged and rebuked not to simply go out and tell everyone that they’ve got it wrong but rather simply to get out there to love and live in God’s new community.
I know this is half a month late, but given recent developments you can forgive me for my tardiness:
Drew Goodmanson has posted all the audio from the Total Church Conference that took place in San Diego earlier this year. Go and listen.
I’ve posted the sermon I preached on Sunday morning at The Message Church in Mowbray, Cape Town, entitled ‘Created for Community’. If you want to know what I think about the concept of community and its relation to the Christian church then have a listen. Please note that my ideas are not really all that original – I’ve borrowed a ton from people who have influenced me like Tim Chester and Steve Timmis as well as, I think, simply saying what seems obvious to me in the Scriptures. Some feedback would be great…
“The church is always tempted towards a church of glory, whether that takes the form of grand buildings, political influence, global structures, charismatic personalities or mega-churches. But an approach to the church consistent with the gospel of Christ crucified and discipleship shaped by that gospel is an ecclesiology of the cross. That means power in weakness, wisdom in folly, and glory in shame. It means we must put our confidence in Christ’s little flock and the sovereign rule of God. It means we must put our energies into the church of the cross even if that means obscurity.
The problem is that ‘power made perfect in weakness’ is so counter-intuitive and counter-cultural that we do not believe it. We believe that God will use the powerful and important and impressive. But he does not. We need a radical change of perspective. We need to ditch our worldly notions of success. We need to ditch our modernistic preoccupation with numbers and size. We need to turn our notions of success upside down so that we align them with God’s kingdom perspective.” (Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church, p.194-5)
As I stand on the precipice of church planting and church leadership I’m overwhelmed by the need I have for God to come and do some serious reconstructive surgery in my heart so that I will lead his church with a theology of the cross and not a theology of my own glory.
My continued reading in everything missional is providing me with insight, surprises, encouragement and also concern and, at times, disappointment. Since I spend most of my time on this blog waxing lyrical about the upside of the missional movement I think its time I started to approach it from a bit more of a critical stance. I’ve already done that a bit in my last post.
Today I want to think a little about the usage of prescriptive texts versus descriptive texts in our developing of a missional ecclesiology. What has become apparent to me is that a significant amount of weight, in much missional writing, is given to the descriptive texts of the Gospels and Old Testament narrative. Now I’m not at all against gleaning insight from descriptive texts – I firmly think it is a task we must embark upon. But, I also think its a delicate task which requires a bit of hermeneutical skill. So for example, what does it mean to embody the life of Jesus in our mission? How do we follow the example of Jesus? Is everything he does a paradigm for us to follow? These are difficult questions that, in my mind, are bypassed a little in a lot of missional writing. I think Tim Chester exposes this a bit when he explains why he doesn’t believe in incarnational mission. I think its tricky and we need to be careful of not forcing the bible to match our missionary methodology of choice. In our desperation to convince others of the missional agenda we can misuse texts and make prescriptive requirements for others from texts that were never meant to be prescriptive.
Conversely, I haven’t seen enough interaction with the prescriptive texts of the epistles in missional literature. I haven’t seen many detailed discussions of passages like Ephesians 4 and how they should shape our missional communities. I think we’d all benefit from some serious study in these areas. Paul is the single biggest commentator on the life of the local church in the Scriptures and so we should be hearing more from him as we build missional ecclesiologies.
Dave Bish has a great little post, with the help of Tim Chester and Jonathan Leeman, on how our anti-authoritarianism, and not necessarily individualism, has caused us to misread Song of Songs and undervalue the role of the church in the gospel.
…to describe mission as far as Tim Chester is concerned. Read his fascinating thoughts and healthy critique of trendy missionals. I think I might have been a bit guilty in this area for blurring categories.
I’m kind of on break at the moment – although I’ve still got work to do (plus some of the details of a wedding to organise) – it’s kind of weird taking a break with work hanging over you. Well, whilst I rest, and the rest of you slave at your work, here are some links worth following up and having a read when you get a second:
Tim Chester has some audio online on the subject of ‘Re-thinking the Church‘.
And finally, Adrian Reynolds thinks that there are tell-tale signs that suggest that what is going on in Florida with Todd Bentley at the moment might not be from God – I think I’m pretty much in agreement with him. (HT – Dave).
Tim Chester has begun posting a dialogue that he has had with an enquirer regarding the role of the sermon in church life. Its something I need to think more about from a theological point of view. In some ways its a bit scary to think about just in case I discover that it puts me out of a job!
Load shedding is seriously encroaching on my blogging habits! Not only is the power out for a number of hours when I’d love to sit down with a cup of coffee and read and write posts but it also resets my wireless router every time and I don’t always have access to it to reset the configuration.
Anyway – I’ve also been away for a few days and so I wasn’t always here to enjoy the load shedding (what a shame). But since I’ve missed quite a few days of blogging I thought I’d start by pointing to a few interesting posts that I pulled from the glut in my feed reader.
Michael Foster talks about his church going the missional community route.
Abraham Piper points to all his posts regarding the recent Pastor’s Conference in Minneapolis. Check out the links to talks by D.A. Carson.
Tim Chester posts a paper written by Christopher de la Hoyde entitled “Atonement: Engaging with an emerging theology“. Looks interesting.
But the post of the week goes to Gordon Cheng who points out how the Sydney Anglican Bishops, who recently declined to attend Lambeth, might better spend their time.
Let Tim Chester help you answer that question and think through some solutions to the ‘busyness’ our culture of late capitalism has produced.
I’ve spent the best part of the last 8 years moving in conservative evangelical church circles. The majority of the churches I’ve been involved with have been churches where the gospel of Christ is central not just in belief but also in proclamation. Whilst moving in these circles I’ve also often heard a repetitive criticism attached to them. I’ve heard many people complain that these ‘bible-based, gospel-centered’ churches are great on a lot of things but not great at being loving. My immediate response has often been to suggest that person offering the critique doesn’t really understand what biblical love is and that by preaching the gospel we are showing the utmost love. Often my response was justified. But often it wasn’t and the criticism was valid. It is not completely unfair to evaluate a number of the churches with which I am associated as being un-loving, or at least poor at displaying love.
This is a perplexing problem for someone like myself who holds to the absolute importance of gospel-centered bible teaching as the very core of the church life. Why doesn’t it seem to be working in some cases? Well I don’t have all the answers to a question like that, but I have noticed something that I think is contributing in part. I think that often we’re being reductionistic about the call placed upon every believer by the bible itself. Let me quote a section from Tim Chester and Steve Timmis’ book, ‘Total Church‘ to illustrate what I mean. Concerning ministry to the poor the authors comment:
“The most loving thing we can do for the poor is proclaim the good news of eternal salvation through Christ. It is by no means the only loving thing we can do for them, but it is the most loving thing we can do.” (p.75)
Often I think we’re forgetting to add in their little qualification ‘it is by no means the ONLY loving thing we can do…’ And forgetting that qualification can make the world of difference to whether or not a church is loving. So I still affirm, with the authors, that to proclaim the gospel is the single most loving act we can perform as Christians – BUT – its definitely not the ONLY one. We need to shake off that reductionism and teach regularly how the gospel causes us to love in a number of different ways. And then we need to display that true love to a watching world.
As always Tim Chester is extremely helpful on something I’ve been trying to get my head around. In chapter 5 of ‘Good News to the Poor‘, Chester discusses the relationship between social involvement and the kingdom of God. One of the fundamental questions he tackles is whether or not the kingdom of God is to be identified with social advances within history. Chester argues that no, it shouldn’t be. And so he says:
“…if we are to be true to the bible, we must maintain that salvation does not exist in history beyond the church and that in the New Testament the kingdom of God comes only as Christ is acknowledged as king.” (p.74)
Much of social advancement today is being tagged as God at work growing his kingdom. Like Chester I’m not convinced this is the most helpful way to categorize it – nor do I think it is consistent with the New Testament. If the kingdom is to be manifest then Christ is to be installed as King – without the King there is no kingdom. I would argue, as Chester alludes to later, that social advancement in this world that takes place apart from Christ being acknowledged as King is rather a case of the common grace of God being manifest.
Now this thinking might run contrary to lot of thinking in ‘missional’ circles – even in evangelical missional circles (that’s why in one sense I’m glad Tim Chester, a recognized missional voice, said it first). However at the moment I remain unconvinced by the text of accepting a wider view of the kingdom that embraces social advancement that takes place apart from the acknowledgment of Christ as King. I would maybe suggest that the ethics and ideals of the kingdom of God can be spread into areas that may not necessarily have entered into the kingdom. This will happen as kingdom members – Christians – live out the kingdom within close proximity of those who are outside of the kingdom. I think this spread is unavoidable, in a theoretical sense, since all Christians are called to live by kingdom ideals and ethics.
Chester concludes the chapter with the following words:
“Some Christians see advances in social justice in history as the coming of God’s kingdom, but in the New Testament the kingdom comes through the gospel as people submit to God’s word. God’s kingdom will be supreme over all things when Christ returns, but in the meantime it comes secretly and graciously through God’s word. The social dimension of salvation is anticipated in history in the life of the Christian community.” (p.81)
As the year begins to draw to a close and the first year of ‘…daylight’ comes to a close I want to run through a number of my own ‘Top 10′ lists for 2007. The first list is in the category of Top 10 Christian Blogs for 2007. Basically the criteria I used to choose these top 10 is simply how much I enjoyed reading them over the last year. So without further delay here they are:
#1 Between Two Worlds – Justin Taylor
I just find that as a reformed evangelical Justin keeps me up to date by posting numerous times each day with all the goings on around the reformed world in an easy and accessible way. I also find Justin to very fair and thoughtful when he does post critiques of those outside of the movement for various reasons.
He doesn’t post as often as I’d like but in terms of a blog dealing with the concept ‘missional’ there are few better thinkers than Drew. His insights into missional living and church planting are top notch.
#3 The Blogging Parson – Michael Jensen
Michael comes from a branch of the Anglican tradition that has much in common with my own and so I often find him writing articles about Anglicanism or related subjects that have a lot of relevance for my context here in the Church of England in South Africa. He writes very eloquently and with a broad base of knowledge from which to draw. He also interacts with a very wide base of theologians and thinkers in his writing.
#4 Jesus Creed – Scot McKnight
Whilst I wouldn’t be in the same theological camp as Scot on one or two issues I do find his blog extremely stimulating and fresh. Scot is the absolute model of a gracious and humble blogger – he can write a post that takes your particular theological view to task and yet for some reason your not angry with him for writing it.
#5 Reformissionary – Steve McCoy
Steve’s blog is one cool blog. His blog is a great blend of conservative reformed evangelical meets emerging church pastor.
#6 The Internet Monk – Michael Spencer
Michael is the king of post-evangelical ranting. That means on any given day you can love what he writes are be highly irritated by it. He keeps blogging evangelicals on their toes. His podcast is also worth a listen.
#7 Tim Chester
Few people have influenced me as much as Tim through the books that he’s authored or co-authored. My first real introduction to missional living came through his little booklet ‘The Gospel-Centered Church’. I just sometimes find his posts a little long.
#8 The Bluefish Project – Dave Bish
Dave writes really edifying posts that remind me of the deeply devotional aspects of the Reformed tradition. He also provides a lot of links to bible study material which is really helpful.
#9 Sets ‘n Service – Tony Stiff
I resonate a lot with many of Tony’s posts since he seems to come from a similar angle to the one I’m exploring: the reformed missional angle.
#10 TallSkinnyKiwi - Andrew Jones
Andrew is by far the best and most balanced emerging voice out there. I don’t agree with him on a number of things but his tone, humour and insight keep me coming back and enjoying his posts. As a fan of missiology I also enjoy his insight.
I’ve had a very relaxing weekend, Arsenal won and Man Utd lost so all is good in the world of football (and that’s not that weird sport that you Americans play where the ball barely ever touches your foot). Amongst the lazy happenings of this weekend there were a few links that caught my eye:
John Piper responds to what I thought were some silly comments by Ben Witherington.
Tim Chester is telling stories for a non-book culture.
Spirituality is being discussed at Emergent Africa. The definitions of spirituality being tossed around seem somewhat undefined to me, don’t you think?
Perspective from a different angle: An atheist shares about how his atheism has given him new found respect for nature. I found this fascinating yet I was also deeply saddened by it as I thought about the numerous Psalms penned about the glory of God revealed in nature.