Tag Archive: South Africa


 

It is definitely a reality here in South Africa that Christian NGO’s are overwhelmingly female. A few of my best guesses on why this phenomenon exists:
1. Women who are called and gifted to lead in ministry are not allowed to do so by their church, so they need another venue to serve.
2. The low pay in NGO’s fits the cultural practice of paying women less than their male counterparts
3. Women find that NGO’s allow them to pursue a passion God has put on their heart. Men, too often, are also concerned with building their own little empires of significance – something the mission-focus of NGO’s tends to work against.
What do you think?
Anything you would add?

Andrew Jones gives insightful commentary on what is happening in the church globally as well as being an inspiration for me personally as he and his family live faithfully to Jesus.

I recommend you give this post on the direction of the church a read. I find myself agreeing with much and glad he wrote it! I also wonder – as always – about contextualization. The Church in South Africa is not in the same place as elsewhere. But is the “elsewhere” as big as some of us think? In other words, are the trends Andrew refers to fringe, mainstream, or somewhere in between? Are YOU seeing some of these aspects of church coming about? Which ones?

In thinking of his points in our local context,

I am seeing:

10. Many of these [unchurched] believers are finding ways to connect and share life with each other. These connection points and celebration events look like house churches but they are different. Whatever they are, they are part of the postmodern church landscape.

I am most encouraged by:

2. Modernity divided church into CHURCH (the ecclesiastic) and PARACHURCH (the seminaries, missions, youth ministries, etc). What we are seeing now is intentional communities and travelling teams that not only support the church – THEY ARE CHURCH

I am not seeing:

5. The [church] stages are shrinking because believers are no longer under compulsion to perform the gospel. The community of God becomes a better apologetic for God than the stage ever was. . . . The stage also shrinks because multi-media happens in multi- spaces, on multi-walls, in multi-rooms, by multi-people. Entryways, hallways and sidewalks become stages for art and expression.

Andrew, thanks for your insightful (as always article). Everyone else, please go read what Andrew is saying about the future church coming now.

My friend Tom Smith posted the following, and I found it so helpful (yet succinct – Tom how do you do that?) I am re-posting here…

When the church question misleads us

This morning I am thinking about the Church worldwide and particularly in South Africa. During the last decade I have spent many hours thinking, praying, talking and working in terms of the church. I believe the church is crucial. That she is the bride of Jesus. That the church is owned by Jesus. Any talk of “my church”, especially out of the mouth of pastors and leaders is drivel. We don’t own the church.

Because the church is owned by Jesus it is paramount that we don’t make an idol out of the church. The church is not the hope of the world. Jesus is the hope of the world. Alan Hirsch is fond of noting that your Christology will lead to your Missiology which will lead to your Ecclesiology. Jesus, mission and then church. When we move church to the front we are in the murky waters of idolatry.

It is surprising that Jesus didn’t talk about church all that much. In one of His most pronounced statements on the church he reminds us that He will build his church. One can’t build the church with any great idea,plan or management. The church is built by Someone else. When we follow that Someone our collective rhythms of love, life and obedience becomes the church. Jesus makes it happen.

When we try to build it ourselves we will find ourselves tangled in a terrible mess. I know. I have been there many times. I believe more than ever that the most important question is not, “what is church?” but “who is Jesus?”. When communities grapple with the question of Jesus’s identity and live into the answers and the questions something beautiful happens. The people become lovers. They love Jesus, one another and the people around them. Jesus leads us into a rhythm of love that becomes the mission that results in a church.

When we start with the church we don’t lock into the Energy that creates the necessary movement to change the world. The church then becomes a superstructure of our own Egos.

I don’t like it when that happens. But Jesus excites me. He intoxicates me, even scares me a bit. I am haunted by the echo of His invitation, “Follow me!” That is the invitation. What does it mean to follow Jesus here in South Africa or wherever you are? I think this is a question worthy of exploration.

originally posted here

Met a great couple the other night who are also wanting to explore what church can be. They are feeling pretty discouraged, especially in trying to find people who are willing to do more thank talk ideas. Why is it that so many people have time for a conversation about being church differently, but can’t make the time to live it out? A few suggestions:

  • We just want to complain, not actually do something different
  • We are lazy – they want different but aren’t willing to put in the work to help make it so
  • We don’t know what to do – we know things aren’t all they can be but we have no picture of possibilities
  • We feel crazy – can I think this? Do other people think this?
  • We just can’t break out of the system as it is to do what’s on our heart

What other reasons can you think of? Maybe you’ve been there, or there yourself…

One hurdle that seems difficult for many to jump over is the notion that the church is the place of religious life, distinct from the rest of life. This manifests itself in church being the “place we go to be with God.” Another more subtle, but perhaps more powerfully misconception, is that when we ALL gather in Jesus’ name, that time  is more holy than when some of us gather in Jesus’ name. So, a Bible study, small group, worship time, prayer gathering, or serving opportunity are NICE, but it’s REALLY church when ALL of us get together once a week? Why do so many people think this? Do you?

We need to think of Church as spirituality for all of life. Yes, it’s us helping one another do it. Yes, we need together. But we also need to think of all the “parts” as church. It’s not just the “once a week when we are together for xyz” that is church. It’s a loving conversation over coffee. It’s helping a neighbor fetch their kids from school. It’s sharing or studying scripture with a friend. It’s all of that. And more. It’s not some religious gathering we “do.” It’s the life with Jesus we share with one another.

Church is Jesus life together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am glad to talk with people who know they need others in their following of Jesus. The questions then turns to something like, “so what are you looking for in a church.” Fair question. And the part that is really good about this question is the assumption that the Church is meant to be fulfilling and helpful in our discipleship – and we want to ensure we are incorporating that as part of what the church is. Also, it implies that we are indeed willing to be part of something bigger than us.

However, we also need to remind ourselves that the church isn’t just what we think we want or need. It is God’s people, God’s agent of Kingdom, and a bunch of other really helpful metaphors (more on these soon) that God says it is. It isn’t simply a something for us to consume or shape into our own likeness. I don’t know about you, but I would probably craft something really fun and me-looking, and probably would avoid those bits I don’t enjoy. This of course does not mean that we are inconsequential – it is, in fact, made up of us! But our individual personal desires must be help in tension with what God desires and the others who are part. growth, satisfaction, or happiness are not the end goal.

I think it is really important to share a basic understanding of what the Church is and what it is meant to do. Then, we can talk about our individual needs/preferences/gifts in light of that. We can also get creative with HOW it’s done based on the best ways to help people experience God and grow into the likeness of Christ. Otherwise, we create something that is suited for us and perhaps no one else. This would miss the very clear mission of God (and therefore God’s Church) to be outward focused.

I am hoping that as we live into this, we can talk/do our way into what God has in mind. What does God want to create that will be a blessing to many, including us? Seems that if we are praying and God is in it, it could be really amazing. I am looking for a church that helps people (me included!) to become more like Jesus.

What are you looking for in a church?