EMA 2007 audio from Tim Keller, Dick Lucas, Vaughan Roberts and others now free
‘Where there is smoke, there is fire. Criticisms are never completely baseless’
In the run up to this year’s EMA, we have just made the audio from EMA 2007 free to download. If you haven't been before, it’s a great foretaste of this year’s conference – especially as 2007 was the last time that Tim Keller spoke, and he’ll be back this year.
All the conference audio is available. The plenary sessions by Tim Keller focus on what it really means to be an Evangelical. Against a background of criticism from the wider world outside our movement, and fragmentation within it, it matters more than ever that we know exactly why we are evangelicals. And if we really believe these things, then they must shape our ministries and overcome our own cultural prejudices and failings.
The rest of the conference includes Dick Lucas taking us through Philippians; Vaughan Roberts looking at Daniel; Richard Cunningham on Persuasive Preaching; David Jackman on Training in the local church; and five seminars – Ministry in the City, Rural ministry, Who decides what the Bible means, the Emerging Church and Music and the Word.
This was the first PT conference I attended, and the first time I heard Tim Keller, so I'm hardly a disinterested party. But all the same, it really is worth listening to! You can download the conference here. And if that isn't enough for you, there is always more Tim Keller material – audio, written, etc. – at the Tim Keller wiki.
‘evangelicals are evangel people.’
More like this:
Abuja Bible College – or, Cornhill for Nigeria
Those who, like me, have done the Cornhill Training Course will know that they learned almost as much from the students as from the teachers. The students I learned most from were those from Nigeria.
Pastors and workers from NIFES (IFES in Nigeria) have been coming to Cornhill for years. When they have returned to Nigeria, they have put huge effort into passing on their training to others – mostly through conferences. The need for something more permanent and thorough has been obvious for some time. There are so many vibrant churches in Nigeria, and so few opportunities for pastors to train.
Finally a group of Nigerian ex-Cornhillers, along with Lee Furney – who has been involved with Cornhill for several years – have set up Abuja Bible College. It joins Cornhill Scotland, Belfast, and Sydney.
It focuses on Cornhill distinctives – expository preaching, spoken sermons rather than academic written work, and lots and lots of practise with honest feedback, all based on in-depth study of the bible – as well as doctrine, contextualisation, and pastoral issues. That's a model which will work anywhere – it doesn't tie the church to Western models, and isn't suited only to Nigeria, but to producing preachers anywhere who can clearly preach biblical truth.
Like Cornhill, it can be taken part time while serving in a church, or while working – making it possible for people already in ministry, or who couldn't otherwise afford training. Besides preachers, it will train men and women to teach the bible in other settings, like youth and Children's work.
Please pray for this great new initiative, and if you are in Nigeria or West Africa, or know people in West Africa looking for rigorous training in how to preach faithfully, then do put them in touch with Lee in Abuja.
Rural Ministry Seminar
Evangelicalism in England is strongest in the cities and suburbs, and we often struggle to make headway in rural ministry – so we are glad to spread the word about a Rural Ministry Seminar in Sussex. David Hall and Dick Farr are speaking, and are both men with substantial experience in rural churches and with wisdom to pass on.
They’ll be talking about understanding and ministering in a rural context, and leaving lots of time for questions and conversations. They’ll also deal with some of the unusual challenges of this kind of ministry (multiple churches and so on) and would like to know what issues people would like to see discussed.
The seminar is mainly for ministers of rural churches (any denomination), though if there is space, others will be welcome.
If that’s you, do take a look at the details below:
10am – 4pmTuesday 1st March 2011
Venue: Warbleton area, between Hailsham and Heathfield in the lovely Sussex Countryside (Warbleton Church Rooms, Church Hill, Warbleton, East Sussex, TN21 9BD – subject to numbers).
Cost: £5 including coffee, biscuits, soft drinks etc. & materials. Please pay on the door. Please bring a packed lunch or head to a nearby pub.
Booking: Email firstname.lastname@example.org Booking is essential. Places may be limited. Please note that this is not a PT event – we can’t take your booking.
Speakers / facilitators:
Rev'd David Hall is the Vicar of Danehill with Chelwood Gate nr Haywards Heath in East Sussex where he has ministered for over seven years. During this time the churches have seen significant growth, including in the music ministry and amongst children, young people and families. David is also a training incumbent supervising a curate. David's first degree was in Business Studies with Marketing Honours. After graduation, he joined the graduate training scheme of a top-ten public relations consultancy, before moving into a management role advising major companies on everything from consumer PR to crisis management. He has met with and learned from Christians all over the world from Africa to North America and firmly believes that small rural churches can have the ministries of large ones!
Rev'd Dick Farr was the senior minister of 3 growing evangelical churches in rural East Anglia for 19 years (Henham and Elsenham with Ugley in the Diocese of Chelmsford on the north Essex Hertfordshire border from 1990 – 2009) working with an ordained and lay team. He is currently the Associate Vicar at St John's, Tunbridge Wells.
Pass the sermon
'OVER 100 YEARS AGO it was D.L. Moody of Chicago who said, “If you have got a sermon that is good for anything at all, pass it around!”
This is basically what a number of us Christian preachers are attempting here in The Sermon.' Richard Bewes
While there are a lot of sermons online, most of them are pretty hard to find, unless you happen to know who all the best Christian speakers are.
‘The Sermon’, a new website launched recently, aims to provide one place to go to for good sermons by proven preachers. There are still only a few online, but do keep an eye on it as the collection grows. The speakers are certainly worth listening to! The site uses video rather than audio, which is great for those who need a bit more to hold their attention.
This is a really helpful site for those in our churches who would like to listen to helpful sermons, but who don't know where to look.
Of course, there are a few other places doing this. One of the best is The Gospel Coalition website, with its almost awe-inspiring sermon collection. If you do want something on a particular passage, they probably have it.
And of course there are a good few sermons on our own website…
In the long run, perhaps we can pray that websites sharing good preaching by a number of people will help mitigate the cult of the celebrity preacher. Famous men are used to bless us, but help finding good sermons that aren't recommended by fame is surely a good thing.
Perhaps that will help us concentrate less on the preacher’s name and following, and more on the word being preached.
The gospel that works
‘It is difficult in many cultures to find ways to preach the cross. But we have to find ways, no matter how hard it is, because if it is difficult to do it with words, it is impossible to do it without words.’
The apologist Michael Ramsden is less well know than – at least in our circles – than the other speakers we have posted on this week. Unlike the others, he hasn’t ever spoken at our conferences. But if you do ever get a chance to listen to him, take it!
The two videos below are short, with less content than Michael usually gives, but they are a wonderful encouragement to preach the gospel. Whatever it costs, however hard it seems, preach the gospel.
And that is what we, at PT, are about.
‘The gospel is not about me – we are not asking people to accept us. With humility, with dependence on God, with dependence on the Spirit, with a clarity from his word, and a conviction in our hearts, we preach Christ Crucified. We ask people to accept him.’
God displays the glory of the cross through suffering and prayer
‘there isn’t anything greater that can be said about this reality in this room, called the church, and all over the world. there isn’t anything greater that can be said about the global church of Jesus but that through the death of the messiah God has created a people in whom he means for his infinite wisdom to be manifest to the cosmic powers of evil.’
If you are looking for light entertainment, don’t watch John Piper’s contribution to the Lausanne Congress. His exposition was both painful and powerful.
In the first video (see below) he shows the three ‘scenes’ that Paul shows in Ephesians 3:
It is the great, sovereign, cosmic, purpose of God to make known purpose of his wisdom to demonic powers of the universe.
God has chosen that some of his servants be imprisoned as a way of bringing about his cosmic purpose – gathering a people through the suffering of the church’s missionaries and ministers.
God has chosen that the supernatural power required to see the glory of his wisdom and to suffer for his name comes to us through earnest prayer.
It is in the second half that he pulls this together. He shows the awful lostness of humanity; this part made me want to weep. He shows us a Christ who saves us. He shows the power of Christian witness has, when we are willing to give up comfort and freedom to draw others into the unsearchable riches of Christ. Finally we see how God’s power through prayer changes our hearts so that we are willing. Challenging stuff!
‘Here we stand, we can (still) do no other’
'At first sight biblical view of truth is obscene to modern minds – it’s arrogant, it’s exclusive, it’s intolerant, it’s divisive, it’s judgemental, and it’s reactionary. But on a deeper look, the biblical view is timely and urgent for today.'
Os Guinness gave a really stirring call to hold on to a strong view of truth at the Lausanne Congress last week. Not only does our faith that there is a God hang in the balance, but also our understanding of what he is like. He is the truthful, faithful God.
He gave six reasons why truth matters, and why Christians who are careless about the truth are dangerous:
- Only a high view of truth honours the God of truth.
- Only a high view of truth reflects how we come to know and love God.
- Only a high view of truth empowers our best human enterprises.
- Only a high view of truth can undergird our proclamation and defence of the faith
- Only a high view of truth is sufficient to for combating evil and hypocrisy
- Only a high view of truth will help our growth and transformation in Christ.
I think that most of us understand the importance of truth for apologetics and belief. What Os drove home to me was just how much truth matters in every human endeavour: everything good we do is under-girded by truth, and a weak understanding of truth destroys our ability to oppose evil, which always covers itself up with lies.
Here's the video – those using rss reader may have to click through to view it:
The Great Ministry of Reconciliation
How do we make sure that the church lives out its calling, as a sign of God's plan to bring a broken world back together? That was the subject of Vaughan Robert's (our president!) Bible Exposition, of Ephesians 4:1-16, at the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation . It is a compelling message, showing us how unity isn't a vague, hand-waving, affair but a reality worked out by word gifts that feed every-member ministry and builds our churches to maturity.
Rather nicely for us, Vaughan's message manages to really convey all that we at PT are about, without ever mentioning it or doing anything but a clear exposition of Paul's words. Here's a taster:
‘but this is the great ministry of reconciliation by which God brings people to Christ and matures people in Christ. And as the word of God goes out by the spirit we will find our churches growing, our unity deepening, and more and more, God willing, people will say ‘look how those Christians love one another’, and they will see a foretaste of the great unity of all things: when God is all in all, Christ brings everything together in him, and when at last the world will truly be as one.’
And here's the real thing, at least for those who can put up with Vaughan's luminous background:
Avoiding boring sermon illustrations
Experienced preachers often suggest younger ones should start a file of sermon illustrations. There isn’t really any other way to avoid recycling illustrations everyone has heard before.
The trouble – at least for me – is that this involves an awful lot of organisation. You have to remember to write it down when the inspiration hits, or you hear that perfect story. Then you have to remember to file it properly. And you have to file it in the right place. There are plenty of illustrations that cross categories – that might be useful to illustrate humility, but seem more sensibly filed under marriage. Neither paper nor, until recently, computers, offered solutions to that problem that are anything other than baroque – at least if you build up a file of any size.
Recently I discovered a solution that is both simple and free: Evernote. This program will file whatever you like, and you can search all your notes easily – and find them by any of the words contained in it, not just by title or where you happened to file it. And then you can organise them however you want. Unlike paper notes, it is easy to tag your note both ‘humility’ and ‘marriage’. And all this is backed up to the internet, accessible from anywhere, so you can’t lose the files. It can file pictures, sounds, and web-pages as well, and even has the ability to search text in photos you add.
If you have a smartphone of almost any kind, it works on these too. So if you are out, you can make a quick note on your phone or take a photo, and when you get home it will be sitting there on your computer.
And as a result you spend far less time desperately trying to remember where you saw that article last month which illustrates exactly what you need to say in your sermon this week.
Preorder This Year’s Evangelical Ministry Assembly
Last week's Evangelical ministry assembly, on Spirit-filled ministry, was a landmark in many ways. The sessions were stirring and encouraging, and many of you have asked when the recordings would be available. In response, we are making it possible to pre-order the mp3 CD right now.
It will include
- Two sessions on 'Word and Spirit in John' by Christopher Ash
- Three sessions from Judges by Rupert Bentley-Taylor
- Three sessions – living, preaching and praying in the power of the spirit – by John Piper
- A session on the work of the Spirit in the life of George Whitefield by Vaughan Roberts
- All four seminars from the conference: Does prophecy have a place in the church today? What is the role of the Spirit in the life of the preacher? What place did the Holy Spirit have in the doctrine and ministry of the Reformers? And what can we learn about the Spirit from the African church?
- 'An Honest Conversation' between John Coles, Liam Goligher, Hugh Palmer, and Terry Virgo about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the local church
- And an interview with John Piper.
The mp3 download of the conference will be available later this week, but if you want the CD, do order it now.