CS Lewis and Tim Keller

Many thanks to the students at Oxford University (OICCU) who agreed to us interviewing Tim Keller at the end of a long week of evangelistic outreach. Tim commented that this had been one of the most challenging mission weeks of his life. I will post the full evangelistic presentation that he did in an upcoming post. As part of the Evangelical Alliance’s “Confidence in the Gospel” project that I am working on with my colleague Phil Green you will see more of these kind of resources popping up – so keep your eyes peeled. This video was filmed and produced by the excellent John Bowen – so thank to John for his time and energy and thanks to God for his many skills.

Tim Keller is a very generous person – giving his time after a gruelling schedule. I believe he is the elder statesman that can best fulfil the role that John Stott and Billy Graham leave vacant. He is conservative, more conservative than me on things like the role of women in ministry for example. But he offers a gracious and humble role model of putting the gospel first and not attacking those that disagree with him on these kinds of issues.

The video is 6 minutes long, it would be worth passing on to any preachers or evangelists you know – would love to know which questions you would have asked him?

Photo Credit: John Bowen


9 to 5 Marks and Mark Dever

Ironically in a day when I blogged about the 5 marks of mission. Mark Dever released a blog from his “9 Marks” site, which included the following, under the heading

What are some messages that people falsely claim are the gospel?

Jesus came to transform society. Some people believe that Jesus’ mission was to transform society and bring justice to the oppressed through a political revolution. But the Bible teaches that this world will only be made right when Jesus comes again and ushers in a new heaven and new earth (2 Thess. 2:9-10,Rev. 21:1-5). The gospel is fundamentally a message about salvation from the wrath of God through faith in Christ, not the transformation of society in this present age.

This relates to The distinction that Don Carson was trying to make between the gospel and it’s entailments and also to Dever’s opposition to social transformation as part of the church’s mission. I have got so many problems with this idea. It looks like Dever is saying that the gospel is only about individuals fleeing the judgement of God and not about what Christ calls his disciples to do. Carson wants to argue that (maybe) an entailment of the gospel but not the gospel itself. At least Carson argued the entailments were not optional extras. Dever wants to draw a big line between conversion and discipleship – emphasising what we are saved from – but not saying what we were saved to. There instead seems to be a dualistic desire to see personal conversion and individual escape from Hell as the sole extent the church’s mission. Dever’s church is ironically on Capitol hill in Washington DC. It puts Martin Luther King, William Wilberforce, Lord Shaftesbury (not to mention the Lausanne Covenant) the wrong side of orthodoxy. It also puts Jesus’ manifesto in Luke 4, his command to his church to be salt and light and the early church’s insistence that Jesus was the true King / Caesar the wrong side of the gospel too.

I find this disappointing as Dever is a man who loves the scriptures, has a passion to preach the whole of the Bible and is a thoughtful a godly and kind man as far as I have had interaction with him. But in his post he puts belief in the church’s role in bringing social transformation alongside the prosperity gospel as a heresy.

What do you think motivates Dever’s opposition to social transformation?






Are you the next Rob Bell


The Vanderbloemen Search Group is thrilled to partner with the leadership of Mars Hill Bible Church to find a full-time Teaching Pastor to join their community in Grandville, Michigan.

With the transition of founding pastor Rob Bell this January, Mars Hill is seeking a full-time teaching pastor to join in the ongoing mission and program of Mars Hill. This person will teach 35 – 40 weekends per year and work collaboratively with the Ministry Leadership Team. The Teaching Pastor will engage actively with the Mars Hill community and participate fully in the ministry of Mars Hill.

The Teaching Pastor will be an exceptionally compelling, creative communicator of the Scriptures in ways that eliminate hurdles to Christ all the while challenging the thinking of the community. Mars Hill embraces a conversational, expository style of teaching that embraces historical context, and careful explanation of the original languages in a style that engages questions.

West Michigan and the Grand Rapids area is known for its philanthropy, strong community values and as an ideal place to raise a family with great schools and neighborhoods with a low cost of housing and living. Additionally, with access to many arts, festivals, restaurants, area skiing and snowboarding as well as the gorgeous Lake Michigan beaches, there are many activities during all four seasons to enjoy

Thanks to Patheos where I saw this posted.

3 observations

1. It’s interesting that they are advertising

I thought that Rob had planned for Shane Hipps would be his successor – Shane arrived to be a teaching pastor before Rob left for California. We did a Skype live link with Shane for one of our DIGIMISSION events and he spoke about his book Flickering Pixels. I would have thought that for a church of Mars Hill size they would have had someone in mind rather than going through the rather anonymous search committee model. But perhaps there’s things about American employment law that I don’t understand.STOP PRESS – Thanks to @vickybeeching just sent me this link from Shane. Kind of puts a new spin on it – the teaching pastor is not leading the church – the executive director will be, that’s pretty weird. Seems like Shane was put in a really difficult position.

2. Sometimes a Job Spec says a lot about a church

I have never been to Mars Hill. I have only listened into many many of Rob Bell’s sermons and quite a few of Shane’s too. But I was intrigued that in a short job spec this statement was included “The Teaching Pastor will engage actively with the Mars Hill community.” Again, I am no expert on American large churches, but I would have thought this was given for a pastor in a church. You wouldn’t expect someone to just airdrop in for the sunday sermon? Surely the term pastor is indicative of involvement in the life of the church?

3. Why do they feel the need to “sell” West Michigan?

In a church as significant as Mars Hill, I am really surprised to see such a hard sell on West Michigan? It kind of sounds a little desperate that you need to call a prospective minister to teach the Bible in your church and you need to add in that there’s great opportunities to Snowboard near by? Again maybe this is standard practice and I am just out of touch with the US job scene and I have never been to West Michigan – but it kind of underestimates the privilege of the call to preach the Bible to a congregation.

Pray for Mars Hill

Whatever the intricacies of this job spec, let’s pray for the church as it sounds like its been through a lot of transitions recently. Rob’s ministry from what I have seen helped a lot of young adults connect with God through his passion for teaching the Bible in fresh and innovative ways. Rob’s ministry has blessed so many – this will be a very difficult job to do. May God send the right woman or man to fill this role . If you think it’s you – apply here.

5 Marks of Mission

I am at an ecumenical gathering in Turku, Finland and listening to a paper on Anglican approaches to mission and unity. As I listen to this paper by Martin Davie. I realise I have never really engaged with the Anglican 5 Marks of Mission. Here they are, what do you make of them?

The fact that Anglicans see mission as involving more than simply evangelism can be seen in the ‘Five Marks of Mission,’ produced by the Anglican Consultative Council in 1990. These are the closest thing there is to an official Anglican definition of mission and they declare that the mission of the Church is and they say that mission means:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform the unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.[1]


  1. The integration of evangelism and social transformation.
  2. The balance between mercy ministry and political and structural change.
  3. The inclusion of environmental concern.
  4. The holding together of all five of these aspects is underlined – especially as evangelism is increasingly being marginalised in some churches.
  5. As a baptist love the inclusion of “baptism of new believers”


I guess I don’t have any problems with what is included in this five marks and I understand that the bullet point titles cannot possible express all the nuance of the missiological assumptions. So these are my initial reactions to the headlines.
1. Interesting that Jesus doesn’t get a mention – nor God the father nor the Spirit.
2. Interesting that the church doesn’t get a look in either – particularly if…. “the Church is both the fruit of God’s mission.. and the agent of his mission.” Mission Shaped Church
3. “Proclaim” is an interesting choice of words -as in “Proclaim the good news” – the word “communicate” would have emphasised being understood without incurring the stigma/ assumption of one way monological declarations.
4. Strange that as the church is missing baptism gets a mention but not eucharist?
5. Not sure “safe guard” is as strong an approach to creational care and engagement as the book of Genesis would imply. It seems a bit defeatist. The cultural mandate has room for creativity and research – for “making culture” as Andy Crouch would say – there’s not a lot of room for Art, Beauty, Music etc. Which I still view as part of the mission of God’s people.
So what do you think?

[1] Mission in a Broken World – Report of ACC 8 Wales 1990, London: Anglican Consultative Council ,1990,


White Nights

Love the fact that when I went running at 10.30pm (local time) in Finland and the sun was still up.

I was given some great suggestions for a playlist on my iPod – but in the end listened to a few songs and then just enjoyed the birdsong.


Sydney Spectacular

This is an incredible video installation. The Sydney Opera house is an amazing building anyway – but somehow the maths needed to make this video installation happen makes it even more beautiful.


The Ultimate Proposal

Still trying to figure out why this is such a moving video to watch – I’m a guy but this one still brought a lump to my throat.

Kind of sets the bar pretty high for future suitors – feeling bad I didn’t manage quite as impressive event for my lovely wife.



Eurovision Bingo game…

Thanks to my amazing son – here is a bingo game to play during the Eurovision song contest.

You can pick a wildcard country in advance and they will score you double points. So if you think one act is likely to have a lot of winks or clothes changes select them. Otherwise just score along as the evening goes on. You need to fill in the countries you think will be in the top3 – after the performances but before the voting!


Eurovision Sweepstake

Congratulations to the following tweeters – you are officially in the twitter sweepstake! Here are the countries you have been randomly assigned thanks to random.org

@malc_simmons Lithuania
@tateycotton Romania
@saintjono Moldova
@chrishallnewb Bosnia & Herzogovina
@tomnewbold Denmark
@gedrobinson Azerbaijan
@mrchrisjwilson UK
@heathersamuel Ireland
@mrsplanb Estonia
@aaronsmith82 Albania
@inekeclewer Malta
@godandpolitics Spain
@1stevewade Norway
@bam7491 Iceland
@darrenjalland Serbia
@mimable France
@inkberrychaos Germany
@karenmabbutt FYR Macedonia
@gordeno Sweden
@fullard Italy
@krishk Cyprus
@budyjaker Turkey
@emilyhewson Russia
@lastnation Hungary
@nigeljamesmoss Greece
@ormyyouthhub Ukraine

I’ll try and post a little game card that you might like to use as an additional bonus fun feature. All the best guys – see you on twitter – don’t forget to make the most of the opportunities to raise issues of human rights in Azerbaijan too.


Azerbaijan, Human Rights and How Eurovision can help

teucherlad - creative commons

Our family often will watch the Eurovision song contest with friends and play a kind of bingo game – “how many winks to camera” “how many costume changes” etc as well as vote for the winner competition. But this year because of the situation in Azerbaijan I was wondering about boycotting the event. But then I had a really interesting twitter conversation about whether to boycott the Eurovision song contest because it was being held in Azerbaijan and their human rights record is atrocious. A friend of mine made the following suggestion :

I love it. It’s a great idea. So here’s the plan – during the Eurovision Song contest – amidst all the hilarity – lets raise the issue of human rights in Azerbaijan.

The official twitter accounts are:

@bbceurovision – for the widest UK coverage – it makes sense to use the BBC twitter feed.
@eurovision – is the official eurovision – twitter feed – with some 60 000 followers

Hashtags – i think #esc12 is the most used – but happy to be corrected on this.

Peter Reeve made me aware of this helpful infographic

Other tweetable sources:

Against a backdrop of skirmishes along Azerbaijan and Armenia’s ceasefire line and an increase in their defence budgets, little progress was made in the negotiations to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict under the aegis of the OSCE Minsk Group. Some 600,000 people internally displaced by the conflict continued to suffer discriminatory registration requirements and inadequate housing. – Amnesty International

Threats, harassment, and acts of violence against journalists and civil society activists continued with impunity, leading to an increase in self-censorship. Criminal and civil defamation laws were used to silence criticism, resulting in prison sentences and heavy fines against journalists.

Even in the build up to Eurovision – this happened;

(Baku) – The Azerbaijani authorities roughed up and arbitrarily detained at least 30 and possibly more than 70 peaceful protesters today as dozens of local and international journalists looked on, Human Rights Watch said today. The protesters were held for several hours, then released. (Human Rights Watch)

According to Reporters without Borders: Azerbaijan ranks very near the bottom for freedom of the Press.

eurovision views

According to Amnesty, 16 political prisoners remain behind bars in Azerbaijan.

As we get closer to the event – your help in collating more information for tweets would be really helpful.

Let’s make a difference at Eurovision.