Why God Might Not Have Plans To Prosper You And Keep You Safe


Martin Saunders has written a brilliant article on how too often we misinterpret Jeremiah 29:11 – instead we need to understand that God “doesn’t promise we’ll all get rich, and he doesn’t promise that life is going to be easy. His plan is so much grander than that.”:

It’s one of the most popular verses in the Bible, bringing comfort to millions every day. It’s a wonderful, warm sentiment, which has spawned a veritable industry of bookmarks, posters and mugs. It is pinned to refrigerator doors all over the world, a source of daily encouragement that ‘God is in control.’ Most Christians will know it well:

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

There’s an awful lot of truth in this verse. God is absolutely all-seeing; he knows everything that has been and that will be already. He certainly has a plan for the world, and our privilege as his followers is to experience and join in with it daily. He definitely promises us a hope and a future. But that’s not really what we read into that verse, and it’s not really what it’s saying, either.

Go read the rest of Martin’s article.

YLG2016: Lab Session 2

The third Lausanne Young Leaders Gathering is happening in Jakarta.  YLG2016 is a gathering of 1,000 younger leaders from over 160 countries who will connect, pray, and discern together God’s leading of their generation for his global mission.  It’s a privilege to be here and to share my notes from the 2nd Lab Session with you.

Churches are notoriously slow at planning. Planning in churches often seems to be done backwards – looking back at what you did last year. You get constrained by history. Other organisations such as relief organisations are much more reactive and can find it challenging to plan in advance.


The questions on service and value need more time than we have available here but do take them and continue to wrestle with them.


This template is based from a friend who led planning for a complex large organisation. It is key that if you’re not clear what your purpose is – not what to do you want to accomplish in life – but a 3-6 months time frame of what you want to accomplish and why. For example, in October I want to come back to Indonesia to celebrate my birthday. The “what” is in Indonesia, the “why” is my birthday, the “when” is in October. Then in Priorities I find out it takes 6 months to get a visa so then I either have to go somewhere else for my birthday or go to Indonesia later on.


The timeframe can then cause problems, especially in a large organisation or if a committee manages you. It is important that we have a timescale to make things more concrete, but it can be adjusted.


Either leaders end up with 50 items to do or you assign it someone else in a large organisation. What does it look like to have 3 priorities, e.g. travel arrangements, visa, and what activities I want to do. Which of those is most important, in this case 1 or 2. Under these big buckets you can then chunk down such as airfares, other connections, buy a new suitcase. If I can only do one, what would help me get started and keep me on track?


Focus on the purpose statement and the 3 priorities in your groups as there may be some divine appointments with resources and experiences others can share.

YLG2016: Lab Session 1

The third Lausanne Young Leaders Gathering is happening in Jakarta.  YLG2016 is a gathering of 1,000 younger leaders from over 160 countries who will connect, pray, and discern together God’s leading of their generation for his global mission.  It’s a privilege to be here and to share my notes from the 1st Lab Session with you.


Churches are notoriously slow at planning. Planning in churches often seems to be done backwards – looking back at what you did last year. You get constrained by history. Other organisations such as relief organisations are much more reactive and can find it challenging to plan in advance.


The questions on service and value need more time than we have available here but do take them and continue to wrestle with them.


This template is based from a friend who led planning for a complex large organisation. It is key that if you’re not clear what your purpose is – not what to do you want to accomplish in life – but a 3-6 months time frame of what you want to accomplish and why. For example, in October I want to come back to Indonesia to celebrate my birthday. The “what” is in Indonesia, the “why” is my birthday, the “when” is in October. Then in Priorities I find out it takes 6 months to get a visa so then I either have to go somewhere else for my birthday or go to Indonesia later on.


The timeframe can then cause problems, especially in a large organisation or if a committee manages you. It is important that we have a timescale to make things more concrete, but it can be adjusted.


Either leaders end up with 50 items to do or you assign it someone else in a large organisation. What does it look like to have 3 priorities, e.g. travel arrangements, visa, and what activities I want to do. Which of those is most important, in this case 1 or 2. Under these big buckets you can then chunk down such as airfares, other connections, buy a new suitcase. If I can only do one, what would help me get started and keep me on track?


Focus on the purpose statement and the 3 priorities in your groups as there may be some divine appointments with resources and experiences others can share.

YLG2016: Evening session: Our True Story

The third Lausanne Young Leaders Gathering is happening in Jakarta.  YLG2016 is a gathering of 1,000 younger leaders from over 160 countries who will connect, pray, and discern together God’s leading of their generation for his global mission.  It’s a privilege to be here and to share my notes of Tracy Trinita, Nick Hall and Ravi Zacharias from tonight’s evening session with you.

Tracy Trinita

How do we communicate the Christian faith to a generation who is easily bored, and pursue happiness through looking good, who are often lost in the kingdom of money, experience and fame, how do we share the gospel in a world of instant gratifications?


There is no simple answer to these questions.


One potential answer is speaking true stories.  Stories have the power to open up minds, and breakdown barriers.  Every culture loves stories, but not every story is true.


As someone who was bullied for being tall and having a funny name I was thrilled when I became a model.  But I realised that money and fame made no difference.  Started shopping around the world religions.  The Christian faith had something different.  The more I read the gospel the more I realised Jesus was not boring.  I was showered with genuine love by Jesus who died on the cross for me.


Years gone by since joining God’s mission I’ve spoken with lots of young people, especially in Asia.  Listening to the angst of a girl in Japan who wants to commit suicide, looking into the eyes of a girl in Hong Kong who has to get straight As, a girl in Cambodia who desperately wants white skin, a girl in Shanghai who is exhausted from trying to please her parents.  They are young in age, but tired and old in souls.


Many of the young people can relate to my story they are pursuing happiness in ways that do not work.  I can chat, share the gospel and pray to close with these girls.  The tears shine in their eyes and I know Jesus has come, their life will never be the same again.


We all have a unique story to share about what Jesus Christ has done, we al have the Holy Spirit to guide us, we have resources to equip us.  1 Corinthains 1:6 it is the Lord that makes it grow.  Let’s plan the seed of the gospel and water it with true love and compassion.  We know God will make it grow.


Nick Hall

The time is now.  The time is now.  The time is now.  Does anyone believe it?  Is anyone excited tonight.  Of all the time in history God placed you in this moment, on the edge of the commission being completed in our lifetime.


1974 two gatherings – the first one was a gathering in Lausanne, as leaders met to commit together resources, partner together to share the Gospel.  We are sitting here because of that evening.  Tonight I want to propose we use events in public places.  The other gathering was in South Korea in 1974 of young people called Explode as 300,000 young people gathered.  A catalytic event for the church in Korea.  No matter what time zone your body is on, God’s time is now!


5 years ago we had a passion that we would take a message across the USA.  Started in North Dakota, the place where no one is from.  The place where no one belongs.  God gave a message offering a reset to young people.  To start again, to move passed errors, and to get it back to the way it was created and designed for.  As we looked at our generation we saw God created us to work in a certain way.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made but so many of our generation don’t know what it means to live out your life for Him.  Jesus came and offered this reset, and so we felt a need to share it across our country.


We want the largest places in our culture to be full of people.


Coca Cola in 100 years has evangelised the world.  Which of our nations does not believe in Coke, is not selling Coke, does not have it every restaurant, bar and café.  Their product is for everywhere, not just for small gatherings – which is why they are on every stage and platform.  Do we believe our message is for everywhere or do we just believe it is for the small places.


We want to fill the stadiums and the classrooms, the villages and the cities.


All the time people say events do not work, but ironically they say it while they are at an event!


Habakkuk 3:2

Stand in it

In awe of it

Renew it


Lord would you renew it in our day, and so we booked the National Mall in Washington DC for Jesus.  People said we were crazy, I don’t want to be normal, I want to be sold out for Jesus.  We had 500,000 young people come together.  But the key to any event is the send off.


We have filled the mall, now let’s fill them all.


Ravi Zacharias

I graduated alongside Alexander the Great, you’re inviting young leaders, but to try to persuade Nick is difficult.  I told him that August is my writing month but here I am.


Acts 24 would love to see an artist capture it, what an incredible moment.


He shook and trembled, whether or not it was a sense of fear, the power of what he was listening to.  All along his goal was to trip up the messenger as he could not contend with the truth.


1974 Lausanne: the words of Os Guinness :


“Why is there such constant disparagement of the mind? Why so much appeal to the emotions? Why so little content presupposed on which to decide? Why all the talk of “souls” and so little talk of whole people? Why the obvious exploitation of the testimony of the famous? Why is it so often a case of the most simplistic the message the most sophisticated the techniques? Why is there the need for always being bigger and more successful? Why the creation of Christian “celebrities” and “one man denominations”? Why the unconscious manipulations or the open fraudulence in public appeals for money or in prayer letters?


…Part of our failure to get thinking people to take the Gospel seriously is born of a credibility gap. We claim Christianity is true – a claim which is awesome by contemporary standards, but then we whittle down our claims by the patent incongruity of our practices of the truth. The way we operate speaks louder than what we say. Without the practice of truth, evangelism is in danger of becoming a giant institutional mouth or as E.M. Forster dismissed it scornfully, “poor, talkative, little Christianity!”


How do we bring what one startling coalescence of contrarieties?

Here we are making a choice in one of the most powerful countries ever. Rome is no less significant and clever than the original story.


He found a point of reference

He talked to Festus about righteousness.  What is it about the listener where you can find a point of reference?  At the time arguing from Causality was a strong argument, now they will laugh at you.  So then we always assume intelligence.


Moral reasoning

There is one argument that they all use now, trying to eliminate the ultimate cause, designer and we wonder how we split.  Joseph Stalin killed 15 million people, he was once a seminary student, when asked how long people


Point of relevance

Paul was a Hebrew by birth and a student of Rome.  Night, lightness, God has caused to shine light on Festus’ weaknesses.  Our current biggest issue is pornography.


Pont of disturbance

We cannot win crowds.  Young people are ready to pick it up when you are.  But we have compromised the gospel so much there is no gospel left.


General Romeo Dare said a key government leader kept the engines running had a quick look and as he left said he didn’t know it was so bad in a Middle Eastern war zone.  You didn’t know, you can’t simply Pontius Pilate 800,0000 people.  How do you reach a place like that?  You are talking about a womb, a womb so large it will hurt.  1 pulled muscle changes how you view everything, your life is changed.  When 800,000 are killed you are speaking through gaping wounds.  The only one who can do that is for the wounded to hear a wounded saviour.  Forms can change but substance cannot change.  If you can reach the youth they are the ones who can be game changers.  I like the idea of Nick’s gatherings.


Wesley was in a burning house.   The family and neighbours thought he was outside, men stood on shoulders to get him, none of them knew they would be standing on his shoulders to get to heaven.  When the disciples met Paul they didn’t realise he would be writing a third of the New Testament and planting churches.  You never know what that one person saved might do.

YLG2016: State of the World

The third Lausanne Young Leaders Gathering is happening in Jakarta.  YLG2016 is a gathering of 1,000 younger leaders from over 160 countries who will connect, pray, and discern together God’s leading of their generation for his global mission.  It’s a privilege to be here and to share my notes of Jason Mandryk and Molly Wall from Operation World as they give their State of the World address.

Largest religion by country & population

Most religions still tend to be concentrated in particular regions, especially Hinduism, Buddhism and to some degree Islam.  Christianity is the most global religion, 2.3 billion Christians in 38,000 denominations in every single country, with more cultures, ethnic groups, languages represented.  It is easy to see the prayer Jesus prayed for his disciples to have unity is still as challenging as before.


For about 100 years Christianity represents one third of the world population.  In 1960 29% of Evangelical Christians were living in Africa, Asia and Latin America, now in 2016 it is 78%, by 2020 it will be more than 80%.  This is true not just for evangelicals but every stream of Christianity.  We see that Evangelical Christianity is growing in 1960 there were 91 million (3%) now in 2016 there are 600 million + (8%).



There is a greater degree of partnership and collaboration.  This is partly due to the size and complexity of the church and mission but also an increased willingness and even desire to partner together.



The global church is seeing a deliberate focus on prayer, for every one initiative you know there are ten you probably don’t know such as the Holy Ghost service in Nigeria seeing 1 million praying together, and others much smaller.  Prayer is changing the church and the world.



In the last 25 years more people have entered the kingdom than in any other point of history.  A lot of this has happened in the context of persecution and suffering.  In 1960 50% of the world had never heard the gospel, now in 2016 it is about 29%.  There are 600-650 ethno-languages that have not yet received any part of the gospel.  Definitely mission has shifted from the West to the rest onto everywhere to everywhere – polycentric mission.  There is also a lot more reverse mission, former receiving fields are sending missionaries to the sending countries, a lot of people trying to reach places such as London.  The world’s mission force is more diverse in nationality, location, organisations and the range of activities we engage in.


Global Context

The story of humanity is a story of urbanisation from the garden of Eden to the City of revelation.  From 2008 the world population shifted over 50% urban population.  Cities contain not just the most people, but influence, energy, and more.


Human lifespan

Human lifespan is increasing, and the birth-rate is decreasing.  By 2050 there will be as many people aged 60 and over as those aged 15 and under.  In 1980 there were 100,000 who reached the age of 100.  By 2050 there will be 4 million who reach the age of 100.  This will impact employment, retirement and pensions, medical care, but also our Christian service opportunities.


Population Growth

As populations of global north decline (Japan, Germany etc.), half of all population growth will be in India, Nigeria, Pakistan, D.R. Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia and Uganda.  Or in other terms half of all population growth will be in Africa.



Only 10% of the world lives in ‘extreme poverty’ according to the UN.  That still means over 700 million are living in injustice, exploitation, environmental degradation.  The 62 richest people in the world own as much wealth as 3.6 billion people (50% of the population).



Migration factors are the tip of the iceberg of the next 40 years.  They will be the context for much of the most fruitful ministry.



Which movie gets 7 sequels in the cinema and which one goes straight to DVD, which advertisement and posts you see in social media is decided by data.  As the volume of data increases we are relying on others to prioritise and sort this.  We are influenced by those most closely aligned to our own values which narrows our learning and prevents us from relating to those who are different to us, and so we then abuse them.


What does it mean to be human?

This is increasingly important to us as morals, ethics, science and technology pushing up against boundaries.  Forming a sound biblical world view and ethic is essential.


As we look ahead we are facing critical unprecedented change.


The first Human Geno was sequenced in 2004 and cost hundreds of millions and took years.  Machines can do 18,000 genos in 1 year.  Long term strategic planning is nearly impossible



The world is getting increasingly complex.  It is impossible for one group to understand everything.  Increasing uncertainty as the push of a button can end the world or the release of a virus.  Our lives have never been more secure and comfortable and yet insecure.  Terrorism happens everywhere.


The capacity to do the most good: all these technological changes mean we can communicate the good news to more people.



We hear the narrative that religion is dying out but the global statistics doesn’t show that, in 2025 around 90% of the world will be religious.  Secularism declined since the 1980s due to China and Russia.


Future Growth

Most future growth of the church will happen in Africa, Asia and Latin America, partly due to higher birth rates as well as large numbers of conversions.  The global south will become an ever larger majority of the church.  They will increasingly provide leadership and set the agenda for the global church.  This is delayed somewhat from being proportionally represented as Western Christianity is very comfortable being in charge.  But many current key leaders are from all over the global South: Pope – Argentina; World EA – Filipino, IFES – Chad, OMF – Hong Kong, SIM – Nigeria, Interserve – India, OM – Singapore


The % of unevangelised is smaller (50% down to 29%) but due to population increase it is actually 600,000 more people (1.5 billion to 2.1 billion).  80% of those working in cities live in a slum context and yet only 1 in 6 Christian missionaries work in a slum.  Rural ministry can’t be ignored yet either.


There are 230 million migrants (5th largest population by country size) with an average stay in a refugee camp of 17 years.  They are not camps but cities.


81% of the world’s non-Christians don’t personally know a Christian.  For hundreds of millions of people they are the only gospel they may encounter.  There maybe Christians in every country but the spread is very uneven 90% to 0.001% of population.


Our Response

It is about the tough slug of discipleship and making disciples throughout the body of Christ and the world.  We have to radically demonstrate the power and the love of the gospel.  We must do it because the King of Kings has commanded us to do it, we must obey; but we can do it as the one with all power has commissioned us to do it and therefore we can.

YLG2016: Morning 1

The third Lausanne Young Leaders Gathering is happening in Jakarta.  YLG2016 is a gathering of 1,000 younger leaders from over 160 countries who will connect, pray, and discern together God’s leading of their generation for his global mission.  It’s a privilege to be here and to share my notes of Dave Benson from the first Morning Plenary with you.

Where is here?
You wake up in your room, you are still jet lagged, trying to find the bathroom, you headbutt the wall, wake up your room mate.


And yet …


Nearly 3 years ago the YLG Planning Team could see you, from over 160 countries, united in God’s big story. This is meant to be. God sees the beginning and the end. God planned for you, jet lagged as you are, to be here. We might get lost, but God never does, God invented the map.


Anyone seen ‘Thank God you’re here’, the TV show you dress tem in a costume and send them through a door into a drama they know nothing about. It could be a court scene, a home, a party, or more. The humour comes as they say inappropriate things for their scene. Isn’t that like our life?


The world is a complex state, a drama. The challenges we face our great, poverty, pluralism, sexual redefinition, secularism and more. There is no evangelisation as usual. We must search for creative ways forward in a rapidly changing world.


It is tempting to simply copy other cast members, we ask ‘What would Billy Graham do?’. Even though we should learn from the past, we should ask who would Jesus Christ ask us to be for this time and this stage. A complex stage requires us to listen to the directors voice using resources such as The Mission of God by Chris Wright.


We can only play our part when we step in. We can only play our part in the story through creation, fall, repentance, reflection, love, reconciliation and worship as we look at the story of the mission of God.


Evangelisation is re-entering this ancient story, this is telling the story in fresh ways. It is glocal – global mission in a local context and flesh. If you are a white male living in the West your story is incomplete until we hear from sisters in the 10:40 window, from brothers in the majority church, from those in the persecuted church. We must act, we must act with wisdom, we must act with courage and we must act with love. Only as a great cast united in the story would we discover more of the great triune God.

YLG2016: Opening Ceremony

The third Lausanne Young Leaders Gathering is happening in Jakarta.  YLG2016 is a gathering of 1,000 younger leaders from over 160 countries who will connect, pray, and discern together God’s leading of their generation for his global mission.  It’s a privilege to be here and to share my notes of the Opening Ceremony with you.


Sarah Breuel

Why are we here, what is the vision?

  • We are here because God is about to orchestrate divine connections for us to be here. We welcome the Spirit to bring birth to life long friendships, Gospel partnerships and more.
  • We are here because God wants to speak to us. He is longing to speak to each one of us. Speak oh Lord for your servants are listening.
  • We are here because our Father has given us a task that has not yet finished. The evangelistic cutting edge of the world is here tonight to see how it can fulfil Christ’s great missions as quickly and thoroughly as possible.


Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.


  • Throw off anything that hinders: We might need to throw things off, cut things out this week.
  • Run with perseverance: not just run, but run with perseverance, he knows it is a tough race. Perseverance is used 27 times in the NT, normally within the context of persecution.
  • Fix our eyes on Jesus: after two moving metaphors he tells us to stay, to fix.


Live in Rome a few kilometres from the Colosseum, from where many Christians became martyrs. As I run in the area I could imagine the early Christians, those first martyrs in the stadium.


Grandfather grew up in a family in Brazil in real poverty. His first five siblings did not survive due to starvation. He was blessed with a great mind, became a Professor and enabled people to access schools. As I told my 6 year old son, I realized I was passing on the blessing to the next generation.


The father is inviting us to come close and hear his story, from generation to generation. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, including grandfather, and some from Lausanne 1974. One day like YLG 2006 we might be cheering on the next generation.


It will be a long but incredible week.


Michael Oh

Although I am fluent in all 7 languages meaning I can say good evening in all of them I want to greet you in the name of Lord Jesus Christ who is Lord of all nations, and of all generations. I opened the 2006 YLG with these same words. Much there is that is different in the world and much that is the same. My 4 kids have become 5, my 12 years of marriage have now 22 years, I was 35 years in 2006, people tell me I look the same age or even younger, but I just wish I felt as young as I look, a few weeks ago I got a hearing aid! Even though my body is feeling old I am still young at heart. You may even see me wearing a Brazilian soccer shirt, on a scooter, trying to save precious minutes running from appointment to appointment.


Seeing you all like this my heart is gushing with joy. Ten years ago I was just like you, a younger leader with so many dreams, so many questions so much hope. I was a bit naïve I thought I knew a lot about the world and yet I didn’t know very much about myself. I can’t wait to see how God will use you in the next 10 years.


Welcome, I am so glad you are here. Your being here is the fruit of many prayer, by many people. One of 3,000 younger leaders who were nominated, and one of 1,000 young leaders invited. This event has taken three years to come to fruition. You have come so far to come, so committed and interactive in preparation. Thank you for being so well engaged.


For many of you one of the hardest aspects was the fundraising. Thank you for your perseverance. I am going to personally take time to thank each and every single person who enabled you to be here, when I get to heaven. Thankful to Scott Horton for his biblical wisdom for us all on fundraising, it is a biblical ministry. Jesus demonstrated it was core to his disciples, he could have provided from his carpentry, or do more miracles, but he chose to be supported by a group of women. He chose to be dependent on others, something we can also do, without shame, following in the footsteps of Jesus.


We were planning on hosting this in Ukraine, but due to political unrest we had to postpone the event. I reached out to Dr. James and Eileen Riady on a hunch never having met them. I wrote it on a plane to Vietnam. By the time I was boarding the plane to Cambodia, Eileen had written back and said yes. James and Eileen and their children are amazing examples of the 4th principle as impacting society for the gospel. Their two businesses have impacted the Vietnamese society hugely.


Psalm 145:4

One generation commends your works to another;

    they tell of your mighty acts.


Connecting generations to proclaim the gospel. Be it in the public square, or for those with disabilities, or 26% of the world’s population will be under the age of 14, by 2100 50% of the children under 18 will be African, but 700 million die of starvation, 1 billion are witnesses to violence, and millions are orphans. We have no future without our children, and they have no hope without the gospel.


This past year has been the most challenging of my life, days of desperate dependence on the Lord. Through this darkness and suffering the Lord has been sanctifying and refining me in very painful but very gracious ways. A reminder that God can only work through me when he is working in me.


Christ-like leaders: the formation of your character is at the core of our vision, hope and prayer for you. We cannot shape the future, but we can help to shape future leaders. Sanctified, redeemed, loveable, Christ transformed character. We each have natural weaknesses and God-given strengths, we need him to redeem our weaknesses and sanctify our strengths.


Many of the alumni from the 2006 YLG have received blessing through the Lausanne movement. This time we are more intentional in how we support and structure this through the launch of YLGen helping not just what you fulfil, but who you are:

  1. Connecting every leader with a mentor: In 2006 I asked Jim Chew to mentor me for prayer. For the last 10 years I have enjoyed the kindness and blessing of his prayer. You can sign up for mentor connect.
  2. Connecting every leader with a global connect group: either your group from YLG or a new issue group.
  3. Connecting you with an issue network: currently 35 groups working alongside nearly every area for global mission.
  4. Connect you with Lausanne movement in your region: Lars Dahle will be taking on this role to help you engage in one of the 12 regions.
  5. Connect you with strategic mission resources and teachings: we have a wealth of information so we want to help make them available and influence your strategies for evangelisation.


Welcome, we are here to serve you. The road ahead will not be easy, we are engaged in a battle that is taking place in the heavenly realms. Satan is not happy in this moment, but the Lord is rejoicing in singing over us at this moment. Let’s have an amazing week together.


Attila Nyari

Connected from all over the globe through Jesus.


Colossians 2:19

They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.


If we want to see growth this week, growth in the kingdom, we need to connect.


Reflections on an EastEnders funeral

Rev Canon Dr Sandra Millar who leads work on funerals for the Church of England has written a great blog post reflecting on Peggy Mitchell’s funeral:

This week the funeral of the great pub landlady, Peggy Mitchell, took place in Albert Square. It was full of wonderful East End traditions, like the horse drawn bier led by the funeral conductor and the people standing by in respect. There were hints that Peggy had specified what kind of funeral she wanted – and it was certainly a very traditional, even old-fashioned,  affair in the local church.

But these days a Church of England led funeral needn’t be traditional, whether it takes place in the local church or elsewhere. People can wear brightly coloured clothes, the coffin might be wicker or felt or hand-decorated, it could be draped with a favourite sports shirt, balloons might be released – whatever reflect that unique life and the love of God within a framework of reflection, prayer, thanks and commendation into God’s care. The EastEnders funeral reminded me of the time I took the funeral of a pub landlord – there were nearly 1,000 people present, a wicker coffin, the singing of Waltzing Matilda and lots and lots of tributes. I spent a lot of time with the family discovering what would make this funeral helpful, and to this day I remember them and pray for them.

Whatever the circumstances, the vicar talks with the family beforehand, finding out key family contacts and tensions (that would have been interesting in the Mitchell clan!) discovering what made this person uniquely loved and special to those around him or her.  The vicar may encourage the family to make a tribute, talking about their own personal memories, and will be there alongside on the day, ready to offer a steadying arm or even take over if emotions became too much.  Together with the Funeral Director the minister is responsible for the service, making sure it all works smoothly, offering care and support as needed – and should something go wrong, the vicar will be there.

Christians believe in a God who made every human being uniquely, who knows every step we take, walks with us through our journey in life, so celebrating and giving thanks is a central part of every Church of England led funeral. The camera cut away from the funeral service, but I do hope someone spoke about Peggy with affection. If I’d have been taking her funeral I would definitely have used the line ‘Get out of my pub!” somewhere in the service!  But funerals are more than just thanksgiving: there is grief and loss, sometimes anger or regret, and a church service will also make space for holding those emotions, letting go where appropriate and finding comfort to face the future.

Above all a Church led funeral offers a message of hope – a hope that death is not the end and that both we who have to carry on living and those whom we love but see no longer are all held in the great love of God. Our recent research around Church of England led funerals showed that the timeless words ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life’ have a powerful resonance with people, even though their full meaning will take us all a lifetime to grasp.

A good vicar – and there are many like Revd Juliet Stephenson from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the current Funeral Celebrant of the Year – will offer pastoral care before, during and long after the funeral. Sometimes that’s the space to light a candle, sometimes the space to remember and sometimes a listening ear.  I know EastEnders isn’t real [it isn’t is it?] but I hope that all who are faced with organising a funeral will know that the Church of England is there for them, meeting their needs with compassion, humour, love and grace.

How The World Looked When Jesus Was Born, According to Roman Geographers

Jesus world

Neatorama recently highlighted what the world looked like when Jesus was born.  Thanks to Strabo, the Roman geographer, we have a 17-volume description of the world as they knew it.

Here is what the world looked like to Strabo and his contemporaries: the globe was divided into five sections, with two cold bands on either end, two temperate bands, and one hot and “torrid” band at the very center. The inhabited world, a large island, was confined to a northern quarter of the globe and was surrounded by oceans. Or at least, that’s what was assumed: no one had ever circumnavigated the known world.

Strabo was pretty much correct in what was known, although that still left a lot of unknowns. In his world, Israel was a small and politically insignificant place that was nonetheless a crossroads between three continents. Read about Strabo’s view of the world at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Flickr user Paolo Porsia)

What can you expect God to do in your life in 2016?


Stephen Altrogge wrote a great blog post on what can you expect God to do in your life back in 2013.  It’s well worth checking out, here’s a snippet:

  • God’s mercies to follow you, and pursue you, every every minute of every hour of every day. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. ” (Psalm 23:6)
  • God to meet every single true need that should arise. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
  • God to lead you, counsel you, guide you, and give you wisdom. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • God to freely forgive your sins each time you repent. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
  • God to wonderfully correct and discipline you if you should stray into sin. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6)
  • God to continue working powerfully in you as you pursue holiness. “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
  • God to help you overcome patterns of sin that have plagued you for years. “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. ” (Romans 6:14)
  • God to use trials in your life to refine and purify your faith. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
  • God to give you every good thing. “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

God has promised to do all these things, and many more. His promises are sure. 2013 is bursting with blessings.

Books I have read: Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples

Multiply Francis Chan

I’ve always enjoyed reading Francis Chan’s writings, a few years ago I was inspired by his book Crazy Love, so I was looking forward to reading Multiply: Disciples making disciples.  As a youth minister I’m incredibly passionate to resource young people to share their faith with their friends – they do such a better job than I every could do.  Not because I can’t share faith, or because I can’t answer the tough questions, but because I don’t have the shared context that they have.

The book can be used for personal devotions, but works well for a group to look through together.  It is split into five sections:

  1. Living as a Disciple Maker
  2. Living as the Church
  3. How to Study the Bible
  4. Understanding the Old Testament
  5. Understanding the New Testament

This book would work well as a post Alpha or other evangelistic course for those who wanted to develop a stronger foundation to their new-found faith.

We used the first section themed around what is a disciple and what does it mean to share our faith with our group of 11-14 year olds who really enjoyed looking at the material.

I thoroughly recommend taking the time to read this book and the additional resources developed for it.

Regional discussion on human sexuality

This morning I went along to one of the regional discussions on human sexuality being hosted by the Evangelical Group of the General Synod, with Ed Shaw (livingout.org and a church planter in Bristol) and Stephen Hofmeyr QC (interim chair of Church of England Evangelical Council) giving presentations.

Ed Shaw spoke from personal experience on “Is God anti-gay?” and “How churches can welcome those with same sex attraction”.

Stephen Hofmeyr QC (interim chair of Church of England Evangelical Council) spoke about the “shared conversations” and the possible outcomes in the life of the Church of England.

Here are my notes – please excuse any spelling and punctation mistakes etc.:

Ed Shaw, Living Out

Grew up in a Anglican evangelical family, always professed faith. Brought up with deep convictions about the Bible being God’s word for us, and sex being for marriage and between a man and woman. An interesting experience having those convictions and during puberty being clear having desires for other men. Thought through it and during teenage and twenties thought it was just a phase. Reached mid-twenties and realized it wasn’t a phase and shared in an accountability group with other ministers, but kept it private, until 2-3 years ago when realizing some were going to have to ‘come out’ as the issue became a central issue for the church. Had a wonderfully positive response, and released a day a week to help with Living Out.


This will be a deeply political issue, and the danger is we get focused on the politics, can we stay within the CofE etc. We lose the focus that it is a personal issue for many in our churches, and one of the biggest issues for evangelism in the church today.


  1. What is our verbal apologetics – how do we answer is God anti-gay?
  2. How do our churches and church life that will engage people from the gay community – how can they be seen as welcoming and inclusive in the right sense.


Is God anti-gay?

In reply to the question often hear:

  • God loves the sinner but hates the sin – instinctive but problematic as it is really hard to make the distinction between me the sinner and the sin. The Bible says it isn’t just the sin, but it is in our hearts. For the gay community their sexuality is a massive part of their identity and so doesn’t work.
  • John 3:16, God loves everyone, he loves you. But people find it hard to understand how love can involve saying no to things. How can God be loving and say no to a loving relationship. There are answers today but it is difficult to work through in our culture.
  • God is anti all sin – not just anti homosexuality but a whole host of categories, God puts all of us in the box of those who have rebelled against Him. They should see fairness in that. It is seen as quite negative, and for unbelievers it can be hard work to help them see what sin is.


You want to nuance what you say. Want to say no and yes.


It is a very personal talk, evangelical Christian who believes in the Bible and trusts in Jesus but finds myself exclusively attracted to men, would call myself same-sex attracted, society would call me gay.


Didn’t choose to be gay. Some people thought I had to be made to be gay, it was done to me, I had a bad relationship with my dad or abused as a child – neither happened to me. What was natural for my friends to fancy women, was natural for me to fancy men. I thought it was a phase but I see now it is a permanent decision. So the question is a personal question for me.


Why do people think God is anti-gay? One of the definitions people know of God is love so how can they think he is against them. Maybe because they’ve experienced homophobia from Christians, the Stonewall definition of homophobia is helpful. That is wrong and Christians should be repenting, and if you see that you should challenge that.


They’ve read the Bible, they’ve read passages where gay sex is described as an abomination. Want to in one sense apologise for that, but one of the claims is that the Bible is right for us today and so cant get the tippex out and edit it, the Bible says difficult things. Leviticus 20 – they are to be put to death – very clear – God is anti-gay, in black and white in the Bible.


Want to say today it isn’t that simple. There is a big nuance if we’re to interact with this subject. He is anti gay sex but clearly loves gay people.


Clearly anti-gay sex – Leviticus passage might make that. Some might think the NT would be different but let’s read 1 Corinthians 6 – any sex outside marriage is not compatible with what a Christian should do. Saying to someone they can’t do something they want to do doesn’t mean you’re anti them or hate them. My parents stopped me doing loads of things I wanted to do things out of love for me, e.g. thumping my sister, punishing me out of their deep love for me and my sister. My father God in stopping me having the gay sex I want to have is doing that for me – it would not be good for me or them. It is possible to be anti behavior and still love the individual.


You might instinctively have objections. How can God be loving in stopping me having gay sex. Let me tell you something counter cultural – sex isn’t everything. It is a good and pleasurable thing but you can have a good life and not have sex – it is possible. Look at the life of Jesus, he is the example for a Christian as to how human life is lived to the fullness. All a Christian is being asked to do is to follow Jesus and live life to the full. Doesn’t that mean we have to live a lonely life – you’re condemning us to misery. No, because the NT tells us the Holy Spirit is creating a radical community called the Church. In my church I have spiritual uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters – it is the family that will last for all time. Not starved of love due to the network of love, often receive more than my married friends. Although the bible is clearly anti-gay sex, God clearly loves gay people, people like me.


Unlike our society today God doesn’t put gay people in a separate category. God doesn’t put people into different boxes saying to the straight people he loves you and the gay people he hates you. The label he gives me is the label he gives anyone who comes to trust in him is to be an adopted child – regardless of what has or hasn’t happened in our sex lives – I love you. God doesn’t put gay sex into a category of special, serious sin – he puts it in 1 Corinthians 6 in a list of things that everyone has done at some point in our life – not picked out as a particulary bad case of rebellion against God – put in the same category as everyone else.


Wonderfully Jesus died on a cross to forgive me for everything I’ve done wrong be it my sexuality or other things I’ve done wrong. And that’s what he’s done for you – having sex with someone of the same gender doesn’t mean God can’t forgive you. The cross shows he loves us all.


There are lots of questions but soon to focus on how you thrive in community without sex, lots of young people feel the world hasn’t delivered what it promised, they’ve tried sex and it wasn’t what they were told it would be. Lots that is hard but some stuff that they are intrigued about.


How can our churches be seen as pro gay people?

We have a massive challenge on this issue. Whenever faced with a massive challenge I need motivation. Need to turn to Jesus in the gospels where he was consistently welcoming and inclusive of those who weren’t by the religious societies of the day – women, lepers, children, Gentiles. We know that as Christians we know we need to be like him. We need to recognize that we’ve not done what Jesus would do for minority groups such as the gay community.


Tim Keller in The Prodigal God: “Jesus’ teaching consistently attracted the irreligious and offended the religious, our teaching today doesn’t do this … it can only mean one thing, we must not be declaring the same message Jesus did.”


Andrew Marin: “I’ve never met such a loving community as the gay community – there is room for everyone – they want to give the same love to others as they want to receive. … I was being out-Jesused by gays and lesbians, they put a bullet in my soul.”


Three things that need to massively communicate, three big truths that we all believe but failed to broadcast:

  1. We are all sinners. The world needs to hear that you will be welcomed as you are all sinners. We give the impression that the sinners are out there, and the salted are in here. Very good at doing 1 Cor. 6:9-10, and people have got that they don’t belong if they’ve done one of those things, but what hasn’t been heard is v. 11.We’ve somehow managed to hide the fact that we have people who have done all those things that mean we shouldn’t be here, and continue to struggle with things and because of the grace of Jesus can be here. They think you have to be perfect to belong and so they know they don’t belong. We enjoy self-righteousness – not happy with any specific analysis of what our sins and struggles are. We need to remember that Jesus’ harshest words were for those who were self-righteous and his warmest words were for those who recognized their sins.


Some thoughts: the Anglican liturgy helps us as the service begins with confession of sin – but we’re not good at reflecting and explaining that. It would seem to be a formula we go through rather than a reality we accept. If we are more specific, not necessarily asking people to stand up and confess their sin, but naming sins like self-righteous, consumerism, idolatry of the nuclear family. Let’s use our sermons – your church probably know what your sins are – they’ve lived and worked with you so they know what your sins are – but have you confessed them in the pulpit so they know you consider yourself to be a sinner. It would be helpful if the people at the front get that you are a sinner, you are broken and a mess like them. We need to not just condemn gay sex, Justin Welby did us a great favour when he turned our attention to Wonga and the consumerism that sits behind it. We need to condemn gay sex, but all the other sins in those lists so people get we’re not sex obsessed, but bothered about anything that is not good for us.


  1. God’s word is good for all – one way for being inclusive and welcoming is to say that gay sex is fine. Why can’t we say that? Because the Bible is quite clear. Psalm 19 helps us when we reflect that God’s word is out to get us and screw us up. God’s word is perfect, trustworthy, right … .   Look at the affect it has – it revives my soul, brings light, endures forever, in keeping them there is great reward. C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, reflects on this – the Bible is good even when it sounds like it is screwing up our lives.


We have got to resist the attempts to say God’s word is bad on this issue. We’ve got to be unapologetic that God’s word is good on this issue. God’s word is often hard for us in it’s initial application and yet will still be in the long-term a good thing for us. We can best do that in our churches by sharing the reality – those who are stuck in a difficult marriage, knew what God said about divorce, they see the benefits from that; when people give self-sacrificially it is really hard but that is good and good things come from that – the most generous givers consistently testify to the reward that giving brings.


  1. Church is family – one of the biggest pressure points is that we can’t ask people to live alone, a lonely misery so we have to embrace talk of gay marriage. Church is a family but we often only use that to enable the oldies to cope with the noise the children make. It is a realistic idea: Matthew 12:46. The NT redefines family – it is no longer biological – but spiritual. Not those we are biologically united to but those we are united to through the cross. Cf. John Piper, Marriage is temporary.


The truths are very counter cultural, especially in evangelical churches, we have idolized biological family in response to family breakdown. We haven’t communicated that they are not the be all and end all – they won’t necessarily last – but our spiritual family will. No Christian should walk alone, every Christian should feel part of a family, good news for the single, the childless, the widows. We need to restore the idea of church as family.


We need to treat church family like family. Churches need to function and feel like family. When I go to church I will always be embraced by Ruth, a lady in her 70s, treat each other as honorary aunt and nephew. Chatted with his goddaughter before church about the last week, her parents paid for the deposit on my house. The sort of thing families do, the sort of thing church families should do. Reflect on what would be particularly hard for single people, especially those with same-sex attraction:

  • Birthdays – people get together and plot for my birthday so something happens
  • Holidays – holidays for single people – you don’t have anyone to go with, you don’t have anyone to help make decisions. Go on holiday with a family, and now widened to two other families and several other singles.
  • Making decisions – who do you make it with? The people who listened and helped make decisions, and shared their decisions with me.


The challenge is great, but the solution is just the gospel. It will get us to think about the things we haven’t had to confront for a while – key truths that we’re all sinners, God’s word is good, and church is family. We’re certainly in danger of forgetting and definitely applying these truths.


When we find it really hard we need to remember how welcoming and inclusive Jesus was and is of you and me. How deep the Father’s love was in welcoming us to his family, for us to bring our mess into his family.


Stephen Hofmeyr, Chair of Church of England Evangelical Council

What are the possible outcomes, and how might they play out in the Church of England?


Western society is currently experiencing a moral revolution. Our societies moral code has undergone a complete reversal. That which was once condemned and is now celebrated and the refusal to celebrate is now condemned. It is taking place at an unprecedented velocity.


The current debates on sexuality presents to the church a crisis that is inescapably theological. It is similar to the crises of Gnosticism or Pelagianism. It challenges our understanding of the gospel, sin, salvation and more. Biblical theology is indispensable for the church to craft a response to the current sexual crisis. It needs to read scripture with a historical context, an understanding of the meta-narrative, and the progressive revelation from God. Evangelicals need a theology of the body, and God’s plan and purpose for the body which is grounded in that Biblical framework.


The Pilling report from November 2013 recommended that the churches internal dialogue on human sexuality might be best done through shared conversations. This was endorsed by the College of Bishops in January. The House of Bishops agreed a plan in May but has not published this. They have agreed a central process, and authorized the standing committee of the House of Bishops to sign off final meetings. The Standing Committee met and reported in July to General Synod that the conversations would have two objectives:

  1. To clarify how we can most effectively be a missionary church in a culture which has changed its view on human sexuality. // We as Evangelicals want to say the truth of the Gospel is the truth for all people in all ages. So it is not about whether we are free to change what is taught by how we change how it is communicated. It presents a wonderful opportunity for the whole church to assess the effective proclamation of the Gospel.
  2. To clarify the implications of what it means for the Church of England to live with so-called “good disagreement” on issues of human sexuality. // This was foreshadowed by the House of Bishops said: “… In its discussion the House noted that the process of shared conversations needed to demonstrate primarily how the Church of England could model living together with issues of tension, where members took opposing views whilst remaining committed to one another as disciples of Jesus Christ – members of one church in both unity and diversity …” The second objective is astonishingly brazen – it assumes the answers to two prior questions, which are the real and fundamental questions.

It assumes that the Church’s teaching should be changed to make accommodation for those who don’t model and accept the church’s teaching on sexuality. An opposing view can only be practiced if it is formally accepted and accommodated. Evangelical Christians cannot tolerate this change under the concept of how to be a missionary church.

It assumes that it would be appropriate for those teaching opposing views to “live together” in the Church of England.


Should the Church’s teaching be changed? If so, would it be appropriate to continue to “live together” in a united Church of England? Neither of these will be considered or answered – they will have been pre-judged and the answers assumed.


Why do we need facilitated conversations to model living together with opposing views as this has been true for years, but quite inappropriately. In the light of the doctrine of our church nothing has been done about it. True to the promises of our Bishop’s at their installation when will they challenge inappropriate doctrine. For too long in the name of the broad church we have, like Lord Nelson, put the telescope to the blind eye! We have allowed institutional hypocrisy.


This disfiguring growth requires careful but invasive surgery – it demands drastic change. If as the Windsor Report suggested, we are dealing with a first order issue, a salvation issue, the answer from scripture is clear, no we cannot live together.


How will they be conducted?

Under the Archbishop’s Adviser for Reconciliation, Canon David Porter, 20 facilitators will support a process of conversations around the Church of England. At the College of Bishops they spent two days with the facilitators, using resource material, with theological material from scholars with differing viewpoints. That material will be refined and then


The conversations will be clustered in areas of approximately four Dioceses, hosting nationally 12 regional conversations – each involving about 60 participants, with 15 from the Diocese of Winchester. The only restrictions is that the groups must consist of equal number of clergy and laity, equal numbers of women and men, with a quarter under 40, and at least more than one LGBTI person per group. The range and balance of views should reflect the range and balance within the Diocese – how will this be done – have surveys been taken?


The work will come to a conclusion in July 2016 when the recently elected General Synod will spend two days themselves in shared conversations.


What are the possible outcomes?

We need to have in mind where this could take, not where it should or will take us.


Objective one:

  • A renewed vision for evangelism
  • No renewed vision for evangelism


A renewed vision for the evangelization of England will only happen if the church will commit itself to the taught in the Bible. It is likely that there will be little change in the next two years between those who are gospel focused and those who aren’t.


Objective Two:

  • Anglican fudge – just enough compromise to enable most people to stay together – this is what most people at the centre seem to be hoping and praying for, as Justin Welby calls “good disagreement” leading to institutional hypocrisy.   Martin Davy says it is radically misconceived biblically and is anyway an oxymoron.
  • The traditional understanding is affirmed
  • The revisionist understanding wins the day


Realistically, short of revival, it is not going to happen. The Standing Group from the House of Bishops says there is no expectation in achieving consensus in either direction in the foreseeable future.


Two other outcomes involve division if traditionalists continue to believe that this is a salvation issue, stating it clearly and graciously. Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, in Peterborough in April 2007, said “unity is very precious for believers. We cherish it. But we do not cherish it above truth. There are certain things which disrupt fellowship … One is persistent and systematic false teaching … And the other is persistent sexual immorality … those are the two things that do not disrupt fellowship, and we must take this very seriously in our present situation.” Love is hard, but love compels us.


The division may be messy – costly, divisive and an obstacle to mission like it has been in the USA and Canada with litigation and littered arguments. But division may be ordered – gracious, generous and facilitating mission. The idea that has been floated is parallel provinces with overlapping jurisdiction, with traditionalists keeping the current model, and revisionists changing Canon Law. Parishes would be able to self-select their home, with Diocesan Cathedrals serving both provinces.


If we are to be realistic, if we are to remain faithful to the truth of the gospel, if we are to embrace truth and love in equal measure, what the Church of England needs is not “good disagreement”, but “gracious division”.


We need to reflect on our part, and our leadership.


Q&A Session


How is it people come to same sex attraction?

A number of theories, some say it is a choice; it is something done to you through sexual abuse or a poor relationship with same gender parent. The shortest answer is we don’t know, and bound to be a mixture of biological and contextual. People seem to go for the theory that best suits them. Doctrine of original sin, says tendencies to behave in certain ways that aren’t necessarily right.


There is a danger of assuming a simplistic situation, not everyone is straight or gay, it is more complex, and helpful to think of a spectrum. Some people will always feel attracted to a particular gender, others will experience changes during their lifetime. No one has found any specific genes that provide a biological underpinning, and brain scans haven’t yet produced any particularly strong answers. Twins surveys – identical v non-identical twins – if it is biological then identical twins should experience it 100% – some studies show 50%, more recent larger studies varies between 10-35%, but even they are not recognized as being adequate.


We hear of people being healed from their sexual orientation, what do you think?

All things are possible with God but he hasn’t promised to heal you, that’s why not everyone recovers from cancer etc., so yes pray, but God doesn’t promise he will heal. Instead he promises to make you more like Jesus, we see that in cancer patients, and we see that with those who have same-sex attraction.


Lots of reports of those who have experienced change, sometimes with an obvious trigger, sometimes there isn’t an obvious trigger. A psychiatrist might see someone with same-sex attraction who isn’t happy with it, e.g. religious faith conflicts with it. The question is how should psychiatrists help in these cases. One is to put the same-sex desires as the priority, and to participative in gay-affirmative therapy. Another approach is to treat using the other aspects of your person in the driving seat, not the same-sex desires, so you may go down the therapeutic route which either leads to no change but has a better sense of acceptance, or it is seeking change. The question is is this therapy harmful – right expectations of the therapy makes a big difference. So in theory it should be possible to have therapy available to bring a possible change. There is not the size and quality of studies to allow for research on this, it needs Controlled Trials, which currently don’t exist. Yahouse and Jones looked at 100 people who attempted to change, 15% reported significant change, 23% found acceptance in their desires, the others experienced little change.


How easy is it for those are promiscuous bi-sexual to change?

Ten years ago the soap opera had the gay character, now it is focused on bisexual characters. There is very little discussion around bisexuality and the ethics would be quite problematic, there was no one who would talk about bisexuality on the panel to the Bishops. The binary model is dead, although in true fashion the CofE is 30 years behind.


Is the Royal College of Psychiatrists still campaigning against reparative therapy?

Yes currently they are.


On the matters of origins how does that impact our pastoral work?

The Bible has everything to make sense of my lived experience and other peoples lived experiences. Genesis allows for biological, psychological, social and spiritual problems that are behind a range of issues. But we do need to find out someone’s context to help meet their needs, it is dangerous to have one model in dealing with a pastoral situation.


What happens when people challenge the authority of the Bible or reinterpret the passages that focus on

Not just do theology on proof text, but look at the meta-narrative. It only makes sense if it is unity and difference rather than unity and sameness which is what gay marriage would represent. Marriage is so important from Genesis to Revelation it is a pointer of the relationship between God and his people for eternity. Need to emphaises the Psalm 19 the Bible is good, the hard things are good for us. Hard doesn’t make it bad, but Mark 8, we are called to suffer and take up our cross.


How do you include unrepentant gay people in our church families?

How do you deal with those who actively promote gay relationships?

Presume we think through this issue in a heterosexual context. The answer should apply across, if you’re not consistent then you are homophobic and the world rightly judges you. It is difficult as we could now be challenged in the CofE for example if you withdraw communion.


What would you do if you are presented with a couple with same-sex attraction for Holy Communion?

The legal position to consult the Diocesan Bishop, they are the person who ultimately decides sacramental discipline. In a local context you could suggest it might not be wise, or right, and you could ask them not to take it. In 2005, the direction said people should be requested to give assurances about their relationship in the context of baptism, confirmation and communion. In 2014 neither they or the children they care for should be excluded from the sacraments. The 1987 vote in General Synod makes it clear the same sex practice falls short of God’s design. Issues in Human Identity, 1991 changed this a tiny bit but in effect stayed the same. Lambert 1998 developed on this context. So the question is what would a Diocesan Bishop do, and does it become a post-code context.


We have the believing and belonging issue and we grapple with this issue regularly in regard of a range of sins. It is easier to be clear if you have a position on sexuality generally, rather than homosexuality specifically.


When was the last time church discipline preached on and seen as a good thing. If I fell into sin I would be encouraged that my church would love me and care for me. They show their love for me by showing me there is behavior that is not good for me.


The comparison of a gay couple with a heterosexual cohabiting couple is not fair. The cohabiting couple is saying they love one another, but they aren’t doing it right, and marriage is the way to resolve this. For gay couples we are asking them to split up in the next few years. Yes but the issue is still what God ordains in scripture.


People need time to understand and learn behavior and to reflect on their own behavior. How sure are we as to who is truly repentant on any issue?


North America had a very messy and aggressive division – is that inevitable in the CofE?

We are culturally different so it will be done in an English way. Nothing is inevitable. The key issue will be evangelicals working together, to prevent some of the messiness of being picked off one by one. It is key that people come and support one another – how can you despite division have fellowship? The reason to raise division at the outset, as sometimes discussion can lead to people becoming more entrenched in their views, so rather than enabling that, asking how we could graciously split if division does come.


The shared conversations are designed for compromise and reconciliation so we need to be clear at what point we are willing to walk away from the deal. Parallel provinces would be a dead duck in the Synod. Lay members of General Synod are critical to this discussion.


Do you have a short sound bite to encapsulate grace and truth on this issue?

  • If you are looking for the perfect church don’t join it as it won’t be perfect anymore.
  • Jesus calls everyone to himself, and everyone to change.
  • Why? The context is so important so that you speak to the person in front of you rather than the person you last had this conversation with.
  • Let’s pray for this is not a human battle.


“The Church is inclusive upon repentance” + Peter Hancock