No-good Dog Food Company

Came across this blog in an article on the BBC about Jeb Bush quitting the Presidential race.

It turns out to be from the author of a book called  Change your church or Die so you can see where he’s coming from……

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Chofsted

ofsted

There’s been a bit of a hoohah about Ofsted checking Sunday Schools as part of the Government’s Prevent strategy.

I’m not going to comment on the Big Brother civil liberty elements of this, or the popularity of the inspectors, but it got me thinking: why shouldn’t there be an Ofsted for churches – a Chofsted if you like. What would they find if they investigated your church? Would you be outstanding, or in special measures?

There will be some who say that you can’t compare churches but they haven’t read the book of Revelation. There will be others who say that it doesn’t matter what a church does as long as it is faithful, but the man who was punished for burying his one talent in the parable thought that he was being faithful and doing what the master wanted, when he clearly wasn’t.

So what criteria should be used? You could choose Biblical adherence, friendliness of the people or even the quality of the sermon as assessed by the mystery worshipper. However, these tend to be inward looking benchmarks, reviewing a church for its own members’ needs.

Perhaps Ofsted’s own criteria are helpful. Swap “churches” for “teachers” and “atheists” for “pupils” and you’ve got a pretty good checklist for how to run things.

Doing this substitution, for an “outstanding” grade we would start with “Churches demonstrate deep knowledge and understanding of the subjects they teach. They use questioning highly effectively and demonstrate understanding of the ways atheists think about subject content. They identify atheists’ common misconceptions and act to ensure they are corrected.”

Sounds good to me.

What do you think?

Elvis has left the building…..

If Elvis were alive, he would be 81 years old today. David Bowie is alive, and he is 69 today.

They’d both be easily in the oldest quarter of the UK population.

Anybody who was a hippie at college during the summer of love will be past retirement age – so if you can remember the sixties, you’re on a pension. Even the punks are getting old – Johnny Rotten himself is 60 this month.

Yet if Elvis, or Bowie or the Sex Pistols entered a mainstream UK church this Sunday, they could be forgiven for thinking that the nineteen seventies, or the sixties, or even the fifties had never happened.

If they were lucky, there might be a band, but the vast majority will offer an organ for most of the music, and hymns from centuries gone by.

Now if this were working (and there is evidence from Cathedrals that it can work), that would be one thing. But as mainstream church attendance falls off a precipice, it’s blatantly clear that things need to change.

Some would claim that church decline is all due to factors beyond our control, such as secularisation and a hostile media. But I believe the choices we make do matter and do make a difference. There are churches which are growing in the UK, some spectacularly, showing that it is possible.

What is needed is the will to change, and the simple realisation that fourteen times as many people listen to Radio 2, as compared to Radio 3.

So happy birthday Elvis, and here he is singing a classic hymn, in a concert from before most people were born.

What do you think?

The (lack of) inevitability in progress

I saw this on a tweet today. It’s a quote from a book by Scott Berkun.

We can be trapped into looking back and seeing the history of the world as following an inevitable path, and thus the future too.

People believe The Early Church grew and evangelized the entire Roman Empire “somehow”, and now “somehow” the Church in the West is disappearing.

Yet the triumph of the Early Church was not somehow inevitable, it was the result of choices made and decisions followed through. The Early Church “out-thought, out-loved and out-served their contemporaries”.

In the same way, there is nothing inevitable about church decline. Of course, as I have shown in earlier blogs, if nothing changes then the Methodist Church disappears in 2033, the Scottish Episcopalians in 2043 and the Church of England in 2082.

But things can change when we make them (If you are waiting for God to change them, then is it possible that He is waiting for you to do your bit?). If we out-think, out-love and out-serve our contemporaries, then the future changes. If we keep doing what we are doing even harder, then it doesn’t.

Steve Biko said “The greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressors is the mind of the oppressed”.

Whilst we believe decline is inevitable, it is.

I don’t. How about you?

Deep And Wide

Deep

I’ve just read Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley. What a great book!

Andy Stanley really understands both churched and unchurched people. So many churches are designed precisely for those who do come, rather than those who might.

He writes: “I’ve never met a church leader who felt called to babysit a model that worked well twenty years ago but ceases to make an impact today. Nobody wants to work in a church that clings to an approach that doesn’t actually further its mission or vision. Most church leaders are intuitive enough to know when something is working and when it’s not. And that leads us to the question that begs to be asked: Why haven’t we already done something about this?”

Andy Stanley’s view is that it’s about lack of leadership.

What do you think? You can read a sample chapter here. Better still, buy the book – it’s just £2.99 on Kindle.