Thursday, October 08, 2009

Sticking "out like a sore thumb in the evangelical world with regard to gender roles both in marriage and Church"


Stu Alred searches for men and women of conviction...
Men made to lead as head (1cor11v3) to provide (1Tim5v8) to protect and guide morally (Gen2v16-17) (Eph5v26) and to lay down his life down for his wife just like Jesus did for the Church. (Eph5v25)... Our women should feel loved, valued, treasured, prioritized, cared for, covered, secure, prayed for, supported, lead well and released into all kinds of ministry. Teaching (Titus2) Leading ministry areas, mission and loads more.
People think that this is all very wierd sounding, but what I see on the ground in my church looks far from wierd. There are all kinds of fears that seem to be expressed of what it might mean - usually of men being abusive and women being abused - and wherever you have people that is possible.

I may be blind to my own context but I seem to see women empowered and men taking responsibility and being servant-hearted within my local church context. Which isn't unique to those taking this kind of theology, and certainly not to newfrontiers. What I don't often see is many people paying a lot of attention to this important issue today. My guess is that the evangelical norm today tends to play down differences in male and female roles rather than offer clarity and direction on them.

15 comments:

  1. Er...hello.

    I've got to say the new NF most often sticks out (and I say this with great respect for the movement and what it stands for) is in behaving like they are the only people who do what they do!

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  2. That's a fair critique, though among the student churches in the city I'm in I don't see anyone else taking this line...

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  3. Oh dear, I was going to say a similar thing to Mo, though not quite like that! To say that newfrontiers sticks out over that issue is to ignore vast swathes of the (usually older) evangelical church in the UK. Even leaving out Scotland, Wales & NI! To be so short-sighted as to ignore everything that began before you did isn't commendable, when assessing the church scene, however understandable it is. Even if in newfrontiers you think of Grudem's involvement in the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womenhood in America, over here, it's an FIEC reformed baptist who's headed it up.

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  4. I'm teaching church history to a crowd of newfrontiers 'relay' types in 2010... I hope to raise awareness of life before nf, which is certainly very rich.

    But like I say, in my city on this issue...

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  5. UK Conservative Evangelicals in Anglican scenarios tend to be pretty good on this one, too. Though temperament and leadership style and context determine the extent to which they bang this particular drum.

    Praise God for NF churches having the courage of their convictions on this one.

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  6. To slightly echo Mo and Rosemary, I guess this depends on your perspective. From where I'm standing, the complementarian stance is ruling the roost, and although there are big exceptions to that they are exceptions and not the norm.

    Since I'm far from convinced that the way your average complementarian reads and applies the relevant bits of Scripture is correct, I'm not overjoyed about this state of affairs, but there it is!

    Dave, I'm glad you're teaching NF types history, but I fear that won't be enough. The sense of exceptionalism, which from outside is quite clearly a fiction, seems to have too much of a grip on the movement. I hope I'm wrong.

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  7. Ah, just read the line from Stuart's blog that's got everyone else here a bit miffed.

    Bit of an overstatement I agree. Sticking out like a sore thumb, but only if it's acknowledged they're not the only thumb in town (yuk, the metaphor-mixing is getting really messy here, time to end my comment I think).

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  8. Hope your sessions next year go well Dave.

    I've been through a fair portion of the training Newfrontiers offer since 2003 and it is in those contexts (nowhere else in the movement interestingly) that the subject of there-were-Christians-before-Terry-you-know comes up again and again (almost too much, as though we are being overly self-critical). This is encouraging because it means that those who are doing the training inside the movement are aware of the perceptions those outside hold about us. I've seen plenty of people address this. What I haven't seen is people on the ground translating this somehow into the churches - this is where the genuine challenge lies in my opinion.

    I've yet to meet a Newfrontiers leader whose honest desire isn't for closer fellowship with other leaders and other churches in their context. But I know a lot of leaders in the movement who are seemingly at a loss as to how to translate that desire into action without compromising our values.

    Thankfully we have a great example set by Terry who is gathering wider and wider circles of leaders in the Church in the UK each year. Who knows what this will lead to. But he is doing more than anyone else I know of to build bridges, and it would be great if, somehow, local church leaders found a way to match this commitment at a local level.

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  9. I too see that warmth towards others - increasingly - not met the nf guys in Bath yet but in Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth I see a very warm acknowledgement of other churches, and a desire for fellowship with other church leaders.

    Still easy to get into the "we're the only faithful people here" mentality, I can think of UCCF doing it, I can think of the Anglicans doing it, I can think of nf doing it...

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  10. Ok, shooting from the hip,where I think NF is weakest here is in thinking that there needs to be an NF church everywhere, even though there are other thriving evangelical churches in that place.

    The fact that NF forcefully plants (and forceful planting is not a strategy I disapprove of per se by the way) where there really are plenty of people doing what they want to do, and seem pretty happy to take people by transfer growth says to me that partnership is just a buzzword.

    I don't think it's deliberate by the way, I just think often NF people are so immersed in their own grouping that they find it hard to conceive of good places outside that.

    That's my experience, YMMV.

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  11. I see conservative Anglicans and others taking the same sort of approach that you critique... easy for church planters to think they need to justify planting by thinking they're crossing into unreached territory, whatever their stream.

    ...I don't deny it happens, but when our church planted the pastor deliberately met with all the main church leaders in the city and said he didn't want transfer growth... just moves flab around the body. Every new church gets some transfer growth from somewhere, not least in student cities. I imagine Christchurch Liverpool has had some over the years too, but no one can be particularly thrilled to grow a church but not see substantial new numbers of new Christians being the bulk of it.

    This is a very unreached nation that needs a lot of new churches... the more the better. Particularly if we can then partner together since we're on the same team.

    I guess part of the nf distinctive is that there is a movement identity which FIEC or the Anglicans etc just don't have... and any big movement can feel a bit wierd but I don't see why it should be a bad thing to be together, to have some drive and purpose and interdependence, people don't like UCCF all that much for similar reasons perhaps.

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  12. Ok - just re-read both my comments and they were rather angry young man. I apologise.

    And yes, transfer growth is a huge problem everywhere you church plant. Don't even get me started on it here!

    So, NF is not alone in this. And generally I am hugely impressed and see it as a huge mark of the Sprit's work in NF that they get people to go to places that no one else wants to!

    So NF, blessings on your head. A little more acknowledgment of Gospel people outside your group would be lovely.

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  13. Apology accepted, but you do offer some very helpful corrective.

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  14. Yes, I was interested to hear recently that both the largest Anglican churches in Sheffield (Fulwood and St. Tom's) are planting not 100m from the Newfrontiers church's doorstep in Sheffield.

    I'm hoping that the reason behind my gut reaction of genuine excitement for the city (and particularly the students) is not just that I'm not there anymore and so this clustering of geography won't affect me personally. I genuinely believe that good churches are needed everywhere and we should only stop platning once there are no unbelievers left - Newfrontiers, Anglican, whatever, I think it's exciting to see so many new works being raised up.

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  15. As a non-charismatic reformed baptist FIEC pastor, I would massively welcome a New Frontiers church plant here in Fulham. There isn't one in London anywhere West of Christ Church London in the West End.
    There are heaps of charismatic churches near to us, but none that are reformed, as far as I know. I would love to be able to recommend a New Frontiers church for people who visit us, but won't stay because we are non-Charismatic.
    On another note, I think it is reasonably fair to say that New Frontiers is fairly unique in this country. I don't know of any other substantial Reformed Continuationist denomination with apostolic polity (other than the growing number of Sovereign grace churches)

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