The Crowded House – Day 7-8

PS you may have noticed my diary is a few days behind, trying to catch it up to date tomorrow:

Day 7:

Today I spent the majority of the day joining in with a Northern Training Institute (NTI) seminar day.

“The Northern Training Institute provides an affordable, Bible college-level programme of study that enables students to integrate theological training with involvement in ministry through residential weeks, seminar days and guided reading.”

This is a training course headed up by Tim Chester in which the involvement in mission is as important as the wrestling with theology.  In fact, the premise is that theology cannot effectively be done outside the context of mission.

I loved the day I spent with they guys doing NTI.  The discussions were rich and deeply theological but yet never abstract, because all of these guys are working in and running churches whilst they study.  The theory was firmly contextualized and grounded in the real issues of being a people on mission.

I was really encouraged and stimulated spending the day with this group.  I would love to see something like this develop in SA.  I am convinced in a country in which the mission is great, teh need for communities of light being deeply involved in the huge social problems of our country.  The need for people to reflect theologically on these issues whilst on mission in these areas, makes seminary style education a luxury we cannot afford.

Furthermore, I am no longer convinced that removing young men and women from the context of being a community on mission in order to study for 3 years outside of their community, is the best way to prepare those who will lead the mission in the community.

It feels akin to taking a footballer away from playing football for three years in order to learn the theory of football in order that he may develop his football skills for a later football career.  Madness in football, why should it work in missional theology?

That evening I played a few games of touch rugby for a team which played in local touch rugby league.  First of all these Englishmen need to be educated on what constitutes proper touch rugby.  This game was more like rugby league touch rugby – 6 touches before you have to turn the ball over to the other side.  What happened to good old one touch turnover?  Well despite the pouring rain, the funny rules and all the eye-gouging wise cracks I actually had a great time.

Day 8:

I began the day with a prayer meeting at the Harper’s place.  TCH (Edge Network) organizes 3 prayer meeting every week, as part of their rhythms of life.  Another encouraging, missional prayer meeting.

After that I was able to phone Jo, I had a nice long chat with her.  It was so great to hear her voice and hear all about Nathan.  I have never struggled with homesickness but since I have become a dad I miss home more than I ever have.  I am really looking forward to seeing my family next Sunday…

After that I had coffee with Lee and Diane, an American missionary couple who have joined up with the TCH family in order to be on mission in Sheffield.  Speaking to them and hearing their journey, I sensed that even though they have only been here a year, they are satisfied and enjoying being a part of TCH.  They too are trying to figure out the role in which larger gatherings could function within TCH.

After that I had lunch with Phil, who was part of the original TCH 8 (there was a TCH prototype before 2000AD).  It was really helpful to get an insight into some of the different people who have gottne involved and who have left TCH.  Phil stressed the importance of clear expectations and understanding of what it is that people are committing to, as well as an acceptance that some people are not going to get it and despite an initial interest they are going to leave.

Phil also backed up my theory that if TCH had started with a bigger gathering in 2000 they would have looked very different now to what they looked.  My theory is that the only reason that TCH can experiment with bigger gatherings now is that they have such a strong culture of the small already.

That evening I was the offical roadie for a gig by Doc Brown and the DeLorians of Sound.  I must have been the worst roadie ever because despite helping lug all the stuff into and out of the car, I had no idea how to set it up, left before the pack up was finished and spent the evening hanging out with members of another TCH gospel community.

First things first if ever you have the chance to have some beer known as Polish Pride – don’t.  There is nothing to be proud of!

On a more encouraging note, the private function was for a 60th birthday of someone who has lived in Sheffield most of their life and is not a Christian.  But because of their involvement in the community what looked like the entire gospel community was there.  And not grudgingly, but as a real and significant part of the community.  Now is that not a much more powerful base from which to talk and demonstrate the rule and love of Jesus?

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~ by John on July 21, 2009.

One Response to “The Crowded House – Day 7-8”

  1. Training on the road – well let’s talk about how we can run Porterbrook training better. Perhaps have a weekly training setup as in Sheffield and not simply distance learning.
    We should talk … yet again 🙂

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