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Source: (consider it) Thread: Reading Outpouring: new year stock-taking
Eutychus
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Last summer we had a thread discussing the “Reading Outpouring”.

The ‘outpouring’ was reported on thus at the time, with pastor of The Gate church Yinka Oyekan reported as believing
quote:
there will be 'a grass roots movement of the Holy Spirit’
Several of us expressed doubts about what was happening. Ramarius* in particular was more supportive. He said, for instance:
quote:
The headline that interest me is that 100s of Christians are having 100s of conversations about Christ on the streets of Reading. Time will tell what comes of this and what we can learn from it.
as well as
quote:
The substance of what is or isn't happening in Reading will emerge in time
before concluding thus:
quote:
Maybe return to this in the New Year and see what wheat has fallen in Reading and what chaff is heading for the fire.
So here we are. Happy New Year. What’s happened?

In Reading, not much so far as I can tell.

The Gate’s website appears not to have been updated since June.

The most recent entry on its facebook page dates back to November where training for The Turning™ as this “outpouring” has now been branded is announced.

The first article I linked to says that
quote:
Other pastors in the town have begun to get involved.
The Reading Christian Network, of which The Gate is a member, has nothing at all to say about the “outpouring” or any consequences thereof on its website.

GetReading is a local paper which I have had dealings with in the past and whose journalism I have found to be reliable. I can’t find any mention of The Gate in the paper and the most recent mention of the pastor Yinka Oyekan I can find dates back to 2013, with the church hosting event by US entrepreneurs apparently advising people how to start small businesses.

I can’t find any relevant mentions of churches, evangelism, conversions, or revival.

As to The Turning™, it seems to have had limited takeup in the UK. this page lists some forthcoming dates, although it is now billed as an “evangelistic movement” and not an “outpouring”. It has however crossed the Channel to France [Eek!]

The serious-minded French Baptist Federation reports 2500 conversions in Reading (!) and 865 during the Lille outreach (!!), with visits to 150 more towns and cities across France planned [Disappointed]

So in the New Year we appear to have no revival in Reading, and a new itinerant training programme for decisionist evangelism coupled with ongoing cognitive dissonance about this being the “signs of a new revival”.

Can anyone find anything more positive to say about all this?

==

*I'm PM-ing Ramarius to alert him to this thread.

[ETA: I can't. Apparently he has both PMs and e-mail messaging disabled [Confused] ]

[ETA again: found an email address in an old PM. Will try it]

[ 03. January 2017, 20:37: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Doc Tor
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Miss Tor has been in Reading since September, and has found a home at one of the evangelical Anglican churches. She is a sometime-attender of the CU (she is non-conventional GLE in either dress or mannerisms) and finds it a bit strained.

I did ask her about this, and she looked at me blankly. She did recall a conversation with someone at some point during Freshers' Week when she was in town, but as she was barely sober for any of the seven days, she doesn't remember much about it. ( [Roll Eyes] )

Basically, zero impact as far as she and her friends are concerned.

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Forward the New Republic

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mr cheesy
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It might be worth looking at the archives of this Christian hyperlocal news site for Reading and the local area. I've not seen much from a quick search.

http://www.xnmedia.co.uk/

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arse

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Eutychus
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It looks like the site hasn't been updated since 2015.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Gamaliel
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Sounds like Cwmbran all over again. And Dudley before that.

I grew up in Cwmbran and although I don't do back much these days, no-one I know there other than revivalist folk have ever said anything about the so-called revival there.

I'll be interested to hear what Ramarius has to say of he can be found.

--------------------
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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Eutychus
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Pastor Yinka Oyekan has published a "Learning Review" of The Turning, which I've just found, here.

[ETA published on his Facebook page on October 13]

[ 03. January 2017, 21:32: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Eutychus
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A couple of quick takeaways from the above report.

First, the good news: Oyekan acknowledges that the original script did not contain a proper kerygma (p14).

(On p12 he mentions that the evangelist who introduced the script, Tommie Zito - who he seems to have distanced himself from - got it verbatim from his mentor, none other than Rodney Howard Browne, whose name will be familiar to Toronto Blessing and Lakeland Revival veterans).

His solution is... to revise the script. He says it must be used in combination with Bethel-style "soaking" in the Spirit to be effective (p6 et al).

The more depressing part, to my mind, is in the numbers.

Oyekan reports (p4) a total of 1850 "people prayed for" said to include "many first time commitments and rededications to Christ".

Of these, he reports (p19) that an initial followup meeting for tea/coffee was secured for 26% of a sample of 101 respondents who left details and describes (p20) the other 74% [of those "first time commitments and rededications to Christ"!!] as having "brushed them off and not wished to continue the dialogue".

So here is the cognitive dissonance exposed.

The huge headline number of conversions (and, not too loud now, "rededications") is divided by four - simply for a followup tea or coffee, let alone getting people streaming into churches.

The tragedy is that this reported fact is buried in a 26-page document in stark contrast to the loudly trumpeted claims.

Which, by the time they have crossed the Channel, are being reported (reference above) as "over 2500 people turning to Christ".

[ 03. January 2017, 21:49: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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mr cheesy
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Interesting how there was a flurry of excitement about this in June (maybe something about New Wine), but essentially nothing said since.

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arse

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Eutychus
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I think the endorsement by Baptist Union leader Lynn Green probably helped. The Christian media interest seems to have been prior to New Wine.

The "silly season" summer timing is very reminiscent of Cwmbran as Gamaliel says.

I would however hesitate to draw too hasty a comparison between the key players in terms of character.

I'm not fan of Bethel-inspired theology, but to his credit Oyekan has at least been accountable enough to publish a report with figures that admits some problems, and that is a million miles from anything that happened at Cwmbran under Richard Taylor's watch from what I can see.

The wider problem is the uncritical reporting of such events, the lack of fact-checking, the constant double standards of conversions vs. "recommitments", and the false expectations this hype generates, leading not only to disappointment but also fatigue and the diversion of resources away from more sustainable and fruitful long-term initiatives.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Gamaliel
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Dare I also suggest that the weaknesses in the approach are inherent, intrinsic and inevitable (see what I did there, preacher's alliteration ... ;)although I'm not a preacher).

They are:

Inherent - because the theology/soteriology that it is based on is in itself somewhat flawed. It inclines to 'easy-believism' - say the prayer and bingo, you're 'saved'.

It is, as Eutychus says, a decisionist model.

Intrinsic - these 'techniques' - altar-calls, praying the sinner's prayer and so on - are embedded in such revivalist movements and they don't know any other way of doing things. At least, in this instance there's an element of self-reflection going on.

Inevitable - the skimpy or disappointing results in relation to the hype are inevitable because all they are doing is stopping people in the street or on doorsteps, taking them through a very reductionist 'script' and expecting them to make some kind of amazing, life-changing and cosmic decision purely on the basis of a couple of minutes interaction.

If anyone has done any door-to-door canvassing, market-research or selling, and I'm afraid I have, then you get used to people saying, 'I'll think about it ...' or 'Come back at 3.30pm ...' and then find that they have no intention of following through.

You can make a parrot say, 'Lord Jees-AHS I ask you into my life ... squawk!'

Now, I'm not suggesting that a sacramental model is necessarily any more 'effective'. I remember reading something Archbishop Makarios said after he'd visited Kenya and baptised thousands of Kenyans who flocked to hear him - he was seen as something of an anti-colonial hero of course.

He said that he doubted whether the smallest fraction of the people he'd baptised - and I think it was somewhere in the region of 5,000 people - had any inkling what they were doing or any seriousness about it.

Whatever tradition we are from, there is no quick-fix. Discipleship is a lifelong thing. Salvation isn't a product.

The model on which this whole 'Turning' / Awakening / DIY Create Your Own Revival schtick is based is fundamentally flawed.

Calvinists blame Finney.

You don't have to be a fully-paid up TULIP Calvinist (and I'm not) to find fault with this model.

Its intrinsic weaknesses are readily apparent.

That said, evangelical and charismatic churches can be very successful in creating and developing consistent and dogged disciples. They do that despite the model they are using and because it requires stamina and dedication to stick with it despite the ups and downs and roller-coaster ride it offers.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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ExclamationMark
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Anyone here from Reading care to tell us about the impact in the town?

I'm within easy travelling distance of Reading - 40 miles or so - but have heard little about it. It all seems to have gone quiet within the denomination too - despite being affirmed by the Gen Sec in the early stages.

A little bit of research reveals that in 2013 Yinka invited a group of American businessman over to teach his church how to generate wealth. I don't see or hear much result from that either. The church seems to have a bog standard prosperity type message with all the expectations and all the hype that usually brings.

It's just the same old thing in my view - I find it very sad saying that as someone who is praying for revival. One thing I know - on the evidence "Reading" isn't it and is an obvious child of the Toronto stuff and a certain RHB.

I think we need to be prepared for some collateral damage on the horizon as promise fails to morph into delivery.

Still, the outpouring hits Bristol soon and I'll be intrigued to follow its course as there's lots of people I know and trust in that neck of the woods.

Like Euty, having read Yinka's assessment of the events, I am even more sceptical of what is really going on. IME if you feel you have to inflate numbers or stories then
a) it doesn't glorify God
b) it means people who discover the truth won't trust you
c)everyone will associate deceit with the church.

Not where we want to be. The truth please and nothing but the truth?

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I think the endorsement by Baptist Union leader Lynn Green probably helped. The Christian media interest seems to have been prior to New Wine.

Lynn Green has been very quiet about it recently. I wonder why?

Mind you she would have known about the church for some time - its hardly new to her. She was based at Wokingham for some years and was on her patch when she was a Regional Minister.

[ 04. January 2017, 09:23: Message edited by: ExclamationMark ]

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
Anyone here from Reading care to tell us about the impact in the town?

Nothing particularly as far as I can tell - not even heard much of it from friends who are much more in touch with the charismatic groups around here than I am.
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Gamaliel
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I don't have any issue with the more moderate charismatics within the Baptist ambit, but do worry about the charismatic scene within the CofE as it seems all too prone to pursue whatever is the latest fad ...

[Frown]

There was a time when sensible voices seemed to be emerging - Ian Stackhouse, Nigel Wright ...

Are they still being heard?

I'm afraid I don't particularly 'pray for revival' any more. That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see an increase in conversions and at least some reversal of the decline ...

But the whole revivalist rhetoric puts me off these days. I don't want anything to do with contemporary revivalism.

I do, however, want everything to do with the sensible voices that remain within the revivalist constituency and I'm sure there are more of them around than appears to be the case at first sight.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I don't have any issue with the more moderate charismatics within the Baptist ambit, but do worry about the charismatic scene within the CofE as it seems all too prone to pursue whatever is the latest fad ...

[Frown]

There was a time when sensible voices seemed to be emerging - Ian Stackhouse, Nigel Wright ...

Are they still being heard?

I'm afraid I don't particularly 'pray for revival' any more. That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see an increase in conversions and at least some reversal of the decline ...

But the whole revivalist rhetoric puts me off these days. I don't want anything to do with contemporary revivalism.

I do, however, want everything to do with the sensible voices that remain within the revivalist constituency and I'm sure there are more of them around than appears to be the case at first sight.

I've heard little from Ian Stackhouse or Nigel Wright for some time. I'm not aware of any sensible theology being talked across the board these days.

Baptist life is becoming tribal and disconnected - we stand on the edge of a number of precipices and it won't take much of a push to go over the edge with divisive outcomes. It may be that some will end up in New Wine, others New Frontiers, a few to FIEC, BME will split off on their own or perhaps RCGP.

In the absence of robust reflection BUGB is fair game for all sorts of things. Lynn Green's endorsement of Reading shouldn't be taken too far - Reading was on her patch a couple of years ago. She knows the church and what it is like.

I'll personally sit up and take real notice when there's indisputable evidence of God at work - with no hype - coming from a source which is unexpected and not one of the usual suspects.

[ 04. January 2017, 14:38: Message edited by: ExclamationMark ]

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Callan
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This reminds me about the joke about the Spanish exiles in Mexico. The joke was that their index fingers were shorter than was usual. Why? [Jabs finger repeatedly on table] I tell you next year that Franco will fall! Charismatics have been prophesying revival for as long as they've been on my radar (c1993). It hasn't happened yet.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Gamaliel
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They've been doing it since the 1950s, and, in their older traditional Pentecostal form, revivalists have been doing it since the early 1900s.

I'm minded to start a new thread, 'Can revival be recovered from the revivalists?'

People talk about the Flag of St George or the Union Flag being recovered from racists and nationalists, perhaps the same could be attempted for the idea of revival?

Certainly my recollection is of more sensible discussion/reflection on the subject emerging between around 1999 and 2002/03 ...

But, like ExclamationMark, I've not been aware of much sensible theological reflection on the issue since then.

As for ExclamationMark's diagnosis of the state of Baptist-dom, I'm genuinely sorry to hear it ...

[Frown]

We found refuge in a Baptist setting after we'd emerged from the roller-coaster revivalism of the restorationist ambit in 2000. At that time, the Baptists seemed able to balance a kind of principled and reflective evangelicalism with a moderate charismatic emphasis and a dose of realism - with some welcome social-concern too.

I have very little faith in New Wine as I don't trust its level of discernment. I have no idea what's happening in FIEC circles these days. What does RGCP stand for?

Whatever happened to 'Mainstream'?

They were avowedly charismatic but seemed to have some sensible people involved.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
I've heard little from Ian Stackhouse or Nigel Wright for some time. I'm not aware of any sensible theology being talked across the board these days.

I think there is, by folk such as Simon Woodman, Paul Fiddes, Steve Holmes and some others - although you might regard it as being somewhat "liberal". Problem is that it has a tendency to be a bit academic and there seems to be a real problem in getting it to flow out to the denomination. In any case, I don't recall any of these folk writing on "revival" recently; hermeneutics, ethics and "Baptist principles" seem to be more their line.

quote:
I'll personally sit up and take real notice when there's indisputable evidence of God at work - with no hype - coming from a source which is unexpected and not one of the usual suspects.
Absolutely, which is why I was so horrified when the "Baptist Times" published what appeared to be unsubstantiated and over-optimistic reports of the Reading "revival" in the first place. But I've always been a crusty cynic on these matters - which isn't to mean I'm anti-charismatic!

[ 04. January 2017, 15:25: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Gamaliel
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I'm not anti-charismatic per se either - although I concede I've often given that impression on these boards ...

These days I think 'survival' is more the issue than 'revival'.

The issue for me, I s'pose, is how much the latter can support the former ...

I was intrigued by a comment made by a sociologist who'd studied the religious landscape of the UK on a relatively recent TV programme about the possible future of church-life in the UK.

She observed that the comparative success of the evangelicals and charismatics came at a price, because it made people think that in order to be a Christian you have to be demonstrative or extrovert in some way ...

So, effectively, swathes of evangelicalism/charismaticdom have painted themselves into a corner as they've yoked themselves to various forms of 'enthusiasm' as their defining feature.

If you don't want religious enthusiasm, you ain't going to go near them.

I daresay the same could be said of more contemplative or reflective models.

I've really no idea what the answer is. Or if there is one.

I salute anyone who retains a commitment to the Gospel and to traditional creedal Christianity as a core principle though.

We need to nurture and protect that.

Revivalism and decisionism threatens it, in my view, just as much as full-on liberal Spong-iness.

We all need to go back to first principles.

That doesn't necessarily mean a reductionist approach. But it does mean avoiding fads and fancies.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I was intrigued by a comment made by a sociologist who'd studied the religious landscape of the UK on a relatively recent TV programme about the possible future of church-life in the UK.

She observed that the comparative success of the evangelicals and charismatics came at a price, because it made people think that in order to be a Christian you have to be demonstrative or extrovert in some way ...

So, effectively, swathes of evangelicalism/charismaticdom have painted themselves into a corner as they've yoked themselves to various forms of 'enthusiasm' as their defining feature.

Might not something similar have been said in the 1750s in the time of Whitefield and Wesley?
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Gamaliel
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Sure, but there are some subtle differences, I think. For a kick-off, most of the converts during the Great Awakenings of the mid-1700s were nominally or superficially involved or connected with church ... although there were exceptions such as the Kingswood miners and so on ...

Mind you, the same is probably true of most charismatics and evangelicals these days - most of them seem to have some kind of religious background of sorts. But the scale isn't the same.

Also, we tend to view those events through the accounts of the revivalists themselves.

The religious landscape of the 18th century wasn't as stark as the revivalists would have us believe.

When Wesley set up his first 'religious society' in London there were already 40 similar groups meeting across the capital - not all of them with a pietistic flavour.

Similarly, there were plenty of extant religious societies meeting outwith or alongside both the Established Church and the Dissenting bodies by the time Wesley reached Yorkshire.

We aren't talking about a vacuum prior to the Awakening by any stretch of the imagination.

Sure, there are features in common between 18th century 'enthusiasm' and the modern variety, but I'm not sure we're entirely comparing like with like.

Equally, when it comes to some of the 'tactics' and assumptions involved in even something as recent as Salvation Army revivalism in the late 19th century, I don't think we're necessarily comparing like-with-like when we map it across to contemporary versions.

The same species, yes, certainly, but with variations.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Gamaliel
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The main difference, thinking about it, is that in the 18th and 19th centuries there were some clearly defined and obvious alternatives to religious enthusiasm.

There were plenty of people attending churches that weren't 'enthusiastic' in the revivalist sense.

One of the points the sociologist was making, if I understood her correctly, was that MoTR or less enthusiastic churches are less visible these days, so the more visible and full-on 'lively' churches are effectively saying, 'If you want to be a Christian, you have to be like us ...'

Sure, the 18th century 'enthusiasts' were doing the same thing but they were one feature or aspect among many.

Whereas these days it tends only to be the lively/enthusiastic churches that are well-attended ... other than on high-days and holidays.

Mind you, regular church-attendance was never as big a feature of church-life in the UK as people try to make out.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
One of the points the sociologist was making, if I understood her correctly, was that MoTR or less enthusiastic churches are less visible these days, so the more visible and full-on 'lively' churches are effectively saying, 'If you want to be a Christian, you have to be like us ...'

I have often been intrigued by the observation that churches with "progressive" theology are often very traditional in their worship ... especially musical style.

Sure, there are reflective/meditative Fresh Expressions groups around; but I'm thinking more of mainstream Methodist or URC places. I'm not looking for happy-clappy charismatic-lite; but I am looking for something which doesn't have the feel of the 1970s about it (together with a little bit of enthusiasm!)

[ 04. January 2017, 17:38: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Might not something similar have been said in the 1750s in the time of Whitefield and Wesley?

Apart from the differences Gamaliel cites, I would list the following:

- we live in the shadow of those revivals, or the accounts of them. Nostalgia features large here I think.

- there has been a financial side to revivals ever since Ananias and Sapphira. Moody & Sankey were accused of trying to sell Sankey's hymn books. But this is not on a par with today's huge Christian market. Revivals in general can now be now big money, and the crossover with marketing, conferences, tie-in merchandising and so on is well and truly here and does not help with transparency, accountability, and so on.

I've looked a bit more at the "Learning Review" paper and will post more thoughts on it as and when I can.

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Bishops Finger
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I think I've said elsewhere that Cells of Our Lady of Walsingham (and doubtless many other peeps, too!) offer prayer 'for the conversion of England', as distinct from 'revival '.

I wonder what that would look like, should it ever occur? Perhaps the church(es) do need reviving first, though...

IJ

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There's enthusiasm and there's Enthusiasm ... there's revival and there's Revivalism ...

I'm not against enthusiasm, in the sense of having a bit of oomph in the way one goes about things.

I do worry about Enthusiasm with a Big E.

Ronald Knox was good on that in his book Enthusiasm. The final sentence in the book with an apposite quote from a French play is masterly ...

Someone more adept at links and so forth than I am might oblige us with a link and Eutychus can translate ...

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Martin60
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Wake me up when somebody, somewhere does something incarnational. It'll probably be a Muslim or an atheist. And I am anti-Charismatic. A Muslim and especially an atheist are somewhat less likely to make any deluded claims of, or prayers for, magic; to engage in the opportunity cost of doing less, worse, than nothing.

How long before we outgrow this dross? This pap?

Wrong question. This is no longer just infantile. It's senile. Unto death.

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Eutychus
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A few more notes from the Learning Review of “The Turning” below.

Prior to the evangelistic campaign the church ran a “Company of Prophets” for adults and notably youth (11-18) to learn how to “prophesy over the lost” providing an “instant spiritual connection with non-Christians, who were amazed that we knew secret things about their lives” (p4).

This appears to be modelled on Bethel’s Supernatural School of Ministry practice, and basically be glorified cold reading.

Back on the evangelistic side, there is manifest confusion about just what is happening to people prayed for. Oyekan hopes that over time the “quality of conversion will improve” (p5) [Paranoid]

This begs the question as to just what he thinks conversion consists of if it comes in various quality levels.

As of July 23, he reported (p5) that 810 people had been trained in street evangelism for a four-week mission which he elsewhere reports as having seen 1850 people “pray the prayer”.

If my maths is right that amounts to 2.3 contacts per trained person, or each person praying with one contact every 12 days, which on the face of it does not seem very extraordinary, still less so when you consider, as per Oyekan’s own figures, that only about one quarter of those prayed for were successfully contacted afresh.

Oyekan also emphasises the importance of “standing in the outpouring” (p10) prior to evangelism. In other words, a long worship session during which people get “blessed up” before taking to the streets. From a sociological point of view this doubtless lowers their inhibitions.

I think what is unusual in The Turning - and slightly countering Martin60 here - is the combination of this very charismatic and Spirit-directed ethos with a highly mechanistic decisionist script.

Oyekan clearly has his doubts about the latter (“one pastor was in tears as he felt it was deficient in its gospel proclamation”, p13) but at the same time sees the script (or some variation on it) as a useful tool. He mentions but does not publish his detailed reservations about the script as originally used (he hints, p14, that the original script doesn’t mention the resurrection – I haven’t checked this yet).

He further adds (p19) that “The visiting evangelist would happily rest at the idea that making converts is what God is doing in this season, a concept I do not share”. In other words, Tommie Zito is an out-and-out decisionist (which helps to explain the ridiculously huge claims on his website), whereas Oyekan is not.

This difference of opinion as to what constitutes conversion is at the heart of the confusion here, and it is not resolved.

Finally, the following over-optimistic back-of-an-envelope calculations indicate the kind of naivety in play (p22-23):

quote:
If just five churches with an average attendance (60 members each) are all witnessing, praying for or leading someone to Christ just once a week for just one and a half hours, then between 300 and 600 people will either come to faith or rededicate their lives to Christ a week. (…) Scaling up these numbers over 52 weeks gives you a staggering figure of 31200 people prayed for.
A similar claim is made (p23) for their evangelism training:
quote:
We have in the space of just seven weeks trained up 810 people in how to share the gospel with the lost. I estimate with the number of cities asking us to bring this grace to their town (18 at last count) that we will train between 50,000 – 100,000 people in how to share the gospel in the streets of the UK in the next 18 month.
This is the logic of chain letters, Tupperware parties and pyramid schemes.

This sort of thing simply doesn’t scale like that, not least because you quickly run out of new people to enter the scheme. And it is what leads to the claims of reaching tens or indeed hundreds of millions of people across Europe.

Before crowing too loudly, I would like to point out that this wishful multiplication of “just x people doing y amount of thing (or more usually, giving z amount of money)” to make a project appear viable is not confined to charismatic Christians. I was recently in a meeting planning a major, decidedly not charismatic event in which a budget was sprung on us based on precisely this sort of reasoning!

If such a thing as revival - or "the conversion of England", to quote Bishops Finger - is to happen, it needs to start from a place of reality.

This paper exposes some of the realities of The Turning, but does not really address them.

More seriously, these realities are more than glossed over in the more accessible communication.

[ 05. January 2017, 06:29: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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mr cheesy
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Whilst I suppose reflection is important, I can't help thinking this preoccupation with numbers, quality and counting is unhealthy. Probably just me.

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Yes and no: someone was counting on the Day of Pentecost!

I don't think there's anything wrong with keeping accurate records (and once again, Oyekan deserves credit for actually publishing some figures), the problem is what you do with them.

The misuse here is the "wishful multiplication" described above (note the figures include "rededications" but these never get mentioned in the headline use of them).

The figures ought to be used, not to make over-ambitious projections, but to establish what actually happened. E.g. 810 people trained, 1850 "prayers prayed" = just 2.3 people (only a quarter of whom are successfully met a second time) per trained person over four weeks.

This really makes me ask whether the whole hype and effort is really worth it for that result - a question I have about a whole swath of Christian undertakings - especially with the clear potential for disappointment, which incidentally is anathema to Bethel guru Bill Johnson - I wonder why?

Projections for any project, just as for any sensible business plan, should be realistic and include margins of error for contingencies and the like.

In this respect I am indebted to David Holden of NewFrontiers (!) for his teaching on faith, notably pointing out that Abraham "faced the fact" (Rom 4:19) of his incapability and believed.

Too often Christians seem to think faith and facing the facts is an either/or proposition and not a both/and, as indicated by Jesus' words about counting the cost.

Finally on numbers, the Kingdom-of-God, counterintuitive lesson I take from the biblical accounts of multiplication of food (the two mentioned in the NT and the one with Elisha and his prophets in the OT) is that the less you have to start with, the more God multiplies it and the more is left over afterwards.

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I was beguiled by our 'prophet' several months ago even though I could see exactly what he did! He did a nice turn based on actual unconditional incarnationality from once upon a time and when I resonated with a good anecdote he saw it and raised it in poker terms, tempting me with the kingdoms of this world. Even the very elect eh?! The empty influence of Reading emptied on to the empty busy streets of Leicester via four trained, equipped women since and even the cringing vicar. One prophesied and another wept at the humanity of it all during an in service report. The service ended with the usual cold reading of the ailments of the congregation discerned in prayer beforehand. It's dross or nothing, vacuum, that nothing can fill.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
It's dross or nothing, vacuum, that nothing can fill.

I disagree, I think what's needed is faith plus realism.

We had somebody testify to healing last Sunday. She had requested prayer from the leaders (invoking James "is anybody sick?") for healing of a historic badly broken ankle which gave her a lot of pain and was to require surgery to basically weld it into one fixed position.

We had obliged in a private time of prayer with her (sceptical as we are, we really don't like doing this kind of thing!).

Six months on, she has reported that she had expected to be healed and running around on a new ankle; that this had not happened; but that since we prayed the constant pain she had been in had disappeared entirely, and that she had also experienced emotional healing with respect to the circumstances of the break.

Psychosomatic or not, an operation is no longer required, something her osteopath has described as "extremely rare".

We did not follow this up with an altar-call for healing and nobody made it out to be something it wasn't. We don't announce healing as a sign of even more healings to come, or revival. More an incidental bestowing of grace.

But we didn't make it out to be nothing either, because it clearly was something.

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I've got this feeling that if a metanarrative is of any use to the UK church at present, exile might have more going for it than revival. It's not like life in Babylon just yet, of course, but worth keeping an eye on some of the social trends.

And a Happy New Year to you all

[Paranoid]

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'How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?' seems somehow apposite....

Martin - can you give us a concrete example of the sort of incarnational something you'd like to see? I'm not being obtuse, coz I think ISWYM, but some clarification would be welcome...

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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@Eutychus

Alleluia for the grace. Where faith meets fact.

Faith: It's good that it was shared and taken seriously, that she was cared for, lifted up, embraced communally. Fact: And yes, of course it was psychosomatic, what else could it possibly have been? And the opinion of an osteopath is worth what? Apart from being part of the positive caring placebo.

Reading is truly absolutely nothing. Less than nothing. No conversation can be had between it and faith and fact, it is divergently orthogonal to that line. It has nothing to do with either end. As it can't be had where its even more attenuated shadow falls on Leicester.

[ 05. January 2017, 12:02: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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I sometimes get the impression from Martin60's posts that almost anyone can be 'incarnational' apart from charismatic Christians.

Muslims can be incarnational. Atheists can be incarnational ...

A charismatic pastor? Not so much ...

Of course, humanity sharing to some extent the imageo dei, then it's to be expected that we'll all, at some time or other, reflect something of the glory and majesty of Almighty God - however indistinctly or even imperceptibly ...

I don't see any reason to suggest that charismatic Christians are less capable of being truly incarnational than anyone else.

The issue I have isn't with them being charismatic as such - I'd say that all believers are 'charismatic' in the true sense of the world - salvation itself is a 'gift' - a charism.

The issues I have are broadly similar to those expressed by Eutychus and ExclamationMark.

There is an unfortunate tendency for enthusiastic and revivalist forms of Christianity to veer into exaggeration, manipulation and delusion. The same probably applies to the vatic and 'enthusiastic' dimension within other world-faiths too. It may be expressed differently but there will be parallel tendencies.

There are similar tendencies within political groups. We are talking about sociological as much as spiritual phenomena here and the two are interlinked.

The other thing that bothers me about this whole decisionism malarkey is that the next time any of these people encounter the Gospel they could think to themselves, 'Oh, I've already "done that", I've prayed the prayer ... I don't need to do anything else ...'

The people who promote this kind of approach are all too keen to dismiss nominal or 'cradle' Christians from other traditions. 'Oh, they've just been christened as babies ... They're only involved for social reasons ... yadda yadda yadda ...'

And without in any way diminishing the perniciousness of a 'magical' approach to the sacraments/ordinances or to deny that many people simply have a form of 'cultural Christianity', the irony is that they themselves promulgate something similar with their quick-fix, easy-believism pyramid-selling type approach.

That's why evangelicals and charismatics of all people should be the most opposed to revivalism (but not revival).

Why? Because it debases the coinage.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Fact: And yes, of course it was psychosomatic, what else could it possibly have been?

In the words of a famous meme, Why not both?

It can be divine grace too. What else can it be when something happens in response to an action of faith in God - even if it's not a whole new limb etc?

quote:
Reading is truly absolutely nothing. Less than nothing.
I wouldn't be anywhere near so bugged about all this if I thought that were true.

The trouble is, I'm sure some people will genuinely encounter God through and in spite of how this has all been conducted.

Even if one assumes the leaders are all evil or wholly deceived, I don't think it's fair to extend that judgement to the sheep, still less the hapless unbelievers on the receiving end.

(Don't forget even your own congregation, which is into all this sort of thing apparently, has you in it [Razz] )

Any (genuine) testimonies on their part will then be held up as evidence that "God's in this, even if we didn't get it all right" as though that was an excuse for, if not an outright justification for, not exercising due diligence and good governance (as well as for their particular brand of Revival™).

People twist God "using the foolish things of the world to shame the wise" into a justification for acting foolishly, and that's what gets to me.

I wonder where Ramarius has got to?

[ 05. January 2017, 12:18: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Martin60
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@Bishops Finger

Obtuseness is my job. Excellent question. The kind of thing that you or anyone would know if they saw it. Anything in the direction of James' true religion and Jerusalem's communism without desperate distorting damnationist agenda. In other words I have no idea as I'm not doing it and don't know anyone who is apart from the penurious clergy gathered here whilst far flung in France, New Zealand, Wales, the US. And apart from all efforts that serve the common weal with enlightened self interest. From retained privilege. That go back to middle class enclaves at night. Anything that goes further than that, that volunteers, gets down, lives, in the gutter, throws itself there not in self destruction but the sacrificial sharing, laying down of privilege, staying with those it lifts up and spreading out from there.

I suspect I'm being a fool as in my erstwhile armchair pacifism.

I'm acutely aware of my privileged helplessness alongside the uselessness of Outpouring, Revival, Anointing, Prophecy, Healing and the council, social services, the NHS, the police, the homeless charities in the face of R. who sits on the freezing trendy inner suburban street begging to feed his opium addiction whilst missing his Depakote dose. He may well have died last night, sleeping in the park.

A community that took him in regardless would be a beacon on a hill.

But of course, he'd have to let them. And that won't happen either, as in my years of experience with P. because in part the only networked community of tough, decent Christian blokes who would take him in are 'primitive'. The only group I know that isn't is a superb, no holds barred, inclusive Christian, addiction rehab centre in Luton run by former addicts. So I DO know someone.

[ 05. January 2017, 12:48: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:
'How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?' seems somehow apposite....

I think so, too. But it's in my sig because of my Northumbria Community connections. The UK does seem to me to be in danger of becoming a "strange land". I think intolerance is on the march.

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

This appears to be modelled on Bethel’s Supernatural School of Ministry practice, and basically be glorified cold reading.

Which doesn't surprise me, as ISTR one of the churches which came together to form 'The Gate' had associations with Bethel going back a number of years, and have even had Bill Johnson speaking there in the past.
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Eutychus
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If you look back at the older thread, there's no doubt about the Bethel connection. They are advertising the Supernatural School of Ministry on their website, and Oyekan explicitly thanks Johnson in his Learning Review.

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Martin60
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@Gamaliel, well said Sir! All round. Aye, (Sunni) Islam is a challenge isn't it? It's so effective. Despite all that is problematic about it to Westerners, it grows. Because it is communal, it retains its grass roots. It cannot fail like communism. And aid workers, social and civil rights activists are predominantly humanist I'd have thought. Atheist.

I'm sure Charismatic Christians can be incarnational, but I don't know of any that currently are beyond a percent or two of their time. Any. Our 'prophet' WAS, took broken people in to his family home unconditionally and that worked. How could it not? But the Charismatic comes at a high opportunity cost. While one is being charismatic in the narrowest sense of claiming the extraordinary graces, gifts without any evidence, one is not actually being charismatic in any other, as Paul knew. The former drives out the latter. Whereas originally they complemented each other.

[ 05. January 2017, 14:03: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Sure, I get that, Martin60, which is why I've said that charismatics and evangelicals stand to gain the most by taking a stand against this sort of thing.

I'm a great believer in the issues/problems within any tradition - be it religious or whatever else - being tackled from within that particular tradition.

So, if there's a problem within the art establishment, say, then artists are best placed to try to fix it.

If all is not well within charismaticdom then it is the charismatics who are best placed to try to deal with it. If they can't and feel they have to move on elsewhere, then fine. But at least they tried to put their own house in order.

Not that anyone's 'house' is perfect and in order in the first place.

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Is this Bill Johnson with his Supernatural School of Ministry, who is referred to in this thread and the earlier one on events in Reading the same Bill Johnson as the one who came out in favour of Trump? Or is he some other quite different Bill Johnson who just happens to have the same name?

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Eutychus
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The one and the same.

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Martin60
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Gamaliel.

No chance. A minority are lucky enough to become post-whatever or just be discreet. McLaren, Bell, Chalke are post-conservative but they leave the vast majority behind. Reformation means leaving. Moving on. The marketplace of ideas adjusts.

We're entering dangerous waters where the right are again clothing themselves in religion, all very beast and his prophet. Trump. Putin. The far right, nationalists are often inextricably religious. It's happening in Turkey big time. It did in Serbia. Not the mild British, Scandinavian, West European institutions of state, monarchy and church. Could that relatively benign troika be subverted by right wing religious demagogues?

What's that got ter do wi' owt? Feel it in me water. I'm astounded, starting with my 14 year old self for 30 years, all but inextricably wedded to ignorance, paradoxically to Ptolemaic complexity, at how tenacious fear and ignorance and tribalism are. Unless my cult had reformed from the top down I'd still be in it. That's unique in the history of Christianity. It isn't going to happen in the Charismatic or the left-behind Evangelicals from whom the emergent have moved on, or Roman Catholicism or Russian Orthodoxy.

So I wouldn't be surprised at some hideous revival in, conversion of our nation and others. That the ghastly grandiose and moving hymn about 'this city, oh-oh-oh-oh' is fulfilled. That the delusion in Reading becomes contagion, like 28 Day Later. Now there's a good idea for a dystopian novel.

[ 05. January 2017, 21:43: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
The one and the same.

In that case, am I being unreasonable in being very wary - requiring to be persuaded rather than giving the benefit of the doubt?

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Martin60
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Mere scepticism is very weak indeed.

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Gamaliel
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Possibly, Martin.

Those who most yearn for revival might regret the kind of revival they actually get if it came.

I'd run a mile from a Bethel-style revival or a Holy Russia one.

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It strikes me that almost all revivals are of the 'wrong sort', theologically speaking. Have there ever been any that involved reasonable, well-informed people? These folks seem to get involved later in the day, after the fuss has died down.

As for the difficulty in defining conversion, that's probably one reason why more moderate Christians try to avoid the word. They may assume a sort of diffusive Christianity, and would simply like to see a few more nominal Christians in church. Of course, even this supposedly 'realistic' hope may be unrealistic in many cases.

Posts: 6473 | From: UK | Registered: Feb 2012  |  IP: Logged



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