Login
Hidden

WHAT'S NEW?

COMING SOON!

REVISITING NATIVE AMERICAN MINISTRY & KEYS TO PARTNER MORE EFFECTIVELY

by Stuart Simpson

This insightful new book revisits ministry among Native Americans and highlights 5 keys that not only address the errors of the past, but as Native Americans rise up to fulfil their God-given destiny, will also facilitate more effective partnering with the non-native Church in order that God's Kingdom purposes might be realized.


TAKE COURAGE (a series of 4 books!)

- FINDING COURAGE IN GOD FOR LIFE

by Michelle J. Simpson

Full of stories and anecdotes, along with biblical truth, this book will be a great source of help and encouragement to many.

 

THE SECOND ACT

- THE REMARKABLE STORY OF MISSIONARY JAMES O. FRASER'S SUCCESSOR

by Stuart Simpson

This is the story about Stuart's close association with one of the most successful missionaries in the modern era, along with 20 key principles and lessons we can learn from Fraser's life and ministry, still applicable today.

FINDING GOD IN CHINESE CHARACTERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 by Stuart M. Simpson

A unique pack of 25 Chinese characters with bi-lingual explanatory guide.

A great tool for anyone with Chinese friends and in ministry to Chinese!

Friday
May162014

Rediscover the 3D Scope of King Jesus' Kingdom Commission

While much has been written about the task of invading the kingdom of darkness to rescue those under Satan’s control and influence (what can be referred to as Pioneer Mission), the task of occupation and establishing God’s Kingdom in the Earth has been largely overlooked.


My new book, Kingdom Mission: A Call to Disciple Nations (see Resources page), co-authored with Peter J. Farmer (founder of Newforms), focuses on the 7 Elements that can be found in any kingdom and is a clarion call for every Kingdom Citizen to live out a Kingdom Vision, essential in order to carry out the King’s Commission in the Earth.  Specifically, the book takes the reader through:

  • The reality of Jesus being King and His Kingdom coming to Earth today!
  • What it means to live out the King’s Constitution (both individually and as societies and nations)
  • The Places, Peoples, and Spheres which belong to the Domain of God’s Kingdom
  • The lost vision of the Church as the King’s governing Ekklesia, representing the King and putting into effect the Kingdom Constitution
  • The necessity for a return to a Kingdom economic system which will release apostolic workers and facilitate new innovations for societal transformation
  • How the Kingdom expands through new colonies and outposts, and restoring broken cities
  • What it means to live out Kingdom Citizenship.
Monday
Jun242013

Empowered to Engage in God's Mission?

In advance of my first book being published, I would like to share (and hopefully engage) with you why it was written and how it can empower you to engage in God's Mission wherever (and I mean, wherever) you have influence.

 

So, to begin with, here is the rationale behind the book...

 

Surveys in the U.S. (and I suspect this applies around the world) indicate that most Christians feel disempowered.  Unbiblical (dualistic) thinking, which separates the whole of life into 'spiritual' and 'secular', and creates a division within the church between those in 'full-time' ministry and those who are not, has robbed many believers of the joy of knowing their life can make a difference.

 

The purpose of the book (Empowered: Discovering Your Place in God's Story) is to help give every Christian believer the realization that they have a special, God-given role and place in the fulfilment of God's Story and the Great Commission.

 

Our life-story fits into God's bigger story (HIStory).  Our mission and purpose in life, fits within his global mission and purpose.  God is calling us today towards the consummation of his story and his mission.  This task is not just for church workers or overseas missionaries.  Whatever your vocation in life, you have a destiny to fulfil and a unique contribution to make.

 

With a growing conversation and imagination about the nature of the church, this book considers the implications when we understand God to be a missionary God, especially in relation to the majority of believers who engage in spheres of society apart from the religious (church) sphere (ie. Monday-Saturday).  For God's story and mission to be accomplished, every believer must understand they have a calling, be equipped to fulfil it, and be commissioned out into their sphere of influence.  For this to happen, issues relating to the spiritual/secular divide, embedded within evangelical Christianity, must be addressed.

 

Specifically, there are two primary dimensions to my book: 

  • the empowerment of every believer
  • advancing the kingdom of God through engagement in all spheres of society and areas of life, leading to the discipling of nations, training them in the ways of God.

Underpinning this is the need to live missional lives - that is, have missionary eyes and adopt missionary ways in engaging with non-Christian people, whether from another culture or post-Christendom in the West.

The book also has an underlying sub-theme based on the analogy of missionary 'waves' which have progressively carried the gospel around the world.  It is what some Christian leaders are now referring to as an emerging Fourth Wave which provides a context to what I believe God is doing in these days, where every believer is released and empowered to engage in God's story and mission regardless of their vocation and calling.

Your comments are invited!

Monday
Dec102012

Wanted: Churches that Engage in Reforming & Transforming their Nation! (Part 3)

The dynamic for societal transformation during the time of John Wesley was relatively short-lived.  After Wesley’s death, Methodism as a movement became increasingly more institutionalized and as a consequence slowed and began to change into a form of institutional church that it once critiqued.[1]  Also, with the onslaught of secular materialism which ushered in a modern era built on the absolute denial of the spiritual realm, the church (across the denominations) reacted by elevating the spiritual and discounting anything else as purely temporal and of no real significance. 

In once again adopting the ancient Greek sacred-secular dualistic worldview, the church retreated into the comfort of its ‘spiritual ghetto’ and believers divided their lives into spiritual on Sundays and secular during the rest of the week.  The wholistic concept of the Hebrew word shalom (meaning wholeness or completeness, without any deficiency, nothing missing or broken), was reduced to an overemphasis on the spiritual salvation of the individual and led to Christians siding with one of two extremes of theological thought, namely evangelism or social concern.  In time this led Christianity to become either a purely social movement or, in the words of New Testament scholar N.T. Wright, “what the enlightenment wanted it to be – a private system of piety which doesn’t impinge on the public world.”  However, the question was never evangelism or social reform.  The gospel of the kingdom always requires both!

Now in the twenty-first century with dualistic thinking still embedded in much of the church and in an effort to regain a broader and more consistent view of the ‘gospel of the kingdom’, there is a growing resurgence of the biblical concepts of transformation, the discipling of nations, and the kingdom of God.

Jesus is Lord over All!
In the gospel accounts Jesus emphasized the kingdom of God and taught his disciples to make it their number one priority.  As his followers we are to seek his will to be done on earth.  Although many Christians say ‘the Lord’s Prayer’ by rote every week, this was not intended to be a mere form of liturgy but an invitation to cooperate in seeing God’s dream for his world come to pass.  This is a dream that concerns the redemption of all creation, not just the saving of humankind and individuals getting into heaven.  It is about the restoration of life as God intended it to be.  It is about realigning life around God and God’s ways.  It is about redeeming everything broken through mankind’s Fall.  Shalom.

We are probably all too familiar with the current state of our nation.  We know that there are many things that are not as God intends and society is reaping the consequences.  However, as followers of Jesus and as churches we must ask the tough questions.  Here are some…

  • Why are we not impacting more our spheres of influence, our communities, our workplaces, and nation?
  • Have we retreated into practicing our form of Christianity on Sundays and lost our saltiness within society?
  • Have we become content (even self-satisfied perhaps?) with just acknowledging Jesus as Lord over our own individual lives and in our church meetings, knowing that everything will one day be put right in the future after Christ’s return?  Didn’t Jesus tell us to ‘occupy’ until he came back?  Did he have something more in mind than his disciples occupying a pew bench every week?
  • In his first advent Jesus brought the substance of his kingdom to earth although in its fullest sense it is still to come. Isn’t our task as the church in this “in-between time” to extend the blessings of God’s kingdom throughout creation?
  • Have we fallen into a pattern of merely perpetuating certain church practices week by week, which is not only keeping away non-believers (who prefer the shopping centre on a Sunday morning), but is also causing some bored and disempowered Christians to seek something more in line with what they consider to be radical discipleship?  

It usually takes a lot of courage to dare to be or even want something different than the status quo.  John Wesley knew all about that as a Church of England minister who sought to challenge the religious assumptions of his day.  We can be sure that wherever God has called us to work, everything can be done for the glory of God and for the advancement of his kingdom.  Everyone from businesspeople, educators, actors, entertainers, artists and sportsmen and women to husbands, wives and parents, politicians, writers, lawyers and scientists has a vital and unique contribution to make within their particular spheres of life and society in discipling the nations in the ways of God . . . everyone has a God-given place in fulfilling the Great Commission!

Applying God’s Word in Every Sphere of Life
So let’s get down to brass tacks.  How does nation discipling come about in practice?  Here are some suggestions to begin the journey…

  • It requires us as followers of Christ to discover our God-given calling and then intentionally live out our vocational life within the framework of a distinctively Biblical worldview.
  • We need to study the Bible from a vocational perspective in order to develop a ‘biblical theology’ for our particular vocational area.  For example, if you are a teacher, what does the Master Teacher have to say about the philosophy and methodology of education?  If you are a farmer, what does God have to say about agriculture?  If you are in the legal profession, what does the Bible have to say about law and justice?  As we do so, we may be surprised at how much truth God has provided to redeem and restore the sectors of society where we are deployed.[2]
  • Churches need to begin presenting a biblical theology of work and vocation, and addressing issues within society from a biblical worldview.
  • The Word of God must be applied in each of the spheres (business, education, the arts, etc) and in every area of life. This doesn’t mean there is a simple model that just needs to be used in every culture and society.  Life is more complex than applying a “one-size-fits-all” model.  It will require a dependency on the Holy Spirit to know how to apply biblical truth and the principles God has given to guide us.
  • Consider questions such as: ‘What would…our community/city/nation/business/school/… [insert term as appropriate] …look like if Jesus was…head/mayor/prime minister/chief executive/teacher/… [insert role as appropriate]?’  ‘How would Jesus express the kingdom of God if he was an…artist/accountant/parent/health-worker/employee/manager/… [insert role as appropriate]?’

Seeding the Nation
When Christians live and function in their callings from a biblical framework and are truly like salt and light, or yeast in bread dough (to use another of Jesus’ kingdom analogies), they will begin to permeate, influence, and give direction to the values and focus of the people and culture. Nations are discipled one person at a time. Like the growth of a seed, it involves small beginnings, but with large endings. The gospel of the kingdom applied to all areas of life has the power to become the prevailing worldview of a people or nation. Where a significant proportion of society functions under the principles of truth and the dominant mindset of the various spheres of influence is biblical, we can then say that a nation has been discipled.  This is what happened in England during the time of John Wesley.  Here is a description of one aspect of the national transformation that took place through a handful of Jesus followers:

A small group of friends, including Wesley, formed a Holy Club while at Oxford in 1729. As Christian politicians, they continued to meet over the years, specifically to confront injustices in their society. They delegated assignments according to what each member could do best. They implemented a wide variety of spiritual and social projects, including William Wilberforce’s efforts to end slavery in the British Empire.  Others from the group addressed a wide range of other concerns—prison and parliamentary reform, education, England’s obligation to its colonies (especially India), literacy, child labour, factory legislation, dueling, gambling, drunkenness, immorality, cruel animal sport, the plight of lunatics, child workers, chimney sweeps, trade unions, education for the poor, women and children in mines, children in slums, factory conditions, and schools in slums. Outgrowths included the founding of Sunday schools, the YMCA, the YWCA, the Salvation Army, a Bible society, and Church Missionary Society.[3]

Our levels of influence will vary but may our faith be equally diverse and transforming!


[1] Prior to his death, Wesley had foreseen this danger and stated: “I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America.  But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power.  And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.”  (‘Thoughts Upon Methodism,’ 1786).

[2] Some vocation-related Bible studies can be found at http://www.mondaychurch.org/theology

[3] John R. Stott, Involvement, 21.

Monday
Dec032012

Wanted: Churches that Engage in Reforming & Transforming their Nation! (Part 2)

The England John Wesley was born into was a nation in desperate need of reform.  Along with the huge social issues of the day (referred to in Part 1), some eighty percent of the population lived in absolute poverty.  When Wesley launched a church-planting movement, not only did this lead an estimated one million people to personal salvation, it also led to a change in their economic status.  The saved ‘Methodists’ (they were given that name because they methodically sought to obey the Lord in all areas of life) brought such an influence on the nation that historians believe that the Wesleyan revival created England’s middle class and saved the nation from the bloody revolution that crippled France.

To create a forum for intentional and practical discipleship, Wesley developed a system of 'cell' groups (made up of ‘class meetings’ and 'societies').  In today's terms the approach used could be considered 'organic'.  In other words, it wasn't just information-based or following a set curriculum.  Spiritual formation took place in the context of personal relationships, modelling and mentoring, and mutual accountability.  Here, the new believers confessed their sins and learnt dependency upon the supernatural power of the Spirit, in order to turn away from sinful habits which had previously ruined their lives.  They were taught to pursue lives of holiness, how to manage money (Wesley’s motto was ‘gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can’), and how to read.  These teachings led to better health, increased wealth, and literacy which provided upward mobility for thousands of poverty-stricken people.[1]  

Wholistic Discipleship Movements
This broad, ‘whole-life discipleship’ movement was therefore not limited to apparent ‘spiritual’ disciplines alone. Wesley believed that “Christianity is essentially a social religion.  To turn it into a solitary religion is to destroy it.” Records of his sermons reveal a strong passion for the ‘national’ issues of the day – wealth and poverty, war, education, medical ethics, sea piracy, free trade, slavery, and the liquor industry.  The Wesleyan renewal movement therefore led to both the transformation of countless individual lives, but also to the transformation and discipling of a whole nation (not forgetting its impact in America and in other parts of Europe).  God was viewed as sovereign over all of life and not just the spiritual realm.

By participating in the Great Awakening’s recovery of a wholistic biblical worldview, evangelicals rejoined God’s work in the world, transforming the British Empire and founding the United States of America, perhaps the most free, just, and economically prosperous nation in human history.[2]

What Causes Movements to Die?
So what caused this Methodist movement that made such a transformational impact to wane and eventually die? Essentially, the key elements that made the discipleship movement work were replaced.  According to Mark Nysewander in No More Spectators, the following two ‘plate shifts’ are what caused Methodism to cease to be a movement over a century ago.

Firstly, attendance at Sunday services became the priority over participation in the small and ‘organic’ discipleship meetings.  This led to believers becoming passive spectators and church passengers, rather than active participators and agents of social change.  What had started as a self-multiplying network of cells and societies across the nation ground to a halt. 

Secondly, instead of a grassroots approach to leadership development and discipling and empowering every believer, the focus shifted to insisting upon professional and seminary-trained clergy.A third factor can also be added - 'institutionalism'.  As Methodism continued to grow, Wesley himself observed that the movement was in danger of institutionalization and felt that a grim fate might befall the Methodists if their zeal for the original mission of the church was ever lost.

Lessons for Today
Sadly to their detriment, many churches across all genre of church have adopted the first two movement restraining approaches (or succumbed to the third).  However, if we are to once again see our culture and nation impacted and reformed by the ‘gospel of the kingdom’, we will need, like Wesley did, to learn and implement the following lessons from history:

1.  Movements must remain at the grassroots level if they are to be sustained (and free of institutionalism);


2.  The professionalization of the ‘clergy’ creating two ‘classes’ will lead to the disempowerment of all other believers;


3.  Wholistic discipleship is essential for the transformation of society and a nation, with an emphasis not only on personal faith but also active involvement in society and the culture at large.

If our faith is kept private it will have nothing to offer the world and no relevance or power to address the issues of our day.  While some churches are encouraging active engagement in such areas, across much of the church today we have exchanged the ‘gospel of the kingdom’ for a poor substitute, a diluted ‘gospel-of-salvation-only’ version, which leaves some Christians believing that now that they are saved, all they need to do is wait for Jesus to return the second time and take them to heaven.  It leaves others with the idea that Christianity just revolves around getting other people saved which results in a significant ‘disconnect’ with the rest of their lives.  Others feel passionate about business, education, politics, or the world of the arts and entertainment, but are not encouraged to apply God’s word to discipling those areas to reflect his kingdom.  Many Christians are left wondering if they have any real significance for the kingdom of God.  The truth is that they do!

Jesus commanded all his followers to engage in the task of discipling nations.  This means that as believers, we understand that the gospel of the kingdom brings substantial healing to every aspect of our lives and every part of creation.  It means we recognize the scope of the Great Commission is not limited solely to an individual or personal level, but also relates to the discipling and teaching of whole nations what God’s will and intentions are in every sphere of society—in business, in education, in media, in the family, in arts & entertainment, in government, and so on—permeating cultures with the teachings of the kingdom of God until a society’s worldview is transformed. To this task God calls every believer to be a part and engage in his kingdom mission. 

The very thought of discipling a nation may understandably seem quite overwhelming.  In Part 3 we will take another step in practical application and see how we can all make a difference as we each do our part, however small it may seem.

(More to follow)                                                                                              


[1] Charles White, John Wesley’s Church Planting Movement: Discipleship That Transformed a Nation and Changed the World (Mission Frontiers, September-October 2011), 6-9

[2] Darrow L. Miller, LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 2009), 27

Thursday
Nov222012

Wanted: Churches that Engage in Reforming & Transforming their Nation (Part 1)

The last time I went to a Methodist chapel was my grandfather’s memorial service twenty-five years ago.  As well as being ‘Pentecostal’, he had been a Methodist lay preacher in Cornwall for many years.  I think he would have been pleased as last Sunday having recently moved into Ireshopeburn, a village in the North Pennines, Michelle and I decided to visit the local Methodist chapel.  What we discovered was that High House Chapel is the world’s oldest Methodist chapel to have held continuous weekly services since its foundation in 1760.  Wesley himself preached there on many occasions and the area became a hub of the Methodist fires that led to a movement that transformed the nation.

As highlighted on our website under ‘Nation Disciplers’ (see http://www.catalystmin.org/john-wesley/), John Wesley was much more than an amazing evangelist.  He was a man that was convinced that national reform and transformation should be an inevitable by-product of individual lives being transformed.  He had due cause to see the need for such reform and it is sobering to see some parallels with the state of the nation today. 

The State of the Nation Then & Now
At the time, a couple hundred years after the Reformation, spirituality and morality had collapsed in England to a degree that was never before known in any so-called ‘Christian’ country.  Biblical truth was being undermined through the thinking of the Enlightenment.  Bibles were still available but it was no longer considered the Word of God.  The Church had lost its prophetic voice and morality, even within the Church, had begun to slip.

The Industrial Revolution was giving rise to a number of disturbing practices within the business world.  There was greed and dishonesty which led to repeated financial scandals, some of which virtually destroyed the national economy.  Corruption was spreading like a cancer, not just within industry but within politics as well.  The slave trade was booming (in today’s terms read: human trafficking) and the treatment of babies and children was often inhumane (today read: fetal genocide through abortion).

The nation was clearly divided between the rich and poor, and laws were created to make it stay that way.   Minor offences often resulted in public hangings and many men, women and children were sent off to Australia as ‘criminals’.  Child abuse was rampant, much a result of alcoholism which became the key cause of social disintegration and degeneration within the nation.  Pornography was widely available, gambling was a national obsession, and promiscuity became a sport resulting in a nation filled with illegitimate children.  There were many other things, such as illiteracy and no free education for the poor, dangers from robbers and highwaymen when travelling, that made England two to three hundred years ago a much more dangerous place to live than now in the twenty-first century.  Bottom-line, the nation needed reforming and as is the case today, the answer was not going to come from a political party but through God’s agency in the world, his Church.  

The Book That Transforms Lives & Nations
On our website you can read a brief list of Wesley’s legacy in transforming England, which impacted numerous areas of life across many of the spheres of society.[1]  Although there is no doubt God used him as the catalyst that led to a spiritual revival that transformed the nation, we must remember that the real enlightening power resided in the Scriptures that Wesley proclaimed. 

It was the Bible that transformed the character, words, thoughts, and deeds of men and women.  It was the Bible that discipled and instructed the nation.  But this will not happen by itself.  It requires disciples who will not only disciple individuals and families, but also communities, businesses, societal domains, and even nations.

What is critical to remember is that the transforming of a nation is an intergenerational task.  It has to be sustained from generation to generation, otherwise competing worldviews will become the prevailing influence.  Just as many of the blessings following the Reformation were lost three hundred years ago, today we have lost much (but not all) of what was inherited from the spiritual awakening through John Wesley.  Ground has been lost but it can be regained.  Think of the state of the nation that Wesley found himself in.  Just as the nation was transformed in Wesley’s day in spite of the darkness that engulfed the country, so this nation can be transformed once again.  However, it will take effective action and societal engagement by the Church.

How Wesley seeded the nation with a wholistic kingdom message that brought about a biblical transformation will be the subject of a separate article.  It seems that we certainly need to revisit how we engage in discipleship to ensure every member of the Church is empowered for kingdom service.  Based on Jesus’ blueprint for discipleship, John Wesley developed a simple plan for not only equipping the saints but also to create a disciple-making movement.  He was looking for a Church that engaged in reforming and transforming the nation.

(More to follow)

 


[1] A fuller account is contained in The Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi, published by Thomas Nelson, 2011, Chapter 14