Truth and the Absence of Relationship

This post by Rob May was originally published at Seventy Two

People love a conspiracy theory. Lockdown has outed a few more.

So, to Covid, the vaccines and Christians.

Most of our church members have been positive about the vaccine celebrating, with those already vaccinated and encouraging those not yet vaccinated to go for it. But there are a few who struggle. Some are uncomfortable with how quickly it has been developed and are worried about its safety. Others struggle because of a similar vaccine developed some years ago linked to aborted foetal tissue. Then there’s a third group. These are people suspicious the vaccine is part of a global conspiracy. End times indicators are everywhere possibly involving Bill Gates, the mark of the Beast, the complete fabrication of Covid 19, one world governments and the involvement of almost the entire global health care system. Neither mainstream medical science nor majority theological opinion accepts this view and cannot seem to sway this small group. I probably should ignore it, but it’s got me thinking. I am increasingly bothered by it.

Over lockdown I received links to two YouTube videos from two different church members. One video was from a group of ‘medical experts’ claiming Covid didn’t exist and the vaccine was not what we thought it was. The second video presented by a ‘theological expert’ put the biblical case for the rise of a one world government, the coming of the anti-Christ and the imminent outbreak of the persecution of Christians.

Now neither church member had any direct personal relationship with either ‘YouTube expert’ yet they trusted their perspective and promoted their argument. And all of this despite the fact they also have access to their own ‘experts’ who they already know personally.

Like many churches, we have a number of ‘medical experts’. These include a consultant at the Royal Marsden, a professor at King’s College, a retired GP and a doctor training in public health. We also have some ‘theological experts’. A vice-principal of a theological college, two other ministers with theological degrees and a couple of church members with graduate level theological education. Now, our ‘medical experts’ in the church would be the first to point out their expertise is limited and they are not specialists in viruses. Our ‘theological experts’ are also aware of the limits of their expertise. But together they are more than capable of guiding anyone in our church through the complex ideas and conflicting arguments. They would also all disagree with the ‘YouTube experts’. The virus is real. The vaccine is necessary and as safe as any other vaccine. We are not entering the Great Tribulation and Bill Gates is not the anti-Christ.

But what bothers me is not which group of ‘experts’ is right or wrong. My concern is an ecclesial one and a distinctively Baptist one.

The church members who sent the videos worship every week with their own ‘experts’. They share communion together, say the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed together, have watched their children grow in faith together, shared fellowship together over coffee, pray together and have committed to being church members together. To my knowledge none of the ‘experts’ in church have ever sought to do them harm, to lie or to deceive them. I am not aware there has ever been a significant falling out.

So why would you trust the views of someone you have never met rather than the views of someone you not only know, but are supposed to be in covenant fellowship with? Why are real Christian relationships abandoned?

Sadly, and in very simple terms, it’s just easier. It’s threatening to dialogue with someone who knows what they are talking about, who knows more than you know but who you also know disagrees with you. It’s hard listening to someone who is not going to make it easy for you to go on believing what you want to believe.

But what bothers me more is not so much that ‘they’ do it but that I also do it. We all do it. The issues may be less obvious and we may have clever strategies for hiding our differences but it’s still the same issue. We struggle with one another in church but it’s just easier to avoid the difficult conversation. We know we are a community of sinners with very different experiences of life. Conflict in church life is surely inevitable but for most of us we avoid it. The one community on earth who should be extraordinarily good at this kind of thing is far too often not very good at it at all.

In chapter 3 of Dan White’s Subterranean: Why the future of the church is rootedness, he explores the disconnect between the transfer spiritual information and the relational health of the local church.

‘Our current unquestioned approaches to transferring spiritual information are brutal on the virtue of practice. Practice is the inner quality of being formed and informed by the bumps, bruises, and baptism of application. Practice is at the soul of being a Jesus-follower but more so it becomes the material for credibility for the people of God.’ (p.35)

A serious disconnect has been created between spiritual knowledge and spiritual formation. Church members spend years together listening to sermons and sitting in Bible studies without the need to actually get to know one another, let alone truly love one another. White calls this the absence of ‘immersion’. ‘Immersion’ is a ‘full-bodied participation and practice in the information we encounter.’ Thankfully, many people do get to know one another and we have seen the depth of love shared between church members during the pandemic. But this has not been universally shared. It means that I can believe an ‘expert’ I have never met without any awareness that at the same time it says something deeply profound about how I understand the nature of my relationship to another ‘expert’; the one whom I worship with and who is my sister or brother in Christ.

The internet has made the world an extraordinary place. The freedom and availability of information is mind-boggling and much of it is to be celebrated. But it is a complex world in which we benefit from ‘experts’ to help us navigate these complexities. In a world increasingly suspicious of ‘experts’, who do I trust? But the ‘experts’ I need most are not those who know more than me but the ones who love more than me. Not the ones who are the first to tell me what is right and what is wrong but the ones who choose to walk with me in a broken world.  Who will help me when I am tempted to avoid differences rather than to embrace the differences, that I might become more Christian and we might become more like the body of Christ.

Maybe it’s culture’s veneration of the autonomous self, society’s suspicion of ‘experts’, the collapse of truly meaningful relationships, the democratisation of knowledge all creeping into church life, hidden in plain sight. Maybe it’s not. But it still bothers me.

 

The post Truth and the Absence of Relationship appeared first on Seventy Two.

Notices for 14 March 2021

This week

Just to remind you there are no in-person meetings at the moment.

Mothering Sunday 14 March 2021

Zoom Junior Church

  • I give permission for …………… to interact on zoom. 
  • I give permission for a leader to contact me (Parent’s name) by email/ phone/text for the purpose of  setting up these Zoom meetings. And then add your name.

Lent reflections by 9:15 and CotG

Prayer for the Workplace

Steve and Gill Bryant have compiled some responses from our church members to help us to pray effectively for them in the workplace. Please contact Steve and Gill if you would like this information for your prayers.

Easter Thank Offering

Easter speaks of God’s love for us, and His will to spread that love among all peoples.  On Sunday 4 April 2021, we will be holding an Easter Thank Offering to support the work of our Mission Partners. Our first priority will be to provide for those partners who would normally have benefitted from our Harvest, Carol and Nativity service offerings last year (Tearfund, The Oasis Centre, & Compassion), and thereafter where the need is greatest.  The money raised will be lodged in our Restricted Mission Fund. Please do pray about how you can contribute towards this offering.

The easiest way to make an offering is by online bank transfer to the Corsham Baptist Church account with Lloyds Bank (Sort Code 30-91-99; Account Number 01480604), and reference the transaction RES MISSION FUND.  Alternatively, you could post a cheque to the Treasurer at Priory Street, clearly marked EASTER 21 THANK OFFERING on the reverse. 

If you are able to book for the in-person service at Priory Street on Easter Sunday, please put your offering in the wooden offering box which will be placed at the back of the building.  When the offering is taken, only the contents of plain envelopes (marked EASTER 21 THANK OFFERING) and loose cash/cheques will be included in the Thank Offering total.  Blue offering envelopes will be treated as regular giving to the general work of the church.  

Unfortunately, Covid operating restrictions prevent us from leaving supplies of the special yellow envelopes we normally use for Thank Offerings on open display in the building.  However, if you have completed a gift aid declaration in favour of CBC, we will recover gift aid on your offering (cheques, and bank transfers only) unless you advise us otherwise.

 Please refer to our treasurer, Roger Hammett, (contact details in the directory) should you wish to clarify these arrangements.

Thank You from Bible Society


Roger our Treasurer recently made a donation from CBC to Bible Society. We (Bible Society) are so grateful to you for your generosity which will enable us to provide Bibles where there are none in some of the hardest, toughest places on the planet. If you’d like to know more about how your donation will be put to use for God, please contact Susan Wingrave on 07587 551 710 or susan.wingrave@biblesociety.org.uk.

Pilgrims’ Friend Society Job Opportunity

The Team at Middlefields House (New Care Home in Chippenham) are currently recruiting for key roles at the new home:

Hospitality Manager to oversee the catering and housekeeping teams. Find out more and apply.

Activities and Church Engagement Facilitator to oversee volunteering in the home and connections in the wider community, and Pastoral Care Co-ordinator to oversee the provision of pastoral care to those living in the home. For more information on these roles please email Neal Shelton-Green  – neal.sheltongreen@pilgrimsfriend.org.uk

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday

HOWTO stream a service

Going forward we plan to stream at least one service on a Sunday as well as having people in the building so this is a checklist of what is entailed. This is deliberately a summary rather than exhaustive instructions, if you would like to serve in this ministry please contact us and we’ll provide dedicated training.

We have found it works best to have 3 people to staff this activity

Sound tech

  1. Turn on a) PA switch b) Lights switch c) socket labelled PC
  2. Turn on Sound desk (large red button)
  3. Check all muted
  4. Check that any recorded components of the service can be played in the room as well as streaming (This is a function not only of the channels, mix and mute settings on the desk but also the recording format! Running recordings through YouTube transcoding gives the best chance for something that will work)
  5. Perform a sound check ahead of the service so you know if anything is particularly quiet or loud.
  6. During the service, adjust the gain and volume to try to keep all components roughly the same level.
  7. As the sermon starts, press record on the small handheld recorder (this is just a backup).
  8. Get further advice from someone who knows what needs to be checked!

Video tech

  1. Turn on PC (small button on rear of box) and monitor
  2. Login to PC and start OBS Studio and Firefox
  3. Sign in to YouTube using your manager account and navigate to ‘Your videos’
  4. Download all pre-recorded media (e.g. worship / prayer / communion videos, notices etc.) and in OBS select the appropriate Scene, then the Source and browse for the relevant file.
  5. Navigate to ‘Live’ tab where you should find 2 ‘upcoming’ streams, one production (Public) and one test (Unlisted)
  6. Click the ‘Options’ menu of the test stream and then ‘Get shareable link’. Post this link to chat group for those at home to provide feedback
  7. Open the test stream by clicking on the ‘Live control room (((-)))’ icon and copy the stream key
  8. Back in OBS paste this stream key into Settings > Stream > Key and then click ‘OK’
  9. In OBS click ‘Start streaming’, which will also activate ‘Start recording’.
  10. Then in YouTube click ‘Go live’ (top right). It can take a minute or so for YouTube to enable this after you start streaming from OBS
  11. Monitor the stream through own headphones on a second device
  12. TROUBLESHOOTING: For audio in the building there are several settings on the sound desk as well as on the PC. In OBS the key one is to right click in the graphic equaliser, choose Advanced Audio Properties and ensure ‘Monitor and Output’ is selected. Also ensure in the Windows tray that the Audio Output is set to ‘Speakers (USB Audio Codec)’
  13. In OBS, transition to each scene to check sound and video (esp. resolution) are all working
  14. Perform live camera lip-sync and sound check. If audio arrives before picture increase the number in Sync offset within Advanced Audio Properties
  15. Stop test stream, in both OBS and YouTube
  16. Connect live stream key to OBS and repeat as above.
  17. Turn on the projector
  18. Start the stream a few minutes before scheduled start time (T).
  19. Right click in the right-hand studio monitor and select Full screen projector > 27E1 to display the stream for the people in the room.
  20. Transition through each part of the service in turn providing warnings to the live person in the room when taking over from pre-recorded elements at 30sec, 10sec, 3,2,1 to any live components. Speak each of these loudly except the 1, which can be signed with a thumbs up or similar.
  21. At the end of each live component notify participants clearly when the stream has transitioned.
  22. At the end of the service, remember the stream lags by as much as a minute. Check it has displayed the post-screen for at least a few seconds before ending the stream.

Service co-ordinator

  1. Be responsible for Covid-secure procedures (see here for latest updates)
  2. Support and advise techs as appropriate to their experience and confidence
  3. Keep to time
    • T-60 minutes: open up
    • T-10 mins: pray for team and congregation
    • T-2 mins: start stream at ‘pre-live’ screen
    • T: start countdown
  4. Monitor chat group for feedback from the wider team
  5. Exude calm

Steve and Gill’s Prayer News – March 2021

WEC logo

This post by Reaching the 42% was originally published at Reaching the 42%

Dear friends

Warm greetings on a fine spring day. It is time to share our news once again.

We continue to be busy with our ministry. Last week Steve was involved in organising an on-line half day conference for mission agency staff who are responsible for member care and families. There were 58 attendees from many different organisations. Gill has been doing some research into how COVID 19 has affected our families across the world, and she gave a presentation of her findings.

How has COVID 19 affected missionary families?

There has been huge disruption to travel. Some families had to leave their field of service at short notice, and have not been allowed to return, so they are stuck in their passport country for an indefinite time. Others are in-country but due to border closures, they are not allowed to leave for home assignments. In some places there are movement restrictions within the country.

Some of our members have had the virus but have thankfully recovered. In one remote location, the whole team were ill. They had to stop their church planting programme as the virus was so rampant, but their work has now restarted.

Some have been confined to their apartments with their children for long periods, such as the team in Spain. It has been a challenge to maintain team cohesion where members cannot meet up properly and some have been displaced.

As in the UK, missionary parents have had to become home-schooling teachers at short notice. This is complicated by many factors – sometimes the parents don’t have enough knowledge of the language in which their children are being educated. On-line learning has not always been
well-organised, especially in locally-run schools. New workers have been unable to make progress in their language learning, due to the need to do home schooling.

Children and young people have responded in different ways. More introverted children have often enjoyed being at home, whereas extroverted ones struggle with the lack of interaction. It is depressing for some, and mental health has been affected.

Please pray for missionaries facing these challenges. We have shared some resources with them through our Educare magazine and by writing to leaders and recommending videos, presentations and materials for families and teenagers to help them process their experiences.

What about the MK Schools?

Many schools have been closed, but some are now open again. BCS in Senegal restarted fully in January, complete with the boarding students. There are many precautions in place. We are encouraged to report that the next batch of new staff who did our training course in July are
now in place – a teacher with four children and a young woman from Brazil. Three further staff members from the same course are due to travel to Senegal in the summer.

Pray for new directors for BCS. The couple from Australia who were due to replace the current director are no longer able to commit to the role. This is an urgent need. Pray also for peace and stability in Senegal.

Last time we mentioned a couple heading for Chiang Mai to look after boarding teenagers in the WEC Hostel there. We praise the Lord that Jaehee and Mary are now in place – pray for them to develop a good relationship with the students and adapt well to the culture.

What about recruitment?

Due to the pandemic, we are seeing a drop in the numbers of people applying for MK ministry. Despite this there are some encouragements. An experienced teacher from the UK is now delivering on-line classes to teachers and students at a school in Central Asia. We have one
person registered for the Zoom-based MK Staff Training course in July so far.

Working online

We continue to work online most of the time, with many Zoom meetings, emails and chats. In the next few months we hope to organise some online meetings within WEC for training and fellowship. Pray that we will be able to engage people with these possibilities.

How are we doing?

We have both stayed well and have recently had our first dose of the vaccine. We were so impressed with the efficiency and dedication that we saw at our local vaccination centre, and feel privileged that we can have this protection against the virus. So many countries do not have
access to the health care that we have here.

Staying at home has given us more time together, and saved on fuel and air miles. Steve has done one or two DIY jobs that had been waiting for a long time.

Like many others, we long to see our family. We are able to see David every week as he lives locally and he is in a ‘bubble’ with us. We last saw Peter and Miriam in September, and Michael and Bethany in August last year. It is now a year since we last saw Steve’s mum. Thankfully all of them are well, and our sons and daughters-in-law are able to carry on working. Michael is
currently in Liberia on a four week trip.

Find out more about missions

MomentumYes is a free 6 week online course about missions. It is very contemporary and interactive and well worth signing up for. It starts on Tuesday 20th April. Have a look at it here: https://wec-uk.org/events/momentumyes

As always, we want to thank you for your ongoing interest, support and prayers. Let us know how we can pray for you too.

Many blessings
Steve and Gill

You can contact us here as well as downloading a PDF of this letter here.

Christine’s Introduction to March’s Genesis Bible Study

This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

“This week we are looking at some of the most controversial stories in Genesis, concerning three women who all had a part to play in God’s salvation plan – Leah, Dinah and Tamar. To put them in context – Leah was one of Jacob’s wives, Dinah was her daughter, and Tamar was Leah’s son Judah’s daughter-in-law.

This study is going to look at how through some truly awful family incidents, God was at work in the lives of these women. These true stories are not merely a series of events but a connected progression of circumstances through which God reveals his plan for our redemption in Jesus.

We will see that God cares for each and every individual, even those who might have considered themselves of no account, and that each one, despite their faults, had an important role to play in the outworking of the purposes of God.”

For more of this bible study, look on this GRACE PLACE blog sight under the heading of 2020-2021 BIBLE STUDY GENESIS: IN THE BEGINNING, GOD! If you don’t have a bible study buddy, please contact Anne Holmes, or Victoria Kelly.

Video – a look back at our last term

Picture of Steve and Ruth

This post by Steve and Ruth Lancaster was originally published at Life in the Lancs Lane

 Hi folks,

We’ve been back in the UK for a couple of months now.  It’s been a good time for us to process our final term in Tanzania and adjust to life back here, and especially life under lockdown.  We’ll be sending out a final newsletter in a few weeks’ time but for now we thought you might want to watch a video that we put together for our church, Corsham Baptist, that gives the highlights of our final year, some memorable moments and some things that we’d love you to pray for.  The video is 45 minutes long so get yourself a cuppa and get comfortable!  To access the video, clink the link below (it will look like it’s buffering but if you press play it will start).

Enjoy!

3rd term video for Corsham Baptist

Need some fuel for a Monday?

Following his “Hope in Uncertain Times” last year, Nigel Coles has teamed up with The Fuelcast again for a new 6-part series titled “Way, Truth & Life”.

This week, faced with a barrage of Covid statistics, Nigel asks “What on earth can anyone say that can make any difference?” And yet faced with their own crisis, Jesus said to his followers “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Who is this Jesus?

Notices for 7 March 2021

This week

Just to remind you there are no in-person meetings at the moment.

  • Church on the Screen @10am: If you prefer a more active service rather than simply watching, a warm welcome awaits from Rob and the team. All details at: https://www.churchonthegreen.online/event/10am-sunday-service-online/
  • Priory Street joint service @10am: 2 Peter – ‘Heading for Home’ Part 3. Try to read the whole letter in advance – just three short chapters
  • Unless you are part of a group that meets for communion, there will be a short communion service immediately following this joint service so don’t switch off too soon!
  • https://youtu.be/SPftPFQkRdE
  • Monthly Prayer meeting 6pm: Steve and Gill Bryant will be hosting the monthly prayer with a focus on praying for our church members in the workplace. Please contact Steve and Gill if you have work-related issues for which you would like prayer. Join us in the meeting if you can!
  • The link to the Zoom meeting is found here . Do join a few minutes in advance.of 6pm
  • Meeting ID: 826 0565 0664
  • Passcode: 231744

Zoom Junior Church

  • I give permission for …………… to interact on zoom. 
  • I give permission for a leader to contact me (Parent’s name) by email/ phone/text for the purpose of  setting up these Zoom meetings. And then add your name.

Lent reflections by 9:15 and CotG

Evangelism

Norman and Pat have written an article about living evangelism . Please take a look here https://corshambaptists.org/articles/sowing-seeds-of-the-gospel/

Government changes to Lockdown rules.

You will be very much aware of the recent government four step plan to ease lockdown restrictions announcement by the Prime Minister on 22 Feb. Please rest assured that our leadership team will be considering how CBC respond and will keep you informed of any planned changes as the various steps unfold. For the meantime however, services will continue online.

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday