by Mark

Walking to the market with God

February 24, 2015 in Mark, Bible, Church, Front, Tanzania, Theology by Mark

Having moved around quite a bit over the past few years, we have had the privilege of hearing many different church leaders in three countries and two (three if you count American) languages, reading parts of the Bible and teaching what it may mean. While we have certainly heard some excellent teachers making fine points about various parts of the Bible, when I think back over all the sermons I have heard (and taught) in the past few years, I struggle to think of any “fact” or “teaching” that has really impacted my life. And I really have to try hard to remember any “application” from any of those sermons. OK, maybe I have a bad memory, and I’m sure I have dozed off in church too many times, as all male Woodwards are prone to do from time to time.

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by Mark

A missional reading of 1 Peter 2:4-12

October 9, 2013 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Bible, Bible translation, Church, Language, Mission, Tanzania, Theology by Mark

Last week Laura and I had the opportunity to speak at Calvary Chapel, Salem here in Oregon. As well as giving an update on Bible translation projects that we’re involved in in Tanzania, I took a look at 1 Peter 2:4-12, exploring what it means to read this section of the letter from a missional perspective.

Looking back, I think I sub-consciously applied the various missional hermeneutics we covered in the “Reading the Bible Missionally” module of Redcliffe’s MA in Bible and Mission, specifically looking at:

  • The place of the text in the missional meta-narrative of the Bible
  • The significance of the text in forming and equipping a missional community among its initial hearers
  • The text as part of a movement from the particular to the universal
  • The text speaking to the missional situation of the present-day hearers

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by Mark

Good News for the Poor?

November 13, 2012 in Life, Mark, Africa, Bible, Church, Front, Justice, Mission, Tanzania, Theology by Mark

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19)

This was the Scripture that Jesus read in the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth, asserting that the Scripture was being fulfilled through himself, and giving an early indication as to how he saw his ministry. But how did Jesus fulfill this prophecy of good news to the poor? And what does that mean for today?

Last month we were in Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, which caused me to ponder these questions. What is the good news for the poor of today? Read the rest of this entry →

by Mark

Who are the poor in spirit?

September 6, 2012 in Mark, Bible, Front, Mission, Theology by Mark

Poverty is a tricky subject to talk about, and yet it is one that as Christians we must always be conscious of, if only because it is a major theme throughout the Bible. There are many different types of poverty in the world, ranging from material poverty (often the most obvious) to educational poverty, poverty of health facilities, and poverty of human rights. As Christians we sometimes talk about spiritual poverty too, which can go alongside and even underlie many other forms of poverty.

But I have to say I start to feel a little uncomfortable when we talk about spiritual poverty, particularly when the conversation turns (as it inevitably does) to how we can address the spiritual poverty that we see around us. When we talk of fighting spiritual poverty, the unspoken assumption is that we are spiritually rich, and that we need to use our wealth in order to help those who are spiritually poor. Read the rest of this entry →

by Mark

Modernism, Mission Planning and Western Syncretism

August 2, 2012 in Mark, Africa, Mission, Theology by Mark

Eddie Arthur recently highlighted a couple of posts from Mark Meynell entitled “The dehumanising metrics of modernist ministry: The Present and The Future“, where Mark looks at how a modernist worldview can affect the work of the church and at times lead away from the very values of the gospel that the church is called to live out. Mark looks at several trends in modern ministries, including our obsession with speed, novelty and uniformity.

But the sections that really stood out to me were his observations concerning “The economics of effectiveness” and “The hubris of strategy”.

But I fear a sinister trend has crept in. For if we’re not careful, we can seek an effectiveness shaped more by Wall St than the via Dolorosa. Big business constantly seeks a combination of efficiency and growth in order to thrive… which is fair enough. Maximum profit for minimum effort. But this is effectiveness measured by the Damoclean sword of the bottom line. Read the rest of this entry →