Small Town Jesus in the Big City

Kloof St

I’m about to move my office out of a suburb of Cape Town into the city centre. It’s an exciting time. We’re launching a congregation of Jubilee Community Church in the heart of Cape Town and we’re ready to go!

There has been, in recent years, a much-needed focus on cities. Christians have been moving steadily away from the city centres and into the suburbs, often leaving the city without a strong witness.

Yet, we’re told, that the creative culture-making heartbeat (the heart that sends its influence to the rest of our culture) is right back in the place the believers left. If we reach the cities (so the argument goes) there will be a ‘trickle down’ effect that will effect the rest of society.

Donnie Griggs, Lead Pastor at One Harbor Church, Morehead City, NC
Donnie Griggs, Lead Pastor at One Harbor Church, Morehead City, NC

Small Town Jesus by Donnie Griggs is a robust response. Griggs, who pastors a large church in Morehead City, North Carolina (a town of about nine thousand) raises a banner for the myriad of small towns that may, therefore, seem less significant.

While not denying the importance of cities, he makes a plea for the importance of mission to smaller towns. He speaks from his own experience of being known and getting to know the folk in Morehead, while seeking to build a church that cares for its community and is engaged in a wider mission.

Now, why would I spend time reading a book devoted to mission in small towns when I am about to relocate my work space into the heart of the world’s most beautiful city (I could easily support that assertion with sources, but it’s just a fact).

And – I’ll go further – why am I recommending this book to you, whatever size town you’re in, but especially if you live in a city?

Cape Town City Hall
Cape Town City Hall

Being a Good Local
Simply for this reason: that I have realised, both as I’ve been traveling into the city regularly over the last year, and as I’ve read Donnie’s book, that, in my section of the city centre, I need to become a local.

That’s not something we tend to think of in our cities. We have the dubious luxury of being anonymous much of the time. We expect speed. We expect quality. If something’s not good we complain. And we complain properly. We’ll put a bad review online. We’re helping raise standards by complaining. Griggs has a technical term for this that’s worth remembering. It is called ‘being a jerk’. Hmm. Maybe it’s time to change.

Here are a few pointers Griggs gives for being a good local in a small town. I want to encourage you to take these on board in your locality especially if you’re in the city centre. And feel free to add your own thoughts and comments below. Let’s learn from each other.

Your reputation matters in a small town
Things are really close in a village or town. Yet, in the city, you can also develop a different kind of reputation by deliberately seeking to serve those around your work space. Be different from those who rush by. Do good in the city. Be honest. Build a good reputation by being consistently compassionate.

Learn to Enjoy Small Talk
In the city, people are often in a rush. But people are also incredibly lonely. Slow down and look around. You’ll see lots of people who are alone and who would benefit from your friendship. Cape Town is not a European city. It is an African city with a lot of Europe in it. People are very open to making connections. There’s a warmth that you sometimes don’t feel in a European city. Griggs writes, that ‘always acting like you have somewhere better to be will eventually lead to unnecessarily offending’ people. That’s good for your city too, even if the rush is tolerated.

Shop Local as much as possible
He writes, ‘I would encourage you to see shopping local as an opportunity to become a good local.’ Whether it’s caterers, lunchtime appointments in the city, printing, or just where you regularly purchase coffee or church refreshments, I want the businesses in my section of Cape Town to know we’re part of the neighbourhood. We’re buying local and eating local because we are local. Griggs talks a lot about loving local food and then there’s a whole section about soft-shell crabs. Normally you’d expect an editor’s intervention but these guys in Morehead City love their soft-shell crabs.

Donnie Griggs out on the boat
Donnie Griggs out on the boat

Don’t be a Jerk
(It’s worth mentioning again) He prefaces this section helpfully by noting, ‘I’m not saying that everyone who lives in a big city is a jerk.’ Followed by the word, ‘But…’ and then so helpfully corrects how, even we as Christians, can act in an unnecessarily discourteous way when dealing with folks in a city.

But, ‘in a small town, you should take every opportunity to be kind and courteous.’

There’s a danger in city life because we probably won’t see a person again, and can therefore treat them with less respect than they deserve, especially if they’re serving us poorly. In a small town our bad responses will get known very quickly. But that behaviour is no less acceptable in the city. And will also be known. You reap what you sow. As in the town and suburb, so in the city, a Christian’s rudeness can have a deadening effect on mission.

Be a Blessing
I am taking this on board for our city site: ‘When considering how you can engage the culture of your small town with the gospel, please don’t just settle for contextualized church programs and church facilities. Love where you live and serve where you live. Let everyone know that you really care about them, whether they come to your church or not.’

Donnie has written a highly readable book with a great and simple message: be a blessing to your town. Be deliberate and consistent.

I want to add that, if you’re in the city, see your section of the city, whether you work there each day, or whether you live there, as your own locality, your own small town within the city, and act accordingly.

Small Town Jesus is available on Amazon here

Jubilee Community Church’s City Congregation will begin meeting on Sundays from 25th September, 10.30am, 33 Kloof Street, Cape Town

For a 30-Day Prayer Guide to pray for the launch of the site click here

©2016 Lex Loizides / Church History Review

 

The thing about Gandhi…a review

Gandhi, the controversial biography
Gandhi, the controversial biography

A Review, with quotes, of Jad Adams’ biography of the much-loved Mohandas Gandhi.

This biography of one of the most iconic figures of the twentieth century is impossible to put down. It’s a fresh look at the man through his own writings and the testimony of those closest to him.

One aspect of the book, unsurprisingly, dominated the reviews: Gandhi’s risqué experiments in testing his own commitment to Brahmacharya (celibacy).  The claim is that the presence of the two young women who regularly slept in his bed was necessary in order to test that commitment and thus help preserve his spiritual power for the benefit of others.

Astonishing as that may sound, there’s much more to the book than that…

To read the review click here

© 2014 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

Beginnings – a new resource for new believers (FREE 1st Chapter)

US edition
US edition

Helping those who’ve trusted Christ to implement change in their lives

A downloadable, easy to understand, follow-up study for anyone who’s just become a Christian!

‘A brilliant resource for new believers.’ Bryan Mowrey, Pastor, Jubilee Church, St. Louis, MO

Every new believer in Jesus Christ has questions and needs guidance

– What are my responsibilities as a follower of Jesus?

– How does this affect my relationships at work and at home?

– Do I join a local church?

– What aspects of my behaviour should change?

– What kind of purpose do I have in life?

UK edition
UK edition Now ONLY £2.99

In this much-needed and helpful study, the practical ‘first steps’ of the Christian Life are covered. Each chapter includes discussion questions and suggestions for further reading.

You no longer have to wait until you can get to a Christian bookstore to find follow-up material for someone who just gave their lives to Christ. You can download this affordable book onto both your devices and get going straight away – one on one!

What Pastors are saying about ‘Beginnings’

‘If “basics” refers to the mind-blowing, essential, central truths about Christianity, then this book is about the basics. Easy-to-read. Engaging. Clear. Fun. Inspirational. The concept of ‘read and discuss’ with a mentor is powerful.’ PJ Smyth, Pastor, Godfirst Church, Johannesburg, South Africa

‘Lex Loizides is a master communicator with a passion for bringing people into solid enjoyment of God’s good news. In ‘Beginnings’ he has provided an excellent tool kit for doing just that.’ Joel Virgo, Pastor, Church of Christ the King, Brighton, England

‘Lex has provided an easy accessible, biblical and practical book which will help many new Christians take important first steps as they move forward in their new life as a Christian.’ Steve Tibbert, Pastor, Kings Church, London

‘This book makes the perfect gift for anyone who just became a Christian.’ Adrian Warnock, Blogger and author of Raised with Christ

Topics include: The importance of the Bible, the central role of the local church, prayer and the Holy Spirit, baptism in water and breaking bread, life and pressure in the workplace and home, living life with a new mission.

Lex Loizides is a Pastor based at Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town and has nearly 30 years of ministerial experience. He has worked closely with local churches in many countries, helping them become more effective in evangelism. He is the author of several published hymns and is the author of the evangelistic study, ‘Take a Closer Look at the Claims of Christ’.

Click here for the first chapter FREE!

Click here to purchase from Amazon UK

Click here to purchase from Amazon US

C.S. Lewis ‘humbled’ by A.N. Wilson – a book review

Lewis cover

A review of Wilson’s biography.

Wilson claims, ‘There are those readers who are so uplifted by the sublimity of Lewis at his best as a writer that they assume that he was himself a sublime being, devoid of blemishes.’

C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis

In this review I examine some of Wilson’s claims and comments as well as including fascinating material about Lewis’s ‘reluctant convert’ comment, the animosity between Lewis and John Betjeman, the conversations with J.R.R. Tolkien which finally led to his conversion and his resistance to the modern poets including T.S. Eliot.

If you’ve not read anything about Lewis’s life the review also serves as an introduction to one of the most inspiring Christian writers of the 20th century.

To read the review click here

© 2013 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

Up Close and Personal with Nelson Mandela’s Defence Lawyer

George Bizos' stunning autobiography, 'Odyssey to Freedom'

‘Early in the afternoon of 11 July 1963, a fine winter’s day, the telephone rang in my chambers.

‘I heard a coin drop into the call box and then the muffled voice of Harold Wolpe. He named a corner in the city centre and asked me to meet him there.
‘Our meeting place was outside a bookshop and I found him staring intently into the window at the books on display.

‘He didn’t turn round when I greeted him but pointed at a book.

‘We stood side by side, facing away from the pedestrians while he whispered that the leadership of the ANC had been arrested at its Rivonia headquarters and that he was going into hiding.

‘He handed me a file, asked me to find some excuse for his absence from court, and to report what had happened to his brother-in-law and partner, James Kantor.

‘I was not to see Wolpe again until he returned from exile almost thirty years later.’ (p.204)

In his autobiography ‘Odyssey to Freedom’, Nelson Mandela’s defence lawyer takes us on a journey on the inside of the legal processes and secret ANC meetings that ultimately led to democracy in South Africa. It is a tremendous story of how one modern day ‘Daniel’ helped influence a nation towards freedom.

Full the full book review and article on xenophobia, and how we, as Christians, should regard foreigners in our home countries click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Review of ‘Betjeman’ by A.N. Wilson

A.N. Wilson's biography of John Betjeman
A.N. Wilson's biography of John Betjeman

John Betjeman was a much loved modern poet whose unashamed ‘Englishness’ and chummy loyalty to the Church of England won him a place in many English hearts. His light and amusing poetry made him a popular hit giving him access (and sales) where other more serious poets stayed on the fringes of popular culture. He was tutored briefly by CS Lewis, was a keen lover of church architecture (including Edward Irving’s London church buildings) and a muddle of emotions and guilt when it came to relationships.

Read the full review here

Lost for Words – a tough week for John Humphrys

(from June 09 – but still relevant!)

John Humphrys, respected journalist and host of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme found himself verbally scrambling twice this week.

Those of us who appreciated his timely and humourous book, Lost for Words certainly felt for him.

First of all, on Thursday during a live interview with a Conservative MP, Humphrys was surprised to be asked how much he earned. The Times said he ‘stuttered’. Fair enough. Lost for words. We get it. No biggie.

But on Friday he was struggling again, and couldn’t find just the right good word when a naughty one came out instead.

Although he apologised for it, he also exonerated himself on two counts:

Firstly, he claimed it was a technical error, by mistakenly using one consonant instead of another. No, seriously! According to the Telegraph he said, ‘it came out slightly differently and had a ‘b’ at the front instead of an ‘r’ i.e. rollicking), and secondly he brought in the star witness, Professor of English Literature (University College, London), John Sutherland to submit convincing evidence that the mistakenly pronounced word was nevertheless ‘entirely innocent.’

Has this particular word therefore officially passed into general innocent usage? Also, as with many of these public apologies, do the words ‘an apology’ mean anything beyond the suggestion of moral weakness in those who feel they may require one?

One of the most surprising assertions in Lost for Words is that journalists themselves are the ‘guardians’ of language. I must admit, although I greatly enjoyed the book, and have recommended it, I had to laugh. I had wondered what the poets, novelists, playwrights, preachers and – even – English professors might think of that.

His appeal to a Professor of English in this instance may reveal that he is no longer as certain, and we can breathe a sigh of relief that journalists are not, thankfully, our linguistic guardians after all.

The moral of this story for anyone regularly involved in public speaking is surely the statement in the Book of Proverbs 10:19 ‘When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.’

I am not suggesting that Humphrys admission/denial of transgression is so serious, but simply that even the most experienced communicators get lost for words, get tangled.

The funniest instance of this I ever heard was from Simon Pettit, a pastor, who, when conducting a wedding gave out this mind-boggling spoonerism: ‘We are here today to witness Gareth and Nadine being joyfully loined in holy matrimony!’ The congregation tried, but could not repress their laughter for long until Simon was forced to ask, ‘Why are they laughing?’

Being lost for words can produce embarrassed silence, an outburst of laughter or the need for a humble apology all in one week, one day, even in one conversation! Maybe we shouldn’t be too hard on good Mr. Humphrys after all.

A review of Humphrys’ ‘Lost for Words’ can be read here
You can also purchase ‘Lost for Words’ here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Healing – how to pray successfully, a book review

Doug Jones 1

What kind of faith do we need to exercise to see the sick healed in answer to prayer? What expectation should a person have who comes for healing prayer? These and other questions are considered in a review of Doug Jones’ book ‘Positioning yourself to receive Healing’.

Click here to read the review

Steering clear of pulpit nonsense: Lost for Words, a Book Review

lost-for-words1

In order to achieve optimal outputs, the bottom line is we need to step up to the plate, raise the bar, push the envelope and think out of the box 24/7! It’s a no-brainer!

If you’ve either been impressed or nauseated by hearing someone speak like that then this short but punchy book by John Humphreys will help!

For the full review click here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Book Review of CH Spurgeon’s ‘The Soul Winner’

chs2
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

‘Even if I were utterly selfish, and had no care for anything but my own happiness, I would choose, if I might, under God, to be a soul-winner…’

Click here for the full review:

https://lexloiz.wordpress.com/ch-spurgeon-the-soul-winner/

Book Review – Jonathan Edwards on Revival

Jonathan Edwards’ first-hand accounts of the revival in Northampton have become authoritative classics on the subject. I hope this brief review will steer you to further study of the amazing ‘Great Awakening’ that took place in the 18th Century and included such heroes as George Whitefield, Howell Harris, and John and Charles Wesley.

jone2
Jonathan Edwards on Revival

Click here to read the review

Click here to purchase the book