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Friday, February 23, 2007


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Clearly God can and does act freely. This said, thought, the questions is then - was God acting freely there. How then do you measure God's active presence or not? Or to put that in other ways what do we mean when it is said that it was 'blessed' and or 'God's presence was experienced'. If our criteria for the presence of God is the evidence of lasting faithful witness - can we say that NOS was being blessed or experiencing God's presence. I am not being critical nor saying that this should be the criteria...but am happier with this than - 'we really felt the presence of God' as the standard.


I'll take a different tack, and say that while it is difficult to explain, it is ultimately good news. The "success" (and NOS has left a legacy that many would consider a success, hence Gibbs and Bolgers concern with it) of church does not rest on the 'goodness' of the leaders or on the effectiveness of the leadership rather it rests on God acting among a community of people.

Perhaps we can all relax a bit because it really is not all about us.


As someone who has long pondered the question of the relationship between christian leaders and the "success" or otherwise of their ministry, I've found Romans 11:29 particualrly helpful: "The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable". It's the flip side of God's grace - that it is still extended to the rebel long after they have despised and rejected it. It's encouraging to me know that God didn't make a mistake with me, and isn't going to someday throw his hands up in exasperation saying "That's the last straw! I've had it with you". It's easy to rely on gifting and calling and fail to develop good character.
Also, in God's eternal economy, the currency of success is completely different. Trying to bank the monopoly money of human success at the bank of heaven is such a ridiculous notion you wonder why we all still try it on, to a greater or lesser degree.


I've heard and read some reall mixed things about the NOS including some very scathing criticism from people who are otherwise pro-EC and/or alt worship. The word "cult" seemed to be thrown around quite liberally.

As far as the question of "sucess" and pastoral character, I've always taken a wisdom theology view about that - the connections are not axiomatic. It's not that I believe in a quixotic, fickle God, but rather, that our faith grows through perserverance and trust, not reward.

There is, of course, another possibility - maybe God was not so active and some claimed.

D Lochhead

Are you able to post a few bits about the work you are involved with?


Thanks for all the above comments. Things are really busy at the moment so I can't respond to these as I would like. Cheers, Brodie


just found this browsing through your archives. forgive me for adding to an old post :)

As someone involved with St Thomas' and NOS - yes there was lots wrong, especially in the leadership and in the lack of oversight from Diocesan staff and St Toms staff whils NOS was still a part of that church. There was also much done right,a nd done extremely well. Does God's success (for it is God's success, not one particular congregation)depend on the leadership of a particular group to always be right? I hope not, all churches would be screwed if this were the case. Rather, I believe it is about a community of faith seeking to serve God with what they have where they are. This is what the majority of NOS members were about, and were doing. many still are.

NOS wasn't a cult, wasn't dodgy, evil or corrupt - some of the leadership were dodgy and corrupt and promoted cult-like tendencies. despite the failings of the clergy in sheffield and the NOS leaders, God worked in and through the service and wider community to nurture the faith of hundreds of people. That is the sucees of NOS, and it is God's success.


oldcynic - don't apologies for commenting on an old post, hey it's great that you found it and left a comment.
You are of course right to bring the point that for the majority of people in NOS they were faithfully trying to follow God.

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