Friday, August 24, 2007

MiniCamp

The Youth Camp that we'd organised for August had to be hastily re-arranged as the field we rent was waterlogged.

So last week, instead of taking our young people and youth leaders away for a week, we ended up offering a shorter, MiniCamp, based from Bromley, but with several trips out. The first day was a trip to Thorpe Park, a theme park with very good rides, and very long queues.

I hadn't been to a theme park for a very long time (aside from one summer working in one in my student days) and it wasn't until i had safely shepherded the lads i was looking after into their seats, and got strapped in myself that I remembered "Oh yeah, rides, kinda scary..".

The second day was at the seaside, based in Whitstable, and included the rather surreal moment of ten of our group in the sea swimming and playing, being watched by ten on the beach huddled under raincoats, towels, umbrellas to keep dry from the rain.

Friday we went up into London to do the Big Bus tour, a boat trip and a walk through Kensington Gardens where we visited the Diana Memorial Fountain. This has been much criticised, but i found it to be a quiet, meditative, innovative place.

Friday night we had a sleepover in the church buildings, and surprisingly managed to actually get a few hours sleep!

Saturday we stayed in Bromley with outdoor activities morning and afternoon and a barbecue at the manse to finish off our time together.

Each evening we had some devotional time where we refelcted on some of the miracles of Jesus, and where we spent time in thanks for all that we'd been able to do, and all that God had given us.

Altogether a lot of work, but very rewarding, and affording an opportunity to spend time with our young people and some of the leaders that up until now I haven't had the chance to do.

Kinda need a holiday now though.

Catching up with good news


There’s a lot to catch up on, so today will probably be a multiple posting day.

Let’s start with the good news, something I’ve been meaning to share for a while. Following fertility treatment, we’re pregnant again (well, I say “we”…). It’s 14 weeks ago today we had a third course of treatment in Northampton – the first course resulted in our son, the second, last summer, was unsuccessful – and that makes my wife 16 weeks pregnant, baby (who is currently referred to as Hope) is due the 2nd week of February, about a month after our son’s 3rd birthday.

We’ve had a couple of scans, the first, at 8 weeks, allowed us to see the heart, and even hear it, and then we had another a few weeks ago that enabled us to see all was well again. It’s the strangest thing, catching a glimpse of this person who we’ll not meet for so long. “Surely you knit me together in my mother’s womb”. We’re blown away by the grace that has been extended us, and consider ourselves hugely blessed. We know, after having 12 years of childless marriage, how fortunate we are to have this treatment be successful.

We’re also blown away by the generosity shown us by our previous church, by friends, and by members of our family that have meant treatment was a possibility.

The picture is from the last scan, from sideways on you can see Hope is lying on her back, her head to the right of the pic, one of her arms extended up.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Reviving the near-dead

I've just started reading Kester Brewin's book "Signs of Emergence". I'm only 30 pages in but already convinced it's brilliant, it has to be, it agrees with many of my own preferences...

I wish I could write half as eloquently as he does, he explores so beautifully the situation of the contemporary UK church. One passage I wanted to share with you comes in the middle of the introductory chapter. Brewin has challenged the opinion that the route to the revitalisation of church is the personal holiness of members, arguing that it is because what churches offer is "boring, unchanging, irellevant, says nothing to them (church leavers) about their life, and was completely unconnected to their experience" that church attendances have declined so sharply. (by the way, is there any kind of matrix developed that could chart the pace of change in western society? I have a hunch that if we could compare the stats on church decline with the rate of change in society we'd see a pattern - the church shrinking at the rate it refuses to adapt to societal change)

It's not individual holiness levels that need to change, he argues, but our corporate actions. He goes so far as to suggest it is outrageous to continue taking people's resources and pouring them into "ruptured wineskins". Strong stuff.

And then..

People love to talk of revival, but fail to grasp that things that need reviving are by definition close to death. Yes, I believe the church needs to pray for revival, but I would like to reclaim the word from the ribbon dancers and charismatic sensationalists. When we talk of revival we should not think of some joyous time with thronging masses of people spontaneously coming to our doors. Rather we should wince at the prospect of the rib-cracking pain of emergency resuscitation as this dying body is shaken back to life. Put the discipleship books back on the shelves for a while and get down to the drawing board, for this is not going to happen through a an upsurge of personal holiness but by a radical transformation in our corporate practice.

Is emerging church a kind of near-death experience? Is it only when we come face to face with the near extinction (I struggle to believe that the church can fully die, as Jesus proclaimed to be continually building it) of the body that we are ready to deal with the pain of reviving it? I wonder how many of our fellowships will indeed die instead of changing before the wider church gets a clue and takes the leaps of imagination and faith necessarly to replant the church in contemporary Britain.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A glimpse of heaven

I'm aware that not all of my readers are people of faith, and that I really ought to do more to try and convince the heathen. So I'm posting this video as an effort to increase my evangelistic impact.