Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pat Took, Listening, Church Meetings and the Future of BUGB

I knew that snappy title would capture your attention....


Last week I attended the Heart of England Baptist Association (HEBA) Ministers’ Conference. We were privileged to have some thought-provoking, and quite challenging teaching from Pat Took (Current BUGB President, former Regional Ministers Team Leader in the London Baptist Association) and Roy Searle (Northumbria Community, former BUGB President also). 


The subject was “Listening” and, as Roy Searle’s grandson had pointed out, you might have thought ministers wouldn’t have needed much teaching on that. However, of course we do, we need to regularly be reminded of our call, and all that that entails.


I tweeted during one of Pat’s sessions, and some folks asked if I could collate them in one place, so I do so here. 


My feeling is that what she said has relevance far beyond our own interpersonal relationships and church meetings, and might say something to the current conversation about the future of the Baptist Union. I wonder if the lessons about learning that come towards the end of this series of tweets might speak to us about our deliberations and the processes we’ll go through in deciding the future shape of the Union (if there is to be one, that is...)


So, here are the tweets, I’ll offer commentary in the comments section if any aren’t as clear as you’d like them to be.
“the first thing God says about us is that we are good, the second is that it's not good for us to be alone: 
“there is an extraordinary, instinctive, primary desire for us to talk to each other”
"the problem is our self-obsessed nature makes it difficult to hear one another” 
"we need to listen for our own sakes, in order that accumulated wisdom might enable us to survive” 
“younger people need to learn to value the wisdom of age, older people need to learn to value new wisdom” 
"If we can step out of who we are and pay serious attention to another it is seriously enriching" 
“often the more different the other person is, the more enriching the listening might be"  
"We listen to each other, for the other person's sake, and in doing so we honour their humanity" 
"listening is a fundamental part of being human, and should be doubly so for pastors” 
“Pastors need to listen in a committed, generous and energetic way.” 
"I need to listen because it may be the other person's heart, the other person's mouth that is holding God's word for me" 
“if we have a deeply held conviction that God speaks through the gathered body, why don't we teach people to listen?" 
“Lesson 1. If you come to church meeting with your mind made up, you haven't heard from God" 
"Lesson 2. What we're seeking to know and do is the will of Christ, which might mean risky self-abandonment" 
"Each church meeting is a chance to be re-converted to the way of Christ. We need to keep re-learning this" 
"we need to learn how to recognise the voice of God together, which will be different from when we are alone" 
“if your church meeting decisions don't reflect the priorities of Christ, you're not discerning the mind of Christ" 
Your thoughts?

Monday, February 27, 2012

MovieChurch in Lent

Last night at MovieChurch we watched “the Fighting Temptations”. It’s the second time we’ve watched this film together (although, in my defence, the first time since we amalgamated evening congregations with another local church).

I’d originally intended on screening “Liar Liar”, but having been a little unsure of some of its content, watched it a third time and pulled it, a shame because it has some nice themes worth exploring.

So, a film to start Lent with. Was it a good choice? It really was. There are echoes of lent in the movie, with the heart of the story being a 6 week preparation for a choir competition called “Gospel Explosion”. The choir of Beulah Baptist Church has to go through many travails to get to the event, including ridding itself of some bad habits, embracing the marginalised and the outsider, and going through crises or faith and conscience.

Cuba Gooding Jnr displays a fine comic sensitivity, whilst drawing out some great depths from his character, the down-on-his-luck advertising exec in desperate need of a break.  Beyonce Knowles almost pulls it off too, with just a few moments of acting inexperience showing through what is at times a very moving performance. The supporting cast of actors and gospel singers makes for a fun time, and the soundtrack (which I recently bought, it’s just so good) keeps the film moving along sweetly.

It’s a musical/comedy/romance that has at heart a simple message that is sung in the final song. Imagine these words coming from the mouths of young and old, black and white, church hypocrites, murderers, thieves, alcoholics, liars and adulterers as an act of worship, and you’ll realise why this pastor's heart breaks as I hear the song:

Took me awhile, but i'm finally here
So I just wanna testify, make it crystal clear
See I've been picked out, to be picked on
Talked about out my friend's mouth
I've been beat down, til' he turned my life around

Seems like I always fall short of being worthy
Cuz I ain't good enough, but he still loves me
I ain't no superstar, the spot light ain't shinin' on me
Cuz I ain't good enough, but he still loves me

I used to, wake up somedays, and wished I had stayed asleep
Cuz I went to bed on top of the world, today the world is on top of me
Now everybody's got opinions
They ain't been in my position
But it breaks my heart when I hear what they
Have to say about me

Seems like we always fall short
of being worthy (Lord I ain't worthy)
Cuz I ain't good enough, but he still loves me (but you still love me Lord)
I ain't no superstar,
the spot light ain't shinin' on me
Cuz I ain't good enough, but he still loves me

I'm not perfect
Yes I do wrong
I'm trying my best
But It aint good enough
Shunned by the world
If I don't succeed
Cuz I aint good enough
But he still loves me

If you ain't worth just raise your hands
And let me know that you understand
Stand for him or fall for anything
Cuz through his eyes we all look the same

Seems like we always fall short of being worthy
Cuz I ain't good enough, but he still loves me
I ain't no superstar,
the spot light ain't shinin' on me
Cuz I ain't good enough, but he still loves me

I'm not perfect
Yes I do wrong
I'm trying my best
But It aint good enough
Shunned by the world
If I don't succeed
Cuz I aint good enough
But he still loves me

I'm not perfect
Yes I do wrong (If you understand me sang with me)
I'm trying my best
But It aint good enough (But the Lord is so good to me)
Shunned by the world (Shunned by the world world world world)
If I don't succeed (Shunned by the world)
Cuz I aint good enough (I ain't good enough)
But he still loves me (But the Lord still loves me)


Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Praying about Tab & Broad Street

Here at Tab we're praying about our closer working relationship with another church in the city. In our March Church Meeting we hope to be coming to some conclusions about the shape of the way forward. Please would you join with us in praying about this. Merging two congregations isn't an easy thing to do, but if it's what God has for us, then we'll glady embrace it!

The Leadership Team at Tab is encouraging prayer using the following points as a guide, a starting place. 

We're asking folks to pray especially each Tuesday, and join with others as we also fast on 7th Feb and 6th March. We will also provide one Saturday morning and two evening seminars to discuss the vision


Please Pray:
For our brothers and sisters at Church @ Broad St.

About our own desire to be a church for both Whitmore Reans, and the whole City of Wolverhampton

That there’d be a strong Christian presence and voice in the City Centre

That we’d have wisdom to make the most of a valuable resource for the Kingdom of God

For the balancing of our current needs, and future vision and hopes

That we’d focus on the lasting legacy we’ll leave, rather than temporary honour and glory