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Showing posts from 2007

Christmas messages

I have taken some time the last few days, following the Christmas activities, to read some of the messages friends and family have sent in their greetings cards. I love the messages we send each other at Christmas. I love too that we remember that we serve and have fellowship with a God who communicates with us. John uses his language carefully as he writes the gospel, “in the beginning was the word, and the word was God…and the word became incarnated and lived amongst us…” God sends a maessage, a word, his word, the word. And that message? Well, it seems to me we’ve gotten a bit confused about it. Some have mistaken it as bad news “You’re in big trouble with God!” or an offer of fire insurance “heading for hell? Depend on Jesus…”. Some think the message is about rules, regulations, committees, structures, abstract concepts and remote ideals. The message was and is more simple. God’s word to us at Christmas was and is “I love you”. I love you. I love you just as you are, but far

Unwrapping

Christmas Crackers and cards Reindeer and robins Snowmen and Santa Decorations and duckling Legs of turkey and laden trees Tacky baubles and tinkling bells Dodgy telly and dodgier tummies Cranberry sauce and carol singing Shepherds and stars, angels and animals Incense and innkeepers, myrrh and mangers Gifts of gold and Gabriel’s song, Magi’s worship and Mary’s wonder Joseph’s heart jumps at baby’s first cry, a child has been born and a crowd has been drawn. Then from Bethlem’s crib to a cruel cross, from a virgin womb to a borrowed tomb From babe’s first cry to blood’s last drop, from the child’s laugh to the dying man’s gasp From the wronged to the loved comes the gift of forever The babe is then wrapped in the leftover paper The box is stashed with the tinsel and lights The love of the Father awaits rediscovery In the unexplored package Left in the cupboard Christmas

U2 - Wave Of Sorrow

I am so looking forward to the rerelease of U2’s The Joshua Tree. Like so many people, it was the album that first turned me on to them. It looks like some extra material that wasn’t on the original recording is going to make it into this one, and I came across a short film (8 mins or so) where Bono is talking about one of these songs and its meaning. I'm posting this clip because I found it moving, but more than that because it's a very intimate little film that gives us an insight into the creative process and theological craft of Bono. I hope you enjoy it, and find it as inspirational as I did.

Check out ASBO Jesus

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If you haven't clicked on the link in my blogroll to The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus you really should. I love the simplicity of the message and the medium, this cartoon recently spoke heaps to me. Check it out today.

What's wrong with this picture?

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I saw this poster recently, in fact there were quite a few of them, dotted around, near the exits of our local shopping mall. I had to do a double-take, wondering if I'd really seen what I thought I had. Just in case you can't quite work it out, the poster asks first if a person has a spare room, then informs that this agency gives £380 per child per week. It's in the smaller print that we learn that the agency is a care and foster agency. Isn't the message here a bit off key? When did we, as a community, start seeing foster care primarily as a financial issue? Isn't it odd that the recruitment doesn't mention a caring attitude to children, or a desire to help? Is foster care in our capital city just a business transaction? Isn't this hugely offensive, or am I over-reacting? I'm sure that the agency would do proper training and checking of suitability, but it's just mad that the basis of the appeal for more foster carers is that it's a money-spin

Sorted

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From time to time I recommend books and magazines, and I’ve come across a new mag I want to encourage you to get hold of. A few years ago, some friends and I started an organisation called Geezers for Jesus, we wanted to do a few things, one was to provide an online resource for guys to talk about the realities of living as both a Christian and a man in today’s world with all the challenges that entails (a quest for an understanding of what might be called a masculine spirituality), the other was to facilitate men’s gatherings around the country to be more relevant in their approach to men’s’ ministry. Well, the first part, the online resource has existed for a quite a while http://www.geezersforjesus.org.uk/ , the second part has been slower coming. With my Geezers for Jesus hat on I was delighted to find that Wesley Owen are stocking the new magazine Sorted, solidly geared towards Christian men, and british men at that! – rather like The Blokes’ Bible, this is real, accessible and r

To wear a poppy?

Over on his excellent and thought provoking blog Leaving Munster , Graham has been writing about his attitudes and response to the wearing of a red poppy. It's a subject that I have often wrestled with and so I replied to his posting there, but also thought I'd like to hear your points of view. Essentially Graham argues that the wearing of the red poppy, coupled with a nationwide act of remembrance where every soldier who died is lumped together as valiant and noble perpetuates the myth that war solves things, and glorifies the sacrifice of armed service personnel. Here's my response - what do you think? It's a great and powerful post, thanks Graham. And yet, I do feel conflicted. On the one hand I hate that war occurs and I hate that people die. On the other, I live in relative freedom, one that in all truth I doubt I'd live in if certainly the second world war had been lost. I also feel torn that there are people who - whether I like it or not - fight in my n

UK; Saudi visit.

There are occasions when I'm not so proud to be British. The way that the establishment rolls out the red carpet to leaders of oppresive regimes sickens me. I really hope that someone, somewhere had chosen the music to accompany the arrival of the Saudi royal at Buckingham Palace as a kind of comment.

Remembering the saints

It's a strange day. 20 years ago today I had the encounter with an evangelist that would go on to reshape my life completely, and all because of a dear old saint who prayed. Alma was one of those easily-overlooked-on- earth heaven shakers. Alma prayed and things happened. It being Halloween , and Alma being what some would describe as a prayer warrior, intercessor, spiritually attuned (pick your favourite term, or tell me of a better one), she was certainly going to be at the prayer meeting in church that night, to pray for God to touch the lives of young people especially, and to ask his protection for those who might be opening themselves up to less than helpful spiritual experiences on that day when darkness seems just a touch darker still. That early evening, as she waited for her bus, Alma spotted some graffiti  left by a local gang, a list of names and tags. Alma, being Alma, took out a notepad and wrote down the names as best she could, struggling to make out what

Advert : I am Product

Advert : I am Product

This coming Sunday in Cafe Church we'll be thinking about how advertisers seek to entice us into gaining our sense of identity through the consumer choices we make. I like this video on the subject, and may well use it on the night. The text is: I am product. Your senses reel at the sight of my seductive branding. Your feelings of inadequacy heightens without me. I complete you. Arms laden with disposable carrier bags filled with me, you feel a sense of purpose briefly kindled in your lonely soul. I am built in a plastics factory by unhappy people in a land you've never been to. Shipped in bulk, stacked high in warehouses nationwide, I provide you with a sense of individuality you could not otherwise achieve. You are Target Market, my End User Consumer. You need me, feed frenzy, buy me use me break me. Buy another. I am worth the vice grip stress of debt. You are worth what you paid for me. Indulge yourself. Suckle on the post-consumer afterglow. Tell your friends. Key in

Have you seen Andrew?

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Andrew Gosden Age at disappearance: 14 Andrew has been missing from Doncaster, South Yorkshire since 14 September 2007. His current whereabouts remain unknown but it is thought he may have travelled to London. There is great concern for Andrew due to his age. He can call the Runaway Helpline on Freefone 0808 800 7070 for confidential advice and support. Andrew is 5ft 4ins tall, of slim build with collar length, light brown hair and brown eyes. It is thought Andrew will be wearing black jeans, a black T-shirt and black trainers. Andrew is likely to be carrying with him a black canvas satchel with patches of rock/metal bands on it. Any information 0500 700 700 24 hour confidential Freephone service

It's nearly halfway through October!

Seems like I’m forever catching up Well some highlights since last posting, or from about that time but I haven’t had a chance to yet. We had Ruth and Glen Powell come for dinner whilst they were touring the country. They live and work in Sydney, Glen for the Uniting church, encouraging fresh expressions, Ruth for NCLS Research, an organisation that researches church trends in Aus. Glen and I had corresponded through the youthmultimedia group I’m part of, and so it was a good chance for us to meet up properly, to hear about their work, to see if there are ways that we in Bromley might get involved with some of the excellent qualitative as well as quantitative research that Ruth does. Another wonderful online connection. I searched on facebook for some old friends who we’d lost touch with from our days living and studying in Lancaster. They too had experienced fertility problems, and we were overjoyed to discover they had a daughter about the same age as our son, having had treatment

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 bo

Catching up with good news

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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 1

Reviving the near-dead

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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 soc

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.

Another martyr for peace

I heard the news today that a second South Korean Christian worker has been killed by the taleban in Afghanistan. May God be gracious to those who remain, who grieve, who question and who continue to work for peace. Pastor Bae Hyung-kyu, 42, the leader of the team was the first team member to be killed by them earlier last week, his body was repatriated to South Korea yesterday. Shim Sung-min was aged 29, and was an IT worker, his body was found beside a road yesterday evening, local time. The taleban are calling for the release of prisoners. I'm glad it's not me that has to make the tough decisions here, and I pray that God would give them grace and wisdom.

Recent reading

I've read a few good books lately having had a holiday, and also hitting a stream of inspiring reads. I read Sex God by Rob Bell, and found it a really helpful book. Both as a pastor and as a frail human this book helped me reflect on a good number of relationships from the past and present. His analysis that we are meant to be human, not angels nor animals is wonderful, worth reading the book just for that insight. I also read Revolution by George Barna, a very good analysis of the growing phenomenon of faith outside church in the US. I wonder if it translates to other cultures well, It didn't fit the UK but could see some useful stuff in it. On holiday i read Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg, a really great, twisty, windy thought provoking and moving murder mystery. This was set in Denmark and Greenland, and being rooted in a culture other than the ones i guess i tend to read about (UK, US, Aus) added a whole other level of involvement. I finished Steve

Inhabiting Scripture meme

Andy Goodliff has kicked of a meme from his blog. I normally give these a wide berth, they do seem a bit self-indulgent, but because (a) Simon Jones completed it then tagged me to do it next and (b) because this one might actually tell you something useful about me, I decided to do it. Andy kicks it off with a quote from David Ford’s book “The Shape of Living” ... be alert for some key passages of the bible to inhabit in a special way. Hans Urs von Balthasar has said that often a saint's whole life can be seen as living out just one verse of scripture. One rich verse or story can be essential to our vocation, as we come back to it year after year, and find further dimensions to it. The great words, verses and passages of scripture and the liturgy are like houses which, as we study, pray, suffer and love, are made habitable with our own furnishings, pictures, meals and children ...' Andy then invites people to “post that verse or story of scripture which is important to you

Sesame Street - Mahna Mahna

So, this is either: a, a random moment to make your day brighter; b, a profound comment on the way that some people will only accept our leadership as long as we do it their way; or c, a trip down memory lane. Take your pick.

Three voices are better than one

Last night I did something I hadn’t done before, it’s always a risky/fun/scary thing to do in church world. I was on the preaching plan to speak in our current series on the Psalms, Songs of Experience . It’s a short series where we’re looking at a selected group of psalms that have a particular experience that they speak about. Last night was Psalm 139, a psalm that reflects on being known by God, and a little about knowing God too. So far so normal. However, I’d had an idea that instead of doing a straightforward preach - something I love doing but suspect (no, am pretty convinced) has become increasingly culturally irrelevant as a means of either communication or as a learning experience – I would approach the text in a different way, by involving other people in a conversation / dialogue about the passage. One of the delights of coming to a new place is the new friendships that develop, and especially those with people who have a heart to see God’s kingdom established. In the la

Spirit-shoved Church part 2

Back at the start of March this year I blogged a little about a sermon I was preparing on the second half of Acts 11, suggesting it would be the first of many posts on the subject as I felt it was a passage that has some useful things to say to people in the emerging church context. Well, I’m sorry to keep you waiting if you have been… In the passage (Acts 11:19-26) there are some things I want to flag up, about the relationship between the more established church and the church that was emerging in a different cultural context. The church in Jerusalem although it was in its infancy, was also the church of the beginning, and so could have considered itself normative. I find it interesting to see the response of the Jerusalem church to the news of many people becoming Jesus-followers in Antioch. They send one of their own leadership to take a look and see. In many ways one might have expected them to send Peter, given his recent experience with God’s move amongst gentiles, but instead

Catching Up

I’ve just finished reading Rob Bell’s latest book, Sex God . It’s written in the same style as Velvet Elvis, with that mix of storytelling, exegesis, and one line statements and thoughts. One of the things I like about his books is that he writes pretty much as he speaks. If you hear his podcast, or watch a Nooma dvd or read his books, it’s the same style, and it’s a relaxed, informal yet informative style that I find draws me into his thinking and invites me to explore with him the topics he’s raising. Sex God is his exploration of sexuality and spirituality. He argues that we are not to fall into an extreme idea of human identity with regards to sexuality, saying that these extremes are to think of ourselves either as angels (all spirit) or animals (only bodies), but that as embodied spiritual beings we are to exhibit the best of both of those. Sex, he says, is a spiritual act, that expresses the fulfilment of promise and commitment. He also claims that it is to be a foretaste of

Young people these days....

I don't know what the world is coming to. Yesterday evening I took our dog, Sally, to a local park for a run. It was in that in-between time of day, 20.15, so not late, but not early. As I walked into the park I saw a group of three teenage lads, wearing hoodies, kicking a football between themselves and laughing loudly as they listened to music on their mobile phones. Only, the laughter was because they were good mates really enjoying a kickabout, and the music was opera (!), and as I passed by with my cheery, "Hi" one reached into his pocket and pulled out - no, not a knife - a tennis ball, and said "I just found this mate and we're not using it, do you want it for your dog?" Kids these days huh?

Assembly Unplugged 1

Hi, If you're looking for the blog with the Assembly YouTube clips we used you'll find it at http:www.assemblytubes.blogspot.com I'll write more later, but we've just had a great time, with a run of three really good late night chatshows that have got me thinking of a very different way of doing church, we've had cafe church, how about Cabaret Church? More on this later....

We Are Here: The Pale Blue Dot

We Are Here: The Pale Blue Dot

I recently got sent a link to this, and thought it was so beautiful I’d share it with you. Some of the text (I think, as there’s a few versions out there and this one is from wikipedia): “We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam. The earth is a very small stage in a va

When God shows up

Last night was one of those times. My wife and I (and others in the church leadership here) had had a tough week, facing some criticism, and trying to address some long-running and unresolved issues in the church. I was tired, but I was excited; one of the most dynamic and honest preachers I've heard in a long time was coming to visit us. Prior to our move last year she had spoken at the church in Northampton, and had delivered a message that was just so perfectly inspiring, challenging and empowering for where we as a church were. I hoped that God would use her as powerfully again. Well, Kate Coleman, unbriefed about the issues, and indeed unbriefed about the nature of our forthcoming church conference, spoke directly into the heart of our situation, both generally as a church and specifically into the issues of the week. It wasn't just me feeling under fire, the whole team here were. She gave a challenge for the church to address the issues that would prevent us from movi

The Message

Just loving the power of this short film, a glimpse of the potential for networked communities to produce something beautiful, inspiring, profound and moving. It could almost be a contemporary set of beatitudes. The film was made when the creator - MadV - invited responses to the final part of the film, the masked guy, on youtube. I wonder if we can express this kind of creativity in churchworld? Maybe some weeks we'd be better off if, instead of crafting a 20 minute sermon, someone made something like this and we talked about it instead. Anyway, I'm buzzing with ideas on this now, and if anyone has a spare digital camcorder they don't need, they should get in touch!

Weird Weather

March 12th and my son was playing in a neighbour's garden in a paddling pool, and I had to mow the lawn as it's growing so quick. And we finally get around to fixing the problem with heating in the building where much of the youth ministry is based. Bizarre.

Spirit-shoved Church part 1

In our Sunday morning services at the moment we are considering how the Holy Spirit guided the early Church. Last week, I spoke from the second half of the 11th chapter in Acts, a passage about the beginnings of the Church in Syrian Antioch. I’m recording some of my thoughts here as I think they relate to the situation we find ourselves in today, not that a Jewish church is figuring out how to relate to a gentile one, but that the established church is having to work out how to respond to an emerging one. This is going to be the first of many posts on this passage. There is a danger of making a grave mistake when we read the Bible. We can fall into the trap of thinking that just as we can see what God was up to, how things worked out so that His kingdom is established, strengthened and extended, so too the participants at the time knew. We can create in our minds an image that those whose journeys of faith are recorded in the Bible somehow had got hold of a map, and knew exactly wher

Inconvenient Truths

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Tonight was the latest in our series using movies in Cafe Church to explore spiritual themes. An Inconvenient Truth, the enthralling documentary of Al Gore's powerpoint presentation on climate change (and what a miracle to take such potentially dull material and presenter and to t urn it into something rivetting) gave us the first of what will likely be a number of opportunities to explore climate change and environmental issues from the persective of our lives being led as Jesus followers. We used five short clips from the film, interspersed with a quiz, some thoughts and reflections and also three focussed zones. One zone invited people to get in touch with the idea of God as creator by using clay we provided to model something or to use the paper and paints. We invited people to reflect on the creative process, and frustration that might arise as their creations didn't turn out as they'd imagined. Our second zone invited people to pray, and to make a note of the issues t

Come the Revolution

My week's having a bit of a revolutionary theme. This week I got round to watching "Moulin Rouge" with its own powerful rendition of The Children of the Revolution used to bracket and background the movie and key scenes. I was blown away by several scenes, especially the excellent medley of love songs sung in the elephant room and Roxanne . The irony of these children of the revolution being as much under the power of the wealthy ruling class as they were before (business instead of royalty) and the use of love songs that are the backdrop to our contemporary lives being used to highlight the rampant hedonism of the period portrayed were insightful and profound. What we might look back and criticise in that generation we have fully embraced in our own perhaps? The other Revolution in my thinking is the title of George Barna's book that I've nearly finished. Its a wonderful little book, very readable and very direct. Barna has thrown his lot in with, and is seekin

It's a freedom thing

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So. here's a pic with the freedom key just put in. It's not subtle is it? It'll take a while to get used to being in, and i may use a different attachment as although this one makes it very easy and gentle to put on and remove, it is very dangly. Anyway, if you see me and I'm not wearing it, do ask why not. And if you haven't hit the Stop the Traffik link that the top and begun to get involved, then please do.

Getting Pierced

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So, here are some pics of the first part of my awareness raising for the Stop the Traffik campaign (follow the link from the top of my blog for more details). Along with one of my colleagues, Simon, I had my ear pierced, on Friday, so that today, Sunday, in a special service to focus on the campaign I could have a freedom key hung from it. I'll be able to post the pics with the key in tomorrow, I'm awaiting for them from the photographer. In the first pic, I am just having the needle pushed through, in the second the ring is being threaded through the hole and in the third that's how I look with the ring in. Some people have asked why I've had it done. And there are a number of answers. In part it is because I'd heard of another minister who'd done the same thing, and was inspired by that. But the piercing for me had a deeper meaning. In the Old Testament, a slave who had reached the end of their service could opt to remain with the household they had been
Coupland Movie Trailer I have no idea when or if this is going to get a UK release. If anyone has more information, please do let me know. Vancouver, aliens, slackers and pot - has Coupland got stuck in a rut?

Teaching and Learning

On a facebook group i'm a member of someone asked what it would be like if people who teach in church could help their listeners realise that this was the first word, not the last, on a subject. How different would things be if people used sermons as a starting point for discussions, rather than just assimilating a new understanding of truth into their understanding of Jesus and his message? The message was written from an american perspective. The text in italics was my reply. I'm not sure I'd fully identify with the idea that when I taught something it was the final word. I find myself more and more inviting people onto a journey of discovery, offering suggestions, sharpening questions, discovering more options that the two I'd been presented with. Although contemporary spiritual seekers here in the UK will often be willing to follow a new age guru, when it comes to the message of Jesus it seems that everyone has an opinion, and they all are held as valid. I'm no

The best of British

I've just finished reading Billy Bragg's The Progressive Patriot . I've enjoyed it on a number of levels. The way he writes is much as he speaks, and it's been a joy to hear his voice as I've read his words. The question the book is addressing is one of identity and meaning for progressive british society. In the wake of a rise in support for racist political parties and with much discomfort, misunderstanding and confusion of what it might mean to be a multicultural society, is there anything that people in progressive politics might want to cling on to or even celebrate in a distinctively british identity? Bragg argues that a renewed discussion of britishness might be a uniting rather than dividing exercise, that it might rob the racists of a platform by revealing that to be british has always meant to be tolerant and open to other cultures. He writes a persuasive book, I commend it to you. It seemed to me, in reading it, to have something to say to those of us

Movies in Church

In the first three Cafe services of the new year we're continuing to use movies to explore spiritual themes. Last weekend we pondered on Groundhog Day, the excellent Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, an obnoxious weatherman, caught in a day that keeps repeating itself. After his initial fear, frustration and depression at the never changing cycle of events, Phil first exploits the situation for his own ends, but then he is touched by the plight of an old gentleman who dies. Phil tries all he can to save the fellow, but to no avail, in doing so he learns about the needs of people in the town he's visiting, he then spends one of his days helping as many people as he can. It is this day that is the last one that he is trapped in, once again re-entering normal time and life. Given the time constraints, and the fact that the majority of the audience hadn't seen it, we had to be selective in what we did. So we chose three scenes to help us think about making a new start. We beg

Laying down and picking up gauntlets

I have just got back from the Mainstream Leader's conference, and I'll write about that later, I have some comments from the weekend I wanted to share first. On Sunday evening I met with a group of people in their twenties to pitch to them some ideas about new ways of doing church. I was asking for their help. We spoke about the need for our church to find a group that could become very experimental and creative, and about the opportunity and freedom there was to think in novel ways about who we should be, what kind of things we ought to be doing, and the "how to" that we would engage in one we'd figured out values and vision. Well, they said yes, and inwardly I breathed a deep hallelujah. The group is a creative one, fun to spend time with and ripe for a challenge. I was greatly relieved, as I hadn't identified a plan b if they'd have said no. So where to from here? Well we agreed that we'd spend the next few months thinking and reflecting on the valu

An Open Door

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In God's first century letter to the Church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) an image of an open door is used. God says that he has seen the way that the people there had lived as those who genuinely believed the gospel message and had undergone persecution and hardship because of it. Because of this, he says, he is placing an open door in front of them. It's a passage we'd studied in church in autumn, and the image had been used a few times since. Thinking about which image I could use to help us reflect on the coming year, I couldn't get the thought of the open door out of my head. I wonder how many doors had been closed because we'd stuck fast to Jesus and his teaching. I wonder what doors of opportunity God will open for us in the coming year. I see this image as a doorway of opportunity that flows both ways, I like that light is coming in from outside the door, it speak to me of us being open to the ways that God will speak to us, challenge and encourage u

Reflecting on 2006

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On Sunday morning, I used this montage to help us reflect on the year that had past. I wanted to use well known faces (or people whose images might be less well known, but people would associate with the name) to help us think about the events and changes of the past year. I thought of people who has passed away this last year - pictures of Coretta Scott King and Steve Irwin were included - to help us think about those who died in the natural course of life, and those who died suddenly. I used images of UK politicians to reflect on changes in leadership in our nation's political parties, and to help us (although I didn't spell this out) to reflect on changes in our own church leadership team. An image of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld was used to help us think about relationships that had broken down, professionally or personally. Pictures of Saddam Hussein and President Ahmadinejad were included to help us think about situations that concern us. Andrew Flintoff losing the A

Looking into 2007

So, it’s a new year, God bless us all. As I look into this coming year, I’m challenged, as always, to consider that my goals are for the year. In terms of ministry, I want to see progress made on what I call “the three M’s of youth ministry”, Mentoring, Milestones and Mission. With mentoring in mind, I’m heading off to the Mainstream Leaders’ Conference next week. I’m really looking forward to engaging with what Philadelphia, Sheffield have been doing with LifeShapes, a programme for peer to peer mentoring. In the light of this and drawing on other materials, I’ll be creating a mentoring programme for every member of our youth ministry , followed, in time I hope, by every member of the church who wants it. I’m also keen to place some intentional milestones into the coming year. I want to plan for the things that our youth and young adults will look back on as significant moments of learning, encounter and community. We need to know not just that God loves the world, but also how it fee