Showing posts from January, 2007

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

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

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