Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Eating together

Enjoyed a good meal out last night with my fellow church leaders .Towards the end of the evening Steve led us gently in a discussion about how we can be more intentional in our evangelism. It was a very useful discussion and I am sure we will return to this at some point.

However in this post I just want to say how good it was to be out with friends; laughing ,sharing, & eating together.If you read the gospels you discover that Jesus spent more time eating and drinking with friends than he did in synagogue. Being together in a relaxed ,open environment is good for our souls.Relationships are important ,even vital to a mature Christian life

Services are important for a whole variety of reasons, but they are not enough .
Sitting in rows on a Sunday morning is not enough to build New Testament (Koinonia) fellowship. Church is not a building it is the sharing of our lives with one another, and with God through Jesus Christ.

We can discover more about Jesus as we see Him in each others lives. Together we can find strength to deal with the stuff that life throws at us.Here we learn "to weep with those that weep and rejoice with those that rejoice"- Here we can be real

It is exciting to see friendships deepening- Long may it continue!

Monday, 28 June 2010

It really is all about relationships

Everything I am reading at the moment tells me that it really is all about relationships !

Hague's biography of William Wilberforce makes it clear that Wilberforce was inspired,encouraged and helped in his desire to abolish slavery by the Clapham sect (though it was not a sect!)Out of this group of like minded Christians came charity schools in Ireland,relief of the poor in London,education initiatives in Africa,the Church Missionary Society ,the Sunday School union,the British and Foreign bible society .They founded a cancer hospital,2 eye hospitals ,sent Christan missionaries to India,and, of course ,the abolition of slavery, among many other things.
Here were a group of people who shared their lives together with the express intention of making a difference and they certainly made a difference!
It is powerful when Christians act like that and my desire for the church that I help lead is that we would have strong,intentional,accountable relationships among leaders (and indeed everyone) which seek to build the Kingdom of God among the places God has given us to serve in.

Our calling from God is to be disciples and make disciples and as Alan Hirsch reminds us in Forgotten Ways " For the follower of Jesus ,discipleship is not the first step in a promising career,but the fulfillment of their destiny to be conformed to the image of Christ" (Romans 8 v29)

It is often true in church life that we can get caught up with the petty and the insignificant but if we are called to be a disciple and make disciples what do we practically give our time to?

That's a key question that I am pondering at the moment. I am about to read a book on Christian mentoring) but the short( and all embracing answer!) is "to God and to people" How ? well the post below this one gives the answer in relationship to God. I quote
"Maintaining a healthy spiritual life that includes a deep, authentic relationship with God—one marked by prayer, humility, godliness, and the fruits of the Spirit"

Often we can try and meet other peoples expectations "go to this meeting ,represent the church there, support that church ministry,"but if we are called to be disciples some of this will have to go. In chapter 5 of his book Missional Renaissance Reggie McNeal spells out some of the adjustments leaders need to make, not least in terms of time, and I commend the chapter and the book to you
He concludes by emphasising the importance of intentional relationships- A church that ceases to be about people has become an institution. We must give our time to developing people ,to making disciples of Jesus.

Buildings,constitutions,committees have a place but they are not the key thing .It really is all about relationships! "Love God & Love your neighbour" Be a disciple ,make disciples
Sounds simple but there is a lifetimes service and ministry in there !

God give us strenghth to make the changes we need to make,in order to be the people we need to be!

Marks of a good minister

Analysis - Christian Reformed Church

A really excellent article! Especially this bit

We believe that excellent pastors are marked by six key traits and that any programming related to pastoral excellence must aim to strategically advance these traits. Excellent pastors are those characterized by:

1.A deep, authentic relationship with God marked by prayer, godliness, and fruits of the Spirit.
2.A strong vision of the mission of the church in which the church exists not merely to sustain itself but to serve the world and minister beyond itself.
3.A thorough grasp of the biblical, pastoral and theological contours of the Christian faith and church, with an ability to communicate these contours in meaningful, relevant, and integrative ways through sound preaching and teaching, and imaginative pastoral leadership.
4.A pastoral identity that includes healthy self-understanding, strong relational skills, relationships with significant others that provide mentoring and accountability, and a balanced life with respect to work and non-work.
5.An intelligent appreciation for the congregation as a social system that requires creative and patient leadership in the face of anxieties and conflict.
6.A commitment to lifelong learning, including personal, spiritual, intellectual, and professional growth and development.
A well-lived pastoral life gives evidence of these marks of good ministry. They represent vital habits and practices for sustaining pastors in ministry. In contrast to more utilitarian models, it is this holistic vision of pastoral excellence that needs to be promoted, taught, modeled, and encouraged through sustained programs and relationships.

A great aid as I think about my future role in the church

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Helping people grow

I am now turning my thoughts away from boxes,foxes and chickens towards discipleship!

One of the most challenging changes the missional church needs to make, is to help people grow.This will be one of the great themes of our new church in 2011 and one I am thinking about now!

One shift we will need to make is to allocate more time to people development ,(both our own and other peoples, for the two are powerfully connected)
I honestly believe that I need to focus more on developing myself and other people rather than supporting more meetings or programmes.
If I am going to do that some things will have to be given up and I am thinking and praying about what those things might be .Of course giving things up may not make be universaly popular, but I need to demonstrate in my own life the things I want to see happen in the whole church.( ie people discipling each other and helping each other grow in Christian maturity.This has to start with the church leaders but it must not end there

For some time now people have asked the reasonable question " What are we going to do with our buildings?"
It is a question that deserves some thought but its not the key issue. Our buildings will not dictate the sucess or failure of our church ,nor will the events or ministries we put on- but our discipleship will
The big question for our leaders, and utimately for us all, is this; Are we helping people towards Christian maturity?, If we are then prayer will increase ,evangelism will happen and people and the church will grow.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Mr Fox

We have really enjoyed our ex battery chickens ,we gave them names nursed them back to health after their experience in the battery. First thing in the morning and last thing at night, I got them out and put them away. After the first few weeks they were more than happy to be handled and they were amazing creatures!
This morning I went out at about 7am as usual but no sign of the chickens, just a lot of their feathers around.All 3 had been killed. I can only assume by a local fox I had seen on a couple of occasions recently. How he got into the cage I am not yet sure
We will get more hens soon and I will try and improve security, but better people than me have lost hens to foxes
Reflecting on the experience ,one of the great values of pets is not only the fun they are but the reminder they give us of their and our mortality . When I was a child a pet cat got run over. It was my first experience of the death of something I loved,a reminder that not only will animals die but one day we die too!
Of course because time is short the call is redeem the time ,to use it for Gods glory. Secondly, in Jim Elliot's words When the time come to die we must make sure all we have to do is die and that we have made our peace with God long before

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Hague on Wilberforce

I have been catching up on my reading and have today finished William Hague's very detailed and impressive biography of William Wilberforce. The tone of the book is sympathetic without being sycophantic. I was not surprised that Hague understood the world of politics so well or of his understanding of a fellow Yorkshire man , but I was impressed by the grasp he showed of Wilberforce's evangelical faith and how it was the motiviating factor for everything he did. In that respect Hague's work reminded me of Roy Hattersley's biography of John Wesley

Among the many admirable qualities of Wilberforce as Hague describes him, were his constant and faithful prayer life,his perseverance in so many causes ,chief among them, the abolition of slavery, until the goal was reached.I was impressed by how Wilberforce showed great compassion to so many people ,many of them strangers who turned up on his doorstep looking for help.I was moved by the care Wilberforce showed to his family and the way he coped with the loss of two beloved daughters,his faith really shone through. I admired the way he built coalitions and made strong relationships even with many of those with whom he disagreed .In todays terminology Wilberforce was a great networker,but he did not build networks for his own ends but for the cause of The Kingdom of God. In everything,good and bad, that happened to him, he sensed and trusted in God's providence.
Wilberforce was not perfect ,he could be indecisive (Hague thinks he would have made a hopeless minister of the crown) and at times much too trusting, but he was a remarkable man by the standards of any age, and Hague's conlusion that Wilberforce was "A beacon of light which the passing of two centuries has scarcely dimmed" is justified.
Wilberforce is a great example (perhaps even the greatest example) of a Christian politician and a demonstration of the huge difference just one committed person can make

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Apprentice DVD sample.wmv

Some interesting stuff from Steve Chalke- must find out more given that discipleship is going to be a key theme for our church next year (and hopefully every year!)

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Challenges of leadership

some good friends gave me this great card to mark my sabbatical!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


I had a number of aims for my sabbatical .One was to get my office sorted at last!
This meant nor only unpacking boxes and boxes of books, but also sifting through years of paperwork ,shredding some, recycling some and keeping some.
Like any minister I have had what I think of as tough times, but actually going through the paperwork was an unexpected blessing.There were newspaper cuttings of funerals I did long ago of people who were/are precious to me (not gone just gone before) Joyce and Stan and Peggy among others ,There were lovely letters of thanks for small things I had done or words I had said.There were bible texts and bible booksmarks and even bibles people had given to me! There was also a painting Dora had painted- All these I have kept ,wonderful reminders of the thoroughly undeserved priveledge I have had of ministering to God's people over the last 27 years.
There may have been tough times but I havent gone through them alone ,God has been with me and has blessed me and my family & with wonderful friends who have wept with me and laughed with me and prayed with me. These people are great encouragers. I thank God for them all

PS The office is pretty tidy Mission 1 accomplished!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

RSA Animate - The Empathic Civilisation

Not totally sound theologically but this video makes some powerful points!

Monday, 7 June 2010


A very thought provoking post from Simon Jones blog which challenges some of our Baptist ways!

The heart of communion

It was communion at the Later Service yesterday, so we did a version of the communion we'd used at Prism this year (HT to James), namely, we had cake and wine to remember the partying Jesus and bread nailed to a plank to help us reflect on the suffering Jesus. I think it worked well.

Communion as we practice it in our churches (certainly Baptist ones) can be a strange affair. A couple of days ago, David Kerrigan blogged about the vicar of Soham offering communion to everyone attending church in the wake of the killings there and describing it as a moving expression of mission. I'm sure he's right.

But wasn't it also the most natural thing to do. Isn't communion a picture of Jesus inviting us all to sit and eat and chat with him? And isn't it entirely right that the group sitting round the table with him will be a mixed bunch? Certainly every meal, banquet, feast and party Jesus attended contained a pretty mixed bag of guests - pompous religious folk, hookers, local crime bosses, ordinary working people trying to make sense of the economy and where God had gone.

We've turned communion in our churches into a solemn recollection of how Jesus died for me. Our habit of taking a morsel of bread and sip of wine reinforces this: just enough to tickle the taste buds with the thought that this is all about me and my salvation.

But when Jesus came to the aid of the bride groom at Cana, he made enough wine to keep party going for a month because the whole point of eating and drinking together is not the eating and drinking but the conversation that happens between mouth-fulls.

When Paul condemned the table manners of the Corinthians, it wasn't because they were eating and drinking with the unsaved or allowing those who didn't know who Jesus was to eat with them. It was because some were eating and drinking their fill, while others - mainly manual workers - arrived at the end of the working day to find only scraps left.

The point of communion, says Paul, is that poor and rich are equally catered for and that in sitting and sharing together around the meal table in a way that stresses the equality of people in Christ makes that meal a memorial of Jesus.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Sabbatical Day 1

Today is the first day of my sabbatical and what a beautiful ,sunny day it is!
This is a wonderful opportunity as I have written before to reflect ,to rest and to plan
Writing this blog is part of that reflection
The last few years have been very tough for me ,physically but above all spiritually and emotionally
The church has I help lead has survived and is now starting to thrive by the grace of God alone. We have a new sense of leading and direction. We are engaging together in mission to our community
It is not my purpose here to write about what has happened, but one very obvious thing I would say is that the support of other Christians in the family,the church and the local community hae been essential
I am grateful we do not have to live the Christian life alone but walk it with others
I feel blessed by so many of the people who have walked the road with me in past years They have truly been part of Gods great grace to me and I am thankful! The fact that we have been through many struggles means we are building what Hirsch calls communitas- Strong community forged through shared struggle
I will continue to see many people while on sabbatical but there also need to be space and time on my own to grow as an individual .I must be careful in Oswald Chambers word not to allow love for the work of God to replace love for God Himself

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

leading and following!

Shown this before but this time with an excellent commentary!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010


My church has been kind enough to grant me a sabbatical

I was very touched by the numbers who turned up to pray for me at a recent evening service. As I take time away from the busyness of ministry to pray to reflect ,to read, and yes ,to rest.

I thought it may be a useful discipline, and just possibly helpful to others, to put down on this blog at least a bit of what I am thinking and doing.

Before the sabbatical starts there is the handing over of pastoral concerns and other matters which will happen in the next 3 months .I am staying at home ,I imagine that if you were going to Honolulu( no seriously I have heard of a Baptist minister who is!) Then getting away would be even more stressful -though it would have its compensations!

Letting go of situations ,and even more of of people you care about, is quite difficult. I know myself well, I was not cut out to be a hermit ,so I will stay in touch with people, even if on a much less frequent basis.

It is very important to me that when I get back to work in early September, that I have not just thought about the direction of the church which will be stimulating, but the areas of church life that I feel called to minister in (God willing) in the next 10 or so years I have left in ministry. Carpe Diem!

All your prayer are appreciated!