Friday, 22 October 2010

Advent poster

Having been brought up in an Anglican environment(not that I went to church much !), I am turning my thoughts to Advent,(which is not far away now) a season of hope and preparation for the coming of the Messiah.
I was very struck by the churches advertising network campaign poster this year of a baby in their mothers womb
The thinking behind the idea is explained here organisers hope that the poster will capture people's attention and spark conversations about the birth of this very special baby, with as much relevance today as 2000 years ago.

Commenting on the new poster, the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, said: "For many parents pregnancy gets real when you see the image from the ultrasound scan. It tells you something is actually kicking off. We've got so used to the tinsel-wrapped cosiness of the carefully packaged 21st century consumer-fest Christmas, that its astonishing reality - an actual pregnancy, a God come down to earth - is easily missed. But this image demands attention. So does this child. He's on his way.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Mission Shaped Ministry reflections on the course

I said at the end of my previous post that I would blog some of my impressions of the local course.I should add that as I blog there is still 1 Saturday session left.

First of all we met in the excellent Trinity Centre,Meole Brace which was opened in the last couple of years and is a fantastic resource both for Meole Brace Parish Church and the local community. The fact that the centre is comfortable ,warm, light, with an excellent kitchen, and lots of parking nearby, made it a wonderful venue for the course.

The course makeup consisted of a, mostly monthly, 2 hour session on a Monday night augmented by some all day Saturday sessions, and 1 weekend away.

The length ,of the sessions was about right, though I confess I did leave early on 1 Saturday session to see Shrewsbury Town play- if that's the right expression!

The sessions were led by a whole variety of different people including the course organisers, though nearly all came from a Methodist or Anglican background ,which is reasonable, given the provenance of the course, and for a few Baptists like us ,it made the course quite refreshingly different.

The notes we were given were comprehensive and,( if you had the time,) well worth reading.
I am sure I shall refer to them many times in the future.
The delivery of the course, in all honesty, was very mixed. Some of the sessions were outstanding and were easy to give top marks on the ever present feedback forms.Others were much less inspiring and the odd one even, dare I say ,a little boring. I suppose this is to be expected on such a long course spread out over almost a year,delivered by so many diferent people.

Technology was also quite a struggle at times and I felt sorry for Mark, one of the course leaders, who was always trying to get something to work.He usually, but not always, found an answer.

The highlight of the course for me was the weekend away .I had gone with apprehension, rather than apathy, as I so much wanted it to be good, but feared it wouldn't be.
I need not have worried ,it was wonderful.
We went to Shallowford house a diocesan retreat centre with its own bar! It was great to get to know many others on the course,including the leaders Anne and Mark, much better , to share experiences and fellowship ,it was a weekend full of top teaching,,inspiring ideas,great food and a wonderful communion service on the Sunday morning.
The weekend alone for me would have made made the course worthwhile. The only change I would make would be to put it earlier in the course so that relationships could be built quicker.

In summary then my favourite bits;
The weekend away
The relationships built
Some of the sessions
The excellent course notes
Great food
Great venue
Some inspired ideas

I struggled with
One or two of the sessions ( One I simply didn't get at all -but others did -so it was probably me!)
Understanding the theology that underpinned the course

In conclusion a very helpful course with great opportunities to network with a load of different and interesting people who were working out what it means to be missional, some good content and some inspiring ideas.
it was very helpful to us as we plan new town centre ministries relevant to the 21st century

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Fresh Expressions

Last night we attended the penultimate meeting on the Mission Shaped Ministry course run by Fresh Expressions. This is a movement largely sponsored by the church of England and The Methodists. Fresh Expressions is inspired by both the gospel and by the dramatic decline in church attendance, to attempt to make the Christian message relevant to people who are not already part of a church. In doing that task, the course encourages Christians to seek to redefine what it is to be church in the 21st century and aims to create new ways of connecting with the communities in which they live.
There is a heavy ,and I would say biblical, emphasis on listening,service,incarnational mission and making disciples.

The movement has a great deal to commend it,not least this great desire to reconnect the gospel and culture, as although the truth doesnt change, the ways in which we share that truth with people must change. This is partly why Luther suffered and Wycliffe died. If we accept that we live in a largely unevangelised country ,then we must engage in cross cultural mission and this will almost certainly involve "doing things differently" We should not be afrid of that.

I did have some concerns ,the theology that underpins the course wasnt always obvious,to me at least. There were in my view questions "How Fresh Expressions of church relate to other churches?" and indeed "What constitutes a true church?"

These questions however do not affect my admiration for the movement and to coin a phrase; I certainly prefer the way Fresh Expressions are doing it ,to the way so many of us Christians are not doing it!
I will blog in my next post some of the stuff about the local course

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Celebration of New Ministry

In the old days we would have called it an induction service but the title on the front of the order of service was, The Celebration of New Ministry,which is a longer but preferable title in my opinion.
The church where the celebration took place was Christ Church Bayston Hill and we were not only celebrating the arrival of a new Vicar - Tim Lomax- who steps into the shoes of the much loved Ralph Goldenberg, who recently retired after many years of faithful ministry, but also celebrating the ministry of his wife Kate, who was Licensed as Associate Minister.
The service had a great deal to commend it, not least Bishops Marks sermon which was brief, and reminded me again that a sermon does not need to be eternal to be immortal. The Bishop spoke apropriately about the necessity for a leader to also be a servant.The hymns and prayers backed up this theme well and included a couple of my favourites Stuart Townend's Speak Oh Lord and Tim Hughes God of Justice.
In an interview with the Bishop; Tim came accross as full of faith and enthusiasm, with a passion to make a difference and a very strong sense of call

The singing was loud and enthusiastic,the amens were very affirming and taken together they signalled how excited the church are about the future under new leadership

These kind of services can drag on a bit ,but this one was over in about 65 minutes and it had everything necessary including an excellent Blessing at the end which included the words
May the boldness of the Spirit transform us,
the gentleness of the Spirit lead us,
the gifts of the Spirit equip us,
to serve and worship The Lord

I look forward to serving and indeed worshipping with Tim as I have with Ralph in previous years to build God's Kingdom in Shrewsbury

YouTube - Passion 2010 DO SOMETHING NOW!

YouTube - Passion 2010 DO SOMETHING NOW!

A moving Montage from Passion 2010 Conference organised by Louie Giglio
I worked briefly with Louie many many years ago on a mission in Ross on Wye and Gorsley and got to know him and his wife Shelley a bit ,though I havent seen him for many years
I admire the way his passion has never dimmed and was excited to hear about the church he is planting in Atlanta and his gospel priorities
A very genuine guy indeed

Monday, 11 October 2010


Powerful and challenging words on discipleship from Alan Hirsch authour of The Forgotten Ways Handbook - Sorry the screen is so big I will work it out one day

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Merger questions

Merger questions

We are not the only church in Shrewsbury to be formed by a merger of 2 other churches. Phil Whittal ,I think, asks most of the right questions on his excellent blog

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

In praise of Administration and especially administrators

The body is a unit,though it is made up of many parts,and though all of its parts are many ,they form one body.So it is with Christ 1 Cor 12 v12

It is no great secret that I am a poor administrator. Through the years, countless people have been kind enough to remind me of the fact.
Through the years, I am sure I have frustrated many of the people I have worked with by my lack of expertise in this area.
It's not that I don't think good administration is important ,it is just that I am not very good at it. There are some things I do okay, but administration is just not one of them.
I love people and preaching I am fascinated by concepts, ideas and vision, but I am poor on detail; and yet I recognise that administration is one of the most important ministries given to the church. Without it few of the other ministries would be able to function, and if they functioned they would not be very fruitful.
Without administration ideas would rarely be translated into action and vision into reality
Our church is going through a time of change which is possibly unprecedented in its history. The change is not just about names or about buildings,we are working through a complete change of church culture in order to, even more faithfully, love God, serve our neighbours and preach the gospel. Perhaps good administration is even more critical at such times, for the process is long and sometimes seems hard ,but without the gifts of administrators it would seem impossible.
God knows my weaknesses in this area and has always provided gifted ,patient and above all spiritual people to help me in this task. We sit down week by week and plan the steps we need to take, to achieve the goals we believe God is calling us to reach for. By using their considerable God given gifts ,they make it easier for me to use mine
When I started leading churches some 27 years ago I never thought I would say this but I truly do thank God for administrators who have also become friends and fellow workers
Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you has a part in it ..and in the church God has appointed...those with gifts of administration

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Harvest Breakfast

Alan Hirsch
The way to the universal is through the particular. The best way to love the world is to love your neighbor ~


We did another in a series of events for the local community today.
In the past year or so we have had curry evenings ,afternoon teas,Italian evenings, community days and a Christmas brunch.
In my view all have been very worthwhile.There is that moment every time , when you worry if anyone will turn up, but,in fact ,people seem to be coming in ever increasing numbers, and speaking to many of them today ,they seem delighted to come.
Today we served up Harvest Breakfast.

Great coffee, toast and croissants ,a wonderful Harvest display, a great all age talk and a powerful challenge given by Tim ,one of our church leaders, added up to make this not only a good event for local people but also a thought provoking way to celebrate Harvest.

As a new church we are deeply committed to serving people,and sharing something of God's love with them. In order to do that ,we have to build real relationships with our neighbours. We want to disciple people but we cant do that until they know the gospel and we know them.Today was another enjoyable step on that exciting journey

Friday, 1 October 2010

I quit - From ministry Toolbox website

Some thoughts on leadership. Thanks to Steve for pointing this out

Is it time for you to quit?
By Pete Scazzero with Geri Scazzero
The journey into a profound transformation in my pastoral leadership began when my wife, Geri, said, “I quit.” Refusing to continue pretending everything was “fine,” she quit the church –and I was the pastor!

The powerful journey we took together – to “quit” the things that really don’t belong to Jesus’ kingdom and embrace the things that do – changed our personal lives, our marriage and our church.

Quitting goes hand in hand with choosing God’s will and ways. Taking up these “quits” is imperative if we are to raise up healthy, biblical churches that effectively engage the world with the gospel.

Here are the eight things we had to quit in order to truly minister to our congregation –

Quit being afraid of what others think (Choose freedom) -- I am willing to cut through the disapproval of others and do what is good, true and right. I no longer ignore the values I hold dearly out of fear.

Quit lying (Choose truth) -- The degree to which I live in the truth -- with myself, God and others -- is the degree to which I am free. By God’s grace, I will seek to speak the truth respectfully, honestly and clearly.

Quit dying to the wrong things (Choose delighting in God’s gifts) -- I will no longer set aside or devalue activities or relationships that cause my soul to be fully alive (e.g. music, dance, art, the outdoors, travel). I will lead from the joy that flows from the love of Jesus.

Quit denying anger, sadness, and fear (Choose embracing your humanity) -- I will avoid extremes -- neither neglecting my emotions nor allowing them to run my life. I will allow myself to experience them in the presence of God, calmly think them through, and then lead appropriately as the Holy Spirit directs.

Quit blaming (Choose to take responsibility) -- As a human being made in God’s image, I recognize that no one is responsible for my life but me. Unlike Adam (Genesis 3) I refuse to blame others and fall into helplessness. By His grace, I choose to lead.

Quit overfunctioning (Choose letting go) -- I will no longer do for others what they can and should do for themselves. I will push through my fears in the face of resistance, asking God for courage and wisdom. Like Jesus, I will only complete the work the Father has given me to do (John 17:4).

Quit faulty thinking (Choose to live in reality) -- I will refuse to make things bigger than they are. And I will not believe the falsehood that things will never change. I will position myself so that the Holy Spirit, and others, can correct my wrong assumptions and align me with truth (John 8:32).

Quit living someone else’s life (Choose to be yourself) -- By God’s grace I will embrace the unique life He has given me. I will listen to my God-given rhythms and let go of other people’s agenda for my leadership.

(This article is based upon the book, I Quit, by Pete Scazzero with Geri Scazzero.)