Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Great video

Thought this was inspirational

Sunday, 26 September 2010


It is true that the church is not the building, the church is people. The building is simply the place where the church meets.
Nevertheless buildings are still important.
It was Winston Churchill who said in 1943
we shape our buildings and forever after they shape us
This is certainly true of church buildings. A small church near us has built a brand new building without a single window,that building will certainly shape the way in which they view the world outside their doors. Similarly,church buildings that are built behind big railings with fixed pews and forbidding entrances are whether consciously or not sending out a message to the world
Stay away
nothing changes here.
Churches that are allowed over decades to become unsafe with plaster falling off the walls,say something about how important,or otherwise, our faith is to us.Church buildings which fail to cater to the needs of children or the disabled are making a powerful statement about how the people in that church view those groups
All these thoughts and many more are in my mind because we have this week signed a contract to build a new church building in the centre of town.Its taken a very long time but we all feel pretty excited.
I hope the new building won't be protected by railings ,I hope it will make people feel welcome,I hope it will be light and bright, flexible and attractive.I hope it will be disabled friendly and child friendly. I hope it will have windows so people outside can see in and those inside can see out.
I believe God is on a mission and our task is to join Him on that mission
I believe the good news of Jesus is for everyone. Any building we build should reflect that
On a walk around town I saw several church buildings that have been converted to flats
Change can be very difficult and changing a building ,let alone rebuilding one from scratch, can be threatening for many people but if we persist in inhabiting church buildings that don't encourage us to see people as Jesus saw them and serve the world as Jesus did we are in trouble.
God is God of the whole world,if we are to have buildings they must reflect that great truth

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Thursday, 23 September 2010

contract signed after many years

Well its taken a while but, by the grace of God, today we did it.
We have signed a contract for a new town centre building.
As Shrewsbury Baptist church we will serve the communities around both buildings and seek to build Gods Kingdom
It is an enormous privledge to be involved in this work
The next step is to discern Gods vision for the future ministry in both areas. .It is an exciting time. A very exciting time indeed.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Mission Shrewsbury

We had a very good discussion about Mission Shrewsbury on Tuesday morning.
This group has been a great help and blessing to me and many others over the years.
We met in a beautiful spot about 15 minutes north of Shrewsbury and 9 of us shared fellowship ,discussion,coffee and lunch together. The purpose was to discern the way ahead for us and we certainly made progress.
The group comes from a number of different churches in the town and it is so encouraging to feel the warmth of fellowship and the genuine desire for each others churhes to thrive and flourish and for The Kingdom to be built

Monday, 20 September 2010

Time for a change... (by Paul Whittle)


Time for a change... (by Paul Whittle)
- 20 September 2010

Lesslie Newbigin once said: 'The nature of the church is never to be finally defined in static terms, but only in terms of that to which it is going.' Part of church is to be changing – and fresh expressions of church are currently offering exciting examples of how that is happening.
This is nothing new. The mid seventeenth century early independents (or congregationalists) were developing relevant ways of being church. In the first half of the eighteenth century, John Wesley responded to the need to find new ways (not instead of the old ones, but to go alongside them) and so began Methodism. Just two examples.

Through most of the 1980s I was minister at a former Central Mission of Congregationalism which, in the first half of the twentieth century, had offered such services as the poor man's (sic) lawyer, public baths (preferred to the municipal version as the plug didn't pop up after a given period), and limited medical services.

But things move on. The Church Related Community Work programme is a small but important and innovative element in United Reformed Church life. Church Related Community Workers offer a parallel ministry to that of more conventional Ministers of Word and Sacrament, seeking to enable churches to engage in and with their communities and so creating change and bringing possibility.

This, for me, is one form of pioneer ministry. Not all the programme does would be identifiable as 'fresh expressions' – but much would be. In Nechells, Birmingham we developed a breakfast club, under fives work, girls' club, credit union, nearly new shop, internet cafĂ©, etc, alongside alternative worship and Bible study. That particular project now takes a different form, and may close, but for twenty years made a significant difference in a vulnerable community. Fresh expressions are probably not for ever!

Much mission falters because we jump straight from encounter to discipling - we have missed out the need to build relationshipReading Steve Hollinghurst's book Mission Shaped Evangelism, I was struck by his suggestion that effective projects tend to operate on three levels.

First: 'build relationships in the wider community on their territory'. Second: 'create or find places where Christians and non-Christians build relationships and explore issues'. Third: 'establish discipleship groups explicitly aimed at those who want to explore and deepen Christian faith'.

Hollinghurst suggests that much mission falters because we jump straight from stage one to three. We move from encounter to discipling - and it doesn't work because we have missed out the need to build relationship. Perhaps another problem for some of us is getting stuck at stage two. Good fresh expressions of church don't make either mistake.

Sunday, 19 September 2010


The church leaders organised a wonderful meal ,with a lot of help from some very gifted people,on Saturday night.
The purpose was to thank those who serve the commmunity and church, by leading and helping, in many different ministries; from Toddlers groups to lunches for older people.
It was a good night and gave us a chance to share our thoughts about the future and to chat about them together.
What encouraged me on our table, was that without much prompting, they were seeing things in terms of mission, in general and unknowingly echoing the thoughts of people like Reggie McNeal and Alan Hirsch in particular.
A very good evening made even better by the news that the contract for our new town centre building will be signed this week- Exciting times

Radio Shropshire- Pause for thought

Radio Shropshire Pause for Thought I did on Mike Georges breakfast show this morning.


I peered into the large card box my mum had given me. It had obviously been in her garage for years
I began to pull out a few big brown envelopes.
Opening the envelopes I also opened a window to my past
There were myriad things from decades ago

There were old school reports containing remarks like a disappointing terms works then finishing rather ominously I give this warning now before it is too late
Other contained letters I had written to my parents .In fact I think my mum kept every letter I ever wrote.Decipering the rather scrawly handwriting , awoke memories deep within me of spending tedious Sunday afternoons at my boarding school, being supervised as we wrote letters home. I suspect any letter that was critical of school food would have been censored but we had to write something I solved the problem of filling a page by addressing the letter not just to Dear Mum and dad but also to the cats rabbits]s and dogs naming them all personally- we had a lot so problem solved
In another envelope there photographs of me in some I was in a pram, in some I was on the beach or in the garden one has me sitting proudly behind the wheel of my first ever car an old Austin A40 which was a bit of a rust bucket and if you looked towards the floor you got a great view of the road beneath you

What fascinated me even more were the even older photographs some of my mum as a young girl, others of her mum on the beech at St Andrews, yet others of a group of nurses on a hospital picnic in the Scottish countryside and others taken by professional photographers in New York, Carnoustie and Dundee; of people who died long before I was born

I have always loved history and really enjoy the series who do you think you are, but the old black and white family photos awoke in me an urge to find out more about my ancestors, and I have begun a journey of exploration and discovery which has brought home to me the truth of Leslie Poles Hartley's words “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

Now I haven’t yet got back very far at all -about 200 years- and I know very little about the Alfred Crosland living in Huddersfield in the early part of the 19th century but I have thanks to census records and then the magic of Google’s street view been able to see where they lived.

My journey to the past has taught me a few things but I want to mention just one this morning and that is the brevity of life
Here they are generations of my relatives they come they live and are no more as the old funeral service puts it
Man that is born of woman hath but a short time to live ... He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.

A little bleak perhaps, but a stark reminder of not only the fragility of life but its transience also Frail as summers flower we flourish blows the wind and it is gone

This thought of how short and indeed uncertain life is should not lead us to despair but it should lead us to action
I was once associated with a school whose motto is Carpe Diem Seize the day

Are there things that you are putting off? Perhaps volunteering to help a charity or a book you want to write? Relationships you want to improve with children or parents or friends or even with God Himself?

Seize the day! Act now! Make a difference!

I have recently been reading biographies One of William Wilberforce who did so much to abolish slavery
The other is of Shropshire’s own Eglantyne Jebb the founder of The Save the children Fund

Both seemed to understand life was brief and both therefore had an urgency to get on with the work they believed God had given them to do

God give us knowledge not just of how short life is but how precious time is
May we act- right here right now, and seize the opportunities we have to do well and to serve God

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Quote from Francis Chan’s The Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, David C. Cook, 2009.

St. Augustine: “What the soul is in our body, the Holy Spirit is in the body of Christ, which is the church.” (141)

“A while back a former gang member came to our church. He was heavily tattooed and rough around the edges, but he was curious to see what church was like. He had a relationship with Jesus and seemed to get fairly involved with the church. After a few months, I found out the guy was no longer coming to the church. When asked why he didn’t come anymore, he gave the following explanation: ‘I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week – we were family.’ That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church is intended to be. It saddened me to think that a gang could paint a better picture of commitment, loyalty, and family than the local church body


Didnt stay for the quiz but I did enjoy the meal and indeed the company at INFG last night a very good turn out with some new faces,good food in a nice non churchy venue
Pictured are Tim who organises the group and Drew

Monday, 6 September 2010

Bishop Alan’s Blog

Bishop Alan’s Blog

Thought this was a great post from Bishop Alan

Thursday, 2 September 2010

a sideways glance: Lessons from the workshops of Corinth

a sideways glance: Lessons from the workshops of Corinth: "So, I'm pondering the second half of my chapter on the social location of the Pauline communities (while listening to Chacago Transit Author..."

Thought provoking stuff from Simon Jones which would resonate with the kind of thing Reggie McNeal is saying

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Visiting the Goodlands

Only 4 days to go until my sabbatical ends!
I am so grateful to the church for giving me this time.
I have tried to use it well and if you read over the pages of this blog you can see just some of the ways I have done that.
I am now ticking of my last few goals, and one of them was visiting my good friends and mentors; Pat Goodland and his wife Beryl
I had to go to Malvern today for other reasons so I called in on them without warning.
They were in! As a bonus I also met friends Bill and Joan Openshaw who were round having coffee with Pat and Beryl, while visiting the area from Sunderland (they had once been in Pat's church.)
We talked about the old days ,of course, but we also talked about today, and what the church needs to change to engage with the culture and share the Good News of Jesus.It was fantastic to speak with an 80 year old not stuck in the past but with a passion to share Jesus in the 21st century. From what Pat said he is not so much retired as recycled!
I am very biased but historians should not underestimate the highly significant part that Pat played in Baptist history in the second half of the 20th century. He was involved in the early days of TEAR FUND ,of Mainstream which did so much for BU churches,and in a host of other ways. He was also a huge encouragement to me and indeed still is

It was great to see them again!