Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Looking at Romans

Christmas Day being over, and New Years day sermon now prepared ,I am starting to think about the series in the Book of Romans that Steve and I will be starting in January at Shrewsbury Baptist Church
It seemed a good idea at the time but beginning to read some of the commentaries now, I realise what a mammoth task it will be ! There are so many awesome themes and great truths
We didn't feel we could tackle the whole book this time  so we are starting with Romans 8 to cover some of the best known chapters
I found NT Wrights intro to the whole book very helpful indeed
Here it is

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas starts with Christ

  I am not sure why, but this ad passed me by until I heard it being talked about on the radio this morning.
You can read about the thinking behind it here

Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas time -Shrewsbury Baptist

 We are continually looking for other opportunities to serve,to engage with, and to share the gospel with our community, but there is nothing quite like Christmas!

My colleague Steve and I were doing a rough count and we reckoned that we had had well over two thousand people through our doors in the last 10 days or so and there are still services to come before the big day

I am sure many other churches have experienced the same thing.
The people came to services,carol concerts ,the toddler group party,school nativity plays and many other things
                                                                carol concert

It is fascinating how people who are reluctant to come near a church building at other times, are very keen to come at Christmas, and we are working very hard to make the most of the opportunities that this gives us and to make the step easier from watching your child in the school nativity play to feeling part of the local church community
worship group carols by candlelight
Judging by the people from the local community who came last night to Carols by Candlelight we are slowly making  real progress
Carols by Candlight is one of the highlights of the year and once again loads of people came ,the music group were amazing and Steve spoke powerfully on the importance of Faith ,Hope and Love at Christmas and always
A really wonderful evening and probably unique in that Steve actually wore a suit for the occasion!
I knew you would want to see a photo of that!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Approaching the finishing post!

....or should that be the starting post!

The new building is very nearly ready for hand over
One of the things we are now able to do is to show people who have travelled the long journey with us around the building
This morning it was a joy to show some of the more senior people the Central building(hope they dont mind me calling them that!)
It was thrilling to see the positive reaction they all had
The developers have done an amazing job, and we are very excited about all the possibilities the new building opens up
Pictures below
The front door

the lift (not yet in use)

                                                        Toilet and shower
part of kitchen

 upstairs again!

                                                 From Claremont St
Ruth, Peter Roy Mary

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Mary Portas -The High st

The churches I have served have both had a considerable presence on the High St or the town centre
We are passionate about connecting with people who live,work in ,or visit the town centre.
 I was therefore very interested to read Mary Portas view on the future of High St.It makes fascinating reading and good to see some creative thinking going on
It is up to our church and indeed other churches to rise to the challenge and opportunities
Mary Portas on the High st.

Monday, 12 December 2011

The Christmas Brunch!

Over the last few years we have worked hard at connecting with our local community in a whole variety of different ways.

One thing that has worked really well has been a series of meals we have put on for the local community. We often do those on Friday evenings and the response has been amazing!at our last evening there were more people from the community than from the church.

Twice a year though we have done these events on a Sunday morning in place of our usual morning service.

So it was today that around 150 people turned up to to our Christmas brunch.We enjoyed coffee, bacon rolls and croissants together, while the band played Christmas music and then we sang carols and listened to a brilliant talk by Elise on The Prodigal Son which she tied in beautifully to the Christmas message with a whole variety of props and with loads of help from some of the children.

Elise made the story live and it was readily understandable to those who had not heard it before

The band!
the merry throng!

Once the service was over we had an unforgettable rendition of The 12 days of Christmas led by Liz in her inimitable style!
Chatting afterwards it was evident that people had really enjoyed the whole morning and all were invited to our other services over the next week or two ,judging by their response I expect a good number to be coming. It was a great way to start our Christmas services and a great way to be part of our community and for our community to be part of us

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Winter Snow Song

Winter Snow Song - Audrey Assad with Chris Tomlin from Eric Rutgrink on Vimeo.

We had a wonderful Christmas Brunch this morning! I will blog more about that in the next day or so but Elise did a great talk and at the end showed this video

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Stuff I have read

Some stuff I have read that is  of interest to me, that I share,in case you have not seen it, and it is of interest to you!
UK  baptist stuff
It is quite hard to discover what is going on at national level beyond looking at the BU website .It will be harder still with the imminent closure of the Baptist Times but obviously like much of the rest of the world there is change in the air,money is short, and debate is happening; and some faithful bloggers throw some light on the situation
A couple of good posts on aspects of the situation here Whose Union ?Which Future? and here Questions for the Baptist Union

Other stuff
My friend and colleague Steve pointed me in the direction of this review of Scott McKnight's book
Junia  is not alone  The review is worth reading- will also read the book

Perhaps I should put together my sermon sitting standing up in future ! Here is why!
Sitting is killing you    (  h/t  The Simple Pastor)

While I don't have Sally's talent ,I do enjoy her blog- particularly her poems like this one

Lastly some very powerful images here

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Latest photos- Central buiding

Kate Tebby from BBC  Radio Shropshire came to see the new building this morning and spoke to Jude and I about our vision and hopes for the new building.
If you are in the area I think it will be played on Sunday morning at some point
If you are in Torquay or Toronto it may be available online or on Listen Again.

Anyway while we were down at the building I took the opportunity to take some photos and here they are!
The entrance

The Stairs


Upstairs kitchen

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Central -openings

I haven't been in the new building for a few days but do hope to have some more photos up before the end of the week
Our thoughts are now turning to the opening events
Although the building should be complete before the end of the month and in very limited use early next year ,the official openings will not be until March
Here are the details of the opening of our Central building

Three key dates to note:

Friday 16th March -

Civic Opening (invitation only)

Saturday 17th March -

Our Church Family Celebration

With Rev Roger Sutton of the Evangelical Alliance

speaking at both the above events.

Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th March -

Community Launch when the emphasis will be on

welcoming as many people from our town into the

building as possible, to share our vision with them.

Please commit these plans to God in prayer that His name will

have all the glory in everything that takes place in and through

On Monday night a group of us met to pray and then to plan these opening events and I think its fair to say that all the usual ingredients will be present music, celebration ,fun,some good preaching from Roger Sutton and food! Can't wait!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Visit of David Coffey

It was a great joy to welcome David Coffey to our service yesterday.

David has held some very important positions nationally and internationally including a stint as President of the Baptist World Alliance .
Above all David is a great human being with huge vision , a passion for the local church and a real gift of preaching and teaching.
David spoke on a passage we have thought a lot about in recent years, and indeed a pasage Martin Charlesworth preached on at a service to celebrate our new church back in the early part of 2009.
What he said was very relevant; and speaking to people afterwards ,the verdict was that it had been both affirming and challenging

Here are his key points

Marks of Christian Maturity Acts 11:19-30
• Mature disciples know God is working in times of crisis
• Mature disciples grow through change
• Mature disciples discern the time for new beginnings
• Mature disciples get involved in mission adventures

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Code

Tim and Jon who run our mens group spoke about this at the service yesterday morning and we showed the video embedded below
It looks a really good project and the hope is that a good number of the guys in the church will get involved
The concept was warmly endorsed by David Coffey who was our visiting preacher yesterday, and so far so good as the books that introduce The Code were all snapped up at the end of the service

Codelife 2011 intro from CVM on Vimeo.

Getting involved.! Radio Shropshire pause for thought- Dec 4th 2011

It was the evening of May 14th and early morning of May 15th 2006

A British Mountain Climber David Sharp perhaps ill equipped, and certainly climbing alone - had run out of Oxygen, and lay helpless and dying on a freezing night on the North east route of Mount Everest

What exactly happened that day is controversial but it is probable that many other climbers passed the dying man as they went up and came down Everest that day

It appears no one stopped and helped David - They were all too busy pursuing their own ambition trying to achieve their own goal
They would not surrender their dream to help a human being in need
They left David to die a cold and lonely Death on the mountain

In Advent we begin to turn our thoughts towards Christmas and the great message of Christmas is that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us In the person of Jesus Immortal God became a vulnerable baby .

I am so pleased that Jesus didn’t pass by on the other side he didn’t ignore us in our trouble and in our pain but he came down and as the Bible puts it he humbled himself and became obedient to death –even death on a cross!

Jesus didn’t wash his hands of humanity he got his hands dirty helping us
He call us to love people too He calls us to get involved

On Tuesday night I was at a great evening held at a local church building hearing about all the churches in Shrewsbury are doing to help our community
 It was inspirational to see so many churches living out the call of Jesus to love our neighbour as we love ourselves
There are churches in Shrewsbury, and indeed all over Shropshire, doing amazing things such as running debt advice centres ,food banks ,teaching NVQ skills ,helping the homeless ,the lonely ,the bereaved and the disturbed ,caring for their fellow human beings- getting involved

But of course it is not just Christians doing that thousands and thousands of others are as well

This is something we can all do -we can all get involve-d We can all engage with our fellow human beings

It really is all about relationships!

You may simply come across somebody as you walk or shop or go cycling today - They may need your help
Giving that help might be costly or time consuming ,its conceivable it could take all day

You could walk by on the other side as the people did in the parable  Jesus once told  or like the good Samaritan  you could stop and get involved

But even if you don’t come across someone by chance there are still people out there who need your help why not volunteer to help in a local hospice ,or charity shop with meals on wheels or collecting for cancer research

Its not just mountaineers who can be too focused on achieving their own goals and ambitions we all can

But if we help those in need then not only will we bless them and build community we may also prove

that Jesus words are really true -It is more blessed to give than to receive!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Cancelling Christmas worship

Christmas day falls on a Sunday this year .
As a church we tend to get a fairly good turnout on Christmas day, and I doubt the actual day of the week will make much difference to that.
New Years Day is also a Sunday. I have to say that although we will have a service that day I expect numbers to be dramatically down (though obviously I hope I am wrong!)

It seems though that nearly 10 per cent of churches in the USA won't even have a worship service on Christmas Day! That did surprise me but perhaps it is simply a cultural thing
Richard Hall blogs about it here

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Advent in 2 minutes

Over recent years I have come to value Advent as a preparation for Christmas so  I appreciated  the message of  this video-and yes we lit  the 1st advent candle in church today

Saturday, 26 November 2011

To strike or not to strike ?

 There is a day of action on Wednesday  some thoughts here from a Christian perspective on Industrial Christian Fellowship website
To strike or not to strike?
 any thoughts?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Going back!

If they can see you love them, you can say anything to them.
Richard Baxter

Ross baptist (just!) before I went there
The same view yesterday

Yesterday I preached at Ross on Wye Baptist church.

A church where I spent 21 very happy years as associate minister,minister and then senior minister before coming to Shrewsbury in 2004

As I drove the sixty odd miles of very familiar road,I found myself feeling unexpectedly nervous,despite the fact that the journey felt like travelling from home to home!

Arriving in the car park I saw my first familiar face and from then on I was made to feel very welcome.It was good to see everyone! I was delighted that I remembered so many names!

It made me  feel quite emotional to see so many people that over the years we had come to know so well and to catch up even ever so briefly  with some of them.One of the greatest privileges of the job I do is getting to know so many people so well,of sharing lives and even wasting time with people (let the reader understand!)

Of course loads of things had changed in the church in recent years,some were superficial like the very bright digital clock that reminded me not to talk for too long; and others were more important like some of the new and  very exciting ministries the church now undertake in the local community.

 A lot of the music was also unfamiliar to me but that is really a comment on the diversity of music used in churches these days.

I noticed too that the pristine carpet we had put in around 2001 was very marked and stained through years of use.I thought that was great and showed the building was well used for so many diferent things

After a lot of dithering I spoke on Joshua 3 because, since Tim my successor as Senior Minister left in the summer  to plant a church some miles away (among other things) ,the church is now in a time of transition and Joshua 3 is a passage about transition.

I made 3 basic  if very obvious points

  1. to lead in transition you need to know God's presence with you v 3
  2. to lead in transition you need vision v 4
  3. to lead in transition you need to be alongside the people v 17
I don't often manage 3 point sermons ,but I did today!

Driving back  on the A 49 I felt the joy of seeing good friends had refreshed me for the really exciting and challenging few months and years  that lie ahead with the church I  now serve in Shrewsbury

Many years ago when I was in Ross and was asked where I came from by a Baptist Union president, I was told "The lines have fallen for you in pleasant places "  (Psalm 16 v6)

Looking back over years spent in Herefordshire and now Shropshire, and the great people I have met in both places , it is hard to disagree!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Kettle's steps

Yesterday I had the (rather emotional) joy of going back to a church I served for some 21 years
I will blog a bit more about that later on.
The church is now in an interregnum which in Baptist parlance means they are looking for a new senior minister
It seemed appropriate to me to speak from Joshua on some of the qualities needed for leadership

The last one I mentioned was that leaders need to be alongside the people.They must know people well

I had meant to tell the story  of Kettles steps. Maddeningly I forgot! (age)

 It is a story related to me many years ago by an elderly church member and I can only assume it is true

If you go outside the front of Ross Baptist  church and turn left there is  a very narrow passageway between the church and the next building as you go up Broad St.
In my time we would occasionally get youth groups and others  to do sponsored cleans ups of the area  because it gathered litter and broken glass.

At the top of this passage were some very steep steps that led directly into an outer vestry-
 The steps meant that you could enter the building without going through the church itself

I was told that a Mr Kettle (pictured above) a minister at the church in the early part of the 20th century had had the steps built to enable him to arrive just before the service began without having to encounter people and to leave as soon as the service had finished without having to encounter people! So the steps  had become known as Kettles steps.

If this was true it struck me as a great illustration of how not to do ministry

Really effective preaching has to surely be in the context of relationships. A critical (if  sometimes tiring )part of building those relationships happens as we encounter people on Sundays.In that respect the coffee time is part of the ministry too

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Baptist Times to close

story here Baptist Times closing

I must say I felt a bit guilty when I read this because I have rarely read it and actually bought it even less frequently. I do hope the hard working staff who appear to have tried everything to increase circulation in recent years will find new jobs soon

The reason given for the closure was the increasing amount of subsidy from the Baptist Union neeeded to sustain the paper

In my experience of the last 25 years the BT tended to be read by mostly  older people and I guess when they died these loyal  readers were not replaced by younger ones who rightly or wrongly tend to feel less attachment  to a particular denomination

The competition from the web must have been a huge factor too

There is an enormous amount of Christian stuff to read on the web for all tastes and views.
It is true there is some stuff of dubious quality but there is also some excellent stuff most of which is free to read .It is hard for a weekly paper to compete with that!

I am delighted that  the title will continue to exist in another form

see below

Amanda Allchorn, Head of Communications at the Baptist Union of Great Britain, has confirmed that The Baptist Times brand will live on as a new online resource (www.baptisttimes.co.uk) to be launched in the spring of 2012. This will be run by the Communications Department and the new site will offer news, opinion pieces, features and a downloadable weekly news digest for individuals and churches to print off. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The last lap

Now we are on the last lap we didnt even have to put yellow jackets on today to l,ook round the building

One of the first of many ministries to go into the building will be Little Fishes our toddler group which for a few years has thrived in exile elsewhere in the centre of town
Today we therefore took several of their leaders around to see the new building .
I think it is fair to say they could see the improvement
A lot of fixtures and fittings are now in the building ready to be installed
 and even the giant lift is arriving later this week.

A lot of work has been done on the kitchens and though they are not quite ready ,a great deal of the equipment is now installed


Outside at the front the paving is being done

There is a rising sense of excitement as the project nears completion
I expect to spend quite a bit ot time in the next few weeks planning both the opening events and finalising future ministries

Martin Charlesworth on social enterprise

 Very interesting post on  Martin Charlesworth's blog about social  enterprise
Martins blog

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Street Pastors Shrewsbury

After a great deal of prayer and planning by many people from many churches in town ,the first batch of street pastors in Shrewsbury were commissioned last night in a service at St Chads church at which by my estimate 150 -170 Christians were present. It may have been even more.

It was great to see the enthusiasm the new recruits had for Street Pastors and the desire they had to get out onto the streets of Shrewsbury on Friday and Saturday nights.
 I have no doubt they will make a difference!

A couple of the Street Pastors shared powerful  testimony's as to why they felt led into this ministry and there was a short, but punchy sermon by the Bishop of Shrewsbury ,the group were then duly commissioned and t after a group photo the first batch of them headed straight out onto the streets

One of those is in our church and when I spoke to him this morning he said he had not got to his bed until 5am but he was excited by the reception they had got in town last night
Please continue  to pray for the excellent  leader Ian Horne and his energetic  team.I think 18 joined up following training last night -.I am sure others will soon follow

I managed to grab a photo of the 3 street pastors who are part of our church and we prayed for them and all the others this morning.

PS link to Radio Shropshire report

and here is their website
shrewsbury street pastors

Friday, 11 November 2011

Remembering on 11.11.11

My great uncles body was never found but his name is engraved on this wall near the battlefield at Loos
His brother  Fred  was killed at Ypres and is buried in a churchyard nearby.
The photo is an old family one.

My family has been deeply affected by war

My grandfather served in France in World War 1
Two great uncles were killed .One at Ypres.One at Loos
My father served in Burma in World War 2.
My Mum's house was hit by an incendiary bomb during the blitz on London.

They saw terrible things. I never remember my grandfather speaking about the war.My father
refused to speak about it.
Dad did however write a book which he published privately just before his death .
Reading that ,I learned on one occasion the tank he was commanding was hit, he was the only survivor, and the next day dad had to go back into the burnt out tank,lift out the fly infested bodies of his comrades, and bury them.It was the stench of burnt and rotting flesh that affected him most.

I am so grateful I never had to fight

War is not glorious,it is always failure.
I am not a pacifist, so I believe it is sometimes necessary as a last resort.
What astonishes me most though are the individual acts of courage and bravery so often seen

Today I remember them, and indeed give thanks for them, and  the fact we live in Freedom.
It is a freedom bought at a great price.

There was talk in the 1980's and 1990's of abandoning  Remembrance Sunday.

Today though ,it has a higher profile than ever, partly because of recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ,partly because so many  British secondary school children visit the battlefields in Belgium and France and see the graves of the war dead in their  hundreds of thousands.They are often graves of people not much older than themselves when they died.

I will wear my poppy on Sunday, not with pride, but with great humility, and with deep prayer  to God that the future may be more peaceful than the past and that peace and justice would reign on the earth.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Now the town centre site is no longer a hard hat area we are taking the opportunity to a show a few people around the new building .Today we took some of the church leaders around. I think it is fair to say they were impressed with the quality and  design of the new building,which has been transformed since they last saw it a few years ago.

Last Sunday we decided to call the new town centre building "Central "

  • It describes one of the  the areas we feel called to work in (ie in the central part of town within the river loop)
  • It is a neutral name that appealed to the people we road tested it on
  • It reminds us that we want to be a central part of our community and that Jesus should be  a central part of our lives
So the building will be called " Central "

The name of the chuch ,of course remains Shrewsbury Baptist Church.

Anyway had the camera and so took  the photos