Thursday, 29 September 2011

Visit to The Hub

Some time ago I blogged about Altrincham Baptist Churhces The Hub here

Today 3 of us went for a visit to see it in action.

We were met by one of the workers who showed us around and later we had the chance to meet the Hub's manager who is also a church leader at Altrincham Baptist Church

Our visit began with a tour around the building which was flexible,accessible ,well equipped,clearly signposted , and where appropriate, decorated with some taste and even flair! Besides various offices of various church leaders (which they hope will return to the other building when refurbishment is complete) there were kitchens and counselling rooms ,a quiet room and great space for toddlers and young people as well as a cafe which was open for most of the week serving coffee and delicious food (coffee only on Fridays ).

 It wasn't the building that really impressed me though, but the absolute determination of the Christians working there to be good news for the people in that community.Working together with a number of partners, including the local council, they have set out to bless their neighbours.
That is evident in pretty well everything they do from the choice of a neutral name which makes it easier for local people to enter the building, to the fact that the food they serve is wholesome ,delicious and very reasonably priced and and the various  ministries that operate in ,and from, the building

Though they probably dont realise it a number of ministers and others from Altrincham Baptist Church have been very helpful to us over recent years and without perhaps realising it have helped guide us on our journey

Transitioning from  a fairly traditional church which seeks to serve primarily the needs of its membership to one that seeks to share and be good news for  its neighbours, is a tough journey for a church to make .At times it cannot have been easy but I am sure it is one that God has called them to travel. It's exciting and scary to think we are travelling in the same direction!

Church stats! Does the future have a church ?

 Does the future have a church? Interesting stats here
-Thanks to Phil Whittall for pointing me in the right direction!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Our new town centre building!

 Today has been a wonderful autumn day in Shropshire.
In some ways too nice to spend in meetings but they were scheduled anyway and all went well
Following an excellent admin meeting with Liz ,our wonderful admin person, and Jude;Jude and I travelled to the town centre for a meeting with Rob and Steve.  

Steve is the the developers representative, a very helpful and courteous guy, whose forefather helped carry Spurgeon's coffin at his funeral!
Once the meeting was over we went across to the building site,the first time I had visited for a month or so.
I was staggered by the progress in that time. A great deal of work has been done including some plastering ,and there are 2 kitchens and a small but wonderful prayer room as well as meeting rooms of various sizes.Everything designed to help us to be missional in all we do and to put down very deep roots into the local community we are called to serve

I know God does not live in buildings made by human hands,but even so I was very moved by everything I saw.This is going to be a great building from which to serve the  communbity and share Jesus .

At times   had to pinch myself that what we were seeing is real! This is The Lord's doing and the fact that this building is going up and that God has brought weak people like us, through so many struggles to this point, is a huge witness to His love ,grace  and faithfulness
Our continuing task is to make sure everything that happens in the building is to the glory of God!

As we left we saw hundreds of sixth form students streaming out of college ,past our building and into town .Now there is an opportunity to bless people!

Friday, 23 September 2011

This weeks CROSSTALK column for Chronicle

For many years Baptists in Shrewsbury have had a dream.

A dream, to replace our old ,and rather worn out building in Claremont st, hidden behind rather forbidding railings, with a brand new, attractive, flexible and accessible building on the same site.

If you are in that part of town you will see that the dream is about to become reality!

Within a few months we hope to be celebrating the opening of the new building ,behind the old front fa├žade.

We have not built this flexible and accessible building to make ourselves more comfortable, but so we can better serve the people who live in, work in, or visit the town centre ,just as we will continue to use our other building in Monkmoor, to bless the people there, for Jesus loves people and calls on our church, and every other church, to love them too.

In time we hope that our building will be open every day of the week and, to that end , we are planning right now, ministries and activities to meet the needs of young and old alike from all sections of the community.

There is nothing new in this, of course ,many other churches are blessing our community in a whole variety of ways already.

However I thought readers might be wondering what is going on behind the hoardings.

When the building is ready we will attempt to do what it says on the poster attached to the hoardings,” build church for the future, build church for the community, build church for you!”

When it opens why not come and have a look for yourself?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Reggie McNeal on Mission

  I think Reggie McNeal  is not only an engaging personality, but also talks a lot of sense about mission and the role of the church.He is not quite such a good speaker as he is a writer, in my opinion, but what he says is well worth listening to and I think he makes some important points   press here

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


I had not heard of this guy but ,  I thought this was a brutally honest post from a pastor in Atlanta here
He says some interesting things about change!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Henry Olonga at The Abbey for Alpha

The ancient Abbey Church was very full last night for the visit of Henry Olonga,cricketer and opera singer.
Henry was in Shrewsbury for an Alpha event organised by Dave Mathias, under the auspices, and with the support of, Mission Shrewsbury

His purpose was to highlight the Alpha courses that are about to begin later this month around the town.

Henry had an amazing story story to tell,about his life as a young man growing up in Zimbabawe,about his love of singing, and all sport especially cricket,  and perhaps most interestingly of all of his faith, that caused him at great personal risk, to stand up against the dictator Robert Mugabe by wearing a black armband at the cricket world cup a decision which cost him his cricket carer. you can read more about that episode here

Henry's talk was punctuated by some wonderful songs which captivated the large audience.

The most telling moment for me came in a short question and answer session, when Henry was asked if his protest had made any difference,his answer, in effect, was, possibly very little but sometimes as a Christian you simply need to do what is right and speak out for justice, and for those who can't speak for themselves.
 An answer I am sure the Old Testament prophets would approve of!

Shrewsbury Baptist Church are doing a joint Alpha with The Abbey and St Peters more details can be found

Monday, 12 September 2011

Why the missional movement will fail!

As someone who talks about mission a great deal ,I found this a very challenging post indeed!
Why the missional movement will fail

Looks as though it's a book I should read

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Radio shropshire Pause for thought -10th anniversary 911


Just numbers -but numbers that no longer primarily signify a date in the calendar, but a day in history- numbers that immediately bring to mind one of the most catastrophic events of recent times

- 911 happened 10 years ago today

I guess that as with the death of Princess Diana, or if we are old enough, the assassination of President Kennedy, we can all remember where we were when we heard the news that at 846 am New York time an aircraft had hit one of the twin towers at 903am the 2nd tower was hit by 1028 both towers had collapsed.

Nearly 3000 people died that day in the towers and on the aircraft

There have been greater tragedies with a larger loss of human life but I suppose 911 lives in our minds because it happened in one the most technologically advanced cities in the world, and( in a day of 24 hour news) images were beamed into the living rooms of millions

• we watched in disbelief as airplanes flew into the buildings

• we wept as we saw people leaping to their deaths trying to escape the flames

• we watched in horror as the towers collapsed

• and we cried again as we heard phone calls of passengers on the hijacked planes tell their families for the last time just how much they loved them

This was an evil day, but a day punctuated by good deeds and acts of love and heroism

Moira Smith 38 years old had been in the New York police department 13 years & had a 2 year old daughter yet she went in and out of the world trade centre after it was hit she had the chance to leave- but she chose to stay and help- Moira paid for that decision with her life

Welles Crowther was an equities trader
When the planes hit the tower he too had the opportunity to leave but instead with calm authority he helped the injured and organised the distressed and disorientated , and is credited with saving at least 19 lives that day -Welles body was found with those of the fire fighters

In their final moments these and many others chose to serve and save others

10 years on- how will we choose to mark the events of that terrible day?

It is vital not to respond with hatred and hearts that seek revenge

 Some will reflect quietly on the ,lives lost that day and lives lost in Iraq Afghanistan and London since that day

Others of us will perhaps listen to a memorial service on the radio or the TV and perhaps weep again at the sadness of it all

Perhaps the best way though is to follow in less dramatic and final ways the example of Moira and Welles and others

We should deliberately choose as they did to love, to bless and to serve others.

Jesus told us there are 2 great commandments ,to love God and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves, and in parables and elsewhere, Jesus made it clear that our neighbour is not simply the person who lives next door ,but anyone from whatever background who is in need.

Many people on 911 looked around them saw the need and did what they could -They paid a high price

It is unlikely we will be called to pay the same price but we can all look around our community ,and see the lonely, the distressed ,the vulnerable -they are neighbours too

Jesus calls us to bless and love them as we love ourselves !

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Square Mile Course

We had an encouraging turnout last night for the first evening of the Square Mile course and it was a very good evening
The material was both interesting and challenging which was to be expected given that the main part was a bible study on Isaiah 58 which we did in small groups.This was supplemented by some excellent video clips by teachers like Elaine Storkey,NT Wright and Shane Claiborne.

The first session encouraged some healthy debate and we finished with a good time of prayer.
The subjects raised were pretty relevant to where we are as a church as we seek to serve our local community from our current building and the one we are building in the centre of town

More about the course here


Thought this was good from Actuate consulting

hope..where can I get some?

We have been talking about the importance of leaders having real hope and how that can help the people in their teams to move ahead with enthusiasm. However, the past few years of the global financial crisis has really knocked many people's hope levels down. Hopes of a business being successful or of long planned investments paying off richly or hopes of finding a great job have taken a battering for many people.

Also, as we see so much political unrest and huge social problems around the world, it is easy to become burdened with a sense of hopelessness. When hope is in short supply, apart from feeling down, it can lead to increased stresses in relationships both at home and in the workplace. A deep and ongoing sense of hopelessness can also lead to people doing some terrible and desparate things.

There are also different areas in which we place our hope, for example relationships, people, finances, resolution of world problems and spiritual hope.

How is your level of hope at the moment?

                  1                2               3            4            5        
              empty                                                     bursting

This leads on to a deeper question of  Where can we find hope?

Some people find it easier to have hope than others. Certainly people  with positive optimistic personalities do seem to find hope as a natural extension of their personalities.

Others find it hard to be hopeful. It may be that they are very analytical and logical and when they look at all the data they can't help feeling a little hopeless and overwhelmed.

10 tips for building hope

1..Try to keep focused on the good things that are happening in your life
     and in the world. Savour and celebrate them.

2..Don't let set-backs and disappointments with people derail you. Put
    them into perspective and keep going.

3..Spend time with people who are positive and who have hope. It does
    rub off. Laugh and hope with them.

4..Don't panic when things go wrong. Try to keep a clear head and
     strategically do the things that will help solve the problem and restore
     hope for others in the team.

5..Learn to accept the things that you cannot possibly influence or

6..Don't get overwhelmed by a media that seems to concentrate on
     feeding us bad news. Spend time reading about amazing people
     who are making a real difference in the world.

7..Invest your hope into things that have a real future. Be realistic about
    what you hope for.

8..Have a variety of things that you are hoping for. If you focus on
     one thing and that doesn't happen..ouch!!!

9..Don't let hopelessness win. It is a negative cloud that needs to be

10.Develop a source of enduring hope that is well grounded. Enduring
     hope is something that we can have in all circumstances. It is a very
     worthwhile exercise to examine what beliefs and values you have
     placed your hope in. Question and test your hope foundations and if
     they are built on solid rock they will help you withstand the storms of

     My Christian faith is the source of enduring hope that keeps me
     anchored. It is not a faith that I have taken on lightly or blindly.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

A good time and great community at The Calvert Trust

We are just back from a wonderful break at the Calvert Trust website here

We tried abseiling, canoeing,sailing,biking, and a whole host of other activities.

As usual though it wasnt the activities that made it a great holiday but the people we met

I had prayed before I went that we would be a blessing to others, and I hope we were, but certainly others we met were a blessing to us!

Obviously there were a lot of people on the holiday with special needs and with various disabiliites ranging from autism, through cerebral palsy and epilepsy  to stroke and  various other brain injuries.

There were young and old ,from different ethnic backgrounds, with different abilitites (and disabilities )

Speaking to a number of the people we met it was obvious that many of these people and their carers find life a real struggle apart from the ordinary stuff of daily life there is the constant struggle to get the education or the health care they need.
However these people were so welcoming ,so easy to get to know ,so willing to share and bear one anothers burdens, and so encouraging that in the short time we were together real community was built.

A community where it felt safe to try new things (I even tried karaoke -no the recording  contract has not arrived yet !) but the truth is that in an atmosphere where all are encouraged amazing things can be achieved

Are there lessons for churches to learn from this?

How about ?
  • The importance of good teaching -we had excellent instructors
  • the value of everyone whatever their abilities
  • That by God's grace we can achieve more than we think we can
  • The imporatance of encouragement which can be a neglected gift in churches
  • That a diverse group can build  authentic community
  • That real joy in life doesnt come from possessions but from relationships with God and other people

Friday, 2 September 2011

Geoffrey Grogan -servant of God

I heard  today that Geoffrey Grogan had died.

Unlike John Stott , who died earlier in the summer Geoffrey, was not a household name in the wider evangelical world in the way Stott is ,but I would contend that ,like John ,he was a great man in Kingdom terms.
 Many thousands(including me)are thankful for his long and very fruitful ministry

Geoff was  a lecturer at London Bible college and then for many years the principal of (what was then known as) the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow.

A most gifted  scholar with a passion for studying the bible, Geoff Grogan wrote many commentaries on books of both the Old and  New Testament,.and on systematic theology ,the subject he lectured on when I was at BTI. The books

Like all the best teachers Geoffrey had the ability to make some very complex  ideas accessible to much  less gifted people than he was.

A very capable preacher,Geoff  encouraged his students never to forget the central place of the local church in the economy of God.

It was not Geoffrey Grogan's  considerable gifts that made him great but his Christian  character ,he was a big man with a wonderful sense of humour and a giant heart for human beings,who he recognised as being made in the image of God Himself.

A very humble man , full of  so much of God's grace, as well as His  truth ,Geoff was devoted to his family and  also prayed regularly for the hundreds of students he taught over the years and who went onto serve the Lord in so many different places and situations

Reading a very brief account of his last hours in an e mail from his son it appears that, like the early Methodists, Geoffrey died well ,and with a certain faith in Jesus Christ

I am confident Geoff has heard the Saviour he loved and served so long and so well say "Well done good and faithful servant enter into the joy of The Lord"

There are other tributes  tribute here cutting it staright and here Honouring Geoffrey Grogan