Thursday, 30 June 2011

Are you a trader?

I am very grateful to Philip and Christina for not only pointing out this great  video to me but for inspiring me by the way they are seeking to live it out.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Short video but a key point!

I think that Chris Wright makes a key point here about the qualifications for leadership
Thanks to Steve for pointing it out

Chris Wright - Disciples First from Bill Kinnon on Vimeo.

Loving our neighbour

Over 30 years ago the church ,the minister of the church I belonged to, wanted to undertake a large building project. The proposed  project was unusual for a church at the time, as it was for a large sports hall, and the ministers desire was to build a building that  would be used to bless  the community

As is always the case when something controversial is being discussed ,there was a very large turnout at the meeting, and a large part of the debate was about finance.The issue of whether to go ahead and build the sports hall for the community, was in the balance, until  a deacon stood up and said" If we let the community into the building that will be an entrance for the devil into the church!"

The mention of The Devil scared the church and the sports hall has never been built!

Even then that struck me as an extraordinary thing to say because it assumes

  • the devil is greater than God 
  • engaging with the community will open the door to satan
I some times wonder if Christians who think like this, have got so stuck in a Christian subculture that that they fail to recognise that 
  • The Earth is the Lord's
  • God is at work in the world and not just in the church
Our task is to find what God is doing and join in

That is our calling not simply to attract people into our building which is great!But in whatever we are doing  to serve our God and King out in the community& among our  neighbours

Isnt that what Jesus did?

Thanks to Penny for pointing me in the direction of this short film which captures a lot of what I feel Penny's blog

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Latest pictures of new building

I was back at the new building today with Rob and Jenny.
I am amazed at how quickly it is going up now and delighted that were are pretty much on schedule.
For the first time I got upstairs
Thought you might like to see a few more photos
Upstairs 1

Looking towards Rowleys House 


My thoughts were there is a lot of thinking and planning and above all praying to do if we as a church are to be ready when the building is !

Monday, 27 June 2011

This is Discipling

Having preached on Paul's first missionary journey yesterday (I think I bit of more than I could chew in the time!)
I do think Paul would have approved of church like this!

This is Discipling from The Foursquare Church on Vimeo.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Thoughts in the Park

I am probably biased but I do think Shrewsbury has one of the nicest town centre parks I have ever been in.

The River Severn bends around the edge of it and  despite being near the town centre it is often a very quiet place. In fact to my shame I doubt if I go there more than a dozen so times a year,though that may change when our new town centre building opens, as we will be only a few hundred metres away from the entrance.

This morning I  had to go in and chat to someone briefly at the site of our town centre building ,so I walked up the hill,passed St Chad's and into the park
. After walking for a while I went down into The Dingle which is beautifully planted and therefore very colourful. Again it was virtually empty
I spent a short time wondering at the beauty of it all and a short time praying but then thinking about the enormous work put in by The Shropshire Horticultural Society a 150 years or so ago to create something so beautiful to bless future generations with.This led me onto thoughts  about our  legacy to future generations

There was a popular Christian song a decade or two ago which began" I want to serve the purpose of God in my generation" That is a great desire to have, and Wesley was right when he said"We can't return to the past generation, nor reach the following, but we can serve this one. The only generation for which GOD holds us responsible is ours."

However in my view legacy is important 
That legacy is not about controlling the future,but is is about leaving an example of faith for future generations .A bit like this man did here 

We are called by God to build a building to serve His purposes
Who knows how long that building will last?
Will it be decades or centuries?Only God knows.
The legacy we should leave for future generations is not a building, but an example of people who in obedience to God's word, stepped out in faith to bless people and share Jesus with them.

God grant us grace to leave a legacy like that!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Cornerstone Group

Baptists in Shrewsbury have dreamed about building a new town centre building for decades if not generations!
For various reasons,not by any means all to do with the church, that dream has not yet become reality. However we are getting closer!
For many years now a group has been set up to dream,to plan ,to think about what that building may look like
In the last few years this has been called the Cornerstone group.
As our new building nears completion we have been meeting very regularly.
As you would expect with any group thinking about buildings and what goes in them,this is a group filled with people who are good on detail (I am the great exception to that!)

Today we went and spent a day together at Sandra and Mike's house in beautiful North Shropshire countryside. They were wonderful and generous hosts. I even managed to get this photo of Mike on the drums

Sandra chaired the group and  was really great at moving us forward and ensuring we didn't get bogged down and made decisions
Recognising we are getting late in the day to ask for many changes ,we began by going through the overall layout of the building in groups. I thought this was pretty productive and lots of good ideas were shared

Fortified by an excellent lunch,we then looked at the  building room by room , thinking about where doors should be ,what floor coverings ,lighting , and furniture we would need in order to fulfil the vision God has given us ,to bless our local community

Being very much a big picture person I was incredibly grateful for other peoples gifts and their willingness to use them in the service of The Kingdom

There is loads still to be done and a lot more meetings to have but today we prayed together, ate together,laughed together and moved things forward a long way!

It was good to be there!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Verge

One of my favourite missional church websites is Verge. The site contains some excellent material including some great videos

The web is great for hearing great teaching from all over  the world. If you have a computer and an internet connection; even if your pastors,elders teachers,vicars  don't feed you you can find people who can.
It is also a great resource for pointing you towards good books.I saw this video this morning and when I get the book I will tell you whether I like it or not

I also read this very practical post   which made me think again about how we do mission.  here
 I have already  suggested to our leaders that when we open our town centre building we should have meetings not in the building but at the same local cafe ,so we can build relationships!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Hows your church doing?

Thanks to Steve for pointing me in the direction of this one press here

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Social media and the gospel

I have been running this blog for about 2 years.
I began it as a place to store stuff about Christianity and the church that interested me and may interest others

To start with the numbers reading it were tiny.
They could be measured on the fingers of two hands!
Compared to many other blogs ,including many Christian blogs, the numbers reading 2 years after that first post, are still very small indeed .Nevertheless last month I had  just short of 2000  hits  from 10 different countries on this blog. That is far more than I preached to last month !
So I am persuaded of the value of Christians blogging and sharing thoughts with other people
.I  have also  been blessed and stimulated  by reading other Christian blogs.
When the Internet phenomena started I wondered if it was a fad,but I have been long persuaded it is here to stay and will shape our lives for good or ill.It is part of a Christians  task to make sure it is for good.

The video below shows how much the web in general, and social  media in particular, are changing our lives

Andy who many years ago was in the youth group at Ross Baptist Church (where I was pastor) has just started a blog and his first post is a challenge to Christians to use social media more in the service of The Kingdom- in fact he has written a hymn about it! Andy's blog

My colleague Steve ( who I think it's fair to say is not as keen as I am on using social media) kindly sent me this link which I will add to this post
why social media matters

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Fathers love

We showed this in church this morning (thanks Jude!)
 It features Derek Redmond and his dad at the 1992 Olympics
I found the pictures and the song very moving A  number of people were in tears

Friday, 17 June 2011

Thoughts about Fathers Day

Sunday is Father's Day!
I always find it difficult to know how to acknowledge and even celebrate  these days in our Sunday services.
Sometimes we do a church family service which in many ways makes things a bit easier to plan. This year however we did our all age  service on Pentecost Sunday here
I always worry though for those who have not got a dad(or perhaps never even known their dad) ,for those dads'who have lost children, or even lost touch with their children,for those men who would love to have had children and either because they never met the right person, or for reasons of infertility, never had the children they longed for.( Contrary to the modern myth many men also  grieve for the children they never had). I also think of those whose relationships with their dad was poor.
Perhaps I am just over sensitive. I do want to celebrate fatherhood and acknowledge just how important fathers are; but how to do it without unintentionally hurting others?( I know some women who go for a long walk on Mothers day rather than face church)

Amazingly it is now almost 5 years since my dad died.He always wanted to be a painter (his self portrait above and picture of his studio below) but ended up in business which he didn't love

His values were different from mine (when I told him I had become a Christian he said " Don't worry I was a communist for 6 months at your age!") and his self published autobiography is called
" sins ancient and modern " but he was my dad and I still miss him and will think about him on Fathers Day and indeed most other days too

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Faith in action

Thanks to Phil -The Simple Pastor for drawing my attention to this from The Guardian.It really is well worth watching for an example of Christian love in action.

If you want to see the size of the gap between what this church (and many others do) and how the church is perceived by many other people, read the comments section below the video

press here

What do you think?

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Street Pastors Shrewsbury

Street Pastors are coming to Shrewsbury !

We are not the first town in the area to do it,and  what is interesting is that the police and the town centre people (who had seen the positive  effect of this ministry in other towns nearby) were very keen to have Street Pastors in Shrewsbury.
 One of the reasons was to contribute to preventing further deaths in the river late on weekend evenings

Church leaders, including the local Bishop, have enthusiastically embraced the concept

Last night there was a meeting to explain to local Christians just what Street Pastors is all about,how it can benefit our town and the community, and what Christians can do to get involved, and above all how to train to become a street pastor

We heard from people involved in Street Pastors in both Telford and Stafford as well as from the local police and others.

The organisers were very pleased with the turnout of about 70 people from a wide variety of local churches.
I gather about 30 poeple expressed an interest in the training which is brilliant.

Shrewsbury Baptist Church is one of about 7 churches so far committed to this ministry ,though after last night that number will probably grow .

A good number from our church were present (including  my colleague Steve who is on the steering committee) and we are excited because this ministry may eventually be based at out new town centre building,.as it is very close to the big clubs and pubs in the centre of town.

Exciting times!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Welcoming all

Some of you will know why I was particularly moved by this press here
If Jesus can preach while the roof above him is being torn down ,to let a man on a stretcher  get to him, so his sins  may be forgiven ,perhaps  we should learn to do the same!

on the comments section I saw this link to another post which was so powerful I have added it to this post!
Press here!

Vaccines for developing countries

With the news media reporting a large conference on getting vaccines to children in countries too poor to pay for vaccinations
Guardian & Telegraph
 I was interested in the Christian Medical Fellowships blog post here

I remember speaking to a man  with extensive experience of working in impoverished countries and seeing preventable death  among children at first hand saying that, he never got used to it and neither do the parents of the children.
Any help we can give ,however imperfect, must be a good thing

Sunday, 12 June 2011

All age service for Pentecost Sunday

We had one of   our occasional All age services this morning . At this time of year we often have one for Fathers Day but this year it was decided to have the service on Pentecost Sunday. Liz led worship wonderfully well as usual  ,Mark and Emma led very thoughtful prayers and Elise did a brilliant talk on" Pentecost; before and after."
The talk involved dressing Mitch up in a superhero outfit (it would take too long to explain!)

Because this was an all age service and not a children's talk we finished with a serious challenge to all  people to be filled with the Holy Spirit as we need to do Gods work equipped with Gods power.
A good number of people responded which was encouraging
As people made their response we played a  video of a powerful song by Tim  Hughes who has written some excellent material

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Missional Spirituality

Most of you know that the church I help lead is building a new building .We believe this is God's will for us and have been very  excited to see the way God answers prayer.
As the sign on the hoarding says we are Building church for the future.

That is critical to us.

The key thing we are doing is not building a building, but building church and church is about people, not about bricks and mortar.
 The church is not there to serve the building.The building is there to serve the church, as it seeks to build the Kingdom of God in our community.

That is our God given task at this time

I read this today missional church .It is quite a lengthy read, but there are some great quotes in it, and it describes much of the journey that I have personally travelled over the last few years, to what I believe is a more New Testament way of being a church and  which is more exciting ,dynamic and relevant to todays world
There is an especially good description of what Missional Spirituality looks like.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

New town centre building

Thursdays is usually the day we meet with the developers (or actually with their very helpful representative whose name is  Steve)
As I have mentioned before I am not really a detail person so many of the finer points of the discussion fly over my head ,though I do enjoy the excellent coffee!

After the meeting our small team had a bacon sandwich together  and then I took the opportunity with Rob to look at the work. Progress is pretty rapid now and I can see big changes every time I go on site.
Front of building
Behind the hoardings

I was also delighted to see that at last the signs are up on the hoardings
There have been so many rumours about us closing the church that hopefully the signs will convince the people of the town that, God willing, Shrewsbury Baptist Church will be there to serve them and share the good news of The Kingdom with them for generations to come!
Tonight we meet again ,this time with the group who are doing a great job of ensuring that the building we get suits God's purposes.

NT Wright- Pentecost

 Many of you will know that while I am not an uncritical admirer of NT Wright ,I am an admirer.I thought this was a great quote

“The disciples, filled with the Spirit, begin the work of Jesus’ sovereign and saving rule over the world, whose Lord he now is, by their shared common life, their works of healing, their proclamation of him as Lord and King, and their bold witness against the authorities who try to stop them. And that just about sums up the whole book, all the way to when Paul arrives in Rome and announces God as King and Jesus as Lord right under Caesar’s nose, openly and unhindered. So Pentecost is about the powerful presence of Jesus with his people; about the implementation of Jesus’ healing, saving rule through his people; and thirdly about the anticipation, in and through that work, of the final day when heaven and earth shall be one. It isn’t just that the Spirit is the ‘down payment’ of what is to come for us as his people; the Spirit is the advance sign of what God is going to do for the whole earth, the entire created order.”
You can read Wright's whole sermon here

NT Wright on Pentecost

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Love God- love people

Like everyone I spoke to, who saw the latest episode of  Panorama on TV ,I was shocked and horrified by the abuse of vulnerable young people by carers who were supposed to look after and protect them Panorama

In the light of the programme I thought this article from the Christian Medical Fellowship's magazine for medics "Triple Helix" The vulnerable their quality of care set on an excellent biblical case for caring for vulnerable people..

 I am biased but I think that belief in Christian ethics will not long survive, if we cease to believe in a Christian gospel

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Tearing up a sermon

I have been preaching for about 35 years but today I did something I have never done before. I tore up my sermon before I had preached it! ( I nearly always tear up my sermons after I have preached them)

I was on holiday last week and dutifully prepared the passage before I went away ,writing it out in full as I have always done ,though I frequently depart from the written script.

When I got back from holiday I got the script out and although it read okay it seemed to lack a great deal of passion and not to convey the truths I very much  wanted to share. Somehow the words didn't seem to live!
I did not get a special message from God but I  went ahead anyway  and just tore up the sermon and decided to preach without any notes at all
I then went back to the passage read it again and again,prayed like crazy throughout the service until the time came to preach.

I had decided  not to tell the church that I had done this as I thought it could be a complete disaster.

However when I got up the words flowed more easily than normal and I certainly had more favourable comments than I had  for a very long time.

I have nearly always read widely around my sermon,and written it down and in my younger days confess to having practiced in front of a mirror! (other people play air guitar, I preached sermons-how sad is that?)
I even went through a stage of going down to the church building early on Sunday mornings in order to rehearse the the sermon I was to deliver at 11am to empty pews .Do other preachers do this or was I the only one?

So preaching, with preparation but without note,s worked for me and hopefully for the church this morning.
I wont always do it but at some point I will do it again!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

A trip to Harlech and memories of pioneer missionaries

My daughter had always wanted to have a holiday on a motor home, so seizing the moment, we rented a monster one and headed down to Harlech in Wales.
We were blessed with wonderful sunny weather and deeply appreciated  the sheer beauty of the surrounding coast and countryside.
Despite the warm weather and the fact that it was half term the beaches were fairly quiet and we enjoyed long walks and I even swam in the sea (deifinition: "being fully immersed and doing at least one swimming stroke!")
I am not convinced that I would do this kind of holiday often (it is a big vehicle to drive on narrow coastal roads)
and the bed was not that comfortable for someone of advancing years like me.I am glad though that I tried it

The last time I was in Harlech was in the early 1980's when a group of us from Ross on Wye Baptist Church enjoyed a church holiday there. The place therefore brought back happy memories of many good people like Pat and Byron Webber, Norman and Diana ,Joyce and Stan,Everett and Yvonne  and a good number of others,many of whom are with The Lord.
I thought especially though of Kathleen and Arthur Elder, I have a photo of them walking hand in hand on the beach  during that holiday ,I suspect they would have been in their late seventies, even early eighties ,then. .Arthur had been a brilliant scholar and linguist but  was then  in the early stages of dementia, which was to get worse and worse as the years wore on

Arthur Elder baptising
.Kathleen was a strong woman, devoted to Arthur and given to strong opinions on( among other things)my sermons (not usually favourable ones!).They were an amazing couple who had served in China (where they met Eric Liddell of chariots of fire fame) with the Baptist Missionary Society, until persecution came and the doors for service closed.They had then pioneered the BMS work in Brazil using their gifts and evangelistic talents to great effect in building the Kingdom in that country for many years, before retiring to Ross on Wye where they served the local church until their deaths a few years apart in the 1990's.

 I only realised how respected and loved they were by the large number of leading Baptists who turned up at their funerals.  There is a bit more about them here.BMS website

Happy memories of good and faithful servants who rest in peace and will rise in glory!

Why missional communities fail 6-10


Thought these were 2 excellent posts

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Why missional communities fail

I thought this was an excellent post why missional communities fail
The question though is how to apply this to our situation?
I especially like the idea of low control/ high accountability but how to achieve it?