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 ( 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

Monday, 7 November 2011

Billy Graham 93 today

I heard  Billy preach four or five times in 1973 and 1984. He is a very gifted and clear communicator who has been a blessing to so many people-  I was amazed to see he is 93 today! See here
Reading the article you will see he is still speaking wise words

Saturday, 5 November 2011

an unusual prayer

Like most ministers and vicars I am sometimes  asked to say grace or open some otherwise secular event in prayer
I am sure I have never made the impact that this guy did though! here
Some useful thoughts on Krish Kandiah's blog about the whole thing

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Being thankful!

Those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time will know that we are building a new town centre building, in order to fulfil what we believe is our God given vision of having one church with two buildings.
We believe this is a specific call God has given us, and the last few years  have been spent pursuing this goal
To that end we have cast a vision ,adopted values ,and priorities that we think reflect those found in the Bible and that are about building The Kingdom
We have been determined not to be a cosy club where we huddle together against the storms of secularism and materialism and atheism but a community that shares the message of life,that serves people ,that is organised around mission
Over the last few years we have been to see various other ministries and churches as we have thought through our vision and tested it thoroughly. We have learnt a lot this way

Today therefore it was a great joy to have people from another Baptist church come to us-.It was good to hear what God is doing among them and  a privilege for us to share something of our story

In the busyness of the past few years perhaps I have not stopped often enough to reflect but in preparation for today I did just that. The result is that I am amazed and deeply thankful  at what God did and is doing.

The timing of everything ,the wonderful provision is nothing short of a miracle, and hopefully I will get round to writing the full story of the past few years, in a series of blog posts in the future.

Anyway we showed our guests round the building today and I also returned there later following a meeting with the developers, so here as promised are some pictures!

entrance lobby

downstairs room

upstairs looking towards Market hall

upstairs looking towards Rowleys house


prayer room

upstairs kitchen
upstairs with guests

Christian Viewpoint for Men blog

An honest post from Christian Viewpoint for Men on their unintentional visit to a gay bar, and the very  importanrt questions the visit raised in their minds here

Thanks to Steve for pointing it out