Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Beyond 400- Does the future have a denomination?

 Beyond 400 - Baptist Voices. Join the conversation now.

 I have linked in previous posts to a debate that is starting to happen in Baptist Union churches
about the way forward into the future
I have been interested in many of the early contributions to this debate that mostly come from pioneer ministers and they have made some important and significant points that we would do well to heed.

It is Simon Jones minister of Bromley Baptist Church however who ,for me, most accurately describes where we are as Baptists today, and coins the phrase" Does the future have a denomination?"

We as a church have been greatly helped by the Baptist Union and by its local manifestation the Heart of England Baptist Association  and especially it's  representatives, and I am always very grateful for that.
However,  most people in our churches would fail to answer the question" What is the denomination for?" They really don't identify themselves as Baptists . We need to face up to that as we seek to re-imagine the future?
You can read Simon's thoughts here: Simon Jones contribution

Sunday, 29 January 2012


We had a vision meeting today
The main discussion was about youth and children's work which is one of our priorities for 2012 and beyond
Jon and Elise showed us this pretty challenging video from conspiracy of freedom which should make every parent think and pray!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Thoughts about prayer

This is the week of prayer in our church

 On the theme of prayer, my friend and colleague Steve sent me this. I thought it was a brilliant post and the video in it, a great discussion starter on prayer press here

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


As part of our week of prayer Beryl spoke on the need to lament last night.
I had heard her on the subject last year and been so helped by it that I went again last night
It was a very powerful talk.
Drawing on themes from both the Old Testament and New Testament including Psalms ,Job, Habbakuk and Romans ;Beryl demonstrated that lamenting is an important if often neglected (Beryl thought particularly by evangelicals and charismatics) part of a Christians relationship with God, but was critical if we are going to be honest in our relationship with Him.
The talk was interspersed with songs and hymns that picked up the theme I found the whole evening very inspiring
I had to leave early but the people there were going onto write their own laments
I ma hoping to persuade Beryl to let me have the notes so I can put them on this blog (with due acknowledment of course)

Monday, 23 January 2012

A busy but enjoyable time!

One of the things I do with this blog is to reflect some of the things going on the the life of Shrewsbury Baptist Church

Since I blogged last, Jude has been working very hard to get the building legal ,we have taken advice on fire risks, on insurance, and on a host of other matters.
We are also thinking about the invites for the opening coming up in March and sorting small teething troubles that arise with any new building.we have begun to to make the building more friendly and welcoming

Meanwhile we had our first meeting in Central which was a meeting of Mission Shrewsbury (leaders from other churches around the town)
It was a joy to welcome them in particular because a few years ago when we began to sense the direction in which God was leading us ,it is fair to say that what we were doing was not without controversy ,so I shared the vision with my fellow Christian leaders in the town and they strongly affirmed it ,which at a tough time gave us  more strength to move forward and was significant in getting us to where we are today

We have also begun to hire the building out. Great relationships are being built with the 6th form and they are using the building for their exams .We have also had other enquiries about hiring from various groups in the town. We hope this will lead to some important new contacts and relationships.

Yesterday marked the start of our week of prayer and this evening I am  going along to hear Beryl speak on lamentation.
She tackled the same subject last year and it was inspiring.
We also have a tree of thanksgiving put up in the church for children and indeed all of us to record our answers to prayer
 The focus this year is on less organised events and more on inspiring us to get together informally with others to pray and to do our own prayer walks ,prayer triplets etc  we have a great leaflet but also get  texted  and emailed info to pray about (some of it is on the churches facebook page)

Meanwhile we are moving towards the conclusion of our Alpha course which has been great I have really enjoyed getting to know a great bunch of people and it has been wonderful doing it with the folk from St Peters. The great thing about an Alpha course is the very lively discussions and questions that take place and the strong relationships that get built as always there are signs The Holy Spirit is at work.
Yesterday we celebrated Normans 80th birthday -He & Carol are great and I told him I would put a picture on my blog so here it is!

So though I havent blogged much in the last week or so life is still busy and indeed exciting

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Baptists and change 2

    I blogged here  about Baptists and change and the conversation  that has already begun online.
The first of 40 short pieces on ways of reimagining the future was uploaded yesterday, you can read it  here
I dont imagine I will link to them all here, but since they want the conversation to be as wide as possible I will link to the some of the best (in my opinion!) on this blog over the next 6 weeks or so.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Leaders time away Shallowford House 2012

The church leaders are back from a brilliant 24 hours at Shallowford house
These times away in very comfortable surroundings have proved so helpful to us as we seek to follow God into the future

We ate together, prayed together,planned together and enjoyed just being together.

A very diverse bunch of people with very different gifts but sharing not just a common faith in Jesus but a common calling to be leaders,and a shared passion to build the Kingdom of God to His glory!

A lot of our discussion was around how to reshape  ourselves to be more effective in what God is calling us to do and we also gave time to thinking and praying about children's and youth work.

I suppose the test of a leaders weekend is not whether we had fun (we did!) but whether the time together makes a difference (I am sure it will!) but I must say I really enjoyed being with this  great bunch of people, and as we often say to each other "It is all about relationships "!
Good relationships  demand quality time -It was good to get it!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Beyond 400- Baptists and change

There is no doubt that change is starting to happen in the Baptist Union .The denomination of which I am part
The imminent change  appears to have been triggered by a financial crisis.On the basis you should never waste a good crisis there are a significant number of voices calling for radical change but the key question is "What kind of change?"
For the first time I remember  in over 25 years as a Baptist Minister my views are being sought along with all other ministers and so I replied with some fairly  robust suggestions, which could be summed up by saying "I wish the BU was more of a movement and less of an institution"
A group has been set up to look at all these replies and suggest a way forward
I have questions about the make up of this group (in my view too many academics and people paid by the centre and not enough local ministers and church people) but am hopeful that good will come out of all this
I was delighted though that a website has been set up that will alow many more people to contribute to the debate which starts online in the next week - Beyond 400 debate  for those who are interested
There is also a facebook page for those interested

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Mark Driscoll again!

Mark is obviously a very bright guy and a very gifted guy, but sometimes I wonder if he is a very wise guy? You can read his opinion of British church leaders here
I suppose it is not surprising he has had a fairly vigorous response from among others Krish Kandiah
It hardly needs  stating that  I think Driscoll is wrong
There are some very gifted young British  leaders who are doing courageous  things in a tough environment  and who are certainly not cowards.

I thought it was a ministry of encouragement not discouragement that Christians are called to exercise!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A few thoughts about logos

When I started in ministry churches had noticeboards saying what church they were and also a place where you could stick a big handwritten or (if you were very modern )printed poster
I remember in Ross we used to send ours away to a firm in Nottingham to get them sorted.
Nowadays everyone is much more publicity conscious and many churches have noticeboards ,websites and  logos

Our new church Shrewsbury Baptist Church is one new church operating in 2 locations, that is not unusual, but it does present an additional hurdle to be overcome when publicising meetings and events .

We thought it would be important to give each building a distinct logo

In the town centre one of the groups we want to work closely with is the 6th form college situated very close to our central building and with whom in the persons of Steve and Jude we were already building a partnership.

We therefore approached their art department for  help and received a positive ,even enthusiastic, response and we dedcided on a compettition to design a new logo for Central

Steve and Jude met with a number of their students and shared,the kind of church we wanted to be and how we envisaged the new building would be used, and the students came up with a number of great designs.

The winner  was a guy called Matt who came up with both the design and the strap line below it.

All in all it was a very positive exercise and we look forward to welcoming Matt and the other students to our opening where we hope to meet them and their families and make a presentation to them

We all loved this particular logo

To me it looks dynamic it represents movement and change and yet says we long to be at the heart of the community. The cross on the t is not original but it is very important too

Saturday, 7 January 2012

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy."

There are some days in the many years of my Christian life when I have felt overwhelmed by the love and faithfulness of God.
When it seems to me that what has happened is a direct answer to the prayers of many people, over many years, and that His grace has been poured out on undeserving people
Yesterday was one of those days!
The verse that came to mind again and again was from the psalms
"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy."

Yesterday was handover day for the new building.
That means it  was the day when Central building was formally completed and passsed into the ownership of Shrewsbury Baptist Church.

It is the day when the electrics people and the alarm people and the developer explain how everything works.I was glad that Rob and Rob and Steve and Jude were there, because ,as those who know me well will testify, -I dont understand these things easily!

This process took a couple of hours until those who needed to understand everything did so.

I busied myself in that time taking photos and really just feeling a deep sense of gratitude to God and reflecting on the journey of the last few years, from the point where we had to leave the old building, because we were advised it was no longer safe ,through the warm welcome we received from the church at Crowmoor,to the uniting of the 2 churches for mission and becoming Shrewsbury Baptist Church ,until the reopening of our almost completely rebuilt town centre building "Central" yesterday (although the formal openings are in March)

It has been a painful,difficult and challenging journey but God is always faithful, even when we were weak and feeble. I certainly learned again the value of persevering

Anyway, once everyone was happy we shared a glass with Steve and John from the developers who have been amazingly helpful.

By a strange conincidence although Steve is not a church goer himself one of his ancestors helped carry Spurgeon's coffin at his funeral!

They then left us in the building and we were joined by some of our leadership team (sadly not all were able to come) and we prayed and gave thanks to God for His generosity and faithfulness

As I looked around the faces present I felt grateful for them all. Some have been with us just a short time and some for many years but the experience of not building a building, but building a new church, has birthed  in us what Hirsch call a sense of communitas "Community born through struggle "

I am especially grateful for the encouragement, the love and the support they have given to Steve and I- They are a gift from God

Now we move into a new phase in the life of our new church as we seek to go where God calls, to bless people, and to share the gospel in word and deed

I am looking forward to it!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A busy start to the new year

It has been a fairly hectic start to the new year. Got my sermon for Sunday finished and so this morning Steve and I met to discuss the leaders time away.
I am looking forward to this as we had a great time last year and it is always good to be away with great people discussing important things.
We have 3 priorities for this year they are
  •  Discipleship (including prayer)
  • Putting down even deeper roots in the community
  • Children's and youth work
Our time together will be spent praying and planning around these topics and we are determined that our time at Shallowford House website here would not simply be a good time but will make a difference in Kingdom terms

Saw a version of our new logo for the Central building I will tell you a bit more about who designed it and the story behind it in another post.

A sneak preview

Anyway following that meeting there were chairs to carry down to the new building ready for the handover tomorrow

Having carried the chairs in and taken them upstairs in the lift , I enjoyed sitting in front of the large new window that looks out over the market hall in Shrewsbury and reflecting on just how good God is and on how far we have  travelled in the last year


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New Year ,new building ,new opportunity,.. but an old prayer

2012 looks like being an exciting year !

This Friday our new Central building is being handed over by the developers,  although the formal openings are not until March.

I  cant pretend I am not excited about the new building, and in particular the new opportunities that it brings for us to serve and bless our community; but I do remind myself frequently that it was Herod, and not Jesus, who was famous for building buildings, and what I am really looking forward to is the chance to connect with people who visit ,live in or work in the town centre.

We are also determined that the new building should be a place of prayer and we  even have a small dedicated prayer room upstairs  in the Central building .

We see this as vital as we want to not simply acknowledge, but to depend on God to do God's work in God's strength and not our own.

I haven't made specific new year resolutions as I am  not good at keeping them, but I do echo this prayer in Townends hymn for my life and the life of the church I help lead.
I hope it will be your prayer too

Speak, O Lord, as we come to You

To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.

Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility;
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
In the radiance of Your purity.
Cause our faith to rise; cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of pow’r that can never fail—
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us—
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time
That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on Your promises,
And by faith we’ll walk as You walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, till Your church is built
And the earth is filled with Your glory.

You can hear it here