Sunday, 24 June 2012

More from Steve Holmes about Church Growth in Britain

among mainline denominations  here Shored Fragments
It certainly makes interesting reading

Friday, 22 June 2012

Startling but encouraging news

Must say after many years of reading about decline, reading about some growth in some areas is very encouraging news read here

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Baptist Futures process

For those (few) of you interested in the vision the Baptist Futures group have come up with;There is a link
here  and a response to it here on Neil Brighton's blog Distinct Reflections

Like Neil I recognise the immense amount of hard work that has gone into this. I also doubt whether the vision thay have come up with is nearly radical enough

Monday, 18 June 2012

Fathers Day brunch

Over the last few years we have done a whole series of  different meals
These are occasions when we invite people from the local community to join us and to eat with us
Mostly we do these on a Friday night but a couple of times a year we do them on Sunday mornings.
The great thing is that our neighbours come and so over time we have got to know some of them pretty well and really enjoyed their company
Yesterday was Fathers day so we had a brunch with bacon rolls and other good food as well as coffee and tea. We also encouraged some of the guys to bring along their favourite boys toys and for some reason ended up with a lot of toy helicopters!
We took the opportunity to show some  material from CVM   see here about being a father and then retold the story of the Prodigal Son.It is not for me to say "a  great time was had by all" but people certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves.
In our regular Sunday morning series we have been thinking about " A meal with Jesus" (which I highly recommend).In the book  Tim Chester talks frequently about the importance of meals and hospitality and it is great to see this in action.
However we are now thinking of ways to encourage this on an individual, as well as a church wide basis .
I suppose as with most things it needs to start with us leaders

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Gram Seed Shrewsbury

I took a few people who had been in our latest Alpha Group along to hear Gram Seed last night.
It was a good ,even inspiring, evening.
This evangelistic event was held in the hall of a local secondary school rather than a church building and  the organisers had clocked there was a football match on, and thus not made the mistake of putting too many chairs out.
It is always hard to judge numbers without actually counting but my guess would be around fifty plus people came with a wide age range (12-80?)
The evening was very simply done Andy Lowe sang a few songs very well indeed, and then we were into Gram's amazing story of a life turned around by God
Gram sat casually on the edge of the stage and told his story
The first part was rather harrowing as Gram described some of the fights he had been in ,the wounds he had received and the( largely poor) relationships he had had while growing up with family memebers ,as well as the times spent in prison.
Gram then described how Christians had cared for him ,prayed for him in intensive care, when people wanted to switch of  the life support machine, his miraculous healing and and the fact that God turned his life around- It was a very moving story which is still continuing
Gram is speaking tonight (see photo for details) and he is well worth hearing as a living witness to what God can do !

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

New Wine Leadership 2012 -part 3

 Alan  now moved onto suggest a way forward  I have captured the bits that spoke most to me but it was a really interesting session

Firstly he said we need to focus on discipleship because if we fail in discipleship we fail everywhere. (-"if we dont make disciples we cant grow 
movements" ) Alan suggested the church in the west is generally not good at this but it is important because discipleship is the way we show people what God is like "If you hold to my teaching,you will know truth and truth shall set you free"
Christian leaders therefore need to raise the bar on discipleship and lower the bar on ecclesiology as if we don't disciple are leadership is not Christ like - because Jesus did disciple.

HIrsch then went onto suggest one or two ways we might do this including setting up small groups with this intent. Alan  spoke specifically about acting our way into a new way of thinking 
Alan finished by describing an example of a group he knows that uses  an acronym

BELLS as a focus for action 
Bless x 3 – Everyone in the community has to do three acts of blessing a week, how and why they do it is entirely up to them.
One to a person inside the community of faith
One to a person outside of the community of faith
One to either side
Eat x 3 – You’re going to eat with people at least three times.
One to a person inside the community of faith
One to a person outside of the community of faith
One to either side
Listen 1 hour/week – One hour a week of contemplative prayer, just listening to God.
Learning reading each week:
1 Gospel
1 Other Book of the Bible
1 Other Book – Doesn’t matter what kind of book, but it has to be a good book, the best you can find in any given category.
Sense – Everyone in the community spends at least 10 minutes reflecting on their day, answering 2 questions:
Where did I work with Jesus today?
Where did I resist Jesus today?

I think this would be difficult to do in a large group but very possible in a small grouo. If we were  committed itself to this kind of accountabilty and intentional discipleship we  should really grow in Christ
I am attracted by the idea!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Reflections on New Wine Leadership 2012 -part 2

I am sitting writing this blog post on a glorious summer morning, in the garden of a beautiful house on the Island of Mull

This idyllic and very quiet spot has given me the opportunity to contemplate.


I have been particularly thinking about the new wine conference I went to last week and the two books I am reading at the moment.Tim Chester's "A Meal with Jesus" and "Right Here ,RIght Now by Alan HIrsch and Lance Ford

TIm Chester's book focuses especially on the gospels and demonstrates again and again just how much time Jesus invested in relationships,with all sorts of different people but especially the poor and needy.It is a book well worth reading


I have read a great deal that Alan Hirsch has read over the last few years,I think he has something profoundly important to say to the church in the western world,so when I heard he was speaking at new wine I was determined to go.


I was not disappointed!

I suppose much of what he said Is simple ,at least in theory.Hirsch believes we have the wrong ideas about Jesus. This has happened over many years ,even many centuries


We have forgotten( largely because we neglect the gospels ) what Jesus is like,the people he spent time with ,the things he said etc and because of this we need in Alan's words to reJesus the church, as the church in the west has ceased to look like Jesus of the gospels and has instead made Jesus in it's own image

Alan suggested we had at times begun to look more like Pharisees than Christians and reminded us that" Christianity minus Christ equals religion"


As I thought about the things that Christians have got really passionate about in the last 30 years or so ,the debates that have divided church from church and Christian from Christian things like worship styles or music spring to mind, and not so much passion or discussion about how to be better followers of Jesus so I thought there was more than a touch of truth to what he said

Since spiritual authority comes from the ability to live your message we are in trouble


I will write more about HIrsch's suggested solution to this in the next post

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Being Baptist Called ,Gathered,Sent

Firstly, I thought this was an excellent explains clearly some of the history of Baptists and the key and sometimes pioneering, roles played by this group of Christians, in the abolition of the slave trade ,issues of religious liberty and the ministry of women.
I suspect very few people in our churches know this history so this will be a useful teaching tool.

It also explains why we do the things we do in the realms of church government and sets out the ideal of the church meeting quite clearly.

If I have a disappointment it is not with the video or the ideals,it is with the fact that the reality is so often different.
Jonathan Edwards introduces the video by saying that we are a movement led by The Spirit. I have to say it has  not always felt like that especially as we have thought about the whole Baptist Futures process.

However if this excellent video is used to recall us to our radical roots and inspire us for the future then I will be delighted.

Press here for video