Monday, January 31, 2005

Time Magazine has a "photo essay" on the 25 most influential evangelicals in the USA. (thanks to Tony for the link!)
Some of the names are very familiar, some would mean very little to those of us in the UK. Its an interesting list - and Brian Mclaren makes it in there, along with Hybles, Packer etc.
Of course the whole thing is about a particular model of success and influence, which is questionable, but its worth a look!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Classic Albums

I've been rediscovering some classic albums recently (mainly old vinyl).
Today's choice was the 1990 wonder of Deee Lite's World Clique.
Truly marvellous - including "Who was that" complete with crisp-munching sample and of course classics like "I believe in the power of love" and "Groove is in the heart".

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Superhero? Posted by Hello
Several things recently have got me thinking about the use of Superhero language for Jesus.
Is it really appropriate or helpful?
Firstly I caught the end of a Great Big God kids event and they had a song "Jesus, Superhero".
Jesus is my superhero is also the title of Hillsongs childrens worship album.
Then, at church, one of the kids said that Jesus was like Mr Incredible, who's mission is to clean up evil.
Is superhero talk helpful enculturation of the gospel in the world of children or is it selling Jesus short? Surely Jesus is much more than a superhero - and there are other aspects of his character that are forgotten if we take that approach. Or am I stuck in the past?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Creative solutions?

Been thinking for a while now about the need for creative solutions for housing.
Here in London, especially, its incredibly difficult for people to enter the housing market and "affordable housing" seems to be somewhat of an oxymoron.
Despite the government's rhetoric and the good work of housing associations, I think its time for some creative thinking by churches.
Why? For long term investment in communities, to keep gifted people who would be forced economically to move on, essentially for mission.
I recently looked at the website for Friends of the Bridegroom (International House of Prayer) in Kansas. They have an interesting accommodation department with long and short term solutions.
Maybe that's something London churches or "clusters" of churches could learn from?
It certainly takes communal thinking, but could be a good business investment.
Back in the day the Abbey National came out of Baptist beginnings.

I'm not sure what it would look like - but Acts comes to mind - where it says that no-one was in need.
More than that I think there are justice issues here too.
Time for some creative thinking for the long term mission and incarnation of the gospel.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

It's a strange world...
when Bez - Happy Monday's drugged up dancer wins Celebrity Big Brother.
Must mean something for popular culture that he got more votes than boy band member Kenzie.
Just not sure what! Any ideas? (the obvious being about drugs).

Friday, January 21, 2005

Everyone's Talking about...
The fabulous Guardian section on London's diverse population
Fuel for mission and prayer, info. and challenge.

As well as week of prayer for Christian Unity, Sunday is also Education Sunday!
But I'm planning on speaking at an event about neither of these issues.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Generation, Culture, Church: Can we hold it together?

This Saturday! Posted by Hello
Click image to enlarge.
Still spaces - and its open to non-Baptists! With input from my colleague Kumar Ragagopalan, and Jonny.
Booking online at - click "News"
Week of prayer for Christian Unity
In case you hadn't noticed - its the week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Quote from todays devotions from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland site:
"God’s peace will only become a reality when we are prepared to allow Jesus to enter the walled cities of our hearts and minds and with him live prophetically and act faithfully."

(just realised that this is a quote from last years materials! SO last year!)

"Churches have often chosen the wrong ground for building and the wrong structures to create and the wrong materials to employ. Barriers instead of bridges litter our history. ..What might usefully be demolished in your church life to make way for the building of greater unity?"
Is from this years stuff - here.

Both quotes are worth pondering though!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The confusing state of UK youth ministry training
Youthwork Magazine this month features an article on training for "full time" youth ministry.
On the positive side - there are loads of options, far more than when I was looking at training 10 years ago.
But I can't help but think its all a bit confusing.
Speaking to Bruce last week he was saying that where he is in Canada its straightforward: you do essentially the same training as ministers (vicars/church leaders) and then take electives to specialise. I have to say that sounds much better than what happens here! It puts the same "spiritual" value on being a youth minister as being a senior pastor, you learn how churches work, and get grounded theologically (assuming your colleges are getting ministerial training right -but that's another issue!).

Here we get bogged down with" youth work vs youth ministry" training. That certainly why I ended up doing Evangelism and Church Planting! I know Oasis and CYM have tried to marry this as Youthwork and Ministry (as Oasis like to say). But I'm just not sure.
Shouldn't youth ministry training be more about ministry, theology and spirituality and less conncerned with JNC statutory stuff?
Youthblog has in the past posted stuff about these issues: here , here and here.

Maybe its more straight forward in the USA and Canada because they aren't so concerned with a statutory youthwork agenda?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Sinner to winner (2)
Gordon sent me this link to blah-blah-blah and a post about our preaching friend.
"Based on my Pixies tour shirt he came up with 'the Pixies can’t save you…. but Jesus can'."
Such creativity!

Seems like there's lots of stuff about him on the net.
Such as this article which says his real name is Terry and how he got his megaphone.

Also here "Geoftech" has some pics! (I hope he doesn't mind my linking to one of them!)

Still if you have a story let me know!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Sinner or winner?
Wondering if any London people know anything about the "sinner or winner" street preacher often found around Oxford Street/Oxford Circus or at major events? (complete with megaphone thing).
I saw him today - and on most trips up to the LBA offices.
The funniest was when he saw a guy with a bag from JD Sports and used that to prompt "its on your bag son, Jesus or the Devil - JD"!!
I know Matt has had some encounters.
Just wondering if anyone else had or knew anything about him?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Success pt 2
Further to the ealier post - one of the reasons I was thinking about this is that I have spoken to several churches who had lost sight of the good work they were already doing.
For example with one church when we listed all the great youth stuff that was happening they were amazed! It might not be big or spectatcular or even innovative but it was valuable Kingdom stuff.
Seems like maybe one of the reasons they felt like they had a problem is because they didn't define what they were doing as succesful. Sure sometimes mission gives us an awareness of the needs around us that may make us see our own shortfalls. That can be healthy. But we can sometimes get so caught up in what we're not doing that we forget good stuff already going on.

What does successful youth ministry look like?
I know I've posted about this before (probably more than once) -but I keep coming back to the question - What is successful youth ministry? (Or successful church for that matter)?
How do you measure fruit?

Read somewhere that its not about numbers but ratios (it was on Tony's blog) for youth stuff. What percentage are growing etc.
Its clearly about lasting fruit, community and individual transformation etc.

But I wonder whether "revivalism" has skewed our views of success - even for how we judge an individual meeting or event. One thing I'm learning is while God can "zap" everyone in one go and sort them out, more often than not even the most dramatic events are just steps along the way.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Appreciated being led in an informal communion celebration in our cell group tonight.
Thanks Sara (and Carl)!
Reminded of something I read from the home church movement about how church has made:
"a significant meal with a symbolic meaning into a symbolic meal with a significant meaning".

Monday, January 10, 2005

Great to meet up with Bruce from the
Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches in Canada. It might have sounded weird to some - I was meeting a man I'd never met before, who contacted me through the internet in a hotel lobby near Euston station!
But it was great to grab some food and share the joys of supporting youth ministry in Baptist churches in different contexts. He has only 2million people in his area, more churches and much more space to cover, I have London! He has an assistant and admin and more , we have me currently part time. Oh well - I guess its about where God puts you.

Anyway he seemed like a great guy doing good stuff and there was lots of common ground - such as why churches sometimes take the cheap option of inexperienced and unqualified youth ministry staff and end up in a mess... And the need for networking and support etc. We also spoke about the issue of youthwork being an "add on" for some churches.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Not so doom and gloom?
The Times reports that in 2003 church attendance figures in the Church of England were up.
"The biggest rise in average Sunday attendance was in London, which covers the capital north of the Thames and where worshippers rose by 3,500 to 60,400."
It also adds that:
"eight dioceses even found an increase in young people and children going to church."

Friday, January 07, 2005

Family Youth Ministry?
Just been reading the updated version of Mark DeVries
Family Based Youth

Helpful in some thinking I'm doing around youth groups etc.
Overall not sure really! I think the basic idea that young people need relationships with an extended church family and that their own family has a role in faith formation is undeniably good.
But there was something about the tone of some of the chapters that left me a little cold - a seeming longing for "the good old days" and a sense that the cultural changes of the last 50 years are on the whole negative.
He does say some good stuff about the tension of being routed in the continuity of the line of faith and yet the need for young people to step away and find their own faith and identity.

One quick quote that I'm unsure of:

"the truth is that most teenagers are no more developmentally ready to make a genuine commitment to the institution of church than they would be to make a commitment to the institution of marriage" (p165).

Thursday, January 06, 2005

There seems to be something of a storm brewing over the BBC's plan to show Jerry Springer: The Opera. Received an e-mail today asking for people to lobby the Beeb not to show it and even to demonstrate outside Television Centre. I thought those days were gone with the fuss over Ghostbusters! Maybe I should be annoyed - but I can't get worked up over this - surely if we're going to protest and make a fuss it should be about justice or the poor or even to help the Tsunami victims? I mean - its simple - if you don't like it then don't watch it! But please don't make life harder for Christians by again shouting about what we're against. Have we learnt nothing?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Pastor Bill
On Sunday Channel 5 re-aired the Cornerstone Films documentary The Legend of Pastor Bill (which apparently got great feedback when it was first aired). The film is about Bill Wilson and his Metro Ministries Sunday Schools. I saw the programme first time round and have heard about and seen Bill Wilson on other stuff before. He has an amazing story.
The documentary was both inspiring and a bit unnerving at the same time: inspiring because he's reaching out to urban New York's kids in innovative ways, and willing to pay the price (during the filming he was shot and told of other incidents).
But at the same time he had a "money machine" (the last time I saw one of them was on Noel Edmonds show!) - where you win what you can grab, and other stuff which left questions.
The ethos seemed to be "use whatever bait you can to get the children and families in".
I'm not sure that "the end justifies the means" approach is right.
But then at least he's out there doing something...
Youthworkers: Save money!
Excellent tips to save youthworkers money from the Wibsite. Top ideas like "sleep at the church - you spend most of your time there anyway!" They also have an excellent page for people considering going into "The ministry"

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Sunday Times reports that over the last year the number of blogs has risen from 2m to 5m.
So we're part of a growing band.

The paper also had excellent comment on the Tsunami disaster - about how the real issue is poverty - and how "natural" distasters do far less damage in terms of death toll and economic impact in the richer nations. (Link should be here - but it was down when I tried earlier).
Organic Church is asking for comment on what churches did today. At my church we spent a bit of time thinking and praying around these events which I personally found helpful.