Monday, May 30, 2005

Been a good Bank Holiday weekend!
Went to Exeter to see Suzie's brother and girlfriend. Really nice chilled time - plenty of good food (recommend The Ganges for Indian if you're down that way), shopping, walking, beech, pubs etc.
And Sunday was my birthday - a great way to spend it - huge pub carvery lunch, walking in Dawlish, and then pub quiz in the evening! Nice!
Nice to have another work/"ministry" free weekend!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Partners in the gospel?
Posted by Hello
Yesterday I was in on a conversation about the Baptist ministry, and the need for spouses and family to understand the call and vocation being embarked on.
This led to an interesting debate about the expectation some churches have (or have had) of ministers wives (less likely to be on the husbands of female minsters) - especially the traditional things like womens meetings, flowers, hospitality & tea making. But also the danger if the partner wants "in" on the ministry but isn't equipped or called to be so!

Seems to be a trend in "contemporary" churches (Hillsongs style and some Vineyard) to have couples as leaders. Is that a better way?

And what about youthworkers? My observation is that many go into it single but end up getting married. Do churches then expect BOGOF:"buy one get one free"?
Does a church need to meet the family/spouse before appointing?

These are the questions in my brain today!
If I post on this again I might outlines how it works for me!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Seems to be a fashion for self-analysis quizzes on the net at the moment (e.g Here)
For the record on What Kind of Christian are you? I was conservative (I'm not too shocked!).
And on What is you world view I was a Cultural Creative!
For Haven't you got better things to do with your time then answer should be YES!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Greatest Bar in the world?

Its a long way from London, so I've not been - but this could be the greatest bar in the world.
If I'm ever down that way it definately needs checking out !

Monday, May 23, 2005

Seems to be some emerging church phobia around at the moment!
Evangelicals Now (again - see last post!) has an article on The Current Crisis in Evangelicalism.
Some of the points raised are valid - I have questions about Open Theism and the debate about Paul and Atonement is not suprising.
But here's the bit that I question:
"we are now seeing what is generally termed the ‘emerging church’. All too often, these latest manifestations of postmodern Christianity have no shape, no roots, no purpose — and no definable gospel."

Yet another suggestion that emerging church can be lumped together and that it has "no gospel".
Perhaps it is about defining gospel. Or perhaps its just more emerging phobia.
I'll leave it to those more articulate than me to answer!
Youth Workers!
Every month I get sent a copy of
This is a UK Christian Newspaper from the more reformed, conservative end of things.

One of the articles this month opens with:
"The last 20 years have seen a huge increase in the number of youth workers in British churches — yet at the same time the church is losing young people. Alan Bright wonders if the two are connected" (article here).
Now there's an interesting thought - is the rise in paid Christian youthworkers a good thing or not?
The article itself is about the crucial role of parents nurturing children in the faith. But it raises this important issue. Should we really be happy about the number of churches advertising for youth staff in the Christian press?
The author also makes an interesting point about "youth evangelism":
"So much evangelism is aimed at children and young people. But is that a Bible pattern: evangelising other people’s children? How about concentrating on men — on fathers? Of course it is a lot more ‘difficult’ but in terms of effective use of resources it might be the best way to reach whole families."
Should I tell the youthworkers to be going down to the job centre and hanging up thier hoodies?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Another shockingly poor result for the UK in the Eurovision Song contest.
Still at least is wasn't "nil points".

Friday, May 20, 2005

Blog Roll
Blog roll continues to grow - realised it was not reflecting all the subscriptions in my Bloglines list (may grow further still).
The question is - Is blogging becoming too common?
although I still meet people that have never heard the concept!)
Getting away with it.
A few years ago working for a youthwork organisation we coined the phrase "we got away with it" for when you do an event/service/training etc., and you know that you weren't quite on top form.
Sometimes you do stuff and you know that you're on top of it- you know the material, the technology works, you even sense the Spirit is moving and God is active.
Other times you "get away with it" - its not rubbish (hopefully!), but you know you're not in tune.
Last night I did a training - and got away with it! I realised it wasn't going to be great when I got to the church and discovered I'd left my folder of notes and handouts behind (thanks to Suzie for sorting that out!) - not the ideal start! Maybe I'm being harsh on myself -the group seemed to appreciated it (hello if you were there!).
I'm not down about it - but wondered if others had similar experiences and if there were any clues about what makes the difference?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

God at work
Fitting in with the sense I was getting at in some previous posts (here and here), Andrew Jones hits the nail on the head:
After a good soaking of Kingdom thinking, when you pull out your head, and wipe your eyes, you dont see churches, you see the Church. Only one. And you don't see mission as a yes or no button in front of you, but rather a river coming somewhere behind you, sweeping you along into somewhere exciting.."

In fact it resonates well with Colin Marchant passionately speaking about the flow of churches springing up all over London and God at work.
The question for me is do we jump in or fall into the trap of allowing ourselves to be pushed out the flow?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Baptisms, beaches and brains
After some youth leader training in Battersea, we headed down to Sussex at the weekend.
On Sunday we were privileged to watch one of our mates get baptised:

Nice one Greame!

We then got to wander along the beach at Winchelsea:
Posted by Hello

In the evening we ventured to the quiz at another pub (Hogs Head) in Ealing, where we spotted a few refugees from our previous venue (including Richard Bacon). Anyway despite the vibe in the pub not really being great and our team being down in numbers we managed to win the quiz! I told myself 3 times this morning "I'm a winner". Feels good...

Friday, May 13, 2005

Last night I was reminded again of the fantastic privilege (and challenge) of ministry in London.
It was the London Baptist Association(LBA) annual assembly, with the theme Hands Around the world.
What could have been a naff boring meeting was far from it as we worshipped (even some ethnodoxology!), prayed and did creative stuff around the global connections in the City. The LBA encompasses such a variety of churches - which is just as well considering the make up of London.
Again I'm drawn to the
global-urban- postmodern mandate.
Hooded Tops! (picture from

The row over hoodies continues with Bluewater (shopping mall near my family's home town of Dartford) wanting to ban them to stop anti-social behavior (story here). Senior government people - Blair and Prescot have come out in approval. Personally I think there are other fashion crimes that should be banned - but that's another story!
So young people become a threat because of an item of clothing - obvious really

The question is - have the shops at Bluewater stopped selling the offending items?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Heart Music
Just returned from the annual pilgrimage to the Christian Resources Exhibition, with the usual bunch of catalogues and flyers!
One thing I did get was a CD Rom from WEC International. My family have been big WEC supporters for years and I grew up with missionaries staying over etc.
Through this CD I have learn a new word: Ethnodoxology!
I studied some ethnomusicology at uni, and ethnodoxolgy is related to it - its about cross cultural praise - worship across the world.
The emphasis is on heart music:
"Just as we all have a mother tongue language that we call our heart language, we all have styles of music that move us. We feel comfortable with it. This heart music enables us to reach out more easily to the living God and through it we can more clearly hear Him speaking to us. "
(John Oswald from the WEC CD Many Voices, One song).
Wow! I like that - that is so relevant to church in the West, before you leave these shores!

"However, time and time again, when a group of believers develop music from within their own culture to worship the true and living God, their expression of praise and adoration rises to a whole new level... Non-believers start to hear the message because they now understand the form of the music. The underlying feeling is that 'this message is for me' and from this groups of new believers come into being."(Oswald, as above).

Developing local/cultural ways of expressing praise is a key task in church planting.
How can we allow young people to do that? How can emerging church be genuinely of the culture without becoming another marketed form that is bought "off the shelf" (see Pete Ward's excellent Selling Worship).
And how do we then relate to the wider body?

If you want more on this stuff - and I think once again there is a lot to be learned from world missions thinking - there's always

For this alone my trip to the CRE was worth it!(never mind my furstrations at Christian consumerism!).

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A core thing for many Baptists is the notion of "church membership". Yet in the current climate (in the UK anyway) many churches are re-thinking what that means. What does it mean to belong, to be a member? In London with a transient population many are reluctant to become members as it seems "concrete" and settled, where as their time here may be temporary or limited. Some churches are now talking the language of partnership rather than membership, which could be helpful.

Joseph Myers in The Search to belong suggests that people like to belong in different "spaces".
He suggests we all have relationships at different levels and each is valuable in its own way.
Steve Collins (thanks to Jonny for the tip) has written a great thing about the Plug in Church.
Check it out for a great diagram explaining all and some key questions:
"Does commitment equal attendance any more?
Does attendance equal commitment?
What are plug-in church's mechanisms of belonging?"

Monday, May 09, 2005

Lots of blog discussion on hell. Brian Mclaren is popping up on various blogs etc. with much of the debate around his latest book "The last word and the word after that".
I've not read the book - but look forward to reading the discussions. Unfortunately my connection is too slow to make it to Andrew Jones Suddenly Seminary, (his blog has a great poll about "Is the gospel primarily information on how to avoid hell?"),but the blog discussions have started at pomomusings, Dwight Friesen and more!

For me, I think its good to be having these conversations. I remember the "if you were to die tonight" stuff being used in my youth, and somtimes hell comes up in conversation and take you by surprise (esp. in talking with people not from church!). But I don't have a thought out theory of theology about it to any great extent. Time to dig some more I think.
On Saturday I was back at
Back To Reality again. This is a monthly youth worship event in Ealing (that I helped set up many years ago and left about a year ago). Great to be back and leading worship - good crowd, good "vibe", great talk from Tom C (who took the thing over when I left), good creative response. Think my ears are still ringing a bit though...

Sunday I was at Clapham - which was also positive- spoke from Psalm 145 about how great God is, the importance of praise and the need to pass the baton on to the next generation. It was a bit crazy at the start though, as I was expecting to be speaking only and 10 minutes before the service began discovered I had to lead it through and stuff as well! Still I think we got away with it.

Friday, May 06, 2005

I will build my church
Yesterday I was part of a fantastic day conference (with the above title) looking at the growth of black majority churches (esp. in London) and what can be learned from them.
It was sponsored by the London Baptist Association and Building Bridges of Hope
A mixed gathering heard some great (and sometimes saddening) stories about how the church scene became what it is from Bishop Joe Aldred (including a reminder that 51% of the church going population in London is non white).
We also heard from church leaders about their own stories of growth. A common theme for me was the need for passionate, regular prayer. Interestingly youth was also an issue to arise - both in terms of good stuff happening and concern for the second generations.

Colin Marchant then hit us with an amazing overview of how God is at work in London. He suggested currently the scene is "glo-cal" with a flowing stream of new and emerging churches (esp. black and ethnic majority), hard to measure but full of life. Mission initiatives springing up with reverse missionary movement (i.e. coming here).
He warned of the rocks/dangers for new churches (ethnic or otherwise):
Maintenance, Settling Down, Institutions and the "routinisation of charisma", Cultural Captivity, Personal only rather then holistic gospel.
And challenged churches to reach the white working class.
He suggested we need to flow;
ON -from tradition and Christendom
TOGETHER - in communion, communication and collaboration

There is clearly a sense (which I've blogged before) that we need to see the big picture: the global- urban-postmodern matrix . And to learn from one another.

I left encourgaed, excited to be a part of what's happening here. Many issues to be faced - like inherited churches learning from black churches, new churches, emerging church (or in fact us all needing one another). But God is doing stuff who knows what might develop...
Seems obvious to follow a post about ascension with a link to Andrew Jones asking
Does the Church believe in heaven?.
And asking, if so, what difference does it make to how we live:

"For me, personally, if i believe in heaven then my belief will be reflected in my checkbook and my budget and the things i buy and don't buy." (its from the comments!)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Today is/was
election day in the UK . Its also Ascension day. Wikipedia reports "According to Welsh superstition, it is unlucky to do any work on Ascension Day". Well I doubt that (but so as to not risk it I've been at a conference!)
But the ascension is a key part of the Christian faith - I spoke on this on Sunday and got quite excited as I prepared - because it reminds us that Christ not only died but is risen and is in the highest place, given all authority and power, and is the advocate to God the Father on our behalf. Maybe its time us non-conformists made more of ascension day?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Children, families, integrationPosted by Hello
I don't have direct responsibilities for helping churches work with under 11's (although am part of a group exploring that), but the issues of children, families and integration I think are key youthwork issues too.
My home church has a 3 part morning service, the 3rd "half" of which is usually for all ages. This raises issues about how to do worship together.
Some interesting blog discussion on these issues from Brodie and Andy (neither of whom I know in real life).

Andy suggests:

Our children, and this is related to integration, need to participate in worship - they need to be active and not passive. Children shouldn't be onlookers, but at the heart of the church's worshipping life".

Easier said than done in my experience, but a vision we need to hold on to!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Youth & Spirituality (2)
Young People Now magazine's hot issue asks "Do young people today care about faith and spirituality?".
3 out of 4 responding "YES!".

Most interesting response for me was by Terry Sanderson from the
National Secular Society who suggests:
"Young people care about spirituality, but not necessarily in the way churches would like. Young people do search for some kind of spiritual meaning in their lives, but a lot of churches might be disappointed to find it doesn't mean religion".

Kirsty Jordan, a young person (18) suggests: "I don't really know what the Church can offer me as a young person, but I think it does offer a lot if you're looking for it" (presumably because you're old??).

An interesting context to be doing ministry!