Saturday, October 28, 2006

War Songs
Couple of interesting articles in today's Times.
The first one is about hymns with a fighting theme or war language. The author suggests:
"warlike imagery is falling out of favour. If I were compiling a hymn book I would reverse this trend."
Not sure what I think about this one. I think it is true that these images have declined - even in modern worship songs. When I was young we sang "The battle belongs to the Lord" and even younger "I'm too young to march in the infantry...but I'm in the Lord's army" but these things are less apparent in today's songs. But is that a good thing or not? Maybe we are in danger of losing the "spiritual battle" element of faith that is in Scripture? Or maybe it is appropriate to cut these things out in a world of wars and militaristic nonsense?
The article concludes by suggesting:
"Furthermore, it could be that as the tides of secularism rise higher and our numbers fall lower, the Church in the West may find itself increasingly, and appropriately, nourished by songs of war."

The second piece worth looking at is about evangelicalism here.

End of summer
The clocks change tonight (well 2AM) marking the end of British summer time.
I think one of the amusing things about Sunday morning church is spotting the people that forget! But then arriving early isn't necessarily a bad thing...
Once again, though, there are calls to change the system to avoid the darkness of the evening rush hour especially for school children negotiating their way home in the dark. The idea is that the clocks stay as they are and move another hour forward in the summer.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Lev's household is getting into this study stuff.
Suzie is into her course on personnel practice and HR stuff.
I'm reading and thinking about "Leadership:Ministry and Worship", which in many ways is not a great trial as I would be doing a lot of that anyway!
Specifically I'm getting into my first assignment. There were some good titles (one that intrigued me was about whether we need "postmodern Christian leadership or Christian leadership for a postmodern world"? Maybe I'll reflect on that another time!). In the end I went for one about the role of preaching in contempoary society. More on that another time, when I've got my head round it a bit more!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fear of young people?
This story suggests:
"Britain is in danger of becoming a nation fearful of its young people, according to a new study."
Although the report seems to focus on discipline or intervention rather than everyday life.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

On Thursday I was involved in a meeting at Churches Together in England looking at the churches response in the area of youth work and ministry around the Olympics coming to London in 2012.
Some good work has been done already with various bodies and ministries on how the Christian community can support the games, and plenty more to be done!

Been a quiet couple of days since then - it's good to get a weekend off, and our plans to get away didn't come together so we've stayed around town. Was good yesterday to go across to the South East of London and catch up with some family.

Meanwhile its very noisy here in West London with Diwali fireworks and celebrations lighting up the night sky!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Success, Measurable Outcomes etc.
I was chatting with some youthworkers at lunchtime today and we touched on the subject of evaluation in what we do, how we measure success, the danger of talking about numbers etc.

I've touched on this
before here, here etc.

I guess many of us can live with the open nature of what we do, but it can get tricky justifying ourselves to funders, churches etc. One thing I encourage church youth leaders to do is to celebrate the small things. I think if we were more aware of the small changes in the young people we work with and willing to tell the story it might sustain us when the times are tough (or when the church wants to see "outcomes"). To see God at work and "not despise the day of small things" (Zechariah 4:10).

It still leaves the question "what is successful youth ministry"?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Back in the City
After a great week at Cliff looking at "Leadership: ministry and worship" (Covering lots of ground!), I'm back in London. (If you're here from the LRM course - hello!). Lots to digest from the course, and it seemed somehow fitting to finish with John Finney looking at "priveleges and pressures of church leadership".

Today was "The Gathering",a Baptist event in London. It was deliberately muti-cultural, and was a great day. We heard from Les Isaacs, Mark Greene, Kate Coleman and more. Worship tonight included a sitar which is not something I've heard too much before! Lots more good input, and plenty to think about!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ecclesiastical Songs
Someone here was speaking about how many songs (not worship songs) we know that contain the word "preach".
Obvious examples were:
Pappa Don't Preach
Son of a preacher man

Which got me thinking about other random ecclesiatsical references in pop songs?
(no serious point being made!).
Like a prayer
Say a little prayer
could start another train of thought!
Other ideas?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Being Church
A good morning with Bishop Cyril Ashton looking at empowering the laity and managing change has got the brain working!
Some good blog posts out there too:
Dan Kimball on things that get in the way of the church being the church.
Dan's article is full of good stuff on the legacy of Christendom and how it mitigates against being church.
So much we take for granted in the way of doing church is open to question I think

Plus Mike Clawson on the covergence of factors in what we call "emerging church".
(HT to Andrew for the links)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Being back in a formal learning environment I've been struck by how much my thinking has been influenced by past tutors and teachers. Obviously reading, blogging and doing ministry shapes our perspectives but hearing lecturers and catching their ideas is a big factor too.

So Angela McRobbie and others (Allan Moore , Charlie Ford etc.) who were at the much maligned TVU. Stuart Murray Williams at Spurgeons etc. I blame you for my ideas about postmodernity, post-christendom etc.!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Day 2
Today we had a whistle-stop overview of the history Christian worship. Some good questions about how there are "gaps" in our knowledge from the early years between the New Testament and the Church Fathers. How much did Christian worship flow from Judaism?

The second session was about "Preaching in a changing culture". Another good session, although I was hoping we'd get to explore more about whether or not preaching is valid at all rather than just how to do it in a changing world. Jonny's article (among others) is thought provoking on this.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

So made it to Cliff College. Saturday morning's not a bad time to travel.
Settling into things - so far a session on "Worship and Evangelism" and "Charismatic Worship".
When the lecturer mentioned alt. worship a lot of people looked blank like they'd not experienced this. And of course Jonny's name came up...
Anyway so far so good - although the essay part still seems a bit daunting!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Going North
Tomorrow I'm going to Cliff College for the first teaching week for the Leadership Renewal and Mission programme.
The place has got WIFI so I should be able to post some thoughts as the week goes on.
Looking forward to it...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The other day Suzie got me a present: Duck Fadar!
It's a fantastic Darth Vader styled rubber duck, that lights up when you put it in water.
The makers do a whole range of these things, but this is the best.
Little things...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Future Youth Ministry (2).
Marko has started something! Lots of people weighing in on this, although not too many from this side of the pond.
Tony has hit several major themes,(perhaps influenced by his passion for missions):
The multicultural landscape
: "Ethnocentrism will no longer be tolerated - thinking your culture is the best is not going to get you very far in building relationships and impacting students."
Fear of extremism: "Churches will be in decline and the society at large will continue to be cautious of religious extremism" We can hope and pray that church decline reverses, and maybe that's something where the UK might be ahead of the US - we're further in to postchristendom in many ways, so the US may experience the kind of de-churching we have here over the last 100 years.

The need for creativity
and more!

Personally I'm an optimist. I think we've had talk of "revival generations" and stuff, which while being valid have sent us looking for the next "big thing". What's needed is probably more "earthy" long term ministry, through the highs and lows, as we explore not only the shape of youth ministry but the shape of church in the emerging context.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Future Youth Ministry
Christianity Today has an article on priorities for youth ministry (USA) in 50 years.
Marko has posted on this and has invited some interesting people to add their voices.

I like the emphasis on getting beyond the separate youth group (something of a theme of mine these days). But I think that involves a huge shift for the wider church as much as for youth ministry.

Marko suggests: "
i think the profession of youth ministry will be in crisis, as many church will cut their paid youth staff". I think this will hold true in the UK too, as the current trend for more and more employed youthworkers seems unsustainable from a financial perspective.

I wonder what else will change over here in the UK?

The Baptist Way?
Some interesting stuff at Simon's blog on church membership, church meetings, congregational governance and all those lovely Baptist ways (e.g. here, here etc.)

Fernando has also done some stuff on "Baptist Ecclesiology"
Andy has also been posting some stuff on "Baptist Theology", including this post on the church meeting.

When I started my current role one of my mates said he could never deal with all that "Baptist nonsense"! Not entirely sure what he meant, although with any organisation there is plenty of nonsense - but I find myself feeling increasingly committed to the Baptist family.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Been a busy couple of days.
Bunch of meetings on Friday and setting stuff up for the Assembly (see previous post),
LBA Assembly on Saturday: bit manic at the start - lots of people got stuck in traffic, problems on the tube etc. But overall I think it worked! Enough people came to make it feel like a "happening", and the interactive stuff seemed to do what we planned.
Today I was in Barnet speaking and used the new UK age discrimination laws, which came in force today as my jumping off point into Titus 2, exploring the challenge of multi-generational church.