Monday, January 29, 2007

Seasons of Change
It's a season of change in my home church, as yesterday marked the end of over 25 years of ministry for our senior pastor. He's going on to develop some exciting pioneering stuff in the area of sports chaplaincy.
Suzie has more on yesterday here

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Home again!
Good to be back home! Apart from the Mrs, I missed hot baths and fresh fruit smoothies!
The last couple of days at Cliff included input from John and Olive Drane, around ecclesiology and leadership. Also some good stuff from George Lings around church planting, Fresh Expressions and Mission Shaped Church.
George made some interesting observations that among Anglicans the idea of "fresh expressions" has found more currency than "Mission Shaped" - but that may have led to lots of stuff taking the label "fresh" and the "mission" part being neglected. What matters is that church and mission flow from and lead to one another, even if stylistically the result isn't hip or trendy. It seems that "emerging/postmodern" is just one strand of the whole picture for George, which I think make sense.
George also place great emphasis on the notion of "dying to live", and the need for us to seek reproduction rather than cloning in our church planting.
Great stuff - now I have to knuckle down and pick an assignment!

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Grumbling, Moaning and Cynicism
Stuart Murray made a humorous comment about whether there are any non-moaning post-evangelicals (sorry if that's a misquote Stuart!). Coupled with a few other things I've observed, it got me thinking about this issue!
I think Christians in the UK (that's the context I know), and especially leaders moan too much! There's far too much negativity and whining. It could be seemingly in jest, or a little comment about the deacons, or the members, or the preacher or the lecturer, but its rife and often unhelpful.
I admit to being guilty in this - and think my new late January resolution should be to cut it out!
There is a place for healthy (even holy) dissatisfaction and questioning. There is also a need for leaders to "let off steam" in a safe environment. But wasn't grumbling one of the major faults of the people of God in the desert after the Exodus?
So whether it's on the blogs, in conversation or wherever, maybe we should seek to build up and not tear down, to see the Kingdom as bigger than our personal preferences, and to generally be more positive!


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Emerging from the snow
Another good dusting of snow came last night.
A few of us had tracked down to the local pub for some de-briefing and unwinding, when it started coming down.
Our outing was extended because we ended up hanging out with Ron Willoughby, who landed here fresh from the USA a couple of days ago to be a new tutor at Cliff. Ron was formerly a pastor and church planter (see here). He's scheduled to be talking to us about "Emergence in the USA" tomorrow, but it was fun to get some insights (and hopefully help him start the process of learning more about the UK) in the informal setting. Clearly the "emerging church" USA and UK are quite different. Ron gave us some good insights into Emergent and Brian Mclaren.
Today we've been hearing from Michael Moynagh and thinking about leadership for the Emerging Church. We also touched a bit on the relationship of the emerging and inherited churches in a "mixed economy". Is it helpful for emerging groups to be connected to existing churches or denominations or not?

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Fantastic sessions today from Stuart Murray on "Cultivating a pioneer spirit". Quite a random title, but some good stuff.
One of the things that struck me was his thoughts that emerging church shouldn't ditch the language of church planting. While some of the concepts may seem from a previous era, there is much than can be learned from church planting attempts of the last 20 years or so.
He was also helpful in outlining ways those who are pioneering emerging communities (if that's not a contradiction) can sustain themselves and remain pioneers. He helpfully drew some thoughts about Apostles and Prophets, and how they have a role to play.
Top stuff (and if I had my notes to hand it would make more sense!). Key questions were around releasing pioneers, and the need for"both and" - bold new stuff, yet some called to renew the established.

Yesterday we had another good session, from the principle, Martyn Atkins surveying leadership over church history. This included good stuff on monks and catachesis which Paul covers better than I could here.

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Updated the blogroll a bit - lost some who have cease posting regularly, and added some from my bloglines reading.
May be a few Cliff postgrad bloggers to add soon...


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Snow came today. But seems to have turned to slush. Unfortunately it came after dark and I only have my phone camera so no pics. I'm not really keen for it to return to be honest - its a bit of a slope up to the lecture room from the accommodation block!
Need to decide on my assignment option - there's a few interesting questions to pick. More when I've thought about that a bit more!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cyber Church?
Good first day of the new module at Cliff College.
We were looking at technology and the church, and the idea of I-church or cyber church. Covering some ground I've not thought about for a while - real and virual, postmodernity and simulcra, Baudrillard etc. Some interesting discussions, especially about the nature of online relationships compared to "real" face to face ones.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Off again!
Tomorrow I'm off again to Cliff College for my second post-grad module. It's time to think about "Leading, Mentoring and Accompanying the Emerging Church". Should be interesting - the speaker line up looks good.
Although I thought I saw snow on the weather forecast, and Cliff is a bit up North for a Londoner like me...
On the subject of emerging church Ian has an amusing cartoon which is from here (check out the one about the labyrinth!).

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Random thoughts
Some random thoughts, partly from a youthworkers lunch today:
How can we help churches to not over depend on paid ministry? How can we help paid youth ministry people to get a good balance? If you're a paid youth minister/worker then what should be the balance between doing work with young people and enabling others to interact and work with young people?

Also the old question of accommodation and housing in London came up! I've posted on this before (and here but unfortunately lost the comments), Even if people are not "paid" ministry staff, few can afford to settle long term.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How Baptist are Baptists?
Further to yesterday's post (which will take you to lots of links for UK Baptists and some discussions on our identity and structures), today I was in a discussion about how Baptist are some of our Baptist churches? There was a huge diversity in approaches to appointing leaders, including new members, making decisions etc.
There was a realisation in some of our conversations that the structures we have in many churches reflect the structures of voluntary organisations, business or members clubs from a bygone era: Secretary, Treasurer and Chair etc., members meetings, AGM's etc. How do we adapt those in a fast changing multi-cultural city, while remaining true to our roots (and legal for trust deeds and constitutions?).
How do we encourage belonging, participation etc.?


This morning I had a conversation with some people on the bus (yes that is unusual in London!).
They were older Australian tourists asking me where to get off for Piccadilly. The lady sat next to me had been to London 20 years ago, and now they were back on some kind of tour - they'd been in Italy and tomorrow off to Dubai. Anyway, the lady asked me how long I'd been in London, and told me how difficult it was to find people who spoke English! She then said how she felt London had gone "down hill" and feared Australian cities may go that way. "It's all these imports" she said, "they have a different way of life". Of course she meant immigrants. I tried to suggest that they brought something life affirming to the city, but she wasn't having it. Sad really.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Baptist Bloggers
Andy reports the rise of UK Baptist bloggers, and some discussions about Baptist identity.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Yesterday was the first in a series of LBA Children's Ministry Training days. Steve and Kay from Children Worldwide did a great job of leading the day. I'm still not going to try puppets though! For me the session that was really helpful was on the thorny issue of discipline. But also the day once again raised issues of how we "do" church, size of gatherings, structure etc.

I'm now in the middle of no-where in Norfolk, hanging out with a bunch of friends. Staying in a nice barn conversion, with WIFI, but no mobile signal.

This is Cromer as the sun was setting today

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Inclusive Kingdom
I downloaded a few talks from the "Urban Youth Workers Institute" website.
Yesterday I listened to "The Inclusiveness of the Kingdom" by Ray Bakke and "Duce" Branch.
Bakke was speaking from Acts, and while I'd heard a lot of the stuff before, he put it across powerfully, emphasising the inclusive nature of the early church. He commented on the passage (used by some churches to define the role of deacon) in Acts 6 reminding that it's as much about tension between ethnic groups and how that was resolved as it is about practical ministry.

Anyway if you're going on a journey and want to listen to something then this is worthwhile stuff.
Duce's stuff about Hip-Hop culture is also interesting.
These are very real issues for youth ministry in London. Be interesting to hear that kind of stuff from a UK perspective.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I was in the Shadwell in the East End today, to meet a youthworker setting up some new stuff over there. Sounded good.
I drove across town (I know it's not the best for the environment), and enjoyed London as ever. Just the sprawl and the diversity - from Ealing, Acton, the Westway, in past Regents Park, Kings Cross, and out East through Spitalfields, Commercial Road etc. (and all avoiding the Congestion Charge Zone!)
I guess you either get the London thing or you don't.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Youth Services
One of the things I get to do quite often in this role is speak at youth events and "youth services".

Many of these are excellent (I was at a good one just this weekend).
A year or so ago I did such an event and wrote "
my feeling is there must be other ways to do stuff, rather than a "service" in that style". Well that feeling remains!

On the plus side youth service provide an excellent place for young people to develop, to try things, to use gifts, to have a say in planning, etc.
But I wonder if we are not in danger of just propagating a meeting/service mentality, a Christendom hangover. Often these events include the "traditional" church service elements, except the preacher tells a few more jokes
(well I try anyway!), and the music is allowed to be louder .Maybe that's OK. But I wonder if we have limited our/young people's imaginations to how they can be the people of God (including what ministry and leadership look like).I guess Alt.Worship is one response.
On the other hand, maybe these are good spaces for young people to learn the language and "rituals" or church, in order to facilitate integration? Or are we just repeating patterns from a fading culture?

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Friday, January 05, 2007

I was given a bag of old cassette tapes yesterday.
Listening to some of them to see what was on them has been interesting - a kind of musical nostalgia. Several are old things I did (such as a 1988 recording with a Casio keyboard in a kind of bad electro-house style), some are compilation tapes (who needed Ipods?). One or 2 are mix tapes from when I had my decks out, good house music.

One of the things I got at Christmas that pleased me was Hed Kandi Classics, which includes some of the tunes I used to spin (and still have on vinyl stashed somewhere).It got me dancing round the kitchen while washing up!


A Transforming Community?
I recently read and appreciated Mark Lauterbach's book "The Transforming Community". I only really picked it up because it was in the "3 for £10" sale at the bookshop a while back.
It's actually a book on church discipline, which sounds heavy, but is more about how church should function as a community:
'Church discipline is not something we "do" to someone in sin...We should always be watching over each other, encouraging each other daily against the possibility of a hardened heart, stimulating each other towards love and good works'...We must be realistic about the mess and hopeful because of Christ' (p20).
Seems to me that however we structure or style this thing called church and express it in our culture, the community of meaningful, honest "watching over" one another needs to be central. Sweeping things under the carpet is not a great policy (as a friend of mine would say - you end up with lumps!)
I was glad I opted for this book!


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Back in Action
Today has the "back to work" feel.
I've been trying to clear the office for the New Year - lots of shredding and sorting.
Still more to do, but feels right at this time of year.
Maybe my goal for 2007 should be to sort stuff as I go rather than work on and leave piles of stuff to sort later. Now if I managed that it really would be something...

2nd January also marks the anniversary of my first post on this blog, back in 2004!

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