reaching men – this was yesterday: a day for Leaders which I was hosting along with Mike Hill (Anglican Bishop of Diocese of Bristol) and Rob Scott-Cook (a significant catalyst within Bristol for a load of cross Church initiatives for many years). I really enjoyed listening to Glynn Harrison talk us through some of the issues from his perspective. Glynn’s a Professor of Psychiatry so, not surprisingly to me, didn’t come across in the way some might expect (a la Rambos for Christ). I took notes, but hope to get the statistics he shared to look at more closely. They raise an issue of which we're generally aware in the Church - a far greater proportion of the committed core are women. Most of the figures were from an Anglican context - I suspect these would be pretty similar for Baptists, but I'll check this out. One area I’d like to explore further is: how come we produce a majority female Church with a pre-dominantly male leadership? Glynn, I'm sure, was right to emphasise this is not a simplistic issue (what is!) So how do I - on the one hand encourage more women to step up to the leadership mark and, on the other hand, challenge the church culture, which appears to engage women more appropriately? It seems to me we stand to risk getting it wrong on both counts if we don't manage to bring Jesus into sharp focus. Surely, Jesus has to be the model once we get into gender issues, otherwise we quickly descend into mars v venus.
Another thing I'm pondering a good deal about at present is the whole business of spiritual rhythms and practices. Certainly, at our last Imagine series of gatherings, this was the thing which has touched the nerve of our leadership teams most on the nights - it'll be fascinating to hear where folk go with this one. If we start to think through what are the pathways we provide for Bloke A who becomes a Christian, goes through the Alpha course, the Beta course, what then? I realise this is an issue for everyone, but thinking about men brings it into sharp focus for me (stupid comment). For example, we had Maggie's home group social here on Wednesday evening. I was there, special effort, because I'm rarely there - to sort the BBQ (needless to say it was rain stop play). However, thinking about the other men who turned up, most are not engaged with the sharing/praying/studying side of the group. So do we persist with a framework which says 'one size fits all'? If men do find it easier to open up and relate on a deeper spiritual level to other men, why don't we do something about it?