Thursday, 29 April 2010

a loaf of bread

I was listening to the unfolding story of Gordon Brown's PR disaster as I was travelling home from our Team Leaders meeting yesterday afternoon. It reminded me of the story Jesus tells in Luke 11 when he talks about having a friend whom you go to at midnight and say 'lend me three loaves of bread' because I heard the now-famous Gillian Duffy saying 'I only went out for a loaf of bread'. Imagine that - popping out for a loaf of bread and influencing the General Election!
My sympathy for Gordon and my 'serves you right' swung like my newton's cradle - with regular, almost hypnotic swings, but what it serve to remind me of was the critical importance of seeking, intentionally, to be what we preach, seeking an integrity, which holds the bits together and other such thoughts. How is as important as what. To that end I was also, simultaneously, reflecting on what my good friend Geoff has shared from John 21 only an hour or so previously. He shared some things from one of my favourite books - In the name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen and shared this quote from John Pritchard:
John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford, writes, ‘If [ministers] are to be any use to anyone else they have to be passionate about God. God is our magnificent obsession. Like the bud of a sunflower following the sun throughout the day the [minister] has to be directed constantly towards God.  That doesn’t mean that the [minister] has to be good at it.  Success and failure isn’t the right language.  It’s the direction of gaze that matters.’
Thanks Geoff.

Monday, 26 April 2010

mentoring matters - part two

We thought we'd better have a BBQ on Saturday and benefit from the sunshine - I remember last April! We had two BBQ's in April and that was it until August I think.
Met a few people over the weekend with their stories of delayed travel - full marks go to the couple at Cairns Road BC who added a train journey from Marrakesh to their unexpected honeymoon plans - the sandwiches for four day will prove a great silver wedding speech.
I thought it would be wise to give some more detail here, on Rick Lewis' book 'Mentoring Matters', in response to Lucy.
He has a website - 
The book will, I'm sure, take the approach he took on friday - who you are, before what you do.
Let's just say I've bought twelve copies, which I hope my colleagues will buy!

Chapter headings are:

A Different Approach to Mentoring
An Ancient Art for a Post-modern context
Navigating the Perfect Storm
Getting Started
Giving Your Best to Mentoring
Getting the Most from Mentoring
The Mentoring Relationship
Mentoring Methods
Challenges in mentoring

plus a good bibliography.

hope it helps!

Friday, 23 April 2010

mentoring matters

An excellent Leaders Day today with Rick Lewis - author of Mentoring Matters, which two people whom I respect tell me is the best book around on the subject at present. I haven;t read it yet, but now own a copy and would not hesitate in recommending it on the basis of Rick's presence among us today. 

Thursday, 22 April 2010

enjoy your holiday!

Following my comments yesterday about folk in the air hold-up I just have to fly the flag for my good friend and colleague, Jez. I sent him a rude text yesterday as I discovered he was 'stuck' in Tenerife on holiday. I'm happy to report it's not just me - he's enjoying four days extra holiday - must be something about Regional Ministers not taking life seriously enough, I guess!
The other really great news this morning was to hear a church, which left our network years ago has decided to re-join. For me, this is of huge symbolic significance way out of proportion to the size, or anything else. I hope it will send a message we're essentially biblical in our ethos to anyone else who's living with an out-of-date perspective of Baptists today. Of course, the real work now begins in trying to facilitate another church and help them orientate even more to presenting Jesus in today's world.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

missional map-making?

Missional Map-Making: Skills for Leading in Times of Transition (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series)
Well, the planes are now flying again. I was interested the the figure - over 95,000 flights cancelled across Europe, which is a telling reminder of how things have changed in such a short space of time. What's also fascinated me has been the varied responses to being stuck abroad - huge sums of money to get back home. I realise people's situations vary enormously, so wont get carried away, but some good stories none the less. When I hear of families spending thousands of euros (more than it would cost to stay a few more days) to get back, I must admit my response is 'why bother - you're on holiday, everyone will understand you can't be back for work?' Is it me who has the problem? Does this have anything to do with missional map-making?
I'm being struck again from various quarters this week - the task is enormous and yet the resources seem to be so few. I'm talking about a Regional Association of Baptist Churches, but the same thought could be in the mind of many Churches and Christian organisations. The temptation, of course, is to keep trying to do more and more and images of the many hamsters buried in our garden come to mind as they peddled their way, round and round, to death. The balance between reflection and action is one, which constantly eludes me - like a bar of soap, as soon as I think 'yep, got it, it's gone'.
Finished reading 'Missional Map-making' by Alan Roxburgh - a great book. oops should you say that when you've just finished reading it? Seriously, I think next week I'll still think it's the best thing he's written. Not necessarily much new if you've read his other writings, but then what's new? For me, it represents a development in the clarity of his thinking and some clearer suggestions in terms of ways forward. Of course, the fact I agree with him (or him with me?) makes me biased. Plenty here for the faint hearted to disagree with, but ministry today is no place for the faint hearted.
I watched the map programme on BBC 4 on Sunday evening in the light of my reading - great metaphor by the way - that I found disappointing and Maggie 'why are we watching this?' clearly felt the same way!
The other interesting thing about this book for me is when I read it. Frankly, I didn't have time, but I did have Jury service for two weeks and a train journey - I;m sure Alan Roxburgh would approve of my learning whilst on the journey!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

God is alive and well in London.

Spent yesterday in London and had a really interesting day. I'd facilitated a day for a group of South Africans over on a mission study tour, but felt I learnt far more myself. This was mainly due to the input from various London based Ministers arranged by my London based colleague, David Shosanya. I was struck by a number of things:

- much of the growth in London among us as Baptists, is unplanned and spontaneous - already up and running churches join.
- there are some serious concerns around muslim recruitment of young black men - this is not a game.
- there are some really creative expressions of the gospel going on.

I think our South African colleagues were encouraged (I certainly was) and it was certainly good to link with some who became friends last year.

I think Tom & Rachel were about the last people to manage to fly into Bristol on Thursday before the effects of the Icelandic ash closed down the UK to flights. Ben & Emily came back with Oak Hall from Switzerland on the coach - no moaning from anyone this year I bet.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

David Cameron, me and Battersea Power Station

I'm not sure about the wisdom of saying what I'm about to say, but I'm suspecting David Cameron and I have something in common! No, we didn't both attend Eton, but I suspect some of his advisers have been reading similar books - even if he hasn't. Neither have I become a 'Conservative'. However, following the Conservative manifesto launch, I'm wondering whether I'm more positive towards the Conservatives at present, not because of my age, nor my disillusion with the Parliamentary Labour Party, but because of how he thinks we can get out of the mess we're in. Basically, it seems to me, he's putting his money on a people movement as opposed to a centralised system. Of course, this is avoiding the whole question of what he believes in, but then aren't we being told people under a certain age are less concerned with truth and more bothered about practice?
One thing the Church will need to follow up on asap, if the Conservatives get elected, will be the apparent myriad of opportunities we could have to engage in serious social engagement within our communities.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Jury Service part two.

I'm glad the Jury Service is over although I really enjoyed it. Not sure I should have enjoyed what resulted in convicting two people quite so much! One's done a runner and avoided arrest, so I haven't contributed to increasing the prison population too much. I did find the whole process fascinating and my confidence in the Jury system has increased as a result. Quite fascinating - you pick twelve randoms, present them with the evidence, stick them in a room together and tell them they don't come out till they get to an agreed decision - hey presto two results, which I have every confidence in as good decisions.
In seems to me the system depends upon two things - a collective decision to base decisions on available evidence & a collective trust in the appropriateness of a higher authority - in this case, the law. What is also interesting to me, and something I now feel the urge to find out more about, is the influence of the Christian story upon our justice system in the UK.
The percentage of jurors requesting to affirm rather than take the oath on the Bible, turned out to be lower than I thought would be the case last week. What's going on there? Is it simply that people take the oath without thinking? I realise I have very little evidence, but I shared in two jury's with people in their 20's through to 60's, we didn't get to know one another very well, but my hunch is they were recognising a higher being and a need to draw a real distinction between right and wrong. My sense is they haven't rejected the Christian story centred in Jesus - most simply haven't heard and seen it expressed in a valid and understandable form ...... yet.
Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my brand new Krups coffee bean grinder - it's an amazing bit of kit and I am loving it!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

the cross and the jury

A good easter - reflecting how different it feels when you're not the key person responsible for creating the spaces for everyone else. It's a good, albeit oftentimes frustrating, place to be.
Last week on Jury Service was rather poignant. Part of a jury for a case of rape during the same week when we reflect most of the events leading to the cross of Jesus, including the false trial and all, which accompanies it.
One thing which struck me was the general unwillingness to convict someone as 'guilty'. Bearing in mind a jury is made up of twelve randomly selected individuals, there was a genuine care, expressed among the group of which I was a privileged part, to not rush towards a guilty conviction, which is where we ended up. Part of this seemed to be a concern 'what if we get it wrong'? partly it was a sincere desire to weight he evidence. Clearly, mingled in were all manner of personal issues I could only begin to guess at.
Jesus, however, was crucified partly as a result of the crowd crying 'crucify him' in response to the offer for his release. Would it have been any different had twelve of them been the jury? How do I respond differently to the item of news I instinctively react against, compared to the specific cases I have to engage with seriously?
Meanwhile, the world trundles on - Gordon Brown should be announcing a General Election later today for what everyone already assumes will be May 6th. This will be an interesting few weeks - at present I'm planing to vote Conservative, despite my socialist, labour roots and primary instincts - what's that all about? I've given up any hope of 4th place in the premiership now, so the General Election will provide a useful side-track!