Tuesday, 31 August 2010

I can't believe it's 1st. September tomorrow and I've only just realised I have to pay my car tax. I've had four days off, but frankly, I need to go back to work for a rest - gardening and building a chicken run to go on the front of our newly delivered chicken coop! I knew all those episodes of The Good Life would begin to bear fruit one day.
It was good not to be preaching on Sunday and I enjoyed just being around. However, I came away from the morning service having had two good chats, which I hope bear fruit. Especially the one with Rob who might know someone who could write a phone app for my missional DNA group materials, which would be fun, I must admit. 
Less than a week to go now until the Bristol half marathon. I have less than £500 to go to reach my £6000 target for the care centre in South Africa - http://www.justgiving.com/nigelcoles

Thursday, 26 August 2010

where's your canary?

The story in the current world news, which I keep thinking about is of the Chilean miners. 33 miners, trapped 700m underground. It's amazing they were found alive after, I think, 17 days searching, but I understand the news they might not be rescued until Christmas has now reached them - wow!
Now my story (the vague link here is the canary) because the using canaries, as an early warning system in British mines, was in place until 1987. Toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and methane in the mine would kill the bird before affecting the miners. Canaries are well known for their continual singing and so they often provided an audible, as well as visual warning sign of trouble.
Now the church link - I returned from a recent visit to a church thinking 'how many canaries need to die before someone thinks we might just need to do things differently around here?' (probably subconsciously because of the Chilean story - told you there was a link here!).
Basically this church has declined drastically, numerically, over the last twenty years. They've abandoned their sunday evening service, which was a serious blow. They've now had to start giving meetings, which I was told have been going for years (over 25 was quoted), etc.
However, alongside this there was a strong hint, in a whole variety of conversations, we are who we are (I wanted to add 'once were') and we are not going to change - anything.
So, what would I do? I'd buy some canaries! Basically, we've asked all our churches recently to begin thinking and talking about where they think they'll be in 10 years time - if the recent trends at work among them continue. What are the signs we all need to alert us we're actually headed in the wrong direction? If I was miner and my canary fell off its perch, whatever else I'd do, doing nothing would not be an option. My fear is in many churches a swift calculation goes on in people's heads - how old am I? how much air is left? If the answer comes out as 'enough air for me, then someone else can close the door when they leave.
Yeah, OK, not very promising for a thursday morning, but it is August and it is raining - again.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

maybe small is still beautiful....

I went to meet a small village church to see what we might look at together. There were five of them and one of them wasn't part of the sunday congregation, which could number eight, but an infamous week recently was recalled when the visiting preacher turned up to no one! It's a chapel, which has existed for hundreds of years and their independent trustees have grown old and decided there's too little energy to carry on - none of them have been part of the worshipping community in the village for years. It seems strange to me, therefore, this is the meeting which gives me hope from the gatherings I've been in this week more than any - and I've been talking with various groups about much larger and potentially more influential projects. I'm not sure why yet. It may have something to do with the fact the only two old ladies who live in the village itself meet every thursday morning int he chapel to pray and I just sense there's more prayer for the kingdom and the future of this particular place than some of the other loftier concerns. We'll see....

Monday, 16 August 2010

party time

Had a good weekend, especially because we were able to catch up with a number of old friends we haven't seen for too many years - courtesy of a ruby wedding anniversary party.
Returned to Liverpool letting two points slip to draw with Arsenal after leading until the final few minutes. The thing I like about Roy Hodgson (Liverpool's manager for those really not interested) is his manner. He comes across as the epitomy of a non-anxious presence and as I've often looked for parallels between leading a Christian congregation and football management, I like that. Now a non anxious presence cannot guarantee success, but it does make for better relationships and greater understanding of responsibility in a complicated system like a football club.
Inevitably, also meeting a load of old friends, many of whom are in different churches now from the one we were once in together,w e heard a fair number of stories about 'how's your church going?' The role of the key leader, or Minister, featured rather largely in many of the conversations and when you have these summary conversations, you get the headlines, gut impressions, but an indication of how the landscape has changed in a a particular church over a ten, fifteen, or twenty year period in some cases. This is some of what i thought on the way home:

The Minister is too significant.
Church leadership is causing too many problems and not solving many.
No one seems to know what to do.
People are deeply concerned about the future, but feel powerless to influence it.
If we seem incapable of passing our faith on to a new generation of our own children (I was deeply disturbed by how few children of these twenty or so couples are following Jesus today) it is not surprising we are struggling to reach a new generation of new people.

That said it was a great party - good friends, great food (especially the king prawns) and a really good live band. Special thanks to Graham & Gill.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

sweet dreams are made of this

Well, it seems as if it's a good thing Steven Gerrard turned up for England last night. I didn't see it, however, as we went to see Inception. Basically, we got home near 12 & went to bed so I thought it would be interesting to blog with my thoughts as my head is till full of the film and ideas it unleashes. 
I wake up singing, in my head, 'sweet dreams are made of this' the old Eurythmics song, which has some very interesting lyrics about the interface between dreams and reality. For me, (I've been on planet holiday and a different one before that, so no idea what the critics say the film's all about yet) this was what it was all about 'for me'.
OK, to start with I was thinking, what the heck is all this about, because there's various layers and levels and I was not at all sure when they were dreaming and when they were in real time. That clarifies as the film unfolds and it was certainly a film, which drew me in and is still drawing me in the day after - so it must have something going for it. I'm tempted to say it's a brilliant film and my hunch is it will be one of those which grows and grows in popularity and acclaim - of course, I've been wrong before, but I'd recommend anyone seeing it.
It's a psychological thriller. The basic plot being an attempt to enter someone's dream world in order to change their thinking and ultimately decision making to the advantage of others. Can't say more, it'll spoil the ending!
Inevitably, one thing I did especially enjoy was the playing around with the concept of an idea as a virus, which once planted, grows and grows and has the capacity to take over someone's mind. I'm sure Alan Hirsch will love this & I certainly did. Anyway, back to reality ....

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

back from Corsica

Well, we're back from two weeks away in Corsica. Nearly everyone I met before responded in the same way - 'sounds nice, never been'. It is really nice and I have now been. Here's some thoughts:

Wonderful to have two weeks where we could really chill out.
Some amazing scenery practically at every turn of the road, or mile of the coast.
Great to swim in a warm sea.
Good to have some time to read for pure leisure.
Love the French culture, although there's a strong thread of Italian here too, which adds to it all.
Annoyed about a camera problem which meant I lost a week's worth of photos.
The wonder of mobile technology - great when we needed it, but switched off pretty much most of the time.
Need to find out more about the church in Corsica - barely evident.
Heaps of thoughts and reflections, which need to be processed.
Space and time is a gift, which must not be kept wrapped for the next break away.
Feel more like facing today's challenges because of refreshment.
How come I'd never heard of such an amazing place as Bonifacio?
God's creation is too amazing for words.
Corsica has soared in my best places list - not that I have one, but if I had ....

We spent a week each in two different places with a night in a hotel in-between. This is the view from the roof where we barbecued several nights during week one in Propriano. It was such a great spot we preferred to get back and eat there and watch the sun go down than eat out.