Sunday, 31 October 2010

the wonderful lake District.

Just back from a week off in the Lakes. Plenty of rain - no day without some, but a fantastic week. I have to say, having been walking last year in the Annapurna foothills, I think the English Lake District tops it in many ways.
My motto this week was 'walk, don't run' - not simply because I left my trainers at home, intending to spend each day walking. We managed to walk on all but one day, despite the rain, and it was magnificant.
Walk don't run - I took my laptop for DVD's, but resisted e-mail, which was helped by not signal I guess.
Walk don't run - I can think when I run, believe it or not. I must admit, I was surprised, but the problem with it is, where does it go? At least walking encourages a slower pace all round - a leisurely tea room afterwards, etc, etc.
Walk don't run - how can we do, therefore. what Jesus did? Walk everywhere! 
I'm not entirely stupid and am not suggesting we all go our and by sandals, but if walking provided the environment to think, pray and talk to fellow travellers, where are the practices which ensure ample time for thoughts to ferment?
We returned home to find out we've reached the top of the allotment waiting list, so maybe there's ana snwer to prayer here.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

PMC missional experimenting.

Just when you think things are looking up, the ceiling falls in. Admittedly, that's how I felt after the Mersey derby game, but when we returned home on Sunday, after a good lunch with Steve and Linda, the back bedroom ceiling had done just that. A leak .... drip, drip, drip until the whole thing collapses under the weight. Prophetic? Hope not.

Yesterday was a PMC steering group day, which was good fun (another good lunch). We began looking at the missional experimenting phase of this three year process we're working through - along with eight churches (4 Baptist, 3 Anglican and one hybrid LEP). It's going well, although I'll be surprised if all the churches involved feel the same way. 

Why? One of the significant themes arising from the retreat days each church has recently had, facilitated by ourselves, is the process is clearly throwing up how the church system is not working from a missional perspective. This I think is one of the reasons why the PMC process scores over most of the programmes out there. You can't become missional by attending a conference. You can't become missional by changing the structure. You can only have a hope of changing by experimenting and attempting to learn from the actual practice. In various situations, the churches can't get to the practice because of their system. The fault lines are drawn in different places, but the good thing is, PMC provides a framework and sufficient time to address them - if churches are willing. What tends to happen without any commitment to an on-going process is we simply withdraw and hold back - again.

Friday, 15 October 2010

water, water everywhere .... ?

OK, I didn't realise it was blog action day, but it is a great idea. The focus this year to focus awareness on the problem of scarce clean water.
In a world where ....

African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kgs to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink...

Water wars are beginning. The conflict in Darfur is at least, partly attributable, to the lack of access to clean water.

The Christian Church is too quiet about a growing world crisis.

It takes 24 litres of water to produce one hamburger (don't ask me how they work that one out!).

something is fundamentally wrong.

made in Dagenham

We went to see ‘Made in Dagenham’ this week and as I have a few friends who hail from there, I’d better watch what I say! No need on this occasion, however, because I thought this was simply a great film.
For those who haven’t caught up with this one, it’s about the strike at the Dagenham Ford factory in 1968 that led to the Equal Pay Act. As the film decided upon for our next film club discussion, it had many of the ingredients for plenty to talk about.

Well made – Philip French (Guardian) introduced his review with …. ‘given the Calandar Girls treatment. Well, I liked the Calendar Girls too and my very near name sake directed both, so biased? I thought it was done well.
Thought provoking – wow 1968 wasn’t long ago is what made me sit up straight. I’m old enough to remember who won the League & FA Cup in 1968, but not who went on strike. A lot has changed since then. What still needs to happen?
Feel good – I don’t think it’ll be just those who consider themselves to be of working class stock who’ll feel good about this. It felt like a triumph for the working class, women, the underprivileged, the overlooked, the downtrodden, the ordinary majority, etc. Yep felt good – even a round of applause afterwards, but then Tony Benn was a local MP at the time.
Funny – I laughed out loud several times, bit wasn’t embarrassed, didn’t even get poked in the ribs, because everyone else seemed to enjoy it too.
Serious – what does this teach about the Kingdom of God? That’s the question I’ll be taking to the film club discussion. I’m also hoping one of my friends who told me his Auntie was one of the women will be letting me know whether local Christians engaged with this in any way.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

the crux

If you’ve not seen ‘The Crux’ I would certainly recommend anyone taking a look. I didn’t know it existed until Sunday evening, but what a find!
I had to lead prayers this week at NST and only realised Sunday evening, so what do I do? I thought I’d read ‘The Bridge’ which is one of Friedman’s Fables because I wanted to flag up the question of how we determine what our responsibility is in a variety of situations. I thought I’d quickly have a google search to see whether many people had said much about Edwin Friedman’s work recently and eureka found this…..
You can find this short film on youtube too.
Read this and other fables in Friedman’s Fables by Edwin Friedman.
Basically a man is taking a quiet stroll across a bridge when he’s stopped by a stranger, who asks him for a moment’s help. The man agrees, instantly finding himself entangled in a life or death relationship with this stranger. The man must then decide whether or not he will accept responsibility for the life he holds in his hands.
It’s used as a discussion starter for counsellors and therapists about the need to hang on and the right to let go, but I think it has a huge amount for Ministers to usefully explore.
Is the Church a breeding ground for unhealthy dependency? Discuss.

Monday, 11 October 2010


I'm thinking about something one of our Minister's shared with me last week. He quoted someone who'd told him 'most young Ministers overestimate what they can achieve in one year, but underestimate what they can achieve in ten.'
It's very appropriate as I'm at our national Settlement Team meetings this week. I've discovered, since I've been part of this group it's often been shrouded in mystery. I confess, as a local Minister, I never gave it a thought and so I'm bemused by those who do. However, basically, we act as the go-betweens between Churches who are looking for Ministers and Ministers who are looking for Churches. Without going into all the details (not because they're secret, but because it's fairly tedious to relate) we go through the Ministers names, one at a time, and their details get sent wherever they request, or a Regional Minister suggests.
Anyway, back to the quote - I'm sitting here thinking why is this only true of 'younger Ministers?' - seems to fit pretty much most.
It's often said a Minister sees the most fruit after they've stayed in one place more than seven years. Of course, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy - in that longer pastorates only tend to occur where there's a good grounding of trust and a n environment of fruitfulness, even if this is yet to show in significant numerical rises. Partnerships which end before then are not necessarily unfruitful, but people move on quicker where there's tension, for whatever reason.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

more than a game....

I felt sick on Sunday. I was travelling to preach at Winstone – harvest festival at a small village church in our region. However, it wasn’t nervousness about the event to come, but listening to the harsh reality of Liverpool descending into the relegation places in the Premiership. This is the once undisputed greatest team in Europe. This
So, what, I can almost hear anyone reading saying and at this point moving swiftly onto another blog.
So why, I hear myself saying, should I register such an emotional reaction to something many sensible Christians would consider trivial?
Truth is, many people are more bothered about the ups and downs of their football clubs, or many other things, than the organisational ups and downs of their church – especially blokes. However, there’s also some big system questions going round my head … and heart.
Liverpool have announced they have some new owners today. Liverpool fans a fan groups have been talking about the need for ‘integrity’, ‘values’ and ‘traditions’ things we feel have been submerged by the recent owners, Hicks and Gillett. Surely it’s down to the players and/or the manager? What part do the owners have? Is there any connection between those who run the club and those lead the club and perform on the pitch?
I’m one of those who sees a connection between the fact LFC have made the worst start to a season for 57 years and the fact there’s such a desperate situation behind the scenes in the backroom. For me it’s the connection between the cultivators of the environment and the deliverers of the values.
Bill Shankly developed a culture. His legacy was something, which lived on beyond him and the reason why supporters have been so angry recently is because the values he instilled are under such threat. Just a football club …. don’t make me laugh. 

church planting movements

This week I’m at a conference – ‘Church Planting Movements’ with David Watson. Very interesting and hugely challenging. TiM have facilitated this and the question posed is ‘time for Europe’? We’re well familiar with the fact the church is growing on every continent apart from Europe and so we do pose a rather different challenge.
Well, I came because we’re planting, but at a rate of one at a time and I’ve been exploring how we can begin to multiply. I’m also very conscious our models, in the main, are limiting by their very nature – too resource hungry and not proving to be particularly reproducible.
One of the key challenges I’m facing this week is the extent to which the models were hearing about are transferable to the UK. Been talking to Pete here who’s working with the Simple Church ideas in and around Nottingham and he seems pretty confident what we’re hearing is transferable, so it seems the next step is to give some of it a go and see.
I’m a little stunned by the lack of UK focused people here – I understand it was limited to 50 spaces and because a couple of mission agencies bought in 2/3 of the places it’s bound to be limited, but it still doesn’t explain the seeming lack of interest. One explanation I’m leaning towards is because we still have a one planter, one church model and we have very limited experience of multiple planters or, as we’re focusing upon this week, facilitating planters.
My hunch to try and work with a group of non-trained ordinary people has been backed up by what we’re hearing, but the main ‘planters’ used are not always Christians, which is another step we hadn’t thought of. Basically they become the facilitators of a new group of interested people and the discipling process begins well before faith I Jesus is a reality.
It’s been good to revisit Pilgrim Hall even if we’ve had almost constant rain. 

Friday, 1 October 2010

film clubs?

Now, hold onto your seats everyone, the West of England Baptist Association is getting trendy! We've just started a blog 'making a difference - the unrolling blog story of mission in the West of England'
I realise not all who pop in here are from the West, but I hope it'll be of interest beyond our boundaries.
It's hopefully a conversation starter, or a help along the road of discovery how we can best engage people, in a meaningful way, concerning the reality of Jesus. I was asked a while back by someone in Swindon: 'do you know of any churches who are finding ways ahead, which would help us engage people attending our craft club into a more spiritual conversation?' We ended up sending some ideas, one or two contacts, resources, etc., but basically were left asking the question how do people get a handle on this stuff without reading six books, or simply copying someone else's idea? For me, it's the beginning of the realisation of something I'd hoped our website could become from the off, but realise we've a long way to go. If anyone has any great ideas of how we can develop more the idea of a forum to look, learn and input thoughts, ideas, patterns, which can help encourage others, please let us know.
The picture today is from the entry re the film club Nailsea Baptist have begun - I know others are into this arena, so it would be good to hear from some of those too and provide a place others can discover they don't have to re-invent the wheel every time.
You can have a look at the early blogs via the front page of