Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Old Forge: exit through the gift shop

The Old Forge: exit through the gift shop: "Well, will Banksy get an Oscar? We watched 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' last week and the hype is really mounting now before this weekend. I..."

Friday, 25 February 2011

exit through the gift shop

Well, will Banksy get an Oscar? We watched 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' last week and the hype is really mounting now before this weekend. I guess we're getting a bit more coverage here in Bristol, home of the aforementioned Bansky - at least we like to think so, but you never can be sure can you?
Anyway, I loved the film. I'm a fan, so approached it biased, but I guess the fact it's been nominated for an Oscar does suggest I haven't lost all objectivity. The film tells the story of a French filmmaker who follows graffiti artists and eventually meets up with Banksy. Banksy, apparently tells it as 'the story of how one man set out to film the unfilmable - and failed.' It tells the story of a LA T-shirt printer called Thierry Guetta who becomes obsesssed with street art and attempts to make a film about it, only to have Banksy, on seeing the catastrophic results, turn the camera on Guetta.
I already think the guy's a brilliant artist and social commentator, but now he's added film-making to his reportoire. Amazing.
It really is very cleverly done, well made and loaded with typical subversion.
I'm not aware of any Banksy work on church buildings and the reaction would be interesting - but not as much as the message behind the art - if you're reading this banksy, I can give you some addresses! Think what that would do for our street cred! What I'd really love, though, is a sit down chat over coffee in a Bristol independent.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

BUGB church planting consultation

I've been mulling over the overnight consultation on church planting at KIng's Park, Northampton, we had last week.
It was an interesting experience and time will tell as to whether it will be fruitful. I say this because, as in many other things, when all is said and done, there's alot more said than done!
A number of things were evident, from my perspective at least! 
We are still struggling with breaking away from a model of church planting reliant upon paid full-time leadership. Many people are commenting we shall need to rely upon many more bi-vocational models of ministry in the future, but we have little experience to lean upon. There are some encouraging signs here and there, but most of the bi-vocational talk seems to be coming from financial and numerical anxiety, rather than any clear missional thinking. Personally, I'm leaning towards bi-vocational approaches being a distinct advantage for planters, but that may be easy for me to say from a full-time paid ministry perspective (and at least a perceived keeper of the institution as well!).
The institutions are still struggling with the pioneers and the pioneers are still struggling with the institutions. This is one of reasons I am advocating the regional associations having more of a say in the strategic use of Home Mission money, for example.
Money and resources still play too larger part and reduce our ability to think strategically. Just picked up a book called 'Starting from zero with $0'. It's inevitably American - why? Surely we have less money, so someone here should have written this one!
Discipleship remains the weakest link in our positioning around church planting, as well as inherited models. Too many people are splitting over the emerging church conversation - it feels like the old divergence separating evangelism and social action has re-emerged with new language. We've also started using the 'movement' word, as if talking about it will change anything in and of itself. A greater emphasis upon helping churches, new and old, being disciple making communities might help us, me thinks.

Friday, 18 February 2011

inclusion at any price?

I met someone else this week who came out with the oft quoted ‘ it might not be such a bad idea for the church if we were persecuted’ statement. I’m always loathe to agree, as I’m not very keen on being persecuted myself! However, I do understand the sentiment, which, as in this case, was a comment upon the generally perceived shallowness of our discipleship.
However, the government’s announcement this week concerning the desire to allow religious buildings to be used to host the registration of civil partnerships for same sex couples, is another step in the direction of the muddied state/church waters. Will it become another step towards an overt stance against the Christian Church? Teresa May has offered a ‘no-one will be forced’ statement, but I fear this will not be sufficient for an increasingly vocal lobby group. One of my concerns is this could easily push the Christian silent majority further back from a posture, which expresses the love of Christ towards the homosexual community. That is, homophobia increases, as a result of a misreading of the generally orthodox Christian view. It seems to me we are struggling to say clearly where our convictions towards homosexual practice lie, and hold that alongside our concern to love all people regardless. At the same time, we’re witnessing a renewed interest in seeing discipleship re-established as a core activity of our Christian communities and my observations of growing and declining churches is those who set the bar too low, simultaneously undermine their integrity in relation to the gospel. On the other hand, those who judge before meeting do the same.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Cape Town commitment 2010.

The two themes highlighted in the conclusions of the new declaration from the Lausanne Movement are:
  • The need for radical obedient discipleship, leading to maturity, to growth in depth as well as growth in numbers; 
  • The need for radical cross-centred reconciliation, leading to unity, to growth in love as well as growth in faith and hope.

I sincerely hope and pray the impact of this Lausanne Commitment have as significant impact upon the evangelical world as previous ones. I recall when I first began in paid Ministry we were still grappling with the call to see evangelism and social action, which was a key theme from 1974, as two wings of the same bird, which I think was John Stott's description. It's hard now to believe there was such a gulf between them, but the assumptions new Christians today are able to have with confidence could not have been held in the 1980's.
There is little doubt in my own mind about the need for radical obedient discipleship. It's a huge generalisation, but in the Western world we have to grasp the facts - our converts are not always translating into disciples & yet you don't get disciples without them! the developign world is not having great problems with the conversion part of the equation, but depth is what I hear many crying out for. In WEBA we've put discipleship down as our key theme to invade all our gatherings for the next two years - just one attempt to re-root discipleship as our core activity.

Friday, 11 February 2011

roads less travelled

This is certainly not in any way a criticism of our Sidmouth conference. I've already said how I feel, which was a genuine appreciation and not a pc stance for everyone to feel better (I guess most people know I don't tend towards lying as an acceptable posture for pastoral care in any case!)
However, I'm having to think about something else I'm getting ready for where I've been asked to think about some key issues and I've returned to Ephesians where we've been this week.
Here's my outline - simply to give opportunity for anyone to tell me I'm up some wrong trees!

Our understanding of the Ephesian church has grown enormously – we know what it looks like, but we don’t what it feels like!
Our study of the bible, in Ephesians 4 for example, has enabled us to pass more degrees than ever, but in a generation when we are succeeding in shrinking the Church.

The pastor as cultivator (4:11-12)

We might believe in various ministries, but where does the pastoral leader fit anymore?
As ‘leadership’ has grown in our Baptist consciousness, so has the once clearly recognised role of the ‘pastor’ diminished.
When many are predicting the ‘need’ for more bi-vocational Ministers, how do we cling on to our living?

The pastor as follower (4:1-4)

We might believe equipping the saints, but who is the equipment?
As pastoral ministry becomes ever more littered with legislative concerns, is the relegation of character down the list of ‘competencies’ now in the second division?
If we are not Christ-like enough, then who can we send into the world?

The pastor as multiplier (4:12-13)

We might believe in equipping the saints, but how do we do it?
The ministry of Jesus would not appear to be the one we study, or we would be more greatly concerned with what, rather than how much, we reproduce.
Jesus didn’t do anything he wasn’t happy to be multiplied.

Steve Gaukroger mentioned the commentary by Harold Hoehner, which I ordered whilst away  - Amazon tell me it's on its way. The wonders of the internet!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Sidmouth Conference 2011

Well, I've just returned from our Ministers Conference in Sidmouth this year. From my perspective, it was an excellent time for many reasons:

A really good 'feel' to the whole thing, which was confirmed by a number of newcomers.
Very good input from Steve Gaukroger and Tracy Cotterell from LICC.
Some good conversations with a whole variety of people.
Good food (too much!) provided by Sidholme again.
Great weather for the time of year.
A game of golf on tuesday afternoon - even though it was dark before we finished.
To be honest, there's no negatives I can think of, although it's probably best saying this before we receive the feedback forms!

The basic theme was 'the role of the church in the building of the kingdom'. Steve provided the biblical framework with three studies from Ephesians and then Tracy provided perspectives to help our cultural engagement.

Friday, 4 February 2011

TGI friday

Well, it's friday and I'm simply off-loading and making use of this blog to that effect! Two meetings this week when it could easily have been blood on the carpet time, but I've reached this place giving thanks because, hopefully, the spirit of peace may have returned to these two situations.
Why is it we seem to struggle so much with being the body of Christ?
However - and I'd best get this in before our game against Chelsea on Sunday - great to se that smile on the face of Kenny Daglish after our third win running - unheard of this season. Of course, Torres and Carroll are not worth that much, but then neither is any Baptist Minister!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Nailsea Baptist Church - The Centre

It's not often I get enthused about a church building, but I am about this one - The Centre - the new home of Nailsea Baptist Church. It was officially opened last Saturday and I was over preaching on Sunday and to have a better look around. I've been meaning to pop a blog entry on, but the delay has brought thoughts like 'why am I so delighted to see this?' Here's my, so far, answers....
1. This is a building designed to enhance and not restrict worship. Sunday morning we met in the school they'll continue to use for Sunday mornings because The Centre can only accommodate about 100 people in its largest space. From the beginning mindset cannot be 'let's fill the building'. Frankly, I'm frustrated with churches allowing their building space dictating their missional capacity for growth. NBC can't be tempted as easily on that one.

2. This building has been thought and prayed about - before it was converted. NBC have not made the mistake (many do) of we must have our own building and then ask what shall we use it for? It's primary use will be to bless those, as yet, beyond the kingdom.

3. This building represents the re-planting of the gospel and kingdom of God in Nailsea. Once upon a time this building was a church building, then it was a community centre, then more recently it was used by the Town Council. The church of Jesus has re-claimed this one, which is a delightful change! NBC is not that old - about 25 years I think.

4. This building is not the focus of attention. It would be easy for people t focus on the building... I love the coffee shop - you can't see the brown settees this end, but they wouldn't be out of place at Costa's. Coffee will be served initially free and donations invited. It's not here to make money, but to serve, provide a place to chat, help build community, etc.

5. This building represents vision, but it is not the vision. OK it didn't just happen. Gary, the present pastoral leader, is a visionary and brilliant in building and releasing others. This building is one of the most strategically conceived we have in WEBA. Other capable leaders, however, came before him. There were plans for other buildings, which failed and were hugely disappointing. Many frustrations were along the path towards opening. It's good this building is not the focus of the vision, but people because otherwise, it's job done.

6. This building has been really well done. It really is a great piece of work, by many.