Thursday, 21 July 2011

becoming part of the web?

We had a really good executive away-day today. My aim was to unpack the missional agenda and use it as a framework to help us think through where we've come from and where we're going.
One of the interesting things to arise was the question of how we're seen and the challenge of 'the institution' being so large in people's minds, out crowds out much else.
So, if we are really a network of churches, why not start to call ourselves just that?
Why not drop the 'A' from WEBA - shock, horror, not call yourselves an Association? Well, every Church could automatically be part of the 'Association' still.
Why not become simply the WEB Network? West of England Baptists. If we are more self-consciously a network, more than anything else, then we may be able to offer much more to others we support and encourage and also include those small missional groups, potential churches, etc.
It's certainly a good message, the language is more relational, more appropriate (I think) to who we are and even, where we began.
Now, of course, a good idea, does not mean it'll happen, but we do need to begin to test the idea out on people before we make any formal change to the letterheads and website!
Of course, changing a name, changes nothing, but the plaque on the door. It's whetehr it does what it says on the tin, which counts. I'm up for that.

Monday, 18 July 2011

character rises to the top

In a whole load of different ways, over the past week or so, I’ve been caused to reflect upon what I am convinced is the biggest issue facing our generation of Christian leaders in Britain: character.

I’ve had the privilege of spending some significant time with a number of people I respect: among them my regional team leader colleagues, individuals like Rick Lewis, as well as some good friends who, whilst not holding formal church leadership roles, are real examples of Christian integrity. What strikes me personally is the same question I pose groups of leaders when I’m the one doing the majority talking – ‘what is it in others you know well, you most admire?’ Character is way ahead of competency every time.

The dark-side, however, leads me back to the same conclusion: character is the big issue. As Baptists, we have been na├»ve. For some reason, we’ve not seen coming around the corner what has afflicted other denominations and tribes: the encroaching web of legal disputes. Why did we ever believe we were somehow made of different stuff? We shall continue to maintain our conviction that Ministers are not employees of Churches, but it will be a hard battle to win in an environment where the judge may well not be as heavenly as our Father.

If Jesus is Lord of the Church, at point do we practise civil disobedience in support of our convictions? What I don't know the answer to yet is: who do they put in prison of a whole church acts in such a way as is deemed illegal? I have been known to offer to go to prison on behalf of our Ministerial Recognition Group, when some began to get worried about a particular decision, but so far I’ve only been a visitor!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

money talks, but if you don't listen, it shouts....

money talks, but if you don't listen, it shouts....
One of my friends and colleagues, a Bishop in the Church of England, bemoans the number of requests he gets from people offering to try something new, pioneering, fresh, liquid, whatever, but always needs more money to try. When, he asks, will someone find a way forward, which doesn't demand more money?
I missed the prayers led by my colleague Nick, earlier today, but I know one sentence he was going to talk about was 'the good news for the beggar, was Peter didn't have any money on him'. I'll ask him what else he said tomorrow, but it raises the same issue. Do we need more money to do what God calls us to give away?
The BUGB deficit still continues to grow and the latest HM figures, to the end of June, suggest the anticipated appeal giving is not in line with some people's expectations (no surprise here however). The question needs to move away from what can we afford to what can we not afford to do? Personally, I think God is speaking to us through what we don't have to focus attention upon who we need to become.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Yesterday's news of the world.

Today I'm wondering if we shall be looking back upon tomorrow as a tipping point for ethical change? The demise of the News of the World has come about, it seems to me, for the reason the media understand better than anyone - public opinion has turned against them.
Whilst there may well be a cynical view of the strategy behind this decision, it remains true, the general population are expressing their concern about ethics in a way few were prepared to predict a few years ago. I recall Patrick Dixon was one - when he promoted "ethical" as his "E" of his vision for the 'F.U.T.U.R.E.' , but few believed this was likely. However, following on from the MP's expense crisis, for similar reasons, I think he was right after all. In Christendom we could assume upon both the vision and values of the church (well we did, however il-advised that may have been!), but in post-Christendom we certainly cannot. However, what this demonstrates, to me, is any church, which does not pay enough attention to their values will not engage today's generation. Whilst we need to lower the bar regarding 'church' we need to heighten the bar in terms of discipleship. Many instinctively react against this suggestion, but my experience and observation teaches me this is the case and we ignore it at our peril.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Alfred as public art.

OK I love the Gorillas in and around Bristol. I loved the pigs in Bath too. In fact, I didn't realise it consciously, but I love what’s now described as ‘public art’.
Apparently, according to Wikipedia, this term refers to “any works of art in any media that have been planned and executed with the specific intention of being sited or staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all”. Church – public art, or private collection?
This is Alfred - or no 56 based in Brislington, just up the road. Nearly caused a crash, stopping to take the picture!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

wow Gorillas - the funky Gibbon no 58

Really pleased to see my first Gorilla in the front of Chipping Sodbury Baptist Church. Really nice guy -' the funky Gibbon' & no 58! The only sad comment is the clues for where to look around town suggest to look behind bars. So are the church bars keeping people in, or out, is my question?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

wow gorillas!

The gorillas have been unleashed into Bristol this week. A little frustrated my schedule means I'm yet to see one, but will rectify this gap in my life sometime soon .... I hope.
At least there's a map -