Monday, 23 April 2012

Thank you to Worcester Park Baptist Church ....

I want to say 'thank you' to Worcester Park BC. As I said, to one of their members, this weekend, "you've helped me remember what a great thing it is to be a Minister in a local church'.
Maggie and I spent the weekend at Wokefield Park, which is a De Vere Hotel near Reading, leading their church weekend away. A fantastic time with all ages and the majority of their church family.
My input was on 'Cultivating Christian DNA', which enabled us to get into the territory I tend not to be able to spend much time with churches on, as a Regional Minister. It was a great reminder to me of how crucial who we are, as communities of the people of God, is sufficiently Christ-like for people to recognise Jesus among us.
As a RM, it is easy to give people the impression it's all about the big picture, vision, purpose, etc., but the reality is when the local church is working right-enough, there is nothing better placed to convey the reality of Jesus in today's generation.  

Friday, 20 April 2012

Are evangelicals on another planet?

One week back from holiday, everything manic, catching up, behind with the Baptist Futures conversation, sifting e-mail, rapidly now trying to finish preparations for a church weekend away - Worcester Park BC.
Basically, no time to blog, but this article caught my eye and is worth passing on:

Andrew Brown's asking the question: 'Are evangelicals on another planet?'. Well, he's not saying what I assumed he might be from the title, even though I could provide plenty of evidence to suggest we are! Tanya Luhrman's book 'When God Talks Back', which his article is based upon, sounds equally interesting. Now, back to my preparation ....

Oh and couple of photos from Venice! Not of the organ mass we went to though - apologies!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

the life of the kingdom of God keeps growing

Sounds like a cue for a song, but it's this thought, which has sustained and stayed with me, whilst away in Italy over the last two weeks. You go away on holiday, frantically getting things 'done' before you go, you arrive home with a metaphorical mountain of e-mail to read, even before you determine you didn't need to! The holiday was great - Venice and Florence predominantly, but I couldn't 'do' what I planned....
This isn't a reflection on galleries not visited, or sights not ticked off, but simply a cautionary tale about how slowing down sometimes just isn't enough, sometimes you need to stop. I've had my kindle for a while, but used it as an extra, not a substitute. So, this holiday, one real book, plus my kindle, including my Bible - even convincing Maggie, 'no need to take yours, save the weight, use the kindle. Great ideas, but when kindle pops his head out of the suitcase, his screen is broke. The audio book on my i-phone was the next one, therefore, on the list ..... but I'd forgotten my headphones. I could have paid six euros for 24 hours internet access, but a little voice said this was not a wise use of monies. Oh and there's no photo accompanying this - my card reader packed up also!
I'm not certain exactly when Jesus words 'the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how', came to my mind. However, they recurred again and again.
So, I'll pop down to my allotment to see what's been going on down there whilst I'm away. However, on another plane, I've learnt to become a little more content with God being in control and being the King of His Kingdom and not me. I'm not suggesting I think I've learnt this forever as, by tuesday lunchtime, I may well be operating as if God wont get through this week without my input, but that's better than first thing tuesday morning! My slow down and just read the six books was not the designed 'stop' I needed. That needed to be enforced, chosen it wasn't, nor would easily be!
Neither is this a call to passivity (Jesus' farmer was hardly inactive). I've also read, today, what George Carey is saying about Christians being driven underground by the courts. I happen to agree with him and thank God for those who are willing, because this will have a personal cost for him you can be sure, to stand up and be counted. We are already in post-Christendom, we may not be able to turn the clock back, but it's no reason to welcome anti-Christian-dom.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

a house of prayer and missional?

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’

Not the most popular  reading for Holy Week, but one which has grabbed my attention today.

If every church had enough money for what it wants to do, we could easily perpetuate models of Ministry, which will render us ineffective at reaching people dwelling within increasingly distant cultures.

If every regional association had enough money to provide enough staff to do what it wants, we could easily avoid the transition into being the missional agencies we need to become.

If we increased our HM giving to £6m as it feels like ‘the target’ is, we could continue to avoid the challenge to turn around and start sending the missional energy outwards, to the edge of the round, and not inward to serve the centre.

However, one thing, which fascinates me, is how we manage to separate those things God has joined together. We are supporting an initiative 'Arise Bristol & Beyond', which is about prayer and repentance and involves using Ashton Gate stadium on Pentecost Sunday, 27th. May, the home of Bristol City FC, so a big event. Both are concerns of Jesus in the Temple incident above. The Church is not being asked to make a choice: 'do you want to be missional, or prayerful'? The Church is called to be the Church of Jesus Christ.