Monday, 6 February 2012

Missional movement

Just arrived at Sidmouth for Ministers Conference. Relieved to know my post for the Beyond 400 was uploaded OK. Modem still no-no at home. Thought it wise to post same article here, because we need these two words, 'missional movement' in this conversation. Therefore, any comments are best posted there. Here goes .....

‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world’. (Albert Einstein).

‘Beyond 400’ - backwards! (Simon voice 6)

…. after the prayer George of the House of Jakob arose and entreated Conrad Grebel for God’s sake to baptise him with the right Christian baptism upon the confession of his faith. And as he kneeled down with his request and desire, Conrad baptised him, since at that time there was no ordained minister to perform such work.’

The event, in 1525, has been described as the ‘most revolutionary act of the Reformation’ Conrad Grebel, founder of the Swiss Brethren, ignited a fresh wave of Anabaptist movement. The genius of our own movement is in its design:
It wasn’t!
No one ‘planned’ BUGB 400 years ago.
The ‘movement’ began by catching a virus, released 2000 years ago. Let us draw from the rich ‘nutrients’ (Juliet voice 2)  

Back to Jesus. Let us make no mistake, whilst we all recognise the need, we now also have the opportunity (some call it crisis) for UK (yes) Baptists, to re-calibrate their lives and life together, around Jesus. (Rowena voice 3) Let us ‘fix our eyes upon Jesus’.

Where my imagination then brings me to is to a junction. At this crossroads there is a sign - ‘missional movement’.

The sign might just as well be in a foreign language. After all, what does ‘missional’ mean? Surely ‘mission’ served us well enough, (although no one seemed to agree on what that meant either!) ‘Movement’ – can any movement, which has morphed over the hill into the landscape of institutionalism, ever be re-ignited?

So what? Well, in my case, I think about it. I read my bible. I read. I ask God for direction (another ‘sign’ please because I don’t fully understand this one and I’d like to know where I’m going!). I’ve done …. nothing.
It’s very frustrating. I don't get the answers I’d like. In fact I hardly get any clear description of our destination, apart from the road itself, the journey …. one great adventure.

It is an adventure worth living. Funny, I don't seem to have heard that word in church for a long time. Jesus invites us to adventure, which costs everything, but we seem to be stuck by something he told us not to serve (money). (Peter voice 1)

It’s a journey designed by the great designer Himself. ‘Come follow me’: simple, but all embracing. Our forebears caught it from Him, doing things, like baptising people, who wanted to follow Jesus, in-spite of PC world.

It’s risky. (Carmel voice 5) This word, a rare find in the church, is already in this conversation – hey maybe we have to do some of it, if we’re to move anywhere?

It’s relational. It’s about people. What is more, it’s about all of them who want to come along. The pioneers, inevitably at the front, seem to actually be talking with the others. Even though people are wearing funny hats, somebody’s insisted they wear, with words on them like: ‘apostle’, ‘prophet’, ‘evangelist’, ‘pastor’, ‘teacher’, they’re giving them out to everybody.

It’s surprising. I’m surprised who’s on it and how they got there. I discover many of those pioneering types are actually ‘ordinary’ church members – gosh who thought of that one! And how on earth did those liberals start this adventure? It feels a bit heavenly and looks like Liverpool supporters on Wembley way! I’m enjoying it.

It’s engaging. Blow me. What Chris Duffett (voice 4) put his finger on, is actually happening. These people, these ‘ordinary’ people are talking to new people they’re meeting on the way. They’re not just talking though, they’re expressing attitudes and doing stuff, which is resulting in loads more people getting in on this great big adventure.

I’ve now gone down this road just a little way, but enough to offer my life to seeing more of it happen, but someone’s just caught up with me and told me, they’ve changed the sign! What a nerve! It doesn't say ‘missional movement’ anymore. Apparently, people didn't understand it and many of them didn't like calling it that. They’ve painted over it and decided to call it ‘beyond 400’.

Friday, 3 February 2012

when I can't see the wood for the trees .....

It's been one of those weeks! I woke up, wondering where I'd rank this one, in my all time worst weeks as a regional minister - it's been a bad week, so right down there!

Of course, just when you think it can't get any worse, it does! My broadband at home died this morning. This is not just bad, this is tragic. Today of all days! Today's the day I have to upload my contribution, as a Baptist 'voice' to
don't you just love irony?!

..... but here I am in one of my other 'offices'. Banco Lounge in Bristol. Great coffee and free wireless, what more could a regional minister want? Seriously, guys this advert's for free, I'm glad to be here. Hopefully, the article has just uploaded OK, ready for 6th February. It's a privilege to be asked, there's been some really good conversation started so far, so I hope my two words, 'missional movement' might spark our imaginations a little more .... we'll see!

I've just had a nostalgic moment. Thinking about how, in just twenty years everything has changed, but nothing's changed. Twenty years ago I would have been sitting in this same road, admittedly over a mile south. Twenty years ago I could easily have been helping Linda, our church administrator, try and get the Counterslip church bulletin run off the Gestetner machine - wow remember them? It was only that long ago - I didn't have a computer even, never mind internet, mobile phone, sat nav, skype, all those absolutely essential ministry accompaniments.

Then I find a smile on my face, thinking about the irony of it all. I need to be careful because I'm getting weird looks from behind the bar, but it's good to smile; to find something amusing in the midst of a rubbish day, or week, does us all good. Not only superficial smiling, however, I'm getting drawn into gratitude .... to God for so many good things and people who fill up my life. After all, even in this week, I've watched Liverpool win away at Wolves 3-0! Even Andy Carroll scored. My son popped in, en route, back to Liverpool and we went out to Jamie's in Bristol for a good meal. My daughter is coming home, for the weekend, this evening .... you get the point? Life is not made up of 'ministry' and neither is security and acceptance by God shaped by it.
and gratitude is a habit and like a magnet, once you succumb to its pull you find yourself engulfed by it - seriously, try it. So, what began, with thinking 'why bother?' as a regional minister, 'is today the day I write my resignation?', even before lunch, has become, not simply what God has called me to make a difference for him in, but the place I'm glad to be in - again. I've just uploaded my 'missional movement' words and I've realised afresh, this is something I have already said I shall give the rest of my life and ministry for. I've lost the bit where Jesus said it would be an easy ride, so I wont let that drag me down. To find yourself and to have the privilege of helping others find their place, as part of this great movement we call the mission of God, is an amazing adventure and privilege.
Also, gratitude brings perspective, whilst this week remains 'bad', it's an exception, not the rule.
..... and me, well, I'm better than I was first thing!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

An elephant in the church? Surely not!

No time for writing, but just had to post this, sent to me from one of our Ministers - thanks Andy!