Friday, 25 May 2012

Blogging can become a tyranny - that's how I've felt about it, over the last few weeks, when I simply just haven't got around to it. Of course, it's not because I have nothing to say!!
This, therefore, is simply to let people know I'm still out there somewhere!
This week has been another frantically busy week and just saying that suggests I'm failing in some way, because I've never believed 'busyness' is a healthy sign of anything.
However, no day off this weekend, as we have two great days ahead I hope and I'm not just thinking about the weather.
Tomorrow is a day on "Simply Church" - it's full, if you want lunch, but you may be able to squeeze in bringing your own, or sitting under a table and begging for scraps!
Sunday, after preaching in Melksham in the morning is Arise Bristol and Beyond at Ashton Gate, the home of Bristol City FC. It's an event rooted in pray, repentance and release on Pentecost Sunday, details if you've not heard are on:

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Will character finish top of the league?

‘Motivations are, at best, mixed’. I can’t remember who, or where, years ago I first heard this comment, but it’s one, on which, I have often reflected. Unfortunately, to give credence to such a comment is simultaneously frustrating, unhelpful, messy, lacking in pure holiness, confusing and sadly, true (at least that’s the default position, so you are blessed indeed if you get through more than a day otherwise).

However, to acknowledge it’s truth can result in me (yes we cannot go down this road assuming it’s everyone else’s problem) making wise choices, which ultimate keep my motivations within the boundaries of what a previous generation would have described as ‘godly’. Surely not!

I am of the opinion, whatever the outcome of this year’s decisions concerning finance, the biggest issue for our Accredited and wider “Ministry” over the next ten years, within BUGB, is character.

I am not suggesting I find our Ministers, in this generation, lacking the character of Christ anymore than a previous generation (not that I have many, first hand, I can compare them with you understand!). What does disturb me, however, is how the creeping legislative nature of rules, guidelines, MR processes, etc. threatening to move character down the league table of requirements. We must ensure it remains in clear focus and the overwhelming priority.

So, I am disturbed …..

When I hear of Ministry continuing in order to secure housing post-retirement.
When I listen to Ministers reality of experience of conflict among the body of Christ.
When I observe actions and listen to words, which are against the church (God’s people, Christ’s body) from those called to serve and care for her.
When I hear evangelists described as ‘Ministers without manners’, as if character is not part of the missional imperative, ‘to make disciples’.
When I uncover blindness to who we actually are, as Ministers, as if we are a different breed, without sin, or compromise.

I re-read what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1: 15-17 today. He thinks aloud when he asks ‘was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner, so that in the same breath I say both ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no?’ NB – he doesn’t leave it there. What he is doing, at this point, is holding up a mirror, seeing himself, but as the unfinished article. Aldous Huxley said, “The truth that makes you free is for the most part, the truth we prefer not to hear.” Paul was brave enough to look in the mirror.

In The Way to Freedom, by Bonhoeffer, he writes ‘The reasons one gives for an action to others and to one’s self are certainly inadequate. One can give a reason for everything. In the last resort , one acts from a level which remains hidden from us. So one can only ask God to judge us and to forgive us’.
I agree with Charles Ringma, commenting on this when he observes; ‘we never fully understand ourselves and therefore we need to accept the mystery of our own being. Our motivations will never be fully transparent even to ourselves. This we need to accept. What should never be acceptable, however, is that we refuse to be open to the judgment of God and others on the effectiveness of the actions that flow from our motivations’.

So, Ministry is seen in what we do. The miracle is God still calls ordinary sinners, like me!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Friedman's Theory of Differentiated Leadership Made Simple

I found this on you-tube today, whilst searching for some help with my D Min reading, from those who have tried to apply systems theory within the church.
If, like me, you like Edwin Friedman, you'll love this. If not, you'll maybe not love it, but I hope it'll cause you to think.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

It's official - Roy Hodgson for .... BUGB (!?!?)

On a day when we anticipate Roy Hodgson being appointed as the new England Manager, my mind (and prayer) is with the BUGB Futures Steering Group, also meeting today.
I’ve often looked at the similarities and differences between football managers and Baptist Ministers and whilst this is not in any way a genuinely comparable issue, I was struck by the criticisms about Roy Hodgson, listening to the radio five live phone-in, whilst in the car. “Uninspiring”, “safe pair of hands”, “cheaper”, “you know what you’ll get”.

These are all comments I can imagine people offering regarding the Baptist Futures conversation. The question was asked last week ‘what’s the vision’?

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to present an appropriate and inspiring vision, when the result of needing to reduce the annual budget by in excess of £1 million, is the focus of attention.

Whist I have been one, among many others, who has argued this is an opportunity as much as a crisis, it is inappropriate to walk around with a smile on your face when people will suffer the consequences of the difficult decisions we face.

However, the questions of vision, future, mission, etc. do need addressing. My response brings us back to the state of English football. There will be no point people complaining about Roy Hodgson when England fail to win the European Championships, as if it would have been a foregone conclusion with Harry at the helm. The reality is the grassroots, however defined, are not producing sufficient players of sufficient quality to provide a good-enough team to work with. Whilst I would have appointed Harry Redknapp, it is the whole system we need to address. So within BUGB. What we need within BUGB is not so much a national vision, but thirteen regional ones and the national leadership, which has sufficient apostolic, prophetic and evangelistic awareness and capability to empower them.