Friday, 22 February 2013

National Regional Leaders as Abbots/Abbesses

I received the following, from  The Missional Network and commend the full article to anyone, trying to engage with the missional transitions, I suggest, even more desperately required in the UK than the North American context, into which Alan Roxburgh is speaking here:

If the North American church is to become a missionary movement in our culture, it will need a leadership that is not primarily shaped by executive, administrative and expert roles. These leaders will need to become more like Abbot and Abbesses; men and women whose vocation is cultivating local movements of God’s people. This is about a fundamental shift in imagination. Up to now the dominant focus of national and regional leaders has been upon the established roles that think, primarily, of how the local fits into national/regional agendas and priorities. The whole agenda of these leaders has to be turned on its head. The transformations required to achieve this are immense, but without this change the viability of the church as a missional community is questionable. A major adaptive response to leadership is required.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Character is of the essence

Tom Wright, in todays 'Lent for Everyone', commenting upon Matthew 24: 45-51 and the challenge to wait and behave appropriately, during a long time of 'delay' is very timely. he writes: 'this is a severe warning for all Christian leaders and teachers. Sometimes people seem to suppose that it doesn't really how you behave, that we can keep the wheels of the church turning all right without paying too much attention tot he teaching of Jesus himself, or the doctrine and lifestyle taught by his followers'. Although deeply grateful for the writing of Tom Wright, it's sad Tom Wright is no longer in post as a Bishop, as we need people of integrity, whose gravitational pull is towards the person of Jesus. 
I was struck recently by the response to a comment, I made, along the lines of character needing to be our clear priority, for the next ten years: particularly with regard to the formation of people entering, or contemplating, ordained Ministry. No one was arguing; it was the note of surprise, this should have been said, which struck me. I'm sure I said it should always be our priority, never mind the next, or last, ten years, but it appeared to strike some people as a novel thought. A number of individuals spoke to me, commenting how important this observation was. I felt, though no one said it this way, they were saying: 'this sounds like common sense, so obvious, how could we have missed it'. (!!!)
Much has been under the spotlight, in terms of review and re-structuring recently, among every mainline UK denomination. A remaining question, however, is how seriously we have reviewed and reflected upon what kind of people we are encouraging into our Ministry. It feels as if much within the processes and systems is more concerned about getting people in to fill positions and provide fees for training establishments, than to nurture the growth of the likeness of Jesus.

Monday, 18 February 2013


The best things in life happen slowly, don’t they? Somehow, in an age in which I’m being taught men can multi-task, via every Apple product I own, this man is learning he can’t …. well, not very well, if at all, certainly not for long. Of course, Maggie could have told me that, long ago, but realisation comes … slowly! 
One problem, with being lulled into the illusion of multi-task competency, is it ends up becoming a battle of the sexes and frankly, I'm giving up. The problem with multi-tasking is, not only is it over-rated, but the lure of getting things done quickly, can become self-defeating and easily under-mining, of self, church, leadership, etc. For example, it's easier to lose integrity with a quick decision, rash review, or fast conclusion, but integrity is neither mass produced, nor forged quickly.
Journey’s, relationships, evangelism, cooking, eating, prayer, making love, art, just off the top of my head, are better appreciated slowly. ‘Slow’ gets a bad press, but slow is of the essence, of pretty much anything, which is deep, lasting, resilient, strong. So, it’s with mixed feelings I’m buying an i-pad. In some ways, e-mail is already the bane of my life, or maybe the frustration of those who don’t get instant replies. However, i-pad is where I must go, if I’m to make DNA group material accessible to the i-pad generation. I see so many team and business meetings in coffee shops these days, I’m dreaming of a DNA group in every coffee shop. This will happen … slowly.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Discipling movement again?

I’ve been thinking again, about the need for us to, more deeply, acknowledge we are called to be a discipling movement. It appears we tend to polarise towards ‘mission’, or ‘church’, as if we can somehow separate what God has joined together. This often ends up in an either/or, whereas my Bible teaches me it’s a both/and. It’s one of the reasons we’ve abandoned the unhelpful mission and ministry distinction in describing our regional ministry roles, in WEBA, preferring ‘missional’, which embraces both wings. In individuals, this finds its expression in words like discipleship, character, integrity. In the community, we call church, this finds its expression in words like discipleship, values, authenticity. Hopefully, they amount to, pretty much, the same thing.

The creative tension, between ‘mission’ and ‘church’ is best found in discipleship. It’s fascinating to observe how people so easily polarise towards the extremes. Some of us find it exhilarating to be ‘out there’, on the adventure of mission, as opposed to ‘in there’, stuck in the darkened room, called ‘church’. On the other hand, we might find it lacking in common sense, not to mention throwing away the boundaries of appropriate disciplined living, to disregard the patterns and pathways, worn by the feet of pilgrims, over the centuries. We’d rather stay, thank you your kind, but adolescent invitation, within. Obviously, (I hope you realise!) this is a caricature, but with sufficient embedded truth to resonate with not a few of us, I guess.