Wednesday 30 June 2010

Churchmanship, the football model

Trying to explain what denominations or differences in church look like we came up with the football model. The person I was speaking with supports Aston Villa and he was telling us how he sits off to one side and quietly takes the game in, appreciating the beauty and skill of the game as it unfolds. Behind the goal there are a bunch of nutters who spend the whole game jumping up and down waving their arms and singing throughout.

Alongside the pitch there are loads of old people who've been attending the games since they were six, which was 1948, and appreciate the way the game was and lament what it has become (the ball was solid leather with a lace that cut your head and when wet weighed twenty pounds . . the boots were proper boots, not like those ballet slippers they wear today!).

There are some who come to see the game but they aren't really fans, they've been brought along by others and really either don't like the game or don't like the home team much.

So how do these groups help us?

Well the chap in the corner who is appreciating the game is a bit of a contemplative. He enjoys the game for the beauty of the worship and the ability to worship the football deity. Those 'nutters' behind the goal are the charismatics. Rising ever higher as the game progresses, ceasing only when the scoreline brings them into full and earnest self-examination.

Those on the sidelines are the traditionalists and those who have brought non-Villa fans are the evangelical types who as part of some (Calvinist) evangelistic exercise have brought along the non Villa-ites to see the beautiful game and perhaps become converts.

What fun we have in church at times :) Really is a game of two halves (usually with the peace i9n the middle !!!).

Churches working together

Seems to me that there are a great many areas where Christians in my area are working and yet few people seem to know about it. As part of my role in the local 'Churches Together Group' I have decided to try and establish 'interest groups' to help churches work together and get people sharing and publicising the work that is being done.

The structure I have in mind feeds back into a sort of lower house, called the Assembly, which is made up of representatives from each of the member churches (two from each). This group meet three times a year and provide the opportunity to inform and enlist others regarding the work that is going on in the area.

The structure, as I envisage it, looks like this:

The assembly is supported, equipped and enabled by the constituent member churches' leader who meat monthly in a 'Ministers' Group' and provide direction, oversight and support for the members and their projects and ministries.

Comments, suggestion and observations (especially from those who have tried similar or have something like this running).



Tuesday 29 June 2010

What can we bring?

God is not unjust; He does not forget our love or that which we have done for His people. God is not a liar, neither does He ignore our needs or fail to keep His promises. So why do so many people claim that He does and is the very opposite of the words above?

How do we care for those who find famine in a land of plenty? What can we bring to those whose experience is continuing illness and pain (mental, emotional and physical) in a place of healing?

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me. He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me.

My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness. I am surrounded by fierce lions who greedily devour human prey - whose teeth pierce like spears and arrows,and whose tongues cut like swords. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens! May your glory shine over all the earth.

Ps 57

Monday 28 June 2010

Women Bishops - alternatives?

Having read around, I understand that the Batman and Robin team of Canterbury and York are proposing some amendments to the draft measure relating to the ordination of women. If I have read the various sources correctly they propose the provision of 'traditional' bishops who by means of the amended measure will have a degree of autonomy (some might say 'safety') from the diocesan. Of course the diocesan will still be the diocesan and retain all the powers, rights and claim to areas and parishes alike but would, in a sort of gentleman's agreement, leave those who have opted for the oversight of a traditionalist bishop alone.

For the orthodox it is not enough and for the supporters of women's ministry it is far too much (or as one observer put it, "Pandering to the mysogynists and gay-haters!").

Interesting in that many of those who struggle over women's ministry have had no problems over the homosexual side of life, one being an ecclesial matter and the other is merely dealing with yet another facet of sin and how the revisionists and modernisers appear to have few problems with anything other than 'God wanting us to be happy!'.

We do need to respect the views of those who came into a male only church and feel, both by conscience and theology, that the moves to support women's ordination in all forms and complexions causes them to stumble. Theirs is surely a different argument to those who came late to the party and wish to see all things as acceptable and blessed. To lose those who form the high church/Anglo-Catholic element would be to lose that which continues to keep the CofE a 'reformed Catholic' church.

I am saddened by the vitriol and awfulness that is coming from some who have set themselves against our high church brethren - there is no generosity and no intention other than to see the church drive these people out. How's about a little reminder of how both sides should be doing it?

"If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20

If Jesus could reach out to the Samaritan woman (and you know what Samaritans are like!!) then how can we encourage anything other than his example in our lives? It is such a small step to move from defence, or support, of a position such that it becomes a self-fuelling, self-righteous hatred. How easy it is for us to have a higher opinion of our own views, thoughts and desires than we have a right to.

But at least there must be a glimmer of hope as once again, in a small step, Rowan seeks to do what I, and many others, consider to be a right move

Sunday 27 June 2010

Building up the walls

Nehemiah has always struck me as as book which has much to teach on authority, Christian endeavour and mission (which here means taking the word of God to those who neither understand the language or the author Himself).

The image of working with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the next! The submission to Artaxerxes (or merely Xerxes) meant that he (Nehemiah) given the authority to rebuild the walls demonstrates the reality that to have authority one needs to submit to authority also. The Levites explaining God's word to the people gives us a clear indication of how we corporately, as a Royal priesthood, do the same with those in the world around us.

One of the key points of ordination for me is the fact that those who come forward in response to, and testing of, a call do so by first being approved by the church (local), tested by the wider Church (selection conference) and then are trained, examined and presented as workmen (and women) approved by God, man and institution and ordained. In being ordained we swear swear service to God, submission to the bishop and loyal service to the realm - all of this 'with the help of God!'

As we seek to serve God in whatever calling He has for us, might we all take learn from Ezra and Nehemiah and apply this in the ways that we serve.

Saturday 26 June 2010

Armed Forces Day

Today we honour those who serve and have served in the Armed Forces of this nation.

Across the UK there will be services and acts of remembrance (the main event this year being in Cardiff). Can I ask those who read this spare a moment to give thanks for those who have served or are serving and :

To pray for the families, friends and comrades of those who have fallen, remembering especially those who have died recently in Afghanistan  - the total (as I write) having reached 307 personnel

To pray for those who are currently in rehab or hospital as result of their service and commitment in foreign places

To remember those who have been injured or killed during training

To remember those veterans of the WW2 and other conflicts, many of whom are suffering from age and the wounds (mental and physical) from their service

To find an even near you - Click Here

Church going to the dogs!

Here's a great caption contest photograph - you'd be barking mad not to have a go at it:

Friday 25 June 2010

What a wonderful World

Just recently I have met a number of people bringing with them tales of woe and tragedy that would have been more than enough reason for them to have thrown in the towel and given up, but they haven’t. Not only haven’t they, but they continue with an optimism and such a positive air that makes me gasp with admiration (and feel more than a little ashamed at my own pathetic little problems).

This is what faith does. The amazing thing is that these people didn't consider themselves to have any faith. They weren't 'Churchgoers". They didn't wear any fish badges or mutter 'Praise the Lord' at the drop of an 'Hallelujah'! These were good old plain and simple non-Christians. You know the sort, those we are supposed to be bringing back to God and taking the Gospel out to.

I have met people who, having given birth to a child prematurely, see their child die before (and in two cases actually on) the EDD (Expected date of delivery)! I have rung their doorbells expecting to have to defend God (which I never do - He's big enough to do it for Himself) and get a bit of an ear-bashing as His representative here on earth (isn't just the über pointy-head in Rome who does that!). Just about every time I have encountered this I have found the family being grateful to God because having been prem' they have got to know a live child rather than experienced the awfulness of having one they never got to know.

I have met so many people who have experienced the pain and life-stopping brokeness that a stillborn child brings. One recently were hurt, broken and confused at the loss of their beautiful child. Hoped for and yet not seen - perhaps the greatest tragedy a parent can experience?

the ability of people to make the best of an awful situation and to overcome the greatest of opposition and disappointment only confirms the reality (to me) that what we (Christians) should be doing is not trying to take God to people but try to see what God is already doing in and with people and bless it!

I am also becoming more and more convinced that what we need to do is stop trying to drag people into church and work harder at making them Church! I am so tired of people being mere scalps for the the "Look who I saved' book or worse still, a means of paying Parish Share (or the bills if you're not Anglican) and filling empty buildings.

We need to resist the temptation to save the world and instead help people live in the world God made in the way that He intended it to be lived in. No point in claiming to love God and hate your brother now is there? So let's love others, bless them and the places they find themselves encountering God in and seek to live our faith rather than legislate with it.

NOTE. This does not render that which God does not approve of approved of, but in those places it might help us to lead people into a right relationship with God and with others too!

Thursday 24 June 2010

Being the difference

Two O'clock this morning I left a casualty department and with it an incredibly large number of victims of what to me looked like a major incident. The cause? England and the World Cup! Having been drinking since the early afternoon, the euphoria having died down, and the alcohol levels having risen such that those who had earlier been brothers now found themselves as combatants on opposing sides!

"Ooh, that's pretty," says a nurse as she prepares the stuff required for a suture to a gash on the cheek, "Been out having a good time have we?" I smile and ask myself what a 'bad time' must look like if this was the result of a good one!

A few days before, engaged in conversation, I am informed that the area in which I serve has exactly the same teenage pregnancy rate as a place a few miles hence. One is decided badly regarded and the other is considered to be a place that is 'nice' I was a bit surprised at this news (I don't know why - perhaps I still thought 'nice' places begat 'nice' people) but was stunned by the next bit of information. The pregnancy rate was the same but the teenage birth rate here was three times that of the 'nice' place!

I assumed this was because there were health implications. Perhaps the difference could be explained by drink, drug or even lifestyle. The shock came when I was told that here, for some, it was merely a career choice! This and the fact that 'nice' parents have the opportunity to procure abortions privately to remove the stigma of an out of marriage and teenage pregnancy whereas here, it was the norm and nothing to be considered any differently than the sun rising each day. It's regarded by many as merely normal (I met a great grandmother who was a few weeks short of her forty-third birthday recently).

The option before us are easy. We can tut and turn over the pages of our newspapers bemoaning the 'world today' or we can get stuck in and be the difference to the place where we live.

Jesus never stood in a pulpit lecturing those in the sea of (often self-made_ poo but got in and led those in it to a place of safety and healing. Words are cheap but actions both painful and costly.

"At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Sonc of God!” Mk 15: 33 - 38

Doesn't come any dearer than this!

Wednesday 23 June 2010

To love the unloved ones

(4th C. fresco)

I have been so struck by the need for healing and the offer of it should we but reach such a short distance. Distance that our fears, our hurts, our dashed hopes and stifled sobs have made. Help is so near and yet so very far away.

As I have prayed for the courage of those around me to reach out, touch and be healed, the words of  Mike Busbee's wonderful song, 'Make me like you' have been echoing in my brain and so I share them with you here:

With mercy You've shown me Your unfailing love
Your holiness purges my sin
Your blood has redeemed me, I'm washed in Your grace
With patience You cleanse me within

Make me like You
Take the pieces of my life and make it new
Make me like You
Make me wholly completely brand new

To love the unloved ones To count all but loss
I'll take up my cross for You
To picture You broken To see You as King
For You anything I will do

Make me like You
Take the pieces of my life and make it new
Make me like You
Make me wholly completely brand new

To watch a video of this song Click here

Monday 21 June 2010

Touching the hem

A few years ago I had to meet with a very important member of the Church of England clergy. I knew he was important because he told me that he was! Not only that, but told me that he was far too important to have to meet with me to discuss my potential training opportunities and that I was wasting his very valuable time by being before him. (really, he did!)

During the course of our discussion this highly (self) rated gentleman asked me what my favourite passage in the Bible was. My response was that it was Mark five's account of the woman with the discharge of blood. For those of you who don't recall it, here it is:

"A great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

The exalted vessel of God asked my why I liked this passage. My response was that if I could pastor people who had the courage in the midst of their desperation to touch the hem of Jesus' garment I would consider myself a blessed man indeed.

His response was, "And what will you do when you have run a church for five years and seen no growth, only decline?" I really wanted to say, "I'll become a clergyman like you!" but he apparently held the keys to my training for ministry and so I merely replied that I would cross that bridge should I ever come to it!" (Yep, I wimped out for a change and managed to keep my tongue stilled)

May those who read this blog be touched and encouraged that, whatever need they have, that they have only to touch the hem of His garment today - nothing clever, nothing theological - just audaciously reaching out and connecting with God in the very simplest of ways possible.

Sunday 20 June 2010

It just gets sillier!

Tony Haywood, the much reviled head of BP has stopped all the work on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to go sailing! Obviously,doing something with his family is wrong for he, like the President and others from his administration, should be at the scene 100% of the time to demonstrate something or other!

I am so tired of this national vilification of one man by the media, which is what they do I guess), and by Mr. Obama and his fellow politicians. After all, what difference does it make where Haywood is, he's the figurehead in this unfolding (and continuing) drama, not the bloke at the back of the boat steering!

Personally, I think the man was right to gain some down time with his son and am amazed at the hypocrisy, character assasination and trial by media. I only hope when this is all done all those who played a part in this debacle and disgrace are brought to book.

Another sad day that helps no one and speaks volumes about flawed and fallen human nature.

Saturday 19 June 2010

Slick politics!

I was impressed with an interview with Lord Digby-Jones in the early hours of this morning which pointed out that the reason that BP and others are pushing the envelope of technology and drilling a mile down is down to the US Government.

Mind you this disaster has implications for some other nations where this type of drilling is also to be found, let's hope they're reading the international news. As I read the reports and stories relating to this leak I find no halting of deep-water drilling and get the strange impression that apart from hanging out one company to dry, there is a whitewash and a continuance of drillingon the horizon. The Federal Commission being put together (with what looks like an oli rich membership in prospect) will, I fear in its conclusions, provide approval for deep-sea oil drilling and the American, oil greedy culture to continue. Meanwhile Obama continues to try to balance the needs of the people he serves and the oil reserves that nation needs and there's always the money that it brings to consider. (How ironic that BP is labelled as putting people at risk and cutting corners to gain more bucks - wonder of the Union Carbide survivors and bereaved found that just a little ironic?)

I was amazed to find just how many Americans have pension interests in BP, so they might applaud the attacks on BP now but they might also be able to repent in poorer retirement at a later date because of it!

BP's headquarters might be in the UK but all those who should be standing in the dock as culpable or complicit would have to include BP managers, Transocean, Anardarko (who are now attacking BP as having been unsafe in a move to distance themselves from the fall out) and a few advisors and officials from Obama's Administrations too and I would hazard a guess that the majority of these are Americans!

The biggest folly comes to light when it seems that drilling was permitted without any real idea of what one does when it goes wrong. Haliburton and Cameron International are trying to stop the leaks but it's like throwing a bottle up an alley - close, but no coconut! The moment the US Administration stopped people drilling shallow and pushed them to drill deep meant that this disaster (or one like it) was an inevitability waiting to happen.

A great cartoon on the topic from

Friday 18 June 2010

Scapegoats - always useful!

I have been taught that when faced with a 'situation' the correct way to proceed is to keep to the facts. I have encountered (and still do) a good many situations where someone makes assumptions or says something they think might mitigate the circumstances before them only to find that their words later return to come back and bite them on the behindside.

Tony Haywood was placed in the stocks that is the US Congress and the representatives of the people sought to absolve themselves from any culpability and enamour themselves to the electorate in one exercise. Good old Mr. Waxman, chairing the proceedings (circus would be a better description), berated Haywood for stonewalling. Truth is, Haywood was acting correctly. If he doesn't know then the answer is to wait until he does before he states the facts - not stonewalling but prudence!

The problem is that the Congressmen didn't want facts they wanted him to throw up his hands and acknowledge that it was all his fault. The problem is that Haywood wasn't on the rig, he wasn't personally privy to the way they worked on the rig and he wasn't the person anywhere near the operations - he sits at the helm and drives the organisation - not the day-to-day operations on the ground. So who does need to before the Congressmen and answer the questions about this tragic incident?

Oh yeah, the people who did that were almost certainly (as I understand it) Americans.

Still, the media and the nation got their Aunt Sally and the Administration their scapegoat!

So what do we know about scapegoats? Aren't these a part of the OT historical stuff?

Well the 'Azazel' (Heb. Goat that leaves us) became the 'escape goat', the animal that thew people of God drove off into the desert on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) as described in Leviticus sixteen, twenty-one on:

"Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and ahe shall let the goat go free in the wilderness."

The goat bears the sins of the nation and departs into the wilderness to die and with the animals death the sins of the nation die also. Sounds a bit familiar doesn't it?

I assume scapegoat, in the modern sense, to be someone who is generally held to be innocent (in that they have neither commissioned not committed (knowingly) the acts for which he or she is accused. The best bit is that having a scapegoat usually distracts attention from the real culprits. Now, who could that be I wonder?

Thursday 17 June 2010

Righteousness rules!

Well, self-righteousness, rules anyway!

Putting profit before everything,

Putting the lives of people at risk because of the desire to make even more money,

Damaging the ecology and ruining the natural habitats of fish, plants and animals


So - let's speak about BP!

I just loved the appearance before the congressmen and the trial by media, it sits up there with the blood money/slush fund approach and whilst I agree that the CEO is ultimately responsible it would be nice to wait until we know exactly what happened and why.

Unless I read things wrongly the rig was American, the people operating it were mainly American and it was in everything, except name (if you use the word 'British') American too!

But this won't help the administration win the hearts and minds of the electorate now, will it?

Still, paying money always helps solve problems and relieve anger.

Doesn't restore the natural casualties to health. It won't bring back folded companies or tourists who go elsewhere (just like those who avoided the US funded IRA over in the UK in days gone by?) but what they? After all, I have a bumper sticker from a previous visit which proudly states, "Send a child to medical school and support the US legal fraternity!"

I was hoping for balance and all I got was American! The people who are affected deserve better and it starts with their own government (sadly).

I have to agree with Congressman Joe Barton, the most senior Republican on the committee who agreed that BP needs to explain the actions that led to the loss of life and the subsequent leak but also admitted that he was "ashamed" to see BP being pushed to set up the compensation fund, which he spoke of as a "$20bn shakedown".

BP - an exercise in cynicism

And the American way!

I just loved the theatre as five of the United State's oilmen turned up to 'give evidence' to the House energy and commerce sub-committee. It was so much fun seeing all these whiter than white experts stick the knife into BP (which incidentally is not 'British' petroleum anymore - but hey, Obama's the President he's not supposed to know anything!) and paint their respective companies as saints against the sinner. Amazingly we can all forget about the excesses and errors of their companies (didn't Exxon do something wonderful for the ecology only recently?).

I just love the amazing hypocrisy on display and the backside covering of a President who promised much, has delivered little and is using so much spin to look like he and his administration are doing something! I would imagine that everyone is doing as much as they can and that the Administration, apart from trying to lever money out of BP and look like they are effective, has no real part to play.

Whatever next, Obama will be standing up against the twisters and hurricanes and demanding redress from someone! A modern day Canute who is in line for a bit of a drenching I would guess!

Still - there's always comfort in having a scapegoat isn't there?

I thought BP had been absorbed by Amoco (didn't they call it a merger), that decidedly American Company, in 1998.

Wow - does that mean that Obama needs to point fingers closer to home? Probably - but it's better to engage in what is effectively anti-British rhetoric and maintain what has always been in that they exhibit that wonderful, "My country even when wrong, is right!" mantra.

For Dawn - perfect start to the morning

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Go into all the world and . . ?

I'm sure that many of us will have continued with the words of Matthew chapter twenty-eight here. The answer is, of course, "Make disciples".

Many years ago I read a great book entitled, "The making of a disciple." It said many things about discipleship (no surprise there I guess) and what being a disciple really meant (again, little surprise here either). What really gripped me was a little bit of mathematics relating to exponential growth. To illustrate exponential growth, the writer recalled an old Chinese folk story regarding a ruler and a fool - it goes like this:

Once there was a rich ruler who had, for his entertainment, a fool who would make observations and provide hours of foolish speaking for the ruler's pleasure. One day the ruler was beset by a problem that could cost him his land and his rule. He issued a proclamation that whosoever could find a solution to the political situation before him would be given riches (up to half of his kingdom), his daughter's hand in marriage or anything else he asked for.

No answer came and time grew short, then the fool opened his mouth and from it was heard the answer to the ruler's problems. Quickly the ruler acted on the fool's words and peace was restored to the land. The ruler called the fool before him and asked him what his reward might be.

The fool, surrounded by nobles and the ruler's court, answered the ruler thus, "I would like a single grain of rice to be placed on a chessboard's square and have it doubled for every square there is." How they all laughed, "The fool could have had anything and he asks for a grain of rice," they cried with tears streaming down their faces. "What a fool!"

The ruler, being a man of his word called for a chessboard and the reward began. On the first row the fool saw one grain, then two, four, eight sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four and finally one hundred and twenty-eight grains of rice. By the end of the next row the number had reached 32,768 and the next 8,388,608 and so it continued until the ruler has sold all that he had to buy rice and the fool possessed all the wealth of the land, the throne and the ruler's daughter too.

We expend large amounts of money and effort evangelising people. We put on big events and have great ideas, yet, this book told me, if we merely made one disciple and nurtured them for a year before the two of us went out and did the same, repeating the process every year, we would see the world become Christian.

I can cram five thousand into a mission event and see (as an example) one thousand come to Christ and ten years later find, say, 250 of those still maintaining their Christian faith. This is excellent stuff and something to be applauded

AND (doesn't have to be an 'OR')

I could disciple one person and at the end of the fist year see us both engage with another and disciple them and so on such that at the end of ten years they would be 1,024 people with a Christian walk - discipled and discipling. All that from one person! If we took one person now, led them to Christ and equipped them to do the same and then repeated that on a yearly basis (two years would be equally great) we'd see the result of our engaging with discipling looking like:

START = 1 YEAR ONE = 2 people
YEAR TEN = 1,024 people
YEAR FIFTEEN = 32,768 people
YEAR TWENTY = 1,048,576 people

Now, sixty million people in the UK - that means that sixty of us could do mission in the UK and (theoretically) see it saved within twenty years! Of course, there's more than sixty of us looking to disciple (isn't there?) so obviously we're looking at much shorter timescales.

No? Why Not - too long a timescale or something I'm missing?

ps. The fool story - square sixty-four works out at about 576,460,752,303,423,500 grains of rice!

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Some 'Do Nots'

Here's a few 'thou shalt nots' to ponder. They're a combination of Vincent O'Donovan with some stimulus from the man I'm listening to and some of the things I've had on my wall for some time (thank God for whiteboards).

Do not try to call people 'back' to where they've never been.

Do not try to lead people to the place you're in, it's possible that it's only beautiful to you.

Do not try to lead people to a place where you haven't been (and might never go).

Instead, lead by being just a few steps ahead, then they're with you (and you're with them) shepherd and sheep, leader (the name is a hint) and followers (or led?).

This is discipleship - this is how Jesus did it (and through us, still does).

Building Church (or lazy Christians)?

Has it ever occured to you that missions might be a cost-ineffective, lazy, means of doing evangelism? Heresy on my part? Perhaps!

Has it ever occured to you that Alpha can be a means of stiffling evangelism in the Church rather than a means of increasing it?

No, I haven't been drinking (well not alcohol anyway)! It just seems to me that so many people do nothing evangelistic because "Our Church does it!" I don't need to develop relationships, that's what Alpha does for me! I don't need to be a witness, I'll wait until we put on a mission or some big name evangelist comes, then I can wear a badge, sing some new songs (now that's proper worship!!!) and harvest what I haven't sown (and look so, so good too!).

I'm not knocking Alpha or missions, just trying to make people aware that Christianity is a terminal disease. It is a fatal illness for the 'old' sinful man.

And it's contagious - it's caught from Christians, not talked about from pulpits.

Living in a one way world

I consistently find myself living in a world that is full of one ways. The problem is that these 'One Way' episodes are rarely God's but are the imposition of other people's attitudes. If it is not done their way they pout, strop and even ignore and to be honest, I'm getting just a little fed up with it.

You must know the sort of people I am thinking of. Those who tell you what they consider you 'need to know' rather than give you the full picture. they tell you what they want and keep the majority of the information to themselves. they retain their right to privacy and yet demand to know every jot and tittle regarding your life, ministry, whatever.

These are the people who consider that the world revolves around them and their 'needs' (which to me often seem like the wants you might find in a pouty, toe-pointy five year old) - they are the focus of everything and their personal woes, angst and desires shape the rest of the world, for nothing can be more important than them!

Time to draw lines - to decide that the time has come to go no further - to be as covetous of our own life and time with God. Has to be good.

Today is the day when some people will find a shock coming to them and I'll find a bit of space, peace and balance. end of the driven and beginnings of the soaring on God's breath, taken by His desires not the imposed desires of others.

Today is gonna be a good day (for me), what about you?


Monday 14 June 2010

All that glisters . .

I was drawn in by the analysis of the World Cup trophy by Nottingham University's professor Martyn Poliakoff. Using his knowledge of this dense metal, gold, he estimates the weight of the trophy, were it solid gold, to be something like 70kg (154lb).

So, it seems that the World Cup, much like our own lives just might not be solid gold.

Well, I can't do anything about the trophy but I can do something about my own faith life and that's the challenge as we begin another week.

How will we engage with others - blessing them or being just another brick in their wall?

How will we deal with the idiots we will meet this week - with blessing or with a swift boot or a harsh tongue?

How will God deal with us today - think that's probably the best thing to focus on and emulate.

If only I could be more like Jesus and less like me!

Time to stop the words and do the stuff - Happy Monday people.

Sunday 13 June 2010

Idols come, tumbling down!

Isaiah forty-four has some interesting words about the folly of man and the way that we worship things (and people):

"This is what the Lord says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come - yes, let him foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit him nothing? He and his kind will be put to shame; craftsmen are nothing but men. Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and infamy.

The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint.

The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in the form of man, of man in all his glory, that it may dwell in a shrine. He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. It is man’s fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it.

Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.” From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships.He prays to it and says, “Save me; you are my god.”

They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand.

No one stops to think . . "

The problem with the idols we make, the people that we put on pedestals, is that as quickly as we make them we pull them down or knock them off. My hero is unchanging and I keep my feet on the ground - this way we can't be disappointed or knocked off any pedestals!

Be loved and live worthy of that love.

Saturday 12 June 2010

Living a life of faith

It seems that there is still faith to be found within the English nation. Christian faith might be considered to be a 'post' but faith in eleven overpaid, super-ego footballing types is at an all-time high!

We are but seconds away from the kick-off against America (who think football is game played with helmets, pads and an American accent) and we see how our hopes will unfold.

As for me, I've always got a Dutch shirt in reserve.

The pundits tell us that England have a great chance of 'going the whole way!' - as for me, going out to dinner as there's no problems getting a table tonight (but I'll watch the highlights - let's hope there are some). Mind you - four minutes in and we have a Gerrard goal - could go all the way in this game at least (hallelujah).

Evening all!

Thursday 10 June 2010

A Ministry of Reconciliation?

I've had a couple of excellent questions from the Israel posts, the first of which being:

"How can Christians genuinely exercise a "ministry of reconciliation" in these (and similar) circumstances? How do we work to bridge the gap, rather than simply declaring ourselves to be for one side or the other?"

Reconciliation is an interesting issue in that so many people speak so easily of it yet rarely, if ever, engage in it. At its most popular level I find that reconciliation means you agreeing I am right and by having done so I allow you into a relationship that I control. Cynical? You betchya, it's what experience does to you!!

Reconciliation is costly for in reconciling us to God Christ laid down His life - this is the price of reconciliation. 2 Cor 5:18-19 tells us that, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."

This act of 'making friendly again' (re - conciliare) means that both sides need to give ground and put aside those things that separate. In the situation surrounding Israel (as an example) there have to be some immutable (i.e. fixed) 'givens' as a basis for dialogue. In my thinking these would be along the lines of human rights and regard for the dignity of all people, including the right to practice a faith and exist as a clearly defined people group.

Israel exists and this needs to be recognised by Hamas and all others. By the same token, so to does Palestine and this needs to be recognised in return by israel (and others). It should be agreed that both nations should act to set the condition for peace and take steps within their nations to maintain that peace. This would mean a cessation from rocket attacks on one side and a cessation of turning off power, restricting aid and settlements in areas, and by means, which are provocative (and intended to be exactly that). this would be a start.

As I have said (many, many, many times) making a reality of Micah 6: 6-8 in that humility, justice and mercy are present and real would go a long way to bringing reconciliation to the fore - the rest is merely dialogue and sacrifice. Of course there are many Jews and Arabs (worldwide) who would baulk against this course of action. Quite a few Christian too I'll wager!!

Hope this is helpful - just a bit of the thinking that's going on - long way to go, but I'm off the blocks.

An absolutely wonderful cartoon

As often is the case, the naked pastor has hit the nail on the head.

Thinking and especially theological thinking is something that so many Christians fail to do, after all, this is a popular human trait so why should they put the practice aside just because they're 'saved'.

Let's make today the day where we engage with the issues before us and actually try to make sense of the and out of them using theology and brains wherever possible.

Happy Thursday.

Off to the Arboretum to do a memorial service for the 1st Army Association -  a great privilege.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Some random Israel related thoughts

Just as it says on the tin, this is a place where I ponder and dialogue (internally and with others) over issues that present themselves before me and my limited take on the world. Before I try to find answers for Simon's excellent (and challenging) questions, here's some of the thinking that has cropped up so far.

I have been challenged by a number of people as to what (and who) I think 'Israel' is. Well, as I told one friend, I'm coming to the conclusion that Israel is a spiritual entity rather than a territorial blob on a map. Israel is a state of mind and a proclamation of faith and will one day see God restore to them Jerusalem. This, of course, makes for a interesting tension as I look for ways to bless Israel and avoid being distracted by an ersatz nation created by man.

This leads me on to another track, one which is rather interesting and has much wider implications for me.

I got into a really interesting (aren't I polite) regarding the rebuilding of the temple and the restoration of Israel. I was told that the nation of Israel had been restored and now all that was left was the building of the Temple and the Messiah 'had to come'. I pointed out that God and 'had to' didn't go together in my Bible, it was more like God and 'wants to'!

This prompts a weird thought:

If God says that A has to happen as a condition for B to occur, if we make A happen does this mean that B is now a done deal?

Here's a little for instance. God says he will deal with a situation and having done so He will return. If we, being helpful and desirous of His return, rush out and through political, financial or other means, resolve the situation 'for Him', does this mean He has to come back? Or will He merely wait until the condition have been set by Him and then return, rendering our actions hollow and flawed?

There are twin dangers either side of the right option. One is that we do nothing and let God do the stuff, the other is that we bring about the result by our own means (political, financial and the like). Finding the balance here is important as we need to bless what God is doing and also play our part in it.

Simon - I will return to your questions over the next couple of days. Like you I feel it important to bless Israel and yet also be realistic (and aware) of the spiritual truths of being Israel. It is certainly not an easy topic but I cannot sign up for the Israel 'right or wrong' approach.

Thanks people

Monday 7 June 2010

Israel is more than just land!

Having been challenged regarding the 'fact' that I, as a Christian, 'must' support the nation state of Israel has led me to do much pondering and thinking. Thus far, my limited grey matter has stumbled across a few thoughts which I have decided to share in a spirit of glasnost (and also to make everyone else feel decidedly cleverer) which I include here for your consideration (or mirth).

The people of Israel were a people who were brought together to witness to the power and reality of their God (YHWH) by being wonderfully counter-cultural. In the nation of Israel we see more than just the possession of territory, we find, in Genesis 12, God telling Abram to go from his land to a land that He (God) would show him. This is place where we find the coming together of two of the three components of the Jewish faith, GOD (YHWH, who speaks to Abram) and LAND (the focus of the conversation). All that we have missing is of course, Torah.

The majority of people supporting Israel (regardless) focus of the land, and Jerusalem in particular. There was indeed an important emphasis on the place of the land, and it was a place the Jews found themselves inhabiting until the naughty Romans (what have they ever done for us?) knocked the Temple down and wrecked the place. The establishment of Israel (by force) and the plans to rebuild the temple all seem to me to be some sort of pushing through prophecy rather than seeing how God will achieve the desired results. If the land is so important and if Jerusalem is so key to God's plans, surely He might be able to set the conditions himself rather than leave us to do what He is obviously impotent to do?

I am aware of the many conspiracy theories that abound, each claiming sinister plots to remove Christian support from Israel, yet ironically I only see Israeli politics working to remove the support of the Western world's Christians (and others). Against this I see various Zionist groups issuing stuff like this (from an email):

"The Lord in His zealous love for Israel and the Jewish People blesses and curses peoples and judges nations based upon their treatment of the Chosen People of Israel."

These words of warning, which come from the ICEJ (International Christian Embassy) sit interestingly with:

"As a faith bound to love and forgiveness we are appreciative of the attempts by the Government of Israel to work tirelessly for peace. However, the truths of God are sovereign and it is written that the Land which He promised to His People is not to be partitioned...."

Mmmmmm! Don't see much tireless working for peace from where I sit!

There is so much blood guilt (see the 1947 League of Nations partition plan) involved with the establishment of a modern state of Israel and so many disposed people (Palestinians) and such amazingly awful acts committed by a people who one would have thought might have known better since so many play the God's people card (actually - reading and listening it seems that the Christians are into this more than 'God's people).

So first thought - Israel is about something more, and other, than land.

Sunday 6 June 2010

When you encounter prejudice you have to stand up and be counted!

The words of the Labour Party's Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transsexual Society's James Asser are words that each and every one of us should take to heart and make our very own. His words, uttered in response to a row which broke out in a London pub are a call and a gift to all who tread the path of the traditional Christian lifestyle.

It occurs to me that these days it is Christians of the fundamental and orthodox flavour that are the victims of prejudice these days and the time has indeed come when we need to stand up and be counted for our faith. To quote J K Rowlings character, Albus Dumbledore, "Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy."

Every day I encounter Christians who seek to take the easy path. They seek that route which yield everything yet demands nothing and costs even less. This is that 'cheap grace' that Bonhoffer spoke so eloquently of, this is the path that seeks to cry, "peace, peace," when there is no peace.

That we stop walking the aggressive paths of conflict and condemnation is important. That we resist these traits in others, making our stand, is imperative. That I do not choose to engage in acts, attitudes or mindsets merely indicates that I differ from others. That I do not choose the same path as others does not make me wrong any more than their acts makes them right.

I have nothing in my hand but the Word of God and he path along which it leads me. My faith is orthodox and draws upon the tenets of Scripture, Tradition and Reason (with perhaps Experience thrown in for good measure). I cannot, and should not, be expected to have to move from the beliefs and values that shape and guide me, regardless of how much those others wish to shape their own lives.

That others choose to deviate from, modify or otherwise change God laws and their own values and standards to suit themselves is up to them, their fate is in their hands and wherever their path takes them, I should be free to follow my own - and mine has been around for a couple of thousand years and so is well-worn and obvious.

Time to stand and be counted people, Time to do what is right and to do it in the right way!

Saturday 5 June 2010

Honouring the dead

Today, at the National Memorial Arboretum, Prince Edward will be present and the names of one hundred and nineteen UK service personnel are added to the walls of the Armed Forces Memorial (AFM).

This is not a celebration of war, neither is it glorifying war. It is a simple service of thanks for lives offered, and given in the service of their country by men and women in uniform. They are members of the same group of people we remember on Remembrance day, being the latest in the line to join the ranks of service deaths. Just as the Cenotaph recalls those who died in the major conflicts up to 1945, the AFM marks those who have given their lives from that period onwards.

Please spare a thought for the families who will come to Alrewas today. They come with pride for a job well done, a sadness for a price expensively paid and to seek comfort in their own losses.

May God touch and comfort them.

Israel - not quick on the uptake

Some people are obviously destined to repeat history rather than learn from it as Israel reiterates its intentions over a ship carrying aid and people seeking to make a point. Actually, I think the point will be made by Israel as it seeks to maintain its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

As I write this, the MV Rachel Corrie is heading towards Gaza and will soon be in a location close to that of the other ships Israel acted against earlier this week.

Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Leiberman is quoted as saying, "We will stop the ship, and also any other ship that will try to harm Israeli sovereignty." Ironic when a spokesperson for the UNHCR said that the only nation at risk here was Palestine!

Benjamin Netanyahu adds his voice, saying: "There is no chance the Rachel Corrie will reach the coast of Gaza." By so saying this he confirms the intention of his nation to continue to practise piracy and exhibit an illegal lack of proportionality as well as punish innocents. International crimes of many flavours here. How long can the US continue to support such stances and Christians claim these are God's people?

I believe Israel is in grave danger, from it's own flawed and illegal policies.

I also believe Christians are in danger of supporting a flawed and God-denying nation through a misplaced understanding of Israel thanks to some fallible and flawed Zionist claptrap.

How anyone can claim God's support for this amazes and saddens me in equal measure.

Friday 4 June 2010

When Chefs go bad!

It's odd but considering the discussion at the moment and the observation that almost anything can be use to kill should someone 'flip' out (why has that word suddenly re-appeared?).

Today's news carries a story concerning a chef who killed his wife with a griddle pan and hid her body in a freezer for three years. Mind you, not a lot of 'flipping out' in evidence here or the other area under consideration. In this tale the victim was apparently sleeping when she was killed and so again there appears to be a degree of premeditation and perhaps a healthy dose of malice aforethought present.

It will be interesting to see whether the Home secretary is canvassed to introduce laws to restrict griddle ownership - if so I guess we're about to enter our salad days!

Caption Contest - 12

Time for a bit of lightness . . Saw this outside my very front door and thought it would make a great caption contest candidate:

There's another couple of vans behind these!

Thursday 3 June 2010

Gun Crime - some dialogue

A friend of mine has responded to my thoughts thus:

"Sorry, Vic, I've got to disagree with you on this. I can't see any reason why someone would need to keep guns at home if the only time they get used is at gun clubs. If you (shooters) enjoy shooting at inanimate targets, and claim to be whiter than white, then the way to prove that is to ensure that your guns _cannot_ be used to murder people, even on that day when the owner - the person "who everybody liked", perhaps even you! - flips his lid.
Maybe 'gun crime' has gone up and illegal guns are more prevalent than ever, but all the "someone going off the rails and shooting a load of people" incidents, that I'm aware of, have been done with legally held weapons. If those weapons had been securely kept in a gun club, I believe these events would have been _much_ less likely to happen."

Some great opportunity for dialogue here (and it's great to have a friend with whom I can disagree), so let's get started:

Having a gun at home has never really been part of the problem (other than the obvious involvement of the weapon itself). At one stage in the firearms legislation debate the practice of storing guns in one location (club, Police station, etc,) rather than separately at home was assessed and was thought that the weapons not all being in one place was a positive (for many reasons).

If you read my blog you will see that I say that for some people (those who only shoot on their club range doing club competitions, postal competitions and 'social' shooting), keeping their weapons in the club is a logical and practical step. For some who might shoot at different ranges (competition shooters) this would not be so good and you're adding to the time the weapon is in transit too and of course the weapon is still outside the clubhouse/storage area walls. I know many who might visit three of four ranges (outside their club range) every month - just not practical.

I'm not claiming shooters are 'whiter than white' but the words indicate that there might be an assumption that shooters might not be. I recall reading that shooters were amongst the highest scoring types when asked/checked regarding compliance with the law (often through fear of doing something that caused them to lose their ticket?).

As I've already pointed out, target shooters shoot at bits of paper (hunters shoot animate objects) and only when I'm doing Mil Skills have I seen people getting taught to shoot people and whilst people can flip, those I've known who were shooters did so using a kitchen knife, a car and (ironically) a golf club. as you so rightly say, you can kill with almost anything. Considering the number of people we train to shoot people, I am always impressed at the small number of flippers we have from them and other shooters. The reality is that the majority of shooters are taught to handle weapons correctly and in such a way that when/if they flip, guns are not the method of choice.

Concerning the 'going off the rails' episodes, the sadness here is that two of the three gun tragedies we've had owe a great deal to the poor management of those people concerned (I have no idea about the current situation in this respect but assume this does not apply). To return to Hamilton, (loaded) illegal weapons were found in his home and rather than confiscate and remove his ticket, they were added to his collection and made legal!! We don't need tighter gun laws, but we need those laws to be applied properly.

I did make the (tongue-in-cheek) comment that, golfers use clubs (also lethal) to put little white balls near their target whilst shooters use guns (animate target shooters are called hunters of course). The majority of shooters are balanced and never a problem - same with golfers (recall story where bloke killed with with club recently - best outlaw golf too? No, don't really thinks so ;)).

The reality is that shooters and golfers have killed with the tools of their hobby and so have many other with the tools or focus of their hobby (I think that stamp collecting is probably one of the very few safe hobbies here). I must reiterate my view that had Hamilton done his stuff in Dunblane by killing the kids and their teacher with a car, no one would have been looking to outlaw cars. Mind you, as there's more car crime than gun crime, perhaps this is the way forward!

Hopefully we have the makings of some good debate here.

Lessons to be learned - Gun Crime

Lord Mackenzie (of Framwellgate) spoke this morning of the 1996 shootings in Dunblane (actually he said, Hungerford, but we know what he meant!) and how the subsequent ban on hand guns was the right outcome. This is a viewpoint that I consider to be more than just a little flawed for a number of reasons. the greatest of these is that it has done little or nothing regarding illegal gun crime, it is the product of a flawed logic and that it was a vehicle that gave the then government the popular support for something they intended to do (a bit like the image of fluffy foxes and cruel hounds did for fox-hunting!).

Ironically, since our ennobled gentleman was a representative of the Police Superintendent's Association I would have thought that he'd know a little bit of our gun crime and law-changing as a result history. Still, he has his personal opinion and he's welcome to it.

Hungerford saw a man that the local guns clubs had refused membership to given a FAC (Firearms Certificate). Now, the anecdotal story is that this happened because someone forgot to do the visit and merely signed the paperwork to clear their desk before their holiday. Whether or not this is true, this saw an end to automatic weapons being held by legitimate shooter (although, from what I've read, he did the damage with non-automatic weapons).

Dunblane and that nice Mr. Hamilton was at large and sixteen children and their teacher were killed. The loss was awful, the fact that various gun clubs had asked that the man be 'dealt with' by the police and the revelation that upon inspection loaded weapons, illegally held, were discovered and the inspecting officer added them to his ticket (Hamilton's FAC) thus making them legal, was, and is, something that makes my blood boil. Shooters called for his weapons to be seized and they (the police) gave him more!!!

After Dunblane we had to endure such fallacious arguments as, "If you get rid of all legal weapons then there can't be any illegal weapons, as all illegal weapons start out as legal!" An interesting and valid thought and therefore we could extend this to say the same for murderers, for all murderers start out as innocent children . .

For those of you who don't know shooters I will try to explain some of the realities.

When someone first comes to a gun club (well the ones I've belonged to) they are not allowed to use any weapons (and this will mean club weapons as they won't have an FAC) until they've visited a few times and been through the initial safety training. During this period, the committee and other club members watch the new person and assess them. Any feelings of unease and they are not offered membership. I have even called other club safety officers and warned then of 'dodgy' people.

They then need to shoot for a period of time (three to six months) under supervision and then after that, they can apply for an FAC. Many people don't need to have one, they can merely have a weapon stored at the club (which is a good option for many) and for those who want to do competitions and the like, they have gun cabinets at home.

there are then police and medical checks, which should include a couple of visits from the police (which to be honest doesn't always happen - I had a telephone call from one gun officer as he was 'busy'!) and the like.

Shooters work on the theory that to have the right to have weapons (they're our golf clubs!) requires responsibilities and certain attitudes and conditions. We are self-regulatory and keep the nutters out, provide a place for people to drop weapons in (I'll tell you some stories some day) and are committed to getting as many rounds into the centre, struggling against ourselves as we struggle for that elusively consistent 'poss) (ten out of ten) every time.

Please don't jump to conclusions regarding Cumbria - please don't see shooters as dodgy or whatever, they're the ones who haven't gotten into club (generally). Gun crime increased by over 40% in the two years after Dunblane and to be honest, it hasn't generally slowed that much in the years since then to now. Last year the Met Police area saw a 19% rise in gun crime.

As much as some will seek to point the finger at legally held weapons and shooters, they don't generally do the gun crime. I see from the latest that Bird was licenced, holding a .22 rifle and a shotgun . . .

I hope some find this informative and useful (sorry it's so long).

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Cumbria shootings - What we should be doing

It's all gone Pete Tong in Cumbria today and as I write this I am aware that twelve people are dead as a result of the actions of taxi driver Derrick Bird. In addition to this there are a further twenty-five wounded (three said to be critical) as a result of this man's apparently random shooting spree.

In addition to those killed or wounded Mr. Bird appears to have added his name to the list of casualties by having taken his own life.

So, leaving aside the BBC styled, "Do you know anyone who's been shot, or do you live in the area of know someone who might not but can talk about it as if they do. Send us an email," approach to news (think it's the result of cuts and due to a lack of regional reporters these days), what should we be doing?

Firstly we should be praying for those who have been wounded and for their families and the families of those who have been killed.

Secondly, we need to be praying for those who have been caught up in this unfortunate incident as eyewitnesses or as part of the blue-light response teams (Police and Ambulance) and in the NHS support of those who have been injured.

Lastly, we need a balanced and measured response (unlike that which we saw when Dunblane happened!) and should encourage people against kneejerk responses, the majority of which (like Dunblane) are ill-thought through and of limited or, more realistically, no real value at all.

Hopefully out thoughts are with the families of all victims and the community at this time.

Sitting around the fire

Have you ever tried taking people you love camping? If not, can I suggest that you give it a try sometime soon?

If you do you'll (if you're as blessed as me) find that you get stimulated, challenged and also mocked (nicely though). Leaving aside the fairy, the dancing bear, the knotted hankie (with two pencils), the penchant to return to Monty Python and many, many, many (did I mention Police Academy?) issues we've visited, doing some great theology, lived out some really excellent Church and put the world pretty much to rights on the way!

Isn't Church wonderful? it's about flawed people living with others as if they weren't flawed and others returning the compliment. Seems like a great basis for Church n a larger scale to me.


Ave Verum Dominatrix Destructus!

Tuesday 1 June 2010

The buck stops (W)here?

Some interesting questions about Dog-collars (DC) popped into my comfortable reality yesterday. How accountable are we and who runs the church? What do the churchwardens do and do I really work for them?

I see the DC as someone who is primus inter pares, that is 'first among equals' and as the person who is, at the end of the day, ultimately responsible. If it happens on my watch then it's my responsibility, regardless. It is the same as being a Commanding Officer (CO) of a military unit in that they are responsie for the actions of those they command.

The wardens exist to 'maintain good order' and are the eyes and ears that quell disquiet and settle discord by acting as honest brokers for the BOPs (Bums on Pews)and between them and others without partiality, let or favour (and this means taking it to the DC too!).

Where there are teams, these should be supported by the DC, the greatest demonstration of this being by sound leadership and listening outside of that team (to the members). Often I find colleagues pushing the church into a position, programme or policy when they should be discussing the goals and getting 'buy in' by discussion and open leadership.

It's an easy place to find oneself pushing forward because the team (or inner circle of friends or sycophants) applaud a policy or direction, but this can destroy rather than build!

There's always the "Don't stand against the Lord's annointed defence - problem is, aren't we all annointed? Are we not all called as Laos (God's people)?

To be leaders we need to be accountable. We need to be approachable. We need to be adaptable.

We need to listen and respond the right way.

We need to lead (just like what Jesus taught us by His example).

Paul* writes "Be imitators of Christ, just as I am." This should be our model and our call - wish I was more like Him!

1 Cor 11: 1