Thursday, October 26, 2006

lead us not into technology

Interesting post on another blog here about how websites, by giving information in a non-personal way (i.e. you don't have to talk to someone) can make less effective an organisation that thrives on interpersonal contact.

Finally got round to booking a quiet day today. Had a phone conversation with a friend in Darlington last night who encouraged me to do less and reflect more. That doesn't come naturally, and in my head I know that busyness doesn't equal effectiveness, but 'look busy' is one of my default settings, and it takes a lot of effort to snap out of that.

O Lord, give me the wisdom of Ronald Reagan. (The sign on his desk read 'hard work never killed anyone but I figure, why take the risk?)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

tried to upload an image to blogger so people can see what I look like, but it's sliced off the bottom of my face. Or is it a blogveil?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Having a day to read today, working through 'The Shaping of things to come' by Hirsch & Frost. Some selections:

“The kind of thinking that will solve the worlds problems will be of a different order to the kind of thinking that created those problems in the first place.” (Einstein)

“Jesus said go into all the world. He didn’t say sit in your church and wait for people to come to you.”

“Christology determines missiology, and missiology determines ecclesiology. It is absolutely vital that the church gets the order right.” (i.e. the form of the church is a result of our understanding of mission, and the form of mission is a result of our understanding of Jesus, because Jesus is the way we understand and encounter God)

“If you are digging a hole in one place, and you realise you need to dig it elsewhere, you don’t get there by digging gin the same place, only deeper. And yet churches, whden they realise that the old 'attractional' mode isn’t working, seem to believe that if they just do attractional church better, it will work. And… many of the church growth seminars and conferences are simply repackaging the traditional mode and promoting it to struggling churches as the only way to grow.” ('attractional' = church meeting in a set time and building, mission consists in recruiting people out of the surrounding community to 'come to church')

“Any church that cannot get by without buildings, finances and paid experts is not fully being church.”

“If we could start church all over again from scratch, would we do it the way it’s currently being done?”

"When we speak of our virtues, we are competitors. When we confess our sins, we become brothers" (Karl Barth)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Major achievement of the week

has been signing up to Dave Walkers Cartoon church website for a year, which means I can use things like this

for the next 12 months. Some are already doing the rounds of parish newsletters in the Yeovil area. At least, I hope that's the way it works, otherwise the cartoonchurch lawyers will be onto me.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Interesting front page on todays Telegraph on day nurseries, about a letter from childcare experts on whether being sent to day nurseries is good for the development of under-3s. The argument is that the best thing for children up to 2 1/2 years is to develop attachment with parents, as this is the best for their emotional development. There's the fascinating comment "we have never had an economy or a government that puts less value on love" Discuss....

The emphasis in government policy seems to be to recycle young parents back into the workforce as quickly as possible - provision of lucrative tax credits for people working and paying for childcare, the policy of free nursery time for children 3 and over, the aim of providing 'wraparound care' at schools so that parents can work a full working day and leave their children at school from 8am to 6pm, the consistent resistance to EC laws which limit the working week, etc. One one level, you could say this is all good enabling stuff, making it easier for parents to rejoin the workforce. The flipside is a rising sense of expecation on mothers to go back to work, and a culture of having children and then outsourcing their care to other people. Witness Madonna sending her nanny to fetch her new adopted child, rather than going herself - what's that all about?

The same paper has a story about 'Gymkids', who have developed fitness machines aimed at children - rowing machines, exercise bikes etc., all with calorie counters. Another example of exporting adult culture into the childrens world?

Better stop before I get into an ill-informed rant about all the other things that bother me as a parent of 2 pre-school kids.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I'm being disturbed by strange things at the moment
- our daughter has lost her 'monkey' stuffed toy - we bought two, so she still has one left - and having searched everywhere there's still no sign. Oddly, the thought of monkey lying by the street in last nights wind and rain upsets me. Or it seems odd that it should upset me, but perhaps it isn't.......
- I've been 2 weeks in this job, but it's still not been officially announced that I've got it, despite being appointed in June. Even though I've got a nice piece of paper with the Bishops seal and lots of legal language on it, the fact that there's no announcement bothers me.

Urban caricature 1: in housing developments of a certain sort, normally those built by a council sometime in the middle of the 20th century, no matter what time of day you walk round it there will always be someone tinkering with a car engine in front of their house.

Too early to work out the urban caricature for Abbey Manor yet..........

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Leadership 1

Mulling on the difference between a prophet and a leader. Is a prophet someone who tells the truth regardless of whether people go with him/her, whilst a leader waits for the tide to shift so that their words/actions are timed for maximum impact? (There must be a better way of saying this, but I'm still waking up)

e.g. General Dannatt's comments on Iraq: had he made them earlier in the campaign, would he have been sacked? From the people I know in the armed forces, there is widespread agreement on the ground with what he says, and the government knows it. The army is no longer sure why it's there, nor whether it's really achieved much, so as a leader he is speaking for his followers in a way which has maximum influence. You can't get much better than the PM agreeing with every word you say....

Different sort of leadership: an evening last night led by our Diocesan finance people. I've been to these before, and finished most evenings hunting around for my will to live. Someone described last night as 'almost inspiring', which is about the best that a Board of Finance will ever get! It was basically about mission, and how to resource mission both within the parish and from the Diocese. To me it communicated 2 things a) we've got a vision for the church and b) we're on you're side. Those are 2 good things to hear from your leaders.

There was one fly in the ointment: 1 speaker told us several times that the church is growing, then flashed up figures which showed that the opposite is true, at least in Bath and Wells Diocese. Ooops.

Monday, October 16, 2006

reason and religion

Fascinating article in todays Guardian, linked here on how our society struggles to cope with people being overtly religious.

Secular society can't understand faith, or how it's expressed, which is why anyone at all committed is labelled a 'fundamentalist', because once someone is the f-word, we no longer need to listen to what they are saying, as it must be nonsense.

Another great link discovered today to YouTube, - having already seen too much spoof reality TV, my first reaction was 'how much of this is for real', but once my cynical half had been duly reprimanded, I just sat and watched with a smile on my face. If even someone offering 'free hugs' gets banned by the police, then it makes it easier to understand why Jesus was crucified

Saturday, October 14, 2006

listening habits

What to listen to whilst I empty boxes full of books and try to work out where to put them on my shelves?

- Cross rhythms radio online: ok, but every now and again some rap song will come along which I can't listen to. Thebandwithnoname may tick someone elses boxes, but sadly not mine.
- switched to radio 6, then some unlistenable indie song came on
- new wine worship CD (one of mine) - good, but sounds a bit tinny on the laptop, and somehow I find it hard to listen to the worship leaders extemporising between songs. It was probably great if you were there, but on a CD, again, I can't quite get into it.
- finally settle on 5 live, football stuff. Nothing world-shattering, but leaves enough space in my brain to think about what I'm doing, plus the ability to tune in if anything interesting happens.

but what do I need the noise for in the first place? Why is stacking shelves to background noise better than stacking shelves in silence? What is it about silence I'm uncomfortable with. Ok, there's a practical reason - it drowns out the kids if they're too noisy about the house - but I'm not sure if that's a reason or an excuse.

What is the difference between a reason and an excuse?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

questions questions

Just a few questions from the last 24 hours of conversation

1. is reincarnation compatible with Christian faith? (someone else's question, not mine!)

2. does 'new forms of church' work any better than old forms at reaching the unchurched, given that people with no church background are becoming Christians through 'normal' churches?

3. does the fact that there are fewer lists in the New Testament than the Old (2 genealogies in Matthew and Luke compared to Chronicles, Numbers etc.) mean that lists still have a small place in God's plan of salvation, or are we supposed to fulfil the hope of the Bible by not having them at all?

4. do we need formal structures in order to work together as churches, or do we, in having formal structures, spend so much time getting the structures right (e.g. ecumenical covenants) that we'd be better off not bothering with them and just getting on with mission and ministry together on an informal and relational basis? Or is that a false opposition and can you have the best of both?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

some pictures from the licensing service, to add a bit of colour! Oh, and one of me and little Christopher by the seaside.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

brain full

I remember a Gary Larson cartoon with a boy in class with his hand in the air 'Sir please may I be excused? My brain is full.' Feels like that after a day spent in conversation with people about the local church and the church across the town. It's very easy to plunge in and not surface until you're gasping for breath.

Wacky thought of the day:
The church finances Voluntary Aided schools, giving 10% of the capital funding, which are then built by the education authority and run by the church. Could this model be extended to building community centres: redeveloping a church building as a multipurpose community/worship centre, with the church owning and running the premises in line with council guidelines, but getting significant council funding to do the redevelopment? there's probably no money available, even if it was legally workable, but that's todays kite up in the sky.

Monday, October 09, 2006

knowing the place for the first time?

"The end of all our journeyings will be to return to the place where we started and know it for the first time" (or something like that - TS Eliot)

Coming back to a place where we lived before, I'm still working out whether I prefer to see what's changed or what's remained the same. I drove past a Clarks factory where I used to work (Shepton Mallet) which has been flattened (probably for housing), and heard of another which has been taken over by a new business. That feels like a bit of history being erased. Going back to St. Andrews Yeovil last night was a comforting middle way: familiar faces, but some new, familiar building, but some change.

And that's the challenge of mission I guess, how do we 'stay the same' on God's love, worship, discipleship, the message of the Cross, but change in how we present and live it out so that the gospel is shown rather than hidden. And maybe in the process of change, we rediscover Jesus, and know the power of the gospel for the first time.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

change maths

One thing the licensing service got me thinking about more was managing expectations - people already have some kind of idea of what I'll be doing, some closer to the mark than others (and I don't even know for sure myself - Archdeacon Peter said 'David will be helping us to wing it' - what a great commissioning for ministry!)

Managing expecations is 1 thing, encouraging and leading change is another. I've been trying to work out the equation for change, I'm sure someone else has done this before. The variables might be:

f = frustration
h = hope
c = change

f x h = c

you need f for people to want c, but if there is no h, people's frustration can turn to depression or violence (e.g. terrorism). E.g. Berlin wall and the collapse of communism. F had been high for decades, but once one regime loosened up (I think it was Hungary), h rose that other regimes would do the same, and the combination of f and h led to c.

In some churches the challenge will be to raise f (where people are content with the status quo), in others to raise f, in others to think about the possibility of c ("how many Anglicans does it take to change a light bulb - what do you mean 'change'?").

I wonder if there are other variables?

and where does celebrating the present come in? Does celebrating what is good now inhibit change, or energise people for it?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Here at last

Today is technically my first day in the job, though I'm not sure if doing an hours work and entertaining family the rest of the day (Dad is 69 today) really counts.

Great licensing service last night in Abbey Manor Community Centre, including a rather daunting list of 30 or so churches who I'm commissioned to help with mission and developing new forms of church. Some will be more up for it than others. Great food, I need to find out who made the chocolate tiffin, though tinged with disappointment as Yeovil lost 1-0 to Cheltenham whilst we were doing our thing.

Having the service in the community centre was seen by some as a radical move. Walking past the Arrow pub on the way home made me wonder if we should have the next major service there - no need to set out seating, everything could be relayed on the TV if people had trouble seeing, and plenty of opportunity to chat over a pint or 3 afterwards. One day.

Great to have friends from near and far at the service. A sense of coming full circle, having produced the report which recommended an associate minister for this parish 5 years ago, I get to come back to Yeovil and fill the job I lobbied for. Having said that, the way this post is set up is much more exciting than anything I'd thought of.

Talking of posts, there were a couple of stories in the press about off-colour jokes using racial stereotypes. I wonder if I'm all0wed this one: If a man from Prague gets a new job, can we say that the Czech is in the post?