Monday, November 27, 2006

wally the worship leader....!

"Where there's Wally there is worship..."

This could be the answer, the next step on from midi players and CD backing tracks. Go check Wally out at TheChurchYouKnow.

Wally's Features:
  • You can always worship, even if no one in your small group can play guitar
  • Worships in 'upbeat' or 'slow' modes
  • Fully animatronic with moving mouth, strumming hand, and flexible hip joints
  • Folds into a suitcase
  • Programmable phrases like "Praise Him church" and "Let's give the Lord some applause"
  • Can play on endless loop (while plugged in)
  • Currently only sings, "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever"
Find out more here

Thanks Neil for an amusing link!
Thanks Ian for the picture

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 4/9

"Healthy feelings, properly ordered among themselves, are essential to a good life. So if we are to be formed in Christ-likeness we must take good care of our feelings and not just let them happen. Feelings can be regulated by ordered, godly habits and self-control." (Willard 2002:93)

Transforming Feelings...

Closely connected to thought life Willard -by looking at James 3-4 -points out our 'prisons of disorder and vane distraction' to look at how Spiritual Formation should identify our destructive feelings, sensations, emotion.
"The process of spiritual formation in Christ will transform our feelings by grace... a first step is to desire sincerely feelings that lead away from feelings that are contrary to what we understand of God."
To deny such feelings would neurosis. Willard points out that when these destructive feelings happen the key question is "How can we deal with feelings?" His answer:
"The answer to these destructive feelings is not to deny that we have them or try to repress them. Â… The proper course of action is to replace destructive feelings with others that are good, or to subordinate them intelligently to a rational order so that they become constructive." 92
Digging deep into Proverbs Willard goes on to make very clear distinctions between feelings that are good and life enriching, and feelings that are destructive.
  • the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (9: 10).
  • hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs (10:12),
  • a heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones (14:30).
  • the cheerful heart has a continual feast (15:15),
  • and a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (17:22).
It seems to me that it being authentically intentional within Spiritual Formation through Godly habits and a desire to be Christ-like is what causes what Willard calls a "positive movement into love, joy and peace, based on faith and hope in God". It is this positive movement that removes the rule of these 'destructive feelings' in our life.

The danger as Willard points out is that:
"We do not go at the change the other way around, trying first to root out the destructive feelings. That is the common mistake of worldly wisdom and of much 'religion' on such matters. But we know that life in Christ brings the fruit of the Spirit, and destructive feelings, and actions, will be replaced. Love, joy and peace fostered in fellowship with God simply crowd out fear, anger, unsatisfied desire, woundedness, rejection. There is no longer room for them. Well, perhaps there is for a while, but increasingly less so.” (Willard 2002:104)
The question is what needs to be crowded out? Let that positive movement take control.

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 1/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 2/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 3/9

Friday, November 17, 2006

Blog lite....

Has the medium of blogging reached its end for me? For a while I thought it had.

I'm missing the way of life that threw interesting characters and stories my way, I'm missing the lessons I learn from the unexpected, I'm missing the variety that was our daily life. However, I know what I must do and hopefully in the New Year if everything comes together I'll be involved in a project which will energise me in ways that I have missed.

Hopefully soon we will be in our permanent accommodation and will be able to disappear to work thoughts through- when Eastenders et al take precedence in our lounge.

But until then URBANarmy is not dead! More hibernating!! with the odd appearance.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Alan Hirsch...

Alan Hirsch is blogging - The Forgotten Ways - I am not reading other blogs at the moment so I have no idea if this is common knowledge.

Here's a snippet:

Here’s what I think: Christianity minus Jesus equalls religion. And this happens in more churches than we are given to believe. We marginalise Jesus all the time and in so many subtle ways. And we do this because dealing directly with Jesus (or God for that matter) is always a disturbing thing to a sin-wracked people who would prefer a stable, more controllable, religion. Like all living systems, churches seek equilibrium. We want to settle down. We want to bolt down the Revelation and make God understandable, accesable, and therefore more controllable–a ‘God-on-tap.’ Sociologists call this ‘the routinization of charisma’ (google that!) and it is written through the structures of all religions including our own.

But Jesus disturbs our equilbrium. He won’t be controlled. He won’t be handled only by priests and professional religionists. He won’t be domesticated. He is Lord! Yes, Jesus is our disequalibrium. And the way back to an authentic Christianity is simply to put Jesus back into the equation. Christianity plus Jesus equals World Transformation.

Also he has a book due out soon - called 'The Forgotton Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church'.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Church Planting Booklist...

I know I have a few visitors who pop by who are involved in Church planting initiatives:

I came across this:

Church Planting Reading List - here

Friday, November 03, 2006

Books on Jesus...? Try the Horror section!

I 've been looking for "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt", I wanted it before we went on holiday but despite trawling several book shops it wasn't to be found.

Eryn and I had some time to kill in Canary Wharf so we bought 'Horrid Henry and his Nits' and I thought I'd check once more. I rummaged books etc.. but to no avail. So I asked.

"Have you got "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt"?"

"Whose it by?"

"Anne Rice"

"Try the horror section...!"

With a stupid me 'why didn't I think of that' roll of the eyes I wander to the horror section and there it was!

"Anne Rice, the chronicler of vampires, witches and—under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure—of soft-core S&M encounters, [has publishished] "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt," a novel about the 7-year-old Jesus, narrated by Christ himself. "I promised," she says, "that from now on I would write only for the Lord." It's the most startling public turnaround since Bob Dylan's "Slow Train Coming" announced that he'd been born again."
read more of this here

I can hear the 'evangelical band marketing wagon' coughing into life as we speak ;o)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Who need Ronaldinho [reprise]

One of the highlights of the Spain trip was a friendly but heated conversation with a Barcelona fan.

Jose Mourinho is right they don't like being reminded that Barcelona haven't beaten Chelsea when they have had 11 players on the pitch!!

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Rain in Spain...

.... Ok everyone who lives on the Costa del Sol are pleased with the recent rainful that seems to have coincided with our arrival. Seems the Cotterill Drought Breakers have gone international! More a case of Costa del Lluvia at the moment (excuse my Spanish!)

Funny that the family moan at me for disappearing to check out the receptions internet connection while they watch Coronation St!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Monday, October 16, 2006

Junk Faith....

We should be asking "what is to the greater glory of God" rather than "what is the right thing to do" (Hughes 2004)

"It has always been commonly supposed that faith requires some element of humility on the part of the worshipper. Some sense of awe in the smallness of oneself and the vastness of creation! But not anymore! Yours is a generation that sees God as some kind of vague counselor! There to tell you what you want to hear when you want to hear it and to be entirely forgotten about in between
times! You have invented a junk faith and you ask it to justify your junk culture" (Elton 2005:338)
Elton, B.(2005) Dead Famous

Yes that is right .......... Ben Elton!

Gerald Hughes points out that a good antidote to our self-absorbed approach to God in prayer is to wean ourselves away from the urge to pray for the right thing to do. We should be asking "what is to the greater glory of God" rather than "what is the right thing to do" (Hughes 2004)

Hughes, G(2004) God in all Things

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 3/9

"The process of spiritual formation in Christ is one of progressively replacing destructive ideas and images with the images and ideas of Jesus himself."

Transforming the thought life

Willard, D(2002)Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ

Dallas Willard suggests that Spiritual formation must transform ideas, there needs to be rigour to spiritual discipline in order to identify that there needs to be a replacement of ideas that are outside God’s agenda with the ideas that Jesus embodied and taught. This is Christian spiritual formation.

Willard quotes Henri Nouwen who notes:

"Success, popularity and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of a much larger temptation of self-rejection. We have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions ... Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the 'Beloved'. Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence."

Willard continues...

"Taking this idea, this profound truth, to heart is an important step towards reorienting our lives. The gospel of Jesus is the only complete answer to the false and destructive ideas and images that control life without God. The process of spiritual formation in Christ is one of progressively replacing destructive ideas and images with the images and ideas of Jesus himself." pp 72
(An interesting quote for those who like mulling over the process and crisis of holiness debate? Perhaps the crisis is in the recognition that it is possible and the process the outworking of that God given recognition?)

Sometimes I wonder if the destructive ideas are cleverly disguised. A hard look at our self-assurance and the attitudes we maintain in our line of debate may have unintentionally obscured that our thinking and our urgency to be right has put our arguments first and God second. Putting God first in our thinking transforms our entire life – brings a proper perspective within our lives. Chief enemies that Willard suggests we need to watch out for are pride; ignorance; allowing our desires to control our thinking and domination of unhelpful images we admit into our minds. (Willard 2002)

I feel uncomfortable when I reflect whether the arguments/ dialogue however noble I enter are fuelled by pride, often ignorance and often the desire to be right.


Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 1/9

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 2/9

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Do you think she knows Patrick...?

The girls and I walked down into Camberwell to go to the Post Office..

She was on us in a flash. One minute shouting non-sensical obscenities at passing traffic, then she was in our face.

"You King George Pussy Dog...!"

She was quite scarey. The girls hands tightened on mine. I smiled and nervously said "hello".
She immediately mellowed, smiled and went on her way.

"Do you think she knows Patrick...?" one of the girls asked.

I don't think so but I am sure they would have a lot to talk about!!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

In the face of a 40-year-old...!

The last time I saw her was 22 years ago in Nairobi. Now as I collected at Waterloo she walked by. It's funny who you see while collecting for TSA Annual Appeal, funnier still when you see a one time youthful crush and girlfriend.


Sam Watson one time captain of the girls hockey team turned and I looked into the face of a 40 year old woman, unmistakably Sam, but definitely 40!

She recognised me and we spent the few minutes she had catching up the 22 years. As we talked I found myself working out that she was definitely 40! Yep definitely 40. She'd seen us on Songs of Praise when they featured Poplar ... then she needed to catch her train. As she slipped her ruck sack on her final shot made me smile.

"Well we made the milestone then...?"


"We're all 40 now!!!"

Isn't it easy to forget, the reality of who you really are? 40 not a chance! I sometimes wonder if we do the same as church - I can't imagine that a false impression of who we are is all that helpful.

BTW - it's alright being 40!......... honest!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The balancing act of mission...

"Evangelism is only part, but an essential part, of the wider task of God's mission in which the church is called to share."

I was reminded of this quote that kind of connects with the Moltmann's point and the source of a many a mission essay!! "Evangelism is mission but mission is not merely evangelism" (Moltmann 1977)

Whenever the church reduces its way of relating to the world simply to the task of making disciples, something hugely important is lost. We are left with the picture of the church as the Ark of Salvation: all we are called to do is draw people into it to safety from the destruction around them, In this picture, 'the world' is no longer a manifestation of the wisdom and love of the good creator but a hostile environment from which we ourselves must escape, within which we must keep ourselves safe and from which we will eventually be taken into heaven.

However, when the church focuses upon proclaiming the kingdom of God in all its aspects except that of calling people into a new relationship with Christ, again the message is woefully incomplete. To know the length and breadth and height and depth of the love of Christ is the fulfilment of what it means to be human. The Christian gospel is, as Paul writes, the power of God for the salvation, transformation and healing of all those who believe. Without the faithful proclamation of the gospel and the making of disciples, the new community of the church cannot be renewed in every generation. Evangelism is only part, but an essential part, of the wider task of God's mission in which the church is called to share.

Croft, S. (2002: 139) Transforming Communities: Re-imagining the Church for the 21st Century. DLT

Getting the balance right without compromise surely is pretty important. An over balanced church just falls flat on its face!! Not a comfortable place to be.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 2/9

"So for us, it is above all the spirit or will, that must be reached, cared for, and transformed in spiritual formation. The human will is primarily what must be given a godly nature, and this must then expand its governance over the entire personality.”

Transforming the mind

The degree to which we are distracted is critical to acknowledge in that our choices and outlook on life, direction are affected. Dallas Willard points out that :-
“Each aspect or dimension of the person will be a source of weakness or strength to the whole person, depending upon the condition it is in, and the condition it is in will depend, finally, upon the heart. A person who is prepared and capable of responding to the situations of life in ways that is good and right is a person whose soul is in order, under the direction of a well-kept heart, under the direction of God.” (pp38)

Willard, D(. 2002) Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ
This takes Holiness out of the bracket of a legalistic retreat from the world but becomes a highly charged and explosive momentum into the world. A ‘soul in order’ will know what it is called to in the light of God’s mission and will embrace the values of the Kingdom and the attributes of God beyond that of a theology - that NT Wright worries is based on 19th century hymn writers.

How can we think of living out God’s agenda, if our inner being is filled with all the thoughts, feelings and habits that characterize a world which denies God? Willard points out:-
"...if I intend to obey Jesus Christ, I will intend and decide to become the kind of person who would obey and be like Jesus. The means to that end are not all directly under my control, for some are the actions of God toward me and in me. But some are directly under my control..."
Spiritual Formation becomes more than a process or a module to teach or a trendy past time in which to find your identity. It starts with intention and decision that can only come from the spectacular gift of sanctifying recognition - then rolls on as a lifestyle centred on transforming the will through retraining of thinking by study and meditation on Christ.

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 1/9

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Effective Church...

This kind of dovetails nicely with the discussion

"Most effective churces emphasise three areas: the head, which is good theology and biblical foundation; the heart, or a passion for worship and for reaching the lost; and the hand, meeting the needs of the community... many churches are one-prong churches".
More here

Pope, R. (2005) Civil Engineers. Leadership Journal. Spring 2005 pp 25

"Many churches are one-prong churches" .... I think that was what I was getting at.


BTW - I am having problems replying to comments. Bear with me!!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Lost Themes of Mission - Worship...

Interesting that 'liturgy' is related to Leitourgia which is work or to act in a way that benefits the public at large Bosch asks "can we hope for such renewal of our celebration that it returns to this authentic liturgy?"

I must have got to that sad stage in my blogging life where I do repeats, or it could do something with my age! But this modern day parable does the trick for me everytime I read it.
One day after dinner, while finishing dessert, a father sent his boy out to cut the lawn. Smiling broadly, the son said, "No, Father, I just want to stay here experiencing your presence, expressing my love for you, my dear Father." The father frowned and said, more firmly this time, "Actually, Son, I would rather you go out and cut the lawn." But the boy acted as if he didn't even hear his father, and he replied, "Dad! Guess what? I just wrote a song expressing my love for you!" The son began to sing, his eyes closed in sincerity and intense emotion, and the father left the table to go watch TV. The boy didn't notice, but kept singing, with tears streaming down his face.

At that point the father wanted the boy to experience obedience (which may entail heat, sweat, thirst, sunburn, strained muscles, hunger, endurance, and fatigue) even more than the warmth of his presence.

(A is for Abductive Sweet, McClaren)

When did we accept worship that is solely about what we sing, even songs that implore us to seek the faded music leads us down that lane that is emotive singing. If "worship is the 'raison d'entre' and primary objective of the Christ Community" how is it possible that we have lost that sense of worship that reflects "the moment-by-moment acknowledgement of obedient and loving service" the worship that God values.

Bosch points out that "Celebration divorced from caring and pursuit of justice is welcomed by the demonic and rejected by God. I cannot delight in your sacred ceremonies! Spare me the sound of your song! But let justice roll on like a river'' (Amos 5.24). A gift brought to God is welcomed only if the giver is first in shalom with others (Matt. 5.24)."

Interesting that "celebration is acceptable to God only when the Christian community is involved in demonstrating and proclaiming His reign with signs of shalom"

So when the music fades and we simply come, when all is stripped away what is left? "the avant garde of the new creation?"; the "experience of shalom we are called to manifest and promote?"; an explicit representation of the Kingdom, His reign? Or the next lovely sequence of chords.

As long as that is all that is left worship remains a lost theme of mission.


Lost Themes of Mission - Holiness...

Lost Themes of Mission - Righteousness...

Lost Themes of Mission - Agape...

Lost Themes of Mission - Jubilee...

Lost Themes of Mission - Salvation...

Lost Themes of Mission - Shalom...

Lost Themes of Mission - Compassion...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Coutts Quoted...

I was on a college staff retreat on Sunday. General Coutts was quoted twice...

Apparently General Coutts had three Concerns
  • The way some salvationists speak about the Army
  • The way some officers speak about their colleagues
  • The way in which some letters are written within the Army
somewhere else he said

"There is plenty of good news to be celebrated in TSA, and yet many within TSA are quick to talk themselves down. They need to hear good news and rejoice in what God is doing. Incidentally it is one of the few movements that make themselves the butt of their own jokes. The Anglicans make fun of the Baptists and vice versa. The Salvationists mock themselves."

Not a bad rule of thumb in the blogging world and beyond!

Friday, September 15, 2006

"no ..... please no...!"

We were inside the shop when we heard the shouting.

The scene opened up as we all gazed out at a man walking up the street with a huge stick clenched in his fist, shouting and swearing. Then we saw another man terrified, cornered. We and the rest of the shop were transfixed at the scene. A drug dealer seeing off the competition.
As I look back I see Bethan mouthing "no ..... please no...!"

Then the violence exploded, a punch a headbutt a kick as the man reigned blows on the other. I run to the door of the shop and look over my shoulder at the other shoppers in hope that a posse would soon be at hand to stop the violence.

As I look back I see Bethan mouthing "no ..... please no...!"

My heart is torn - something needs to be done as the man staggers to his feet to be hit again. But as quickly as it started the scene is over. The stick brandisher drops his weapon and runs off to catch a bus. The beaten man gets to his feet and walks off shaking his head.

A little shaking hand almost in relief slips into mine. There's some things I wish my daughters didn't have to see.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 1/9

When successful, spiritual reformation unites the divided heart and life of the individual, and such people can then bring remarkable harmony into the groups where they participate". (Willard 2002)

Mission and Spiritual Formation...

Exploring Spiritual Formation is going to be a big part of our new role as we move on from Poplar to be Spiritual Programme Directors at The Salvation Army Training College. I've been trying to make sense of this latest twist of our journey in ministry. Dallas Willard sets the foundations for Spiritual Formation and makes a comforting connection for me - Mission and Spiritual Formation are intrinsically linked.
"The individual's life is often divided into incoherent fragments. Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control (Prov 25:28). In a world deeply infected with evil and ,stuff' that just happens, the usual case is that the individual does not consistently do what his or her own heart says is good and right. When successful, spiritual reformation unites the divided heart and life of the individual, and such people can then bring remarkable harmony into the groups where they participate". (Willard 2002:36)

Willard, D(2002) Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ

I'm fast coming to the conclusion that what unifies churches - whether institutional or em., large or small, neo-monastic or radically primitive, whatever it is that scratches your ecclesiastical itch - is the propensity for distraction.

We become pre-occupied with what we sing, what we don't sing, what worship looks like what worship could look like, what U2 lyrics to use to a clip from Whalerider, what U2 lyrics not to use to a clip from Whalerider. We become pre-occupied with our preference our choice. I look at the conferences we sign up for; the books we buy; the techniques we salivate over I wonder if we would all save a bit of money if we identified our 'divided incoherent fragments' of life and got back to the alternative way of living and being as modeled in the life of Jesus.

"If we fail to put the focus on [the] principles and absolutes,... we will wander off into a state of distraction. And that is where most of our local congregations actually are. They wind up majoring on minors and allowing the majors, from the New Testament point of view, to disappear." (Willard 2002:26)

The point is that an distracted heart contributes to a distracted church, a distracted church brings dissonance rather than harmony to its community. A focused heart contributes to a focused church, a focused church brings remarkable harmony where ever it may participate.

Monday, September 11, 2006

when two elephants fight...

There is an old Swahili proverb that says something like...

"when two elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers".

I've used this before but it seemed appropriate for TSA in the UK this last week.

Whatever the issue ...

I feel a little flattened!

I'm not wanting to have any SA political comments for those astute enough to work out what is behind the cryptic - so for the first time ever I have disabled the comments.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Our view of God...

We found our new dentist in Camberwell and we all have had our check ups. I was worried that Kate may have booked us into a private clinic. The laminate flooring and trendy warehouse type brick affect reception was worlds away from what I was used to - I searched for threadbare carpets and 5 year old readers digests in vain.

Minutes later I walked into the consulting room and was struck by the most fabulous and elaborate hand painted mobile - calming not distressed babies in a cot but distressed dental patients. I smiled at the idea as I was given some sunglasses and asked to open my mouth. Feeling a little distressed I decided to make use of the mobile fish above my head. But the underside of the mobile was shapeless and colourless. Babies unite with distressed dental patients, shout at the injustice!

I've been reading a little of Von Hügel's concept of faith development. He looks at three stages that relate to Infancy - where we absorb information, Adolescence - where we make sense of what we know in our context through questioning and then Adulthood - where we have a growing awareness of an inner consciousness relating to God who is incommunicable and mysterious.

The mobile made me think how easy it is to remain protected and secure in the development of faith, content with a partial view and understanding of God. Gerald Hughes in 'God of Surprises' talks about a passive acceptance of God that remains partial and entrenched within a 'fear of disloyalty' in what he calls religious infantilism.

Sit and I wonder what religious infantilism looks like in TSA?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Walk into Camberwell...

The girl's and I have found the answer to the world famous emporium of Poplar - Steve Best's. Everything in this shop is 99p a veritable treasure trove of temptables for both Bethan and Eryn and at 99p a cheap walk to the shops.

As we walked I saw a situation brewing on the other side of the street. Two men expressing views. The shouting turned to pushing and the pushing to good old fistycuffs! The fight was stopped before it got going. I was interested in Bethan's obsvervation.

"Bit posh here isn't it?"

I looked around and struggled to see what Bethan based her observation.

"Posh...... why?"

"Well when that fight happened everyone stopped to watch, when it happened in Poplar no-one was bothered enough to look!!"


Monday, September 04, 2006

Being in tune with God ...

Paul Fromont at Prodigal Kiwi(s) has been interviewed at NextReformation. This quote caught my eye and encouraged me in my life post-Poplar as I work on Spiritual Formation material for TSA Training College.
"Spirituality, it seems to me, has a lot to do with what David Bosch describes as being in tune with what God is doing in the world and participating in God’s work (missio Dei). It also has to do with being in tune with what God is doing inwardly in us – for this too is part of the missio Dei."
Mission without holiness makes as little sense as holiness without mission!

Friday, September 01, 2006

A bittersweet view of London...

House Three at theTraining College has an amazing view of the London skyline. I took in the irony of the beauty of a skyline that for the mother I'd just been to see represents a city that stole the life of her son.

Francoise arrived a couple of days ago.

There was no staff at the college over the weekend so it fell to me. Francoise needed somewhere to stay in London, originally from Congo Brazzaville she now lives in Paris. She had to come to London because last week her son on holiday in London was murdered.

I had a conversation with someone last week that was bemoaning the college's lack of missional edge! I'm not so sure - it felt good to be part of a reaching out to this family that are search for peace and justice.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Chikankata challenge...

"our ambulance broke down, resulting in the death of one newly born baby and severe complications in another delivery case..."

Nick will tell you more here

'Two weeks ago our ambulance broke down, resulting in the death of one newly born baby and severe complications in another delivery case. On Friday we were given the news that the Chikankata Hospital Ambulance is in need of an ambulance itself as it is very ill! Basically we need a new ambulance desperately.'

Here's the idea...

to find 200 people willing and daft enough to donate £10 towards a new ambulance. The 'catch' is that donatees (obviously it should be donors, but donatees seems to have more of a ring!) can only donate £10 and not a penny more!

My role is to find 10 people to feed into Nick's syndicate. Are you up for it?

Email me - and I send you an address where to send your cheques to - or paypal me and I'll write the cheque.


You can read more of the ministry of this hospital at Charlie Chikankata.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The meeting of the Clans...

My Dad is amazing.

We celebrated his 80th this weekend and it was great to have the whole family together apart from Ben who is in Zambia or Malawi. We enjoyed each other's company, sharing stories and listening to Dad sharing his and our history.

It all culminated in a odd tour up to our office - I am now in the same role as my Grandfather was just before the war! Hence the interest - then a trip up the Training College tower.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The humbled church...

Charles Ringma
"There is little point for Christians to pine for a return to the good old days when Christianity was more dominant in Western culture. Furthermore, there is little point in blaming the Enlightenment or science or technology or urbanization. The way forward is both to recognize that the church in the past has also failed and that the present difficulty may well be a blessing in disguise. There is a new opportunity for the church, stripped of a previous power and influence, to exercise the power of authentically living the gospel. A humbled church, like the humiliated Christ, may be able to be a greater witness in our world than the church as the guardian of Christendom."
No time to comment I'm afraid, but I'm not sure what more could be added!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Prayer of Jabez falls short in Africa...

I've been interested in some of the chat that has been floating around regarding God's blessing. I'm sure the Prayer of Jabez fuels some of that thinking but I find myself wondering if the whole concept of blessing may be a tad more profound than health and wealth (whatever currency!). I found this tucked away in my drafts which I found challenging when I read it.

The Prayer of Jabez falls short in Africa by David Batstone. An interesting reflection (here)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Isle of Wight 2006

A good break - glad we were able to do our bit for the drought stricken south and global warming in general by getting out our tent! Enjoyed getting to know my Sister-in-law's foster kids who couldn't quite equate us as ministers of religion!!! "Vicars don't do that....Vicars don't like U2, Coldplay or Snow Patrol... Vicars don't have sideburns!!" She thought The Salvation Army was a chain of Pubs for old people!! so there were some interesting conversations!

Personal highlights again Quarr Abbey where ex-college librarian was a novice monk for a while and is fondly remember by the monks there as the sneezing monk!!! The Garlic Farm which just thinking about it creates a Pavlov experience in my mouth! And seeing Eryn go from being a "oooh I don't like water on my face" to being quite frankly a water nutter!!

Good to be back?

I feel a little behind the lines!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ski-ing with the Paradise Zone..

Well I returned to Poplar a little quicker than I expected. We only left last week but the Youth Club 's final trip to the snow dome was in jeopardy as there wasn't a mini-bus driver. I was more than happy to oblige!

It was lovely to see everyone and to have fun in the snow in summer! It was great to see Patrick's face light up when he saw me in Poplar's breakfast club and to stand there as he promised to bring untold rubbish.

Oh and Keeley taught me to predictive text!!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mission as a foretaste...

Signposts quote from The Missional Leader : Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World
"The question is familiar: “What do you mean by missional church?” Even though the term is now used everywhere, there is still confusion about it. As we begin this book, here is a brief description of what we mean by the phrase.God is about a big purpose in and for the whole of creation. The church has been called into life to be both the means of this mission and a foretaste of where God is is inviting all creation to go. Just as its Lord is a mission-shaped God, so the community of God’s people exists, not for themselves but for the sake of the work. Mission is therefore not a program or project some people in the Church do from time to time (as in “mission trip”, “mission budget” and so on); the church’s very nature is to be God’s missionary people. We use the word missional to mark this big difference. Mission is not about a project or a budget or a one-off event somewhere; its not even about a sending missionaries. A missional church is a community of God’s people who live into the imagination that they are by their very nature, God’s missionary people living as a demonstration of what God plans to do in and for all of creation in Jesus Christ.” (Roxburugh and Romanuk 2006)
Thanks to Prodigal Kiwi(s) again!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Get your church

Strategy, Logos, buildings, leaflets, posters, magazines, media liason, websites just some of the pointers that are yours at 'get your church' (here).

The appex of attractional church - build it and they will come. Ironically hardly attractive.

I was thinking this while stuck in traffic outside an old - but done up - Anglican church that had all kinds of things going on for the community. The Forum at Greenwich - drop-in's for the elderly, specialist groups, community building activities, children's groups, education groups, IT provision, support for disability groups, unemployment support, music, art, exercise groups all under the banner of "here for the community and beyond".

The appex of salt and light in the community, a transformtative influence. This is how to get your church noticed by making a difference.

My heart sank when I looked them up. No longer a church just a building that happened to be a church before it disappeared. Still doing good but I felt sad that a worshipping community had to vacate or die off for an expression of community work to take its place.

Worse still - another day, another traffic jam and I notice a little bolt on church to the building not really looking part of what was going on - who knows I could be wrong I hope so.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Kate's one happy note about moving was that there would be no more nocturnal tapping from the work station at the end of our bed. It was the only place where we could set up an office - not ideal. Moving was going to herald the end of my working affecting Kate's sleeping.

We're in temporary accomodation at the moment - no way of linking up to our old Broadband service. But I have discovered a wifi connection - it only works when I sit on the end of our bed.

Kate was pleased!!

Ruth Gledhill's Great Book Give away

Times Religion Correspondent Ruth Gledhill is giving books away again - here. I see that Jim Wallis' Call to Conversion is up for grabs along with some interesting others. Call to Conversion did something to me when I read it 20 odd years ago and it has a lot to answer for!!

Sorry Andrew (Bale) most seem to be post 1904 and there certainly are no GSR classics!!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Going Going Gone…

We shut the door for the last time, drove down our street for the last time, turned right and headed off into the sunset towards the Rotherhithe Tunnel and the Training College – leaving Poplar behind us.

So another chapter opens in an environment where everyone has an opinion as to how the college should be run, many dissonant voices contributing to pulling the college out of shape, weighing it down under layers of expectations and opinion.

Sounds like fun!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Monday, July 24, 2006

The sky is falling...

Roxburgh's book on leadership is worth a read if you find yourself trying to make sense of an alien set of attitudes within church and ledaership when faced with what he calls 'discontinous change'.

He identifies that when faced with 'discontinuous change' there are one of two responses as leaders vie to maintain stability and control. There are those that 'attempt to return or recreate the organisations prior traditions, habits and way of life', or 'there are those that abandon the old and create a new future'. These two familiar tribes he terms Liminals and Emergents.

Liminals are guided by a framework shaped by loyalties that lie with church systems that flourished in the past. Liminals reflect liminality an anthropological term which captures the sense of separation from a known world. The Emergents, a collection of younger leaders that have little sense of loyalty to the denominational systems of the past.
"They are deeply suspicious of the value of the educational systems of the past. They are deeply suspicious of the value of the educational systems set up in the 20th century to prepare leaders for the church and have an almost reflexive reaction to anything they identify as the institutional church"
While his dual analysis is probably a tad simplistic and in places repetitive he does make some stricking observations. Here are some of the areas that made me think:
  • On the training of such leaders:
"Many of these people are no longer willing to jump through denominational hoops in order to be recognised as leaders. They believe such hoops no longer make sense in today’s world. For them, seminary (or “cemetery” as some mockingly refer to it) education is suspect. It seems so distant and abstract. It demands that students be uprooted and placed in an unreal, disassociated, ivory tower environment for several years – only to end up serving in settings where, once again, they have no previous relationship."

"The development and training of leaders requires more than traditional seminary programmmes"
  • On the danger of rampant individualism:
"It is not sufficient to simply experiment and then move on to other experiments. This only postpones the inevitable creation of new sets of confusion and pain to somewhere down the road instead of honestly facing them today."
  • On the difference of change and transition
"Even though the current levels of change alone are profoundly disruptive, they can only be understood within a larger framework....Leaders need to grasp the nature of this larger framework of change and transition. Without a basic grasp of their dynamics, leaders will continue feeling out-of-control and driven by tumultuous change into constant disorder."
"Leaders too often make the mistake of assuming that strategic plans or more information is all that is required to move on to the next change phase. This is a serious mistake."
  • On the need of each other
Roxburgh talks about the concept Communitas - a term he borrows from Victor Turner – which he defines as:
"...the potential for people to discover one another on a very different level of identity and role than from the previous period."

"...the best way to counter this moment [new sets of confusion] is for the Emergents to reconnect with the Liminals and start talking these issues through."
The core of the book is to point out the importance and then encourage an environment of creativity through a process of dialogue and understanding. Both Liminals and Emergents have much to offer each other in terms of learning and experience as they face the challenges of social fluidity. Roxburgh upon a strong biblical and theological foundation builds a means of such engagement through which leadership today can flourish through a mutual investment found in communitas.

How to categorise this book could be a challenge. Leadership yes; cultural contextulisation yes; training yes; but above all this books emphasis is missional. There is no mistaking that this book is about helping the church to live out the values of the kingdom.

To any 'dig your heels in'; budge me if you can'; 'partisan' theologians and leaders this could represent an uncomfortable read. To those trying to make sense of a different culture of style of leadership there is hope!

Roxburgh, A.J.(2005)The Sky is Falling - Leaders Lost in Transition

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Well why doesn't he say that then!!!?

"is he still going on...?"

It was hot and Bethan had escaped the evening sermon that the Territorial Commander was preaching. Commissioner Mattear was in full flow as I whispered to a face that was saying "doh! I came back too early".... "yes he is still going on!"

"I feel I ought to go and pray ... I want to take Jesus seriously!?" .

Bethan sighed "What's he saying anyway?"

I think how to summarise the last 30 minutes to a 10 year-old. "Well... I think he is trying to say that it is well worth taking Jesus seriously..."

Bethan looks up and says "Well why doesn't he say that then!!!?"

Later there was a chance for people to kneel at a huge cross in the auditorium. Bethan whispers to me "I feel I ought to go and pray ... I want to take Jesus seriously!?"

We went together hand in hand and I remembered how 22 years ago at a Commissioning I knelt because I felt I ought to take Jesus seriously.


Commissioning is the sending out of a whole new batch of Salvation Army officers, the passing out parade, an 'ordination' and it was good to be there and to celebrate with them. These are people that I have taught mission with for a year and you feel a connection.

I usually have a theory. Usually a third of the cadets that I teach mission with get it all totally, they already understand the holistic nature of mission, they already understand how mission can be shaped by looking nowhere else but Jesus and the values he lived out, mission for them is not a trendy euphemism but is a living out of the Kingdom of God in both word and deed. Usually for a third of the cadets I teach - the penny drops and they leave having a great grasp of what they are called to. Usually there is a third that it doesn't connect for whatever reason. Some have a hardened partisan approach to holistic mission failing to see its importance, seeing it as anything between being an unnecessary distraction to being a negotiable of ministry.

As I told them before they were commissioned they blew my theory out of the water. These guys certainly have got it and know what it is to make the kingdom known in word and deed!


It was good to meet up with friends and to meet up with 'blog colleagues' and to put faces to minds only known through comments and posts!

Friday, July 21, 2006

URBANarmy ....??

I've thought long and hard about URBANarmy.

Our day-to-day life will be changing, we're going to a college environment where the issues are remote from our Poplar experience. I am worried that URBANarmy will not be what it has become! I am committed to blogging as the discipline of reflecting and writing has become an important part of developing thoughts and ideas for me - so maybe a change of blog?

"you can take the officer out of the inner city but you can never take the inner city out of the officer!" .

Nevertheless "you can take the officer out of the inner city but you can never take the inner city out of the officer!" My heart will always be for the marginalised and broken, the fragmented communities of our cities and their issues. Once I have got my bearings I hope to get involved in several projects that will give me focus. Camberwell is pretty inner city - go and sit in Kings College A&E (ER) and see what the night brings - URBANarmy will become my accountability - hold me to it!

No more stories of Patrick, Victor etc... you'll have to visit Bram for them. But I hope to find other people, others stories to teach me more of what the Kingdom of God is about and about how my life is to be a life of mission that models and speaks of that Kingdom.

Maybe a change of blog will happen one day - but for now URBANarmy will roll on for me probably more than for you!


The picture above is - "Camberwell Flats by Night" by David Hepher

The last day...

Yesterday was our last official day in Poplar, however we both went into the church today and finished our 8 years awash with memories.

I guess it was fitting to bump into various iconic people on our last day Phillipa seemed fairly balanced as I greeted her. Patrick seemed a little withdrawn but as I sat with him I thought about all the battles we have had with him and for him. Sonya has been pushing us to the wire and has been aggressive with Kate - we feel bad she doesn't seem to understand and for her we represent another person walking out on her. I think of the stories of her childhood and understand.

I felt emotional today - the reality has hit me, we are leaving.

Thanks Poplar - your individual stories and lives have shaped me.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The new war in the Middle East...

Jim Rice is editor of Sojourners magazine and he has written an essay entitled "The new war in the Middle East" in which he asks - What is the proper, appropriate response of a nation to violent attacks by terrorists or other radical extremists?

He makes some interesting observations and calls us to:-

"ask for a sense of how I and all humanity, am implicated in a disorder larger than ourselves and how I, consciously, or unconsciously, participate and contribute to that disorder"

  • Be consistent in denouncing the violence of both sides - especially when it is deliberately aimed at civilians (or targets where great civilian "collateral damage" will be the result).
  • Pray for the emergence of new political leadership on both sides - both of which seem bereft of creative, courageous, moral, or even pragmatic leadership.
  • Challenge any religious voices that seem utterly one-sided, completely neglecting the suffering and legitimate grievances of both sides.
  • Pray for new ways for Christians and our churches to join our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters in finding real and practical solutions for a just peace in the Middle East where two states can live with security and democracy.
  • And pray for better solutions than endless war to solve the real threats of terrorism in our world, because if we fail, all of our children will be at risk.
I wonder if it has to go further than that.

I'm working through Finding God in the Dark Taking the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius to the Movies The first exercise looking at disorder encourages us to "ask for a sense of how I and all humanity, am implicated in a disorder larger than ourselves and how I, consciously, or unconsciously, participate and contribute to that disorder"

I wonder how many people I have bombed verbally recently, and I see the obvious and feel discomfort. I have yet to move onto any understanding of unconscious contributions but know that my discomfort deepens.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Emerging Snail...

For some reason snails seem to like the company of our guinea pig.

A clean out of the hutch always seems to reveal submerged beneath the straw, sawdust old apples and poop, the local snail gang just hanging out. One must have got bored last night and decided to leave the party.

Quite a brave thing given that its chosen route was the northern face of our fence. It could have chosen a less demanding and less visible route of emergence. You have to hand it to it, it could have been content with the way of life that was comfortable, but no, it saw the need to emerge and emerge it did.

Look carefully and you'll be able to chart his journey of emergence. The sad thing for me has I followed its precarious route was that for all it semerging it didn't get anywhere! Just an abrupt halt when he either got bored and went back the exact way it came! Or it fell off or a bird ate it! Who knows, but you have to hand it to the snail for a good effort.

At the sake of sounding repetitive - I am drawn to the emerging church debate, its creativity, its drive, its ambiance, its space, its alternative worship (perhaps that why I tagged it with technorati - although I certainly don't deserve to be in the top 50 blogs on the em. church). But - with some notable and encouraging exceptions - I have rarely engaged or seen emerging church expressions that have emerged to any degree where they are maintaining a marked transformational presence in areas where the fragmented community needs the 'real emerging' church to stand up. While it all remains a little designer it reminds me of my emerging snail!

The emerging church may never know where it may end up - that isn't an issue, but I suspect the journey will come to an abrupt halt if it forgets where it has come from. If it forgets what it is called to be and do. If it forgets that mission is far bigger than a useful self descriptive label or a handy technorati tag to keep in with the boys!


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

LOTR - Name Generator...

OK - I really should be doing something more productive than this but....

Ever wanted to know what your Lord of The Rings name would be?

Try the LOTR - Name Generator here

As a Hobbit I am to be known as 'Bebo Digswell of Fair Downs'.

You can call me Bebo!

Another alternative site to the above temperamental one is here


Still feeling mostly forty!

The power of art...

We've a big blank wall that we have a simple 3D cross design much like this one

Sat in Parent and Toddler's I was talking about art with Francoise a Belgian Art studio manager.
He is talking about the power of art.

"Art is so provocative ... take for instance that cross ... it really stands out for me...!"

Monday, July 17, 2006

The joy of sharing laughter...

The 60 something year old man looking like he'd stepped out of a 'East London gang' film set answered in a gravelly East End accent."Armed robbery..."

His face looked like it had known a fight or two. Nose broken and re-broken, scars above his eyebrow

"Listen chaps don't be like me, I wasted too much time in Wandsworth prison". The four lads who we weren't letting into youth club mood changed from agitated anger to rapt attention to a drunken, trilby wearing hoodlum of yesteryear. Eyes wide one of the lads asked "what for...?"

The 60 something year old man looking like he'd stepped out of a 'East London gang' film set answered in a gravelly East End accent.

"Armed robbery..."

There has been a fall out since the shooting incident at a neighbouring youth club (here). The club has closed down and we are left with making sure the self same violence doesn't spill into our youth club as new young people want to come to our club. So we have to make tough decisions in that we only allow a certain number of new members on a night. The four lads weren't coming in but it seemed that they had an advocate.

I'm glad the 'ol geezer' came by because he gave us something most unlikely to share with angry young men who weren't coming into club - laughter!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sign Not Working...

Driving back from Clacton-on-Sea after the Church trip - I saw an interesting sign. It was huge and attached to an overhead motorway sign.

"This sign is not working!"

I wanted to take a picture but given that I was doing 60MPH driving a mini-bus I thought I had better refrain. But if anyone is in that neck of the woods (somewhere near Chelmsford) look out for it - it'll make you smile!

Just for Thomas...

Vitual bubblewrap just for you - here


PS- thanks for the nice words today!

Saying Goodbye...

These are very much the last days for us at Poplar and I have to say that really I am not enjoying them.

Today was our last Sunday at Poplar and I feel grief, a deep sadness, a sense of loss at having to saying goodbye to a way of life that has molded us and shaped us in the last eight years. Saying goodbye to people that have meant so much to us. Saying goodbye to relationships that have developed and grown. Saying goodbye to people that we have worked with who have energised and inspired us.

How do you say goodbye to a journey with people that has meant so much more to you than you can imagine. How do you say goodbye to people that have taught you so much more than you feel you have given - I think I prefer 'laters!'

So 'laters' it will be.


Friday, July 14, 2006

A tough realisation...

I came to understand something about myself this week. A tough realisation. I really am 40! No really 40!

I think I have been in denial since the event in December - but really my body has made it official - I am 40. How did I come to this realisation? My body has told me today with every single solitary grimace induced step. Why the pain?

The Dad's Race!

Eryn's sports day came to it's conclusion. The Dad's lined up. The children looked on expectantly, almost in slow motion I can see Eryn waving, cheering me on. The whistle goes and I get a flyer, I'm 18 again and the finish line fast approaches, no-one in sight. The wind in my hair !! Chariots of fire! B of Bang!! Then I see Ellie's Dad. I need more effort and then .... ping my Hamstring goes. The race is finished. It is all over.

After the race I see Scott - my althletic nemesis he beat me last year. "Missed you this year Scott" I quip! He laughs and then adds salt to my pain "I thought you must be getting older when I beat you last year for the first time in 5 years!"

Kate looks on with mild embarrassment and as I limp all the way home, full of sympathy, helpfully reminds me that I am not 18 anymore. "Gordon you are 40...! 4...0... fo-ur-t-eee!"

Today I fail at hiding the limp and so have to own up to pulling my hamstring in the Dad's race - I most definitely feel 40! Time to learn not to be so competitive - it's the taking part that counts after all!


BTW - did I tell you I won? Not bad for a 40 year old! ;o)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lost Themes of Mission - Compassion...

"As God has compassion on Israel and others, and as Jesus over throws the codes of society in boundless compassion on the marginalized, so we too are called to show compassion. This is a fundamental thrust of the biblical picture of mission."

D. J. Bosch

Bosch in a chapter entitled "Reflections on Biblical Models of Mission" draws attention to missional motifs, attributes of God outworked in his redemptive plan that is woven throughout both Old and New Testaments. One theme being that of compassion, Bosch's exegesis centres on Ezekiel 16:4-7
"on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for. you out of compassion for you; but you were thrown out in the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born. I passed by you, and saw you flailing about in your blood. As you lay in your blood, I said to you, "Live!"
I liked the Message paraphrase (sorry Bram!) "No one cared a fig for you..."

Bosch makes some observations:
This is indeed one of the most powerful "mission statements" in, the whole Bible, since it depicts God as the One who has compassion on the lost and the marginalized... It is, however, in the person and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth that the missionary dimensions of God's boundless compassion are expressed in an unequaled way.

D. J. Bosch, "Reflections on Biblical Models of Mission," in Toward the Twenty-First Century in Christian Mission. Essays in Honor of Gerald H. Anderson., ed. James M. Phillips, and Robert T. Coote
Certainly true when you observe the target of Jesus' compassion - the poor, the blind, the crippled, the leprous, the hungry those who weep, the sick, the little ones, the widows, the captives, those who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and the like (cf. Nolan 1976:21).
"As God has compassion on Israel and others, and as Jesus over throws the codes of society in boundless compassion on the marginalized, so we too are called to show compassion. This is a fundamental thrust of the biblical picture of mission."

D. J. Bosch ibid.
I feel uncomfortable in some conversations - compassion is belittled, compassion is seen as a mis-directed waste of time, to be compassionate without an end is mere humanitarianism, it is naive, something to be left to social services, a canny way in! The co-dependence issue creeps in here dealt with at depth and artically by John Walter's article at theRubicon - Compassion or Co-Dependence? Listening to those conversations - I see people lick their lips at the prospect of an excuse to not get involved, a sage nod of the head punctuating the sentiment of 'how compassionate is dependence?' How about erring on the side of compassion?

However well disguised the sentiment, the reality behind the rhetoric is that we could be guilty of "Not caring a fig ...". I feel uncomfortable because I fear that this 'waste of time', this 'naivety' represents an increasingly lost theme of mission.


Lost Themes of Mission - Holiness...
Lost Themes of Mission - Righteousness...
Lost Themes of Mission - Agape...
Lost Themes of Mission - Jubilee...
Lost Themes of Mission - Salvation...
Lost Themes of Mission - Shalom...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

For Roz and Keeley [Audio]

I feel bad, sorry Roz, sorry Keeley - I should really try to accommodate you rather than further marginalise you. In an effort of inclusivism, my first ever podcast on URBANarmy is for you!

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To anyone - please indulge this in joke that arises out of our Youth Worker and member of our youth club not liking URBANarmy's background!!

Wise words into chaos and crisis...

Matt Clifton highlights Rowan Williams words here . The whole transcript is found here

Matt helpfully pulls out two nuggets.
  • "...actions have consequences – and that actions believed in good faith to be '‘prophetic'’ in their radicalism are likely to have costly consequences."
  • "The nature of prophetic action is that you do not have a cast-iron guarantee that you'’re right."
As a point of discussion these are wise words for a church for which diversity - because of a lack of dialogue and respect - is an issue. Roxburgh ( Roxburgh, A.J.(2005) The Sky is Falling - Leaders Lost in Transition)* refers to the importance of communitas as the "potential for people to discover one another on a very different level of identity and role". I think it is a posh anthropological word for creative tension!

I always thought the blog environment would offer the chance for 'communitas'. Floating around the blog world I'm sure it is there somewhere under the proof-texts and counter arguments!


*Book review to follow

Monday, July 10, 2006

No eye deer...

Do you like talking to people who are always right?

Leonard Sweet somewhere points out that kangaroo is an aboriginal name for "I don't know." When someone asked, "What are those things hopping around the countryside?" Australian aborigines would shrug and say "Kangaroo."

He goes on to say that there is something a little suspect of those that suggest that they have all the answers and actually a bit of Kangaroo theology could go along way!

Richard Feynman Nobelist 1988 a very clever man! once said
"I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong"
Sweet tells his students
"80% of my theology is correct, 20% is wrong - problem is I'm not sure which is the 80% and which isn't!"
A while back Rick at New Life Emerging quoted Shunryu Suzuki
"“In the beginner'’s mind there are many possibilities but in the experts there are few."
He points out that Jesus was keen to point out the beauty of being childlike, but the religious leaders of the day were just childish - They were more interested in being right than in being compassionate. (more here)
Two thousand years later here we are, and at times, it feels like the church has just simply lost it's ever lovin' ... beginners mind.
For many the fear of saying 'I don't know' debilitating, the need to be right constantly is exhausting - perhaps there is a time and a place for a bit of Kangaroo Theology!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Above the changle of change...

I smile as he drops some coins into the box. Above the changle of change I barely hear him mutter "my mate committed suicide last night"

"I'm glad you were here ... I just needed to talk...!" I watched him walked away and felt a little stunned.

It was my turn to stand collecting at Tesco's feeling much the same sentiments as Nick. A battle was going on in my head. "Go on go home you've done your bit and in anycase there's no-one here" was up against "no stay, it'll change another 10 minutes and it'll be worth it". "No stay" in the blue corner was winning ... just!

That's when he came, put some money in my box. I could tell he was eager to talk. "Can't pass you guys, I'm a firefighter..."

I smile as he drops some coins into the box. Above the changle of change I barely hear him mutter "my mate committed suicide last night"

All of me ached to hear what he was saying.

"Young family, twin girls and a boy and he topped himself .... why? His wife had to find him hanging? We'd all be out for a drink ... why'd he do it?"

We spend time talking about his feelings of guilt, helplessness and anger. Tomorrow he has to tell the rest of his watch what happened.

He goes to walk off and he knows he has met someone who will be praying for him. "You know this has helped ... I'm glad you were here ... I just needed to talk...!"


World of blog - "You know this has helped ... I'm glad you were here ... I just needed to talk...!?"

Friday, July 07, 2006

a downward spiral into geekdom

Lifehacker was a recommended site by Tim So far it has introduced me to gliffy and now an interactive whiteboard. I fast feel a downward spiral into geekdom and it is all Tim Millers fault.

BTW - Tim is right if you don't use bloglines to view your blogs you should!

A year ago...

I wrote this a year ago and thought it still appropriate given that with all the "One Year On..." reviews Eryn went to school today worried this morning that we were at war and the bombs were happening again.

Well Done... (07.07.05)

So ends a day of sirens and helicopters overhead and I can't help reflect and say well done whoever you are.

You've managed to close London's transport for a day. You've managed to injure over 700 people. You've managed to kill 40 people who got up this morning thinking that today was just Thursday. Well done on ripping friendships and families apart, throwing people into unexpected grief and suffering.

Well done you've managed to get the world to look at London and to see how clever you are. You've caused the G8 to hiccup, and to stutter for a day. Well done you've managed to make your point.

Above all well done, you've scared my 9 year old daughter, you've terrorised her. She is scared you are going to blow her up. She is scared that her Mum and Dad are going on a train tomorrow, she's scared that we're going to catch a bus. Well done you have done so well - it must be really hard to scare 9 year olds. Oh and well done on today stealing my daughters innocent belief in the good of humanity. Today she saw a different world, she saw your world of hate just the way you would want her to see it. But you know what she doesn't understand and nor do I. Thanks for putting me in the position of trying to explain it all for her.

So whoever you are well done you must be so proud to be bringers of terror into the lives of the young, lives that don't understand.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Helping...? I'm not sure

Compassion is something that I have been exploring with regards to mission recently, so to read John Walter's article at theRubicon - Compassion or Co-Dependence? brought mixed emotion. He asks some good questions. Some would say that simple acts of compassion are a distraction from the 'church work' proper - I'm don't think that John is exploring that. What he is asking - and it is a real issue - is when does compassion create the problem of co-dependence? It is a question that we keep in tension.

I'm not sure how much we have been helping Pierre. Every fortnight for two maybe even three years Pierre has been coming in for food parcels. His thick French accent makes a change to Eastend cockney. A nice guy. Pleasant to chat with.

As I went off to our store of tinned food I thought really things for Pierre haven't got better and we just keep giving him food like a tamed stray cat. So I told him.
"...I'm not stealing cars ... or dealing drugs ... mugging old ladies ... shop lifting ... of course you are helping me..."

"Pierre how long have you been popping in for food parcels?"

He smiles and with a shrug says "Three years perhaps..."

"Pierre I worry ... we have just been giving you food and I not sure we are helping you!" I explain that the food really is for emergencies and his has been a very long emergency.

He explains how his benefits run out, leaving him short every fortnight and that he needs food. "Not helping me?" he looks at me incredulously. "I'm not stealing cars ... or dealing drugs ... mugging old ladies ... shop lifting ... of course you are helping me!!"

I get his sentiment but I'm not sure. We agree to meet up and talk about budgeting. He leaves and I am left wondering if we are helping or not.
"We need to rediscover a compassionate model of holistic ministry for today, where we become involved in others’ lives, working alongside them rather than just paying to have someone else ‘take care of the problem.’" ( John Walter)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"Go on Beth..."

She looked so small. Stood at the end of the pool waiting for the whistle. Her blue swimsuit, blue swim hat, her pink goggles made her distinct - I could almost feel her nerves from 25m. Bethan was in her first competitive swimming race, swimming for her school. The whistle went and in she dived. "Go on Beth..." I whisper trying to remain calm.

There were some obvious swimmers in her heat and they thrashed to front. Mark a friend with me makes encouraging sounds about her having a perfectly measured stroke. It might be perfectly measured but it was just a little slow. The speed of the other swimmers begin to leave her behind in the same way that I leave my decorum behind and just become 100% father shouting Bethan on.

"Come on Bethan..." my encouragement becomes a little more intense!

It seems that her race is to avoid being last. She and another girl are head to head, the winners already finished.

"Come on Beth..." A third of the pool to go my 'football terraced' voice easily heard over the cacophony of school children's screams. People are looking up, I'm drawing stares. I don't care that's what Dad's do

She's in last place but is still trying really hard ...

"Go on Beth..." I'm hanging over the balcony !

The other girl is fading and has slipped behind. The race is finished - she is 5th. I relax - not last. Mark makes some sympathetic noises but I know Bethan will be really disappointed. I'm working up to cheer her up with a thumbs up and a smile. She takes off her goggles and hat and then I see that for the last 5 minutes I've been shouting for some random girl that I don't even know!

I make a mental note to make sure I take my glasses next time I go to watch Bethan swim!

I think back to other occassions I have cheered on, been partisan about what I think and do without looking closer. I'm grateful to all those in my life who have got me to think and look closer!

Incidentally Bethan came third in front crawl and second in the backstroke and I was immensely proud to see her enjoying herself and doing her best!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Lost Themes of Mission - Shalom...

It is sad that we as a Church have allowed the concept of shalom to remain a carved olive wood curio bought back by Holy Land travelers to sit on our desks, hang on our walls!

David Bosch (1993) points out that:
"The mission of the church, then, has all the dimensions and scope of Jesus' own ministry and may never be reduced to church planting and the saving of souls. It consists in proclaiming and teaching, but also in healing and liberating, in compassion for the poor and the downtrodden. The mission of the church, as the mission of Jesus, involves being sent into the world - to love, to serve, to preach, to teach, to heal, to save, to free."
Contentious or a true picture of holistic mission? I'm wondering if the depth of our understanding of shalom holds the key.

Pernell quite some way back pointed out Dan Sheffield and his post describing shalom - here it was a useful and comforting reminder to me how central the concept of shalom was to Jesus and his motive and message of mission.

Jim Punton seems to make sense to me. I've a couple of his papers linked under 'mission' and I've just finished reading his paper "The Community of Shalom: God's Radical Alternative" (here). It is a thorough exegesis of God's purpose in Jesus and his missional heartbeat of shalom.

Punton points out
"Another concept as large as shalom is soteria which means 'liberation into wholeness', 'salvation'. It has a 'from', a 'to' and a 'for'. Rescue, liberation, emancipation deliverance from a non-shalom situation - into shalom, experienced variously as new life, wholeness, freedom, health, well-being..."
He sees shalom as a central driving force, a useful way to consider the Christian community's responsibility for social engagement, a way to reflect and to share in Christ's mission. He asks some difficult questions of the church.
"God is dishonoured by the reasons for the plight of the needy, the oppressed and the outcast. With such as these, the hungry, the naked, the captives, Jesus entered into solidarity. Can we do less? Can we ignore our responsibility to incarnate the heart, mind, love, touch and word of Christ?"
It is sad that we as a Church have allowed the concept of shalom to remain in the flower power '60's lexicon. It is sad that we as a Church have allowed the concept of shalom to remain a cosy, oozey nice feelings about each other concept. It is sad that we as a Church have allowed the concept of shalom to remain a carved olive wood curio bought back by Holy Land travelers to sit on our desks, hang on our walls! What is really sad is when we work so hard at ignoring the concept, worried that the concept might in some insidious way be obscuring our true 'church' work, working up our apologetics to turn a blind eye to its centrality. Sad above all we ignore our responsibility and that in all our efforts we dishonour God.

It seems more and more people are understanding mission through the lens of shalom but equally by and large shalom is missing from the bulk of understanding of mission and remains a lost theme of mission.


Lost Themes of Mission - Holiness...
Lost Themes of Mission - Righteousness...
Lost Themes of Mission - Agape...
Lost Themes of Mission - Jubilee...
Lost Themes of Mission - Salvation...