Monday, April 30, 2007

"I'm an Outside Christian..."

This isn't some trendy disenfranchised churchy youth wanting to find a way out of church by playing the 'missional incarnational em. ch I'm so misunderstood' trump card.!

Mike is about my height (6' 3") he met me as I made my way into Laos - the Youth Service of Nunhead Salvation Army where I attend.

Mike with a few of his groupies hang around outside while the service goes on inside. I've been a few weeks off and on and I have noticed this crowd outside. A mixed group who arrive for the service but are outside for the whole service then leave when it has finished.

The worship inside was in full rhythmic swing as Mike between drawing on his cigarette welcomes me. "Welcome to Laos" he proudly declares. "I am an outside Christian...", he nods to the door and says "they are inside Christians!" With a little prompting he tells me a bit of his story and that he has been 'coming' to Laos for four years since he was 16. He finishes by telling me that he doesn't need to be an 'inside Christian'.

This isn't some trendy disenfranchised churchy youth wanting to find a way out of church by playing the 'missional incarnational em. ch I'm so misunderstood' trump card. This is a young man from the Peckham area who is part of fellowship who just doesn't want to go inside. I look forward to getting to know Mike and his mates - I don't think he represents the kind suspicion of the institutional church that is well documented - I think it is simpler than that - he just doesn't want to go inside!

Perhaps he does though represent a growing sector of people who identify to a certain extent with Christianity but stop short because of what the 'I'm a Christian Banner' represents. Talking to him reminded me of Tony so publicly was impacted by the BBC TV programme The Monastery who had to sneak into churches during the week because he found the whole church on Sunday thing 'so plastic'.

So should outside Christians conform?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Supper Club...

'good use of authority that is transparent and authentic' and a 'bad use of authority
that is non-consultative and coercive'.

Good friend Helen Cameron spoke at Supper Club and gave some context for some interesting discussion. Using the experience of the 'African Salvationist Disapora' she drew out issues that she suggests could help our ecclesiological self-awareness. I breathed a breathe of relief as the discussion was more contextual, which allowed people to read in and make connections.

The theology of power seems to be a common thread in the supper clubs that I have attended, more by accident than by design. Helen - not knowing this - put more meat to the discussion. I've lost my notes - but Helen called for us to identify where we make 'the good news' bad news, Paternalism was one such area she looked. Her context was that of a distinguishment of 'good use of authority that is transparent and authentic' and a 'bad use of authority that is non-consultative and coercive'.

So the point for me to mull over is - as an officer in TSA am I at risk of my life being interfered with against my will by the hierarchy that is TSA? Am I being patronised by decisions made with the claim that I will be better off or protected from harm? Am I protected from the harsh realities of life because as part of the officer package we have a house and a car assigned to us - instead of a realistic working wage? Am I a victim of paternalism?

That was on Monday, I read this today in a paper
"Ordination requires that the ordinands explicitly and publicly affirm that he or she is willing to have the church play a large role in the shaping of the self. An ordained person's identity is inevitably linked to and determined by the church."
Campbell, D.M (1992) Theological Education and Moral Formation: What's Going on in Seminaries Today? in R. J (ed) Neuhaus Theological Education and Moral Formation. Eerdmans

It was the sentiment not the terminology that caught my eye.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Jason Clark highlights a potentially useful resource for church planters - incarnate

so tell me how singing worship works...

Dear worshipper, you who stand beside me, arms thrust into the air,

Please help me. I am lost.

You see, I love live music. But I don't get singing. I listen to lots of music, most of the time I work. But very rarely do I stop my work and do nothing but sing.

I love Salmonella Dab. I love U2. When I go to their concerts, I do sing. But that is a by-product of entering into an experience. And they are good. And no matter how good they are, I could not imagine singing their songs, the same songs, week after week.

So I stand beside you, quite mystified. I feel strange, doing corporate, sung worship in church. Why do church's sing?

Steve at e~mergent kiwi asks the question - read more of the post (so tell me how singing worship works).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Kind people at Technorati...

I haven't had the heart to dismantle my template to move over to the new blogger layout system - in order to maximise on the helpful labels I guess I have moved to being a traditional blogger! An institutional blogger - none of this emerging nonsense - I am an orthodox, reformed blogger!


Having tried to work out how to get a word cloud on the blog for weeks, the kind people of Technorati have given me one ... actually two. You can get your own widget by clicking on the link.

Monday, April 23, 2007


It was good to be involved on Saturday night at an event called Encounter, hosted by Bromley Salvation Army. Encounter have a blog site that gives more information here.

I was asked to talk on the value of Spiritual Disciplines as we seek balance in the reality of the chaos of our lives. I enjoyed mashing together Coldplay's 'Politik' with images from Koyaanisqatsi and some Ignatius. My slides are here, hosted by slideshare which is free and and pretty nifty although doesn't build the slides or play the videos.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

London Marathon 2007...

Marathon Day was a bit different for us today. We have not missed it for Nine years. When we were in Poplar we just walked to the end of the road to cheer on countless strangers, the odd celebrity and the odd friend and acquaintance.

We love the experience, the atmosphere of corporate encouragement and the sight of 1000's doing something to make a difference to so many different people.

This year straight from church we headed to Waterloo bridge to cheer on friends Kevin, Jonny and Garry. It was good to see Jonny kick for home - even with two miles to go - once he knew Super Model Nell McAndrew was a minute or two ahead of him!

Friday, April 20, 2007

A New Source of Art...

It was good to meet up with the session of Salvation Army Officers I was involved with teaching last year. I'm glad that we are going to be more involved with the on-going training after college.

Thanks to Ian who pointed me to a new source of Christian art - I've added the link to the Art section.

The site is here

Monday, April 16, 2007

Skin Deep Beauty...

I grew up in an all male house, apart from Mum. I now live with my female dominated family and I'm noticing that not only are there hair bobbles every where - except of course when someone needs one - little bottles of lotions festoon the bathroom. It used to be easy getting into the bath, now a minefield of body shop products!

"this place is ugly... maybe the beauty is deeper?"

Bethan is getting to an age where she is bothered about looks. Tears over bad hair days, a concerned eye for fashion. Make up, hair straightners! Who'd be a Dad! I blame the pre-occupation with the superficiality of beauty in the media, the plastic beauty of Disney. Wall to wall 'you're so ugly but we can fix your teeth' docusoaps. We try challenge this worldview at every opportunity and try to point out that real beauty has a deeper meaning.

Not so long ago driving through Leytonstone in East London, Bethan looking at the tired, sad and broken shop fronts commented "this place is ugly... maybe the beauty is deeper?"

Something profound in that?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 7/9

"Failure to love others as Jesus loves us ... chokes off the flow of the eternal kind of like that our whole human system cries our for ... The mere absence of love is deadly". (Willard 2002:151)

Transforming the Social Dimension...

Willard suggests that we need to find out what our relationships to others must be like if we are to be spiritually formed. Dionysus noted that Christians during severe epidemics in the Roman Empire became known as a group of 'people who outloved others'. Our relationships with others must be transformed if we too are to be transformed.

Our starting point according to Willard is our woundedness and he suggests that how we have been affected by different forms of rejection - whether real or imagined - is key. Whether that rejection represents a rejection of ourselves or the rejection from others, the impact is largely the same - an unconnectiveness at a level where such lack of nourishment means spiritual starvation or a loss of wholeness (Willard 2002:149).

Rather than wholesome relationships are fuelled by feelings that are destructive. Conflicts of desire, envy, resentment, contempt, harden attitudes, the will to make another suffer loss, prejudice contribute to a state that Willard calls 'lovelessness'.

Lovelessness can take two forms:

Assault/Attack - which of course includes any sort of manipulation, belittling, humiliation, using people to our own ends, and

Withdrawal/ distancing - where we regard the well-being and goodness of someone else as matters of indifference, even to the point of despising them. The form of the 'super sulk' takes this sense of withdrawal and turns it into attack.
"If spiritual formation in Christ is to succeed, the power of these two forms of evil in our own life - within our self - absolutely must be broken. So far as possible they must be eliminated as indwelling realities, as postures we take toward others". (Willard 2002:149)
Willard identifies four marks of Good Community on a journey towards genuine love. There is a need to:
1) See Yourself as God sees you - know 'who and whose you are'
2) Abandon all Defensiveness
3) Lose all Pretense
4) Open of our social relationships to redemption
"Not having the burden of defending and securing ourselves, and acting now from the resources of our new life in God, we can devote our lives to the service of others. This is not just a matter of attacking or withdrawing. Redemption will naturally and rightly be chiefly focused in blessing those closest to us .... and moving out from there" (Willard 2002 :166).
From this point will be a transparency of relationship built upon a firm structure of forgiveness and genuineness that squeezes out any bitterness and self promotion.
"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other."


Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 1/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 2/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 3/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 4/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 5/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 6/9

Monday, April 09, 2007

Way to go ... Beth

Before Easter Bethan did us all proud playing the part of Sandy in the school production of Grease.

She was great.

She has come along way since her first role as a present in Elmer's First Christmas!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday...

he qi

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bono on Christianity...

"I never really had any problems with Jesus Christ, but Christians were a bit of a problem for me...Bono"

This is probably old hat by now. I borrowed a DVD recording of Bill Hybels interviewing Bono last year for a Willow Creek leadership summit. (pictures here) There were some great quotes coupled with some great music video. I tried to write my favourites down - probably not verbatim but close enough to get the gist.

"I never really had any problems with Jesus Christ, but Christian's were a bit of a problem for me..."

"The story of grace is really the story of Jesus Christ turning the view of the universe on its head ... it is counter intuitive ... it is hard for humans to grasp ... it is easier for us to grasp atonement, revenge, fairness but we don't grasp grace ... I need grace"

"I grew up suspicious of Christianity but I was determined to learn more about the life of Jesus..."

"My favourite line in the Lords prayer is 'thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven' our purpose is to bring heaven to earth... the word doesn't need to be the way it is...."
It seems that Bono has a renewed heart for the local church and what it can do -I wonder what he would make of the little inner city church trying to make a difference rather than the huge mega-church?

Seems also that Willow Creek have copyrighted the interview - so it is hard to find the material on the Internet - like one commenter said on one blog - "Good job Jesus didn't copyright his words!!"

If you get a chance it is well worth having a view of this interview.

Bono if you are there .... I would be happy to interview you as part of our mission studies at The Salvation Army Training College!!

Bill if you are there .... let people see this on the Internet!!!