- Jeannie Kendall, one of the ministers at Carshalton Beeches Free Church (where, by coincidence, my Grandad ministered for around 29 years, and my mum grew up), shared movingly from her experience of pastoral ministry.
- Paul Goodliff gave two masterful bible studies using paintings from Piero della Francesca and Caravaggio. I am a complete Philistine when it comes to art, but was entranced by the explanations and meanings of the pictures.
- David Coffey gave a fascinating account of 'Listening to the Voices of the World Church'.
- Jonathan Edwards preached as passionately as ever during our closing communion service.
- And yes, the class of '93-96 (ie my year at college) managed to find time to share and pray together.
Thursday, 29 September 2011
Reflections on Refresher Conference
Monday, 26 September 2011
Ministry Refresher Conference
Saturday, 24 September 2011
Long live the Book!
- The Bible is a cathedral of the mind. As we read it, it expands our horizons. We can be lifted in praise and worship through its pages, 'to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple' (Psalm 27:4). We can be challenged to examine our own preconceptions and to ask whether God is saying something else?
- The Bible is a hospital of the soul. Many are the times when the reading of it has reassured believers in their doubt, and soothed the hearts of seekers. The Bible reveals the living God who brings forgiveness and healing to those that seek.
- The Bible is a theme park of the imagination. I love this idea! So often, Christians use the Bible as a book of rules, and drily quote chapter and verse from its pages. That seems to reduce it to the level of mere printed text. Surely, a book such as Revelation was given not so much as predictive prophecy, but more to stimulate the imagination as to how the world (and the new heaven and new earth) might be when lived in the knowledge of the presence of the Risen Christ?
Friday, 23 September 2011
Top Ten Tips for Welcome
At my church, we are participating in the 'Big Welcome' next Sunday, 25th September. It's a special opportunity to invite along friends and family who would not normally go to church. It also provides a reason to evaluate how good our welcome is to those who visit us.
- Don't let people struggle to find you
- Make sure what you offer is relevant
- Know why you go to church
- Know that hospitality is your duty
- Know how well your church is doing
- Don't accept 2nd best - coach and train people to give a welcome
- Know what is expected of you
- Know the difference between 'greeting' and 'welcoming'
- Apply the 3-Minute rule. Talk to someone you don't know for at least three minutes, before you talk to those you already know.
- Decide what needs to be done.
Monday, 19 September 2011
An Alternative Harvest?
This is a copy of my church magazine article for October
In Psalm 65, the writer says to God: ‘You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with corn, for so you have ordained it ….you crown the year with your bounty…’
This is the time of year in which traditionally, we thank God for the harvest. We bring offerings of produce from the land and display them in our church building. We sing traditional hymns such as ‘We plough the fields and scatter, the good seed on the land’. We make an offering to help bring a harvest in another part of the world.
I love to do all of these things, but I wonder if the time has come to ring the changes? Personally, I have never ploughed the fields nor scattered seed in them. I do not regularly work the land and what I have tried to grow in the garden has rarely come to much. The supermarket where I buy produce (OK, usually where my wife buys it!) seems remote from the fields that are celebrated at harvest time.
Of course, I know that God provides for us, but it is rarely through our own sowing and reaping of crops. We work in churches, schools, hospitals, factories, shops, offices and the like. It seems strange to bring an offering at harvest time of things that we did not produce. Perhaps we should bring an offering of something that symbolizes what we do, through which we gain an income and by which the Lord provides? So the office worker might bring a piece of office equipment, the shop worker might bring a shopping basket, the factory worker might bring a product made (if practical), the doctor might bring a stethoscope, the teacher might bring a lesson plan and, yes, the minister might even bring a sermon! The retired person and the unemployed might bring a symbol of the ways in which they are able to serve. The children might bring an example of something they like to do – a story or a painting, perhaps. We can bring these as a reminder of the gifts and jobs that God has given us, and be reminded that we are called to offer them and ourselves back to Him. We can remember that this is our produce that provides for us the things that we need.
God is so good to us, and provides for us all that we need! Of course, I think we should still bring offerings of fruit and vegetables as signs of his providence. It’s just that I think there is so much more that we could and should bring in thanksgiving to Him.
Saturday, 17 September 2011
Sharing Fame with the Vicar of Dibley!
OK. So I’m not at woman! I’m 6”4 rather than 5” nothing. I’m not a vicar but a Baptist minister. But like Geraldine Granger, I am a media star!
Yes, reader, the whole of page 98 of the April edition of Today’s Golfer is devoted to me! Actually, I’ve only just found out it was in there, but the photo is the evidence. Back in January, I responded to an offer which came via my golf club to a golfing clinic at Today’s golfer, which just happens to be in the city where I live and about two minutes from my home. Basically, I got a free half-hour lesson, picked up some useful tips from an ‘elite’ golf coach, and was photographed for the magazine. As if that wasn’t enough, my media career has continued. Singing with Lesley Garrett in July, and recording some jingles for TalkSport with the Male Voice Choir in August.
I remember Geraldine becoming rather too full of herself after her radio career took off. That’s unlikely to happen to me – unless, of course, Songs of Praise comes calling!
Monday, 12 September 2011
Fruit of the Spirit
I've just finished a sermon series in my church on the Fruit of the Spirit. You may well know that, 'the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law' (Galatians 5:22-23).
- Love - Strawberries
- Joy - Mango
- Peace - Olives
- Patience - Oranges
- Kindness - Apples (Granny Smith's because Granny's are kind!)
- Goodness - Banana
- Faithfulness - Blackberries
- Gentleness - Peach
- Self-Control - Fruit Salad (a final CafeStyle worship, with many temptations requiring self-control!)
Saturday, 10 September 2011
Wednesday, 7 September 2011
Faith and Common Sense
- ‘Common sense is not faith and faith is not common sense. In fact, they are as different as the natural life and the spiritual. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him? Can you venture out with courage on the words of Jesus Christ, while the realities of your commonsense life continue to shout “It’s all a lie”?’