Saturday 3 October 2015

25 Dreams for Well Street United Church

This is a copy of my article for our church's October magazine.

Whilst studying for ministry, and for a number of years after, I had a quote from George Bernard Shaw on my office wall:

‘You see things and you say “Why?”  But I dream things that never were and I say “Why not?”’

I believe that both of these positions are valid.  We need people in life and in our church who ask “Why?”  Why are things the way they are?  We also need people who dream of things being different and who ask, “Why not?”  Why can’t this dream become a reality? 

I doubt that anything has ever changed for the better without someone having a dream that things could be different.  History is full of examples.  One such person is, of course, Martin Luther King with his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech.  King looked out on the injustice of racial segregation and he dreamt of a better future where all human beings are equal.  Today, it is much better although there is a long way to go.

I would not put myself in the company of Martin Luther King, but in the past week I have been moved to dream some dreams for our church.  After just over a year as your minister, I have had a good look at our church with all of its strengths and weaknesses.  There are many great things about our church, and there are areas in which we could do better!  Maybe you will have more dreams to add, but here are my ’25 Dreams for Well Street United Church’. 

·      I dream of a church that is putting the King at the heart of Buckingham
·      I dream of a church in which Christ is at the centre of all we do and are
·      I dream of a church ‘without walls’ in which the world is welcome in the church, and our church goes out into the world with the Good News
·      I dream of a church that opens itself to the challenge of God’s Word in the Bible
·      I dream of a church in which we are all FTCWs (Full-time Christian workers) taking our faith seriously in the workplace
·      I dream of a church in which we live up to the ‘United’ part of our name
·      I dream of a church that realises we are better together
·      I dream of a church in which we respect the rights of others in the church to hold different views to our own
·      I dream of a church in which we are always seeking to encourage one another
·      I dream of a church in which we know how to have fun together
·      I dream of a church that treasures all people from the very young to the very old and encourages them on the journey of faith and discipleship
·      I dream of a church in which our children and young people are not just the church of tomorrow, but the church of today
·      I dream of a church in which our older people are not just the church of yesterday, but the church of today
·      I dream of our children and young people growing into people of faith who want to change the world
·      I dream of a new church building that is a hub of community life in its locality and for our town: a place that is ‘owned’ by people as their church, even if Sunday worship is not what they do
·      I dream of our church being in the marketplace in Buckingham on a Saturday morning, sharing our faith in creative ways
·      I dream of our church being present on the Town Council, on school governing bodies and the like, bringing a Christian influence
·      I dream of God’s Spirit being so powerfully present in our worship that questions of style are not an issue
·      I dream of a church in which worship is both a Sunday and a Monday to Saturday activity
·      I dream of a church that treasures its non-conformist tradition in which we are agents for transformation in the world
·      I dream of a church in which we put what others need before what we want
·      I dream of a church known throughout the area as one that cares for all, but especially for the last, the least and the lost
·      I dream of a church that is both local and global in its impact
·      I dream of a church that is passionate about growing the Kingdom of God rather than its own empire
·      I dream of a church that is truly putting the King at the heart of Buc­kingham!

On the Day of Pentecost as related in Acts 2, Peter quotes from the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’ (Acts 2:17)

I guess the above makes me an old man!  Yet the important thing here is that prophecy, visions and dreams are all signs of the Spirit.  I believe that some of my dreams are already a reality at Well Street and in our Methodist chapels.  For all of these dreams, I want to say ‘Why not?’

My question for you is ‘Will you dream these dreams with me, and help them become a reality?’

Monday 27 April 2015

Show Up!

This is a copy of my article for my church's May magazine.

At the time of writing, the General Election is fast approaching.  At your time of reading, it will loom even closer or possibly may have passed.  Either way, it is a significant time in the life of the United Kingdom.

I confess to feeling a little disenfranchised in our Buckingham Constituency.  We have the privilege of having House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, as our Member of Parliament.  However, convention dictates that the main political parties do not field candidates out of respect for the office of Speaker and to ensure that he is re-elected.  It could be tempting not to bother to use our vote, since the result is a foregone conclusion.  That would be to fail to exercise our hard-won right to vote and to forget that there are also local elections taking place.

What can we do when it comes to the elections?  What does the Bible have to say?

Firstly, we can show concern.  In 1 Timothy 2v1-2, we are urged to pray for ‘all those in authority’.  The task of politician is often a thankless one, but they need our prayers whether or not they are people of faith.  To be honest, we need our prayers too – it reminds us that government is essential for the order of society.  Of course, our prayers should not only be at the present time but all the time!

Secondly, we can show respect.  Romans 13v1 says, ‘Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.’  We will not always agree with those in government, we will sometimes need to oppose, but if we are indifferent we show a lack of respect for the authority that God has allowed. 

Thirdly, we can show up!  It could be said that the government we get is the government we deserve.  The more people who vote, the more will our government reflect the will of the people.  Also, when we vote we earn the right to criticise and hold to account our elected representatives, be they Member of Parliament or local councillors.

Finally, we can show interest.  It’s a bit late for this set of elections, but it would be great to have members of our church having the conviction to stand for election in the future.  Take a look at and, in particular, the ‘Show Up’ video.  It’s very thought-provoking.

As we vote, and as the make-up of our new government becomes clear, may God’s kingdom come and God’s will be done, on earth as in heaven.