Monday, August 31, 2009
We both know that there is no way that we have been able to tell those student ministers who are just about to become probationer ministers everything that they need to know.. there just wasn't the time or the opportunity.. so thanks for this prompt on their behalf for the things I wish I had known..
The ten things I wish I had known in my first year as a probationer
1. Putting a piece of plastic around your neck is not a substitute for prayer.
2. Church Stewards are neither angels or demons - they are people.
3. The tax man does not think ministers are more honest than lay folk - do your return.
4. The phone WILL ALWAYS ring on your day off - but you can choose to answer it or not.
5. You will always need one more order of service than you thought you would
6. The manse is always dirtiest when the Chair of district calls - but so was theirs
7. Cassocks are not the easiest garments to get out of in a hurry.
8. There is never toilette paper in the vestry loo if you really need it.
9. It ISN'T possible to live on cucumber sandwiches, Tea and Cake - take time for lunch
10. Spilling the communion wine over the table is NOT an immortal sin.
Ahh.. happy days.
God, bless all those starting their ministry tomorrow morning - help them to realise that this really is the BEST 'job' in the whole wide world -
Help them to stay close to you, and find a million and one ways to remind them, repeatedly, that they have only one thing to do.. and its really not that hard
Just love your people...
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
What if church wasn’t just a building, but thousands of doors? Each of them opening up to a different concept or experience of church – and a journey that could change our world. Would you come?
In May of this year, the United Methodist church launched a major new campaign called RETHINK CHURCH. The campaign aims to spark a global conversation around the rhetorical question, “What if church were a verb?”
Backed by a different sort of Church web-site 10Thousand doors demonstrates the diversity and vitality of Christian Discipleship which helps to shatter the illusion that Church is intended to be a one hour a week Sunday affair.
According to the UMC Website,
‘The grand hope is to spark a global conversation about what it means to live as a person of faith, a disciple of Jesus Christ, in the 21st century. If the campaign is successful, it will be the catalyst for a radical return to understanding of what the gospel means to us today.’
And yes.. I’m jealous, I want in.
I want the Churches in which I minister to have access to the sort of global, dynamic creativity that can launch and resource such a campaign. Ministering in a Church which welcomes members from all over the world, from Korea to Ghana, South Africa to Sierra-Leone, Germany to Florida.. makes me long for a more global approach to the mission, ministry and discipleship of our Church which is more than being ‘in Partnership’ with fellow Christians.
Here in the UK we have valid contributions we can make which would be warmly welcomed and appreciated – especially by fellow Methodists in Europe and Eurasia. Our European Methodist theological stance provides an excellent counterpoint and potential corrective to important global debates in the wider Methodist family on how to respond in faith on issues such as human trafficking, terrorism, global warming, sexuality and economics.
We are already involved in so many exciting missional and educational projects in Europe thanks to the brilliant work of Colin Ride over the past several years.. but sadly few members in the British Methodist Church know anything of them.
I’m repeatedly baffled as to why the British Methodist Church doesn’t talk more openly and actively to METHODISTS about mission. I really want to know why we are not partners in THIS scheme instead of or in conjunction with Fresh Expressions?
Fresh expressions has just entered phase II – similarly RETHINK CHURCH is the second phase of the ‘Open hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors’ campaign of the UMC. I imagine, however, that it would be far more attractive to some of our under 35 year olds to participate in a project that was truly global in its intent instead of correctly ecumenical. Some will point out that Fresh Expressions is now Global – this is true, it has been taken up by the Anglican Communion Worldwide. But I guess that is a part of the problem for me.
I believe that there really are fundamental differences in the way that Methodists and Anglicans think about and DO mission and theology that it would detrimental for the Church to lose – especially if they were lost out of nothing more than ignorance or apathy.
So.. PLEASE can someone tell me why we are so reluctant to work with other members of the Methodist World-Wide Connexion – many of whom have already sent us ministers for our congregations and members for our Churches?
Is this a way in which WE can RETHINK CHURCH here…?
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
To see whether more subtle packaging cues are influencing consumers, David Hammond and Carla Parkinson at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, created fictitious cigarette packets bearing words now commonly used on real packets, such as "smooth" or "silver". When shoppers in Ontario were asked to select the healthiest brands, they invariably picked those with light-coloured packaging or bearing words subliminally suggestive of good health
All of which has me wondering, what if the government were to call for the Churches to stamp out their subliminal advertising? After all - just like tobacco, Scripture suggests that there is no such thing as a 'good' sin, and that the wages of sin is death. Similarly there is only one salvation, so the bottom line is that the eternal life on offer in one Church is no different or any more effective than it is in any other - regardless of how the Churches brand themselves. One we realize this, we realize just how much we have already bought into the subliminal marketplace..
Consider for example, the recent branding of Church as either 'fresh' or 'pioneering'... Or the number of Church Web-Sites which use the words 'Powerful', 'Dynamic', 'Interactive' in their self-description.
Personally I really like the idea of Church Lite.. and I confess I would be far more likely to attend a Church which had the courage to brand itself as Questioning rather than Confident. The gospel constantly ties me in knots with its wonderfully perplexing simplicity.
What I can't ignore however, is the fact that the Church has been using subliminal advertising. In some instances it has deliberately preyed on the fear and weaknesses of humanity - the way-side pulpit notices which do more to promote a knowledge of hell than of heaven, the hell-fire and damnation sermons, the long black robes of the clerics, the austere buildings and long long walks to the altar.. In other instances it has preyed on the hopes and aspirations of the younger generation by deliberately choosing to associate itself with the 'American Dream' image of modern living and respectability.
Is all this because we are actually scared that if we tell the gospel as it really is that the Church will have no takers? After all - who would go to a Church to learn that Jesus is the way - not the priest or the Church, that the life that is on offer is God's to give, not the Church's to command or dictate and above all - that the truth is, God created us and called us GOOD - and that is why God deems us worth saving. So worth saving in fact, that God came himself to tell us - repeatedly ' your sins are forgiven - have no fear'
I would - not least because it would be a chance to undo some of the damage of the years of negative subliminal marketing of some of the Churches I attended as a Child which stunted my growth as a child of God by repeatedly telling me how 'bad' I was, how 'sinful' and how 'sick'.