Thursday, 15 December 2011

Why blog?

This much discussed subject came up at dinner with friends last night when I was asked the same question.

The underlying concern was that it appeals to our vanity and sense of worth trying to gain following.

This was not an accusation against me, but rather a general comment.

And the more I think about it, the more I kind of agree.

When I started this blog I wanted it to be me making an honest assessment of my own journey in Church leadership.

In it I have tried to be real about some of the more personal elements of my life, while also celebrating the great things God is doing in and through our Church.

I don't want to use this as a medium to throw stones at others, as some bloggers sadly do.

Nor do I want it to be a one sided propaganda tool for either my own ministry, my Church or my movement of Churches.

"Hey, everything is amazing and we are brilliant" is never the whole story.

I want it to be real.

And then for times I don't write much, because I don't really have anything to say.

Then at other times I may have a specific subject or situation I am working through.

The more I read other people the more I think people are either just trying to provoke a reaction or gain traffic. I don't want to fall into that trap.

We had 389 bums on seats across our two services on Sunday. I don't know them all. Not properly. I could give you the names of every one of our 275 adult members, but not necessarily all their children. Nor do they know me.

My friends know me. The people I work closely with know me. My midweek group know me. But as the Church grows and new people join I find my blog is actually a useful way to allow people to get inside my head and see the kinds of things I think about and stand for. New people regularly view it as they research our Church, and it does not seem to put them off, in fact they feel they know me better because they have found out more about my life and personality than they could do in normal circumstances.

So all in all, I am confident in what I am doing writing this, and ever more confident in why I don't write more.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Gift Day

God has been speaking to our Church recently about gearing up for growth.

We need to do something about facilities because we are pretty well full at our current site.

So in order for us to explore our options we are opening a Building Development Fund.

We have no plans yet.

We have no building we want to buy.

We have not decided to alter our current premises to fit more people in.

We just know we have to do something.

So we called a gift day.

You don't take gift days just before Christmas.

You don't ask people to give if you have not got a clear vision of what they are giving to.

Well we don't know what it will be for and we did it last week: so to hear our Church have generously given £47,916 (with more pledged) was really exciting.

It also means we can give 10% away as we always do, shared this time between our family of Churches, a national debt advice charity, our local Youth for Christ Centre and a recently launched Street Pastors initiative.

International & national mission, national social action, local mission, local social action.

And we now have a fighting fund to start exploring the next practical steps in our journey as a Church.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Not blogging as much

With a 4 month old daughter, an amazing Church and a few hobbies I have not been blogging much recently.

Which I guess the bishop of Shrewsbury would approve of?

I was at the launch of our Street Pastors initiative and the Bishop Mark Rylands made these remarks...

"More words have been used since the years 2000 than all history before. This is because of the vast overload of information, fuelled by the internet, and people churn out more and more and more.

We are too busy writing blogs and uploading things to websites that we don't have time to listen.

We have less time to actually do things.

And because of that our words have become devalued.

God sent His one and only Son to live with us. He did not send a memo!"

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Cage Football in Shrewsbury

We have just launched our Cage Football project in Shrewsbury.

A couple of weeks back we had it in use at our half term fun day.

On Saturday we took it out to a local village where a couple from the Church run a youth club.

Next week the NOMAD team from YFC are coming to help us do a big launch; in 4 schools and 4 youth clubs (3 Church, one council) and then at Shrewsbury Town's stadium before the afternoon match.

All in all, it is a really exciting opportunity to go and be involved in our local community, by giving the local young people a fun, free activity, and dovetail in with the work already being done by a variety of community agencies.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Time to pray

Our Church is undergoing a huge change.

God is asking us the think bigger.

With that in mind we have called a week of prayer and fasting.

At our lunchtime prayer meeting today there were 44 adults and 5 children.

I am humbled and excited about so many people caught up in the vision God is placing before us.

It does make me wonder what can be achieved in the kingdom if we do really give ourselves to prayer.

There are prayer meetings and there are prayer meetings.

This one was spiritually ablaze.

We had worship, we had spiritual songs, there was praying in tongues and in English, people had scriptures and pictures from the Holy Spirit to help us to pray.

If anything is going to happen it is down to God. So we are not going to focus on just buildings and people and practicalities, matter as they do.

We are going to pray.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Playing God

Fresh back from holiday I was asked this morning before the service if I was willing to play a part in a small drama being used by our visiting speaker.

"Yes" I replied, "as long as I don't have to play the devil"

You see a few months ago on our Freedom in Christ course I was cast in a similar talk illustration, as sin.

Talk about playing the "bad guy", I was sin itself!

So today I waited anxiously to find out which "character" I was going to have to play. I missed out on "Father God", and got a bit nervous as "man" was introduced but that part went to someone else and I ended up being Jesus!


What I did not realise, and nor did the person who got volunteers beforehand was that in the sermon illustration the three of us were stood on chairs and man crosses via Jesus to Father God.

Great illustration, clear, straightforward, the "bridge diagram" using real people. What could go wrong?

They had picked, shall we say, three "bigger" lads, quite by accident, and speaking of accidents how we avoided a major one I will never know, as we shuffled and changed places on these chairs!

A few years back I wrote the working copy of our working at height risk assessment, so I may have been Jesus but I still broke out into a cold sweat!

Friday, 30 September 2011


It has been quiet on here this week because we are away on holiday.

A family affair with 9 of us across three generations in a Herefordshire cottage.

And what great weather!

This time 2 years so we were in Lanzarote.

This week it is warmer in Herefordshire than it is in Lanzarote!

Friday, 23 September 2011


God has been really speaking powerfully to our Church recently and opening up a new vision for the future.

Last night was our "Church Together" meeting, where we gather to worship and pray.

You know God is doing something exciting when you are not far off 150 adults for a Church prayer meeting.

There are ten key areas we are looking to develop in. These were displayed right the way around our main hall for people to go and choose which to pray for.

The results of where people went were fascinating!

1) By far the biggest contingent went to "Spirit level": that we would experience a greater empowerment of the Holy Spirit for all the things God is laying before us and that our worship would be in His presence.

2) Next up Social Action gathered many people praying for the Church expressing the love of God to the hurt and vulnerable locally and nationally.

3) Third in terms of number were people seeking God for healings and miracles: that the gospel be proven through signs and wonders.

All the other stuff is really important too! And many people moved around and everything was thoroughly prayed for! It was so humbling to see people kneeling and quietly praying, or standing and shouting out, whatever, however, calling on God for the future of the Church and ultimately for the glory of Christ; that the Gospel goes forth and people come to Him, become disciples and join His bride.

It was interesting in the three areas mentioned that above all else the desire was for more of God in our hearts and lives, to see more of God demonstrated in power, and express more of God to a hurting world.

That is my kind of Church.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

New Media Awards

This blog has been shortlisted by Premier Christian Radio for their New Media Awards within the "Most inspiring Leadership Blog" category.

I am chuffed with that.

Simply because if this blog is a blessing to people then it is doing what I set out to do.

Looking at the shortlist in my category I can see different Christians from around the country all using blogging to encourage others. In doing so we all make a small contribution.

It is interesting to see the different styles: some of us are blogging about preaching specifically, others, like this one, is more a diary entry/things going around in my head kind of effort.

Last year people like Dave Gilpin and Adrian Warnock were shortlisted, which kind of makes this blog look like a primary school kid scribbling on a scrap of paper, but there you go!

There is an awards ceremony in London for the top two in each section which sounds quite exciting.

Whatever happens moving forwards it has been a real encouragement.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Reading my blog

A lady came up to me on Sunday morning who has been living abroad.

I did not know her that well, but she seemed to know me!

It turns out she reads this blog, and has read it, pretty well all of it while being away.

And has recommended it to friends.

Yet again my series on miscarriage appears to have been a blessing, and has been shared with others.

I set out writing this blog in the hope of allowing people in our Sunday congregation of 300 or so to see inside my mind a little bit more and get an impression of who I really am.

I also wanted to chart my ups and downs in my journey in Church leadership for some of my peers who know me across the country.

And to blow away some of the misconceptions by being as open and down to earth as I possibly can.

It is a real priviledge when a real person with a real life comes up and says reading this blog was a real blessing to them.

The great danger of blogging is that either you are talking to yourself, or you are trying to stir up a debate to get readers.

Hopefully I do neither, but just for the record, why are you reading this post today?

I can see my blog statistics and can see almost everyone who reads it does not comment.

But on this post alone, please reply!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Henry Olonga, Blood, Sweat and Treason

Something is happening in Shrewsbury.

On Wednesday night over 300 people attended an event at Shrewsbury Abbey, the thousand year old Church building just around the corner from our Church centre.

Five Churches had chipped in some money to invite Henry Olonga to Shrewsbury, for a joint event that was a pre-alpha social.

He was outstanding. He shared his story of how his faith encouraged him to stand up to Robert Mugabe by wearing a balck armband in the cricket world cup.

He was funny, engaging, humble, honest, and my goodness the man can sing.

Guests were invited to receive an Alpha invitation to one of the courses at one of seven participating Churches, who are running courses this Autumn.

One of those courses is a joint course between Shrewsbury Baptist Church and Shrewsbury Abbey's sister Church St Peter's, the first such collaboration between the two Churches.

The vicar of the Abbey made that point in his welcome on the night to spontaneous applause.

Joint events. Joint publicity. Joint introductory courses.

In Psalm 133 King David asserts

" 1 How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore. "
There is still further to travel on this journey, but step by step we will reach our town with one voice.

I am excited!

And if you ever get the chance to go and hear Henry Olonga, grab it with both hands.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The way to end a meeting...

Members meetings are often billed as the scourge of ministers, especially amongst friends of mine who serve in different Church groups around the country.

I have heard of some full on disagreement, slanging matches, and generally really horrible stuff coming out in members meetings.

I have never been to a members meeting like that and never want to.

Tonight we had a members meeting.

And it was one of the most profound experiences of my life as God opened a new chapter in the life of our Church.

Everything changes, as God laid a huge challenge before us as a people, as a family.

And there was such togetherness.

Such positivity.

Such kindness in the things said, especially towards us as three elders.

And then we sung a worship song to close.

After the closing song there was a spontaneous outbreak of people just praying out in the spirit and in tongues. There was too much momentum and excitement in the Spirit to stop there, something overflowed.

Then after a concluding prayer by our lead elder Martin Charlesworth there was a spontaneous round of applause.

Spontaneous prayer, and spontaneous applause. Beautiful.

Things will never be the same again.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A new car

In November last year someone in the Church was planning to scrap their car but offered it to me first.

The worst winter for ages kicked in and I was grateful every morning to have a form of transport with a roof.

I am very grateful for that provision but for a while now have begun to think about maybe getting something more suitable for me.

Fast forward to August and someone else offered another car, which would be more suitable for me. Result!

I thought about scrapping the first car but decided to post on Facebook if anyone wanted it.

Straight away someone else from Church responded.

They have a new job and need a car urgently so that they can get to work, and had prayed over the weekend for God to open up an opportunity to get a cheap car.

So I received a car and was really grateful. It served me well and just passed its MOT. At the point I started to think about a different car something else opened up. That allowed me to pass the blessing I had received on to someone else.

And all the way through not a penny has changed hands; people have been blessed (2 by giving, 1 by receiving, and me in the middle who could do both), useable cars have not been scrapped and God has provided.

We have a "Community of goods" scheme active in the Church which is a noticeboard where people can post up stuff they want to give away or stuff they need. A sort of Freecycle within the Church. Why get a few quid off ebay or dump it on the doorstep of a charity shop if someone you know and love could actually use it?

More and more I think we need to make brave decisions about ownership and sharing to explore more fully what "having everything in common" can really mean in a western affluent society.

Not least, because that way everyone wins.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

How I passed my A-levels, but failed at life

Tim Simmonds has helpfully blogged about how his A-Level results day was not exactly a pinnacle of joy and the lessons he learned.

From what I can see of that story, he did a few very good things.

1) He took time out and did not make a panic decision
2) He got stuck in at Church and in so doing he was in an environment where He could get the perspective he needed
3) He did not give up on education, later completing a degree

But I bet it still hurt.

My story is the opposite of that. At 6th form I was friends with a group of really nice Christian people and by and large we worked hard. No punk bands for me, as I was president of the Christian Union and the 6th Form College Council. Although like him, the party lifestyle opening up was certainly a distraction.

With the help of some Lett's guides and quite a big chunk of hard work I left 6th form with A grades in History, German (distinction), Business Studies and General Studies. Wanting to do a vocational degree that would prepare me for the Business World I went off to university business school with my head held high and again despite some quite shameful run ins with hedonism I graduated with a first and the school prize.

Now that sounds all boastful writing it like that and in a dark part of my soul it probably still is, but the truth of the matter is that it nearly killed me. When I say killed me, I mean the man God had shaped, called, and prepared got lost on the journey and the friendships, the nightclubs, the academic success became layer upon layer of distraction and confusion.

I left university with a job offer with Accenture, and a hole in my heart big enough to drive a Range Rover through. I was no longer sitting on the fence. In this big tug of war between God and the world, the world had won. Not that I would admit it at the time. Not that I consciously knew. The two worlds I had tried to keep spinning in tandem collided and out of the wreckage I came back to Shrewsbury for my year out. My year out serving the Church.

I vividly remember a conversation with Terry Hotchkiss, my old youth leader and now fellow elder, about doing a year out. He put me under no pressure but gently persuaded me as to the merits of it. He was right. As I put out chairs, gave lifts to senior citizens, cleaned toddler toys and was part of a year team, did some training, rubbed shoulders with people from all over the country doing the FP year, met some great Church leaders from around the country my relationship with God grew, and my understanding of my identity before God changed.

No longer was my faith an academic exercise in success and failure. It was a relationship. I was accepted. Not through my own merit. Not because I had worked hard. Not because I had made my parents proud or got into the university I wanted to or had a shiny certificate, but because of what Jesus had done.

My head knowledge faith turned into the fruit of discipleship and slowly but surely the other Dave was suffocated and finally I sent the letter to Accenture before I even started telling them I was now going to work for the Church instead.

Not that Church work is better per se, but it was God's plan for me and my success blinded me to this.

And when I now think of the trajectory my exams results left me on, I see myself on the way to becoming a lonely, insecure, outwardly successful and alcohol dependant Dave still trying to make people smile to cover his own broken heart.

But I am not that person. I am me. And I am His.

The day of my greatest success sowed the seeds of my greatest failure, when I became the story not the servant.

So if you have done well today, well done. And remember who the story is about, and it is not you.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Spare the Rod

Someone I really respect recently posted on Facebook
Governments that effectively prohibit a parent using a rod (Proverbs 13:24) on a child, will discover that they are increasingly having police officers needing to use them on adults!
I am certain that there is a level of humour intended, and I certainly agree that a lack of discipline is a problem in our society. I can also see the link between a generation of young people who have little respect for authority and the riots on our streets this last week.

But it reminded me of Phil's excellent post on the subject of smacking which got me thinking.

On that post I commented:

"I am ever more confused by some of the assertions regarding physical discipline using that verse in Proverbs.

Whatever happened to aligning things with the new covenant, looking at the life of Jesus and the example of the early Church?

Seems a bit odd to hinge a whole doctrine on a piece of advice and make it sound like a command.

If Esther is nagging me I don't go and sit on the corner of a roof!

I wonder what the funniest "taking a proverb literally" doctrine could end up being?

I just don't think it is meant like that.

Is there not far more biblical evidence that a child should be swaddled when sleeping: because that after all is the example of Jesus?"

This post is not a judgement on people who smack their kids per se. I know and love many people who do.

It is a question to those who say, or perhaps more subtley imply, that I should.

In England if I use a rod, that is against the law. You are not allowed to use another object. I don't know anyone who quotes this verse in Proverbs and actually uses a rod.

Therefore I would probably use my hand. Which is already changing the command from rod to a hand. I am instantly making a value judgement and using my own chosen method of "force".

Where does that end? If we get to choose? Smacking with a hand? Shaking? All we have done is impose a value judgement onto what "acceptable" force is based on our own worldview, which is not exactly submiting to the Scripture.

I am absolutely 100% committed to the effective discipline of my children. Just as I am 100% commited to their welfare, their physical and emotional needs. I am certain people who smack and people who don't smack are equally determined to get it right.

I guess my question is for people who do believe that Proverbs holds fast as a biblical reasoning to smack your children:
  • Do you go and sit on the corner of your roof when your spouse nags you? (Pr 21:9)
  • Or go and live in the wilderness? (Pr 21:19)
  • When someone mocks you do you flog / hit them? (Pr 19:25)
  • Or if someone is foolish (Pr 19:29)
  • And what is your favourite method of sanctification? (Pr 20:30)
  • And finally, out of Proverbs and with a with a cheeky grin, do you Swaddle your baby? (Luke 2:7)
  • And was your son circumsized?
I think Proverbs is very clear about discipline. The child who is truly loved is disciplined for their overall benefit. No-one doubts that. But I feel am not convinced that Proverbs 13:24 gives Christians a mandate to actually smack our children, not at all.

I can see the line of thinking that it gives us permission, should we choose to. What I am challenging is the notion that it means we ought to.

Proverbs always gives us good advice. Which is why I will finish with Proverbs 21:2.

A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.

I am not judging another person's choice of discipline. I have not fully made my own mind up yet for methods we will use. I am just thinking this stuff through. And as the verse above suggests, I am pretty sure as with most things what really interests God is what is on our hearts.

We may choose non violent methods of discipline but have anger and revenge in our hearts.

So no outward methodology is going to be the simple answer.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A Grand Day Out

Yesterday I had a brilliant day out taking the chance to swing by Soul Survivor A in Stafford for their final night.

I have always loved Soul Survivor.

I went there as a teenager several times, and I still see many hallmarks of that foundation in my Christian walk today.

Mike Pilavachi is an absolute legend and I had the privieldge of telling him that a while back.

The day was great. For several reasons.

If evangelical charismatic Christianity in the UK is a river then to my mind Soul Survivor is plumb centre of the river.

In the middle you get quite deep water. You see some slightly weird looking fish from the other side of the river that you don't normally see (which is probably why they look weird to you).

It was refreshing to sit in the middle of the river. To see the vitality and the variety of what God is doing amongst different groups, movements and organisations across the country.

The language is of what unites us, not of our distinctives. Our distinctives are what make us who we are, yet I wonder what the Church would look like if we were distinctive by what unites us?

This means they basically just talk about Jesus. Lots and lots of Jesus. Come and follow Jesus. Day by day, response after response. Hundreds and hundreds of teenagers.

The atmosphere was great. The worship was great. The talks really seemed to engage the youth.

That evening there was fancy dress as disney characters and literally hundreds had dressed up. Watching Mike Pilavachi conduct a whole meeting dressed as Buzz Lightyear is one of the most surreal, humorous, and engaging things I have ever seen.

No-one else on this earth that I know of could maintain a level of spiritual oversight and gently lead a public gathering of thousands while dressed as a cartoon character.

In many ways they have been instrumental in bringing us Matt Redman, Tim Hughes and others. They have also shown how you can do "youth" well. The whole event is a million times cooler than anything the Churches in our town can manage.

They just seem to "get" it, and in turn thousands of young people across 19 years have "got" Christ, and I stand in that number.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Cage Football in Shrewsbury

Sometime in the next couple of weeks a Football Cage is arriving in Shrewsbury!

It has been quite a long slog to get here, with the usual highs and lows, setbacks and successes.

But now we are about to launch a really high profile community project looking to encourage young people across the town and help the different agencies serving young people to have a bridge to connect to them with.

So we can go out with the fire service and the cage to an area where the young people might be bored and setting fire to stuff.

We can go into schools and help run citizenship lessons and PSE activities using the cage.

We can go with the Police to a community fun day and gather young people and give them information about drugs awareness.

Preventing a public nuisance. Teamwork. Healthy eating. The Church, other local community agencies, the public services, all working together for the good of our society.

There are already 5 Churches looking to use the Cage: 2 Anglican, 2 newfrontiers and one Baptist.

Let's do it!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A very important 10 minutes

The ten minutes from 44 minutes on in Dave Stroud's talk here is absolutely spot on.

When talking about our theological positions:

1) We must not be "Sloppy in our attitudes, language or use of media"

2) We should not "Create a culture that does not actually back the doctrinal position we stand upon"

3) and "we can encourage men without a cost to us in other areas"

He quotes from Tim Keller, who holds a very (in my view) well balanced view of complimentarianism.

Dave then talked about how we have in some ways moved to the edge of evangelicalism.

I agree.

He says we love the WHOLE body of Christ. But we have not always been as smart as we could be in how we have communicated it. I agree.

He says there should be no air of superiority. No exclusiveness. We should love people without agreeing with them. We should be more generous.

"Amen" does not even come close to covering it!

A real shame

As alluded to in my previous post, yet again Mark Driscoll caused an online furore over facebook comments.

The question "So what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you've ever personally witnessed" was completely inappropriate. In content, in tone, and in context.

Driscoll has since made a statement suggesting that the elders at Mars Hill have "had a word" which is good news. Although it is a great shame that the "word" they have had did not cause another word.


Dave Stroud did an excellent talk at Together on a Mission which I will blog on next when he addressed issues surrounding the discussion on gender (44 mins onwards), and he uses expressions like "Sloppy in our attitudes, language or use of media", "Create a culture that does not actually back the doctrinal position we stand upon" and "we can encourage men without a cost to us in other areas".

He was talking internally within Newfrontiers but I can certainly see the parallels.

There are many problems with the conversation Mark Driscoll started.

Firstly that he was so flippant (his word) about something so serious, so important, and so sensitive. And with thousands of people watching his every move: people both for him and against him on many issues.

Secondly, he resorted to stereotype. Many people his side of the fence on these issues resent being stereotyped by those holding egalitarian views. Do unto others as you would have done to you. And you reap what you sow.

Thirdly, in doing so he brings shame on anyone who happens to hold onto elements of a similar theological construction regarding the created order, gender and leadership in the local Church by going about it in this way.

Finally, when he came to the newfrontiers conference a couple of years back he was very clear, outspoken and positive about his experience of our corporate worship. He praised us for it.

The worship at the conference is led by different men and women. Kate Simmonds and Lou Fellingham stand out as excellent worship leaders. Whatever the attributes of the women who led worship and helped contribute towards the amazing worship he experienced: they must have displayed feminine characteristics.

Yet an "effeminate" guy leading worship is a figure of fun?

The guy who presumably when leading worship shows the same feminine attributes (gentleness, kindness and sensitivity?) as the women worship leaders who are to be praised?

Not only does that cause offence, it does not even make sense.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Being a real "man"

Yet again Mark Driscoll is in the public eye for shooting his mouth off before engaging his brain.
Interestingly some people have used this as an excuse to raise questions about Newfrontiers, because Mark Driscoll spoke at our conference in 2009 (As well as a weekend church planting conference in Northern Ireland in 2010). Terry Virgo tweeted a word of thanks recently for his insights in 2009 that really challenged us and have been the precursor to great change regarding Terry Virgo handing on much of his oversight role to new teams of leaders.

It seems a bit odd to have to defend yourself from the actions of a speaker at a conference two years ago, whose total input into your movement of Churches specifically amounts to a little over 3 hours.

3 hours spent talking about the work of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts and common problems Church movements face.

Sure, some individuals within Newfrontiers are very influenced by Mark Driscoll, alongside Bill Johnson, Tim Keller, Bill Hybels etc. Amongst the people I know and work with someone like Tim Keller gets a lot more respect, air time and has his books quoted.

Who was the last person I heard at a Newfrontiers conference talking about men?

Carl Beech.

Who gives a good, clear counter to some of the hot air crossing the Atlantic just now. It says it is not pointed at "One man" but it certainly rings true of a counter to several Driscollisms.

Points 2 and 3 really nail it for me:

"2) I believe there is no one-way of being a man. Portraying stereotypes is unhelpful and shallow. Human beings are far more complex than any stereotype. People hear my accent and see my build and assume I’m into everything that’s macho and despise anything that looks weak or wimpy. Assumption is the mother of all catastrophe. I play piano, write poems and don’t like football. I also love to cook and don’t mind watching a chick flick with the girls. However, it is true I also love gadgets, shooting stuff, meat, fire and loud music. Big deal. I have testosterone. Some of my mates who also of course have testosterone like none of these things. Big deal. Lets get on with the real task in hand. Millions are dying without Christ. We need all our talents, eccentricities and personalities on task.

3) Projecting ‘macho” as the only type of man speaks to me of deep inadequacy and insecurity. If you were truly a man (of whatever type) you wouldn’t keep needing to talk about it. You would simply live it, demonstrate you are truly comfortable in your own skin and point beyond yourself to Jesus. We tend to bleat on about what we struggle with most. Be mindful of this next time you get a hobby horse!"

There is a guy in our Church who is really creative, and he makes handbags. I encourage him in this hobby. They are beautiful. He recently brought in a painting he had done of Calvary. We used it within our worship in our Good Friday meeting and it is now displayed in our main coffee lounge.

In November 2009 I wrote of Mark Driscoll "The flip side is that whenever I hear a message from him he always makes a comment of some sort I am certain aged 50 he will regret."

Not much has changed since then, for me (except to be more and more frustrated by Driscoll's ability to start a fight in a phonebox), or sadly, for him.

One final point: criticising Terry Virgo for his links with Mark Driscoll is not only plainly unfair, it is also very self defeating. If anything Driscoll needs people like Terry Virgo speaking into his life, now more than ever.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Naming a Child

The Bible is full of people being named a certain way for a certain reason.

People even get renamed as they enter God's purposes. Abram - Abraham, Saul - Paul, your name is important.

So we just had the massive privilege, and slightly scary responsibility of naming our child.

When we had a hard time in our journey to starting a family we held on to the words of the Psalmist: Psalm 30 verse 5, "weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning."

We listened to this Jesus Culture song over and over again.

and in doing so, we decided, long before we were pregnant again, that if we had a little girl her name would be "Joy".

Because God is good, and because through Him Joy comes.

Two friends came over for dinner. Before they left they asked to pray for us. As they were praying for us to conceive, the guy just stopped, and in a loud voice said "I want to prophecy in Jesus name that Joy is coming to this household".

Esther squeezed my hand.

That was it.


God had spoken.

When we went for a dating scan we found that the pregnancy had started the same weekend we were prophecied over.

God was at work.

Further to all this her great grandmother on her Mum's side was called Joy. Accounts of those who knew her describe her as a strong willed, kind and godly lady. That is three things we want for Joy.

God has promised.

God has spoken.

And God has given our family a heritage.

Joy it is.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Joy has come...

On Friday morning at 6am our first child, Joy Lindsay Matthias was born.

She was born at home in a pool of water.

As she popped up out of the water, that was it, life changes. A new chapter starts.

I know it is Daddy's perogative to say his daughter is beautiful, and she is!

And so our journey continues.

We have had a lot of support from family and friends and we're very very thankful to God.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Newfrontiers Borderlands Review

What an amazing weekend!

We were in a static caravan with some good friends with their 6 month old baby. I wanted Esther to be in comfort as she hit 38 weeks pregnant on the Sunday, so other accommodation options didn't fit the bill.

We had food up at one of the chalet's where the rest of our midweek group were staying: it was great to hang out with people and spend time together. It is interesting because in a weekend of great teaching, worship etc one of my abiding memories will be in a room of people, maybe 20 there, with a glass of wine, playing various games. There is a pureness to fellowship like that which can never be programmed in but when it happens it is brilliant.

Jeremy Simpkins did two talks from song of songs which was both brave and fascinating. Jules Burt and a team from Brighton led worship excellently, and I loved one of Stuart Townend's new songs! We will hear that a lot more over the next few years. Jules really impressed me, very sensitive, with spiritual songs and supporting different contributions that were coming from the front.

There was lots of prophetic stuff coming out, especially about Church Planting. We prayed for a couple looking to plant in Deeside and my old buddy Phil Whittall who with his family is moving to Sweden to plant into Stockholm.

There were a couple of major words for our Church that are going to take a bit of weighing and working out: but fit in with other stuff we have had recently.

I would love Jeremy's exhortation that we start Churches to bring more glory to Christ to make it onto youtube because it helps put to bed some of the misunderstandings in that area.

Add it altogether and it was a profound experience as a weekend.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Newfrontiers Borderlands

The time of year has come, 500 people across 7 Churches looking to reach an area with the gospel of Jesus, building Churches, blessing communities, planting Churches.

I have enjoyed previous years here, here and here.

As alluded to in the third post, the one from last year, my Borderlands experience was rather clouded in personal circumstances.

We found out conclusively on the Friday that a pregnancy had failed. The miscarriage was yet to happen. So I spent the weekend with Esther and I was dazed and confused and not quite able to get my brain around the fact everything was still inside her.

That was a start of a painful journey that led me into the loving arms of God in quite a profound way.

But now we are going back.

It is a little bit like going back to the scene of a crime.

And I am a bit nervous.

And when we go Esther will be two weeks off her due date for our baby. Which is most exciting!

The circle of life continues, but I really don't know how to get my head around it all?

We'll go to the places where we wept and where we wrestled with God and comforted one another. We will drive the drive the drove with heartache and sadness from the hospital up to mid wales.

We will be with the people who shared our pain as they now share our joy.

And I want to be happy.

But it still hurts.

Because what makes this now so right is what made that so utterly wrong.

Because something good does not make something bad go away.

So this weekend is going to be a big one for us. We're caught up in an apostolic led mission to reach a nation and we're passionate about our local area.

And we're vulnerable humans who grieve and anticipate in equal measure.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Street Pastors

66 people came to a launch evening for the Street Pastors project in our town.

6 Churches are already signed up: 1 Baptist, 2 Anglican, 2 Newfrontiers and 1 Elim pentecostal.

Next week I have been invited to speak about the project at the meeting of Churches Together in Shrewsbury.

The gathered crowd at the launch were from a very wide section of the wider Church, and over 30 people signed up to show their desire to be considered as a Street Pastor in the future.

I have blogged about unity quite a bit on this blog.

Now we are putting it into practice.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Communion: Funny

Communion is such a desperately serious thing.

And yet a fellowship meal is also social, together, relational.

Recently I led a time of communion in our midweek group and something really funny happened.

There is a guy in our group who has a severe nut allergy so won't eat anything from a mixed use kitchen, because of the risk of contamination.

I was passing the bread around:

"The body of Christ broken for you"

"The body of Christ broken for you"

"Sorry you are not allowed it are you"

He looked at me in absolute horror as I paused. I suddenly realised a little bit more explanation was required.

I stopped, looked at the rest of the group and added "You can't because of your food allergy. And for absolutely no reason that would relate to Church discipline!"

At which point everyone giggled.

With foot firmly removed from mouth we carried on.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Communion: Ouch!

Before communion we are supposed to sort out our differences with one another.

We share the Lord's Supper in unity, so we need to keep close "account"

I have known this to be a remarkably effective way of causing people to be restored relationally: because if we drink from one cup and eat from one loaf then we do need to be one.


I remember the first time I ever led a Sunday meeting in the Church. I must have been about 23 and so was a tad nervous. We get to communion and I am sat at the front and a guy in the Church came and sat next to me.

"Dave, before I can share communion I just want to say that I am really sorry for the way I have held all these negative thoughts about you for the last 3 years. I just want you to know that I am through it all now and have forgiven you."

I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.

And I still don't!

Thursday, 9 June 2011


On Sunday morning we shared communion as a Church.

We do this on the first Sunday of the month.

There is something quite moving about seeing people gather in small groups around the main hall, breaking bread and praying together.

Then in our midweek group this week I was asked to lead a time of communion as part of our worship. It really struck me preparing that when Paul asserts we should test ourselves before receiving communion that is not as onerous or negative as is sometimes implied.

We don't just confess our sins before communion because we HAVE to, like in some ceremonial cleansing before approaching the table. It is not a religious rite to be enacted before we dare approach God.

Rather we confess our sins before communion because we CAN. Because it is finished. A way has been made. Our sin has gone. And therefore to remember Christ's death until He comes without first ensuring we are living in the fullness of it is not true remembrance.

Then today in our Newfrontiers regional meeting we shared communion together as we worshipped and prayed for God to work in and through us as Churches in this area. We were exhorted to remember our own story of salvation, and to never let the awe of that first encounter with Christ to ebb away.

Three times, three situations, three different emphasis. What a remarkably simple and yet profound gift Jesus gave to the Church when he gave us such a disarmingly simple and yet brutally public and clear way of remembering Him with one another?

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Relaunching a Website

We have just relaunched our website.

It was quite difficult to know what to do.

Some Churches spend thousands on the latest technology. Others don't seem to have a website at all.

I looked across the board at different options and am happy with where we have ended up.
  1. The old site was looking a little tired and needed sprucing up a bit.
  2. Our providers have been excellent to work with and very cost effective considering what we get.
  3. We looked at more complex system and for us we can't really justify the cost. If this was a city based student attracting Church plant I would consider something a bit more intereactive, but we aren't. Some of our folks don't even have email and we don't want to exclude people.
  4. I think you can spend a lot on things that don't add value.
  5. What we have done is made the podcasting bit a lot more functional, made the whole thing look smarter and reads better.
  6. Almost every person who visits our Church has been on the website first. This has always been a strength of our site and something we wanted to build on
So add it all up and a new chapter opens up with our web presence. On Sunday morning a chap was baptised who responded to an Alpha flyer popped through his door.

These things make a difference!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Being part of something bigger

In 1997 our Church leadership team gathered for an away day in a local village hall.

We were in touch with newfrontiers having researched the various new Church groups and had found them to be very similar to us.

A guy in the Church with a significant prophetic gift had a picture of a fishing rod and a net.

We were challenged whether we wanted to be like a single rod that no matter how far the line went out could only catch one or two fish at a time, or if we wanted to allow ourselves to be knit in with others to form a larger net.

Last week I went away for two days Prayer and Fasting at Peterborough. That was great for many reasons, but something I found profoundly moving was seeing a room with 800 people from all over the country in prayer for our Borderlands weekend.

We are a small region of Churches on the edge of things geographically; but here was a national movement, over 240 Churches represented, getting behind our seven Churches and praying blessing upon us.

That touched me in a way that I am struggling to get my head around. In a good way!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Men's Weekend

We had great fun this weekend away at the Christian Mountain Centre.

We walked, we climbed cliffs, jumped into mountain stream plunge pools, dragged ourselves into waterfalls and sailed or paddled around an estuary.

We talked, we had an ale, we worshipped, we played table tennis, we reflected on scripture, we shared our stories, we prayed and we got to know each other.

Suffice to say, a good time was had by all.

There has been a lot of discussion about men and the Church. I am even reading a book about it. I am sure a group of women from our Church would enjoy a weekend away like this too. That is not the point. The point is it was good to get some of the blokes together. A very meaningful and worthwhile venture and I would recommend the venue wholeheartedly.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Jubilee Plus

The lead elder of our Church, Martin Charlesworth, has started blogging at Jubilee Plus, "Where justice & mercy meet".

This is part of his new role within Newfrontiers helping to develop social action and political engagement.

As always, a new team has been formed. There are no one man bands.

It is really interesting to see how something which was stated as a value is being turned into a reality. It will be really exciting to see the progress of this new venture.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

David Oliver

I first came into contact with David Oliver at a Care for the Family event in Shrewsbury that our Church hosted about 7-8 years ago.

He later came to a Mission Shrewsbury united service and again was very well received.

Fast forward 5 years and we are planning a Men's Day and both my colleague Martin and myself both thought of David.

My brother knew him well from his time working at Care for the Family so I was able to get his email address and send out a speculative invitation.

I was surprised that David remembered me. He even remembered when i took him and his colleague for a curry after the event 7 years ago. He seemed up for it and so the idea was birthed.

With him coming for the men's day it seemed an absolute home banker to ask him to stay for the Sunday too. Daniel chapter 1 brought to life and brought into real life in a way I have not heard before. Not like that.

I think one of the reasons David stands out is whatever I or my fellow elders say about the workplace. However highly we value it. However long we worked in it before become a full time elder. In the back of their mind, or on their lips is the simple thought "Yeah, but it is easy for you, you work in a Church".

What hits you about David Oliver is that he is a really successful businessman. He is not some prosperity gospel type, but rather humble, funny and raw. And he is doing it, living it, seeing it. His stories are from real people he meets, real success he sees and real mistakes he makes.

And he is 100% evangelical, charismatic, local Church. Prayer in the workplace. The prophetic in the workplace. the kingdom of God in the workplace. Suddenly people are seeing a bridge between their Church world and their work world that they had never seen so clearly before.

So in other words, he is a high flyer in the business world but he is one of us.

Having preached on Sunday morning many people responded for prayer, and as I left someone who I deeply deeply respect, the kind of bedrock church member who you really trust what they say said to me "I think that is one of the best outside speakers we have ever had"

If you are looking for a speaker to encourage your Church in the area of seeing the impact of your faith in your workplace: I am yet to find someone better than David Oliver.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Gathering the blokes

We had a great day on Saturday with about 50 blokes out at a nice venue in the Shropshire countryside.

We were priviledged to host David Oliver as a guest speaker and he was simply superb.

Three main sessions on the workplace (wherever that is, home, education, the office, high paid, low paid, retired) and then one really pithy session on the myth of work/life balance and what our time is really worth.

He really was exceptional.

In a movement really seeking God along the lines of the "Everything" conference I thought what David brought was absolutely nail after nail being whacked on the head.

We worshipped. We prayed. And the sight of a room full of blokes laying hands on one another, some loud, some quiet, some weeping some laughing, all seeking God, will live with me for quite some time.

We finished the day with a Hog Roast as the spring sun set over the walled garden. As I went to bar I thought Wood's Parish seemed an apt choice!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A nice start

You know a Sunday meeting is going to go well when it starts like this.

A 24 year old woman walked up to me and gave me an envelope.

Inside was her membership application.

This was someone who our cell group had been praying for over couple of years.

Someone who had done to Alpha Course and found Christ.

Someone who had found the Freedom in Christ course a helpful start.

Someone who has joined a midweek group and made many friends within the Church.

And someone who we baptised in January this year.

Who wants to become a member.

Now that is how I would like to start every week!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Evangelists Summit 2011: Richard Cunningham, UCCF

If you had told me ten years ago that the head of the UCCF would come to a newfrontiers conference I would not have believed you. I may even have contacted your psychiatrist.

If you have read this blog over time you will know of my mixed experiences in the university days that left me both greatly blessed and carrying bitterness, which I have had to repent of.

He started with an excellent session looking at Paul's intereactions through the book of Acts and how that can help equip us to make our message relevant to those we encounter. It was meaty, funny, and relevant. Then came the big moment, an open Q&A.

It is fair to say that newfrontiers with its very high regard for the local Church has not always found it's interaction with the CU movement on the ground very easy due to the level of time pressure the Christian Union can put on students, alongside it's role as the "only" missional group on campus. Add in the charismatic / non charismatic dynamic and attempted shared witness, and sometimes it can be hard.

Nor have newfrontiers Churches always got it right from our end, at all. Richard's clear definition of why UCCF is not actually a "parachurch" movement was deliberate, and required.

It also appears that through Terry Virgo's attendance at New Word Alive and becoming part of the advisory council of UCCF, that things might be changing.

So the first thing I want to say about Richard Cunningham is that I think the guy has got guts and I respect him for that. Yet as he came, he was not coming into the lion's den to be quizzed on this and that, what he found was a group of evangelical, conservative, missional Churches wanting to know how best to make it work.

The questions flowed, the answers flowed, all very straight, full of grace and a seminal moment in the ongoing relationship between these two bodies, a line was being drawn in the sand and new opportunity opening up.

And then I asked my question. I had been considering it well in advance. I had the paragraph that had so offended me printed out should I need it. I wanted closure. The hands continued to rise and so I waited, and waited, then he pointed at me and said "I will finish with this one".

Oh no; you don't want to be the angry guy at the end who throws in a googly when everything thus far has been brilliant. Ah well, I am here now. The time has come.

My question was fairly straightforward: my time in the CU movement was good at a local level but the UCCF stuff I experienced was very difficult because of the opposition I faced as a Charismatic. When my wife went to Uni the situation there was even more of a war zone and I had to counsel several people who had been caught in the cross fire. Now a girl from our Church is going to that university and asked me about the CU and I felt I had to tell her to not get involved but to just find a Church for her own protection. I don't want that to be the case, so I am asking have things really changed and can I recommend the CU movement to people.

It was one of those agonising moments when you realise that your question says more about you than it does about anything else, and my voice went half way through, meaning I sounded both confused and emotionally vulnerable. At least there was a level of authenticity in that because I was confused and emotionally vulnerable!

And then he answered.

Firstly, he did not fudge anything. It does not always work out and he cannot do a "Tony Blair" and offer to solve everything.

Secondly things are changing, several UCCF relay workers are based in newfrontiers Churches, as an example.

Thirdly, he expressed his own opinions on certain things which resonated greatly with how I felt.

So he did not blag an answer. He did not apologise for something which is nothing to do with him. He just shared his heart. Of what it could look like if it did work. We all want it to work.

And then just slipped into a sentence, while looking at me, referring directly to me, in answer to my question, he said "brother".

That was the head of UCCF calling me brother.

That was my answer.

In the documentary about Take That getting back together Robbie Williams makes an astonishing admission when discussing the ongoing difficulties between him and Gary Barlow. He basically said; all the hurt and rejection he had held onto, and the way he allowed it to shape him negatively, was basically because above all else he just wanted his approval. He wanted to know he respected his contribution. He wanted to make him proud. And feeling the lack of that was what pushed them apart.

That resonates with me.

I don't want a political answer. I don't want an apology, or a false promise. I just want to know I am not left on this side of the drawbridge and that you approve of me.

He called me brother. And so it is as brothers that we will face the future.

And that changes everything.

Without wishing to plagiarise Rob Bell, love wins.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Evangelists Summit 2011: Dave Smith, Peterborough

Dave Smith has built an outstanding church in Peterborough.

This is not some distant American mega-church pastor in a distant city.

He is one of ours.

In a provincial city.

Gathering 1600 on Sundays, in a massive multi-purpose building with a vision to reach many, many more people.

They baptised 160 new believers last year alone.

"God has a greater passion for our mission than we do" opened up proceedings, and then 10 principles from Acts 1-2.
  1. Harvest Vision (Acts 1:8b)
  2. Love for the City (Acts 1:8b)
  3. Passion for His Presence (Acts 2:42)
  4. Stable & Changing Leadership (Acts 1:24-26)
  5. Power for Purpose (Acts 1:8a, 2:4a)
  6. Preaching for Life Change (Peter's Pentecost preach!)
  7. Biblical Discipleship (Acts 2:42a)
  8. Relational Unity (Acts 2:44)
  9. Financial Generosity (Acts 2:45)
  10. Large Celebrations / Mid sized communities / small groups (Temple courts, homes etc)
Right the way through question after question flowed. Practical insights. Good ideas. Bits of wisdom and experience, all gently expressed within humility, humour and a genuine sense of being a good bloke.

And then he prayed.

As he prayed the mood changed.

Rather than the relaxed, down to earth guy who had been speaking to us, you saw a warrior, and maybe in those few brief moments I learned the most.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Welcome to Hell!

Well that is what it felt like! As the opening two sessions of the Evangelist's Conference were Greg Haslam defending the doctrine of hell!

It is not my intention to just regurgitate what he said, not least because it would not contain any great surprises, unless you're the kind of person who gets surprised that anyone believes in hell anymore. It was certainly robust, although took me a little while to change gear in my head from car banter on the trip down to this.

What greatly impressed me about Greg's teaching was that he gave the most compelling, cohesive and clear explanation of the annihilationist viewpoint that I have ever heard. A view he does not hold. I feel uncomfortable when people put up a daft caricature of a different position and then undermine it. He did the opposite. Had he stopped right there you would have thought that was his position, until he moved on. I respect that, hugely.

But anyhow; the practical application was the effects of your understanding of hell on the urgency of your evangelism.

Using 2 Corinthians 5:9-21 he brought out the following points relating to Paul's ministry.
  • The fear of the Lord was more important to him than fear of man (v9-10)
  • The love of Christ was what compelled him (v14)
  • This led to great compassion for people (v16)
  • The offer of life: v17-21 is our message
So we need to be clear about we do believe.

And if we do believe in any sort of seperation from God, and we do love people, and we fear God not people, then maybe we will have a little more urgency in how we express our faith.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Evangelist's Summit 2011

The Newfrontiers Evangelists Summit is the best conference I go to.

That is not meant to be critical of anything else. The Brighton Leaders conference has been a real blessing, The newfrontiers younger leaders conference is brilliant.

But this is something else. The quality and range of speakers is exceptional, the size personal, and the outcome invigorating.

I had fun last time

Evangelists Summit
Evangelists Summit Introduction
Evangelists Summit: Who are "The Evangelists"
Evangelists Summit: Phil Moore
Evangelists Summit: Michael Ramsden
Evangelists Summit: Mark Bailey

But the last 3 days have just blown me away.

Greg Haslam of Westminster Chapel, Dave Smith of Kingsgate Community Church in Peterborough and Richard Cunningham, Director of UCCF is a stellar line up that still leaves me slightly scratching my head.

Add in meeting several really interesting new people, alongside catching up with some old friends, and it has been in faith terms what a microwave is to food preparation. It didn't last very long but has left everything piping hot.

I'll be blogging some reports and perspectives in due course; but suffice to say, if you ever get anywhere near an invitation to this conference then bite their hand off.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Rob Bell's new book.

As with everything Rob Bell does the blogosphere is in overdrive. Blind defence or handing him over to eternal damnation are equally repugnant to me.

Besides, I quite like him.

And then, just when I thought no-one could find an adequate response, in came Liam, who nailed it.

As I commented there:

"A brilliant, balanced post.

The people who don’t “get” Rob Bell just don’t get it.

The people who run off with his ideas and end up in fairyland just don’t get it.

And yet I am nervous he may just have gone off the edge this time, and hope at the very least this book ends like the Italian Job, rather than the Guns of Navarone"

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The law

I was listening to radio five live on the way to work this morning and heard Harriet Harman defending the recent decision to not allow a Christian couple to foster due to their views on homosexuality.

I am not making any particular comment on that case here, but my ears pricked up when I heard the esteemed politician declare

"In this country the law overules the scriptures", or words to that effect.

My reply is fairly simple.

"No it doesn't."

The end.

Sunday, 27 February 2011


I preached about Agabus today.

In doing so I reminded the Church of the key prophecies we have had spoken over us in the last 15 years.

What amazes me is how many of them have come to reality.

It is not the words shared that are the real key, but rather actually doing something about it.

No point finding out about a famine in Judea unless you do something about it! (Acts 11)

So it is with us.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Defining your Church

It can sometimes be difficult to define your Church.

People use all sorts of long words and definitions to make sure you know exactly what they are and probably make it abundantly clear what they are not.

We had a brilliant Fun Day yesterday.

There were over 200 guests, with 79 little faces painted and a brilliant local community event.

But one little moment really struck me.

A lady was taking her son to help themselves to the free refreshments.

"You come around here" she told the nervous child "and help yourself to a drink".

and then the line that really won it for me

"It is just like the baptist Church, but without the biscuits"

Next time someone asks me what kind of Church I go to, I am very tempted to reply "We're a bit like the Baptist Church, but without the biscuits"

Friday, 18 February 2011

I love my job...

What a day Wednesday was!

We started with checking my emails; you never know what surprises await!

A pastoral team meeting followed; which is where we consider how to best support those in the Church who need a little bit more support. The love and care shown within the Church continues to astound me, as does the faithful discipleship of those facing difficulties in life.

A few phone calls follow; including one with a local lady minister in training who is helping with a major outreach project I am involved with and a local baptist pastor. We're meeting on Friday to discuss future joint mission events in Shrewsbury.

Next up came a phone call with a local Church administrator I have much affinity with, having done a similar role here for years. We shared ideas, encouraged one another, and he gave me a useful press contact. We are working together; brilliant.

I had an appointment cancelled due to illness which was sad but helped me to catch up with all sorts of bit and bobs of admin. Urgent but not (that) important bits and pieces.

I found out that the council has allocated £2000 towards a Cage Football project I have been pioneering, giving us £11,000 towards a total cost of £12,000, and adding to the £3,000 I got from the Police. Yet I also received disappointment that further funding has been delayed, leaving me £1000 short. That is a bit gutting to be honest.

Next up came a 2 hour strategic meeting with my fellow elders and some very exciting ideas for the future. As a Church we are 25 years old and established in our town (having successfully planted 2 other Churches): the question now is what do we want to be in 25 years time?

I arrive home to find an email from a local businessman I know through the football club saying he is a trustee of a local charity and he has seen Cage Football in the local paper and wants to fund any shortfall, and if he can't through his charity he will through his business. Can you believe it? 3 hours after the bad news comes the provision. Jehovah is still Jireh yeah?

Back from that and a quick change of gear and a visit to a couple, the chap being the son of some of our Church members. They want a humanist wedding and they want me to lead it because of my positive relationship with him. It was great to spend time with them, affirm their desire to marry, and explain how my faith encourages me to consider all marriage as good. I also said how much I respected their authenticity by not wanting a Church wedding if they don't believe in God.

Back to our Church Centre for the Freedom in Christ course, except now I find that due to illness I need to help with an Alpha group instead. Wow! I have not led an Alpha group for a couple of years but it is goes great. Why did Jesus die? I mean, can you get a better thing to discuss with people on their journey towards faith? Dinner includes Cumberland sausages, what is not to like?

A lady member of our Church who has recently experienced a miscarriage tells me my blog posts on the subject have been a help to her; a precious moment.

As I leave a guy wants a private word and asks me all about the authenticity of Scripture regarding possible copying errors in response to my talk on the Bible in a previous week. Brilliant! Let's have a look.

Home I go, taking a lad home who expresses how helpful Sunday's "Steps to Freedom in Christ" day was for him.

I may be tired as I catch the tail end of the Champions League highlights, but God is good, all the time, but my gosh He is today.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Unlikely Heroes

He have been doing a preaching series on "Unlikely Heroes"

It has been very, very well received.

Firstly Mary Magdelene.

Then my turn: Boaz. What a great guy and such a good subject.

But this week?

Naaman's wife's servant!

Now that is unlikely! Probably even unknown!

And yet maybe 40-50 responded for prayer having been enlightened as to her compassion, her courage and her faith.

There is still time for Priscilla and Aquila, followed by Agabus.

Right the way through scripture there are these characters and these stories of every day people becoming part of God's overall story through following Him.

A bit like us really.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Freedom in Christ away day

Yesterday we took over 20 people through the Freedom in Christ Steps day.

Every time it amazes me.

It is just so straight forward.

It is between you and God.

Nothing is hyped up.

And yet people react in such different ways, as things come to the surface.

Again our team serving commented "I wish something like this was available when I became a Christian"

Well it is now, so we use it, and over half the guests were from our pre christmas Alpha Course.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Embarrassing Stories from an Elder, Number 1

Let's remember, don't take yourself too seriously, and we prophecy in part.

The pinnacle of my series, which still makes me almost uncontrollable with laughter when I retell the story came at an evening meeting a few years back.

A colleague of mine started to prophecy over a very senior female member of our staff team.

With a raised voice, he proclaimed loudly.

"I believe God wants you to be, A HOOKER FOR HIM!"

Stunned silence.

With his eyes closed, oblivious to the giggles which had overcome the entire congregation, He continued...

"because in the game of Rugby, the hooker is the one in the centre of the scrum, who holds people together, and who..."

for me the rest of the prophecy is lost in the mists of time.

I just remember the sheer hilarity of the situation.

An absolute pearler, but those seconds,

the silence,

the tension in the air,

who would break first?

You saw people's faces twitch, the first giggle, and then roars of laughter.

An unbelievably funny choice of wording, and my all time favourite.

My prayer for the day?

"Lord, help me, keep me, and protect me from taking number one slot in this series.


Saturday, 29 January 2011

Embarrassing Stories from an Elder, Number 2

This is a recent story, and belongs in the epic hall of fame of a close colleague of mine.

During the worship, they started to pray following the song "There is a day"

The prayer was heart felt and gathered pace as he went on. Thank you for our promise in you. Thank you for the hope we have in you. Thank you that all hurt and pain will cease, and we will see You in all your glory.

Then the gaffe...

"And we will be clothed in immorality"

An awkward silence. On he continued.

"No, that is not the word because that is wrong. We will be clothed in immortality"

You could not script it. Absolutely, jaw achingly hilarious!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Embarrassing Stories from an Elder, Number 3

What is your worst mistake you have made in ministry?

No, not bad mistake, I mean really funny mistake.

Mine still makes me break out into a cold sweat. It is not the worst I have seen though, get ready for a Countdown. This is number 3, numbers one and two will make your toes curl!

Anyhow: I was doing notices, and a scrap of paper is thrust into my hand.

It reads: "Katie & Jon Pervy - new baby..." with details of birth weight etc.

I knew this new couple, and was eager to make sure they felt welcome. They had recently had a child, and we always try to welcome babies.

But I was not sure about the name. Pervy? That can't really be right can it?

So I passed the note to my colleague Terry, "what does this say?"

"Katie and John Pervy" came the reply. "P-E-R-V-Y, yep, Pervy is their name."

So with great warmth and kindness I welcomed Mr and Mrs Pervy back after the birth of their beautiful daughter, and everyone gave them a nice round of applause and they felt genuinely welcomed to the Church.

Over coffee I made my way to the family who had a small queue of people forming excitedly wanting to see the new child.

"Hi, great to see you, what a lovely baby"

"Thanks for welcoming us so warmly" he said shaking my hand firmly.

"No worries I said, we are delighted you're here and like to welcome all new additions that way"

"Great he said. Just one thing though"

A pause.

"My name is Perry"

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Welcome to, Hope Church...

Well, Hope Church has launched in Shrewsbury, well done!

150 Christians from all sections of the Christian Church met together for what was the Churches Together in Shrewsbury United Service to mark the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and also a Mission Shrewsbury United Service.

I went too, and sat at the back. Where someone took a photo of my backside.

Interesting stuff. There is me, a newfrontiers elder, sat behind a catholic priest, up the row from the local Christian Aid co-ordinator, with a prominent local orthodox member, nestled in behind a Baptist minister and a row of funky looking Anglicans including a lady curate who is a great friend, all celebrating the merger of an FIEC Church with a Newfrontiers Church, to create a dual site Church reaching two major communities in the North of Shrewsbury, who are also working in partnership with two local Anglican / Methodist ecumencial partnerships on the ground.

If that is not enough to make your ecumenical eyes pop out, then I am not sure what is!

Sunday, 16 January 2011


I have developed the art of writing the CV.

I have not applied for a job in over 10 years.

I did the graduate milk round job aplications and was quite successful at the time, even though the good Lord had other ideas and I never took up a job.

But now, increasingly, I am being asked by young men to help with their CVs. It started with me seeing they were struggling to get a job and offering to help. Now apparently I have gained something of a reputation of being able to make a CV look and sound quite good while maintaining its truthfulness.

To the point that other people from the same work as one person who I helped now want me to help them. Someone's brother is interested.

The base level pastoral care for those guys is to encourage and help them get a job. If that means being alongside them helping their CV to stand out then frankly, I can't think of a much more important level of pastoral support.

Would Jesus have helped write CVs? I think so.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Gathering to worship

Last night 42 members of 4 "Young adults" small groups gathered for a worship evening.

We sung.

Prophecy was shared.

Testimony was given.

We prayed: for our friends and families, or workplaces, our Church, our town, our nation and the persecuted Church.

Then we worshipped some more.

Then we had cake, and chatting, and laughter.

It feels great to be part of a peer group and a generation of people who want to spend time together in worship, hear from God together, pray for things, remembering believers under pressure all over the world, and then just hang out.

I like it.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

2010 review

Well 2010 has been and gone and so I have an opportunity to reflect on what has gone before.

The two most profound experiences of this year were climbing the Welsh 3000s in the hardest physical challenge I have ever undertaken, and facing a miscarriage in the hardest emotional challenge I have ever faced.

I don't really want to do either of them again, and yet found God in both, in fact, they actually worked together for me.

I officiated my first wedding, conquered Crib Goch, preached my hardest sermon, got the Christian version of a visit from Ofsted, arranged the biggest event of my church life so far, and shared the love with the Vineyard, Steve Chalke, Rob Bell and those loveable Baptists.

Our Frontedge conference and Sunday meeting went brilliantly, and a bunch of new people decided they want to join our Church.

I preached on 10 Sundays here, and led the meeting on a further 18 Sundays, with one guest preach at a local Church. I also preached on two Alpha courses and two Freedom in Christ Courses.

This year has been pretty epic really, a real rollercoaster, and with an overwhelming sense of remembering sadness. The kind of sadness that takes the glow out of the wonderful bits and takes the urgency out of the difficult bits because it just rests over everything and takes the colour out of the world. I can now see the colours again.

The news I am going to be a Daddy was a great way to end the year.

I have learned a lot about myself, and a lot about my wife, a lot about my friends and a lot about my Church. What I knew already about God has stood firm through pressure and been proved true.

I am in faith for 2011 but what that looks like is not going to be in a box because it really is up to Him, because no matter what it is He'll be there with us.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

2010: How did I get on?

Back in 2010 I set some goals.

How did I get on?

1) To read the whole bible, cover to cover

Well, I am in the midst of Isaiah so just over half way. The format started off strongly, then tailed off a bit, and now I am back in the groove. In the meantime I did my own thing for a little while. The repetition in Chronicles / Kings / Samuel etc bogged me down last time I read right the way through again and I found myself wandering again.

2) To do the 3 peak challenge

Nope, failed.

4) To use this blog to be loving towards more things. To talk up the kingdom. And to be real.
5) I would like to do more to please the heart of my God, my wife, my family and my Church.

I guess they are the ones to be the judge of that. If you see them, ask them!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Back to the desk...

Time to close the door on the festive season for another year.

Time to open 3 weeks of emails.

Time to wonder why I never get letters any more that aren't junk mail?

Time to plan: leaders meetings, elders meetings, cell group overseers meetings, pastoral meetings.

Time to think about what went well this Christmas, the guests we had, the visitors.

Time to consider the sadness of the Church member who sadly died over Christmas.

Time to consider the ladies day at the end of the month, the launch of Freedom in Christ and the launch of the Alpha Course.

Time to contact speakers for mission events later this year.

Time to think.

What an exciting time ahead!