inclusion, Marginalised, Youth and Children's Work

“Don’t let the local kids in…”

“Jesus said: ‘let the children come to me and do not stop them'”.

I was in my last parish doing an inter-church a youth event, Unite, and we’d hired a local youth club for it, with lights and smoke and the whole works and a band of young people were leading the worship in the style of music they liked (quite rocky) which was really good.

Suddenly a couple of faces appeared at the door, local guys, “Can we come in?” they asked. The rain was pouring down outside, and our incredibly gifted speaker was getting ready to speak.

“Of course” I said, wanting to be welcoming and let them come in, suddenly from 2 or 3, became 5 or 6, and then a couple appeared on their bikes from no where.

They shot into the kitchen and began to eat the left over food, which was okay, most of it had already been eaten by the Church kids, it reminded me of the guys we had been working with earlier in the day at the skate park where we had our Church Plant, the young people would come and eat us out of house and home and then go off on their bikes, but they felt welcomed and loved there, and we had got to know them. I didn’t mind “help yourself” I said.

A few went down stairs rather than hear the talk bit, again I didn’t mind really, better to have a relationship to build on and be welcoming and hospitable than forcing them to hear a preach.

I did try and eyeball some of the other youth workers as they were all sitting listening to the talk -which is great but wasn’t being hospitable to our visitors.

Then heard an alarm go off and ran downstairs, turned out that someone had punched a fire alarm, which caused more problems as we tried to turn it off setting off the burglar alarm too, they then ran off out the fire exit.

“They don’t teach you this at theological college” I thought to myself!

Anyway kids soon ran off, and had to sort everything out, including ringing the people in charge of the building, who said: “Next time, don’t let the local young people in”.

To be honest I can understand the position, yet it feels like this is going against our very ethos of who we are. 

These are the people I long to see coming to Church. 

I remember when I first lived in Poole and was a local youth worker, we had some feisty nights with the AREA under18’s night club we used to run, and I remember a pretty brutal complaint from a neighbouring Church-goer complaining about the kids behaviour, their thinking was “can’t you just reach nice young people” not those nasty “hoodlum” types. No one likes being the youth worker when a Church hall has been trashed and having to apologise and talk with angry Churchy people that are wanting to close the project; I used to think: “I would happily see every window in this place broken if we could see young peoples lives transformed by Christ!” Jesus said “those who are well don’t need a doctor”… “I tell you the truth there is more joy in heaven over 1 sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who need no repentance”. Jesus never said “just reach out to the ‘nice’ ones” and only work with the ‘safe’ ones.

My friend AJ used to work on the detached team for the council and had to wear a stab-vest to keep him safe, I asked him once how he felt about this, and he told me the story of “the skinny preacher” David Wilkinson, who went into the Bronx to work with street kids, and one of them Nicky Cruz -one of the toughest gang members- threatened to cut David Wilkinson up, to which Wilkinson replied: “You can cut me into a thousand pieces and everyone of those pieces will still love you”. It was these words that eventually led Nicky to give up his old life in the gang and become a follower of Jesus; this reformed gang member has spent his life reaching other gang members for Jesus. As I thought of AJ out on the streets of Bournemouth chatting away, prepared to risk his life for the sake of the young people he is meeting, showing his love for them by turning up each week no matter what.

Mission is costly. I remember one fateful evening when I was running an under18’s nightclub in Poole, Dorset, and we had been running without incident for 18 months and then some new kids who we didn’t know came in, and ended up causing a fight, and then ended up smashing a window in the door of MacDonald’s. The police came, which inflamed the situation, and some of the kids tried to rock the Police Riot van. It was horrible. I remember clearing up afterwards and felt as though someone had kicked me in the stomach. Hospitality and love, can be costly and can cause us pain. Hospitality can be rejected.

So, there we were, running a youth event in a youth club, with the clear instructions “Don’t let the local kids in!”

Again, it makes me ask how these young people in (insert your place name here) will ever hear about Jesus?

It reminds me of size and scale of the hill we have to climb to see this generation hear the gospel of Christ in a way they can understand and respond too, it is a bigger and tougher challenge than we think.

But it is a hill we need to climb.

Who is up for climbing?

expectations, Growth, prepared., ready

Trestles and Vines

Last night at our Church AGM we had an interesting image brought to us about Trestles and Vines. Vines need support -Trestles- to enable them to flourish and grow well.

The idea of trestles is what support do we need to put in place to enable to work of the Kingdom of God to grow and flourish well?

Without a trestle the vine falls on the ground and the fruit is trampled underfoot, and the grapes flourish in the sunlight.

It is an image I like, because the priority is focused towards what actually matters, and building a structure; loose, adaptable and flexible, to adequately host what God -the vine grower- is doing.

Sometimes in order to help the vine, we need to work with the trestles.

Yet I began to kick the idea of Vines and Trestles around in my head for a little bit and I thought of three pictures around this.

The first picture is a very sad one, -the Revered but Redundant Trestle- where the vine has long since withered and died, and so they obsess about the trestles, the trestles are -if we are being brutally honest- in-necessary and unneeded by the people have got used to them being there, and have been there when there was a vine covering them, and no one has had the heart to gently say “your trestles don’t appear to have any vines, leaves or grapes on them”.

The second picture is a little happier  -it’s the just about coping Trestle- the vine and the trestle are well matched and everything is coping nicely, the vine is a little heavy on the old trestle and the trestle has given faithful service, but it is all okay really. It works, yet the trestles have only been built to contain what they now contain, they may have been originally built with vision and faith, but now they have reached their capacity, and are happy, but a little strained, but they don’t want to stretch out new trestles and push beyond the now reached boundaries.

The third picture, is a faith-filled Trestle, where the trestle is built in faith for the vines future growth and development, seeing the vine now how it currently is, but how it can and will be, it know the vine will grow and need support, it is waiting/watching and prepared to take the strain as new growth gradually appears.

Growth is sneaky, often advances by inches, subtle and unnoticed except to the most faith-filled and expectant watcher with alert eyes.

When God starts to move, are our Churches ready and able to cope with what the Lord of the harvest brings in? Are our trestles, redundant or only just coping? Lets instead build with faith that God is at work.

Building not for what is here at the moment, but building for what is going to come, for the harvest we have yet to see.

Lets be people building these faith filled trestles/



Church, Organic

Have we made it all too complicated?

I have been in rota meeting where we have spent hours, literally hours, sorting out who speaks when and what about.

I remember getting ordained and the ‘dress rehearsal” took ALL morning -do you really need a hours of choreography to get someone to pray/commission you?

I have seen people spend days getting orders of services written, printed, folded etc for one hour service…

I have been in Churches where the sound check can take hours getting every mic just right.

Although I think we shouldn’t necessarily be ‘slap-dash’ about worship and our time shared together, sometimes we make it all too complicated?

Maybe -especially in this election tide- we need to get “back to basics” and re-discover what it really means to be gathered together as the family of God in the fellowship of believers.

Does Church have to be such a big event taking up so much heavy duty time and effort?

Does the work we put into a service show reflected in the transformative effect in real peoples lives day by day?

I have been thinking about the Israelites following God using their portable tabernacle housing the ark of the covenant, they followed God where his presence was, and yet know we have stopped moving and turned the tabernacle into stone Temples.

Church was never meant to be an event, nor worship like a show, the Church was never meant to be run like a business and the local leaders were never meant to act like company CEO’s.

Sometimes I think Churches choke with beaucracy, like David in Saul’s armour unable to fight because the baggage of a past culture.

There are some people who seem to get more excited about Canon Law than about Scripture! (Sadly true!).

I was thinking about Church when it is all boiled down to its core components it is just a group of people who love Jesus trying to following and helping one another to do this better.

Church was never meant to be an event.

Following Jesus wasn’t meant to be about a stack of committee meetings that meet regularly but achieve little, and filling in rota’s, endless maintaining buildings and back and forth email chains that seem everlasting…

I long to see Church being organic and about the over-flow of what God is doing and saying to us.

I long to see Church being family not a business.

I long to see our lives less complicated and being about loving Jesus, when you are in love nothing is too much trouble and you automatically adjust your priorities around your heart.

I wonder how many committee meetings the Holy Spirit feels excluded from? How many of our meetings cause the Holy Spirits heart to stir or the demons heart to sink?

Or amid the stuff of Christendom have we lost what it means to have a real authentic and vibrant relationship with Jesus.

A challenge is we stripped away all the stuff we currently do and just ‘hung out with God’ how much everything would change? I reckon if we soak in God’s presence we would be fuelled to his our lives his way.

If we soak in God’s presence, there is something wonderful in our lives and it becomes contagious -I want what you’ve got! Iron sharpening iron.

I wonder what is we learned to simplify everything and just sought God and his heart, long to be in his presence and be transformed by that encounter. Soaking in his presence and blessing and encouraging one another, our brothers and sisters in Christ, our Christian family.

I don’t know how we can make it all a bit simpler, but I long to drop the shackles of yesterdays armour and see people liberated from the millstone of Christendom to drink the sweet new wine of the Kingdom of God and the intimacy of God.

Matthew 13., Paradox

Wheat and Weeds.

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”


Many of us I believe can identify with this parable that Jesus told.

Over the last couple of weeks with the Turning Mission I have seen God do some amazing stuff, yet also have seen Church politics get a bit unpleasant and been struggling a bit with my depression/ability to cope.  In my life it feels very much like wheat and the weeds growing together.

I was recently reading the amazing book “Dirty Glory” and was struck by how Pete Greig talks about how he is in a place where God is doing amazing things and the mission that he (Greig) was instrumental in is snow-balling when his own world is collapsing as his wife is fighting for her life with a brain tumour. Wheat and Weeds growing together.

Some days it might even feel as if there is loads of weeds and the wheat isn’t always as visible, your eye is drawn to what shouldn’t be there, it feels wrong and out of place.

We as Christians have to live with this paradox, we believe in the ‘already and the not yet’ of the Kingdom of God. A fallen world -with pain and brokenness- but yet with signs of the Kingdom breaking in around us too.

I remember at college there was a big debate around “Original Sin versus Original Blessing” which basically could be condensed into one basic question “Are people basically good or bad?” -and the truth is BOTH. We are made in the image of God and something of his nature can never be squashed out of his creation, yet we are also clearly fallen people, we sin and are sinful.

In fact the fact that wheat is growing is the reason the weeds are growing too, the enemy would not waste his time in sowing weeds into a redundant field.

Pastor Yinka spoke on Sunday about “The greater the favour, the greater the warfare”, this echoes with scripture when it tells us that “anyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”.

There is a song “I never promised you a rose garden” and yet people think that as Christians we should expect and easy ride and life will always be plain-sailing with a perpetual car parking space every time you visit ASDA(L!).

We all want a weed free world.

Yet this isn’t the reality of life for us as Christians.

Too often we sell the Christian faith as a pleasure cruise-liner when actually it is a battle-shop.

If there were no ‘weeds’ in our life, no challenges or struggles, would we grow? Would we become all we could be? Would we miss out on seeing God’s grace and answers to prayer?  Would we be able to bless those around us as effectively as we do know?

We cannot have the wheat without the weeds.

When Jesus and later St. Paul, talked about following Christ as being the narrow way, a struggle or a fight they weren’t joking.

The Bible says “In this world you will have trouble…”

And then it goes onto say “but take heart I have over-come the world”.

I was talking to someone at Church on Sunday who quoted Julian of Norwich who said “all will be well”, which made me think about “all things work for the good of those who love him” and think of Joseph who moved from the pit to the prison to the palace, and was able to save the nations around him -Joseph himself said “what was meant for evil God turned around for good”. God who can redeem messy situations, and use broken bricks to build a wall (cf the story of Nehemiah), is able to keep good on his promise to bring good out of bad.

Alongside this I thought of another quote I had heard which said “It’ll be alright in the end, and if it is not alright it is not the end”. This resonates with the story Jesus told because eventually there is a harvest and the weeds are taken away and the wheat harvested. It is comforting to know that even thought the weeds may look many, and may look  fearsome one day “every knee will bow before him and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”, the weeds/sin/pain/Satan/evil does not get the last word but instead Jesus does. Jesus has the last word.

There is a harvest.

And the harvester is trustworthy.

Discipleship, Youth and Children's Work

A Little Child Will Led Them…

On Wednesday Morning at the Turning Mission, I remember sitting there listening to the training ending with doing some ‘role play’ going the script with those around us. I looked around and everyone was partnered up, and then this little voice piped up with asking if I needed a partner, the voice came from a young lad, Joel, who is probably about 10 (I guess). He was the evangelist going through the script with me, and as part of the role play he went through the prayer of commitment with me, as I prayed that God would “give me a fresh start” and that I would “fulfil all that he has for me”, and felt the Holy Spirits touch, a real God encounter, ministered through a young person.

I was reminded that there is no junior version of the Holy Spirit.

As I thought about this, I began to think about the incarnation, I thought about Jesus being fully baby and yet fully God, fully toddler and yet fully God, fully child and yet fully God, fully teenage and yet fully God, and fully man and yet fully God.

Jesus was a normal human child, but also God in human form, God with skin on.

Therefore, children can be both child-like and Christ-like.

This became evident as we saw the kids on the mission telling people about Jesus, praying with people, giving testimonies and even being involved with worship.

I think too often as Christians we think that our faith is “adults only” and too often we try and provide a baby-sitting service whilst the ‘proper worship and teaching’ is happening, and yet any of us who engage in youth and children’s work regularly know that God can and does meet with young people, and they are some of our most courageous disciples living for Christ in their schools.

Children like adults will fall and sin, they might not have the same sophistication at covering up our sin or pretending to be Holy, I think there often is a danger of unrealistic expectations of perpetual holiness for children and young people that we know isn’t possible for us to achieve.

The Victorian era of children being seen and not heard, where they sat passively in Church and watched in silence all that went on is a really unhelpful model that still exists far too much in the Christendom mind-set but has no scriptural basis.

This is very different from the Jewish way of doing things were the children of the family are right at the heart of celebrating their faith.

The Christian faith is not a passive one, its not just meant to be witnessed but experienced, practically lived out, the call -like the Holy Spirit- has no junior version.

More over God has created us to learn by actually doing, there is an old adage that goes “I hear I forget, I see I remember and I do I understand” -why then do we just fob our kids off with colouring sheets? Why is Christianity in our Churches all about sitting in rows listening?

John Wimber having recently become a Christian asked his Church “when are we going to do the stuff?” -meaning the stuff in the Bible especially in the book of the Acts of the Apostles-… I think if we are meant to have a child-like faith, they roll up their sleeves and get involved, often with glee and gusto, rather than standing back and watching.

Francis Chan, spoke of discipleship meaning we memories scripture, highlight it in our Bibles, talk about it, maybe even learn it in Greek(!) but despite all of this we don’t ACTUALLY DO IT!

Our kids watch us, they see what really matters to us, they see whether we are living this stuff out (and I don’t mean just going to lots of Churchy meetings) and they see what difference Jesus makes to our lives. We have the responsibility of showing out children the great gift the world has ever known the transforming good news of Jesus Christ, the pearl of great price. They see us behind closed doors, they probably can tell what we are thinking in situations, they are like little sponges -picking up both our good habits and our bad habits too!

This week at the Turning we have seen children joining in with the mission of Christ, it is an adventure, they saw their parents/grandparents and Christian friends ‘actually doing the stuff’ with the adventure of following Jesus, and they want to join in, something they wont forget.

Also, they got involved and were encouraged, so often we fob off our children from the ‘real work’ and then wonder after years of being fobbed off when we want them to do it, they’ve lost interest. A leadership mantra is “go with the passion” -where is the fire- often our kids bring with them passion and enthusiasm to get involved but are fragile too, and too often I believe we squash and squander our most precious resource which is our children and young people.

I used to say as a youth worker, your most precious resource is sat on your back row, encourage them and don’t “tut” at them.

When I headed up the kids work whilst I was at theological college I remember saying “you may have in your group the next Archbishop of Canterbury so make sure you are nice to her!”

So, let’s see our kids not as people to “babysit” whilst we do the stuff, but as missionary partners in Kingdom business. Let us see their church experience as more than colouring in but the adventure of following Jesus as part of a family transforming their communities for Christ.

Often, like me at this mission, we don’t expect our kids to bless us and for God to minister through them, and yet I have found that often they astound us by their profoundness, depth and ability to hear and be obedient to the voice of God without the mental clutter that we as adults can cloud everything with.

Jesus said “let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for theirs in the Kingdom of God”


pperseverence, rejection

Don’t let rejection stop you.

“Can I just tell you that God loves you and has a great plan for your life” -I said to this gentleman (as per the Reading script)…

“I’m not into that, I’m Church of England” he said as he walked off.

Rejection happens when we do mission and it isn’t nice, but it is part of mission people have the choice to accept Jesus or reject him. In fact in John 6, so many people had left Jesus that he even asked the 12 if they would go too, prompting Peter to say “where else can we go for you have the words  of eternal life”.

He saw something unique in Jesus that he couldn’t get anywhere else, as Peter said in his sermon in the Acts of the Apostles “there is no other name by which we are saved”.

we have a responsibility to share our faith with those around us, in Corinthians it says “one sows, the other reaps but God made it grow” we can’t opt out of the great commission, but our responsibility is just to be faithful and tell them the good news their response is down to them.

As we have been doing mission this fortnight I remember a phrase Pastor Yinka the main guy with this Reading movement said “if you sow sparingly you’ll reap sparingly, so lets sow extravagantly”.

Bishop Lee Rayfield said in the Mission Shaped Ministry training “don’t make the decision for people” -often we think we know best and think “they wont be interested”- but give them the opportunity to make the choice themselves. Often the people we think wont be interested are often longing to hear the gospel message and are very open and responsive.

The book of Romans (chapter 10) poses the question “How will they hear unless someone preaches (or tells) them? Blessed are the feet of them that bring good news”.

Someone once said that “Evangelism scares Christians and non Christians alike”, the problem I believe our Churches are empty is not because people aren’t interested in Jesus, I believe the “fields are white unto harvest” is a picture for today as well as then, but because we ourselves in our everyday normal life don’t share the good news of Christ with those around us.

So much mission stuff is really wonderful like tidying up our local community, or getting involved in great social action, or putting on wonderful events but sometimes I do ask myself whether all this effort is simply to mask the fact that we are not actually telling real people about Jesus.

People simply don’t know the good news of Christ Jesus unless some-one tells them in a way they can understand, and that they can respond to.

The Gospel demands a response.

The Gospel presents us with a clear choice, are we accepting or rejecting the free but finished work on the cross or not.

Often we think we are being pastoral but not being too pushy, and I’m not sure people are argued or harangued into the Kingdom, but the gospel is challenging and people may choose to reject it and that is okay. well it is not okay for them, but maybe this wasn’t their time, the responsibility is to tell them clearly, faithfully in a way they can understand and respond to.

So, let’s not stop telling people about Jesus, and lets leave their rejection in his hands, knowing that we have carried out our duties faithfully and lovingly.

Boldness, Community, Discipleship, Fear, hope, Mission, The Turning

Word on the Street 2

we are nearing the end of the Bristol Turning Mission Fortnight, and I am really tired, but I’m also excited, encouraged and also still feel a little daunted.

I started this mission, nervously excited (but secretly bricking it a bit if I’m honest!) with lots of questions, in fact my nervous excitement was worried about being excited as have thought many times that I had the keys to world evangelisation (okay slight exaggeration!) only to come away feeling a bit disappointed.

A while back I was holding a meeting about Church planting and mission and this amazing dude called Mark from the Salvation Army was saying NASA had invented a dart board that copes with 0 gravity in space that is computerised and moves so you always it a bullseye. Too often I’ve had to make encouraging noises for the team, “well it is good we are a positive and visible presence in the community”, “they might not have become Christians but we blessed them”, “we don’t know what seeds have been sown” (all of which are true) but masking the disappointment that “we had fished all night and caught nothing!

I wonder if as Churches we fire our arrows and then paint rings around them, and pretend we have hit the target -“…’cos I meant to do that all along!”

I was worried about being expectant for God to meet me in mission, even though I probably preach about the “missio dei” (God’s mission) and about being open and expectant from the Holy Spirit, disappointments had crusted over my heart like Lyme-scale in a kettle, but deep down within me was that ‘child-like faith’ that ‘voice of hope’ excited that God is going to do something wonderful.

I have discovered how debilitating disappointment can be, and how this limits our expectation of God. Over the past few months we have been meeting up on a Saturday morning to pray and share from all across the Churches (at 7:00 in the morning, I hate mornings!). Yet being with other believers praying and believing passionately that God is on the move, I felt something shift inside me and I was daring to dream again, I was praying passionately, but I had a few too many “yeah buts” going on in my head.

I have found the work in Kingswood so incredibly lonely, and yet feeling like part of a team of like-minded people has lifted my spirit.

Often when I have been in church and no one else is on the same page (possibly even a different book!) you begin to doubt yourself “Is it just me? Am I the only one who thinks this is important? why do we sing and pray for revival but not do anything to enable it to happen? And there is a wonderful ‘kinship’ in this, on Maundy Thursday worked with a retired guy in his 70’s, on Holy Saturday a young lad in his 20s, on Easter Monday took a team of people in their 50s out with me, yesterday I worked with a young mum and a fab older gent who a local Baptist Pastor, and today I got to work with my friend Jackie from Elim who (I’m guessing is around my age), we were also joined for a bit by a lady who has been through some very tough stuff and only been a Christian a short-time but she did a great job of opening up conversations too.

It was encouraging to see Christians from a variety of backgrounds, ages, Churches all unified together in the one thing -our Saviour Christ Jesus- than anything that divides us.

Very different people, but the same God, very different personalities which came through, but using the same script, yet  despite our differences we all had the one thing in common, God used us in sharing his amazing news with people.

I blogged in my previous blog about my worries about using a script and about my fears about talking to random members of the public that I didn’t know, and yet in stepping out the boat, leaving our comfort zone, God has been incredibly faithful and gracious to us and we have seen much fruit (500 people last week, and I’m not sure this week but probably in three figures by now!)

The fear of rejection, it’s not nice when you speak to people and they just walk past you as though you don’t exist, the occasional “**** off!” isn’t particularly pleasant either, but I have been really challenged about not letting the disappointments stop us, one lady went out with her son (possibly teenage?) who kept a count of the knock backs “that’s 18 rejections mum!” and yet on the 19th she led someone to Christ -what a star that lady was.

I wonder if I’d have had her wonderful tenacity to keep on going for the fruit of the 19th person getting saved? I often mention Jackie Pullinger who spent 7 years in the gang-land ruled ‘walled city’ of China before she saw her first convert but then after that came break through after break through. I wonder if that was me I wonder if I’d have lasted 7 months?

I also began to feel the danger of comparisons, one morning they got those of us who had been out before to line up and be team leaders, and those who hadn’t done it before could come and join us, and instantly in my head and my heart I was back in school when the ‘cool kids’ were being picked for the football side and I ended up praying that someone would pick me and that I wouldn’t be left until last.

At times in my life I have often wished I was more “gregarious”, “quicker witted”, “more charming”, “better theologian & apologist”, more gravitas and many more things too… I know I have a fake idea of what the perfect evangelist should be made up of components of other evangelists -with perfect teeth- I have known.

Yet he problem with comparisons we often run someone else’s highlight reel with our blooper reel, and actually make it about us and not God at work through us.

I remember someone talking to me and said they didn’t feel qualified (exact words!) to share their faith, and a friend of mine said “If you love Jesus and you have a pulse then you are qualified -amply qualified!”

This week my friend Rich said something incredibly wise when he was leading a bit of the training he said “even if you just tell someone that “God loves them and has an awesome plan for your life!” -you have done more good than if you’d stayed at home watching day-time telly.

This is something that never ceases to humble and astound me that God chooses to work through ordinary people like you and me for his glory and Kingdom advancement.

One of things I have found most exciting) is that we have trained up probably about 200 ordinary (which is the wrong word, but you know what I mean!) Christians to be able to share their faith simply but effectively with those around them.

If we can chat to strangers on the street about Jesus maybe we can chat to neighbours, friends, colleagues and family members too? It made me wonder how many sermons I’ve heard on the need for evangelism (which probably has made everyone feel guilty) and how few on some helpful tools, useful tips and practical stuff to help us actually do it (very few).

I saw ‘big Al’ one of our wonderful friends lead a couple of guys who come to our Soul Cafe project to a prayer of commitment on Sunday, on Monday we heard a story of a guy leading a work colleague to Christ, another guy led someone to Christ in our Church Car Park, from an organised event to organic every-day life evangelistic overflow is what I dream of seeing happening more and more as just ordinary and normal part of our Christian life -it should just be what we do as part of our regular day to day lifestyle.

It has been wonderful to be part of thing Kingdom culture for this time, and yet the interruptions of the pettiness and over-stress of the trivial remind us of where we actually are as Churches, but something of this is a glimpse of the Kingdom, the pull of a different and better reality instep with God, the longing for moreness of what God has in store for us.

As we fellowship as a missionary community, united in love in Christ and his gospel, celebrating with joy hearing stories of Salvation, there is a challenge awaiting us, that of following people up well and seeing them not just become converts but becoming mature disciples in Christ.

I remember when we saw a lad we had met from the Streets become a Christian I was very excited and joyous, but a friend said solemnly “you realise that XXX becoming a Christian isn’t the end of something, this is the beginning, this is where the hard work starts!”

who is up for joining us in this new and exciting challenge?



Adoption, Eternity, identity, Life in the Spirit, love


I’m a terrible Anglican!

I am rubbish at the three point sermon (as any regular reader of these blogs can testify)!

I was chatting today with a really wise older Pastor and was gently trying to pick his brains about stuff.

He  said if he  could preach his first sermon again he’d talk about and he was talking about peoples inferiority complexes, which is at the heart of most of the pain and problems we have in our Churches.

The insecure ‘victim mentality’ never thinks it is their fault -It is always someone-else’s.

Yet why do people in Churches hold on to roles, power and stuff so tightly? It is because they get their value from it.

Most jealousies stem from an insecurity too.

Sometimes insecure people or people who feel inferior also are the people that put others down to make themselves feel better.

There is an adage of hurt people hurt people, and it is true sadly people struggling with insecurities will lash out.

These things do work -a little bit- with boosting our EGO, yet they don’t actually heal or solve the issue- in fact in the long run they actually make it worse.

Yet the insecurity and inferiority actually I believe stems from a lack of understanding of who we are in Christ, what is our identity.

I was thinking about this. Before Christ our identity is ‘far from God’ and ‘dead in our sins’… which probably isn’t going to help us address our insecurity or inferiority issues.

Yet when we become Christians we gain a new identity.  We who were dead in our sins are now alive in Christ, we who were once far off, are now seated with Christ on high in the heavenly places.

So, although not three points, nor starting with the same letter, we are A-L-I-V-E in him.

A   Adopted.  he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— (Eph.1.5).

As I thought about adoption I thought people can fall pregnant by accident, but you can’t adopt someone by accident.

When we think of adoption we think of God Wanting us, choosing us, called by name.

Also, adoption is giving us a place in God’s family the word adoption talks about our belonging to God and belonging in his family.

“See how the Father has lavished his love on us that we can be called children of God, because that beloved is who we are”. 1 John .

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father.  AND “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father.” -God himself -the creator and ruler of the universe says you can call him dad!

Adoption also talks of our inheritance to come, citizens of an eternal inheritance of heaven, our unearned rights as Gods children.

L Loved… This amazing truth that the God of the universe, loves us, likes us, want a relationship with us.

we are loved with a passionate love that caused  Jesus to be nailed to the cross, and die for us.

Love so extravagant and gracious that we cannot get our head around it.

I   In-dwelt… The amazing truth that God promises by the power of his Holy Spirit that he lives and dwells within us.  God of heaven living in us.

The Bible tells us that we have the same Holy Spirit living in us that raised Jesus from the dead, he that is within us is greater than he that is within the world.

V  Victorious.  In Christ we are not failures, not mistakes, but in him we have victory of hell, sin and death, the cross and the grace from it speaks louder than our mistakes sin and failures.

E  Eternal/Eternity. Our destiny is for eternity. God wants to be with us forever, and ever and ever, and loved with an everlasting love.

So, in Christ remember we are adopted, loved, In-dwelt by God most high, Victorious and Eternal.


20 years ago today…

(Or it might be 21 years!) I made a re-commitment, I prayed a prayer about following Jesus for the rest of my life, about turning away from the wrong ways I was living and asking God to fill me with his Holy Spirit. It is a day I look back on when everything changed.

This Easter we have been out and about talking to people about Jesus and inviting them to make the same life changing choice to follow Jesus, or re-commit to following him. I wonder where some of these people will be in 20/21 years time?

As I thought about inviting others onto this life changing journey, and thought about being invited onto this journey I thought about courage and bravery.

On of my colleagues invited me along to her Church, and I kept on finding excuses not to go, until one day I unthinkingly let the girl who only worked at the weekend have my Sunday afternoon shift as her hours had been cut, and I realised I had painted myself into a corner, and had to come along.

It would have probably been easier for my colleague not to comment, not to issue the invite again when the answer would have probably been no.  The Pastor there threw out a random prophetic word which hit me between the eyes, and at the end of his talk he made a gospel appeal, again a brave thing to do -what if no one responds?

Perhaps if they hadn’t taken some uncomfortable and brave steps of faith, I might be living a very different life now?

This made me ask, and wonder, do I do the same steps of faith for other people? Am I sometimes too keen to be polite and nice, giving people a comfortable out instead of the uncomfortable challenge which may result in them being transformed in their relationship with God.

I have often thought about the significance of coming to faith on Easter day, the resurrection day, it’s the greatest day in the history of this planet, and it is the greatest day of my life.

Yet Easter too often gets forgotten amongst the bank holiday weekend and insatiable desire for chocolate, and my personal Easter story gets lost amid the cares, frustration and stuff of life.  It is too easy to let other things crowd out this event both in our celebration of it as a festival, but more as a daily changed life reality.

I am anxious about telling my salvation story, as although I am happy to tell it, the question is not “how did you come to faith?” -although that is the question that people often ask?- but rather what difference does coming to faith make in your life today? How does the resurrection impact your every day life.

So, today I think about my 20 year journey, not always plain sailing, with bumps and valleys along the way at times, but I still wouldn’t change it and don’t regret my choice to say “yes to Christ”, but do I offer people the chances I was given? I don’t want to be the kind of person who has had every opportunity given them but kicks the ladder away from those following us, instead I want the people following me to be given more and better  opportunities to hear and respond to the gospel of the resurrected Christ.

So, 20 years today.

Am I still fresh? Have I lost my first love?

Do I still believe I have something wonderful and transformative to share with the world?

Do I hold out the word with the same bravery, courage and faithfulness that the people who encouraged me to accept that invitation?

what can I do to offer that same opportunity to as many people as possible?

And how can I make it as easy as possible for them to accept this?

And how can I nurture them that 20 years from now they are still walking with Jesus

doubt, faith, Falibility, Fear, Holy Saturday, Pain, Suffering.

Holy Saturday.

Good Friday is an easy blog to write about, the fallen-ness of human nature (after-all “all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” and the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”).

It would be easy too, to write about our need of a Saviour and the amazing action of God who left the glories of heaven to step down to the earth he created to suffer and die, in our place, for our sins.

In fact I’m sure many Christians blogged this sort of stuff yesterday.

Tomorrow, I’m sure the internet will be awash with blogs talking about Jesus’ resurrection shows that death has been defeated, sin has been conquered and relationship with the Father restored for those who choose to put their faith in Christ.

But I want to blog about today, Holy Saturday, the day after Good Friday, with the body of God incarnate dead and sealed in a stone cold tomb. The day before the resurrection, when tragedy was turned to victory.

Today is a day of doubts, we see the disciples run and hide in upper-rooms, or quit it all together and return to the fishing trade, or walk off from Jerusalem to Emmaus (remember Jesus had instructed them to stay in Jerusalem). A day when dreams died, an disappointment reigned, questions hung unanswered in the air.

The first Holy Saturday was a pessimistic day, the  only people who had any faith for a resurrection were the Chief Priests, the scribes and the Pharisees -those who feared it the most, I wonder if their doubts were rising? “Perhaps Jesus really was who he said he was?”  Maybe in the depth of their hearts they might have been asking whether they had just made a terrible, terrible mistake?” -I wonder?

I wonder if our lives sometimes feel a bit like a Holy Saturday?

where we look back at our own surrendering of our lives to Christ, and look forward to his return, but now sometimes we get plagued with doubts? Perhaps we are disappointed about how things have worked out? Maybe deep down we worry we have got it all wrong?

And maybe our Holy Saturday hasn’t just been 24 hours, perhaps it has been a long time, perhaps even years?

In my life, I have had some wonderful mountain top experiences, but I have had some valley times too.  I believe Holy Saturday feels like a day of a spiritual desert, and deserts are tough places, but places in which God often does his deepest and most profound work within us, but most of us want to escape the desert, just as most Christians want to either rewind to Good Friday or fast forward to Easter Day, but to do this misses out on what we can learn in the from Holy Saturday.

If we rush past Holy Saturday, often our Easter Message often sounds glib and insincere.

If we have just an Easter Sunday Morning faith, we have a great theology of victory and power -which is great- but we also (I believe) need to have a faith that can cope with the pain, suffering, complex questions and difficulties of following Jesus in a world that is broken.

I have heard people talk about the “already and not yet” of the Kingdom of God, meaning that the Kingdom of God can -and does- break into real peoples lives but the fullness of this in its entirety has still yet to be seen.

Recently I read Pete Greig’s books “Red Moon Rising” and “Dirty Glory” and was struck by how he started an international prayer ministry whilst it looked like his wife might die of a brain tumour.

I remember reading about David watson and John wimber both taught the Church to expect God’s miraculous healing miracles in the here and now -and have seen many, many people pray and receive miraculous healing- and yet both of these great men died of cancer.

I struggle with Holy Saturday.

I struggle with waiting.

I wonder why it took 7 years after first meeting Allana to end up marrying her, why the wait and the pain?

Mike Pilivachi talked  about waiting around 17 years to leave his job and become a Pastor, why the wait and the frustration?

why didn’t Jesus rise a day earlier on Holy Saturday? why the wait?

Actually I don’t know why God waited 24 hours, nor do I know about any other waits, but I do wonder if one day I’ll understand? The resurrection, like all waits, we have to trust God’s goodness, even when sometimes that takes what can feel like ore faith than we have at the time.

I wonder, the disciples must have remembered Jesus talking about rising from the dead, I wonder if deep within them there was a small flickering light of hope burning away in the depth of a disciples heart?

Perhaps there is something you are faithfully clinging onto God for, and you can identify with this picture of Holy Saturday when you are believing for something even though the wait might be tough.

Perhaps as we wait for Easter Day, Holy Saturday can teach us that one day every doubt will be resolved, every question answered, problem solved as the King of Glory will return with his rule and reign.

I remember hearing Delirous play “every little thing is going to be all right” and at first I objected, Jesus said “in this life you will have trouble”, but then Martin Smith (the lead singer) said “It will be all-right in the end, and if its not all-right its  not the end”… A former vicar friend of mine used to say of the book of revelation “I’ve read the end of the book and we win”.

Yet today is Holy Saturday, we are not without hope, Jesus will rise, but at the moment the Sun has yet to rise, and sometimes the night is darkest before the dawn, but the dawn will come.