Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Pere Ubu

Bit of a cult band that I know nothing about. But I had Cloudland on cassette pre-university and liked it enough to download in due course. Die hard fans aren't sure about the album apparently, on the grounds they went commercial but I have nothing to compare it to. Cloudland is patchy but I love parts of it.

I found them via the Chart Show or some such vehicle when Waiting for Mary appeared. Some digging on the internet shows it is their only US hit and it didn't chart in the UK.

Love, Love, Love on the other hand was a hit in the UK. Reached 88. Their only hit here.

They have a great song called Ice Cream Truck as well about how too many people make music that no-one wants to hear. Hmm..

Guess it's a minority interest... See what you are missing in the top right hand corner of the screen under Our Friends Eclectic.

The future, not terribly orange. And yet...

The latest church predictions are in and, guess what, it isn't looking good.

A full report can be found on my 'bishop's' blog and can be accessed here:

In precis, the church is getting older and therefore getting smaller over time. No surprises there really, my generation onwards is largely missing. (I have often thought that two of my great loves, the church and cricket, are both aging and in danger of dying out. Perhaps we need to investigate some form of Twenty20 church?)

And yet...

Can't help thinking that there are rays of hope, thanks to the grace of God.
  • In a national picture where 59% of churches have no kids between 15-19 we do (just) and a few 14 year olds who are keen enough to come to extra meetings. We also had 73 secondary school kids from 12-17 in youth club the other week. Most of them completely unchurched and yet not put off coming by the fact we insist on (lovingly) telling them about Jesus each week.

  • Some pupils have set up a Christian Union in the local secondary school and they held the first meeting yesterday lunchtime. It was encouraging to see the ten of them having the courage to come and find out more, including four who don't go to a church.

  • On Sunday we had a man make a commitment of faith in the service and two weeks before that a young teen prayed with a couple to do the same.

  • We had four adult baptisms this month and more are lined up.
None of this is because any of us are much cop or because we are doing anything different. It's a God thing.

I guess whether the tide is in or out for the church at the moment, or in ten years time, it's clear what we have to do. Carry on regardless. Trust God. And see what happens.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Young at Heart and David Byrne

If you have seen the wonderful Young@Heart film then you will know that it's a wonderful documentary of an American choir of OAPs who sing unlikely music choices - Smells Like Teen Spirit, Burning Down The House, American Idiot - that kind of thing. It's a very warm and moving film, with the battles some have with their ailments and the tears that they bring to hardened criminals when they sing in a prison. I'd recommend it. The latest Our Friends Eclectic features some amateur film of them performing Heaven in a bar, only to be joined by Talking Heads dude David Byrne halfway through. Heart warming stuff.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Creating a bit of a splash

We had a great day on Sunday with something that hasn't happened in our church for many a year. Despite being a Baptist church we were in danger of being prosecuted by the Trades Descriptions people as baptisms were becoming such a rarity. However on a glorious morning we baptised four people yesterday. One was the mother of a friend from Canterbury who had been a Christian for 32 years and had only just got to the point of being baptised. And I thought my reactions were bad. Another became a Christian a couple of years ago in a different church, a woman in her early twenties. The other two were a married couple who first came to the church exactly a year ago for our over 60s holiday club. They stayed on and did the Christianity Explored course and made commitments to follow Jesus and now they have been baptised too.

It's a real joy and privilege to be a part of this. One of the veterans here reckons we have had, perhaps, five other baptisms in the past ten years and so this has been a massive boost to us as a church family. With some of the nonsense that sometimes takes the attention in church life this is a terrific encouragement to us as we start our second over 60s holiday club this week and a reminder of what is truly important. A good day!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Following the calm, the storm

Great weekend away last week (a rare and precious treat as a Church minister) especially when followed by a Bank Holiday! What they say about ministers and only working one day a week might be true. Ha!

Then down to earth with a bump. One of our best people sends an email to resign from leadership and membership. It is not unexpected, we had been talking about it. It is, in fact, one of the rare ones. His reasons for leaving are solid - they need to be in a church that the family want to go to and that's not here as far as the kids are concerned. I think he's right to be concerned for their spiritual lives in this way. The leaving is entirely amicable - and that's a rare enough thing!

It was expected. It is for good reasons. We will part as friends. But still, it hurts. I was thinking about why this is so. People have left firms that I have worked for, or sports teams that I was a part of, and you are sad to hear the news but you move on. One of the side effects of trying to build a church that takes biblical family and community seriously (and we aren't nearly as far on in that as we could be) is that you care a lot more when this sort of things happen. It's hard to say goodbye to family.

They leave behind a huge hole in all that they do but it's really about who they are. We can fill (just about) the jobs they did but we can't replace them.

On a personal note he was one of the two that came and recruited me. I've managed to see them both off now. One left because he didn't like the changes, one left because we haven't changed enough. It's little consolation to consider that this could be a sign that I'm steering a reasonable course.

I'm typing this on Thursday and not publishing till Sunday when we will have announced the news. I am not as miserable as I sound and certainly happier than I was on Monday - I promise. But if, on top of all this, Exeter City got relegated on Saturday I may require counselling.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

We are staying up, we are staying up!

What a game. We give away a soft goal in the second minute and then play superb football to win 2-1 with a winning goal eight minutes from time. Even when it feels like time is running out I still feel this is a terrific game of football. So, over 46 games it was decided in the last ten minutes. In front of a capacity crowd (the best atmosphere I've ever experienced at St James Park) we beat play-off qualifying Huddersfield to stay in League One.

I am kept in touch with the other games thanks to the sterling efforts of my Tranmere supporting mate, Geoff. His texts turn out to be more reliable than the half time scores given at Exeter at half-time. I ring him at full-time in the bedlam and cannot hear a word he says.

As Steve Perryman says to me at the end of a game, "This is as good as a promotion". (I find myself stood next to him as we applaude at the final whistle. In case you don't get the heavy name drop he played 866 games for Tottenham, one for England and is an MBE. He is Director of Football at Exeter and sits in the Family Stand leading the singing. It's one crazy club.) I take up his offer of a handshake and garble something incomprehensible before thanking him.
I embrace the club on-pitch announcer (in fairness I know him from a church in Exeter) and I think everyone feels like this is a promotion.
It's been a funny old week and to be honest it feels good to blow off some steam at a football match. Now for the peace and quiet of the cricket season. Until June 11th that is, and the start of the World Cup Finals.
Photo: Steve Perryman MBE and Paul Tisdale - what a team!

Thursday, 6 May 2010


... I am preaching about why work can be hard and even futile at times, from Genesis 3 on Sunday evening. I spend an hour and a half researching good quotes, images and a sound track (Work by Hockey) for a groovy PPT and only then remember that we will have no projector at this particular service.

Man, it was mean!

Too many years ago Steve Harley played at Greenbelt and it was magnificent. Most of the people I was with didn't like it but they were all wrong. This is my favourite track of his. You won't like it but hey.

I see he is touring before playing Glastonbury but fear the chance of my persuading my significant other to attend such an evening are extremely remote. Click on the top right hand side if you like. It's a clip with just 4318 views so far - let's make it 4320!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

First date

Twenty years ago today the chain fell off my bicycle and I nearly didn't make it there at all. I managed to get the bus and turn up very late. It was the height of romance, we went to see the movie Batman in a lecture theatre. (The film was in the lecture theatre, not Batman - before Andy comments).
Twenty years on we are in Stratford-upon-Avon sans kids to celebrate. I can't believe it's twenty years.
Holy matrimony, Robin!