Monday, 27 September 2010
The afternoon was very sunny and warm and the family sit outside to watch the boy at a tennis tournament. There is a McEnroe moment or two and he's now saving for a new racquet. He is back on an even keel soon enough though and we get back for a good Indian meal with old friends to round off a really good day.
Sunday is mixed. I have to confess to some disappointment at Back to Church Sunday. We have ninety attend the service, which is better than average for us, but none of the ten people / families I have invited come along. In the end I think we have five extras attend due to being invited for BTCS. It doesn't seem many but without knowing how many were asked it's hard to know if this is a sign that people didn't feel able or inclined to invite friends or whether their friends (like mine) didn't fancy it. From what many think of as "church", I don't blame them and maybe it's a sign of the size of the task that we face.
Evening service is okay, we are boosted by four holiday makers but some noticeable absentees due to it being the informal prayer and praise. Our youth discussion group afterwards is loud and seems to make little progress. I come back with a headache and feel low. This is not my greatest strength and I need to work harder and prepare better for it.
Monday brings some refreshment - meet and pray with an old chum who offers some perspective, which in my tiredness I have lost. Listen to some good sermons read some helpful things and then Tuesday brings fine weather and a game of golf on my day off.
Glad to be refreshed and thinking straighter. Need to be - six talks and two groups to lead in the following five days.
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Monday, 20 September 2010
Thursday, 16 September 2010
The series is on objections that people have to the Christian faith and week two was called, "I'd like to believe but religious people are too intolerant". Good old Tel provided me with a perfect illustration, though I wish he hadn't.
By way of contrast I spoke on John 8.1-11 and the woman caught in adultery. Can't help but marvel again how Jesus said to her, "I don't condemn you". How different we often are. Grace is so outrageous. Caught in bed with a guy and Jesus tells her this!
I had one person walk out - to later return to tell me I was off-beam on this. Trouble is, he missed the second point - Jesus tells her to go home and stop living this way. There's a Charles Spurgeon quote (think it is him) that says that if a person is scandalised by grace to the extent that they think you are in danger of being too soft on sin, then you are probably preaching it well. So I hope it was that. But, of course, I may be kidding myself.
I suspect that people like Terry Jones would be picking up rocks. It isn't the way of Jesus.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
Monday, 6 September 2010
The Last Balloon - XTC
In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins
Up, Up and Away - The Beloved
Castles In The Air - The Colourfield
Tonight We Fly - The Divine Comedy
Up, Up and Away - Andy Williams (different song to The Beloved)
99 Red Balloons - Nena
Am very excited about tonight's film. The very first in our series Reel Issues, organised with the local churches. We have hired the cinema, rented a film and are offering the chance to discuss some of the issues it raises afterwards. Have done some homework so as to appear intelligent in discussion and just hope I am not there with only my family for company.
We had a number of new people around for the first 'proper' morning service after Holiday Club, some extra kids, some Mums (because everyone knows Dads are too hard to go to church) and the Dawkins thing turned out to be less scary than I feared. Was surprised by how feeble some of the professor's arguments are. He is (presumably - it's hard to tell with O level Physics) a brilliant scientist but his theology is very poor. Wasn't the greatest sermon ever but got a few thank yous from people who seem to have appreciated it.
Lunch was lovely, with a family 'home' from Ethiopia who popped across to speak in church about the work they are doing. Rather humbled by what they have chosen to do in order to do their work, in terms of such a different country and culture. As always, interesting to hear what they find odd about UK compared with five years ago when they left.
Grabbed a little sleep (a Pastor's secret weapon on a Sunday afternoon) before the evening service, where I think I completely woke up about 20 minutes into the service. Great to be able to preach about the complete freedom that there is for Christians, how the slate is well and truly wiped clean. "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". Reflected on the difference between feelings and fact. There are times when we don't feel this but it is still fact. Glorious.
Then one burger too many at the BBQ but great to see extra kids come along. Three were new because they have just become old enough to attend, two are on the fringes and have hardly been around at all. Hope this will encourage them to join with the other six and that we'd grow into something great for the kingdom.
A long day. A good day. The next few days are busy too but predictably I was get to sit and read and rest for the best part of the day this morning because the dentist was running late. Is it healthy when you look forward to a filling and the time you have to spend in a waiting room?
Friday, 3 September 2010
A very encouraging day yesterday. Each year the leaders of the church go away for the day to think and pray and plan. This year we were helped by Nigel, who helps a bunch of churches in this area, as we thought about the future.
We started by looking at the last five years and were asked how things are, compared with then, in four areas - Numerically, Spiritually, Relationally, and Missionally. Some of those things are hard to gauge of course (we didn't even reach consensus on some of the numbers). But even though we know that we are far from the finished product it was encouraging to see how we have changed and, dare we say, progressed? There is much to be thankful for and sometimes you need to sit down and have these discussions in order to appreciate how far we have been brought on our journey.
It's impossible to know what the future holds, of course, but we then discussed what we might look like in 2020. Firstly, if current trends continue, and secondly, our best (realistic) hope. We have been blessed with growth this past five years. If it continues, or even increases, (and it's a big but possible "if") then what steps do we need to take to play our part in seeing it happen? And what will church need to look like in terms of support structures and the like if it does come to pass?
It confirmed a lot of my thinking and was very helpful in that Nigel drew these things out of us far better than I would have communicated them myself. Plus he had a good number of further insights which helped us all. As a result of the day we left as a group closer to sharing a vision rather than me just assuming everyone knew what we are doing - because, hey, it's obvious isn't it? We have some things to mull over and put into place after the day and that is going to be helpful to us as a group.
A good day, only enhanced by being able to eat outside in warm September sunshine.