Monday, December 29, 2008

Mars Hill visit

I was glad to have the opportunity - together with my family - to visit Mars Hill in Grand Rapids this morning.

Although Rob Bell wasn’t around today, having become a regular listener to the podcast and like many felt the benefit and influence of Rob’s writing & teaching it really was good to check out the community there. I’d been looking forward to it for some time, and the day didn’t disappoint.

Although I don’t want this to come across like some kind of Secret Worshipper/consumer test thang, I thought I’d outline a few impressions….they’re all good.

Today’s teaching came from Ed Dobson, sporting a spectacular beard of quite literally Biblical proportions. At first I surmised this was just Rev Dobson’s particular preferred fashion arrangement, but he unpacked a little of the back story as part of his oratory. We learned that Ed is coming towards the end of a year of living as closely as he could in line with the teachings, example and life patterns of Jesus. Local rag, The Grand Rapids Press gives it’s take on the story here. It’s worth the read.

Aside from the fascinating facial hair story, Ed spoke powerfully from Luke 1v67-79.

Look out for the podcast at the Mars Hill site in due course

Above and beyond the Teaching and the Worship, a few things that impressed me:

• The unassuming building that somehow reflected the character of the Church
• The genuinely warm welcome from individual folks, despite the size – I guess about 3,000 people – of the congregation. It felt authentic and unstaged
• The obvious attention to detail right across the board. All the handout materials were well displayed plentiful, easy to understand, aesthetically pleasing and consistent
• Good coffee, in eco friendly cups!

God bless Mars Hill. It was a pleasure to drop by.

Baruch El-Elyon!

HT to Grand Rapids Press/Emily Zoladz for the Ed Dobson pic

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Peace of Jesus

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

May you and yours feel the peace of Jesus this CHRISTmas time...



Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Empty Church?

HT to Dana and Chris for the heads up about this post about Empty Churches on Billy Ritchie’s blog.

A couple of paragraphs caught my attention:

Now the church is more than a building its people but somehow I think that one of the reasons these churches are empty is because they stopped serving their community a long time ago.

How about us all looking at this a different way. At the same time as this decline there is also stories of growth all over the country. Many churches taking on building projects. What if we all forgot denominational divides and gifted each other property. What if a church on the edge of closure struggling to keep up a building were to find a church that was bursting at the seams and say here is your answer.

….some really interesting things to think about.

Thanks, Billy


This little fellah was wandering around in our office car park a few minutes ago....our London, densely urban, gated office buildings.

Slow down

I’ve become interested in the slow movement over the last year or two, as I often struggle to justify and see the real core benefits of the extraordinary pace of urban life these days. Quite regularly it feels like the wheels could fall off at any given moment.

With this in mind, it was good to have an article from the excellent online ‘zine Worldchanging bounced over to me via Twitter flagging a book by Carl Honoré, In Praise of Slow…something I have to check out.

There’s another site you might want to visit that focuses on the SlowHome. Lots of interesting bits about healthy vibrant neighbo(u)rhood, beautiful eco design and architecture.

In a not entirely unrelated piece in London’s throwaway freebie commuter rag this morning , the METRO listed Michael Pollan’s In Defense Of Food as one of it’s Food Books of the Year. Although I can’t say it’s a maxim I’ve wholeheartedly adopted yet, Pollan’s
“Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants”
mantra has a lot to be said for it. Maybe a good New Year Resolution for me.

Also, anyone who champions the idea of leisurely meals in the company of friends as the way forward gets my vote!

Friday, December 05, 2008


Now this is a site worth exploring!


Thursday, December 04, 2008

My tribe

Thanks to Chris at This Fragile Tent for giving me the heads up about this Salvation Army Christmas appeal ad

Isaiah 58 (The Message)

“What I’m interested in seeing you do is:

Sharing your food with the hungry,
Inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
Putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
Being available to your own familes.

Do this and the lights will turn on,
And your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say “Here I am”

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Luke 4

This little story has been brewing for a while…

Once a month – usually the second Sunday - Janet & I get together with some friends, have some lunch together and share what’s been going on in our lives over the previous weeks and look at Scripture.


On the second Sunday afternoon in November we looked at Luke 4 as part of a DVD we’ve been using as a starting point for our discussion.


The following Monday morning, I received the week’s overview of a daily e-mail I receive from Ian Adams:

Greetings morning bell people

The Church is in the 'kingdom' season this month. This time encourages us to look for the new thing that God is doing, to seek God's better-world-now breaking in and breaking out all around us, even to open ourselves up to somehow becoming a sign of that state of 'shalom'.

This week’s morning bell will take as its starting point an insight into Jesus’ own sense of God's new thing being done in and around him, as told by the Gospel writer Luke. You can find the passage in Luke 4.

Pace bene!
…then I received the first of the week’s daily “Morning Bell” e-mails working through some thoughts inspired by Luke 4, outlined here from The Message:

Jesus came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God's Spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, "This is God's year to act!"

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, "You've just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place."


On the way to the Office on that same Monday, I randomly selected a podcast to listen to on the train….Mars HillWalter Brueggemann, journeying through Isaiah, in that wonderful expansive raspy passionate way he has when teaching. Brueggemann made reference to the passage in Isaiah 61, which Jesus recalls in Luke 4, as he quotes scripture.

...again from my most regularly read version, The Message...

Isaiah 61

Announce Freedom to All Captives
The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies—
and to comfort all who mourn..


I’d excitedly been sharing this increasingly consistent series of prods with my friends from our Small Group, by firing off an e-mail each time another one came along.

Here’s the one reply I received from one of those friends:

Was listening to Premier yesterday and the thought read during one of the shows was Isaiah 61 v 1 couldn't believe it almost word for word Luke 4 v 18…


Then, last night I was noodling away on Youtube, having seen a little vid by Rick McKinley of Imago Dei in Portland who had been the target of my search, and found one of the clips of Bono and Bill Hybels, and ……whaddyaknow? It’s those passages again!

Check out the vid:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Check out this little bitty promo vid for an upcoming show, which features - among others - my blogging buddy, top man...Pernell Goodyear of the Freeway in Hamilton ON.

Monday, December 01, 2008


I’ve been really struggling to keep pace with the blog lately. I’ve had thoughts to share and things to say but haven’t been able find the time to tap away at the keyboard and get them added.

So, with that in mind, here’s a bit of a round up:

1. I’ve been meaning to spread the word about this positive and inspirational post by my good buddy and Grumpy Old Git, Andy Greig. I’ve known Andy and his family since we were young kids, so it’s been painful to see him go through such a heavy thing, and wonderful to see him coming out the other side.
2. Glad to hear via Alan Hirsch’s blog that his new book with Mike Frost – ReJesus – has been released in the US. Hoping to pick a copy up when I visit the States for Christmas.
3. It’s been good to hook up (at least in a cyber-stylee) with Chris & Dana Byers of Lifechurch.TV here in London.

Maybe in the New Year we can turn the virtual to actual, and we get a chance to meet over a coffee.
4. A few changes due to the johnnylaird blogroll: Stewart Cutler will go in, as will the other good people from my Twitter tribe who blog; namely Rob G-T, Theresa, Alex and John.
Then there are a few good friends, whose input to the blogosphere has dried up, so they’ll come off the blogroll.
5. While I’m talking about Twitter; it’s interesting that there’s a little bit of a local connection thing happening for me there, where guys who live in our around my little home town are slowly connecting via Twitter. Hi guys!
6. Although I’ve mentioned Something Beautiful before, I wanted to give a little shout out to JB & Thomas to say thanks for the consistently good content they are putting out. A weekly podcast with co-presenters working on opposite sides of the pond is some undertaking, especially when JB & Thomas have daytime jobs, families and all manner of community & tribal connections to maintain, and the guys do it…beautifully. Big up Something Beautiful!
7. ABC Pastor and Randy Bohlender have moved and spruced up their blogs a little. If you don’t know these guys - and even if you – it’s worth checking out their stuff; always fresh & thought provoking.

I’m sure there’s more to say, but that will have to be for another time.

In the words of my blogging buddy, Ian Adams

Pace Bene!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Maradona: the man's in Glasgow the "other goal" even made a difference.

Class act, Diego!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Any old excuse...

It doesn't take much for me want to share this picture of my beautiful little girl, first born.

She's my wonderful princess
Quick to laugh & giggle
Loyal beyond measure her mother
"Little Janet"
An enthusiast
The one who will never forget to pray at night, therefore my example
Big Sister to my little man.

Thank you Jesus!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Emily Barr....the softer, kinder, gentler voice of agnosticism

In light of the increasingly rabid ramblings of arch-Atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchins, this Saturday's edition of The Guardian has a fascinating and refreshing piece by novelist, Emily Barr, about how her mother's recent ordination as a Vicar in the Church of England has affected her attitude to faith and family.

It's refreshing because Barr's agnosticism is tempered by relationship...with her mother and others within her mother's faith community.

Emily says
"Our prejudices about the church have started to melt away as in spite of everything, it becomes a fixture in our family life"

..."I began to see that it is possible to have the Church as a pillar of your life without being unbearably smug....."

Talking of her mother, she says
"She is still my liberal, accepting mother and has not magically developed a set of prejudices."

Read the article to get the whole context. There's no miraculous conversion here, indeed she says
"I know I will never believe in God",
but I was impressed with Emily Barr's generous display of....grace.

There are lessons there for all of us.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Chapel Street….One to watch

Russ Rook, who had formerly headed up UK Salvation Army Youth initiave ALOVE has now moved on to pastures new with his new project, Chapel Street.

Check out the vid for some background info:

Russ has been an innovative and prophetic voice in The Salvation Army for a number of years now, and was a significant player from day one in the Roots movement, which has been hugely influential over the last decade as the SA in the UK re-visited it’s early “roots”, and grappled once again with what it means to be missional today. Here’s a few thoughts about the 2008 Roots event that I wrote down at the time.

I guess there are some parallels with the move that Russ’ good friend and early Roots pioneer, Phil Wall made when he left the full time employ of The Salvation Army to start the wonderful HIV and Aids charity HOPEHIV some years ago.

Both Phil and Russ are still deeply involved in their local community in a Salvation Army context at Raynes Park Community Church, who’s modest website belies a vibrant, active Christian community with a heart for mission in that part of London.

It will be interesting & exciting to see how this pans out, as Russ steps out in faith. I’m sure Chapel Street will be one to watch.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Salvation Army Croydon Citadel presents Christmas Praise

I'm happy to give a shout out to our Church's annual Christmas Carol Concert at Fairfield Halls in Croydon.

If you're in the area, it'd be great to see you!

This year's special guest is 11 year old singing sensation Charlie Green, from ITV's "Britain's Got Talent"

...not to be missed!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Noah’s 3

My boy Noah was three years old yesterday.

Noah is a diamond.

A beautiful, happy, kind, cheery little fellah who lights up my life, as well as that of his Mum and his wonderful big sister, Mia.

• He has a capacity to make me smile at the mere mention of his name, and can make me roll around on the floor laughing at his antics.
• He adores his Mum and Sister, and I think he loves me, although when I kiss him – which is often – he says “Yuk! Disgusting!”
• He loves his football (soccer) lesson, and as far as I’m concerned he’s the fastest, brightest, most enthusiastic one there, so I harbour dreams of him one day representing Scotland!
• More often than not these days he’s dressed as Spiderman or Sportacus, as he bounces around the house with limitless energy
• He loves the drums – and will usually be found behind the full sized kit at Church when I’m desperately trying to prize him away to leave for lunch
• He loves dragons, dinosaurs and robots

I thank God for the day each of my kids were entrusted to us. We don’t deserve them.

Time for some Blunnies?

As winter creeps in, and the cold wet and damp become more prevalent as I endure my daily cross-London commute from home to office I’m feeling the need for some decent boots that can keep out the elements. I’m thinking about going for some Blundstones…simple, beautiful bit of kit that inspires a whole lot of enthusiastic customer loyalty and has created a little bit of a subculture. If you blogsearch “Blunnies”, ”Blundstone” or “Blundstones” you’ll uncover a whole little world of folks who think the world of these Australian classics.

Hat Tip to Oz newspaper The Age for the pic of these old Blunnies…if I buy some I’m sure they will look a little less worn!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Following the Missio Dei into strange places…with Mike Frost

Since I spent a couple of days last week immersed in the teaching of Mike Frost at two different events run by the Evangelical Alliance, I’ve made a few scribbles, as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s, to try and unpack the thoughts & ideas that grabbbed my attention.There was so much to take in that these notes should not be regarded as comprehensive or definitive in any way….it’s just a note of some of the things that impacted me.

It was good too to hook up with top fellah, Krish Kandiah.

First off, I guess it’s important to understand that I came to hear Mike having read a two of his books at least a couple of times each, and also having heard his friend and missional compadre Alan Hirsch earlier in the year. Essentially, I’ve already bought into the notion that MISSION needs to be the first organizing principal of Church……

Mike posed three big questions:

1. To whom shall I go?
2. Who will go with me?
3. Where will we meet them?

It was clear from the get go that Mike was not pushing a model (“I don’t have a model!”) or template for missional Churches to plug into, but rather was exploring the bigger picture of the reasons for Mission (Theologica, Cultural/historical and I guess what I would call the ethos of the Church) drawing on his conviction that God is a “sent” and “sending” God. Although Mike has an amazing head-knowledge about being missional, and is quick to acknowledge the influence of folks like Lesslie Newbigin and David Bosch, for me it’s his experience as a practictioner in his own smallboatbigsea community there in Manly, Sydney that is the most telling. (note to self: If I ever get to Oz, must visit smallboatbigsea!) If you want to get more of a feel of the Manly vibe, you might want to check out this post from my bloggin’ buddy Hamo at Backyard Missionary.

Frosty is completely sold out on Jesus and a master story teller who’s passionate and emotive retelling of Scripture would be well worth listening to alone, even without all the great stuff he outlined about mission over the two days. I don’t think I can effectively summarize everything he said – I’m just not that good a writer, but I can recommend, once again, the books I’ve written about on this blog. (Search "FROST" in the blog search window, top left). Neither can I do justice to capture in a few clicks of my keyboard how moved I was when Mike was recounting tales of people’s responses when he’d asked them “so….you’ve never had a religious experience?”. To hear of the supposedly non-believing mother ponder the meaning of life, and where it comes from when – for the very first time – she draws her new born daughter to her chest, or the surfer who – feeling the huge undulating swell of the mighty Pacific before he caught that amazing wave – bristles with a knowledge that somehow, somewhere there is a force so much bigger than he can really that not a religious experience?

I liked a powerful phrase Mike used about Jesus followers marinating ourselves in the Gospels, and the notion that we should be trying to be ever more like Jesus. Good advice.

Although Mike kept most of the stuff about smallboatbigsea on the back burner, it was good to hear little snippets about some of the stuff they did there in their own context and community. He talked about being more of an “infiltrating” Church than an “inviting” Church, so clearly they are more about seeping into the cracks and crevices of that particular stomping ground than simply setting up their Church stall and expecting people to come to them….inspirational. It was fascinating to hear that during the early days of smallboatbigsea they identified two hangouts - The Artichoke and the Ivanhoe Hotel – as somewhere where they could live out their “sentness”, not with an agenda somehow targetting unsuspecting non-Churched folks, but rather simply as part of this calling to a missional lifestyle…following the Missio Dei into strange places.

In fact, the third place - as identified in Ray Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place – features often in Mike’s stories of the missional Church, with references to Pittsburg Hot Dog Restaurant Hot Dogma (which I understand eventually changed its name to the equally imaginative and witty “Franktuary”), the Four Olives Deli, again in Manly where Mike regularly breakfasts with two other guys who together form their Discipleship, Nurture and Accountability group, or DNA, to the kids life saver club, where parents sit on the decks drinking coffee chatting about their kids, life and the universe.

It’s this whole , expansive, and very rich life that makes the incarnational Church so…….attractive. Hope you catch the playful, subtle irony of that sentence! If the Missional is about “going”, then the Incarnational is about “going deep”.

I was also interested in the challenge to the notion that busyness in Church somehow equates with effectiveness. I loved Mike’s little illustration of the Pastors who’s dialog is often preceded with the greeting “How are you? Busy?”
Mike’s reply has become “Busy…I’m not busy, I’ve got all the time in the world…what do you want to do?”

This just goes to illustrate the power of the maxim “No time for relationships – no time for mission”…something important for me to bear in mind. In my local context we’ve been wrestling with this, so it was good to be reminded that if you release people from Church commitments – as we have done to some small extent - you must also model and provide missional opportunities….. stirring up latent missional potential.

“God is already at work in the places where you have been sent”

For much clearer and more eloquent unpacking of Mike’s talks, try here and here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Diary collision

October is a chronically busy month for us, and I find myself in a position where I have to make choices about where I want to be.

Tomorrow, I’ll take a day off tentmaking to go and hear Michael Frost, and again on Saturday. This was an easy choice….a no-brainer, if you will. I’m really looking forward to these couple of days.

On Saturday 25th it’s much tougher.

• For a while now I’d been anticipating an interesting Prayer Development Day (although I hadn’t taken any action to hook myself up wth it) with mayBe’s Ian Adams and the guys from MOOT. Since my visit to MOOT for the Tom Sine event this has been even more appealing, but I don’t think I’ll be able to make it, which is a huge shame. I’ve been meaning to post about this excellent Tom Sine event, but somehow haven’t gotten round to it…maybe the time has passed. I was hoping to go the Prayer Development Day with Janet , so I’m gutted we’re unlikely to be able to be there.

BTW, so glad to have hooked up with Ian Mobsby and Eliacin as a result of my trip to MOOT – 2 excellent blogs well worth checking out, and top fellahs to boot.

• On the same day we’ll be attending the Retirement celebrations of some good family friends, and that is just one of those can’t miss occasions. We really want to be there to share in this special event, so this gets the call.

• Again, on that same evening, our Church is hosting a concert by The Salvation Army’s premier Brass Band (Holy Cow, Headphonaught!! ;-)), The International Staff Band, and under normal circumstances I would find myself there out of a sense of duty (Check this post for some background), but this time the Retirement really has to squeeze that out. It wasn’t a tough call to make that decision.

At the moment I sway between a thankfulness that we (Janet and the kids and I) have such a busy fulfilling life, and a deep anxiousness that perhaps we try to do too much, and sometimes end up shelving things which we would like to do or would be helpful for others to be available for other things where our attendance is more out of a sense of obligation.

This time, at least we didn’t succumb to the obligation.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Having given a little Birthday shout out to my elder nephew, and niece I’ve been feeling like I wanted to say “hey” to my younger nephew, Richie.

He’s a cool kid, who’s such fun to be around when we have the chance to visit the US.

As I’ve said many times before, I’m blessed by my family. I just wish we could be with them more regularly….but there’s the little question of huge air fares.

We miss you guys!

Church Under the Bridge

I heard a great quote from Church Under the Bridge’s Jimmy Dorrell.

This isn’t word for word, but Jimmy was having a gracious & affectionate pop at Post-Modern Churches by saying something along the lines of some people thought all you needed for a post-modern Church was
“a couch, a candle and a copy of the Matrix”.
There was no malice, or agenda….it was just a very funny line that had me laughing out loud as I listened to a podcast on my iPod on the train to the office.

More significantly, what Jimmy had to say about Church & Mission & the marginalized was on the nail. Jimmy wasn’t a name I was familiar with so I Googled him, bounced through the Wiki and found the site for his Church Under the Bridge. As I write this, I haven’t had the time to check much of it out, but the things he had to say certainly inspired me. I’m looking forward to finding out more…

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Time for a little clear up

It’s been a while since I updated the blogroll, so here we go again:


My good friend MrsParker has given up the ghost as far as blogging goes, having put all her online energy into Facebook, so I have to bid a fond farewell to her space on the blogroll. As soon as you’re blogging again ‘Nit, you’re right back in there!


• Probably my favourite recent discovery is This Fragile Tent which is consistently imaginative and so easy on the eye, and it has a bit of a Celtic vibe which is always appealling for me

• I’ve been meaning to add Nigel Coles’ The Old Forge for some time. I met Nigel at an Alan Hirsch event earlier in the year, and have enjoyed catching up with his missional musings.

• Lon at Solar Crash also goes in

A few adjustments

• Tony Morgan has shifted to a new home
• Dan Rous is now at House of Rous
• Chris Hinton can now most often be found at Geek-Speak
• Ubertech- man of a thousand blogs ;-) - moves to Faith Life
• Duncan has closed What’s Your Point Caller, and now concentrates all his efforts towards Seven Men
Jason Clark is now blogging at Deep Church

As always, I’d encourage you to have a a wander towards the various blogs & sites listed…bounce in and join the conversation. If you’ve received a name check here, you might wanna check out the other people who’ve also been mentioned. Chances are there will be some common ground.

This little reshuffle gives me another chance to ramp up my campaign to get Darrin Reeves blogging again. Join the fight, Tweeple.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tom Sine at Moot

A little later in September I’m hoping to head over to Moot – if my diary doesn’t get too rammed – to hear Mustard Seed Associates’ Tom Sine speak..

Tom has just released a new book called The New Conspirators

This should be an interesting evening for all kinds of reasons:

• It’s always good to hear up close what writers have to say about their own work
• An opportunity to see the work of the guys at Moot, a community who seem to be doing some really interesting and creative things
• Another chance to break outside of my tribal box, and hook up with other Jesus followers. I’ve been really encouraged lately when stepping out a little like this. In fact, I’m starting to feel the stirrings of something very special about the opportunities that are coming my way, and the relationships that are quietly building in the background. There’s a feeling of inter-connectedness and authenticity that seems like a God-thing. We shall see…

This London event is free…..but you do have to book your place.

For booking details you can go here

Monday, September 15, 2008


Just a few posts ago I was wishing my niece Victoria "Happy Birthday", and now it's time to celebrate the 18th birthday of the elder of my two nephews, James and Richard.

This week, James hit the important milestone of 18.

James is a man.

A man of honor, and faith, and like all my family, I'm proud to be a small part of their lives.

Walk the way of Jesus, James.

We love you

Friday, September 05, 2008

Stuart Pendred

Check out a really good buddy of mine, Stuart Pendred is a guest on Premier Christian Radio's Breakfast show on Saturday AM (UK time.

We grew up at the same school & Church when we were kids, as part of a tight little group of guys who had such a great time together doing kid stuff.

The interview is scheduled for about 8.20 AM onwards through until the end of the show. Stuart will be having a general chat about hislife and career and then talking about his debut solo album 'Benedizioni'.

Stu is a really top guy, and a good friend. He's been around in my life for a long time, and always has interesting things to say.

Because I've known Stu for such a long time, I feel completly justified in using a completely undignified pic to illustrate this post!

Premier Radio can be found through the channels listed below:

1305, 1332, 1413 MW
Sky Digital 0123
Virgin Media 968
Freeview 725

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Happy Birthday Victoria!

Just wanted to say a big Happy Birthday to my niece, Victoria who turns sixteen today.

We love you Vic.

Have a great day!

When I met & married Janet, I was blessed to be embraced by her wonderful family, who are now such a large and important part of my life, and are so completely integrated into the world view of my own kids. They are now – without reservation – my family too.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Mike Frost in London

I’m looking forward to a couple of events next month featuring Michael Frost.

First off, on October 10th is rethinking church, mission and evangelism for the 21st century at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. Although it’s apparently designed for “younger” leaders, I’m going to go along anyway!

Secondly, on the following day I’ll head over to the London School of Theology for New church, fad or future?

Should be great to have a couple of days to spend some time listening to one of today’s most respected thinkers - and more importantly, practitioners - in the area of mission.

If the days are even close to as valuable as the day I spent listening to Mike’s writing partner, Alan Hirsch, it will be well worth it.

HT to Frosty for the wonderful pic to illustrate this post…..hope no offence is taken by me cribbing it. I’ve been in two minds whether it was ethically correct to use it without prior permission, but it was so good, I just couldn’t resist m’lud!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Solar Crash

I’m glad to have found Lon’s blog, Solar Crash – where heaven and earth collide - which I stumbled across blogsearching “Erwin McManus”, in light of my current iPod marathon of Erwin’s Mosaic podcasts which I got into during my recent holiday.

There’s lots of thought provoking and creative stuff on there.

Lon also blogs at One Life

Pop over and say “hello”, and tell Lon Johnny sent ya!



Thanks for the pic, Lon

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New books from "Mission" Al and Frosty

…really glad to get a heads up that Alan Hirsch has a couple of new books coming out later in the year – a guide book for communities to take some practical steps in the direction outlined in Alan’s excellent Forgotten Ways book, and another collaborative effort with Michael Frost call reJESUS; A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church

…and I quote

This is a radicalizing book that aims at helping the church recalibrate itself around Jesus as the protoypal Christian. It is what I would call a missional Christology. And it is wild!

No doubt, both books will be hugely useful, and create a bit of a stir in the blogosphere.

I’ll be trying to grab a copy of each as soon as I can.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Welsh Retreat

Well, we're back from a couple of weeks of holiday.

Week one, we chilled at home, and I wrestled with an IKEA wardrobe, which seemed to take the whole week to assemble! All the same, it was so good to get up when my body was telling me to do so, instead of when my Blackberry's alarm told me to. It was even better to hang out with Janet, Mia and Noah. I love to spend time with them, and this was the best opportunity to do this for quite some time.

Week two we travelled to West Wales to stay at the beautiful Cerrig Llwyddion in Camarthenshire. This was our chance to really chill and relax in the most wonderful peaceful environment. Check out the site if you are looking for a quiet friendly place for a family break, or a venue for a retreat. The Barn can take up to eight adults. Highly recommended!

The kids loved the easy going nature of the place, and being around the chickens, pigs, cats and Murphy the dog.

Even though it rained pretty much every day, we still mananged to hit the beaches along the Ceridigion coast every day. Mwnt became a favourite.

I didn’t manage to do as much reading as I had planned, but did manage to whizz through one of the Oxford University Press’ cute little Very Short Introductions series on “The Celts”, which was OK, if a little bit heavily skewed towards the Breton part of the equation, with only cursory mentions of the Scots. (hence my interest). As a series of books, though, I think they are worth exploring.

..caught up too with some excellent podcasts from Eric Bryant & Erwin McManus at Mosaic, and various bits from Mars Hill, particularly preaches from Steve Chalke & Phyllis Tickle …just quality stuff.

Thanks to Linda & Julie for making our stay so special. (and thanks for the pic to illustrate this post)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Silicon Roundabout - Riding the zeitgeist

Every once is a while a new buzz word hits the streets…looks like the latest one describes the little cluster of web companies in and around London’s Old Street, which has been dubbed “silicon roundabout”.

Yesterday’s FT and today’s Evening Standard each had a feature on Dopplr’s Matt Biddulph, who coined the pithy little phrase.

Let’s see how big it (the phrase) becomes.

Karl at Q

Glad to share this little vid from this year’s Q conference, which Duncan McFadzean posted at What’s your point caller?

The speaker is Karl Martin of Edinburgh’s MBC.

…really good stuff….and inspirational if you are involved in Church transition.

For a little more background, check Duncan’s post here

Thanks, Duncan!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Something Beautiful Podcast

It’s taken me aeons to get round to downloading these onto my iPod, but I heartily recommend my buddies’ JB and Thomas’ Something Beautiful podcast.

I’m very happy to give them a shout out.

….and while I’m chatting about iPods, podcasts and all that webby stuff, I’m finally on Twitter….or at least I think I am!

Follow me…

Monday, July 28, 2008

Moot thoughts

Love this Summer thought from the guys at Moot

Think about how the warmth and long days allow us to practice presence
Think about how the heat and the sun affect our practice of acceptance
Think about how the light shapes our creativity
Think about how the summer break allows us to practice balance
Think about how the change in routine affects how we practice accountability
Think about how the holiday times form our practice of hospitality

…also gives me an excuse to borrow one of the staggeringly beautiful shots of Scottish – yes, Scottish – beaches at Silversprite.

this fragile tent

It’s encouraging to hear that http Aoradh’s* Chris Goan has stepped up to the plate with a small group to tackle Mike Frost’s Exilio.

I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes.

Chris’ has a new blog – this fragile tent - which already has some really excellent content. It’s well worth a visit.

You’re going on the blogroll Chris!

Aoradh (Gaelic for adoration) is a Christian arts group based in Dunoon, Argyll, Scotland. Members come from many different traditions and church backgrounds, and greatly value the creativity and diversity that this brings to their experience.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Shrinking numbers?

I’ve always thought of these guys & girls as urban heroes of a sort, probably fueled by my love of William Gibson books, so I can appreciate the pathos of this piece in WIRED, which reports the shrinking numbers of of bike couriers in the major western cities.

* William Gibson’s “Virtual Light” had a bike courier, Chevette Washington as it’s main character

Big thanks to CogMag for the amazing images

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Old Forge

...was glad to meet Nigel Coles of The Old Forge at a recent Alan Hirsch event in the UK.

Go visit!



Russ off

Interesting news about ALOVE's Russ man, that he is.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wise words from Mosaic

Some wise words I picked up from my buddy Eric on his blog:

They all bear repeating....

The “conqueror” is the more common strategy for leadership. The “explorer” excavates the talent of those already there. We need to become explorers.

If you keep looking for a new place to speak, you will never become a better communicator. We need to look for ways to have something important to say whenever and wherever we have the opportunity to speak (one-on-one conversations, team trainings, youth ministry, and so on).

If we don’t translate building community with us, then we won’t be able to do this in our teams. We need to move fast but never at the cost of creating community!

We think we have to tone down the Gospel to attract people to Jesus, but we actually need to elevate the understanding of the Gospel (to where Jesus intended) to offer life-transformation to those out there who are looking for meaning.

We need to initiate relationships and conversations with the people others see as invisible.

Not everything has to grow large, but we need to be honest about what we have and are doing and always be a place for outsider.

The more people feel you are speaking to a person, the larger the church can become. The more people feel you are speaking to a crowd then fewer people will want to come.

We need to ask the question: “How do I help the people around me become the people God wants them to be?” We are spiritual leaders, not just leaders.

HT to Keith and the guys at Core Magazine for the pic.

For more of the same, check out MOSAIC & Erwin McManus



Monday, July 07, 2008

Alan Hirsch in UK

Next Tuesday I’ll be popping down to the West Country to hear Alan Hirsch speak at a West of England Baptist Association event at Clevedon Baptist Church

…looking forward to hooking up with Alan, whose books The Forgotten Ways and The Shaping of Things to Come (with Michael Frost), have had such a profound effect on my view of mission.

HT to Willow Creek for the Hirshy pic

Monday, June 30, 2008

Time for spontaneity

I love this piece by my good buddy Duncan, which has just appeared in The Salvation Army’s UK in-house magazine “Salvationist”:

A few stand out phrases:

In our heavily structured lives, do you find yourself not having room to be spontaneous – that if it’s not in the diary a month (or two or three) beforehand, it’s probably not going to happen? It’s not just meals, either; hooking up with friends or spending time with someone who wants to chat with you just gets more and more difficult.

I often speculate that had Jesus and his disciples just sat and ate their packed lunch and not shared it with the people who had just heard him – no doubt teaching about loving their neighbour, how to live in community with God and each other, and how to live justly – they wouldn’t have had much credibility.


Time for spontaneity

I struggle to find good quality time to eat with friends and family on a regular basis, and guess this could be true for others…….some of us are so busy trying to do, that we forget just to be. There are many people that need me just to be present and attentive, so that we can both work in each other’s lives – even over a simple meal. Jesus shows us very clearly that sitting down together is central to his work.

Duncan & his wife Anita are co-ordinators of our Fellowship Team at church

Friday, June 20, 2008

Booth & Bono

I’m looking forward to seeing an article that Randy Bohlender says he’s been working on for RELEVANT.

Randy had Twittered the thought
"I'd like to see a cage match between Bono and William Booth",
which put together two of my big heroes in one intriguing sentence, and captured my imagination.

I wonder what’s coming?

…should be a good read when it comes out.

BTW, I first came across Randy a year or two ago by some random Googling of "Burning Man" and "Christian". Check out this fascinating & uplifting piece about his experiences at Burning Man

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Punk Monk

On Saturday I took the opportunity to take up the recommendation of Keith, and picked up a copy of 24/7 Prayer guys Andy Freeman & Pete Greig’s Punk Monk book at my local Wesley Owen.

Unusally, I was wearing full on Sally Army uniform because the stop off at the book store was squeezed into a little time slot I had on the way to a gig with the Salvation Army Band I play in.

Now, I have to confess, there are times I struggle with wearing my uniform. It’s not that I have a problem with being identified as a member of The Salvation Army – it’s just that the style of uniform that I don’t like. It’s too close to a generic traffic warden /prison officer/security guard – whatever; white shirt, dark blue serge and smacks far too much of the conservative, conventional and buttoned-down for my liking. Also, it’s not exactly the most comfortable piece of clothing in my wardrobe.

The uniform is certainly not as readily identifiable as it used to be when The Salvation Army was more of a known quantity for people in British society, so maybe today if it was a bit more striking and individual it may, in turn, become more recognizable?

On top of that, I have a concern that a building full of people looking very similar in their uniforms may be a little overpowering or overwhelming for anyone who had chosen to drop in to one of our gatherings. (someone else might want to comment on this – this is only my perception)

Having said all that…….there are times when the uniform is great as a signal to people, saying “you can talk to me!”. In these circumstances it’s good…and on Saturday it was good because as I walked back from buying the Punk Monk, I bumped into a punk – mohican, studded jacket, tattoos, piercings…the works, who was taking a little time out outside a pub enjoying a drink with some friends. Now, because I had my uniform on, and because he was a decent guy, we were able to get into a conversation for a good 10-15 minutes. His opening gambit was
“I hurt people for a living”.

I asked him to explain, so he told me that he was one of the tattoo artists in the shop across the road. We talked, laughed, had a look at my newly purchased Punk Monk together – a little quizzical about the synchronicity of it all - and shared stories about tattood Pastors like Pernell & Carlos.

The funny thing is, I pass a couple of tattoo shops at least twice a week, as they are both close to The Salvation Army Hall. Something has been eating away at me for weeks saying I’d like to find a way to make contact. - not necessarily because I want to have a tatt, but because these people are real…authentic…our neighbours. We’re fortunate because our Salvation Army building is in a densely populated area, very close to the centre of our town, within stepping distance of a bustling and historic market where life is happening…and our presence there should be a tangible, authentic and positive thing.

I’m looking forward to reading Punk Monk!

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood

John 1:14 (The Message)

Thanks to Sayconnect for the pic of the non-traditional Sally Army uniform

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I've nicked this picture from Lloyd, just it's because it's a great shot of two of my greatest friends, Duncan and Anita, who I love very dearly...


CNN currently have a fascinating feature called "JUST IMAGINE…what will life be like in 2020?” on their site.

It includes a feature on the inspiring Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx, who I first learned about though Duncan McFadzean’s What’s your point caller? blog at this post. Thanks for the heads up on this, Duncan!

There’s also piece on Community from Worldchanging’s Alex Steffen.

…a lot of good stuff to dig into in this feature, which means you may need to keep going back to revisit it.

If this kind of eco and urban renewal stuff floats your boat, you might also be interested in The High Line in NYC – an initiative to turn the historic High Line rail structure into a one-of-a-kind recreational amenity: an elevated public park cutting though a district in the city, above street level. I’m all for greening the city – makes sense to me.

The High Line blog
The High Line site
The High Line portraits

Pic straight from CNN

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Little shuffle

…not really due for an overhaul, but I did want to make a few small tweaks in to the johnnylaird blogroll

ABC Pastor goes in (I blogged about Lawrence Tom here)
• I’ve added Lard’s family site too
Scott was posted about here, and makes the blogroll
• Ian’s In the Belly of the Big Fish blog and Pace Bene site go on
• Stuart Watson’s Speirer blog is an interesting one for Salvationists. It’s early days for this one, so I’m not sure what themes will be covered over time, but Stuart has posted on subjects that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately namely Duty and Sabbath. My guess is this one will be an interesting one to watch as later in the month, Stuart & his wife Marjory leave the UK to begin a new life in California. Stuart will be working as the Music Education Director and Marjory as the Creative Ministries Director for The Salvation Army on the US West Coast, based in LA.
• …been finding a few things on MOOT’s blog that have grabbed my attention, so it’s going on the ‘roll
Matt Ingram – How could I possibly not? Matt’s Hawaiian adventure is going to be great to read about because it will bring back so many memories of that beautiful place

I also wanted to include some sites of various good people I hooked up with when I spent a day with Eric Bryant and the guys from the Mosaic Alliance UK, so in go the following:

Keith Ayling
• Sam Radford of Mosaic Sheffield blogs at The Sixth Sense
• Not strictly a blog, but a funky little Church site from ICF London

RELEVANT makes the mags, partly because it’s so relevant, and also as a sign of my support for the mighty Lard

Lastly, I wanted to give a shout out to my blogging buddies Thomas and JB, who’ve just started a new podcast at Something Beautiful.Stop by if you can.

When I do one of these periodic jigs of my blogroll, I’m hoping whoever is reading this blog finds a few things that might interest them and that the various strands of my own little cyberworld might gently collide with each other and find some common ground.

(There's a lot of linkage to sort now, but I'll get to it!)

Books and stuff and Haruki Murakami

When I left school – way way back in the early 80s, there was a period of time when I simply did not read. I had abandoned reading for pleasure, probably as a result of delving deeply into all kinds of stuff which I had been directed to as part of my studies. I had dutifully worked through the usual English syllabus of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Hardy, EM Forster, Beckett, Joyce and the rest of the usual suspects. After that, it all came to a grinding halt for a few years.

My reading after school was almost entirely made up of editions of Downbeat and Guitar Player magazines, which I read, re-read and read again. I never did master the guitar, but I could talk the talk, and fool anyone into thinking I knew what I was talking about when it came to guitars! I’ve forgotten most of it now, so don’t test me.

Then, on one specific day – and I can’t remember what the catalyst was to encourage such a focused response – I made a conscious decision that it was time to read again, so I went to a book store and made some purchases:

• To Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee
• Lake Wobegon Days – Garrison Keillor
• On the Road – Jack Kerouac
• The Catcher in the Rye – J D Salinger
• Neuromancer – William Gibson

These books started a journey that has never stopped, and I suppose if I really sat down and took the time to analyze it, the day when I bought those five books would have been the kick off point for a daisy chain of a reading pattern that would find me searching out a book that had some kind of connection (which was sometimes deliberate, and sometimes subconscious) to the one I had just read. I would settle on an author any read several of their titles, or I would by a biography of the author that would open up another world for me – I rattled around the works of the Beats for a year or two, and racked up a whole collection of William Gibson cyberpunk novels. Eventually, the whole thing blossomed into a reasonably wide portfolio of reading stuff.

The reason I’ve remembered all this, is one of those authors I focused on for a while was Haruki Murakami. I love his surreal, contemporary Chandler-esque tales, written in a clipped, sparse way that leaves enough space for your imagination to fill in the gaps.

Murakami featured in a really interesting piece in the Saturday edition of The Guardian, where we talks mostly about the other passion in his life, apart from his writing – running. Murakami, I now realize, is a dedicated long distance runner, with many marathons under his belt, and talks about the similar discipline he applies to his writing and his running.

For more stuff on Haruki Murakami and running, there’s a Runners World interview here.

I’m kinda hoping the inspiration I initially got from reading a few books, might work for me in getting me off my backside, and doing a little better than the periodic mile and a half stagger across the field and around the local park. There’s something appealing about running that is somehow at odds with my normal preference for sitting around and drinking coffee!

Hat tip to Naxos Audio Books for the image

Currently reading NT Wright’s Surprised by Hope

Friday, June 06, 2008

Say Aloha to Matt!

...wanted to give a shout out to the baby-faced and frighteningly talented Matt Ingram, who's just arrived in beautiful Hawaii for the summer, and will be blogging about his experiences here

Matt's a lovely fellah, top musician and all round good bloke

Thursday, June 05, 2008


For a long time I’ve been an admirer of the ministry of The Freeway in Hamilton ON, and regularly visit their website, as well as the blog of their pastor Pernell Goodyear, but somehow this quite beautiful outline of their story had dipped under my radar.

I love the way they describe the early days of The Salvation Army, and smoothly move into their vision of their new and current expression of Christian love in their community.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Praying Pete

As is so often the case, I’m late to the party on this news.

24/7 Prayer
head honcho Pete Greig has become “Director of Prayer” for Holy Trinity Brompton Church in London.

24/7 Announcement
HTB Announcement

It’s an interesting appointment in all kinds of ways, not least because 24/7 has quite recently grown rapidly as a prayer movement from a humble, organic little huddle of people to something of a global phenomenon seemingly overnight, whereas HTB has been around since the 1800s, and is the home of the hugely successful Alpha Course.

My own tribe have had a long and happy relationship with the 24/7 guys and have a department focused on 24/7 prayer, so I’m glad to see 24-7 Prayer’s continuing impact on Church communities and the wider society. The story about that relationship between 24/7 and The Salvation Army is outlined here. It really is worth the read.

Pete has written a number of books, but the two that I particularly found helpful are Red Moon Rising and God On Mute. If you’re not familiar with them, they are worth checking out.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Scott’s tips for “Keeping a pulse on culture”

I’ve been reading Scott Hodge’s blog probably as long as any other. It’s a regular stop off for me, for all kinds of reasons. First off, Scott’s a funny guy, who often posts stuff that makes me laugh. Secondly, he periodically comes up with a little gem that will set my mind thinking about the things of faith, mission or ministry; and finally I like to listen in to his radar about other good stuff that is going on around the web.

One of Scott’s recent posts is a response to an e-mail he received asking questions about how people in ministry keep up with “culture”.

1. Here’s the question…

I’m in the process of reading through tons of blogs, which incidentally, is how I happened on yours. I’m a 45-year-old white guy who is the “minister of music” at a 50-year-old church. Our church is in the beginnings of what is going to be a painful change in terms of trying to become more “relevant.” My question for you is how do I “catch up” culturally on a personal level? I have a 19-year-old son who has done a pretty good job of keeping me from fossilizing (I have a Facebook, do Twitter, and I’m about to be blogging myself) but I was wondering if there are some books you could suggest, some activities to engage in, or some other magical pill that would aid me in the process. Any thoughts you can give me would be most appreciated

The hugely interesting 11-point response is well thought through and is full of points of reference that are worth exploring. It set off a train of thought in my own mind.

2. Here’s the post called “Keeping a pulse on culture”

3. ….and here’s my ramble, which I left as a response…

“Great post, Scott! Really interesting stuff. The thing I’ve been rolling around in my head, though, is so much of the stuff you mention is such familiar territory to me - kinda my lingua franca, if you will: stuff that stimulates me, excites me, encourages me and forms the basis of much of my thought about BEING Church…. BUT, if I transplant it to my local Church situation, does it get lost in translation for those who I spend my waking days with, off of the cyber-grid I spend so much of my existence hooked in to?

Am I an early adopter because I read the blogs and the mags…and the books, or am I inhabiting a world that is foreign those folks I serve & minister with and to?

This is not in any way meant as a criticism of your post, but rather I’m just rolling out a little bit of self analysis it has stimulated.

I’m going to answer my own questions to a degree, with the upbeat conclusion that all this stuff DOES help me, because – at least in my own little world – people are sharing the stuff, networking, breaking down denominational and cultural barriers, learning from each other’s experiences…the list goes on….”

Any thoughts of your own, people?

Thanks to Scott for the pic

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Good question, Jason

I’m glad Jason Clark , Pastor at Vineyard Church Sutton, coordinator for Emergent UK , and all round good fellah - asked the question
Where have all the UK bloggers gone?”,
and in the process managed - through the responses provide – to hook me up with a bunch of interesting UK blogs, most of which have some kind of emerging vibe.

Check out the responses to Jason’s question:

I was particularly interested to discover the Ian Adams’ wonderfully-named In the Belly of the Big Fish blog and Pace Bene website - a neat little bit of synchronicity which took me back to the site where Ian is the founding Pastor – mayBe in Oxford. A year or two back, I used to bounce over to the mayBe site very regularly, having become captivated by their creative, authentic and elemental community’s web presence.

Thanks for the pic, Jason!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's that man again!

At the risk of having so many blog posts about Michael Frost that I could be branded some kind of weird fanboy, I’ve posted a YouTube ad for Mike’s visit to England later in the year.

Mike, you’re gonna have to stop writing books that have such a big impact on me, mate!

Red Rock

I’m a sucker for the coffee shop/Church initiative double whammy. (FRWY, Q Café, Sutton Sally Army are other examples of these Third Places)

The Highway Community’s Red Rock Coffee looks like it would be well worth a visit if you are ever in the Mountain View CA area.

I like what The Highway say in response to the question “Why does a Church own a Café?”

The church has long asked people to come through its doors to experience what we have to offer, whether it’s teaching, music, counseling, help, food, community, or support. It’s a good idea, in theory, and one that the church has operated on for the last two centuries or so.

However, in the work culture of the Silicon Valley, it grows more and more difficult to serve our community as we’re increasingly over-busy, over-networked, and over-loaded with information.

Even before the inception of Highway, we had long dreamed of a public place where ideas, lives, music, art, food, dialogue, and relationships could collide in an open, community setting. Since the café has turned into the postmodern intersection of public life, it seemed the perfect environment to evolve into ‘the place.’

Red Rock is our attempt at a new expression of Christ’s challenge to spread his love and message to the world. As a non-profit we hope to live out the example of service through our business, and by giving back to the community that sustains us.

BTW, if you need really good video resources for Church, you really should check their Highway Video site too. It’s amongst the best stuff available.

The Elders

Having quoted heroic chuckling Church man, Desmond Tutu in a previous post, I’ve been prompted to reacquaint myself with the work of The Elders, the group of seminal global statesmen and women brought together as part of an initiative envisioned by Peter Gabriel to act as elders to our global village – guiding & supporting us through the major challenges the world faces today.

This is not new news, but I’m glad to revisit it again, and would urge you to check it out if you’re not already familiar with it.

The pic is borrowed from the quite beautiful Elders site…Thank you