Saturday, May 10, 2008

Roots - thoughts

OK – just a few thoughts – not definitive, not comprehensive, not particularly well written….just a few scribbles…..

If Roots & The Salvation Army are familiar territory for whoever might be reading this, my ramblings should make some kind of sense. If, on the other hand, you’re reading this without that background, hopefully there will be a few things that might be interesting and useful.

As always, Roots was a great weekend – everything I hoped for – and more.

More challenging – scarily so – confronting poverty up-front & square between the eyes is never comfortable, especially when you live in relative comfort & wealth.

More life changing
– again scarily so. Hearing some of the things we heard over the weekend, my guess would be that many of us will have to confront big questions about our own personal circumstances and situations.


We had some really excellent speakers with us, notably the Simple Way’s Shane Claiborne, who was on top form. Radical, authentic, engaging and soaked in Scripture, Shane is a guy who clearly takes the teaching of Jesus wholly seriously. His powerful story telling certainly had me checking myself.

In the smaller seminar venues, Shane always impressed me because in each of the Q&A sessions every answer he gave came with Biblical back-up…every time, as if it was as natural as breathing for him. This was really telling during the late night debate session on pacifism. For me he scored high, simply because it was hard to argue with clear teaching from Scripture….certainly made me think hard.

Jeff Lucas was very good in the AM Bible Studies as usual. His humo(u)r and passion as evident as ever. Somehow, listening to Jeff in that first slot of the day that is really uplifting. He did look sickeningly tanned though! He’s clearly been somewhere a lot more exotic than Southport on a wet weekend!

Nims Obunge of the Peace Alliance spoke too, and was on fire! Anyone who can utter “religion sucks!” in what was essentially a Salvation Army meeting and get away with it deserves a round of applause! I’m glad our tribe is slowly coming to terms with the difference between religious legalism and real authentic faith. Nims’ exploration of the Biblical premise for peace was on the nail.
So good to hear Chick in one of the late night sessions…and sorry to have missed my good buddy, Duncan.


As I usually do I spent a good amount of time in the Resources tent and picked up a raft of books to work through over the next few weeks.

· Chick YuillA Terrible Beauty
· Tony JonesThe Sacred Way
· Shane Claiborne - Jesus for President
· NT WrightSurprised by Hope

I’ve already devoured Chick Yuill’s A Terrible Beauty in much the same way as I did last year’s Others. There’s something really captivating about reading an author who you actually know…someone who is part of your life, part of your journey. As Russ Rook says in his forward to the book, it’s like reading the book, having watched the movie… A Terrible Beauty is authentic, personal and occasionally raw exploration of the central mystery and mixture of agony and ecstasy which is most sharply focused in the Crucifixion. Chick's writing is heartfelt and real - highly recommended.

This week’s reading as I commute to the office on the train has been Jesus for President, and I’ll get to the others books in due course. Man, I love to read.


Good to see fellow bloggers Chris, Dan, Matt, Mel, mrsparker, Heather and Kevin.

(Hope I didn’t miss anybody)

Wish you’d been there Thomas – thanks for the txts, Twitters & Facebook stuff!


Thankfully, much of what God has done through Roots is now happening effectively at a local level in The Salvation Army, so the need for the big event could be questionable. Now it has been announced that there will be a break from the event in 2009

Much as I love Roots as an event in itself, for the reasons I outlined in this & previous posts, I am kind of pleased that the guys at the hub of all this made the decision. I’m sure it was a tough call, and a heck of a lot of prayer was involved -– but much of what was once thought to be cutting edge and radical has moved into the mainstream of our tribe’s activity in the UK. Maybe the time is coming when we need to be pushed even further.

Because of next year’s gap, I guess I’ve been made to look backwards a little, to try and get a better understanding of the things God has blessed through the amazing initiative that is Roots, which had birthed so much that is good about The Salvation Army in the early 21st Century

I’m glad that Roots has broadened the world view of Salvationists….opened our doors to outstanding speakers who have enriched our view of mission – Tony & Bart Campolo, Steve Chalke, Jeff Lucas, Tim Costello….amongst many many others

…helped move mission back to the forefront of the thinking of many Salvationists

…encouraged a wider participation in social action amongst UK Salvationist

…challenged people to radical incarnational living

…just freed us up a little to be a little less buttoned up, a little less reserved and a lot more like we were birthed to be

…made us face up to what authentic Salvationism means

Big big thanks to those early Roots pioneers – I’m not sure precisely who they all were, but Phil Wall and Russ Rook have to be in there – and I know there are others.

If you know more about the early days of Roots, I’d like to know more.


darrin said...

thanks for that johnny

i detected from roots returnees in our church a more pragmatic down to earth attitude than in previous years....which i think is a good thing

Johnny said...'ll probably need to unpack that a little bit, Darrin..

J :-)

Dan Morehead said...

That's a lot of stuff in a single post...

First time visitor.

Johnny said...

Hey Dan

Thanks for passing by, bud.