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…