Thursday, May 31, 2007

Make your own reusable bag

I was watching BBC Breakfast this morning whilst tucking into my low-fat Greek yoghurt and granola (we're into low GL/GI eating these days) and I saw a piece about some folk who were making bags from old clothes and duvet covers etc. and giving them away for free in exchange for plastic bags.

It looked like a really good idea so I tracked down their website and you can find it here.

Recently I watched a documentary about the waste problems in the Pacific. There's one particular beach where all the rubbish washes up and it's appalling to see the amount of junk that's been thrown into the oceans.

According to statistics we use around 300 plastic carrier bags per head a year in the UK. So when I saw this piece this morning it caught my imagination.

We're going to have a go at making our own bags, if only to remove the bags we would use through a year from circulation. I guess that even though we reuse and recycle our plastic bags, reducing how many we use is always going to b e a good thing.

And then I wondered if we could make enough at church to give them away as an outreach event. Nothing too bold, just a simple way of expressing our concern for the environment as Christians.

When we've made our first bag I'll post a photo!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Preaching themes or expounding texts?

I read a letter recently in my denominational newspaper that suggested that thematic preaching was the "junk food" of modern church life. By contrast, a healthy diet consists of good old expository preaching like we used to have. The problem is that the church has had centuries of good teaching, systematic theology and expository preaching and yet it remains largely ineffective when it comes to fulfilling it's primary mandate.

The letter writer went on to suggest that a "thematic" sermon was something that could be thrown together with some ease and without any real hard work or study. A few well chosen verses, a few hand-picked stories and or quotes gleaned from the Internet and the job was done.

But I happen to disagree with the premise that thematic preaching is to good teaching what a burger and fries is to a healthy diet. I know that a thematic sermon can, and should be, a carefully developed expository sermon too. I know that it takes as much, if not more, study and preparation to do a good job with a theme compared to a straight exposition.

And maybe the thing about a theme is that it forces you to think. It forces you to ask big questions of the text, and it forces to seek to hold together the whole message of the Bible and not just a small part. But then again that's probably true for the kind of expository preaching of which the letter writer spoke.

Perhaps, in the end, we need both. Perhaps the key to good preaching is making a connection between the Biblical world and the 21st century world. Between the world in which we live our day-to-day lives and the world of God's great revelation. Good old application as they used to say in my Bible study group.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A prayer for the day

"Lord, here I am. I want to be available to you today to do whatever you ask, nothing more, nothing less. Give me an open heart and a willing spirit to follow your lead. Help me connect with the people you bring across my path today. Help me to point them towards you and leave them ready for the next step on their journey towards your kingdom."


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Connecting Church Association

When I found the Connecting Church blog I didn't have time to explore any further than the blog, which as I said is very new (and there's still nothing much on it!). Anyway, I eventually had a little more time and found my way to the website (not rocket science I know).

You can find it here.

I discovered too that I have the book on my bookshelf in the "books to read" section. I have a big "books to read" section, and I keep adding to it. I wonder if Amazon would survive if not for church leaders like me!

knowing the times

Remember the men of Issachar? They understood the times and knew what Israel should do (1Chr.12:32).

Well, I'm currently reading Building a Strategic Church by David Beer, and this thought seems to come up early in the book. In chapter 2 on Strong Leadership he begins by referencing Dr Sam Keen who said that a wise person was someone 'who knows what time it is' in their own life and the history around them.

David Beer goes on to say that: A strategic church is a church that knows 'what time it is' in their church and in their community. (p34)

So it seems that good leaders are people who have this sense of both destiny (I was born for this) and context (I was born to do this here and now). I guess it might be easy to become arrogant if you thought this way without a servant heart and the humility that goes along with that. I'm certainly conscious of my shortcomings, and that anything I achieve I do so by the grace of God and not by my own efforts. But I guess I do need a sense of destiny. Perhaps calling is a word that will sit more comfortably, but either works for me I think.

What I do know is that God does not want me, or anyone in my church or in my community, simply to fill time or fill a pew. God wants us to fulfill a destiny and knowing the times and knowing what we should do is part of that process of fulfilment.

Apparently, the men of Issachar still live!

Related posts; The men of Issachar; The men of Issachar again

Monday, May 07, 2007

The world deserves better

You know how it is, you're standing in front of the congregation preaching away and you hear yourself saying something that stops you in your tracks. You keep going of course because it's usually important to do that given that there are people waiting to hear what's coming next! But in the back of your mind and somewhere deep in your heart and soul you've heard God speak something into your life.

In my experience this doesn't happen every Sunday, but it did this last Sunday.

We were exploring our third big theme: The community. We thought about how we understood community and how we could relate better to our wider community I talked about becoming part of the DNA of the community. I talked about how a cell is defined by the DNA it contains and that our communities are defined by their DNA. If the church is at the heart of the community then the com unity should be different because of it. And then I said it, a little phrase that God used to penetrate deep into my soul.

The community deserves a better church.

Now this is in no way a criticism of my church. I think we're on the right track, I think we're holding on to a dream and vision that God has given to us that is deeply rooted in this idea of being the DNA of our community. But the world deserves our best shot. The world deserves the church being the best that it can be at being the family of God. I don't want to settle for anything less.

I haven't figured out what it means yet, but I know deep down inside of me that God has something profound to say. Church can no longer be mediocre and irrelevant, the world deserves better than that.

As I spoke those words on Sunday I felt the emotion rise within me, I felt as if I'd touched the heart of God and shared, for a moment, his passion for the missing members of his family in a way I've not felt it before. Call them lost, call them missing, call them unchurched, it doesn't really matter, Jesus misses them and they deserve a church that points them back home and shows them what it means to be reconected with God.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Connecting Church

I'm working on the third in our series of big themes (The Community) this morning and I ran a search on the internet to see what might be out there. I came across a really new blog called The Connecting Church. It's really new, nothing much on it at the moment, but it might grow.

If you're interested in the concept or have some questions, stories or ideas, then you might want to visit the blog here or at the very least monitor it through your feed reader.