Monday, July 30, 2012


I was in the local convenience store buying a treat for Anne and myself and overheard a wonderful conversation between a young child and her mother. The child was one of those great kids who never stops talking about something, anything, just as long as they are talking. The first thing I heard her talking about was someone, a friend maybe, who was on holiday for 45 weeks. Not 4-to-5 weeks, but 45 weeks apparently. Then came the priceless kind of moment you get with a talkative child.

"Mum, why don't you drink beer anymore? Is it because you're not married to my dad anymore?"

What a great line!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Opening Ceremonies

This is not a moan, just in case you were planning to misunderstand me!

I was listening to the news this morning and they were talking about the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games. This closely guarded secret will be revealed to an estimated 4 billion people over a three hour period tonight. Three hours! How long does it take to say welcome to the athletes and then tell them to get on with the games?

What was interesting in the broadcast was the discussion about those athletes that won't be there because the late finish and all the trappings of the ceremony could interfere with their performance. Think about the cyclist who take to the road the following day. So, if the Olympics is all about the athletes and the sport, how come the opening ceremony cannot be timed to allow them all to take part without affecting the games? Not an easy question to answer, but here's another, more personal question.

Are we more taken up with the celebration of God's mission than we are with the mission itself? Do you think there's a lesson for us to learn from the games that when the opening show is an event in itself, maybe the real purpose can get a little lost.

From what I've heard from those who were at the preview, and no they haven't given away any details, it sounds like a spectacular event awaits everyone who attends. But in the midst of the glitz and glamour and celebrity spotting of tonight's ceremony we should not forget it's meant to celebrate the games not the show itself.

Church is not a celebration of itself. It has to point to the greater mission of God otherwise it is quite simply a show that has little point. Let's not forget that either.

PS If you've got tickets to any part of the Olympics I hope you have a great time. Having wandered around London the last couple of weeks, everywhere there seems to be a buzz of activity. To quote Boris Johnson form this morning: The Geiger-counter of Olympomania of off the scale!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Luke 4

I decided to dip into a gospel and landed on Luke. Since finishing Hebrews I've been wondering what to read next. It's one of the hazards I guess of not having a devotional plan to follow. Anyway, I took a look at Jeremiah's call for a little personal encouragement, but decided not to read the whole book at this moment. So Luke it is, but not from the beginning. I wanted to start with the ministry of Jesus. I can do the nativity and infancy narratives later in the year. Right now it's the ministry I want to read about.

So I dropped in at chapter 4 and found myself in the middle of the temptation and fist steps into public ministry. A thought struck me. In 4:13 Luke tells us that the devil left Jesus after the 40-day in the wilderness "until the next opportunity". From the rest of the chapter it would appear that he didn't have to wait long for that opportunity.

Having come through the wilderness experience, the fasting and the temptation, it would have been nice to have launched the public phase of hi ministry with a great opening ceremony. Tomorrow of course we have the Olympic opening ceremony. Quite why they can't say, "Here are the athletes, welcome to the games, now get on with it!" Instead we will have hours of parades and lights and dancers and other things going on. The games almost overshadowed by the glitz.

Jesus chose to go to the synagogue on his hometown and, when the opportunity came, to read the scriptures. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon," he read and then announced that it was the day of fulfilment of Isaiah's prophetic words.  No resounding gasp of excitement followed this incredible announcement. Instead they got angry and upset. Dragging him outside they thought it best to dispose of him.

Not exactly what you might want for your fist impression, especially after the ordeal of the temptation and the preparation that was the wilderness experience. I suspect the devil took this early opportunity to have another go somehow.

There are times when I think we are guilty of thinking that somehow Jesus passed through his ministry without meeting temptation again until the garden before the cross. Perhaps chapter 4 of Luke's gospel tells us to be careful about such assumptions.

And what about your own life? what about its ups and downs? Have you recently come through a challenge hoping for some respite but just falling into a noter challenge? At the very least remember you are not alone. Jesus has been there too. This brings me great comfort.

I wish and if only

Today is Thursday. Thursday is social tennis day. From about 10:00-12:00 I will be enjoying the sunshine by the looks of the weather as I run around the tennis court. It's coming up to two years this October since I took up playing tennis, and there are times when It hunk to myself, "I wish I'd learnt to do this a long time ago." At school we didn't have tennis coaching, although we had plenty of courts available. But that shouldn't have stopped me, I just didn't know how to go about getting lessons and didn't have the money anyway.

It would be so easy to wonder about what might have been. I'm not for one minute thinking that I could have been a really good tennis player. In fact I suspect that had I started at school, I might not even be playing now. And that's the thing. Ho often do we live with some form of regret about what might have been when we know that like so many things we begin, we rarely finish them. Not because we're inherently undisciplined, but because we go through seasons. We have a season when something is important enough to pursue and seasons when it is not.

Had I lived out my life fully in the context of one season, then maybe I would have been single-minded enough to achieve something great. But that's not how I'm wired up and it's not how I'm ever going to be. Perhaps I should have found the one thing, and then chased it down with every ounce of effort and commitment I had. I guess that's the difference between champions and the rest of us. It's nothing to do with natural talent, it's more about the relentless pursuit of being the best.

But you can't live your life on the basis of the what if's and if only's. If we could, then I would go back in time and tell my younger self to sort out his eating habits sooner and learn about balanced diets and fitness before he puts on weight. I'd tell him to look beyond a science degree and towards other possibilities. I'd get him learning muscle origins and insertions and suggest physiotherapy as a study option. And I'd probably tell him to buy Apple shares when they are really cheap and to lend the inventors of Trivial Pursuits £100 the help them get the prototype made.

Then again, I probably also tell him not to follow that sense of call he has about ministry because it will only break his heart somewhere down the line and that people might never quite understand what it is that he is trying to show them. I'd try to point him away from the pain and heartache of what lies ahead. All of this because I want to revisit the possibilities that in later life appear to have slipped past without much notice.

So I can dream occasionally of what might have been, but I choose to live in the what is. I can change the what is, and I can affect what is to come, but I can't change what was, so there's little point dwelling on it. Perhaps in tennis I've found the one sport that I could have been good at. Well then, maybe I can be good at it now. At least I can be the best at it that I can be. I can put all my effort in to it in this season of my life. I can enjoy it and run with it and see where it takes me rather than wonder where it might have taken me. The same is true in ministry and with the Personal Training and Sports Massage. I could have done them years ago, but I'm doing them now and that's where I need to focus my attention.

Ministry is always unfolding and changing. I'm just as engaged with it I was, it just looks different. As I've said before, the Union might see me as being on leave of absence but I don't. It's not easy, but I have to decide every day not to regret the journey because win I do that I drop back into the what if's and if only's, and that is not a place I want to spend my life. It's too much of an adventure to live there.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Non-Religious Funerals

A while ago I mentioned that I'd been in conversation with a local Funeral Directors about doing non-religious funerals. I may also have mentioned the stir this caused in some circles around church. It seemed rather odd to me at the time that I was almost expected by some to turn down such invitations simply because they were non-religious and that was outside the parameters of my job.

Anyway, some people understood my reasoning and other didn't, and that's okay. even at the time it wouldn't have prevented me from taking an opportunity should fit have arisen.

Well, this last week I had two opportunities to serve families through doing a non-religious funeral. One turned out to be less than non-religious, with prayers and a hymn. The other was most definitely non-religious. And this raises an interesting point: What exactly do people mean by non-religious? For some it is quite clear that they do not want faith or God mentioned at all. For someone like me, that was quite demanding, and I had to work hard on preparing a positive, hopeful funeral that didn't include all the usual stuff. But I did it for the simple reason that even though they didn't want anything religious, I could still pray for them. I din't keep my identity secret, so they knew my faith framework, but I did as they asked and didn't mention God at all.

Did I let him down? Did I somehow fail to acknowledge Jesus? You might think so, but I don't. I believe I honoured him by serving he family in the way they wanted and not in the way I wanted. Just because God is not mentioned it doesn't mean he is neither present nor at work. Think of Esther's story.

So what have I learnt form these two experiences. Well first of all, non-religious doesn't always mean what we think it means. Second, it can be so easy simply to go through the standard process of a funeral without much thought. Sad to say that seems to happen a lot. I don't have a one-size fits all funeral. Yes, I use the same payers, follow a similar pattern and share the same basic message from the standard texts. But I always try to personalise what I do. Over the years I've developed a range of reflections of key passages, and I try to reflect on the passage in the context of the family and friends before me in the chapel or church.

My third lesson is that it is hard to plan a funeral that takes you out of your comfort zone of prayers and readings. These things so easily become the padding. Strip them away and you are left with very little if you can't improvise and think outside a religious box.

Being a minister who serves the community is not about imposing my faith upon them, but seeking to draw their faith out as I share the comfort and love of God with them as the opportunity aries. Maybe I even managed to do that as I sensitively lead my first non-religious funeral. Who knows. At least the door was open.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Introducing myself

I noticed another funeral directors in the village, so I called in today to introduce myself and offer my services. But how do I introduce myself? I can say I''m an ordained Baptist Minister, which for the present is true, but how do I explain my current situation?

I usually end up going down the route of church planting, but as I've said before, I really don't like that term very much. Too many images of a gathered community singing songs to get me excited. On the other hand, I have no idea how best to describe what the vision is without it sounding like a foreign language to most people. And you can't really tell people you are in a no-man's land sort of place, where you are not supported or, to use that favourite of phrases in church circles, accountable.

I sometimes think that accountable means justifying what you are doing as a valid expression of something. Maybe it's the cynical side of me raising its ugly head, but I find it difficult to be accountable to people I don't think understand the basic concept. A bit mean I guess, but I don't want to have to justify why we aren't trying to gather a worshipping community as our first step.

Maybe it has something to do with the metrics we use to measure the mission of God. Can we change our old metrics for something new, and we can, what would they be? Instead of people in church on a Sunday, what else might we measure? How about the number of people served in some way? By that measure I've served the man to whom I gave a lift the other day, five families for whom I'm leading funerals. Does the man who asked me directions the other count as someone I've served, was that part of God's mission? I don't know. Probably not, he was looking for a pub that had closed down! The girl at the station I met last week, she surely counts. But that was in Bedford, so would that count in the setting of Ockendon?

Interesting isn't it, to think about the things we measure, how we measure and even why we're measuring them in the first place. What I'm trying to do at the very least is to be there when someone emerges from a place of missing so that I can help them get found. At the moment my best opportunity of that is by supporting families at times of loss. Hopefully other avenues will open.

Maybe I should introduce myself as a guide for the missing, a kingdom games maker!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Another day another plunge

I'm not sure I've got it right, but I've taken the plunge and registered myself as self-employed. This is quite scary, yet another road down which I have not travelled before. Now I need to keep really accurate information and get better organised for so doing. Now I need to think about paying National Insurance and tax etc. Now I need to find clients!

First step, having registered, will be to set up a system for keeping all the bits if information. I\l have to revisit my tickler file system to adapt it this task. Then it's trawl the house for all loose paperwork again. Having moved recently and also having got out of the habit, I'll need a day simply to reorganise.

But I've done it. I've taken the first step.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Angels unaware?

I don't know if I've ever entertained angels unaware, and today's opportunity didn't look like an angel, but then again it wouldn't be unaware if it was obvious!

I'm back in Bedford for a meeting about the Paralympics, and I'm at the station waiting to collect a friend. Wandering around the car park is a young woman asking for change. She is tearful and distraught as we talk briefly and I part with some change.

Sitting in the car, I wonder if that's the best I can do. How will £2 get her off the street and out of both the rain and the danger? It won't.

I find her again. This time I ask her about her story. It's a sad story, then again they always are. It's so easy to assume that everyone lies. That way you can mitigate your reason for not helping. After al, they'll only use the money for drugs or drink and be out again later telling someone else the same story.

But what if it's true? Can we afford to assume it's a lie every time?

This time I asked how much she needed and if she'd found somewhere. She told she been to a place and what the cost of night's accommodation would be. Guess how much I had in my wallet. With the £2 I'd already given her I had enough to cover one night in a B&B.

She hugged me.

I didn't expect that.

Anyone attaching probably thought the worst, but who cares. Maybe I helped one soaking wet young woman get one night in a dry bed and tomorrow she'll find a place in a hostel. It's no way to live.

And if she was lying? Well I'm a few pounds worse off, but rather that than a sleepless night wondering if I'd missed the chance to bless anther human being or even entertain an angel unawares.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ongoing ministry

I have a little time between visits, so I thought I'd blog a bit about what's happening in terms of ministry at the moment. I've had a bit of a gripe about the lack of recognition from my denomination that I'm actually still committed to, and involved in ministry, I just am expressing it in a way that doesn't involve me in leading a church at the moment. It frustrates me that while local Funeral Directors recognise my ministry (although they wouldn't use that language), my denomination appears not to. Just today I was told that I was appreciated because I'm sincere without ever being patronising. And that was from one of the cemetery supervisors!

These visits are not pastoral visits in the traditional sense of the word as far as church goes, but they are funeral visits. I've done one funeral today and I have two visits to do. Altogether I have five funerals to do over the next couple of weeks starting today with a still born little girl.

And so I ask the question: Is this not ministry? Am I not engaging with my community? Am I not serving people by applying my skills and gifts as a church leader?

Please don't read this as me venting, I'm trying to raise an important question, and I'm thinking out-loud towards it.

If I'd set out to do funerals as my ministry then perhaps that would have been more easily recognised. Others have. But I didn't do that, and so I found myself in this awkward and uncomfortable position of applying for a leave of absence. I'm beginning to regret that part of the process now. I wish I'd set out my plan more clearly and my vision more succinctly. But then again, doing funerals was not part of the big plan. It's just that I appear to be rather good at doing them and so I get the 'phone call to say, "Can you help?"

I think I'm going to have raise the question more directly. I'm just not sure I have the will to do it!

Training for a purpose

If you are like me, then when someone asks why you train you probably say, "Because I want to get fit." The question, have you every thought about what you mean by that? Do you want to get fit enough to run for the bus or to run a marathon?

Fitness is just like anything sells you set yourself to do. It needs a goal. It might be to lose weight, but you need to quantify that by saying how much weight and by when. My goals are actually quite simple. I would like to get my body fat percentage down to 20% (I'm normal for my age, but I'd like to be lower), and I'd like to be more tennis fit. Now the second of these is much more difficult to define. Do you express in terms of how long you can play for or do you find some other measure. In the end it's probably an endurance thing, but I'm not sure I  going to be able to make tennis fit into a smart goal, so I'll have to look at other things that contribute to being tennis fit and set goals for them. Perhaps goal number one is to read a book about tennis fitness and conditioning.

Another simple goal would be to achieve the recommended guidelines for a healthy heart, namely 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5-7 days a week. Two years ago, or was it three, I did my 100 day challenge (walking 10k steps a day for 100 days) and then I did my 500k steps in a month challenge.

All these little targets kept me going through snow and wind and rain. Now my goals need to be remained and reset to meet new challenges. For one, I'd like to be able to a suspended abdominal exercise on the TRX for longer than 10 seconds before I collapse in a heap!

The thing is, without a goal you are likely to just keep repeating what you always do in a pretty purposeless way. I now know that there are different ways to build cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance and muscular strength.

I am not planning to run a marathon, although maybe next year we might get to do that 100Km walk challenge. If we do, then we will need a training programme. In the meantime I will keep experimenting with circuits and intervals, mixing them up to keep my training fresh and I promise I'll do some research about tennis fitness too!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Recently reading Hebrews

I tend to amble my way through the Bible these days, rather than devouring it in large chunks. I might spend days reflecting on a few verses or I might sweep through large sections hardly noticing what is going on in the text. My current readings are in Hebrews, a fascinating and enthralling letter at any time, but particularly significant to me because my call to ministry is embedded in this book.

Here are two verse from my recent reading that I found challenging.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
 Hebrews 10:35-36
These words come towards the end of the writers exploration of the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. They are powerful words, full of challenge. Withe everything we have been through in the last couple of years, it would be so easy to throw in the towel and give up. Battered and bruised, tired and exhausted, I could so easily have walked away from church altogether. ButI knew that there was more going on than I could see or understand. Faith is not always east to exercise.

Since moving to Ockendon we have been pretty busy with the house, but we made the effort (and it was quite an effort) to go to church. We've been loosely connecting ourselves with a church that seems to share out mindset about missional community, and we made it to their celebration in June. Hearing stories of other slightly crazy people and the ways they are trying to connect with communities was so positive that we were actually very sad that we couldn't make the July meeting because of a preaching commitment we had. Imagine that, missing church!

These verses from Hebrews were a timely reminder that my confidence is not in a system, a denomination or my own abilities, gifts and skills. That kind of confidence is unlikely to be rewarded and not what I think the writer of Hebrews is pointing towards. Their confidence is rooted in the cross and the finished work of Christ. It's confidence in that that drives, no calls me to faithfulness and adventure as I seek to obey God's will for my life.

Chance encounters

The more I think about it, the more interesting it becomes. Chance encounters are very interesting things. It's very easy to become deterministic about things, assuming that everything is somehow orchestrated in heaven and we, if we are not careful, become little more than animated characters in some grand cosmic play.

On the other hand it would be wrong to assume that somehow God is not involved int eh detail of our lives and the people we meet. Somewhere we have to find a balance. Here are two recent "chance encounters" that I've had that suggest to me at least that God is on the case!

The first happened a couple of weeks ago. I'd taken the TRX plunge and thought I'd go and try it out in the local park. The basketball hoop provided a great anchor point, and it felt great to be outdoors exercising. The TRX is quite a challenge to master some of the more adventurous exercises, but at its simplest it's challenging enough for a beginner like me.

Having completed my routine, I dismantled the TRX and set off home. The gate to the bowling green was open and I popped my head in to see what was there. Just at that moment someone came out and we began talking. He offered to introduce me to the club who were there setting up for an event that afternoon. We had a chat and I think I might go down one afternoon and start to build a relationship there. But that's the not the whole story. It turns out that the person I met just happens to be the Outdoor Sports Officer for the council, and we got talking about outdoor fitness, PT stuff and  sport. He invited me to a meeting about sport in the local area. How cool is that?

Perhaps PT and therapy will come together in the life of the local community.

The second meeting happened at the gym. I'm not particularly fond of being indoors, especially when the weather is reasonable. Machines don't really help with fitness, they isolate muscles too much. Great for strength but not for functional fitness. Anyway, I go from time to time and this time I;d just about finished when I got into conversation with another member. Turns out he's interested in sports massage, so I gave him my card. It also turns out that a friend of his has just bought the pub in the village and wants to make it a more family friendly place.

Now these are just two chance meetings, but I can't help thinking that God is at work somewhere in all of this. Firstly, it was really encouraging personally to have these conversations. The more I think about my situation with my denomination, the more frustrated I become. Things like these two meetings fit into out exploration of connecting with a community and seeking to live mission ally in the midst of that community. It is a walk both of faith and of exploration. But apparently I'm on leave of absence so none of it counts as ministry. Tomorrow I'm doing a funeral for a family that has just gone through a still birth. tonight I'm visiting another family about the funeral of an elderly family member, and then tomorrow another visit to family that lost a baby at two days. does that sound like someone who is not involved in ministry?

I'm not for one moment suggesting that traditional, church based ministry, is not open to these sorts of encounters. It always has been for me. So I don't want to harp on about the leave of absence thing. Th point is this: God is at work in my community. All around there are probably signs of his creative engagement with people that I am missing because I do not yet have the eyes to see. I've spent so many years focussing on the internals that I've lost the ability to see beyond the walls and confines of a gathered community. Chance encounters help break you out of that box, and at this time they also remind me that I am still engaged with the kingdom of God no matter what anyone else might think.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

20 minute workout

I tried the full 20 minute version of my experiment this morning. It was tough. I got the chair out and added the dips and I tried a leg exercise that starts in a press up position and then you bring one knee towards the same shoulder and take it back, then do the same on the other side. So today's routine was:

  • Tricep dips
  • Star jumps
  • Sit ups
  • Resistance band row
  • Static crawl-like exercise
  • Lateral raises
  • Squats
  • Sprinting on the spot

I did the 30sec on 15sec rest. It's important to use the rest period to prepare for the next exercise, so you are actually moving all the time. I repeated the routine three times with a one minute rest between repeats. So altogether it was a quite intense 20 minute workout.

My thinking is to so this three times a week for the next 3-4 weeks. If I feel like I need to increase the intensity before then, I might trying doing four circuits or maybe I'll add two exercises and stay with three circuits. After 4 weeks, I'll need to up the intensity to continue to make gains. This might be as simple as going to four times a week. We shall see.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Where to start with health and fitness

Having done my PT course, and while I wait frustratingly for my certificate, I'm looking at ways to improve my fitness and how I would plan programmes for people I might train. I've decided to experiment on myself, a rather obvious thing to do really. My experiments include stuff at the gym, in the park, in the lounge and in the garden.

Body weight exercises are the easiest things to do because you can do them anywhere at any time. Resistance bands (I got mine from Amazon) add a little intensity to the workout and give you some variety too. The TRX is great and I hope to become more proficient at some of the exercises using that bit of kit.

For a simple, no-nonsense 20 minute workout I devised a simple routine using an interval approach that went like this:

Interval time = 30 seconds
Rest period   = 15 seconds

Having warmed up, which should have included a few stretches, but I didn't do that this morning, I did 8 exercises.

  • Press up
  • Lunges (one interval on each leg)
  • Lateral raises (with resistance band)
  • Sit ups
  • Standing row (with resistance band)
  • Jumping jacks
  • Standing chest press (with resistance band)

I did as many as I could of each exercise during the 30 seconds and then took a 1 minute rest and did it all over again. Do three circuits of exercises gives you a 20 minute workout that should raise your heart rate and get the blood pumping. Obviously you can extend the workout by adding extra exercises, and there are plenty you could add. For example, get a dining chair and do triceps dips. And you can increase the intensity by using stronger resistance bands, or by putting you feet on the chair to your press ups!

I reckon that doing that three times a week will be quite a good programme for anyone who wants to build lean muscle and burn some fat, but we shall have to wait and see. I experimented with a few different resistance band exercises along the way, so I didn't actually perform the same exercises each time through the routine and I did it twice today because I have a tennis match to play and didn't want to overwork myself.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Tennis, fitness, theology and church!

Now I'm a PT I think I ought to look the part, so I'm working on a plan to improve my general fitness and lose some body fat along the way. I have a semi-final match tomorrow and I'm aware just how unfit I seem to have become, although I guess I've not be very fit for a long time now.

The thin is, how do you define fitness? It's easy to look fit but being fit is more of a challenge. There are fitness measures, and interestingly I came about above average in some fitness testing I did the other week. But I don't feel fit when I play tennis. So it's time to train again and see where we get.

An important aspect of this has to be the goal I set. We all know about smart goals, so let's not bother defining what that means, let's focus on setting the goal. Just wanting to be fitter is not specific enough, so I guess I need to work out something more focussed, but that's quite hard in a tennis setting. I have a book on my Amazon wish list that might help, but I think I can work something out myself.

So what's the connection between tennis and fitness and theology and church?

Well, it's obviously connected with the idea of functional discipleship, but do goals have a place in the life of the church? Some might say yes, others might say no. The problem with goals in church life is that church is not a business and any goals have to be more than smart, they have to be biblical and most decidedly Spirit-inspired.If we are not careful, our goals can be prescribed by our limited imagination or even dare one say our over zealous faith. Yes, God can do more than we ask or imagine, but that needs to be handled carefully God is not some sort of divine slot machine of blessing, whose purpose is to bless your brilliant idea.

I'm more conscious of the need to plan and pray and envision in one way as we face not having a legacy church to serve. I've always been a visionary sort of person, but historically it's been within a church setting. Now I have no church. I'm considered to be "out of ministry" and my context is undefined and in many ways unexplored territory.

Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching at a church we've been visiting on behalf of the denomination. It got me thinking about what we have left behind. There is a lot about church that I do not miss at all. In fact there is very little that I think I'd say I really do miss. I certainly didn't feel any great surge of desire to return to leadership in a legacy church. So it becomes more significant to think through what our call is in our new situation and to discern what God is doing in our new neighbourhood.

Perhaps, if I commit myself to getting fit by exercising outside, I'll get to meet people with whom I can build both a working relationship (I am a PT after all!) and some spiritual connection too. Who knows. What I do know is that the model of leadership in the legacy church would not have allowed me to explore this at all.