Saturday, 17 November 2018

Adventure

What?
You what?
When!
How?
Why?
Why not?
What on earth could happen next?
It seems that life, at present in the UK is being lived out on the edge of uncertainty,
change,
not knowing
and possibly even comes across as being out of control?
Even the media dont know what to write or say as everything it seems is so 'fluid'!

It has felt in recent days a bit like the foundations of what our society has and is built upon is like the shifting sands beneath our feet.   Genuinely.......what on earth is happening?


It has been said that life is one big adventure. A rollercoaster of emotions and experience.
I love fun, life and laughter however this all needs to operate within a structure, a framework.
For adventure to happen it needs to always be set into a framework that holds you safe within it i would suggest.


Is this not what Jesus taught when he expanded upon the 10 commandments?

The words Love God and Love your neighbour are good guidance into a world which seems even more at loggerheads with 'who we are supposed to be'.
The framework that seeks to be kind, loving gentle and controlled....
The framework that seeks to consider others...


As I spoke with someone who is pioneering a new expression of the Salvation Army, she said to me, Im just wanting to explore more what it means to live life in all its fullness!
She went on its such an adventure!



As a movement, #newarmyrising, there's no doubt we have been on a massive adventure of uncertainty, change and yes into the unknown in recent days but im wondering, is this the way it should be..?
Im wondering if the life of fullness should indeed be an adventure into the unknown.
Im wondering have we made the adventure of faith, to much like the  'same old same old?', when it should in fact be vibrant, life giving, life transforming?
Im wondering if we are being called to map a new way in the uncertainty of society today?

Is it possible that the prayer of our hearts and for our nation should be
Lord may 'Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven'


As we explore pioneering new ways the church of God can engage with the shifting sands of adventure I wonder if God is calling us to push on and through the uncertainty, to model what life in all its fullness can be like?  Built upon the sure foundation, built upon Jesus Christ.

Pioneering is an adventure. (following text from www.enablingmission.org.uk/pioneering-adventure/)

It’s a journey into the unknown, beyond the shores of familiarity. An ancient and constant call, hidden in tradition and released in the present, to open our eyes and find a new way of living.  

For us, it’s to march to the margins, to the edges of society. To seek out the forgotten, the broken and the lost. To let go of our fear and our failings and embrace our calling and conviction.
This is the time to be bold, this is the time to step up. 
Join a movement of daring dreamers and passionate believers – where risk and impossibility collide. A movement that etches into the fabric of every community Faith, Hope and Love. 
While injustice prevails and oppression bears on, the beat of this new drum will rise all the more. An Army will march; for the hurting and the fearful, for the rejected and the hopeless, for the hated and the addicted. An Army will march, and that Army is you.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Who am I?


Who do you say I am?


These profound words, asked by Jesus resonate through my thinking this morning, following on from a number of conversations this week. What did those first disciples feel and think, as they were ‘challenged’ by Jesus? I wonder what were they thinking?

So who do you say I am?
A man,
A husband,
A father,
A son,
A brother,
A friend
A disciple
A Follower of the way
An minister of the gospel
A rugby ref/coach
These are some of the statements that could be said of myself.
But the words of Jesus have added depth.  Who do YOU say I am?



I've been doing some research along with Andrea.  We've been looking at the whole pioneering spirit and DNA of the movement, and what leaders are needed to rediscover and lead this forward.
We've been asking lots of questions!

But who do you say a PIONEER is?

Yesterday we spent the afternoon, looking at the feedback we have been given. Some of the physc profiles which we now have in our hands as well as the shared wisdom of others who have been on similar journeys to ourselves.  Here are a few thoughts:

Pioneers are (or need to be),in no particular order:

  • Secure in their own identify as a child of God, know themselves, and who they have been created to be.
  • Have a deep and close relationship with their Creator and a clear vision of how this relates to the world today.
  • Passionate believers, who not only believe in the power of the Holy Spirit but live this out in practise
  • Believe in the gospel of transformation, and see The Church (as God intended it) as the hope of the world
  • Recognise that this work is bigger than the personality of self.
  • Recognise the strengths of others and seeks to build team with.
  • Recognise the cultural and contextual ‘setting of the local’
  • Be able to deal with failure, hurt, rejection and isolation (easier to say the cost and sacrifice of leadership)
  • Be intrinsically real!


As we pull together the research and thoughts there is still much to do.

Momentum is starting to pick up speed. 
I've seen especially this summer across the country many young passionate adults who want to ‘win the world for Jesus’.
I've seen those same people living out the missional DNA which is deeply ingrained in us as a movement.

I give thanks for the past and trust God for the future, but its vital we do not miss the blessings of the present! (New TC Comm Anthony Cotterill, at his THQ welcome this week)

Pioneers are not only leading into a new future, they are pioneering in the here and now, in the present a different way.
Who do you say I am?

I am a here and now a living embodiment of the Jesus Gospel.

I am an agent of the Kingdom
I am a child of the King
I am blessed and a blessing of God.
I am who I am!  Nothing more nothing less.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

The S WORD!


The S word….

Come with me….for a moment…..on a journey towards a sustainable future.


Jesus is dead!!!
Or so the disciples think….
The hope of the world,
Who for the last three years had spent a ‘mission intensive’ period  investing, training and encouraging those first believers to be not only followers of a new way, but to pioneer a whole new way of living.
Some have seen and touched Jesus post resurrection.
Some have heard him promise the Holy Spirits presence.
Some still appear to be ‘like sheep without a shepherd’.
Some  flee, persecuted and  ‘ashamed’ of their new found faith once Jesus leaves this earth and yet the church grows exponentially throughout ‘the known world’.

I cant help but think, and thank God for their naïve boldness and seeming reliance upon the Spirit provision, and the provision of fellow believers in those formative years.

There are many many questions that bounce around in my mind as I consider this growth of the early church at what is a time of massive challenge for the church in the west today. 
  There’s no doubt we need to train well, empower people and encourage them  to be ‘followers of the Jesus way, today’.
But I’m wondering.  Have we become a  Church that needs to have the answers even before we may have even asked the right questions?
Do we need to rediscover the ‘chaos’ of mission in a persecuted world?
Do we need to be bolder, more courageous to Be Pioneers?
But not all the questions I hear being asked are ones that I like hearing or even agree with hearing.
Did the early church ask if they could afford things?  Or did they simply see a need and club together to support one another.   We see in Acts 2 and other Acts stories, followers supporting one another.  What they owned  was treated as being ‘everyones!’ The shared what they had!
Did those first followers ask the S word.

The S word is SUSTAINABILITY!
And it’s a word I hear often bandied around in the church!  Usually in the context, We simply cant afford this!
I think we have actually mixed up the sustainability question to be about finance, when in fact its far deeper than that!

If God has provided all that we need, and if The Body has every gift that it needs!  Then should we not be looking to each other and what ‘WE’ have ‘TOGETHER!’?

I think as we explore what Pioneering fresh expressions of church look like today, we need to look at how we go about this together and what God has already bestowed upon us.

Maybe we need to become Robin Hoods???  Take from the rich and give to the poor!  Rather maybe we need to be generous givers of who and what we are!


Or rather maybe The Church needs to give to each other as they have need!  Have we fallen into a trap of holding onto the 90 and giving the 10 when maybe we should be giving the 90 and holding onto the 10???  Just a thought.

One thing is certain is we continue to look for everything to be tidy, controllable and able to be sustained financially then we will never see the kind of growth of the Kingdom that’s really needed to turn the tide of the society in which we live and breathe. 
Followers of the Way have one sole purpose on earth.
To Point to the Way!   The Way not our Way.
The early church was more than sustained in its comfortable place, it pushed well beyond the known places, and grew and grew.
Maybe just maybe because they kept focused on The Way, and being followers of The Way?
Is Jesus Sustainable??!!!  (all answers gratefully received) J

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

On The Move (Part 2)

Bones.

Have you watched it?
Its one of those slightly crazy American detective programmes but with a twist.
It basically is all about the remains, the bones of deceased people.
The specialists are normally only left with a few bones and from these they seek to discover who the person was and how they were killed.
It really is fascinating! 
Well we think so.

This has gotten me thinking.....

I was asked a couple of times recently by very different people, so what makes us who we are?
What are our distinctives?
What is our DNA?

Ive also been reading again about what kind of church is needed for the future?  My good friend Phil Potter writes about the future present, in Pioneering a new future. He unpacks the need for a paradigm shift in the way we think and operate within the church in the West.  Im inclined to agree with him!  Im also inclined to ask myself the question what does this mean for a worldwide organisation where the challenges in other nations are far removed from those in the UK?  

As I mentioned yesterday it seems to be that all over the place, people are popping up,
putting their hands up, wanting to go to deeper places with God, wanting to experience the depth of relationship with Him and with each other.  This seems counter what we hear of the church in decline.  But of this I am in no doubt the spring shoots of kingdom growth are being evidenced before our eyes.  I've seen, as I mentioned in this last year so many young adults wanting to get serious about serving God!

Is it possible that this is a rediscovery of our roots.

Young adults, with dare I say a naive and unshaped faith wanting to make a difference in the world, in peoples lives?  After all our history, and our first generation pioneers were mostly young adults, many were girls!  
Counter cultural or what!

So do  we want to move on from where we are at?
Do we want to stay in this place?
Or do we believe its time?
To rediscover the missional movement?

Here are a few thoughts on what may be needed to do so.


  • I've always believed give us a raw young leader, let us greenhouse and grow them, shape them in the right place, with the right leadership and they will flourish!  So as we go on the move once more we have to undertake training 'on the job'.   Biovocational, intensive, experimental, explorative in the world, not locked away from the world.
  • I believe we need to create a safe place for new leaders to explore their passions, knowing mistakes will be made.
  • I believe we need to encourage a recognition and use of the gifts of the spirit.  (Hirschs teaching on APEST seems a key component to this.)   However we need to be careful we don't just embrace being called for example an Apostle, we need to explore and demonstrate the functionality of this also.  Function and calling have to go together.
  • I believe we are stronger together than in isolation.  As I look at many of the young adults spread thin and far and wide, is there a place to gather them together in community.  We are stronger together!  I'm thinking why not create area/divisional youth mission teams who commit for a time and a season to 'change the world', or localised cells who travel together deeper in their exploration of God and His mission.  Of this I am confident based on the experiences I have seen and had that those same people will go on to serve in new and creative ways!  Some of which will follow the path of officership also.  
  • I believe that it may be time to pack up, close down and move on in some places. In an age where resources are becoming limited we need to explore other ways and options of working.
  • I believe we need to help create momentum by intentionally 'opening up the work', (pioneering new expressions of church).  We seem to be focusing so much on keeping places and situations going when maybe we need to seek out the new things and opportunities?  I hear a lot about sustainability of the new things before they can start, yet it seems the same principles are not applied to places, situations that have long ceased to grow?
  • I believe that this time and season of 'Church Life' is going to get far messier and far more challenging in a Post Christendom society and nation that maybe we have ever faced?  It may well be possible that we will need to rediscover what it means to be an army at war?  It may be that we will need to discover new ways of being.  New ways of challenging what the religious, the politicians are saying.  May be we need to be proposers of a 'different way?'  Maybe we need to be counter cultural?  In the world yet not of the world?   Maybe just maybe our holiness and salvation stance need to be made stronger? We become more about who we are than what we look like.   Maybe its possible to have a drink and be a totally committed vibrant follower of The Way!
There are many many things we need to think about as we grab hold of the times to move on.
To head into the future.
Many more than I have listed here.
But of this I am sure, we cannot continue to tread water, standing still in a place or paralysis, unable to move because we seem crippled by what we see! 
Maybe its about how we see things.  As Ive often quoted Floyd McClung says in his book when speaking of the valley of dry bones.  'You see bones but I see an army!'

So what do you see?
Is it time to move on?
Is it time to uproot?
Is it time to grasp the opportunities?
Is it time to look forward?
Is it time 'To look to the hills, from when my help comes from!'  (Psalm 121)

Theres a time and season for everything. (Ecclesiastes 3)
Is this your time?

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

On The MOVE!

The Sun comes up its a new day dawning...

Its times to sing that song again.......!!!!!

The country has basked in the Summer Sun, 
Its been simply glorious for months and yet
being British of course we have also heard it said, 
Its just to hot!
And yet the sun continues to display its self, majestic, just love it
Everyone seems to have been 'brighter', there's no doubt a little sun lifts the spirits
Its got to be one of the longest and hottest Summers we've had, hasn't it?


The thing is its fine if you are laying on a beach, enjoying the rest, but if you are working its almost 'debilitating'. 
Energy sapped struggling to complete the tasks.
Shirts sticking like a limpet to your body.
And yes no wonder those in hotter climbs take a siesta and rest in the mid noon sun each day.


In the midst of this beautiful summer weather, and yes despite what Ive said above I love the sun, i've found myself either walking or travelling loads.
Lots of space to think and lots of people met, many for the first time.
As you know I like to take space to think, ponder and reflect on what Im hearing and seeing.

Space if vital for the Christian, as vital as the air we breathe, I suggest.


I, along with many of my friends have been grappling with the reality of 'where we are at', in
our journey as a movement, and the ongoing wrestles with our identify, direction and future.  
Just what does God require of us?
Just what are we supposed to be in this post christendom world?
I continue to ask of God, 'Lord show us the way we should go..'
It seems that still we wrestle.
People are
Confused,
In pain
Hurting
Sense of being lost, 
uncertain
Needing,
Looking for hope.

Yes A bit like sheep without a shepherd, all over the place.


Sometimes when you are on a journey you just have to stop, get the compass and map out. .....stop, reevaluate.....rethink.....before you set out again towards your destination.

I pondered as I looked out of a field full of sheep, far flung all over the place the other day on one of my walks. 
Where was the Shepherd?

God is raising up some amazing people at this time.  I keep 'bumping into them', all over the place.  They seem flung far and wide, but are also spread thin in places.  This thought process continues, how do we identify, enable, equip and release this latent potential?

A couple of examples. 

On a visit to Scotland recently i was leading a small group of young adults, they were great, passionate and had brilliant questions.  At the end they prayed for me, circled me and laid hands on me.  I sensed one persons hand burning like hot coals.  I spoke with the young lady after and said wow your hands, you are seriously anointed by the Holy Spirit, her response, I know but what do I do about it?!

Last week I was in Anglia where I was privileged to be in a small cell group, and listen to the militant radical passionate faith of people who are committed to following Jesus, profound! I was blown away by them, I was excited by them and I just wanted to 'let them loose'.   

I also met recently a young lady who spoke about  how her friends had been empowered  and enabled to explore pioneering spiritual leadership because someone took time to listen and understand what God was saying to them and that they now felt there was future!

A young man who has been to visit social action and justice centres because he feels compelled to say yes to Jesus, as he says for the rest of his life!  He wants to reach the broken, lost and forgotten and show them hope!  Amen!

These are each examples of whats going on about the nation within the world which is the Salvation Army!
Exciting......
Young adults who want to do new things
Who are committed to Jesus and passionate about the Kingdom
It really does feel like the temperature is rising!

Its getting hot around here!

Now is the time to herd up the sheep - to shepherd, care and encourage them

To unite them around one common purpose and goal
To change policies if needed, 
To resource the people of God for mission
To get our systems either out of the way or enable the way
To pioneer a new army rising
God is already preparing the troops!
Rise up

#newarmyrising

NB If God is calling you to a new way, to pioneer a new future, to serve him, to follow after him then please feel free to explore this with ourselves or with others. (normal SA email address)
Pioneers on the move........

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Glory BE!

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
Amen.


Ive been on a real journey in recent days.
Mid life crisis?
Challenges,
Circumstance?
Or simply hungering after a deeper experience of the God whom I love and serve?


Ive been taking lots and lots of time to be still, to reflect upon ‘whats it all about?’
Reflecting that the movement which I have sought to serve in faithfully, has in recent days been in a sense of turmoil,
struggle,
demoralising circumstances. 
We really have been caught up by the internal wrestles, more times that I really want to think about.    (And before anyone says it, these are my personal views, but Im told im not alone.)

  • I must confess that the seeming uncertainty, and pain that many have faced has caused me to really ‘pursue God’, in a new and different way.
  •  
  • I must confess that the building blocks which much of my service has been founded upon have certainly been pushed, if not at times knocked down!
  •  
  • I must confess there have been times when Ive asked God is there a future in this?


I actually believe that all three of the above statements are not bad ones in and of themselves to be asking, for in doing so they prevent us from falling into apathy and complacency of faith, and of God.


I have heard in the last month many many times, about the Glory of God.  This theme has been ‘haunting me’.
I have pursued this experience of Glory through liturgy and within ‘thin’ places.
The more I have looked to the new things which God has been graciously birthing through the pioneer work across the territory, the more I find myself being drawn back to liturgical reading, rhythms of prayer and reflection.

Much of this was stirred by a good friend Roy Searle and the Northumbria community.
Much has been stirred by my own personal pursuit of what God has been stirring in my own heart.
Much has been stirred by the seeming chaos around me, and a need to go deeper with God.

It has seemed everywhere I have gone, I have heard words like the opening sentence,  'and the glory of the Lord shone through them', and 'the glory of the Lord fell upon them'. Ive cried out to God ‘Lord let your glory fall….’  This turned my thinking to ask the question, ‘so just where do I see the glory of God?’

In quiet thin places, certainly but also in the people of God who have been sitting in the presence of God…… Ive thought long and hard when I have seen the presence of God radiated from others, its obvious 'they have been with the Lord!'   ‘And when Moses came down from Mount Sinai…….he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had been with God’. Exodus 34:29 but it had!


Maybe for the glory of God to be revealed His people need to spend more time in His Presence?  Would this not change the direction of their conversations, morale and emotions?


Im thinking I long for the Glory of God to come….to fall upon this nation, upon His people.


As I listen to the media, the leadership that’s being modelled, the seeming chaos, and despair that’s being fostered by seeming rudderless, poorly thought through leadership….is it any wonder that the poor seem to be getting poorer, and in that statement I include The Church?
Have we become like Ichabod?   (Gods glory has departed from the Temple)  I do not ask this out of a spirit of judgement, but out of a real heartfelt desire to see the Glory of The King. I do think we should consider this, and allow the Spirit to challenge us about this.

So Im praying, again in one of my 'thin places', where heaven seems open and close.  Im in creation walking....
Praying

Lord let your glory fall
Let your glory shine from my face because I have been with and met with Jesus.

I pray for you each Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
Amen.

Monday, 18 June 2018

School Boy Error


Nooooooooo!!!

Why on earth!
What a fool!  
I simply could not believe it! (As Victor Meldrew would say)
I don’t believe it!


How many times have you made what can best be described as a school boy error?  You know the things which seem obvious, which you really should not do and know better!
eg when you are about to embark on your first bike ride of the summer fitness campaign and you are going really well, so go a little further than you intended.  You then stop for a drink, and get ready to ride back home, only to find the front wheel is flat (yes at the bottom!), and you then end up having to walk home the five miles!

As many of my dear friends have said since, I could and should be using tubeless tyres!  (I thought they were called solid tyres and were rock hard, apparently not!)

Much to learn about cycling it seems, still.
The one blessing is you get your set daily steps in as well as the bike ride!

I've been having lots of chats in recent days with my eldest, who it is fair to say is on a real journey, exploration of what it means to follow Christ and His call on His life.   Its fascinating, how you can live and be around people and pick up key bits yet also realise there is so much still to learn.
Do you know what I mean?
As we have chatted, I was in fact reminded how much I still have to learn!


Its fair to say I am committed to life long learning.

Im not totally convinced about the desire for academic pursuit but I do enjoy learning.
As a dear friend of mine said, I love to surround myself with people who stimulate my thinking! 
Its been said Im a bit like a sponge, I love to see, understand and question what and why?
I find myself at times thinking to myself, I sound like a young child who is trying to understand when I say, ‘But why?’

I just wish it was easier to grab hold of the learning at times, especially when it comes to discipleship and the life of faith.

As I share my own journey, I have become increasingly aware that it’s the times of hardship, trial, temptation and persecution are where I eventually really grow.
I've been reminded, that when it comes to my faith I still continue to make the school boy errors!  Things I really should have grasped by now.

As i'm sat on the train heading south for what looks like a crazy week of meetings, coffee and chat.  Im thinking. 

So God what will I learn this week about yourself?
About myself?
About others?
How keen and willing am I to learn?

Maybe, just maybe, we should never stop making ‘school boy errors’, because it may be that we are coming before God as the children he desires us to be.
Learning to live a childlike, Christlike faith?
Just a thought!


Adventure

What? You what? When! How? Why? Why not? What on earth could happen next ? It seems that life, at present in the UK is being lived ou...