Monday, 31 March 2008


Ran home from school.
Sorted various jobs...
Started work on booking sabbatical visits...
Isla at home ill...
Vocalis concert in evening, plus supervision with Derek and a wedding interview...
Didn't sleep well...

Parochial Vision

Parochial Vision
The Future of the English Parish
Nick Spencer

The basic logic of this book is that if it has four legs, sharp teeth and a tail, it's probably a dinosaur. This is an unfortunate argument that spoils an otherwise excelent description of the English Parish since Christianity first arrived on these shores.

Nick Spencer is an enthusiast for the "minster model" and he derives from his study of English church history a wide variety of reasons why this model is both desirable and inevitable. I actually have a lot of sympathy for his arguments and think he makes a lot of sense. The only problem is that he picks one possible solution from a raft of possiblities. There may well be minsters in the future of the English Church, but I'm not convinced it will be quite as dominant as he suggests.

So I say yes to his analysis that we are now in a mission environment akin to the post-Augustinian period. I also agree that the existing parish model is unsustainable since it is built on the assumption that every church should have it's own full-time minister. I also have a great deal of sympathy for his argument that ministerial specialisation and greater team work would be a good idea, but...

I'm not sure that churches are going to sign up to a plan which gives certain churches greater symbolic status, neither am I convinced that this is the only way of supporting small churches. My biggest issue is that there is copious evidence that team ministries and LEPs have not delivered the goods over the years and I am not convinced he gives suficient grounds for for saying that the minster model will be any more succesful.

The issue with team ministries (and LEPs) is that they generate an extra layer of administration, and often bring together ministers who are culturally inclined to work against each other. Unless you are prepared to put a great deal of effort into building relationships and creating a common vision and strategy (as we have in WVEP) they often fall apart or become administrative mission killers. (See Bob Jackson for more on this...)

I was intrigues by Nick Spencer's description of a report by Leslie Paul in 1964 entitled The Deployment and Payment of the Clergy. It seems to me that Paul envisioned an approach to team ministry that was more collegiate and lay-focussed than the half-hearted system we enentually got - such is life. I'd like to get hold of this report at some point.

My issue with Nick Spencer is that he leaps from some fairly good evidence about change in English Christianity to the Minster Model without considering other options. As the Church in England moves into a mixed economy approach I suspect this may be a mistake.

We looked at the Minster Model in Watling Valley back in 2001, alongside twining, closures and network. The big issue with the Minster Model was that very few people actually wanted to try it. It made no sense to members of our churches that they would effectively give up their own status and became satelites of another church. This wasn't just asking turkeys to vote for Christmas, it was asking them to see themselves as second class turkeys. Nick Spencer will undoubtedly take issue with the way I word this, but it's how people felt and feelings are crucial when it comes to strategic planning with churches.

In the end we borrowed the concept of the collegiate team without creating a Minster Church. We now have a multi-functional, collaborative, integrated team which functions accross five churches, and this works because we also picked up the concept of network - which enabled us to gain the advantages of the Minster without the oppostion and bad feeling it would have produced.

At the end of the day, I would say that Parochial Vision is worth reading, particulalry if you don't have time or energy to work through some of the more accademic books about English parish history, and I think he makes some valid observations about the future development of the church in Britain, but if it has four legs, sharp teeth and a tail... it might be a quadraped.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Second Sunday of Easter

Clocks jumped forward. I rejoiced that someone else was doing eight O'clock!
Not many people turned up at nine (Holy Cross), but there were loads of people at St Mary's for the 9:30 sung BCP communion. One choir member arrived at 10:00am...
Alastair Wood preached an excelent sermon.
The eleven O'clock service was a bit chaotic since we decided to move the pews five minutes before the start. We created a small "circular" worship space at the back which was more than big enough for the dozen people who were there at five to, but not quite big enough for the twenty people who turned up at 11! We had a good, if slightly informal, service which fitted in well with the reading about the disciples gathering in a room on the first Easter day.
One of the reasons so many people were away was that they were in Wembley for the big match. the Dons won 2-0, so there will be great celebrations in MK tonight!
Some of us had to work however, and I was with Mike and Liz at wedding prep - six out of seven couples turned up which isn't bad.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Team Away Day

We had a very good Team Away Day today. We spent some time thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of the esisting team, which could be helpful when it comes to thinking about filling some of our vacancies... We alse discussed Local Shared Ministry, which provided some useful insights into how ministry is developing in WVEP and might develop further. There were some intriguing thoughts which we will need to follow up...
In the afternoon I took a wedding blessing...

Wednesday, 26 March 2008


I had a meeting with Alison in the morning to plan the team's spring away day.
I then met with Margaret and Veronica to plan hymns for St Mary's. It's always a mind bending exercise but has enourmous value: it means that the choir, organist and pewsheet editor get the hymns before Saturday night; it reduces unnecesary repitition and it releases creativity since we can be more adventurous. In theory we can now relax for the next five months - except I'm only taking two of the services and will still need to choose hymns for other churches... such is life...
I had a long hard mind bending afternoon trying to put together some draft proposals for the DPC. Our deployment working group can't meet before the end of April, so we will be doing it all by email. This is never ideal and means you need to produce thorough drafts and then ammend them several times before everyone is happy...
In the evening I attended the Holy Cross Church Council at Ken's. This was the first time I've seen the great marmalade maker in his own house. We had a fairly good evening and finished at 9:10 which I consider a win!
I had intended to work when I got home, but got drawn into the Apprentice. All I can say is, I would have fired him...

Tuesday, 25 March 2008


Back to work with a day of meetings: Team Space, Deanery Leadership Team, Liz Baker and a wedding interview...
Managed to crunch my wing mirror while backing car out of the garage - ouch!

Monday, 24 March 2008

Easter Monday at Bletchley Park

Had a great family trip to Bletchley Park. The first time we've been. Isn't it strange that you never do the tourist things in the places where you live?
It was great to see this place where some really important history took place - right here in Milton Keynes - but I'm not sure Izzy is ready to appreciate it yet...
I've also noticed that the BBC often says Bletchley Park is in Hertfordshire. Not sure I've worked out why yet... Maybe this was a war time trick to confuse the Germans...

Sunday, 23 March 2008

White Easter

Dawn on Easter Day: There I stood with guitar in hand singing Abba Father as the snow fell... These are memories I will not forget in a long time...
What a day! Seven Paschal Candles lit, communion celebrated three times, Easter celebrated... Lamb eaten - and chocolate...
A White Easter enjoyed by all...

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Egg Rolling

On Holy Saturday All Saints' Loughton held their annual egg rolling and decorating competition. Numbers were a little low with the bad weather, but we all had a great time. Izzy won the egg decorating competion (ages 5-9) and Iona won her rolling heat. Two more chocolate eggs to their stash...

Friday, 21 March 2008

Good Friday

We don't really have a good place on the west of the city where we can hold big open air events or services, but the City Centre is a very good public space and it belongs to us all.
This Good Friday some of us joined Cornerstone and Woughton in their Act of Witness. The band was good, Duncan was a very convincing centurian and hot cross buns were dished out on mass... Next year we'll try to push this event and pursuade more people from across the City to take part...

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Maundy Thursday

On Maundy Thursday I had did a special Easter service at Killkenny House, and then met with Richard from New Life North.
In the evening we had a Maundy Thursday Service at which three Nelseys were appropriately dressed...

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


Went to an interesting meeting in Oxford today about clergy housing - particulalry in retirement. The basic issue is that because ministers are often required to live in tied accomodation (i.e. vicarages) they can find it difficult to find somewhere to live when they retire. This problem is increasing as the gap between what clergy can afford and the cost of buying a house becomes ever greater. Few clergy can afford to start a morgage at 65, and many find it difficult to get into the house market when they're younger.
Various solutions are being looked at, including greater use of housing allowances and the possibility of allowing clergy to buy into the diocesan housing stock. It will be important for us to find ways of resourcing clergy in the years to come that are both fair and realistic...

Rushed back to MK to prepare for Taste and See. It wasn't the easiest of sessions. Various people were away and a number of items didn't turn up. I finished the session early. Several hours work but not very satisfying...

Compline at St Giles in the evening.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008


Team Space - lots to discus.
Holy Cross Team - reorganised AGM Sunday.
Lunch with Mike Archer from St Mary's Bletchley.
Corporate Communion with Mothers' Union.
Compline at Servant King.

Still working on Easter services...

Monday, 17 March 2008


Ran home from school. Three miles in 27 minutes.
Spent the morning working on Easter services - nearly there...
In the afternoon we had a Voices editorial meeting. Liz Morris is doing the April edition - her first.
In the evening I went to Woolstones for a meeting that turned out to be very significant.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Palm Sunday

9:00am Holy Communion at Holy Cross
10:30am All Age Worship at All Saints' with ring blessing for Margaret and Len

Went to Shenley Leasure Centre for an induction session for the gymn. Enjoyed the rowing and running machine, but still suspicious of the various instruments of torture associated with stretching and pulling... Had a good twenty minute run on a treadmill.

Annual Report

The Watling Valley Annual Report for 2007-8 is now out! This is our second major joint production! It looks pretty impressive...

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Deanery Plan 2

We had a great meeting this afternoon of the Deanery Pastoral Committee with Bishop Alan, Archdeacon Karen and Andrew Gear (PDA). Some of our football focussed members made a real sacrifice to be there!

Our discussion focussed on how we are going to achieve our long term goals as a Deanery. Karen put forward a possible pattern for Deanery posts and Andrew challenged us to think in terms of Vision. I suggested a new Deanery Planning Process which would deal with vision and strategy in way we weren't capable of three years ago. This would fit in with Diocesan thinking about Deanery Planning Stage 2...

All in all, it was a good meeting, but I would have likes some more concrete decisions. The clock is now ticking for me to nail some of these before my sabatical begins in May. This means a lot of extra work over the next few weeks... The particular priority in the short term is to decide how to handle the post of Area Dean...

Thursday, 13 March 2008


I've been feeling rough for the past couple of days, but managed to run to school with Izzy and around the wood with Isla. Not sure if this was a good idea, but managed to get round in a reasonably good time.

Easter is rapidly approaching and there are some services to plan. I worked with Jeff this morning on Easter Day dawn. We think we have a good plan. We just need to make it happen.

Met with Alastair Wood at lunch time. We had a good conversation about Pioneer Ministry and he's going to give me some possible Fresh Expressions contacts for my sabatical.

Popped into Kilkenny House this afternoon. They weren't expecting me for Communion but it was useful to have a chat about next weeks Easter service.

In the evening we had our final Viewpoints session. It went very well, but didn't feel like a tidy end, which I supose is what we wanted - sending people off on their own journeys. Two recruits for next years "Growing Disciples"...

Wednesday, 12 March 2008


The good people of Scripture Union were telling me today about their new internet project, WordLive. I was very sorry to say I hadn't heard of it yet, and was disapointed to say it hadn't reached our churches yet....

But when I got to St Mary's this evening I discovered fliers for it on every pew. I think our Becky (who works for SU) has been doing her job...

Have a look:


This morning I had Jenni's review in the Office with Mike and Steve. This was a significant review since Mike is taking over as Team Leader in April and will therefore become Jenni's line manager. We spent some time discussing the flow of advertising and notices through the office and agreed to set up a system of pidgeon holes. We also spoke about the need to find volunteers and holiday cover, and about the need to change the way we deal with office support.

At lunch time I went to the Scripture Union offices in Bletchley for a focus group session relating to a new project. This was interesting, but I was a little concerned to be the only Anglican present...

This evening we had our second joint meeting of St Mary's and All Saints. It was another high energy pacy meeting. Last time, St Mary's inspired All Saints' with their building work. This time All Saints' inspired St Mary's with their organisation. There seems to be real synergy in this experiment.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008


Woken at four by small person. Couldn't get to sleep, so I got up and did some work on the Annual Report Video - now one minute long...
This morning we had Team Space. We were trying to work out some brain stretching AGM questions...
I had a funeral later in the afternoon for Molly, and older lady originally from Cumbria who had moved to Milton Keynes in 1972.
Then off to the Post Office to send a birthday present to Zoe in New Zealand.
Home for lunch, and now I've got to try to get things done before end of school...

In the evening - Mission Partnership Assembly. Not the most exciting of events, but we were missing our main speaker.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

TiWe've been slowly emptying our junk room to make it useable. Seven bin bags and two car loads have already gone out as rubbish, but I have managed one trip to a charity shop so far - at least one more to go.
I had a free half hour this afternoon, so I took some old computer games into town. I think the man in the shop wondered why I was bothering since some of the discs were worth only 5p in resale value, but I persevered and came away with over £30 on in-store credit, which can't be sniffed at. The most vaulable item was my old Sega Megadrive, which he took for a whole £6!
I came away feeling I'd achieved something.

Supporting Clergy in LEPs

Had a good session this afternoon with some colleagues from the Mission Partnership. We were discussing the thorny issue of Ministerial Review in LEPs. In the past the MP has asked two questions: 1) Is this post needed, and 2) is this the right person for the job - and these reviews have been tied to licence/term renewal.
The only problem with this is that these are the two questions we really can't ask. No one is going to say that a post isn't needed - it's up to the denominations to decide what posts they can afford and where best to put them - and there are a huge range of employment related problems related with decisions about renewal of posts...
We got to a good point in our discussion when we agreed that the main concern of the Mission Partnership is to provide support for clergy working in LEPs where the issues of different denominations intersect. I'm going to write this up as a concrete proposal for the exec...

More Tea from the Vicar

I'd been tipped of at the weekend that one of our older members fancied a visit, so I popped in. We had a great chat - as always - and I made her a cup of tea. It turns out she finds it difficult to use her kettle which probably isn't designed for her. I did say phone me whenever you want a cup of tea, but I'm not sure how many cups she would want in a day...

Early Morning Stormy Share Session

I woke up at four this morning with the storms and wind. Couldn't get to sleep again, so ended up answering the call of temptation to do some work...
It's great to get going on something at this time of the morning. You can get things done without interuption, so I spent a productive hour and a half tweaking our Deanery Share spreadsheet to incorporate the key principals that we decided to add at the last Deanery Finance Committee - in particular the decision to share the "Poverty Allowance" between the parishes according to the number of ministers and the decision to share the cost of "Deanery Ministry" on the same basis. This might sound like a small matter to you, but this is the kind of thing that will add a bit of transparancy to our finances and give us a process for funding Deanery mission and work...

Plus, I'd had plenty of sleep having colapsed into bed early after a dose of LOST...

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Passion Sunday

It was a long day today, but here are some of the highlights...

8:00am: Holy Communion at All Saints' Loughton - I preached on Lazarus with an emphasis on the place of the story in journey of Jesus towards the Cross

9:00am: Holy Communion at Holy Cross Two Mile Ash - I preached a similar sermon, but with an emphasis on resurection which I extended to the rest of the service

10:30am: Holy Communion at All Saints' Loughton - We rejigged the service so I could preach before the reading. I spoke about Rolland Allen, making links to the journey of our churches towards Local Ministry - with references to St Mary's Worship Leaders and the new experiment at St Frideswide. The link with the Lazarus story is the way Jesus chose to take the risk of "retiring" (pinching Allen's phrase) from the events in Bethany for the long term good of the Gospel... I left them listening to the reading with Tim Hadden to preside at Communion.

11:00am (actually 11:10am): AGM at Water Eaton - got to Water Eaton ten minutes late having torn down the A5 at 70 (which is legal on the dual carriageway). I was supposed to be chairing their AGM, but it was inevitably a team job since they knew how they do things better than I ever will. It was good to be with them, and the whole meeting was very positive. It was good to affirm what they've achieved during the past year. The discussion about Malcolm and Gail's proposal ("Toward a Local Shared Ministry") was positive but thoughtful. There is a general feeling that this is the right thing to do at the moment, but a concern that we have contingency plans and are open to other possibilities in the long term. The vote was nearly unanimous, with one person voting against, but it turned out he really wanted to make sure there were sensible checks and ballances included, which we agreed to require.
And so the next stage of the Water Eaton experiment begins. We will now need to make sure proper guidelines for the team and the reviews are set up. We will also need to speak to Bishop Alan. In the meantime, they can continue with a bit more stability and confidence.

Afternoon: Izzy needed some attention. Long walk. Lunch.

6:30pm: Growing Disciples part 7 - I hadn't had any time to prepare for Growing Disciples so it wasn't the smoothest of sessions. This was the session on Groups and Teams that we had issues with last year. The CPAS Growing Leaders material makes an artificial distinction between Groups and Teams which we suspect was motivated by their desire to use concepts from "Five Disfunctions of Teams". Unfortunately, we think there is a difference between groups and teams and buy into the idea that in a Team your work has an effect on the work of the whole, but a Group can meet without mutual responsibility.
On the other hand, it was a good evening.
Mike and I are beginning to think about next year and are starting to consider names of people to invite. Years one and two have been so significant as we have seen people grow, develop networks and find new confidence. This has been an important programme for us as a Partnership and is clearly a key part of our discipleship strategy.
One of our next thoughts is to do more with our "Alumni" - we will have 22 by July. One idea that we're considering is to organise a trip to the Willow Creak Leadership Conference in the UK - and to get hold of the videos. This would give us a way of continuing to build up and develop our leaders...

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Happy Birthday Paul

This evening, we joined Paul to celebrate his 50th Bisrthday at the Horwood House Hotel. It was a great celebration, which we shared with his friends from work, family and church. I fear he might read this, so I'll avoid saying all the things that I know his friends would like to say about him... But I hope he does know how much he is appreciated. Happy Birthday Paul - and many more...
From my point of view, it was great to be inside the Horwood House Hotel - after all, we were once the Norwoods of Little Horwood Road, Great Horwood...

Diocesan Synod

At Diocesan Synod today (in High Wycombe) we had a great presidential address from Bishop John, who shared the beginnings of his vision for the Diocese. We wants to call it "Sharing Life plus" or "Sharing Life: Making a Difference".
He had a set of principles that he thought should be central
  • Not neglecting the past but building on it
  • Not so much structure as about culture - mission and spirituality
  • Not so much about structures as relationships
  • Not top-down but local
  • Not tragets but directions
  • Not one size fits all but flexible
  • Not complexity but elegance
He had five priorities that he invited us to share:
  1. Sustaining the Sacred Centre
  2. Making Disciples
  3. Making a Difference in Society
  4. Creating Vibrant Christian Communities
  5. Shaping Confident, Collaborative Leadership

In order to support the priorities, he suggested that we focus on:
  1. Deanery Development
  2. Sound Finances and a Steady Number of Stipendiary Clergy
  3. Light Touch, Supportive Central Services
Over the next few months, he wants to fine tune and develop this in conversation with Synod, so it will all become much clearer...
Most of the MK reps though this was great - since it all looked a bit familiar to them...

We also discussed Samuel Crowther, the first African Anglican Bishop, who's name we want adding to the list of commemorations in Common Worship. We also had a presentation from the Tomorrow Project, which is a great source of interesting facts. (Did you know, 40% of fresh water in the US is used to cool power stations? And by 2050 our livestock will be eating enough food to feed 2/5 of the world's population?)

It was a long synod and I didn't get home until after three. There were many (including Bp John) who wanted to get home for the Calcutta Cup - but they may have regretted this. (Lots of happy Welsh people around the place though...)

More Rolland Allen...

I've now finished reading "Missionary Methods". It's a great book which I heartily recomend, although it can seem a little un-PC in places.
Two things jumped out at me in the rest of the book. The first was a discussion about mission and the importance of preparing people to share the Gospel. Allen makes the point that Paul didn't have time, resources or personel to give his people a thorough theological education, and yet he felt they were properly equiped to be agents of the Good News in the provinces where they were set. He contrasts this with nineteenth century missions, as we can with twenty-first century church. I have often been told by lay people that they want to do mission, they just want to get it all sorted out for themselves first. Ironically, the Gospel has often been most effectively shared, not by people who had everything clear in their brains, but by people who had caught something simple in their hearts. We need to help our people to understand that it is their relationship with Jesus that is the starting point for mission, not their grasp of theology. Most of us need some simple (non crass) ways of expressing the core of Christian Faith that we can own and proclaim, rather than more sophisticated appologetics...
The second thing that struck me as important was his belief that we should trust local churches in decision-making, discipline and finance. His refrain, "Tell it to the church", is worth repeating again. It's all too tempting to try and sort things out for people, but they will learn and grow most if we allow them to grow with God. He has a lot to say about the need for missionaries to "retire". Those of us in mission/ministry in twenty-first century Britain need to keep this in mind...
A lot of what Allen has to say about mission has come to pass in the history of the global church, but he still has a lot to teach us about how to do church in the UK. He finishes with a moving (and mildly fictional) account of a missionary who was applying the St Paul's "method". The account finishes with a "native" chatechist asking the missionary if he knows what he's doing. The missionary replies that he knows what he thinks he is doing, but wonders what the chatecist thinks he is doing. The man replies, "Sir, if you keep on like this, you are going to found an indigeonous church."
We need to found more indigeonous churches in Britain today. Whether we call them Fresh Expressions, Inherited Churches, or whatever, we need them to be truly local, and that is going to take a real culture change to achieve...

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Mothers Union

We had a planning session for the Annual Mothers Union Corporate Communion today. We met in Downhead Park and it was good to see Anne Lumley again.
The rest of the day has been taken up with not particularly exciting admin...

Wednesday, 5 March 2008


Have just started reading Rolland Allen's "Missionary Methods". He writes a great description of the failed attempts by 19th century missionaries to start local churches. He is quite scathing about the habit of giving too much responsibility and money to indigeonous churches without also thinking about how they are supported and overseen. He basically argues that local Christians were set up to fail...
We do much the same to people in contemporary British churches. The pattern is for volunteers to take on jobs, but there is no custom of regular supervision - in fact many of our volunteers would regard supervision as an insult... and yet I am increasingly convinced that good quality supervision is absolutely crucial to the development of truly productive and fulfilling ministry. I have often been made aware of volunteers who are not doing what they were asked to do, but I have no non-threatening way of helping them to develop. I can also think of Lay Readers and NSMs (in other parts of the world) who were serious problems for their communities - because no patterns of accountability or supervision had been established... They became disfunctional.
As I look back over my ministry, I suspect that the greatest growth has taken place when I have been able to provide quality supervision... and this goes for volunteers as well as "paid" ministers. By supervision, I of course mean the model used by the Diocese which includes management, support, mediation and education - not just telling people what to do.
Rolland Allen had a point, I think, and we really ought to have taken note of it by now. Afterall, he was writing in 1912!
The interesting question would be how you would run a church in such a way that everyone received this kind of support. It would require different patterns of leadership and ministry, but just imagine how the Spirit could be released to work...
Another perspective on this could come from another book I've been reading, "Headless Chickens, Laid Back Bears" which discusses how people can become more productive and relaxed by better Time Creation. The writer, Gordon Wainright, discusses a range of different techniques. The first of these is "feedback". He devotes a whole chapter to a discussion of how regular continuous feedback steadily improves performance - although he can't always say why... (This relates to the need for Christians to use feedback/supervision to keep them rooted in reality). He also has a great chapter on "Anticipatory Scanning Techniques"... More on this later, I suspect...

Doing the rounds

William Sutton House this morning. Wished happy Birthday to a man who's going to be 90 this month. Seemed fitter than me!
Met with Veronica and Margaret to choose hymns. We got up to June...
We had a Taste and See planning meeting this afternoon. We are reasonably on track for the Easter Labyrinth.
Team Meeting this evening. We discussed appointments, away day and pastoral care...

Songs for Children

Isla and I were discussing "All things bright and beautiful". It was great to hear the children sing it on Sunday, but to be honest, we weren't sure how many of them know it. The truth is, it's not sung much these days on occasions when children are present. It's not sung in schools and it's not sung in all age worship. It tends to be sung at weddings and baptisms by people in their thirties and forties - and also gets chosen by older people who want a song that children will know(!) There are various other hymns and songs that have a similar place.
There is no canon of "children's songs" in twenty-first century britain. This includes Christmas songs on the whole. Every school (and church) sings a different selection of contemporary songs. I suspect that by 2020, we are really going to struggle to find widely known hymns for baptisms and weddings...
This isn't a moan, just an observation.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Hello World

At Team Space Alison encouraged us to pray for the wider world...
I then had to attend the Presidents' Meeting to present our report for Local Shared Ministry which meant speaking to denominational big wigs about what we do, knowing that their perspective is a little wider. This was challenging, because I don't want to end up doing nothing because we're already doing it... (if that makes sense?)
Popped into St Andrew's Bookshop and discovered that Roland Allen's 1912 classic "Missionary Methods: St Paul's or Ours" has at last been reprinted. Alleluia! I'll finally get to read it. More soon...
Lunch time meeting with Ministers West - two very practical new ideas emerged which we may be acting on soon...
Spent the afternoon working through a huge pile of jobs (one of which I'd already done).
In the early evening Isla carried out a number of complicated tests on my brain. Ouch! My Head hurts!
In the evening we have the Deanery Finance Committee... Planning for 2009 begins now...

Monday, 3 March 2008


Trip to Oxford today for a Fresh Expressions Oversight meeting. The big challenge is to work out how to create the flexibility that will enable people's dreams to be realised - particulalry Pioneer Ministers. A long way to go for a lunch time meeting, but I was able to get back to pick children up from school...

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Mothering Sunday

Today I was also at Holy Cross, where Jeff preached an excelent sermon, which was well structured, thought out and delivered. He preached about "getting out of our comfort zones" and put his message across very well.

I had the joy of providing music today, which I don't often get to do. The only fly in the ointment was that we had selected hymn number 1022. It was only when we came to this point in the service that we discovered that our copies of Mission Praise finish at hymn number 1021! We sang it anyway - "Above all powers" from memory. It actually sounded quite good.

Enlarging All Member Ministry

We've always been keen on lay ministry in the Watling Valley, but today was a high point even for us! The Mothering Sunday Service at St Mary's was prepared and lead by the young people from start to finish. The two worship leaders were simply stunning "front men", the drama (a Mike Geaney special called Spooky Sunday) was performed with Oscar winning performances and every possible role in the service was taken on by our young people. They received a much deserved round of applause at the end! It was a service that could have taught many "professionals" a thing or two...

The key point I take away is that worship so often lives when it comes from the people themselves. Professional worship leaders can give slick performances, but you can't beat the depth and feeling that you get when the worship is "owned" by the people who have the biggest stake in making it real. Yes, some things went wrong, and there were things that could have been improved, but who cares because it was a living piece of worship that everyone appreciated!

Saturday, 1 March 2008


Isla was the thousandth visitor, which was great!
Went for a run this afternoon. She managed to do a mile in 8 and a half minutes - well done!