Thursday, October 17, 2019

Take care of yourself

I found the words of the Bishop of Peterborough in this post on clergy work and rest interesting:

In a number of dioceses, bishops have started instructing clergy to take two consecutive days off once a month, as well as a full day off in the other weeks. This is in addition to the normal annual leave allowance. I have been asked if I intend to do the same. My answer may seem a strange one, and I’m very happy to discuss or explain it, but it represents a firmly held position.
I have no intention of telling clergy how many days off to take, or how to configure their days off or their annual leave. To do so would make me a manager, and would make the clergy employees. (I am referring to parish clergy; chaplains and some diocesan staff are employees and come under different arrangements.) During my 26 years in parish ministry, and now 17 as archdeacon or bishop, I have rejoiced in the freedom we have to organise our own lives: to have lunch at home sometimes, to share in children’s bedtime or the school run or see children in a school play during the daytime, to go out for a walk or to the cinema or read a novel on a “working” day when I feel the need to do that. I have never counted my working hours in a week, or even my days of leave per year, and I have never felt the need to do so. I know that I work hard at my ministerial calling. I am a priest and bishop 24/7, and I am also a husband, father, brother, friend – and a person with my own needs – in the same way. (I tried to be a 24/7 son too, when my parents were still alive). I rejoice in holding these duties, joys, responsibilities and privileges together. I delight in our strange and somewhat unusual status, as neither employed nor self-employed, but “office holders”. I am perplexed and a little saddened when parish clergy want to be employed and line managed, or see their calling as in some way analogous to a job. To the parish clergy I would say, Give yourself wholly and joyfully to the various callings, responsibilities and privileges the Lord has laid on you; Look after yourself as well as others, taking the time you need for refreshment, recreation, and rest; Work hard, pray hard, love well, care for those in your charge including yourself.

Years ago, I met a Bishop whilst exploring a Curacy opportunity and he told me half his clergy 'had issues with stress, addiction, depression' etc. I am not sure if it's any different today?

A Vicar pal who was signed off a while ago recommended a book called 'Take care of yourself'. Indeed we must.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Almost invisible

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

I found this post an encouragement in the midst of the challenge of what it means to makes disciples in a post-Christian culture. If you are the pastor of a small local church embedded in a community and seeking to be a prayerful presence you do periodically ask:

'Lord, how will they be saved?'

I do this as I walk behind a mum pushing her pram past the local school on the estate or as I see the young couple hurrying their way to work in an office in the West end. Now, I know it's God's job to turn the heart but I'm often mulling on what's God's part in that and what's down to my/our activity (spiritual or otherwise).
A life passage for me is Romans 10 where Paul pours out his heart for the lost. It's the passage that both called me and planted me. Is God, in my frustration and I admit feeling a little overwhelmed by the seeming size of the task, telling me to revisit 'my feet' once again and get them moving. I have also been dipping into Fresh wind Fresh Fire which was such a seminal book for me.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursdays thoughts

1. Mrs C's talk is now up and I think it's brilliant but I am biased. It's her first at HT Barnes.

2. Mrs C was blown away by Keller's talk on Esther and the Silent Sovereignty of God.

3. We are reading through Mark's gospel on Monday evenings with a gathering of saints using this resource. Some food, some study, some stories and prayer.

4. I have picked up Mary's book and it's moved me again. What a life of following the Spirit. A good one to recommend to anyone married to a Vicar as Mrs C now finds herself to be.

5. Our evening service started well. John Mumford of the Vineyard Movement came to visit us weeks after I planted here and I asked him for some advice and he said:

 'Don't count the numbers and have fun'. 

The longer I do this the more I learn that numbers don's tell you very much about the effectiveness of your discipleship. Thank goodness for that.
Image result for kissell before dawn sets in  mary book

6.  'Raising a child is like building a house' an Old Albanian Proverb quoted in 'Raising passionate Jesus Followers'

Image result for all i want millar

7. I am spending the afternoon sitting at the feet of Sandy Millar. Over 30 years ago, my sister turned to me in her car as we parked in Chiswick and said:  'I've become a born again Christian' and I thought she'd lost the plot. She invited me to HTB and Sandy spoke for 40 minutes on 'Revival'. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. I left that night wondering what on earth all those people were on and the only thing I knew was I wasn't on it. By grace, I now am.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Thursday thoughts

1.  A few members of one of our day time groups wanted a recommendation of a book on Biblical meditation.  'The lost art of mediation' was the one that came to mind.

2. Listening to 'Getting to the bottom of your joy' greatly impacted my heart when I listened to it a few years ago. I am quoting some of it on Sunday.

3.  Danielle Strickland's description of leading someone to Jesus has stayed with me (starts 10.09).

4. I watched a promotional clip of a pal's church and they had someone dressed up as bear to welcome people. Perhaps that's where my church growth strategy has been going wrong?

5. Mrs C gave a great talk at our monthly prayer meeting last night.

6. A growing number of churches in the C of E are failing to cover the costs of their Vicar. Should nothing change, this is not destined to end well.

7.  I am someone's 'Spiritual director', at least that's what they call m,e and I've been pondering what this means. I am reading Soul friend to find out more which been sitting on my shelf unread for some years.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wednesday wandering

1. A pal Chris has started a podcast called Making disciples. In one of them he spends 20 minutes with John Mark Comer and that 20 minutes has made me think more about critically about my own and our churches discipleship than anything I have listened to in ages.

2. Chris ends his first podcast with a challenging question:

'Do you believe the truth enough to live it?

3. I have bought and started reading Comer's book and his parents book on parenting called 'Raising Passionate Jesus Follower

4.  We have a dear man called Michael Emmett coming to speak at the launch of our new evening service (6pm at Holy Trinity Barnes on Oct 6th). We were playing near our house today feeding the ducks and two young lads were smoking a joint watching us. Mrs C marched up to them and invited them and they immediately googled Michael and said 'We'll be there'

5. I have been pondering a line in R T Kendall's book about anointing.

'The transfer of anointing to others lightens the load of the one with whom the buck stops' p.37

6. I preached about giving on Sunday and giving outward. Earlier in the year, our PCC decided to give 15% of our income out to our partners rather than having a separate gift day. Paul at one point said 'imitate me' and I told church that logically we should therefore all expect to raise our giving by 15% to stand still. and that's what Mrs C and I have done. If we're not doing it why should anyone else in our church.

7. I preached on 1 Cor 9 and Paul's passion for the lost hit my soul anew. Alpha started yesterday and no one I invited came which left me feeling slightly gloomy. I was sharing my pessimism with a Vicar pal today and he told me how they set 'invitation goals' for his church. I told him I don't set evangelism goals for our church on Alpha. Should I?  I don't want to have to twist peoples arm to tell other people about Jesus. Surely, that's the HS's job?  Just musing.

8. My Brexit thought for the day is that if Brexit was about reclaiming to Sovereignty of parliament and the power of British Courts both seem to be in pretty good fettle given we haven't left yet. I enjoy Ian Dales weekly podcast 'For the many' 

9. Did I mention Mrs C is loving 'The lineage of grace'

10. What are people saying to you when they 'unfriend you' on Facebook?

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Tall poppy's

Image result for tall poppies

Today is the last day of John Humphrys presenting Today. I listened to his interview with David Cameron and one phrase stuck with me (it's not up yet but you should listen).

Cameron was asked by Humphreys what his legacy was (Blair has 'Blairism' and Thatcher had her 'ism' and you....?). He paused, and said that he never wanted his leadership to be about him. He then went on the talk of Gove's education reforms and the welfare reforms of Duncan-Smith. Aside from any view on these specific policies, he then said this:

'I wanted to cultivate tall poppy's'

I like that little phrase. I am now pondering it and wondering how many leaders share that philosophy? Do I?

Isn't the very nature of discipleship the sacrificial cultivation of 'tall poppy's' or is the danger of ministry that it's can drift to being more about us than about others.