Friday, February 28, 2014

Three books on getting things both done and known about

1. Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world by Michael Hyatt: I was chatting to someone in our church who heads up communications for a Christian ministry. She is currently navigating her way through the world of hash tags, blog posts, tweets and followers and hopes she is doing it all for the glory of God. I have recommended this book to her (and to you) if you are someone concerned about getting your message out in a noisy world. This is particularly important for churches and mission organisations as they try to be heard in an increasingly complex 'social media' oriented world. In days gone by, 'Head of the Liturgical Commission' may have been the most crucial job in the C of E but now it is probably 'Head of Comms'. Whoever does that job would do well to read this book as would many others on the evidence of most C of E church websites.

2. Contagious: Why things catch on by Jonah Berger: Why do some social media things catch fire and some not? On you tube one film can have 2m hits while a very similar one has 563. Why the difference? This book offers some helpful insight into why posts, websites and clips go viral.

3. What's best next: How the gospel transforms how you get things done by Matt Perman:  I have an advanced copy of this book which I have been looking forward to for sometime and have agreed to review here next week.  I love a 'productivity' gadget or a book on time management and this book endeavours to explain why it matters that Christians 'Get things done' (to coin Dave Allen). With this book, Matt Perman attempts to bring the message of the gospel and the need to get on with things and make stuff happen together under one heading. It has the potential to be the go-to book on matters GTD.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Cross and the Switchblade

One of the first books I read after being born again was 'The Cross and the Switchblade'. I can remember so vividly the moment Wilkerson stood on the bridge at night and felt his call to New York. If you've never read it do and it's a great book to give to a new Christian.

'When David Wilkerson heard those words in his heart late one night as he glanced at a picture in Life magazine, he was dumbfounded. The boys in question were members of a violent gang and on trial for murder. He, on the other hand, was a country preacher settled comfortably in a little mountain church in Pennsylvania. What could God possibly expect him to accomplish—in New York City, of all places?'

Monday, February 24, 2014

How to focus your praying

'I do not find prayer easy. In fact I have always found prayer the most difficult of things. Why is this? Perhaps because it is the most spiritual, most powerful, most resisted by the flesh. The missionary James Hudson Taylor once wrote to a Canadian couple embarking on missions to a demanding part of China: "Brother, if you would enter that Province, you must go forward on your knees" Prayer is contestation and so prayer is contested.

I can fall asleep in any position praying.....and consequently have employed numerous techniques or practical prayer-focussed activities to stop my mind wandering. I have tried prayer-walking, prayer stools, candles, rosaries- even rotating a fifty pence coin around my hand and praying for an individual each time I touch one of the five edges. I have prayed in tongues, cited scriptures, prayed lying down, standing, rocking like Orthodox Jews, sitting, kneeling, walking. I used to have my wife drop me five miles from my house so I would walk back praying. Prayer lists, staring at icons, liturgical set prayers, Jesus prayer, writing prayers, reading prayers. I still feel a failure and a complete novice.

But I have found two things that focus my prayers and keep me awake and attentive: times of personal trial and praying for friends and family who do not know Jesus. When my prayers are for the lost, I find that there is faith, and fire, and I know the Spirit guiding me. If you are having trouble praying, make a list of ten people who do not know the Lord and commit to praying for them daily'

God is for us, P. 274

This info-graphic is fun. I have also been reading 'The Soul Winner'....

Friday, February 21, 2014

Brian, Rob and Don

This is an important article about Brian, Rob and Don that I am musing on.

Jeanette Winterstone speaking about Jesus on Question Time (11 min 55 sec)

I heard about a fellow called J T Foxx this week. His thing is 'mega-partnering'  

We've all been asked to write 'Mission Action Plans'. Ours is underway. Bishop David Hope proposed the idea 20 years ago. 

I watched the Brits and felt a bit fuddy-duddy but at least I watched :)

Really enjoying Eswine and feeling my preaching saw is being sharpened by this.

Loving News Room which is Aaron Sorkin on top form. If you want a new box set pick this one.

A chap in our church spent two years in the 1970's traveling the US and Asia with healing evangelist Edgar Webb and this week relayed amazing stories to me of this experience.

Driscoll including gossip in the ninth commandment has got me thinking.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Clear and whole

"Maybe the best definition of a leader is a man who knows how to wait. During the waiting he learns to lead by prayer. He deepens his love for people and his hold on the throne of grace. He becomes a man in touch with God and the man who understands people. Matthew Arnold says that he sees things clear and whole. I like that....."

Jack Miller in 'The Heart of a Servant Leader'

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

For the pod: Total Forgiveness

I heard R T Kendall preach on Sunday night at HTB.

RT Kendall has had a profound influence on my life largely through reading his life story 'In pursuit of his glory'. I also heard him teach the material called 'The Anointing' to New Wine Leaders about a decade ago. We were at some hotel in the Midlands and it was such a significant time for me. He has authored over 50 books and I have been blessed  by many of them. The first chapter of 'Out of the Comfort zone' is one of the most staggering openings to any book I have ever read. 'The Christian and the Pharisee' is a fascinating debate between Kendall and a Rabbi. 'God meant if for Good' is possibly the most significant of all his books.

RT is probably best known for this talk called Total Forgiveness which he has given all over the world.

It's well worth a listen.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bit and bobs for a Monday

Who'd want Justin's in tray as this post makes clear.

HT Barnes was planted from Holy Trinity Richmond who have a great new welcome film.

Valentines day comes and goes and the Resurgence had an interesting collection of posts on dating and marriage.

Mrs C and I are giving away quite a few copies of this.

I'm excited about a Mission Direct trip we are sending out to Brazil.

A ton of resources to trawl on Leadership, Preaching, The Christian Life, Counselling and Culture

Oh, and if you are a millionaire this is apparently how you manage your time.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


'I have been asking myself this question: Could I now reach who I once was? Asking this question exposes one to the bend in the road. Discomfort surfaces. Resignation tempts.'

....Anything good we ever preach has been made possible by a prior testimony of God's mercy. We've dreamt of making a difference. But what if differences are made by remembering where we'd be without God and then ministering to others out of that knowledge? What if preaching requires something prior to homiletics?'

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ten things for a Thursday

1. Nine lies in the not-yet married life

2. Five words guaranteed to change your life

3. The seven questions at the beginning of this sermon will reveal your biggest issue.

4. Reading these 12 ministry mistakes was very helpful and all too familiar.

5. This is how to measure success

6. The Archbish's address to Synod and Don Miller pushes back on church.

7. An interesting and important piece by Brother Evo and Peter Ould

8. Can money make you happy? The answer is fascinating.

9. I enjoyed reading about Lady Jane Grey

10. Of all the talks from the Desiring God conference this one is the one I plan to listen to. I also plan to make time for Hudson Taylor (if you don't know of him he put the 'M' in Missionary)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Holy Discontent

I gathered with a few church planters recently and we were addressed by a very wise leader. He said Bill Hybels talk called Holy Discontent had such a huge impact on him, his church plant and his leadership. I am listening to it to prepare to our PCC away day and am asking the PCC to do the same.

My church planting retreat was immediately followed on Saturday by the Kingston Area's 'Mission Action Planning' day. I am so pleased, even if its 20 years after Bishop David Hope suggested it, that this process is now getting underway.

Robin Gamble's chapter in 'The Future in the parish system' has been helpful to me and his three simple questions he suggests every church asks itself.

1. Where are we?

2. Where do we want to be in 3-5 years?

3. How do we get there?

Do pray for us on Saturday.

Another drop of wisdom

Today I am speaking to a group of church planters about web resources for planting and planters. If I can find the time I will try and share some of what I share with them here.

I just love asking people questions like 'What's the best book you've ever read?' or 'Tell me the most important lesson you've ever learnt?' So this morning, imagine my joy as I watched 18 minutes of Sinclair Ferguson sharing the three most important things he's learnt in 42 years of ministry.

There's treasure all around if you know where to find it.

I was so blessed by my visit to St Mary's last night. If you want to experience a genuinely charismatic church (rather than one that simply has people with hands in the air) then this is one.  John Peters is one of the preachers I listen to from time to time and my pal strongly recommended I listen to his two recent talks on Kingdom (Part 1 and 2).  One quote from Talk 1 and DO PLEASE LISTEN to John describing his journey of church planting:

'You win battles by trusting in God'

Chris, the worship leader @ St Mary's cried with love for Jesus and had tears running down his cheek through his worship set which deeply moved me. Among other things John Peter's and St Mary's sent a plant to NZ to St Paul's Auckland which is now the largest Anglican church in that nation! Their next plant to Exeter is the largest church in that City too. There might be something in this planting business?

I am planning to go to Third Person. Incidentally, I don't think Sinclair Ferguson will be there but who knows :) Thomas Creedy has a good post on charismatic theologians which is worth scanning.

We have our Alpha supper on Thursday. I enjoyed reading this testimony.

Mrs C has been reading out loud to me chunks of Andy Stanley's book. This is one to have in the armoury of books to give away. I think we are going to give it away in our welcome pack- when we have a church welcome pack that is :)

'What great artists need' is worth a read. For 'artists', as David Murray suggests, you can substitute 'pastors'.

Every now and then I like a bit of Edwardesque (one of my favourite theologians) fire and brimstone to keep my evangelistic zeal alive. I listened again to Heaven and Hell with Mrs C over the weekend (be warned this is not for the fainthearted so click of your own volition). It is however one of most powerful and heart wrenching sermons I have ever heard.

I drink at many wells........

The reading of 'In search of deep faith' is making a man in my church cry as he reads it. He's now going to read A severe mercy as a result.

One other minor item: General synod meets this week and sadly seems have little about Jesus on the agenda- as the Cranmer wordly shows. Hope the chappy gets his motion passed about dresses and religious outfits becoming optional :) It makes me chuckle that the biggest church in the land hasn't been wearing robes and dog collars for 30 years and only now is Synod getting around to debating whether or not that's OK.

On the subject of the C of E and its clergy Linda Woodhead has an interesting piece in the Church times. I quote her conclusion:

'To put it bluntly, there are no longer enough troupers left to keep the show on the road, and the show will have to change.'

Finally, take three minutes and look at these.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Saturday blog sweep

If this blog is about anything it's about giving away things I read and discover. Here's a recent encouragement. Ten years ago I introduced Keller (then his book The Reason for God) to a Vicar pal. He gave the book to his son. His son gave it to his neighbour in halls at University. She read it and through it became a Christian. He married her. Her mum then became a Christian. Now he's moving to NY to do a Phd. Guess who his pastor 's going to be?......

'Here at the church we’re not out to bring you to a church. We’re not out to bring you to a minister. We’re not out to bring you to a philosophy or a style or a kind of music or anything like that, though obviously there are a lot of things about Redeemer that might be distinctive to you. We’re out to bring you to Jesus. Everything is about him. The music is about him. The preaching is supposed to be about him. The church is supposed to be about him. It’s all about him.'

Tim Keller

10 hot tips for the Christian life.

A most dangerous trait

Piper on Jeremiah 29 v 11

A tribute to Phillip Seymour Hoffman

The time management of Churchill

The big debate about creation

Donald Miller doesn't like church 

Don't love your iPhone more than your kids

Changing bodies in the Olympics

How to create a culture of evangelism

Eastern European awakenings

The only six words a parent needs to say to a child about sports

Evangelical's shouldn't be anti-intellectual and For whom did Christ die?

Some good thoughts on Fresh expressions and on the same subject I wrote an article for our Diocesan newspaper....I am the one in yellow :. Sadly, my Tim Keller quote got edited out but any mention of church planting is to be warmly welcomed.

Finally a hoo-ha about the Bishop of Bath and Well's palace.

H/T Donald Miller

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Household budget

I read this on Polly Toynbee's (Guardian journalist) twitter feed. I've no idea if the figures are correct but it is certainly food for thought:

Monday, February 03, 2014

Ten things for a Monday

1. I let our youth run our morning service. It was a bit like giving them the keys to a jumbo jet and wonderfully, we all survived the flight! One of the people in this photo used to be in someone in our churches pathfinders group which I used as a sermon illustration. Who knows who our young people might whisper the word of God into the ear of..?

2. Johnny, who a while back was a yoof-group member, now has a blog called Observations on joy.

3. One of the secrets in Dale Carnegie's 'How to win friend's an influence people' (one of my all time top ten reads) is smile. Michael Hyatt has some reflections.

4. No one has noticed that sacred places are being decimated.

5. Lewis was a sort of storyteller.

6. Why they think they might come to church.

7. Queen Latifah's Grammy mass wedding.

8. Every slide tells a story

9. We all have to learn when to quit.

10. I read this for last Sunday's sermon on 1 Tim 3. Are overseers what Maxwell would call 'pinnacle' people? I'm musing on this thought in tandem with that servant stuff and being 'the least' that Jesus was always on about.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Saturday blog-sweep

'If you want your leadership to matter lead in the things that matter to God' 
Gary Haugen

@ Ricky

I really enjoyed these pictures that are actually in the UK via Mark Meynell

I found this post on how to recognise a spirit-filled church interesting.

It's not the big things that game change but the small.

Five things to remember about church growth via Dashhouse

Lovely story about a mum who decided to cook extra pies

How are those annual goals working out?

I too, just as Karen recounts, have been slain in the Spirit. Nice post via Jesus Creed.

I have been banging on quite a lot about Pilgrim's progress and this tour looks interesting.

Gary Haugen on why we are losing the war on poverty. He's speaking here which is well worth bringing a team from your church to.

Moving post about a dad's notes to his daughter

Eight diagnostic questions for those facing doubts about their faith.

My Church Warden is currently very much enjoying this song. Hold hands with the people you love and dance around the kitchen to it.

Ann Voskamp says Chasing God is a breathtaking read.

Saturday blog-sweep

 Some interesting books for pastors The State we're in Attack at dawn Joseph Scriven Joy comes with the morning When small is beautiful