I have been trying to be a little less cluttered, to allow some space for some light to fall.
I had a chocolate chip cookie (it was offered to me) and I had to have a cheese sandwich (because it was the only healthy looking one in the shop), and whilst I did munch some nibbles yesterday evening they were not strictly crisps. I think, therefore, that on the whole the "giving up" side of Lent is going ok.
We heard yesterday about the idea of "taking up" for Lent which I haven't done, although I have just been for a run and I count that as a positive.
Lovely to run and breath deeply and have some quiet to pray.
Really good to be asked to present on the subject of Fresh Expressions at our Deanery Synod this last week. I tried to give a general definition as well as tell four stories from my experiences. Slightly overshadowed, I have to say, at the end where people were invited to share their own experiences and basically anything that had been started in the last couple of years seemed to get a mention, completely overlooking the definitions I had given and particularly that the aim of a Fresh Expression is NOT that somebody ends up coming to Church the way we do it already.
Just came across another great Alan Hirsch quote from The Forgotten Ways, this time on page 235.
In a remark ascribed to Gordon Cosby, the pioneering leader of that remarkable community Church of the Saviour in Washington DC, he noted that in over sixty years of significant ministry, he had observed that no groups that came together around a non-missional purpose (e.g., prayer, worship, study, etc.) ever ended up becoming missional. It was only those groups that set out to be missional (while embracing prayer, worship, study etc., in the process) that actually got to doing it. This observation fits with all the research done by Carl George and others that indicates that the vast majority of church activities and groups, even in a healthy church, are aimed at the insiders and fail to address the missional issues facing the church in any situation.
A bit of a long quote, I accept, but worth reading in full. Our current experience here is of trying to make something new and with a strong missional thread through it, and in the process seemingly dis-satisfying a number of regulars. This was not the intention, but it does beg the question about how we are to square the circle of these two demands of expectation of those inside and the needs of those outside.
'Planting a new church, or remissionalizing an existing one...isn't primarily about buildings, worship services, size of congregations, and pastoral care, but rather about gearing the whole community around natural discipling friendships, worship as lifestyle, and mission in the context of everyday life.'
Was encouraged today by our second Refresh Sunday in the School.
Keith was great, doing a bit of science to illustrate some points. Even the Ok Go video got a clap!
But as we reflected back afterwards it was the response by one or two of those we think of as having a heart for relationships and pastoral care who saw in the morning a real opportunity to build each other up, not superficilally as we might do hurriedly over coffee, but talking and meeting at a much deeper level.
We also saw some more new faces, and it was lovely to have the children and young people engaged in something so that we could talk to parents properly.