Tag Archives: Methodist

Bearded Man Trashes Church


ImageI like to think of myself at some level as being anti establishment, certainly religious establishment! However looking at myself in the mirror wearing my clerical shirt and suit, officiating over communion, and rites of passage and leading five congregations, I realise to my sadness that in my working life at least, screams establishment at least to those who don’t know me well. EEK

The kind of anti establishmentarianism I am drawn, too is the kind in the character of the three photos above. In the actions of Jesus as he trashed the temple courts of its hypocrisy and greed, during the week of the festival of the passover.

At some point the above three people made a decision in their lives, to not pander to what is popular or the expected norm, and in doing so became inspirational legends that can inspire us. These three amongst many others we could choose, chose to give themselves sacrificially for a cause that was flavoured by grace.

A grace that isn’t cheap but is the giving of self to the cause of another. Jesus, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa offer us a picture of grace, one that over turned the tables on injustice, and the political and social enslavement of the poor and infirm, they challenged and crushed the societal prevailing wind of attitude, not with military violence or manipulation. But grace.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on what the church calls Palm Sunday with not an army but people who experienced that grace that God offers all, and Jesus in his washing the disciples feet, dying on a  cross for something we did, proves the power and persuasiveness of true Grace. Grace that is lived with effort and sometimes ridicule on behalf of the other, but is absolutely worth it, though it may cost all you have.

Are you, am I, prepared to pour out my life for something bigger than me? So that we truly know what it is to be salt and light to the bland religiosity we might experience.

As a Minister in the UK Methodist Church I officiate and attend many meetings and one such district meeting ran as it always had, the routine was well known and well worn. Until a particular moment when someone took the podium and spoke passionately on behalf of evangelism. The room came alive, not just with the sense of the Holy Spirit, but I noticed that the usual grey faces around the room, suddenly became full of colour and vibrance people wanted to be heard, what was being said mattered to them. just like the people entering into Jerusalem with Jesus on palm sunday and also standing shouting crucify him, crucify him, crucify him,

I follow one who is anti establishment and I pray that I can live unto the colour of his creed, his grace poured out on behalf of others. I pray for my church, to risk stepping out from dry religiosity into the full bodied life christ offers us all, and which the church reminds us off this week especially.

…Long Live The church!

IMG_2057A pathogen has been let loose in Europe, leaving devastation in its wake as it slowly dismembers the people of the established church. Creating a pandemic of disillusionment within the church and disinterest outside. I am one of the infected, though the disease hasn’t entirely robbed me of hope, but perhaps it’s just a matter of time.

I do enjoy apocalyptic movies, the likes of World War Z, Independence Day or Deep Impact. Where the world stands on the brink of destruction where all is nearly lost. Yet the human spirit to thrive is not extinguished. These movies are enjoyable as well as being horrific and certainly makes me wonder what would I do if I am faced with the end of the world!!

If church denominations and in particular the UK Methodist Church, were framed in an apocalyptic movie genre, what might its current situation look like on the big screen? We would see a decreasing remnant of the people called methodist under attack from the spread of the global pathogen of disillusionment and lethargy, and if that’s not bad enough, now they witness the sky turning against them as statistical reports crash into their crumbling religious infrastructure like fragments of a meteor.

The survivors would seek answers as to why this is happening, there would be confusion as there seems to be no clear reason to why making disciples has become so hard. Grieving what is lost much like the proverbial young healthy couple discovering the painful reality of not being able to have children biologically and in their grief asking has God forsaken us.

If we dig into scripture we discover that our current situation is not in isolation. The people of God have faced annihilation already in the exile by Babylon, the prophet Elijah felt the cold reality in 1 Kings 19 of impending doom. This is not to mention the news reports of Christians being murdered in global hotspots.

What might be our response to our denominational annihilation? Well taking from the wisdom of Independence Day, where the president of America stands on a truck rallying the troops, I wonder if the president of conference or secretary could stand on the back of a truck and call us to be brave, bold and courageous in our mission. To not keep being beaten down, but stand tall, heads held high and declare that “this day will not be our last…”

As with all disaster movies there is a chance for a restart, a new beginning. A discarding of what was and the embracing of what might be and a resurrection of the best of humanity, faith and a new reformation of the things of God.

As Gods people facing the unknown, let’s take heed of the words of the lead singer of Y FridayKen Riley, who standing before the people he is leading in worship with outstretched arms like he is embracing us all and in his distinct Geordie accent calling to us ‘come on people, let’s worship God’.

It could be that in my life time a long with the rest of several generation of christians, I might see not just the methodist church but also the broader church in this country die, and perhaps even faith in God falter and that thought breaks my heart. However, perhaps in forty years from now as an eighty year old, I might be still believing and hoping for renewal. There is the possibility that I might die without seeing it, like so many others of similar age in our churches today hoping for a methodist revival. However just as Moses died before stepping across into the promised land. I then say before my friend and my God, so be it, as Jesus said in the garden of gethsemane, not my will but yours Lord.

First Steps

I begin this first post at the near beginning of my new role. As Methodist minister of three churches, GodLifeChurch is a blog that will chart the progression as I live out my faith in Jesus, and attempt to encourage others to do so as well. My hope above all that as much as writing this down will help me in the harder times, that it might be an encouragement to my readers, as well.
The first 30 days of looking after 3 churches, has been exhausting, intense and hectic, but through it all and there is a strong sense of being were God wants me to be and that’s amazing as well as comforting.As I have progressed through these early days, the thing that has surprised me is lack of time to prepare for services, and how much other good and great things I have to find time for. There are stewards meetings, church councils, planning meetings, kids groups to visit, people to visit, decisions to make and so on and so on.

My three churches are lovely and largely welcoming, and for some strange reason I can’t quite figure out, God has called me to take care of them. To love and nurture them and draw them closer to him and as we journey together in the years to come i hope to get to know them better still.

One of the things I wrestle with is, how much of ministry is personality and how much is God.  “Be myself” was the mantra i left college with ringing in my ears along with lots of other useful bits of information. Though honestly,  am not sure what that really means, because surely we need to emulate God’s holiness , not in a pious, holier than though religious sense. But we need become an example for others, a sign post that points out Jesus in the back yards of people’s lives.

Maybe I am naive and new and will look back at this post and think stupid ideals or perhaps I will just delete it!  I want to know how  to point people to God, to help them find him, become open to him and give God space to transform their lives and not for me to get in the way, by being a showman in worship or making silly jokes or any of the many quirkiness’ that I possesses. I guess I will continue to wrestle with were Andy ends and God begins for some time yet!

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