Saturday, 21 May 2011


I have just started reading Alan Roxburgh's Missional Map-Making (Jossey-Bass, 2010) in which he refers to the internal maps that direct us.  This works on both the personal level and that of community.  There are stories that we know that shape who we are and how we behave.

Much of western culture was for many years substantially shaped by the Christian story, but that has now changed - and many do not even know that story.  This raises questions as to how we can effectively be church in this changed environment.

It is worth reflecting on the internal maps that guide us, and perhaps comparing these to the internal maps that are more prominent in today's society.  But we do need to move our map-making on.  As Roxburgh points out (p. 16) - "we must relinquish the desire to copy our inherited maps and learn to listen to the stories of pioneers so that we can make new maps.  In this way, we can reshape the imagination of God's people."  As he adds, it is worth remembering that "for some, this is an exhilerating adventure, for others, it is a disconcerting process."

Friday, 20 May 2011

Easter People

Pope John Paul II once said: "We are an People and Alleluia is our song."

Absolutely!  Too often we don't let our joy shine through and spill over.  It ought to be one of our hallmarks.  People coming in to church ought to be struck by the positive note that ought, overwhelmingly, to be everywhere.

We are about hope, love, peace, joy - and so many things that contribute to a positive outlook and to building community.  Of course, it cannot always be that all is well - but that ought to be the underlying perspective.

we ARE an Easter People and Alleluia IS our song!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Stealing Wheelbarrows

Graham Cray tells how: "Os Guiness wrote a story about a man stealing wheelbarrows from a shipyard. Every day his barrow was searched and nothing found. But all along he was stealing the barrows.". ("Disciples and Citizens" p. 77)

Sometimes we miss the obvious because we are looking for something much more subtle and/or complicated. We don't see what is happening right in front of us because we are trying to second-guess what is going on round the corner.

Are our churches seeing and taking the opportunities (challenges to mission) that are there right in front of them?

Monday, 2 May 2011

A Corinthian Case Study

I have just started reading Graham Cray's Disciples and Citizens (IVP, 2007).  Graham sub-titles his book "a vision for distinctive living" and explores how we ought to appropriately engage in the challenges of citizenship.  In the third chapter he uses Corinth as a case study.  He talks about the pressures of the culture, commenting that "the Corinthian church had to be countercultural to survive".  Knowing how to respond in a range of situations brings plenty of complicating challenges.  In particular he concludes that "Christians bring a special view of power .. a view of power held as a stewardship to be used as a tool for service for the common good."

John Campbell (in Being Biblical (United Reformed Church, 2003)) also uses Corinth as a case study.  John recognises that Paul "is a pastor responding to particular problems and pressures, a committed friend inviting those he loves to think again and change their ways."  Thus, Paul is very specific - but this does not mean that we cannot allow him to be a model for how we engage in the challenges of citizenship or, to put it another way, confront a range of ethical questions.  John goes on to suggest that 1 Corinthians "offers us an invitation to join a later stage of the same conversation that Paul once shared with God and the Christians of Corinth."

What are the things of the moment that ought gto be part of our Christian citizenship conversation?

Sunday, 1 May 2011


Often we talk about what we do 'normally'.  In the United Reformed Church it is a common means of our explaining our practice.  It means that we can say what usually happens, but we do allow for the possibility of something different.

I think it is a great concept to have on board.  We ought not to be all over the place all the time, just doing what we happen to want for the moment.  It is good to be rather more ordered than that - but it is equally vital to have room for the exceptional, and to accept that the common way of doing things ought, from time to time, to be abandoned.

Let's look for the different things that ought to be part of church life, making that special impact for God.