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Thanks for the recommendation. A colleague and I have been looking at ways of doing this in the last few weeks and learning from someone elses experience would be really helpful.

Many people have said that you need a critical mass to kick start a community. I find that you end up with an impenetrable group of "churched" people who are playing at something else.


I picked up a copy at Greenbelt....very interested to read.....also greatly impressed in the style....tells enough to keep you interested.....but not enough fine detail so as to give you 'instructions' on how to do it all....it's their story, you make your own.... definitely recommend.

michael volland

cheers for posting this Jonny! really glad you liked the book.
it was fun writing it - and even more fun doing it.
sad to have left it behind but looking forward to new things emerging here in Durham.

si johnston

Interesting reading Jonny. Having been in Rob's position, it's a privileged way of life, no doubt! Who wouldn't like to kick off with some prayer, return to the cathedral to reflect and do some personal admin, before going to wetherspoons for coffee prior to the gym for a while in the sauna? Not to mention that at the end of the month you've money deposited into your bank account for the hassle. Of course I'm not wanting to pour cold water on it; I'm very glad he is making a connect with the people he describes, however, is there a better way? Our respective denominations might be wise to cut curacy to 1 year, give a further 4 or 5 years of service beyond that as a glass ceiling for 'formal service', and then encourage people back into regular self-sustaining life. Is it possible that fresh expressions won't be fresh expressions until the question of sustainability and leadership is answered? Just a thought. Hope you are well bruv, and looking forward to some ribbing either way this Sunday ;)


yes you touch on a key issue si - sustainability. already it's having to be thought about in different ways. your ideas are good. i'm actually shifting tack a little in cms to do more training especially of pioneers and sustainability will be one of the big questions up front. hope you're well... i confess i hadn't figured out we were playing you this weekend but bring it on!


That is the big question being asked by my boss at the minute. I have a 3 year curacy in this place and what happens when I leave? I keep coming back to the same point - it isn't about me, it is about community.


'Community' as a sociological and theological term has been in vogue for some time now. At the outset it was a refreshing correction to the fragmented modern self. That said, community was never designed to be an end in itself. It's somewhat akin to me getting so caught up with marketing that I forget about the purpose for which I advertise. To this end, how I use my resources is significant. One of my humble critiques on the church is that it has often been a poor steward of its resources. Give me one person for the purposes of mission for 3 years and I wouldn't have them sitting in wetherspoons each day for coffee, or bimbling around town with a uniform on. Sure, talking to a few people each week who wouldn't darken the door of a church is a good thing, but it's difficult to justify using a gifted person and the means to support them to talk to 'a few'. At a time when the coffers are shrinking, the maximisation of resources is important and the fields are white to boot ;)

Michael Volland

Ha ha! be good to meet you sometime Si - always good to get to know someone properly before reeling out the cynical stuff, eh?
Wetherspoons and the Sauna? where's that from? Are you in the sauna Robb?
and bimbling..?
Everyone is aware of the resource issue (the majority of it is concentrated on inherited models of church in all traditions) and we are all seeking to faithfully develop new models of church that will carry forward the mission of God in the decades to come. It seems that given this, 'the few' is valid and in some way it leads to the many.
Through the Pilgrim Door is a partial account of 18 months of work. Lots not said. Lots of time has passed since then. More has happened. Ripples spreading out - no one is sitting about in the pub. The community is flourishing and is stuck into collaborative building of the Kingdom of God. seems good to me...
like I said - it would be good to meet you sometime Si.

Si Johnston

Michael, my apologies if it sounds cynical as opposed to an attempt at constructive criticism. My remarks were, by no means, levelled at you or Robb, more the system and mindset that is pervasive in the wider church, which represents a dwindling pool of resources accumulated by previous generations. As it relates to your situation, I am absolutely sure of the goodness and purity of Robb's appointment.

My experience of the ecclesial and commercial world (in leadership as opposed to passively sitting by) is 50:50, and the glaring blind spots in both become more acute as I get older (not to mention the multitude in the present poster!!!), hence I would hate to see a mass translation of practices in either direction. However, I do have questions about the use of resources and the nature of leadership in mission, especially since I've had some time away from it whilst still keeping a 'distant eye'. For example, just the other day I had a conversation with someone in leadership in a missionary organisation that most readers of this blog would be familiar with. As he relayed to me the structure of the organisation and the changes it might need, I came away thinking, 'it's as well the church has so much money, to so unthinkingly and unstrategically pay these 4 people to do what are non-essential jobs'. What would happen if we applied the 'parable of the talents' question to our organisations or communities? The kingdom is not a business, but matters of shrewd investment should not be obfuscated just because we attach the word 'mission' to our various projects. Just thinking out loud.

Certainly it would be good to meet you sometime Michael, and thanks for giving us a fly on the wall experience of what you guys are doing. Again, sorry if it read cynically...

michael volland

Cheers for this Si.
Lets get a beer at GB10 if not before!

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