i was really pleased to see mark berry and philip mounstephen have written a grove booklet on mission and community. it gets a hefty review here if you want to know what it's about and that saves me writing too much (!). i am particularly pleased because it's part of grove's mission and evangelism series and cms has become a partner in that series contributing a couple of booklets a year - at least that's the plan. this is the first. it used to be the evangelism series but we were keen if cms were to be involved that it become mission and evangelism. i have read it and really recommend it. it's the kind of book you read and think 'of course!' but then realise that what seems obvious often isn't.
the thing in the book that i thought was very neat and powerful was a diagram. they draw on robert warren's missionary congregations book which i really liked when it came out and that had three interlocking equally sized circles in a venn diagram of worship, mission and community saying that all three were important and that in the intersection you'd find the heart or spirituality of a congregation. i remember drafting what grace was about years ago and having those three sections on an older version of the web site.
what mark and philip do is redraw the diagram showing the reality could be very different in practice to warren's nice equal version. it seems quite shocking - community is small and mission is isolated. but the more i have thought about it the more i think that diagram nails something with truth in it even if it is exaggerated.
it's at least worth pondering if you are in a congregation or church what the balance is and where all the church's time, money and effort goes. we have been thinking about this at grace recently and realising that in our case community has grown in importance over the years and we are reflecting on what mission looks like. i guess worship has always been a reasonable size as we grew out of what was then known as alternative worship. i'll blog again in a separate post to say a bit more about this with a diagram we drew for grace.
i don't get on that well with books or articles giving advice on parenting (which probably says more about me than the articles to be honest). i've also reached the age now where our boys have left home so even less reason to. but jenny tweeted a link to this article how to raise a feminist son that i thought was rather brilliant. it's all good common sense but sadly the sense may not actually be that common.
tuesday was the last teaching day for a group of pioneers at cms who are finishing their diploma in mission, theology and ministry. we have graduation yet to come in july and there are also some certificate and MA students who will be finishing. they have been with us for three years.
as part of the last day i interviewed them to try and reflect with them on the journey and how the training might have helped them and what they felt looking back on it. i ended up going home that day elated because they were all so positive about the impact that being with us at cms pioneer training has had on their lives and how changed they have been by it and i am sure they were being honest - at least no bribes were involved! i love what i do - at times it is really hard work - but tuesday reminded me what a privilege it is. pioneers are an amazing gift to the church and indeed to any area of society - i find them so inspiring. i only wish the church realised that in a few more places and realigned towards encouraging and supporting them more often.
it's the time of year where we are also gearing up for next (academic) year and are thinking about who will start that journey with us to do some modules, a diploma, BA, certificate or MA. the model of training is that students come to us one day a week in term time and the rest of the time are in a context doing pioneer stuff and/or working alongside that. we have an open day next week - it's not too late to book in. but if you can't make that contact me and come and see us. all our awards are with durham university so it's top notch.
we have a new pathway for pioneer youth ministers and children and family workers which is a certificate in mission, ministry and theology with particular modules for those specialisms. if you are involved in those come and be part of the first year to do it. so many pioneers i know are youth ministers or began doing what they do with young people. that was the case for me certainly and in many ways i think this current movement can trace its roots to youth ministry. i wrote three articles a few years back on pioneer youth ministry for youthwork magazine - here's the firstsecond and third if you're interested in what that is all about have a read and then come and join us.
this video is our attempt to summarise what the course is all about if you want a 4 minute version
so it seems as though the british people might be saying (though this may also just be me saying and projecting):
we want better public services and more invested in them - education, health, arts, youth services, police and so on...
we want a fairer society - deal with the inequality between the richest and poorest - even if you are conservative it's a no brainer to have a compassionate society
we especially care about the younger generation for whom student fees and the seeming impossibility of getting housing is extremely worrying and needs some wise thinking and courageous decisions
we're divided on the EU but stop being aggressive and negotiate together with a message that we are still part of europe, like our neighbouring countries but are wanting to work out a reasonable way of doing that whilst coming out of the EU which is as good as it can be given the muddle
stop being horrible to people from other cultures - they are a part of our communities and society. by all means, in the EU negotiations, be smart around immigration (and paying attention to extremists is essential) but kindness and hospitality are basic human postures
(and this is more me than what i am hearing but) for goodness sake deal with taxation differently to generate the investment needed and this has to address the top end and tax avoidance by both business and wealthy individuals - we're sick of the religious adherence to the free market which panders to greed in the end - intervene and regulate for the good of all!
and sadly the one thing no one apart from the green party talked about much is the planet which is possibly the most important issue of our time so how about head out the sand on that one??!!
Jeremiah 29:7: Work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.
Proverbs 11:11: Good people bless and build up their city, but the wicked can destroy it with their words.
What does good look like, in Ealing, in London, in the world? How does Grace support good and how do we support one another as we do good? What is God saying to us at this time? Join us for Communion, conversation and prayer.
i have been blogging for a decade or more in fairly eclectic fashion. i am an advocate for pioneers, lover of all things creative, an explorer of faith in relation to contemporary culture, a photographer and writer. explore the presences section below to find me in other spaces