Category Archives: Misc

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Rico Tice, John Stott & Paradoxology

I have been really encouraged by the breadth of support that my new book Paradoxology has been getting.
Too often in our tribalised evangelical world books end up connecting only with a certain church group.
I would love to see the different streams and tribes of the church working closely together as we have so much to learn from one another. So it was encouraging to me that some of my more conservative friends have been enthusiastic about Paradoxology.

Rico Tice the founder and creator of Christianity Explored wrote the following about the Paradoxology mini movie.

As I saw the little video by Krish Kandiah on ‘Paradoxology’ advertising his new book, I did think that John Stott would be pleased. He was so passionate about the fact that Christian maturity meant holding great truths in tension. Again and again he’d say, May I make a plea for Biblically-balanced thinking.

As some of you will know John Stott is for me; as for so many people, a personal hero. So to have him mentioned even in the same sentence as something I have written is a great honour indeed.

It was also encouraging to get such a nice commendation from Adrian Reynolds the director of the Proclamation Trust, who said:

“Paradox is at the heart of the Christian faith. After all, we worship a wonderful God who is Three-in-One. In his characteristically engaging way, Krish shows us how the paradoxes of faith are not to be feared or reasoned away but believed and actively treasured.”

You can watch the film here.

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Mums for Good and Forever

I have been having mixed feelings about Mothers Day for a number of years now. Don’t get me wrong, I think mothers are amazing and a day to celebrate their role and calling is more than appropriate. I want to shout to the world about my wonderful wife’s amazing ministry as a birth mum, adoptive mum and foster mum. Not to mention my own mother’s care for me and the Christlikeness I see in  so many of the mums I know.

But Mother’s Day has  always been a bit of minefield for church leaders as we try and navigate the pastoral complexities of Mothering Sunday service. The daffodils we hand out to mums and indeed all the women in the church can be a lovely moment but it can also feel like a consolation prize for some women who for whatever reason have not had children.  Also as someone who has lost their Mum the day  is a poigniant reminder of the massive hole in my life I still feel so I can understand a little of those that are wrestling with nursing elderly mothers or caring for sick relatives. With all of these pastoral challenges you might wonder why we are trying to encourage the church to make MORE of Mother’s Day.

This Mother’s Day we are calling the church to look at things in a different way. We want to help the church both celebrate motherhood but also look at the fact that there are 6000 children in the UK that need a new Mum (and /  or Dad).  These children have been removed from their birth parents and are waiting in foster care to be adopted.  Ofcourse when we put this need in front of our churches we need to be careful to speak well of those that have relinquished children and to be sensitive those in our churches that have experienced this difficult experience. But we still need to call the church to play its part in taking responsibility for the children that are in need of adoptive mums. Once an adoptive child comes into the church family the rest of us have an important role as  spiritual aunts and uncles to these children – a far from insignificant role.

We have produced some really good mother’s day resources and want to encourage you to make the most of them.

Take a look at the following video, share it and encourage your church leaders to show it on Mother’s Day.
Lets make the most of Mother’s Day this year.

 

 

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Sequels I want to see

So Pixar have announced we are to get Incredibles 2 and Finding Nemo 2 (Finding Dory). I am surprised Incredibles 2 hasn’t come sooner – the first film was left on a great cliff hanger setting up a follow up. Recognising that sequels can make a great film into a mediocre series ( remember the Matrix Disaster or Oceans 12? ).

So which are the films you want to see sequels made for?

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1.  Blade Runners

The Philip K Dick novel was a one off but there was of course the PW Jeter novels. Love to see if Romeo and Juliet – the star-crossed androids? Can they make it together in a brave new world. Do Androids dream of android babies?

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2.  Re-Inception

I’d love to see a sequel not just because of the totem-hanging last scene. But I loved the labyrinth like plot and the powerful music. Would love to see them rescue the mind of someone suffering from locked-in syndrome.

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3.  Bourne Brothers Assemble

I know its a bit of a cheat – but I still want to see more of Matt Damon being Jason Bourne again. Bourne Legacy didn’t really end and if the film could have a Treadstone assembles angle.

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4.  Another go at Fargo

Who wouldn’t want to see detective Marge Gunderson solve a brand new crime? Perhaps this one could be set in summer and we get to meet her baby – maybe she has the baby in a papouse as she goes about solving crime?

Fight Club (1999) Edward Norton and Brad Pitt (Screengrab)

5. Fight Club 2

I know the big reveal at the end of the film can’t be repeated. But I want to hear more of the struggle to find male identity in modern times. I want to hear Tyler Durden expound on the challenges of authentic living in a consumer society.

Which films would you like to see made into sequels?

5 Things I learned from Patrick Lencioni

Intriguing talk yesterday from Patrick Lencioni at the HTB leadership conference. As someone who has enjoyed a lot of his books. His talk felt slightly out of his comfort zone. My one take away from his Albert Hall debut was encouragement to remember to pursue grace and truth. But his books are another story. The blog below relates to the latest management book I have read.

I have come across a lot of cynicism when it comes to working with management consultants. Some people believe they are the kind of people that ask you for a list of the biggest problems in your organisation and then charge you a lot of money to put that list into a nice bullet pointed powerpoint slide. I guess the cynicism comes from bad experiences and sometimes from jealousy. Sometimes there is a spiritual slant on the use of business consultancy when it comes to church leaders engaging with management wisdom. I can understand there is a fear of importing ways of ordering a community from an industry that is driven by maximising profit and economic efficiency. I think it is right to be wary – there are a number of churches that seem to operate as businesses – its all about the brand, the profile, the platform that the church and particularly its leaders are able to generate. On the other hand there is a good case to be made that church leaders who don’t think critically about their management of people are likely to
a) unwittingly replicate leadership models they have experienced elsewhere
b) fail to manage effectively and so use clunky, inefficient systems that lead to bad stewardship
c) over spiritualise the management of people – which can sadly lead to “spiritual abuse”

So what is needed is discerning engagement with management theory. So in this blog I want to think out loud as to what I have learned having just finished reading Patrick Lencioni’s “The Advantage” for an exercise we are doing at work.

1. Organisational Health trumps strategy

‘I am convinced that once organisational health is properly understood and placed into the right context, it will surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage.’ p.4

This makes sense to me. From a biblical point of view when instructions are given to the life of the church in the epistles – there is little emphasis given to strategy but a lot of emphasis on ethos – the kind of common life that believers are called to exhibit. The communal life of any community, team, business is hugely significant as a robust and resilient community can weather any circumstance, can learn to face any situation, can be as productive as possible. So I like Lencioni’s focus on oranisational health. What do you think? Does organisational health trump strategy?

I guess some of it depends on what you want to achieve. I am also reading Steve Jobs’ biography and he definitely didn’t value organisational health – but managed to accomplish an awful lot. For Jobs the ends seemed to justify being mean. As a Christian this is a tangible difference when it comes to the way we react in organisations – the end informs the means – we live for another set of values because we see in the end Jesus wins.

2. Leadership is about joint vision, ownership and responsibility

“A good way to understand a working group is to think of it like a golf team where players go off and play on their own and then get together and add up their scores at the end of the day. A real team is more like a basketball team – one that plays together simultaneously in an interactive, mutually dependent and often interchangeable way. Most working groups reflexively call themselves teams because that’s the word society uses to describe any group of people who affiliate in their work.” p.5

A leadership team works best where there is a genuine sense of shared vision. Sadly in many cases leaders working in a team are only concerned with their own particular department or area and so disengage from team meetings. But developing a core shared vision is vital then leaders would be loyal to the vision and be able to defend the decisions of the leadership team. Lencioni, in my opinion does not spend enough time working out how to develop this shared vision, but he did advocate having more honest team meetings that push hard to try and get to that level of corporate buy in. You don’t have to look far in scripture to see how much emphasis the New Testament writers go to underline a corporate sense of ownership of vision, for example Philippians 1 gives a little taste of this:

27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[e] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

For Paul this shared vision, unity in the Spirit was vital for the health of the church. In Philippians he pleads with leaders to come together, to agree, to be loyal to eachother as “loyal yokefellow”

3. Meetings Matter

I admit I find some meetings difficult. As an activist I struggle with meetings that I can’t help with , contribute to or learn from. There’s a world out there to be reached, children that need families, churches that need empowering, networks that need to be built, people that need encouraging. So a meeting where I don’t need to be is a tough place to be. Lencioni wants us to have more meetings, which was a downside to his book when I first came across it. But he wants more meaningful meetings. One aspect I was challenged by, was the need to have meetings where there is deliberate pursuit of consensus. This stops the temptation of phasing out of a meeting because there is a corporate sense of responsibilty for any decisions made – Lencioni argues that:

‘A good way to ensure that people take this process seriously is to demand that they go back to their teams after the meeting and communicate exactly what has been agreed on.’ p.184

Reporting back is one thing but elsewhere in the book he argues for the need for loyalty as a team and so you would need to go back and actually “defend” the decisions made by the team. I guess that would force us to really work at consensus in a meeting.

4. How to End a Meeting

“At the end of every meeting, cohesive teams must take a few minutes to ensure that everyone sitting around the table is walking away with the same understanding about what has been agreed to and what they have committed to do. Unfortunately people are usually eager to leave the room when a meeting is coming to a close and so they are more than susceptible to tolerating a little ambiguity. That’s why functional teams maintain the discipline to renew their commitments and stick around long enough to clarify everything that isn’t crystal clear. ” p.51

This is a really important idea and one that I am going to try and put into practice more often.

5. How to do conflict

“When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth and attempt to find the best possible answer. It is not only OK but desirable. Conflict without trust however is politics, an attempt to manipulate others in order to win an argument regardless of the truth……Overcoming the tendency to run from discomfort is one of the most important requirements of any leadership team – in fact, for any leader.’” p.38

I have been in too many teams where conflict is seen as disloyalty, or where the leader is too insecure to allow anyone to challenge their views. I am sure I have been like that as a leader myself on occasion. A mark of a truly great team is one that works through conflict rather than run away from it.

There was a lot of sense in Lencioni’s book – some of it is common sense – but sadly not common enough in practice. What do you make of it?

 

Why iPads are so last year

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I loved my iPad. It was barely out of my reach for the two years since they first came out. I was an early adopter and was completely won over by the portability, interactivity of the tablet experience. I used my Ipad mainly for email, diary, web surfing and lots of fun with the children playing games together. I wrote a chunk of one of our books on it on frequent train journeys into London. But something happened in November that means I have hardly used my Ipad recently

My work finally stopped a blackberry only policy which meant I bought a Samsung Note 2. This was a momentous step as it was my first step outside of the Apple ecosystem as we are an iPod, ipad, Mac family. So what changed my mind:

1. Size

The Note 2 is a phablet – a phone and tablet hybrid. Initially I was worried that i would feel like a comedian with a huge phone. But instead the size of the screen is perfect for me. Its big enough that i can read anything on it – from Kindle books, Logos commentaries, the Guardian Website and so that i can easily write notes with my S-Pen, yet it is small enough to fit into my pocket. Rather than fussing about on an Ipad which is not quite big enough to do serious typing on easily – I use my Macbook Air for that. but for quick responses to emails and note taking, web browsing – all the things i was using my Ipad for the Note 2 is spot on for me.

The Iphone 5 feels too small now and i would end up carrying 3 devices around:

Phone, Ipod, Ipad and my Macbook Air.

I now carry one thing about most of the time (and it fits in my trouser pocket). If i need to do a serious amount of typing then I carry the Macbook Air. Thanks to the tethering options on the Android I can get online on my Mac when I need to as well.

2. Price

My Note 2 was cheaper than buying the entry level Iphone 5 16GB.
I could also put in two additional batteries (3200 mah)- which give me a day and a half of heavy mobile usage and also boost the amount of memory (see below)

3. Stylus

In my opinion Steve Jobs was wrong. The stylus is a very useful addition to tablets. In fact I was using a stylus with my ipad a lot (and normally losing the thing because there was nowhere useful to put it). The S-pen that comes with the Note 2 is a thing of incredible precision and is very useful for writing, flicking through a list, previewing items.

4. SD cards

My music collection is bigger than my iPod and bigger than the available space on my Macbook Air even with a 32 GB memory card permanently onboard. Buying a iphone with a big enough memory was prohibitively expensive so it was going to be an iphone plus an ipod which was going to be bulky and expensive and confusing. The Note 2 comes with 32 GB plus I can put in a huge 64 GB card which solves all my music challenges. Not only that but thanks to 50GB drop box free upgrade and the wonders of Google Music I can now access oodles of cloud storage too.

5. Swipe type

typing on an IOS device feels very old hat – actually having to type in letter by letter. Swipe Type is so much quicker and more intuitive. It’s hard going back now.

 

There are a few things I miss:

- the blackberry was pretty good at Voice dialing which was very handy with my hands free kit.

- itunes is a very intuitive interface – and it took me a while to get used to google play

- podcasts are a little awkward to download – but have found some workarounds

But I can’t imagine going back now – so come on over Android you’ll enjoy the experience.

Post Easter Preaching Series Ideas

backtothesourceI know its not even Easter yet but some churches are pulling together ideas for the teaching programmes so i thought I would share with you a few ideas for teaching series. Regular followers of the blog will know that I am a big fan of consecutive expository preaching series. I have a blog brewing on how to decide which biblical books to look at in which order for a church – so keep an eye out for that. In the mean time we have a couple of books that are coming out that were written to try and help a church explore a theme on Sunday mornings and then encourage the church to read bite size portions each day to reinforce the ideas and include small group questions to help embed the ideas into the corporate life of the church as well as the dispersed life of the congregation.

Back to the Source

This book about Jesus contains 6 weeks worth of daily reading material (weekends are off) which aim to help your congregation grow in Christlike Character, by exploring what it means to BE like Jesus, and SAY it like Jesus and Do life like Jesus.

You want to be just like Jesus, because this is the way he made you. Like clay awaits a potter. Like canvas awaits a painter. Our lives long to be shaped by Jesus.

But – to be blunt –

  • You are not the Son of God and Saviour of the world
  • You can’t walk on water or heal leprosy
  • You don’t want to give up your home and job, or get killed for your beliefs

Because God made you to be like Jesus, there truly is hope. Christlike habits, attitudes, passions, disciplines, role-models, visual aids and real-life examples are offered in Scripture and explored in this book. As you discover and develop these, you will find that your life really does connect with Jesus.

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If your church is planning to go to Spring Harvest this year then this is a great way to take the theme to the next level and really embed it into the life of the church.

 

BE LIKE JESUS

Week 1

DAY 1: BE ICONIC
DAY 2: BE GLORIOUS
DAY 3: BE TRUE
DAY 4: BE DOWN-TO-EARTH
DAY 5: BE PEACEMAKERS

Week 2

DAY 6: BE UNSHAKABLE
DAY 7: BE AVAILABLE
DAY 8: BE DESCENDANTS
DAY 9: BE GO BETWEENS
DAY 10: BE LUMINOUS

SAY LIKE JESUS

Week 3

DAY 1: SAY IT AUDIBLY
DAY 2: SAY IT EMPATHETICALLY
DAY 3: SAY IT HONESTLY
DAY 4: SAY IT CREATIVELY
DAY 5: SAY IT COMPASSIONATELY

Week 4

DAY 6: SAY IT HOPEFULLY
DAY 7: SAY IT ABSOLUTELY
DAY 8: SAY IT CRITICALLY
DAY 9: SAY IT CONFIDENTLY
DAY 10: SAY IT SILENTLY

DO LIKE JESUS

Week 5

DAY 1: DO SMALL
DAY 2: DO WORK
DAY 3: DO NOTHING
DAY 4: DO SOMETHING
DAY 5: DO VIRAL

Week 6

DAY 6: DO SABBATH
DAY 7: DO MIRACLES
DAY 8: DO REVOLUTION
DAY 9: DO TOUCH
DAY 10: DO TOGETHER

 

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Engaging Worship

I am a big fan of Sam and Sara Hargreaves from Engage worship they have a very humble and gracious approach that undercuts the “celebrity worship” stereo type. I love their vision for empowering and including normal people. They also have done some really interesting work on helping the church to re-engage with liturgy. Sam has been a great help in projects like Biblefresh and has written some special liturgies for the upcoming “adoption sunday” pilot events.

Check out this new video they have made and why not think about booking them for a “count me in” worship event.

 

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pray4syria – stop the bullets

As the news of another massacre in Syria hits our screens,it is time for us to be raise concerted prayers to God.
It seems that 27 children were among the dead in the attack on a small village. This lead Ban Ki Moon the Geneneral Secretary of the United Nations to state that the Syrian regime has:

“lost its fundamental humanity”

He also said that the Syrian government has lost its legitimacy to govern. But it still seems we will be waiting a long time for UN intervention. God often calls us to get practically involved when we pray so here are some practical things you can do to help Stop the Bullets.

Stop the bullets

The arms have got to get into Syria somehow. We can lobby Rosoboronexport who are the Syria’s main weapon suppliers.Sadly they don’t have a email address or we could lobby direct – but as they are a weapons manufacturer I guess they expected their products to be used to kill people. So the only way to really get change is by aiming at the money. Its all about the money for these guys so here’s the plan:
1. India and the United States are the companies main clients so you can sign a petition here to encourage India and the US to withdraw from purchasing from Rosoboronexport if they keep on supplying Syria.

2. You can lobby directly on twitter-

@PMOIndia – The Prime Minister of India

@BarackObama – The President of the USA.

Encourage them to force Rosoboronexport to boycott #Syria.