Category Archives: Misc

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Yes this is the best World Cup Ad ever

Wow, this video is awesome.
I love the joi de vivre.
I love the way skills long honed in practice are on display
I love the idea of people sharing their skills to bring a smile to friends and strangers
Well done for a beautiful piece of art – shame its advertising a fast-food chain…

Thanks to Jonny Laird for sharing this on twitter.

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A Paradoxological Thought for the Day #1

My new book Paradoxology: Why Christianity was never meant to be simple  is aimed to help you think more deeply about the big questions of life and faith.

As a little audio taster of paradoxology I am pleased to be able to bring you (courtesy of Premier Christian Radio) a daily paradoxological thought for the next 5 days.  Each is about 2 minutes long and gives you a little insight into the heart off the book. The story you are about to hear is about as sad as it gets… (come back tomorrow for the next in the series).

In case you haven’t seen it here is the mini movie we made.

 

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LIFE for Good

Foster caring has been one of the most difficult but one of the most rewarding things our family has done together. Welcoming children into our home when we know very little about what has happened to them in their past, and when we have little idea what the future holds is a painful privilege. Moving children who we have loved deeply on to their new, or sometimes old, families is another painful privilege. Whatever the circumstances, these children connect us to the heart of God who is Father to the Fatherless .

And not just us – but those around us too. As we said goodbye to one child, our church pastor put him on his shoulders and paraded him round the church while the little lad high fived every single person in the congregation. He was smiling while we were all crying.

We are all in this together and I have been so grateful for your support and interest over the years as my family first became involved in fostering and adoption, and then passionate about helping others to be part of it. Thank you to all of you who have followed the news of the Home for Good campaign as the Evangelical Alliance, Care for the Family and CCPAS have worked together to bring the urgent need for foster and adoptive families to the attention of the church.

Personally I am particularly grateful for the support that I have received from the Evangelical Alliance – there would not be anything like the momentum and energy developing across the UK church for Home for Good without the Alliance’s support, encouragement, commitment or energy towards the campaign. Staff have given selflessly of their time and energy, the Board and Council have been unequivocal in their help and enthusiasm for the initiative.

The Alliance is very good at developing campaigns like Home for Good. I have also been involved with initiatives like The Square Mile, Bible Fresh and Confidence in the Gospel. These campaigns tend to last just for a year or two. But as the amount of interest , support, momentum and passion for Home for Good has been overwhelming across the UK church, we have decided to take the step not to move on to something else, but to turn Home for Good into a stand-alone charity. (We are following in the footsteps of the amazing  organisation TEARFUND which also started off as an EA initiative over 50 years ago).  

More than 50 local authorities and fostering / adoption agencies have wanted to connect with us, I have been invited to speak to hundreds of social workers, attend meetings with the Department of Education, advise and speak at events run by British Association for Adoption and Fostering as well as make scores of media appearances to talk about this subject. Churches across the UK are beginning to catch a vision for this, the number “Home for Good” champions is growing, and the number of churches with support groups increasing. I frequently get emails from new families deciding to become foster carers or adopters because God has spoken to them through the Home for Good campaign.

As I look at the gifts and skills I have both in connecting faith to our day to day lives, and in commending the faith to outsiders, and also those experiences our family have had I can see that I have something to offer to this issue and so I am anticipating cutting down to half time with the Evangelical Alliance to be the Founding Director of the Home for Good charity. These are exciting and faith-building days as although we have sound financial advisors affirming the potential self-sufficiency of the charity, we have not yet secured funding for any of our set-up work and so we are reliant on donations and grants (click here if you would like to become a founding  supporter)  as we begin to help change the imagination and experience of the UK church on the issue of adoption and fostering and as a result find Homes for Good for all the vulnerable children that need one.

I hope that you are excited with me at this step, and that you will soon see the fruit of this project on your own doorsteps, as families in your church join in the journeys of fostering and adoption, and you experience first hand the privilege (and pain) of being part of a community that is invaluable in releasing the potential of children who have had a traumatic start in life.

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5 Things Conservative Evangelicals can learn from Lesslie Newbigin

A shorter version of this review article was first published in Themelios.

161097574X.01.LZZTheology in Missionary Perspective: Lesslie Newbigin’s Legacy
Edited by Mark T.B. Laing and Paul Weston
Pickwick Publications

With the publication of a new collection of essays exploring the missiological implications of Lesslie Newbigin’s work there’s an opportunity for a new audience of evangelicals to engage with his writing. In his recent (and excellent) history of the post-war Globalisation of Evangelicalism, Professor Brian Stanley names Lesslie Newbigin alongside CS Lewis as one of two thinkers who have provided “an intellectual armoury of a very different kind from that offered by the sterling efforts of conservative theologians.” . Just as Lewis did not fit easily within evangelical circles yet has blessed many with his writings, Newbigin also offers a similar treasure trove of insights.

These essays, many of which originate from a 2009 conference that gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Newbigin’s birth, are – as is usual in these kinds of collections – a mixed bag. Some of the essays are decidedly average and make you wonder why the authors didn’t just direct readers to  an appropriate chapter of one of Newbigin’s many publications.  Others are excellent: Ian Barnes’ and Murray Rae’s essays in particular stood out for me. Nevertheless reading this volume reminds me of the value of a dialogue with Newbigin. As an integrative rather than a systematic thinker, many of Newbigin’s streams of thought flow into one another, however for me five areas stand out as beneficial conversation topic for conservative evangelicals:

1. We need a richer ecclesiology

Firstly in the area of ecclesiology; Newbigin argues that the church’s life as well as its speech is to be an apologetic for the gospel. (See Rae’s excellent essay in this volume). Rae highlights Newbigin’s challenge that apologetics cannot just be seen as an intellectual pursuit isolated from the lived reality of the church’s common life.

Personally, most of the  apologetics seminars I listen to and the articles I read are intellectualist and individualistic. We need apologetics that appeal to head and heart but also recognise the function of the church as apologetic and hermeneutic of the gospel.

 2. We need a better epistemology

Secondly in the field of epistemology; Newbigin critiques an  unexamined foundationalist theory of knowledge; which is popular in many evangelical circles, lacks sufficient biblical warrant. Newbigin argues for epistemic humility . (see Jackson’s essay).

Like our apologetics we need to make sure we are not simply going with a cultural flow ( even though it is a previous cultural  flow of modernity and  rationalism ). See my article New beginnings in Evangelism and Apologetics. 

 3. We need a more nuanced political theology

Thirdly Newbigin offers a critique of the empire mentality present in some forms of Christian political engagement. (see especially Karkkainen’s essay)which highlights the need for a re-examining the assumptions in our political engagement in a multicultural context. needs to look like and have opted to try and reinstate.  Newbigin offers an alternative approach to navigating an approach to civic engagment in a post Christendom context.

For more on this you will also  enjoy Os Guinness’ book The Case for Civility. 

4. We need a more expository preaching ministry

Fourthly expository  ministry, Newbigin challenges some evangelical biblical ministry which sometimes isolates a text not just from its context in a given book of the Bible but from its impact on the public life of our culture. Newbigin’s work challenges the church to tell the whole story of scripture with Jesus as its centre; public truth which is the true story of the whole world. (see Schuster’s article.)

I value conservative evangelicalism’s commitment to expository preaching but we need to be aware of assuming we are being biblical without recognising the reductionist theological agenda we sometimes bring to the text.

 5. We need missional eschatology

Fifthly eschatology, Newbigin’s thought challenges approaches to the end times which focus on millennial controversies. Newbigin links missiology with eschatology by challenging the church to enact its function as the sign, instrument and firstfruit of the coming kingdom of God in its life and mission.  (see Weston’s essay).

As in all good conversation there will be much to enjoy as well disagree with as we engage with Newbigin’s life and thought. This selection of essays is a good way to begin if you are not familiar with his work and will also prompt those of us who have benefitted from long-term exposure to Newbigin to appreciate new perspectives.

See also
The Missionary Who Wouldn’t Retire” in Christianity Today.

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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?

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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?