Not much ado about nothing

29 05 2010

I haven’t blogged for a long while mainly because I haven’t got much to say! However things are developing slowly. There is a possibility that a group of us might be forming a small ‘monastic’ group, committing ourselves to a way of being or rule of life. I’ll blog more about that later if anything comes of it. I’ve been busy trying to work out what this rule might look like and how it can be written down (being a dyslexic – I often have seemingly great ideas in my head but struggle to communicate them effectively in text!)

One of the things that I have noticed different in my new calling is the notion of intentionality. In the past, my primary concern, and focus of attention, was to the gathered community that met in particular physical locations (mainly churches!). I had responsibilities for guiding mission, worship and pastoral care. Anything I developed outside of that remit was usually in response to something or someone outside the gathered community and was usually squashed into an inappropriately small amount of time. (I was speaking to a Superintendent recently who was commenting on the lack of time he has to develop relationships and projects outside of his church and circuit base).

This job is radically different. Here the focus is on developing new projects and intentionally developing and practicing new ideas. But with no gathered community there are few to try them with! In my previous posts I have many ideas and either no time or no willing volunteers. I now have plenty of time, lots of ideas, but no human resource! There are a few people who say they are willing to help and come along side me but most of them are already in congregations and the old charge that comes to church planters and pioneer ministers ‘poaching people’ will likely come my way.

So I’m left praying – ‘ok God! Here I am! These are my ideas! Now what ….’

Do I intentionally set out to run with these ideas and hope that the people needed ‘turn up’? or do I sit and wait until it becomes clear what is needed and then I can, as I used to, respond to that particular need? (only now with more time)

By the way – that shopping unit is still available for lease??!!





Country in breakdown

12 05 2010

I got on the bus in Hanley to come home after a very positive meeting with local police.

I could tell I was in a bad mood but couldn’t work out why. I then realised I’d not eaten all day (it’s about 13:00), and I do get narky when my tummy rumbles!! To make matters worse there was a pensioner who obviously had no idea that their phone was beeping away and it was begining to drive me mad.

There’s nothing worse than a narky, grumpy, annoyed, hungry, Simon!

By the time we get to Kidsgrove it becomes clear that the beeping wasn’t a pensioners phone – it was the bus. As it dawns on me that the bus isn’t doing too well the driver announces that we’ve broken down. ‘it’s buggered!’ were his exact words. ‘you’ll have to get on the next number 20’.

This seems to be the signal for both small children sat directly behind me to start a fight. Screaming, yelling, dummy – flying kids smacking the back of my head everytime they mis-swipe at each other. The two young mothers are desperately trying to sort out the kids with sharp snaps at them interspersed with gentle appologies to me.

I am not ammused! (tho I smile in a very English kind of way)

In fact, I’m contemplating how much time I’d get for throttling a small child.

Then one of the mothers says to her mate:
‘you see! We’ve got no goverment and the bloody public transport system collapses!’

Priceless! The whole bus erupts in laughter.

I decided to get off the bus and have a quick cigerette and saw a shop open. I went in and bought 3 boxes of broken flapjack for a £1, got back on the bus and we all shared in an oaty feast!

It’s amazing how one line can change the atmosphere.

And whatever you might think of Cameron and Clegg – at least the busses are running again today!





Pioneering and the protestant work ethic.

11 05 2010

I haven’t blogged for a while for numerous reasons most of which are not relevant for this blog (that’s got you guessing!!). But one area is. I have spoken to many in pioneering ministry who often speak about solitude and a lack of ‘results’. I have also witnessed, and I am sure that there are many facets, people who are unemployed who lose self esteem, motivation and generally feel low.

For me, brought up in a northern, working class environment, there is a sense that my identity is bound up in what I do. If you walk around the graveyard where I grew up you will see many gravestones that will identify the deceased by the work they do. So you will read ‘Peter – Ironmonger of Bradford’ or ‘Harry – butcher of Bradford’.

So what does that mean in my particular context? People keep asking me ‘How’s the job going?’ and I find it really difficult to answer. The truth is my brain has not been this active in years. Cerebrally, this is far more engaging than circuit ministry was (that’s not to relegate circuit ministry as a lesser form – more to be honestly open about my inability to do it!!). I also find myself in many meetings, drinking numerous cups of coffee, chatting to many people about nothing, walking into the same clothes shops, pubs and coffee bars in order to build relationships, even getting to the local gym twice a week to develop a greater presence (double meaning intended!!). But what have I got to show for it? What ‘results’ do I have to give you?

Answer – None!

I want to belong to a church that is disciple making, life changing, community transforming. As far as I am aware there are no disciples, no lives have been changed (except for mine) and community has not been transformed!

So, for a while, I’ve been struggling with a sense of identity, motivation and generally feeling a bit low. I am, to a greater or lesser extent, defined by what I do – an I aint doin much! (or at least nothing you can see).

I know that I can gain a sense of identity from elsewhere; I know that my motivation should come from beyond me. I even know where to begin to look to find that identity and motivation as a child of God. But it’s bloody hard work!

Anyway, better go and do something.

Simon – Pioneer Minister of Hanley!








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