I hope 5Q Book puts us ‘in ministry’ out of a job, to get the rest of us in ministry

I’ve been waiting years for Alan Hirsch to write this book, ever since the unforgettable Forgotten Ways which is a core text now for the Transformational Leadership course I teach at WTC. This builds on that groundbreaking work and goes deeper still. I’ll declare that I got a free e-copy for review but I just ordered the paperback because like Forgotten Ways this will end up multi-coloured and with scribbles all over. Kindle says I’m 20% through it and it seems like I only just picked it up, I was so engrossed. I’ll blog again when I get my breath back and having let my thoughts settle. For those of us who are in church leadership and used to Hirsch, my question is, ‘HOW THE HECK CAN YOU GET USED TO HIRSCH?’ If you actually read books with a mindset of implementation not just interest, his challenge to present day western ecclesiology changes EVERYTHING. Or it should. I just pray it’s not to late – the ongoing focus in denominations on ordaining some more people into the old system rather than […]


IF God is so good, why is the world so bad?

Every day for weeks we have been bombarded with horror stories. Orlando and then various cities in the USA, Baghdad, Syria (of course), then Nice – a place where Ivy has mission partners that I have visited so it feels a lot closer to home. It really wasn’t that long since Zoe and I sat on the Promenade des Anglais, looking out at the sea and praying together. A beautiful place – and then irrational, unfathomable evil is unleashed and the innocent suffer again. How are we supposed to deal with it? And whether you believe in God or hate the idea of God, you have to deal with it. Sociologist Peter Berger said we all have to come up with a solution to this for ourselves in some way, or we’ll find the world unbearable. We’ll crack up. That’s one reason the world is so hopeless and fearful right now. People are still trying to figure it all out, and they can’t… Last night at Ivy I addressed the issues in a talk entitled How can God be good, when […]


Time To Go Can Be Your Time To Grow!

Today I got TWO letters of resignation from two of our best leaders. Matty and Nick aren’t leaving because they don’t want to be at Ivy (they’re not even leaving Ivy, they’ll still be part of the church). The letters were expected, because we’ve talked at length about where they’re at and what God’s calling them out of – and into. Both have a different path ahead of them, but what’s common is that it will always all be about Jesus. Someone asked me recently, ‘What’s Ivy’s biggest challenge?’ I said, ‘When you tell people they can go and change the world for Jesus, they start to believe you – and go and do it.’ Ivy’s that kind of a place and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is why we need to keep raising up more leaders. Leaders we invest in, and hope will stay, but only as long as they should. Leaders with backbone enough to let go of certainty and not retreat into what’s safe – because they are NOT leaders. You can’t play it safe […]


How to release prophecy in the church – without being weird

How can we encourage people that God wants to speak to them personally? I’m at the residential as one of the faculty of WTC at the moment and we just enjoyed listening to Brad Jersak as he briefly taught some principles from his book ‘Can You Hear Me?’ about releasing ‘The Prophethood Of All Believers’, and then we got to do it. Glorious! I look forward to us hosting Brad as Ivy later in the year and hope he’ll teach and model more on this for us. In the meantime, here are my notes:  Jesus said, ‘My sheep hear my voice.’ He has confidence in us, that it should happen. In the same was as all Gods’s people are intended to be witnesses, all God’s people are meant to be prophetic, though not all are prophets. There are some very impressive ‘prophetic types’  but the default mode for prophecy is not from strangers but from someone who loves you. So, if someone you don’t know (or you don’t know loves you) gives you a word, check it with someone who you […]


My Christmas Eve Talk From A Few Years Back – “What’s His Name?”

WHAT’S HIS NAME?  Any Josephs in the place tonight? Mary? Carol!? Anyone called Jesus? No, it used to be common – but he’s pretty unique… he kind of cornered the market on that name. It means ‘God to the rescue.’ Does your name mean something? Do you know what it means? Years ago I asked a bunch of school kids who Christmas was really all about. Someone said Father Christmas of course. Then, a little boy put his hand up…’Oh, It’s… it’s wassisname!’ I want to start by telling you about a vision a man called Isaiah had, we heard something of the words he wrote earlier. By the way the Jewish people made sure their names meant something. Isaiah means, ‘God is salvation.’ He was a prophet, he spoke & wrote around the C8th years BC – what does BC mean? Before Christmas! Every time you write a date it’s saying something about that event that spilt time in two halves forever; the birth of Jesus Christ. But centuries before he was born…. the nation of Israel was living through […]


The Why, Who & How of sharing Jesus

Teaching from Steve and Michelle Addison from their Follow and Fish Seminar at Ivy Church Manchester   WHY should we share about Jesus?   COIN: Look at it – it has two sides. There is the Sovereign on one side. The coin is indivisible. Mark 1:17 tells us there’s a command and a promise to every disciple. Follow and Fish. You can’t separate them. You can’t be a follower who doesn’t fish. Has the penny dropped? There are simple ways to connect to people far from God, do that, give them a challenge and disciple them.   WHO should we share with? Start with your relational world. People you know. You can draw a map of your relationships, this is very practical -put your name in the middle, circle it. Think of people you’re connected with in your FAMILY. Put their names and connection points down. FRIENDS and NEIGHBOURS Gym class? We want to work with God – ask him who he is already at work with. Pray for about 5 of them for 5 minutes a day – every […]


Work Life Balance? Impossible! Do This Instead

I spoke today to the ‘Ivy Professionals’ Group – a bunch of people who meet to discuss how to get the best out of working for God, whatever they do. They asked me to speak on ‘Work/Life Balance’. Numbers were down, probably effected by the terrible news of terrorist attacks in Paris which leaves us all with a sense of numbness and the need to just reflect, pray and perhaps be with people we love.  The people who were there asked me to share my notes on here and I hope they help you too.  I have benefitted from a lot of training over the years from the fantastic Franklin Covey organisation and much of what I do has been shaped by their materials. I recommend them 100%. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has probably been my number one ‘Go back and read again’ leadership book over the last fifteen years. Once of the central concepts is of course the story of the teacher who fills up a glass storm jar, first with 7 Big Rocks, then with […]


Want To Grow A Great Church? Do Nothing!

The Bible says if you want a great church – do nothing!  The Bible really says that. We are in a series at Ivy right now called the Summer of Joy, going through the New Testament letter Paul wrote to the Philippians. As I continued to study it, something he wrote to that church (which we learn later had false teachers coming from the outside and fall-outs on the inside) jumped right out at me. What you have to do, to build a great church, perhaps the best thing you can do if like the people he was writing to you have disunity, dissensions and factions starting to develop – DO NOTHING. It really is! Maybe some of you are really glad I say that because that’s what you want to do. But I don’t mean what you think I mean. Maybe some of you Type As are mad now,  and you think that can’t be in the Bible. But it is. The Bible says if you want a great church, Do Nothing. Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself. […]


Good Questions (2) Who is Good?

Your Bible might headline the meeting in Mark 10  as the rich young man, he’s also referred to as ‘The Rich Young Ruler’. He is everything our culture aspires to be wrapped up in skin and riding a posh donkey with go-faster stripes, but really he’s a self-satisfied, self-centered seeker. The gospels say he’s rich, but he probably didn’t think of himself as Rich. We never do. Materialism hides well in a heart and keeps you from seeing yourself as rich, however much you have. If someone from my world were to go to the poor parts of the same world – you discover you’re a world apart. In Haiti where I have been a number of times and will visit again next year, if you’re ‘Blanc’ – they see you as a millionaire. Why do we never see ourselves as rich? Because of who we compare ourselves with and come into contact with. We compare up not down, and feel better about ourselves as a result. I’m not as rich as Beyonce, Rooney, lottery winners, or MPs. They should do something! […]


Good Questions (1) What is Good?

Despite what many people in our culture may think, anyone who reads the Bible will soon discover that Christianity is NOT a system for Good people trying to live good lives. When people say, ‘I don’t believe in God or Jesus – but I’m just as much a good Christian as you..’ You can be sure that probably through no fault of their own they either missed the point or were given a description of Christianity that was about religion and rules and quite rightly rejected it. But the REAL gospel – the good news, starts with the bad news that you’re not good. You’re more sinful than you ever dared believe; and more loved than you ever dared hope. Because of the cross of Christ, if we exchange our own messed up record, we get his spotless one. That’s how we end up being ‘counted or reckoned as good.’ Justified, the Bible says. Because of Jesus taking the punishment for my sins, I’m justified – it’s ‘justasifI’d’ never sinned. If that’s all news to you, please get hold of […]