Church & Buildings – The Wrong Question?

This week I ended up embroiled in discussion with some CofE friends via Facebook after I retweeted a Guardian article by Giles Fraser on how the best thing to do with dying rural churches is shut them down and sell them off (that’s my summary, follow the link to read it if you like). His idea can hardly be described as original, but it’s put the cat among the bats in the belfry. And here I risk offending even more than he has by commenting that talking about rural churches only is a hostage to fortune. Would your community weep if the church was no longer there? I know some ministers who wouldn’t even weep if it wasn’t there! Places where the local dry cleaners would be missed if it closed more than the local church because at least that’s providing some tangible benefit. Urban or rural, churches that are only relevant to those still attending but irrelevant to connect meaningfully with their local community will die, they can just take a very long time to do so.  Meanwhile a […]

How the gospel can go viral like the Ice Bucket Challenge

This is my talk from our recent baptism service at Ivy, where I looked at the Ice Bucket challenge and drew out its lessons for leaders and churches committed to helping people find their way back to God. It followed 5 scheduled baptisms; some breathtaking stories of life change with Jesus as the star of every story – after the talk a number of people indicated that wanted to follow Him too, and then 3 more people were baptised too! (If it was good enough for the Ethiopian eunuch and Phillip…) I blogged some of the thoughts from my notes of this already on what has been one of the most read blog items I’ve ever done here if you want to look at that too, but there is more on the talk than that item. Thanks for dropping by and I hope you enjoy the talk.  Let me know your thoughts?    

#RunAlpha – Nicky Gumbel at #Exponential

Invite A Generation: Run Alpha 166 different nations 110 languages 24 million people have done the course 20 to 50% express that they’ve fully come to faith.   A – for anyone L – learning and laughter P – Pasta/ food H – Helping each other A – Ask anything   This was a great session, where we were shown how to run an Alpha course by the man himself, Nicky Gumbel.   Went through some icebreakers;   1)  What’s your name, and a positive adjective? 2)  You’re stuck on a desert island – what two items would you take with you?   Then they get a little more pointed… 3)  How did you end up coming here to Alpha tonight? 4)  If it turned out there was a God after all and you could ask God any question, what would you ask him?   Write down the questions! You hope to answer them as the weeks progress.   NB. The leader is not the main conversationist here. The guests are there to pass it around each other.   This […]


(This is from last Sunday night’s talk at the Ivy AGM – Awesome Gratitude Meeting) One of my favourite author/ speakers died last year – his name was Brennan Manning. If you have ever read ‘Ragamuffin Gospel’ you’ll never forget it. I have read lots of what he’s written and listened to many of his talks, but it was only this week I heard the amazing story about how he got the name “Brennan.” Because his real name was Richard Xavier Francis Manning – a good Irish catholic name, to be sure. While growing up, his best friend was Ray. The two of them did everything together: went to school together, bought a car together as teenagers, double-dated, and so forth. They even enlisted in the Army together, went to boot camp together and fought on the frontlines together in the Korean War. One night while sitting in a foxhole, Brennan was reminiscing about the old days in Brooklyn while Ray listened and ate a chocolate bar. Suddenly a live grenade came into the trench. Ray looked at Brennan, smiled, […]

If You’re Going To Build A Rescue Boat, Check For Leaks #bgbg2

(Snippet from tomorrow’s talk. Will be on podcast next week) Noah was told to build a rescue boat. And that’s what the church is meant to be by the way. This week the CofE put out a report highlighting how good it was that some churches were growing. The headlines on twitter simply declared,‘Good news! Many churches are growing!’ I was really excited, but then  I looked at the actual figures in the middle and in fact since 2010 – 18% of their churches are growing, great. But 55% are plateauing and 27% declined. Later on we read that nearly half of churches have less than 5 under 16s. That’s not good news. Reporting it as such is disingenuous. Surely these figures highlight a problem? If it was a business you’d say ‘It’s change or die time.’ You have to face the bad news, before you can be good news. I’m passionate about this because I’m still convinced that the local church is the hope of the world! We have to recognize the seriousness of our time and build churches and […]

Why the Great Commission has stopped me ‘Evangelising’ and ‘Discipling’ people.

I’m disturbed that the church has made DISCIPLING a new kind of industry in the last 5 years or so. Everyone’s doing conferences or writing books with plans and formulas to ‘disciple’ people. As if it’s a verb – not a noun.