This is a blog from a Non Stipendiary Minister (ie an ordained priest who doesn't work full time in the church, but has a real job instead) with my perspective about church, work, the world and life.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Regular Church

I realise my blogging is like one of those 'Christmas Christians' who say they go to church as regular as clockwork - once a year at Christmas (or even as I heard recently 'I'm a regular churchgoer - baptisms, weddings and funerals!) but I like to think I have a life away from my computer and the wonders of the worldwideweb - that's my excuse anyway.

What's driven me to blog again after 3 months silence is our recent "Groovy Easter" musical passion play on Easter Eve which Derek has blogged about here

The church I go to is fairly traditional and I've struggled with it's formality and rules since we arrived here 6 years ago. We've been able to introduce a few things like the occasional service done with a video projector much to the chagrin of some people and have even got the congregation behind some fairly groundbreaking initiatives (see Harvest Renewal on this blog earlier in 2005). This Saturday and Sunday was the first time I began to feel the Spirit moving in the church and people really beginning to get excited about some of the things going on.

Since the beginning of the year I've been working with a small group of young teenagers on a musical passion play using some songs from Godspell, and sketches put together by ourselves. This culminated in 'Groovy Easter' this Saturday which although designed as a 'show' ended up also being worship. The kids then sang some of the songs during the eucharist on Easter Day and by the end of communion pretty much the whole church was clapping and singing along and there was a sense of joy and excitement amongst those people that I've not seen before. In particular the enthusiasm of the young people taking part was amazingly infectious and inspiring and brought me to tears many times through rehearsal and over this weekend.

It's led me to reflect on what it means to experience the Spirit - does it take change and enthusiasm and new things or is it possible for us to experience the Spirit as deeply through meditiation and ritual? Those things certainly don't do it for me in the same way, am I missing something or have I just become a hysteria junky and really belong in a Pentecostal church instead of the Church of England?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Pride and the Devil

I'm shocked to discover it's over 2 months since I last wrote about harvest and had such a huge response (15 genuine comments is a record for this blog!!) which has completely thrown out my objectve to be more regular in my blogging.

One of the reasons for not having been on for so long is because I've had a fair bit of turmoil in my life since the 3rd October. On the 14th October I lost my job which at 46 with three teenage kids and a wife who is a full time student for the next three years is not the easiest thing to face up to. Two months in though things are looking up - I'm setting up my own company and beginning to pick up work already so we're all much more optimistic than we were on the 15th October!

What it has done is set me thinking a little about the relationship between good things happening and evil.

The harvest initiative described in my previous blog was the culmination of a summer working intensively with my local church during our interegnum where we managed to achieve great things together and got a real sense of God being at work. There were many other good things going on at the same time including our continued involvement at Eden ( and a great Greenbelt. This was all followed with a pretty tough October, with not just my redundancy but a whole bunch of other bad things happening at the same time.

It often seems the case that after times of great blessing, things take a turn for the worse. I know it's not fashionable or 'politically correct' these days to say that it's the Devil attacking us for doing God's work, but I'll tell you what - when you're in the middle of it, that's how it feels. And it seems to make sense of it all to connect these in this way to a certain extent.

Now perhaps it's just that after having had a great time, the bad times are more obvious. Or maybe they're not even bad times at all, they're just times that are not as good as the good times that have just happened. I am certainly one of those who believes very strongly 'that shit happens' and sometimes as christians we spend too much time looking for meaning in things that are just part of daily life and we shouldn't spend so much time investing these events with spritual significance rather than just getting on with the business of living our lives.

On the other hand, if we believe ourselves to be spiritual beings and we believe the truth of the incarnation and everything that means, shouldn't we be able to interpret everything around us as signs of God and a life beyond the here and now?

What I do know is that the events of the last two months have distracted me from developing the work started at harvest and I would rather it hadn't. Hopefully writing this blog is a sign that I'm coming out of the dark place that unemployment puts you into and am able once again to focus on bigger things, let's hope so.

As Oscar Wilde said: "We are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars". Maybe one of the things about being a christian is that we are the star gazers?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Harvest Renewal

Finally!! I manage to find 10 minutes to update this blog even though I'm sure all the millions of readers have given up ever seeing anything from me again (Ha!).

The reason? - To write about a great weekend doing an amazing harvest event with my church and the Tesco store next door which has reinvigorated my attitude towards ministry (specifically mine!), old, established churches (the one I go to) and human nature ( especially at Tescos).

Background - I managed to persuade Tesco's and St. Andrew's Church Hove, to collaborate on harvest this weekend. Rather than trying to persuade people to come to church for harvest (although we did do that) which is not a problem in Hove as it's one of our more popular services, I was able to create a leaflet for people to use as a devotional aid as they went round the supermarket doing their shopping. This was combined with some displays in the store and some reference to the same themes in our service in church yesterday morning. You can see some of the displays on the Eden blog and if I can ever work out how to post attachments or pictures I'll put some of the leaflet on here.

So as people went through the fruit and veg section they were encouraged to think about the fruit of their lives accompanied by a few verses from Luke 6 and so on throughout the whole store.

We gave out 3,500 leaflets on Saturday and it was amazing to see people stopping in the aisles in front of the bread section, engrossed in the leaflet and clearly taking part in the whole idea. It was great to be able to take spirituality out into the real world, instead of expecting them to come to us on our terms in our buildings with our rituals and rules.

The whole experience has reinvigorated me, made me start thinking about fresh expressions of churches in strange places and other ways of doing our spiritual things in a real world context, not a church world context.

The great thing is the manager of the store asked me yesterday when we can do the next thing together. I feel a Christmas experience coming on!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Low Carb Jesus

Just read this on one of Moby's message boards - fantastic.

Monday, May 23, 2005


I haven't been able to write anything on this blog for months due to busyness/being away/laziness and would like to apologise to all those disappointed fans who've had nothing to read from me for so long (as if!). I'm hoping to restart this soon with a new and better blog that does get regular care and attention. Watch this space!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Modern & Traditional Church

A few people have written about the ordination of Derek Spencer (see Edenblog, Barky and Jonny Baker) which I was priviledged to be a part of last Sunday. It was an astonishing service for me in many ways, particularly given the fact that I had kind of given up expecting to find any interesting or lively worship in this part of the world.

To briefly describe - Eden is a monthly youth service held in a secondary school theatre studio conducted in the 'alternative/emerging' church style. This service was different because the Bishop came to ordain Derek within it. We wanted to maintain an Eden style while the Bishop obviously had to do certain 'church' things that are quite traditional. In this respect I disagree with Jonny who thought the old and the new clashed - for me it was a unique coming together of styles that spoke volumes about the diversity of the church today and the possibilities when God fills our rituals and gatherings.

Highlights for me - old and young all in one place comfortably together; going from an image based, drum & bass version of The Litany (itself an old prayer) into the Bishops ordination prayer which he chanted; communion being like a cattle market with people moving from station to activity to their mates; cracking neon light sticks (instead of candles) at the end as Ruth (Dereks wife) prayed about God colours shining in our lives; the band starting with a modern chorus that I'd never heard of and then sequeing into a rocking version of 'How Great Thou Art'.

This service was the kind of thing I dreamed of when I was an actor and was ordained priest - a fantastic celebration of word and song and symbol and emotion that uses all the senses to help to enlighten our vision of God.

As church people we have the most fantastically rich history to draw on as a resource which can inform and enlighten our worship if it's reinterpreted and given meaning by the things we do with it and the Holy Spirit filling it. Now we just need to try and introduce that to all the other churches!

Saturday, January 22, 2005


I was kind of surprised to be told by my wife that comments had started turning up on my blog and some links had been set up by other people - now I'm feeling blog pressure to actually write something!! By the way I'm struggling with the technical side of all this so haven't yet worked out how to set up a link to anybody else or 'turn on my RSS Reader' whatever that is (I'm not sure my wife would approve of that!)

Thanks everybody for making me think about stuff for a change. That's the greatest thing about this group of faith based blogs that I'm becoming aware of and part of, that there's an opportunity to discuss our faith openly and honestly in an intelligent (mostly) way and a chance to reflect a little.

I work a hectic 12 hour day Monday to Friday and spend most of the weekend running around as taxi driver for the kids, socialising with those I don't have time to see in the week and preparing for youth groups and services on Sunday, and that's assuming there's no DIY to do or electrical appliances to fix - not much time for reflection there generally.

I feel like any spirituality I'm able to dish out or be involved in is built on the head of steam I built up in my 20's and 30's as a christian when I had time to go to Bible Studies, listen to sermons at other peoples services or just pray. I keep expecting to run out of inspiration, run out of insights about God or just plain run out of sight of God amongst all the christian busy-ness, church politics and general hassle of daily life.

Thank God (literally) that I haven't run low on Him yet - or is it he hasn't run low on me? Thank God that we can sit at our computers late at night and engage in some honest thinking together. Thanks to people like Maggi and Jonny for getting our thought buds going. Thank God for blogs!