Saturday, 31 December 2011

Top of the Pops

image courtesy of
Vectorportal Site
It's the end of the year and I thought I would sign off by listing my favourite Music, Films, Books, Photos and Videos of 2011.

Music - I started the year of consciously listening to more music as a way developing my musical appreciation, exposure and growth. As a result this is the hardest category to pick one best band/cd but I will. Before that let me mention three notable bands/Cds
Rend Collective Experiment - Organic Family Hymnal, quite simply it takes me to a place of worship which no other music does, I wrote a post about one of there song why go read it - click here
Texas - White on Blonde, an old album from 1997 but it just brilliant
Jonathan Coulton - Joco Looks Back, if you regularly go to Ikea you must listen to his track of the same name, a fabulously quirky album which I stumbled across by virtue of the social network (seeing a friend listening to it so I listened to it)
But my pick for 2011 is Listener - Wooden Heart, I wrote about coming across this band at Greenbelt and they are just amazing - click here to read my post

Films - I watch quite a few films, I secretly want to be a film critic, but I rarely get to go the cinema so my top films this year are mostly via TV\DVD.
Thor - the best superhero adaptation in my opinion- funny, fantastic, great characters and great visuals and direction - the only bad thing was I had to watch it in 3D
Sunset Boulevard - a film from 1950 with William Holden & Gloria Swanson which I just loved
The Straight Story - a wonderful story about a man on a journey to repair his relationship with his brother
Bronson - a tour de force by Tom Hardy
But my pick for 2011 is A Town Called Panic - a French stop animation film which was just wonderfully surreal. It pops up on Film4 every now and then so try and watch it you will love it.

Books - if you follow my blog you will know that I have had a list of 20 books that I wanted to read this year. Of the eleven I actually finished two stand out.
The Shack by William P. Young -  - a wonderful touching story of God meeting a man at his lowest point it is moving and challenging and made me want to see more of God
My pick for 2011 is Teams of Rivals - the story of Abraham Lincoln's remarkable life and presidency. I reviewed this book back on Feb 12th mine and Abe's birthday!

Photos - this year I have been trying to take all sorts of photos - interesting and creative ones - I'm not going to choose one that is best but I here are some of my favourites.

Videos - I love how we can be inspired, amused and touched through the visual medium, here are some of my favourites - Resurrection by Rob Bell would be my pick for 2011.
 Resurrection by Rob Bell Parallel Parking by Yum Yum London Television is a drug by Beth Fulton John & Joe by the StoryCorps

Friday, 30 December 2011

Almost the end of the year - a post of thanks

Image: c/o Charleston Primary School
This is my penultimate post of 2011 and what a year it has been. Personally it's been a year with a lot of turmoil but with some high points, one of the highs of this year has been writing this blog.

As I started my blog I shared five reasons for why I was doing this - to stretch and develop me, to serve as a sort of personal journal, to interact with people, to inspire and challenge others and to have fun. I feel in part I have done a lot to meet these and it certainly has been fun.

However, I couldn't have done it without the support of you my readers and friends, especially those who have commented on the blog, facebook, by email or in person - you have been so encouraging. I hope you will continue to journey with me (via this blog) in 2012.

What have been your highlights from my blog this year, I would love to know your thoughts.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Leadership: real people, inspiring leaders

Like most people who have worked in many jobs and in different industries I have served under and alongside many leaders, probably hundreds. I am certain that everyone of them has shaped and influenced me, for good or bad, even if I didn't realise it. So I sat down one day a while ago and spent a few minutes listing leaders I have known and one thing that I would remember them for. These are real people that I know or have known and not the 'great leaders' of platforms and books that you and I have read and heard but actually don't know.

Martin Harrison - the first person who ever led me, he particularly taught me the importance of training people properly, giving the necessary feedback and coaching and then letting them (me) make their own mistakes.

Elizabeth Gooch - an incredibly driven and focused woman who showed me the importance of getting the right people together to make a great team.

David Stroud - I worked on one of the regional teams that David led. During this time I organised a church leaders weekend. This was the first such weekend I had done and unfortunately my calculations went wrong and we were looking at a £2k loss (it ended up only losing around £200). When I shared the details with the team David simply said, "Well you won't make that mistake again". In a stroke he removed my fear and guilt and showed trust in me for the future (all my church leaders weekend since have turned a small profit!).

Tony Thompson - I led the team that organised Together@Shuttleworth in 2008 & 2009 for the regional churches he and his team oversaw. These events were a great success but on a personal and family level they were a real struggle. So after completing the 2009 event I had to step down from leading the event. Tony arranged support and care for me because in his words he felt responsible that someone from his team needed support. It was good to feel care that went beyond the confines of the role to serve and support me, the person.

Melanie Crane - I worked with Melanie over a number of years and the thing that struck me about her was the way she included and developed people. She seemed to easily gather a crowd but many people can do that. Leaders do something with the crowd, take them on, give them opportunities as see them as more than just workers but as future leaders also. This fully struck me when she was in the process of leaving her job in our church and she gave us a long list of the people who she has worked with and what they have done and what they could do.

Nic Lines - the final person I will mention here is Nic. I work alongside Nic, our youth leader and have seen him at close quarters, especially when I have been on the catering team at Newday. The thing I admire is how after inheriting a team he brought in his own style of leadership. Still a young in leadership (years) but he clearly has the ability to listen and give space to people whilst having a definite sense of what he wants to see achieved.

If you were to name leaders who have shaped your life who would be the first you would remember?

Friday, 16 December 2011

Chicken & egg = Mission & maturity?

Photograph: Dennis Novak/Getty Images
I came across an excellent article entitled Why the missional movement will fail written by Mike Breen the former Senior Rector at St. Thomas Sheffield, where he pioneered some very different ways of being the church.

In summary he is saying that missional churches and activities are great and he aligns himself fully with them BUT the foundational work of discipleship is often missed out and so ultimately these movements may not last. He says, "If you’re good at making disciples, you’ll get more leaders than you’ll know what to do with. If you make disciples like Jesus made them, you’ll see people come to faith who didn’t know Him. If you disciple people well, you will always get the missional thing. Always."

I agree with him that discipleship is not on the agenda much if at all in most churches. If you asked a sample of people from a range of churches are you being or have you been discipled I wonder what they would answer?
Apart from the discipleship of new Christians do churches have any ongoing discipleship framework? Small groups are part of the answer but just part, not the complete 'magic' answer on their own.

Discipleship is intentional, long term and hardwork, but it is the best way to build solid foundations that reap fruit 30, 60 and 100 times (Mark 4:20). Back in 1988 there was a phrase coined about "the decade of evangelism", an extended period where evangelism was sort to be put at the top of the agenda, I think we may need a focus on discipleship (for a decade?) otherwise we may just be on a mission with a lot of immature people.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Book reading update - 9 down 11 to go!

Oh dear my plan to read 20 books this year is going to require either:
1) a miracle, or
2) no sleep for the rest of the year!
Unfortunately I sort of stopped reading shortly after Easter and didn't really pick it up again much over the summer. Nevertheless I do have a few mini-reviews to update you with and a revised list of books I am going to try and get through - a new target if you like.

The world needs more elders - PJ Smyth
I had started reading this on my last update back in April! It's an excellent thought provoking book, not only is it a good tool to use for training future church leaders, but also for anybody in a church to consider a measured and biblical view of what church leaders should be focusing on. Reading it challenged me in many ways in terms of my thinking about church and leadership and I would recommend it to anyone.

The Associate - John Grisham
I really enjoy the pulp fiction nature of John Grisham books and until the last chapter this book was engaging, fast moving and a 'real page turner'. However I have never been so diappointed in the ending of one of his books, it just stopped - no suspense, no future possiblities - sorry John you need to re-write that last chapter.

Disabled Church-Disabled Society: The Implications of Autism for Philosophy, Theology and Politics – John Gillibrand
I have never read a more difficult and challenging book. Actually I still haven't because if I am honest when I got to the almost impenatrable sections I skimmed quite a bit. However, the chapter about his life with his son Adam was incredibly moving and in amongst the rest of the book there are some challenging questions. Above everything I was left to wonder, as Gillibrand does, are people like his son who has no means of communication with the 'normal' world much closer to God than we can ever be?

Persian fire: the first world empire and the battle for the West – Tom Holland
I am a massive fan of Tom Holland's award winning book Rubicon about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Alas, whilst this book no doubt was as accurate and detailed as Rubicon it seemed to me very dry. That may be in part due to the incredible complexity of the tale it tells - not only many different nations, states and cities but tribes and clans within cities and states. The most interesting part of it was finding out about the complex and very clever bureaucracy of the Persian empire, that even a duck had to have a travel pass to move along the Persian highway!

The books I want to read before the end of the year (in one month)
Making Time: Why Time Seems to Pass at Different Speeds and How to Control It – by Steve Taylor
You Can Change: God's Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behaviour and Negative Emotions – by Tim Chester
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
In total these have 610 pages, that means that on average I need to read around 30 pages per day - not a lot for an avid reader but a challenge for me! Wish me luck, and why not share what you've been reading lately?