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January 2020 


We want different things800Re: We want different things

Well I’ve been pondering for a while about the usual format of our Baptist and Free Churches, usually some kind of raised platform on which various speakers and musicians face rows of people facing them, with something like a combination of gig and lecture as the service structure but not yet come up with any kind of viable alternative. I do think though that any kind of powerful expression of the kind of life that being a follower of Jesus means and genuine family style community will cover over a multitude of cultural sins.
Jonathan Marcus (via Facebook)

Quite thought provoking
Patricia Greer (via Facebook)

For me, the sad thing about this article is that it could be one that I’ve read any number of times during my life as a Christian...seems we’re not listening yet
David Ward (via Facebook)

Reach out with love. People will be attractd to Jesus by seein His love in you.
Christine Booker (via Facebook)

Speaking as a Christian who didnt grow up in the church it is really easy to see how some church structures are entirely arbitrary and could be changed to something completely different
Tom Ainsworth (via Facebook)

It's a big challenge for sure. It makes some good observations, but like a lot of posts, doesn't give any suggestions on HOW to solve the problem. What would a church be like for folks who don't really want to go? No sermons?? No singing? We could do that, and some folks have, would it be better? I don't know.
Gavalar JC Ball (via Facebook)

I fully agree with this article. A sacrifice is called for of those who hold on to traditional ways of doing things. Reaching out into where people are and meeting them there. Learning from those who are already doing it. At the same time nurturing those who have a lifetime of traditional church so they can serve too.
Liz Connelly (via Facebook)

Very interesting article and I'm sure will be food for debate amongst traditionalists and non-traditionalists alike. I agree with the article we must explore different routes to encourage whole generations who do not know even the basics of Christianity. Paul was totally God inspired in his teachings and reached out to all. Often in our world we tend to think everyone has the same prospective but they don't. God's message to humanity NEVER changes, but the delivery method should be adapted to meet the needs of the communities we are reaching out to. A great mission challenge. Amen
Mary Idris (via Facebook)

Although, I agree completely with the writer, I’m disappointed he gives no pointers whatsoever about what he believes non Christians need from the church. What ideas do readers have?
Karen Smith (via Facebook)

I think you will find that Jesus just gave out the gospel message. That is what people need and it does not need any enhancement, but just given as it is. God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. God has made this possible in Jesus.
Basic message for a world today.
Barbara Rutherfoord (via Facebook)

Many people have responded to my article "we want different things" with a question, why you can't you tell us the answer? Here is why:
This is where we, as Baptists, we have a strength, where most churches are just replicating models of churches (HTB and Vineyard - franchise church) we need to take seriously what it means to be a local church and interpreting scripture for ourselves in each mission context.
The problem is we, like other denominations, have fallen into the programme trap, Alpha, Messy Church or whatever, buy the DVD, read the book and don't deviate. The best advice I was given when I started working in Devonport (a highly deprived working-class community) was "programmes don't work here".
Programmes are easy, but we need to be in it for the long haul, and that is something that takes time and it involves commitment and love, sadly there is no easy answers, sorry.
Michael Shaw 


Douglas Sparkes800 1Re: Tributes paid to Douglas Sparkes

I was saddened to read that Douglas had died on New Year's Day. I couldn't agree more with the comments made by Keith Jones recently.

Douglas was a real encouragement to me when I was elected to be BU Treasurer in 2001. He took time to give me some supportive suggestions in carrying out my new calling. I had felt led to promote Home Mission as much as I was able and Douglas encouraged me with this task frequently within Council.

I encountered Douglas again within the Retired Baptist Ministers Housing Society. As has been said he again brought great wisdom to bear as the committee sought to accommodate Ministers nearing retirement. It has been a pleasure to know him and to benefit, albeit briefly, from his lengthy involvement within the Baptist Family.

He is now with his Lord whom he served throughout his long life.
Bernard Rouget

Douglas became the Minister of Perry Rise B.C when I was a teenager. He was a significant figure in my faith journey and that of my parents. He was responsible for drawing my father into the church. He was a wonderful pastor, and was there for us when my sister died.  I also remember him as such a cheerful person. Who could forget his laugh!
Brenda Morton 

Douglas Sparkes as London Area Superintendent gave me time and advice when I felt a Call to Ministry and rightly encouraged me to have a time of "Active Waiting."

He also graciously and strongly Chaired a Special Meeting at my Home Church which called a Minister who had a long and significant ministry.
I would also like to send my love to all his family. Graham and Andy both being known to me in past years.
Anthony Orr

When I went to Brockley Baptist straight from college, Douglas was Perry Rise and he was a huge encouragement. I followed him into teaching part-time at local schools. I still remember basking in his approval of my first address to a (formidable) fraternal, 'I knew I was going to enjoy this, but I didn't realise how much'. Truly a Barnabas of a man!
Morris Munns

A truly splendid man. The tributes capture him so well. For me it is his laugh and sense of humour I recall. “You know how to lead Baptists?” he once asked us “ Find which way they are heading and stand in front of them!” ?? Hebrews 12:1.
Michael Bochenski (via Facebook)

I owe him a debt I could never repay! May he rest in peace and rise in glory!!
Paul Lavender (via Facebook)

I met and got to know Douglas when he was at Perry Rise and I was at Crofton Park. He became a good friend,  we shared pulpits, talked theology and history and received his wise counsel. His persistent faith, wisdom, and godly character emerged in our local fraternal.  I have many happy memories of our chats and fellowship.  I praise God for his memory and am full of thanks for the banter and fun we shared.  

Such a man will be missed, not only by his family, but by the people his life and ministry impacted.
Gordon Campbell

Over the years, I have recalled several times the kindly pastoral visits Douglas made to me as pastor of Perry Rise. I was in a dark place spiritually but he 'kept me in the fold' in a gentle, sympathetic way.  I thank God for his life dedicated to His service.
Judith Spencer

Dear Douglas was indeed a 'true Barnabas' - a constant encourager, and a faithful servant of the Gospel and the denomination. His beaming smile and warm handshake was always uplifting and a source of inspiration at all times.
Philip Cooke

Bridging the Gap800Re: Bridging the gaps

This is a really significant book, which I’ve been reading over the last few days (yes mine arrived early). Not a comfortable read in many ways, but Trevor’s humility and gentleness make it very readable. Sure to be transforming for whoever reads it and takes it seriously.
Kerry Birch (via Facebook)

Trevor Neil has put his finger on something crucial in his recent article, and no doubt in his book "Bridging the Gaps." Reflecting upon how an increasing engagement in social action is contradicted by the complete absence of a theology of holistic engagement.  Over the Christmas season, I sat in a Baptist church listening to an evangelistic talk which managed to completely exemplify the "sound and safe" preaching that is acceptable in the conservative evangelical context. The delivery personified the slick professional, polished at talking about "the salvation of souls," within a safely meaninglessly individualised and privatised spirituality devoid of any practical outward expression.  It was an emotionless appeal that failed to give any clue what conversion means in terms of getting stuck in and making the world a better place.  

It sounded as though the minister had had the life and character squeezed out him by the Fundamentalist thought police within the church (he probably had.) This good person had learned how to survive at the cost of preaching the wholistic message of Jesus. The idea that religion shouldn't do politics or have any social content is a crass misreading of Jesus ministry and of scripture in general that robs belief of the power to change the world in which we live. It presents a lukewarm "gospel" that offers nothing more than "Pie in the sky when we die" which has all the appeal of a poorly written instruction manual.  

As I listened with a growing feeling of unease, I sat and vowed that I would never become like that. I suspect that this culture and practice is what  Trevor Neil has in mind.
Mark Welch


Worship800Re: Is "tech" ruining our worship 

Well done Colin for your comment on technology and the church. I think the problem is not the technology, but the people who use it. So many aren't properly trained and when things go wrong there is no back solution e.g. hymn books, printed sheets and Bibles.

I'm also fed up with the lack of creatively and ignoring of those with disabilities in churches and conferences that are wedded to the screen.

Blue background with yellow writing or pure white background with black lettering often make the words a blur for Dyslexics. Please talk to those with  Dyslexia in your church there are different colour combinations that are a nightmare - don't just guess about us. If only the screen is used for song/hymn words, then those with sight problems can't clearly see and no big print copies are usually available as an option - even at area conferences! For those with mobility problems long times standing are a nightmare - why can't we sit to sing when the singing part of the service (all the service is worship, not just the singing) goes on for longer than 5 mins - not to mention trying to see the screen when all you can see is someone's backside - usually not a pretty sight! And so many of these churches think they are disability friendly - come on, use your brains folks, disability isn't just wheelchairs users.

Very often there are no graphics. Many people today are visual. I'm not just saying that we should put up bullet points for our sermons - that's lazy use of technology. We should use pictures, cartoons and other visual devices and clips to make the sermon accessible to all, making good use of the technology and bringing the Word of God alive in 21st century.

So often it is just laziness in putting up song words and bullet points. When I did my training as a communicator in teaching and lecturing, many years ago, we were taught to use graphics, words, photos etc ....... and that was in the days of the overhead projector! Technology today has moved on, so a plea for more creativity is being issued here. It's a waste of money and manpower just to use it for words and bullet points in a badly presented and inaccessible homage to technology.

So come on techies, let's have acknowledgement that not everyone can stand for 15 mins reading badly presented words. Learn your trade properly or else don't use it. And a huge plea for disability rights in churches that are bound by technology please.

So thank you Colin for highlighting a problem.
Moira Kleissner


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