paths ….

11022959_1019636374733075_615075454_nSometimes an encouragement comes out of the blue.
From totally unexpected places.
And it makes you feel good.

I send out a weekly prayer email to around 30 amazing people who pray for me on a weekly and daily basis.
Some of those 30 people I have only met once, some not at all, but most I have got to know well over years.

This week, after reading my email, one of those lovely people that I have only met once or twice took the time to write to encourage me.

In my prayer letter this week I was sharing how it is a challenge to develop stuff here on the peninsula … it is not that I am necessarily doing anything wrong … but it seems that little is working. I’m attempting to create new paths, new ways of doing things … but I do not believe we are quite providing yet what is needed.

My friend reflected back on what I had written:

Today, you have written something that I think is really important to hold on to…
‘I guess on a positive note I am being a true pioneer … we have not been here before and no one has walked this path in this area as it is now’.
He went on to add: But, for what it is worth, hold on to those words… ‘we have not been here before and no one has walked this path in this area as it is now’, as I believe they are so important to all those in ministry and should offer encouragement to yourself, and to others around you.
I have reflected on those words that I wrote on Monday morning …
whereas I originally wrote them thinking they are appropriate for pioneers like myself working in areas of new development
I believe they are incredibly relevant and true for all of us …wherever our setting … whatever our role …
because it is true for all of us that no one has ever walked the path that we are currently on in the areas we are in as they are now
Others may have walked them in different times (even if that different time was only yesterday) but no one has walked them in the time of now …
we are all treading a new path, some of those paths have never been trodden before and need to be formed, some are old hidden paths which are being rediscovered and some are well used and well known but are travelled along differently.
no one has walked this way before ….. exciting or scary … your call!?
PS Dear encouraging friend …. thank you!

where to start?

IMG_1615Living on the Peninsula can be fun and vibrant.
Homes are being built so quickly that every day I go on a prayer walk I see something new.
This is not because I have poor observation skills but due to the fact that new things are appearing every day.
In my walk today I counted 20 buildings that are now being built or are inhabited that were not present when I moved here 18 months ago.
In the next 18 months there will be at least another 20 and possibly the starting of a new tube station, designed by the amazing Calatrava.

In this setting I am attempting to work with others to build ‘church community’.
It’s a big challenge … but I came here because I like big challenges and it is what inspires me!
I am, though, looking for people to join me in building community and church here.
This feels like a repetitive post … but people come and go here very regularly …. so it is kind of admissible to ask the same thing every three to six months when anywhere between 20 and 50% of the community could have changed.
if you have just moved to the Peninsula, or know someone who has that may be interested, then please put us in touch with each other.

One thing I notice here that I have not encountered elsewhere is that generally people don’t seem to have ‘habits’ like they have in other communities.
By this I mean in other places if I went somewhere on a set day at a set time I would expect to see some of the same people on a regular basis. Not everyone would be in those laces every week or day, much a significant number of them would be.
In those other places this was how I made contact with people, developed relationships, and eventually made friends.

This community is different … and I have wondered a lot why this might be.
In a lot of other areas new development is built in already existing communities of people so that there is a mix of ‘established’ and ‘new’ people mixing in the community. Here, on the Peninsula, we only seem to have the new … buildings being built on what was once just open factory space … where there was once no community we are trying to establish community.

My question is … as it seems we are needing to start from scratch here …. is

How do people start to build community?
What is the actual spark that gets the fire of community flourishing?

It seems to be that people growing in already established community already have that fire and they work together to keep the flame burning. I wonder whether keeping the fire burning is easier that getting the flame started in the first place. Certainly I remember from camping and ‘survival’ days that we were always told t not let the fire go out once we had it stared.

Could that illustration be relevant here today?
I’d really like to hear from others ‘out there’ who are dealing with similar issues …

what is the spark of church community?

inspired

today-you-inspired-meOn Monday evening I attended my first ever RSA Engage event after recently becoming  a Fellow.

I went expecting a series of lectures and was excitedly surprised to arrive in the Great Hall to find a few poseur tables with nibbles on and some chairs around the perimeter of the room. The evening had 9 speakers making pitches for their projects which were essentially using technology for good purposes to aid social change.

The format of the evening saw three rounds of three people speaking for three minutes. After each round we than had a chance to wander around the hall, network, and engage with any of the speakers. This then happened two more times.

The format was exciting, invigorating and engaging … could there be something here for how we teach and engage in church …. I loved the way this engaged everyone … standing and listening and moving and knowing the pitch was a strict three minutes helped us to focus through the filter of wanting to engage.

There were 9 great pitches last night … one I particularly liked and have already started to use was  Better Net … which I have installed on my mobile devices and works amazingly. Adverts have disappeared and my pages run quicker!

The evening was great for talking with new people … I linked with a couple of people I did not know before … and that is always a good thing!

so tonight … we dream

"Follow Your Dreams"So tonight we had that meeting about doing something with the young people who live on the Peninsula.

A couple of people had to pull out at the last minute for good reasons but three of us chatted about ideas and possibilities and the skills and interests we have. The people that could not make it have outlined what they feel they could offer.

I don’t want to get too excited too quickly … we have no money, no knowledge of what the young people here want, no location to be based in, no equipment, no real authority to do anything …. and yet we have a group of people who desire to do something positive for young people that live here, and yet we have people willing to give their time and their skills, and yet we have people who are not content to say ‘there are no facilities here’ and instead wish to have a positive impact.

That in itself is really quite exciting … more ‘watch this space time’ …

a twinkle of hope …?

cloak sunsetThe last few days have been exciting … well exciting on my scale in a world of ‘pioneering’ where things move incredibly slowwwwwwwly as you look for ways to both engage with and support the community.

My style of pioneering has been described as ‘loitering with intent’. I guess that is a fairly accurate description of how I spend a lot of my time and I try to be visible in this community in which I have been called to serve.

I believe the church was birthed to bless communities. To be able to bless community we, the church, need to be able to find a way of discovering what the community are searching for and what the community perceive that they need. To start to understand that need the church needs to be hanging around in the community to be able to listen and watch but also to be recognised. When we are in the community it is then we hear of the communities dreams and hopes.

Sadly, in a  lot of my Christian ministry experience and throughout history I have seen, and read of,  church after church skipping over the listening bit. They have assumed, some arrogantly and some lovingly, that they already know what the community needs and provide it. These churches have then got confused and hurt when the community have not engaged with whatever the church felt it was providing.

I am desperate not to make this mistake … either through good intentions or through arrogance. 

And to be clear … I am not talking here about seeing people convert to Chritianity or to give the church ‘something’ … I am talking here solely of the church blessing the community … the church giving towards community development and not expecting anything in return. I believe in that engagement some people will become interested in the wider mission of the church … and I firmly believe people will ask questions when they need to.

But back to the peninsula …. two occurrences this week that may indicate we are at the start of something new … just maybe though as they may both come to nothing.

I was stopped earlier this week outside the 02 my a local man who had seen me in a variety of places. He asked if I and the church would be interested in supporting him as he tries to develop a community project on the peninsula. Of course I said I am happy to keep talking.

Secondly, on the GMV FaceBook page some people were talking about the fact that there was no youth club here and that provision was off the peninsula in other places. The message post was getting longer and I injected a simple question …. ‘why not start one?’ …. and, to cut a story shorter, I hope some people are going to come round next week to talk about what we might be able to do. Sometimes things need to be responded to pretty quickly … and I wonder whether there is a role here for HT to support the local community desire of having some type of youth club … we shall see!

18 months of loitering, waiting, searching and looking for ways to help  …. maybe …. just maybe … we are starting to see a couple of small ways forward.

what we have we hold

agapai

Another good Agapai this evening.
Agapai is our weekly church community meal … we eat together, talk, pray and share bread and wine.

For the last few weeks we have been considering the topics raised in ‘Dethroning Mammon‘, Archbishop Justin’s Lent book.
Tonight we talked about what is precious to us … based around the story of Mary pouring £25 000 worth of perfume over Jesus feet (which I spoke on last Sunday) in a chapter entitled ‘What we have we hold’.

We chatted tonight about what possessions are precious to us … homes, cars, sentimental value things; we spoke about how easy it would be to give these things away if people needed them, in the way Mary ‘gave away’ her perfume.

We also spoke about times when we may have questioned the way other people worship and  took time to consider what is what about the actions of others that disturbed or bothered us. We wondered what we could learn from this.

The evening closed with us sharing, as Christian Community, bread and wine before we than prayed about stuff that needed praying about.

Tonight was a great evening. The discussion was sometimes shallow, often deep, and with enough water inbetween to flow or tussle with. There was laughter too. When HT get together there is always laughter!. I hope that stays.

Thanks you for coming … see you next time!

 

variety

UnknownAnother good varied day today.
After starting the day with centring prayer I visited Trinity School to meet with Juliet, the chaplain at the school. Bishop Christopher suggested we met as I am working with the staff at our Blackheath site and looking at how we might inclusivly introduce Eucharist as part of our worship in school.

I spent a great couple of hours talking with Juliet, we shared lots of ideas and it was really quite refreshing to meet with another creative person who is attempting to try new things in different places. I learned a lot from my time with Juliet and loved some of the ideas she has for working in schools …. and I am going to shamelessly adopt them (with her full generous permission of course!) Sometimes just chatting helps …so thanks Juliet for your time.

Keeping with the chaplain being I then spoke at the Easter Service at our Peninsula site. I used the Easter Banner from Mission Magic:

and it seemed to go down well with the children … and adults. And the secret … well, bobs, I can’t tell you!

Following that the working day ended with Mindful(l) our meditations session …. always a great way to end a day! Why not sign up here for next weeks meditation session.

The day of a team vicar / school chaplain can be a varied one!