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?

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!

 

Pioneer hardships

c3efdf0cb15ed169b5be8b53271d8cd9Sometimes ministry can be hard work.
Being in a place of lots of new building in a fledgling community where the landscape and the makeup are constantly changing , can present a massive challenge to the church and how she works.

As a pioneer, someone that is fairly passionate about mission, people and, yes loves the good old CofE, I am rooted in the belief that we are called to serve. In plain English that means I believe I am called here to serve the people of this Greenwich Peninsula. I am yo be here and be ‘good news’ to those that I come across.

To be able to serve and be such good news means I need to have the ability and the space to listen. I have done a lot of listening and responding over the last 18 or so months. As I listen I respond and make myself available, but that is not the pioneering bit as such … that is, I believe, good old fashioned parish ministry often depicted in those lovey old black and white movies.

The pioneering bit, which I am here to do , is to listen to what the community is saying the issues are, noticing the gaps or potential places to develop, and then creating something with others to meet that real and obvious need.

But we have a bit of an issue here and my model of creating sustainable Christian community is not flourishing as much as I would like it to be. The make up of this community is massively transient with a lot of people moving on fairly quickly to other communities in London after staying for 6-12 months. This means that what we hear as being relevant today can become irrelevant pretty quickly.

This means we need to act quickly on ‘stuff’ … but as we are a very small group of people all massively involved in our jobs … available time at short notice is pretty sparse. So, sometimes, pioneer ministry can feel like you are going round and round in ever decreasing circles. Ever decreasing because the ideas bank is getting smaller and smaller.

So … what do we do … that is the question … and one we continue to contemplate. As we contemplate we become aware of a massive and true fact …. the fact that this is GOD’S ministry and not OURS!

Why do I write this and why today?
Today I got an email from a research person from the diocese asking about fresh expressions in my part of the diocese. One of the things that I think Fresh Expressions has been good at is raising the good news stories … while that is good as it encourages and inspires others …. I do believe that just the good news stories can often give people the impression that pioneering and fresh expressions can be all great fun and is the ‘sexy’ side of ministry.

I believe we don’t tell the hard stories enough … the stories of people not turning up or people cancelling last minute, the stories of idea after idea after idea that seem good but, for some reason, don’t seem to be meeting the need of those in the area. The stories of being shouted out and told you are not wanted. The stories of prayer walking in wind, rain, ice, snow and occasional sunshine.

Sometimes all ministry is hard …. but being totally convinced and enshrouded in the knowledge that God has called you, is with you and is working through you (maybe even despite you) is all you need to keep going.

This is a raw and unrefined post … its a bit of a think aloud post … so feel free to comment … I miss my blog community friends ….

 

pioneering peninsula

peninsula-place-calatrava-architecture-news_dezeen_2364_col_4So … following from yesterdays blog …. do you want an opportunity to be involved in something really quite exciting?

A question … how often do you have an opportunity to be involved in something new, particularly where faith is concerned? How often do you get a chance to be involved in birthing and creating and moulding a new way of being church in a  community that is ever changing, ever expanding, ever more diverse with incredibly exciting plans for it’s future like this … click here!

That’s the opportunity I have, and it’s one I would like to invite others to join me in.

We are looking to develop a missional contemplative christian community. As we develop we would serve the wider community in various, but relevant and as of yet unthought of, ways that we would come up with after listening and hearing what people around us say. This really would be living out gospel kingdom values in a  dynamic and loving way …. really being good news for all we come into contact with.

so ….

What we are seeking?

  • People who are  Christians and interested in birthing and participating in a missional fresh expression of church with a contemplative flavour on the Greenwich Peninsula
  • People who have, or have had in the past, a desire to focus more on contemplative and prayerful action within a Christian community and be willing to lead aspects of contextual worship, mission and community life on the Greenwich Peninsula.
  • People who can commit to a Sunday evening Contemplative Eucharist, gatherings afterwards at a local pub or the vicarage and a Wednesday evening community meal with sharing of our weekly stories, prayer for each other with sharing of bread and wine.
  • Where possible join in the prayer life of Holy Trinity, currently 730am Prayer & Pastry at the Vicarage.
  • People willing to develop a meditation group on the Greenwich Peninsula aimed at supporting those who would call themselves spiritual rather than religious people.

 

Interested?

I feel quite excited by what we can do here
But I know we need more people …. does that include you or someone you know?
Please take time to consider ….

I’d love to hear from you …. please get in contact  via comments here or via our current website: http://www.holytrinity.online/

 

 

 

 

what we are seeking …

seek-copy2017 is here ….
So … what is happening here in the pioneering peninsula of Greenwich … 

I am looking ….
I am praying …
I am waiting ….
for people
for people to join me
for people to join us
for people to get together to
attempt
to birth something new here
something intentionally spiritual
something deliberately communal
something that will make a difference
something that is new ‘cos there is no blueprint
something that will grow and develop as we grow and develop
something that needs to be moulded by whoever joins the journey

church …. yes
religiously set ways of dong things … no
collaborative, creative, meaningful … yes
having to believe ‘right’ things and behave in ‘certain ways’ … no
believing there is only one way to do things … NO!
Jesus gospel trinity based … yes
affirming and encouraging … yes
contemplative Christian community … very possibly yes

Does that sound interesting to you?
Do you live within reach of North Greenwich …. read on a little more …

What we are seeking?

  • People who are established Christians and interested in birthing and participating in a missional fresh expression of church with a contemplative flavour on the Greenwich Peninsula
  • People who have, or have had in the past, a desire to focus more on contemplative and prayerful action within a Christian community and be willing to lead aspects of contextual worship, mission and community life on the Greenwich Peninsula.
  • People who can commit to a Sunday evening Contemplative Eucharist, gatherings afterwards at a local pub or the vicarage and a Wednesday evening community meal with sharing of our weekly stories, prayer for each other with sharing of bread and wine.
  • Where possibly join in the prayer life of Holy Trinity, currently 730am Prayer & Pastry at the Vicarage.
  • People willing to develop a meditation group on the Greenwich Peninsula aimed at supporting those who would call themselves spiritual rather than religious people.

Interested?

I’d love to hear from you …. please get in contact  via comments here or via our current website: http://www.holytrinity.online/

I think this is exciting … how often do we get a chance to develop and create and mould something new …. something that we hope will be of use not to us bit to those around yes as well … a blessing for us so that we can be a blessing for others … so … get in touch if remotely or only vaguely interested …