31 Aug

How do you judge church?

Jubilee Chruch - Rome

My Dad and family are in the unenviable position of having to choose a church.  They have just moved to Lanceshire UK after 10 years in Calgary Canada.  On Sunday we found ourselves visiting “a church on their list” to try.  On the way over I was pondering, well how on earth do you make a decision on which church you want to go to.   What is it exactly, that makes a ‘good’ church?  How much is personal preference, how much is biblical guidelines, does it really matter anyway, as long as you have a good time?   Is it really possible to cross one off the list after only 1 visit?   I figure there are a few things that everyone observes, and probably I guess everyone has their own priority list.

1)      Worship.  At least this is pretty high on my list. (type of songs, quality and style might be of interest)

2)      Word.  Teaching, how is it done, what level, how deep, how long!

3)      Welcome. Did anyone talk to you? How friendly were folks?

4)      Coffee.  Another one for me.  Maybe it is an interesting indicator of how much the church REALLY cares for its members.  I like good coffee, don’t’ have much patience for cheap coffee.

5)      Demographic.  Are there people like me in this church?

6)      The toilets.  Often overlooked, but on Sunday the gents had an 8 x 6 bit of stainless steel behind the urinals.  Not sure what it means, but it did strike me as odd!

7)      Notice sheet and Mission notice board, give a good insight into church life and what happens during the week as well as the mission focus or lack their off, gives and indication of the churches focus.

8)      Children’s ministry.  WE have a 6 year old, so it features for us.

I am sure there are LOADS of other things, these are ‘Sunday morning’ church things, I mean, small groups would probably be on that list somewhere.

So in this craziness, how would you prioritise all the various stuff and pick a church?  Bit like a marriage, there is going to be compromise involved.  But what about the website?  What about opportunities to serve in the Church.

AHHHH i’m glad I am not on the open market looking for a church!  It does make me wonder abotu what impression does our chruch give to people who are visiting.   I love the fact that we now start at 1000 wtih coffee and donuts,  and nice coffee too!

19 Aug

Part of a process

People often find it hard to fully understand what is involved in ‘Bible Translation’ all around the world.  You may not know it, but there is a lot more to it than sitting reading one book and writing another.

Matt and Liz have spent a couple years over in Tanzania workign in the realm of literacy and they have just written the most fantastic blog post all about the bigger picture of Bible Translation.

“So those are the main parts of a language project. Of course there are many people involved in Wycliffe’s work that are not found in one of these key departments. We need computer, finance and admin people too. Without skilled people in all of these areas of administration the rest of the team would not be able to do the work they do. It is also extremely important to do partnership work with the local churches, to work together to see a language project completed and awareness raised. Wycliffe does not go into communities and insist that their language be developed, literacy classes taught and a translation done. We only work in communities that request the skills we can bring and are fully committed to working with us. We know from our experience in Tanzania that change cannot happen in communities without the local people being completely on board with the vision and willing to carry it to completion themselves with Wycliffe’s assistance.”

The rest of thier post is well well worth a read too!  it can be found here on their blog.

14 Aug

Togo 2010 – what really happened?

So I was off in Togo for most of July, and amazing time on sooo many levels. Great to go out and visit places and people I have known for the past 12 years. It was especially brilliant because it was a trip I didn’t’ think I would ever get to make again. Having left the WYnet job and handed it all over, it was exciting to be asked to head back and train Steve who took over from me. Fortunately I have worked with him for 4 years now, training him wasn’t too big a deal, a good lad is Steve! I can’t really pinpoint what was so good about it. Maybe it was getting away from the 15 months of organising a tour, maybe it was the delight of seeing people and places again. Maybe it was once again the privilege of seeing God at work in the lives of young people again. I miss youth work!

I first headed to Togo 12 years ago with a bunch of mismatches; we headed out to renovate an old missionary house for the Bible translation team to use as an office. At the time I made some real close friends, many of whom I am still in touch with. Little did I know that that trip was going to have quite a profound impact on my life. Not only did it open my eyes further to the big world out there, but it challenged me spiritually too. 5 weeks was a long time to be away from home, but frankly I was happy to be away, things at home weren’t easy or happy for the most part. Coming home from such a trip with a changed perspective, some new friend, and some challenges to face head on with God, really set me up for the next few years of my life. Having the opportunity to take a team of young people out to Togo and be challenged and changed as I was has been a huge privilege of my former job as WYnet coordinator. This year’s trip was no exception.

Great bunch of young people who were happy to get stuck in with all the activities we were up to.
Great bunch of young people who were keen to find out more about God’s plan for their lives.
Great bunch of young people who got to know each other VERY well, and managed to get on with each other and grew to love each other.
Amazing bunch of young people.

I also had the immense privilege to gain a peer. Ruth who was out as one of the leaders has been all the way through WYnet when I was in charge, eventually joining our leadership team. Great to see that relationship move on from Leader / youth to peer. That really doesn’t happen as often as I would like.

Talk about spiritually challenging, the chance to get some time and space away from normal life, somehow the lack of distractions and I guess responsibilities allows time to calm down and allow God to speak and reveal more of Him. It also allows time and space to deal with stuff as it comes up. So one thing I ‘discovered’ God ‘revealed to me’ however you want to term it, I came to the realisation that I have been carrying some resentment. What a great chance to go get some space and deal with that! There are some other things too that go back a bit in time that I could take the chance to sort out!

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