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Posts from the ‘ministry’ Category

28
Oct

One field, rather a lot of trees and a post-arable parable

20 years ago my parents bought a south-facing wheat-field off a local farmer. As an investment. It’s about 10 acres in beautiful rural Norfolk (here’s a view from the church tower right) So how would you invest?

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16
Oct

I Am The MOST IMPORTANT Person I’ve Ever Met

Which is a title sufficiently conceited to put anyone off reading this post. But let’s face it – it’s a not uncommon attitude. It lies at the heart of individualism, that pervasiveness western sickness that lies at the root of so many of our ills. It was the title I had in our current series, Great Lies of Our Time (I’m assured that the talks were not allotted because of some particular problem that needed addressing in each speaker – but who can say for sure?).

You can now download the talk here.

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4
Sep

Convictions of an octogenarian minister: John Stott reflects on 60 years

Having spent a few days weeding out stuff from my bursting filing cabinet, I came across a real gem previously forgotten. Back in October 2005, John Stott, then aged 85 and just a year or two off his formal retirement from public ministry, addressed a small group of ministers, invited for the occasion. We’d only recently come back from Uganda and moved to All Souls, so it was a lovely way to start our time here. It wasn’t recorded, and was fairly informal. Read more »

2
Aug

The dehumanising metrics of modernist ministry 3: The Past

No man is an island entire of itself said the prophetic priest-poet of old. Modernism and its western offspring, individualism, have done their utmost to prove him wrong. In vain. For whether we like it or not, we are all part of one another. And while Donne was clearly speaking of human society, he could equally have been referring to human history. For one of modernity’s most damaging trends has been to legitimise our innate haughtiness about the past. So having discussed how modernist culture shapes our present, and then sensed the crushing power of modernism’s relentless pursuit of progress, we must close the circle by considering the past.

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24
Jul

The dehumanising metrics of modernist ministry 2: The Future

Having speculated a little about how the prevailing winds of modernist culture affect our perceptions of the present, I now want to think about how we face the future. Which in some ways can have an even more dehumanising impact. And yet again, I need to say at the outset that there is a valid counter-argument to each point. But why should simultaneously agreeing and disagreeing with oneself get in the way of a blog-post? Read more »

18
Jul

The dehumanising metrics of modernist ministry 1: The Present

There is a clear counter-argument for every point I want to make here. In fact, I sort of agree with every counter-argument myself. But I feel the need to make them nevertheless. For my hunch is that one of the key factors in ministerial burnout is that we are far more influenced by post-enlightenment modernism than by the values of the Kingdom. It shouldn’t come as any surprise – we’re always more insidiously affected by our culture than we appreciate. It’s just so sad how little we face the problem. Read more »

27
Jun

Facing up to Depression: so now it gets personal

It seems that mental health issues have been making headlines. The House of Commons even debated it a week or so ago, and Michael Wenham responded with a great little piece on EA’s Friday Night Theology. “Tell it how it is”, he simply concluded. And bizarrely enough (without the slightest inkling it would coincide so much with public square events), we had  our next Christians Facing Issues service planned for last Sunday on the very issue. Having tackled all variety of things in the past (the Credit Crunch, Celebrity culture, Pornography, Euthanasia etc), this time our theme was Facing Up To Depression.

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30
Apr

All Souls’ Archive Crowd-sourcing Experiment: Can You Help Us Out?

What makes a good archive or library? Well, as I’ve written elsewhere, I think there are at least 3 key ingredients.

  • Excellent, unique and desirable content
  • Well ordered and easily retrievable resources
  • Intuitive and straightforward search processes.
Well, we’re seeking to harness the good will of the global Christian online community to partner with us at All Souls. Will you help us out?
31
Jan

Power and Weakness, Control and Care within the corporate

We’ve carried on wending our merry way though Bonhoeffer’s Life Together (from which I’ve posted before) where there have been gems and provocations aplenty. This week, we followed his unpacking of the problems of competitiveness and one-upmanship, as part of his reflections on Luke 9:46. He is entirely realistic. He warns that every single community will always be infected by concerns about ‘who is the greatest’ – even if the criteria by which we judge greatness differ widely. And this has got me thinking yet again about the problems of power and weakness, control and care in church (issues to which I find myself returning repeatedly on Q). Read more »

8
Dec

When Christians disagree… priorities, challenges and imperatives

It’s a given. Christians disagree. Like pretty much everyone else, in fact. They always have. They always will. This side of the eschaton, that is.

So the issue is not whether or not we can avoid disagreement. The issue is whether or not we can disagree badly… or disagree well… This is what lay behind the recent 3-part sermon series given by Hugh Palmer at All Souls. And it deserves a wide airing in its entirety because it confronts some vital and little-appreciated issues.

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6
Dec

An unimpressive herald of an unimpressive message: a final message under Parliament

Last week saw the final instalment of the little 1 Cor 1 series in the undercroft chapel in Westminster. Unfortunately, we had the slight inconvenience of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement happening on the same day, and as this had been brought forward to 12.30, there were few who were able to come. No worries though. We happy few had a happy time.

And how nice it was to have a Christmas tree in the centre of Westminster Hall. No thought of winterval here… yet. But give it time I suppose. Now, was it my imagination or does this tree look as though it is leaning to the right…? I’m sure that can’t be significant, can it?

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16
Nov

An unimpressive people for an unimpressive king: another message under Parliament

Back in Parliament yesterday, and I unexpectedly arrived a little early – so found myself waiting for around 15 minutes in Westminster Hall. It was idyllic – the sun streaming through the great south windows. Perfect for reflections on the extraordinary events that occurred on this very spot: from monarchs and statesmen lying in state (the most recent, of course, being the Queen Mother), to grand inquisitions and historic orations (such as Mandela in 1996, the extraordinary moment of seeing a Pope address both Houses in 2010, and then Obama this year, the first US President to address both Houses from the Hall).

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11
Nov

Spinning an unspinnable message – why bother? A message under Parliament

One or two have asked for this, so here it is: the first of 3 talks given in the gaudy riot of Pugin-inspired colour that is Parliament’s Undercroft Chapel. This is a group that meets mostly weekly under Christians in Parliament. The next two are on 15th and 29th November. We’d decided to do 3 sessions from the opening chapters of Paul’s extraordinary and thoroughly contemporary first letter to the Corinthian church. Read more »

7
Nov

Three blind-spots of the Western Church from Vinoth Ramachandra

Vinoth Ramachandra has had links with All Souls for quarter of a century – and he and his wife Karin have been mission partners for many years. So it was a joy to have them join our staff meeting last week, while they were passing through en route between two conferences before heading home to Sri Lanka. One of the things that was often said of John Stott by those from the ‘majority world’ (including Vinoth) was that he was very good at genuinely listening to their perspectives and concerns, rather than following a paternalistic, one-directional relationship.

So in that spirit, Hugh asked Vinoth to speak about what he perceived as the blind-spots of the western church. Read more »

10
Oct

Step inside a story: a perfect metaphor

We’re back from a joyous couple of days in Oxford – including a happy return to the Museum of old Ashmole himself, stunningly redesigned and rebuilt. If you’re there before mid-Jan, check out the temporary exhibition of one my all time artistic heroes, Claude Lorrain.

But my purpose in posting today is a rather fun ad campaign around the streets of north Oxford. A pair of footprints… to begin with you’ve no idea what it’s on about. It could lead to a host of things. But like the best teaser campaigns, it works… you want to know more. Read more »

15
Sep

God, The Refugees and The Dynasty: An overview of Ruth

The book that has occupied my thoughts for much of the summer is that almost hidden gem of the OT, the Book of Ruth. It was the focus of this year’s All Souls week away, and so my talks are issued as a free podcast. What blew me away is that of all the books in the OT, it is perhaps the most unrelentingly positive and inspiring. This is despite the fact that its dark historical and literary context was the Book of Judges, and that the suffering and vulnerability of 2 of the protagonists, Naomi and Ruth, were very real. Read more »

2
Aug

John Stott: a man who resisted trying to gain the world…

This is not hero-worship. Not only did Uncle John loathe the very idea of it, it is never constructive or edifying to indulge in it. Worshipped heroes always disappoint, like any idol. But it is not wrong to have our heroes: people we look up to, respect, seek to emulate. They are in perilously short supply in our world. It is about appreciating them, in spite of (and sometimes, because of) their foibles, eccentricities and flaws. There is something profoundly Christian about taking our heroes seriously.

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28
Jul

In Memoriam Uncle John Stott – called home yesterday

Yesterday at 3.15, Uncle John died peacefully at his retirement home. We mourn his loss and rejoice with him.

It is very poignant to be writing this today, as we’re all at the Hookses, Uncle John’s retreat in Wales (see yesterday’s post). The place is full of memories of him – he restored it, oversaw its extension, wrote many of his wonderful books here and above all loved it. And so the news of his death is bitter-sweet.

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21
Jul

The Stott Legacy: news of a new PhD scholarship

Just received this news from Langham Colleagues – worth spreading the news far and wide, as this is one worthy way of recognising and celebrating the extraordinary legacy of Uncle John. Read more »

6
Jun

Let the Gospel tell the Gospel

This post’s title is of course the strapline that Christianity Explored, the course devised by my colleague Rico Tice at All Souls, has been using for a while. But it is a wonderfully apt and helpful one – for it not only describes how the course works – it gets people reading and grappling with Mark’s gospel to see for themselves what it says – but it also describes how preaching as a whole should work. Read more »