Thursday, March 23, 2017


'In every age God has given the church the resources and the ability to evangelise the whole world'
Leonard Ravenhill

As a very new Christian, my Vicar suggested we try a 'morning of prayer' and so I gave it a go. I can distinctly recall sitting on a park bench on a Saturday morning feeling rather shabby reading John Pollock's 'Wesley the Preacher' and being gripped by the story of revival it told. As a matter of minor detail, it is the same park bench I proposed to my wife on over 20 years later.

A wonderful team are planning 24 hours of prayer to take us into our Easter day baptisms and their plan is to end with a sunrise service. I have been tasked with crafting a liturgy for this which is, for those who know me, quite clearly my sweet spot. Fear not, the Moravians (who I first learnt of on the park bench) are coming to my rescue.

Watching this film will tell you who the Moravians are and if it stirs you as it stirred me then that will be an answer to prayer. It's fascinating and worth the time. I've sent it to the team.....

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Empty hands

'At the heart of true repentance is an acceptance that we bring nothing to God but empty hands to receive his grace'

Different, p.183

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Half a mill

1, I noticed on my sidebar that the blog has hit over 500K. It began on a wet afternoon in the Bodleian library. I have no idea who visits here and I only know of four people who are still reading it. Anyway, thank you for passing by from time to time....

2. I enjoy Matt Redmond's 'Random thoughts' and very often there is one sentence in his list that is worth a good ponder:

Christians should be more offended by unkindness and gossip than by culturally-conditioned profanity. Far more. 

3. I always enjoy a bit of Francis Chan. Here he is on the JW's :

4. Here is a quote about repentance which is my topic of the week:

'Repentance is not fundamentally a motion of the hands, mouth or feet; it is a motion of the heart in which we abandon our posture of rebellion and adopt one of submission toward Christ. Repentance is evidenced by outward action, but it does not equal that'

5. Neither Simon in his chapter on repentance in 'Different' nor J D Greear in 'Asking Jesus into your heart' are great fans of the sinners prayer. I think they would get on:

I think Peter and the apostles would laugh and then freak out at today's evangelical 'Sinner's prayer'- where the listener is encouraged to echo the preachers pithy penitential prayer, then raise a hand, while every eye is closed and every head bowed, before coming to collect a leaflet from the preacher. That only became de rigeur in the Victorian era. How are we to be sure the new birth has been given, a new life has come into existence? This model seems neither biblical nor fruitful- how many of those whose hand went up incognito became true disciples' p 183

I am mulling on the repentance chapters in both books (which are excellent by the way) and I am someone who 'prayed the prayer' and here we all are. However, there is of course a little more to the story than that.....

6. I sent this talk to someone after a long discussion about the difference between religion and the good news of Jesus.

7. In the context of point 5, A W Pink prayed this prayer at the end of one of his sermons.

Why not believe in him for yourself? Why not trust his precious blood for yourself; and why not tonight? Why not tonight my friend? God is ready, God is ready to save you now if you believe on him. The blood has been shed, the sacrifice offered, the atonement has been made, the feast has been spread. The call goes out to you tonight, 'Come, for all things are now ready' A Life, p.52-53

8. Simon references his favorite preacher James S Stewart in 'Different' and blow me down here is a post on him. Si sent me this book when I got ordained.

9. As I have been studying holiness of late this prayer and insight hit me. It's the gospel in a couple of sentences:

Augustine's famous prayer, 'Give what you command, and command what you will,' expressed a profound insight into biblical theology. God does indeed give what he commands; the holiness which He required of His people is also His gift to them. God himself sanctifies sinners.' 18 Words, p.170

10. Mrs C is still reading bits of 'Dirty Glory' out to me. Did I mention at all that you really should read this book......

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Surveying Clergy Stress and Well-being

I remember visiting a Bishop to discuss the prospects of a Curacy in his area (not in my current Diocese) and him telling me that nearly half of his clergy were suffering some form of work-related stress, addiction, depression or some other mental health condition. He said dealing with the fall out from this occupied much of his time. Unsurprisingly, I have never forgotten that meeting.

My friend Kathryn is doing her Phd on this subject and would greatly appreciate Clergy doing a questionnaire that will form part of her research data, If you are able to 'pass this forward' to other Clergy then please do so.

This is her study:

 Enhancing Ministry and Encouraging Clergy Well-Being
A study to support the development of ministerial resources

A group-coaching course that engages with the relational challenges of ministry is currently being piloted in three Church of England dioceses. The course offers a framework for thinking about congregational relationships and supports participants to develop an empowering response to these, potentially emotionally demanding, situations.

This research project is exploring the impact of this course on participants’ experiences of ministry and on their personal well-being. In order to ensure our conclusions are robust and meaningful, and identify whether it might be pertinent to offer this coaching approach more widely, we are also conducting a Church of England wide study. We are inviting a random cross section of clergy across England and Wales to participate in a survey that explores the influence of pastoral role and relationships on clergy’s experience of ministry.

Previous research indicates that relations with others, whether inside or outside the Church community can be both a resource and a demand for clergy. Facing unrealistic congregational expectations, dealing with conflictual situations and managing the diversity of the pastoral role are some of the interpersonal scenarios which have been found to act as significant sources of ministerial pressure (Berry et al., 2012; Charlton et al., 2009). Alongside this, support from colleagues, congregation, friends and family have been shown to sustain clergy and promote their well-being (Ling, 2016; Proeschold-Bell, 2015). This research will explore the impact of these relational factors in greater depth.

If you are a full-time stipendiary minister working in a parish whose role is of incumbent or holds incumbent status (e.g. team vicar, priest-in-charge) we would like to invite you to participate.

The survey should take no more than 30 minutes to complete.

If you would like to take part in this research please visit here:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A word for the hour

1, At Vicar factory we used to have discussions about first and second order issues. I prefer Wimber's sentence 'Keep the main thing the main thing'. Of course, that begs the question about what exactly we think the main things is. I might at this point direct you to 1 Cor 15:1-11.

2. This morning I met to pray with what goes in my diary as 'Pastor's prayer'  and it struck me that in our little gathering we have: Anglican, Congregational/ NFI , Free Church Charismatic, Pentecostal and Catholic seeking to focus on/work out falteringly together the main thing (we hope).

3. Each day I scan blog posts and a book I have known about for ages caught me eye as it was mentioned twice today. It also fitted with some of our discussion of the morning. It's called 'The Benedict Option' and is reviewed here and this is an Andy Crouch post on the same topic.

4. It seems to me that every generation is concerned about the seeming state of the Church as 'A Word for the Hour' by Spurgeon in 1887 testifies:

An abiding consolation in these evil days is to be found in the fact that the Holy spirit is working in the same manner as ever. A conversion to-day bears all the marks of which authenticated a conversion five hundred years ago.....It matters not how much the wise men of this world deride the gospel of our Lord Jesus, it still arouses the careless, guides the despondent, renews the guilty and sanctifies the believing.....While this is the case, what means this clamour for advanced thought? Can there be an advance upon a revelation which is complete? Is there anything better than Jesus Christ., the same yesterday today and forever? In patience let us possess our souls, resting not in talent and learning and influence for the progress of the Gospel, but in the Holy Spirit alone./ He can raise up leaders of eminence if other Pauls are needed. He can find learned pens if other Augustines are required. He never fails, not even pauses, for lack of instruments'

The Life of A W Pink, p.2

5. Darryl has a timely word that fads come and go.

6. I watched this at the urging of Mrs C and was reminded, as I often am, that our mandate is to preach the gospel afresh to this generation. The kids dancing on the bridge is an image that I can't shake.

7. We are meeting to pray and get the word out about Just One tonight here.

8. Is the Pope right or wrong on begging?

9,. We got given a free virtually new trampoline. Hello A & E.....

10. I appreciate Ron Edmondson's wisdom and this is a bit of it which might be timely for some of you.