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Are leading and worshipping compatible?

A cartoon of Homer Simpson's brain with little room for anything but sleep and donuts.

In the summer, I came across a post from The Vernacular Vicar which essentially described a difficulty in being a Priest as he (Fr David Cloake) saw it. Namely that its really hard to both worship and lead others in worship at the same time.

At the time, there was a mixture of reaction in me as I read. There was part of me that feels and expects that it should be possible to both worship and lead others in worship at the same time. Indeed, one might argue, that to truly lead others in worship one must also be worshipping. On the other hand, I knew precisely what he was talking about. The elephant in the room for many leaders of worship (whether ordained or otherwise) is that when you are planning and then trying to lead your people through the journey of the worship, conscious of newcomers and guests, let alone children, keeping one eye on the clock, and another on whether dear ol’ Flo has pocketed her wafer rather than consuming it again, it’s very hard to retain a sense in your heart of worship and the presence of God. Read more

Wedding reflections: what role mission in a Royal event?

Kate Middleton and Prince William are married by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 29 2011. Photo credit: Devlin/PA Wire
PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 29 2011. Photo credit: Devlin/PA Wire

With a six year old daughter who was just so excited about the concept of an ordinary girl being made into a real-life Princess, it was inevitable that I would be watching the Royal Wedding on Friday.

Quite apart from daddy duties, I was interested both as a British subject and as a minister of the church. As a priest and minister, I was intrigued to see what form and shape the service would take and what the 24 million, mostly non-churchgoing, Brits would make of it whilst watching on television.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience but if I have may have a moan or two, can I have a moan at the Church of England and a mission opportunity missed?

Now, with any couple that I marry, I do give them the choice of which words we are going to use. For the uninitiated, there are several options – The Book of Common Prayer from 1662, the 1928 liturgy which eventually saw the light of day in the sixties as Series One and then the contemporary Common Worship (which most of my couples choose).

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Café Church stations: Ash Wednesday

A screengrab from the Trinity Cathedral media video 'Dust'

I had very little to do with our Lenten Café Church service this month, but I did contribute a prayer station based around Ash Wednesday and Isaiah 58.

As always, if you are interested, you are welcome to download the basic instructions of the station and re-use them or adapt as you see fit.

The video is called ‘Dust’ (no, not the Rob Bell DVD) and comes from Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix where a contact, Nick Kniseley, is the Dean. You may like to be polite and check but they seem happy for people to make use of the material.

My one reflection on the way the station worked is that it would have been useful to, perhaps, have someone on hand to administer the ashing and speak the words over people ‘remember that you are dust… etc’ rather than relying on people to sort themselves. There’s something significant, I think, in having such words spoken over you.

Café Church stations: Covenant prayer

Covenant Prayer card image

My apologies for recent lack of publication in terms of our Café Church resources that we use. I’ll try to get better and sharing these resources. If they are useful to you, again feel free to use them.

This month at our Café Church service, we were looking at the theme of ‘Covenant’.

One of the hidden gems in the Common Worship: Times and Seasons material is the adoption (and basically plagiarising) of the Methodist Covenant Service. Having first grown up in an Anglican-Methodist church, I loved this service at New Year and I’m very glad that the CofE has brought it into their liturgical provision.

This month was a little more complex in that we asked people to follow the stations in a (loose) order. To start, we tried something we’ve never tried before – a ‘collective’ station together at their tables, then a couple of stations that they could do in any order, but asked them to finish up at a particular station to finish. We then rounded off by using some of the official Common Worship liturgy to ‘seal the deal’.

You can download the details as a zip file (6.4Mb) which includes Read more

Café Church station: Jobs Board

A photo of an example Job Board advert

This month at our Café Church, I have to confess that I wasn’t much involved and so don’t have much to share.

HOWEVER!! I do have one idea to share which went down very well.

The service as a whole was looking at the subject of the church with one definite thread looking at how we contribute together as a body and all need to be using our gifts to benefit one another.

For one of the prayer stations, I did a Jobs Board. Ahead of time, I asked all the different groups in the church if they had any jobs that needed doing. We got all sorts of responses from the usual need for more children’s workers to very specific things like wanting a Bass player for one of the worship groups!

To set-up the jobs board, I used some very simple Word-style templates straight out of my Mac Pages template section (see this image for example) that picked up the idea, very familiar from universities, of a pull-tab flyer poster where you can rip off one of the contact slips at the bottom. We did a whole bunch of ‘jobs’ in this way and put them up on the wall.

It worked really well and we had a nice double effect going on. On one hand, people ripped off the tabs and so had something to take away with them and to act upon. The other effect was that people following them could see which ‘jobs’ were popular and which had yet to receive interest. Worked really nicely, recommended.

Café Church stations: living it out

An image of a burnt sacrifice being made upon an altar

This month at our Café Church service, we were looking at the theme of ‘living it out’. As we continued with our series on the basics of the Christian faith, the entire evening examined how we are called upon to take this faith that we believe and proclaim and live it out in the context of our everyday lives.

I was involved in two stations this month. You can download the details as a pdf file.

The first one used a video clip called ‘The March of the Unqualified’ which highlighted the fact that nobody is perfect and we are called to follow God regardless of our imperfections and weaknesses. Indeed, it is often in our weaknesses that God is able to work.

The second station talked about needing to be a ‘Living Sacrifice’ and how we can sit back in church and not participate, even if we’re there and present and even doing things. The station called upon people to examine their situation from a different perspective and then recommit themselves to getting back onto the altar, being a sacrifice to God.

Both were essentially fairly simple stations. The only complicating factor was the need to download the video clip and I was fortunate enough that a team member had it already, downloaded and paid for. You also have to put up with an American accent on the video, but otherwise it’s very good!

Café Church station: Speaking, Removing, Free of dirt

The future belongs to dirty hands image

I occasionally get asked about the Café Church congregation that meets once a month at Pip & Jims. I also know how hard it is to find decent resources and ideas for prayer stations for things like Café Church or Liquid Worship.

So, I thought I would start to share some of the things that I put together.

This month I was responsible for just one prayer station which was in three parts: Speaking dirt, Removing dirt and Free of dirt. You can download the details as a pdf file.

We’ve been looking at some Christian basics over this ‘year’ Read more

is the iPad a liturgical game-changer?

iPad promotional image from

Nearly a year ago, I finally made a move to the dark side (or the light depending on your perspective) and bought an Apple Macintosh computer.

After years and years and years of being a Windows user, I basically got fed up with the viruses, the clunky way Windows operated. I needed a new machine and I knew that if I bought a PC that meant Vista (at the time) and I had heard so much negative stuff about that.

So I bought a Mac. I also signed up for an iPhone and I have been loving my conversion ever since.

Now this post is not about my Mac conversion. This post is about the new iPad which is shortly to make its way into shops.

As a relatively new Mac convert, I was interested Read more

Transforming Worship – the aftermath

York Central Hall

So the Transforming Worship paper from the Liturgical Commission was debated on Saturday and so much for my expectation that it would just roll through on the nod.

You can listen to the Liturgical Commission’s presentation and to the debate on the Church of England website, although much like the CofE’s clunky use of RTF files, it would have been more helpful to me if they’d uploaded MP3 files so that I could have stuck it on my iPod than the streamed ‘wax’ files that they have provided. Be grateful, be grateful.

The Transforming Worship paper included a major section that drew together all of the Commission’s recommendations and addressed everyone from Dioceses and Bishops through all sorts of stakeholders down to local parish level and other such groups as educators and trainers. All were pretty much asked to do different things whilst also setting out a sort of routemap for the Commission itself.

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