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Gaming in Worship – I’m intrigued

Photo from Exeter Cathedral of Communion celebrated in front of Flower backdrop

A few years ago, Manchester Cathedral and the video game industry had something of a clash. I was encouraged and pleased to hear of a very different encounter between church and gaming industry from Exeter Cathedral recently.

A good friend recently alerted me to this story of a man called Andy Robertson who has collaborated with Exeter Cathedral to use video games in worship.

The service made use of the PlayStation 3 game, Flower. If you’ve not seen Flower before, it is worth Read more

Twittering Vicar makes the news

A photo of the notice giving church wifi

I was interested to see the news cycle today includes the story of Rev Andrew Alden who is, apparently, Britain’s first ‘Twitter Vicar’ – according to Sky.

I find this story interesting on two levels.

The press’ fascination with quirky Vicars

It seems that, every now and again, you can pretty much guarantee that the press will fall over themselves when clergy adopt new technology. Read more

Hands-free worship

Book jacket image for Hands-free worship by David Green
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

I am very pleased to announce that I have self-published my first book ‘Hands-free worship’.

What is it about? Well, the snappy sub-title gives you a clue: the ‘pastoral, theological and missiological dimensions of digital projection and computer technology in worship’.

In essence, I started researching and writing because, while I was aware of various books out there that look at the practical dimensions of what happens when churches use projection technology to worship, I felt that no-one was writing about what happens pastorally and theologically when projection is utilized. Furthermore, I felt it was influencing mission and I wanted to think about and address those issues.

I am a fan of projection, but I’ve also seen it used badly and in the book I try to Read more

Oh Rowan, say it ain’t so

Archbishop Rowan Williams

Last Friday morning, as increasingly I tend to do, I opened the news apps on my iPad rather than buying a daily paper and groaned.

The top ‘trending’ topic was that Archbishop Rowan Williams had announced his intention to step down at the end of this year. There had been rumbles for a while within church circles but I guess I was ignoring the rumours in the hope that the rumbles were wrong.

Already, various reviews and ‘obituaries’ of his ten years as Archbishop are starting to emerge both in print and online and, inevitably, they all make enormous play of Read more

Hands-free worship

A book jacket image for Hands-free worship

If you have been following this blog, you will know that (for what seems like an eternity), I’ve been trying to finish a Masters degree in Pastoral Theology by writing a dissertation about the implications of using digital projection in worship. Because of ill-health at college and then the demands of ministry (particularly covering an Interregnum) it just never got done.

Well, at long last, it got done.

The dissertation is handed in, finito, complete and over.

Furthermore, various people have expressed interest along the way in the subject matter and so it has long been in my mind to re-hash the content into a book form and self-publish with Print-on-Demand.

At the present time, I am in negotiations with the university to make sure that I am free to do this without any problems and so I can’t promise at this stage if it will see the light of day soon (if at all), but I hope to tell you more in due course including (if you’re interested) where you can get hold of a copy.

I couldn’t resist showing you the mocked-up jacket though! I know it’s vanity publishing in one sense but its done with a purpose since the material has intrigued a good few friends in discussion and I’d like to share my research and ideas with others if they are interested to read the work. There’s far too much poor use of projection in church to sit on this and not share it, I think.

What’s it about? Well, my basic premise is that using digital projection in church worship changes more than just the practical dynamics. Subtly, I think it shifts aspects of pastoral care, theology (both in terms of how we speak of God and think about human beings) and also how we do mission. I am a supporter of projection but I advocate judicious and wise use and sometimes being willing to switch it off and not use projection when its not appropriate to do so. Ultimately, what I try to promote is a ‘harder way’ that asks leaders and computer operators to think a bit more carefully in pursuit of use of the technology that seeks God’s glory and the encouragement of the faith community.

Hurrah for the Archbishops’ Council

From the Church of England website

Regular readers will know how I’ve sometimes argued that the national Church could be doing much more to enable mission in this country by doing things that realistically can only be done nationally (examples here and here).

Last year, I went along to the Weddings Project launch (at that time serving in a church that conducts very few weddings) and was hugely encouraged to see such an excellent project come to fruition. Nationally, the church had engaged with engaged couples, married couples, churches and vicars, listened carefully and produced good resources that would enable clergy to do their jobs much, much better and create a far greater sense of connection to the couples coming to us to marry.

Now that I’m in a situation with significantly more weddings to handle, I am very glad of the work they did and I continue to use it gladly.

I thought at the time that they really ought to do the same with baptisms and funerals, so imagine my delight recently when I read they are going to do just that.

“The Archbishops’ Council has invested in two projects which will enhance the Church of England’s national ministry at the moments of birth and death. Like the successful Weddings Project, another idea of the Archbishops’ Council, the new team will commission independent research to find out what people in England really want from a church service after a baby is born or when someone they love dies. The twin projects will run concurrently until 2016.”

It seems to me that, particularly with baptisms, there is often a huge disconnect between what the families think they are doing when they come to have a baptism/christening and what the church thinks is going on. At the moment, we are frequently missing each other. In spite of all my best efforts to bridge the gap, for many families it simply isn’t working or (in perhaps more often) it isn’t working for me. I can’t wait to see what they can come up with to try and help.

However, I think the Church ought to be prepared for some radical news which could even impact on some of the very essence of what the Church of England considers itself to be and what Canon Law says. Of the three (marriages, funerals and baptisms), baptism is the one that has huge import theologically and where that theology is so disconnected to the world around us something has surely got to give?

2016 can’t come soon enough. If you need any guinea pigs, project team, I’m here and ready to help!!!

Why use five words when you can use five hundred?

Bishop of London portrait

There’s some interesting liturgical development afoot for the Roman Catholic church. The publication of the new Roman Missal takes me back about ten years to my days at Church House Publishing and the publication of Common Worship. No doubt, around the country right now, there are Catholic priests and congregations either trying to weigh up whether to buy new books, manage their own booklets or see how long they can get away with doing nothing; just as Anglican Vicars did ten years ago.

Anyway, I’ve been struck by sheer verbosity this weekend as I’ve followed this news.

The thing that really got my attention was the Bishop of London’s pastoral letter to his clergy in which he takes 2,500 words to say the following:

  • Dear Clergy, when you were ordained and again when you were licensed to your current post, you promised to use ‘only the forms of service which are authorised or allowed by Canon’;
  • The Roman Missal is not an authorised text in the Church of England (neither the old one or the new one);
  • So, my more Catholic friends, don’t be thinking this new book gives you a license to play games with the liturgy. Read more

Unwrapping the sacred bundle

A picture of Rafiki carrying his sacred bundle from the Lion King

Just over a month into my new ministry and I thought I’d write about some of the lessons learnt so far.

In just my third week, I had the chance to attend a conference for new incumbents run by CPAS called The Buck Stops Here. In some ways it was more a course about leadership and business management than it was for new incumbents, but there was useful stuff along the way.

One of the things I picked up at that conference was the notion of the Sacred Bundle. Every church has a sacred bundle of things which, like Rafiki in The Lion King, they carry around with them and which represent their history and their way of doing things. The only problem for new incumbents is that you don’t know what’s in the sacred bundle. It could be anything. Read more

Mission Action Planning and the CofE

A photo of General Synod in York

It’s July which, in Church of England terms, means that most of the great and the good are in York for the regular General Synod Group of Sessions. Not much to excite the newspapers this time around but some journalists have made some mileage out of the CofE being threatened with extinction within a Private Member’s motion (PDF file) from the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham.

The motion pushes for a national ‘Mission Action Plan’ to go alongside various efforts made at diocesan level and at parish level (and at deanery level for that matter) to use Mission Action Plans in stimulating strategic thought for the future.

Slightly disappointly, there is a attached note in the papers (PDF file) for the same debate from the Mission & Public Affairs Council quashing the idea because MAPs are not really viable at national level and they should be left alone to get on with their national mission initiatives (they don’t say that, but that’s what I think they mean).

Although I’m being cheeky and disparaging, I think the Mission & Public Affairs Council do have a point. Read more