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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

Is blogging a bad idea for clergy?

A picture of a Bible with a computer mouse attached

David Keen is someone who has re-engaged with blogging in both a prolific and thought provoking way. Well worth following. So many of his posts recently have been bookmarked by me in order to come back to later; it’s almost getting to the point of not being able to cope!

I was struck recently by one of his posts on a subject that is close to my own heart – blogging clergy and subsequent difficulties in them finding work.

Although I think it is unfair to talk about specific people, I have come across (at least online) most of the people he mentions who have been ordained but now find themselves in secular employment.

It would be easy to make a rough and ready calculation and decide that blogging as a priest equals future difficulty in finding work. As I’ve recently discovered in firstly aiding my ‘title’ church through an interregnum and then going into a new incumbent level post myself, one of the first things that the Parish Reps did in both places was ‘google’ the applicants.

It’s not as simple as that, however. For most of the cases that David mentions, other things were going on as well. I can imagine that, for some, blogging just made globally public what was already going on locally. In other cases, other perceived difficulties alongside the blogging were probably more valid concerns. 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

Long way come, long way to go

A photo of a bridge, looking straight ahead to the path, at dawn

Today is a funny day. As I look out my window, there is a hive of activity around the church and various people fuss around getting ready for the big service tonight as I’m licensed and installed as Priest-in-Charge of my new benefice.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting and watching unsure of what to do with myself.

In some senses, tonight feels more important to the church than it does to me. In many ways, that’s right. They haven’t happened to have a service like this one for 29 years. They’ve only had two in the last fifty years. They don’t come around very often and it’s a visible sign of a new chapter beginning in their lives.

I just happen to be the focal point of that turning of the page… but it’s their book, not mine.

In that sense, I cross this bridge tonight… one that has been seven years in the making… for others rather than for my family and I.

That’s a thought to ponder.. Read more

Advice for Ordinands

Fr Simon Rundell posted some interesting advice for ordinands which I found both interesting and resonant with my own experience, so I thought I’d share it here too.

Fr Simon clearly comes from somewhere higher up the candle from me in some of his perspectives (I guess the Fr gives it away), but it’s still good stuff for those lower down. Food for thought.

I liked the ‘don’t try to say everything in one sermon’ tip which as I look ahead now to a role as Priest-in-Charge with no fixed end date feels a lot more do-able than it does when you’re a Curate.

I was also reassured to hear him say ‘if you don’t feel “one day they’ll work out I’m a fraud” that is the day to stop’. I often feel like that and was glad to find I’m not the only one! Curiously something that most clergy don’t admit to each other… even though we probably all feel it.

Great advice not least the last line: ‘Love God, even when ministry feels the loneliest place in the world’.

I have a new job

A photo of St Mary the Virgin church building, West Malling
St Mary the Virgin, West Malling

The following announcement has been made today at my own church in Walderslade, in West Malling, Offham and Kings Hill:

“We are very pleased to announce that, subject to the satisfactory completion of legal procedures and CRB checks, the Bishop of Rochester has offered the appointment as Priest-in-Charge for West Malling and Offham to the Rev’d David Green and that David has accepted.”

So there you have it. In a few short months, I am Read more

A fuss over plastic

A photo of a clerical collar on the desk.

Amidst all the preparations for Easter (we tend to have a foreshortened Holy Week that doesn’t do much until Maundy Thursday), I’ve been reading The Faith of Generation Y. I’m sure I’ll try to write more about it in due course when I’ve finished it. However, I read a little bit today that caught my eye and got me thinking about this little piece of white plastic I wear around my neck.

“The elder end of Generation X, now in positions of church leadership, were likely to have been brought up by wartime parents. This meant a tight parenting structure with a need to step away from the family in order to create their own social spaces. When they became parents they were determined to ensure that there was not the same distance between them and their children. … Young people do not need to rebel against their parents because generally they can achieve what they want without having to do so. (Mayo et al, The Faith of Generation Y, 2010: 103-4)”

Read more

confession boxes and the evangelical church

A Priest hearing confession

Earlier today, I was intrigued to see fellow Curate Rob Ryan’s reflections on the practice of confession and how, as he has been out and about in the community in his role as a pioneer minister, people seem able and willing to unload with him as their priest.

I hesitate to whisper this, given my own evangelical background and church where I now serve, but I have occasionally been asked to hear confession. Indeed, it has been my privilege to minister to those people in such a way.

Interestingly, I found it really hard to find anything help me learn ‘how’ I was supposed to do it. I remember lectures at college on the ministry of reconciliation but they certainly didn’t cover what sort of arrangements, practical things that need to be thought about etc. Read more