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Forgiving God

Forgiveness is not something we do for other people. We do it for ourselves - to get well and move on.

It is one of the abiding privileges of being a Priest that I am asked to accompany people as they face the last days of life and prepare to die. For those with a strong Christian faith or even just a tantalising sense of the grace and love of God, such moments are always beautifully coloured by the knowledge that one day things will be set right.

For a watching world that frequently doesn’t want to engage or think about such things, it might sound ironic or even inappropriate. Read more

Letters after your name

A photo of a 10 metre swimming badge

It is a long way from first achievements and ten metre swimming badges. Every time I do get a certificate or qualification, I’m always reminded of a scrawny but proud seven year old with his first swimming badge. I don’t know why.

Anyway, those thoughts came again this week for two reasons. Firstly, I got my Post-graduate diploma in Ordained Ministry courtesy of my IME 4-7 (Curacy training). It can now sit nicely with my other Post-graduate diploma in Christian Theology that I received while at Ridley Hall.

Don’t ask me why I need two. I don’t… long story.

Then I also found out that I passed my Masters in Pastoral Theology (also started whilst at Ridley) with distinction. Read more

We have a ‘Simplification’ Group?

A caption that reads 'Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication' Leonardo da Vinci

The earth was trembling with anticipation a couple of days ago when the Church of England announced that the Church Representation Rules are to go online, free of charge, for the first time. Church Rep Rules, for the uninitiated, is a vital but dull publication that tells PCCs and Synods how they are to function.

As a side point, because it’s vital, it was also a good regular seller for Church House Publishing. Decisions like this one (giving good sellers away for free) were amongst the reasons why CHP always found it hard to make money – and why the decision to outsource their function was so poor. Anyone seen anything like Mission-shaped Church recently?

Anyway, I digress. What grabbed me in this momentous news was Read more

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

Steve Jobs on vocation

If you are considering a call to the priesthood, if you are considering another ‘calling’ in terms of church life, or if you are just wondering what you ought to do with your life, this is one of the best things I have heard for a very long time.

If you’re running a Cafe Church or have a church where you can use video easily, then this can certainly be used in a discussion of vocation. It can also be used in talking about God’s will, about ‘when bad things happen’ and the good things that can come from failure or difficult times. 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

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.

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

Love wins but Rob Bell might not

A book jacket image of Love Wins by Rob Bell

If you’re a regular in the Christian blogosphere, you will know that Rob Bell (he of the generally excellent Nooma videos and American Christian mega-pastor) had been branded as a heretic for his thoughts on heaven and hell even before his new book Love Wins had hit the bookstores.

I decided that it would be far better to read the book first before passing comment and so that is what I have done.

Much of the criticism and heresy mud-slinging has centered on whether Rob Bell is a universalist; in other words that everyone ‘goes to heaven’ regardless of how they lived or who they believed in. Something guaranteed to wind up the American evangelical right and also something Rob Bell himself has denied ever saying.

However, I’m sad to say that Rob only has himself to blame (or perhaps his publishers and editors are to blame) if such accusations are being made. The reason is that Love Wins is Read more

The Faith of Generation Y

Book jacket image for 'The Faith of Generation Y'

I have just finished reading Sally Nash and the Mayos (Sylvia Collins-Mayo and Bob) 2010 follow-up to Making sense of Generation Y. I had both enjoyed and found their first book to be a really interesting piece of work and so I had watched out for the arrival of this follow-up with some interest.

I’ve not been disappointed.

The Faith of Generation Y continues the examination of our 18-30 something’s by looking at them from both sociological and theological perspectives. I particularly found the sociological work on their ‘lack of story’ and ‘bedroom spirituality’ to be really useful and interesting.

As someone who grew up in the tail-end of Generation X, I found their discussion of the bedroom really rang bells with me as well since God had been part of my life in my teenage years there long before I darkened the door of a church.

The ‘lack of story’ essentially builds on the post-modern idea of a lack of meta-narrative and, interestingly, may have had a very direct example given to us in the Royal Wedding with so many young people present on the streets… much to my surprise. Was that a search for a unifying story, a narrative to tell us what it means to be British?

The book concludes with a chapter from one of my heros, the now Rt Rev Chris Cocksworth, as he rehearses some of his subject-matter from Holding Together.The desire for ‘authentic’ Church is one of the conclusions of the book which fits nicely with Chris’ themes in recent years of how we can be evangelical, catholic and charismatic together. Put more simply Christian faith cannot be taken out of the form of the Church and its lived practice in the power of the Spirit. Put even more simply, you have to love in a community to live it but also display it to others.

If you’ve been following the various books written about Generation Y, I don’t suppose that this material will be too much of an eye-opener for you. But if it’s a subject of interest to you (and it is to me), it’s a good chance to go deeper with some of the themes and look at them from different angles. Worth a read.