Tuesday 21 February 2012

Wildfire Prayer

A Twitter conversation with Matt Carso @yvesraven from Sanctus1 in Manchester has prompted me to drop a quick blog post about something I've been thinking about for a little while.

One of the delights about social media is the possibility of engaging people in immediate prayer needs and immediate intercessory prayer requests.

While this has been made possible by mass communication and the chain-letter style text message. Facebook events and Twitter have facilitated a viral way of seeking prayer for immediate need.

This is what I'd like to call Wildfire Prayer, I am sure there are a plethora of other names, but the principle is that once a prayer need is raised, that need can be made known to friends/followers, who make it known, etc, and before you know it, countless numbers might be praying.

A few times I have organised prayer "events" on Facebook for folk, and what has been interesting has been the number of people who I (the creator of the prayer event) know, the number of people who the "subject" of the prayer event know, and the number of people neither the "subject" or I know!

Long may God use social media in this way.

Naturally, this Wildfire Prayer requires pastoral sensitivity and an awareness of boundaries / data protection.

Bad examples of Wildfire Prayer might include:

"Pray for my friend Jez, who is suffering from terrible piles."
"Pray for my friend Jen Whatever, who has lost her mastercard on the number 47a heading for Lincoln bus terminal"
"Pray for my friend Jay, whose not getting on with his mum and hates her"

Silly examples I know, but as we send out these Wildfire Prayers lets make sure its okay to do it.

Friday 10 February 2012

big church meets big mission

In the past four years I have become fascinated by mission. It is the theological discipline that excites me most.
And in the beginning of those years I had to come to understand that mission is bigger than evangelism. I have realised that every strain of church approaches this differently and that as a result, each church has strengths and weaknesses.
Over these four years I have drifted away from the big church, attractional model into something different. But even here I am aware of weaknesses of other forms of church.

Part of my enthusiasm for missiology has been developed by reading some seriously exciting missiological writing. And in May this year, it feels like two huge threads of my life will be meeting up. The big church model of New Wine charismatic church and the smaller mission community.

Alan Hirsch will be speaking at the New Wine Leaders Conference (no Bill Johnson this year).
And by my reckoning this could be a huge turning point for the big church to see another way and the smaller mission ommunities to re-connect with the big church.
Let's pray for fruit!

Tuesday 7 February 2012

becoming a human becoming

I paint.
At times.
And I write.
And I study.
And I read.
Books of poetry.
Books about art and spirituality.
Books of fiction.
Particularly American.
But others as well.

I do other things too.
I watch films.
European documentaries.
About bees.
Or nuclear waste.

I like to travel.
And I like lasagne
And coffee.
And funicular railways.

Some of these things I do because I love them.
Some of these tings I do because I am interested in them.
Some of these things I don't so much do because anything.
Some of them I do because they are me.
Puke if you need to.
That is allowed.

Often I pick things up for a while and then put them down again.
Maybe for years.
Maybe just for a few weeks.
But slowly.
I am coming to realise.
As if by an epiphany being printed slowly on a BBC micro computer.
At primary school.
Revealed line by line.
On the paper with the perforated punch holes..
Slowly but surely.
It is being revealed to me.
Who I am.

Before I went to university in 1998 I wanted to articulate something.
To say something.
But my sister was the artist.
So I didn't paint.
And I couldn't write poetry.
The poetry I had encountered never really spoke to me.
So I tried writing heavy metal songs.
But they were garbled and meaningless.
So instead I read.
I didn't say anything.
I read what others had said.
And I related to their words.

At university I studied cultural studies.
So I encountered philosophy.
Religious studies.
De Beauvoir.

And while at university I became very good friends with a poet.
And we talked for hours about Pink Floyd.
Tom Waits.
And I learnt to write what I wanted to write.
And I wrote.
And in 2000 I read poetry at my first poetry festival.
And those poems were the 5 out of 200 or so I'd written that really said what I wanted to say.
(Recently I shreaded the other 195 or so because they weren't really my poems. Just things I had written).
And I kept writing.
I was, for a time separated from a loved one and I spilled my heart in letters and verses.
And then we were reunited and the need to articulate those feelings was gone.
But I kept writing.
And I read at another poetry festival.
And I submitted poems left right and centre.

And then when I started work, I started to use pastels.
The poetry notebooks went away and the pastels and shades appeared.
Greys of five different kinds.
Smudged and scratched.
Blues, light and blues deep.
And I picked up my guitar again.
And I then I got a new job.

And occasionally I would write poetry for that job.
Or even a liturgy.
Or paint something.
I even studied some short courses.
Very occasionally.
It was in a church.
A wonderful community church.
Where the busyness of life and debt took over.
And I stopped writing and painting.
Except for the odd occasion.
But I kept reading.
And I kept yearning to say something.
And I kept scribbling notes.
And ideas.
And thoughts I would like to develop.

And then I went away.
To a place with so much need.
That meeting the needs were so important.
That other things got put down.
But even there crayons and colours had their place.
So I used them.

And then I went to college.
And over time.
I picked things back up.
The paints.
The pen.
The visits to galleries.
And I realised that these things.
Alongside some others.
These things were me.
These things were who I am.
And actually.
Who I have always been.
But I just forgot.
Or never knew.

I began to paint again.
I began to create.
To consider things I had never had the voice to share.
I studied again.
I visited galleries again.
And I wrote again.
And I felt like me.

When I worked with the community church.
The Image of God was paramount.
It focused my every action.
It was central to my motivations.
That others might recognise who God had made them to be.
How God had made them to be.
I wanted to enable others to see themselves as God sees them.

Perhaps now, I am beginning.
Beginning too understand.

To understand what that means for me.
For who God has made me to be.
For what loves and hopes and dreams and desires and aspects of myself are central to my existence.
And maybe I feel.
Maybe I feel that for the first time in so long a time.
Or maybe for the first time, I am becoming a human becoming.
Seeing who I am.
And what I cannot be without.
And this birth is painful.
And it hurts.
And I struggle.
And I don't know what it all means.
And that is a constant shadow.
But then again, even that shadow.
Perhaps that also is who I am.

Who I have been made to be.
So I paint.
And I write.
And I study.
And I long to travel.
And I long to visit exhibitions.

And I look at lost years.
And realise that they weren't lost.
They were the steps towards becoming.
They were the people of Israel on a walk that should last a few weeks.
But that lasts for forty years.
Only for me it wasn't forty years.
Perhaps it was only 32.