Monday, April 29, 2013

For Pictures See

This is a nice picture of Beacon Ridge Methodist Church sent to me by the Youth. You can see the new wall. Unfortunately, the sliding gate was stolen soon afterwards. For more pictures you can visit the church blog at I am on IST this week - which means a chance to catch my breath. It has been very busy!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Graduate

I don't often boast of my children, but here is a picture of Charlotte. On Tuesday she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computational Physics, Summa Cum Laude. Very proud of her!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Following on from yesterday . . .

By and large, my stressful things worked out better than I expected. After spending time with the person I was counselling I didn't think that I should refer him anywhere - not that his problems are small, just that even  the most hot-shot counsellor is not going to be able to make them disappear. My bereavement visit fell into place so easily. Busy with my regular visits I mentioned this one to my 'pastoral assistant' and she said 'oh, they live just around the corner, do you want me to take you there now?' Awesome! And my potential conflicts were joking together after the circuit quarterly meeting that evening. The quarterly meeting was not without its trauma (as those of you who read my blog post before I took it down will know!), but the meeting did unanimously agree to recommend me for ordination without any debate. The superintendent arrived in good time and had everything under control.
Is God good, or is God good?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A little stress

I am feeling a little too stressed at the moment. Cut back to give myself space and realise it is still not enough. But I am sure it will pass.

I have to see someone today who I can only listen to. We are always encouraged to refer people to more highly trained professionals when necessary, but how do you do that when people are struggling with money and government social workers are overworked? This is not a desperate situation, I don't think, but I feel inadequate to help.

Bereavement when I still don't really know the congregation are difficult.

I must see someone about a conflict within one congregation that I see looming.

And tonight is the circuit quarterly meeting where they should vote as to whether I proceed to ordination. I don't even know if my superintendent is in town or what is happening! We just heard that he was away . . . Hopefully he is back.

So a little moan. Thanks for listening. It will get better!

Friday, April 19, 2013

More Scribblings on Belief

Do I need to put in all the caveats to what a wrote the other day about belief? I know that  things should be more complex than what I had to say. Ultimately I think that our belief should result from a quest for truth. Unfortunately, we cannot in all times and places determine truth with absolute certainty. We do our best, if we are honest and then move to the next step. Belief inevitably impacts the way we live and we need to ask ourselves whether a certain belief (or set of beliefs) is consistent with the lifestyle that we choose for ourselves based on our values, however they are derived. Having done all of that processing in our lives (on truth and values) belief does become just a choice to be made, with some validity.

In my ministry now I am encountering many people who live with their adult children who have 'become Muslim'. This is a cause of a lot of unease in the families and I had to meet with one old lady in my car because she felt that I would be unwelcome in the house. In general these children are not dedicated Muslims. They have just chosen a belief. I can't figure out the reason behind it at the moment, although I am almost certain that it is a denial of Christian lifestyle values rather than an embracing of Muslim ones and has very little to do with truth.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Belief is a Choice

These are not exactly random thoughts, but perhaps sort of scribblings. I might not agree with myself in another frame of mind.

You don't believe in God and you go visit your good friend who is a believer in Jesus. She tells you there is a cup of coffee for you in the kitchen. Do you believe her? Probably, unless there is some arcane reason not to - like you hate coffee and she knows it, or it is your secret code for 'my little brother is at home, let's rather go watch a movie'. So believing without seeing is pretty much ok here.

Another day she tells you that there is a kangaroo in the kitchen. You check the calendar - not 1 April - and you go and have a look. No kangaroo to be seen. You look outside. Nothing. You look questioningly at your friend - it was here she assures you. Some people pass by - did they see the kangaroo? No. You see the neighbours outside - have they had a kangaroo in their kitchen? No. Have they seen one around? No. You tell your friend that there are no signs of the kangaroo having been in the kitchen. But she says - there are! It's just that the kangaroo has always been here so we don't recognise the signs. Those footprints in the butter that we always thought were the elephant? Uh-uh. Kangaroo! Those things that go crashing down for no apparent reason in the middle of the night? Kangaroo. Well, you scratch your head and decide to let it ride for the moment.

This time, she tells you that God is in the kitchen. You are just quiet. Look at her to see if she is serious. She seems to be. You go look in the kitchen. No God. He is here, she assures you. You go outside and check with the neighbours. Have you seen God? Has he been in your kitchen? You feel a bit of an idiot. Some of the neighbours laugh at you like you are playing a prank. Some laugh and say of course he is in the kitchen, God is everywhere. Is he here now? Yes, of course. You go back to the kitchen and tentatively say that there is no sign of God in the kitchen, but you can guess what is coming. It is just the God has always been here and so we don't see the signs. The way the sun shines through and catches the glass on the drying rack to make a little rainbow - that's God. The jingle of the windchime - that's God.

What do you believe? Coffee, no problem. Kangaroo, ridiculous. God, difficult. But you trust your friend. She is not stupid or delusional. Actually, we just made up the kangaroo - she never mentioned a kangaroo in the kitchen. Choose what you believe. It's your choice. That's all it is. A choice.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Elections and Idols

Something has dawned on me about voting. You see we vote in two (at least) distinctly different arenas. The one is where we vote in political elections and church elections and school board elections for people to represent us in performing a function.

The other is where we vote for whoever we think is the best at something - like American Idols or footballer of the year. But we have no expectations of them after the vote - just that they carry on being good at whatever they do.

This is why we have so much disconnect. People vote because they want to support someone and say 'this is my guy' without understanding that in church and politics there is an expectation that he or she then takes on a responsibility.

This explains the odd attitude that people sometimes have about the DA (Democratic Alliance). Some will say that they are sore losers because they only work for people in the places where they have won elections. Why don't they work in other areas? Because they don't govern there (duh!) But for many people there is no (duh!) They don't get the difference between voting for popularity and voting for government.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Missio Alliance eBook Sale from Zondervan

Scot McKnight posts a list of books that are on sale during the Missio Alliance conference. This a conference of - perhaps one could call them orthodox arminians?

There are books by McKnight, Roger Olsen and others - $3.99 on Kindle.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Leadership and Management

I read somewhere (so much on the internet that I don't remember where I see stuff!) that the essence of leadership is facilitating change. That is a thought that has stuck with me and I think that is true. It is also another explanation for the stress of church ministry - if we are leading a growing and changing organisation we are constantly walking a tight rope of pleasing people and yet bringing about change.

Management, however, is about the effective functioning of the status quo. And about the effective putting in and managing of systems after change.

Both are necessary and important.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How the week goes . . .

On Monday our 'mission project', Saamwerk, started a new thing with an introductory course in crafts. I was very pleased to arrive on Monday morning and find a bunch of new ladies had signed up. Perhaps my slight pessimism about projects is misplaced. I can see this developing!

Monday evening I explained my plans for the next quarter to the worship leader and then the cell leaders at Wesley Mission. Lots of buy in and enthusiasm. The cells even promised to work at multiplying within six months which I didn't expect!

Tuesday morning was pastoral visits at Beacon Ridge - it was a good time. Tuesday evening was meeting with cell leaders at Beacon Ridge and sharing a similar vision as with Wesley. Their cell groups are still a few weeks old, but I was very excited to hear what is already happening in them. After that I did my first 'John Wesley visit' and went to see one of the Wesley cell groups. There were eighteen people squashed into the living room of the home - all sorts of people, young, old, churched, unchurched. The doctrine shared was a little varied, but I believe that God has something to work with!

Today, my pastoral visits at Wesley were canceled, but I've just heard of two members in Groote Schuur so I don't get to stop just yet. Still quite a bit of planning and admin to do today, but then I try to keep Wednesday evenings free of meetings and so tonight is free. Then tomorrow is study/sermon prep, meeting in the evening and Friday my day off!

It's been a busy week and one that challenges my introvert soul heavily, but very worthwhile. The next two weeks are full of leaders meetings and circuit meetings and then I am away on IST for a week. This week had to be a bit of a do or die week!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Book Regrets

Much of my 'formation for ministry' happened between 2002 and 2006. It was then that I studied for my BTh through the Baptist Theological College and was launched into all sorts of unexpected ministry areas. I also encountered the cell group phenomenon under the ministry of Rev John Gillmer at Bryanston Methodist Church.

At the time I couldn't afford to even buy all my text books, let alone extra books on cell groups and other things. All my life I have had the philosophy of buying books rather than borrowing them if at all possible. But there are times that it is just not possible.

Now I regret the lack of many of those books that I did have to borrow at that period. I want to reread some of the many books I read on cells - which are now many miles away in the BTC library.
Fortunately I can now afford to buy books. God is good.

But I still regret those others that I don't own!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Making Money

Finances are always (I think) a concern for churches. Last year I was in a church that was in arrears with its payments, but was situated in a relatively well-off area. During the course of the year we were able to catch up and end the year fully paid up.

This year, I am in a church that is way behind in its payments but is in one of the poorest parts of Mitchell's Plain. Realistically, will a church in this area ever be able to support a minister (at the moment they share me with another church, so they have half of a student minister) and be able to maintain its buildings and be able to function as a missionary body?

Part of me says that we must support ourselves. Part of me says the mission is too important and we should look for outside funding.

Wrestling . . .