Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Holiday reading

Over August I wanted to read a bit wider than usual and have really enjoyed the variety.

Extremely loud and incredibly close: This is a fictional story about a nine year old boy 'Oscar' who loses his father in the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers. Oscar discovers a key in his father's possessions and begins a quest to find out what it unlocks. The story is funny and moving and intriguing. It is very creatively written and has a host of colourful characters to carry you along.

For me though, the real plot is the story of fathers, and it is this that is the most compelling. Its a story of fatherhood lost and regained - the legacy and influence of ''dad". An easy read, complex in places, but captivating.

The monkey and the fish: I heard Dave Gibbons speak at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit and really enjoyed his contribution. Essentially he writes that church should regain third culture thinking: 1st culture is your ethnic culture, 2nd culture is your host culture, 3rd culture embraces & moves between both. He then develops this thesis as it relates to church life.

It's not the most fluid read but he has some excellent insights and seems to be on the Christain fringe where there is a lot of innovation. I don't agree with all his conclusions, nevertheless its a provocative read and helpful on thinking through cultural boundaries.

The Shack: I decided that I would hate this book before I even opened a page! Having read it there is much in it that made my blood boil - the obvious two being God the Father and Holy Spirit portrayed as women and how the Trinitarian relationship work. However, having recently read Bruce Ware's excellent book on the Trinity it helped me chill on these points and finish the book.

Annoyingly, I really enjoyed the book because it does attempt to reveal the three persons of the Trinity clearly. Yes in a deeply flawed way but God is portayed as three persons and one God which is a hugely important distinctive of our faith. I am not sure it really answers the questions of suffering but it does open a dialogue. Worth a read.

Authority: This was my first Dr Martyn Llyod-Jones book and a huge contrast to the others! It is based on three lectures where he examines the authority of Jesus, the Bible and the Holy Spirit. It was his last chapter on the authority of the Holy Spirit that most caught me by surprise. He states that "from a practical standpoint, all that we have been considering up to this point may be of no value to us unless we know and experience the authority of the Holy Spirit". His comments on the Church's vain attempt to recapture authority through bigness & programmes & social action is as relevant today as it was in 1957 when he spoke.

I loved reading this book and had to keep slowing myself down as it is a short book!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Wig-tastic Fun

A few weeks ago we had friends over for lunch and someone produced a wig ...

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The best church website 2009?

Today I got a phone call from Premier Radio informing me that RFC's website has been shortlisted for an award.

Apparently someone entered our site and out of the 300+ nominations, we are now on a shortlist of 7. Very Cool.

They then asked if someone from RFC could attend the awards ceremony on 18 September in London.

Given that Dave Burt and Andrew Cracker live and breath our website, they are the ones to don penguin suits and rehearse acceptance speeches!!!

To find out more and check out the prizes, click here.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Willow Creek Leadership Summit

Last week Liz and I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit in Chicago. I've left it a few days in order to let my thoughts settle before I try to capture them.

The summit is as much an 'experience' as it is a mean of receiving excellent content. To be in an auditorium with 7000 other delegates, on a vast campus (with lakes) is inspiring in itself. The sheer size of the carpark beggars belief, as does the army of volunteers that keep everything so well maintained.

If I had to sum up the entire summit in one word it would be 'inspiring'. Here's why ...

For me, the spectrum of the speakers plays a big part: an advisor to 4 US Presidents (David Gergen), a former UK Prime Minister (Tony Blair), a Pastor (Tim Keller) and a Rock Star (Bono from U2). I long for the Church to be shaping culture and these speakers do just that.

There were also inspiring entrepreneurs: Jessica Jackley is co-founder of Kiva.org, the world's first peer-to-peer online micro-lending website. Andrew Rugasira is the Founder of Good African Coffee, and he who helped us consider 'Trade not Aid' as the primary means to develop Africa's economy.

What Bill Hybels has built over 30 years of ministry is truly inspiring. He clearly loves people and is endeavouring to make disciples of Jesus. For example, Liz and I stayed with two wonderful Willow Creekers who open up their home regularly to international delegates to keep costs down.

It wasn't a conference for my theology, ecclesiology or vision casting for the movement I am part of... that is the Newfrontiers Leadership Conference at Brighton.

The Willow Leadership Summit is about inspiring leadership. Its lazor sharp on this. The summit is about being exposed to world class leaders from all walks of life. It's about the church being led well and learning from todays thinkers and movers & shakers.

Tomorrow I hope to capture a few of the specifics I am pondering for us in Reading ... The problem is literally trying to pin it down given how different the context is that I heard it in!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

RFC in the news

Last week we announced that RFC have teamed up with the Reading Chronicle to run a Reading based photo competition ...

Can you snap up church's top prize?
Reading Family Church's Frances Florides and Pastor Sean Green are looking for photos to display in their offices. A church hopes to develop community links with a competition to find the best new photos of Reading. Judges from Reading Family Church and the Chronicle will be looking out for top amateur pictures to be put on display at the church's London Street offices.

For the full story and competition rules, click here