Sunday, November 29, 2009

Building According To The Pattern

Thank you to Helen Watts for a creative Sunday morning.

Friday, November 27, 2009

What Are We Waiting For?

Dissatisfied with our own worlds
We step into our HD screens.
To escape the stress of our work
We long for our lives to be changed.

We are waiting. We are longing.
We are waiting. We are longing.

Waiting for the doorbell to ring.
Preparing food, tidying up,
In all the busyness of life,
Suddenly catching breath we stop.

We are waiting. We are longing.
We are waiting. We are longing.

You crossed the threshold to this world
One day you will break in again.
Your kingdom has already come,
So, here and now, please in us reign.

We are waiting. We are longing.
We are waiting. We are longing.

In scary new exciting ways
We’re ready to engage with this.
Open up the conversations.
Creative God you’re worth the risk.

We are waiting. We are longing.
We are waiting. We are longing.

Not passive waiting; active change.
A growing yearning deep inside.
Some attitudes to still adjust.
Dear God break in upon our lives.

We are waiting. We are longing.
We are waiting. We are longing
For you.

© David Derbyshire 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

wondering about the implications of paradigm shifts

I’ve just been looking up some material on the philosophy of science to teach my second years – especially the work of Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper.

Kuhn said that science exists in a cultural context. This tells scientists what is acceptable to study and what research methods are reasonable to use and what constitutes legitimate data and acceptable evidence. He called this context a paradigm.

He said that rather than seeing science as building one idea upon another actually it involves revolutionary change where one set of assumptions is abandoned in favour of a new set. Scientific disciplines advance through stable periods of one paradigm to moments of crisis or paradigm shift like this to times when a new paradigm is established.

In physics we see a crisis moment when Newton’s theory of gravity was shown inadequate by Eddington’s astronomical observations. Einstein’s ideas were then accepted as the new paradigm. Events such as these have become known as a paradigm shifts.

According to Popper for a theory to be scientific you need to be able to show that it is false. One example that contradicts this is enough. For example the discovery of the platypus shows that not all mammals give birth to their young alive – at least one mammal lays eggs. But actually one example is rarely enough as often there may be other explanations offered. But as these examples build up we slowly loose faith in the way that we thought and start looking for a new way to explain things.

On this basis psychoanalysis can be rejected as unscientific as it cannot be falsified - interestingly according to Popper we can reject Darwin’s theory of evolution on the same criteria. But in psychology we can still see paradigms such as behavioural, cognitive and biological all competing to be today's paradigm.

But across disciplines there is a growing view that an important paradigm shift is occurring. This is a move from 'modern' thinking (that wants everything to fit into the logical propositions of the enlightenment) to 'post-modern' thinking (which based on narrative and is more tolerant of ambiguity). Perhaps that means the new paradigm is tolerant of competing paradigms like those in psychology?

Of course none of this is new. These ideas have been around for decades and I'm probably way behind in thinking about these. But I’m still happily wondering about some of the implications of all this.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

at a church leaders weekend away

Last weekend it was my privilege to join our church's leaders on a weekend away at Hothorpe Hall with over 150 other leaders from our network of churches.

It was great to see Scott Lencke and his wife Cat and to chat at the dinner table with among others Joel & Beth Tarbutton from New Life Church Letchworth. There was plenty of time for food and fellowship and also teaching, sung worship and loads more. Here are some things that I hastily scribbled down over the weekend.

Geoff Brown spoke on moving on with God. When Israel was in the wilderness they would camp for a time and then move on – lead at the front by the tribe of Issachar – ‘who recognised the times and the seasons and knew what Israel should do’. The climate is changing. In the past churches have split when new revelation came. Now churches are coming together. When Israel moved on they took the tabernacle with them. As we move on there are things we hold on to even if for a time they are ‘folded’ like the canvass of the tabernacle.

Ian Rawley began the next day with some leadership lessons from Nehemiah encouraging us to not to neglect ‘building the walls’ that is not just building the church but also engaging the world. He gave a good critique of post-modern thinking: narrative is important but we must not forget the need to be clear about the church, the gospel and the kingdom. The church should be a safe place. Flat structures are good but there is still a place for leadership and authority.

Alan Scotland encouraged us not to hold back. He warned of the virus of individuality and to beware the illusion of connectedness through media. We need to ensure that we seek authentic community.

In the evening David Latham spoke about the power of God. He was very impressed with our churches especially how we live out authentic community. Something that I noted in what he said was a line from one of Wesley’s hymns: ‘the mystic power of godliness’.

The day ended well with us simply breaking up into small groups to pray.

On Sunday Kobus Swart talked about being in a time of transition. He said that it is God who changes the seasons. He quoted George Barna who had said that by the mid-21st century the church would be totally irrelevant - unless there is a new move of God. Kobus spoke of the present move as ‘the apostolic reformation’ and of his own involvement in working with other very different churches in what he called a ‘city eldership’. In this time of transition we need to hold onto the revelation we have as we embrace the new.

Finally Tim Morley taught us some lessons from Timothy & Epaphroditus (1 Timothy 2) mentioning unity in diversity and emphasising the importance of relationship above gifting.

We finished with a time of breaking of bread and prayer followed by a Sunday lunch together before we all headed home.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I’ve recently been looking at the Faithworks site and downloading some of their resources. Faithworks is a Christian organisation founded by Steve Chalke committed to serve the community and influence society as a whole. Their website contains lots of resources to help churches and other Christian organisations as well as individual Christians about how to do just this.

The faithworks site contains some good material to get you rethinking your commitment to building stronger links with other groups in the community. This is something that we are doing as a church and recently we had a great opportunity to be involved with a community fun day.

They have some challenging thoughts about having greater transparency and accountability with finances and the like. This is important in developing a sustainable funding structure and ensuring that not only meet legal requirements but that people have confidence in how things are handled.

There is also quite a lot about developing procedures and policies. Faithworks even have a charter that churches and other Christian organisations can choose to adopt. As a church that values informality being based on relationship rather than hierarchy we are not overly keen on things like policies and procedures. But it makes you aware that some of it is essential such as police checking and child and vulnerable adult protection policies.

An interesting and challenging site.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

This Is My Church

I have recently taken over responsibility for our church website. I just thought you might like to check it out to find out a bit more about the church that I’m involved in.

The first think that you’ll notice is that it’s got plenty of photos of us. A key to understanding Church Alive is to realise that it is based on relationships. We are in essence a group of friends who gather together in various places and ways both to enjoy each other’s company and to enjoy God.

There are also some sections on what we believe. But this is not dry doctrine. We believe that what we learn from the Bible has practical application to our workplaces, family life and neighbourhoods. And we outwork that in our relationships with each other.

An essential part of what we believe that church means people and not a building. But we do have a small building - the Ledbury Centre - situated centrally to Ladywood in Birmingham - the main urban area which we wish to reach. But most of the time we meet either in the adjacent community centre (most Sundays) or in each other’s homes (most weeks). Though we meet in the Ledbury Centre on occasions we mainly use it as a Drop In Centre one day a week.

On the website you can read about the Drop In Centre and the Ministry to the Homeless And you read about Kids Alive our weekly kids club that Nettes help run. You can follow through the link to a local charity Karis Neighbour Scheme, with which we have a long standing relationship. Through Karis we have developed relationships with people in the area including a number of asylum seekers and refugees.

Perhaps one of our main challenges comes from us being mainly (although not exclusively) white professionals living some distance from Ladywood, which is much more ethnically diverse area with a lot people of a lower socio-economic status. Yet we are finding opportunities to serve our community – particularly the people on the margins - and be like Jesus to them.

We all live very busy lives and don’t always find it easy to find time to do the things we would like to do as a church. Nevertheless I am always amazed how people give generously both of money and time volunteering.

This is my church and I am proud of it.