What is your Ministry?

We are currently in the middle of a Stewardship campaign, and this Sunday we are looking at people’s ministries.  Most would not recognise what they do as a ministry, and there are still pockets where it is thought that “ministry is what the vicar does”.  We are also a church with lots of needs (or opportunities), however, we do not believe in focusing on “filling the jobs”; yes there are a few jobs which need to be done, but in the vast majority of cases if there is no one to do them and they cease it isn’t the end of the church!

Instead, we want to encourage people to discover their ministries and to take part in them – even if they are things we aren’t currently doing.  The theology behind this is that God has given the church certain gifts, and surely they are for using, and not for suppressing in the name of a need for people to do something else.  If God wanted us doing something else then surely he would have given us the resources to do it?

There are a lot of books and tests out there looking at identifying your ministry, most I have found are quite Charismatic.  However, if that isn’t your cup of tea there are still some interesting ideas that can be taken from them.  One, “What you do best in the body of Christ“, suggests that you look at yourself in three dimensions:

Your spiritual gifts

These are the different roles that are referred to in the New Testament:

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues.

There are of course sub roles within these, but the question is, which has God given you?

Your personal style

This is related to many of the secular tests that there are; eg Myers Briggs.  This tells you what your preferences are (not your abilities) (see here for a test).  We find it easier to work with our preferences, but can work in other areas too.

Your Passion

This is something that you feel strongly about – it is not necessarily something you are good at; for example you may have a passion for children’s work, but can’t handle being with them!  That is OK.  If administration is your thing you could administer a children’s club of some kind.

By looking at all three of your gift areas it should be possible to identify something which is your specific ministry, your specific calling.  The challenge then is to find time to go and fulfil it!

Alan

St John’s Survey Responses

An open session and display to discuss the possible future of St John’s Church, Hale, will be held next Saturday, 27th May, at the church from 10am to 2pm.

The discussion will centre around the ideas generated from responses to a recent survey sent out to residents living close to the church. This asked for their ideas about how to ensure the church remains open in the long-term and how it can be used for the local community during the week as well as on a Sunday.

The survey was delivered to 1,700 houses in Hale. The overall response was positive to the idea of the ‘interior of the church being altered to create a space for complementary uses, while maintaining worship as its primary use’.

Ideas include removing the pews and replacing them with chairs which would be used in church services including baptisms, weddings and funerals, and also allowing complementary uses during the week such as a soft play area, a cafe, and groups offering support for those suffering with addictions or needing debt counselling. The space created could also be used for art exhibitions, or for orchestra and choir recitals.

One respondent commented that by “removing the dark pews and replacing them with bright comfortable chairs will create a versatile space and be lighter”.  Another said: “as much as I love the pews, they do limit the way the space can be used and make worship very formal and perhaps for many do not foster a feeling of participation and equality”.

However, for some of those who responded, the idea of reordering the interior of the church is painful and difficult.  A respondent who regards himself as a traditionalist sad that he could “see the need to increase usage of the church for other activities apart from church services” but would “just have to accept it as progress”. However, another added: “St John’s will remain beautiful whatever happens and to me will feel more beautiful if the building is more full of life”.

The feedback session with refreshments will run from 10am to 2pm on 27th May 27. Come along to discuss some ideas and options for the future of St John’s.

For further information, contact Rev’d Hannah Moore on 01252 659267, email revd.hannah@badshotleaandhale.org or visit https://badshotleaandhale.org

Election Results 2017 (PCC not Country!)

At the Annual Church Meetings held on Sunday 30th April the following were elected:

Ex Officio
Lesley Crawley
Alan Crawley
Lesley Shatwell
Hannah Moore

Churchwardens:
Carol Le Page
Pamela Marsham
Bob Shatwell

Deputy Churchwardens:
Margaret Emberson
Maxine Everitt

PCC Members:
John Boas
Gemma Brown
Sylvie Burrows
Angela Hall
Kris Lawrence
Annie Thomas
Bill Thomas
Diana Thomas
Stella Wiseman

Co-opted Members:
Sarah Kay
Vicky Kidney

Other Church Officers

Secretary:
Gemma Brown

Treasurer:
Sarah Kay

Safeguarding Officer
Maurice Emberson

Electoral Roll Officer
Jennifer Paterson

Stewardship Officer
Peter Paterson

Some thoughts on conflict

At St George’s we have been having a series of ‘Vision Hours’ where we consider many things to do with the life, work and mission of our church. At the most recent session we thought about conflict as we have experience some of it recently! Conflict in churches can often feel frightening because we don’t expect it – we expect churches to be peaceful and tolerant, when they aren’t we are surprised. Moreover, most people of faith are deeply passionate about the things to do with faith – the beliefs, the community, the buildings, the mission, the words we use, the music we play, the way we do things. Hence, conflict in churches can feel more highly charged than conflict in other arenas.

However, conflict in the church is as old as the church itself. God in God’s wisdom decided to make us all different, and hence we all have different priorities and ideas. Sometimes these things complement each other and sometimes these things cause tension. In every age the church has struggled to recreate itself so that it can be relevant to the community that it serves. Communities never stay the same and neither do churches. However, change is invariably uncomfortable and leads to conflict.

A group called Bridge Builders have a great deal of wisdom on the subject of conflict. They help churches when conflict becomes painful and destructive. Over the years they have developed an understanding of helpful conflict and unhelpful conflict:

Unhelpful Conflict Helpful Conflict
1. Conflict viewed as wrong and sinful 1. Conflict viewed as inevitable and evidence of involvement
2. Members spiritualise conflict – equate their own view with that of God 2. Members draw from spiritual resources – listening, confession and prayer
3. Members blur issues and people – relationships suffer, people given a cold response. 3. Members separate issues and people – relationships maintained with those who disagree and differ.
4. Leaders discourage expressions of difference and plead for harmony. 4. Leaders encourage expressions of difference and they too can disagree with others.
5. Indirect communication flourishes – talk about people, not to them 5. Direct communication is maintained and clarification sought.
6. Members hoard up hurts and offences. 6. Members keep short accounts with each other.
7. In the stress of conflict, a few vocal people are heard, intimidating the other people. 7. In the stress of conflict, many voices are heard and people are energized by debate.
8. Members react explosively or defensively to the views of others 8. Members interact thoughtfully to the views of others.
9. Discussions focus on positions and people get stuck in their own position. 9. Discussions focus on the process and the problem and only later on possible solutions.
10. Low tolerance of uncertainty and members want issues over and done with. 10. Members able to move calmly through inevitable periods of uncertainty.
11. People repress inner conflicts caused by past experiences and continually project them into the church conflict. 11. People are consciously aware of their past hurts or unresolved conflicts and take responsibility not to project them into the current situation.

 

It might be a surprise to find that conflict can be helpful, but more than being helpful, it is in many cases essential. Conflict forms community and builds intimacy. It is one of the stages of community:

Four Stages of Community

A well-known psychologist, M. Scott Peck, says that any group of people who previously don’t know each other who come together form a community that goes through four stages:

Pseudo-community

People want to be loving and kind. It is a pleasant place to be. In order to achieve this, people withhold some of the truth of themselves. Differences are minimised or ignored.

Chaos/Conflict

Eventually, some differences will appear. This is a shock. It is no fun. It is uncomfortable and unpleasant. We want it to go back to the niceness and comfort we knew before. Eventually, we can bear it no more, we look at who is to blame and the blame is attached to a variety of things until it rests on the leader who bears the brunt of the anger of the community.

From here the community can find its way back to psudo-community or they can walk the painful path through emptiness and grief:

Emptiness/Grief

Members empty themselves of the barriers to communication. They become honest and within each member mini deaths occur – preconception, expectations, projections, ideology. Members start to share their own brokenness, fears failures and defeats.

True community

True community embraces the light and the darkness. The joy and the reality of human failing. A genuine peace descends. When people speak others listen without trying to fix. The community becomes a place of incredible healing.

Is Gay Sex a Sin – Reason

So far I have looked at the Bible and not found any reason to object to gay sex in and of itself (as with any activity it may be sinful depending on the other circumstances), I have looked at values and found them of limited help, and in my initial list of ways of looking at this I tackled Tradition.  That leaves Consequences and Reason from that initial list.

I tend to dislike consequences as they are so difficult to predict.  However, I think it would be true to say that Gay Sex has been going on for rather a long time, so any attempt to blame the changes in society on it are doomed to failure; attempts to discuss the health impacts on the participants lead us to the health impact of other behaviours (eg smoking); and in fact it is difficult to define gay sex other than as activity between people of the same gender, as straight couples can, and some do, engage in the same behaviours.

So on to reason.

One of the arguments against gay sex is that it is not within the context of marriage (note: this is not about the activity, but the context), and yet those who object to gay sex in this way will often want to deny same sex marriage.  Why?  (I know the argument that if the behaviour is sinful then institutionalising it is bad – but that doesn’t define the behaviour as sinful).

Another is that being gay is a choice, and consequently it is sinful because if we are all made in God’s image then acting outside of that is sinful (not sure where the argument that God is straight comes from though).  However, without the argument of God’s sexuality the argument falls.  Despite this there have been debates about whether there is a “gay gene“, with the existence being used to argue that if God made gay people gay then it is OK; but why is God restricted to making people by genetics?

Finally, the only difference between gay sex and straight sex is that straight sex can lead to pregnancy (at least in theory).  Roman Catholic theology requires that each conjugal act be open to conception, and this argument would appear to clinch it – except I don’t hear many priests condemning contraception in the same terms as they will condemn gay sex, and any church which allows contraception immediately loses this argument!

Alan

 

Traditional Church Fete with a Modern Twist

Everyone welcome at traditional church fete with a modern twist

St George’s Church, Badshot Lea, will be the venue for this year’s annual parish fete, a traditional church fete with a modern twist, on Saturday, June 3, 12-3pm.

The church and grounds will be full of stalls and activities designed to appeal across the ages. There will be a ‘cool cafe’, serving refreshments with mellow music playing, plus a bar and barbecue. Children from Badshot Lea school will give a dance display at 12.30pm and the Carillon Singers will perform in the church at 1.15pm as well as leading some community singing.

A children’s craft area will be set up inside the church and outside there will be a bouncy castle and stalls with things to buy, games to play and prizes to win.
Grand raffle tickets will be on sale with the raffle drawn at the end of the event. Everyone is welcome.

For further information call Maxine on 01252 318135, email maxine.everitt@live.co.uk or visit https://badshotleaandhale.org/

Quiz night 2017!

The Third Annual Fun Quiz was a great night. We welcomed a mix of Parishioner’s, family and friends.

The ‘singing’ Quiz Master returned to St George’s to host the evening and challenge the teams on subjects from their General Knowledge to their memory recall in the Generation Game! Tastebuds were exercised in the juice round and even Trumpton and Camberwick Green took centre stage. There was lots of fun and laughter and the quiz culminated in the quick fire Lego round.

The Quiz and raffle raised an amazing £400 for church funds.

Thank you to everyone who came and took part and we hope to see more of you next year.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Carrie & Jason Grafham and Chris Brown

Not just on a Sunday: Survey looks at new ways of using local church

An open session and display to discuss the possible future of St John’s Church, Hale, will be held next Saturday, 27th May, at the church from 10am to 2pm.

The discussion will centre around the ideas generated from responses to a recent survey sent out to residents living close to the church. This asked for their ideas about how to ensure the church remains open in the long-term and how it can be used for the local community during the week as well as on a Sunday.

The survey was delivered to 1,700 houses in Hale. The overall response was positive to the idea of the ‘interior of the church being altered to create a space for complementary uses, while maintaining worship as its primary use’.

Ideas include removing the pews and replacing them with chairs which would be used in church services including baptisms, weddings and funerals, and also allowing complementary uses during the week such as a soft play area, a cafe, and groups offering support for those suffering with addictions or needing debt counselling. The space created could also be used for art exhibitions, or for orchestra and choir recitals.

One respondent commented that by “removing the dark pews and replacing them with bright comfortable chairs will create a versatile space and be lighter”. Another said: “as much as I love the pews, they do limit the way the space can be used and make worship very formal and perhaps for many do not foster a feeling of participation and equality”.

However, for some of those who responded, the idea of reordering the interior of the church is painful and difficult. A respondent who regards himself as a traditionalist sad that he could “see the need to increase usage of the church for other activities apart from church services” but would “just have to accept it as progress”. However, another added: “St John’s will remain beautiful whatever happens and to me will feel more beautiful if the building is more full of life”.

The feedback session with refreshments will run from 10am to 2pm on 27th May 27. Come along to discuss some ideas and options for the future of St John’s.

For further information, contact Rev’d Hannah Moore on 01252 659267, email revd.hannah@badshotleaandhale.org or visit https://badshotleaandhale.org

Is Gay Sex a Sin – Values

This is a continuation of my exploration of this issue, started here.  In previous posts I have looked at the Bible and at Sin, and today wish to look to values.

Probably the biggest cause of the difference in opinion between Christians on this topic and any other is whether God is a God of judgement, or of love and forgiveness.  I have written elsewhere about how our underlying values can affect our decisions, and the difference between the two can cause an enormous gulf between resulting outcomes.  (As an aside, somehow we need to walk the tightrope between the two).  However, this is not quite what it seems, as whether God is judgemental or loving only affects our view if we think that the behaviour in question is wrong.  If there is nothing wrong with the behaviour then it is irrelevant whether God is loving or judgemental!

This doesn’t then help us answer the question above.  Back to the drawing board.

Alan

Is Gay Sex a Sin? – What is Sin

So I have already dived straight in to look at what the Bible says – but if we are going to ask whether gay sex is a sin we need to look at what the definition of sin is.

An immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.

This is perhaps the most common understanding, but within Christianity there is also a sense of sin as a falling short, and we have all fallen short, we are all sinners.  However, this can be overcome by repentance.

There then become two arguments – is gay sex a sin, and if it is why is it different to other sins.  This whole series is an attempt to look at the first of the questions, and starts from the premise that in and of itself it isn’t (although as with straight married sex there can be times when it is sinful, depending on the surrounding attitudes).

So why do those who see gay sex as a sin see it as different from other sins?  My understanding of this is that it is because they see a lack of repentance.  Of course if you do not see it as a sin there is no need for repentance.  This can be evidenced in the Roman Catholic Church where, as I understand it, marriage after divorce shows a lack of repentance, as it shows no intent to reform.  Perhaps that is why those against gay sex also tend to be against gay marriage.

We are back to is gay sex a sin – I have already tackled a Biblical view, and will go on to look at others in later posts.

Alan