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We still haven’t found what we are looking for! July 24, 2014

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A little like Alice in wonderland, who did not know what road to take, we still haven’t found what we are looking for because we are not entirely sure what it is we are wanting.
So often we can begin the search for something without doing the necessary preparatory work. We are not sure what we want but will ‘know when we find it’……often this means that those nuggets of gold are missed because they are wrapped in a different veneer or are different to what we perceive. Searching without thought will take longer, will have many more hurdles and will frustrate others, yet we keep on searching knowing that once in a while, as we roll the dice, the sixes will come. The search is more luck than judgement.
Searching with the right preparation may save untold time, heartache and frustration. It may also mean that you are more successful because you have spent some time working out what is really wanted in the first place. Preparation time is never wasted….often it is a time saver. Keep looking but look with purpose, with reason and with ideas in mind…..searching may then become a little easier.

Growing Faith July 22, 2014

Posted by thehutch in youthwork.
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The cries of a new born baby are often followed by words such as “isn’t she beautiful, she is perfect”. A few weeks later, the understanding of perfect may be somewhat different as sleepless nights, countless nappy changes and cries that demand ear plugs demand attention. Years later….the word perfect is rarely heard.
It can feel much the same as we seek to nurture our teenagers in faith. There may be moments when we see a teenager who makes great strides on their faith journey and there are moments when it feels as if we are walking in reverse. How do we nurture our teenagers in a life of faith, are there keys that will unlock the door to success? What could they be?
Relationship – As any child grows, they need the care of an adult and the friendship of others. Our teenagers need to have faith modelled by the wider congregation and friendships that will help them take hold of the eternal truths of the gospel of Christ in a changing culture. These relationships can sustain through difficult seasons and can help sustain others as we work together.
Affirmation – So many teenagers are being told what they do wrong, how much better things may be if they were encouraged for what they did right. Encouraging people changes their outlook and affirmation helps to reinforce a positive identity that nurtures growth and fruitfulness. All people value praise, it cheers the heart and inspires people to greater things.
Celebration – parties for birthdays or Christmas mark out special occasions. We all need those milestone markers that chart our story and it is no different with our faith. There is a need to mark key moments of the faith journey, most notably in baptism and confirmation but also in the more regular events and festivals where we can have reminders of the journey that we travel.
Time – you do not learn to walk in a day, growing in faith takes a lifetime. We need to be patient with our teenagers and provide ample space for them to explore, experiment and to encounter the life of faith for themselves. Providing time and space could be one of the greatest gifts that we give to our young people.
There is no magical solution to growing faith in our teenagers but there are keys that may unlock the door to a lifetime of faith that encourages others to join the Church. And just maybe, we ourselves may encounter something of God’s grace and may look at our young people, at whatever stage of the journey, and say…..”wow, perfect!”

HTB Leadership Conference 2014 May 5, 2014

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The annual Leadership Conference run by Alpha and Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) is upon us again. My social media feeds were filling up before the conference with marmite opinions being shared – love and hate – in equal measure.
Personally, it is a highlight of my year and the first day has lived up to expectations. There is a breadth of views and opinions expressed, all from a point of experience and all soaked in a love for God and His world.
HTB live out their values and approach the conference from an understanding that not all views expressed will be equally shared. However, they also know that as leaders it is possible to listen with discernment rather than judgement. This brings freedom and learning that surpasses many conferences.
I am glad to be here and grateful to learn from others. Less than half way through it has already proven to be ‘value for money’ – so pleased that once again this conference is made available to us.

flickers of hope…. April 28, 2014

Posted by thehutch in Ponderings.
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Hope can be an odd thing. It comes and goes with the wind and can be so transient as to be unbearable. A great example of this (for sports fans) is the current English Premiership campaign – last week, Liverpool were the favourites and there was a huge amount of hope that a 24 year barren spell was at an end. One bad result and another team could now take the title on goal difference……for many hope evaporated. However, there is still a great chance that Liverpool could win – still games to be played and results required for all teams. However, the news and reporters have transferred all their hope to another. Fickle, transient and denying what is possible.

It is the same with life. The smallest of margins can evaporate or sustain hope and we can be like the wind blowing in different directions with all the challenges and changes that come our way. How much easier life would be if our hope could be certain, if it was guaranteed.

In truth, it comes down to what we have faith in, to those things that will sustain us – we discover very quickly in life who and what can be trusted. Trust in those things that will bring hope, peace and happiness. Then and only then will the flickers of hope become a flood.

Good Quote Friday April 25, 2014

Posted by thehutch in quotes, Uncategorized.
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Unfortunately, I have forgotten which book these first quotes came from – will try and recover those details and will amend

 

“A mentor is an acknowledged expert who is able to share experiences, past successes and failings in a manner that builds trust”

“Mentoring is an experience, not a destination”

“Recognise behaviours as well as results”

“Recognition is inexpensive – lack of recognition can be costly”

“People must be taught how to think, not what to think” – Margaret Mead

Braveheart – a story of culture? April 24, 2014

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Braveheart is not the most historically accurate of films but there are a few moments within it that provide some great story telling that make sense beyond the story. Most people pick the speeches but there are some other key moments for me, primarily centred around the battle at Falkirk, in the last hour of the film.

The strategy was set, the first part went to plan – then at the moment for the Scottish clans to engage, they rode away. Wallace looked downbeat but not beaten – despite treachery there were many more still fighting the cause. Wallace then follows the English king as he rides away to be stopped by a masked knight – the knight was his ‘friend’, ally and supposed supporter – the fight left Wallace distraught and he collapsed. Betrayed again. His allies were not trustworthy – in modern terms they talked the walk but did not walk it. A man cannot fight alone – success needs team – Wallace realised that his team was not all that he had been promised.

However, in the midst of it all – a single Irishman. He did not fit the mould, he was feisty, eccentric and quirky – but loyal, faithful and a man who went went beyond the call of duty. Earlier in the film, he saved Wallace life on a hunting trip, here he had ridden after him and carried him from the battlefield. A man who understood what was needed, what was required and answered it to the full.

Story at its best – Wallace had the strategy but the culture around him was not as supportive as it should have been. Culture always wins over strategy and in this story it demonstrated that brilliant strategy was not enough.

Don’t be surprised! April 10, 2014

Posted by thehutch in ponderings.
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I am writing this on the fly and so the complete and correct quote eludes me but we have probably heard it in one form or another. “Why is the church the only army that wounds it’s own soldiers?” You probably read it and there is something that resonates.
In the last week or two, social media has been awash with Christians attacking one another in the public domain. It is not just in social media – our gatherings, our workplaces and our homes. Our witness to Christ and the gospel can be so easily tainted.
It’s nothing new though – religious leaders were not entirely welcoming to Jesus, Paul fell out with a few folk too….Christian history is full of it, that’s one reason for the Reformation.
However, not a our falling out is positive, the vast majority of the ‘wounding’ is damaging, painful and dishonouring to the one whose name we bear. The good news is that God can reclaim the ground eaten by the locust, that’s my prayer – God, reclaim the ground! Meanwhile, I challenge my own heart to see what I need to correct, my log is greater ;-)
I should not be surprised at what I see but I long for the day when we dwell together in unity and recognise that it is there that The Lord commands the blessing.

Quote of the day April 8, 2014

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“Don’t believe something just because you want to, and don’t embrace an idea just because you’ve always believed it. Believe what is biblical. Test all your assumptions against the precious words God gave us in the Bible” Francis Chan

Estates – Not a Dirty Word March 20, 2014

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In conversation recently, I was sharing with someone about the way in which we regularly stigmatise people who live on estates by our language choices. In my opinion, this can be is unfair, unhelpful and may often be discriminatory. It was that same week that I discovered a book that described my frustrations in a far more articulate manner. The following 2 quotes were of particular note for me:

In newspapers and on television, every reference to a council estate is prefixed with the word ‘tough’, as though bare-knuckle boxing is the leisure activity of choice for every British person who doesn’t own their own home. It does its stigmatizing work as intended. Estates are dangerous, they imply: don’t visit them, and whatever  you do, work as hard as you can so you don’t have to live on them.
you only have to say the word ‘estates’ for someone to infer a vast amount of meaning from it. It’s a bruise in the form of a word: it hits the nerves that register shame, disgust, fear and, very occasionally, fierce pride.
Quotes from: “Estates: An Intimate History” by Lynsey Hanley

Our language choices matter. Living in the North End of Birkenhead as a child, going to the local primary school near the docks, I never thought of it as ‘tough’ – it was home, a safe place and a place where I belonged. Now, as I hear stories of the area where I grew up, the impression given is somewhat different. Yes, there are troubled people, but this is true anywhere, this place is still home to many, still a place of belonging and a place of fierce loyalty and pride.

My hope is that in our language choices, we begin to honour and respect others before we ‘stigmatise’ them. When we hear the word ‘estate’, we need to remember that it is not a dirty word and never should be.

The crisis of busy! March 19, 2014

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One of the good changes within the christian world, in recent times, has been the move away from programme orientated ministry towards people orientated ministry. This may be more theoretical than shown in practice but it is a shift that needs to be commended. Over the last 10 years there have been many a meeting when the phrase, “people are our best asset” has been used. However, theory and practice often collide when people become busy.

This is demonstrated when people get together and talk. The busy worker will be listening but not hearing, no matter how good the communication is. This is a crisis point that needs addressing for any relationship to move forward. If you are not hearing when you listen, this may be a sign that you are over busy, people may have become a commodity to you and this commodity has a lower value than necessary. If this is true – people are no longer your best asset!

Are you hearing those that speak to you? If not, it may just be that you are too busy doing the wrong thing – this is the crisis of busy.

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