Starting in May

Starting in May
In Small Groups

Monday, 24 July 2017

Autism and Aspergers - do we need the labels?

Apparently there is a rise in the numbers. Some say it is "the new childhood epidemic"(Kenneth Brook) - Aspergers, ADHD, Dyslexia, ASD and other conditions. Some professionals say we are just better at recognising the signals and symptoms. What I am trying to figure out is - do we need the labels? Is it helpful always to box a child or adult in because their brain might work differently, or should we seek to understand why they might be neurologically Atypical? And support individuals and families with intentional energy and resource?
A positive step is to drop the D from ASD, as if all children (and adults) who think differently have a Disorder. Many are highly intelligent and given patience and opportunity have become scientists, programmers, game designers and more. Gates, Job, Einstein - some say are on the Spectrum. Silicon Valley is called Aspergers Valley by some. Autistic Spectrum is probably better, although some say we are all on the Spectrum somewhere...(Tony Attwood)
Is Neurodiversity a better term and should we "think more intelligently about people who think differently" (Steve Silberman)? Should we celebrate Neurodiversity like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek - multiracial, neurologically diverse, accepting and bringing out the best in each (Carol Greenberg)?
Most importantly, let's love the individuals and the families.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Prepare to fall off a cliff - Giving My Daughter Away.

I asked a friend what advice he had for me in giving my daughter away on her wedding day. "Prepare to fall off a cliff", he said! Today is the day. I don't know if I will fall off a cliff but I am faced with a collision of emotions - excitement, nervousness, tension, sadness...but most of all gratitude. I am grateful for the beautiful daughter she is. I am grateful for watching her grow and being part of her life. I am grateful for the blessing she is. I am grateful for the good and right choices she has made and grateful for the good choice of life partner in Joe Gubb. Falling off a cliff?...I want her to jump off a cliff and fly...

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Homosexuality, the church and television.

There have been 2 interesting TV programmes recently about the church and homosexuality. One on BBC Three Does God Hate Queers? makes for uncomfortable and challenging viewing when hearing the stories of how some gay and transgender people have been treated. It made me wonder how welcoming are we to the LGBT community? The other is the ITV1 series Grantchester. Rev Sidney Chambers, played by James Norton, when not solving murders with Inspector Geordie, Robson Jerome, is trying to reconcile the God of The Bible with the culture around him and his feelings. His friendship with his struggling gay curate is both tender and challenging. "you are not an abomination Leonard, God loves you". See

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Scafell Pike v Pillar

I climbed Scafell Pike this week with Steve Petch. It is England's highest mountain at 980m. During the summer months lots of people attempt the 3 Peaks Challenge: Scafell, Snowdon and Ben Nevis. Scafell is the steepest and most difficult climb. It was great fun and a great work out. There were lots of people doing the same climb. The next day we climbed Pillar opposite Scafell. It was a longer climb (9 hours up and down). We saw very few people and the views were stunning, even better than its more famous cousin across the valley. Scafell or Pillar? For me, Pillar.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

How do you listen?

I read a verse in my Bible today that I seem to have missed before - Jesus said : "consider carefully how you listen". Wow. How come I have not seen that before? What did Jesus mean? The context is the lamp on a stand. We might call it Evangelism. got me thinking - how do we listen? How do we become better listeners? Here are few thoughts to get us going:
Make eye contact, turn off your phone, turn on your hearing, concentrate, give the person time, be all there, let them express themselves, don't dive in, resist the temptation to talk about yourself, resist the temptation to fix the problem, ask one or two questions, listen to their viewpoint,  - listen.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Mark's Highlights of HTB Leadership Conferene

HTB - Holy Trinity Brompton - host an annual leader's conference at The Royal Albert Hall. It was terrific. From the cheery welcomers in yellow T-shirts lining the route from South Ken tube station to the majestic venue, to world class speakers and tingling times of worship. This was a great leader's conference for leaders in all walks of life - business, home, school, sport, church... 2 of the most powerful speakers were Jean Vanier from L'Arche and Cardinal Tagle from Manila. Both men were quiet, humble, unassuming men who clearly lived beautiful lives for Jesus. Simon Senek (Ted Talk favourite) was also a highlight. Worth thinking about the conference for 7-8th May 2018...

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Leading from Memory or Imagination?

The question is: are you leading from memory or imagination? From experience or creative thinking? Are you doing what worked before or thinking differently? Are you doing the same or dreaming again? Are you leading through a method or innovation? Are you thinking about what was or what could be? Repeating the past or creating the future?
I am discovering that what worked in Camberley is not right for Newbury. I have some experience but I also need to be open to new ideas. If we only do what we always did, we will only get what we always had. Think again...

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Making a drama out of a mole hill - Roughshod Theatre Company

Roughshod were great. A professional theatre company, from the Riding Lights stable, who connected very well with people. They went into schools, youth events, performed on the streets of Newbury, performed a full show on stage, they even came to church. With sketches ranging from bible stories to thought provoking pieces on forgiveness, justice and Islamic fundamentalism...we were left not just entertained but with much to think about. Funny, powerful, poignant and challenging.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Diary of a Church Planter - moving Sunday venues.

I am pleased to say the time has come - this Sunday, 2nd April, Bridge Church Newbury moves from Speenhamland school to Trinity school Newbury for Sunday morning meetings. Speenhamland school has been great, but it is time to create room for growth. Trinity school is much bigger - the hall seats 300. It costs more. Deep breath. This is a step of faith and expectation. I expect the church to grow. I expect God will bless us more.
Sometimes the timing of a change of Sunday venue is precipitated by events, availability or finances. Sometimes a step of faith is called for...

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Roughshod Theatre Company coming to Newbury.

Roughshod Theatre Company are coming to Newbury 2-9th April.
Roughshod Theatre Company are a full-time professional touring theatre company based in York. They are part of Riding Lights. They will be performing in schools in Newbury 3-7th April with their unique, topical and humorous shows relating to issues of identity, friendships, family, faith and food!

Roughshod will also be performing a short show at St. Nicholas’ church Newbury Sunday 2nd April 6.30pm (free admission) and a full length show at St. Bart’s school Newbury Saturday 8th April 7.30pm. Tickets on the door or from Shoemakers Bookshop The Arcade Newbury. Great fun!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Match Report from Commission Prayer March 2017

We travelled down to Bournemouth for the away leg of Commission Prayer. It did not take long for  in-form Guy Miller to strike from outside the box - prophesying and praying over various leaders. Route 1 stuff. The new look Commission Team were unveiled to the crowd - a good mix of youth and experience. Quick passing between the squad followed with good news stories drawing applause from the crowd. Not many will forget the great goal from Adrian Birks - securing a church building to rent for £1 a year . The second half saw solid-in-defence Malcolm Kayes show good control with Psalm 90, then a good pass to play-maker Simon Walker revelling in his new position in midfield. Academy graduates Duncan Lee and Dave Rogers showed flashes of skill and inspiration up front, whilst Miles Jarvis showed a safe pair of hands in goal. Kara Newman came off the bench once again to demonstrate why she is a player in high demand. While some were revelling in Barcelona's Champions League comeback, we exalted and sang about the greatest comeback in history...

Friday, 3 March 2017

Mark's Review of God is Good by Bill Johnson

Is it just me, or do others find it a bit trite sometimes when we are encouraged to repeat: "God is good...all the time"? I find myself wanting to say: "Yes, but..." Well, this book is for you. It is very helpful in instructing people, like me, understand God's character and His overwhelming goodness. The sub title of the book: "He's Better Than You Think" is brilliant. In typical Bill Johnson fashion some of his one liners are terrific - "Love stands for something. Love is confrontational. Love is honest. Love requires action. Love chooses the best. Love doesn't choose what feels good." I particularly enjoyed one page where Bill uses all these words: "" Inspiring. I loved it. And more thing...He really is Good.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Are you taking enough risks...?

Recently, I read the results of a survey of those in their later years. The question was asked of them: Looking back on your life, what would you do differently? The top 3 answers were compelling: Travel more; Invest more in relationships; Take more risks... How can we take more risks? Perhaps it is going somewhere new, trying a new activity, new job or training, doing something physical for the first time, eating different food, taking a risk in a relationship, with your money - giving it away, a purchase or an investment opportunity. A new look? Trusting God for something?..How might you take a risk?

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Mark drives the Infinity Q50 and likes it

I like driving cars. I like my Nissan Note, which I have had for 9 years. Nothing prepared me however for driving the Infinity Q50. Infinity is the luxury brand of Nissan and the Q50 is an impressive alternative to its German rivals - BMW 3, Mercedes C and Audi A4. The Q50 combines luxury, style, high tech spec with a sporty feel. The acceleration of the 2.2d is impressive. The 2 dash touch screens and full colour parking camera are clear and bright (if a little distracting whilst driving!). For tall drivers, the position feels awkward at first, with some steering wheel knee knock until you figure out adjustments, but overall the Q50 is a brilliant rival to the better-known German makes.

Friday, 17 February 2017

3 days in Provence

I was taken in by 3 days in Provence. I heard it was beautiful - evocative with beautiful climate, light, lavender fields, suspended hill top villages, beaches close by, sunshine and lots of L'Occitane perfume. All that I discovered to be true and more. Provence really is beautiful. I took Beverley there for a few days for her birthday: Nice, Antibes, Gourdon, St Paul de Vance - we enjoyed them all. All deserve another visit and with reasonably priced flights Provence becomes very accessible. One more thing...the friends we visited are leading a great multi-cultural church.