O2 London

O2 London
Very enjoyable conference...

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Mark's Review of the Hillsongs Conference 2018

Hillsongs is a large church in Sydney Australia (40,000). They also have a growing number of churches across the UK and Europe. The Hillsongs Conference took place at the O2 Arena in London this week. It was big (15,000 delegates), colourful, creative and loud. I enjoyed it. A lot. The preaching, the worship, drama, dance, visuals were all very good. I felt old! Hillsongs attracts young people - lots of young people. The main message: Save the Lost, lovingly and enthusiastically.
Favourite moment: man rising out of the sand and hoisted high as Genesis 1 is read.
Favourite preacher: John Grey.
Favourite worship leader: 19 year old woman (powerful statement).
Favourite lyric: Oh La La !
Not my favourite: chest vibrating with the volume.
Most impacted by: Love Jesus and Lovingly tell others about Him.
Favourite line: Make friends with people not like you.
Fashion statement: get a black T-shirt, torn jeans and a new hair cut!

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Working With the Media Part 2

This week I arranged an interview with BBC Radio Berkshire about the Bus of Hope. An article for the Newbury Weekly News next week will feature the same. Last week I arranged an article about honey dripping from the beams at a local Anglican Church. I also arranged a TV programme featuring Tanya Walker for TBNUK; and have begun work on a series of TV programmes for TBNUK from Westpoint - a Christian festival in August. On Tuesday I will apear on Kennet Radio talking about Obstacles to Faith.
It is not difficult to come up with ideas to help your local paper, radio station or TV. Think of a story...

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Mark's book review of 12 Rules For Life by Jordan Peterson.

I liked it. I liked it a lot. 12 Rules For Life is a good, thoughtful read. It is not an easy read - Jordan Peterson is a very clever man who chooses his words carefully. The book and the man have proved controversial, especially amongst feminists and liberals, but I found a lot of good common sense here intellectually reasoned in this "anti-dote for chaos"- love your wife, take responsibility, care for your children, tell the truth, do good and read The Bible. This took me by surprise, but Peterson quotes The Bible in almost every chapter and talks about Jesus as our model a lot. Not to be rushed, but savoured and chewed over, 12 Rules will get you thinking...which I think is what it is meant to do.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Is Football Like Worship?

I go a church where grown men stand and sing together loudly. Sometimes they raise their arms when they sing. Sometimes they clap, cheer or even do a funny little dance. They express strong emotion. Sometimes grown men cry. They pray for Divine intervention. It is passionate. It matters to them.
Does it sound familiar? I have watched football fans from around the world behave in a similar manner during the World Cup. They express themselves. They sing. It matters.
Is there a difference? It all depends on the object of your worship...

Friday, 6 July 2018

What has happened to RE in schools?

I have learnt a lot this week: RE should be taught in schools. It is the law. Schools should have a daily act of worship, largely Christian in nature. That is the law too. I have learnt many schools flaunt the law and do not teach RE or have assemblies. Ofsted dont seem to mind. SACRE (Standing Advisory Council for RE) do a good job in trying to ask questions of schools and bring them to account. SACRE supports schools and RE teachers and this week in Berkshire launched the new Agreed Syllabus for RE 2018-2023. I have learnt there is a national shortage of RE teachers. What a great opportunity...

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Highlights of Toronto

I have just returned from visiting my son and his family in Toronto. It was great. Toronto is big, vibrant, new, clean, beautifully positioned on Lake Ontario and very multicultural - 3 times riding on the bus I was the only white face. The city works hard at gathering ethnic groups for community events. Watching the World Cup outside on giant screens with a thousand other fans was fun; watching the Toronto Blue Jays baseball was great - very different from football in England, no shouting, swearing\abuse, lots of couples and families, a well behaved affair. Toronto has lots of churches. Adam and his family attend Lifehouse Church - a terrific multi-ethnic church https://lifehousechurch.ca 
Toronto is great.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Mark's Review of Global Humility by Andy McCullough

Rarely does a book come along that changes you. Andy McCullough's book Global Humility does that. It changes the way you think about the world; the people's in it; it changes the way you think about yourself in the world and it changes the way you think about the The Bible. The manner in which Andy exposes Eurocentric thinking and attitudes is humbling (maybe even embrassing). The manner in which he opens the readers' eyes to understand more of the context and cuture of Middle Eastern peoples is refreshing and challenging. This book is also scholarly - a weighty 8 page bibliography! I have much to learn.

Friday, 1 June 2018

What is God Like...?

We are starting a new Sunday series at Bridge Church Newbury - What is God Like...?
Each Sunday over the summer a different speaker will present a facet of God's character for us to consider...God is Love...God is Good...God is Father...etc. During the week at Small Groups across Newbury we will then have an opprtunity to discuss what was said on the Sunday - do we agree?...What did we think...Is God really Loving? What about Suffering then...? Good questions to grapple with on a Sunday morning, Wednesday evening or at any time...

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Working with the Media this week

This has been a busy week. Nothing unusual about that. What has been slightly different is working with the Media this week. So far I have: written a piece for Newbury Weekly News, pre-recorded 4 pieces for Kennet Radio Sunday morning show, arranged for a number of TV programmes to be made from Newday 2018 (a youth festival with 7,000 delegates) and Westpoint (A festival with 4,000 delegates) with GODTV and I will be appearing on BBC Radio Berkshire on Sunday morning...

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Thy Kingdom Come across the nation

I like Justin Welby. I like that he cares. I like that he is compassionate. I like that he loves Jesus. I like that he prays. And wants us to pray - for our nation. He has launched Thy Kingdom Come - a national prayer initiative. The name comes from a line in The Lords Prayer...Thy Kingdom Come... So for 10 days from Ascension Day to Pentecost (I wasn't sure what that meant either!) the archbishop of Canterbury is calling us to pray for our nation. I am not an Anglican but I think that is a good thing. My local Anglican church, St Nics Newbury, is having a prayer gathering each day from 10th May 7.30am 12.30pm and 7.30pm. I might join them.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Back from the Middle East

I have just got back from spending the week with a terrific church in the Middle East. They have 3 good-sized congregations: Turkish, Arab and Iranian. I mostly spent time with the Iranian group. Many have had to flee the regime because of their Christian faith. They face an uncertain future. I spoke to 2 men who had been imprisoned for 3 years for leading a small group in their church. After further threats they had to flee the country, leaving everything.
Visiting the Syrian refugees was challenging. Many harrowing stories and squalid conditions, but the church are loving them and helping provide for their basic needs. The Syrian women enjoy knitting and sewing at the church. One of the more surprising activities is line-dancing which is popular with the veiled women!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Mark's review of the Mazda MX5

A friend lent me her car for a couple of days - a Mazda MX5. It was a joy - tight acceleration, great handling and manoeuvrability; all round good fun. Even at 6 foot 1, the driving position is comfortable. The retractable hard roof is easy to operate, best not have the roof down for motorway driving - very noisy and blowy. Cabin wind noise even with the roof up makes conversation difficult. The boot is not big for a weekly shop, but then it is a sports car. "The poor man's Porsche" some call it. Why have a Porsche when you can have a zippy MX5 for a lot less...?

Thursday, 5 April 2018

A Good Easter Break...?

A friend asked me this week if I had a good Easter break? For those who lead churches Easter is not a break it is a full-on exhilarating time. Good Friday saw us join with other churches in the town to worship and reflect, then walk together through the town. I love it when we get together. One of the highlights was Richard Littledale, Newbury Baptist Church minister, speaking of death and hope following the death of his wife at Christmas. Powerful. We had Good Friday dinner with neighbours. Easter Sunday Sunrise saw us again join with other Christians at the bandstand to worship and pray for the town. We then went to our respective churches for Easter Sunday celebrations - ours was full of costume, drama and exciting worship. An Easter break? No. But a great time.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Highlights of Commission Prayer March 2018

Wow - what a 2 days! Inspiring news, beautiful worship, captivating vision. Commission Prayer is always a highlight in the calendar - 2 days of prayer with other Commission leaders in Bournemouth. The inspiring news included: praying for the work in Ghana, the Middle East, USA, India via Skype;  hearing about new church plants and sites in Havant, Sidmouth, Fareham, Pinehurst, Plymouth, north Winchester and Andover. Hearing about the work of CAP (Christians against Poverty) was brilliant as was Miles Jarvis on Social Justice.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

My new role - Chair of Christians Together in Newbury

As of Sunday, I have a new role - Chair of CTNA - Christians Together in Newbury Area (whilst still leading Bridge Church). There is good relationship between the churches in Newbury and many fine initiatives: Street Pastors, Food Bank, Loose Ends, Bus of Hope, COINS working in schools, YMCA, Town Chaplains and many others. Every month the church leaders get together for lunch and to pray. I agreed to be chair on the understanding that I would have a good vice-chair in Will Hunter-Smart Rector of St Nics, plus a good administrator in Marina Abraham. They will make up for my many deficiencies! Exciting days ahead...