Monthly Archives: February 2009

Campaign of the week – PinkStinks

What a great campaign: pinkstinks:

PinkStinks is a campaign aimed parents and their daughters.

Our campaign will:

  • Inspire, motivate and enthuse girls about the possibilities and opportunities open to them
  • Improve girls’ self esteem and confidence, raise their ambitions and ultimately improve their life chances
  • Provide an alternative to the culture of celebrity which is based on reality and will empower girls to say ‘no’ to pink!

Our campaign highlights the issues. Our project Cool to be me is
where we provide an alternative and start to make the change. Using the
best in design, writing, interactivity and content, we will use the
power of the web and multi-media to challenge the norm. We will credit
our audience with the intelligence which they deserve to credited with.
We will engage with girls … and boys … to give them something real
and cool to aspire to be.

Includes a blog: PinkStinks: the campaign for real role models and a facebook group: Facebook | PinkStinks – The campaign for real role models.

One thing they do need though is some suggestions for a whole range of great role models in the Church. I know many and so do many of you so lets suggest some to them.

Hat Tip: We Mixed Our Drinks: Real Role Models.

The best sort of Leadership Meeting

The best sort of Leadership Meeting is obviously the sort where the minister does not need to go :-)

Tonight I could not go to the Raunds Leadership team Meeting (see 42: Hopeful pancakes). Fortunately, there is a wide choice of members of that team who can chair the meeting better than me. So not only did they get lots of business done but I had the minutes by email by 11pm the same evening. Whoo Hoo!

It is so exciting and wonderful to be part of a team that is going great guns like this with a real focus on God's mission here and being fully committed to getting on board with all the God is doing.

Nights like this do knock home that I do have the best job in the world! Amazing – getting paid to work with these wonderful people.

Hopeful pancakes

Just back from a wonderful evening in Thrapston. The first update meeting on Hope 09 in Thrapston and with pancakes, this time at the Methodist Chapel in Market Road (big thanks to Wendy, Ray, Bessie & Sue for hours of work making this happen).

We celebrated another 5 events of Hope 08 that have happened since our last update meeting (all ones that had never happened in Thrapston before, but nowhere near all that has happened in Hope 08 recently):

  • Prayer week. Happened in the first week of Advent (general consensus is that it was wonderful, exciting and life changing for many people – we will be doing repeats)
  • Town nativity. It followed straight on from the end of the prayer week and St James was full to bursting. Everyone moved all around the church grounds and then back inside for the various scenes, followed by all going to the turning on of the Town Christmas lights (and boy they did need a PA for that as we brought so many extra people from the nativity with us).
  • Holiday at Home Christmas Party (great fun. lots came and had a great time). This followed on from the Holiday at Home summer event which had been done for the first time. Both will be repeated.
  • Senior Alpha course, being held at one of the sets of flats for the more elderly within the town. Has been wonderful with a great response (and requests from other sets of flats for one for them). Finishes next week. A spin off coming from a combination of Holiday at Home and Leslie's own  holiday experience
  • CAP Money. We have run two CAP Money courses in Thrapston and one in Raunds. One more with dates fixed in Raunds (March 18, March 25, April 1st at 7:30pm at the new Community Enterprise Centre on the town square), more to come in Thrapston at the Nene Centre (dates to be fixed) and another later in the Summer at the Raunds Surestart Children's centre. People have also responded generously to my sponsored bike ride for Christians Against Poverty (£1249.50 at the moment).

After some worship celebrating all that God is doing here and the wonder of being invited to take part in his mission we started going through some of the projects coming up. Some are new, others repeats (that are showing encouraging developments):

  • Town Prayers: Every Tuesday at 12:30pm in the Baptist Church Lounge. Amazing stories of change coming from this prayer meeting. Very friendly and easy to join in even if you have not tried a prayer meeting before.
  • Aboda (see 42: Launch of AbodA Fresh Expression website)
  • God's Big Picture. Another fully ecumenical Thrapston specific lent course responding to local needs. All the Churches are leading worship and discussion sessions. Starts on Thursday March 5th for 5 weeks and is in the Baptist Church Lounge at 7:30pm
  • Who is this Jesus? A play/musical coming through collaboration between the infant/junior School and the Churches. Public performance at St James on Psalm Sunday (5th April) at 3pm
  • Good Friday March (10th April). Starts at the Bridge Hotel car park at 10am and finishes at the Catholic Church (closing worshipo and Hot Cross buns).
  • Charter Fair (Sat 27th June). Yes we are going to be doing some lovely things again this year after the tremendous response last year see 42: Thrapston Charter Fair.
  • Prayer week. The preliminary plans are to have a big "We are praying for Thrapston" week leading up to the Charter Fair. Would end with us all going from the prayer week to join the march that launches the Charter Fair.
  • Praise in the Park. The plans for this on the Sunday after the Charter Fair (Sun 28th June) are starting to look really exciting. The town Charter Fair committe want to support it and people have dreams of this becoming a mini Christian Festival! Whooo Hooo!
  • Space2Be. This has morphed slightly but the committed group of about 14 are continuing to meet and prayer together regularly and are looking at new ways to take this idea of being a safe place (for quiet, being listened too and being prayed for) out into the community. Exciting ideas in prospect.
  • Kids Summer Holiday Club. Good leadership already in place, theme sorted and planning going apace.
  • Holiday at Home. Yes will happen, plans being made at present.
  • Welcoming group. Plans being made for more welcome meals and oither events for people new to Thraspton.
  • Jigsaw. The montly magazine produced by the Churches that goes to every home in Thraspton keeps improving in quality and security of funds. We keep hearing of people coming to events for the first time that they read about in Jigsaw.

After giving everyone a chance to sign up to show interest in the various upcoming events we closed with worship and tried to eat up all the food but failed :-)

So it looks at if the enthusiasm for Hope 08 in Thraspton has not died down but instead we will be doing even more this year. Still new people getting involved and still growing support from all the Churches.

Quick holiday post

On holiday, no mobile phone signal for blogging at campsite on Bodmin moor, so quick hello from table 22 in Truro Cathedral Cafe.

Having a great quiet few days away.

See you all too soon.

Why real men don’t go to church.

Petere Kirk has written Why real men don’t go to church and I have responded to the first part in 42: The dangers of blogging.

Now I want to consider some of the meat of Peter's post which I think raises interesting points.

Peter feels that the church can be feminised by men due to the
kinds of men who lead churches. I hear his point, but it is not my
experience.

Firstly behaviour: We don't really go in for
dresses in my tradition and I have not come across many camp Methodist
Ministers. When I was a young teenager my minister, Don Hailey, had
been a bomber pilot during the war so I did not grow up thinking
ministers were wimps. With the exception of myself far too many
Methodist Ministers seem to want to talk about football all the time
which is probably the most boring subject ever invented. While I know
that many people like quiche the only times I can think it has been
served at Raunds Methodist church is when families have served it as
part of a meal after a funeral. We tend to do roast dinners, BBQ's or
standard basics such as cottage pie and apple crumble (the two
favourites at WOT). We also usually serve filter coffee (is it very
feminine that it is decaff so I don't get hyper) which is far more
popular than tea. The exception is when the refreshments are for older
members of the community who do prefer tea.

Secondly: I just
don't recognise these supposedly "feminine" and "masculine"
stereotypes. When I was nearly 17 I joined Venture Scouts which was
mixed, my experience there has been mirrored ever since. You don't get
to do less adventurous and exciting and crazy things because there are
girls/women there. In fact their presence usually seems to spur things
on rather than wimp them down.

I think of my very first
evening at Venture Scouts which on a wet cold October evening included
building a haymaker bridge across the River Mole. Unfortunately due to
the slippy concrete bottom to the river at that point every time someone
got to the middle it tipped up and in they went. All those who had
fallen in were then supposed to be holding the bridge so the same thing
would not happen to anyone else. Of course instead they deliberately
tipped them in, after all why shouldn't they get wet too. One of the
ringleaders (as always seemed to be the case in crazy stunts was Linda,
who soon after became the chairperson of the group).

I see the
same thing in Church today. A couple of years ago several of us a had a
fun day demolishing a stone lean to at the back of the Church. Pam was
the one who clearly enjoyed using a sledgehammer more than anyone else.

Another
member, J, is really into motor bikes with full leathers and going to
festivals etc with loads of friends in that community. She recently
passed her motorbike test and rides a classic bike of some sort.

My problem is that to me it seems that much of this masculine/feminine argument comes from the
male headship camp who are trying to enforce a separation and
distinction between the genders that should not exist. God created all
people equal and all in God's image. Continually trying to reinforce
stereotypes in order to maintain a false male headship is wrong, Peter
is not doing that but the complementarians are.

Now in no way am
I saying that people should all be the same, I am not saying that
people should be forced to take up interests that they don't like. But
I am saying that this idea that x & y are for men and a & b are
for women is social conditioning and not the way we are made and should
not be enforced.

Peter makes another point:

Anyway, I’m sure Dave and Pam have realised by now, even if they don’t
want to admit it, that at the local level churches like theirs are not
really controlled by the mostly male official hierarchy, but by the
armies of mostly women volunteers who keep their churches running, and
who exercise their control by implicit threats to quit their activities
if the minister dares to do anything which they disapprove of – which
would probably include almost anything likely to attract men to the
church.

Now
this one I do reject. Within the Church men hold far more authority and
power than their numbers suggest they should. Yes women may much of the
work but power has not been shared out equally. It is often subtle but
women in the church are frequently not empowered to lead. As for the
impicit threats I ignore them, anyone who is a block to mission and
threatens to resign is a wonderful – I always accept.

I am glad
that Peter thinks my suggestions are not so bad, however, I reject the
idea that they are masculine or in anyway supportive of the original
post about masculine ethos. There is nothing about male power in my
suggestions.

It is also amusing that Peter things I was being
all masculine in my use of language in the theory that the Wars caused
a significant change. That language came directly from the woman shared
the theory with me – so much for stereotypes.

Now I recognise
that Peter and I are not as far apart as these posts imply. His last
paragraph confirms that. We have different experiences and traditions.
It seems as though my experience of Methodism has maybe fewer elements
that are identified as feminising than Peter's CoE tradition – but we
too do not have significant numbers of men.

I do believe that
the gospel directly challenges many of the masculine stereotypes that
some sections of our society promote (violence, power, pornography, do nothing
culture, alcohol & drugs addiction, focus on money). It is a
difficult balance for Christians to engage with these influences
without being consumed by them. Maybe too often we do not engage,
however, it seems to me that those who advocate male headship and support violence etc have
been consumed.

As some of the comments have pointed out the theory I shared (not one I created but thought was worth thinking about) does not answer the whole issue of why men are not in the church. But equally it seems to me neither does the feminisation argument, especially when some, clearly and obviously not Peter, in attacking feminising end up compromising on the gospel.

The dangers of blogging

It has happened before and no doubt it will happen again. But a recent post of my highlights one one of the dangers of blogging – upsetting people you have no intention of upsetting.

It started with my post 42: A church should have a masculine ethos (or not) where I was highly critical of the claims that the church needs a masculine ethos. I entirely stand by that post for the reasons I give in it.

A friend Peter Kirk left a couple of helpful and valid comments which included:

I would like to see your thoughts on why men leave the church.

That sounded like a good idea and it resonated with a theory someone had shared with me that I thought was worth exploring. Note that in his comment Peter had made it clear that his church did not have a masculine ethos:

My own
church is actually quite well balanced between men and women, which I
think is because of the leaders' care not to be too feminine, or
masculine.

From previous conversations I know that Peter is not a fan of extreme complementarianism (make headship) out of which comes this argument for a masculine ethos.

So I wrote 42: Why have men left the Church? which was an attempt to answer Peter's question, connect with the theory I had heard (simplistically about men leaving the church due to experiences during the World Wars where the Church & Christians were unable to help them experience God alongside them during the horror of warfare) and at the same time continue to point out the failings of the position that advocates a masculine ethos (as part of their subtext trying to enforce male headship).

I started that post with:

There is a frequent and loudly stated view that men leave the Church
because it is too feminine. It is very common in the US and is being
picked up by a number of Churches in the UK.

I was, at least in my mind, referring to the original post that I had written about, which expressed support for the network of Churches that Mark Driscoll has founded, and thinking of those UK Churches that also stand for male headship and criticise other churches for being feminine. It never crossed my mind that Peter would think I was referring to his church and views as to me they are entirely different to the ones I was criticising.

But from Gentle Wisdom » Why real men don’t go to church it is clear that Peter feels I did attack him.

I have already left a comment on Peter's blog post apologising, but I want to repeat it here. I apologise to Peter for making him think I was attacking him. I had no intention of doing so and apologise for poor writing that led him to think I was.

Now in his post Peter raises other questions/challenges which I think are worth responding to and will do so separately.

Launch of AbodA Fresh Expression website

www.AbodA.org.uk now exists for the newest Fresh Expression of Church in the Nene Valley Circuit. So new in fact that the first meeting has not yet taken place. The first meeting is at 8:30pm on Tuesday 3rd March at The Nene Centre, Thrapston (where the Swimming Pool and Gym are).

Aboda

This is the first site I have created using Google Apps. That means google is providing the website, email, calendar, documents and contacts all for free and all on the aboda.org.uk domain. Cool!

My main focus has been on getting all the tools setup for the Core Team which is why the site is so bare at the moment. The actual content will follow later.

AbodA exists for people who want to explore life issues and how faith can impact them. If you consider yourself middle aged or above (or you love traditional Church) then we don't expect you will like the music, volume and style ;-)

Target beaten but still not satisfied

I have now beaten my revised fundraising target for the Coast to Coast ride for Christians Against Poverty.

Just over £1,000 so far as you will see from the sidebar and from my Justgiving – Dave Warnock’s Fundraising Page.

But please don’t stop now. You will see that I have raised nearly 50% more offline than online. The offline total will continue to go up as there are many groups here that I still have to visit. So there is a lot of scope fo0r catchup here.

Plus I need at least another £40 of online donations in order to become the #1 online fundraiser for Christians Against Poverty but really I would like to beat that by considerably more.