Good time with ICC students in Glasgow if you are trying to find the notes they are on the FYT site here

. Good to meet Chic and hear about stuff going on in Perth and great to spend the evening with the fantastically grounded Hot Choclate Ben movie full and chat to the team. Still here but on my way to aberdeen.The Hills Have Eyes film

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Mission Spirituality

I am preparing for a MA lecture on Flow Spirituality and wondered if this makes any sense to anyone else but me?

In How not to speak of God Pete Rollins explores some of the mystic tradition and for me mission and the Christian mystic tradition have always been closely aligned so here I want to explore some of the implications for mission/us when we embrace a mission spirituality shaped by this and how that that fuels the kind of mission I am engaged with through Church on the edge

Meister Eckhart God rid me of God – the God we know cant be God because God is always more, so what does it mean to engage in mission with the unknown God, where is always more?
If we reduce theology to a formula we see God as transcendent- beyond and then God as imminent – close, almost as if the only way to get our heads around it is a formula that says god is sometimes transcendent and withdrawn and sometimes imminent and close, but what kind of God is this – the mystic tradition teaches that God is imminent because she is transcendent, God is in all, and so close we cant see – God is hyper-real
The unspeakable is very thing we must not stop speaking of – desire is not born in the absence of God but in the presence of God, so we speak of God not to tell others so much as to discover the hyper-reality of God for ourselves, religion is the response to the God event, and this God event is a missionary event, where we are embraced by the Father, who sends the Son, and where the Spirit is left to engage us in the ongoing embrace. God is a missionary God – missio-dei and as such if we truly desire God our mission is not so much as to find him as to reveal him to others but by embracing God in others so we reveal more of the hyper real God to ourselves and help others see the trancenent God that is imminent.

Get it??????????????????

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Going with Flow at Greenbelt

Grenbelt has always been a thin place for me where Flow and earth meet. This year I am really excited as usually I find for me it is either a good year for music or a good year for talks but this year both seem fab to me. Especially looking forward to David Dark Birds of America download

What Women Want on dvd

Drag Me to Hell movie download and Pete Rollins

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and CMS has interesting series around emerging church and mission which is worth checking out including a sessions from asbo, tsk, richard subworth, mark berry. I am also doing a session on God as Flow on Sun 12-1 and FYT will have a table in the resouces area so hope to catch up with lots of people which is always the best bit anyway .
Hope to see

Women Bishops, Power and change

The debate about the ordination of women bishops in the CoE is being discussed again Rob highlights pro petition and john a case against, and Maggie notes the issue raised in the house.

Having just come out of a day teaching on community organising and change a few thoughts went through my mind. Firstly how the issue of power is so pertinent to many of the anti arguments, the issues of power and control are not explicit in the writing, but bubble under the surface and can be seen by the way names and titles are used, the magic power (as community organisers would call it) as jargon and quotes are couched into the arguments, that bedazzle the reader. Although this can be also seen in some of the pro posts read although to a lesser extent.
The second issue is the general tendency to avoid too much tension and how the strategies for change employed such as petitions are quite weak. There seems to be bit of a lack of imagination in the process for change, (maybe this is why is seems to be taking so long) perhaps because of the avoidance of tension. Creative methods to promote change will need to accept that tension may be caused, but organisers would happily live with this as all action is in the reaction.

Web lecture

Today I did my first web lecture. From the office in my bedroom I ran a session in Sweden on detached youth work. I could see the class in front of me and we were able to do some group work and one to one questioning. It was strange to say the least but generally went quite well. I had the window open and was very aware and self conscious that as i lectured, people outside could be wondering what was going on, especially when i heard the postman delivering mail. Although I reasoned later that as they couldn’t see me they would think I was just talking loudly to someone in the house. I was able to run most of the session as usual, and use slides etc, but really missed out on picking up some of the body language, and non verbal cues, even though when idividuals responded they zoomed into who ever was talking. Hope i didn’t bore them stupid. It is always hard communicating in different cultures but it really made me realise how reliant I am on reactionary work, and going with the direction the group seem to need to go. I havent much of clue yet how it worked from their end, the fact that they had my face to watch over the projector was probably off putting enough!

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Calling Youth Workers in M5

FYT have faciliated a network of youth workers in M5 area between Taunton and Bristol. Rob has taken this on for us and If you are in this area it would be great to see you. Details below

I am just contacting you all about the FYT M5 network meeting which most of us had attended previously. As you can see Emma has handed over the facilitating of the group and the meeting venue. Part of the vision of the network is that we all have ownership of the group and every 18 months/2 years another church or organisation would take over the running of the group. This means we can tap into our contacts and bring them along to do a presentation and also see some new faces.
As Living Waters Church does a stint, I want to build on the excellent teaching and ideas we have had before. And I have lined up some speakers to come and speak at our events. This will hopefully include:

The George Muller foundation – on networking and church partnerships
Roy Maguire from the YMCA – on youth justice
Lynda Richards PCSO – on peer mentoring and youth watch within schools
Tim Blasdale – PYO North Somerset
Pete Worthington designer of 24-7 prayer website – ministry through the net
Richard Passmore – FYT

In addition to this as we cover a massive geographical area, and generally our only contact time has been at the meetings. I see an area for us to develop is as an internet community. Part of this is to promote and let other churches know what is going on in our areas. To enable this I have had an account set up which is:

If any of the group wants to send out an e-mail or info to this address it will be circulated to the entire network database. I know we all have busy schedules with some times being more manic than others, but I would ask for your support as the network develops, by inviting new people from your area to come along and to use the internet network to keep us all connected to each other.

Lastly the first meeting will be on Friday the 9th March @ 10.15am. The venue will be No 24 Old Street Clevedon BS21 6BY (see website for directions) Drinks and cakes will be on ready supply. At the moment I am anticipating we meet about every 2-3months does that sit well with everyone? And could you let me know if you are intending to come?

If you have any more ideas or just want a chat drop me a line on 01275 344955 or

Have a blessed day

Rob England


As promised here Coal Miner’s Daughter movie full is the file from the session today. If you want to discuss any points or have any questions feel free to leave them as comments and I will respond. You may also like to check out the articles particularly the Tacking church which links with the session today. There are also a variety of other resources related to todays sessions including info the FaSt game, and redefinitions of church.

Votes for 16 year olds and other news

The Government has announced the first wave of 40 Respect Areas. The Department for Education and Skills is investing a further £6 million for parenting classes in the 40 areas in 2007/2008.

‘Raising inter-agency working to a higher level’
The National Association of Connexions Partnerships are being funded through the Children’s Workforce Development Council to run four one-day conferences for the different occupational groups who work with young people. It will be a chance for practitioners to reflect on the implications of the ‘integrated working’ agenda and have conversations with colleagues.

Futurebuilders England, the government-backed investment fund to help the third sector deliver better public services, is running a series of free regional roadshow events for regional infrastructure bodies to help build understanding of how Futurebuilders works and how to help others to apply for investment.

Votes at Sixteen
Jo Swinson (LD, East Dunbartonshire) has put down an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to allow a free vote on giving people over the age of 16 the right to vote.

Is the Emerging Church going far enough?

Mark commented on his blog about our recent discussions on church he used these two fantastic quotes which I thought were worth a mention. The quotes also tie into some thinking about the Church on the Edge project we are working on. One the big questions I have is around what are the non negotiables of church, and the sacraments. I always wonder how much is added and think Bonhoeffer is spot on with the Sermon on the mount as the core.

Bonhoeffer wrote,

The renewal of the church will come from a new type of monasticism which only has in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount.

…and Br Samuel SSF wrote,

The renewal of both the Church and Society will come through the re-emergence of forms of Christian community that are homes of generous hospitality, places of challenging reconciliation and centres of attentiveness to the living God

I have been thinking a lot about the sacraments and the work we are doing with young people on Church on the Edge. I raised questions around the sacraments at a recent session I did for the Baptist College on Emerging Church and got this really helpful response from Ernest Lucas

I was particularly struck by your suggestion that tattooing might be an appropriate replacement for baptism for some young people today. You said that those involved with ‘emerging church’ have a right to ask difficult questions, and I fully agree with that. You also said that in seeking answers you sought to combine imagination, tradition and Scripture. I want to make some comments from the basis of tradition and Scripture.

Your suggestion about tattooing seemed to be based on the assumption that baptism is primarily a ‘rite of passage’. I accept it is that, but that is only a secondary aspect of it. I think that, on Scriptural grounds, the traditional view that it is primarily a ‘sacrament’ and ‘sign’ is correct. As a sacrament it is the use of a physical element which God has appointed and promised to be a means of blessing. As something that is a ‘given’ from God I don’t think we are free to replace it by whatever we like and then expect God to fall in with our wishes and use it as a means a blessing. That does not mean that the physical form of it can never be changed. However, this is where the ‘sign’ aspect comes in. As a sign it says something important about what God has done, and is doing, for us and in us. What it says is connected to the physical form. Baptism, in Scripture, says at least three things.

· It speaks of a moral cleansing (1 Peter 3:21).

· It speaks of a dying to one way of life and rising to a new life (Romans 6), and this imagery, expressed by going under water and coming out of it (however that is done), is linked to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

· It speaks of joining the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).

If there is a physical action other than baptism which could convey these three meanings to a group of people today, then I’d be open to it being used instead of baptism. I don’t see how tattooing can convey either of the first two meanings above. I suppose that if it was done under general anaesthetic it could convey the second! In fact, it seems to me that water baptism is a good cross-cultural symbol for conveying these three meanings, which needs little explanation. Where explanation is needed is in linking it with Jesus’ death and resurrection. I’ll come back to this point later.

You suggested that baptism was a common ‘rite of passage’ in the first century and so it was easy for Christians to adopt it. I am not sure that this is true. Ritual washings were certainly common, especially within Judaism. However, the significance of baptism as death to an old way of life and entry into a new one was, I think, a Christian innovation. I think it only appears with this significance in mystery cults and Gnostic sects in post-Christian times and is borrowed from the Christian use. I may be wrong about this because I am by no means an expert with regard to these religions. Jewish proselyte baptism was primarily a ritual washing. Jews regarded Gentiles and Gentile territory as ritually unclean. So, when a Jew returned from travelling abroad, when they got to border of the ‘ Holy Land’ they would shake the dust of the Gentile lands from their clothes and have a ritual bath. Proselyte baptism was just such a cleansing prior to (for males) circumcision.

Circumcision itself is an interesting case study. It was a ‘rite of passage’ among the Semitic peoples of the ancient Near East. It was undergone by adolescent males and was linked with preparation for marriage. When the Hebrews started to use it for eight-day-old babies it lost this ‘rite of passage’ significance. An important aspect of a rite of passage is the ‘psychological journey’ undergone by the person in undergoing the rite. This cannot apply to a very young baby. The link with marriage preparation was also lost. Circumcision for the Hebrews became solely a sign of the covenant with Yahweh, and so of membership of the covenant people. In so far as baptism replaces circumcision this underlines that it is not primarily a rite of passage but a sign of the new covenant.

I am more open to the sharing of crisps and coke as a form of ‘communion’. The sharing of bread and wine in the Communion Service conveys at least two meanings.

· That through Christ God provides us with spiritual nourishment (John 6).

· The remembering of Jesus’ sacrificial death for us and the appropriating of its benefits (1 Cor. 11).

Bread and wine were staple food and drink in Jesus’ culture. I suppose crisps and coke may be staples for some young people – but on their own they are not truly ‘nourishment’! Jesus might have used bread and water if ‘nourishment’ was the only message to be conveyed. However, the red wine is evocative of his blood shed in sacrificial death. Also, of course, Jesus did not use just any bread and wine, he used the bread and wine of the Passover meal, which spoke to Jews of freedom from slavery which involved a sacrificial death.

Any stable food and a red drink is capable of conveying the meaning of the Communion Service. However, it can only do this fully if it is done in the context of retelling the story of the Passover and of the Last Supper. It is striking that when the first Christians took the gospel to the Gentiles, for whom the Passover was not part of their heritage, they did not ‘ditch’ this aspect of it, but taught the story to the Gentiles.

Just as there are aspects of ‘modernism’ that are inimical to Christian faith, so there are aspects of ‘post-modernism’ that are inimical to it too. An obvious one is the rejection of ‘meta-narratives’. Christians cannot dispense with the meta-narrative of God’s story of salvation history: creation-fall-Israel-Jesus-the church-consummation. Unless the ‘emerging church’ teaches this story and enables people to make it their own and live by it, it will not be authentically Christian. It seems to me that the sacraments of communion of baptism are prime means of introducing people to this story and enabling them to appropriate it. If, to some extent, the form of these sacraments is ‘counter cultural’ I don’t see that as necessarily a stumbling block. Getting to grips with them might be what is needed to stimulate people to use their imagination to enter into the story, and so begin to make it their own.

One thing I find interesting is the difference between baptism and communion and rembemer the resistance to coke and crisps ten years ago. At the moment I am just asking the questions so would like some help with the following.
-If are going to truely journey with young people in the light of the sermon on the mount, and practice love and genuine mutual relationships, how do we negotaite issues like the sacrements?
-Luther cut the sacrements down from 7 to 3 by looking at Tradition and Scripture are there further impliactions for the sacrements if we bring culture into that critical framework?
-Is this part of the root of the subculutral weakness of church, and will the emerging church emerge if we do not grapple more fully with the sacrements

-Any others you wish to add??