Outside the city

Reflections on two conversations; one started at the beginning in Marks gospel(hat tip to Steve new principle of BBC) and one started at the end with the crucifixion (hat tip to Debbie a co worker at CYM).
Marks gospel starts in a different place to the other gospels, in the wilderness. Mark 1 4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region . This wilderness is a spacious and wild place, that no-one owned, things didn’t grow, a place beyond and outside the city. It was this place that God came down. Mark 1 v10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Then Jesus was then sent further out into the desert. Mark 1 v 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert

With Debbie we were talking about change and mission, linking to questions about the nature church and what facilitates change; is it about understanding or practice. Do people change in response to seeing something different or through the understanding that can be gained from dialogue.? Obviously there is an element of both but in a church context I think we seek to get people to rethink church through engaging at an understanding level and because we have the sub cultural weakness of evolutionary approach to change (see series of posts starting here) any change will be limited. Debbie’s comment was “remember Jesus was crucified outside the city walls” and change came from; or was motivated from outside.

Now I may be putting two and two together and coming up with six but surely there is a link between the beginning of Mark and Jesus outside the city and the end and Jesus outside the city. What is the significance for ministry and change of Jesus’ approach to remaining outside the city? Maybe it relates to looking for the third way of doing things, maybe (excuse me whilst I go into metaphor mode) it it is about being outside the city with people to discover what God wants you to do (Mark 1) and then getting on with doing it regardless of who in city takes notice or gives permission, going into the city from time to time but knowing that the real action happens outside the city walls.


Sleep seems to be evading me once again. The last few weeks insomnia has been particularly bad. My usual problem is going to bed and sleeping for 2-6 minutes then waking for a couple hours but this has changed to sleeping for maybe 2 hours to then waking for several. Back to the sleep re-conditioning where if I am not asleep within ten minutes I have to get up so I condition my mind into associating the bedroom with sleep only. Sometimes this takes a few weeks of disciplined work but usually works in the end.

Extended Schools

There has been a lot of questions around extended schools, and the opportunities for the volunatry sector. It is one of those discussions that will have whole lot of issues either way. Mark sent me the following quote which raises some of the questions well.

“Not all of this is bad, it says, but the underlying ‘deal’ is
unhealthy. It solves the churches’ loss of identity and role by making
them surrogates for the government (with resulting clashes over human
rights and fairness) and it allows the government to ‘contract out’
welfare provision without addressing underlying questions of injustice
and the rich-poor divide.”

However my general feeling is that extended schools is the first part of a shifting culture towards more voluntary involvement and ownership. The pro’s and con’s of this are debatable but in all probabilty the shift will continue and extended schools is happening already. Therefore we need to consider the challange and recognise the responsibility. If the voluntary sector does not engage I could easily see private enterprise moving in. In the past the christian voluntary sector has been slow to respond and missed opportunities. There is a question about how we engage and promoting good youth work and christian values as part of engagement?

If you want more information on extended schools try a couple of these links:
Schools Training and Development website A good outline that takes you through all the key areas.
NYA Briefing Part of their series looking at various policies with helpful guidance for youth work organisations that what to position themselves for extended provision
Third Sector is short hand for a lot of the direction the government are heading, and their desire to see the voluntarty sector get on board. Check out here for a Speech by Phil Woolas MP to the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) on 22 June 2006 titled FRAMEWORK FOR STRENGTHENING THE THIRD SECTOR’S ROLE IN LOCAL PUBLIC SERVICE DELIVERY.

One response is here for a critque from the guardian