27 May 2012

Oundle - Meeting at Rupert and Uli's

< 11th January 2012 | Index | 8th January 2013 >

Do we over design and structure our meetings? Should we simply let Jesus take full control? Can we trust him in this or do we think we can do a better job than he can?

Sitting at a table in the shade Sean, Melissa and I visited Rupert and Uli and their family on Sunday. Justine was there too though some others were unable to make it.

It was a lovely time of simple sharing. We sat in the shade of a big, old tree and talked about life. Jesus was never far from our hearts and thoughts. We talked about Ffald-y-Brenin and our visit there last year. We talked about people we know and where they are on their journeys. Later, Rupert suggested we dip into the Bible and we read and prayed and listened together. There was no agenda, no plan, just us and Jesus.

23 May 2012

Little and large

We live in exciting times. In every part of the world Jesus is building his church in ways that are appropriate to local circumstances. For example house church networks are growing explosively in countries where there is persecution.

Cooperative handshakeIn the west, evidence is building that Jesus is moving small, organic groups and the more established church organisations to engage with one another in mutually helpful ways.

It has been all too easy to see the small and the large as somehow on opposite 'sides'. But they are not. Cooperation is both possible and essential. We should seek and embrace it.

I was prompted to write about this after a brief conversation with Donna and our friend Ash, and a comment on Neil Cole's blog this morning.

14 May 2012

Translate the articles on this site

Use the translation feature to display 'Journeys of heart and mind' in more than fifty other languages. If English is difficult for you to read, automatic translation may be very useful to you.

The distribution of systems of writing Unless you are an inveterate explorer and fiddler there may be some useful things you don't know about this blog. I plan to highlight some of these for you from time to time.

Today's highlight is the translation tool. You can choose to read the blog in dozens of different languages. If your first language is not English you may find this feature useful. Here's how to use it.

Scroll down and look in the right-hand column. You'll notice that it begins as a single column but then splits into two narrower columns. The translation button is at the top of the narrow columns, on the right. Found it?

10 May 2012

Groups of two or three

< Church is a network | Index | Groups of six to twenty >

Groups of just two or three have benefits and limitations. They are the smallest possible forms of church life and may develop spontaneously. They are powerful in communicating.

Groups of two or three Last time we saw that there's only one church and it consists of a web of rich, multiple connections. At the smaller, local scale we are typically involved mostly with a particular group of some size.

If you are part of a larger church group I strongly recommend you also consider meeting regularly on a much smaller scale with no more than one or two others. If this is new to you, you'll find the dynamics and depth of sharing completely different.

The new partner (or partners) don't need to come from your larger circle such as a cell group or local congregation. In many ways it's better if they don't. If you are a Baptist why not meet with an Anglican and someone from a home church? All of you will broaden your horizons. Information will begin to flow through you between those larger groups which might otherwise have little or no interaction. These are significant benefits.

Another advantage of such small groups is that it's possible to meet daily. If you choose to try this you might like to keep the meetings very brief. Church of Two (CO2) is one suitable pattern for groups of two or three and requires about five minutes per person.

09 May 2012

Drawn to the light

< On a spiritual journey? | Index | We've run out of wine >

Most people don't need to be told that there's more to life than the familiar material and emotional aspects. Our lives are enriched by spiritual yearning, a light that comes from beyond the place where reason fails.

Grey above and below, light in the distance There's something deep in human nature that makes us spiritually aware. Most of us know that in all the rich experiences of life, there is a need for something more. Even a wealthy person, in good health, with friends, fulfilling work, a loving family and a safe place to live - even such a person knows there's more. Perhaps much more.

What is the meaning of existence? How can I connect with the spiritual side of my life? When a person dies, does anything remain? Everybody ponders these questions at some time in life. Throughout the generations men and women have grappled with thoughts like these.

The great religions past and present have all tried to fill this human need for something other, something beyond. Perhaps you follow one of them. Or perhaps you find your spiritual energy in some other way.

05 May 2012

Church is a network

< No earlier items | Index | Groups of two or three >

Church is a typical network structure with rich connections at multiple levels, just like the internet. There are many connections and many clusters but only one internet. Church is just the same, lots of connections but only one church.

Diagram of part of the internet How many churches are there in the world? We don't know, but it must be a very large number. How many in England? I have no idea. How many in the town of St Neots in Cambridgeshire where I live? Ten or eleven?

It's a trick question. Jesus really did not intend to start more than one church.

We have divided what was intended to be one. The church is his bride, a living temple built of living stones. One bride, one temple, one head who is Christ, one church.

Certainly Paul writes of 'our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae' or, 'Greet Priscilla and Aquila [and] the church that meets at their house'. And he writes of  'the church at Ephesus' or 'at Corinth'.

Surely this suggests multiple churches? I don't think so, rather the sense is of one church in multiple places. How can this work? And how are we to get back to such a state of affairs? The answer to both those questions lies in understanding the nature and function of networks.

04 May 2012

Changes to the blog

There are a few changes to the blog that you should know about. There's a name change, an attempt to reach spiritual seekers who know little or nothing about Jesus, and a reduced focus on meetings.

The old version of the blogI'm making a few changes to the blog that will, I hope, make it more useful. I would like to reach the spiritually hungry with the good news that Jesus is alive with a life he really wants to share.

Name - The name of the blog is changing from 'All about Jesus' to 'Journeys of heart and mind'. Apart from that and the new label 'SpJ' (stands for 'Spiritual Journey') everything will look and work much as before.

03 May 2012

On a spiritual journey?

< No earlier items | Index | Drawn to the light >

A picture of a lake and a clearing sky sparks some thought about the spiritual aspects of life. Everyone has views on spiritual things, everybody believes something and pictures like this can help us explore our own hearts and spiritual awareness.

Everyone is on a spiritual journeyFrom time to time I'll try to post something here that will appeal to people on spiritual journeys. This is the first of them.

See all these articles

Everyone is on a spiritual journey, though not all of us realise it.

We may follow any religion or none, we may call ourselves Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Atheist, or (add your own) but we all hold something to be true and have understandings and motivations seated deep in our nature - deeper than the intellect, deeper than emotions.

I'd like to spend a few moments drawing some thoughts from the picture above (click on it to see a more detailed version).

02 May 2012

Understanding the Almighty

Augustine comes as close as anyone in writing down what the Almighty is really like. This is not a trivial task! Read this extract from his 'Confessions' and see how he uses paradoxes to crack open our minds to see.

Portrait of Augustine Job found it was hard to truly know Yahweh. How can anyone know the creator of the universe? We can't - unless he reveals himself.

'Then Yahweh spoke to Job out of the storm. He said, "Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer. Where were you when I laid the Earth's foundation? Tell me if you understand..."' (Job 38:1-41:34)

The following text is a translation from Augustine of Hippo. It was written at or just before the year 400 AD when Augustine was in his mid forties; he manages to convey something of the nature of the Almighty. It's the first chapter from Augustine's 'Confessions' and has the title 'Confession of the Greatness of God'.

I have based it on 'The Confessions of St Augustine: Modern English Version'*, rewritten as a light paraphrase in my own words. I hope it will be easy to read and understand.

Church as network - INDEX

(See indexes on other topics)

Networks are good for connection and communication. Examples include the internet and the road system (sometimes actually called 'the road network'). Connection and communication go hand in hand, network connections are the channels and network communications are the messages.

This index lists articles on aspects of church as a network.
    Awesome beauty and peace
  1. Church is a network - Rich connections at multiple levels
  2. Groups of two or three - These may develop spontaneously
  3. Groups of six to twenty - Rather like a family
  4. Groups of sixty to eighty - Workshops
  5. Dunbar and 130-160 - Maximum social connections

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