Tuesday, December 29, 2009

our first Christmas in Devon

happy times - our first Christmas in South Devon - some pics from Christmas day and Boxing day

Friday, December 18, 2009

ways into small missional community [11] children and community

here's the next in my series for the small missional communities project:

In the Gospels we find the community-maker Jesus giving a high priority to children. He emphasized the importance of caring for children; he seemed to bless them at every opportunity; and he saw them as offering a role model for people of all ages.

So if children are already or potentially part of your community’s life it’s good to give attention to what might emerge. A route often taken is to offer specific things for children, but I’m really interested in finding ways to enable children to be part of community, helping to shape the community, and being shaped by it.

Here’s a few starter suggestions from my own experience as to how this emphasis might look...

• create a child-friendly way into any action of conversation that the community is involved in
• rather that getting someone to take children off parents’ hands create a culture where parents and children contribute, learn and care together
• work at the community’s story-telling [in all media], find your gifted storytellers, and tell great stories
• give an central place to play [for everyone] as being both a way to learn and create community
• create places and times of stillness for all the community. Children and adults alike can be encouraged to enter stillness, so discover ways to make stillness part of the community’s culture, a gift to everyone.
• make sure that proper attention is paid to the care of children - see the legal requirements as just the starting point for their care

Of course there are challenges, including changing seasons of life, varying personal learning preferences, and different parenting styles. But there’s something really hopeful about community where children are genuinely enabled to play their part...

peace to you

Sunday, December 06, 2009

prayer and action for the blue-green planet

As the UN Convention on Climate Change begins in Copenhagen this week’s morning bell will focus on the amazing blue-green planet, and how our action and prayer might play a part in it’s care...

Friday, December 04, 2009

ice sun and the Benedicite

Good times with CYM students this week on Boars Hill, where I was leading their retreat days. We did some work in the open inspired by putting together the ancient Jewish song Benedicite with the ideas of artists like Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy. Here's the making of the ice sun by the year 2 group, facilitated by Steve Tait. Great work!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

morning bell - with the Benedictus

This week the Church begins a new year and enters the season of Advent. In Advent the Church has traditionally prayed with the Benedictus - the great song of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptiser, from the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel. This week’s morning bell does the same. I'm going to try to let it carry my prayers this week, and to learn it through repetition. It's well worth checking out the story of Zechariah in Luke 1, and see how the song came into being.

THE SONG OF ZECHARIAH - Benedictus Domine

Bless├Ęd be the Lord, the God of Israel,
for he has come to his people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour,
born of the house of his servant, David.

Through his holy prophets, he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all that hate us;

He promised to show mercy to our forebears,
and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father, Abraham,
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

Free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight,
all the days of our life.

You, my child,
shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

To give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of all their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

To shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

Monday, November 23, 2009

ways into small missional community [10] a transparent, light and freeing framework

here's the next in my series on creating communities of the great community-maker...

If you’ve followed this series you’ll know that I encourage people to look out for a few others who share similar hopes to be committed to the project with you [see ways into smc [1] starting out in company]. I also encourage smc’s to find a bigger place of belonging of some sort - for encouragement, shared learning and some accountability - be it diocese or parish, network or circuit, or a wider community of mission like CMS.

When you set out on a new venture like this, one of the delights is the freedom to imagine and shape the thing as you go. The three or four of you, over a coffee, in the pub or over a meal. This is good! Enjoy the freedom and the creativity of this early phase. You will then reach a point, sooner than you might imagine, where it’s really important to work out a framework for how decisions will be made in the longer term.

I’m not advocating any particular type of organisation. That will depend on the sort of people you are, the nature of the project-community and your setting. But here are a few key principles that I find helpful:

- trust people: involve everyone in the framework-finding process
- seek transparency: make sure that any framework will show everyone very clearly how decisions are made and who makes them
- keep the framework light and freeing: aim for simplicity and remember it only exists to help the community to live out it’s calling
- put the framework in place with some provisionality: agree to try it out, and revisit it after a period and ask how it is working
- treasure listening: make sure that everyone has a voice in decision-making
- aim for consensus in the big issues: allow for any really big decision to be made by consensus
- find wise guidance: give to some wise, prayerful and humble person in the community a role to include calling a provisional way forward should there ever be a real impasse - in my experience this is very rarely needed if deep attention is paid to the big idea [see ways into smc [2] ]and to the spirit of the community [see ways into smc [4] ]
- don’t create jobs for life: find a framework that allows people to move in and out of roles
- seek the Christ: remember where the community belongs...

peace to you

Friday, November 20, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

StillPoint story

Good to see a story on StillPoint - the project that Matt Rees and I run together - in the latest edition of e-xpressions. You can view the story written by Ian Mobsby from an interview with us here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ernesto's art

It was good to do some work with artist-priest Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga Steele last week. If you are in or around Oxford on Saturday it's the opening of Ernesto's new exhibition and the launch of his new book on Saturday night at the Ark-T in Cowley. Great work! The pic is Ernesto's Olive Tree III [2009]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

here's the tender coming

Really enjoying 'here's the tender coming' by the Unthanks. Brilliant. Thanks Cara.

Monday, November 09, 2009

ways into small missional community [9] earthy good news?

Here's the latest in the series of posts I'm doing for the Small Missional Communities project on starting and sustaining new project-communities

This latest post in the ‘ways into small missional community’ series is an exercise in [re]discovering roots and imagining the future.

The great story of Jesus is known as ‘Gospel’ - which means ‘good news’. So it may be important to ask how Jesus could be good news where we are, in this place, for these people and for this setting.

It can be helpful to break this down into two questions:
first [and here’s the return to roots] ‘why is Jesus good news?’
then second [and here’s imagining the future] ‘so what could this good news look like here?’

We may have lots of responses to the roots question. But what might that lead to? How is the good news felt and tasted, lived and experienced? In the task of creating Christ-following missional communities we need to discover earthy ways of expressing and living the good news where we are.

An example: one of many possible answers to the roots question might be to say that Jesus is good news because he shows us that God is love. Now there’s wonder in that idea - it’s perhaps the most beautiful of all equations - but how do we say it and live it in ways that are more than cliche or jargon? The imagined future question takes us into the earthy business of how God’s love could be lived and experienced here. What might that actually look like ‘on the ground’? How could 'God's love' be shared and encountered in real ways in this neighbourhood or network? What can you imagine happening?

So why is Jesus good news for you? And what could the good news look like where you are - in, around and through the community-project of which you are part, or of which you are dreaming?

StillPoint meditation

Matt will be hosting a StillPoint meditation happening tonight 9pm @ssMary+John on Cowley Road Oxford - will be really good!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Have just started to learn to play mandolin again - well for the first time really, previous attempt was not a success. Our friend Jackie wants to do the same with guitar so we're teaming up. Plan is to learn a song a week, starting with 3 simple chords. First song: 'freefallin' by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - simple chords, slow pace, and a fine song. Pic is from the TP gig at Knebworth which I went to back in the day with my buddy Mike.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Third Space

I've been working together for a while with a group called Third Space in Matlock, Derbyshire, and they are now linking in with the Small Missional Communities project and CMS, seeing this as their primary place of belonging - the first group to do so 'formally'! They are very good news, doing imaginative stuff and really wanting to be and to make a difference in the way of Jesus the change-bringer where they are. A very big welcome to Third Space people: may you be blessed and may you bring blessing... peace to you Ian

Saturday, October 24, 2009

ways into small missional community [8] finding a name

Here's the latest in my series on creating and sustaining community for the small missional communities group - all about finding a name:

What’s in a name? Cumbrae, Emerge, hOME, Ithaca, mayBe, Sanctuary, and Third Space are some of the names that are represented on this network at the moment.

The process of discovering a name for your community-project can be a really important part in its creation. The imaginative conversations, the prayers and the waiting that are part of the journey towards a name take us right into the reasons that we are setting out on this course. The process will make us think through what the big idea is, it will immerse us in the spirit of the community [see earlier posts in this series of ways into small missional community], and it will help us understand how we can serve the people around us in the name of Jesus.

My experience is that an interesting thing sometimes happens in this process. You may find that the name is somehow waiting for you, that the name in some sense discovers you and your friends as much as you discover the name. If you don’t have a name yet, it’s a really good idea to make sure that everyone who is with you is involved in the process.

Although Jesus doesn’t seemed to have named the little community he created, he did give a new name to the disciple we know as Peter - which means something like ‘stone’ or ‘rock’ - and in so doing perhaps Jesus enabled this disciple to become more fully the character that he could see was within him.

So what’s the naming process like for you? If you have a name, how did you discover it? And how might the name be helping to shape your life as a small missional community of the world-changing Jesus?

artistic director for Moot

Moot are looking for an artistic director. Sounds like a great role at a really exciting time for the community.

Friday, October 23, 2009

How can we avoid becoming like what we fight against?

How can we avoid becoming like what we fight against? That’s the nagging question I’m left with after Question Time last night.

Most of the ideas and policies of the BNP, it seems to me, are a mix of the ridiculous and the reprehensible, the delusional and the dangerous. So I’m really concerned that the manner and the actions of the audience, the panel and the chair may have served to portray Nick Griffin and the BNP as victims. Now he can say with some justice that he was bullied, and bullying is of course a fascist tactic.

Fr Richard Rohr warns people of liberal politics like him and me that we can ‘become as power-seeking and controlling and dominating as our oppressors’. My hunch is that Nick Griffin would have revealed the extent to which his policies are based on fear, division and untruths of his own accord last night, if he was given space. Instead he was kept from answering truly important questions by some of the very tactics that most of us deplore and which we identify with far-right parties.

How can we avoid becoming like what we fight against? Perhaps it starts in the area of our own personal transformation. The teacher Jesus seemed to suggest that we need to learn to resist evil with stillness, mercy and even love. Tough stuff, particularly because, I suppose, it needs to start here, now, with me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

end of the line: tonight on More 4

I blogged before about the excellent movie end of the line. It's on More 4 tonight at 10pm. Really worth seeing- about the threat to the world's fish stocks - but with a positive message that we can fix this if we have the will..

Monday, October 12, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

ways into small missional community [7] eating, drinking together

Here's my latest post re creating community:

Interesting things can happen when people eat and drink together.

Some of the most memorable stories left to us in the gospels from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus happen when food and drink are being shared. A woman anoints Jesus with her tears when he is at table. A life-changing conversation with Zachaeus takes place in the context of hospitality. Jesus bids farewell to his followers in the setting of a shared meal. The disciples at Emmaus recognise Jesus in the breaking and blessing of bread. And an early morning breakfast on the beach is hosted by the same risen Christ.

Interesting things can happen when people eat and drink together. Our common humanity becomes more apparent. Differences diminish. Neighbours and strangers find a place of belonging. Community can deepen. So if we are interested in starting or sustaining a new project-community in the way of Jesus it is worth imagining the place of eating and/or drinking together.

Any pattern of eating and drinking needs to be true to our setting and reflect our culture. An example from experience: from the start of its life the community of which I have been part for 5 years has centred its life on a simple community meal in someone's home each week. And each weekend the eucharist is followed by a visit to cafe or pub. The community's life and mission happen in the context of food and drink, in ways that fit the city setting and the life-patterns of the people.

Inspired by the practise of Jesus, what might be the place of shared eating and/or drinking in your community?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

ways into small missional community [6] small is good

here's the latest in my series of postings for the Small Missional Communities online network

It may not always feel like it, but I want to suggest that when we start something like a missional community, small is good! I'd go on to suggest that smallness may even be good throughout the life of a community.

Be assured that there are really tough things that go with smallness - fragility, vulnerability, lack of recognition to name just 3 - but these challenges are full of possibility and hope.

Small is good because it opens the way to participation. If the thing is small it requires us to be involved - and when we get involved we both shape and are shaped by the experience.

Small is good because it takes us into relationship. This path can, of course also be hugely uncomfortable. But it's in relationship with others that some of our rough edges become beautiful shapes, that Christ may be glimpsed as we learn to live, argue, accept and perhaps ultimately love our traveling companions.

Small is good because it has a vitality that cannot be easily defeated by difficulty, let-down or even persecution. The experience of people who attempt this way is that in the exposed state of smallness there can be a rediscovery of the God who is closer than we can imagine.

Perhaps we should not be surprised to discover that small can be good. For 2000 years would-followers of Jesus have banded together in small groups to share the journey. It could be argued that the Church has been at its most vital and authentic when characterised by being small - and that we have struggled to live the way of Christ whenever we have become big, powerful, or the majority. So don't be afraid of smallness. Work with it, embrace it, love it. Small is good!

visitor to our yard

emerging conversation

Emerging people here's a brief piece I've done on Emerging Church for Fresh Expressions. Anything you'd want to add or change?

Emerging Church is a term that has been used to describe a coming into being from the early 1990s into the 2000s of communities of people trying to follow Jesus in postmodern culture.

Emerging Church is not one single unified movement, and is not contained in any one denomination, but is rather a flowering of low key, grassroots and diverse groups, primarily in Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Emerging Churches understand themselves as being part of an evolving conversation. Most would resist being closely defined, and use of the term 'Emerging Church' is seen by some as carrying complications and restrictions. Shared themes include participation and non-hierarchical patterns of organisation, the place and possibility of community, engagement with the arts, a commitment to issues of justice, peace and the environment, and through it all a desire to work out what it might mean to follow Jesus in diverse and fast-changing cultures.

In the UK Fresh Expressions is currently taking the inspiration, learning and questions of the Emerging Church to a wider constituency.

For a wider view on Emerging Church, and an analysis of the main themes worldwide, the book 'Emerging Churches' by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger [SPCK 2006] remains an excellent resource.

Friday, September 18, 2009

ancient prayer practise day

Looking forward to the next StillPoint day conference on the ancient Eastern Orthodox Jesus Prayer practise with Simon Barrington-Ward. Places still up for grabs - go to the StillPoint website to book.

with Simon Barrington-Ward
Friends Meeting House
St Giles Oxford

Friday, September 11, 2009

a slow-burning revolution in Christian identity

thanks Jonny Baker for flagging up this article in the Guardian by Theo Hobson on Greenbelt. Seems to capture the current spirit of the festival well.

ways into small missional community [5] being shaped by our setting

Here's the next in the series of postings I'm doing on ways into small missional communities:
At various times in history Christian mission has tended to clone what has gone before, with little attention being paid to the context. One example might be the way in which, with the best intent, some 18th and 19th missionaries simply took the model of an English parish church and [literally] rebuilt that church and way of life around the British empire.

But the Gospel - the good news of Jesus - is a story of incarnation, of ‘God with us’ where we are, as we are, coming into our experience of the world. Christ’s coming gives dignity and attention to human culture.

So, whilst holding key elements in common - such as the new beginning of baptism, communal life nourished in the Jesus meal, love of the scriptures, and Jesus's practises of prayer and action - we should expect the life of Christ-following communities to reflect something of the brilliant diversity of human culture.

One of the most compelling possibilities for small missional communities is that they can reflect their context, celebrate their setting and energise their local culture. A truly authentic communal following of Christ will be shaped by and shaped for our setting.

There’s lots of ways into this, but here’s 2 opening questions that may help us to find a way in where we are:

What are some of the elements that make this community/neighbourhood/network distinctive? And if Jesus was one of us in this place, where would he be, what might he be doing?

[Look out for the next posting coming up in this series: small is good]
Peace to you

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Greenbelt 09

Great Greenbelt festival again. Can't quite get round to cutting off my wrist band yet. Highlights included staying with Matt Pippa and Lily, the Welcome Wagon in the Performance cafe, a moving talk by Bishop Gene Robinson about his story, going to mayBe's fashionable pace event, the bluegrass eucharist by HASS, inspiring conversation over coffee with theologian Rita Nakashima Brock, catching up with friends and making new ones, the Visionaries art exhibition, hanging around with Gail on Monday - and heh I enjoyed doing my material too, seemed to go well. Pics are of Gail and Heather at the Tiny Tea, the Welcome Wagon and Harry Adams brilliant 'Study of the Thames 1711' pic.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ways into small missional community [4] finding the spirit of the community

Here's the 4th of the postings I'm doing on creating and sustaining community for the small missional communities online network.
In any community there will be always be a lot of focus on what we do. That’s fine - the actions of the community, its surface life - are important. But behind the activity is something less obvious, more subtle, and perhaps even more important. This is what I think of as the spirit of the community.

Almost every family, project, team, society or business has a spirit or value system, often unrecognised, and sometimes less than positive. Gracious or greedy, caring or care-less, transparent or manipulative [or a mix of those] - the spirit of a community is how it feels to encounter it - and the spirit of thing has the power to create something beautiful - or to trash it.

When combined with ‘the big idea’ [see the previous 'ways into... no 3'] a good spirit can produce something truly creative - a community that in small ways begins to reshape us and the world around us for good. So it can be really helpful in beginning a new community to identify what we hope the spirit will be, describe it, and begin to try to live it.

One way of getting a handle on this idea of spirit is to ask this question: how will we be when we are doing the things we hope to do? This is a question about the sort of people we want to be as we journey. It’s about how we do anything - and as one of my mentors Fr Richard Rohr says - ‘how we do anything is how we do everything!’ So, for example, how do we do the washing up? Happily, together, well? Or reluctantly, left for others, badly?

So what might be the spirit of the community-project that you are part of, or that you hope will come into being? Can you describe the spirit somehow - and if so what words or pictures convey this?

[Look out for the next posting in this series: [5] being shaped by your setting]
Peace to you Ian

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

compassion without limits

There's lots of controversy at the moment around the release of the Lockerbie bomber. The bombing was a terrible criminal act. But my instinct is that the Scottish Government has done a good thing in granting compassionate release, however unpopular or difficult the decision, however inappropriately received.

I am rooted in the Jesus story - and it seems to me that the Teacher-Healer's life, death and resurrection was an story of compassion without limit. The extent of his compassion shocked many people - "does he not realise what kind of woman she is" - surprised even his own disciples, and was not dependent on the spirit in which it was received.

It's so important that we don't become like the bad stuff we want to resist. We need to live the grace that we talk about. Here's a link to the statement by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

The pic is a favourite icon of mine - 'Christ and the friend' - very early [5th C?] God help me to become and remain compassionate.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Michael Volland

Michael Volland is going from feig to Cranmer Hall Durham - here's a link to his new blog - all the best Michael

Friday, August 21, 2009

kind of blue @Greenbelt

Looking forward to Greenbelt . Here's the main things I'm doing at the festival:

Friday 8pm-9pm 'reflections in jazz' - exploring links between improvisational jazz, contemplative prayer and inspired action, working with the classic Miles Davis album ‘Kind of Blue.’ [venue: Soul Space]

Sunday 3pm-4pm part of a conversation called 'Rhythm and Calendar, Feast Days and Fasting' with Maggi Dawn and Nadia Bolz-Weber [venue New Forms Conversations in the Winged Ox]

Sunday 5pm-6pm 'start a community, change the world?' - a mix of stories, insights and conversation exploring how to start communities and how they can change us reshape the world [venue CMS tent]

Sunday 11pm-midnight 'kind of blue' - more on jazz, contemplative prayer and action to change the world with the entire and very brilliant Miles Davis album 'Kind of Blue' as late night soundtrack [venue Soul Space]

All weekend: Greenbelt have asked me to do morning bell - the morning call to prayer via email/txt/twitter - for the festival - if you don't yet receive morning bell and would like to get the festival morning bell by email/txt let me know by email or txt, or to receive via twitter go to twitter.com/morningbell2u

See you at Greenbelt!

Monday, August 17, 2009


Very good time at the weekend at Glastonbury. Lots of really interesting conversations with spiritual travelers taking different paths - really good to hear their stories and to offer them my experience of and love for the Jesus tradition. This was part of an event organised by Pauline Warner, a friend in the Christian Travellers in the New Spiritual Culture network who runs a project called Soul Clinics. On Saturday I did a series of reflections and exercises from the monastic stream each hour through the day in the beautiful [if rather cluttered - aren't they all] St Margaret's chapel. We finished with a silent Eucharist - a practise of the Carthusians. Yesterday we did a Eucharist on the Tor. We are hoping to go back to Glastonbury around Easter and the Spring Equinox in March 2010. Pics of are of the chapel and from the top of the Tor.

Friday, August 14, 2009

ways into small missional community [3] beginning to live a simple pattern

here's the next in the series of postings I am doing on starting and sustaining community for the Small Missional Communities project:
So perhaps there’s a few of you setting out, with an idea of what you hope might come into being. How do you actually get started?

A really good way to begin is to start living a simple pattern of life. This would be the core happenings that you can imagine coming into being for the community-project. The stuff you do every week or so.

Keep the pattern simple. Don’t wait until you have it all worked out, begin with what you sense is being given to you. In time the pattern will evolve. Don’t try to do too much. Give attention to each other, don’t get too wrapped up in the idea of the thing and miss out on the people. Even if there’s only 2 or 3 of you, live it as if there are all the people that you hope in time will be with you. Try to sense what the pivot point - the central element - of the community’s life will be in the week. Make it a priority - and love it!

So if you are already part of something like a small missional community, what’s your community pattern of life? And what was your experience of living it from the beginning? If you are thinking about starting a community-project, what do you sense might be the simple pattern, the vital elements in the week?

[Look out for the next posting in this series: finding the spirit of the community]

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Glastonbury Soul Cafe

Looking forward to being involved in the Soul Cafe at St Mary's Catholic church hall in Glastonbury on 15 August 11am-5pm with Pauline Warner who has pioneered this event, and others.

The pic is of a simple stone circle on the Isle of Mull that Gail and I visit. At the Marymass Soul cafe we are hoping to connect the Jesus tradition with others who, like us, find themselves drawn to places like this.

I'll be doing stuff in St Margaret's chapel on new monasticism, looking to give people an opportunity to sample rhythms, prayers and practises inspired by the monastics. There's going to be a mix of practises and therapies offered by people who are all trying to follow the Christ. On the Sunday morning we are going to have a eucharist on the Tor. The event is free. Here's the current plan for the stuff that I'm doing:
Each session will introduce a new element to help us discover a simple monastic rhythm for life and prayer where we are, and each will last for between 15 minutes and half an hour, followed by space for stillness, practise and conversation.

10.40 stilling prayer to begin the day
11.30 contemplative body prayer
12.30 the simplicity of chant
1.30 stories from the monastic tradition
2.30 engaging with the earth and its creatures
3.30 praying with the Psalms
4.30 discovering a simple monastic rhythm where you are
5.15 stilling prayer for the start of a new evening

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

ways into small missional community [2] what's the big idea?

Here's the second of the posts I'm doing for the CMS Small Missional Communities group on the Kindling network.

If you are reading this I guess that you may have come to some sort of realisation that you want to bring something new into being! Your imagination has been excited by the possibility of following Christ in the company of others, in a way that engages creatively with your culture and emerges from your setting [and there'll be more on working with our setting in another post soon].

A really good question to ask now is this - what’s the big idea? What are you aiming to create? And how you can you express this simply?

One way to access this is to come up with what Robin Yourston calls the ‘elevator conversation’. Here’s how it works: imagine you get into a lift [the elevator] and you bump into someone you know who asks you what you are doing - and so you’ve got, say 30 seconds max between floors to tell the beginning of this new story. What will you say?

Try to write or draw what this big idea is. Aim for simplicity. If you use Twitter, you might try to write in 140 characters what you are looking to bring into being. Or if you use SMS try to come up with a single text message.

Give it a try. My experience is that the big idea will evolve over time, but even at an early stage you will have the beginnings of this big idea within you. This is potentially a really helpful was of getting started - through telling the story to yourselves and others, and focussing on what is really important.

So what’s your big idea?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

we're here

We're here! We've made the move to the South-West. The sea of boxes has parted and South Devon is beginning to feel like home. Just had the phone line put in - and broadband should follow in the next week. Our neighbours Liz and Anne are kindly letting us piggy-back their internet - we can do this from one corner. Already enjoying meeting lots of good people here and seeing what unfolds. I'm working hard to make contacts for my work and Gail and I are making plans to do some of our Change! stuff. Esther and Rachel are with us for the summer and this week Esther's boyfriend Joe is here too. Happy times!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

ways into small missional community [1] starting out in company

Here's the first of the promised series of postings I'm going to offer on small missional community. It's not a definitive guide. But rather the opportunity to do some learning together and share our experiences.

Many of the small missional communities that I work with seem to be have flickered into life in the dreams of one or two visionary people. But there’s very good reason to seek company, even at this early stage. The project will almost certainly have greater vitality and resourcefulness if the vision is shared and shaped by a few others - perhaps even just 2 or 3 people who will be part of the project with you and who will love it and commit to it, rather than just you being the one person blazing a lone trail.

There’s good precedent for this of course - in the Gospels we see Jesus sending disciples out in 2’s, and the missionary saint Paul always seems to have worked in groups of 2 or 3 when facilitating new Christ-following communities.

So perhaps the question is ‘who is with you in this?’ And if at the moment you are alone in carrying the vision, the question is ‘who might be with you?’ Let the ever-surprising Spirit bring you together with the people who will be your visionary companions.

Friday, July 24, 2009

finding ways into small missional community

I am working on and using a series of questions for the Small Missional Community project that I'm facilitating with CMS, aimed at offering insights to help people form new community-projects. I'm going to start posting these on an online network called Kindling, looking both to offer some good learning and to draw out and benefit from people's experience as they go. I have posted an introduction and the first thread earlier today - if you are interested in this please consider joining the small missional community group on the kindling network and contribute to the conversation.

Monday, July 13, 2009

into the silent land

Matt and I facilitated our first StillPoint conference at the weekend in Oxford. Seemed to go really well. Over 70 people there and a wonderful time with Martin Laird OSA speaking on the contemplative tradition. Perhaps a bit mad trying to move house and run a conference in the same 2 week period but we've survived! The conference finished with a eucharist in the rarely-used church of St John the Evangelist on Iffley Road.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

ancient faith, future mission - update

The book in which I co-wrote a chapter with Ian Mobsby on new monasticism - Ancient faith, Future Mission - is selling very well apparently and getting good reviews.

Monday, June 22, 2009

mayBe weekend away: farewells

Great time at the mayBe weekend away - but emotional too - the last mayBe gathering for Gail and I in our current roles, with lots of farewells. Community goes deep, and we can't have the joy without the cost. The community organised a really good farewell ritual for us. Here's some pics from Andrea taken at the eucharist on Sunday morning.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wildworks: the beautiful journey

Down in Devon this week getting stuff ready for the move, and went to a brilliant piece of improvised and interactive theatre last night at Devonport Dockyard with our friend Jackie. Wildworks are based in Cornwall, and this wild work called 'the beautiful journey' is wonderful - fun, beautiful, moving, strange and ultimately hopeful. The story is part inspired by Homer's Odyssey - which I haven't read since I was at school - must revisit it. The dockyard setting is brilliant. Really tempted to go a second time!

Monday, June 08, 2009

imagine a world without fish

It's world oceans day and I'm marking it by going to see the documentary-film end of the line [imagine a world without fish] tonight. We have been over-fishing around the world for decades, and the message of this film is that we must take decisive action now. I understand that there are, finally, plans being made in the EU to stop the crazy policy of throwing [inconveniently caught but of course since-expired] fish back into the sea to keep to landed quotas.

The pic is of the sea on the north coast of Mull, from the place where I did my bit for fish stocks by catching nothing when I went fishing for our supper last month. The cormorant in flight seemed happy and healthy enough [as did my other visitors - diving gannets, a seal and an otter] so I'm pleased to say that not all the fish have gone yet. But this is a really serious issue.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


It's Trinity Sunday, and again Rublev's icon is worth our deep attention, icon of community, presence and life, flowing of God's life for all being...

Friday, May 15, 2009

sustainable energy - without the hot air

This is interesting. Cambridge University scientist David MacKay is offering his book sustainable energy - without the hot air free to download either in chapters or in synopsis form - which is what I have read. He seems to be getting plaudits from all sides - environmentalists, energy specialists, media and government - so I think his work needs attention. One of the simple but brilliant things he has done is break all energy use down into one format that is easily understood and applicable across all forms of energy use - Kilowatt hours per person. Some of his findings are striking and challenging. For example: He says that roof-mounted micro-wind turbines [which I like the idea of] are 'an utter waste of resources. They never pay for themselves'. In contrast he says that, 'roof-mounted solarwater heaters are a no-brainer. They really work: even in Britain, where the sunniness is only about 30%, a modest 3m2 panel can supply half of a typical family’s hot water'.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ancient faith, future mission

I will be at the CRE exhibition at Sandown Park today for the launch of the book Ancient Faith, Future Mission. I co-wrote a chapter with Ian Mobsby on New Monasticism.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

body mind and spirit

Fascinating weekend conference called Reaching out in body mind and spirit in Sheffield with other people engaged in the new spiritual cultures. Really enjoyed contributions from Ole Skjerbaek and John and Olive Drane and it was great to be at a conference where everyone's experience was heard and valued. looking forward to an online network following - names for which are being debated right now. The pic is of Gail at a stone circle on the Isle of Mull.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Handel 250

It's 250 years today since Handel passed on. There's lots of his brilliant work on Radio 3 this week.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

resurrection day

...and everything changes. A day for dancing.

[the pic was taken in a dancing moment last month in south devon]

Friday, April 10, 2009

all is lost

It's Holy Saturday, the body of the Christ is in the tomb, and all is lost. Here's the painting I did for the StillPoint Stations of the Cross art event [still on at the Jam Factory] - which I called 'all is lost'.

slowly through Holy Week

I'm trying to let Holy Week do its work on me by going slowly through each day, not anticipating the next, letting this day be the only day, this moment the only moment. The pic is from a slow improvisation we did at yesterday's quiet day @CMS - making our own psalms to go with the Psalms of Jesus in Holy Week.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Stations opening pics

The StillPoint Stations opening went really well last night. Lots of people, great conversations and thought-provoking, inspiring and hope-full art. These pics are by Jonny Baker - thanks Jonny.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

'stations' opening night

Opening night tonight from 8pm @the Jam Factory. Matt and I will do a quick welcome around 8.30/845. Pic is of Ali and Clay hanging Ali's art work.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

converse with me via Twitter?

I'm really enjoying being on Twitter. I'm finding it a really good way to be in conversation with people who are interested in similar stuff to us. I really like the fact that it's about the conversation, more than a load of random information about me. I like the fact that's it quick and immediate. And somehow, while it has a playful quality, it feels like a quite grown up, engaged and focussed way of interacting.

If you are interested in following Twitter updates from me on and conversing with me this way you can do this via this blog [go to 'follow me on Twitter] or through my pace bene! website, or go straight to me on Twitter.

going to the edge

Some big news from Gail and myself: we will be moving to the south-west of England this summer and do our work from our home in South Devon [we currently live in rented accommodation in Oxford].

The idea is for me to continue the Pace Bene! project from the south-west. Pace Bene! covers the various ways that I am trying to bring peace and good to the world, and enable others to do the same, inspired by the story and the stories of Jesus of the Gospels. It's a mix that includes writing, resourcing, mentoring, the 'morning bell' call to prayer and the StillPoint project. I am also currently working with CMS on their Small Missional Communities project, and am doing some work with Fresh Expressions and again I plan to continue to do both of those from the south-west.

Gail and I are very excited about being involved locally in the south-west, and we hope to get involved in various other projects there. Gail is going to focus full time on her life-coaching - gail adams:conversations for change - and on our joint workshops Change! and Flow! She sees this as a great opportunity for her to give herself full-time to her calling, and we are very excited by that.

The main thing that I will not be able to do is lead mayBe. I am working hard with the current guardians [the leadership team] of mayBe to ensure that the transition is good. We know that there will be lots of challenges for mayBe, but we also sense that this is a moment full of possibility. When you begin something like mayBe, as I did with Cara and Gail - it can become very closely identified with you. This is a great opportunity to see mayBe evolve without me, and to see it being shaped by the people in it and those yet to come. Clearly this has some tough aspects - we love mayBe and the people - but I think that some brilliant things will emerge in and around mayBe as a result of this.

We know there will be big challenges, but are really excited about the possibilities. I will blog the change process. The pic was taken on a beach near our house - I hope to do more of this! - and I imagine that going 'to the edge' may produce some really helpful stuff for us to share with people...

Monday, March 30, 2009

stations of the cross @Jam Factory

Looking forward to the StillPoint Stations of the Cross Exhibition opening this week at the Jam factory cafe-gallery in Oxford.

We've asked 14 local artists to meditate on the story of the Passion of the Christ and create something that reflects their engagement with it. I've really enjoyed the creative process personally - I'm putting in a painting for station 13: Jesus is laid in the tomb. We are hanging the exhibition tomorrow ready for opening night on Thursday 2 April - everyone welcome from 8pm.

kick out the ELV's

I feel as if I'm losing my love of rugby union. The new Experimental Law Variations and/or their implementation seem to be killing the game. The 6 Nations was contested by 6 largely identikit teams, playing a defence-based game, with forwards strung out across the pitch, the ball coninuously pinged down the field looking for a mistake or waiting forever at the back of a ruck to be picked up, non existent scrums and way too many impact injuries. I hope the great and the good of the game will sort it but I'm not holding my breath. If you want to hear some expert views check out Eddie Butler and Shaun Edwards on the Guardian website. I'm off to look for a game with soul, drama and variety. Any suggestions?

Friday, March 27, 2009

small missional communities conversation: Sheffield

The next CMS-hosted small missional communities conversation is set for Sheffield on 3 and 4 June. There are residential and non-residential options and an evening only option for anyone who can't get the time off work. Should be a very good mix of stories, shared learning and sacred spaces.