Been doing a lot of reading the last week in between travelling the length and breadth of the country - well sort of. Went to the District LP meeting last Thursday at Dawley and was disappointed that only 7 out of 21 circuits were represented even though the meeting was very good and some interesting things discussed.
On Friday evening after work I drove down to Alton in Hampshire to help my son's girlfriend to move out of the flat she had been living in - worst thing was the fact that the flat was up 55 steps on the third floor of a very large house. Drove back on Friday night as well and then went to Oswaldtwistle and Feniscowen (Nr Blackburn) on Saturday.
Sunday I was playing the organ in the morning and preaching in the evening so another busy day.
I have been reading other blogs rather than writing my own and there has been some interesting and quite controversial stuff during the last week or so - I have to say that two of my favourite reads are a column in my local evening paper the Express and Star, which is written by a born again atheist called Peter Rhodes and the blog of methodistpreacher.com. They can both be very challenging and may sometimes get right up peoples noses - I know there are times when I could cheerfully burn Peter Rhode's column, especially when he is having a pop at Christians - funny how he hardly ever has a go at any other religious groups. On the other hand methodist preacher seems to raise a number of interesting points some of which I agree with and some I don't, and I think it has to be said that he certainly generates lots of comments from other people. Another site I like to look at is connexions but there are times when I have to reach for my dictionary as it seems to be a site where a lot of highly educated people post and I am just an ordinary common or garden Black Country Lad and dare I say proud of it.
There has been some discussion elsewhere about the use of titles and qualifications and whether we should use them or not - like some other bloggers I have a qualification that is relevant to my occupation and not necessarily relevant to my church life so initially I didn't ask for it to be put on the plan. I did find though that some people seemed to judge me as being a bit thick because I speak with a very broad Black Country accent so I asked if my letters could be put on the plan. Its quite amazing to me that no one has ever asked me what they mean but perhaps it paints a slightly different picture of me for some.
I note the discussion about ministers and agree with the one comment I read that you can have a situation where half the congregation think the minister is great while others will have a totally opposite view. As I travel round our circuit I pick up lots of comments about both ministers and other local preachers and I suspect others pick up comments about me and I think this is very much part of life. I am fairly certain that my style of leading worship may not appeal to everybody - I am not a great fan of Hymns and Psalms (shock, horror) and prefer to use what on of my local preacher colleagues refers to as the 'Funny Book' i.e. Mission Praise. I am fairly sure if I go to the church this particular preacher attends and use Mission Praise he will straight away be unhappy, so I have no illusions about. It has to be said though that the church I preached at last night may have been quite surprised because I did use Hymns and Psalms due to their other book being 'The Source' which is another good and varied collection but perhaps better in the mornings when the congregation is bigger and has more younger people present. I suspect that many of the congregation would have been reasonably happy last night because I used H & P.
Again with the discussion relating to ministers I think that sometimes there is an expectation that they will be all things to all people and of course the reality is that every one of us has a range of skills and abilities. I believe we should never expect one person to have all the skills and abilities in the same way that no one person has all the answers - perhaps what we should look for much more is a collaborative ministry - for instance and this is one I feel quite strongly about - why do we expect ministers to chair all of our meetings?(I know Standing Order 502 and 027 and 028 in CPD) Some are very good at this but others seem to struggle and waffle prolonging meetings and meaning that often important discussion or business that may be towards the end of the meeting is rushed or not even discussed. Perhaps this is something we could look at and enable lay people who may be well experienced in this type of thing to take on these roles. Just in case anybody thinks it I am not trying to throw ministers or superintendents out or having a go at them but there really are things that I don't think I could do that they do and likewise there are times I think when there are things they are expected to do that others could.
One thing I would find extremely difficult is visiting the bereaved, especially if I knew the deceased person well as I am one of those men who do not think men shouldn't cry and in fact I could cry at Lassie films so visiting the bereaved would probably have me in tears.
Just a last thought about titles and the use of them - I saw a leaflet a couple of weeks ago for a special service which would be led by Reverend Doctor The Lord Griffiths - wouldn't Lord Griffiths have been sufficient? Surely most of us in Methodism know who he is and what his titles are - even those of us like me who are not dyed in the wool Methodists - ah well got to fetch my wife from work so signing off now. Goodnight readers.