#Digidisciple for #Gain15

So, the other week I heard about #GAIN15, and after contacting @KosterLundqvist via Twitter, agreed to join them for a 5 minute Skype session this morning, before I head to Karate. Here’s what it looked like from their end:
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And here’s what it looked like from my end (pre-session!): skype

and just as we kick off:

skype

and here’s the notes I was working from:

The Challenge of Discipleship in a Digital Age: GAIN

  • So, have we had a ‘digital revolution’? New forms of technology have shifted what is possible – what does it make possible, and what does it limit? Sheer numbers online (with younger in particular not seeing this as separate from so-called ‘real’ life). How does it impact our discipleship practices?
  • Churchgoing not the ‘cultural norm’ for many in the UK, too much competition for other activities on a Saturday/Sunday – those who are even ‘looking’ more likely to come via a website, or, even more likely, via their friends.
  • Anecdotally, around 2012, questions from those working within churches changed from “we don’t need this” to “how do we do this”? Emphasising the importance of understanding digital culture in order to engage with it (effectively).
  • God is a communicating God, and the digital age offers opportunities for more voices to be heard (although we need to challenge pre-existing power structures – the digital doesn’t provide a free for all), and if we concentrate on ‘social’ not media, then the digital with its emphasis on relationships is a powerful space – and we are entrusted by God to be good stewards of our interactions in that space.
  • Church not about ‘bums on seats’, but about developing that discipleship journey: we’re not trying to ‘sell’ something to the world, but to ‘be’ something that is distinctively different, inviting connection from the rest of the world, and an opportunity to be part of a global community.
  • There’s an importance for us as technology users to, yes, be competent users of technology, but not if we are incompetent in what we might be sharing with others, so part of our own discipleship journey is to challenge ourselves as to our practices, including personal spirituality, community, and mission.
  • “Disciples keen to engage modern culture need to understand how to exist in, listen, read, and speak into the digital age: being immersed in the culture, but also acting as a change agent within that culture.” So, so glad that this conversation is on the agenda!
  • On our site: “#Digidisciple(s) have written on a huge range of topics, including tweeting in church, legal and ethical questions, reviews of the latest scholarship, demonstrating graceful communication, thinking before tweeting, the importance of listening, undertaken a digital pilgrimage, relationship development online, authenticity, drawing upon best practice in the secular world, the use of language, attitude, and wellbeing – including taking digital time out. Overall, the group explores how digital practices and values (e.g. social, always-on, immediate, responsive, iterative, accountable, avatar use) contribute to contemporary discipleship and how discipleship values (e.g. authenticity, integrity, discernment) shape the digital environments that are engaged with.”
  • Core to my belief to this is that we are engaged in lives that encompass both the digital and the physical, and we should be looking for consistency in our presence. The digital offers new opportunities to engage with others in our community – share experiences, practices, discuss theology, but also for (some of) those conversations to be in the public sphere, opening it up to our other friends, using the new opportunities to share the spiritual activities that we are engaged in for sharing not for proclamation = authenticity!

Some thoughts extracted from: https://www.academia.edu/8724570/The_Digital_Age_A_Challenge_for_Christian_Discipleship

 and now it is time to run to Karate!

Lent is Coming

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Image Credit: RGB Stock

So, it’s time for Lent. For once, I haven’t been on top of exactly when it’s coming, as after four years of doing #bigread, we’ve taken a break this year (it’s a huge amount of work, you know) – materials remain available online. Anyway, Lent starts Wednesday, with Easter Day 5th April (I’ll be at Spring Harvest, come join!)

So, what will I be engaging with for Lent?

I’m already engaged in a discussion group on Facebook, reading We Make the Road by Walking, which will last all year.

As I have done for the last few Lent/Advent sessions, I am going to receive Brian Draper‘s daily ‘in the moment’ emails, which always give something to chew over for the day.

I always like to keep an eye on what Street Angels are doing with ‘Love Your Streets‘.

A few years ago, I gave up supermarket shopping for Lent. I think this year, I will again do a food-focused challenge, in which I will focus on the foods in my cupboards, and seek to make meals from those, preferably topping up from small ‘fill-in’ shops, rather than a ‘big shop’ (in either sense of the word), and remove some of that consumerist mindset!

Finally, I love what @40Acts does, and look forward to engaging with the ‘gentle’ acts suggested within the ‘green’ section of 5 minutes or less (as this year acts will be split into 3 levels, according to the energy that you have that day):

#SH2015: Spring Harvest: Life can be ‘Immeasurably More’ (#thereismore)

SH-Website-Banner

Spring Harvest is a teaching and worship event for everybody. It’s a unique break for all the family: holiday, festival, conference, and an encounter with God.

In 2015 Spring Harvest will be looking at Ephesians 3:20-21, and exploring the potential of a God of immeasurably more. God is immeasurably greater than we think. To a dehydrated church he offers life, power, hope and transformation. He calls us to a radical, empowered life that we could never achieve in our own strength.

I’m speaking at Minehead 2, with Krish Kandiah, in the ‘Chew More’ sessions

» Find out more

(or watch the longer video)

Kids love Spring Harvest!

Whether your kids are 3 months or 18 years old, there’s a programme perfect for them. The groups run at the same time as the adult morning sessions and evening celebrations, so you can relax and enjoy yourself knowing your children are learning and having fun. On top of the daily groups, you can join together as a family at The Big Start and All-age Celebrations.

It’s great for teenagers too! There are two age-related programmes for young people at Spring Harvest, Distinctive and iScape. Superb speakers and worship leaders will help you encounter God and uncover his plans for you. It’s relaxed, varied and, above all, fun.

» Kids and youth at Spring Harvest

The speaking and worship line-up

From early morning to late night Spring Harvest offers a great programme with fantastic Bible teaching and times of worship.

Paula Gooder, Bible Society’s Theologian in Residence, Peter Williams, Warden at Tyndale House, Malcolm Duncan, Lead Pastor of Gold Hill Baptist Church and Jo Bailey Wells, Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, will lead our Bible teaching each morning on this incredible passage of scripture where Paul prays for the Ephesian church; Ephesians 3: 14-21.

Worship Central, Pete James & Sarah Bird, Graham Kendrick & Luke Bacon, and Nick Herbert & Ben Cantelon will lead our worship each day in the main celebration.

» Find out who’s at which breaks

Easter fun at Minehead Two

Make Easter the best holiday of the year and join us at Minehead Two for a bumper weekend of family fun! Extra special Easter events include Good Friday reflective and interactive activities for all ages, plus on Easter Sunday there’s a Sonrise service, afternoon bonanza and an Easter egg hunt for everyone to join in. You’ll also enjoy loads of extra fun stuff for kids, teens, families, and a special stream for singles.

» More about Minehead Two programme

Butlins, the perfect hosts

With multi-million pound facilities on offer at Butlins, Spring Harvest is more than a conference: Splash Waterworld, family fairground, Go Karts, high ropes, playgrounds, adventure golf, bowling and more! Many of the activates and facilities are FREE, so you can enjoy a great holiday without extra costs.

» Discover Butlins resorts

#Adventbookclub: Moses

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Exodus 3:1-8

We return today to another Old Testament figure, with quite a depressing tale, in which “the dice are loaded” in days which cycle through themselves. He talks of living a half-life – half-Hebrew (by nature) and half-Egyptian (by nurture), and how difficult this has made things – and why he lashed out when he saw ‘his people’ being mistreated.

“Today”, however, he has made a decision to move forward. The past cannot be changed, but the way that he moves forward can be. As he faces the Burning Bush, and is given his ‘commission’, he questions his qualifications (or lack of them). As he looks at the bush, he thinks of the passions that have consumed him in the past, and how they have almost devoured him. He thinks of the future and questions when they’ll be another “from the depths of someone ordinary like me who is also able to say yes to God” (Mary, no, I think Jesus?). “He will be salvation.”

#Advent20

The final email from Brian offers a call to be ‘in the present':

Of course, we are celebrating this week the coming of the Word-made-flesh, for whom this, here, was the only place he was prepared to be – on Earth, with us, one of us. Fully present, wherever he found himself. Can you imagine Jesus complaining – for a second – about where he’d ended up?

How much time have we spent wishing we were elsewhere? Can we put that energy to better use – and – focus on the positives in our lives?

#AdventBookClub: Isaiah

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Isaiah 9: 2-7

Having seen the key characters in the drama, we look back to a prophetic figure, Isaiah, who prophesied the birth of Jesus. At a time when many were sacrificing to God, he shared the despair of God, calling the people to wash the blood from their hands and get active:

… remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

Isaiah talks about having come to know about light and darkness, how sometimes they can be the same thing, and in the times of greatest darkness, you will see yourself as you really are? We get a sense of God’s anger against those who ignore injustices… and how we will be burned up like stubble in a field (gives a sense of urgency!). As he speaks of the future coming he says

It wasn’t a messenger or even an angel that saved them, but his presence. In his love and pity, God redeemed them himself; he visited his people, he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

We forgot the past and rebelled against God in the past, will we do so again?

#Adventbookclub: Mary

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Luke 1:26-38

We get a sense of Mary, a woman who has been well-prepared for a role as homemaker by her mother. She is a woman who loves the world, loves life, and can see God in every part of it. Her parents thought that she would find it difficult to find a husband as she was too ‘headstrong’, but

I just wanted a strong love and a deep passion, and a way to channel this energy and faith and knowledge of God which was boiling inside me.

She describes herself as having a tremendous presence of God, the beliefs infusing everything that she’s doing, although they sometimes frighten her

I simply believe in God like I believe in the flowers and the trees and the birds and the seasons. God is there, with me and for me.

“God is not a thing… God is the lens through which I look upon everything and receive everything.” She suspects that others see her as mad, holy or deeply religious, but indicates that she’s simply a girl who wants to “seize hold of life and all its benefits”, living every moment as if its the only one she’ll ever have. We get a sense of the confusion as she takes in the import of the words, especially understanding how she can be with child as a virgin… it’s all too big to take in, but “it is as if heavy has reached down to earth, and touched me.”

This chapter is interwoven with lines from Christmas carols, as Mary seeks to understand, thinks how she’ll explain to Joseph, how the world will perceive what is happening, but the words of the angel she holds onto “nothing is impossible with God”.

#Advent20

Just picking the bit I love from Brian’s reflections from today – how are we being shaped by this journey:

Let your ‘inner quality of aliveness’ burn, like a candle.

Go with the waxing and waning of the spiritual life.

Celebrate beauty in a myriad shades and textures (it’s not all back and white!).

Hope, don’t keep wishing.

Nurture patience, and be ripened like a fruit