Archive for March, 2006

The Inner Call

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

I have been thinking about the call of God: that God is seeking us and calling us to himself and into his world. That out of this intimacy is born our own unique expression of God. There are those who seek to invade the space between us and God and to dictate to both of us how things should be. Jesus spoke about people causing us to stumble. Others, from fear of intimacy, hire people to do the business for them and pretend to themselves that they have heeded the call. Still others dabble at the edge and write and speak about such things rather than doing them, but the call is to intimacy first and then authentic action.

In light of this, what sort of leadership is valid? What help is truly helpful? Witnessing to your own experience has to be valid, but bear in mind that others walk a different path. Encouragement too is valid. There has to be a place for asking questions and exposing double standards where necessary, but over all there must be a caution about stumbling people: about destroying through ignorance what God and your friend are expressing together.

Scotlands New Start

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

I spent the last few days of last week wandering around the New Start Scotland exhibition at the SEC in Glasgow. This was an event sponsored by Scottish Enterprise to encourage new business starts. The exhibition was designed to encourage new-start companies to begin and grow by bringing them together to network, introducing them to suppliers and potential partners, and running seminars on business. The idea is to get initiative moving and stimulate economic activity.

All this got me thinking about the Scottish spiritual economy and the stimulating effect the Dreamday Edinburgh has had, at least from the reports I have read. Activity has been stimulated in a similar way to the exhibition I attended: through networking in order to link up with partners, resourcers, others with relevant experience and those who wish to consume the ‘product’.

If spiritual activity is to increase in Scotland, there must be spaces for this sort of networking. A lot of the attendees at the exhibition were not ready to start businesses. They are just browsing and dreaming: fantasising about the day when they break free of their current wage-slavery and build something more suitable for themselves. It starts with a dream, then you realise that it can be a reality. Others have taken the step before you. Then one day the decision is made and you begin to make your dream real.

It is time we began networking and dreaming those dreams. Mine are tiny at the moment, but I remember how it was when I dreamed of running my own business. Fantasies do become realities.

Foundations 4 – Group or Meeting?

Monday, March 6th, 2006

When I was a young Christian, the question ‘Group or Meeting’ was an easy one. I was brought up in a church that I perceived as having a meeting mentality, where people met each week, but did not really know each other. After my ‘conversion experience’ I was convinced by a theology that said that Church is a community of redeemed people working out how to live out Christ’s way together. Accompanying this was a sense that outside the Church there was only evil and false dealing, but inside we work things out together under God’s appointed leadership. I think/hope that most churches have rejected some of that attitude. For those that have not, consider the following:

  • The maximum time that the average churchgoer spends with the church is seven hours per week as opposed to 35 plus hours at work and a similar amount of time with the family
  • The nature of churches generally is that time in church is mainly not spent relating to people, and when it is, it is generally about trivia. The nitty gritty is in home life and family life.
  • When you have experienced your first church split, it becomes difficult to rate church leaders as effective arbitrators

Even after you have filtered out the rhetoric about Church communities you are left with problems. Groups tend to quickly develop an ethos, derived from the interests and personalities of those involved. Groups develop around one or more people who had the initial vision. New initiatives are approved or rejected according to their conformity to the initial vision. In these ways, the establishing of groups within the wider church and society retards diversity. It would be better if we claimed less and set up meetings to pursue particular interests. You could see the current church model as a soviet-style planned economy, in which all the product is commissioned and authorised by the church commisars. There is a growing black market in spiritual materials, but the restructuring of the economy to enable local entrepreneurs is yet to happen. What is needed is a free economy, where initiatives can be launched and live or die based on commitment and response.

In this context, launching a group is counter productive, but developing and holding meetings, becomes my contribution to the market place.