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This is likely to come across as a rant, but it’s something I picked up on years ago and I thought it was worth sharing with you all, in the hope that it might help.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a conversation with someone where it seems pretty clear they are not listening to you and they’d rather not be there…? They keep looking past you as you’re talking, it seems, in the hope that someone more interesting and perhaps more worthy will walk past and they can excuse themselves and go talk to that VIP (Very Interesting Person).

Sadly I’ve found myself doing that in the past, and also encountered many church leaders who do that here in England. In fact, its mainly church leaders that I’ve found doing that, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps its only me. Perhaps there’s a very good reason they keep looking past me to find that VIP… but maybe I’m not the only one.

If this is more widespread than just me, then it is very concerning. Being a church leader is about the people. It is about loving and caring for them. And it seems (at least from the way Jesus did it) that its about caring for the least of them – and not chasing after the VIP.

On the flip side when I was younger Frank Retief, the South Africa Bishop came over to me – we had met a few times before so it wasn’t a first meeting. But he put a firm hand on my shoulder and we chatted. And he kept such eye contact with me that it felt like I was the only person in the room.

That made a huge impact on me, and so I’ve tried since to look at people when talking to them. And even if a real VIP should walk past I will try and not look at them and give my full attention to that person.

So – if it looks like I’m staring at you with a slightly crazed look – that’s why. And if I look away from you and don’t seem interested, please, please, give me a quick kick in the shins.


The Crowded House have a new website… Take a look… there’s various new resources and it also gives you a better glimpse of TCH as a group of networks…

Also check out the Gospel Priority Areas page and maybe come plant with us?

Just doing ‘the Open Bible Institute’ with some of our apprentices (it’s an adapted version of a TCH course called ‘Welcome to Gospel Ministry’). This is a little exercise that I found quite striking.

“Families eat together, play together, cry together and laugh together. Families provide for one another. They share something of the task of bringing up children and they look after their older members (or at least they used to). Family members do not go and join other families when they are fed up with things. Families do argue and fight, but they do not stop being families as a result – they have to find ways of working things out. And you cannot opt for another family just because it shares your taste in music or reading or whatever. When you are with your family you can take off your shoes and slump on the sofa. They provide identity and a place of belonging. Families define for us what is ‘home’.

Read that paragraph again substituting the word ‘church’ for the word ‘family’ and you will begin to get a sense of what Paul means when he calls the church ‘the family of God’ in 1 Timothy 3:15.”

This also relates to how we want to do mission. As we ‘do’ mission we are calling people to come home, to come into the household of God by Jesus’ death for them (Ephesians 2). So what we want people to see is us living in that household, that family, so they know what we’re calling them to, and they want to become part of it. Who wouldn’t want to be part of this kind of family?!

I’m just listening to a talk by Dave Betts. He asks a very interesting question…

What’s the fruit of an apple tree? Think about it for a moment…

Read the rest of this entry »

One thing that has struck us as we’ve talked about this issue as elders is the fact that we don’t talk about sacrifice that much, certainly early on in someone’s Christian life.

I think we have a tendancy to see sacrifice as something that increases incrementally with someone’s godliness – the more godly they are, then the more sacrifice they will encounter and be able to make. There’s a degree of common sense in this. Sacrifice is hard! But as the Spirit works and we grow more like Christ then we will surely increase in our capacity to face sacrifice in an enduring, Christ-like way.

There’s just one slight problem with this approach. It isn’t actually Christ-like. Read the rest of this entry »

Something that I’ve been wondering about for a while is the question of what makes our ‘gospel community’ different to other communities around us. Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Tinker is a professional musician and part of the Crowded House which is a church planting initiative in Sheffield and around the world. He's a follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, member of a Gospel Community, Musician and avid follower of fashion...

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