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Was watching an episode of West Wing tonight with my son, Jonathan. I’ve got a feeling most of it passed over little Jonny’s head given that he’s only 2 weeks old today, but I thought I’d share a few thoughts with you.

The episode was called ‘Disaster Relief’ (episode 6, Season 5) and in it President Bartlet responds to a disaster in Oklahoma. He’s persuaded to personally visit the disaster site by his press secretary, C.J. Cregg, though as his visit starts to move beyond the 6 hours planned (they end up being 20+ hours over schedule) C.J. is less than impressed.


It comes down to her view of leadership.

Her reason for wanting Bartlet to visit was to show the country that the President cares about people. But as he starts to spend time just listening to people’s stories, even stooping so low as to help with the washing up, C.J. is uncomfortable with what this is saying. She impresses upon him that he must be first out at the memorial service – she wants a President who ‘leads’, who is strong, who is at the front, not one who washes pots and pans. Read the rest of this entry »


Can you look your friends in the eye and say ‘I don’t care… that you reject Jesus and are heading towards hell’?

It struck me today that that can be effectively what we’re saying when we don’t pray for our friends, when we’re not intentional about looking for opportunities to speak about Jesus, or when we avoid talking about Jesus. That can be what we’re effectively saying when we don’t get to know the Bible well so that we can share the story of God with people. That can be effectively what we’re saying when we don’t have Jesus ready on our lips, when we don’t serve others because of a commitment to our own comfort…

But I imagine few of us have the consistency and integrity to actually look our friends in the eye and say ‘I don’t care…’

Obviously that’s not the only option. If we don’t want to look our friends in the eye and say those chilling words, perhaps we need to actually care about them. We need to pray more consistently and with tears for them. We need to learn our Bible, to be speaking the gospel to each other so we’re ready to speak it to others. We need to rejoice in the truth so that others hear it. We need to serve as Jesus served so they see it.

Then we can look our friends in the eye and say ‘I do care…’

Lord may this be true of me.

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?!

Last night we started a monthly training session for Gospel Community Leaders. I’ll post about some of the things that were taught, but this quote from Schaeffer was particularly helpful. He’s talking about hospitality but it applies to anything we’re wanting to teach others – we’ve got to model it.

Go ol’ Francis!

“Don’t start with a big program. Don’t suddenly think you can add to your church budget and begin. Start personally and start in your home. I dare you. I dare you in the name of Jesus Christ. Do what I am going to suggest. Begin by opening your home for community…

How many times in the past year have you risked having a drunk vomit on your carpeted floor? How in the world, then, can you talk about compassion and about community -about the church’s job in the inner city?

L’Abriis costly. If you think what God has done here is easy, you don’t understand. It’s a costly business to have a sense of community. L’Abricannot be explained merely by the clear doctrine that is preached; it cannot be explained by the fact that God has here been giving intellectual answers to intellectual questions. I think those two things are important, but L’Abricannot be explained if you remove the third. And that is there has been some community here. And it has been costly.
In about the first three years of L’Abriall our wedding presents were wiped out. Our sheets were torn. Holes were burned in our rugs. Indeed once a whole curtain almost burned up from somebody smoking in our living room. Blacks came to our table. Orientals came to our table. Everybody came to our table. It couldn’t happen any other way. Drugs came to our place. People vomited in our rooms, in the rooms of Chalet Les Melezeswhich was our home, and now in the rest of the chalets of L’Abri.

How many times has this happened to you? You see, you don’t need a big program. You don’t have to convince your session or board. All you have to do is open your home and begin. And there is no place in God’s world where there are no people who will come and share a home as long as it is a real home.”

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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