Did Jesus have a beard?

Simon Jenkins has a wonderfully witty article about the theological significance of beards over at Reform Magazine. (That’s the magazine of the URC, not the other lot!). It was prompted by the arrival through the post of a Jesus Shaves mug, where a bearded Jesus becomes clean-shaven when you fill it up with hot tea. … Continue Reading

Why the bishops have done the right thing

At the start of 2012, the House of Bishops (comprising all the diocesan bishops of the Church of England, together with elected suffragans) commissioned a report on the current debate in the Church on human sexuality, and in particular the status of same-sex relations. Commissioned by the House of Bishops of the Church of England … Continue Reading

Children and the internet

Vicky Beeching has written on children and the internet this week in the Church Times. The main point of her argument is that Christian parents shouldn’t see the internet as a dangerous thing to be avoided, but a tool to be used, and that we should encourage children to use it responsibly. She hits her … Continue Reading

Mission, democracy and flourishing

Nineteenth-century missionaries were culturally insensitive colonials, colluding with the colonial powers to oppress local culture and impose their own values, to the detriment of those they were proselytising. Right? Wrong, according to some remarkable research reported in this month’s Christianity Today. For many of our contemporaries, no one sums up missionaries of an earlier era … Continue Reading

Encouraging younger ordinands

My previous two posts, reflecting on the findings on church growth, and then the particular issue of the age of selection of leaders, has provoked quite a discussion on Facebook. To put this in context, I include here some paragraphs from Bob Jackson’s book The Road to Growth which was published nearly 10 years ago in … Continue Reading

When should leaders be trained?

In my previous post on church growth research, I hinted at a number of issues in relation to training and deployment of full-time leaders. One particular issue surfaced in the comments, and I expand on it here: at what age should future church leaders be commissioned and trained? At one level, of course, this question … Continue Reading

How to Grow the Church

A number of years ago, a friend of mine was leaving theological education to go back into parish ministry. ‘I’ll just go and grow the church for a few years’, he said blithely. I thought he was a fool to be so presumptuous. Yes, growing a church is easy: all you need to do is … Continue Reading

Paul in Greece

This is the first cut of the filming I did last year with Stephen Travis (and my son Ben acting as cameraman) following Paul’s journey in Greece in Acts 16–18. There is still a little editing to do, and the final edition will (we hope) be available as an hour-long DVD. Do let me have … Continue Reading

(When) should we retire?

The questions around an ageing population and retirement are perhaps the biggest social and financial challenges to Western democracies. To realise this you just need to know some basic statistics on UK Government spending in the current year. Defence        £46.6 bn       6% Education     £49.5 bn     … Continue Reading

The most important thing in preaching

What would you say is the single most important thing in preaching—either as the person preaching or as someone who listens? I guess many people would suggest clarity of delivery, or humour, or connecting with the congregation, or being based in Scripture. All of these are of great importance, though of course all are open … Continue Reading