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Book Review – 4 Views on Pastoring LGBTQ Teenagers March 7, 2018

Posted by thehutch in book review, books, youthwork.
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We have a calling to reach out to all people and yet there are some who feel isolated, condemned and unwelcome in our churches. The LGBTQ teens have often been pushed aside and the stories of mental health issues, suicide, bullying etc. are never ending. As Church, we need to do something…our arguments are alienating people from the love of Christ and the fellowship of faith.

4 Views on Pastoring LGBTQ Teenagers is a book published by the Youth Cartel that wants youth workers/ministers/pastors etc. to rethink how we engage with youngsters on the margins who are often isolated and avoided by church. Whatever your theological positioning, the Church does not have a good track record and something has to change, or we will continue to abdicate our responsibility leaving vulnerable young people further condemned and judged.

This book steps into a space to try and help those engaged in Christian youth ministry think through how they may be better equipped to honour those who find themselves in a place where a welcome is less than welcoming.  The book takes a conversational style which includes testimony and practice from one practitioner and has a response from a second contributor. This is done remarkably well although it does not provide all the answers, nor attempt to provide a theological treatise, but rather seeks to begin conversations. It is not possible to join the conversation and not change practice. It is not possible to avoid being humbled by our own failings whilst engaging with our LGBTQ community – this has to be good news! Reading this book and joining the conversation has changed my own thinking and is nudging me towards being a better ambassador of Christ.

The main contributors do a good job of seeking to share their perspective without forcing  a personal agenda although that struggle comes through on occasion. Each viewpoint gives insight to the difficulties faced when pastoring LGBTQ youth and highlights the personal struggles that a pastor goes through when seeking to support the very people they are called to serve, especially when a church congregation holds a traditional conservative approach to sexuality.

I would recommend the book because it opens up conversation – there were moments when I wanted to thank the contributor and give them a pat on the back and moments when I wanted to say, No Way! This for me, makes a good book. It is impossible not to  tread on toes and there were a few moments when I wanted to challenge theological thinking but this does not take away from the importance of the contributions.

Thank you to all involved for beginning this journey. I am looking forward to see how it will unfold.

Personal scoring 4/5

To buy a copy in the UK – follow the link from Gemma Dunning page here


Changes in the Missions World October 3, 2017

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There have been significant changes within the mission world, during the last 2 decades, that are beginning to re-shape our world. Like all things, some are ahead of the curve and others lagging but they are happening as the para-church agencies, and churches, are grappling with seismic shifts that are enforcing new ways of working.

3 of the most important moves have been:

a) a move to partnerships – there is recognition that we are unable to work alone and have to begin working together. This is apparent in both mission agencies and church denominations.

b) Church being central – Agencies in particular are realising the need to work with and alongside the church, rather than ‘for’ the church. For some agencies, this is a change that has radically re-ordered their ministry.

c) Equipping – many mission agencies are moving beyond the ‘doing’ to equipping the saints for works of service. This allows and provides opportunity for a greater contextual ministry in a globalised world and helps the church seed new initiatives. Training is in vogue again!

How these changes are being managed is open for debate but they remain essential. These are exciting days.



Remembering a Sister and Friend… July 27, 2017

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Today we were able to share a memorial service with Holy Communion, at St.Andrews, Fulham Field, for a very dear sister and friend, Constance Mirembe…

Click on date for the full post  Thursday, 27 July 2017

More Shortest Book Reviews… July 18, 2017

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51JTz+vygyL“Leading a Multicultural Church” by Malcolm Patten – A practitioner and a thinker who lays a beautiful theological cushion from which we can stand and become a genuine practitioner who engages with the multiple cultures of our cities. There is a depth and reality to this book that should be on the shelf of every ministry in an urban setting, practical, real and helpful. 10/10


Doorstep-280210“The World on our Doorstep” by Dewi Hughes – This book answers questions about other faiths, gives tools for how to engage them with Christendom and pitfalls to avoid. A useful book for those seeking to step into evangelism in a multicultural context. 8/10

Shortest Book Reviews May 9, 2017

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Hopecasting by Mark Oestreicher – A refreshing book that manages to unravel the tangled web of christian cliche to impact the heart and provide fresh perspective.  A great book for those in tough situations who want to see a brighter future and need some solid thinking to assure them. 9/10

A Man on Fire, The Story of Maynard James by Paul James – The story of an evangelist preacher who was a key leader in the UK Holiness Movement during the 20th century. A personal account that talks of the strengths and weaknesses of a man of faith as he sought to share the gospel message. 7/10


Numbers don’t matter? Do they? May 8, 2017

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It is easy to get in to the numbers game, not just the counting…ignoring them to. You cannot stand at the extremes, numbers do matter but we have to be careful what the narrative behind them is.

Last week we began our new missional community and, with all faith, said that even if nobody outside of family turned up, we would be happy. This soon changed as we had a number of people who committed to attend – 14 in all and my hopes had been raised, space would be a challenge and we were going to have an incredible start. On the day, we had 9 in total – but not from the group that had committed – just 3 from there. It was a fabulous start and I was (initially at least) disappointed.

Numbers are a guide, they cannot and should not be ignored. However, we must be careful to listen to the narrative behind the numbers and look at the long term success or failure. Jesus was deserted and by the time of his crucifixion was completely alone…..years later, the world was changed and numbers are beyond counting now. We need to track our numbers and learn what the figures say but the spreadsheet should not determine direction of travel or key decisions, for this we need the story.

There were good reasons why a number of folk did not turn up for our first meeting, we will be logging the numbers in the next few months and see the trends. However, they will not prevent us sticking to the calling at hand. We will see a community of believers transforming this area because God is at work and his faithful friends are serving. Some of these things can be counted, some cannot.

Numbers matter but numbers alone are a noose around our neck. They are a part of the story, not the whole. Numbers matter, do not let anyone tell you otherwise.



An Ambassador in Everday Life April 7, 2017

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Something that I wrote for the Ambassadors2020 website in March:

Almost a lifetime ago, Bob Hoskins’ BT adverts reminded us that ‘it’s good to talk’ and ever since we have seen the growth of the telecoms industry and an explosion in social media. Like others, my smartphone addiction needs careful monitoring, and so, I have chosen to say hello to the people that I pass when I walk down the street with the following caveat; to be willing to talk with folk that are up for conversation. It is so much more fun than the handheld screen.

A few weeks in and there have been remarkable results. I wait for eye contact and then nod, smile and say a casual greeting. Most people pass on, yet from this simple gesture, a number of conversations have been sparked. One guy shared the story of his life and the challenges he faces in retirement, and an elderly lady shared about her fears for her future as she is being relocated in a new development. Quite wonderful life stories that began with a simple smile and a ‘hello’.

 In both these cases, there was no need to share a full gospel sermon to go into great depths about Jesus love for them, but there was an opportunity to say that the local church is a safe place to talk of these concerns, to find friendship and to learn about faith in Jesus. Perhaps the greatest witness was the time that I gave and the willingness to listen and respond. Both these conversations ended with the individuals saying thank you for taking the time. It cost me nothing but left me with a sense that I had been a friend and that listening to them had been a support.

As an ambassador, I do not need all the answers, to solve all the world’s problems, or correct all the mistakes of others. But providing a little salt or a smidgen of light can make a big difference in the lives of those we meet. When we make ourselves available, in Jesus name, who knows what can be achieved?

As Ambassadors, it is ‘good to talk’, what conversations can you have today?

Planting from Scratch – Gathering a Prayer Team March 22, 2017

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Gathering a prayer team is critical for us as we begin the new community. There are those that pray on the ground in a local setting and those that are more distant. Our target is 100 people praying from outside the locality and this has been surprisingly simple to set up, the age of social media is your friend in this.

We have spread the net wide and have chosen a ‘zero policing’ policy, so I will not be checking up on who is following through on their commitment but have deliberately kept the bar low – pray intentionally at least once a month and I will commit to pray for them too, as well as informing them regularly.  So the plan is as follows;

  1. 100 people in the wide net – these folk are gathered from friendships, contacts and social media. They commit to pray intentionally once a month and in return they receive information to fuel their prayer and I have committed to pray for them too.  They receive information via email or a private Facebook group, maximum twice a month.
  2. 12 people in the boat – these 12 are close friends where I can share more deeply in the issues for prayer. These folk will be those that have shared a much deeper interest and are known to be warriors in prayer. This takes a while longer to set up and is still a work in progress, but vital.
  3. 3 Officers in charge – 3 prayer commandoes who meet to share guts and all, for prayer and encouragement.

It is impossible to know who wants to join prayer lists for ‘nosey faith encouragement’ but if people make a level of commitment, you must trust them.  The close at hand people have to be trusted friends because you are sharing more personally.  This is only right.

I have been blessed with a prayer team and whilst still in formation, we have seen many good answers to prayer and have known our arm is strengthened in ministry. We value our prayer support team, they are incredible.


The Posture of a Learner March 17, 2017

Posted by thehutch in church, ponderings.
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In my previous post on starting a missional community from scratch the first point was to “adopt the posture of a learner” but what does this mean? How do we do this?

Adopting the posture of a learner demands patience, time, listening, observation and most of all, an attitude of continuous learning.  When you are in a new environment and do not know people, where do you begin? How do you progress?

  1. Observe: where do people gravitate to? Watch were people go shopping, where they gather to relax, which community events are on, what is happening within the community. This will teach something of the lifestyle of the people around you.
  2. Listen: As you open up conversations, listen to what people are saying and why they are saying those things. This is critical in listening and most often forgotten. As you listen, assume that you know nothing, put aside your own viewpoints, your own learning. The people whom you are listening to are the professors and you are the child in kindergarten – this may help you to listen well.
  3. Patience and Time: Do not rush your listening, you will never have all the answers and if you jump to the wrong conclusions you will find yourself less effective. Time is the greatest gift that you give to your community.
  4. Attitude of Continuous Learning: There is not a time when you know it all, the community constantly changes (especially if it is living!) and the answers from a previous season do not always translate to the latest season. We are all aware of people who have stopped learning and growing, their stagnation smells horrific, don’t become that person but be willing to learn afresh, change your ways and act accordingly.

The posture of a learner keeps you humble and prevents you from “lording it over others” – missional communities should be a place where we are constantly in change, growing, developing and loving. Adopt the position of a learner and see what happens…..you may be glad you did.

Shortest Book Reviews (Church and Mission) March 15, 2017

Posted by thehutch in books, ponderings.
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How To Pioneer” – David Male – A good practical handbook for anyone who wants to engage missional in their community. An excellent resource that is practical, sensible and evidence that anyone can engage in pioneering ministry. 10/10

Neighborhood Mapping” – John Fuder – A helpful book with practical wisdom for getting under the skin of your community in order to serve as a missionary church. You think you know your community but maybe you need to think again and put a strategy in place for getting to know it better. This book is gold dust for practical thinkers. 9/10

Church Planting Thresholds” – Clint Clifton – A manual for church planters from a reformed theological perspective. It is very detailed and full of practical wisdom, biblically loaded. It is not for everyone but useful for church leaders who are looking to plant a new church and recruit a team. 6/10