My blogging journey from the beginning for those who are interested. Each week I will include one of those original blogs from Martin Scott’s Perspective site. February 4th 2010 and the blogging began. Never did this before, but what therapy, what a joy, what a chronicling of a journey that never ends. In many ways things have developed, but it is good to see where we come from to appreciate where we are. All in the healing. Enjoy or endure…
SHAPESHIFTER (or the stuff of life’s journey that have shaped who I am and how I think.)
As I cast an eye over where I have come from I begin to think I am something more of a spiritual mongrel than a Christian pure-breed. The things that have influenced my life along the journey are wide ranging and on first inspection sometimes opposite ends of the spectrum, contradictory even. But hey that is the life of a shape-shifter, constantly being pliable in the hands of the Creative one. It certainly stops me being a fundamentalist because I have nothing to be fundamental about, but what I do take from fundamentalism is the fun bit. It also means that I can go with the flow. A few years ago as I was travelling to Mid-Wales to speak to a group from all over that part of the country. That day had been preceded by something very unusual (!) here in Wales, loads of heavy rain. As I was driving through some of the most amazing scenery in the whole wide world, the Brecon Beacons, I looked at the various waterfalls and streams and rivers flowing. It was then that I heard the phrase
we also need to be like that water as the people of God, we need to flow with the contours of the land. Each community and area having a different flow of liquid people, being shaped by the land that it is connecting with. Flowing and constantly moving, having affect on the land it is flowing through and being absorbed for greater effect. Realising that as much, if not more, is going on underground as over ground. Flowing, flooding, refreshing, changing, life-force of liquid energy.
Yes I did have an amazing time in Mid-Wales. Isn’t this what Paul was getting at when he said be all things to all people. Be shape-shifters!!!
Here are some people and places and other thoughts that have helped shape this shape-shifter;
Alan Kidd– the ‘pastor’ of the Assemblies of God church in Lakenheath, Suffolk, England. The village where I was born and lived until I was 19 years of age. As a new 15 year old believer this man influenced my thinking beyond the local church. He introduced me to the thought of the apostolic and the prophetic (this was nearly 30 years ago!!!), that there were more to church life than being local and pastoral. He gave me a go as a 15 year old, allowing me to preach, lead kids work and become a leader by the time I was 16/17. He took me to leadership meetings. I think they call this mentoring now. He let me make huge mistakes but never beat me up about it. He took me to Grapevine where I first heard Gerald Coates(swear). When everyone else came home offended I caught something more that seeded in my life that wanted to expose the status quo and see the kingdom come.
Greenbelt– a ‘Christian’ arts festival that actually invites ‘worldly’ Christians, and ,horror of horrors, people of no faith whatsoever. People on a journey. Their whole ethos was about God being in and through creation, and through the arts, whoever was the artist. They once had U2 there, and I love U2. To me they are fellow pilgrims along the journey and I believed in them believing when everyone thought they were backsliders. They stopped going to church for goodness sake!!! How evil. They continue to be an inspiration to me, as does Greenbelt. Introduced to fellow pilgrims like Bruce Cockburn, Over the Rhine, Midnight Oil, the Alarm, John Smith, Mike Yaconelli, Athlete, Moby etc. Even broke bread with Catholics which was a real no-no to a young Pentecostal. Loved it. Greenbelt taught me about a different definition to the term ‘prophets’, but just as valuable.
Lutterworth– my first so called ‘pastorate’. It was here where I realised churches of all traditions could really work together with no competition, fear, sheep-stealing, miss-trust etc. I have never seen unity like it since. Every church in the community was involved; United Reformed, Methodist, Anglican, Catholic, House-church, Pentecostal. Praying together every month, pulpit swapping, closing services regularly to support each other, having a yearly rhythm of united gatherings for Easter, Christmas and Prayer Week. And doing evangelism and house groups together. Had a profound effect.
CYMRU (Wales)– when I was a young 15 year old boy I stood on a street corner with my friend for hours talking. We had both become Christians within a week of each other and were baptised on the same day. We used to dream dreams together. One day we shared about marriage and future life. I said I would one day marry a girl from Wales and live in Wales, he said he would marry someone from the Far East and live in the Far East. I met Allison at Bible college, she was from a place called Clydach Vale, Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valleys. We married in 1990 and moved to the Rhondda in 1994 to take on a pastorate in a place called Tonyrefail. With a name like that it must be in Wales!!! (the amazing thing is my friend married a girl from Hong Kong and still lives there to this day- talk about words shaping your destiny, powerful stuff!!!). It is here in Wales that the road began to really twist and turn. This Nation had an amazing effect on me. It is here that some doors opened and others closed. And some doors opened for a season and then closed. Just a few people and places that my journey touched; Carl Brettle- this man introduced me to the possibility of the Nations as I went on my first ‘ministry’ trip abroad to South Africa. He also opened the door to the prophetic into Wales and bravely gave me a platform at some of the conferences. Here seeds were sown concerning liquid church, being apostolic as a Nation etc. Connections were made here in many varied forms. Antioch Church, Llanelli-wild wandering and wild worship. Those gatherings were like a watering hole to me. Their lives like Christ in a dry desert. Here I came across a guy called James Thwaites and another called Todd Atkinson. Both incredible in different ways. Martin Scott- this guy and his team wrecked my life and wrecked ‘my church.’ Since his visit to Tonyrefail it all fell apart…praise God!!! His teams visit encouraged the journey of deconstruction. Painful…
Next time I will share on the transition from church pastor to night-shift worker!!!
There are many others in Wales or events in Wales that have shaped the journey; Sarah Trinder (sadly no longer present with us), Justin Abraham, The Gate ‘fellowship’ (Tony and Pat John), Sharon Stone, Kath Fathers, reading ‘Some Said it thundered’ for the first time, the list is endless. Plus those nameless, faceless people that have been and continue to be a part of the story. I thank God for you all and ask anyone who has been hurt by my experimentation (especially the folk in Tonyrefail) and wildness to forgive a man who was just trying to find the heart of God for a people so loved by Him. My intentions were always pure even though my actions may have been immature. Love you all.
But the journey continues. Still shifting, still finding the contours of the land, still flowing. Hope this has not been too boring but I hope it helps to see where I am coming from. Nowhere and everywhere at the same time!!!
Genesis 12:9 “So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.”