Working with the Media

Working with the Media
On Sunday morning...

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Working with the Media this week

This has been a busy week. Nothing unusual about that. What has been slightly different is working with the Media this week. So far I have: written a piece for Newbury Weekly News, pre-recorded 4 pieces for Kennet Radio Sunday morning show, arranged for a number of TV programmes to be made from Newday 2018 (a youth festival with 7,000 delegates) and Westpoint (A festival with 4,000 delegates) with GODTV and I will be appearing on BBC Radio Berkshire on Sunday morning...

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Thy Kingdom Come across the nation

I like Justin Welby. I like that he cares. I like that he is compassionate. I like that he loves Jesus. I like that he prays. And wants us to pray - for our nation. He has launched Thy Kingdom Come - a national prayer initiative. The name comes from a line in The Lords Prayer...Thy Kingdom Come... So for 10 days from Ascension Day to Pentecost (I wasn't sure what that meant either!) the archbishop of Canterbury is calling us to pray for our nation. I am not an Anglican but I think that is a good thing. My local Anglican church, St Nics Newbury, is having a prayer gathering each day from 10th May 7.30am 12.30pm and 7.30pm. I might join them.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Back from the Middle East

I have just got back from spending the week with a terrific church in the Middle East. They have 3 good-sized congregations: Turkish, Arab and Iranian. I mostly spent time with the Iranian group. Many have had to flee the regime because of their Christian faith. They face an uncertain future. I spoke to 2 men who had been imprisoned for 3 years for leading a small group in their church. After further threats they had to flee the country, leaving everything.
Visiting the Syrian refugees was challenging. Many harrowing stories and squalid conditions, but the church are loving them and helping provide for their basic needs. The Syrian women enjoy knitting and sewing at the church. One of the more surprising activities is line-dancing which is popular with the veiled women!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Mark's review of the Mazda MX5

A friend lent me her car for a couple of days - a Mazda MX5. It was a joy - tight acceleration, great handling and manoeuvrability; all round good fun. Even at 6 foot 1, the driving position is comfortable. The retractable hard roof is easy to operate, best not have the roof down for motorway driving - very noisy and blowy. Cabin wind noise even with the roof up makes conversation difficult. The boot is not big for a weekly shop, but then it is a sports car. "The poor man's Porsche" some call it. Why have a Porsche when you can have a zippy MX5 for a lot less...?

Thursday, 5 April 2018

A Good Easter Break...?

A friend asked me this week if I had a good Easter break? For those who lead churches Easter is not a break it is a full-on exhilarating time. Good Friday saw us join with other churches in the town to worship and reflect, then walk together through the town. I love it when we get together. One of the highlights was Richard Littledale, Newbury Baptist Church minister, speaking of death and hope following the death of his wife at Christmas. Powerful. We had Good Friday dinner with neighbours. Easter Sunday Sunrise saw us again join with other Christians at the bandstand to worship and pray for the town. We then went to our respective churches for Easter Sunday celebrations - ours was full of costume, drama and exciting worship. An Easter break? No. But a great time.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Highlights of Commission Prayer March 2018

Wow - what a 2 days! Inspiring news, beautiful worship, captivating vision. Commission Prayer is always a highlight in the calendar - 2 days of prayer with other Commission leaders in Bournemouth. The inspiring news included: praying for the work in Ghana, the Middle East, USA, India via Skype;  hearing about new church plants and sites in Havant, Sidmouth, Fareham, Pinehurst, Plymouth, north Winchester and Andover. Hearing about the work of CAP (Christians against Poverty) was brilliant as was Miles Jarvis on Social Justice.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

My new role - Chair of Christians Together in Newbury

As of Sunday, I have a new role - Chair of CTNA - Christians Together in Newbury Area (whilst still leading Bridge Church). There is good relationship between the churches in Newbury and many fine initiatives: Street Pastors, Food Bank, Loose Ends, Bus of Hope, COINS working in schools, YMCA, Town Chaplains and many others. Every month the church leaders get together for lunch and to pray. I agreed to be chair on the understanding that I would have a good vice-chair in Will Hunter-Smart Rector of St Nics, plus a good administrator in Marina Abraham. They will make up for my many deficiencies! Exciting days ahead...

Monday, 29 January 2018

Hollywood turns to The Bible for Easter

Once again Hollywood has turned to The Bible for great stories and epic movies coming up in time for Easter. First up is the super hero action movie love story Samson to be released in UK cinemas 2nd March 2018: Period drama on steroids.
In April comes Mary Magdelen the movie, with an all star cast including Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix and Chiwetel Ejiofor. It tells the moving story of Jesus' friend and follower - Mary (not his mum):
Soon to come is Mel Gibsn's sequel to The Passion of the Christ - Resurrection.
So if you want blood and muscles or heart rending thought provocation - watch out!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Bev's health update 10th January.

I am pleased to say Beverley is home after 10 days in hospital with pneumonia. She is making steady progress although still weak and  poorly. She needs 2-3 weeks bed rest and a 3 month recovery. Her voice is coming back and her creative juices beginning to flow - she was telling me how she would like to decorate the room! I am grateful for neighbours and church family looking after us, popping round and providing meals - what a blessing...

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Bev's Health Update...4th January

Beverley is in hospital recovering from pneumonia. She has been ill for 23 days and in hospital for 9. I am pleased to say she is making good progress - breathing easier, eating, drinking, sleeping better and more smiles. She has laryngitis and braci-itis too. Hopefully she will come home this weekend. I am grateful for the good care she is receiving under the NHS - what a blessing! I also have a fresh appreciation and wonder surrounding breathing - something we take for granted. Having watched  someone struggle for each breath I am profoundly grateful for each easy breath...breathe and rejoice.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

A night at A&E

I spent a night at A&E (Accident & Emergency) last night. Beverley has been poorly for 14 days with flu and laryngitis. Sitting in A&E as the hours tick by you watch a microcosm of life - a middle aged woman with pneumonia (Bev), a 14 year old girl collapsed after binge drinking, another woman knocked down by a car after drinking, an elderly woman with a broken femur after a fall, an Asian family with a distressed child. Then of course you have hardworking staff from around the world - Polish, African, Indian, Filipino, Indian and English. A beautiful, vulnerable world...maybe we should call it Awe & Energy!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

4 Sleeps...

Christmas is almost here. Cards - sent; presents - wrapped (nearly!); food - bought (tomorrow?!); drink - better get some more…; 4 more sleeps and it is Christmas.
Christmas comes, ready or not. No stopping it. Boom!
We spend a lot of time (and money!) each year preparing for and getting ready for Santa’s arrival, more so if you have children – gifts, meals, stockings, presents round the tree, mince pie and sherry for Santa, carrot for Rudolf, keep the receipts safe…so much to get ready before the man in the red arrives. For some of us Christmas preparations started months ago.
Then there is the emotional preparation – gearing up for parties, meals, rounds of visits, family members you like and those who are more challenging! You might even be planning what to watch on the telly.
That is a lot of thought and preparation for the arrival of Father Christmas.
I wonder how much thought and preparation we give to the arrival of Jesus Christ? Christmas is after all Christ-mas. The celebration of Christ. Christmas is that time when we remember the first time He came – born as a baby to the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem.
And what of next time? The Second Coming – when Christ returns to wrap things up – and not presents! Have we given any thought or preparation for that day?
Perhaps it is time for us to think carefully about the words of the carol:
 “O Holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today
O come to us, abide with us

Our Lord Emmanuel”

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Meeting a Remarkable Man.

I met a remarkable man today. His story is sad and uplifting: his first wife of less than a year left him suddenly; he re-married 10 years later and shortly after discovered his wife's infidelity; they divorced; he married again, a lovely lady; they wanted a family but earlier this year his baby girl was still born; his new wife nearly died at childbirth. He has known real sadness and grief in his life yet his faith is deep, inspiring and contagious. He says: "I would rather walk in the dark holding God's hand than walk in the light alone". Remarkable.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Mark & Bev at Prague Christmas Market

It's true - Prague is a lovely city. We went for 2 nights for a break and the Christmas market. It was great. Beverley wondered around with her head down looking at market stalls; I wondered around with my head up looking at the fantastic array of architecture - Baroque, Gothic, Art Noveau and modern. Quite something. The famous clock was better than I thought, the Charles Bridge was better than I thought, as was the river and the hotel. All in all a great time. Prague is lovely.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

The Sunday Morning Meeting

When thinking about the Sunday morning meeting, consider carefully:
1.Who is the meeting for? This will determine the shape of everything else. If you decide the meeting is for unchurched Harry or Emma then how things look and sound will be very different from if you decide the meeting is for God and for the people of God to meet with Him.
I am going for the latter.
2.Meeting lay-out. Don't go formal, especially if you are a new\small church.Try a circle or crescent chair lay out until you get beyond 40. Avoid the theatre lay out. Remember you are building family.
2.Welcome. Studies suggest that the Welcome and Follow-up is the most important church growth driver. People will forgive an off key in the worship or poor AV slides, but they do want to feel welcome. Be warm, friendly, sensitive without being intrusive. Good cake, tea and coffee helps!
3.The anchor role. This is the person who leads the meeting - make sure they are smart, friendly, informed and engaging. This is a strange place to be for some - explain what is going on ;move things along; don't take long on the notices.
4.Worship. Have good musicians (but not 6 at the front when you are 50 people), who have practised a good choice of songs with prompt words appearing on a well lit screen. Help them be aware of what is happening in the room and pause...don't be afraid of silence.
5.Preach. People expect good presentation with good visuals. Use The Bible well; explain the text clearly; have relevant illustrations; what is the one thing you are trying to say? Pack a punch.
6.The Holy Spirit. Give the Holy Spirit space and time; don't fill the meeting; don't hurry; expect gifts of the Holy Spirit - encourage them if necessary. God has business with His people.
7.Follow-up and feedback. Follow-up with visitors and feedback to the Sunday team.
8.Relax; it's not up to you - Jesus is building His church.