Category Archives: social justice

Accidental Poetry – Party Like a Christian

Sometimes accomplished orators accidently speak poetry. Or maybe poets just write the same music that orators speak.

Whatever. Anyway, below is a snippet of a message by Michael Frost about Missional Church, given Norway in 2011.

The whole extroardinary message is essential listening for anyone wrestling with working out the mission of Jesus and missional stuff. It’s in three parts but if you want a taste of the best bit jump to 28 minitues in to his first session on Missional Church to hear the story of Abraham, the “dude in the back row”.

I believe
A day is coming
When we will live in perfect harmony with each other.

Do you agree?

Where there will be no unbelief
Because every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.

I believe a day is coming
When we will work in the most satisfying fashion
Sleep in the deepest slumber.
A day is coming
When we will produce the most astonishing music
The most extroardinary art
The most fabulous films.

I believe a day is coming when we will party every night
And there’ll be no such thing as a hangover.

I believe a day is coming
When there shall be no poverty,
No loneliness,
No fear.
When a person who’s a hundred years old will be considered to be a young man.
When no babies will die in childbirth.
When you will build your house and no one will take it from you.
You’ll plant your crops and eat of the fruit of your vine.

Sometimes I desire this so much I almost can’t bear it,
But in this epoch of history
The closest we get to it until Christ returns
Is the fashioning of foretastes of exactly that.

So you party better than anybody else in this town.
You love more than anybody else in this town.
You announce the reign of God more clearly than anybody else in this town.
Because that’s the mission to which you’ve been called.

Adventures 1 & 2 – Africa & Europe

Well well well, what an eventful year this is turning out to be.

Adventure #1- Sierra Leone

Friends Simeon and Joe are off to Sierra Leone in November to complete three pretty major charitable projects over there and I’ve been helping them with the online fundraising campaign. They’ve been working very hard getting kit together, building goat shelters, school benches, sewing tables, arranging shipping containers and all the logistics associated with such a venture. Very admirable, really. It’s been great to see how many people have got on board with the project with donations and help given from near and far, friends and strangers.

The guys building a shelter for 14 sheep and 14 goats,
 to be flat packed and assembled on site, Ikea style.

At the time of writing the Sierra Leone online fundraising campaign is nearing it’s deadline with just 34 hours to go. We’ve just received a single £500 donation, which is incredible! There’s still much kit that we could make very good use of. Fancy seeing if there’s anything you could spare?

Adventure #2- Romania

While helping Sim & Joe out behind the scenes a few weeks ago I was asked if I’d join a trip to Romania, run by the same Christian network behind their work in Sierra Leone- Multiply Network. I didn’t take much convincing.

We’ll be staying with Benny & Maria

After a full day of travelling we’ll be spending four days in the Bethel Christian Centre in Hunedoara. BCC has become well respected in Hunedoara for it’s work among the poor, and I’m sure there will be many opportunities for us to help out, make friends, work hard, relax and absorb the culture and coutryside.

Romania is pretty socially segregated with ethnic groups split into further xenophobic factions- rich Romanies who despise poor Romanies who despise Hungarian Romanies… I don’t want to be quick to point fault but I hear the church isn’t much better with little interdenominational dialogue, let alone cooperation.

Poor local family

However, this social distrust and extreme poverty leads me to see Romania (and probably much of ex-communist Eastern Europe) as ripe for the gospel. Whenever we come across stark divisions, darkness or deprivation there’s a very clear opportunity for the unity, light and generosity of the gospel to make an impact.

From Thursday to Saturday we’ll be at Casa Haruliu, The House of Grace, a secluded youth centre. We’ll be joined by an unspecified number of Christian leaders from across eastern and central Europe for a conference which we’ve given a theme of “Church is more than a program”. Consequently, we won’t be sticking to any rigid program (although we have ideas for a broad itinerary) but will seek to demonstrate some of what it means to share in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit together- laughing together, forgiving one another, moving naturally in spiritual gifts, serving one another, challenging one another, being devoted to one another etc.

Apparently for many pastors Church is seen as not much more than a Sunday lecture. Many of them are well educated theologically so our emphasis will be to try to demonstrate Church as a 24-hour spiritual family and to speak from our experience rather than just our heads.

House of Grace conference venue

My particular role on the trip will be to film bits and just to be a part. I’m sure I’ll end up doing more than that but it’s a little funny comparing my trip with Sim & Joe’s exhausting and ambitious Sierra Leone trip. While they’re completing marathons of capacity stretching preparations my task has been to get a passport, camera, European socket adaptor and some earplugs. Not too taxing.

Maybe I’m wrong and God’s going to really stretch me on this one.
Whatever. I’m up for any adventure He sends.

Later this week I’ll post about last weekend’s adventure carrying a 12′ cross across London with 18 guys, sleeping rough and trusting God for food.

Not Poor Enough

When I am safe
I am the sleeping neighbour of need
So I am the one in need

When I am rich
I have everything to lose
Therefore I am poor

When I am poor
I have nothing to lose
So I am truly rich.

When I meet crisis
Crisis insists
I awake

When my crisis meets your crisis
May I be rich enough
To know my own need
To make you truly rich

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
Jesus Christ

“I started out with nothin and I still got most of it left”
Seasick Steve 

Fighting Fury Through Piccadilly Circus

On the 25th of June about 1300 of us in the Jesus Army converged on London for a colourful Jesus carnival across the capital culminating in a gospel demo event on Trafalgar square.

Together with about 50 others I was asked to be on the dance team at the front of the lively procession to lead the way and set the tone- energetic, full on and passionate for Jesus.

We were enjoying it. The fun dances we’d practiced for a few songs had gone well and there was the occasional Mexican wave and a “cheer for Jesus!”, but then something different came through the speakers.

This was the only bit of the event that wasn’t live. It was a rap, and it made me angry. This genre is infamous because of how it’s often used to express the aggressive anger of young wounded men. This was a different kind of anger.

As the lyrics blared I started to rage at injustice. I was no longer dancing to show the world what a lively bunch we are, not dancing to put on a show. A slow fury rose, I no longer cared what people thought. I was praying.

Everybody with your fists raised high
Let me hear your battle-cry tonight
Stand beside or step aside
We’re on the front line

For those who are sorted, settled and sound
For those who are broken, rejected and bound
For those who are lost, crying out to be found
We raise a battle cry and claim back the ground
And together we stand and represent
That God’s love and power is relevant
Transforming our lives from the remnants
We’ll take back the ground with confidence
So be free again, free at last
Find your freedom from the past
Stand together, lift your hands and grasp a second chance
So we throw our hands up with our fists raised high
Come on London join us in our battle cry

Everybody with your fists raised high
Let me hear your battle-cry tonight
Stand beside or step aside
We’re on the front line

While men’s souls rot in the prison blocks we’ll fight,
While women are beaten and weeping in secret we’ll fight,
While there’s one broken heart, families torn apart we’ll fight,
While there’s hearts with holes, sex shops and Sohos we’ll fight,
While one man’s greed puts a nation in need we’ll fight,
While there’s one young girl still sold for sex we’ll fight,
While there’s discrimination, hatred in the nation we’ll fight,
We’ll fight, to the bitter end, to see a better end
When every tear will be wiped dry
And death gives way to the Most High
Never never lose hope, hold on
Don’t give an inch to the enemy
Come on London raise your fists high!

Everybody with your fists raised high
Let me hear your battle-cry tonight
Stand beside or step aside
We’re on the front line

I’m so thankful to be part of a Church with a heart burdened to fight for the lost.

Lord may it be more than words. Take us to the darkest places.

Lyrics inspired by William Booth and Pillar

Church on my sofa, not a sofa in my church.

Church or Sofa? Where would you like to be? goes the question put to me by The Church Sofa Blog.

My Church is on my sofa. My church has gone sofar.

I believe that the original Church in Jerusalem is our best model for a Kingdom of Heaven shaped society, the most direct demonstration of the body of Christ, because it’s the one that the Holy Spirit initiated at Pentecost before anyone had any idea of what Church was supposed to be like; it’s where it’s at! The first 3120-ish men and women were filled with the Holy Spirit with Jesus’ words and life still in their heads, in their hearts. The core 120 of them knew him as man to man. They knew his heart for humanity and his intention for his people, and from that sprang the community that we call Church.

So what was the early Church like? We’re told the early Church was “of one heart and soul”, so much so, they made a thing of selling their valuable assets (Tithing? So Old Testament. Chuck it all in!) They put the proceeds at the feet of the Apostles for them to distribute to the poor. This was so successful that it was said “there were no needy people among them”! Talk about Christian praxism & charity, eh!

Another thing I’ve noticed from reading Acts is that the Church would regularly meet in the homes of it’s members. In fact, it seems that the extended families common to that culture each became ‘Churches’ in the City. There’s fifteen direct references to the church in the home in the NT, from:

“Likewise greet the church that is in their house”

and also:

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts”

Up until persecution broke out after Steven’s stoning public spaces were important gathering points for Jerusalem’s household-Churches, so we do see a good case for mass fellowship gatherings. However, Churches were primarily house-based, as they shared their most important meal together, the agape communion meal, in their houses.

My third thought on the example we have of Church is that Jesus himself said that when a couple of people are gathered in his name, he’s there too. So according to Jesus, a bunch of Jesus-people together is all it takes to be a Church. No bells & whistles, no incense or lecterns, no big screens, fancy lights or drumkits. Though all of these can be useful, like the temple courts they’re not what the Church is made up of, they’re just useful.

Forgive me if I go on but I’m getting inspired now! In Luke 10 Jesus sent out his 72 closest followers and disciples, and gave a few simple instructions:

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.”

Jesus was teaching these guys how to build Church; make a friend, invite yourself to a meal around their house (like he did with Levi & Zacchaeus), stay there, show God’s power & tell them all about it. That’s it. Church.

So yes, I do prefer my sofa. That’s because my sofa is my Church as it’s shared between about 550 of us (we don’t sit on it all at once!) We’re a group of household-churches up & down the UK who share everything- money, cars, dinner, responsibilities… though not toothbrushes or stuff like that.

In 1973 God gave my Church a vision to share ‘all things in common’ like the early Church. We were a traditional sleepy village baptist Church until the baptism of the Holy Spirit hit us, and the old baptist chapel soon became packed with radical former bikers, hippies, and a few ‘straight’ (educated) folk too.

Practically, it started with the chapel noticeboard being filled with ‘givings’ and ‘needs’ notices (often more of the givings). Then people started moving in with each other, sharing cars and selling houses to give money to the poorest and to fund our first communal house, an old rectory on the edge of the village. People recklessly jacked in high paid jobs to start communally owned businesses together, and houses started popping up all around the country right up to today, when we now have about 40 shared homes across the UK.

Personally, I share my life & stuff with a household of two families and ten other singles. I seek to pour my time, energy and love into this community of friends. It’s my lifestyle and I recommend it with the whole of my heart, not because it’s easy, but because it is radical, devoted and it’s the way that Jesus lived and taught.

Sofa now I’d say in conclusion that Jesus probably loves the sofa, as well as his Church.

Read more:
Acts today – Sam Hailes spent a day at London Jesus Centre. He described what he found there as “like the early Christians”.
Fire In Our Hearts – The story of the Jesus Fellowship (complete free online book)