Friday, October 31, 2014

What is the government's moral duty?

In an article laced with dodgy statistics on the progress of spending cuts so far, not to mention the effects of tax cuts in this parliament, the prime minister suggests that governments have a moral duty to lower taxes.

Is that right?

I would have thought that governments have a moral duty to ensure that taxation is fairly levied so that the government's primary moral duty to support the weakest and most vulnerable in our society has sufficient funds.

That would suggest that a government's moral duty is to progressively tax everyone to ensure that it has enough money for the services for which it is responsible and a measure of redistribution (always a feature of the tax system).

Such would be view of both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who, last time I looked, were not people of the extreme left.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In praise of Lamb

Listening to the new Lamb album which is a work of wondrous beauty. Backspace Unwind is the band's sixth album and it sounds fresh and original, a lush mix of Lou Rhodes sublime voice and Andy Barlow's electronica. Occasional bass and strings add depth, so the twelve songs on the iTunes mix are each note perfect.

There is an interesting thematic thread running through the album which reflects our sense of being so tiny and insignificant in a vast universe and yet finding a sense of ourselves, even a permanence, in the love of another. It's a familiar enough theme but it's brought to lustrous life by the jittery edginess of Barlow's electronic washes and the fragility of Rhodes' voice.

It's startlingly beautiful throughout.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Not all change is revolution, but little changes can transform communities

We are two weeks into our new way of doing Sunday mornings and so far it's going well. It's not that we've enacted a revolution, you understand, just made some changes to shift the focus of what we're doing more towards discipleship.

So, we start with a block of worship songs that aim to lead us on a journey to an encounter with God. Then we have a 'sermon' (15 minutes) followed by refreshments, a chance for everyone to talk about what they've heard. Once everyone's got refreshments we have a Q&A about the morning's theme or get into groups to talk about we'll apply what we've heard to tomorrow (whatever that holds for us). At the end we get everyone together, draw the threads together, hear from the children and go home.

It doesn't sound too revolutionary but we hope it will be. We have changed the palate of the music we use - more contemporary, stringing songs together to lead us on a journey. We have changed the way we deliver the teaching to make it more focused. To aid learning we have produced a booklet of notes (we are working our way thematically through James) that forms the basis of the conversation both in church and at home groups. We are using the same teaching plan over all three services so that we do not overload on information.

The aim in all this is to focus on our lives as followers of Jesus. That's simple, what every church should be focusing on. It is also our aim to attract and keep people looking for a vibrant, relevant and welcoming worshipping community (something we have been struggling to do over recent years).

Change is always difficult and I am delighted with the way so many of our people have risen to the opportunity that this new way of working. Let's see what the next few weeks brings. I for one am excited.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Exploring Paul and poverty

Today my new Grove booklet is available for download here. For a mere £3.95 you can dive into the debate about Paul's economic location and what he has to say about poverty in his world and ours.

I'd be interested to know what people make of it. So download it, read it and debate the issues it raises for us and our churches here.