It was the best of years and worst of years


I'm one of those people who reviews every month if not week, my role and goals, and direction. In that sense new years resolutions are more a chance for me to look at the big changes I want to make year by year, and areas I am already focusing on.

Most years are a mixed bag for me, with good and bad, and last year was no exception. Probably one of the best years I have had, and the worst.

It was great in terms of learning, personal growth, development of my role at church, growth of our church community, teaching/writing/speaking opportunities. It was also the year I turned 40, got a tattoo, a full motorbike licence and bike to go with it. A year with a deeper relationship with my wife (we celebrate 20 years of marriage in 2010), of feeling more peaceful, and centred in my faith.

It was also a year of lows, with some very painful interactions with my estranged parents, and struggles to juggle time and life with our youngest daughter and her special/autistic needs.

I got to the end of the year exhilarated with the year but running on empty.

I was also a year of exploring my evangelical faith and tradition in depth, that left me excited and despondent. Excited at what the church I belonged had been and could be, and despondent at the consumer indifference and apathy that has gripped Christian life in the UK (mine included). When you stare at something too long it starts to lose it's meaning.

So I go into 2010 wondering if I'll ever be able to give my PhD the attention it needs. After close to 2,300 hour of reading and writing over the past 3 years I have a schedule for the next 3 years for much the same in the early hours of the morning. Whatever happens, the learning process has been something I wouldn't have traded for anything.

I go into 2010 with a growing church community that I love, our 13th year together. The big themes of this year for us are Evangelism and the Bible, sharing our faith and finding our identity in the canon of scripture and church history. The desire that our Christian faith would be something that people we know and love and live with, would come into, and be formed by and take part in mission with us.

With the rising tide of secular and consumer culture that often feels like the foolishness of King Knut.

I also go into this year wanting to attend more to my relationship with Jesus. Learning about faith has enriched my faith, but I feel the need for my own roots and identity to go deeper into the Scriptures and in prayer. I also want to enjoy life more, outside of work and ministry. I naively want to change the world, and think that takes more than 9 to 5.  But I know my tendencies to overwork and miss out on living life and embracing what God has locate me in here and now. So several motorbike events are in my diary for 2010 already :-)

I also recognise the need to read more about leadership. The problem with PhD reading is that it leaves me very averse to giving time to reading other things.  Abraham Maslow said, 'I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail'. I need to widen my perspectives in 2010.

And I'm wondering whether to move this blog back over to for a few reasons. Firstly with facebook, twitter and the larger online life I have, having everything under the one site might be easier for me and make more sense. Also with the publication of Deep Church, by Jim Belcher (which I think is a great book BTW, it's mapping of a third way between traditional and emerging church, is where I find myself for sure), I've been asking myself what my focus is here? And that leads me to think that I need to move out more broadly into areas other than theological musings on ecclesiology.

I've wanted for some time to write out of the 13 years experience of church planting, about the concrete experience of church planting, warts and all. I want to write more about the dynamic of mental health and healing in the Christian life. I also want to write more out my research about the possibilities for the renewal of Evangelicalism. I also want to write about the nature of pastoral ministry, of life as a full time pastor, what that has been like and what I have been learning.

So this month I'll start mapping those domains out, and see where it leads me, in terms of blog title and location. Anyway thanks to all of you who read here, and interact. Looking forward to journeying with you in 2010.