Sunday, 30 March 2008

Greetings your Reverence.

I have just been reading a piece on Methodist Preachers blog about a minister who after three years of being know in one way has now told people she wishes to be known as 'Reverend'. It's a good job I am not in that circuit or I would have to be very naughty and greet her using the term 'Greetings Your Reverence'. It strikes me that there is a bit of pomposity here and I don't believe that Jesus ever intended the church to be filled with pomposity and while I realise how much hard work goes into obtaining some titles etc. it still seems a bit much to me.
I am entitled to have letters after my name and do use them on the plan but only because when I first came to the circuit as a visiting preacher I got the feeling that because I 'spake proper' (Black Country Vernacular) that some people thought I was thick and this was a way of showing I wasn't - I am also entitled to wear a cap and gown and have threatened to turn up at church in my batman look alike outfit but wouldn't really as I would not want to appear to be bragging.
I really do dislike being called 'Mr Southall' and even in the workplace when customers call me 'Mister' I always ask them to call me Ian as after all that is my given name.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Easter Joy.

Thought I should post something as it has been a couple of weeks now and I really have to say this last week has been an interesting one. As with many other Christians I have been to a number of services/events including one event I have never been to before.
My week started last week when I preached at a united service at St Johns in Walsall after which the Vicar invited us to join them for their Maundy Thursday service and supper. We went to this and I have to say I was a little worried when I saw on the order of service 'feet washing'! I hadn't realised they did this and was a little perturbed as my feet sweat profusely and by late evening are not very pleasant - I needn't have worried the feet washing was optional, but the service was very good and brought home to me something I had never took much notice of and that was the fact that Jesus had washed the disciples feet.
On Friday I joined a large crowd for the walking the way of the cross in Walsall which was a marvellous re-enactment of the last few hours of Jesus' life - a better sound system would have been better as I heardly heard a thing the preacher said. On Friday evening it was back to my own church for a Good Friday service where the new Vicar of St John's (Rev Gennie Evans) preached. A very moving service!
This morning I went out in the white Easter that Methodist Preacher mentioned on his blog to meet with a number of folk for a dawn communion service on Barr Beacon - this is the first time I have had snowy bread with my communion.
Later this morning I led worship at Aldridge Methodist Church and we sang some great Easter hymns - the children shared with us and did an excellent prayer.
Tonight I am going to lead worship at Bethel in Wolverhampton which is a Wesleyan Reform Union church.
He is risen indeed Alleluia.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Glasgow was Great!!

Well folks I am back from Glasgow where we had a wonderful weekend in a super guest house called the Onslow and I did worry it might be a little like the character from Keeping up appearances - it was not! We would certainly go there again and would quite happily recommend it to anyone wanting somewhere to stay in Glasgow.
The main reason for going of course was to see the Gaither Homecoming tour date at the Clyde Auditorium (Armadillo) and my wife had not suspected anything unitl we were in the actual auditorium and they were playing some Gaither music.
It was a thrill to be part of the capacity audience (3,000) and see and hear and join in with the Gaither Homecoming Friends in what turned out to be a concert lasting almost three hours.
My son has forbidden me from talking about it because he says I am too enthusiastic and will do his head in, but it was a great night and a super weekend.
My only moan is that very few churches around the area seem to want anyone to know what time there services are - even the one that had a website but no service times either on the board outside where I got the web address from or on the website and the phone number on the board never got answered.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Gaither in Glasgow

I will not be posting here or commenting on other blogs for a few days as we are off to Glasgow to see Bill Gaither and his Homecoming Friends in concert at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre on Saturday evening.
I have against all odds managed to keep the reason for going to Glasgow as a surprise for my wife so I am hoping she will be really thrilled when we get to the gig on Saturday night.
For those readers who may not know who Bill Gaither is he wrote 'Because He Lives, I can face tomorrow' and you can find out more at

Monday, 3 March 2008

Ministers as Evangelists!

I had previously said I would not comment on this matter but there is so much debate going on around the blogs I read that I thought I would offer a view that hopefully will not be controversial or cause any dire reactions from readers.
I think given the nature of circuit structures, lack of ministers across the connexion and other issues it is highly likely that the minister of a church is seen once a month if you are lucky and possibly more if you are really lucky - given this situation how can it be reasonably expected that the minister should be solely responsible for any particular aspect of chruch life whether it be preaching, teaching or evangelism. In reality the majority of our services are taken by local preachers and much of the day to day life of the church seems to be down to the members of the church. It is true to say that in many places services are taken fairly regularly by that wonderful chap 'Local Arrangement' and even here in Walsall we have had to resort to readers services this quarter to fill all the dates on the plan.
There is a responsibility on all of us for the life and witness of the local fellowship and while not everyone can stand at the front and lead worship or preach there are many things that we can all do.
Apart from when I had preached there one of my first visits to our church was on a Sunday evening - we arrived for what was listed on the plan as a 6-30p.m. service at around 6-25p.m. and it had actually started at 6p.m. For all this we were made most welcome and chairs were moved so that we could join the circle. We had been looking for a new place of worship and had tried one or two churches during the previous month before we arrived at Pleck on that first Sunday Evening and 10 years on we are still there and believe that we are where God wants us to be.
It is true to say that Pleck is an unusual church in some ways - nobody takes any notice when people arrive late for a service - we have an extremely transient congregation as we have had and still have a ministry to asylum seekers, we love to sing anything and everything whether it be Wesley or Kendrick, Crosby or Redman and preferably with a mix of each. We try new and differnt ideas but will also run with the extremely traditional hymn sandwich with every hymn from Hymns and Psalms and I do believe we offer our love to evryone who comes across our threshold.
I am of the opinion that much of what we do as a church is an extremely effective method of evangelism as we show our love to those who come in. Recently a new housing complex has opened just across the road from us and we really felt it would be a nice gesture to give each new resident a welcome pack with tea,coffee, biscuits and a little welcome card in. We spoke to the owners and they were happy for us to do this and a card was left with the packs telling people who were are and where we are and saying that we would love to see them at our coffee morning on the first Saturday of the month - who knows what may come of that?
Some years ago I read a book about friendship evangelism by Rebecca Manley Pippert I think and while I did not agree with everything she wrote I could see the sense in being friends with people as well as trying to evangelise them.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Minister in the Chair!

There is an interesting debate going on about the role of ministers as evangelist on a number of other blogs and while I do not want to comment on this I would like to raise another question.
For many years I have sat like many other Methodists in a variety of meetings, Circuit Meeting, Local Preachers Meeting, Church Council etc. and I have often wondered why they are always chaired by ministers? (I know it says so in CPD - although some meetings can have lay chairs) I am fairly sure that some of our ministers do not enjoy the role of chair and I have to say that this is an area of church work where I believe if someone has a fairly wide expoerience of this away from church it is perhaps something we should tap into. As with many things being a chair of a meeting requires particular skills that not evryone has.
I have been on a number of committees, groups etc in a number of roles (secretary, vice chair, chair) and have seen some exceptional people in the lead roles who have often also been members of churches and would make ideal chairs of meetings.
It often seems to me that the donning of a back to front collar is expected to turn a person into some sort of wonder person who can do anything and everything, evangelism, chairing of meetings, repairs to the church et al. Perhaps there is some value in revisiting some of our rules and regulations and bringing them into the 20th century or even the 21st!!!