A few years ago I was invited to speak at a conference in a church in the North East of England with the title: Homelessness: are we really helping? The organisers had read a paper I had written for a Housing Justice forum titled The practice of grace and truth with homeless people and wanted… Continue reading Homelessness: are we really helping?
Due to catching covid recently, I have spent a lot of time watching TV programmes. One was the BBC documentary Banned! The Mary Whitehouse Story. It was an insightful and balanced programme about the campaigner who shot to fame in the 1960s for her protests against declining moral standards on TV and pornography. Conviction… Continue reading Mary Whitehouse, Stacey Dooley and sexual freedom
The church services over Easter are my favourite of the year. The contemplation of Maundy Thursday, the grit of Good Friday, the waiting on Saturday and the joyful hope of Easter Sunday. But for me, the best thing about church this Easter weekend was deep conversations and prayers that I shared with three local people… Continue reading ‘A ship in harbour is safe. But that is not what ships are for’
Two months ago, I read US activist Robert Lupton’s book Toxic Charity: how churches and charities harm those they help. I have just finished his follow up book Charity Detox: What charity would look like if we cared about results. Lupton acknowledges the controversy stirred by his previous book but his views are forged by… Continue reading Charity Detox: the difference between crisis situations and chronic problems
A review and reflection on the novel Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford Francis Spufford is a great writer. His book Unapologetic is the one of the most original books about Christianity I have read and his debut novel Golden Hill won numerous awards. Light Perpetual is his second work of fiction. (Fascinatingly, Spufford has also… Continue reading The holiness of existence
A few years ago I was accused by someone of serious malpractice and discriminatory behaviour. I believed the accusations were cynical and baseless and contested the claims, but it led to a legal action which involved a whole week in court. In the end, I was completely exonerated but the whole process involved a considerable… Continue reading The divine circuit breaker
The podcast, The Holy Post gives a thoughtful Christian take on current affairs which is fresh, well-informed, non-tribal and often very funny. In a recent episode they interview the New York Times journalist and Yale lecturer David Brooks. Brooks is an interesting voice because he is a moderate conservative who spend much of his time… Continue reading The ironic consequences of believing we are good
This week, something I was responsible for did not go well. I won’t go into details, but I found it difficult and stressful. Like everyone, I want to be involved in work and activities which go well and to be associated with things which are effective and successful. But of course, it is when things… Continue reading Reality is liberating, even when things go wrong
This week I was invited to speak at an event hosted by Lazarus, a new initiative to support people affected by homelessness which is launching in London. Lazarus runs communities made up of formerly homeless people living alongside young professionals. Over 250 people live in their communities across Northern Europe and Mexico. It is yet… Continue reading Lazarus: friendship, trust and joy coming back to life
Another letter from a senior to a junior devil… (with apologies to C.S. Lewis)
My dear Wormwood,
I write to you today on the subject of managing people – the art of supporting and encouraging people to do their job well. As you know, churches and Christian organisationsare employing an increasing numbers of paid staff.
Now, even us devils know that to do our jobs well we need to be encouraged, so by helping the church to be ineffective in supporting its staff we will help our cause enormously.
We know that many Christians enter these jobs full of naïve enthusiasm. Dangerously, many even have a sense of ‘mission’, a desire to transform and bring so-called ‘hope’ to individuals and to the communities in which they work. Clearly this could be a disaster for us.
It is fortunate for us that bad management often undermines their enthusiasm and effectiveness…
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