Tag Archives: church

Intentionally doing church, intentionally being Christian

Thinking about how we do and be church, how we be Christians. One main issue of this is the intentionality of what we do, the practice of doing things and intending to do then. Setting out to do things with a purpose and an intention to do, and knowing why it is been done.

I would say this is as true in personal life as it is in the communal life of the church and of individual congregations.

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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in Ministry, Spiritual Vocab


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Sing out in good voice

Singing is a part of Christian worship, in part from the early days – we are told to have a hymn by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:26 – and still forms a part of communal worship.

However some blogs I’ve seen of late have asked questions about our congregational singing. The first of these asked the question about why people are not singing any longer – Nine Reasons People Aren’t Singing in Worship by Kenny Lamm. Lamm suggests that with the professional musician is the return to the pre-reformation performance of worship, and I’d have to say it can feel at times more like a performance at times. For me the performance is not all bad – we have the choral evensong, with bits that no one but the choir sing as another method – however to move completely to just this model  does leave people out of what is happening. And are we not there to worship God, and not just watching others do it. In fact it can come to feel like this does:

The second blog came at the issue from another direction, 13 Solutions for a Church That Just Won’t Sing and looks at how to encourage singing.

The cross over between the two blogs is interesting, and a couple of things stand out to me:

1) The use of Hymn Books

The common book that all can share in and sing from. Singing from the same hymn sheet in fact. But that the hymn book is more than just a way to get the words out to people so they can sing them, but that it is also a book to be engaged with and used as part of everyday live. Within my own Methodist tradition the hymn book is a key part of the devotional material of the church, and has been part of the worship resources from the early days when John Wesley put together collections of hymns including Select hymns with tunes annext: designed chiefly for the use of the people called Methodists (1761) (a digital copy of the original can be seen here) which included his Directions for Singing:

Even today the daily lectionary in the Prayer Handbook, gives for each day a Reading; a Psalm and a Hymn. There was also the controversy about the new hymn book – Singing the Faith. However what this has done, is to put common words into the hands of all, and not just those who can search them out on the web.

2) The need for congregational singing

“Directions for Singing” by John Wesley

That this part of Divine Worship may be the more acceptable to God, as well as the more profitable to yourself and others, be careful to observe the following directions.

I. Learn these Tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

II. Sing them exactly as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can.

III. Sing All. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a slight degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up and you will find a blessing.

IV. Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.

V. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

VI. Sing in Time: whatever time is sung, be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend closely to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can. And take care you sing not too slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from among us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

VII. Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your Heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve of here, and reward when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

Mr Wesley’s Directions for Singing show a need to sing together, and this is the second key part for me of what both blogs say. That the congregation all sing together, that it is a communal act. In this we see that God is the one to whom our worship is directed, that God is the audience for our worship, and not any of us in the worship space. Thus we need to sing together.

What now…

Well I agree we need to have some new worship songs; and some old ones. Also having new songs to old tunes. We don’t need to be perfect in what we sing, but need to know that God is at the centre.

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Posted by on January 9, 2015 in Ministry, Worship


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Hear the words

One of the things that I find helpful in worship is to listen. Now some may say, yes but that is what we all do. But for me it is a case of listening to readings and other long sections of text, to listen and take in the words. And to not be reading them. Now I know different people engage with information and so forth differently, however I do like listening to readings in church. I find that I will often hear things that I may never of noticed when reading (this even happens during services, that in hearing the words something new to come to light).

However I do wonder if we lose something when everyone has their head in a book as the person up front reads out what they are also reading. I’d also say that I like worship that uses set texts – in fact I raised on it. A Greek Orthodox Priest on this topic spoke of the words being learnt from childhood, that they become part of us and we don’t need to follow them in a book. And to this I say Amen.

Christian say we follow the living Word, so let us have to words dwell in us.

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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in Mystery, Spiritual Vocab


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Church survival bag

A couple of weeks back I shared a post by God Life Church entitled Long Live the church. The original post viewed the decline in church membership like a disaster movie, with a plague spreading, and the need for humans to come together and do something.

Now those who follow such films and genre will know of the survival bag – a bag packed with the things to get through the asteroid stick, zombie apocalypses or what ever. S it got me thinking, what would I put in the Methodist Church is survival bag, the things worth taking with us.

  • The Class Meeting – the small groups that are intended for spiritual development, the deepening of faith and pastoral care. I’d put this in the bag because of all the above things. But also due to the origin of them, that it was a practical origin of collecting the penny to pay back the loan on the New Rooms. The ability to take something very practical and find a way to use it for the work is something important to me.
  • The Priesthood of All Believers – Now first this is not a case that everyone does everything, no it is a case that every one could do anything. The fact that in the church we are all equal, some are called to different tasks, and some do them, in this way it is not that every one does everything, but that they can. Also a key part of this is that access to God is not limited to a special few, but that all can and should interact with God.
  • Connexinalism – The interlinking of congregations and people. We are all working in the local, but people can support each other across the wider world. In this case the mutual support that can be seen here is important.

There are likely other things that would get put in the bag, what would you put in?




Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Ministry


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Thinking about Connexionality

Within Methodism there is the concept of connectionality, that we are all part of the one (much as Paul speaks of the one body), and that as a church we do things locally, but also together. So here is a reflection on that:



Supporting and sharing
giving from plenty
to where there is scarcity.
Supporting and sharing
going with skills
to where they are needed.
Supporting and sharing
holding and being
where they are.
Supporting and sharing
many places and people
coming together as one.


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Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Ministry, Poetry, Wheeel&Spoke


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The Conference

The Conference

drawn together.
From all corners
and places.
To confer and
to discuss.
To try and come to
know the will.
To try and hear
the still small voice.
To try and understand
the purpose before us.
To try and see
through the glass darkly.
Coming to a mind
as best we can.
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Posted by on July 5, 2014 in Ministry, Poetry


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An account of the departing of the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference

It was upon the third day in the seventh month that the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference did depart, going to all the parts of the Connexion, unto each and every district from whence they had come. They went having connived to confer and consider, matters which where before them laid. Having conferred together on such matters as where duly presented to them, in the Agenda, it’s supplements, order papers, notices of motion – in both the first series; pertaining to the matters presented before they did gather, and in the second series; pertaining to matters presented before them that had not already been presented – and other such matters that emerged from the discussion and where deemed to be acceptable in the eyes of those to whom the task of deeming them so acceptable had been given. And from the matters that had been duly laid before them in accordance with those practices and customs which they held, the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference did come to a mind on these issues, as to whether the where minded to give support or to resist those matters laid before them. At times those from among their number who had been called and appointed to the task of making the count of the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference, where called upon to count the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference, and then to give an accounting of those whom they had counted and how those they had counted where so minded. And all that the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference had done, and where minded to have done, that which they commended, directed and encouraged was duly recorded and noted, to be drawn together within the Daily Record, which did record all that the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference had done. And from which, with such other materials as drawn from the Agenda, it’s supplements, order papers, notices of motion – in both series, bring the first and the second – along with other materials as needed, would be formed the entry in the Journal of the Conference for that year, to show and give record of what the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference had been minded to. So the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference did depart from that place whence they had for a time come to dwell in. They did depart to return to the districts from which they had come, to take news of those matters of which they had considered and come to a mind upon to those who had sent them forth. And so that news may also be spread from such gatherings to the wider body of the people called Methodist, and also beyond it. The people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference did depart and return to being among the people called Methodist, until the time time would come again for some of the people called Methodist to gather as the Conference. And though much was done, much was considered, and from it there would be more to come and do, the people called Methodist as a whole, and those from among their number who where called and sent to form the Conference, knew that they needed to divine the call of God upon them, and know that as they did this they are, and where those to whom, with all others, the grace of God is offered. So in this grace the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference did depart from that place whence they had for a time come to dwell, and came once more to dwell in those places from whence they had come out, those places where they had formerly dwelt and did regularly dwell. Thus endeth the account of the people called Methodist who had been gathered together to form the Conference of that time.

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Posted by on July 4, 2014 in Ministry, Wheeel&Spoke


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