Thursday, November 20, 2008


So my good wife supports me so much in YFC, and I want to help and support Katrina in al she does. So here you see us taking a well earned break on site, up the shankill, doing a team leaders day. We are going to lead a team to Romania in the summer of '09. Katrina is recruting some students from UUJ. More to follow...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Focussed Leadership

I've been watching a lot from the Willow Creek Leadership Summit DVD's and this guy has really stood out as a communicator, in terms of how he said and what he had to say.

Andy Stanley, from North Point talked about the greatest leadership decision he ever made - to cheat the Church and not his wife! He gives 2 biblical references and shed new light upon them.

The first was found in Ephesians 5 v25 "Husbands, love your wives as Christ has loved the Church".

Now I always read this as husbands having to love their wives, sacrifically, laying down their lives, not being selfish, and that could still be a correct interpretation. What Andy says is, he is to love his wife and focus his love on his wife as Christ will then in turn love the church. I'm probably not explaining this. Basically, our call or role as husbands is to love our wives (or should I say wife??) and the church comes second or third (cos God comes first!) Many people put the church before their family and that aint good, it aint even biblical. As we love our wives, Christ will love the Church.

The second verse helps, Matthew 16 v18, Jesus said "I will build my church..."

So while we are away loving our wives it allows Jesus to build his church. If we aren't loving our wives, we put ourselves in the place of Jesus, and that is probably why the church isnt being built up cos we are neglecting and disobeying the command to love our wives.

This is freeing. It doesn't mean we become lazy and careless, it just means we have priorities, so my prayer and goal is to love Katrina, as Christ has loved the Church

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Jerry Maguire moment

The past, the present, the future….

In the past we had up to 1000 young people. 23 years ago there was no youth meeting format. It was a great time to meet young people from other churches. Mannafest was radical and way ahead of its time. It paved the way for churches to plan and style youth meetings. It was free and we had a collection – the boxes went round and people threw in their sweet wrappers and shrapnel. Mannafest would bring across big name speakers – excellent communicators, funny storytellers. It was more of an event for all people, not just young people. We would stand for a period of time and sing praise songs led by a rock style band (with drums!!), which was in direct contrast to stand-up-sit-down-prayer-hymn-sandwich. Drama was a big pull as well. We had some excellent groups over the years and it was the best of the best actors/actresses in our wee country.

We have had to adapt. We have gone through seasons of change, but there has always been a desire for the continuation of Mannafest.

I can remember sitting in Mannafest one night and not being happy at the big event. Yes we had lots of people, but those people were not engaging in an authentic way. I remember being challenged with how Jesus dealt with the crowd. He spoke to them and basically gave them a choice. He made it hard for them to continue following. A big criticism of Mannafest was that it played into the whole event-junkie-monthly-top-up-emotional-experience. So I can remember thinking we should change our efforts and focus from evangelism (shallow) to discipleship (deeper). In reflection, this could have been a bad choice. I believe we made a deliberate change in direction. Some young people and youth leaders commented that they couldn’t bring their non Christian friends along to Mannafest anymore.

We were hit big when we had to move venues due to the closing of the Ulster Hall for refurbishments. Ulster Hall is the home of Mannafest. It’s not attached to any denomination so people don’t feel like we are attaching ourselves with any particular church.

When I was asked to take over Mannafest, I believe God spoke to me from Judges 7. Here Gideon starts of with an army of 32,000 and God sifts them down to 300 committed soldiers. I sat with Steve and talked through how we wanted to make disciples – not just Christian converts who might fall away when they hit 18. I also believed it was time to rebuild and restructure for the future. I felt the speakers over the past couple of years had become Christian comedians. They weren’t teaching from the Bible and while they got a physical response from young people, it was always the same people who went up. Or even worse, the kids that had been talking the whole way through the talk went up!

I also thought we cant we develop local talent? Why do we have to bring in outsiders? I believe we can become a sending country again. Maybe Mannafest wasn’t the right platform to give younger local speakers? But I believe in these people. I love their hearts for young people and for communicating God’s word. I believe we are investing in the future. It will have long term effects, which we probably won’t see for a while.

We have also noticed that a lot of youth leaders have stopped coming. This could be because they don’t know or like the local speakers. We have noticed that a lot of youth events now happen on Friday and Sunday nights, so Saturday is their night off. Also Mannafest has been said to be a glorified youth fellowship now. Everybody is doing their own type of Mannafest. However there is something about bringing life to the city. A minister once said to me if you can capture a city, you inherit the land. There is something about meeting together in the city centre to pray for our country. Bluetree sing, “Greater things are still to be done in this city.” Mother Teresa said, “It’s not about doing great things, it’s about doing small things with greater love.” There is also a song that says, “Knowing you Jesus – there is no greater thing!”

My heart is for young people to get to know God more. We can have youth events with the best bands, the best speakers or worse speakers, lights, cameras, action but what I fear we are in danger of is having over entertained under challenged young people. I want the balance of having a professional and passionate event, with one that has values of reality, authenticity and depth. My question is – is this the job of Mannafest? Surely it is the job of the local church. I have been told discipleship can only take place in the context of the local church – but surely discipleship can and should happen anywhere and everywhere, even at a monthly event. And I don’t just want to make converts; I want to be in Jesus’ business of making disciples.

So does Mannafest have a future?

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Shack

So I finally got to read this book while I was away over half term with my family. A cople of people were like, "You must read this book!", "You'll cry", "You'll love it!"

I did enjoy it. Rather than give a book review, I thought I'd put some quotes in which I thought was good, but before I do that it was interesting to see how authors open up now about what they are listening to while writing, and their influences - pretty cool.

I'm listening to my fan blowing air...

Also, there is a follow on, next stage, what to do after reading the book which I like. It's all on their website.

So some quotes:

"I often find that getting head issues out of the way first makes the heart stuff easier to work on later...when you're ready" (page93)

"I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature.If I choose to appear to you as a man or a woman, its because I love you. For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back ito your religious conditioning" (page 93)

"Have you noticed even though you call me Lord and King, I never really acted in that capacity with you?" (page145)

"Women, in general, will find it difficult to turn from a man and stop demanding he meets their needs, provides security, and protects their identity, and return to me. Men, in general, find it very hard to turn from the works of their hands, their own quests for power and security and significance, and return to me." (page147)

"Seriously, my life was not meant to be an example to copy. Being my follower is not trying to 'be like Jesus', it means for your independence to be killed" (page 149)

"Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again." (page 235)