I’ve spoken to 9 different groups of people in the last week on top of my day job of city-centre chaplaincy and putting the final touches to my new book ‘Big Hearted.’ All in all 15 different talks. It felt a bit like a dress rehersal for next year. An opportunity to share my heart with varied groups of people, the opportunity afforded because of my soon to be role as President. A great honor really.
My speaking week started last Monday when I was the guest at the North West Baptist Association ministers conference, tasked to speak on ‘Down to earth leaders.’ Part of the teaching was a challenge to consider the stress that church-leaders face. This is a poem I wrote for them:
I must admit that while I loved teaching and being among Church leaders the task of affirming and honoring older leaders coupled with a desire to teach them something new was quite hard! I felt better the following day when I was joined by two of my colleagues from The Light Project in Chester who did a great job in teaching on evangelism and seemed to compliment the work I had done with them on how to be down to earth as leaders.
The second group of people I spoke to were the Baptist Church planters network called ‘The Incarnate Network.’ I was somewhat in awe of these amazing bunch of people who are creatively planting new churches in the UK all over the place. This gives me such HOPE. It was fun talking about how to be healthy church planters who have healthy churches.
This was a much more informal setting to the previous couple of days and I enjoyed the interaction and discussion which emerged from my teaching . It was useful for me to note the difference between groups of church leaders in the diverse family of Baptist churches. The teaching had a lot more interaction, questions and prayer than the previous 3 talks I had given and the people were more-so keen to grapple with what I brought. Don’t get me wrong, the ministers from the North West are a friendly bunch, it was just that the informality of the Incarnate Network was conducive for discussion and debate.
On Friday I was asked to be the speaker at the University of Central Peterborough. A few students turned up and the question and answer’s afterwards were amazing (and quite tough) but we had lots of laughs together…
Saturday morning was the start of a week-end of talks for people in the community of Willingham as well as the Baptist church who were celebrating their birthday. It was a packed week-end with 5 different talks or events: training for people to creatively share their faith, a party for the community with party games, puppets, magic show and balloons. On Sunday I spoke in the morning service, an afternoon cream tea followed by a ‘Songs of Praise’ and in the evening we held a question time type event ‘ask the president’ were people turned up and asked me why I do what I do… I must admit that was something new to me to be asked questions and people taking note of what I have to say! Again a great privilege in this new role that I have within the family of the Baptist Union.
I have also spent two evenings in Norwich this week training in ‘how to let others’ get it!’ over 4 sessions: 1) inspiration for sharing faith, 2) creative ways of sharing faith, 3) How to share your story and 4) having power to show and tell the good news. It was fairly interactive, but on reflection way too much information… Here’s a picture of some group work they did taking some stories from the bible and making them into front page tabloid news stories!
It has been a busy old week with a mix of talking to people who are Christians and those who aren’t and even though I couldn’t cope with giving 14 talks in one week on top of what I do and time with family I have loved it non-the less. It’s been a good practice, a good taster of what’s to come as I travel the UK visiting the Baptist associations and together with them seeking to be BIG HEARTED out and about in the community with the best news this world has yet to hear!
Oh, and I also get to do new things like eating lots of cake for the sake of the gospel as I take part in cream teas and talk with people around the tables before a ‘songs of praise’ type event! Bonus!