Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Why Have You Forsaken Me?

I have just begun reading this new book by John. The book focuses on Psalm 22, read in light of John's own struggle with bi-polar disorder and the Christian belief that God the Son suffered in his humanity.

John says, 'My concern with writing this book and in reading this psalm is to reflect on the felt experience of God-forsakenness, my own and that of Christ, in the light of this psalm; to explore the theological and spiritual significance of this felt experience for myself, for Christ, for Christians generally.'

John was my lecturer at college and is now pastor at Budleigh Salterton. He is on my mentor group as I begin this church plant and so it is good to still have him around for support and advice.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Pub, pool and Jesus

So last night was my first pool match in the league for my local pub. I got to the pub and the rest of the team hadn't turned up yet so I got chatting to three people at the bar, Lynn, Richard and Graham.

The could see I wasn't a local so wanted to know who I was and where I had come from. Conversation quickly turned to work and I shared how I was a Rev. For the next couple of hours we all chatted over a drink about who Jesus is, faith, life, suffering etc etc. They had deep respect for me and my calling and found my faith story really interesting.

Lynn was fascinating. She was in her late 30's and worked for a care home for those with various forms of dementia. She spoke openly about her views on who God is and what faith is all about. She was very raw and real and didn't pull any punches. It was good to talk with her.

By the end of the evening Lynn said that whenever I start this new church she wants to be a part of it. She said that she would love to come and be a part of this new community.

It was a good night.

Oh yeah, the other pool team didn't turn up because they all had a hangover so those of us who were there played winner stays on the table. I won five and lost two, so pretty pleased with that! Hopefully next week we'll have our first proper match.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Jesus Loving Atheist

'I love and revere the person of Jesus Christ — and, if there can exist a non-theistic meaning to the word ‘divine’, I consider him divine...Jesus tells us, every one, to cast off fear and superstition, to turn away from wealth and status and authority; to turn away from rule-based theology, and the High Priests and the Pharisees; to turn away from human mediation; to lift up our heads to the stars; and to be unafraid...I tell you how we know that about 2,000 years ago a man called Jesus of Nazareth did exist, did attract disciples, did inspire devotion, and did teach much of what we read in the Gospels today. We know it because if Jesus had not existed, the Catholic Church would not have invented him. The Jesus who takes shape in the New Testament is sharply different from the Christ it would have suited the Church to invent.'
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Matthew Parris.
Parris is an atheist.

While Parris' article speaks specifically against the Catholic Church, it is an article that should make any Christian squirm. It is an article that should make the Church hang their heads because of what we have made Jesus out to be. It is an article that speaks more truth than many sermons I have heard, and the truth sets us free.

I don't agree with every word. Of course I don't. But that which I do agree with, the majority, I say Amen to.

What have we done to Jesus?

Whatever denomination or movement, we have all made Jesus safe and easy. We have constructed so much ceremony and baggage that we have lost sight of this radical, uncomfortable giver of life. All the stuff that we think is important is challenged by Jesus.

Here is the article. Read and be challenged, whatever your tradition is.

'Can Catholicism save Christian England?
No, says Matthew Parris. Jesus of Nazareth would be appalled by the Catholic Church
Lurching drunkenly away from the table at a dinner party, Dylan Thomas once explained his departure. ‘Something’s boring me,’ he said, ‘and I think it’s me.’ I am an irreconcilable atheist who’s beginning to bore himself, banging on all the time about it. Plainly there’s no God; but there we are, life goes on and it isn’t — for us atheists — the most important thing in the world. So, with your permission, I’m not going to play the hired atheist for the purposes of this debate.
Instead I’d like to mount my case from inside the Christian tradition and, make no mistake, whatever faiths or faithlessness individual citizens may profess, this country — its culture, its jurisprudence, its vast, submerged moral landscape — is firmly and powerfully within the Christian tradition. I love the Christian tradition. It made me. It absorbs me and I’ve studied it and thought about it all my life. I love and revere the person of Jesus Christ — and, if there can exist a non-theistic meaning to the word ‘divine’, I consider him divine.
That he was under one immense and central misapprehension — that he was the Son of God — cannot, for me, disable the transfiguring energy — and stinging severity — of Jesus’s teachings: about love; about human charity; about equality; and about the primacy of each individual’s personal response to the universe.
Jesus tells us, every one, to cast off fear and superstition, to turn away from wealth and status and authority; to turn away from rule-based theology, and the High Priests and the Pharisees; to turn away from human mediation; to lift up our heads to the stars; and to be unafraid.
The Roman Catholic Church tells us to bow our heads, to take orders, to follow form, and to be afraid. Rome stands between the individual and the light, blocking the light.
I tell you how we know that about 2,000 years ago a man called Jesus of Nazareth did exist, did attract disciples, did inspire devotion, and did teach much of what we read in the Gospels today. We know it because if Jesus had not existed, the Catholic Church would not have invented him. The Jesus who takes shape in the New Testament is sharply different from the Christ it would have suited the Church to invent.
Jesus of Nazareth is a colossal embarrassment to the Catholic Church. To all the pomp and circumstance, to the chanting and ring-kissing, to the rosary beads, and indulgences, and prayer by rote, to the caskets and relics and the reverencing of inanimate objects, the idolatry and the mumbo-jumbo, Jesus of Nazareth represents a permanent reproach.
There he stands, in all his simplicity: a man contemptuous of finery and wealth, scornful of hierarchy, and utterly careless of bricks, stones, mortar and stained glass; a man whose attitude towards silver and gold — towards display of every sort — it is impossible to mistake. There he stands: a man who never uttered a recorded word about sex, about contraception, about abortion, about homosexuality — or indeed about family at all: never a word, except to say that he had come to tear families apart.
There he stands, this Jesus of Nazareth, a man whose attire nobody even noticed, who never spoke a word, so far as we know, about religious art, religious music, religious architecture or religious form; and whose only, single reference to beauty is to the beauty of a lily.
There he stands, this man whose innocent remark about breaking bread in remembrance of him has been twisted almost beyond what meaning will bear into a holy ritual whose licensed enactment has been made to underwrite the entire currency of priestly authority... a man whose call for repentance has been leveraged likewise into a ceremony of confession and system of tariffs that hands — to a clergy Jesus never meant to found — a stick with which to beat a laity Jesus never meant to see separated in that way.
There he stands, a man with whose words and thoughts and reproaches it would be impossible to acquaint ourselves without at once suspecting that he would have hated ritual, hated set canticles and set responses, hated hats and robes and finery, palaces and Popemobiles. A man who didn’t just ignore the authorising and certifying of religious truth, didn’t just ignore the man-made hierarchies of spiritual authority of his own day, but set his face against career structures in things spiritual... and who would today not just be bemused by popes and cardinals, bishops and archbishops, forms of petition and forms of address, but would rail against them with the fine anger he showed the money-changers in the temple.
There he stands, his whole life, his whole experience, his whole attitude a permanent reproach to everything the Roman Catholic Church has spun around itself, gathered unto itself, and invented for itself over 2,000 years. Can anyone — anyone — believe the Vatican and all its works were what Jesus of Nazareth saw himself as coming to Earth to achieve? In the words of T.S. Eliot, ‘that is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all.’
Faced with this impossible man, this undismissibly real man, the Church for centuries — until they could no longer do so — tried to keep the record of his life, the Gospels, from the laity. Unable to invent, or reinvent, Jesus, they invented a divine human being as close to being Jesus’s equal as the rules of blasphemy would bear: the Virgin Mary, a real individual about whom very few facts were known and about whom we can learn little from the Gospels.
The Roman Catholic Church has clothed Mary — for she is its own creature and almost mythical — in the powers and authority its priesthood needs for the sanctification of its own powers and authority. The Church has commanded the laity to approach the Almighty through the mediation of its own constructed figure.
Nothing — nothing — in the Gospels so much as suggests, let alone authorises this. And so this real man has been cunningly, persistently, quietly nudged away from the centre to the margins of the frame; and at the centre is placed a mythical Mother of Jesus, and the cruel and frightening image of the twisted body on the Cross.
Two symbols. And the keeper and interpreter and gateway to the symbols, the Roman Catholic Church. This is not just other than Jesus intended, it is in direct conflict with what Jesus intended. I said at the outset that Christ was not the man these Christians would have invented. Now I shall add that the Roman Catholic Church is not the church that Christ would have wanted to invent. Who really believes that, confronted with what it has become, he could do anything but echo T.S. Eliot?
The Catholic Church, in an age when it is on the defensive, now whimpers for tolerance: a tolerance it never extended to dissent or question when it had the power to crush them. Keep it where it is: on the defensive, on the run, and banished from the corridors of secular power. That, at least, is the plea of this Protestant atheist, a plea made not in defiance of Jesus Christ, but in his defence.'
Matthew Parris is a columnist for the Times.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Who's Worshipping Who?

I'm wondering what the difference is between these two...

Just looking at the crowds and their reactions and responses it looks really similar.

Does make me ask a lot of questions about music worship, the role of music worship leaders, manipulation, church and culture and all sorts of things.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against music worship, I just wonder if we need to think things through as bit more.

What do you think?

Friday, 17 September 2010

A Royal Feast

Well I made the pool team. Had a good evening meeting the rest of the team and getting to know them. We will be playing on Sunday evenings in and around Newton Abbot in the various pubs that are hosting. The team consists of Colin, Tom, Hayley, Chris, JB, Con, Chip, Jamie, Nick, Sean and Dan. Tom and Hayley are a couple in the team but will only be playing sporadically as Hayley is pregnant. They were a nice couple and excited and scared about the prospect of being parents. It's good to be a part of their culture and spend time with them. They reminded me of me a few years ago. I could really relate to their conversations and their outlook to various things. It made me so aware of how important it is to build honest open relationships with people and to be ourselves.

David and Janet Coffey came round for dinner the other night. They are a really nice couple and were really supportive and encouraging about our adventure here in Devon. They have arranged a prayer support group for us who will meet every month to pray for us and encourage us. We will met at David and Jan's house for lunch and prayer. It's good to have their wisdom.

One of the local PCSO's came round for a coffee and we spoke about the area and what kind of issues there are. She told me about some of the drug problems and ways in which I might be able to help. I've got quite a heart to do some volunteer work for the local needle exchange centre so I think I'm going to submit an application form. She also told me about other schemes the local police run to help the area and said that she would be in touch about other schemes they are running that I can help them out with. She really liked the concept of church that I shared with her, so hopefully I will have a good relationship with the local police.

When I was walking and praying today I was reflecting on how consumer based and result based out culture is and how that is often reflection within our churches. This time I spend everyday praying for the community has been a struggle sometimes because I feel like I should be 'showing' more 'results' for the work we have been called to do here. When people ask 'how's it going?' in regard to the church plant and I tell them that my main calling right now is to listen and pray, I feel like people find it a bit strange. I'm sure I'm being paranoid though.

The thing is, I really felt God speak to me today about how vital this time of prayer is. He reminded me of the dream I had (read here) and how important it is to build this church well. We're called to build how the Master Builder tells us and the materials we use may seem useless to others, but to God they are building something strong. We're building this church with prayer because Jesus, the Master Builder, has called us to. And in such a result based, consumer, 'I want it now' culture this can be a real challenge. Yet if the foundations are laid well, then what is built will last. I am called to be someone who shows a Gospel of grace, so how can I do that, as Eugene Peterson has said, if I am working all the time. I am called to be like Jesus and go to the mountaintop and pray. It is in these times of prayer listening to the Spirit of God that I can discern God's will for this community. It feels a little bit like being in the wilderness, but I know that is a good thing as I'm being prepared to be the Minister God calls me to be in this community.

When you cook a good meal you have to prepare well. The ingredients need to prepared. Sometimes you grow your own veg, which takes time. You have to wash and chop, season and boil, bake and wait. If you don't prepare well then the meal itself will be a real letdown. But prepare well then the meal will be well worth the wait.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Signs of the Times

I was at a Ministers fellowship meeting other words a load of Baptist ministers from this area met up for a cuppa and a chat.

It was good to meet some church leaders from the area and begin to build some relationships with them. They all seem like a good bunch and it's going to be good to meet up with them to chew stuff over with them.

We were thinking about whether as church leaders we are very good to interpreting the 'signs of the times' or whether things go past us and we miss what is happening. We looked at Matthew 16 when Jesus is having a go at the religious leaders and how they know what's happening when the sky is red but are clueless with the signs of the times; in other words, they were completely missing who Jesus is.

Discussion was about whether we miss what is going on in our churches and what God is doing. The moment passes and we are left confused as to why a certain situation as happened.

I threw in that I often think that churches miss the signs of the times in regard to our culture and society. Often there is a movement in our society, something that is happening that the church could well have a voice into or be a part of in order that we could share the Gospel in radical ways, yet we miss it. Indeed, I think there are often opportunities within our culture that God is presenting the church, yet we miss it because we are too busy looking inwardly at what is happening amongst the people who make up our Sunday morning gatherings.

Indeed, if the church were much more outward looking and thought radially and creatively about mission, then not only could we interpret the signs of the times well and speak the Gospel into those times, we could be prophetic in our actions and words declaring the Gospel ahead of where the culture is at rather than what typically happens of being 5 years behind where the culture is at.

We could be powerfully prophetically symbolic in how we share the Gospel.

I believe God is working in amazing ways from within our communities outside of the church and is calling us to get stuck in with Him.

I have been walking and praying around the area everyday listening to God and the community. I will keep doing this until I can discern what the signs of the times are in order that we might be able to be powerfully prophetically symbolic in how we share the Gospel. With no church I have the freedom to do this, yet I hope as the church grows (God willing!) we will always be listening and praying, acting and speaking in ways that can faithfully interpret the signs of the times. My hope is that all of us will be a little less clueless about who Jesus is and what He is doing in our communities.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Why Do I Believe?

Tom says he can do without God in his life and I imagine there are many who feel the same way, who, whilst believing there may be a Deity of some description, can live without any real acknowledgement of said Deity. Being 'good' is what matters is often the angle many people take. I was a having a conversation the other day with a lady who said a very similar thing to this.
I've been chewing this whole issue over the last few weeks, particularly after chatting some things through with Tom.

I'm wondering whether this concept of being good as the most important thing and not whether you believe in God or not is actually a result of the Church and the State being so closely aligned. The State look for the country to be run a certain way with people obeying certain laws and rules to keep the country a 'free' place to live. The Church was for many hundreds of years in bed with the State over the way the country was run and for a long time was the most powerful voice and establishment within our culture. Things have changed somewhat even if some of the UK church have a part to play within the State.

I'm wondering if for many people then, if not a conscious thing, they still associate 'church' with those streams of the church that have an involvement with the State. And therefore belief in God is more to do with a set of rules and laws rather than anything else. A result being that people don't see a need for God as long as they are following the rules and being a 'good' person.
(I think there are many reasons why church and state is a bad idea, but maybe that is another blog another time.)

Now I realise that some people have wrestled with belief in God and come to a place of disbelief, but I'm sure there are many who have never really ever thought about what they believe in terms of faith.

It got me thinking. Why am I a Christian?

I recognise first and foremost that God Himself broke into my life, revealed Himself to me and transformed me. I recognise it is His grace alone that has rescued me and that He alone has made me a new person. So in many ways it was nothing to do with me. But in other ways it requires a lot from me. When I was confronted with who Jesus is I wanted to be his follower and have sought to follow him well ever since. Yet in following him much is demanded.

So why do I continue?

Without doubt some of it is because of the hope that I believe exists in Jesus. A hope to be with God and know Him and His love more and more. A hope that He will wipe away every tear and bring total healing and peace to all that he has created. It is a hope to see Him face to face and be fully known, in other words, to no longer be at war within myself or with others; to fully know who He made me to be. Yet it is more than that.

I continue because I believe Jesus is significant for all our today's. I believe being a follower of Jesus is much more than being a 'good' person. After-all, how do you define 'goodness'? With the lines blurred ever more each day about what is 'good' or 'bad' it is increasingly difficult to make a sound definition.
No, I believe being a follower of Jesus is about being like Him and that in living like Him you will discover your true identity and become the person you were called to be, living and loving like Him. That in knowing Jesus you will see in Him what life is really all about and that today will be significant. Today will be significant because you will learn more and more why it is important to love others. Today will be significant because you will learn why it is of complete importance to love God with all that you are.

I don't want to be a 'good' person, I want to be become a Jesus person. I celebrate wherever I see people acting in ways that reflect who Jesus is.

That is why I cannot do without God, because without Him I don't believe I could ever truly be myself.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Meet Trevor

I met Trevor in the pub yesterday. Trevor served in the Belfast army and fought in the Falklands, then he served in Northern Island during the Troubles and then he fought in the first Gulf War.

Trevor said that when he and his mates came back from the Gulf they were pretty messed up (he didn't use those words. The words he did use I can't put on my blog!). He told me that what he saw while he was in the army challenged him to his very core. Trevor loved telling jokes and had one for every topic of conversation. He was very raw in the way he described people, cultures, politics and religion.

He asked me what I did so I told him I was a Reverend. From that moment he called me Padre and spoke of his deep respect for Ministers. He grew up in Belfast within a Protestant family and told me that his dad was a born-again Christian.

He spoke of how the Good-Friday agreement had to be on Good Friday because that was the day the Jesus died on the Cross for all our sins and brought us peace.

He sang me songs that he had learnt when in the army that spoke of giving your life to Jesus. He spoke with anger at the way people disrespected this country. He told stories about his family and childhood.

Trevor is a fascinating guy.

First thing that struck me was that unless Christian Ministers go and dwell in the community they will never meet people like Trevor. Trevor is unlikely to walk into church on a Sunday. You'll find guys like Trevor in local pubs and bars that haven't been taken over by a corporation.

Second thing is that Trevor spoke with real clarity about who Jesus is and what Jesus accomplished on the Cross. He quoted me Scriptures and had a clear respect and passion for who Jesus is. I believe Trevor had a deep faith. And he was raw in the way he spoke and I'm sure would offend many people. Yet talking with Trevor was great. I imagine that Trevor was exactly the kind of person Jesus hung out with and called his disciple.

Being here in Newton Abbot, spending time in and around the community is proving to be so valuable for me. I'm meeting so many people from such a variety of backgrounds and getting to listen to their stories. I'm learning to be patient and not rush into anything. I'm realising that authentic real relationships are what it is all about and I'm enjoying building those in this community. I hope and pray that I can be more like Jesus everyday in every conversation and every friendship formed.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

I put this song onto my blog today and dedicate it to all those who have searched for God but have been unable to find Him; for those who have wrestled with belief in God but come away in disbelief; for those who wanted to believe there is a God but have found God to be unbelievable; for those who had faith and then given up on it because they couldn't make head nor tail of it.

The truth is all of us have more in common than some would like to admit...

Monday, 6 September 2010


My wife Sarah is in excruciating pain with something called SPD which some woman suffer from when pregnant. It causes pain in the pelvis and pubis, but Sarah also is having pain in her hips and back. She has had it for a number of weeks now but today she can barely walk. The pain is all day every day with no real let up. Spoken with the Doctor but there is very little they can do to help.
We have prayed together and now ask anyone and everyone to pray for Sarah that the pain would be taken away. We would value your prayers. The other complication is that she cannot open her legs hardly at all which makes giving birth complicated. Sarah wants to give birth naturally but is obviously concerned about the complications that SPD adds to labour. So please pray for her. Thank you. *

I was in a coffee shop in town talking with the staff who work there. They were 3 of them, all about 18 years old. I was chatting to them asking about the area, places to go and what they thought of Newton Abbot. I told them that because we had just moved here we didn't really know anyone and asked where they go to meet people. The very first answer that came out of their mouths was...

Now this does not surprise me in any way. Facebook is an example of what is happening in a certain part of our society with a particular culture emerging as a result. Tweeting, blogging and other forums also fit into this cultural phenomenon and I think it is a real opportunity for the church in the West to grab onto.

People have become storytellers.

When I go onto Facebook the first thing I tend to do is scroll down the News Wall and read everyone's status. There is always an eclectic mix of stories with people sharing how they are feeling, what they are doing and where they are going. The birth of a child, the break up of a relationship, the anger of betrayal, the events of a night out, what your having for dinner, what you brought at the shop, all get shared by people on Facebook, Twitter and blogging.

People have become storytellers of their lives.

Views on faith and religion, politics and society, morality and ethics, all get shared in one way or another through these different mediums with people voicing their views and personal reflections.

People have become storytellers of their lives and ethics.

There is also an issue about how people relate to each other. Going back to my 3 friends in the coffee shop. If Facebook is one of the primary ways people are connecting with each other then there is a danger that the joy of humanity relating to each other face to face is getting lost somehow. We were created to be in relationship with each other, sharing our lives together in much deeper way than technology will allow us. Technology can only take us so far, we have to walk the rest of the way, together.

In John's Gospel we read of how the Word became flesh and lived among us. In other words, the Son of God (also known as the Word of God) became a human being and physically lived on earth, loving and living with others. This is Jesus.

In verse 18 of John 1 it says that no-one has ever seen God, but Jesus (the Word or Son of God) has made God known. Now in the original Greek of the New Testament this phrase 'has made him known' can also be translated as 'declared' or 'narrated' or 'told'; it literally means 'to lead out'. The Greek word is where we get the English word exegesis which means to interpret or draw out a meaning from a portion of text.

So God has 'declared' or 'narrated' Himself to us through Jesus. See the play on words as the Word is made flesh and narrates Himself to us.

God is a storyteller of Himself.

God tells us about Himself physically through the Person of Jesus. And through Jesus He leads us out of the wilderness of sin and death into the life and beauty of the Promised Land which is His Kingdom when Heaven and Earth will meet and God will bring His peace and justice to reign once and for all. Every tear will be wiped away and all pain will cease when Jesus returns, the Prince of Peace.

So God has a story to tell through his Son Jesus and then calls us to continue telling this story of Jesus through our lives and actions, our words and our prayers.

The Church are called to be storytellers.

But this is not a story in the sense of fantasy and fiction. We are not called to be storytellers that make things up. We are called to tell a story of reality.

Back to Facebook.

If then we are living in a society of storytellers then followers of Jesus are called to share their story to a people who love hearing other peoples stories. This is why it is vital that followers of Jesus live lives of integrity, reality and honesty that as far as possible reflect who God is. This is why followers of Jesus are called to be a part of other peoples stories, living and loving among their communities just as Jesus did, not locking themselves away in their buildings, but living authentic, grace filled lives.

Our stories are not meant to be told in isolation but as a part of being in community with others. God tells us His story into the world in which we live and followers of Jesus are then called to share this story with the people that we live among. Facebook can make us into lone islands if we are not careful, but if used well it can be a means through which we can begin to connect with others and begin to share our stories together. But the rest of the story must be told face to face as a community physically meets together.

We are all storytellers, sharing our lives with one another.

God is the ultimate storyteller, who, in Jesus, shared His story with us and then gave us His life on the Cross in order that he might 'lead us out' into the Promised Land. Do you want to be a part of that story?

Thursday, 2 September 2010

It Has Begun

So we have officially begun this new adventure of church planting here in Newton Abbot. We are feeling settled and are enjoying this part of the world. There is plenty to do and see with lots for families to do together.

Newton Abbot has approx 40,000 - 50,000 people living here with a pretty even split between the age groups. About a quarter are 0-14years, then another quarter are 15-35, and then 36-55, and then another quarter are 55+ in age.

It's been good to spend the first couple of days walking the town, listening and watching what is happening. I'm going to spend the first few weeks simply listening, walking and praying around the area to see how things unfold and where God is leading me. Because there is no church to feed in to I am able to spend time doing what I believe ministers should be doing anyway, listening to God and the community and praying to God about the community.

I spent some time in ASDA yesterday having a coffee and then had a walk around near there and I could see a sub-culture all around of people who use ASDA as a place to meet and spend time. I'm going to keep going and see if there is a possible opening for me to get to know some people. Supermarkets really are a 'third place' for some parts of our society.

I was walking in the town centre yesterday and heard someone shouting. As I got near him I realised he was reciting John's Gospel to people as they walked by. I sat down on a bench and listened to what he had to say. He was reciting the last few chapters from John's Gospel, trying to do it from memory but struggling, so did most of it reading it out. Thought I would watch and observe people's reaction and, as you might have guessed, was either to completely ignore him or look in bewilderment. This guy finished and then walked off.
I was just about to leave when a couple sat on the bench and then another guy also and we all started to chat about shopping. Then the guy on his own asked us all if we 'knew the Lord'. We sat and listened as he preached at us and told us that we needed to put or faith in Jesus as what would happen to our soul when we died etc etc. The lady who was there walked off while the other guy sat and continued to listen for a while longer and then walked off, all very polite, but clearly a little unsure.
The preacher guy then asked me and I told him I was a follower of Jesus and had just moved to the area. He was delighted! Told me he didn't belong to a church (church is for religious people he had said earlier and he wasn't religious) but went to a meeting in the area.
Now this was another person I had met or heard about who didn't go to church in Newton Abbot and have thus gone to do their own thing. It seems to be quite a common experience in this area and I'm wondering what to make of it.

Introduced myself to the local police today and they are going to come round and have a chat about the area. Be good to hear what they have to say. They said they are always keen for local people to get involved with community work alongside them so it will be good to listen and see what might grow out of those conversations.

Went to the local pub today down my road and got chatting to the owner. Told me he doesn't like religion! I said I wouldn't preach at him! He's invited me to 'try out' for the pubs pool team next Sunday so that should be good fun. Nice guy and some nice people at the bar so think I may well make it my regular. Hopefully get on the pool team too!

Been a good couple of days listening and walking around the area. I wonder where the Holy Spirit will lead us to as the weeks progress...

On Monday I am going to blog about how as a society we have become 'storytellers' and how that is good for the church if we catch on to what is happening.