Tag: CofE

Play Church with Toddlers


This is an idea I have shamelessly stolen from @revleahvs.  Play is such an important part of learning.  One Sunday night I watched a ten year old from Holy Nativity put her arms up in the air and recount the words of invitation I use at the eucharist.  We learn through playing.  So we now have six toddler churches.

Cheap plastic boxes with with a laminated card on the top.

Fairtrade dolls that come in a range of races and gender.

Vestments made from felt I bought in the range.

Egg cup, castor cup and electric tea lights from ebay.

Laminated Lord’s Prayer.

Holding cross and psalm 23 on a card from ebay.

Hankerchief folded as a corporal from ebay.

So lets play church.  Lets learn the faith as we play with it.

A Bishop Called Libby

One thing I’ve noticed about life is that most experiences don’t come with facts, they come with feelings. Things I’ve longed for come with the question “so how does it feel?” Like when you put on a new jumper and start fiddling with the cuffs to work out what it feels like. When Ruth decided she wanted a Harley we ended up having a conversation about what it feels like. Sometimes this is a physical thing and sometimes it is emotional. I drove a BMW once. It was technically a great car but it felt all kinds of wrong. I was sat in the driver’s seat of a board room executive’s car feeling a longing in my soul for a roady’s van.

I remember that day nearly six years ago when I put on a dog collar for the first time. I looked in the mirror at something that for many years I had prepared for and dreamed of. It came with an emotional response. It felt weird. In the mirror I saw a vicar who looked a little like me staring back from the glass. It was weird.

I remember the first day I went to church and the priest behind the altar was a woman. I remember that it had a feeling about it. It felt a bit strange. It was something I knew to be right but something that had previously been outside of my sphere of experience.   Not through design, I’d just never previously had the experience as our vicar happened to be a bloke.

Then there was the point where my life changed and I started to hang out with vicars. A lot of vicars. They’re all over the place. Hundreds of them. It seems that I haven’t changed much since my school days. I tend to sit at the table with the intelligent girls who’ve all done their homework. For me, women in dog collars is probably a more common sight than men.

This week I watched on live TV the consecration of Rt Revd Libby Lane. Nearly a decade ago when I arrived at theological college and began training for ordination the issue of women in the episcopate became part of my life. Since then this has regularly been on the agenda. It is something I have wanted. It is something I’ve hoped for. And for a decade, I have wondered how it would feel. How would this new and strange experience compare to my previous new experiences? How would I feel when I looked at my TV screen with Libby in Episcopal purple?

It felt normal.

What a let-down. I was expecting something visceral. What I got was normality. A bishop. There’s a bishop called Libby and that’s normal.  Good.

Congratulations Bishop Libby. I’m really pleased that there is now a woman in our little bit of the episcopate. I’m really happy that the first to break new ground in our little English bit is you. I’m over the moon that my female colleagues, our parishioners, the server who stands at the altar with me and the kids in our school all have a good role model. I’m really happy that one day, hopefully one my friends will be my boss.

What Would Young Adults Say to The Wider Church?


I’m about to have a bishop arrive at my house to discuss how we engage with young adults 20-40 as church.  I just clicked on this link as I was going through my overflowing inbox.

Young Adults Leaving ChurchI am struck by the humility of everyone speaking to camera.  I’m also struck by the apologetic nature of the comments.  How do we as The Church ™ continue to instill an atmosphere that whether explicit or implicit makes younger people feel that they are interlopers?  The image says ‘leaving’ but I suspect that ‘leaving’ is a million miles down a road not traveled.

Last night I was asked how I ended up as part of the church.  As I told my story I recounted that at 18 years old I thought that I wasn’t allowed in church.  People like me are not acceptable in church.  We’re not good enough.

Is this the lived experience of most young people or is it the prevailing media narrative as told through film, sitcoms and newspapers?

I’d better dig out the hoover before the bishop arrives.

Personal Identity 5: Christian Identity

As we’ve progressed through this series on ‘identity’, we’ve turned increasingly towards the concept of ‘Christian identity’. How do we view ourselves as ‘Christians’ within a Christian community?

As Christians, the world is viewed in light of our relationship with God. This naturally affects the relationship people have with other people who also have a relationship with God. Relationship is at the heart of Christian identity. Our identity is formed through the way we relate to God through Christ. When the first Christians described themselves as ‘followers of the way’ their identity was firmly routed in their ongoing journey with Christ. That was the way in which they identified themselves. It was others from outside who originally called those first followers ‘Christians’. I use this to illustrate the deeply personal nature of the Christian faith. It is centred around a relationship with God and an ongoing task; take up your cross and follow me.

Over the past few days I’ve mentioned the existential crisis for every ‘goth’: what if I’m not goth enough? It is also at the heart of many followers of the way. What if I’m not a very good Christian? If I am honest, I have those doubts most days. I’m still awaiting the day when the diocese send someone round to my house. They will knock on my door, come into my office, go to the filing cabinet, take my holy orders and inform me that a mistake was made four years ago. “Sorry mate, you’re just not a very good Christian”. I think this is at the heart of Doctor Ruth’s post on Saturday about imitating Christ: we are called to be Christlike, we are not called to be Christ.


Experience is a key component of our Christian identity. When someone is certain of their faith, it can be a benchmark that others will be unconsciously compared to. When someone’s experience of God bears little relation to our experience of God we can either question our experience or theirs. As the diagram illustrates, the way we relate to others often leads to tribalism.

This kind of tribalism leads to the familiar conflict between followers of the way that can often take precedence over the journey. “They are not real Christians…”