Monday, April 21, 2008

Proud of Coventry Jesus Centre

Coventry Jesus CentreWe have a centre in our home city of Coventry - a Jesus Centre. It aims to demonstrate the love and reality of Jesus to all sorts of people.

On Sundays it's packed morning and evening with church events including 'Solid Rock Cafe', a relaxed Christian event designed for anybody and everybody to come and experience the difference God makes.

During the week allsorts goes on - everything from 'Mums and Tots' (for - you've guessed it - mums and toddlers) to 'Live at the Well' (a late-night Christian-themed music cafe on some Fridays).

But a very special part of the life of the Jesus Centre is the Bridge, a drop-in centre offering cheap, filling breakfasts and a safe space to 'be' every morning apart from Monday. Lots and lots of people visit the Bridge (up to a hundred or so each session). Many of them are homeless or vulnerably housed.

The stories of many of those who come to the Bridge are often filled with human pathos, emotion and character. There have been some wonderful changed lives through the Jesus Centre - those who've found a new lease of life. But, all too often, there is tragedy, too. More than one of the visitors to the Bridge have died untimely deaths. It's far from easy living on the streets or in one hostel then another...

Recently, CJC held a vigil in the hall at the centre, to remember such lives and deaths and give people a chance to pay their respects - as well as to promote awareness of issues that homeless people face.

The BBC covered it in their Midlands Today news programme.

When I saw this it filled me with a sense of awe. We've carried this Jesus Centre vision as a church for a decade now. To see it in action, changing lives, making a difference - it's amazing.

Jesus is in the centre of the Jesus Centre.

Friday, April 04, 2008

More humbled

Well, it turns out that the Bible study was not, in fact, written by my afore-mentioned headstrong young brother (see previous post): he got my fellow-writer of the study to write it for him; a blag I fell for hook, line and stinker [sic].

Not that it changes anything I wrote about young men and confidence. It's just that this particular young man may, it turns out, be a better asset to our church's kingdom businesses than to our corporate understanding of the scriptures.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Can't I even speak?I write part of our church's weekly Bible study sheet. The other day I challenged a gathering of some of our church's young leaders to make sure they read it, together with the scriptures it comments on.

The next night I got a text from one of them, a wonderfully headstrong (did someone mention the word 'arrogant'?) young man. 'If you're gonna make us read the study sheet' he texted, 'couldn't you write some better questions?'

Somewhere between amused and annoyed I texted back and invited him to write the next one.

I should have known. Back came the reply: 'All right then, send me the template.' So the challenge was on. I emailed him the template yesterday and sure enough this morning a Bible study on Isaiah 9 and 1 Thessalonians 5 arrived in my inbox.

And do you know what? It was really pretty good. How deliciously humbling. So I replied to the email saying, 'I might have known you'd take my challenge, seize it by the horns and tame it'. I intend to use what he's written as the basis for the study when it comes out in a few weeks.

I also said this to my young brother: 'Respect. (Oh, and by the way, I love your 'arrogance', it reminds me of David in 1 Samuel 17. So keep it up - God will sort out the humility side and it doesn't do for a young man to over do humility anyway...)'

I don't know what you think of that last statement; perhaps it seems heretical to you. But it seems to me that in a culture which is fairly feminized and where masculinity has become either a silly stereotype or the object of ridicule, we ought to be encouraging our young men to be more confident. Audacious. To swagger and throw their weight around a little more, and not to apologise too much. Yes - to be a bit 'arrogant' just like young David who protests in the face of his elder brethren 'Now what have I done? Can't I even speak?!' [1 Sam.17:29] and goes on to slay Goliath.

As for my young brother, I love him dearly even despite (in fact because of) his swagger. He has a great, glorious, humbling and therefore exalted future in God.