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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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37 Responses to 683

  1. Laura says:

    does the bubble keep things out, or the church in?

  2. Matt Shafer says:

    @Laura: Either way, it’s a problem.

  3. beckyG says:

    I would argue this can apply to any religious group – the bubble the anti-institution group has built insulates them reality not to mention how bubbly some parachurch groups can get.

  4. Caroline Too says:

    jon, this just so profound… golly, I’m gonna have to go away and think about this one..

    at one and the same time, so sad and yet angry too…

  5. dennis says:

    Its gonna BURST!

  6. subo says:

    so relate to this one, my experience of going to churchy events, and thinking ‘whats that got to do with anything?’

    and, then again, a few words linked in with a trad CofE stuff, has left me feeling part of the communion of saints, and of course, belonging give you the change to be open to others.

  7. Miriworm says:

    And there heads are in the clouds!

  8. Graham says:

    Sometimes recently when preaching I have wondered what we mean when we refer to ‘the world’ as in ‘go now, into the world’. Does this mean that ‘church’ exists on some kind of parallel planet- is it not part of ‘the world’? Thanks- your cartoon has answered that!

    One of the great things about being a preacher/minister is that I get to go into therapy once a week ie preach and therefore I have so many unpaid therapists…

  9. beatthedrum says:

    Oh please please can i have a pin to stick in it.

    ALL christians are called to be part of a local church.

    The church is to teach, strengthen and aid us in our mission whoch is to reach out into the world, to save the ‘ lost’ and make them disciples.

    If you are spending more of your time in the church, in meetings, etc and not in your community then you are NOT doing what Jesus has asked you to be, salt and light to the people around you.

    You should be spending time with the community which is what Jesus did most of the time.



  10. doctor ruth says:

    Part of the problem is that “the world” wants us to be in the bubble – they like to come along for their christenings, weddings and funerals, but don’t actually want it to have any impact on their lives. It’s like national heritage – they want the “beautiful old buildings” to be maintained and will come and protest if it is suggested that a church is modified or closed, but will never actually come to a service or any other church event. So I don’t think it’s solely the fault of the people inside the bubble – it’s quite happily maintained between the inside and outside!

  11. beatthedrum says:

    I guess in some ways your right Doctor_ruth.

    Never looked at it like that, but them im not in a mainstream denomination so we dont really do weddings / funerals except for our own church members and would never hold a christening as we dont do infant baptism

    So i guess we are just left alone by people so we have to reach out.

    Of course most of us are scared of that as it means leaving the nice (or not so nice) church bubble!


  12. subo says:

    all the best bubbles are permeable

  13. rebecca says:

    I’m not sure if it’s Dr Ruth’s (#10) intention to be scientific, but in fact she is. In order for a bubble to exist, there must be equilibrium of pressure between the inside and the outside. If there’s a vacuum on one side, the bubble won’t exist.

    I once read a rather depressing metaphor in a book: it said that Jesus pushes us firmly down the steps of the church into the world outside. I really didn’t like this — even if it is a valid presupposition that everyone reading it (it was written in the first person) is inside a church and needs to be outside, wouldn’t it be better to say that Jesus pulls us out instead of pushing us out? It may sound like a subtle distinction, but in fact it’s incredibly important.

  14. Robb says:

    We can’t maintain the bubble. Jesus comes to us. If we are paricipating in Jesus mission it is our responsibility to do just that.

  15. duttyo says:

    i sort of hoped that this cartoon represented the traditional view of church being put in a bubble and being allowed to float gracefully away while we got on with the work of creating really God Centred, justice concerned, gospel spreading, spirit living Christian communities

  16. Gavin says:

    Perhaps it’s a fresh expression of church – ‘bubble church’ – needed to reach people who are living in a bubble? No other church can reach them!

  17. Leo says:

    I wish all we had to contend with was a permeable bubble…

    Unfortunately, most “bubbles” are made of brick and steel…or worse – instead of the bubble, there is a MOAT!!!

  18. beatthedrum says:

    You forgot the minefields and machine guns Leo!

  19. Robb says:

    The moats minefields and machine guns don’t just extend to the outside world. The internal politics in often even worse.

  20. doctor ruth says:

    hadn’t intended to be scientific but glad I was!! It’s unlikely that people ‘outside’ the bubble would increase the pressure in order to burst the bubble, so it must be our responsibility to change the pressure on our side.

  21. JF says:

    Most people in a bubble are in there for a reason.

  22. Sophie says:

    It occurs to me that maybe bubble mentality has something to do with how the Pope thinks that condoms wont help in the fight against HIV.

  23. Sophie says:

    on the other hand i remember being pretty anxious when I had to leave my church bubble. I was living above a church, with a bunch of people who weren’t all christians, but most were. I had to start a lab project and new in all likelyhood I’d have to talk to non-christians, and was a bit nervy about how I’d talk with them, would we have anything in common?

    As it turned out the people in question were perfectly nice (why wouldn’t they be). I had a good experience in the lab.

    Easy enough to get stuck in a bubble, and easy enough to pop it too.

  24. welshdisastergirl says:

    so how do we get out?

  25. Linus says:

    Love the artwork for this cartoon, Jon: its stunning and beautiful =]

    Great question, Welshie.

    Duttyo – agreed, as long as its only the concept that floats away. The difficult bit is making sure that people don’t float away in the bubble too. The concept is not important but the people really are.

    This cartoon was timely for me cos of chatting to a couple people at a church service on sunday night. One was a student worker. He spoke about how most of the current ‘christian’ activity on campus was irrelevant to about 95% of the student population, because the format was unattractive and unengaging to them. Made me wonder who the format is designed for (its not quite as simple as that, but still…).

    The second guy my heart went out to. I think he must have been part of some kind of care in the community* scheme for those with mental disability. I reflect now that this person actually needed a bubble. He needed to know that church community was a safe place that he could come to and be listened to, and be welcome, and be treated with kindness. His presence there was a sign that this particular church community was doing something right.

    So many times on this blog people have poured out their hearts about how people (in or out of the church) have hurt them, how the world is sometimes frightening and vicious and incredibly unjust, how we don’t always even feel comfortable in our own skin. For all these reasons, i think church should be a bubble, a safe place – just one that draws people in**, that’s all.

    *but does my community care?

    **by osmosis? i never was a scientist.

  26. Welshdisastergirl says:

    The Word became flesh and blood
    and moved into the neighbourhood
    John 1:14 Message

    Where would Jesus be????

  27. Ros says:

    Is that the “reality” pin coming towards it?!

  28. Angela says:

    Now: Church in a bubble carried away by a soft wind, floating through the air, going down in the backyard of a shelter for homless people, or in a buisiness-center in a hospital or where ever it the wind blows to.

    And with a little ‘ping’ the bubble is gone and Church is there where it is meant to be.:)Love Angela

  29. Sophie says:

    Angela – What a beautiful thought!

  30. jonbirch says:

    i love that idea of the bubble being taken where the wind blows. :-)

    this cartoon was meant neither as a negative or positive statement. i really like the different takes people have on the bubble and the good things and the bad things about this image. bubbles can be isolating terrible things, they can also insulating wonderful things. i’ve needed to be in a bubble many a time… there are also times when i’ve been in bubbles that needed a good poke with a sharp stick. :-)

  31. theseoldshades says:

    I am very much outside the bubble at the moment having given up both CU and church this year. That makes me a bit of a stick in the mud in this house as most evenings the housemates are occupied with church/CU activities. I kind of miss fitting in the bubble, as outside is very lonely sometimes :(

  32. Linus says:

    heh, Jon, i think you’ve stumbled across a great definition of what it means to be a pastor: speak softly, and carry a sharp stick. =P

    shades: i guess it is tricky to give up the structures but still maintain the relationships. I know i often rely on the structures to help me spend time with people. I guess if the structures weren’t there, i would need to be more pro-active in gathering people together.

    It helps that i sometimes do organised social things like 5-a-side footy with peeps. Also a few really good mates from church play for the same hockey club as me, so i get to hang with them there too. Doesn’t have to be sport. Something like a book club, or starting a band, or getting involved with a uni society that close friends are part of would work the same.

    The other thing is that quitting going to church services doesn’t mean quitting the church community’s activities completely – if the church/CU is involved in some kind of work you’re passionate about – outreach, or justice issues campaigning, or soup kitchen or whatever – could you be involved in that without going to the main meetings? If they aren’t involved with the stuff you’re passionate about, could you start something with people you know from those communities?

    I think for me, if i had my time again, i’d be less involved with the CU and more involved with an organisation called speak. Might be worth checkin out to see if its up your street.

  33. Robb says:

    That’s pretty much what I did with my time at uni Linus. Didn’t really get that involved with the CU other than for the opportunity to decorate sheltered accommodation.

    Now I feel old. That was a decade ago…

  34. Caroline Too says:

    yes, I know what you mean, theoldshades (#31)

    I wonder if it’s a bubble or coccoon? a nice comfortable, safe,

    yet, the kingdom of God was and is moving around “close to people”

    I go back to the picture of Linisfarne, an island (and safely
    out of reach) for a third of the day and linked to the land by a

    I suspect that we need to create a rhythm, so that we have time
    on ‘the island’ safe and alone with God, then as the causeway
    comes in view, it’s time to get out and be amongst the world, but
    that, is scarey and, if everyone else stays in the buble, it’s
    lonely (as theoldshades is finding out).

  35. Welshdisastergirl says:

    Caroline Too… i like the idea of a rhythm, taking time to listen to what God is doing, and then joining in and doing it…. sounds like a plan to me :)

    theoldshades… isn’t it funny how sometimes it feels like you’re the only Christ follower that doesn’t get CU, when there are loads of us out there!

    what i tried to do was work out what i wanted from christians(CU)… and then get to doing it.

    Christian fellowship is so important, but a church should be so much more…. i think it was bill hybles that said ‘the loacal church is the hope of the world’…Church can be awesome when it works:)

  36. beckyG says:

    30. My problem is that I want to stay in the bubble because it feels good – similar to the transfiguration when the disciples wanted to erect chairs and bask in the glow when Jesus said – nope, gotta go.

  37. Welshdisastergirl says:

    this analogy of the state of church is interesting…..


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