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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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102 Responses to 763

  1. herbeey says:

    When you least want to go to church is when it is best for you to go to church.
    Don’t like singing? Well, you’d better sing anyway to show that you’re one in spirit with everyone.

    *fizzle* There’s something about expectations and church that just doesn’t feel right.

  2. Tiggy says:

    No, you shouldn’t because tomorrow is Thursday.

  3. herbeey says:

    In a perfect world, church would be every day. ;) :P

  4. Tiggy says:

    As long as I’m not expected to get up for it every day. Sunday morning’s a ridiculous time to have church – don’t they realise people go clubbing on a Saturday night?!

  5. herbeey says:

    Christ never went clubbing before his Sunday morning service.

  6. Tiggy says:

    They had their services on Saturday morning then. Plenty of time for hanging out with publicans and sinners later in the day.

  7. Pingback: tasmission » Blog Archive » 763 « The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus

  8. Richard says:

    No, you shouldn’t because tomorrow is Thursday.

    On the other hand, he is less likely to find a large group there, be asked to sing or listen to a lecture. So I think yes.

  9. Will says:

    the joy is that church (a group of people getting together) comes in many flavours and so i would recommend one that is more up his street. Where there is conversation. It starts later and generally more to his taste.

    We can so often feel that our way of doing church is right that we can miss the many ways that it is done. We can get defensive because if our church is not for someone then whats wrong with it?

    Find something with people with whom you share common ground. Thats what i say ‘cos it is about the people that you journey with. Oh and God of course.

  10. Laura says:

    Depends on how you define “church”
    at mine you’d feel comfortable cause it’s small, provides ear plugs(seriously) because the music is a “bit” loud for many folks cause the pastor is 1/2 deaf I think, and there’s conversations not lectures.

    Plus…they take a break in the middle to have cake.

    and…it’s on Friday night so no having to get out of bed early on the weekend!

    oh yeah baby….you should go to church :-)

  11. Laura says:

    or not. If you don’t want to.

  12. Catriona says:

    … and that’s just the vicar speaking! :-)

  13. miriworm says:

    Perhaps you should go to bed instead! :-)

  14. JanieL says:

    A quote from the Causeway Coast Vineyard Church, Coleraine, Website – “Its amazing what happens when the church leaves the building and begins to give away what God has given it.”
    FOrget the building, forget the church – do what Jesus did and go and talk to people wherever they are. Meet this guy and do church in the pub, cafe, his own home, wherever…

  15. Dave says:

    made me think of this quote…. ‘The church is the only co-operative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members’ William Temple

  16. dennis says:

    that bed sure looks cosy and warm, maybe just 5 mins more….

  17. I think it is relationship that keeps me with the group of people that I am with. I do think we need different things to do and not just sing and listen to talks. I’ve just been raving about Jonny baker’s booklet Transforming preaching. But to be fair we spend s lot of time chatting – social and more serious discussions – and even eating together. If you don’t like large groups then meeting in homes is a good option it is difficult to squeeze in too many.

  18. jonbirch says:

    hey david derbyshire… i was out with jonny last night after a day working on proost stuff. his first chapter title ‘…hand grenade in a fruitbowl’ is a quote from me. i don’t get quoted a lot, unless there’s a cartoon attached, so found it pretty special. ok, so now i’ve bragged for the second time on my blog and i really can see the treasure disappearing and my crown getting smaller by the second. :-)

  19. Carole says:

    Speaking from a purely personal perspective, my church is the one I was born into. Not the same building, not even the same town, but the local branch, if you like. I didn’t choose it because I like the style – I don’t even know if I do like the style. I spend a lot of time chcking out the greener grass elsewhere. I have lots and lots of little niggling criticisms about it. I often have long lapses of not going…but it would seriously break my heart to leave it completely.

    I have some lovely friends there, but a lot of the people I don’t know at all. There are some that I know but I am not very fond of (and have no doubt that the feelings are reciprocated!) I come from a huge family and I find I have all those difficulties there, too. I tend not to live in the pockets of the people at church. But when I go through my difficult times, I know that some of the most loving concern I will find is from people at church. My relationship with church and Church is a complex one.

  20. jonbirch says:

    thanks for that, carole.

  21. Robb says:

    Carole – I think it is important to be part of the local church. It is easy for people to jump in the car and go to the church that attracts them. That is how we end up with all of the ‘gifted*’ people being in one building watching the flashing lights and listening to the fancy music whilst the outposts are all devoid of ‘gifted people’.

    * People with Social Capital**

    ** The Social Capital’s of the Holy Spirit? 1 Corinthians 12?

  22. Robb says:

    Sorry – that’s not realy pertinent to the cartoon.

  23. Big Dan says:

    @15 “‘The church is the only co-operative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members’ William Temple”

    I never understood that quote. Um, how about every charity that’s ever existed?

  24. jonbirch says:

    big dan… a charity by definition isn’t a co-operative society, is it?

  25. Big Dan says:

    Dunno… it’s a group of people who co-operate, isn’t it? Or is there a technical definition I’m missing?

  26. Hey, that’s me on a Saturday. Slightly improved from the “aaarg, I’ve just been hammered all week and now I’m supposed to go to church” which was the Saturday Thought when I worked in a big charismatic organisation.

    “I think it is important to be part of the local church. It is easy for people to jump in the car and go to the church that attracts them. That is how we end up with all of the ‘gifted*’ people being in one building watching the flashing lights and listening to the fancy music whilst the outposts are all devoid of ‘gifted people’.”

    Very cool thought. As one of the ‘Non-gifted’ that escaped, that makes sense.

  27. Big Dan says:


    Oh, OK.

    But by that definition, Temple’s church can’t actually be a cooperative society, so his claim is a contradiction in terms.

    Anyway, presumably Temple neglected to mention the other faiths?

  28. matybigfro says:

    It’s not just a problem with the church though is it it, those who can ship their kids tot he other side of town to get better schooling or pack them away off to the country to get the best schooling, whose who can afford pay to go the private doctors/hospital

    Choice is the ruler of out free market driven world.

    unfortunaly there doesn’t seem to be a very attractive other option (i can imagine state enforced church attendence would go down like iron curtain)

  29. beatthedrum says:

    I guess you need to define local church. I drive past two church buildings to get to the church i am a member of. But my church works in my community just as much as the other two do. So it is just as local.

    I think we often forget that Acts 2 has a number of element to the ‘chuch’ they met together often, were devoted to the apostles teaching and spending time together. And the worshipped together in a service context (here the temple).

    We need to follow every strand of that pattern. I know I know before the pedants come in their is no temple and our church buildings do not fulfill the same function as the temple. But there is a need for corporate worship and fellowship.

  30. jonbirch says:

    haha! beat the drum… allow me to be the pedant. :-D those differences between the temple of the day and what we call ‘going to church’ are vastly different… you say it yourself. church services for the most part are just plain alienating for many in our jumbled culture, don’t you think? churches very often have so much that is good about them, but i fear that services are so often not one of those great things. i don’t think it’s a pedantic point at all. :-)

  31. Pat says:

    Robb @ 21: I found your idea of linking 1 Cor 12 to the notion of ‘social capital'(in its more positive aspects!) very thought-provoking, especially in the light of the previous cartooon. Thank you :-)

  32. Mimou says:

    church doesn’t have to be those things. to me, church is getting together with other believers in any shape or form and it can very well happen other times than sunday 11 am.

  33. Robb says:

    Pat – glad to be of service.

    Matybigfro – in the back of my mind when I wrote that were the local prosperity gospel peddlers who manage to “grow churches” without ever meeting the community. Gathering people from far and wide to buy a merc doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.

    Not sure I want to see God as a commodity being sold on the free market.

    As an aside, it seems that the words “free market” are a bit oxymoronical. We seem to be more and more enslaved by the “free market”.

  34. aurum says:

    It sounds like me! :)

  35. While I’m here, the thought of ‘driving past churches’ brings up some thoughts I never understood as a child (and still don’t get now): If a church is so far away that you have to drive there how is it serving the community?

    Secondly, as we know what sort of nastiness comes out of car exhaust systems, how do we square driving to a distant church, with loving our neighbours?

  36. jonbirch says:

    yup, andy in germany… it ain’t squarable.

  37. JF says:

    Dave (15) – how so? Surely church is to for members to mutually encourage each other in their faith of choice? ‘Non-members’ are busy getting on with the reality of the outside world. Or what have I missed?

  38. Caroline Too says:

    missed the early conversation, will read it tomorrow, but commenting on Jon’s cartoon…

    I’m not sure that these are the best reasons for not doing church on a Sunday service, try:

    I want to do real relationships (not a grabbed word over coffee when I say, “fine, I’m great, how’s you?” before moving on

    I want to do real learning to do with how I live my daily life, I want help from scripture to help me deal with specific issues that I’m wrestling with at that moment… not some vague syllabus designed in a vicar’s study

    I want to have space, to sit with God, to lean on his breast and hear his heart concerns but all I get is an hour or so crammed with singing, prayers, notices, sermon, belief statements, and instructions, then that grabbed coffee… look, clerical guys… I live life at a ferocious rush for six days a week, can’t I have ONE DAY a week when I can slow down to appreciate my Lord?

    So I don’t go to church services very often, because I think that they are damaging to the soul, and I want to blast them out of existence,

    and yes, I know that I’m extreme, but the hyper conservative christian church, is not over endowed with radicals… it can cope with a few like me

    and (after all) you can just ignore me like my vicar does

    yes, I do think that christians should gather, but we need to learn how to do new ways of gathering.

    sorry, rant over, I’ll go and get my coat now…

  39. Hazel says:

    Caroline Too – I am in total agreement with your points. I have recently become involved in my local cafe church which has saved my sanity somewhat -http://www.cafechurch.net
    and I think it’s much more REAL than Sunday morning church…

  40. Mimou says:

    I like your words Caroline Too =)

  41. I’m with Caroline Too, too.

  42. Forrest says:

    Re:”and yes, I know that I’m extreme, but the hyper conservative christian church, is not over endowed with radicals… it can cope with a few like me” :-D

    Can’t be that disagreeable of an extreme radical, got cats and a sailboat. ;-)

  43. JohnFOM says:

    Thanks Jon.

    I’m currently in a position where I’m finding it very hard to attend my ‘local’ for precisely those reasons. And when I did try to start up something that wasn’t Big Music, Lecture style I was told variously a)it would lead to destruction of the church though disunity, b)I should go to a different church in the evenings, c)just turn up and do my ‘duty’ and go home.

    Thanks for starting this conversation right when I’ve been thinking about it! (and thanks to all of you who’ve posted comments. it’s been an encouragement)

  44. Tiggy says:

    I want to go to a cafe church. Ideally one with sofas like Starbucks but better coffee. There should be cafes open in the evenings as an alternative to pubs – like in the fifties.

    I have a fantasy of a basement cafe painted pink with fishing nets across the ceiling and those glass fisherman’s weights with lights in. This is a longstanding fantasy of mine – I won’t tell yu my others. :-)

    Well done on the quote Jon, but I think we’d need to see the context to appreciate it fully. As I go to an MCC church, I guess it really is a fruitbowl.

  45. Laura says:

    well stated caroline too

  46. Tiggy says:

    I really like the colour combination in that cartoon – it looks really restful. Would have liked a few stars in the window though.

    I’ve been really into the colour blue over the past few months and I never have before. Someone told me it’s a healing colour.

  47. chad m says:

    the answer is, “yes. get over yourself and your preferences and go worship the Triune God!”

  48. Tiggy says:

    …and subject yourself to other people’s preferences. Why do we have to worship God in a church? Actually I worship God in an old 1930s cinema, but it’s not always the best place if you want to be tranquil in God’s presence. It’s too full of over-excited charismatics, babbling away and falling over and stuff and you can’t always face that on a Sunday morning. I don’t see Sunday as the day we worship God – what’s wrong with the rest of the week? ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’.

  49. jonbirch says:

    jf @ 37… that’s why it exists, it isn’t necessarily what it does. :-(

  50. jonbirch says:

    caroline too… i wish i could disagree with you, but i can’t. :-(

  51. Forrest says:

    There is the reality of the “outside” world: which, by definition creates an “inside” world.

    To not attend to both worlds leaves life half-fed.

    Which does shed light on reports of how many people feel a not quite definable emptiness.

  52. johnski says:

    Why is it that every time there is a discussion in which church, Church or CHURCH appears it very soon begins to look like another rehearsal of ME:CHURCH values??

    However you define it, our relationship to the rest of the body of which we are a part surely has to be defined by what we give, and not what we get.
    Please stop all the whinging. And for those who haven’t yet done their language course, the use of the word ‘real’ in any paragrahp about relationships or community is pejorative. If all those people who did that stopped complaining and did a bit more missional action the ‘church’ as we know it would be the agent of massive social political economic spiritual chage, just as Jesus envisaged

  53. Carole says:

    Johnski, I don’t see so much whingeing as a frank exchange of ideas and experiences as prompted by the cartoon. You seem to be inferring that people who have commented are not currently involved in ‘missional action’. Be careful about making such assumptions.

  54. Caroline Too says:

    thought that I needed to add a bit to my earlier rant…

    almost went off in a huff following Johnski’s poke in the eye, but

    I neglected to talk about worship… but suspect (from Is 58 and Romans 12) that this is less about all getting together for a sing song and more about working together to present our bodies as a living sacrifice…

    and then there are celebrations… these seemed to come around every now and again for the children of israel… and I suspect that we should gather in as big a crowds as possible to celebrate our wonderful King… I’m not sure that Spring Harvest or New Wine are quite me… but I do see them as working out something of this celebratory role… and there, I think having a sing song is utterly appropriate!

    by the way Johnski, I confess that I feel a bit bruised by the unfairness of your comment (#52); there is a fine line, but a huge difference, between a whinger and a creative radical… I hope I’m the latter, and you don’t know me well enough to describe me as the former.

  55. subo says:

    I can so relate to the chap in bed, some Sunday’s a slow start seems so important, and they crank the amp up so high at church, and …

    and yet I’m recognising a need to be part of a church again, to be blessed and challenged, to join in with corporate worship, to feel loved by people completely different to me.

    as a child from a large family, I’m interested in the interchange between people, and church and society, and churches within churches. where we see we are having an impact on others, and where we don’t see the impact of our behaviour on others. One thing that happens in families when a members behaviour becomes more and more selfish, is for the rest of the family to run around faster and faster, desperately trying to meet the needs of the member who’s behaviour is getting out of control. It’s been show that if people can sit down, and talk about restoring a more healthy balance, the person who’s behaviour was dominating every situation, can become happier themselves. I feel the church has let it’s self get caught in a similar pattern at times, in it’s frustration with what happens outside the church, it ends up preaching at those inside!

  56. Kim says:

    Caroline Too – thank you for both your thought provoking comments.

    Just to say I love New Wine, it has actually restored my faith in the church over the last few years, an yes the big sing song, all together in a muddy field, is one of the best bits! The range of seminars,conversations & quiet spaces just heartens me that the body of Christ is alive and well, and embracing its diversity.

    And hanging out over a bbq and a beer with people from my local church is a great way to get to know them better outside the building. :lol:

  57. beatthedrum says:

    #35 & #36

    We would drive to any church I went to for the sunday ‘worship session’ Im a drummer and I aint walking back and forth to any church carry my kit with me!

  58. JF says:

    Forrest (51)…absolutely agree, but whether religion is the thing to fill it??? Hmmm…

  59. Forrest says:

    No JF, religion is not. However, the fellow some of those religions are about, is. And he is quite capable of doing that in or out of religion.
    And will be more than happy to do so, either way.

  60. Forrest says:

    All ya gotta do is ask him to.

  61. matybigfro says:

    ther interesting asside about driving to a church far away as there are just as many ‘local churchs’ with no local people and rich folks who drive from their sub’s into the area the church is in as there are ‘non-local churchs’ where people drive out(from around) the area to.

    What people tend to forget is allot of these ‘non-local’ churches started meeting in peoples homes, scout huts or church halls just as freinds wanting to learn/experince/talk/listen/experience God. These big building are often simply a extension out growing of that
    just as often as not healthy life giving good extentions.

  62. “We would drive to any church I went to for the sunday ‘worship session’ Im a drummer and I aint walking back and forth to any church carry my kit with me!”

    To me that’s an example of how the way we do church needs to become more holistic and less compartmentalised: It’s all very well driving a drum kit about but how is this loving the people you pass?

    Funnily enough, I’m married to a drummer and we have two solutions. One is to leave the kit in the church, either in the worship area or another room where it’s safe. The other is to use a smaller drum like a Cajon that we can transport easily by bike or public transport. (Okay, so we have a transport bike)

    It’s not that complex, and we’ve also discovered that a full kit isn’t that necessary. And you get some great conversations with people who wouldn’t ever go near a church.

    Of course, your situation is different, but If you think you can love your neighbour in the process of driving to church, please tell me how.

  63. “However you define it, our relationship to the rest of the body of which we are a part surely has to be defined by what we give, and not what we get.”

    I’m not sure anyone would disagree with that: many of us are frustrated because we tried to give but because it doesn’t fit into a churches narrow idea of what we should do (Which often seemed to be what the leader wanted to do) I can write, act, direct, lead theatre workshops and tell stories, I can even draw at a push. (Okay, last one is a push) I can also paint rooms, and make tea on the streets for old guys of drugs, and wash up and I’m happy to do that as well. I can’t dance or sing or preach at people on the street, and I’ve often found that my gifts aren’t welcome.

  64. jonbirch says:

    johnski… you have assumed a lot. incorrectly in my view. because people have a critique of the way church is done, do not make assumptions about the way they live their lives.
    asbo has been a place where we can air our experiences honestly. the subject matter is prompted by me, so that’s my responsibility. a few commenters on this post i know personally now and i can honestly say that i believe you have got them wrong. utterly wrong.
    with out discussion about all aspects of life as church, how can we ever hope to move on, to grow, to change. maybe these are things you see no need for, i don’t know, but my experiences tell me different.
    i have recently been accused of being cynical and my blog completely unhelpful. knocking down and not building up. i don’t own that criticism, i believe it to be completely untrue and i believe the beautiful way people so often relate here to be testament to that.
    up until your comment johnski, i had not seen any whinging. i am often disturbed when i find that the honest comments of some, their difficult experiences or genuine concerns are written off so quickly and without due attention or compassion.
    okay, whinge over. :-)

  65. jonbirch says:

    bless you, andy in germany… your gifts are welcome here. :-)

  66. Forrest says:

    Re: “…my blog completely unhelpful. knocking down and not building up.”
    Sometimes things are ‘disassembled’ here in order to be examined and subsequently rebuilt in a better form: maybe the critiquer’s impression that process was mistaken.

    Ultimately, I have received building up from here.
    And am very thankful for what comes from ASBOJesus, let alone what comes from Jesus himself.

  67. Robb says:

    Not sure I can go with blasting them out of existence. I have too much respect for the people who are nourished by them to destroy them. I don’t have that right.

    That doesn’t mean that there isn’t space on this planet for all of us.

    Why is it that human nature seems to insist that our way is the only way. We have Anglo Catholics insisting that anything else isn’t a valid expression of faith. We have evangelicals going to places with Catholic spirituality and removing all traces of the spirituality of the people because “I don’t like it”. Now we have emergence acting in much the same manner (sometimes). Great.

    Why do we have to blast something out of existence to find our own place?

    61 – sometimes they are. Sometimes they are big business moving into another area with their ‘brand’. When you see web pages offering to help you “relocate and catch the vision” with a testimony from a guy they helped move from New Zealand I have to ask questions…

  68. Robb says:

    Stupid missing html.

  69. Cochleate says:

    So often after feeling such as the blog I am stuck with the question:
    Should I go to help it change ?

    However I am then faced with the thought,
    No, they are probably better off without me.

    Often the thoughts and ideologies spun up in evenings of deep analysis of the church are all forgotten and torn from you and you betray every fiber of yourself, your ideals and views when the vicar’s wife asks/says “Wasn’t the service great today?”

  70. Tiggy says:

    I find that Being Known is the most important aspect of church. Oddly I’ve found that the vicar at the church along from me to which I’ve only been once knows me better than the people at my regular church. That isn’t just because the church is so big, but because he’s someone who CAN understand me. Hmm, maybe I should start going to that church….they do the best coffee in Bath too.

  71. Hazel says:

    Tiggy @ 44 – cafe church is held in Costa coffee and some of them have leather sofas! If you check their website maybe there is one local to you? Also in the city I live in, there is one particular cafe/”coffee house” which is open in the evenings!

  72. Caroline Too says:

    I take your point Robb (#67), of course the services will remain for those who cherish them,

    I used hyperbole to make a point that I believe that church services damage even thos who like them,

    I just think that there are things going on ‘under the surface’ so to speak,
    * the centring of the one at the front
    * the creation of passivity amongst congregations
    * the creation of an emphasis on words rather than actions
    * a tendency to foreground belief at the expense of pilgrmage

    Now, you’ll say that none of those need be the case, or that those things don’t happen in ‘our’ church, but

    I guess that I’m just applying the insights that I’ve gained from my research in other areas and applying them to church life, and this is my judgement.

    Of course I might be wrong, and of course I will happily live with (even cherish) diversity, but I think, for the time being, I’m going to argue forcefully for an end to church services.

    (knowing that I’m kicking against a stone wall and that those who could change things largely have a vested interest in keeping things as they are.)

    sigh, I wish that I didn’t always live in the margins, it does get uncomfortable sometimes, and I find I hurt those friends who move within the centres of life…

  73. MMP says:

    …am almost certain Christ did go clubbing before his services……..)

  74. Tiggy says:

    What IS a cafe church? I went to a church meeting at Starbucks – now known as StArbucks – but it was all singing of naff songs for ages. I was lucky cos the guest speaker that week was exceedingly witty and droll, but I think it could be potentially dire.

  75. Tiggy says:

    Re 73 – I met a guy the other week who reckoned that Jesus was bisexual because ‘he would have tried anything once’. LOL

  76. Hazel says:

    I’m not on commission! The one I have started going to has NO SINGING (by those attending unless you want to join in!) (AND ESPECIALLY NOT OF ANY NAFF SONGS) -sometimes there is some music (i.e. someone performs a couple of songs at the beginning, but we do have a guy who is a professional musician – usually contemporary stuff and not specifically Christian stuff but maybe something that will just tie in with the theme. There is a set format with a theme for the evening but plenty of time for chat and coffee and muffins. We’ve done things like the environment, money/credit crunch. There’s a chat by an “expert witness” and a person who shares “real life story” – expert witness as you would expect is more knowledgeable about the topic and real life story is usually someone sharing how their faith impacts the way they live – for eg. for the environment one we had someone who knew a lot about the current issues on the go, “real life story” was someone who shared what differences she has made to her daily life (waste watching, recycling etc) as a result of feeling she needs to look after and respect God’s creation etc.

  77. Tiggy says:

    Sounds good – apart from the muffins. More an almond biscotti girl myself. My current church does a lovely almond biscotti with espresso coffee, though the church nearest me does a great capuccino and amaretto biscuit. I’m torn. Noting like worshipping God from a sofa I say. Sorry, on a bit of a high at the moment!

  78. Caroline Too says:


    Jon wants to stay in bed
    Tiggy’s struggling with the choice between different church’s provisions of calories to go with the coffee

    tad puzzled

    but wondering if, at last, we’ve spotted key features of church life
    beds, sofas and really hard biscuits that break your teeth unless dunked!

  79. Tiggy says:

    I think the church in the modern age has had to realise that it needs to provide its groggy members with coffee before and during the service as well as after. It also needs to serve espresso and not weak instant, thus guaranteeing a lively service.

  80. jonbirch says:

    hazel @ 76… you may enjoy a conversation just started up at the end of the NEWLINK thread, a few posts down. :-)

  81. rebecca says:

    Caroline (#72): “those who could change things largely have a vested interest in keeping things as they are”.

    That’s a very useful observation. It provides an explanation for many undesirable aspects of life. But the example which first springs to my mind is not particularly to do with church — it’s the inadequate action the world is taking on climate change!

  82. Tiggy says:

    The primary example of which was Bush and the oil barons.

  83. Robb says:

    An oil barron in the hand is worth two in the bush?

  84. beatthedrum says:

    Andy from Germany my church serves my community that i live in and the people i drive past on a sunday. We are fully active in that community as a lot of us live there and our church ‘covers’ the whole ‘city’ of Durham, which is very small.

    Words like holistic etc are all very good but they mean nothing….

  85. jonbirch says:

    “Holism (from ὅλος holos, a Greek word meaning all, entire, total) is the idea that all the properties of a given system (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone. Instead, the system as a whole determines in an important way how the parts behave.

    The general principle of holism was concisely summarized by Aristotle in the Metaphysics: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts” (1045a10).

    Reductionism is sometimes seen as the opposite of holism. Reductionism in science says that a complex system can be explained by reduction to its fundamental parts.”

    ‘holistic’ and ‘reductionism’ both mean a lot and perhaps are both applicable in this conversation.

  86. beatthedrum says:

    Ok what is holistic church as andy commented then?

  87. Robb says:

    A church that cares for the whole rather than a part.

  88. Tiggy says:

    A church that sees and treats people as whole human beings with lives that incorporate different dimensions, rather than just focusing on those people’s religious beliefs.

  89. beatthedrum says:

    Ok then what does that have to do with me travelling past two churches with my drum kit to get to the one i am holistically involved with?

  90. Tiggy says:


    I have loads of churches within five minutes walk of me. I don’t even know which is my nearest. I always felt a bit guilty about going to one at some distance because of a Jam song (Popular 80s band fronted by Paul Weller and not noted for its religious lyrics),

    ‘Go to church with the people in the area
    All shapes and classes sit and pray together
    Here we are all one
    For God created all men equal’

  91. Andy in Germany says:

    I seem to have set off a whole new topic… Yikes.

    Thanks Jon for that great definition of ‘holistic’

    @beatthedrum: I don’t mean to be getting at you at all- if you think what you’re doing is the right thing, I’m not about to condemn you, especially as I’m sure I’m missing a plank (or two) in my eye somewhere.

    I’d see ‘Holistic’ ministry in the sense that our lives are a calling and our worship has to be reflected in the way we do things as much as what we do. I’d also suggest that in all things we do, we’re sending a message about God, which may be accurate, or may not.

    Because I believe that, I don’t personally seperate the ‘worship time’ from the journey to church: Both can be worship, and both can be loving others, reaching out to them, or not: How I get to church has potentially as much spiritual significance as what I do there.

    I find it’s easy as a ‘believer/christian/follower of Jesus’ to make compartments and assume some aren’t related. Usually I find I do this when it’s convenient. However, One decision we made as a family is that we can’t love our neighbours while polluting the air they breathe, or supporting wars to get oil, so we don’t use own car. Of course this means we have to be creative or think differently, and we’re a mystery to a lot of people in our present village church as well as others who drive SUV’s to church in the city.

    I think your last comment is common of a lot of people I’m working and worshiping with here, as our churshes have really lost the plot on creation and people, so we don’t easily see the connection.

    BTW I know of two people who transport drum kits by pedal power, including one in a band that only travels by bike, although I also appreciate that if you’re in Durham (UK) it’S a bit hilly.

    As an aside, I’m talking as a dad, who had to wait for an ambulance in the small hours because my six-month-old baby had breathing difficulties because of the pollution from cars passing our house. I’m not exactly disengaged.

  92. Tiggy says:

    You may know, Andy, that we’re nowhere near as geared up for bikes here in terms of bicycle lanes as they are in Germany, even though far more people are now using them.

  93. jonbirch says:

    hey beatthedrum. me not meaning to have a go either. :-)
    what andy is referring to is most commonly known as ‘dualism’, a crime the church is often guilty of in the extreme. his illustration of how we get to church being as much an act of worship as a time of worship is a biblical truth. (this is one of the reasons i’ve come to really struggle with the idea of the time of worship… it isn’t, it’s a time of singing). how we resolve in our own lives to ensure that the way we are in all things glorifies god is a matter for us and our modern times sure raise a lot of dilemmas, eg. the environment and how we respond in the every day to make sure our actions do the best by god.

  94. Tiggy says:

    I suppose that means I should get there on time. This has made me think I’ll take a different route to church next time – going past the Abbey rather than past all the shops.

  95. @Jon:
    …”this is one of the reasons i’ve come to really struggle with the idea of the time of worship… it isn’t, it’s a time of singing”…

    Exactly, sadly I think many church leaders have found it easier to ignore this, but the result is not only a lack of understanding about Creation and worship, but also the silly situation where we have the about ‘gifted’ (Often musical) people at the front and ‘non-gifted’ (Non-musical) watching them, and the situation in the cartoon being played out millions of times. It’s a different result, but often the same root.

    @Twiggy: I do know that :) I’m ‘Andy IN Germany’, not From Germany. I spent many hours commuting in UK traffic on a bike.

  96. Tiggy says:

    Yes, that’s what I thought. But FFS can people stop calling me Twiggy! It makes me feel fat and I’m already on a near starvation diet.

    I worship when I’m singing, but the song has to be a good one. A lot of the ones sung in churches are dreadful. Actually, correction – I dont ‘worship’ at all. I don’t even believe in worshipping God, unless I’ve somehow got the meaning wrong. I don’t think God needs to hear how wonderful he is. I ‘commune’ with God.

  97. beatthedrum says:

    Hmm i think God wants us to worship Him……. After all He is after Glorifying himself….

    Sometime we drop God down to the wise buddy level and forget that he is God who is worthy to be worshiped and we whom we see worshipped in the bible……

  98. Tiggy says:

    Ugh, ugh please – don’t associate me with that! I do not see God as a buddy. I believe in a highly transcendent yet highly immanent God. I just don’t think we need to keep saying things like,

    ‘Oh God, you are so big!’

    I think glorifying means something else. I think it has more to do with our actions and how we reveal God’s glory to the world.

  99. Caroline Too says:

    agree, BTD that worship is a key (alongside repentence) to our relationship with God

    what I don’t see is why people think that worship needs to be done in a church service every sunday and why it involves so many words

    as I pointed out earlier, we have scripture (Romans 12 and Is 58) that suggests that worship is not always identical to praise and that it does not necessarily demand being in a crowd and certainly doesn’t require singing…

    I like singing
    I see as part of worship
    I see worship as a part of my church family life

    I like carrot cake
    I see carrot cake as a valid part of teatime
    I think teatime spent with others is good
    I don’t think that carrot cake is good for me if it’s the only thing I eat!

    and I don’t think that worship with others every sunday, at the same time in our very worship leader centred manner is good for us as a church family… it blocks the way for so many other ways of engaging together with our God.

  100. Tiggy says:

    I worship God when I eat a piece of delicious carrot cake at my favourite cafe. Then I inwardly praise the Creator for the blessings of his creation – maybe not in words, but in a grateful and joyful heart.

    And yes, I AM being serious.

  101. Robb says:

    I AM is always serious. Certainly was when speaking to Moses…

  102. Tiggy says:

    ‘He alone can make me who I AM
    Or rather who I will be’
    Thomas Merton.

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