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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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43 Responses to 1065

  1. ruthwells says:

    Ah the ‘God has clearly….’ chestnut!

  2. jonbirch says:

    hmmm, yes, ruthwells… ‘chestnuts’ give me dreadful, painful indigestion.

  3. Thanks indeed. Very inspiring.

  4. jonbirch says:

    very kind, archdruid eileen. :-)

  5. jonbirch says:

    btw, archdruid eileen… just been to your blog and done some reading. absolutely brilliant. sacking the manager and dutch home visit euthanasia were the posts i read. hilarious, thoughtful and all together excellent stuff. :-)

  6. Timbo says:

    “‘chestnuts’ give me dreadful, painful indigestion.”
    You should try peeling them first…

  7. dgsinclair says:

    Funny, but also true – some local pastors are complacent and stagnant, not to mention so liturigcalized that they are unrelateable. I say, bring on the laborers!

    BTW, here’s an idea for a cartoon that I have noticed. Many pastors in my small town have their little flocks, but don’t want to combine or work together – because they will lose control or money or something.

  8. jonbirch says:

    i take your point dgs… but in this cartoon i’m on the vicar’s side. no idea why, given that small churches and big churches can be equally daft. :-)
    the real labor, in my view, is relationship building. the big church can leave much damage in it’s wake as can the small church… just on a smaller scale. however, i like small, if small means people really knowing one another warts and all, darkness and all, brokenness and all. there can be no substitute for the real thing.

  9. Gfeef says:

    I wonder why super churches are often not really ‘super’, just often bigger and bolder and more imposing. Somehow it’s also more acceptable for them to tell him that ‘God told them to come’, than for him to say ‘God told me you should leave’?

    I love churches of every size, but I know first-hand the feeling of a church losing it’s energetic youngsters and young families to mega congregations where the worship is huge and the preaching is by the often familiar names, and then to see them come back, needing the individual care of a smaller community, until they get restless with the backup piano player or the reader whose preaching skills are still to be honed, go to a summer conference and start the circle afresh.

  10. Goodfield says:

    God is clearly telling me to start a new Super Asbo Jesus on your URL Jon! :-) – just kidding, no way I could compete

  11. subo says:

    since i’ve lived at my place, there’s at least 4 shiny new churches dotted about, some only a block away. i suspect some of them expect substantial financial commitments from their members

  12. lanceleuven says:

    Nice, although the vicar appears rather conceited to me. God doesn’t can’t even find the time to phone ahead and let his ever-faithful followers know that he’s about to send a hurricane/volcano/tsunami/asteroid etc. So I imagine a new church is fairly low down on his list of priorities.

  13. jonbirch says:

    lanceleuven… hmmm… i guess this cartoon has a few more meanings than i thought about when doing it. :-)

  14. jonbirch says:

    when people say ‘god is telling me to…’ i tend not to believe them… from experience it all seems to be either people being unwilling to take full responsibility for their decisions or some other reason for doing what they are that seems more likely. anyone have any thoughts on this?

  15. Joe Turner says:

    Maybe I’ve been reading too much George Fox, but my natural inclination is with the husband-and-wife on this one.

  16. Joe Turner says:

    @jonbirch – Kierkegaard liked to suggest that there are two ways of making decisions: the first we might think of as scientific – logically assessing the facts to make a decision. In contrast what we might think of as ‘God told me’ thinking. Both have difficulties – logic only works within its own parameters and can be cold. But as we’ve seen ‘God says’ can be highly problematic, not least because it is hard to argue with someone who says they have God on their side.

    K’s solution is that to be a Christian means to straddle both – to operate with logic within the parameters that we find ourselves but to leave open the possibility of a prophetic voice breaking through our conventional ways of thinking to bring new light to an issue.

    Sorry if that is too random..

  17. soniamain says:

    great post Jon:) the problem with this kind of scenario is that it is very difficult to challenge the couple as then you could be accused of doubting God, or getting in the way of go’s work (not actually sure what tat really means!!).

    to be honest I am not convinced there is a need to keep on setting up new churches in city’s that always have loads- but then I don’t usually experience God telling me such direct things in such a clear way- to be honest I find all that kind thing a bit freaky

  18. jonbirch says:

    joe turner… no idea who george fox is, but i’m guessing you’ve read too much of him. :-) btw… i think you highlight the problems with the ‘god is saying’ thing very well… i do appreciate that logic can seem hard and cold, but there are times i’d plump for that any day over fuzziness and emotional manipulation and hype, which i’ve seen far too much of… people convincing themselves and others of all sorts. i like the idea of the prophetic breaking through, but biblically speaking the prophetic is often pretty logical ‘you do that and this will be the consequence’ type stuff, it seems to me… not that it has to be negative of course… it could just as well be ‘you do this and this will be the reward.’ :-)

    yes sonia… too many churches, not enough community, where people are encouraged to be properly open and honest. i’m afraid (or pleased) that i have become very wary of any such talk. invariably someone innocent’s gonna come a cropper… so often happens, sadly. :-(

  19. subo says:

    i’m coming round to the idea that recognising our ordinariness, plus expanding our capacity for fun, is prophetic

    just at the moment the sense of fun has escaped me, though accepting i’m human, bumbling, misguided, hopeful and tired, and that this is enough, fills me with a deep happiness

    re. prophecy, is anyone else a fan of “The Prophetic Imagination” by Walter Brueggemann?

  20. iain says:

    God:- Ohh no, not a church! I said go to the city and plant a super birch! more woodland, thats whats needed there. A picnic area and a forest school. Wood for fuel in an oil hungry world and a place for wild creatures. Why are you so obsessed with church – why not let my kingdom come instead.

  21. Joe Turner says:

    George Fox was the ultimate non-conformist in the 17 century and founder of Quakerism. He did a lot of denouncing of the pseudo-religiosity of others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Fox

  22. ooh interesting. i don’t get the opportunity much to vent how much this pisses me off because when i do open my gob people fall out of love with me, i feel relatively safe here. i was watching a promo video of the very same last week and it caused an eruption of sadness in my heart when people people do this kind of thing. i also saw how a friend of mine was treated this month by the same ‘super’ church. absolutely disgraceful behaviour. and all in the name of ‘god’

  23. Peaches says:

    Hi Jon! I really love your blog and have nominated it for a Kreativ Blogger Award.
    Please visit me at http://lifereallyreallysucks.wordpress.com/ (Peaches – A sad comedy) to get the award if you wish to do that :)
    Keep up the good work!

  24. sonia says:

    Iain I love the idea of God asking us to plant trees not churches- that made me smile:)

  25. duffster says:

    loved Iain’s take on this very muchly. Thanks for shaking us up Jon x

  26. lanceleuven says:

    jonbirch says:
    March 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    lanceleuven… hmmm… i guess this cartoon has a few more meanings than i thought about when doing it. :-)

    Well all great comedy works on multiple levels! :-)

  27. jonbirch says:

    yes duffster and sonia… i’m with iain too! :-)

  28. jonbirch says:

    lanceleuven… “well all great comedy works on multiple levels!”… and so do some happy accidents it would seem. :lol:

  29. jonbirch says:

    dennis the mennis… yup, i’ve seen more casualties in the last few years than i care to count. v sad and completely annoying and utterly outrageous. :-(
    btw dennis… i like to vent here too… i think i should vent even more actually. often i hold back what i really think about certain things even here because i don’t want to offend for the sake of it. the danger is a less radical bunch of cartoons than actually the situations demand. maybe wanting to be liked is too important to me. you’ve made me think… in a good way. :-)

  30. Carole says:

    I don’t like the grins on the faces of that couple…I’ve seen that type of grin before…grinning super Christians – not to be trusted!

    Go on, Jon, have a good vent…you haven’t done a worship music one for a while ;-)

  31. jonbirch says:

    alright carole… watch this space… :-)

  32. sonia says:

    ranting and venting can be a very good thing!

  33. Marcus says:

    The guy in the cartoon sounds a bit like Adam when he starts of with “God is clearly telling my wife…” I know its to do with rules of grammar but I kind of expect that if it all goes belly up the first line out of his mouth would be to his wife “did God really say….”

    as for more churches, maybe God wants the ones that are already there to be refreshed, renewed, re-invigorated etc rather than setting up yet more – how many churches can any one place take?

  34. subo says:

    don’t we all sometimes hunger though, for a church free of all the burdensome trappings of decades of stuck in the mud churchiness?

    just imagine if Christianity was band new in Brissol, and you could think about what would make a good kinda church? – would you serve coffee?

  35. jonbirch says:

    subo… i’d probably serve the coffee and skip the sermon and the wretched singing. :-)

  36. jonbirch says:

    marcus… “how many churches can any one place take?” i reckon… one. :-)

  37. Joe Turner says:

    @subo – I suspect this is the root of the problem – we’ve made it all about the service rather than community service. I rarely attended church services now because they drive me up the wall.

  38. janetp says:

    @ iain: well, I know one city that doesn’t need another “super birch” – Bath (take a bow, JB!) :)

  39. Kim says:

    Sheesh, this is happening all the time I think. I sort of wonder if as life gets tougher, in terms of pressure and economics and all the other strains we live under, people may want what they perceive as safety, shiny-ness, apparent certainty of being told what to think etc etc that you may find in one of these places.

    A few of us in our town have broken out, and decided that our worship to God could be shown through blessing the place we live instead, so we are doing community together, trying to set up a foodbank with some others, supporting people who are vulnerable in practical ways, eating together, being honest about our struggles and weakness, going for walks, praying together etc. Its really small and probably a bit ropey in parts, but I feel like I’ve come back to life somehow.

    Fascinating how other Christians perceive it though – we are not allowed to join the Churches Together group in the town because they say we are not a church, and some of the leaders of the mainline churches are quite agitated by us or try to co-opt it.

  40. Kim says:

    PS Meant to say I love Brueggemann’s Prophetic Imagination very much. His ‘Prayers for a Privileged People’ kills me too.

  41. subo says:

    wow Kim, so cool to hear about yr group, like the idea of walking. will look out for Prayers 4 Privileged People.

  42. Ben Bennetts says:

    “God is clearly telling my wife and I…” Nope. Fails within the first phrase. God would use correct grammar, and would tell “my wife and ME…” The vicar and his flock are safe; the super-church is founded upon grammatical quicksand. Love the post – thanks!

  43. Pingback: Do You Want To Build A Super Church? | The Church Sofa

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