Back to the Blog – Catching Up

Just realised that I haven’t posted here at all this year! Useless. Must get back to it.

Much of my posting this year has been on our church website: This has been significantly redeveloped over the year and now features much of my faith based online writing. It seems pointless to copy it here – hence some of the silence.

I’ve also been beavering away on the DMin. This consumed much of the period between Easter and the summer holidays as I carried out the practical research – preaching a series of nine sermons back to back prepared with Anna Carter Florence’s approach to preaching – accompanied by a questionnaires, interviews and focus groups. I’m now diving into the long process of transcribing everything and writing it up. Whilst transcribing the interviews reveals all sorts of fascinating thoughts and trends, it is also a slow boring process!

Gaming-wise, the highlights this year so far have been:

  1. Glorantha. My regular group have been playing a Runequest/Heroquest hybrid game set in Glorantha. We’ve come back to this a few times over the last few years, and it’s been a real blast! Gundrig Gorpslayer, the Mostali, has become a river-voice and dreams of collapsing tunnels on trolls. Quite a contrast to the online forum based RQ game I’m in where Grundar the Praxian Rhino Rider trades with trolls and worships Argan Argar as well as Orlanth and the Raven Spirit.
  2. Running Pendragon at Continuum. Recent years I’ve run a variety of games, but this year, other than a Torchwood Heroquest game, I majored on Pendragon, finally finishing off a Fen-based campaign which I have run over all my Continuum visits (although only really I have known the games have been connected) leading up to the defeat of Hereward the Wake by Arthur’s men. The final game saw him finally defeated, slain by the PCs in a confrontation that saw their heroic deaths too. A totally majestic and fitting climax. A wonderful experience and my first TPK. Having been out of Pendragon for a little while, this really ignited my passion for it again.
  3. Running Mutant Year Zero. For a long time I’ve had a hankering to run a proper campaign again for my regular group after finishing the Great Pendragon Campaign with my more sporadic group, for now any way. I backed MY0 in the Kickstarter and was hooked immediately, subsequently backing all their other games. This is the first chance I’ve had, however, to get a game going. We’ve had three sessions so far, character/Ark generation and two sessions of actual play, the first Ark based, the second in the Zone. It has proved to be worthy of the expectation, and I’m absolutely loving it. I’ll blog some ‘actual play’ notes soon.

But I can’t finish this blog without a tribute to Greg Stafford, the man behind both Glorantha and Pendragon. Here’s what I’ve written elsewhere:

The King has set sail over the lake to Avalon.

I got to know Greg through Pendragon. I’d just got back into gaming after a break of too many years, and discovering Pendragon, lapped it up. Greg emailed the Yahoo Pendragon group saying he was looking for someone to help him put together a website. No one else offered and so I found myself tentatively saying I knew a little bit of html and could give it ago if no one else came forward. And so it was that I found myself working with my gaming hero for many years on his original website and then along with the original Round Table forum before it moved across to its current home with Nocturnal. Through this, I also got to work on a few projects with him, which was a privilege, wonderful watching this creative genius at work. Greg also supported a group of us who set out to run Pendragon scenarios at Continuum and a few other cons, ‘The Pendragon Eschille’, and regularly dropped in for a Skype chat, battling mightily with the many tech issues we encountered on the way. It was great getting to know him – he was always generous, patient and passionate.

Although good ‘virtual friends’ we only met once, at the last Continuum he came over for. He had long promised to run a game for me if our paths crossed, and so I seized the opportunity. A group of us rolled up characters. Mine was Sir Dafyd. We rode out on a quest from the GPC. The quest opened with a quick encounter. Dice were rolled. Possibly the first were by Greg against Sir Dafyd. In full view, as is traditional in Pendragon. Rolled up, dismounted, unconscious, out of the game, all within five minutes. Still, I got the pleasure of watching the rest of the game unfold, the only standard game I’ve ever played in rather than run. A treasured memory, along with my copies of KAP & the GPC, which he signed afterwards.

Thanks Greg, proud to have been one of your household knights!




Back to the Books

Having got my research application sent off for ethical approval, it was good today to be able to turn once more from form filling to reading and thinking. Started to read through The Mission of Preaching: Equipping the Community for Faithful Witness by Patrick Johnson. Very promising start, looking forward to working through the rest of it.

Whole Life Preaching

The DMin thesis I’m working on, arose out of the impact London Institute for Contemporary Christianity’s (LICC) Life on the Frontline had on me and our church. At the course’s heart is a very simple thesis, how can we resource the church to fulfill its every day mission serving God where each person spends most of their time, which for many who be at work. What does it mean to be a teacher for God, a rubbish collector for God, a parent, accountant, volunteer or friend? As they neatly put it, don’t ask what new members of the congregation can do for the church, but what the church can do to resource them.

On the back of that, I started looking around for homiletical approaches that specifically seek to support that view of frontline mission. I quickly discovered Anna Carter Florence’s Testimony Preaching, which claims to equip congregations to share their experiences of God in their daily lives by the preacher modelling this through sharing their experiences of God in the text and life. My research question is simple, does it work?

In light of this, I was delighted to be at the launch of LICC’s new resource, a suite of videos and handouts entitled Whole Life Preaching. I’ve not had time to work through all of them yet, but the taste I have had suggests they will be really useful for me as a preacher, and hopefully for my research too! Based on previous experience with their materials, I recommend then to you.

Review: Sharing the Word

Sharing the Word
Sharing the Word by Lucy Atkinson Rose

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Currently in the process of writing a review of this for my DMin course, and so won’t write a full review just now, but I found this a thought-provoking read that got me thinking about the nature of my relationship with the wider community as a preacher and what preaching is actually there for – why do we preach? I think I have great sympathy for what Rose is trying to achieve here, and will certainly try out some of the ideas in practise.

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Book Review: Preaching as Testimony

Preaching as Testimony
Preaching as Testimony by Anna Carter Florence
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Picked up this book for my DMin research (Doctorate in Ministry) as I’m looking at doing a project based on encouraging people to share their stories about their experiences of God in their daily lives, ‘testimony’ if you like. The title seemed to support that. At some point I shall be writing a proper review of this, but for now suffice to say I found this a challenging and encouraging book both for myself as a preacher and for my thesis. In some ways it feels like three distinct books, a theological overview, a biographical survey of three female examples of testimony preachers, and then a section on ‘how to’. This is a deliberate move by the writer to echo the journey she went on in her thinking. Is that helpful? Hard to say. There were certainly sections I think I could have done without, and some spoke to more more than others, that said, the journey helped to earth the book and to make me ponder on how it reflects my own journey.
So what’s it about? It’s her presentation on an approach to preaching based not on explaining the text or proving the text, but living in the text and sharing what you encounter there – a confessional approach. This is what I encountered in the text and this is what that means for me in my life. This is a liberating approach, you don’t need to be a theological or Biblical expert to engage in it, and a challenging approach, if your encounter with God is shallow or absent, that will show up in your preaching, and if you avoid saying the hard things in that encounter, taking a risk in what you say, then you will be preaching a lie.
The practical notes at the end are fun, and I shall certainly be trying some of them.
One note that particularly hit me was her insistence on this not being primarily for preachers, but an encouragement for all people to ‘preach’ their experiences of God in the text and in their lives, but a recognition that for many this is a big step, therefore as preachers we have a duty to practise this in our preaching to help our congregations make that step.
More to follow when I’ve had time to deliberate further in the course of my studies, but I think this book has been a great place to start.

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