Tag Archives: church

Reformation 3 – The Church his people

The third of three talks given by Wayne Clarke at New North Road Baptist Church, Huddersfield, marking 500 years since Martin Luther lit the spark of the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

This third one was given on Sunday November 5th, 2017. It begins with a Bible reading (1 Peter 2:4-10) from Stewart Naylor.

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download the talk as an MP3 file and listen offline by right-clicking on this link and selecting “save link” or “save target”  The Church his people

As well as the audio of each talk you can read the text as a Word document and see an accompanying PowerPoint Presentation.

click on the link below to download and read the text that the talk was based on:

TheChurchhispeople text

click on the link below to download to see the PowerPoint that went alongside the talk:

TheChurchhisPeople ppt


The future is bi-vocational

a bi-vocational future

The future has to be bi-vocational. The future will be a place where hardly any Baptist ministers are based in a church full time and paid entirely by a church. Instead most Baptist ministers will be bi-vocational, working in a church for part of their working week and working in another job the rest of the time.

For the last eleven years I have been a full-time Baptist minister, working for some of the week with a small Baptist Church in Liverpool and most of time as a broadcast journalist in the BBC, bringing an evangelical Baptist voice into BBC Local Radio. Being a journalist and broadcaster has made me a more incisive preacher and a more understanding pastor. Having work outside the local church has enabled a small church in an urban setting to have an accredited minister serving them. When I started working for the BBC the church had to decide how they wanted me to use my limited time. The parameters of my job were defined and have been accepted by the church without any great problem, and others have undertaken roles I haven’t been able to fill.

In the future more and more Baptist churches won’t be able to afford a whole-time minister. But a bi-vocational minister who spends perhaps half of her or his time serving the church then spends the rest of the working week in another job could serve Christ in the church and continue to serve Christ in their chosen occupation. Most people going to our colleges go there from another profession, and they have the skills and the experience to work outside the church. By assuming that our ministers will give up work entirely to work in a church, we are robbing the world of our best Christian workers and letting the church eat them up.

My vision for bi-vocational ministers is not the older model of lay pastors. A bi-vocational minister, in keeping with our Baptist Futures process, will be in recognised accredited ministry. Their training could consist of one year out of work in a college, or be enabled while the person continues in work. Their bi-vocational work should never be seen as part-time ministry, but as ministry split between a workplace and a church. That other place could be teaching in a Baptist college or in another college or school, or working in industry, or commerce, or the local supermarket, or anywhere. In those places we will have strategically placed skilled Baptist workers who are being Christ among the people, and in our churches we will have ministers whose lives and preaching are informed by the world of work.

My local Catholic parish has 800 worshippers and half the time of one priest. My three local Anglican Churches share two minsters. The nearby Methodist Church is a well-attended church with half a minister. Why should we as Baptists live with the assumption that each church should have one whole-time minister? It’s not a model that is Biblical or practical. But rather than sharing ministers churches are better off if they share a minister’s time with work elsewhere, and in these days of “portfolio working” that is nothing unusual. Job-sharing and part-time working is perfectly acceptable to most employers.

And this is not just a model for small churches. If a church can afford to pay a whole-time stipend it could have two bi-vocational ministers, one male, one female, or a minister and a community worker, or even give some money to a neighbouring church to enable ministry there. Let’s liberate ourselves from the shackles of one church, one minister, one stipend – and go bi.

Review of “The Way”

Before Christianity was called Christianity it was simply “The Way”. It was not a religion, not an organisation, not a set of doctrines, but simply a path to walk.

As someone said in a talk I heard recently, I set out to be a follower of Jesus, not a professional purveyor of religion. Now the film The Way has reminded those of us who follow Jesus that it’s about the journey.

The Way tells us the story of Tom, an American ophthalmologist, whose only son Daniel is killed as he begins to walk the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route from France across northern Spain, ending at Santiago de Compostela. Tom decides to walk the 800km of the Camino himself to complete what Daniel never achieved. On the Way Tom joins up with two men and a woman who all have their own reasons for walking the Camino.

None of the four companions is walking as a Christian pilgrim, but each walks to find answers and to change their lives for the better. As with all pilgrimage, the purpose is not the destination but the journey.

The film is the work of writer and director Emilio Estevez and his father Martin Sheen. Sheen himself plays Tom, and Estevez appears as Daniel, mostly in flashback and in Tom’s imagination as a companion on the walk. The film is an exploration of the relationship between father and son In addition to the on-screen father-son relationship,  the film is dedicated to the memory of Sheen’s father and was inspired by Estevez’s son, Taylor. 

In every so-called talent programme and casting show these days the story is in the “journey”. Each person we meet has to be weak, talentless and timid at first, progressing through their limited ability to a triumphant climax and launch into superstardom. Of course this is entirely artificial, an invented narrative to fulfil the requirements of a TV format. 

In fiction “the journey” is a narrative device used in much great writing from Canterbury Tales to Huckleberry Finn, and a hundred road films. As the three ragged men and one woman of “The Way” followed the Camino I was reminded of four others who followed the Yellow Brick Road, and was I was delighted to read later that The Wizard of Oz was in the mind of Emilio Estevez as he made the film.

Recent films made by Christian writers and directors have also been road movies. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is, like The Way, a journey of characters thrown together on a quest for salvation. And Africa United, the story of five children walking from Rwanda to South Africa for the football World Cup, has similar themes. 

For Christians The Way is the Way of Christ, and this road movie takes us on that journey, a journey of faith and transformation. It is an inspirational film without any artifice in its emotional appeal. The magnificent scenery, the hardness of the travelling and the purposeful journey of the main characters inspires us to find our way, our way home.

The Way is on general release in the UK from May 13, 2011, and in the US from September 30, 2011. Thanks for the preview tickets go to Premier Christian Radio, official Faith Media Partners with Icon for The Way