On the Radio with Home for Good

Tomorrow morning if you’re up early you should be able to catch me speaking on local radio stations around the UK. I will be talking about children in care over the Christmas break and what we should be doing to help.

0715  KENT
0722  TEES
0752  JERSEY

As you may know we have started a new charity called “Home for Good” to help inspire the church to action on behalf of vulnerable children through finding more foster carers and adopters and for the church to become the champion and support for those that do step forward to help.

Our charity is very small and so if you wanted a good cause to give to this Christmas season I’d humbly suggest you give to us. We promise the money you give us will help us change the lives of vulnerable children through finding them the homes they need. Regular gifts are particularly helpful to us, but anything you can give makes a big difference. Click here to give. 

Photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/marittoledo/


No, it’s the church actually….


There are quite a lot of people who seem to have a pretty negative view of the church at the moment, and I don’t mean those outside of the church family. Many Christians seem to be wondering what the point of the church is, anymore. As part of a week of teaching at the Spring Harvest festival I tried to express some of the great things the church has done and is doing in the UK at the moment…. This was a “call and response” part of my sermon – I asked the questions and the audience replied “No its the church actually!”


Do you know who provides half of the parent and toddler support groups in the UK. Is it Surestart? No, it’s the church actually.

Do you know who provide the biggest network of debt couselling across the UK with 190 drop-in centres? Helping over 19 141 individuals last year alone? Is it Martin “Moneysavingexpert” Lewis? No it’s the church actually.


Who is it that donated 72 million hours of volunteer work to social initiatives last year estimating a contribution of 1.5 billion pounds a year? Was it the National Trust? No it was the church actually.


Do you know who will feed 100 000 hungry people this year in the UK is it the Redcross, no it’s the church actually!


Do you know who brought hospitals, schools, universities and democracy into our country? Was it the Vikings? No, it was the church actually!


Who invented Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Queen’s Park Rangers, Southampton, and Tottenham Hotspur Football clubs, was it the Football association? No it was the church actually!


When the doctors, the police and the social workers move out of an area and go and live somewhere else who is that moves in ? Is it Richard dawkins and Militant Atheists? No it’s the church actually!


Who is it that is the hope of the world, is it Nato? No, it’s the church actually!


National consultation on Fostering, Adoption & the Church

I am delighted to tell you about a nationwide initiative that I am working on with Care for the Family and Evangelical Alliance.

There is a pressing need in the UK for more foster and adoptive parents. There is a crisis in recruitment and retainment of foster and adoptive placements. The church is uniquely placed to offer its help to meet both of these needs. As a large social network with involvement with large numbers of families the church is fertile soil for recruitment. Once carers have been through the full process of assessment, the church provides an excellent community of support wrapping around families to help them continue on in their placements.

This initiative aims to change the culture in local churches across the UK to make adoption and fostering a significant part of the life of the majority of churches. We aim to develop an intentionality about the recruitment and support of foster and adoptive families in local churches.

We need your help.

This is such a big idea that there is no way this can happen without you. We are starting a consultation process so we want to hear from anyone interested in fostering and adoption –

1 Current and prospective foster carers – to understand your hopes, fears and experiences

2 Church and denominational leaders perspective – to understand how we can begin to change the culture in churches around fostering and adoption

3 Social work professionals – to get a grip on best practice

Your engagement will shape this project at every level. All of our plans are open so getting involved now at this early stage will really help us. There will be 6 regional consultations in Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Belfast, London and Glasgow – please check on the link below for more details.

Its high time that the church became known again for being good news to our culture and what better way than to offer hospitality, hope and help to some of the most vulnerable children and their families.

Please get in touch by registering your interest at our website here.


My Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2011

1. Top 50 Kids Film

a pretty random post to be my most popular one – but here’s my personal list of my favourite family friendly films.

2. Autumn Preaching Series Ideas

help for preachers thinking up sermon series.

3, Grace, Truth and Rob Bell

my response to the reaction from the different ends of the evangelical spectrum (before the book was actually released).

4. Royal Wedding Service – a user’s guide

an easy access guide to Kate and Will’s wedding service.

5. Royal Wedding Sermon – a user’s guide

a translation of the royal wedding sermon.

6. Route 66 – a great way to help your church get excited about the Bible

introducing the book my wife and I wrote together demonstrating how the whole Bible helps us to live for God.

7. Politics according to Grudem

this book made me angry and disappointed in equal measure.

8. It takes a whole church to raise a child

does your church really engage all ages?

9. Bin Laden is dead – how should we feel?

a response to the way Christians reacted to the death of Bin Laden

10. Women, Men and Twitter

why has the role of women become the shibboleth for evangelicals – what can we do about it?


Grace, Truth and Rob Bell

Before Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins” has even made it into print, the trial by media and blogosphere has already begun, and those of us who presume to be jury need to be aware that we too will be judged, not only on the content of our conversation, but also on the tone of it. I have already begun to see the sparks flying, and am concerned that if these are ignored and allowed to catch light, or deliberately fanned into flame, damage may well be done to our church; some people may get burned, others may get burned at the stake, digitally speaking at least. As someone who believes that we need to listen to and to love Christian brothers and sisters from the right and left of the evangelical spectrum, I would humbly offer the following questions as a way to encourage a graceful and honest conversation.

Questions to the RIGHT

1. How do we deal with those we disagree with?

If we believe a brother or sister has stepped away from orthodoxy, what is the correct way to deal with him? Is it to publicly humiliate them, wash our hands of them, or charge them with preaching a false gospel before the facts are made available? What does Paul and Peter’s disagreement teach us about how to handle controversy and confrontation with wisdom, grace and submission? How can we help people to express their concerns in a helpful way? Have we given people the benefit of the doubt? My fear is that if we on the right react in harsh and unloving ways those in the middle will be pushed away not because of our doctrine but because of our behaviour.

2. Is it fair to attribute guilt by association?

I have been on the receiving end of suspicion regarding my evangelical credentials several times, and it is not a pleasant experience. Usually the critics are not concerned with the gospel I am preaching, or the evidence of my doctrine in my writings, or the fruit of my ministry. Instead it has been ‘guilt by association’, because of people I have chosen to quote. Sadly, these critics consider a quotation an endorsement of someone’s entire theological system. But just because I quote NT Wright, does not mean I affirm his views on paedo-baptism. Quoting Wayne Grudem does not mean I believe Global Warming is a myth or I share his views on the millennium. Quoting Brian McLaren and Lesslie Newbigin does not mean I endorse all of their views. I have yet to meet an evangelical who is not a fan of CS Lewis – his books are cited and recommended almost universally, yet his views on salvation and hell are pretty similar to the accusations being made against Rob Bell. Is it fair to write off the whole of someone’s body of work because you disagree with one part? Hasn’t finding truth in people’s work and commending it got biblical warrant even if you have disagreements elsewhere? (the Apostle Paul can quote pagan prophets approvingly in Acts 17, and in his letter to Titus.) How can we help people to express their appreciation without being afraid of being branded a heretic by a McCarthian witchhunt?

3. How can we be discerning without being judgmental?

How did Jesus handle the criticism of guilt by association when the Pharisees shunned him for hanging out with Samaritans, tax collectors, women and sinners? Interestingly Jesus did not drop the friends that the Pharisees were criticising, instead he rebuked the Pharisees’ judgmentalism. What does it mean for us to remove our own planks, instead of other people’s specks? What does it mean for us to love our enemies as well as our friends? What does this mean when we come across people whose theology we find difficult? How can we love our neighbours even if we disagree with them? How can we remain discerning, without becoming judgmental?

4. How can we prevent the fire being fuelled?

Whenever there is controversy, whether it is over the manifestation of spiritual gifts, the place of women in ministry, or the question of penal substitution, I notice that suddenly the topics crop up in a lot of sermons, and that is not necessarily wrong. But suddenly it seems that the whole Bible revolves around that point of theology. No matter what passage people are preaching from suddenly the theological controversy of the day becomes the only thing that the Bible teaches. It feels like preachers want to demonstrate their orthodoxy on this subject, to let everyone know which side of the fence they are on. Are we pandering to those listeners who police our theology? Are we not allowing this one controversy to stop us from preaching the whole counsel of God and instead we just preach a narrow slice of it? I would warn us to not let the latest controversy blow us off course. I have heard a number of high profile preachers end up distorting the Bible by forcing a topic onto a text that simply is not there. Thus ironically those seeking to preserve orthodoxy sometimes end up doing it at the expense of upholding biblical authority and modelling good biblical exposition.

Questions to the LEFT

1. How do we deal with the negative responses?

If someone whom we admire is criticized, our automatic response is to jump to their defense – it’s part of what it means to be a family. Because emotions run high, this can move quickly from a tense conversation to a mudslinging match. The more personal and uncharitable the attacks, the more personal and uncharitable the counter-attacks, and the more polarized the two sides become. But could there be a grain of truth in the criticism? How can we find that grain through any mudslinging, judgmentalism, superiority complexes and ‘holier than thou’ attitudes? How can we avoid becoming self-righteousness about others’ self-righteousness. Isn’t being lead only by an emotional response and not engaging our critical faculties to explore the scriptural arguments a sin of omission? There is such a thing as the gospel, and there is such a thing as heresy, and each of us must have limits to the generosity of our orthodoxy. If someone has stepped away from the gospel, how do we humbly and graciously seek to understand and correct them?

2. How do we honour our heroes without worshiping them?

The danger of having heroes is that we tend to retreat into our camps. The Paul versus Apollos mindset can easily carry over into a Piper-versus-Wright, or Driscoll-versus-Claiborne division of God’s people. Could it be that all of them have their different strengths and weaknesses? If a Bell bandwagon emerges, how will we remain discerning? I am convinced that only the scriptures are infallible and no matter how talented or persecuted or articulate or critical, all of our heroes have their theological weaknesses. With growing biblical illiteracy, how can we avoid the temptation of letting our heroes do our thinking for us? How can we make sure we have a firm grasp of what the Bible says about a subject rather than just backing our heroes uncritically? How can we graciously disagree without being disloyal?

3. How can we prevent the fire being fuelled?

Gossip and rumours need us to be ruthlessly gracious and graciously ruthless. If we hear something being said about a Christian brother or sister, relating to their orthodoxy or their character, how can we put the fire out quickly? How can we protect our neighbours from false accusations and character assassination? Questions like “are you sure?”, “how do you know?”, “have you spoken to the person concerned about it? , “can I check that out and get back to you?” can go a long way to help us “make every effort to maintain the unity of the spirit, the bond of peace”. How can we avoid unhelpful and unflattering caricatures from spreading about those with whom we disagree?

4. How can we seek and speak grace and truth?

There is a danger that for a while all Christians to the right on the evangelical spectrum will be tarred with the anti-Bell brush, while all those on the left get tarred with the Bell-worship brush (guilt by association again), leading to less cooperation. How can we get to a position where we recognize that there may end up being a whole range of views and nuanced positions? How can we be quick to listen and slow to judge? Recognising that none of us are theologically infallible is a good start, but equally none of us are morally infallible either. How can we demonstrate the fruit of the spirit in our conversation – kindness, gentleness, self-control, even when others fail the moral test?


Paul told Timothy to “watch his life and doctrine carefully.” Often “conservatives” focus on Christian truth (doctrine) and the “emergents” focus on Christian character (life) – the Bible says we need both. Therefore we need each other to move towards genuine Christian maturity. We need each other if we are going to work with God’s Spirit on God’s mission for our world. We need to be working shoulder to shoulder to commend the gospel to our nation. How can we speak grace and speak truth? How can we seek grace and seek truth?

It is my prayer that whatever the contents of Rob Bells latest book – that we evangelicals on the right and the left can have gracious and truthful conversation and seek God’s truth together.

Biblical Apologetics, Barn Dances and Black Wednesdays

Apparently some people call the third day of a mission week- black wednesday. I can relate to feeling tired and it was a struggle to get up and get going today.

The CU continued to be out distributing flyers – something you don’t need to be out doing all the time – our students focussed on the lecture change overs. OUt again was the big perspex board – this with the question “CAN YOU TRUST THE BIBLE?” lots of interesting post it notes were stuck on and our intrepid students were engaging in good conversations.

The Lunch bars are growing in numbers, and again people stayed through from the first lunch bar to the second. So I am convinced the Australian system is a good one to export. Its one of my prayers for UCCF that closer ties with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students will mean the UK benefits from the great things God is doing from his church around the world. Double lunch bars are a good example of such opportunities.


This can be quite a dry seminar to present. Lots of historical data – manuscript evidence etc. My mind doesn’t work like that, so I tried a different tack. I explored some basic questions which non-Christians I have met seem to connect with. I answered the following questions:

What is the Bible?
How was the Bible written?
What is the story of the Bible?
What difference does the Bible really make to life?
Why Trust the Bible?
How can I read the Bible?

I actually spent the longest time on What is the Story of the Bible and used the outline I developed in DESTINY to present it. I made this bit interactive by asking people “If you had one tweet – how would you summarise the story of the Bible?” We had some interesting replies, but I think it confirmed to a lot of guests that they had never read the Bible so they didn’t know. For the question: ” What difference does the Bible make to life” I interviewed an excellent undergraduate student called Adam – who is studying history and ancient civilisations. He did a great job – and brought insights from his course into his testimony. I did present some internal and external evidences for the trustworthiness of the Bible and opened it up to questions. The answers involved a short exposition of John 21.


Normally I would do this as a “evidence for the resurrection” kind of talk. But after Sydney I decided to take a different tack. There were quite a few internationals present and I had just talked to a student who had lost his mother and brother in the previous year. So I took a more pastoral apologetic line. I talked about the pain of grief and bereavement, I talked about my own mother’s death last year and the questions that it had raised in my mind when we prayed for her to be healed and she wasn’t. I then did an exposition of John 11 – Jesus’ raising of Lazarus. I pressed home the parts about Mary and Martha’s frustration that Jesus hadn’t turned up when they called to him, and the realities of a relationship with God. For full details see my book LIFESWAP. I talked about Jesus as the resurrection and the life and especially ” anyone who believes in me will live even though they die.” I then took questions and then did a shorter piece on the evidence for the resurrection – which included talking about the nature of the evidence we can actually provide, and what “prove beyond reasonable doubt” might actually mean. I then did an interactive session on the evidence for the resurrection making it into a court case giving people an opportunity to suggest different theories.

Love Actually?

There was a good turn out at both lunch bars. When I say good, I mean that there were more people that came through the lunch bars than would normally come to Christian Union. I think we had around 80 people through the two lunch bars – with many staying through both. considering Reading CU only normally gets 40 people along – this is a CU punching above its weight.

The evening talk was sandwiched between two other events, A Nigerian night – which was a great evening of food, fashion and faith from Nigeria. There was an excellent presentation from some Nigerian students and some fantastic food. Then my talk Jesus and Love Actually – which we explore love, romance and identity by expounding John 4 and the movie. Then the CU ran a barn dance.

To Barn dance or not to Barn dance?

A lot of students came out for the barn dance. In fact more people than have come out to any single event so far. I am in two minds about barn dances. In one sense it was great to see the CU having a good time, it offers an “alternative” to the huge Tuesday night club culture, which was just kicking off as the barn dance finished at 10pm. But the other side of me was wondering if it pigeon holes Christians into the kind of people that like barn dances – not necessarily a main stream cultural phenomenon (unlike ceilidhs in Scotland which seem to be a bit more mainstream). The beauty of the lunch bars is that everyone needs to eat, and Christians being open to westle with the big questions is a great thing to be known for. Does the Barn dance lock us into a bit of a cultural ghetto? What do you think?

Sent from my iPad (thanks for the spellling corrections friends )

Lounge Concert

Just had an amazing evening, opening up our house as a lounge concert venue. We invited all of our neighbours to come and enjoy some live music from the hugely talented Miriam Jones. We had 30 people crammed into the lounge, but the intimate setting made the event really memorable. There aren’t that many events you could get the wide variety of people to come together for – but the fact there was a gig going on in our little Close was a real draw.It’s all the best bits of Glastonbury (the live music) without the worst bits (mud, exorbitant prices, the loos).

miriam jones concert

the band warming up for the gig

Miriam Jones is singer song writer who reminds me of a cross between Norah Jones and Jack Johnson. She’s from British Columbia and she met my friend Jez Carr when he was studying at Regent’s College, Vancouver. She’s a Christian who is open about her faith but is writing songs for the mainstream market rather than the “Christian scene.” Her songs are wistful and beautiful and conjure up a real sense of longing for God without ramming out down your throat. Jez was on bass, Miriam on vocals and acoustic guitar and Adam was on lead guitar. They have a really good vibe going on – with great harmonies, catchy melodies and thoughtful lyrics.

miriam jones - jack johnson meets norah jones
fun and laughter with miriam jones

Miriam and Jez’s banter really helped people to feel at ease and being that close to the music feels like a real privilege.The last gig I went to was U2 in Wembley Stadium where Bono was the size of an ant in the distance. I didn’t get Coldplay tickets for Glastonbury where once again I would have to rely on video screens to see any of the action. But here was the visceral experience of professional live music in my lounge.

better than coldplay and U2
Adam on lead guitar

We are trying to use our house as place of community in our street, starting with Christmas drinks, good bye parties, birthday parties (in fact any excuse for a party) and a lounge concert where Miriam was open about her faith in a low cringe, easy access way was a real help in the ongoing mission to share Jesus with our neighbours. So thank you Miriam Jones – great job all round.

miriam jones concert Thame

You wouldn't get to chat with Beyonce after her gig at Glastonbury



I have just recorded five 2 minute reflections on discipleship.

They are based on our book Dysciples: Why I fall asleep when I pray and 12 other discipleship dysfunctions. This has been our best selling book to date and is now in its third reprinting.

Jeff Lucas said: “At last!A book about discipleship that didn’t make me feel like a battered Robin Reliant in a Bentley dealership”

Tom Sine said: “I found myself relishing every chapter”

Andy Frost said: “A must read for anyone who want to take discipleship seriously”

Check out an independent review of the book here. What really encouraged us is to hear that some churches are using the book as a teaching curriculum as the book includes both personal questions and small group studies. Here are the chapter headings to give you a flavour of where the book is going:

    1. Dissatisfied: Why I feel I am going nowhere
    2. Despairing: Why I shout at God
    3. Disoriented: Why I won’t step out of my comfort zone
    4. Disgruntled: Why I struggle with Jesus’ teaching
    5. Dismissive: Why I’ve heard it all before
    6. Disconnected: Why I feel such a hypocrite
    7. Distant: Why God seems out of reach
    8. Disappointed: Why I can’t move mountains
    9. Dispensable: Why I want to be the best
    10. Disturbed: Why my mind wanders during communion
    11. Dispassionate: Why I fall asleep when I pray
    12. Disloyal: Why I can’t tell people about Jesus
    13. Disqualified: Why I could never be a missionary

Each chapter looks at a discipleship dysfunction based on a passage in Matthew’s gospel and explores the kind of transformation that Jesus can bring.

You can download the 2 minute excerpts which will be on Premier Radio’s “thoughts for the day” all next week by clicking below. There’s also a free excerpt for the book for you to read. Let me know what you think.

Download an excerpt of the book to read
Download “thought for the day 1”
Download “thought for the day 2”
Download “thought for the day 3”
Download “thought for the day 4”



Surburban Hymns

Just spent a wonderful week in La Vendee France at La Pas Opton the Spring Harvest Holiday venue.

We spent the mornings looking at the Psalms together

Psalm 1 – Walking with God
Psalm 2 – Singing with Christ
Psalm 51- Dealing with Guilt
Psalm 73 – Wrestling with Doubt
Psalm 103 – Fighting with Apathy

psalms – click here to download the pdf of the visuals.

In the evenings we worked through LIFESWAP which is a series based on a book on John’s gospel – it’s a great book to give to people hungry to explore the Christian faith for the first time or for Christians who want to go deeper in their understanding of John’s gospel. We explore the incredible transformations that Jesus offers to us:

Night 1: Dive – Christ swapping heavenly life for earthly one

Night 2: Click – Nicodemus swapping his old life for new one

Night 3: Quench – The woman at the well swapping an empty life for full a full one

Night 4 Blink – The blind man swapping darkness for light

Night 5 Choice -the crowd swapping Jesus for Barabbas

The books makes a great series for a church that seeks to both feed Christians and explain the gospel to people investigating faith.

Fresh review and follow up


I found this review of FRESH at http://www.babc.org.uk/reviews.htm. It was very helpful. Let me know if you know of any others as Miriam and I are working on a follow up book. Blessings


I think that ‘fresh’ is a brilliant book. It helpfully addresses many of the issues which will face Christians going to university. Although the target audience is clearly those who have just begun university (freshers) it could also be a great help to people at any stage of university or those who have contact with people going away. This book will help you be more aware of the challenges and opportunities which occur in 21st century British universities. The book splits itself into 5 sections with 7 subsections in each. The idea is that a fresher reads 1 subsection a day for the first 5 weeks of university.

The first section is entitled ‘Faith’ and talks, in fairly basic terms, about what it means to have faith in God. This begins with a challenge to commit yourself to God (a prayer of commitment is included for those who have never truly trusted in Jesus) before moving on to encourage the believer to; be realistic about the cost of following Jesus, examine why Christianity can be believed and keep growing.

The second section is entitled ‘Relationships’ and deals with helpful advice regarding our relationships with God, friends and family, boyfriend/girlfriend, church, CU and university. Perhaps the most significant theme in this is the call for students to take seriously their responsibilities to the people around them. Many students feel that university is the one place and one time when they have no responsibilities and can effectively live as they want. Reminding them that they continue to have responsibilities not only to God but to a whole host of people (including their parents) will help them not only to survive as a Christian but also to grow.

The third section is about evangelism and encourages the student to view university as a mission field. God loves people being saved and university offers unique opportunities to share your faith with people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds. Krish’s acknowledgement that words play an essential part in evangelism is well made (if somewhat unfashionable) although I would question the emphasis he places on using your own life story in evangelism. Everybody has a story but we have the word of God. The fourth section deals with the realm of study and is the weakest of the 5 sections. Stating clear biblical guidelines about how we study proves difficult and so the advice becomes less clear and convincing. However, his warnings against laziness need to be taken seriously by Christian students as does his statement that university is not about gaining a first but honouring God. Kandiah’s encouragement for students to take 1 day off a week is well overdue in a culture where essays and exams are seen as acceptable excuses for neglecting church and more generally one’s spiritual welfare.

The fifth section is entitled ‘Holiness’ and discusses distinctive living in a number of different areas including sex and money. This section contains some helpful advice and acknowledges that there is no easy way to make decisions at university. This section ends with a reminder that however much we might mess up forgiveness, cleansing and transformation is always available. Having spent 3 difficult years at university in the not too distant past the question I repeatedly asked myself when reading this book was ‘Would ‘fresh’ have helped me live a more godly life at university?’ The answer I have repeatedly come up with is yes. The content is relevant, well thought through and easy to apply to your student life. Each section begins by suggesting some challenges you could take up while at university. Whist normally sceptical about these sorts of challenges Krish manages to suggest challenges which are not only eminently doable but also likely to build you, and others, up. One piece of advice for anyone reading this book is that it must not be viewed as a manual on how to live as a Christian at university. Some of the situations he mentions will come up, others will not. Sometimes the approach he suggests will be helpful, sometimes it will not. Although this book can at times read like a manual it is important that you don’t treat it like one. If you try to follow this book by the letter you will end up burnt out, confused and probably slightly insane. However, Kandiah’s biblical approach seasoned with experience, wisdom and common sense would be a great help to anyone serious about pursuing a godly life at university! Ben