VCU, Kinetic Imaging Department, Intro to Computer Techniques, Halloween 2013

Leggings in front of a nebula backdrop.

Also, Here are my classes that I am teaching Spring 2014:

INTRODUCTION TO VIDEO - 16604 - KINE 236 - 002

Class9:00 am - 11:20 amMWFranklin Terrace 0105

STU TOP: MEDIA THEORY - 27792 - KINE 491 - 001

Class12:30 pm - 1:45 pmMWFranklin Terrace 0101


Class9:00 am - 11:20 amTRFranklin Terrace 0101

On Wednesday, November 6th, myself and other topics (491 level) instructors will be doing a mid day muse presentation about the classes we are teaching. I will be talking about Media Theory and Pro Practices. Please come if you have any questions about those courses.

Why I love the Vineyard

In the church planting boot camp that we went on, one of the questions that we got asked was - why do you want to plant a Vineyard church?  The emphasis being on why ‘Vineyard’ rather than any other breed of church.  The simple answer is that we flipping love it.  We love the Vineyard.  We love its values, we love its national directors and we love the people who are in it.  So this is a shameless rhapsody to our movement - and explains a bit about what we would love our church plant to look like.  Here are our 5 favourite things about the Vineyard (in no particular order and probably missing out some crucial ones and not claiming that the Vineyard are the only guys who do this):

The Vineyard truly lives the bible. I’ve loved the bible for years.  I’ve probably read it through 10-15 times.  But for so long I didn’t live it.  I didn’t pray for the sick, I didn’t ask forgiveness of my brother when I’d sinned against him, I didn’t feel overflowing with joy.  I knew the stuff but I didn’t do the stuff.  In the end that just got a bit boring.  I just got frustrated with myself.  Then I walked into a Vineyard church and saw men and women of all ages who prayed for their neighbours and had integrity at work and who suffered well and who seemed to exude contentment.  These amazing people lived the bible.  Not every bit of it - I grant you that - but I could see that parts of the living word of God were really being expressed in their lives.

The Vineyard truly loves people.  I knew churches that were very effective organisations.  I knew churches whose leaders got stuff done.  I knew churches that ran effective ministries or preached good sermons.  I also knew churches that didn’t do any of those things.  Ever.  But what I longed for in my life was love.  I was tired of seeing people as objects or as projects or as tasks.  I was sick of my own inner tendency to cast aside friends or hide my true self.  I knew I was made for more than that.  I knew that I was made to love people.  And in the Vineyard I found a movement that really loved people.  The Vineyard celebrates people, embraces people, listens to people and challenges people.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that the Vineyard also has its fair share gits.  And people who sometimes act like gits.  The kingdom hasn’t come yet so gits will always be among us and will sometimes be counted among their number.  But from what I’ve seen, they are the tiny exception to the rule.  The Vineyard stretches further than anywhere else I have seen to truly love people and show them their value to God.

The Vineyard truly loves Jesus.  Maybe I should have put this first.  I bet Ele Mumford would have done.  That’s another reason I love the Vineyard but it is not the main thing I’m trying to say here.  Now, I know that loving Jesus is pretty much the qualification for being a Christian.  Lots of people - and most churches - say they love Jesus.  But the love I am talking about is not just a sweet feeling every now and then.  In the Vineyard there is such a sense of admiration for Jesus, there is such a sense of aspiration to be like him, there is such a sense of yearning to have him come and walk alongside us every single day that it is utterly inspiring.  And this desire isn’t just spoken about - it is actively pursued through sung worship, through seeking to hear the words of Jesus, through waiting for Jesus to pour out his Spirit upon us.  Jesus is everywhere in the Vineyard - and that is something I love.

The Vineyard is truly an international family.  I feel so massively privileged that I have got to meet Vineyard pastors and people from Africa, America, Europe and even from Scotland.  And every one of them has really felt like family.  They have listened to me, valued me, laughed at my jokes and shown me a new and inspiring aspect of Jesus.  Each one has massively encouraged me in my faith.  I love the diversity of Vineyard.  I love the way the global Vineyard stretches my horizons and challenges my assumptions and enriches my experiences.  It really is amazing.

The Vineyard truly is fun.  In the Vineyard I have met so many Christians who are just great fun.  Not fun in a show-off-look-at-me kind of way but just a genuine, assured delight-in-life kind of fun.  People who are loud and fun and people who are quiet and fun.  I love it so much.  So often church can become so unbelievably earnest and serious and I just can’t cope with that.  I love Christians with a mischievous glint in their eye and a willingness to go to ridiculous lengths to enjoy others and to affirm the goodness of their God.  And what this really means is that the Vineyard is a place not only where I feel like I can truly be myself - but that it is a place that I can enjoy being myself.. and enjoy others being themselves.  That is such a rare and beautiful thing I would not swap it for the world.

So there you go.  5 things.  I didn’t mention the Vineyard’s focus on the poor, which I should have done.  And I didn’t mention church planting or Holy Spirit ministry or loving the whole church either.  But I can’t be bothered to re-write this whole post.  And I don’t suppose anyone in the Vineyard is going to kick up a fuss about what I’ve said.  That is what I love about it as well.

A vision for the Church: my manifesto

Next week I am speaking at the National Leaders Conference, for my denomination.  

We are a church planting movement, at a time when there has been great consternation and angst by Christians about the Church.  Where we once thought an apologetic for reaching non-christians was our greatest challenge, have found instead and all to often a need to justify Church to Christians.

Then there is our post-Christian secular context in which we are planting, trying to reach those who aren’t Christians.  Here we find overlapping deep suspicions of Church, and anything practiced with others, for the sake of others.

So for my teaching/talk, I’ll be exploring how we might have an understanding of Church; a vision that might help inspire us as church planters and gives us confidence for church itself and the planting of churches. A vision of the Church that at the same time considers and responds to some of the key challenges within these contexts.

Or to put it more personally, I’ll be sharing my deepest passions about Church, my theological understandings of what Church is, alongside my key lessons from Church planting for 16 years.

My talk takes place on Tuesday evening, 29th January, it will be live streamed as well as recorded.  You should be able to listen in and watch at the livestream feed here or it might be here instead.  When I arrive next week I’ll post an update for the streaming link here on my blog.

Why bother with theology, how can it help us?

My denomination Vineyard Churches UK and Ireland, asked me to write an article about the benefits of theology for our church movement. In other words to try to explain why engaging in theology could help us as church movement.

I hope it also works more broadly, in helping any Christian to understand why theolgoy is important and can help us.  Take a read and let me know what you think?


Why bother with theology in the Vineyard?

When I first joined VCUK, I was studying for a theology degree at the London School of Theology.  People at church on meeting me would often lament that this must be a real test of my faith.  When they found out that my fiancée was studying theology too we were often immediately offered prayer.  There seemed to be an assumption that studying theology was something that led to a test of faith, rather than the development of it.

Not all were like that, with other leaders encouraging us with our studies.  But overall we were left with the impression that theology was at best neutral and at worst a distraction from the real work of church planting; or worse.

As my years in church planting progressed, so did my interest and studies in theology.  Again as I embarked on further post graduate studies, well -meaning church planting colleagues would advise against it.  I should either be a church planter or an academic, you couldn’t do both it would seem.

Keep reading

Great short piece by Nancey Ortberg on the need for a multi-dimentional approach to spirituality.

“And in that moment on Half Moon Bay, it was like every verse I had ever read, every Bible story I ever heard of his goodness, burst forth alive inside of me at a cellular level. I wanted to shout and be silent at the same time.

Meanwhile, my contemplative husband was throwing up over the side of the boat. What for me was an encounter with God was for him an exercise in misery….Joy. Celebration. Gratitude. These experiences approach nuclear levels of power in connecting some people with God. They count. Just like Contemplation. Solitude. Prayer.” 

Outside the church there is no salvation?

At the Vineyard Churches UK&Ireland National Leaders conference, I also gave a seminar, in addition to the main stage talk I made (A Vision for the Church).

Blurb for the seminar was;

‘We are part of a church planting movement, yet we live in a time where more than ever before people are disengaging from church and Christianity altogether.’ This seminar addresses the most popular objections and concerns people have about church. The aim is to give you a background and confidence in why we need church; drawing on the bible, theology, church history and current contexts.’

You can listen to the audio here.


Looking forward to time with my church tribe and speaking at our National Leaders Conference.

Day and Evening tickets for the Vineyard UKI National Leaders’ Conference are now available. You can book your tickets at:

The benefits of being in a denomination?

I’ve been part of  Vineyard Churches UK  for the past 25 years, more than half my life.  

One way I understand my cycles of engagement with life and relationships is the ‘romance-disillusionment-joy’ motif.  The first flush of a relationship that gives way to a realisation that the honeymoon is over, where false understandings fall away, that then leads to the rebuilding of relationship around better understandings, insight, growth, and joy.

I’ve found there is no way around this process, no matter what we are engaged in and with.  Church planting has seen me go through many cycles of romance-disillusionment-joy, and the same goes for being part of a denomination.  And I think that process is normal and healthy, the move from dependence to independence and into interdependence.

In our post-Church environment where participating in a church for Christian identity and formation has been going the way of the dodo, the relevance of denominations has become even more remote and unpromising.  

Yet I find myself 25 years later discovering again the ‘joy’ of being in a denomination, and making a quick list of some of the immedaite benefits that I am re-discovering:

1.  Shared beliefs & values: Having others who share the basics of what you think church is about, is so vital.  Some of the most important values our community has, are the DNA of our denomination and movement.

Keep reading