Articles

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 Clutched in Arms, Crushed in Hugs

Clutched in Arms, Crushed in Hugs

Oli Higham Dec. 01, 2017

Part of pioneering is doing things differently. So this is less of an article and more of a single question built around some poetry.

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Knitting together life, liturgy and leadership

Bert is an intentional community in the South side of Glasgow that has been going since the 70s and gets its name from a local street. What pattern of life together has enabled them to stay strong for the long haul?

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Work as Pioneering Mission

Work as Pioneering Mission

Paul Robertson Oct. 27, 2017

“In nothing has the Church so lost Her hold on reality as in Her failure to understand and respect the secular vocation. She has allowed work and religion to become separate departments, and is astonished to find that, as a result, the secular work of the world is turned to purely selfish and destructive ends, and that the greater part of the world’s intelligent workers have become irreligious, or at least, uninterested in religion. But is it astonishing? How can...

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Who Exactly Are Pioneers?

Who Exactly Are Pioneers?

Lesley-Ann Craddock Oct. 10, 2017

“Pioneers wear cowboy hats” came the answer from the bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, to the question that I am not alone in being weary of. He was joking of course, but that joke held a truth that is both destructive and limiting to the ministry of pioneers, lay or ordained: there is a lack of clarity from the church about the term Pioneer minister.

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Bread Rolls and Bibles

Bread Rolls and Bibles

Graeme Shearer Sep. 25, 2017

John Perkins talks of three types of incarnational missionaries…relocators, remainers and returners. Returners leave their home only to come back later and invest deeply in the community they once left. Here is Graeme’s tale of how it feels as he returns back to Dumbarton.

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What Would Jesus Do Revisited

What Would Jesus Do Revisited

Andy Myall Sep. 11, 2017

Jesus, it’s all about Jesus. So often we can get so wound up in complications of life, work, family other people, praise and disputes. So often we can find ourselves thinking for far too long about everything when, in essence, we really need to fix our eyes on Jesus.

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Redeployment of Pioneers Part 2: How to kickstart a new career

Being faced with transitioning away from pioneering can be a daunting proposition, especially after the years of investment that a pioneer has made to the work. What practical advice can be offered to enable this to happen?

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Redeployment of Pioneers Part 1: Attrition, Infrastructure and Self-redeployment

Pioneers seldom start by thinking about the end. Least of all regarding themselves. Where will the pioneer go next if the attempt fails…or indeed even if it succeeds? One of those two scenarios is 100% likely to happen. What happens to the pioneer either way? Pioneers should receive proactive support to enable their redeployment. But given that they don’t, how can they redeploy themselves after their work comes to an end?

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Do, do, do, that sounds a bit like you!

Do, do, do, that sounds a bit like you!

Ricky McAddock Aug. 18, 2017

STOP! You might actually learn something…

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Back Tae Torah part 5: Crawling Through the Mud

I had come to a crossroads. Travelling the highways and byways of Scotland, funding, listening and encouraging the dreams of the saints with the Seedbed Trust. The lights suddenly switched off and in the midst of it all I felt I had lost Jesus and I didn’t know why. It just didn’t seem to make sense any more. Everything was going so well but I knew some-thing was very wrong with where we were all heading. I needed to find...

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Ice Axes, Pastel Colours and a Queue Around the Corner

One of the challenges with pioneering is thinking about first impressions. For many people their first experience will be of our “shopfronts” whether that is a physical building or an online presence. What do those first moments say about us? The homepage of our church website starts with a simple sentence, “The adventure starts here.” You may think that’s an odd sentence to start with. Many church websites have adopted the phrase, “welcome home.” I love it. And yet, I...

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All You Were Doing Was Acting on Instinct, Weren’t You?

This morning I was getting ready for work with Radio 2 on in the background (ok, ok…I’ve still to figure out Shaun Keaveney on Radio 6). Chris Evans was interviewing David Walliams, discussing how his work as a children’s author took off. Chris remarked from his own story: “When people ask you about your success you look back and intellectualise it. But all you were doing was acting on instinct, weren’t you?” Looking back and intellectualising what was merely instinct...

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Back Tae Torah part 4: A Strange Revival

Back Tae Torah part 4: A Strange Revival

Paul Thomson Jul. 15, 2017

It was October 2011, on a day just before the feast of tabernacles, and I was building a Sukkoth; cobbled from old Karrimor tent rods and some giant weeds, plants and flowers hastily yanked from the back garden outside our wee flat in Edinburgh. I’ll never forget my wife Fiona’s face peering out from the bedroom window: her bonny face scrunched up with surprise and concern, mouthing: ‘what the heck are you doing?’ through the glass. Freezing mid-hoist, in the...

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Fraud

Fraud

Oli Higham Jun. 16, 2017

When we started White Canvas one of our questions was, “Where will the articles come from?” We knew there were lots of people doing pioneering work across the country but how did we find them? Would they be willing to contribute? Would they want to be part of the conversation we were trying to foster? We’ve been blown away by the number of contributors, the wealth of thought and the engagement of our readers. It’s been fantastic. So to our...

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At the Other Side of Rush Hour: Contemplation, Belonging and the City

On a visit to London recently I had enjoyed a day of meeting with a variety of different people, and walking between tube stations and enjoying London city life. I realised as I began to rush back towards Victoria that I was pushing it to make the off-peak train back to Crawley. So I took the decision to slow things down, to walk to Victoria and catch the train at the other side of the rush hour. As I walked...

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Some Thoughts on Tradition, Visuals and Phoenixes

White Canvas Collective exists to further the conversations between pioneers within the missional context of Scotland. So in the name of pioneering and exploring something different I’m going to start this article by looking at early twentieth century neurology journals. Specifically, I’d like to start with the editors of the journal Brain. In 1905, Sir Henry Head became the editor of Brain, or if you will, Mr. Head was the head of Brain. He remained the head of Brain until...

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Our Hammyhill: Developing a community-led vision for Hamiltonhill from the ground up.

What creative ways can a church express its mission at the heart of the community, for the benefit of the community? How can the church engage in what the Parish Collective calls the ‘New Commons’ in such a way as to fulfil the promise of Jeremiah, that ‘we will prosper if we seek the prosperity of the city to which we have been called’ (Jeremiah 29:7)? Our Hammyhill was a weekend event, designed and delivered by local residents (peppered with...

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The Silent Cost of Pioneering

The Silent Cost of Pioneering

Lesley-Ann Craddock May. 19, 2017

Don’t turn me into a vicar I said to Michael Sansom, the then DDO of St Albans, “I am not meant to be a vicar! God needs me to be a priest.” From that naive but heartfelt statement came the answer to my plea. “You are a pioneer.” What that meant to the Church of England would slowly be revealed to me during my time as an ordinand on the Pioneer track at Ridley Hall in Cambridge. Simples! Oh, if...

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The Forgotten Monastics

The Forgotten Monastics

Rob Jones May. 12, 2017

‘It’s not my area of gifting’, Betty informed me. Betty was a kindly lady well into her seventies (1). She reasoned with me in a quite matter-of-fact fashion; I should sit with the clients, and then she, along with the other volunteers would make the tea and coffee, provide the food, wipe the tables and make sure everyone was looked after. Talking and listening was my job. It was another typically frustrating day. In running this church drop-in I had...

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In Starbucks: Existentialism 101

In Starbucks: Existentialism 101

David Lynch May. 05, 2017

There I was on a Monday morning in a Starbucks in Manchester. A polite and pleasant young man caught me with strong eye contact and asked me what I wanted. ‘A medio latte please,’ I said with all the confidence and panache of someone who imagined himself in a backstreet cafe somewhere in Milan. ‘And your name please, sir?’ he asked, holding an anticipatory black permanent marker pen. In that one moment, in that millisecond between hearing the question and...

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Commuterty

Commuterty

Gordon Cheung Apr. 21, 2017

An article about what I have come to see as the madness of commuting to church: about what happens when we realise that driving past our neighbours stops making missional good sense. “He wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” (Lk 10:29) Driving to top-up our God-tanks I’ve got friends that I’ve been at church with since we were all young guys a few years out of university. We’ve worshipped together in a city...

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Towards a Restructuring of the Political-economy of Pioneering Mission in Scotland

Currently, to the extent that pioneer mission is being funded in Scotland, money is largely being invested into practical, often speculative, responses on the ground rather than organisational and cultural change. We need to continue to increase spend on frontline responses and its support in terms of member-care and training. But we also need to invest money to change what I call the meta-culture of mission in Scotland. As Alan MacWilliam has said: “In Scotland we need robust theological convictions...

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Back Tae Torah part 3: Goodbye Real Jesus. Hello Fake Jesus

From the Low to the Glow We ended up in a wee side chapel called Academy Street Gospel Hall. The last six elderly people of this old church opened the door, looking terrified as a boisterous crowd of teens that could barely speak English spoke in unison: “can we come tae yer church?” From here, news spread: we were ‘star billing’ for a wee bit. The hall started filling up with folks from around Aberdeen. A minibus now arrived on...

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 Lessons through Friendship on the Other Side

Lessons through Friendship on the Other Side

Claire Aufhammer Mar. 24, 2017

I’ve just moved home to the USA after three years living on the other side: of the world, of the canal, of the mainstream. There are lots of ways to describe my former neighbourhood and home, but you know what I mean by ‘the other side’. No doubt you have one in your city too. It’s that place where nobody wants to go (I can’t tell you the number of taxi drivers who commented and marvelled at the fact that...

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Churches as Business Incubators

Churches as Business Incubators

David Lynch Mar. 17, 2017

I believe that we have amazing resources in our buildings; our physical space could be the catalyst for new start-ups in the realm of social enterprise. Perhaps we only see church buildings as places of worship. After all that is how most directories would see us. The church can love and support our neighbours by providing a place where a seedling new business can grow, without the threat of bullish and unrealistic landlords. An incubator is a safe and protected...

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Preaching In The 21st Century

Preaching In The 21st Century

Ben Thorp Mar. 10, 2017

In December 2006 I began a conversation with a friend, prompted in part by my own lacklustre spirituality and impending fatherhood, about what it meant to be a man of God. It was as part of this conversation that I discovered the work of David Murrow, including his book Why Men Hate Going to Church. [1] Part of the book addressed the area of preaching within the church, and covers some very helpful points on communicating to men, and suggests...

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Doodling in the Margins

Doodling in the Margins

Debbie Horrocks Mar. 03, 2017

“To be a friend, the truest form of advocacy there is. “ D.L. Mayfield I used to doodle in the margin of my chemistry jotter as my teacher talked. He would try to discourage me, but I think he knew it somehow helped me to pay attention. Scrawls and scribbles filled the left hand column of my book while the rest of the page was orderly and as expected. Talk of ‘people on the margins’ reminds me of those doodling...

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The Samaritan Well

The Samaritan Well

James Palmer Feb. 24, 2017

For the last three years now I have run a book group in a pub in Bathgate. We meet weekly, eat together and talk about the books we’re reading. The books are chosen democratically and I reflect theologically on them. We have read a wide spectrum of fiction from The Iliad of Homer to After the Crash by Michel Bussi. Each book gives the group a fresh perspective to discuss and consider. Each book is an opportunity to reflect on...

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Back Tae Torah part 2: Rewind - Jesus was on my Housing Estate and it was Braw! (1980)

Sometimes to learn about a problem, you need to go back to where the problem began. Unusually, I seemed to have found Jesus outside of any Christian influence. Growing up on several housing schemes and at times in ‘care’ homes, I discovered ‘Highers’ as my way of escape. At Edinburgh University, up to my armpits in balsa and Letraset, I fell in love with Industrial Design. I became quite good at this ‘design malarcky’. I got featured in design shows,...

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I never asked to be a pioneer

I never asked to be a pioneer

John Finch Feb. 09, 2017

Setting up a social enterprise and community café from scratch…when it hadn’t even been part of my plan to be in the Gorbals in the first place! I made a million mistakes and broke my own rules, but I left behind something good that I built with friends and that is sustainable and strong without me. That feels good. These are some things that I learned through the experience. Some of them I learned with hindsight, and didn’t get them...

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The Ethics of Stories

The Ethics of Stories

Charis Robertson Feb. 01, 2017

There are so many ways that stories can be exploitative. One of my pet peeves is when organisations first present a young person as ‘broken’ or ‘vulnerable’ and then reveal how they got involved and ‘fixed’ them. That’s dishonest, and it’s not a story. It’s propaganda. How should pioneers share stories? In 2016 I completed a Masters project, focussing on the ethics of gathering and sharing real life stories. The above paragraph is an excerpt from my reflective research journal,...

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Tracking the Long Rhythms of Grace

Tracking the Long Rhythms of Grace

Esther Ede Jan. 10, 2017

If we want to nurture a church that is able to avoid unhelpful fads of Christian mission culture we need to be proactively observing patterns of practice across time and place, and allow this learning to shape our future priorities.

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Back Tae Torah part 1: The Fall of NOS - ‘Learn’ the problem

Have we, the innovators, activists, emerging evangelists and millennial missionaries scrambling into the desert of 21st century Post-Human Europa - ended up following the wrong Jesus? This four part series traces some of the crevices of this devastating possibility - around my own journey into the Sinai desert of a post-modern Scotland caught in the liquidiser of globalism; the Almighty dragging my schemie butt out of the crumbling Egyptian idols and pharaohs of 20th century charismatic Christendom - from housing...

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White, not Blank

White, not Blank

Ben Thorp Jan. 05, 2017

We sat in a circle that evening in a church in Edinburgh, and my friend Alan began the evening teaching with a joke: “Two Christians are at a bus stop and one of them sneezes. Is that a new church?” For once in my life I had the wherewithal to produce an entertaining answer: “Well that depends - did the other say ‘Bless You’?”

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Making Disciples: A Serious Challenge

Making Disciples: A Serious Challenge

Daniel L. Frank Jan. 05, 2017

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

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A Manifesto for Scottish Pioneer Church-Plant Leaders and Sending Organisations

As we share Christ’s burden for pioneer mission, what expectations can and should we have of pioneers and the organisations that deploy them?

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The Lifespan of Utopias

The Lifespan of Utopias

Sam Gonçalves Jan. 04, 2017

Five years ago I went up to Dundee Law (the highest point in the city) and along with a large crowd watched the demolition of four multi-storey buildings. We cheered, clapped and inadvertently inhaled some dust on the way back down. Little did I know that in 2016, these buildings would become a focus of much fascination for my work.

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The Missing Sword

The Missing Sword

Dave Close Jan. 03, 2017

It seems a pretty common experience for anyone trying to do mission and grow church in new places, with new people, to find yourself genuinely wondering “Have I got this whole thing wrong?” I suspect everyone hits a crisis of legitimacy at some point – if we’re not already that way inclined then many of the responses from people around us will bring it on. All those questions that begin with “But…”

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