Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Bye-bye Sabblog

Another month's gap... ho-hum. I did warn you I wasn't much at this diary-keeping lark.

My sabbatical ended 4 weeks ago and I'm now back 'at work' so to speak, which means I need to draw this Sabblog to a close, as I'm no longer logging a sabbatical. I'll be reverting to my other blog 'Tasting, tasting. Yum, yum, yum' if you want to keep in touch.

So, how was it? Better than my previous attempt at a sabbatical 7 years ago. That was shoe-horned into the gap between two issues of the Network Diary the quarterly events listing which I produced back then - i.e about 10 weeks. After a good start it just got gradually compromised. That happened a bit this time, but not nearly as much thanks to a bit of fore-thought with the help of Derek and the Urban Presence trustees. The last month was de-railed a bit by family stuff (which of course is OK) - namely Daniel's wedding (a brilliant day: photos here. Lots of photos - you've been warned!), Alannah heading off to India, and my mum's operation for breast cancer, which meant I headed off to Belfast for a few days.

The three purposes were: Rest, Reflect, Re-focus...

- It was restful. 6 months with NO MEETINGS! Well, one. And an occasional chat over coffee or lunch. And some stuff by phone and email... but a lot of my work is based on relationships and you can't just have no contact at all. I have to say everyone was very understanding - even those who couldn't quite work out what this was exactly!

- Reflecting... Researching and reading up (all these 'R's!) on 'Mission with...' - my theological back-filling - got me into areas of incarnational ministry and more recently how does or should the local church exercise power and control over how it interacts with the local community. Key quote: "True incarnation is when I go out and get involved in a local project where I don't run the show and I don't pull all the strings" (Steve Chalke) One decision post-sabb is to keep the research going one day a week, so I've been spending Thursdays back in the Nazarene Theological College library, to write up what I've got so far, and to read further.

- Re-focus. The idealist part of me thought this sabbatical would be a neat and tidy period, ending with all loose ends tied and definite conclusions arrived at for the next stage of my work/ministry. Ha! I think we're talking 'work in progress'. No, I'm not extending it - apart that is from the day-a-week studying. I'm back with Street Pastors, Carisma etc, but feeling very much still in transition and taking up to next summer as the next stage. I'm not making any commitments past then - why, I'm not entirely sure, but from talking and praying this through with others this seems to be the way to proceed.

A final thought for Sabblog. Steve Chalke (again - that man has a LOT to answer for!) in the current Faithworks magazine says: "Vision and Frustration are exactly the same thing". Rats! I'm back from my time out with lots of fresh input and ideas about how things could be, but at the same time more aware than ever of the chasm between that and the way things often are - in local church, in community work, in my own life. If it's possible to be inspired and envisioned, frustrated and daunted at the same time... I am!

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