It’s amazing how quickly time passes. I’ve been so busy studying and working that I’ve neglected this blog.  I’m hoping to have much more time soon.  I finish my course in a few weeks!  In the meantime, have a dig about the archive.  You never know what you might find!!!

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I’ve just spent a few days at college considering play and creativity in the context of church. I have lots of notes and thoughts, but the one that has stuck with me is about space to play and create art.

Play is at the centre of creativity.


Play is about trying things out.  It’s about testing ideas, positions, opinions and options by imagining what they would be like without committing to them.  Art then, at least partly, capturing what you discover as you play.  This process of imagining something then making it if  done reflectively can be a spiritual practice.

That must surely begin with a playful attitude, the expectation that church is a place that encourages and enables play and art and creativity.  And that means you!  Yes, YOU!

So, how do we create both the expectation and the space for our churches and communities to be creative places?

I don’t think it’s accidental that Messy Church and Godly Play have been two of the most successful things to happen to the church for years.  Why?  Because they centre around play.  Spill the Beans works in a similar way because it centres on story, a playful and imaginative exploration of an incident or idea.

The strength of these approaches is perhaps that they don’t expect masterpieces, just that you take part and see what happens.

That your contribution is valued and valid…

no matter what your art teacher told you at school.

I’m fed up with church being about finding the one, correct answer.  The idea that a parable has one right, correct and universal meaning is just nonsense.  They are stories designed to make us think, imagine, test, explore and create meaning.  So, how else can we explore these meanings except by play and art?

The kingdom of God is like…

Imagine is the kingdom of God is like…

‘is like’ is an invitation to imagine.

What if it is like:

a seed

a man in a field

a box of treasure

a prodigal son

a vineyard

or whatever else we are invited to imagine.

How does that playful, fun, imaginative engagement help us to understand more about God, life and each other?

If that’s no the point of church what is?

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It’s a week since I ran the Great Scottish Run Half Marathon.  I had hoped to break 2 hours.  I convinced myself that my training had gone well but the reality is that with running input = outcomes.

I ran 15 times in August and just 9 times in September.

That’s not enough miles.

I only had 2 long runs, 16k and 17k.  That’s not enough.

So, on reflection, this makes perfect sense:half

55 minutes through 10k was way too fast for the first half of the route.

So, on reflection 2:06:14 was ok.

If I want to do better I need to do more.  And that’s the challenge.

3 or 4 runs per week plus cross training over the winter.

Quality miles, not junk, because input = outcomes.

half 2015

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A half marathon is 13.1 miles or 21km for those of your who are metrically minded.

Except it’s not really.

August MilesAt 43 years old you can’t really just rock up at the start line and expect to survive that length of run.  So you train.  You run 4 times a week for months.  You start off at where you are and you do more and more miles.

For me the start was a slow 5k.  You add some distance to one run each week and this becomes your long, slow run.  Next comes a short recovery run which is more of a really slow jog to get your muscles working after the long, slow run.  The other two runs are where the speed comes.  A quick 5k, a tempo run for 8k or maybe a run that you up the pace a couple of times.

Pretty soon the miles are starting to rack up.

I’ve spent 8 hours running this month and have covered nearly 80km (50 miles).  There are still two weeks of the month left!

Why am I telling you this?

Well, because when you sponsor someone to run a 13.1 mile race you’re actually sponsoring them to actually run close to 200 miles.

Every mile adds up and every mile counts.

Just like the sponsorship you’ve been so generous to donate.

So far I’ve raised £460.

That’s amazing.  A massive thanks to all of you for your support and generosity.  It’s always exciting when my phone makes the ‘Just Giving’ ping noise meaning that someone else has just donated.  You have been so generous.

I was leading worship at Carluke URC on Sunday and mentioned that I was running.  The people there sponsored me £117.  That kind of support is really overwhelming.  You are all part of the team…

we are macmillan

So, what will Macmillan do with your money?

  • £1,020 could pay for a Macmillan nurse for a week, helping people living with cancer and their families receive essential medical, practical and emotional support.
  • £537 could pay for a Macmillan social worker or family support worker for a week. They work with community and social services agencies to help people manage the social and practical problems of living with cancer.
  • £390 could cover the costs for a person to attend a small physical activity scheme in a rural area for a year.
  • Between £200,000 and £600,000 could pay for a new chemotherapy suite in a local hospital.
  • Between £3 million and £7 million could pay for a new oncology and outpatient unit in a hospital.

You can help by visiting my Stewart’s Just Giving page or by texting STEW68 £5 (or any amount) to 70070.

So, thank you.  Thank you so much for your support.  It means the world to me to be able to help a charity that gave so much help and support to my mum and to my dad.

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So, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged about running, and in particular my half marathon run with my brother-in-law, Scott, in October.  To be honest, our training hasn’t been going well, between writing essays, work and Scott moving house it’s all a bit frantic.  But we’re committed and tomorrow I will run.  Promise.

Why is this so important to us?

Well, in just 14 weeks we’re running the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow in memory of my mum, Annis, and we would dearly like you to help us raise £2,000 to help a brilliant organisation who helped her over the last 16 years of her life, macmillan cancer care.

We know that £2,000 is a lot of money and that you are all skint, but it’s been a cracking day and I’m sure you’re sitting somewhere nice with a nice cold beer or a tasty ice cream.

How about, instead of having another one, you donate £3 to macmillan instead?  You donate £3 and tomorrow I’ll run 3 miles.  Deal?

Just text STEW68 £3 to 70070 or visit our justgiving site and donate there.

We and the thousands of people who are living with cancer and it’s effects would really appreciate it.


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Who else needs your space?

My churches hosting co-working revelation got me thinking…

Church halls have often been a hive of activity with anything from Boys’ Brigade to dance classes and slimming clubs.

That’s all good.

But who are you missing?

How can you help your community to engage with each other and make things better?  How could your church support community projects and create and nurture community at the same time?

Detroit SOUP – image by Dave Lewinski



Detroit SOUP inspires me.  Why? Because it’s easy and effective.

Here’s what SOUP say about SOUP:

SOUP is:

Detroit SOUP is a microgranting dinner celebrating and supporting creative projects in Detroit. For a donation $5 attendees receive soup, salad, bread and a vote and hear from four presentations ranging from art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurs, education, technology and more. Each presenter has four minutes to share their idea and answer four questions from the audience. At the event, attendees eat, talk, share resources, enjoy art and vote on the project they think benefits the city the most. At the end of the night, we count the ballots and the winner goes home with all of the money raised to carry out their project. Winners come back to a future SOUP dinner to report their project’s progress.

Perhaps it’s easier to watch what happens:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

So, could you do something like SOUP in your church hall?

I think you could.

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I came across an article about church as a space for co-working yesterday.

It was one of those moments when you think that something is so obvious you can’t believe everyone isn’t already doing it!

We know that working patterns have changed.  Loads of people work from home now.  That’s great.  You don’t have to commute.  You can work in your pjs, listen to whatever music you like as loud as you want, video conference, email, work hours to suit your life… Home working has lots of upside, but it can also be a lonely existence.

That’s why you see so many people camped out in coffee shops with their MacBooks.  They are looking for company.  The presence of other human beings.  And cake.

nomad worker

But we also know that being with others is a creative way to work.  Those conversations where people ask what you’re working on and then add some insight or suggest a contact that could help, or suggest working together on something…

So, why doesn’t your church create a space for these nomadic workers?

You have a hall that probably doesn’t get used much during the day.

You have tables and chairs.

You have a kitchen and toilets.

All you need is some good, reliable wifi, power sockets, a wifi printer and someone to be around to welcome people and put the kettle on and make a decent cup of coffee.  Stick in some whiteboards and plants and you have just created co-working nirvana.

It’s like a constant coffee morning for people with jobs.  And they will pay to use your space.

I’m not suggesting you become a start up incubator, yet, just a nice friendly place with space and a welcome.

There are some great examples of churches who are already doing it…

St Lydia’s in Brooklyn is my favourite.  They do dinner church so they were already half way there.

Sy Lydia’s Co-working

So, what’s stopping your church from being a space for co-working?

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