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 HeartEdge Mailer | July 2019

HeartEdge is an international ecumenical movement. 

  • We are churches and other organisations developing mission. 
  • We focus on 4 areas - commercial activity, congregations, cultural engagement and compassion.
  • Join us! Details here.

Each month we collect and email stories, web links, news related to our focus: commercial activity, congregations, cultural engagement and compassion. Useful, inspiring, practical - it's a resource.

This month:

  • Maggi Dawn on diversity and worship, Lucie Shuker and Phoebe Hill on young people and belief and Bishop Michael Curry - on HeartEdge.
  • Helen Tomblin on comedy and Simon Sinek on the value of 'infinite games' and building trust in your team.
  • Marika Rose on bad Christianity and Michael Volland on entrepreneurship. 
  • Plus - Full Cost Recovery and Sam Wells on meeting truth in the unexpected.

"A monthly smorgasbord of ideas,
focused around HeartEdge 4C's."

Young people and hope: Asked to name their concerns young people identified: broken family and community relationships; violence; broken global relationships; condemnation toward homosexuality; poverty and consumerism; racism and sexism; drugs and alcohol and ecological destruction. Research on how young people reformed experiences of struggle and fear into a ‘platform of hope’. Insights by Lucie Shuker and Phoebe Hill here

Youth and religion: Further research from Youthscape on young people, their views on religion and their absence of curiosity. And yet... "visible practices were seen as evidence of true faith and accompanied some discomfort around employing the propositional statements from religious traditions..."  Important insights here.

Young people in Church: Research by Allchurches note "an encouraging 88% of churches surveyed said they felt their church offers a welcoming environment for children and young people, but 67% have five or fewer young people in their worshipping community (26% have none) and 45% have five or fewer children (15% have none). Only 58% of churches offer any activities for 11 to 18 year olds and 41% admit their provision for young people is inadequate. Some 82% run activities for children 0 to 10, but only 58% rate their support for children as good or excellent. Further insights and what to do about this here

Funding for work with young people: Apply for that grant from Allchurches Trust to support your work with young people - here


"Where do you find this?! Always something useful, every month. It's become essential for our team." 

"There is no such thing as being the number one in marriage.": Inspired by theologian James Carse, popular author Simon Sinek touches on themes including management metrics, incentivises to hit targets and the ethics of business. Sinek explores the finite games (known players, fixed rules, purpose to win e.g. football), and infinite games (known and unknown players, rules are changeable and the objective is to stay in the game e.g. relationship or career) - and how we lead infinite games as though they are finite. "It's not about progress - its about cause... it makes my life feel valued."  The interview goes deep with surprising insights, here.

"We hire out rooms but it doesn't pay for itself..." When buildings run at a loss, the future for all users are put at risk! Full Cost Recover is a helpful way to work. When working out the cost of a project, look at what support and resources it needs from the rest of the organisation (support costs), not just obvious project costs (direct costs). Full Cost Recovery provides a way to calculate full costs of your work - and ensure you budget for it. It's helpful here. More details on overheads and direct costs, worth including in your budgets here 

Entrepreneurship and mission are themes explored by Michael Volland. "One of the challenges is is to not just have some ideas but see them through... build trust..." Michael Volland describes missional entrepreneurship here.

Setting up a cafe in a church? Great inspiration and ideas on a range of cafe's operating in churches here. We like what the Well Church have done - and partnering up with other community groups and commercial enterprises - have a look here - including London Reclaimed - have a look here. Other cafes? Try also Withington here, or Didsbury here

Need theology to go with your coffee? Check out this inspiring paper by former Hackney Rev, now Bishop of Edmonton - Rob Wickham. Lots here on buildings being redeployed to provide social space, practicalities on how they can be developed and the importance of hospitality space here.


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"Imagination is one place where we can witness, share, and nurture children spirituality..." There’s a strong ethos of fostering imagination throughout Diddy Disciples. Lots of ideas and resources here on children, faith and discipleship.

We need ecumenical worship! "We encourage people to bring the particularity of their tradition... in the spirit of hospitality... We try to avoid the rota of traditions..." We love this - Maggi Dawn on diversity, community and worship here. Lots to explore.

"It is interesting where we're coming from... but what is vital is where we're going... where diversity is our biggest asset."  Sam Wells giving the Inclusive Church lecture here.

Young people organising and running events focused around Inter Faith Week 10-17 November 2019? Small grants are available for events or projects by children and young people from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and other faiths and those of no formal faith in understanding and co-operation. Priority is given to projects which: actively involve young people in planning, running, and evaluation of the project. Promote positive action i.e. young people from different backgrounds coming together to address shared problems like improving green spaces. Are run by non-statutory organisations, such as youth clubs, scout/guide groups, local voluntary and community organisations. Worth a look? More here

Young people aged 16–24 were now the most likely to describe themselves as ‘always or often lonely’. More specifically, they were sixty–three times more likely than over–75s to describe themselves in this way.  Research on young people and loneliness any Theos here.

'Less a year out - more a year on!'  We love the Methodists One Programme for young people aged 16 to 23 years. Find out more about this popular opportunity for young people here.

A year of adventures in Norwich? HeartEdge member St Peter Mancroft invite young people to invest a year in faith, art and the urban. "We are looking to recruit three young people, inspired by our vision, and eager to create space for God in their lives and in the life of our community and city." Another year 'on' - housing and support provided - detail here.

We are about
catalysing Kingdom communities,
We focus on developing 4Cs:

commercial activity, 
congregational development,
cultural engagement 
and compassion.

Join in, here!

Comedy night - in church! Why not! From a UK perspective "Everything great and wonderful has to start somewhere small. Vic Reeves' Big Night Out began its life in a small London pub, moved to TV shortly afterwards and kicked off three decades of comedy glory. Kevin Bridges, inspired by Frank Skinner's autobiography, began telling jokes in various Glasgow clubs as a teenager, within a few years he was headlining arenas. All that's needed sometimes is a platform: whether it's the chance to take the plunge in a supportive environment, or a space to get weird and bizarre." How to build the platform? How to get started with a comedy night - here.

One of our favourite comedy clubs is the West Midlands based 'Laughing Sole' - managed by Helen Tomblin - read her story here. (We are inspired!)

"We shall overcome one day!" We love the passion and ideas from Bishop Michael Curry talking HeartEdge and the four Cs, with Douglas Board, Tricia Sibbons and Dean Xolani Dlwati, at HeartEdge member church St Mary the Virgin Cathedral here

Christianity can be bad, and has done incredibly bad things. But if we focus on the good stuff, it'll be better? Marika Rose takes an alternative approach asking - what is the bad stuff is all part of Christianity? "Everything is terrible but maybe you can use those terrible things in a good way..." Some great ideas in this podcast - dig in and have a listen to some 'gritty' theology here.

The contribution of art in British churches needs to be reassessed - writes HeartEdge Jonathan Evens here

God was not cool and no one wanted to hear about faith. “I don’t think I would have been able to write it five years ago, I remember being in some sessions... and people would be like, ‘oh don’t do that; it’s too gospely or too churchy’.” Exploring the new freedom for artists to refer to cultural influences including the West African and Caribbean church - here.

"Wake up and get yourself to church yeah!" That joyful video by Samm Henslaw is here

HeartEdge is a global movement 
focused on renewal and mission.
Join us 

We've over 90 members - and always pleased to welcome new founding members:

  • TryTank Experimental Lab, General Theological Seminary & Virginia Theological Seminary here   
  • St John’s Hamilton - here
  • St Peter’s Hammersmith - here
  • Cadzow Parish Church, Hamilton - here
  • Milton Keynes Christian Foundation - here
  • St Andrew’s & St George’s Edinburgh - here
Salt Conference 2019: Restorative Stewardship, Building a better world by building better businesses - 11th October: 9am-4.30pm. A unique event, bringing together business leaders, entrepreneurs, aid workers and leaders, all working to maximise the common good through developing successful, sustainable business enterprises. This year speakers include David Urquhart - Bishop of Birmingham; Martin Palmer Secretary General of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation; Paul Searle Founder and Chief Executive, AquAid; Simon Macaulay Chairman, Anglo Recycling Technology Ltd; Miriam Goodacre Founder, Clean for Good. Book tickets and read further details here.

2 - 3 October, Edinburgh. The HeartEdge annual conference: 'On Earth as it is in Heaven' - a practical, two-day intensive of ideas, theology and connecting. Includes workshops on enterprise and commerce, launching cultural projects, developing congregations and sustaining community response. This year contributors include Winnie Varghese - activist and author of 'Church Meets World'; editor of 'What We Shall Become' and Priest and Chief Justice and Reconciliation Officer at Trinity Church Wall Street, New York City. Plus community work facilitator (Asset Based Community Development) Cormac Russell.

The HeartEdge clan gathering is over two days - so opportunity to linger longer, dig deeper, connecting with contributors and delegates, finding ideas, resources and support. Open to all - book in here.

'A single sunbeam' - Exploring the life and legacy of St Francis of Assisi is on Wed 23 to Wed 30 September 2020 - a seven day retreat will take you on a journey through the life of St Francis, and into the heart of his faith. Together we will discover what it meant for Francis to be a disciple of Jesus, and how that found expression in peacefulness, prayer, simplicity and service. More details here.

Last Word
Sam Wells on truth beyond appearances in an extract from his new book 'Face to Face - Meeting Christ in Friend and Stranger'. 

I’d gone to one of the best social enterprises in the city. It was widely known. I’d used it as a customer: they did a nice line in house removals and lawn care; and were a good source of picture frames. It was a great place to take students on my ethics and social engagement course: they could accommodate a lot of students at one go, tolerate their questions, and make their community open to scrutiny and enquiry.

I was met at the door by a tidily dressed man, the kind of person who takes a role on the board of a charity because his employer rewards those who do so – or perhaps finds his career peaks before he’s 50, and after redundancy decides to take a salary cut and give something back. He was accomplished at introductions, and in no time I, and those I’d brought with me, were quite at home, even though we were on a compound where we were well aware all the residents were addicts, combining steady work on home removals and similar projects with engagement with a twelve-step recovery programme. The idea was that a mixture of worthwhile work and progress in facing the truth about their lives would make a profitable two-year break from the temptations of the world outside – and the rewards of their labour would support the organisation while it supported them. Let’s just say that when it came to moving my whisky bottles, the team was required to leave the heavy lifting to me. 

As he talked, I started to get mistrustful of this tidy man, who seemed so much in command of the detail and the delicacy of this project’s vision and values. How could he talk in such an easy way about people’s trials and troubles, of the successes to celebrate and the failures to learn from, of the hope and the reality? Like any visitor to a complex institution, I wasn’t far from cynicism: ‘I wonder what he isn’t telling us,’ I thought to myself. ‘Of course he’d be glad of donations, and partnerships, and spreading the word. I bet a lot of days aren’t as smooth as he’s making out.’

Nonetheless it was an impressive presentation. And the highlight was when he answered our curiosity and introduced us to a very large, early middle-aged woman, who looked more elegant than her humble clothes suggested. He said, ‘You need to know that my friend here has been living with us for nearly two years, and it’s worked out well.’ At which point his friend began to tell her story, about attending a school devoted to the arts, about finding her voice, about starting to perform, and meeting with some success. Yet she found she couldn’t entirely escape the chastening realities of her childhood – the cruelties, hurts, and memories she couldn’t completely suppress; and in trying to obscure those recollections she’d turned to drugs, first once in a while, then weekly, then morning, noon and night. Her life had imploded, her income streams became more desperate, and before long the gutter was her only companion. She said, shyly, ‘But I’d like to sing to you. I’d like you to know what it feels like for your childhood to catch up with you and yet still to feel a song in your heart. And how it feels for me to sing that song now – now that the curse has been lifted from my shoulders and I know that I’m not alone.’

And then she sang. And the whole room was convulsed like it was connected to the National Grid. ‘There's a man going 'round taking names. There's a man going 'round taking names. He's been taking my father's name. An' he left my heart in vain. There's a man going 'round taking names.’ I’d never heard it sung so slowly; so soulfully. It was as if each verse of the song (mother, sister, brother – and finally, ‘Oh, death is that man…’) was a year of her struggle – and a year of her recovery. After that, any cynicism abated. This was real. This was transformation. This was as deep as it gets.

After the standing ovation my companions and I asked all the usual questions. We wanted to know all about her. Would she now resume her career? What was the worst moment? Whose help had made the difference? What was it like to feel utterly alone? This mesmerising figure embodied everything one could dream of about getting involved with a social enterprise. She was the talented aspirant struck down by childhood hurt and emerging fragility, who, with the help of wise companions like the tidy man, found sanctuary, regained confidence, got back on her feet, and learned to sing again. 

There was time for one more question. I said to the tidy man, his regulation blue collared-shirt, white chinos, brown loafers, like an overaged preppie kid dressed to impress the students: ‘What got you involved with this kind of work in the first place?’ It was the professor’s question, designed to show the self-absorbed students how to start on community engagement without giving up their professional trajectories. I felt I was concluding the visit well.

‘Oh,’ said the tidy man. ‘I wondered if anyone would ask about me. I was like you guys,’ he said gesturing to the students. ‘I was at college. I used to drink a lot, like people do at college. Except, when we all left, and the others stopped, I didn’t stop. I went the other way. I drank more. I had a great life. I married a doctor, and her income meant we didn’t miss the money I spent. I held down my accountant’s job for an amazingly long time, even though I’d drive into town at four in the morning to find a place to buy booze. I can’t believe she stuck with me so long. She used to throw me out and I’d come back. Eventually she meant it. And I couldn’t see my girls. Let me get out my picture of my girls. I can’t talk to them now. I rang up on the most recent birthday and my wife put the phone down without letting me speak to them. I lost all my friends long ago.

‘You probably think I run this place, or sit on the board. I don’t. I live here. I’m nearly done with my two years. My friend here (he touched the shoulder of the singer) washed up here about the same time. Took me weeks to sober up. It’s true I help with the accounts here, and some of the management systems, and they wheel me out to speak to guys like you because I don’t seem so threatening. But don’t get me wrong. I’m an alcoholic. I’m what some of you guys could become if you don’t get a measure of yourselves. Don’t be fooled. I can wear your clothes and walk like you. Maybe in a few weeks I could be living next door to you. But I’m your worst nightmare of your own future.’

The colour drained out of the faces of every person in the room. Except the singer. She knew all. It was like the oxygen had evaporated and we were all gasping for breath. 

But none more than me. I was the teacher. I’d taken the students to learn how to live tidy lives and still give back. I’d assumed there was them and there was us. But this man: he was both. He blew apart any notion I retained that social engagement was the abundant reaching out to the needy. He was the incarnation of deprivation, taking on the robes of comfort. There is no tidy. The truth only appears when you see beyond appearances. What a mess.

What glory.

'Face to Face - Meeting Christ in Friend and Stranger' by Samuel Wells is available here. Sam Wells is a preacher, pastor, writer, broadcaster and theologian. He is the vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

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HeartEdge · St Martin-in-the-Fields · Trafalgar Square · London, WC2N 4JH · United Kingdom

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