Blog Archives

The Recession Is Hitting Everyone

Why, some people can’t afford to dine at The Ritz anymore.

Thanks to Sally Coleman, who posted this article on Facebook.

Is The Queen’s Jubilee A Real Jubilee?

Er, no, it isn’t. Not to the Christian, anyway.

I bear Her Majesty no malice. Take your pick between monarchies, republics and theocracies: all have serious weaknesses which I’m not going to explore here. And yes, I shall go to our street party and enjoy myself with our friends and neighbours.

But let me defend my opening. Because The Real Jubilee is so much better.

Yesterday, Mark got home from school with a homework project for half-term to research The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. All the usual stuff about what’s going to happen, what the children are going to do and so on. So he finds the official website and started typing away.

“Hold on a minute,” I said, “do you know what a Jubilee originally was?” I knew he wouldn’t have a clue, and I explained simply the Old Testament origination of the fifty year intervals at which slaves were released and land returned. With the incentive that surely no other child in his class would know about this (and probably not his teacher, either) he added this to the beginning of his project. Never have I found Leviticus so useful with a child.

It is put in a more sophisticated way by Nick Spencer in his article The Other Jubilee, posted at Theos yesterday. There, he explains the heart of the problem. We have confused Old Testament Jubilee (from the Hebrew ‘jobel’) with Latin ‘jubilo’, meaning ‘to rejoice’. Hence we have the incongruous notion of a Jubilee without justice. A party (which is fine) but nothing else. How glad I was, then, to see my friend Sally Coleman post a link on Facebook to the Jubilee Debt Campaign’s Jubilee For Justice petition. Now, I know signing a petition only goes so far, I know that it’s easier than ever online and it becomes a substitute for getting our own hands dirty if we’re lazy, but it’s a start. I like the aims of the campaign:

Cancel the unjust debts of the most indebted nations

Promote just and progressive taxation rather than excessive borrowing

Stop harmful lending which forces countries into debt

I’ll put my name to those. And I just wonder whether, with all the talk we’ve had of churches getting involved with Diamond Jubilee Beacons we might have had a more effective witness by grass roots action for something in the spirit of a biblical jubilee. But then I’m a church leader and I’ve been far too slow to connect with what a jubilee originally was. I’m just catching up rather too late, thanks to my son’s homework.

Letting Jesus Heal

Sally Coleman and I seem to be interested in much the same things right now. Not only have we both written about theology in the last couple of days, she has written about healing and now here am I doing the same.

We’ve just started running the DVD course ‘Letting Jesus Heal‘ from the Christian Healing Mission at Knaphill. Now before I go any further, I should make full disclosure and say that I have known John Ryeland, the director of the CHM, for a good number of years, and indeed went to school with his wife Gillian! So you can accuse me of bias if you like.

However, I want to commend this course enthusiastically, based on the first two weeks of the six. What I like about the teaching here is that John combines a faithful openness to the power of God to heal with a quiet, gentle approach. In style this is about as far removed as you can get from the hyped-up school of healing ministry so prevalent in some places. It is therefore both safe and ideal for introducing an expectancy that God will work in a context where people might be nervous of showmanship, noise or manipulation.

Not only that, one thing I deeply value about John’s teaching is that he opens people up to the belief and experience that God is speaking to us much more than we realise. How often do we think that God is not speaking to us, or just does not speak to us – especially in contrast to other Christians who, in the words many years ago of Gerald Coates, ‘have more words from the Lord before breakfast than Billy Graham has had in a lifetime’?

Eighteen months ago, I heard John give his teaching on ‘Encountering Jesus‘ and had a simple but profound experience of Christ in relation to some serious pain and disappointment in my life. It forms the second session of the healing course, and while I obviously cannot share any confidences, I know that a number of people heard Jesus speak to them on Wednesday night in the course.

If you are looking for something to encourage people in the area of Christian healing, then, I recommend you take a good look at this course. And if you’re not far from Knaphill, feel free to drop in on us next Wednesday at 8:00 pm.

Ministry And Personality Type Surveys Part 3: Up The Workers

I’m not going to label blog posts any more with the day number of the sabbatical. Have I returned to my duties? No. I’ve had the thirteen weeks of the sabbatical now, but am tacking on a week’s leave to the end to avoid problems in the summer.

Tonight, I’m going to trail the results from the final section of the surveys into ministry and personality type. However, that doesn’t mean this is the final entry on the subject. For one thing, what I’m about to report has the potential to be quite complex, and I don’t think I can easily nail my thoughts just with my initial immediate reactions. But also, having gone through every section of the questionnaires, I shall then want to step back and think about some of the wider implications. 

Section 3 had one question. I listed sixteen characteristics of a good worker. I asked ministers to pick the five that most represented them, and church members to choose the five that most appealed to them in a minister. I did not ask respondents to put their five in any order. I just wanted to get a good picture of the attractive qualities in the work of a minister.

Each of the sixteen words represented one personality type in Myers Briggs. (You may recall there are sixteen types.) They were the summary words for each type taken from Jerry Gilpin‘s sheet, ‘The Sixteen Types at Work’, which he extracted from ‘Introduction to Type and Teams’ by Hirsh, Hirsh and Hirsh. (The book appears to be currently unavailable in the UK, hence no link to it.) Jerry’s sheet of course doesn’t just contain the single word that is described as the ‘hallmark’ of each type at work: it also contains a short paragraph describing them. More on that anon.

Some very interesting patterns emerged from the results. In the results from both the ministers and the congregants, six qualities emerged with significantly higher scores than the remaining ten. And it was the same six qualities on both the ministers’ results and the church members’ results. They weren’t in exactly the same order (although they weren’t far off), but that the same six emerged from both surveys clearly separated from the remaining ten seemed significant to me.

So what were they? The church members ranked the top six as follows:

1. Commitment (ISFJ)
2. Vision (INTJ)
3. Sensitivity (ISFP)
4. Integrity (INFJ)
5. Enthusiasm (ESFP)
6. Dependability (ISTJ).

The ministers put them in this order:

1. Commitment (ISFJ)
2=. Vision (INTJ) and Integrity (INFJ)
4=.  Enthusiasm (ESFP) and Dependability (ISTJ)
6. Sensitivity (ISFP) 

Within these six leading qualities, I notice a number of things. Having noticed with disappointment but little surprise that my own personality type of INTP, the hallmark of which is ‘Logic’, featured very low on both lists (14= among ministers and 13= in congregational aspirations), I was quickly heartened to notice that five of the qualities in the top six were introverted personality types. I suppose the Richard Dawkins of this world would make something of just how low logic is valued in the church, but so would liberal Christians and academics in the evangelical tradition. However, at least there are clear elements in the ways many introverts work that are valued, after all, in the church. 

Why? It’s hard to know exactly, but given the close correspondence between the two sets of results, let me venture this tentative thought. The vast majority of responses to the surveys came, I believe, from people in the older, historic denominations. These are traditions that more commonly function in introverted styles. Other studies show a higher preponderance of extraverts among the Pentecostal and charismatic churches. It isn’t uncommon to find in the more traditional denominations a fear of the ’emotionalism’ that the newer churches display. Sometimes this is legitimate and well-founded, but could it be that on other occasions it is a fear of extraversion? And if so, might it be that we want to recruit ministers in our own image? It would be comforting, I suppose.

The other observation I want to make on this section of the results tonight is about our previous clear front-runner, ENFP. You’ll notice it doesn’t feature in the top six. Among the ministers, it ranked at 7, and among church members, it was number 8. You may say that was not far off the top six, but remember there was a clear gap between them and the rest of the field. For example, number 6 among the ministers, ISFP, attracted a response rate of 48.7%, but ENFP scored only 30.8%. Among the congregations, ISTJ at 6 had 51.7%, but ENFP made only 19.1%.

What I haven’t told you yet is the hallmark word used for ENFP. It was ‘Imagination’. Here’s my gut reaction: if imagination is commonly accepted as an important part of our approach to mission and worship in a postmodern context, then our ENFPs are incredibly important to the church. (Are you reading this, Sally and Dave?) So on the one hand, earlier results in the survey suggest we might have a good number of ENFPs in the ministry and appreciated by churches, but on the other it may be that one of their most important qualities is not appreciated as it needs to be today. 

Finally, I said I would come back to the question of the one-word hallmarks and the fuller paragraphs attached to each personality type at work. Again, just making the question brief could risk distortion in the results. That is a danger right through this survey, and not only in that way. So below, I’m going to reproduce those paragraphs for the top six plus ENFP and my own INTP. If this is a breach of copyright, perhaps the copyright owner would tell me and I shall gladly remove what follows. I am assuming I am OK, from the way these notes were distributed at the course and the fact that the book is out of print, but if I’m wrong, just let me know. 

The Top Six

ISFJ (Commitment) Conscientious, loyal and dedicated, ISFJs work well when roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. They take care of the specific and practical needs of people, relying on trusted, established methods. They seek harmony and stability, expeect others to be diligent, and make sacrifices to get the job done.

INTJ (Vision) Independent, individualistic and visionary, INTJs work well when they can develop strategies, use foresight, implement their ideas and create intellectual structures to meet goals. Unafraid of difficulty, they objectively analyse varied factors and global issues to meet complex challenges they can foresee in the future.

ISFP (Sensitivity) Low-key, flexible and modest, ISFPs work well when they can meet the individual needs of people in a direct and personal manner. Valuing harmony and tolerance, they are genuine, sincere, and open-minded. They enhance their work environments by ensuring that people are cared for with kindness and artistry.

INFJ (Integrity) Insightful, inspiring and creative, INFJs work well when they can concentrate on what matters to people, quietly exert influence, and model integrity. They envision ways to reach long-range goals, want to develop an atmosphere of mutual trust, and organise people and processes so that all benefit.

ESFP (Enthusiasm) Friendly, outgoing, and enthusiastic, ESFPs work well when they can use their vitality and humour to make things happen. They make collaborative efforts enjoyable by applying common sense and a flexible and spontaneous approach to meeting challenges. They like to use their warmth and generosity to help people. 

ISTJ (Dependability) Thorough, hardworking and responsible, ISTJs work well within traditional structures, following standard procedures and keeping track of facts and details. They clarify responsibilities and roles, seek to maintain what is efficient and useful, and follow through on their commitments. 

The Previous Yellow Jersey Holder?

ENFP (Imagination) Lively, charismatic and encouraging, ENFPs work well when they can innovate and be creative, persaude others to action, and stimulate positive change. They generate enthusiasm for startup activities, are tireless in pursuit of newfound interests, and anticipate the needs of people and organisations.

Me

INTP (Logic) Analytical, intellectual and ingenious, INTPs work well when they can operate independently, search for truth, and use rational approaches to solve complex problems. Their curiosity leads them to research theories, contemplate what makes things work, and discover the long-term consequences of any given plan.

Now I have to be frank and say that on that basis, I can see why INTPs like me don’t always last the distance as ministers in local church appointments. That description would put me more in academia (perhaps underlining what people have been suggesting to me about a PhD), or at very least working as some kind of researcher who is providing thinking to support those on the front line. Either that, or the research and analysis aspect of my personality somehow needs integrating into ‘conventional’ ministry. It works when a Bible study group wants to get to grips with something difficult, but not always at other times.

Anyway, that’s plenty for tonight, and far more than I thought I was going to type. Over to you for your comments below.

Mathematical

Your result for The 4-Variable IQ Test…

Mathematical

10% interpersonal, 10% visual, 35% verbal and 45% mathematical!

Brother-from-another-mother! Like mine, your highest scoring intelligence is Mathematical. You thrive on logic, numbers, things representing numbers, and sets of things that are sets of other things, with numbers nowhere in sight. You probably like the online comic called XKCD, and if you don’t, check it out.

You probably knew you’d score “Mathematical” as you took the test, and mathy types are usually super-high scorers on this axis, and low on the others. Why? Because you (we) yearn for math.

Anyway, your specific scores follow. On any axis, a score above 25% means you use that kind of thinking more than average, and a score below 25% means you use it less. It says nothing about cognitive skills, just your interest.

Your brain is roughly:

10% Interpersonal

10%Visual

35%Verbal

45%Mathematical

Take The 4-Variable IQ Test at HelloQuizzy

Via Peter Kirk and Sally Coleman.