The guest in the first episode of the podcast in 2019 is Russell Birney. Russell is a retired Presbyterian minister whose ministry spanned several decades and included over 20 years as minister of High Kirk in Ballymena. He is a former moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
In this first part our our conversation we talk about Russell growing up in Fermanagh, about his experience of coming to faith (it was not a straightforward journey), and about the decision to pursue training for Presbyterian ministry.
Along the way we discuss mentoring and the value of having friends and people who speak into our lives.
Next week I’ll be talking to Russell about his ministry in several congregations, some of the challenges he faced, and some of the important things he was learning about ministry as well as conviction about the importance of the Church.
This week the podcast takes something of an international turn as the guest is Clive Atkinson, chaplain of All Saints Anglican Church in Switzerland. Clive is originally from Northern Ireland (he and I attended the same secondary school, though a few years apart), and has been living in Switzerland for over 15 years.
All Saints Church is a vibrant expat church, part of the Intercontinental Church Society, serving the English-speaking community around Vevey in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. While the church is anglican, various denominations and nationalities are part of the community.
In this first part of our conversation Clive talks about the early influences on his life, growing up in Northern Ireland and his coming to faith as a teenager and the formative years at university where he had some ‘deep end’ leadership opportunities with the Christian Union. He also talks about some of the people who had a big influence on his life, including Harold Miller – a previous guest on the podcast.
In talking about the life of the church, Clive describes the way they have a vision that involves being intentional about sending people out into their regular jobs – referencing the work of LICC.
Next week, Clive will go on to talk more about the journey of ministry and how he came to be in Vevey.
For your own reflection:
Can you name people who have had an influence in your life in the way Clive discusses the role of Harold Miller? Are you in a position to speak into the lives of people you mentor?
Clive talks about the work of LICC and their emphasis on whole life discipleship: for those of you in church leadership, is there something you can learn from the way Clive’s church has adopted the idea of ‘this time tomorrow’ and their vision of sending people out into their Monday to Friday work?
By the way – here is that photo we talked about!
Also – you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Castbox.
This week Ken McBride is back on the podcast. In this episode he talks about his move from rural Northern Ireland to Orangefield Presbyterian Church in East Belfast, where he stayed for 32 years. Among other things, he talks about how he changed the culture in the church to enable every member ministry and discusses some of the influences on his thinking.
He also talks about the changing face of denominationalism in Northern Ireland (‘we can’t afford the luxury of inter-denominational fighting’).
He discusses the important subject of resilience, highlighting several of the lessons he has learned about this along the way – not least the realisation that he works for ‘an audience of One’, a commitment to regular Bible reading and prayer, and team ministry.
As a church leader, how can you help your church to retain what is good while being sensitive to new emphases that the Holy Spirit may want to bring? How easy is it to do ‘what’s right’ without worrying about the label?
How do you think leaders can cultivate a resilience that will enable them to serve over the long haul?
How do you find the balance between staying true to a course of action while remaining humble enough to admit you could be wrong?
Are you part of a leadership team? How are you cultivating the sense of team?
In the second part of the interview Jonathan describes the impact of a serious health crisis and – in a section of the interview that will be of special interest to people involved in church music – he discusses some of the things he listens for in choosing new songs.
As you listen, you may like to reflect on these questions:
If you are involved in church music, what do you think of Jonathan’s view that what we sing needs to combine theology and emotional engagement? Do you tend to one side or other?
Are you the kind of leader who is more likely to have a 5 year plan, or is your leadership more about responding the opportunities God gives you?
This week’s episode continues the interview with Bishop Harold Miller (you can catch up with part one here).
Harold talks about his season of theological education (and the influence of Michael Green) and how God led him into the various stages of his ministry. He also talks about his vision for leadership and his strong aversion to sectarianism.
Watch out for mention of leaders’ ‘Popeye moments’ and for a remarkable story about tossing a coin, as well as a moving quotation from Helen Roseveare.
As you listen and reflect on your own leadership journey:
How has God led you into the various places where you have led?
The guest this week is Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore in the Church of Ireland.
In this first part of his interview Harold talks about his conversion experience and the early stages of his growth as a leader while involved in the Christian Union at Trinity College, Dublin (his years there coincided with a remarkable batch of future leaders and missionaries).
He also talks about the role of an Anglican Bishop and the importance of leaders having other people around them.
Here are some questions for you to reflect on as you listen to Harold’s interview:
Harold mentions a number of key mentors: what mentors are helping to shape you, and are you building into the lives of other, younger leaders?
Harold talks about ‘holes in the cheese’: as you think about your own church tradition, where are some of the gaps?