Tag Archive: i church


samaritan

i was online this morning trying to find the time and location of the Assemblies of God church i had heard about in Southfield…

Suddenly my search was interrupted by a phone call from someone i don’t know who was facing a bit of a crisis [her son who is in South Africa has recently run into some bother and she is not in the country] and asked if we could help out. [She knew of us through a friend of a friend and we had recently offered to help if a situation like this came up].

So i jumped in my car and sped across town [and back again and across again, shtupidt gps!] and connected with the guy and brought him home…

With the moral of the story being i didn’t get to church today…

Or did i?

i didn’t really think of any of this at the time or during today, but as i sat down at my computer, this story that Jesus tells, found in Luke 10, came to mind:

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

i said to tbV as we tried to figure this out earlier today, “You know, these stories are great stories to tell, but not so much fun to work out.”

And that is the truth, because there is a cost attached. And quite possibly a sacrifice.

We don’t know why the priest and the Levite refuse to stop for the man, but there is a distinct possibility that it was because they were in a hurry – with a preach to preach or a budget meeting to facilitate or someone to visit. And yet they were presented with a need that epitomised who they were and the work they were meant to be doing, and they did everything they could to avoid it.

Helping people is messy. It doesn’t often come with a set of instructions. The right call is not necessarily obvious. Sometimes it is hard and often you have to call others for help…

For the Samaritan there was a cost of time, money and resources and he gave freely of all of them.

So while i didn’t “go to church” this morning, i did get an incredible opportunity to “church”. One of the things i spoke about at both book launches so far was the idea of moving away from church being a noun [a place we go to] and seeing it more as a verb [a description of God’s people doing God’s stuff in love].

If we do go to a place on Sunday with a specific set of people at a certain time, then the hope is that whatever happens there will fuel and encourage and challenge and teach us and empower us for the rest of the churching which happens from Monday to Saturday…

Hope you have an incredible week of church…

[For more on the book, ‘i, church’ click here] 

This morning at the Warehouse in Wetton [12 Plantation Road] at 9.30 we will be holding the second of the three Cape Town book launches and after the success of the first one on Thursday night at Vovo Telo in Steenberg, we are very much looking forward to it.

Here are some pictures taken by good friends Nicky Lloyd and Bruce Meissner that give a taste of the first night and capture well some of the vibe of the event…

i am much loved!

Once again, thank you to everyone who came – looking forward to some new reviews on Amazon as people get to reading it and sharing their thoughts and reflections…

[For a series of posts leading up to the launch with some more idea of what ‘i, church’ is about, click here] 

And so it begins… or continues… with the first of a number of book launches, which took place at Vovo Telo restaurant in Steenberg.

booklaunchcommunion

One of the aspects of last night’s incredible book launch was setting up five different stations of ‘communion’ – one was the traditional grape juice and crackers and then we had a station with coffee and cake, cheese and wine, marshmallows and hot chocolate, and then marie biscuits and milk.

One of the biggest themes of the book is that church might be a lot bigger than we define. And so typically we see church as that thing that happens on that day [Sunday] at that place [which we call church] with those people [our specific local congregational family] and yet i believe that God sees it as so much more.

And so, within that framework, perhaps communion can look different as well – the idea of a bunch of youth kids walking up Lion’s Head and then breaking out the hot chocolate and marshmallows, but doing it in remembrance of Jesus, feels very much like the kind of communion i believe He would endorse. And so just a light visual challenge to people as they arrived and saw the setup to think outside of their boxes of what might and might not be of God.

WHAT’S UP WITH CAPE TOWN?

Then, in a miraculous, unprecedented moment of ‘What is going on here?’ people started arriving early. We gave a 6.30pm starting time and carefully did not say 6.30 for 7 [which is what we meant in our brains] so people wouldn’t think 7pm and arrive at quarter past… and yet at about ten past 6 the first couple arrived and then ten minutes later the room was suddenly half full as i was trying to go over my notes to be ready to mingle at half past. So definitely something in the air and an early sign that it wasn’t just going to be tbV, the MC, No_bob and me.

The MC for the first night was Theran Knighton-Fitt and he was incredible as we had known he would be, despite being a little sick [“this sweat is sickness people, not nerves.”] We chose each MC for the particular venue and Theran did not fail to disappoint with a blend of philosophical, reflective, deep and funny he hooked a full up venue and managed to hold their attention and somehow get me to speak shorter than my allotted time. [Magic, i say!]

t

The themes of his intro were people of faith who stick with it and an ongoing wrestling with your ideas about God and church and space and freedom to do so, and to disagree well with people and still be friends.

i then shared some stuff which i don’t want to go too much into because we still have some launches to go and i am way too lazy to plan a whole other different thing. We did some thankyous to key people like Kirsten who designed the book cover, my sister Sue from Texas [who was able to be there for the launch!] who jumped in last minute for some editing/proofreading vibes, Linda Martindale who got the ball rolling [and in absence her friend Heather in the UK] and got the book headed towards the printers and the Amazon and of course the beautiful Val for all the space she gave me to write plus the belief in the book and the ongoing wrestlings and conversations we have [and with special mention to her sister Bron as someone who helped make the venue and the setup look really stunning].Also big thanks to Alison and the staff of Vovo Telo for a scrumptious spread and the opportunity to launch there.

Theran lead a bit of a Q and A where he and some others asked some questions about the book writing process, the content of the book and how i saw the church in South Africa which was a really good time of just being able to share my heart on a number of things. “When is the next book starting?” was one question i actually didn’t get round to answering just because a more pertinent question might be, “Which of the four books currently doing laps around your brain should be allowed out next?”

My friend Nicole said a beautiful prayer and then we headed into the awkward part – the book sales and signing. Theran, who had published his own book a few years ago, bluntly told me during our prep session a week or so ago – “People are going to want you to sign the book, so just get over yourself and sign it.” And so i did, and it was great to be face to face with a lot of the people who had come through while trying to oversee the miracle of the ink-retaining pens and have enough catchup conversation and move-alongness to get through everyone who wanted an increasingly unrecognisable signature to happen [Just don’t compare any two of them, i cautioned].

And the feeling that maybe now, i actually am an author, of sorts. That feels pretty good. Although maybe i should wait for some feedback… once people have actually read the book…

GREAT EVENING, AMAZING PEOPLE

i really had an incredibly amazing time and can’t thank everyone enough – it was completely a celebration and also hopefully a prophetic look at the church, where it is and where it might go, if it just takes a moment to stop, look, reflect, listen and be what the church is meant to be.

An absolute highlight for me was the people – a lot of people in a room who i have a lot of love for [and who i suspect love me a lot] – did not get nearly enough time to catch up with people [some from as much as ten or fifteen years ago in my life] and just an opportunity to greet and hug and quick catchup and just watch hanging out with other people i love.

In a nutshell, church happened last night and it was great. God’s people doing God’s stuff in love. It was definitely that [although not everyone last night would necessarily identify themselves as God’s people, i know the majority would] and that is how i am defining church these days.

And even the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob [because he doesn’t!] got into the act…

booklaunchnobob

[To buy yourself a copy on Amazon, click here]

[For a more picture-full presentation of the launch, click here] 

Well, today is book launch day.

realbooks

This has been a long time coming. And then suddenly over the last few months and then especially the last four weeks, someone cranked up the speed and there was a loud WHOOSH and now it is here.

And tonite i will get to celebrate with largely friends and family [and perhaps some new friends i haven’t met yet]

Today is not really the moment-of-truth day – people who love you will buy and read your book. That’s the easy part. It’s getting people who don’t know you and love you to decide that they want to read your book that is the real challenge.

But tonight is largely about celebrating, and it feels in some way like the build up to a wedding – far too many people i want to get to hang with [Dreadlock Mike is coming! All the way from Durban! Super stoked!] all in a room for far too short a time and probably just enough time for a lot of hugs. And some reflection and sharing and introducing my ‘baby’ to the room.

In a room full of legends tonight, four people stand out for special mention in terms of helping get this ‘baby’ happening:

Kirsten Sims: My old friend, who is not actually old, jumped in during one of the most busiest thesis-finishing degree-completing times of her life to produce this more than incredible book cover which people are in love with and which really just adds some heart and soul and simplicity [which is what the book is all about] to ‘i, church’ – i cannot thank her enough but you can take a look at her site and some more of her incredible artwork and show all your friends: http://kirstensims.blogspot.com

Linda Martindale: An older friend in terms of how long i have known her, Linda was one of the two women [Heather Bailey in the UK who i know would be here if she could] who said to me, “Let’s do this thing!” and actually meant it. Linda is one of the most passionate and authentic people i know, with a huge heart for reconciliation and kingdom and without her jumping in i don’t know how this whole process would have gotten started. She has edited me for many years for Closer to God publications and did a final read through and helped catch a lot of stuff as we got closer to B day.

Susan Minne [nee Anderson]: It is such a bonus for me to have my older secret sister [as in most of my friends in Cape Town knew my younger sister Dawn growing up, but Sue left early and was often a cause for “Oh, i didn’t know you had an older sister” when i mentioned her] at the book launch during her short visit from Texas where she and her family live. Sue jumped in at close to the last minute, when a proofreader pulled out, to help with the final edit and proofread and after a speed course in ‘Understanding Fishwrite’ where she learnt the difference between intentional and unintentional mauling of the English language, she dived in and worked some hard and quick hours to make the book you are going to read a lot better and tighter than the one i gave her.

Finally, and by no means leastly, tbV, the beautiful Val, my wife and life companion who was insistent on creating space for me both before we left for Americaland and since coming back to get this thing finished and out there. She has also largely been the driving force for how tonight is going to look and feel and i am very excited to see and experience all of that. i love that i have a wife that thinks about things eeply, that wrestles with the kind of easy answers that are often spewed out and who is up to fighting for things that are real and count and will make a difference. i am proud that she will be standing alongside me tonite.

There are definitely many more legends who will be in the room tonite, but these are four that deserved special mention. It seriously does take a village to raise a book and from people who gave me quotes about church, to people who journeyed with me through different expressions and understandings of church, to the many people who volunteered to read and comment on early drafts of ‘i, church’ and everyone who is helping out with today, Saturday and Tuesday [and any book launches that may follow] i am so very grateful.

Thank you for allowing this to happen. My prayer is that the words of this book will make a difference. Will cause people to think more deeply and challenge inherited understandings and practices, and more than anything to chase after being the kind of church that God calls us to be. Which is a body of people who are used in transforming the world through lived out love.

Let the games begin…

valbook

[For more information about the various book launches that we have going in the next few days, click here]

So the books have arrived and with one week to go [well three days] until launch number 1 [which is totally FULL UP], i thought i would give a more sizeable taste of what you can expect.

One of the chapters in the book is titled, ‘6 passages the church needs to take more seriously’ and while i do believe the church needs to take the whole bible seriously, these were 6 particular passages that stand out to me, that we REALLY need to start getting more right more frequently.

And this is the first of those:

[#] Matthew 22.34-40:

”Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him
with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the first and greatest
commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself’. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”.

This is the whole Bible summed up in four words for me – Love
God, Love people. Whenever it gets confusing or complicated or
whatever, i think it is good to head back to this foundation of the
church and be reminded of what it is all about.

What i’ve noticed about this passage is that it seems like a
contradiction if we approach it mathematically. If you love God
with ALL your heart, soul and mind then you actually have nothing
left to do any more loving with, because you’ve used it all up
already, right? i mean, that’s what ALL means surely?

Unless you realise that the two commandments are not to be taken
separately at all. As we “love your neighbour as yourself” so we are
demonstrating our loving of God with all our heart, soul, mind.

Loving God means doing His will and His will is that we love other
people and so by loving others, we demonstrate our love of God.

So it is more a two part commandment than two different rules
for living. If we love God with everything, then it will naturally
pour out into loving people around us. And as we love the people
around us, so we are demonstrating love for God because we are
obeying His command.

The second thing to note is Jesus’ little p.s., “All the Law and the
Prophets hang on these two commandments”.

What were the Law and the Prophets? It was Jesus’ Bible. It was
the Jewish scripture and if we continue the metaphor on to us
today now that the New Testament has been written we can take it
to mean that the whole of scripture hangs on those two simple
commands. Love God, love people. Simple in understanding but
not so simple when we try and live them out all the time.

If the church could keep on coming back to this passage when
things get tough or complicated, we would cover a multitude of
sins and confusions and unnecessary conflicts. When we have a
denominational issue, when someone in leadership is caught in
sin, when we are deciding how to use the budget, when there is a
public debate on abortion or homosexuality, do we approach it
from the point of view of, “Is this loving God?” and “Is this loving
people?”

This is the foundation – everything hangs on these two ideas.

We need to keep on going back there and holding firmly to
them. And if anything we are doing or saying or getting involved
in is ever contrary to either of them, then we need to really
rethink and replan and do things differently.

As one rabbi said, “Love God, love people, all the rest is
commentary”. If Jesus says this is the most important thing, how
dare we ever make anything else the most important thing?

To find out what the other 5 passages are, you’re just going to have to get the book… [or ask me what the other five passage are – either way.] 

[To see where the venues are for the book launches and to read a little more what it’s about, click here]

So maybe 15 years ago i wrote a book called, ‘If your christianity is easy, you’re doing it wrong.’

i put it on a metaphorical shelf and waited for something to happen with it and nothing did. And there was evening, and there was morning… the first day.

A few years later, i wrote a book called ‘All’ which was a play on the popular saying, ‘All or nothing’ but without the ‘or nothing’ part, because, as the tagline suggested, ‘Because there is no choice’ with the idea that choosing to follow Jesus meant you had to commit yourself totally. But in effect, ‘All: Because there is no choice’ was simply ‘If your christianity is easy, you’re doing it wrong’, updated and repackaged.

Evening, morning. [Repeat]

Years later, the book-writing bug hit again and so once more i used a lot of what had existed in ‘All’ and repackaged, updated, cut and added and neatly trimmed and just before we moved to Americaland [three years ago] i had finished my book, which was now titled, ‘i kissed hating [the church] goodbye.’ [a play on the very much outdated Josh Harris novel, ‘I kissed dating goodbye.’]

During our time in Americaland i did manage to get it in front of a publisher or two and while the feedback was good, i also realised that specifically with my style of writing [and intentional mangling of the english language and it’s rules of grandma] that the book would have to be self-published. More work, few more chapters, few retractions and of course a new title…

And so ‘i, church’ was born, or created, or something.

Then there was a process of editing and proof-reading and trying to find a cover [HOW AMAZING IS IT? Kirsten Sims, you absolute legend of note!] and finally taking it to the printers and going in to take a look at the pre-print copy and then returning home and waiting.

surreal

And all this time i felt like a confused goat wearing a suit being pointed at by the hand face of a suit-wearing hand-face man…

By this i mean it was all pretty surreal… it’s been a long time coming… and at some point it feels like you are going to be continually caught in this perpetual looking-forward-to-the-next-stage-but-never-quite-getting-thereness of it all.

Until yesterday.

Which is when THIS happened.

realbooks

A real live in-the-flesh [well paper flesh] book arrived at my door, bringing with it 999 of its friends. Or to be more precise 873 of its friends. [Not quite sure what happened there – emails were sent – we’ll figure this out – CALM. THE. FLIP. DOWN. PEOPLE.]

And suddenly it was real.

Posted a pic on Facebook and within like thirty seconds or so it had been liked by 30 people.

Which was surreal in itself.

And then comments by people saying they wanted to read the book or even better, that they couldn’t wait to read the book.

To watch the like counter go up on the book picture was pretty special [and i know the praise for that has to go to Kirsten for delivering such a perfectly beautiful picture for ‘i, church’. Not quite what i originally wanted but exactly what this little thing needed.] and it now sits at more than 160.

We have a full first book launch and a growing second one in Cape Town, with a more intimate house kind of launch happening in the Winelands and busy working on ones for KZN and Jhb/Pta and even hopefully a small one in Oakland in June. So there again, people coming together to hear about the book [and some may actually buy a copy!]

Maybe it should have started out as, ‘If you think your book publishing is easy, you’re doing it wrong.’ Excepting that, although it took way longer than i would originally ever have hoped, i am confident that the book we have now [and it is a ‘we’ thing cos so many people have helped bring this together] is a whole lot better than what i started out with. It is not perfect, because if we waited for that it would never have gone anywhere – we did eventually just need to call it on the tiny edits and say, “Let’s do this!” But i am grateful for the time – it feels right.

And just so grateful for everyone who has shown the love – on Facebook, in real life… it has been such an encouraging time leading up to the time when anyone actually reads it and then we’ll see for sure. But much appreciative of the various communities i am immersed in. Thank you everyone. Looking forward to seeing you at one of the launches.

[and if you are overseas and can’t wait for a local tour, then if you head into the Amazon and google ‘i, church’ and brettfish you are likely to find it there]

[For a generous mouthful taste of ‘i, church’ to get a better idea of what to expect, click here] 

mc

Three book launches, three MC’s to walk you safely through them… and just TEN DAYS TO GO til the first…

Focusing on one of the strong themes of the book, ‘i, church’ that the church is far more about the people than the place, we decided that the MC’s of the book launches should reflect that. Thus i invited people who are both important and significant to my life to host the events from the front and help keep the times short, sharp and interesting.

Theran Knighton-Fitt

Theran Knighton-Fitt i have known ever since the day i was subbing in for his grade 6 afrikaans class and he came and asked me how to spell a particular word. i can’t remember what the word was but i immediately started spelling and he was carefully writing down the letters W…O…O…R…D…E…B…O…E…K… When i was done i said to him, “What does that say?” and he replied, “Woordeboek” [Afrikaans for dictionary] and i responded with, “Correct, go and look it up.” [Which is perhaps why i am no longer allowed to be a teacher]

i have always known Theran as someone who takes life and spirituality seriously, not content to be spoon-fed answers or ever satisfied with the status of the quo. He and his wife Debbie and their growing family have just returned from a long stint in Canada where he studied theology at Regent College and it is great to have them back in South Africa.

He [or at least his alter ego Faran], was also largely the inspiration for my silly Dangerous Things You Can Least Expect character, Brad Fish. So you can know you will be in for a fun, entertaining and philosophical evening.

Theran will be hosting the book launch at Vovo Telo, Thursday evening the19th, starting at 6.30pm – only 18 spots left and so imperative you RSVP to brettfish@hotmail.com soon if you are hoping to make this one.

Arthur Stewart

Arthur Stewart is an American-African [my description!] who i met many years ago when he was running an intentional community up in Pretoria and i was interested in hearing more about that. Since moving to Cape Town we have connected on a number of different occasions from Warehouse events and Selah reflection days to Generosity Dinners and more. With a huge heart for pastoring and drawing alongside Christian leaders and others, as well as seeing the kingdom come in real and transformative ways, Arthur is someone who tbV and i share some substantial D.N.A. with.

Arthur also kindly stepped in and facilitated a time of listening and prayer with some of our favourite people, when we were looking for a place to stay, which really helped give us some direction and affirmation at an important time. So with Arthur the mood is likely to be reflective and thought-provoking.

Arthur will be hosting the Saturday 21st March morning launch at The Warehouse, which is at 12 Plantation road in Wetton and which will be starting at 9.30am. There is still considerable space at this one, but please stilol RSVP to brettfish@hotmail.com so we know how much coffee to coffee.

tbV aka The Beautiful Val

Often referred to as ‘The Lovely Val’ by people who didn’t quite get the tbV memo, this lady probably needs a little less introduction, but my amazing wife Valerie will be taking on MC duties for the Stell/S West leg of the Cape Town launch.

Val has been hugely supportive in creating opportunities for me to finish the book [pre-Americaland] and then touch it up, finish it off and get it into book-resembling being’ness and it will be an absolute pleasure having her as one of the MC’s. Her tendency to challenge ideas and refusal to settle for the way things have always been has been hugely helpful in terms of formulating some of my own ideas on things as far as church is concerned and we try to figure out this thing together. With tbV at the helm, expect light-hearted, provocative and eloquent all rolled into one. [And maybe even a foreign accent if we’re lucky!]

Valerie will be hosting the book launch in Vlottenberg on Tuesday 24 March at 6pm at Clubhouse, Digteby Estate, Vlottenberg, Stellenbosch.

So there you have it – the clock is ticking and we are so looking forward to hanging out with all of you – please feel absolutely welcome to invite friends and anyone else you know who might be interested in hearing what this is about. Just please get them to RSVP to brettfish@hotmail.com so we can expect their arrival… see you soon…

[To see a little bit of the journey from Surreal to “Hey, i have a book”, click here] 

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