Posted 11/1/09

I just got back from a CCB Lads’ Weekend Away and wanted to post a few immediate thoughts on it…

a) It was brilliant. Genuinely. Why? Well the teaching was great – encouraging, wise and challenging; it was great to hang with mates and get to know them better; the discussions was frank, honest and helpful (and very much of the sort we wouldn’t been having if there had been girls around the table!); the setting was awesome; the card games were competitive… I feel very well served by the weekend I just had – if a little knackered.

b) Cross-pollination is helpful. I know that last year it was done as a ‘dads weekend’ and a ‘lads weekend’. That may be necessary as dads, in particular, do face distinct challenges. However, it was good for the church that morning and evening chaps got to know each other properly – the wisdom of the more mature among us proved invaluable for spiritual input, but also as a reminder that they still face many of the same challenges as the ’20-somethings’ (a category I can apply to myself for one more month!). The healthy mix of worlds was, I think, best summed up by the music requests on Saturday evening – Rolf Harris followed by The Prodigy! An eye-opener for everyone…

c) Summary of the material: Perks spoke twice; on lust and idolatry. The former contained great practical advice and honest appraisal. Having examined David and Bathsheba, I will remember for myself the practical conclusions that David should never have had so much idle time on his hands, should never have ventured onto the roof in the first place, and, having placed himself in moral danger, should then have jumped off the slippery slope at the earliest possible stage instead of letting things develop beyond any original intention! It is vital to understand the combination of true forgiveness and hard consequences that he subsequently faced. The latter talk’s concept that all sin is first a consequence of idolatry, valuing other things more than God, was complimentary to the material of the first talk but built upon it – the idea of us addressing ‘the heart’ first and foremost was particularly unfamiliar and instructive.  

The Driscoll e-book ‘Porn Again Christian’ was challenging and led to good discussion. Even so, I am not entirely behind it. Much of what it says is important – pornography is tearing up the young men of the church and we all need to stop making excuses, particularly for the sin that often accompanies masturbation. However, I felt it was unhelpfuly harsh, particularly on that very issue of taking things ‘in hand’… there seemed an acknowledgement that married men have ‘needs’ and need a ‘Plan B’ when full sex isn’t an option. However, it seemed not to imagine that single men have any such requirement, essentially telling them to stop everything and, if necessary, get married (quite clearly not the simple option in many cases – particularly to the oversexed 15 year old, living in this hypersexed world!)… the instruction is particularly tough when married to the graceless assertion that ‘men who remain enslaved to sexual sin will die in their sins and wake up in the eternal torments of hell’. Not if they place their faith in the perfection of Christ they won’t. Having identified the guilt that so traps young Christians on account of these issues I’d like to see Driscoll’s book offer a little more compassion and a bit more practical advice alongside the unmistakeble wake-up call.

Sunday saw Pete leading a session on the decisions we make as men – really fascinating and, to me, totally new stuff on the source and process of our ethics. His second session sent us away with a Bible to look up and share our favourite passages concerning the nature of Christ – again, original and hugely rewarding. Perhaps my favourite moment was when we then sang together – a bunch of often repressed men, comfortable with one another, ganing in volume and passion throughout our rendition of Amazing Grace, all but taking the roof off with the certainty of that awesome final verse.

d) I hope the girls are as well served next week as we have been. Our church has a deliberate lack of female leadership from the front, but this can make it tough to offer our girls specific teaching of the stature offered by Pete, Perks, or any other Co-Mission leader (assuming none of them are invited). It does worry me that Nina has rarely been challenged or held accountable in the way I have been over numerous meals, drinks and coffees from the likes of Angus, Ed, Perks and others among our CCB senior ranks. There is an idea I’ve heard expressed around our neck of the woods that girls automatically look after one another whilst men need the extra help. I have seen little to support this (no criticism of our girls – I just mean their femininity isn’t some automatic shortcut to Christian growth and mentorship – many just feel like fish out of water in the strange old world of church!).

Lots there – thanks for the great weekend anyone who was there. I’ll post soon regarding my New Year Detox (Retox?) folowing December’s particular rubbishness. It’s been an interesting start to the year…


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