Lasso on Leadership

It’s been a busy few weeks of fixing people’s retic and a lot of time spent in the car driving between jobs. I have a range of podcasts I listen to spasmodically and this week I tuned in to Brene Brown to see what was going on there.

Curiously she had Jason Sudeikis on the show because of his part in the Apple TV, Ted Lasso comedy series. I had watched an episode and found it rather banal and a little silly. So I only listened to 10 minutes of the podcast before flipping to another one. But it got me curious. She was fawning over him like he was some kind of God figure! What did Brown see in Lasso? What on earth had this show to offer that I missed? I decided to give it another shot and I was so glad I did.

The storyline is quite simple. The husband and wife owners of a British football team divorce and she keeps the club, but she hates her ex husband so much that she makes it her goal to destroy the club, in part by hiring an American with no previous experience in soccer to be the new replacement coach.

Its a somewhat silly premise – which was why I stopped watching – but when I went back I found some great laughs, but also some valuable lessons on leadership.

Everyone hates Ted Lasso, the new coach. Chats of ‘wanker’ go round the stadium each day when the team plays. He is verbally assaulted with the same term as he walks the streets or goes out to dinner. But he cops it on the chin, doesn’t retaliate and chooses to see past the insults. He looks for ways to connect with the players who brutally dismiss him as a waste of space, but the only ally he finds is Nate, the awkward bag boy who gets continually bullied and harassed by the team. He recruits one lame loser and starts his work there.

Each day he brings his steely boss biscuits – and kindness – both gifts she is unsure how to respond to. But his relentless kindness wins her over. He refuses to be fased by her initial coldness and just keeps loving her. She buckles under the sheer weight of grace.

Lasso gets Nate to create a suggestion box. 90% of the suggestions involve telling him to go and do something unpleasant, but one states that the shower pressure is very bad and could be improved. He allows the insults to go thru to the keeper while the one genuine suggestion gets his attention and he fixes the problem. He puts love into action.

But Ted arrives in England carrying his own load – his marriage is all but over and he is devastated – a broken man himself. He presents almost like Ned Flanders, but his genuineness and love actually win over those who despised him and he begins to turn the team around.

I never did finish the podcast, but I guess Brown would have loved the rawness of the conversations Ted engaged in and gave permission for. He connected with both the powerful icy boss and the weak vulnerable bagboy and treated both with the same love and kindness, winning them over. He fostered a culture of honesty, vulnerability and optimism – Ted is incurably optimistic!

You could critique it for being a little bit lacking in depth and complexity, or you could tune in to the interactions between characters – the powerful and the insignificant and see how Lasso builds a community out of a disparate bunch of individuals. The man who loves to coach, but knows nothing of the sport, does such a wonderful job of team building that the end results are almost insignificant. Lasso began by stating that wining wasn’t his goal, much to the consternation of his co-corkers and the team’s supporters, but I guess his message would be that if you focus on team unity then winning will flow from that. Take that away and its an unlikely hope.

I loved Ted Lasso’s boundless optimism, resilience and occasional rants. I loved seeing his team form and old enemies put down their weapons as they learnt new ways of relating. Ted helped them become better human beings – not just better football players.

Lasso was a leader but not recognised as one by those who only had one lens to look thru. He chose humility and serving and although his method was considered weak he ended up getting the results while also developing the people.

Its on Apple TV and well worth a binge watch 🙂

Beating the Spam Filter

Like most pastors I have a ‘spam filter’, through which I eliminate useless or extraneous emails, information and meetings and as a bi-vocational pastor its even sharper – I don’t have much time to waste. Over the years that filter has got pretty sensitive so now when a person from ‘X’ organisation calls and asks to ‘catch up for a coffee’, I know there is likely more than coffee involved and their call / email goes through to ‘spam’ and I just decline the invitation. I throw some Christian organisation letters in the recycling as I walk back from the letter box. It feels rude at times, but there are only so many hours in the day and I’ve got stuff to do. ‘No thanks’

So when a text came in from what I consider a ‘promo guy’ at a Christian organisation I ‘sent him to spam’ by replying ‘Sure I live in Yanchep – want to come up for a coffee?’ That’s enough to cause some friends to think twice – so I figured he’d back away and suggest a phone call.

‘Arvo?’ came the reply.

‘1.30pm’ I suggested and we booked it in.

Ok… Surprised me there…

So today was Friday and my day had become messy, unproductive and frustrating. I wasn’t disciplined and I was getting distracted from what I needed to do. The morning was kinda wasted. Then he showed up and we got chatting.

He said he had heard my name and he wanted to get to know me. Now honestly… really honestly… I thought ‘yeah – sure – drop your brochures, give your pitch and ask for a preach at our churches’. You seem like a decent bloke, but you didn’t drive from Kwinana to Yanchep just to ‘get to know me’. Did you?

Or… Maybe he had.

It was starting to feel like that.

As the conversation went on we found ourselves immersed in some engaging and beautiful discussion about the church, our callings and God’s work in our lives and the world. My frustrating morning disappeared as we shared some rich and strong conversation.

I discovered I was becoming curious about him and his life… huh? I wasn’t expecting that. Except he had done such a good ‘job’ of being genuine that I realised he actually wasn’t spam. He was a Godsend into my day and a much needed kindred spirit to stir my own heart and help me focus again on the stuff that matters in life.

I found myself thinking ‘this bloke could preach any time in my church! He has some awesome ideas, passion and thinking. I’d love him to speak to our people’

He never did give me a pitch or drop any brochures or ask to preach. Instead he prayed with me and prayed for my son, Sam whose name he remembered after a 30 second intro.

Well done Amit – not that you got thru my filter – but for being a genuine bloke with an infectious passion for Jesus. You injected energy and joy into my day and I was the richer for our time together. I don’t often spend 2 hours with anyone but I’d happily meet again – might even drive down your way!

Late to The Party

As an introvert I tend to arrive a little late at parties.

Arrive late – leave early – recharge… But this morning I showed up for a ‘party’ that first started around 30 years ago. I was in my early years of ministry when I made my first application for accreditation with the Baptist churches of WA. I sat the interviews, entered the accreditation stream, but then hit a roadblock in the form of a requirement that I spend a year studying Biblical Hebrew. I had just completed my first year of study, of which one unit was Greek – a subject I got an HD for and worked hard in, but also a subject that sucked time away from the other learning that I really wanted to do. I knew all the rationales for the study of biblical languages. I just didn’t agree with them and I was concerned that 2 of my 3 years of study would be preoccupied with studying subjects I saw as of lesser value, but of great demand.

I asked for an exemption from studying Hebrew and it was refused, so I simply dropped out of the accreditation process. The church I was in wasn’t concerned about it and I wasn’t overly concerned myself. It was my preference to just to throw myself into study and some really valuable learning, so that was the route I chose.

In the years to come my argument was that that if I apply for a job in a church or elsewhere and I get knocked back on the basis of my lack of accreditation then I’m applying for the wrong job with the wrong mob. I still believe that. If in any job discussions we get to arguing over my legitimacy as a Christian leader then we are probably bound for many more arguments down the line. Best to step away now.

So why jump in now, 30 years after it all began?

It began with an invitation. Would I be interested in considering accreditation?…

My first internal response was simply along the lines of ‘I haven’t needed it and I doubt it will be an issue in the final years of Christian leadership.’ And that is probably true.

But by the same token one of the things I have come to realise over the years is that this is ‘my crew’. Any time I get to thinking of moving churches or aligning with another denomination I just come back to the sense that the Baptists – for better or worse – are my people. And – for better or worse – I am one of them.

We are in this together in some way.

So as we discussed the process of accreditation it sounded very easy. Basically fill in some forms, ticks some boxes, a conversation / interview and then all done. There really wasn’t a reason not to, other than the knowledge that I would be putting myself under the authority of a group of people and agreeing to follow some of their requirements for PD and the like. I did ponder that for a while, but my perception of the requirements are that they are common sense and good practice – things I would likely do anyway – rather than an onerous imposition. I am also conscious that in this highly regulated and at times suffocating environment I may at some point be required to have some documentation that legitimises me. So perhaps it’s a useful thing to do too?…

‘Ok let’s do it.’ I said. It felt a bit like signing up to get my skipper’s ticket after I had already owned a boat for 3 years – a few scoots up the river – an hour of ‘be aware of this stuff’, sign some forms and all done. You can now officially do what you have been doing for ever!

As it turned out the process was significantly more laborious than I originally anticipated due to some unforeseen issues on my end that I needed to attend to. It took longer than expected and at times I found myself asking ‘is this worth it?’

It’s probably a difficult question to answer, but I guess I answered it affirmatively because I kept going. Why?… I think because something inside me said ‘this is a good thing’ and even though my own circumstances made it laborious I felt I should persevere.

So this morning I was accredited as a Baptist pastor in WA. Not much changes in my world. That’s simply how it is. It was nice to be affirmed in my calling by an external group of people, but I felt like I was also saying ‘I belong here.’ and ‘These are my people.’

Surprisingly as the service began I actually felt quite emotional. I knew we were going to be asked for a ‘2 minute testimony’ about our calling to ministry. I gave that 2 minute time absolutely no thought before the moment we arrived so in those first few minutes I found myself reflecting on how I came to be where I am now and what it is that God has called me to do and I was caught off guard with the emotion of it.

As I went up to stage I said to Danelle “I feel bizarrely emotional. Pray I won’t be a dick.’

She laughed.

But sometimes in the process of trying to synthesise information and experiences you come back to your true core identity and it can be both inspiring and overwhelming.

I shared that my calling to ministry began after a basketball / mission trip to the Philippines. I came home convinced I was going to be a sports missionary in the Philippines. As it turned out one of those things happened. I became a missionary – but I didn’t realise it for a long time. In my world missionaries did their thing overseas – not here in Oz.

The Philippines thing didn’t work out, but while I was at Bible College my home church were on the search for a youth pastor. I didn’t know much about pastoring, but I applied and got the job. I fumbled my way thru for 5 or 6 years before heading up to Lesmurdie.

It was in the interview for the Lesmurdie role that I was asked ‘so what is your calling Andrew?’ I don’t know that I had ever really thought that thru in great depth, so I answered off the cuff. I said ‘I want to be able to communicate the Christian faith to ordinary Australian people in ways they can understand’, and as I spoke the words struck me with force that I did not expect. I had just touched a nerve in my own heart.

I thought to myself ‘that’s it!’ I had never spoken those words before, but I have never forgotten them, and it has formed my calling and identity ever since. Alongside it now is the calling to lead and develop Christian communities that make sense to Australian people – that fit our culture and aren’t simply replicas of what we have seen in other places.

A few years later while in the same church – after around 10 years of pastoring – we had a prophet come to one of our staff meetings. I thought he was a bit off his trolley and wasn’t warming to him at all as we sat and chatted. I was enduring the afternoon as he sought to ‘prophesy over us’. He spoke to the other two pastors first and then when he came to me he said ‘I see a picture of a beach with many people lying on the beach and many people enjoying the water, but there are also people drowning. Many of the people on the beach and in the water don’t see the drowning people because they are too caught up with enjoying themselves, but you see them – you see those who are drowning and you want to rescue them.’

Bam… Nice one Mr wacky prophet – you just nailed me.

He captured what I was feeling in a way I hadn’t been able to describe. As I pondered this words it dawned on me that I had always struggled to be a ‘pastor’ – it had never felt like me. Happy churches that catered for themselves and pretended to do mission just made me angry. I saw the people outside and that was where my heart went naturally. I was a… a… ‘missionary?’ A missionary? Really?

Maybe I ‘heard right’ way back when it all started. I just got the location wrong.

From there came church planting, Forge, all sorts of missional adventures and experiments and of course this blog. It was the time in my life when I have never had as much energy and passon and even though the craziness has settled, what remains is a deep and lasting commitment to mission in Australia – to seeking to under this culture and connect the story of Jesus with ordinary people in ways that make sense and that resonate deeply. The from there to create churches that are not about ‘lazing on the beach’, but that are also concerned for those on the outer.

So 30 years on from where I began I am now official. – with certificate, card and new Bible.


But a pastor?

Nah… A missionary? Oh yeah!

The Million Dollar Question

I dream of the day when someone walks into our church and asks the question ‘so how does someone become more like Jesus around here?’

No one has – ever…

Plenty of visitors assess the quality of the music, the degree to which the preaching inspires and the energy and fun of the kid’s ministry, but it seems this single most critical element in church life always gets passed over.

Truth be told the preaching is only inspirational if the preachers know Jesus and being formed into his likeness. The music will lead people towards Jesus if the worship leader has a personal connection with the one we are worshipping. And let’s face it – any goose can run a fun filled child care service that makes kids want to come back next week, but only someone close to Jesus is going to be concerned for how we form little people into Christ.

I think it was Dallas Willard who framed this question and it has stuck with me as eminently important.

‘How does someone become like Jesus around here?’

It presupposes an actual plan for discipleship and Christian formation – it assumes we have thought this question thru. But I’m not sure many have. I know we have pathways into small groups or into service in church. If you’re a newcomer then there is a room for you and trained people to make you feel welcome (as opposed to the other people sitting next to you who may not even acknowledge you).

But the presence of methods and mechanisms does not guarantee a person’s Christian formation. At best it provides a means to an end and I sense we too often seek to achieve the means rather than the end. We focus on ‘getting small groups up and running’, rather than asking if ‘small groups’ are even what is needed at this point.

We had our QBC men’s retreat over the weekend and I spent some time delving into this particular question – because I feel it is so important. I’m also aware that at face value our church may not have any plan for discipleship and those coming in as newcomers may feel at sea for a while until they learn the culture.

We are most definitely focused on this question and I shared with the men how we see it happening. There are basically two ways.

The first is where you ‘train yourself to be godly’ as Paul said to Timothy (1 Tim 4:7). He tells Timothy to make time for his own spiritual disciplines and practices and to prioritise this stuff. You are responsible for your Christlikeness. Don’t expect that you will be spiritually fit without any effort. Don’t blame your church if you haven’t done your own share of the job.

It definitely was Dallas Willard who stated that ‘grace is not opposed to effort but to earning’, helping us remember that we do not earn God’s favour with our spiritual practices but that these things still take effort. It really doesn’t matter what spiritual practices you choose so long as they do the job of drawing you close to Jesus and help you encounter him and listen to him. So we do our own ‘work’ and we generally see ‘results’ proportionate to investment.

Then as well as telling people that they are responsible for their own Christlikeness we tell them that they are also responsible for one another’s Christlikeness. I am responsible for your Christlikeness and you are responsible for mine. The Bible is full of ‘one another’ statements and those ‘one anothers’ are often the means by which we help one another take shape into Christ. If we are to encourage one another, rebuke one another, teach, forgive, confess our sins and so on then this will be part of our formation – but this only happens in tight relationships – where we have made that kind of commitment to each other – and where we have permission to be lovingly and brutally honest.

Churches can easily become social clubs where we talk about everything but Jesus (which is weird), but if we are to answer that critical question (remember – how does someone become like Jesus around here) then we will have to acknowledge that we only become like Christ in community – where we know others and where we are known for who we really are. Of course this requires a level of vulnerability and rawness that some will find hard, but it is by stepping into this space – as terrifying as it may be to some – that actually enables us to become the people we say we want to be.

So some way, some how we need every person to be in a relationship with at least one other person, preferably more (other than their spouse or partner) where life can be discussed, reflected on and dissected – where sins can be confessed and where joy can be shared. In these spaces we encounter love, grace and forgiveness and… Jesus.

And then of course there is life – everyday life – where we try to live this life together in a way that gives people a picture of who Jesus is.

How does that work?

When I go out for dinner with my family they observe how I treat the cafe staff, whether I am kind or abrupt, whether I show grace to the new and flustered girl behind the till after she has got my order wrong 3 times, whether I can be attentive to my family at the meal or whether I am distracted by my phone… and so on…

Everywhere I go I am Jesus – simple as that. People watch me. They watch you too. They learn what Jesus is like by the way you live your life – like it or not…

It was CS Lewis who said:

‘The Church exists for nothing else but to draw people into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.’

That’s a big call hey?

But if he’s right – and I think he is – then we better have a plan.

9/10 Ain’t Bad

Everything we do in life can be done well, poorly, superbly or even just mediocrely. But I sense we all have a ‘standard’ to which we do things.

I was in a conversation with a friend this week and she told me her husband is a perfectionist and finds it hard to have tradies do work in their home because he inevitably ends up having to ‘fix’ what they had done. I said ‘ok I’m never doing your retic!’

I am not a perfectionist. With pretty much everything I do I try to do an excellent job, but quickly. I don’t take a smoko when I work. I often grab lunch on the run because I am moving quickly and I usually get home weary. I think my desire for a fast pace in my work is (partially) why I get the odd speeding fine. I move quickly while working and I tend to move fast when I am between jobs too. 8 demerit points tells a tale!

Nine times out of ten I will do a job and get it all right, but there is always the ‘one’, the blocked nozzle I didn’t see because it wasn’t obvious and I didn’t check thoroughly enough, the small leak I didn’t pick up because the water didn’t run long enough for it to show up.

in fact every summer there is one week when I get 4 or 5 calls asking me to come back and fix something I missed. Usually half of these are ‘false alarms’, but I expect them and build them into my planning. I could just go slower… but I don’t do ‘slow’ when it comes to work. I will live with the down sides of being a 90 percenter because it means I get much more done.

Some people want and need a perfectionist and they will pay for someone to take twice the time I will take to do the same job. They don’t miss anything, but inevitably they are more expensive, because they check, double check and then check again. Which would you rather?…

Part of the reason I have never moved into brick-paving is because you need to be a perfectionist to pave. Your ground needs to be perfectly level and while I can get soil level enough for lawn, laying bricks is a level up. Not enough margin for error for me. Last year I produced a photobook with my drone pictures in it, but my 90% tendency meant that a spelling error got through my guard. Annoying…

Some would see it as lazy or shoddy to be happy with 90%, and to be fair 90% is not my goal. I always shoot for getting things perfect, but I know myself well enough to know that I am willing to trade perfection for efficiency.

The same applies to preaching, writing, even doing the dishes or cleaning around the house – although Danelle would probably say I’m a 60 percenter here.

The point is not that its better to be a 90 percenter, 70 percenter or even a 100 percenter. The point is to know yourself, know how you function and then live and work consciously. Today I completed 10 reticulation jobs and was home by 2.00 pm. They were smaller jobs, but I think I got everything right. 90 percent allows for this kind of operation.

I used to spend 3-4 days of time writing sermons when I was younger. I wanted them to be word perfect and anything less was just not good enough. I burned a lot of midnight oil trying to find the perfect story or the perfect way of communicating an idea. Now its 8 hours and if it isn’t finished after 8 hours then I give it one more hour to round it off. Again I live content with 90%, not because I want to give things less than my best, but simply because there is only so many hours in a week.

As you can imagine careers in proof reading, cake decorating and accounting are not going to be my thing. But that’s ok. There are enough perfectionists in the world to fill these roles, but we also need to non-perfectionists to keep things moving. Anyway that’s my take!

The Cool Kids?

Are the ‘ex-vangelicals’ the new cool kids or just smug smart arses?

Serious question.

I like to follow the thinking of some of the authors and speakers in this sphere because they challenge me, stretch me, and I like some of their thinking, but I’m tired of hearing them speak condescendingly of the ‘unenlightened’ ‘still-vangelicals’.

I’m probably somewhere in between – definitely up for thinking critically and creatively about the church and the theological paradigms we have constructed within evangelicalism, but the sarcasm and disparaging tone that seems to infect this area has frequently seen me muting or skipping over podcasts and discarding books that probably have some good material.

I totally get that ‘prophets’ need to critique and their critique needs to bite to be heard, but the challenge is to do that in ways that earn a hearing. The late John Smith was as prophetic as anyone I’ve heard but he didn’t seem to spend his time in mockery, rather he just called a spade a spade and got on with the job of critiquing what was wrong with the church. At times it was brutal but it didn’t seem to come from an ‘I’m smarter than you’ position.

I dunno if I’m just overly sensitive, but when the ‘enlightened ones’ speak it is too often with a tone of superiority rather than ‘alongsideness’. Come alongside and kick my arse all you like. I will listen. Look down on me and treat me like an idiot and I will use the mute / skip button, because you just lost your credibility.

Rant over…

A Woman in a Man’s Body?

Growing up in suburban Scarborough back in the late 70’s and early 80’s we knew nothing of political correctness and LGBTQI type thinking. We only knew of ‘poofs’ and ‘lesos’ and to be fair none of us knew too many of them either. A ‘poof’ was generally a softer kind of bloke – anyone who couldn’t muscle up in a game of football – or who liked art… You couldn’t always define a ‘poof’ but you ‘knew one when you saw one’ and we were quick to label. ‘Lesos’… well – can’t say I ever met any of them… or maybe I did, but it just wasn’t the era for making it public.

Those were the 70’s and 80’s when if your sexuality wasn’t straight as an arrow you definitely didn’t bring it up in casual conversation and you certainly didn’t wear it proudly. Much has changed and we live in a very different world to that of my teen years, so much so that as I read Honeybee by Craig Silvey this week I found myself both intrigued at the shape this young person’s life had taken and also saddened by how difficult their struggle had been – and would likely continue to be, partly because of people like me.

I have read Silvey’s two previous books, Jasper Jones and Rhubarb and enjoyed them – not in the league of a Winton, but nevertheless a very good local author, so I downloaded Honeybee without knowing anything of its subject matter or content. Had I known it was the story of a young boy’s struggle with his sexual identity (believing himself to be a female in a male body) I have to admit I would have hesitated simply because of my upbringing. There is still a fair amount of that old Scarborough boy in there and this aint my kinda story…

But I’m really grateful for the whole experience of reading the book and the world it opened up. I imagine it’s a tough gig for a straight man to write from the point of view of a transsexual teenager, but Silvey does a fantastic job of drawing you into Sam’s world and genuinely sharing his pain and struggle. The story opens with two people about to end it all – Sam and the much older Vic enjoying his last cigarette before jumping to his death from the bridge. Vic ends up delaying his own death by reaching out to Sam and inviting him into his home. It was Sam’s own ‘family’ – his alcoholic mother and her abusive partner – along with feeling like a woman trapped in a man’s body, that brought Sam to this point.

The story takes us back and forth through Sam’s short life, from his tragic and traumatic early childhood to his his devastating early adolescence, depicting a young person just trying to fit in, but knowing they didn’t ‘fit’ anywhere. The thugs Sam’s mother associates with make Sam’s life hell and he ends up moving in with Vic, a beautiful father figure who only ever has the best in mind for Sam – who accepts him as he is and who starts him on the road to finding some sense of peace with his identity. Along with the more caricatured Peter (male nurse and drag queen) and the counsellor Dianne and his Sri Lankan friend Aggie, Sam eventually come to realise that the world is not against him, but rather there are people who see him and accept him as he is.

Silvey does a great job of depicting the dark underside of suburban life, often hidden by pretty gardens and garage roller doors that protect those inside from being truly seen. While the story may be seen as a little predictable in its trajectory it still tugs on the heart strings in a very believable way as we (late in the narrative) hear how the book came to be called ‘Honeybee’.

Perhaps you wonder, ‘if the old Scarborough boy in me has a tough time engaging with such a story then how does the Baptist pastor go?’ Short answer would be ‘very differently to the Baptist pastor I was 30 years ago.’ Back then I would have had dual reason to dismiss a book with what I would have seen as such a crass and disturbing storyline. It wasn’t culturally appropriate even for secular Oz and it was still the era of gay folks as ‘abominations and perverts’ in church culture.

As I sit here today 30 years later I am conscious I have been influenced partly by the culture and partly by the Bible (although I’d say culture made the first move) to be genuinely accepting of other human beings who have a different sense of their sexual identity and that has been a very good and much needed shift. That said I can’t help but read the Bible largely thru more traditional eyes – and maybe it is simply ‘tradition’ – but I still feel it as true. I have tried on the different ‘sexuality lenses’ but for me they feel forced and awkward and I can’t buy the arguments that go with them. Maybe that would be different if my own experience was closer with people of the LGBTQI community, but its not. Maybe in time I will discover I have been ‘wrong’ on this issue and I will change my perspective, but up to now I haven’t been moved that far.

That said I feel like the volume has been dialled well down on the harsh language and attitudes of the past and has been dialled up on our call to genuinely love and accept everyone however they ‘sexually identify’. We have some challenging roads ahead as the church, and I don’t have a firm plan for how we will navigate them, but I do sense that we (those of us who hold a more traditional view) have to both adhere to what we see the Bible teaching, but with an attitude of real love, grace and seeking to listen and understand rather than simply drawing lines marking who is ‘in’ and ‘out’. It feels like we are getting better at it, but my initial internal baulk at the subject of Silvey’s novel reminds me that old prejudices still lurk.

And while the questions around homosexuality in general continue to bump around, the issue of trans-sexuality is a whole new arena. Can you genuinely be a ‘woman in a man’s body’ as Silvey writes of? How do we understand that conundrum and how do we move forward with that one? I want to say we start with the Bible in one hand and the person’s story in the other, but the sheer lack of relevant biblical material on this subject means we have to do some interpretive and constructive theological thinking to arrive at a conclusion that is more nuanced than simply ‘right or wrong’.

Who wants to be a pastor?…

(And if you want to pick me up on my use of the male pronoun for Sam then before you get all PC on me read the book and maybe you will realise why I use it.)