I spent yesterday at the new premises of the Good Book Company, in Epsom south-west London. It’s a great set up. A bit like the Amazon warehouse just off the M1, only full of Christian books. And smaller.
Tim Thornborough (the impressively named ‘Editor in Chief’ but clearly chafed by the absence of his own designated parking space) and I had ear-marked the day to compile and edit the book for the forthcoming London Men’s Convention (LMC). I sat at a work station whilst various members of the GBC staff offered me refreshments throughout the day. Tim introduced me to a lovely chap called Tarquin who studied at Thames Valley University. I think he was winding me up because there was no way that guy was clever enough to get into TVU.
But back to the book. Our idea was to put something useful in the hands of every LMC delegate. We wanted to produce a resource that would supplement the talks at this years’ convention. The theme this year is ‘The Fight‘. And we’ve got talks from Richard Coekin and Al Stewart on the three great opponents that the Christian man faces; the world, the flesh and the devil. It’s unlikely, given the constraints of time, that Richard and Al are going to be able to address the specific issues that we each face. We’re different. We each have different battles. And so, we thought we’d write a book which could take the typical battlegrounds and explore them in a little more detail.
I had a faint memory of a distant conversation back in the early 90s in which a guy at church had used a framework to talk about some of the key issues of discipleship. He was clearly working from a sheet in which all the discipleship issues had been crow-barred into an alliterative list. Each one started with the letter ‘G’. It may have been forced. It may have been twee. But it was useful. And I seemed to remember Evangelicals Now writing it up as an article. I resolved to that article amongst my back copies. It wasn’t available online but I found it amongst some old cuttings I’d taken back before t’internet had been invented. In the absence of a better idea I thought it would provide a good place to start in deciding what chapters to include in our book. I’d also conducted a straw poll on Facebook canvassing my extensive collection of really good ‘friends’ for their suggestions of chapters. There was considerable overlap. And so, in no particular order we decided to go for the following list.
- Guilt: How do I deal with the memory of the things I’ve done?
- Gold: Why do I find it hard to be generous with my time and money?
- Grog: I love a drink, but how often is too often?
- Gossip: How can I stop my mouth from getting me into trouble?
- Games: How can I be godly when watching sport?
- Girls: How do I still struggle with the temptation to lust?
- Grumbling: How can I stop being so bad tempered when things don’t go my way?
- Gifts: My life seems so ordinary, why hasn’t God given me more?
- Gogglebox: How can I stop watching too much of the wrong things?
- Gospelling: How can I oversome the struggle to tell others about Christ?
We know that we can’t deal with the issues exhaustively. No one would read it if we tried. And there are other books that have done that. But we can cover the main ground and put one or two key pegs in the ground. And we can recommend some further reading. We’ve put together some discussion questions and Bible studies for personal use, prayer triplets or men’s groups. We’ve done that so that we can ground the teaching. I was all for keeping it in the abstract and flying around in the ether. But Tim wanted to bring it into land. I find that uncomfortable. I find it usually hurts when God’s word hits home!
The next task was persuading the great and the good of the young, restless and reformed constituency to submit a chapter. When we couldn’t think of any, we asked the usual suspects amongst the middle-aged, relaxed and resigned. Everyone on the committee felt obliged to write something. And after that it was essentially ministry mates in London who were foolish enough to pick up the phone when I called. We may have given some thought to their ministry of discipling men. But mainly it had to do with the phones. Providential picking up, I call it.
Pray for us. We’re not done yet. There’s still a fair bit of compiling and editing to be done. By the time Tim and I finish, we want the contributors to recognise the article as their own. That won’t be easy. Some of the chapters from the committee are a disgrace! But by the time we’ve finished with them, we hope they’ll be useful!