church nottingham

by Roy Todd

There used to be a TV show called the Muppets. One of the puppet acts featured was a couple of old curmudgeons who were theatre critics. They were constantly carping and sniping at every performance they watched and they could never bring themselves to say anything kind about acts other than their own. 

Sometimes, the Christian world can seem a bit like those two old disapproving muppets. Instead of modelling a generous and grace-filled culture which celebrates others, it often feels pretty cold and mean spirited. All the ‘expressions of unity’ in the world are nothing compared to the uncomplicated simplicity of warm encouragement and genuine appreciation. It’s not rocket science. But it really matters.

One of the biggest challenges facing Christianity in the UK is largely unobserved in its own ranks. Its called CYNICISM. This is a habitual way of thinking which is far more comfortable criticising than celebrating. I’m not sure it’s fair to say this is a distinctly British problem, but it is undoubtedly an issue for the wider Church in our nation. It doesn’t take long to pick up on its vibe in conversations and social media interactions. 

Cynicism is usually wrapped up in the language of pseudo intellectualism and illusions of spiritual superiority. It is contemptuous of anything it perceives as different. But the tell tale sign of it’s lurking presence is the constant negativism which lies at its core. It much prefers to find fault than search for what is good. This ultimately leads to a sense of pessimism which contaminates local church life and is a killer of faith. What then follows is a downward spiral of doom, gloom, insecurity and eventually, the self fulfilment of its own fears. This is one of the major reasons why so many churches are dying a slow and ungracious death. The toxicity of cynicism is a contagion which smothers life. Leaders would do well to be alert to its subtle danger.

Whatever you do, don’t be a church cynic!! Check your heart to see if it has found a home in your life. If the very reading of this blog post stirs a reaction in you which is resentful and irritable, then this is a good thing. You’ve just been alerted to the existence of cynicism in your life. 

The Church should be the very antithesis of worldly culture. Instead of accusatory and disapproving sentiments, the vibe of every local church should be positive, warm and encouraging. This is the shock to the system that is so desperately needed today. Merely talking about ‘love’ is as meaningless as explaining that water is wet. It needs to be articulated in a way that is real and authentic. Cynicism is no friend of true love. Thats why the alternative needs to be experienced. More than ever, people need to see what real love looks like. It is everything which cynicism is not. Here’s a good prayer to pray: “Lord, help me live your message. Amen”


church loughborough

by Roy Todd

If the BBC managed to get the Cliff Richard story so catastrophically wrong, it begs the question…what else are they getting wrong? To wittingly tarnish a person’s character because of crass & inaccurate ‘reporting’ is far beyond unfair. It is a blatant abuse of power. No amount of compensation can ever salvage the reputation of the accused. 

Cliff Richard is a high profile example of what many lesser known people have had to endure because of misreporting and bullying by the press. Most victims of media injustice are powerless against such gigantic organisations as the BBC. Those who peddle accusatory stories without presenting absolute and irrefutable evidence know they can hide behind the protection of the corporation – unaccountable and unconcerned about the collateral damage their cheap headlines create. What is deeply disturbing is the way media rivals have been closing ranks in defence of the BBC, with cries of ‘press freedom’ as their justification. Such defensiveness would strongly suggest a more widespread issue. Anyone who cares about justice will be concerned by this.

It is one thing for the media to speak ‘truth to power’. Problem is, the industry itself has become far too powerful. Can you think of any national institution that wields more clout? And far from conveying ‘truth’, it often feels rather more like peddling opinions than reporting news. While there are many brilliant journalists out there who operate with upmost honesty, it is not beyond the bounds of reason to think that some journalists might have personal vendetta’s they are pursuing. What about the possibility of rich and powerful lobbyists pushing their particular agenda’s through the media too…and paying for the privilege? If it is true that these kind of things go on, then what is the extent of it? Who knows?

One thing is for sure. The idea of a self regulated and unaccountable press is something which can no longer continue. Too much damage has been done to too many people’s lives.  It seems to me that this privilege has been thrown away by a culture of contempt. The media must be profoundly transparent about how issues are covered, just like any other public organisation. This is especially true of the BBC, a corporation which is afforded multiple millions of tax payers money.

Truth is, the media needs to get back to being factual & boring. We should never be aware of the personal opinions, suspicions & biases of journalists, not even the faintest hint. Politicians, yes…because they are accountable to the electorate. But reporters? No. Impartiality is the basis of a healthy media. Sadly, the media’s ‘freedom’ has been used irresponsibly by some who have flexed their position to gain influence which goes way beyond that of an ordinary citizen. For too long, the industry has set itself up as the moral guardians of a nation. Problem is…this kind of ‘morality’ is hypocritical, self-righteous & fundamentally flawed…as the recent Cliff Richard court case has proven. Trust has been eroded, perhaps even beyond repair.

It is amazing to think that not one single BBC employee has yet been held to account for the Cliff Richard travesty. Quite astonishing. If this were the BBC reporting on another organisation’s misdemeanours, can you imagine the relentless outcry that would ensue? Yet, notice the strange quiet around the beeb. The story is fading away. They’ve gotten away with it. Not the victim though. He is left picking up the trashed pieces of his life. 

Distrust is the price of dishonesty. Instead of trying to defend the indefensible, the media would do well to reflect carefully on what has led to the current predicament. Integrity matters. This is what builds trust.


p.s. Below is very moving interview with Cliff Richard filmed after winning his court case against the BBC. Yet, notice how the interviewer subtly seeks to defend her profession mid-interview. 

church nottingham

by Roy Todd

Sometimes, it feels like the world is becoming increasingly judgmental and disinterested in understanding. When an accusatory culture rules the day, it creates a toxic environment where negativity and division flourishes. No doubt the thoughtless (and even abusive) use of social media has largely contributed to this vibe.

Yet in the midst of all the craziness, there are people – real people. No, not the caricatured stereotypes labelled by dogmatic idealism. Just down to earth, everyday people, each with their own story to tell. Truth is, everybody has one. But who will listen?

Some are able to articulate their stories better than others. But it’s our story that has led each of us to the point where we currently find ourselves in life. Our upbringing. Our circumstances. Our flaws. Our mistakes. Our joys. Our sorrows. Our disappointments. Our successes. The list goes on. These all form part of our story. 

If only we took the time to listen a little more instead of throwing accusations. If only we sought to understand the experiences of others instead of judging them. If only we tried a little harder to see beyond the narrow idealistic argument to the grit of a path which has been walked before. Then maybe, just maybe, we’d measure our words more carefully and extend a little more grace. We all need it.

One of the greatest contributions each of us can make in our world today is to resist the pressure of merely running to the beat of the crowd. History teaches us how catastrophically dangerous this is. In a world of confused noise, wise people take time to think for themselves. One of the most helpful ways we can do this is to exercise the gift of listening. No-matter how much we feel we know, all of us have much to learn. 

Above all other voices, what about the one that matters most? Who will believe his report? When God speaks, it’s usually quiet and still. It takes discipline and reflection to discern his wisdom, especially in the midst of a thunderously rowdy world. Yet his word is the one that is eternal consequence. Dare to stop. Dare to think. Dare to LISTEN.


church leicester

by Roy Todd

When you read through the Gospels, it’s interesting to note the sadness that Jesus felt at pretentious religiosity. It hurt his heart more than anything else. His strongest words by far were reserved for the Pharisees. He fearlessly challenged their judgmental legalism and the hypocrisy which accompanied it. On the surface, they’d be laying down the law and condemning those who weren’t adhering to it. But behind the scenes, they were excusing and reprieving themselves for breaking it. It was a classic case of ‘do as we say, not as we do‘. 

On one occasion, Jesus addressed the elephant in the room and said Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.’ (Matthew 23:27). Wow. Pretty strong stuff…and certainly not RC (religiously correct).

Sadly, there’s a religious spirit that still exists today. It feeds suspicion, instills fear, thrives off gossip and is quick to pronounce judgments. The thing is…we are all susceptible to it, me included. There have been times in my own life when I’ve felt the Holy Spirit tugging on my heart because I’ve veered into territory where he doesn’t want me to wander. Lets face it, none of us are THAT good.

Yet, there’s a strange comfort in self-righteous religiosity. It’s like a prison that makes you feel that God is pleased you are suffering for truth. But this is a false comfort and its thinking is not only flawed, but dangerous. You see, truth is releasing not restricting. Jesus taught us that when we know the truth, ‘the truth shall set you free.’ (John 8:32). Living in unhindered integrity is a beautifully liberating experience.

Of course, truth must always be accompanied by grace. Without the latter, all you get is the harshness of legalism, judgmentalism, condemnation, self-indulgence and the inevitable hypocrisy that goes along with it. However, God’s grace allows us time and space to be honest and vulnerable with ourselves and others. That’s why 1 John 4:18 says ‘love casts out fear‘. It’s not a choice between truth OR grace. It’s both.

It is time to graciously but fearlessly challenge the spirit of religion. It does huge damage to people’s lives and robs so many of the joy of real relationship. The challenge begins in the heart.



church leicester

by Roy Todd

There’s a fascinating story in Luke 24 about two men walking along the road to Emmaus (near Jerusalem). The vibe of their conversation was downbeat and melancholic, reeling from the bitter disappointment of Jesus death a few days earlier. Their hopes had been dashed since the one in whom they’d rooted their trust was no longer with them. Devastating stuff.

Meanwhile, a third man who joined them on the journey seemed strangely oblivious to recent events. As they offered him explanation regarding the tragedy of what had just occurred, they were so lost in the fog of confused perspective that they failed to recognise the identity of the person in their company. It was Jesus himself….right there with them, listening to them, walking with them through their pain. 

The two men on the road to Emmaus are like a lot of people today…living on the right side of the resurrection but settling on the wrong side of a revelation. Sometimes, our ponderings and wonderings can be so slanted by the bias of our own subjectivity that we completely miss the reality of what God has actually accomplished. Little did the two men know that while they were wallowing in pitiful dispair, Jesus had just been through hell for them…literally. You see, there’s always more going on than meets the eye.

Disappointment happens to all of us. However, it’s always a mistake to camp in the valley of hurt. God intends for us to pass through it, not live there. Making pain our identity is merely surrendering to earth’s facts without submitting to heaven’s truth. As followers of Jesus, we are to keep trusting through the challenges of our pilgrimage. God doesn’t always owe us explanations for the more challenging paths we tread. Wise people settle this in their hearts…and dare to keep following. 

When your heart feels conflicted by hurt, be kind to yourself and avoid the pitfalls of unnecessary guilt and overanalyses. Sure, it’s good to reflect. However, allow your reflection to be shaped by revelation, the reality of a God who has experienced his own wounds, who feels your pain and whose heart toward you is pure and unadulterated. When you know deep down that you are deeply loved, there’s powerful healing in this truth that can overcome any hurt. Surely this explains Isaiah 53:5… ‘by his wounds, we are healed.


church leicester


If the vibe of your everyday conversation tends to be voiced with sarcastic put downs and mean spirited ease, it is your right to speak this way. However, it is wise to understand that nothing of nobility or worth will ever emerge from this kind of talk. It simply flows with thoughtless effort, monotonously submitted to a tedious tide of cultural toxicity which has been gathering momentum for years. 

When you’re swept away by the pressure of it’s current, it is normal to drag others with you, deep into an ocean of discouragement. Your vision becomes blurred by the seas of cynicism, so much that you can’t grasp just how utterly suffocating this is to vitality and confidence, not least your own. Only when you experience the freshness of a genuine alternative can you truly breathe and impart life to those around you. However, this means raising your head above the waters, going against the flow and daring to be different.

Words matter. In a hurting world, they can either add to the weight of people’s hurts and drown them in negativity – or lift their sinking hearts and breathe the oxygen of God’s healing grace to their souls.

When we first planted the Junction Church, part of our vision was to create a church culture that was so filled with encouragement that when people walked into our environment, they would experience something that is rare….love. We totally understood that this intentionality might appear strange and over the top to some, especially to those who’ve only ever known cynicism as the norm. However, what has transpired over these past few years is a quiet revolution in the hearts of numerous people. One person I spoke to recently told me of the impact this culture has had on their family. The pessimism they’d struggled with for years has been profoundly challenged and replaced with a life giving optimism they had never experienced before. 

In truth, this vibe should be the norm for any church community. The bible says ‘mercy triumphs over judgment’ (James 2:13). If we believe this is true, this means that in a world of never-ending pessimism and judgmental accusation, we are the eternal optimists. How could we possibly be anything else?

No-matter how theologically correct a local church community might seem, if the atmosphere is not overflowing with the language of encouragement and uplifting others, then the toxicity of worldliness has come flooding into it’s culture, and is suffocating the potential of it’s people. Beneath the ‘spiritual’ surface are powerful currents of carnality which are both corrupting and corroding to life.

God has called us to carry a different culture – the culture of HIS Kingdom. It is totally different to the culture of the world. This has to have an impact on the way we converse and leaders must always model this first. If a leader isn’t carrying it, then the people they lead will never grasp it.

In Ephesians 4:29, Paul says ‘Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up…that it may give grace to those who hear.’

It’s time for us to have the courage to challenge the ‘norm’ of cynicism and create an alternative vibe to the culture of doom and gloom that’s so prevalent in our world. How do you start? By making sure your words are building others up, not pulling them down. By bathing your language in honour. Think about it. If enough people do it, this could shift the tide of momentum. It means going against the flow…and daring to speak life.


church leicester

by Roy Todd

No organisation will ever thrive in a low trust culture. It stunts growth, prevents progress and brings out the worst in other people. Just look around our society and you’ll see the effects of distrustfulness every day. This kind of cultural climate is precipitated by clouds of suspicion which hang sinisterly overhead, undermining confidence and empowering fear. 

If any group of people on earth should model a culture of high trust, it’s God’s people. After all, our message is all about faith, right? But trust is something which is built. That’s why James said ‘Faith without works is dead‘ (James 2:17). 

Here are seven traits that help create a culture of trust in your life:


This is not just about being open to correction, but actively seeking input that will help you get better. Maintaining a teachable spirit not only keeps you fresh but bridges trust with others.


C S Lewis once observed that ‘humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.’ Imagine the kind of trust that would be built if ego and pride were taken out of the equation? 


Consistency is what creates credibility. The secret of building lasting trust is to keep doing the right thing long enough. Showing up matters. Faithfulness matters. These things build trust.


Going rogue without being answerable is one of the surest ways to undermine people’s trust. Keeping yourself accountable is about integrity. Submission doesn’t hold you back, it enhances you.


All the ability in the world is meaningless without reliability. When you become a rock solid person who does what they say they’ll do and keeps their word, this builds powerful trust.


Freedom doesn’t happen by everybody just doing their own thing. This actually creates a chaotic culture in which people don’t feel safe. Taking personal responsibility and not blaming others – that’s how you build trust. 


Good intent is admirable. But being intentional is what helps build trust. It means planning ahead. It means respecting people enough to prepare in advance. This helps people understand you love them. When this happens, trust thrives.



church leicester

by Roy Todd

In the insanely fast pace of our crazy world, wise people understand that real friendships can’t be rushed. They take time to cultivate and develop. I’m personally grateful for people in my life who I’ve had the honour calling friends for many years. These friendships are like a fine wine that just keeps getting better as time goes on. The thing about true relationships is that they stand the test of time. At the heart of them is faithfulness, loyalty, understanding and trust…characteristics which are proven over years. 

In the world of instant messaging and social media, there are some pitfalls that wise people will want to avoid. One of them is the danger of developing fake friendships. These are always rushed, are extremely fickle and they never last. Here are five fake ‘friendships’ to watch out for:


These aren’t genuine friendships. They’re merely associations. These ‘friendships’ are built on what someone else can get out of you, what doors you can open for them and what opportunities you might create that will better their life. Problem is, they are fickle. When opportunity ends, so does the ‘friendship’. That’s because it was never a real friendship in the first place. It was a relationship of convenience. See it for what it is…and manage it appropriately. But whatever you do, never believe it’s your friend.


These ‘friends’ come alive when you’re going through a crisis. That’s because your crisis makes them feel better about themselves. They love giving sympathy because this takes their attention away from their own misery. It may feel good to have ‘friends’ like this around you when you’re going through tough times, but when things get good again, watch what happens. Notice how they’re never happy for you when your life seems to be going well. That’s because their power over you is gone…at least until your next crisis comes along. Nah, you don’t need friends like this.


These are 24/7 crisis ‘friendships’ which drain your energy and draw you into a complex world of toxicity that is far beyond your expertise. While it’s always good to want to help people, questions should be asked when your desire to help someone is greater than their desire to be helped. The direction of travel in high maintenance friendships is always one way…the wrong way. Whatever you do, avoid ‘Fake Street’. It’s a dead end.


These ‘friendships’ are as unpredictable as the British weather. One day, they’re filled with the sweetness of joy and laughter. The next, they’re soured with awkward silences, mood swings and temper tantrums. Too often, we make excuses for this kind of dreadful behaviour. But here’s the truth…are you ready? You don’t need ‘friendships’ like this in your life. They’re manipulative, uncaring, selfish and can become hugely damaging to your life and others too. Love the person…but stop tolerating manipulative behaviour.


Remember, the person who gossips to you will eventually gossip about you. The problem with gossipy friendships is that they search for the negative and thrive off the salacious. These friendships are fake because they carp and snipe about others but never deal with the REAL issues of their own heart…like jealousy & insecurity. As followers of Jesus, these kind of ‘friendships’ are no reflection of the one we follow and do nothing for our faith in him either. Gossip creates toxic culture which brings out the worst in other people. Wise people are quick to understand this.

Real friendships take time. If you want authentic friends, be an authentic friend. If you want great friends, be a great friend. If you want faithful friends, be a faithful, loyal friend. In the end, we always ending up getting what we attract.



church leicester

by Roy Todd

Jesus once said ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God‘ (Matthew 5:8). This can also be translated ‘Blessed are those who don’t have hidden agenda’s.’

This statement is taken from Jesus teaching called ‘The Beatitudes’. These are essentially ten values which reflect the culture of God’s Kingdom. The one quoted above is so completely contrary to the flow of selfish thinking that it could easily cause a shock to the system. It means serving without the expectation of receiving anything in return. It’s about doing what’s right, even if it goes unrewarded.

The thing is, everyone loves the idea of serving….until they have to serve. But what about when it comes to serving the rude person? Or the arrogant person? Or the unappreciative person? If we only ‘serve’ when it suits or when it ‘feels right’, then this is not serving at all. It merely becomes a form of self-congratulatory egotism, a convenient good deed for which you can applaud yourself and look down on the world from a self-righteous perch. But it’s nonsense. Servants just serve, no-matter what. They go the extra mile. They do whatever it takes. They’re low maintenance people, expecting nothing in return, irrespective of who they’re serving. Tall order hey? Well maybe this is the ‘shock to the system’ I mentioned earlier?

Serving is not a means of promotion or of gaining some kind of platform. Sadly in church life, the ‘platform agenda’ can often subtly creep into noble deeds. But serving without any other agenda than to please God is actually the purest form of worship, the kind that God absolutely loves. Jesus even defined servanthood as the ultimate example of what it means to be ‘great’ in God’s Kingdom (see Matthew 20:20-28).

‘Blessed are the pure in heart’ is not a statement of perfection. Purity is a state of heart. It’s about humility. It’s about motive. It’s about consistency. It’s about overcoming the impurity of selfishness and personal ambition with the pure desire to live for God’s purpose. This is what God is REALLY looking for…a pure heart, without an alternative agenda. By the way ‘blessed’ means happy. Think about it….’Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God ‘.  Selah.


church leicester

by Roy Todd

Jesus harshest words were reserved for the religious establishment of his day – the Pharisees. It wasn’t that he didn’t love them but he detested their self righteous bile.

On one occasion for example, they brought to him a woman ‘caught in the act‘ of adultery (John 8:1-11). They then presented him with a crass choice – should she be stoned (as the law of the day required) or be released? They sought to manipulate this scenario as a means of humiliating Jesus. Whatever his answer, they would have used it either to accuse him of disrespecting the law or lacking compassion for the woman. Jesus was all too aware of what they were up to and so responded with the wisdom of silence, letting the accusers out-talk themselves before eventually replying with his now famous words ‘Let him who is without sin be the first to cast a stone‘. Within minutes, the Pharisees were gone.

Some scholars suggest that the reason for the quick departure was that the other party to this ‘act’ of adultery was another Pharisee. It would make sense since they were ‘caught in the act’. Yet it is curious that only the woman was brought to Jesus. Why only the woman? Why not the man too? Surely that would have been more just?

This story teaches us a powerful lesson. Self-righteousness is simply unrighteousness in disguise. It is the very worst form of hypocrisy – willing to stone one sinner whilst conveniently overlooking another. It is more interested in competing than showing compassion. It claims to love justice whilst living the very opposite. It’s only real interest is itself – pride, persona, point scoring.

We could widen this challenge to the world in which we live today. There is a huge amount of self-righteous grandstanding around – in media, politics and yes, in the Church too. It’s curious how selective and inconsistent cries of injustice can be. While it is right and proper to express disapproval at injustice, moral indignation will only be truly authentic if it carries moral authority. The latter can only happen through a consistent example which actually lives what it preaches. This was the problem with the Pharisee’s in John 8 – their moral outrage was partial and biased. This lacked integrity and was deeply unjust.

If you really want to make a difference in the world, talk a little less and let your example be your statement. The old adage that ‘actions speak louder than words’ is true. But being consistent causes them to be all the louder. Remember, the people who quietly and consistently get on with it are the one’s who change the world. Now that’s radical.