It is very encouraging to know that when Aunti Beeb, that’s the BBC, want to know what is going on where the rubber hit’s the road, they literally go to where the rubber hits the road to find out! Forget about going through PR agencies and denominational superstructures, these folk aim to get straight to the heart of the matter. When I was asked if I would permit a crew to film a real biker’s funeral, complete with real mourners I was very cautious and indeed dubious to say the least. Funerals are not there to serve as PR opportunities so I was not keen at all, but while I was with the BBC a family happened to visit our workshop and I saw first hand how sensitive and professional the crew were. Admittedly I was still a bit protective, but nonetheless some months later we’ve finished filming and it’s a wrap. This was a well thought through and sensitive as well as professional shoot. As the producers get to work with their scissors and tape, or whatever they do these days, I am happy to know that BBC Religion realise Christianity is not just about what goes on in church buildings and organisations, far from it.
When I left the Clyde’s shipbuilders to go to Theological College and then the pastorate many people would say I had “left to go into the ministry.” For me this was never the case, in fact I felt like I was “leaving the ministry” to go off into the wilderness for a few years. The ministry is where we do things that help people and God is able to flow through us, it is not a certificate on the wall so as soon as I landed in the pastorate I made a real effort to get insinuated into the local community as that is where the bulk of real ministry is. Some ministry is of course in buildings and that shouldn’t be knocked, but titles, positions and organisational structures do nothing to help real people in real situations and it is an absolute delight to discover that this is how BBC Religion see things too. They realise that many Christians have jobs and companies that really achieve something for society and that is where they need to poke those cameras. It was also good to see the bikers being treated with such respect and as real people, rather than face the usual stereotypes so I think this year I’ll pay my TV license with a smile!