About Tony Payne

Tony is the Publishing Director at Matthias Media; editor of The Briefing; author of Islam in our Backyard, Fatherhood and numerous other Matthias Media resources; husband to Ali; father of five teenagers; and an avid consumer of books and almost any televised sport.

→ In the nicest possible way


In this Churchman editorial about recently-resigned Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Gerald Bray displays the peculiar genius the British have for politely and respectfully pouring a bucket on someone. (The link downloads a pdf.)

A disturbing review

Life, Sola Panel

It was in the Number 1 Bestseller bin at my local Christian bookstore when I strolled in for a browse last week. And it was hard to miss at other places around the store, with its bold, red, attention-grabbing cover: “Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship, and Life Together” by Mark and Grace Driscoll. (more…)

The mistakes of Phillip Jensen

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel

Tony Payne: Phillip, you’ve been in ministry for quite a long time…

Phillip Jensen: Well, ever since I became a Christian; that’s when you start ministering, and that was back in ’59. (more…)

A thought about teenagers

Life, Sola Panel

I’ve been reflecting on how horrible teenagers can be. Here’s a quick pen portrait.

Teenagers find it very difficult to believe that the world does not revolve around them. They live in a self-regarding bubble, and cannot for the life of them see why things shouldn’t be organized for their convenience. They are quite happy to take, but reluctant to give. And although they do a lot of taking (and others do a lot of giving) words of thanksgiving are rarely on their lips. (more…)

Is parenting a vanity too?

Life, Sola Panel

I was preaching on Ecclesiastes 3 yesterday, and made what I guess is the pretty familiar point that although we experience meaning in our daily lives, we also experience the frustration, bewilderment and ‘vanity’ of life under the sun. We know that there is a bigger story—there is eternity in our hearts—and so we see the beauty or appropriateness of different things that happen (a time for this and a time for that). And yet God has also made sure that we “cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (v. 11). There is a frustrating opacity to life that is meant to humble us, and lead us to fear God (v. 14). (more…)

Better church: The why and how of running Sunday meetings

Everyday Ministry

If you’ve been going to Sunday church services for as long as I have, you will no doubt have a list of things that you don’t find very edifying (i.e. things that drive you nuts). But what should we do about this all-too-common lack of quality in our church gatherings? (more…)

Hating or adorning?

Further to my last post on being hated, Jean Williams posted this insightful comment and question on my wall:

Here’s a verse I’ve been reflecting on that came to me as I read the post: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). Sobering words, and ones that challenge me.


Time to be hated?

Life, Sola Panel

Maybe you’re a people-pleaser (like I am), and like to be liked by the smart and the sensible. If that’s you, then I wonder if Jesus’ words in John 7 will cut you like they did me this morning. (more…)

Something important to share with your group leaders

My intentions to write more short pithy posts notwithstanding, this post is a little longer because it basically consists of part of an email that Sandy Grant recently sent round to the small group leaders and youth leaders at his church. For reasons that will become obvious as you read, Sandy is saying things that I strongly endorse! Can I suggest you follow his lead, and give some encouragement in this vein to your leaders? (more…)

The opposite of faith

Thought, Sola Panel

We know that the much-misunderstood word ‘faith’ basically means to trust in or rely upon someone or something. And many of us have heard (and used) the ‘chair illustration’ as a neat way of explaining this; that you demonstrate your faith (or ‘trust’) in a chair when you sit on it. Likewise, you only really have faith in Jesus (‘trust in Jesus’) when you rest your weight upon him. (more…)

Re-booting for 2012

A new year dawns. Time to re-boot the exercise plan (for at least the next three weeks), the diet (I’ll give it four weeks), the regular Bible reading and prayer (no comment), and of course contributing to the Sola Panel. (more…)