Kaleidoscope

kaleidoscope

Have you come across Rupert Lazar before? What a man!

Rupert is the pastor of East Barnet Baptist Church, former President of the Baptist Union 2016 -2017 and former pastor of East Croydon Baptist Church. He was also the speaker at the South East Baptist Association leaders’ conference I attended this week.

I was chatting over breakfast with Rupert on Wednesday morning when he pulled me up short on a comment I made.

I told him that one of the strengths of RBC is its cultural diversity- I love that we are a multi-cultural church and much more like the church I grew up in in South London, compared to my last church in Devon.

Multi-cultural?  What do you mean’?” he asked me.

I explained that we were enriched and blessed by having people of so many different ethnic backgrounds worshipping together.

Graham,” he said smiling brightly (I’m trying to capture how he talks here – I think I’ll just invite him to RBC to preach – that will be easier), “Every church is multi-cultural”.

“You are talking about ethnicity.  Multi -cultural covers age, gender, background, class. The list goes on. And in that way every church is multi-cultural’.  He went on to advise me not to only define multi-cultural in terms of ethnicity, but to understand there is a richness in celebrating the different ethnicities of the congregation in all areas of church life.

513PTKBrPAL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_Before I came to RBC I read and excellent book on this: ‘Leading a Multi -Cultural Church’ by Malcolm Patten, which inspired, challenged and convicted me to intentionally develop and encourage this area of RBC life. Rupert was involved in the writing of this book as he and Malcolm are old friends who used to work together. His advice to me was to be intentionally multi-cultural all the time and not be afraid to try ideas that may help.

What could this look like at RBC?

The church I grew up in, Streatham Baptist Church, is a brilliant example of this. The worship group has gospel elements, African drumming and people move and dance and shout and sing. It’s beautiful. Imagine what our services could be like if we included Eastern European rhythms, South African instruments and Caribbean melodies?

What would our prayers be like if people prayed like they did when I lived in Zimbabwe- walking and shouting all at once?  Glorious.

So, this is in one sense an apology. I haven’t done as much about this as I wanted to in my first six months here.

This is an apology if my language or turn of phrase has been clumsy or unintentionally offensive.

And a promise. We are a multi ethnic, multi-cultural church, let’s start representing this in our teams, leadership and decision making.

Interestingly enough the latest Baptist Union quarterly magazine is all about being a multi-cultural church. It’s worth a read if you follow this link.

Baptists_Together_magazine.aspx

See you on Sunday

 

Graham

 

 

Wait

20180114_161009At a rough count we’ve hosted about 224 guests at our home since September last year. Our last big gathering before we move was on Wednesday when we had the Mettle Group over for a social. Two big vats of chilli and a pile of jacket potatoes did the trick as 22 Mettlers travelled through the Wednesday winter winds and rain for time together at our house.

Whether it has been youth group socials, prayer meetings, open manse afternoons or other types of visits we have thoroughly enjoyed opening our home to people and hopefully you have felt warmly welcomed here. It has been a great opportunity to get to talk to people, learn names and bring folks together. It is inevitable in a church our size that there will be groups of people who don’t know each other or haven’t ever been introduced. We’ve seen some of these barriers breaking down as people have crammed into our rooms and found themselves next to people they recognise but don’t know.

Hopefully in a few weeks time we’ll be on the move again as the good news, hot off the press, is that yesterday the documents were signed on 21 Ringwood Avenue which means we are very close to exchanging contracts and completion. We want everyone to come round, to know where the manse is and have a look around, but will probably arrange a few big ‘drop in’ open house events in the first month –  we haven’t quite worked it out yet.

It has been a long wait for us.  When we accepted the call to RBC back in the summer of 2016 we  knew that we wouldn’t be able to move until summer 2017, and it was such an encouragement to know that the church were prepared to wait a year for us to come.  We hoped that we would move straight into a new manse but unfortunately there were many unanticipated twists and turns which resulted in us moving into the current Reigate Road house.

It has been a long wait and it has made me realise how bad I am at waiting for things. I suppose I’m a product of a culture and context where we don’t have to wait for anything anymore. Everything is instant: coffee, credit, answers, the list goes on. The brilliant Tim Chester writes,  ‘What makes tea such a great drink is that it can neither be brewed nor drunk quickly. The tea leaves should be allowed to infuse (the very word makes you slow down) in a teapot. But now we mash the bag in a cup to save time. We sip café lattes at our desks out of disposable cups. We are offered non-spill lids so we can drink while we walk‘. (Taken from The Busy Christians guide to Busyness).

Yet it is in waiting that we can learn so much, the pause between anticipation and action is often when God speaks clearly into our lives. The Bible tells us again and again to  ‘wait on the Lord’ and ‘put our hope in his word‘.  When we were planning the move to Surrey we couldn’t stop thinking and talking about where we’d be living. But in this period of waiting, which we didn’t know how long would last, we just had to get on with what we do, open our home to show people God’s love and fellowship. And what a blessing that has been for us. I’m glad we didn’t wait until the house was sorted.

I know that waiting on God can sometimes be hard and painful; and if that’s where you are at the moment and it would help, give me a call or drop me an email, and I’ll happily meet with you and wait with you.

Don’t wait alone – get in touch

Graham

 

 

Pictures

33990-dove-stainedglass--holyspirit.1200w.tnI’m not a very ‘holy spirity’ kind of person, by which I mean that I tend to be a bit sceptical about spiritual words and pictures that people have from God. A while ago I was in a prayer meeting and had been telling the group that I was struggling to balance the demands of life I was experiencing at the time. One of our group who tended to have pictures while praying, then annouced that he had a picture of me standing on a log trying to keep my balance!  Surely he was just picturing the very thing that I had just told him! A few years ago I was praying for a friend with a colleague. Now my colleague had just spent a good five minutes telling story after story of how when praying for people they often felt a heat emenating from his hands.  As we were laying on hands and praying he kept asking, ‘Do you feel any heat yet?’ and gripping the person tighter until the poor person falteringly suggested, ‘I think I’m getting warmer!’

Yet, I unswervingly attest to witnessing the power of the Holy Spirit at work in lives and areas as people’s lives are dramatically transformed for the better. I always hold that the real manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2 was not the tongues of fire but the complete transformation of the disciples from the local  lads follwoing Jesus to fearless, articulate, wide travelling, world conquering, bold, brash, persuasive evangelists and founders of the church.  Tongues of fire is great, but look at at the evidence of transformed lives! Don’t show me the weird, show me the wonderful!

However, I acknowledge there is an element of control, fear and envy in me and I have a healthy respect and growing admiration for those people who have words and pictures from God, especially when their comments are prefaced with, ‘I don’t normally get pictures or think like this’ or they are reluctant to share.

And this is exactly what happened on Tuesday night at RBC.  We were part of a prayer aand vision night for our family ministries led by Miranda. This is such an exciting area of community life as it brings the church directly in contact with people who in the nicest possible way, desperately need Jesus in their lives. It’s a wide reaching minstry that encompases working with babies and toddlers, to parenting courses and practcial help, to all ages in the local community. It’s getting harder to define what  exactly Family Ministry is, but our Miranda is known and respected by most of the social help agency and council departments and community groups in the area.  Plans for 2018 include starting a ‘discovery/exploration’ course with the growing number of people who are asking, ‘So what’s this Christian thing all about then?’

The genius of the evening though was to invite both of our prayer groups to join the evening and pray for the Family team. And it was then that the Holy Spirit broke out. People were praying prohetically with vision and passion and the pictures that people shared were so ‘on the money’ that I found myself shaking and quite disturbed inside. The Holy Spirit was at work and our final prayer was that this was a line in the sand, things would be different from this point on.

And they were! Wednesday came and toddlers was packed and chaotic and loud and utterly brilliant. And the team spoke excitedly at how confident they felt to be open about Jesus, faith and prayer. I’m excited now even typing this.

Transformation! The Holy Spirit undeniably at work.

So, I encourage you, if God gives you a picture – draw it, a word- speak it, a verse – read it, a message – share it. And then look for the signs of transformation that are all around us.

This Sunday we are going to be thinking about Jesus ‘the rule breaker’ and how Jesus put realtionship over ritual. Why don’t you come along?

See you Sunday

Graham

 

 

Serve

gerald_day

Yesterday ( Wednesday 31 Jan) was Gerald Day’s last day as the Ministry Coordinator at RBC.  It was actually really good timing that his last day was a Wednesday as this is the one time each week that the staff team all get together for an hour to catch up, update and pray with each other.  We’ve tried different formats for this meeting but yesterday was one of the best staff meetings I think I’ve been to (no disrespect intended to any of the other staff). The reason being, Emily made it great fun by organising cake and games as a way of honouring and saying farewell to Gerald.  We played a chair stacking game and a Rock Solid favourite ‘dobble’ and we were even challenged to ‘Out Gerald’ – Gerald by seeing who could find certain objects around the building the fastest. Then after all the laughter it got serious as we prayed together.

Now Gerald will hate me writing this about him as in the short time I’ve known him I’ve realised he is an incredibly humble man that rarely seeks the spotlight but would rather volunteer, serve and support in the background without drawing attention to himself.   John Hindley, in his excellent book, ‘ Serving without Sinking’ (copies are available at the RBC book shop) writes that, We are not compelled to serve, or obliged to serve but rather motivated to serve.  We don’t have to serve but when we realise who we are, we find ourselves wanting to serve’. I think that is the example Gerald has showed us, he’s showed us the joy of serving.

Gerald’s resignation means that there will be many jobs in the church that need doing that may get missed at first. I hope people will step forward to fill those gaps, not because they have been strong armed into it, or made to feel guilty, or compelled, or obliged, but because they delight in serving and find great joy in it. It’s not about how much free time you do or don’t have, its more about where you are at with Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

The other thought I’d had was this bizarre link to  Matthew 5: 13 where followers of Jesus are described as ‘The salt of the earth’. In Jesus’ time salt was more of a food preservative than a flavouring . However, in our culture when salt works best in food, you don’t even notice it is there. It improves the taste of food without dominating or taking over the flavour. Nobody ever says, ‘Wow that was great salt’, it just gets to work in the background – changing and improving the food without drawing attention to itself.

 

And we as followers of Jesus are ‘salt’. When we are really being ‘salty’ and serving and improving  our town, community, church or family well, we won’t even be noticed – until we are not there any more.

There’s loads of ways to serve at RBC, if you’d like to have a chat about how,  just let me know or contact the church office.

Roberta’s final Sunday with us is Easter Sunday – 01 April and then we have a final big goodbye celebration party for Gerald and Roberta on Saturday 14 April. Keep the date and come and join the party

See you SundaySigniture