The Gathering

 

IMG-20180624-WA0001One of the highlight’s of my year is the Christian Vision for Men (CVM) festival, ‘The Gathering’. I’ve been many times before with my old church, this was my first time with RBC and the best one so far.

It was a powerful weekend of hearing and seeing God at work in many men’s lives through the testimonies, stories and conversations of the weekend. There is a beautiful balance between the laughter and fun of the weekend and the seriousness and celebration of men finding salvation. As a Christian festival it is totally unique and unlike anything I have attended before.

IMG-20180622-WA0003The aim of The Gathering is to be a festival that you can invite your friends to, whether Christian or not .  At the Gathering you will hear the gospel presented in many different ways, shapes and formats; and on hearing the gospel you will be challenged to make a response.

If you go as a believer, you may find yourself encouraged and inspired to live in a more active Christ honouring way, or even to do something new to reach other men for Jesus.

And that is different from simply camping with a group of nice guys for a bit of a laugh and some banter. Which of course there is lots of.

There were 19 of us in the RBC group and it was wonderful to hear that Ben – Mat’s IMG-20180624-WA0003brother made a recommitment to Jesus following the Saturday evening meeting.

It was great for me to get to know some of the guys I don’t know so well and meet up with old friends from the past.

IMG-20180623-WA0002There were excellent seminars on subjects like the challenge of ‘Generation Z and Men’ and worship alongside the usual apologetics and ‘just looking’ sessions. There were loads of activities to join in if you wanted, including a live wrestling match. Oh and RBC won the football 5 aside which some of the team took very, very seriously.

But to have one of our group recommit to Jesus- amazing.

I’m going to finish with a testimony I’ve pinched from the CVM website.. This really sums it up.

“Guys I just wanted to thank you for the amazing weekend, something profound happened to me on Saturday evening.

I answered the call and went forward to get prayed for, thinking no one is going to bother, God isn’t interested in me because the stuff I had been involved in was so beyond the pale.

A bit of back story, I was in the Army in Northern Ireland in the Late 70s and early 80s and worked in Intelligence in the ‘grey bit’ between legal and illegal!  We justified it to ourselves by saying that it was OK to do bad stuff as it was for the greater good.

I have carried this guilt for all these years going through the motions at church but still carrying the monkey on my back thinking that I was unforgivable. This guilt fuelled my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and caused me to have flashbacks and nightmares…

…but on that Saturday I slept for 8hrs with no nightmares and an incredible sense of calm. I didn’t get up to check outside.

So despite my cynicism and doubt, Jesus has come into my life in an amazing way. When I got back home, my wife noticed the difference immediately and was walking round the flat in a daze. So from the bottom of my heart thank you for organising such an awesome event and helping me to come back to faith. I am going bring a close buddy of mine next year who has similar issues, as I want him to find the psychological healing that I found.

Anon (TG18 attendee)

We’ve postponed the baptisms planned for the Sunday- they’ll be later in the year.

The theme in the morning service is looking at ‘How to be Messengers of the Gospel’

I hope you can make it

See you Sunday

Signiture

Summer

BBQ-at-Watergate-BayIt has been a planning week this week both at home and at church. In the Maison McBain we are putting the final touches to our family holiday arrangements and learning not to be quite so last minute. Church wise I’ve had great fun thinking through two holiday themes that will takes us through the summer weeks.

Beaches and BBQs.  Sunday Mornings @10 (50/50 Services)

Two quintessential elements of British summers are beaches and BBQs (whatever the weather).  We think of playing in the sea, sunbathing on the beach, or building sandcastles and firing up our BBQs.  The Bible has lots of stories that happen either on or near a beach, or around food, BBQs, picnics etc.  We are going to have great fun thinking about five of these stories in our morning services, including:

Beach Buddies’ (Matthew 4:18-21).Jesus was on the beach at the Sea of Galilee when he called his first disciples to leave what they were doing and follow him.

Sand & Sandwiches’ (John 6:1-15). Jesus has just arrived at the beach of Tiberias when the crowds start to follow, but they get hungry- no one has anything to eat. One boy has some sandwiches he’s carried with him all day and shares them with Jesus.

‘Scary Summer Storms’ (Mark 4:35 -41). Another beach and another boat journey, Jesus falls asleep as the storm rages. The disciples get scared until Jesus wakes and calms the storm.

‘Steaks for everyone’ (Luke 15: 11-31).  An actual real BBQ as the father arranges a giant feast for his son who has just come home, offering the best steak to everyone.

‘Lifeguard rescue’ (Matthew 14: 22- 33). When Peter recognises Jesus walking on water he gets out the boat to walk to him. Not only can’t he walk on water – he also can’t swim – until Jesus saves him. But at least he got out of the boat!

Songs of Summer Sunday Evenings @ 6:30

Every summer has a soundtrack. Whether we are talking the Beach Boys in the 60’s, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in the 70’s, Bryan Adams or The Fat Boys in the 80’s, Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff in the 90’s, or even LMFAO with their party rock anthem in the 00’s, there is always a playlist that reminds us of a particular place and time. And it’s funny how, even when you hear just a few simple bars of “that song” you are automatically transported back. You remember where you were, you can smell the salt in the air, taste the Mr Whippy ice cream, feel the hot sand under your feet, or the warm sun on your shoulders.

In July and August we will be thinking about a summer ‘playlist’ together by setting our collective radio dial to the Psalms.

The title ‘Psalm’ actually comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word mizmor, which means “song”. This book is a collection of 150 poems expressing a wide variety of emotions, ranging from love and adoration towards God, sorrow over sin, dependence on God, the battle of fear and trust, walking with God even when the way seems dark, thankfulness for God’s care, devotion to the word of God, and confidence in the eventual triumph of God’s purposes for the world.

Exploring these psalms will give us new songs to sing so that, as those lyrics and rhythms loop through our hearts and souls this summer, we might be continually reminded of God’s great love and care for us as His people. Our 6 themes will be:

‘Joy’             Psalm 126

‘Rest’           Psalm 62

‘Peace’        Psalm 91

 ‘Planning’     Psalm 25

 ‘Celebration’ Psalm 145

  ‘Hope’           Psalm 37

I hope you will come to these services if you are not away and enjoy celebrating these themes together. Those of you that are away can always catch up on line.

This Sunday I am at The Gathering in a field near Swindon- I’ll tell you more about it next week

Bye for now

Signiture

 

 

Sharing

Image result for Garden ForkOne of the most attractive and challenging aspects of the early church community in Acts 2 was the wonderful description of how they shared all their possessions amongst themselves so that no one was left wanting (Acts 2: 46 & 3: 32). I got to thinking about this as I pondered a problem I have in my garden at the moment.; I need to do some gardening and I haven’t got many gardening tools at home. The obvious solution is to go out and buy some, but why should I? Perhaps I can just borrow someone else’s tools.

In our old house in Devon I had two or three of everything; forks, shovels, even hedge trimmers. I didn’t need so many I just acquired them as I went along and kept the old ones until my shed filled up. My neighbour Eric used to loan me things all the time, gazebos, hedge trimmers, jet washers, “Don’t bother buying them,” he’d say, “Just use mine and save yourself some money”.

Once, just after we’d bought a new bike someone told us of their bike and commented they’d spent hundreds of pounds on a bike, used it once and now it just stood in their shed, tyres deflating and chain rusting.

When we bought a sea kayak a similar thing happened – “You could have used mine – I never use it”.

I am very guilty of buying items I don’t need or use and I’m very bad at asking to borrow things – preferring to own things myself, justifying this as normal – but it’s not very Acts 2 and 3 is it?

Imagine if everyone who reads this blog did a thorough inventory of what’s in their shed/garage/ loft etc and we collected those lists together and built up a database.

Someone needs a bike – ask Graham, he’s got a few

Someone needs a tent ask whoever has a tent

Someone needs a BBQ – check the list.

Not only would we be building community, but we’d be counter culturally taking a practical, positive stand against consumerism that tells us we must own to exist.

Imagine if we took it further and added skills and talents to the list:

Good DIY skills

Good decorating skills

Good baking skills

Good de-cluttering skills

When someone needs a job doing they look up the skills database to see who can help them, rather than paying expensive professional fees.

It’s starting to sound like the church Luke describes in Acts.

I was touched when someone offered to loan me their trailer. There is a sacred bond between man and trailer, mine was broken when I had to sell my beloved trailer before the move.  When I was told, “My trailer is yours whenever you want it,” I nearly cried – that’s community.

See you Sunday

Signiture

 

Enviromental Evangelism

eco-church-july2015-2-colour

Apparently micro plastic particles have been found within the snow, ice and water of the Antarctic. Greenpeace have recently published the results of a three month research project which proves that one of the world’s last great wildernesses is being contaminated by the plastics we use and dispose of.  Frida Bengtsson, of Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign, said the findings proved that even the most remote areas of the planet are not immune from the impact of pollution.

The Whole Life Discipleship theme we are exploring in our services at the moment keeps bringing us back to the point that Jesus’ death and resurrection brings about redemption to the whole of creation as all things were made by and for Christ Jesus (Colossians 1). Taking this seriously will affect how we view our usage and stewardship of the natural resources; but also how we can glorify and honour God in the way we administer love, grace and care to the world and environment we live in.

The Eco Church project is something that has challenged and excited me for a long while and so I was thrilled when the ‘Live Justly’ small group came and shared with the Elders the vision of RBC becoming an Eco Church, which puts into practice the values just mentioned. The first step of this journey is an audit of how environmentally sensitive we are in the way we worship and operate as a community of Christians. It will mean looking into energy supply and usage, recycling and how we consider environmental themes in our worship and teaching.

There’s an interesting outreach aspect to Eco Church as it communicates to our local global community that we are actively taking steps to improve the environment people live and work in. Many Eco Churches have attracted environmentally concerned people who didn’t realise this important aspect of Christian teaching.  I call this ‘Environmental Evangelism’.

If you’d like to be involved in the Eco Church project either let me or the church office know and we’ll be in touch.

The next two Sundays at RBC are going to be great.

This weekend we have a focus on Sparkfish, the local schools ministry, and next weekend we have a team from Compassion joining us.

I hope you can come and join us too.

See you Sunday

Signiture

Elders

At the end of 2018 we will need to elect some new Elders to help with the leadership and 300px-Lorimer,_Ordinationdirection of RBC.  Some of our longest serving Elders are coming to the end of their agreed service which means that there are opportunities available for new people to be elected.  I personally am very grateful to all

who have served and currently serve as Elders and helped steer an

d lead the good ship through the troubled waters of the ministry vacancy and through some tricky times with great humility and dedication.

I am excited because we could potentially have a new group of church leaders guiding, praying and following the prompts of the holy spirit.  New personnel often mean a change of approach and a fresh way of considering the joys and challenges of church community life. It’s also daunting because new teams always take a while to bed in as they learn to form, storm and norm together.

There’s lots I could write about the specific roles of Eldership at RBC and it’s only fair that anyone interested in such a role realises that at present all Elders must be trustees of the church which does carry some responsibility, and a time commitment – but that’s not a reason not to be an Elder.

Here’s my vision:

RBC is wonderfully blessed by being made up of many people from different ethnic backgrounds. I passionately believe our leadership team should be more representative of this.

RBC is enriched by being made up of people from all the age groups; teens, millennials, generation z young 30 somethings like me(!) and beyond. Mairi and I were recently at a lunch where most people were at least 15-20 years younger than us. We came out buzzing and commented, ‘That’s the next church leadership team’.

RBC has some very passionate, gospel kingdom spiritual mavericks. I’d love a team where realising the impossible vision becomes part of our regular discussions and prayers together.

RBC is a church with many dynamic, high achieving professional people who manage big teams, complex budgets and seemingly unsolvable business challenges every day.  To tap into that experience at church leadership level would be amazing.

At the risk of sounding crass and causing offence, to be a church Elder you don’t have to be white, middle class, over 40 and have been a church member for over 20 years. What I’m looking for is people that love Jesus and have vision and energy for this church. People who can bring their skills, insight, gifts and experience to the role, and for the next three years can commit to being part of this team.

So, if you feel even a slight twinge or stirring that this excites you and this is where God is nudging you, come and talk with me. If you know of someone in the church who would be brilliant in this role, talk to them first then let me know. And to finish rather controversially, if you are thinking, this absolutely is not for me, arms folded head shaking vigorously- be warned that’s what I used to say about being a Baptist Minister. Maybe we ought to have a chat.

See you Sunday