Would you like a chocolate?

SAM_4125A few years back I was involved in the launch of a new evangelism movement starting in the UK. It was an extremely plausible and practical event encouraging us all to be a bit bolder in talking about faith in Jesus. The training room was packed, there was energy, excitement and a general atmosphere of, ‘Let’s do this thing…. Let’s tell everyone about Jesus …… we can do it’.  People were breaking out into worship songs, I think I heard ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ being chanted by a more mature group of inspired, empowered emerging evangelists; we had to lock the doors to stop people spilling out and proselytising the town centre then and there- which at 9:30 PM on a Wednesday evening in late November in the rain may not have been that effective. Keen to tap into the palpable positivity present that evening, I worked the room with my trusty clipboard and sign-up sheet with the perfect event for SAM_4123people to put all they had learned into practice.  We were going to walk into town, give out free chocolates and invitations to our forthcoming Christmas events, some people were even going to dress in the wonderful array of nativity costumes I had built up over the years.  Amazingly, most people I approached that evening wavered and were unavailable to assist. It turns out that I chose the busiest three hours on the busiest Saturday ever for this particular event.  Who knew?

SAM_4113But a group of us did go out, we dressed in nativity clothes, gave out chocolates and invitations and had such good fun. You’d be amazed at the conversations people had about faith and Christmas simply by asking someone, ‘Would you like a chocolate?’   We blessed the tired, cold, stressed shoppers by giving them something free, with no strings attached. People took selfies with the nativity team and people came to the events.  One of our elders was over the moon when a visitor turned up at our Carol service because, ‘A wise man gave me a chocolate and invited me’. The team had great fun too, dressing in garish costumes bizarrely gave an anonymity and confidence that they didn’t know they had to be able to approach people.  It was worth doing and those involved were blessed and encouraged and inspired to do more.

SAM_4116Next Saturday we are launching ‘Selfie with a Shepherd’ when we plan to do very a very similar thing in Redhill town centre: dress in nativity clothes, give out free chocolates and invitations.  We want to bless our town in a simple way, we want to cheer up tired and cold shoppers, we want to put a smile on a lonely person’s face, we want be Jesus to people without Jesus in their lives. And all you have to say is, ‘Would you like a Chocolate?’

SAM_4119We have a good team ready to go but still have a few costumes spare. I would love you to join the team, I think you’ll love it, and I sense you’d love to do this too.  Come and join me and the team next Saturday: we meet at 12:00pm at the church for costumes and briefing and we’ll be done by 4:00pm.

You can join the team by commenting on this blog, emailing me, contacting the office, signing up on church suite or the trusty sign-up sheet in the church foyer!

See you Sunday for dedication and baptisms

Signiture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop The Press

imagesBreaking news from the church meeting last night. We have three new Elders joining the church leadership team. I am very much looking forward to serving with Stella, Trystan and Graham as we pray and plan prophetically for the life and reach of our church. It goes without saying that it has been a tremendous honour and privilege to serve with our three departing elders, all of whom have given a great deal of time and commitment to leading RBC over the years.   In this day and age when we struggle to find the time to fit in all the things we want to do, I am so grateful and appreciate the sacrifice our three new Elders are prepared to make as they serve God in this way.

We also have four new Ministry Coordinators, John and Sian will be leading and coordinating the worship and music of RBC; Dave will be taking over the coordination of men’s ministries and Neil  is the new coordinator of mission and outreach. It was wonderful last night to hear their vision and passion for their new roles, if you listened closely to what they said there was something else there too. In Christianese we call this a ‘calling’, by which we mean a God given passion, drive and direction along with a sense of purpose and identity.  This is what these four people do and would be doing anyway because of this call on their lives, appointing them officially recognises this and supports them as they serve.

It wasn’t just new appointments, we heard about the launch of Alpha starting at RBC this January. Hats off to the amazing Alpha team who have worked hard and met all their deadlines in terms of preparing publicity ready for the launch. I’ve already heard of two people who want to sign up for the course. I love Alpha as I love seeing how God works through this course to meet with and transform lives. Its’s been a vision of mine to host Alpha at RBC since I arrived over a year ago and I’m so pleased this team are making it happen. We all have a part to play in helping Alpha reach as many people as possible. I’d like you to all give some serious thought to who you will invite and bring on the course. Take some invites and be bold, write lists of who you will invite and then invite them. Don’t take it personally if they say ‘no’. We’re going to be hearing a lot about Alpha over the next few weeks and when you next come to our church site you’ll see the new Alpha banner on the wall and floodlit at night.

These are just some of the highlights from last night’s meeting, I could have mentioned, four new members, the day of prayer on Saturday, Christmas, Night Shelter, Church Suite and many more things – it was a good meeting and 2019 looks like a good year. Our next church meeting will be in January when we will finalise the church budget, more details will follow soon.

I’m not at RBC this Sunday but you are in good hands with two excellent preachers and a very talented new worship leader in the morning, plus the official launch of Alpha.

Have a good weekend.

Signiture

PS.  If you enjoy reading this blog every week, why not sign up via the blog site and follow me directly. You’ll receive notifications and updates as soon as a new blog is posted!

The 4 R’s

Image result for woodlands church bristolThis week I have been away at the annual Larger Churches Network Conference organised by the Baptist Union. The speaker this year was Dave Mitchell from Woodlands Church in Bristol. This is a multi-site church with over two thousand members and involved in some very interesting and inspiring projects and ministries throughout the city.

In his opening address, ‘Where do we grow from here’ Dave Mitchell challenged us to consider 4 R’s of church growth:

  1. Reach. What is our reach or impact in the unchurched community?How do we connect with people around us?
  2. Retain. How do we welcome and assimilate visitors and new people? Alongside that, how do we continue to look after and develop existing members/attenders?
  1. Refine. This referred to discipleship, in which he pointed out discipleship is not always done well in churches. How do we disciple people so that they grow in faith, understanding and activity? We are reminded that Jesus gave us clear instructions to ‘make disciples’ and asserted that he (Jesus) will build his church.
  2. Release. The question posed was, how do we release people into the areas of service and ministry where they will flourish and grow? Dave recognised that many people grow more risk averse as they get older and like to play it safe and that may be displayed in not taking risks in asking or allowing people to develop their own ideas and directions within the context of church activities

This week, rather that tell you my reflections on these areas I am very interested to hear your thoughts and stories:

  • Who you think we should be reaching out to – who and where our mission is or should be and how we can increase our reach?
  • What’s your experience of joining and getting involved with RBC life, and why do you stay at the church?
  • How have you been discipled at RBC and how are you discipling people?
  • Where and when have you been released into areas and allowed to take risks and been given permission to fail?

I am genuinely interested in your views on these four 4 R’s, I’m taking a risk here so please don’t use this as an opportunity to be negative. If you have thoughts and ideas you want to contribute then get thinking and writing – but be warned, I’m always on the lookout for new leaders at RBC and if your thoughts and ideas are good, you’ll be in my sights.

See you on Sunday for Open Church

Signiture

Remembrance

poppy_in_wheat_field_1170x461Planning a Remembrance Day service is always an honour and struggle for me; I’m not a military person although we’ve had family members serving in both the RAF and the Royal Navy. The poignancy of remembrance hit me when we lived in Tirana and I would annually lead the remembrance service for the British ambassador, with a service attended by Albanian political leaders, British Embassy staff and the growing ex pat community. The gravestones behind told stories of men, boys actually some only just in their 20’s, who had died fighting in the Special Operations Executive on stealth missions in the cruel Albanian mountains.  Sometimes relatives of these men were present at the service and the emotion got to them. I know that for many people in the UK, even here in Redhill, Remembrance Day services hold a similar significance.

So, whilst I am a pacifist at heart and believe that Jesus teaches non-violence and peace, I believe it is right to honour those who died and those whom are dying in wars around the world today. The prophet Micah expresses a vision of a time when weapons of war are turned into gardening and farming tools because they are no longer needed anymore, as God’s peace reigns.

So, I will always advocate we celebrate remembrance for all these reasons and I believe the message of peace can be communicated sensitively and wisely to those affected by war.

There seems to be an incongruity about our remembrance services though, whilst we meet for our morning service there is a civic ceremony taking place literally on our doorstep at Shaw’s Corner.  The local pub, the Hatch, is offering refreshments to those attending and roads are being closed to facilitate the service. At 11:02 as we listen to a keyboard generated ‘Last Post’ inside, we will hear the haunting sound of a lone bugle being played at the war memorial outside.

I wonder if we should be inside on occasions like this? I wonder whether at a time when public grief is prominent, and people are vulnerable expressing loss, whether we should be outside with those people, rather than inside in our own service? I wonder what people think as they walk to the civic service and hear our songs and music sound coming from our building, I wonder about the message we would send and the impact we would have if in 2019 Redhill Baptist Church joined the civic ceremony outside on our door step?  I wonder whether it would communicate something of the connection we want to grow with our geographical local community? I wonder whether I could even give a short, sensitive gospel address – after all the phrase used at these services comes from Jesus himself:

‘No one has a greater love than to lay down their life for their friends’.

So, don’t be surprised if next year we talk about closing our service on Remembrance Sunday and join the civic ceremony outside. Don’t be surprised if we consider opening our building after the ceremony for free refreshments for those attending.

Our service this Sunday, commencing at 10:00AM, will include an act of remembrance at 11:00AM.

If you are not joining the civic ceremony, I hope you will join us

See you on Sunday

Signiture

Thank You

thumbnailLast night the Church Leadership Team (CLT)met to finalise the 2019 Budget ready for the church members meeting on 22 November.  It may interest you to know that our estimated income this year is £280,728

What I find amazing is that this is almost entirely based on your generosity.   We charge absolutely minimal rent for room hire,  we don’t charge for weddings and funerals,  we don’t charge parking.  We are almost 100 % reliant on your generosity.

Thank You.

This is an impressive amount to raise in a year.

My ‘back of a beer mat’ calculations have worked out that on average this breaks down to each church member giving approximately £1,278 to RBC each year or £106 per month.  My rudimentary calculations are based on members only, so add the regular committed ‘this is most definitely my church’ attenders who are not members and the average goes down a little, but it’s still pretty impressive especially for people on low incomes

Thank you

Your £106 per month helps pay for 2 pastors, 1 Part time community worker, 2 part time admin staff, 2 part time cleaners.

Thank you

Your £106 per month helps the church run our brilliant outward focussed  Christmas plans, Open Church, Alpha, Men’s Outreach, Women’s Outreach  Community Ministries, Youth Work and much more.

Thank you

Your £106 per month helps us to support some brilliant local social action ministries such as:

Welcare, Furnistore, Redhill Debt Centre, Sparkfish……

Thank You

Your £106 per month helps the church support overseas mission partners  and organisations such as BMS World Mission, Bakiga , and a few others I can’t mention here.

Thank you

Your £106 per month will help us to plan new project and events for 2019 such as joining the Redhill Food Festival,  street team outreach and community food projects.

Thank You

As giving patterns and behaviours have changed and people no longer just give to ‘church’ but support many charities and projects – we are really grateful.

This Sunday I’m going to be asking you to give a little more.  But this time it’s chocolates!

As we lead up to launching ‘Room for one more’ our Christmas programme we would downloadlike to build up a large supply of chocolate coins and tubs of Christmas chocolates to give out to people as we are out and about in town or out Carol singing.  So, every time you do your shop, pop an extra tub ( or 2) of chocolates or bag of chocolate coins  in the basket and then bring them to church.

Thank you in advance for your help and generosity with this.

It’s fair to add as I sign off that our estimated income won’t cover our 2018 budget.  Which tells me the CLT need to be far more proactive at communicating where the money goes and what things cost.  And definitely some people could be more generous. That’s for another blog. All I want to say today is Thank you …… and keep buying those chocolates.

Signiture

PS.   Apologies If I’ve not mentioned your ministry or area of concern
PPS Accountants and Finance people – put the knives away these are really rough calculations