Palindrome

The date this coming Sunday will be a perfect palindrome: 02022020! I’m thinking of setting my alarm for 02:20 AM just to add to the experience. I’m still racking my brain to think of how I can connect this to our first Frontline Sunday message which is about making a difference wherever we are and whatever we do.  This will be the first of five Frontline Sundays we are engaging with throughout 2020 which aims to encourage and equip us all to be the best faith ambassadors we can be in our regular daily activities (our work).

The balance and tension within a church community like RBC is both to encourage and equip people in their frontline activity, recognising that often these are high pressure, long hour and complex situations, whilst emphasising the strength and support of being in and contributing to the church community. They are not mutually exclusive.  This poses some interesting times: if person ‘A’ works longs hours juggling monopoly like budgets making high stake decisions every day, is it fair or right to expect ‘A’ to then volunteer their limited free time in the church community?  However, ‘A’ may have great skills and experience gained through their frontline that could really benefit the progress and development of the church community, which misses out if ‘A’ doesn’t share some their valuable wisdom and knowledge.

Person ‘B’ may be extremely gifted in finance and administration which has seen their career flourish and fly.  This is to be encouraged and celebrated.  The church needs a lot of support in finance and administration, but ‘B’ doesn’t offer their help because it’s too close to work. Or ‘B’ sees the church as a client to invoice for their time and expertise, which creates a tension.

My hope is that our Frontline Sundays will break the sacred/secular divide that work can be a place of mission and Church can be a place of work. Where ‘A’ and ‘B’ can see their skills, gifts, knowledge and experience as God given so can be used in service wherever they are; without ‘A’ and ‘B’ feeling pressured and guilty to volunteer and serve more. Conversely to challenge ‘A’ and ‘B’ that their work doesn’t always have to trump and take priority over church community life and involvement.

Last week I encouraged folk in the morning service to look out for their friends that may have missed the service to encourage them to join us this week. I hope you’ve all been able to that. If not, there’s still time to send them a message. A palindrome is where a sequence of numbers or letters can be interpreted the same way backwards or forwards – maybe it does fit with us being the same person seven days a week – in our frontline and in our church community.

See you Sunday

Bread

What a cool Baptist Association we belong to.

Yesterday I was blown away hearing about the innovative church planting and mission focused project that the South East Baptist Association is involved in.  I was attending my first meeting as a newly appointed trustee on the SEBA Executive- my role is to represent the Gatwick Network of churches at these meetings.   I’m very wary of committee meetings so did not go with high expectations but came out incredibly encouraged.

One the most exciting SEBA initiatives is called ‘Bread of life’ which will be a bakery/café/church in the heart of Strood in an area with little church presence or activity.  A former baker is going to run the project using his experience and passion to grow a new type of church. Amazing!

SEBA have been involved in a wonderful church planting initiative in Ebbsfleet called ‘Sunday Active’ which involves fitness activities rather than a traditional church service.

Other churches are actively developing missional communities that meet on a Sunday morning based around hobbies and interests such as mountain biking or walking or fishing and golf.

It makes me wonder – couldn’t we start a simple missional community on a Sunday morning? – Ideas on a postcard please.

SEBA have a pioneer group encouraging fresh innovative ways of impacting communities and planting new churches that meet regularly to inspire and encourage each other into trying new things.

As I sat through the meeting it dawned on me that I was not the young radical I used to be anymore – no I’m part of the establishment – focusing much of my energy and time on running the church organisation and the Sunday morning service.. It’s a sobering thought.

Yesterday changed my perception of Home Mission, when we give to this fund it’s more than just helping out churches that can’t afford ministers. We are giving to help the pioneers and visionaries build new Christian communities that may or may not be recognisable to us as churches.

What encouraged me most was to see the priority of mission at the heart of our association, good things are coming and it’s good to be involved. I think I’m going to enjoy my term on the SEBA Exec and what comes out of it.

See you on Sunday

Moss

Mosses and Moss Gardening, with Annie Martin - The ...

Happy New Year and welcome to the first blog of 2020. When I was younger 2020 seemed such a wonderfully futuristic concept of electric hover cars, jetpacks, people living on the moon, teleporter food in tablet form and translator ear pieces so that every language could be instantly understood.   The reality is in 2020 I’m still awaiting my jetpack and quite like living in Surrey and enjoy cooking so am not so sure about tablet meals any more.

However, 2020 will be a year of encouraging new ideas and changes in the life of our church community. One of the first changes began last Sunday morning with the launch of ‘MOSS’. This is a new Sunday morning group for our older teens (years 10 & up).  The group will meet in Room 5 at the same time as our other morning streams but will be run much like a youth growth group. At the first meeting last week, the group chose their name MOSS and have chosen their first theme – ‘Ecclesiastes’.  ‘MOSS stands for something – why not ask a teenager on Sunday what MOSS means?’

MOSS is a response to a listening exercise including our youth groups, parents and the Youth on Sunday team about our Sunday youth ministries and the need to give the older age group a different programme and the younger age group more room to flourish and grow. Sometimes there’s just a Godly conviction to do something and take action and so without fanfare or celebration it began last week.

For MOSS to succeed though it does need some help.  Practically we want to adapt room 5 into a more useable space and would like to put a couple of sofas in there. Perhaps some of the readers would like to buy these sofas or contribute towards them?  We would like to build a team and really want to encourage our men to get involved with this.  This will be a sacrificial, challenging, exciting and rewarding opportunity to be involved with our young people’s spiritual growth, discipleship and development. Is this something you could do?  Contact me or Leigh in the church office if you want to support this ministry.

And lastly can you support this new venture through prayer, encouragement and modelling good behaviour and commitment to our MOSS group; I’m especially thinking about how we personally prioritise our Sunday morning activities and how coming to church fits with that.

An other encouragement at the start of the year is the baptism service planned for March 1st – St David’s Day.  If it’s your turn or you’ve just been holding back or waiting, sometimes there’s just a Godly conviction to do something and take action! Let’s do this together

See you on Sunday