Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Our Week of Prayer - Be 1 of 168 :)

To tie in with our Vision Fund Gift Days we're holding a week of 24-7 prayer in our prayer room from 3pm on Sunday 30th October to 3pm on Sunday 6th November.

We've had weeks of prayer before, but have never managed to fill all 168 one hour slots that make up a week. I'm asking whether you could join us in prayer for at least one of those slots

Talking to people I realise that quite a few people have never been in our prayer room, so just wanted to emphasise how easy it is to use!

First where is the prayer room? Well if you come out of the front doors of the Kerith Centre on our Bracknell site and look across the car park you'll see the studio directly opposite you. Downstairs in the studio is where our creative arts team hang out during the week, and upstairs is our 24/7 prayer room.

The process for booking a slot in the prayer room is:

  • Go to the booking page for either October, or November, and look for a slot that works for you.
  • Click on the slot you want to book and a form will pop up for you to fill in.
  • Enter your name, email address, the amount of time you want to book for and whether you want to book the prayer room for exclusive use (you want to pray on your own) or whether you're happy for other people to join you.
  • Click on "book" and that's it done. You should get an email pretty much straight away confirming your booking.

An hour before your slot you'll get an email with a four digit access code which you type into the keypad by the front door of the studio when you get there and which will give you access to the prayer room. Alternatively press the door bell and if there's someone already in the prayer room they'll hopefully come down and let you in!


When you get up to the prayer room you'll find lots of resources in there to help and inspire you to pray. That includes a variety of different places to sit, books, music, tea and coffee making facilities, a prayer wall to write on and much more. Make yourself at home and enjoy spending time in God's presence. Remember that it's more about being than doing, more about listening to God and meeting with him than praying your way through a shopping list of requests.

There are still loads of slots available. I'd love it if we could fill every one - something we really should be able to do with our community our size - so please play your part and book a slot now! You won't regret it :)

Much love,



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Vision Fund - What is your beehive?

I've been challenged recently reading some of the early history of our church, and particularly around the building of our first building which opened in 1892. We've got records of two very different people who gave gifts to help fund the building.

The first was from a Mr Slyfield - this is what is recorded about him in July 1992:

'Mr Slyfield, who has recently been converted, promised to give, as an offering to the Lord, whatever he realised by the sale of a hive of bees. At the Opening Day, he gave a half sovereign saying 'that's the result of the bees'.'

The second is from someone far more famous, Charles Spurgeon, who was the most celebrated preacher of his day, regularly preaching to crowds of 10,000 plus.

We have this record of a letter he wrote to the church prior to the opening of the building:

One person giving a half sovereign (50p), another giving £50 up front with the promise of another £100 to come. Both giving according to their means, with the result of their giving along with that of a handful of others achieving something remarkable, the provision of our community's first building.

All those years ago both Mr Slyfield and Mr Spurgeon made an investment to provide space for our fledgling church to meet. Many years later we now stand at the same point, needing to invest again to provide more meeting space to allow us to continue to grow.

  • In Bracknell we need more space for children on Sundays, for midweek activities and for offices.
  • In Sandhurst we need a midweek meeting space for social justice, courses, prayer, parent and toddler groups and much more.
  • In Windsor we need a space to start gathering on a Sunday.

To help achieve all these things we've established the Kerith Vision Fund which we're starting with gift days on Sunday 30th October and Sunday 6th November. We're looking to raise an initial £200,000 to allow us to pay off a chunk of the mortgage on the house behind K2, start funding the midweek space in Sandhurst and Sunday space in Windsor, and give away £20,000 to churches overseas.

I realise that some of us come like Mr Slyfield with limited resources, and some like Charles Spurgeon with the ability to give far more. The goal is not for everyone to give the same amount, but for each of us to do what we can as we invest in the generations to come.

Please can I encourage us all to be thinking and praying about what we are going to give. Remember that God loved Mr Slyfield every bit as much as he loved the the far more wealthy and famous Charles Spurgeon, and I suspect was as delighted in Slyfield's gift of the beehive as he was by Spurgeon's much larger gift, not because of its size but because of the heart that it demonstrated.

You can give to the gift days on the actual day, or online via our website. Thank you in advance for playing your part

Much love,



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Willow Creek GLS - Don't Miss It!

Our two day Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit starts tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at 9am, with the one day highlights version on Saturday also starting at 9am.

It's still not too late to book in! You can get tickets on the door, but if you're part of Kerith and want to get our discount rate (or any of the other discounts available) you can only get them by booking online beforehand for the two day event or the one day event (if you need the Kerith discount code then message me, phone our reception on 01344 862699 or email Including our volunteers we've already got over 300 attending the two day event and over 200 coming to the one day version, but there's still plenty more space for you to come to what is going to be an outstanding event. Please don't miss it!

For all you smartphone and tablet users there's a brilliant Summit app available which gives you all the speaker info, the timetable, space to make notes and much more. Search for GLS16 in the iTunes or Google Play app store and get an advance view of all you've got to look forward to.

Just in case that's not a possibility for you I've included the schedules for the two events below.

See you there :)




Friday, October 7, 2016

Hazel Thompson

Our house is quite a busy place, with people regularly coming for meals or to stay with us overnight. Earlier this year one of those people was Hazel Thompson, who was working with our daughter Alice on a project for Cinnamon Network. We'd never met Hazel before, but it became apparent pretty quickly that she's a quite remarkable lady, working as a Photo Journalist for organisation such as the New York Time, The Sunday Times and the Guardian.

Her photography has taken her to over 50 nations, using her skill, and her passion, to photograph and film injustice and prejudice; telling powerful stories and creating global awareness around social and humanitarian issues. This has included highlighting the issue of teenage runaways in the UK, sex trafficking in India and children being illegally imprisoned in Filipino jails. Hazel is also a Christian, and clearly sees what she does through her photography as being part of her response to God's call on her life.

As soon as I met Hazel I thought this would be someone it would be great for all of us to meet and to hear from, so I'm delighted that this Sunday Hazel is going to be with us at all four meetings. We'll get to hear from her, and to see some of her photos and short videos, all of which is going to be deeply inspiring and challenging.

See you there :)



Friday, September 30, 2016

Serenje Dormitory Update

“‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”

(Isaiah 58:6-8)


For a number of years now we've partnered with Tearfund to help bring transformation to Serenje, a rural community in Zambia. As part of that project we helped fund a dormitory where girls could complete their secondary school education in a safe and secure environment.

Howard and Elizabeth Reece-Smith, part of our community for many years and now living in France, were recently out in Serenje and got to visit the dormitory, which is now up and running with the first group of girls living there. They sent back some photos which I wanted to share with you all, as it's so encouraging to see what has been achieved.

Interestingly the whole Serenje project arose out of a talk Bono gave at the Willow Creek GLS, challenging the church to engage with the issue of HIV/AIDS and seek to make a difference. That's why I'm passionate that as many of us as possible get to be part of the GLS we're hosting on the 12th and 13th and 15th October - more details here. If you're not booked in already please get yourself there - who knows what God will say to you and the impact that might have on the world we live in.

Enjoy the photos, and for all those who gave financially to the project and prayed for it please know that you have made an incredibly wise investment of your time and money!

Much love,



Friday, September 23, 2016

Kerith Vision Fund

Helping people find their way back to God by generously giving our money to provide excellent meeting places where lives are changed

One of the things limiting our growth as a community is a lack of meeting places. That looks different on each of our sites:

  • In Bracknell we have run out of space to grow on Sundays, space for midweek activities including courses and social justice, and office space for staff, volunteers and Academy students.
  • In Sandhurst we need midweek space to run courses, parents and toddler groups, social justice initiatives and much more (in time as Sandhurst grows we will need a larger Sunday space, and eventually a permanent home for all that we do).
  • In Windsor we plan to start meeting on Sundays in 2017 (possibly once a month initially) which will require a Sunday venue (and in time Windsor will hopefully follow a similar development path to Sandhurst).

On Tuesday night we launched our Kerith Vision Fund, with the goal of producing the finances to provide the meeting places we need. For more details take a look at my presentation from Tuesday night. We'll be talking about this more on Sundays over the next few weeks, but please take a look as it will give you a good idea of what we're intending to do on each of the sites.

As a first step we're going to have gift days on the 30th October and 6th November, with a goal of raising £200,000. This would allow us to:

  • Significantly reduce the mortgage on the K2 house (currently around £180,000)
  • Provide seed finance to start to redesign K2, look for a Sandhust midweek facility and identify an initial Windsor Sunday venue
  • Give away £20,000 as a tithe which will go to churches we work with in other nations.

I'm asking whether there are ten people in our community with the gift of giving who could give £10,000 each, in order to give us half of the total, and then the rest of our community could take on the responsibility of giving the other half. I've already had one person come forward to give the first £10,000 which is brilliant, and would love to hear from anyone else who feels similarly inspired to give.

If you want to give before the gift days (always a huge encouragement to me as a leader) then you can do that online. We've already had people give both a one off gift, and set up regular giving, which is so exciting.

Prayer is going to be key to all this. As a first step we're going to have a week of 24/7 prayer from the 30th October to the 6th November, where we'll be praying for growth and health across every area of Kerith. We want to fill all 168 one hour slots across that week - I'll let you know when booking for the prayer room is open for November so we can start to fill those slots.

Hopefully none of us will feel anxious about this. Instead my prayer is that we'll be excited by the opportunity it presents for us to make a difference, not only in our generation but in the generations to come.

Much love,



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Curry Night and Magic

Several people have commented to me on us having a magician at our curry night on the 21st September, asking whether this is appropriate for a Christian event. That's a really good question, and I wanted to outline my thinking around it.

In the Cambridge Dictionary the word magic, as a noun, has three very different definitions:

  1. The use of special powers to make things happen that would usually be impossible, such as in stories for children: "The group is known for its belief in witchcraft and magic."
  2. The skill of performing tricks to entertain people, such as making things appear and disappear and pretending to cut someone in half: "He's a comedian who also does magic."
  3. A special and exciting quality that makes something seem different from ordinary things: "Although the film was made 50 years ago, it has lost none of its magic."

The first of these is demonic and not permitted for Christians. This is perhaps most clearly stated in Deutoronmy 18:

“When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practises divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-13)

There is no place for any of these practices within the life of a follower of Jesus. Anyone with a past involvement in any of these things should repent of them, and destroy anything they have relating to those activities. An example of this happening would be in Acts 19:

“Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practised sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.” (Acts 19:18-19 NIVUK)

However, this is not the sort of magic we are referring to when it comes to the curry night, which in my mind clearly falls under the second definition of magic. I don't know anybody who looks at a modern day magician such as Paul Daniels, David Copperfield, Dynamo or our own Iain Bailey and suggests that what they're doing has been achieved because they've got special powers. Everyone knows that when the magician predicts which card you picked, pulls a rabbit out of the hat, saws a person in half or makes the Statue of Liberty disappear, that what we're seeing is an illusion. Something which appears to be impossible but which we all know has a logical explanation, even if we can't work out what it is. That's why the people doing this are often referred to as illusionists rather than magicians.

I do realise that many people in our community rightly have a very strong aversion to magic of the first type, and want nothing to do with anything which has the word magic attached to it. It's highly unfortunate that one word covers both definitions, and I fully understand why people might be surprised by the idea of us having a magician. However, I honestly believe that when we step back and think about what we mean when we use the word magic in this context we haven't got an issue.

There is a question as to whether we should still avoid having a magician because of the confusion it might cause in people's minds - that some people might think we're condoning the first sort of magic. That is a legitimate question and one we should think about for the future.

As for the third definition of 'magic', we could all use a bit more of that in our lives!

I hope that makes some sense. I'm very happy to interact more over this if people have other thoughts or questions.


Ps - please be inviting people to the curry night - 7.30pm on Wednesday 21st September - you can get tickets here. We've already got around 80 people coming for what will be a quality evening and a great introduction to Alpha.

Pps - please pray for Iain Bailey. He's a committed follower of Jesus seeking to point people to Christ through his magic (of the second type!). If you have questions about what he does I'm sure he'd be happy to talk with you.