Monday, May 30, 2011

Proposed Office Move

If you were at the last monthly nights of prayer you'll have heard me talk about a plan we have to move most of the staff based in the Kerith Centre to an external office. I promised to write a blog giving some more details, and to ask for any comments or suggestions people may have (warning, this is quite a long blog but please persevere to the end!).


First of all the reason for doing this. We are in a season of growth as a community (so far this year we've already had seven Sundays where we've gathered over 1,000 people), which although exciting also brings to us a number of challenges.

  • One of the major challenges is space for children on a Sunday. K2 is bursting at the seams, particularly at the 11am meeting, and if we don't create more space there we will simply limit our growth.
  • We are also rapidly running out of office space. Over the last few years we have seen both the Spurgeon and Rochdale rooms in the Kerith Centre converted into offices, multiple people now occupying what were Ken Bothamley and Mick Taylor's offices and a number of people desk sharing. We would struggle to add even one more member of staff (I have no idea where the Academy students will go in September if we increase from 7 to 15 students as planned!).
  • We are also struggling for space midweek. Anyone trying to book space with Sue Ranger for a midweek course or team meeting will know it is almost impossible to find a room which is free. Car parking is also an issue midweek, particularly for the sparklers team.

We have looked at various solutions. Building over the car park is incredibly expensive (£6.5 million according to Ralph's estimate) and we would lose so much car parking that it would severely limit what we can do midweek. Hiring rooms in the bowling club or the college doesn't seem to be an option. Neither is simply deciding not to grow. So the only workable solution seems to be to free up space in the Kerith Centre by moving staff offsite (if anyone has another idea I'd love to hear it!).

So here's the proposal:

  • We look to provide desks for all the staff who don't need to be at the Kerith Centre offsite, leaving behind the receptionists and facilities team. We'd hope to find an office within walking distance of the Kerith Centre which would provide parking spaces. Jeff Whitton has begun a search for a suitable office for us.
  • On a Sunday all the unders 5's work would move to the Kerith Centre. Babies would be in my office, 1's and 2's in the Spurgeon and Rochdale rooms, 3's and 4's in the main office.
  • This would free up space in K2 so that the 5-11's could be split into separate age groups and do age appropriate teaching for different age groups. We would also have more space to care for the Konnections children.
  • Midweek the main office would be kept as a children's space (possibly used as a creche for different groups), but my office and the Spurgeon and Rochdale rooms would be available to book as meeting rooms. The other two offices may become storage rooms.
  • All meetings would be planned to take place at the Kerith Centre. That would mean Foodbank, meeting CAP and crisis intervention clients, staff meetings, meeting church members, and meeting outside contractors and visitors from other churches.
  • We would plan to have a rota so that one member of the ministry / community team is at the Kerith Centre at all times to deal with people walking in through the doors needing help.

Here I think are some of the advantages:

  • Space to grow and improve our children's work on Sundays.
  • Space to grow the staff team
  • Space to do more midweek due to the extra meeting rooms and more car parking space which may allow ministries like Sparklers to grow
  • Kerith potentially having a presence in the town centre, or at least in a 'secular' office

The downsides include:

  • Splitting the staff team across two sites could create and "us and them" feel
  • The reception / Foodbank team could feel very isolated in the building on their own
  • The Kerith Centre could feel very dead
  • Confusion for church members about how to contact one of the team, and pain for those who are used to "just popping in to the office"
  • It will cost money (although considerably less money than a new building project)

There may be other concerns and issues you can think of, or ideas you may have around the move. We're already collating these from the staff, I'd love to start gathering them from a wider audience too. If you do have comments or ideas please could you email them into the office, and we'll take a look at them all.

One final question is around timescales. I sense we need to make this move sooner rather than later, but it will inevitably involve a whole load of detailed discussion, planning and praying. I really have no idea when we might be in a position to do it - I'd hope some time in 2011, although it may prove to take us longer than that to properly work it all through.

Whenever we look to change there are always fears and concerns which could stop us. I remember when we were talking about closing the bookshop, where one of the fears was that the Kerith Centre reception would now feel dead. The reality has been the opposite, with the reception area being busier than it has ever been. I believe that we can similarly deal with our fears and concerns over this change if we approach it in the right way

I do believe this move could usher a new season of growth, and a load of new opportunities for us as a community. I wanted to involve everyone in making it happen, which is why I've shared this information at such an early stage. Please see this as an opportunity to shape what is going to happen next, and to continue to foster the pioneer spirit which is part of our DNA as a community.

Hope this has been helpful, and well done for making it to the end!

Simon.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Inspiring Video

Every now and again someone sends me a link to a video which really inspires me. That happened this week when Hazel White sent me this link.

It inspired me again never to judge people by what I might see on the outside, or on first impressions.

Simon.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Home Alone

So it's half term week and the children and I are home alone! Catrina and a team headed off on Friday to visit the schools we work with in Serenje. You can read a load more about it in this article on Catrina's blog, and follow their progress via both Catrina's blog, and the Serenje blog which Zoe Hayes will be updating.

For us it will be a week without broccoli (in fact probably without any vegetables, unless you include baked beans!) and with a high proportion of ready meal and takeaways!

I'm incredibly proud of Catrina, and the team who are going, although I'm going to miss her really badly. It's normally me who goes away, so it will be strange for me to be the one left behind, but I know the whole team will do a really good job of representing Kerith and the wider community of Bracknell. Please be praying for them all.

Simon.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Calling all Men

I don't really need to say much more, other than read the flier to the left / above / below /wherever blogger decides to put it in the particular format in which you read the blog!

However, I would like to encourage men to come to this event (I've already got my ticket), and to invite others. We've got a "proper" comedian (for more info on Andy Kind have a look here), a live band and genuine "man" food (no fruit salad, broccoli or couscous anywhere).

You can get tickets from the table in reception for the next two Sundays, or by emailing into reception during the week.

Simon.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sabbath Musing - Satisfied Externally

We live in a world which is incredibly driven, where most of us live with a long mental or written to do list, and where however much we do there will always be more to be done. Whether that's more emails to answer, clothes to iron, jobs to apply for, reports to read, carpets to hoover, exams to revise for, books to mark or blogs to write. Even our so called leisure time can have that feel to it, with more programmes waiting to be watched on Skyplus, more Facebook statuses which need checking, we just never stop trying to achieve or do more, and never feel satisfied with what we've done.

One of the keys to Sabbath is for us to learn to be satisfied. To be able to stop, even though there is still much to be done, and be satisfied with what has already been achieved.

I realised recently that God is the master of doing this. I'd always seen the stop which God has after six days of creation, but until I heard Tim Keller point it out in a podcast I listened to recently I'd never seen the stops which happen during the first six days. How throughout the first six days of creation we read several times that "God saw that is was good". That happens seven times in all, once on the first day, twice on the third day, once on each of the fourth and fifth days and twice on the sixth day (finishing with a "very good" when God got to the end of day six).

Every time God says that it means a stop, a mini Sabbath, and an acknowledgement that although there is still much to be achieved, He is more than satisfied with what has already been done. Even before day one is complete, God stops to admire the light He has created and to declare it good. He's still got five and a half days of creation left on his "to do" list, but that doesn't stop Him stopping and being satisfied.

So here's my question. When in your day, your week, even in your year do you stop and say "there's still much to do, but I'm going to rest, to stop and say that for this day or this week enough is enough".

You might be a mum with young children. The house may still be a mess, there still may be clothes to be cleaned and packed lunches to be made, but at some point in your day you need to stop, be satisfied with all you HAVE achieved and rest.

You might be a student with exams coming up. You've revised for six days solid, but now you're going to stop, say that you're satisfied with all that you've done and take a rest.

You may be a business leader going on holiday. You've left the out of office message on your email, but are you really willing to say that enough is enough, turn off your BlackBerry and stop for the next two weeks.

Stop and be satisfied!

Simon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Calling all Cyclists

I'm loving the different ways people are coming up with to raise money for Project125 - the project to build a dormitory for 100 secondary school girls in Serenje in Zambia. So far this has included:

  • the youth from LIFE raising over £14,000 with a number of events including a conga to Windsor, car washing, sponsored silences (much appreciated by the parents), selling unwanted items on eBay and a load of other events
  • Garth Hill College and Sandy Lane School doing a sponsored walk to school day on Friday 17th June
  • People giving directly to the project
  • Ralph Allen giving his time for free to design the dormitory
  • All the other things people have been doing I've forgotten about
Well this Saturday we have another event, when Matt Ranger and his cycling buddies are doing a sponsored 125 mile bike ride raising money for the project. Very cleverly the ride actually consists of a 31 mile loop. This means that there are three options for taking part (all starting from the Kerith Centre) so people not as fit or crazy as Matt can take part too. The options are:

  • A group doing the full 125 miles (four loops) starting at 6am
  • A group doing 62 miles (two loops) starting at 10am
  • A group doing 31 miles (one loop) starting at 12
I've done precisely no training (other than my normal running) and am tossing up whether to do 31 or 62 miles. If you want to take part, see what the route is, be part of the support team, or just watch me die in the saddle please email Matt Ranger who can give you more details. If you'd like to sponsor someone (perhaps you'd like to dare me to do the 62, definitely not the 125!) then you can use the JustGiving page here.

It's important to remember that whilst we're having a lot of fun raising money for Project125, the final result of the project will be life transforming for all of the girls who get to complete their secondary education, and that's ultimately why we're doing all these crazy things.

Happy cycling!

Simon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Daniel

On Sunday we're going to be looking at the life of Daniel. 

For a good introduction to Daniel you might want to listen to Tabitha Foley's Ten10 preach from last Sunday, but can I also encourage you to have a go at reading the book of Daniel for yourself this week. 

The book splits into two halves. 

The first six chapters tell six different stories:
  1. Daniel and his friends are tested
  2. Nebuchadnezzar's dream
  3. The fiery furnace
  4. Nebuchadnezzar goes insane and then recovers
  5. The writing on the wall
  6. Daniel in the lion's den
Chapters 7 to 12 contains a series of visions which Daniel has and which relate to the future.

The book as a whole is dealing with the question of how do we relate to God and stay set apart for Him in a culture which is hostile to what we believe - sounds a lot like the world we live in.

Happy reading!

Simon.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hugely Encouraged

I love our Ten10 Sundays (where across the three meetings ten different preachers get to speak for 10 minutes each), and this time around was no exception. It's amazing how ten different messages from ten different preachers, who have been given no more guidance on what to speak on than "something from the Old Testament", can have such a sense of a common theme running through it all. And the depth of the theology which came through it all, from Tabitha expounding the sovereignty of God to Lee boldly declaring that God is a God of miracles. We were challenged to see God for who He really is (big enough to deal with any situation we face), and to recognise the filters which stop us seeing God for who He really is. To expect God do speak to us, to expect God to provide for us, and to make the choices which will lead us to the abundant life God has got planned for us.

If you missed any (or all) of the messages then they'll be going up on the website over the next week - you can find them here.

Part of the culture, the soil, which we are working hard to create at Kerith is a culture of empowerment. Where all sorts of people are encouraged and equipped to run with their dreams, their passions and the talents God has given them. Sunday was one example of that culture beginning to flourish and bear fruit. I want to say a big thank you, not only to the speakers on Sunday but also to the mentors who worked with them to help them hone their messages, and the friends and family who gave them such great support. That's the sort of environment we need to create for all of us to flourish, whether we aspire to be great preachers, business leaders, school teachers, lifegroup leaders, mums and dads, worship leaders, or wherever else we feel God has called us to make a difference in the world we live in.

Quote of the day for me was from Tom Klitgaard - "If you want God to speak to you, read your Bible". Simples.

Have a great week,

Simon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ten10 Again

This Sunday is another Ten10 Sunday, where we have ten different preachers preaching for 10 minutes across each of the three meetings. The lineup at each of the three meetings is:

9am

  • Robbie Robinson
  • Tom Klitgaard
  • James Hosker
11am

  • Tabitha Foley
  • Sam Fairs-Billam
  • Helen Cottee
7pm

  • Lee Rowbotham
  • Rodney Dee
  • Megan Webber-Gant
  • Matt Moreland
At the 7pm our youth band, Revolution, will also be leading us in worship.

It's so exciting to see all these emerging preachers coming through. Please come and give them your support, and to expect to hear God speak to you through them.

Simon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sabbath Musings

Following on from the series of blogs I wrote on encouragement, and after the sermon on Sunday, I thought I'd write a few blogs on the subject of Sabbath, looking in a bit more detail at the three elements of Sabbath I talked about on Sunday:

  • Satisfaction
  • Liberation
  • and Trust in God
I'm not going to repeat what I said on Sunday - you can listen to that here - but I want to think about these three aspects in a bit more detail in three future blogs.

Also to let you know that we'll be finishing the Old Testament series at the end of  July (from the feedback I've had some of you would like it to go on forever, some of you wish it had never started - what's that proverb about not being able to please all the people?). Over the summer we're going to give the preachers free choice in their subject, then in September we're going to look at different aspects of doing life well in the 21st Century. As part of that we're going to linvestigate the idea of the "rhythm of life", and the pattern God wants us to have not only in our week but in our day, in our year and in our decades.

Hope you're having a great week,

Simon.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Encouragement to Pray

I really want to encourage you to come out to the prayer meetings this week. I don't always find prayer easy, but last month there was such a sense of God being with us that I left the meetings both nights feeling so encouraged and confident in what lies ahead for us all (there were also so many people there on the Thursday it did make me wonder whether we'll have to think about a new venue to meet in).

The growth we're seeing at the moment is throwing up some serious challenges for us, particularly with regard to space for children work, staff and midweek meetings, and I want to share and pray into some of the plans we have to make more space for growth. We're also going to pray for the June gift days, as well as sharing communion, worshipping and praying for one another.

It was great last month to have such a mixture of 'old hands' and newcomers, young and not so young, so please come and join the throng - 8-9.45pm in K2.

Hope to see you there,

Simon.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Garth Hill College are my Heroes

Garth Hill College are amazing! On Friday 17 June they're going to have a "Walk to School" day to support Project 125, our project to build a dormitory for 100 secondary school girls in Serenje in Zambia. 

Please take a moment to read this message from the Principal, Keith Grainger. I just love the way Keith has got hold of the heart behind the project, and is personally embracing it by walking to school on the 17th June - a 22 mile round trip from Lower Earley (I felt it was the least I could do to offer to join him, we're going to be leaving at 4.30am to get to school on time!). 

When we first dreamt of the HIV/AIDS project we are involved with in Serenje in Zambia, part of our vision was that we wouldn't just be linking our church with churches in Serenje, but that we would link our community with the community of Serenje. I love the way that is happening more and more.

If you want to get involved in Project 125 then Matt Ranger and a bunch of friends are arranging a sponsored 125 mile cycle ride on the 28th May (I'll blog more about this next week). Our LIFE young people have also been raising money since last September. If you want to give to Project 125 you can do it here.

Simon.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What is the point of Sabbath?

When we looked a few weeks ago at the relevance of the Old Testament law for us today (you can listen to that sermon here), we saw that the law (according to Calvin at least) can be broadly split into three categories. These are:

  • Laws governing how the Jews were to operate as a nation, which have been replaced for us by our own nation's laws (which we are called to obey as long as those laws don't force us to do anything that would be against God's will)
  • Sacrificial laws, telling them how to deal with sin when they messed up. These have now been replaced by Jesus ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
  • Moral laws, relating to how God wants us to live towards Him and how we should relate to one another. Jesus showed us that in an era of grace, we are still obligated to the moral law, and should now actually live beyond the moral law (See Matt 5:17-48).

On Sunday we're going to take a look at the ten commandments, which form part of the moral law. Rather than attempt to cover all ten in one meeting, we're going to look specifically at the commandment about keeping the Sabbath, and learn from it some principles which will help us in applying the other nine. It would be helpful to read Exodus 20 in advance, and perhaps ponder how you see the Sabbath applying to you today.

Hope to see you there,

Simon.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

John Lennox Speaking in London

I know that many of you enjoyed the John Lennox clip I showed when we talked about understanding Genesis chapters 1 and 2. Well there's an opportunity to hear John (and others) speak on the 14th May up in London, at what sounds like a really interesting day. You can find out more details here.

We have been trying to arrange for John to come and speak at Kerith, but until we manage to pull that off this could be a good substitute.

Simon.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Parenting Course

Our wonderful parenting course team have asked me whether I would blog to remind you all that there is a new parenting course for 0-6's starting on the 6th May. You can find more details, and sign up online here. There will also be an information table in reception on Sunday morning.

It's so key that all of us who are parents get all the help we can, for what in my opinion is one of the hardest but most important tasks we will ever face. I wish the course had existed when our children were younger, we had to rely on books and learning from other. If you've got 0-6 year olds I thoroughly encourage you to do the course.

Simon.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sunday Prep - Abraham and His Three Guests

When James Emery White spoke at the "Come As You Are" conference we hosted recently, he spoke about four things you need to make a great Sunday meeting. These were:
  • A Friendly Welcome
  • Greats Kids Work
  • Contemporary Music
  • Relevant Messages
His argument was that if we do these things well, then that will create the environment, the soil if you like, where God can move and the church will grow. It's an interesting list, and one which I suspect could cause a large amount of debate (which I'm not about to enter in to!), but it's undoubtedly true that all the thriving churches I have ever been to, wherever they've been in the world, have had all four of those distinctives in at least some measure.

On Sunday we're going to be reflecting on the first of these, the importance of a friendly welcome. If you want to do some advance reading then take a look at the story in Genesis 18 where Abraham welcomes three visitors, and think about the relevance it might have to us in Kerith.

Hope to catch you on Sunday.

Simon.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Jeff Manion Talk from Sunday

Several people have asked me whether we can make available the audio of the Jeff Manion DVD on "Navigating the Land Between" which we showed on Sunday morning. Sadly Willow can't allow us to put it up on the website, although I have got a personal copy of it on CD if you ask me really nicely!

However, as an alternative there is a discussion on the members only area of the Willow website where you can hear Jeff Manion and Bill Hybels discuss the message, and talk about their own "Land Between" moments, all hosted by Nancy Beach. I've only listened to the first bit, but it sounds fascinating and really complements the message well.

You can find the message here. To listen to it you'll need to use our login details for the Willow website, which is my church email address with the password 00131. If you don't know my email address (I don't really want to put it up on the website) then email the office and they'll let you have it.

You'll also find a whole load of other really interesting stuff on the Willow website, so take time to have a good look around.

Hope you enjoy the discussion (I'm about ten minutes into it now, and it's really moving).

Simon.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Voting on Thursday - Kerith Representatives

I meant to say in my previous blog encouraging people to vote on Thursday that we've got a couple of Kerith people standing in the elections.

Andy Jackson is standing in the Wildridings and Central Ward, and Trevor Kensall is standing in Harmans Water. Part of us being transformational in society is to have more Christians getting actively involved in the world of politics, so please consider turning out and giving Andy or Trevor your vote if they're standing in your ward.

Simon.

Kerith Open Day - Blessed to be a Blessing

For many years now we have had a fairly steady stream of requests from people wanting to know more about how we "do church". People have wanted to know about everything from our building projects, children's and youth work, reaching the local community through Foodbank, CAP, Crisis Intervention and Special Needs ministry, running multiple meetings, overseas ministry and many other areas. It seems that other churches can learn from the journey we have been on, just as we have learnt so much from other churches which have helped shape our journey.

We felt that in order to serve people from other churches well, it would be good to have an open day where we gather together key members of the Kerith team, and allow people to ask any questions they might have.

The open day will be on Thursday 9th June and will run from 10am-3pm. It will include an introduction to our team, a tour of the buildings, lunch, an opportunity to chat one on one with any of our team and a group Q&A session.

The Kerith team there will include:
  • Me
  • Ben Davies (our previous Senior Pastor)
  • Our architect
  • The administration and finance teams
  • Our events and conference planning team
  • Our facilities team
  • The creative arts team including music, drama, video, literature and the technical guys
  • Our children's work and youth teams
  • Representatives of all the teams serving the local community including Foodbank, Debt Counselling, Special Needs ministry and Crisis intervention
Many of you reading this are already part of Kerith, but will know of people in other churches who could benefit from a day like this. If so please can you pass on an invite to them.

Others reading this may be outside Kerith, but feel that it would be helpful to learn more about what we are up to. If so we would love to have you (and your team) here on the 9th. Many of our team are volunteers, so please don't limit those you might invite to just paid staff.

The day, including the lunch, is free but it would really help us if people could register in advance so that we have an idea of numbers, and also what areas people might be particularly interested in. You can register via our website.

If you have any questions then please feel free to email us, or give us a ring on 01344 862699.

Simon.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Please Vote on the 5th May

I want to encourage all of us in Kerith to vote in the elections on the 5th May. There are elections for the Town and Borough Council, as well as the referendum on the Alternative Vote.


For those of us (all of us?) baffled or unsure about the issues around the Alternative Vote Referundum, the Christian Institute have produced a really helpful paper on the issues involved which you can find here.


Local elections may not seem as "exciting" as general elections, but the reality is that many of the decisions local government makes impact us very directly, whether that is the provision of schools, planning decisions, allocation of funding or looking after our green spaces. As we see many around the world rising up and even losing their lives to campaign for democratic government, let us be thankful for the country we live in and the freedom we enjoy.

Simon.