Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rachel Hickson on Sunday

Not only will Rachel Hickson be speaking at our women's conference this weekend (ladies it's still not too late to book if you haven't already), Rachel will also be speaking at all three of our Sunday gatherings (9am, 11am and 7pm).

Those of you who were here when Rachel spoke last year will remember her evident love for God and for people, her prophetic edge, her humour, and her down to earth wisdom on doing life well. She will be bringing a different message in the morning and the evening so why not plan to come out twice - hopefully with the opportunity to watch Andy Murray win Wimbledon in between!

Simon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gift Day Update

I'd normally wait until Sunday to announce the Gift Day total, but for reasons you'll see in a minute I've decided to do it via a blog.

If you remember we raised around £100,000 in our April gift days. In June we wanted to raise a further £250,000 to allow us to do all of the planned reception changes in August. The actual June gift day total including giving, pledges and gift aid is just over £75,000. That means we've raised more than £175,000 over and above our regular giving so far this year, which is quite remarkable and I'm so grateful to everyone who has given so generously. However, we are still well short of what we need.

So what are we going to do? Well if you heard my sermon on Sunday you'll have heard me talk about five steps to living a life of meaning and purpose (if you missed it you can listen to it here). The steps were:

  1. Start with a God sized, God glorifying vision (£250,000 seemed fairly God sized!)
  2. Come up with a God inspired plan to fulfil the vision
  3. Empower people to get involved
  4. Sacrificially own the vision
  5. When you've done all you can do, pray and ask God to do what only He can do
We still want to do all of the reception changes in August, so we're in the process of talking to our bank about getting a short term loan to allow us to go ahead with it all, which we'll look to pay off as quickly as possible. But I really want to lead us now into taking prayer, step 5, to another level, believing that in prayer we can see God do a financial miracle for us, as He has done in the past.

So here's what we're going to do. If you remember at the start of the year I spoke about re-digging old wells, and God calling us to return to some of the things we've done in the past (see Genesis 26). Those of you around when we built the Kerith Centre will remember us having a weekly early morning prayer meeting to ask God for money (there were seasons when it was daily, but I'm not sure we need to re-dig that well quite yet!). So from this Thursday morning (30th June) we're going to have a weekly prayer meeting from 6-7am in the Kerith Centre reception to pray for money, and for life changing God encounters for all of the thousands of people who will come through the new reception area. I'll lead it when I'm around - Ben Davies and others will lead it when I'm not here. We'll keep doing it until all of the £750,000 we've set out to raise this year has come in.

I hope that all makes sense. If not then please ask questions via the blog, or catch me or one of the other elders on Sunday. We want to be totally transparent in the process, so please ask your questions or raise any concerns.

Again a huge thank you to everyone who has already given. I want to lead you in continuing to give sacrificially and continuing to ask God for big things. Hope to see you on Thursday morning!

Simon.

Get (to) Real

I'm up in Lincoln at the moment, meeting with other church leaders from around the UK - a really refreshing and inspiring two days for me.

However, I never sleep too well when I'm away, and this morning has been no exception, so I've been up since 5 praying and reading my Bible. I've prayed for all sorts of stuff, but a large part has been praying for the Real Women's Conference this Friday evening and Saturday.

I have a real sense (no pun intended) that God wants to do some remarkable things in people's lives over the 24 hours of the conference. I know of women in our community who are in a totally different place today because of things God did at last years conference. So here are three encouragements.

For the men, let's be praying for God to do powerful stuff amongst our women. Whether you're single, married, young, not so young, pray for the women you know who are going, and pray for God's transforming presence to be so at work there.

Women who are going be raising your expectations of what God will do. As we saw on Sunday he wants to give you a life of meaning and purpose - be asking him to transform you over the 24 hours.

And any women not going, please get there if you possibly can. Even if you can only make some of the time, it will be worth it. And if finance is an issue, then don't let it be - we have people in our community who have already covered the cost of your ticket so that you can be there - just let our reception team know and pay what you can. You can book online, phone reception, or even just turn up on Friday or Saturday. Some of the most life changing stories last year were from people who had disqualified themselves, and only chose to come at the very last minute. Maybe this year that could be you!

Almost time for breakfast now!

Simon.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sunday - The Temple

Last Tuesday I had the privilege of having a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. I got to eat breakfast in Westminster Hall, follow the route the Queen takes at the state opening of parliament, walk through the House of Lords, I even got to stand at the despatch box in the House of Commons and pretend to be the Prime Minister! The place just oozes history, power and cultural significance - it was a very moving experience.

This Sunday we're going to look at a building with equivalent if not more importance, the temple which David dreamt of and which his son, Solomon, got to build. The question I want to ask is "what is the relevance of the temple for us today". We can see that for the Houses of Parliament, decisions are made there every day which affect all of our lives, but does the temple really have anything to teach us in 21st Century Britain - I think so, and hopefully you will too by the end of Sunday!

If you want to do some homework then take a look at 1 Chronicles 28 and 29, 2 Chronicles 7, John 2:19-21 and 1 Corinthians 3:16.

Hope to see you on Sunday,

Simon.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gift Day Reminder

This Sunday is week two of our June Gift Days. Please be thinking and praying about what to give, as we look to raise the money we need to do all the work in the reception area and the auditorium which we want to do over the summer. If you're not around on Sunday, or if you find it more convenient, you can give online here.

Can I also ask that if there is anyone in a position to give us an interest free loan could they contact Clive Challis to let him know. We've already had at least one offer which is great - any more would be really helpful.

I can't express how grateful I am to be part of such an incredibly generous community. Week after week, month after month, year after to year, to see people giving so faithfully is just incredible and never ceases to amaze me. Thank you.

Simon.

Monday, June 20, 2011

National Prayer Breakfast

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I'm going up to the 2011 National Prayer Breakfast in Westminster Hall. The theme is "raising aspirations among young people" - something that resonates strongly with us as a community. According to the literature the guest list includes "Members of both Houses, Ambassadors, leaders of Christian churches,  charities and youth and community organisations from across the UK". I feel really privileged to be invited and look forward to being a part of it all (even if I will have to wear my suit!).

Afterwards I'm going to meet up with Dr. Phillip Lee, our Bracknell constituency MP. It will be interesting to meet him on his "territory" rather than at Kerith.

Please pray for me, and for Ben Davies who is going to be at the breakfast too.

Simon.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rocknations Parents Evening

It's not long until all our youngsters will be going off to Rocknations in Bradford (10th - 13th August). It's been such a key event in the lives of so many of our youngsters that I'd encourage all parents to consider sending their young people (years 7 and over).

We realise that parents often have a load of questions around what goes on at events like this, so Liam Parker has organised a parents evening next Tuesday (21st June) from  7-9pm in K2. The evening will be a great chance for parents to:

  • Hear what a normal day at Rocknations looks like
  • Meet the leaders who will be going
  • Hear about what we hope to get out of taking our young people to Rocknations
  • Ask any questions you may have
  • Sort out any admin that needs to be done

There may be some still wavering about sending your young people to Rocknations. If finance is an issue please be assured that we never want money to be a barrier to anyone accessing anything at Kerith - please just speak to either Liam, Lee Layton-Matthews or myself. Any other questions, then feel free to come and ask them on the 21st.

Hope to see you there (assuming you do have young people who may be going - if not I'm very impressed you've got this far through the blog!),

Simon.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ministry Reviews, Prayer Meetings and Walking to School

The next four days see our annual ministry reviews. On Wednesday and Thursday the elders meet with either the ministry leader or the overseer of every ministry in the church (which if you've ever looked at the tube map in the Link magazine is a lot!), to hear about what has happened in the last year, and plans for the coming year. Then on Friday and Saturday we go away along with Ben Oliver as our executive pastor to pray and think about the next steps for us as a community. This will then form the basis of our plans for 2012 and beyond.

It's always an exciting time as we get to to hear all that God has been doing amongst us (especially given all the growth we've seen this year), but it's also pretty exhausting with a whole load of information to be taken in and some fairly major decisions to be taken. Please pray for us, for wisdom, for insight, for God thoughts, for unity amongst us all, for me as I lead the team and for Jesus to be exalted through it all. I'm already brimming with thoughts and ideas, but I'm sure we'll come away with even more by the end of the four days.

Also on Wednesday and Thursday night we have our all church prayer meetings (8pm in K2). We're going to be praying for the gift days, the Real conference and hearing updates from the team who just came back from Serenje, as well as worshipping and sharing communion. Please be there if you possibly can.

I'll be at the prayer meeting on Wednesday night, but not on Thursday as on Friday morning I'll be getting up at about 3.30am to join Keith Grainger and other members of the Garth Hill staff as they do an 11 mile walk into school, raising funds for the girl's dormitory in Serenje.

Never a dull moment :-)

Simon.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sunday Evening Worship

Just to prepare you all in advance that the worship on Sunday evening (12th June) is going to be in a slightly different style. It will be the same songs we normally sing, but in the words of Stuart Bryan will be "in the style of the current top 40. Stylistically we've gone for a different, electronic sound using synthesisers and loops and lots of other cool stuff".

It's something which has been used with great success at the Friday night LIFE events, and we thought we'd give it a go on a Sunday evening. Rest assured that you will still be able to engage in worship - I'll be interested to hear what people make of it.

Handling change and new things reminds me of a story a friend who was leading a church at the time told me (I won't reveal his name in case I get him into trouble!). In the church they'd just put a soft drinks machine in their reception area, and a number of people had contacted him to say that they didn't think this was something the church should be doing, encouraging people to drink sugar filled fizzy drinks. So a few weeks later he got up and announced that after the success of the soft drinks machine they were now going to install condom dispensers in all of the public toilets. After a shocked moment from the congregation, and a perfectly timed pause, he said that actually they weren't going to do that, but at least the soft drinks machine didn't seem so bad after all!

Hope you enjoy Sunday night (or the morning if you're there instead) :-)

Simon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sunday Prep - Elijah at Kerith

On Sunday I'm going to be talking about the prophet Elijah, and in particular looking at the time he spent in the Kerith ravine. You can read about it in 1 Kings 17:1-9.

As James reminds us in James 5:17-18, Elijah was a man just like us. He knew the highs of defeating the prophets of Baal on mount Carmel, and the lows of having a mental breakdown after Jezebel threatened to kill him.

Things to think about as you read 1 Kings 17 :

  • How do you cope in a season when the things in your life (finances, jobs, popularity, relationships, health) seem to be drying up, and why does God allow us to have these seasons
  • Would you really see being fed by ravens (an unclean animal) as God's provision
  • Do you need to hear a 'fresh' word from God
Our identity as a community is wrapped up in this story, so please come expecting God to speak directly into your life situation.

Simon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gift Day Update

This weekend is the first of our June gift days (the other being on the 26th June). We are looking to raise £250,000 so that we can complete all of our planned reception area and auditorium improvements by the end of August. Please can I encourage you to be thinking and praying about what you are going to give. You can find more details about the gift days here, and can give online here.

Clive Challis is working with me on handling the finances for the redevelopment (Clive was our Kerith treasurer for many years, as well as overseeing the finances for the building of the Kerith Centre and K2, so knows what he is talking about!). He has suggested a couple of things which would really help us in sorting our cashflow for the reception redevelopment.

The first is to ask whether there is anyone in a position to offer the church an interest free loan. When we built the Kerith Centre we at one point had over £400,000 which people 'lent' to the church to save the church from having to pay interest on bank loans. If the whole of the £250,000 doesn't come in during June then we will look to take out a bank loan so that we can still do the work in August - interest free loans may mean we don't need to do this.

Secondly there may be some people who because of timing of finances can't give by the 26th June, but can give in July, August or September. If so then that would be really helpful to know so that we can plan our cashflow more accurately.

If you're in a position to do either of those, or have any questions on this, then please can you email Clive who would love to hear from you!

As I've said before, let's not have any anxiety about this, but believe God for him to do remarkable things in us and through us.

Simon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Discover Kerith Open Day

For all our non Kerith readers just a reminder that this coming Thursday is our Kerith open day, where we want to share what we have learnt as a community, so that others can learn from our successes and failures. There are a number of people already booked in from all around the country, but it would be great to have some more, so if you're free on Thursday and think this day might be beneficial to you then please register here.

Simon.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Calling All Leaders

This Tuesday 7th June is our next All Leaders Meeting. We gather together all of our leaders once a term to share vision and news, and to talk through issues we are facing as a community. It's also an opportunity to spend time with one another, meet up with old friends and make some new ones.

If you're a leader, or an apprentice leader, then you should have received an invite for Tuesday. However, given the rate of new leaders coming through people sometimes don't get an invite, so if you're one of those people then please consider yourself invited and come along on Tuesday. Partners of leaders are invited too. If you haven't been invited and are going to come along please can you email the office, so that we can make sure we have enough cheese and wine, and so that we can get your details added on to the list for next time.

This Tuesday I'm going to focus on some issues relating to the growth we are currently experiencing. This will include an update on the plans to redevelop the reception area, more information on the plans to move the staff to offsite offices, an overview of the current staff team and plans to restructure this for growth, and a comment on some of the things we need to look out for as we grow. We'll also do a Q and A, and look to answer any questions people may have.

The evening starts at 7.45pm in K2 - hope to see you there.

Simon.