Thursday, December 27, 2012

No meeting on Sunday 30th December

Just a reminder that we're not meeting as a church on Sunday 30th December - if you're not sure why read the chapter I wrote in the Peach and the Coconut on rhythm :)

Please use the day to meet with friends and family, focus on God, and take a stop before we enter into what is going to be an action packed 2013.

We are meeting on Sunday 6th January for a Vision Sunday, back at our normal times of 9am, 11am and 7pm. I'm going to be taking a short look back at some of what God did amongst us in 2012, and then looking forward to some of what we think 2013 is going to involve for us as a community. It's going to be a great kick off for the New Year, so please be there if you possibly can.

Simon.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Day Offering

Every year on Christmas Day we take up an offering to support a charity outside of Kerith. This year the charity we've chosen is Caring for Ex-Offenders, a national charity seeking to reduce reoffending by reintegrating ex-offenders into society through the local church.

As a church we've been involved in prison ministry for a number of years. When I first joined the church there was a group who regularly visited Huntercombe Prison in Oxforshire (which at the time was a young offenders institute). I particularly remember one year taking our son Zak there (he was only about three) on Christmas Day to sing carols with the young people - I'm not sure you'd be allowed to do that any more! In more recent time Lee and Sonia Brett have done a great job leading a group visting various local prisons and running services - I went along with them recently and had a very moving time. We'd like to see that ministry grow, and supporting Caring for Ex-Offenders is part of that.

You can find a great video about the work of Caring for Ex-Offenders here. Please take the time to watch it, and to think about what you're going to give on Christmas Day.

Simon.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Office Move

Today (Friday) a whole load of the staff and academy students are packing up getting ready to move in the New Year to our new offices, the Barn near Wokingham. We're doing this primarily to make more space for children's work on a Sunday, but also to provide space for more staff, and more space in the Kerith Centre for midweek ministry.

As part of the move a group of staff, both past and present, met this morning to remember the time we've had in the Kerith Centre offices, and to thank God for all that has gone on there. The photo on the left is of some of the people who were there.

It was amazing to hear Ben Davies tell the story of the journey God has had on when it comes to offices. When he first came to the church in 1964 his office was a room in his house. He then moved to a run down council provided office, before making the move to a portakabin outside the church building which used to be on the K2 site. We then in time added a second portakabin, before making the move into the Kerith Centre offices in 1989. Initially three were a handful of people in the main office, with Ben Davies, Ken Bothamley and Malcolm Kayes in separate offices. In time we've packed out the main office, as well as filling Ken and Malcolm's old offices with the youth and pastoral teams, the Rochdale room with the Creative Arts team and the Spurgeon room with the Social Justice team.


It's important for us to remember that God is always on the move, and that this move to The Barn is just the next step on the journey God has for us - all very exciting.

People have been asking a number of questions about the office move. Penny Lander, who has been expertly planning the move, has been collating the questions and asked me to share these answers with you via the blog. I hope they're helpful, but if there's anything else you'd like to know then please get in touch and we'll do our best to make everything as clear as possible.

Simon.

------------------------

  • Where is everyone working? The Creative Arts Team are at the Studio, the Facilities Team are at the Kerith Centre, the K4 team are at the K4 shop, and the Social Justice, Operations/Finance/HR, Youth, Kids, and Pastoral Teams are all based at the Barn.
  • When does this happen? The Kerith Centre offices will be packed up on Friday 21st December, and the move into the Barn happens on Wednesday 2nd January. In between the offices are closed for Christmas/New Year.
  • How do I contact staff? The main phone number and direct numbers stay unchanged – you can phone in just the same and be put through to anyone in the Kerith Centre, Barn or Studio. Email addresses also stay the same.
  • When is the Kerith Centre open? The Kerith Centre will be open 9.30-5.00 Monday to Friday as at present, though once a month on a Thursday it will open at 10 following staff training.
  • How can I meet staff? You can meet them at the Kerith Centre, the Barn or the Studio.
  • How can I do photocopying? There will be a photocopier in the same copier room as at present, available in the same way as now, including on Sundays. Just ask at reception when you come in.
  • Where do I send post to the church? Still to the Kerith Centre address.
 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hope to see you over Christmas

Hopefully all your Christmas preparations are going well, and you're looking forward to celebrating the birth of our Saviour. I wanted to send out a reminder of all we've got coming up over the next few days, encouraging you to come to as much as you can as well as inviting others to come too.

On Sunday 23rd December at 10am, 4pm and 7pm we've got a host of favourite Christmas carols, alongside readings, performance items and a short message. If you are bringing children aged 0-11 to the 10am or 4pm meeting, they can join in with the children's christmas parties over in our K2 building across the car park. Registration is from 10 minutes before the meeting begins. There will be mince pies after each meeting too!

On Christmas Eve at 3pm and 5pm we've got a fresh look at the nativity story with a fun production for all the family. Last year was the first time we've done this meeting twice, and it was a huge success.

Then on Christmas Day at 10am bring your present, wear your Christmas jumper and invite your family as we celebrate the birth of Christ. There are no children's groups on Christmas day but lots of fun to engage them in the meeting, which will last for an hour.

Six meetings in three days - it's going to be great! Hope to see you there.

Simon.

 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Forty Days of Prayer & Fasting in 2013

One of the scriptures I try and live my life by is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

That challenge to pray continually in each and every situation life throws at me, is a huge challenge for me. Yet I know that when I do it, when I remember that I never go into a situation where God has not already gone ahead of me, and that there is nothing which happens to me which I can't turn to God in prayer, not only changes my perspective on life but also opens the door to me asking God to intervene and break in.

One of my goals for 2013 is to help every one of us to get closer to God in prayer. One way we're doing that is by beginning the year with 40 days of prayer and fasting. We're going to start on Wednesday 9th January, meeting at the Kerith Centre for an hour to pray together from 8-9pm, and will then meet at the same time every Wednesday through to February 13th. We're also going to encourage people to fast on those Wednesdays.

In parallel we're going to have a Sunday preaching series called "Keep in Touch", where we're going to look at six different prayers in the Bible. This will start on the 13th January and run through to the 17th February. More details on this soon.

Please can I encourage you to put those dates in your diary, and try to make as many of those Wednesdays as you can. You won't regret it!

Simon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

iDisciple Conference

On the 4th and 5th February 2013 (not far away now!) we're hosting a Willow Creek Conference called iDisciple, looking at how we can most effectively follow Jesus command to make disciples in our 21st Century culture.

Two of the speakers, Gordon MacDonald and James Emery White, have been to Kerith before. Gordon, and his delightful wife Gail, have been over a couple of times, preaching on a Sunday, speaking at a men's day and running a marriage seminar for us. James came over in 2011 speaking at a two day conference with John Burke. They are both outstanding speakers with some unique insights on engaging people and culture.

The other speaker, Mindy Caliguire, is part of Willow Creek Community Church, and speaks extensively on spiritual formation. Andy Jackson and Lee Layton-Matthews heard her speak at an event they were at recently and highly recommend what she brings.

You can find a load more details on the conference here, as well as all the booking information.

If you're part of Kerith then there is even a special rate for you! You can book in at the under 30's/full time student/OAP rate, which gets you in to one day for £30 or both days for £55. If you want to do this then you'll need our church login for the Willow site - email reception at info@kerith.co.uk if you don't know what it is.

Hope to see you there!

Simon.

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Prayer Meeting Clarity :)

There has been a bit of confusion about prayer meetings over the next few weeks, so here is my attempt to bring some clarity to the situation!

First of all this Thursday (13th December) we've got an all church prayer meeting at 8pm in K2 - please come if you possibly can as it will be great to pray for one another and all the Christmas events. We are NOT meeting on Wednesday to pray, as Hilltop have their carol concert that evening and we want to make sure we have enough space to park all of their minibuses.

The Thursday morning 6am prayer meeting for finance will be on this Thursday (13th December) but then won't meet again until Thursday 10th January.

Finally in the New Year we're going to be doing 40 days of prayer and fasting. I'll do another blog with more details on this soon, but as part of it we'll be having weekly prayer meetings starting on Wednesday 9th January and then running every Wednesday through to Wednesday 13th February. We'll meet for an hour each Wednesday to pray in the Kerith Centre. Please put these in your diary, and plan to be at as many of them as possible!

Hope that clarifies things - if not you know where to ask :)

Simon.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Once in Royal David's City

Don't miss Sunday, where Michael Ross-Watson will be preaching on the carol "Once in Royal David's City". I loved it last year when we took a couple of other carols and examined the scriptural truths behind them, and I'm sure this will be just as inspiring. I am however still waiting for someone to explain to me the relevance of "I saw three ships come sailing in" - perhaps we'll tackle that one next year!

Please also be busy inviting people to our meetings on the 23rd, 24th and 25th - you can find all the details here.

Hope to catch you on Sunday.

Simon.

 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent - Looking Forward

On Sunday I spoke on Advent, but instead of looking back at the first coming of Jesus, looked forward to his second coming. If you missed it you can catch it here. The question I asked was:

Are you putting as much effort into preparing for the second coming of Jesus as you are into preparing to celebrate his first coming?

I know that many of us are putting huge amounts of effort into preparaing for Christmas - buying trees, putting up decorations, choosing presents, writing cards and ordering extra food and drink. All of that is great, and hopefully will lead to some great and memorable times together with friends and family. But do we have the same sense of purpose in terms of making sure we would be ready if Jesus were to return today?

I'm not going to rewrite the preach in my blog, but instead in summary to say that in Matthew 24 & 25 Jesus tells us four stories to tell us how to be prepared for his return. The principles in these stories could be summarised as be holy, be ready, be faithful and be compassionate.

Let's allow those four words - holy, ready, faithful and compassionate - to summarise who we are and what we do as we prepare to celebrate the first coming of Jesus.

Simon.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanks to everyone who brought their stuff

A huge thank you to everyone who brought their unwanted 'stuff' last Sunday, in order for it to be sold in our K4 charity shop in Bracknell town centre. Thanks also to everyone who came on Monday to help sort it all, ready for what we hope is going to be a really busy Christmas period for the shop. If you still have 'stuff' you'd like to donate then you can still drop it into the shop during the week (please don't bring it to the Kerith Centre as we have nowhere there to store it!).

The K4 shop is proving to be a great success on a number of fronts. Not only is it raising funds which will allow us to do even more to serve our local community, it is also raising the profile of Kerith in the town (we're having to print more LinK magazines for December because so many people going into the shop are taking them) and is providing training opportunities for people looking to get back into employment. All very exciting.

Hope to catch you Sunday.

Simon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kerith's New Website

Kerith are currently in the process of updating our public website. It’s also given us the opportunity to use a new online tool to help build community at Kerith by connecting us in our small groups, serving teams and ministries for things like online rotas, events, group discussion and much more.

Whilst anyone will be able to see what’s going on through our website, we would also like to give everyone who calls Kerith their home access to this new community tool, which will issue a secure username and password. If Kerith has been your home church for a while, you may have received an email recently listing the current contact details that we have for you. If you have not received the email, your contact information may be missing or out of date – we’d like to fix that!

If you would like access to this new tool but have not received an email about this, please update your contact details here by 13th December.

Stay tuned for further info about this and our new website coming very soon! We expect to start using them in early 2013.

Thanks for doing that.

Simon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Preparing for Advent

On Sunday I'm going to be speaking on Advent, a period in the church calendar which runs from the fourth Sunday before Christmas (which is this Sunday coming up) through until Christmas Eve. The English word Advent comes from the latin word adventus, which means "coming". Throughout Advent we primarily focus on Jesus first coming two thousand years ago, but also look forward to him coming again.

Throughout Advent I'm going to be using a set of daily Bible reading notes from John Piper, which are contained in a short booklet he wrote called "Good News of Great Joy". You can get an electronic version of the booklet here. It's available both as a PDF, and in versions which will work on a Kindle, iPAD, iPhone, Nook and pretty much any other ereader known to (wo)man. You can also get the readings via John Piper's daily Bible reading app - search for "Solid Joys" in the Apple App Store. If none of that works for you please let me know and I'll try and source a paper copy for you.

Whatever you do I encourage you to have a plan for getting into your Bible every day, and allowing God to speak to you through it. If you haven't already got a plan then why not use this one!

Hope to catch you on Sunday.

Simon.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Winter Fuel Payments

Clive and Glynis Challis wrote to me recently about the Winter Fuel Payments (WFP) - the lump sum payment made by the government around this time of year to everyone receiving the State Pension. They wrote this

"The Department of Work & Pensions have started sending out letters about the Winter Fuel Payment (£200 per household). Last year we donated ours to Christians Against Poverty (CAP) to help with clients in fuel poverty. We will do the same this year.

It dawned on us that, although for many the WFP is an important part of household income, for others it is less important & wonder whether it’s worth making an appeal for those where the WFP is nice to have, but not essential to donate to CAP/Crisis Intervention to help those who really do struggle with winter fuel bills."

If you're a pensioner, and you are able to do what Clive & Glynis has suggested, then please can I encourage you to think about following their lead. You can either give on a Sunday via the offering envelopes (just write on the envelope that this is for the work of CAP), or you can give online. In fact I'd encourage all of us whenever God blesses us with something beyond what we need, whether that is a benefit, a bonus, an inheritance or a lottery win(!), to not only feel blessed but also to think how you can use it to be a blessing.

But can I also make an appeal to those in our community who desparately need the WFP, and whatever other money you are receiving, not to feel in any way guilty about that, but instead just to thank God for his provision for you. In fact I'd encourage you to be open about your need. One of the signs of God's grace being on the early church was that there were no poor among them, and that needs to be true for our church community too. Our pastoral team regularly meet with the leaders of TMTL, our ministry to the retired, to make sure that the pensioners in our community have homes which are well heated and maintained, and that their other needs are being met. We're just about to spend over £3,000 on food vouchers to give to families and individuals in the church who we know are going to struggle over Christmas. If you're in need please let someone in leadership know, so that we can have true biblical equality, as expressed by Paul in these words to the church in Cornith:

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15 NIV)


Simon.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dormitory Update

I know that many of you have been praying for the construction of the girls dormitory in Serenje, which has been held up because of the loss of the title deed. Well I got this email on Friday from our great friend Leah - I'll let you read it for yourself.

Dear Pastor Simon,

I am holding in my hand right now an offer letter from the office of the Commissioner of Lands which gives EFZ authorisation to begin the construction works. Its awesome - it all happened in one day - Yesterday!! Its a miracle which brings rejoicing.

Follow up steps will be communicated to you by Pukuta. There was a bit of dancing for the Victory at our EFZ devotions this morning - you can guess who led the dance!

This is all for now.

In Christ,

Leah

Thank you to everyone who has been praying - please join me in a victory dance alongside our friends at EFZ! We can now move on to the next stage of actually getting the dormitory built, and then moving the girls in there. Praise God :)

Simon.

Friday, November 23, 2012

This Sunday

This Sunday we've got baptisms in all three meetings, which is so exciting. Ben Oliver is going to be speaking on baptism in water and baptism in the Holy Spirit. We're going to have loads of visitors so please remember to be looking out for them and saying hello, as well as thinking about who you can invite.

I'm not going to be around in the morning, as I'm going on a prison visit with Lee and Sonia Brett and the team they gather. They are doing some amazing work, and I'm really looking forward to being a part of it all, as long of course that I get let out at the end of it all!

Hope to catch you Sunday evening if not before.

Simon.

 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Tearfund Focus Group with Free Food

Are you free on Sunday from 12.45pm for an hour? If so Tearfund would love to meet with you in the Brook Lounge (the room by the drinks point in the Kerith Centre reception) with the offer of free food and drinks!

They want to run a focus group discussion on the subject of Christian charities. They are looking for people to join in with an easy-going discussion where you sit in a circle with a few others to lend your opinions about Christian Charities and Tearfund. You don't have to be knowledgeable about anything - the only requirement is that you are over 16 years old and prepared to lend your honest opinions for about an hour.


If you are able to come along then I know Tearfund would really appreciate it, and so would I :)

Hope to catch you on Sunday.

Simon.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Advance - Don't Miss Out

Advance, our conference for anyone working with children, is this Saturday. The office is buzzing with all the preparations today. It's going to be a great conference and I just want to encourage you to come if you're not already booked in. You can find all the details here, and can book either online or pay at the door.

The picture above is of the kids music CD which our worship team have produced - we've been listening to it today and it sounds really good. Everyone coming to the conference gets a free copy. We'll also be making backing tracks, sheet music and all that sort of stuff available too, so hopefully it will get used widely.

Hope to see you there on Saturday.

Simon.

 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Let's Talk About Sex

There, that got your attention!

I know it's late notice, but I thought you might like to know that on Tuesday 13th November Easthampstead Baptist Church are hosting an event called "Let's Talk About Sex", run by an organisation called Romance Academy. They were started by Rachel Gardener after she appeared in 2005 on a BBC Documentary called "No Sex Please We're Teenagers". Catrina heard her speak recently at a womens' event and said she was brilliant.

The purpose of the evening is to help equip parents, carers and other adults to to talk with their teenagers about sex and relationship. It's running at the Easthampstead Baptist Church building (RG12 7NS) and runs from 7.30pm-9.45pm. You can get all the details here.

Simon.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Don't Miss Advance

Next Saturday (17th November) we have our Advance Kids' Ministry Leaders Conference. This is particularly aimed at anyone working with children aged 0-11 in a church context, but I believe would be very useful to people working with children in any other context, and those working with teenagers too.

To see what a great day it's going to be take a look at the speaker lineup here. Rob Parsons, who is one of the main speakers, is an outstanding communicator with a passion to see children not just survive but thrive in church, and I'm pretty sure will be worth the conference fee alone. On top of that there are a great lineup of both Kerith and external speakers, with a very wide range of topics being covered.

I'd love it if everyone at Kerith working with children and youth were to come to the conference. We all have so much of learn in this area, and this will be a great environment both to be inspired and equipped.

And for those outside Kerith I'd love to have you there too. If that's you please consider coming, and bringing your team.

You can book online here, with a special concessionary rate for under 18's, and one free place for every four booked. For Kerith people who are likely to be booking in individually we'll make sure you get in at that reduced rate, which is effectively £16 each - just book in at the full price and we'll make sure you get a refund on the day. Also if there's anyone from Kerith who would like to come but is struggling financially please let us know as we don't want finances to stop you being there on the day.

If you have any questions then please ask, either by emailing us at info@kerith.co.uk, phoning reception on 01344 862699 or speaking to Lydia Harris-Lane or Yvonne Scott on our kids team.

It's going to be a great day, I'm going to be there and I'd love to see you there too!

Simon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Keeping in Touch - Help Required

The theme for our next LinK magazine is 'Keeping in Touch' with particular emphasis on prayer. We would like to include a double page spread, featuring places that help you to connect with God - anything from a favourite armchair to a breath-taking view. Please use your imagination and email photos, along with a short sentence of explanation, to: info@kerith.co.uk (by Monday 12 November if possible).

Thanks in advance and hope you're having a great week.

Simon.




Monday, November 5, 2012

Serenje Gift Day Total

For those of you who couldn't be in the adult meeting on Sunday, I thought you'd like to know the Serenje Gift Day total. As you may remember we were going for a £80,000 to fund year 5 of the project, with any additional money coming in going to other nations we work with. Well here is what came in.

  • Regular Giving up to September 2012 - £13,059
  • Cash given in the Gift Days - £40,020
  • Pledges to be redeemed - £13,821
  • Expected regular giving to September 2013 - £15,545
  • Provisional Gift Aid Claim - £11,845
  • Total - £94,290
Isn't that brilliant. As I've said before my prayer was that as we came to the end of our five year project in Serenje we'd burst across the finishing line with this offering, getting more than we needed. Well we've certainly done that, and I'm so incredibly grateful to everyone who has given - thank you so much!

If you're interested you can hear a recording of what I said on Sunday here.

I've got a couple of requests.

  • If you've made a pledge please redeem it in the next couple of weeks. You can do this by putting it into one of the regular giving envelopes, writing on the envelope both your name and that this is to redeem a Serenje pledge, and then putting it into the regular Sunday offering or handing it in at reception.
  • If you haven't yet given and would still like to be involved then its not too late. Just use one of the giving envelopes and make it clear on the envelope that your gift is for Serenje. All money we receive over the £80,000 will go to other nations we are involved in.
Thanks again to everyone who gave and who is still gong to give, it's just brilliant to be part of such a generous community.

Simon.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Serenje Hospital Operating Theatre

If you were around on Sunday you'll have heard my interview with Howard Reece-Smith, about how he and his wife Elizabeth raised £20,000 by cycling the 2,000km from Nairobi to Serenje. This paid for equipment donated by the Royal Berks Hospital in Reading to be shipped out to Serenje, and for extra equipment to be bought and shipped out, in order that an operating theatre might be opened in Serenje. You can listen to the interview here.

On our recent trip to Serenje we had the thill of visiting the hospital, and seeing the operating theatre which is now in regular use. Not only are lives being saved, but it's also saving the hospital large amounts of money as doctors and patients no longer need to travel 80km to the nearest alternative hospital.

Here are a couple of pictures of the operating theatre.

Pretty much all the equipment you can see here came from the UK.

What I love about Howard and Elizabeth is that God gave them a vision to do something, and they then took the gifts and talent they have to make that vision a reality. What step are you going to take today to make a God given dream begin to become a reality?

Simon.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Serene Videos

We've put the videos of Serenje which I showed last Sunday up on YouTube - a huge thanks to Andy White who took my shaky iPhone videos and edited them to create these, and Colin Boyle who got them uploaded to YouTube. You should be able to see the videos below, but if not you can follow this link to the church YouTube channel.

Just a reminder that this Sunday we're having our second gift day offering for Serenje, aiming to raise £80,000 for year 5 of the project. Pease be thinking and praying about what you're going to give. This Sunday I'm going to be speaking on God putting creativity in the heart of every one of us, and will be interviewing Howard Reece-Smith about all that has achieved in the hospital in Serenje as he has followed the vision God gave him.

Finally don't forget that the clocks go back an hour this weekend, hopefully making it easier for all of us to get there on time :)

Hope to see you this weekend,

Simon.

A village welcome

The Head of Misolo Kipiki Basic School

Pastor Gordon

A greeting from Loveness - one of the amazing volunteers

Bishop Samson Kasele

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Business and Community Leaders Breakfast

A final reminder about the breakfast for leaders I'm going to be hosting at the Bracknell Hilton on Friday 2nd November. You can find all the details here.

We need to give final numbers to the Hilton next Wednesday, so if you want to come you need to book before then. Numbers are also limited to a maximum of 70 people, so if you definitely want to come then why not phone the Kerith reception on 01344 862699 to make sure of your place for what I'm hoping is going to be the first of many events like this.

Simon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween Thoughts

Several people have asked me where they can find the talk I did last year on how to deal with Halloween. For those who are interested you can find it on the Kerith website here.

If you do listen to it I'd love to know what you make of it.

Simon.

Monday, October 22, 2012

All Leaders Meeting

Just a reminder for all Kerith leaders that Tuesday night (23rd October) is our termly All Leaders Meeting in K2 starting at 7.45pm.

This time round we're privileged to have Steve Tibbert from King's Church in South East London with us (this is the church our good friends Mick and Val Taylor and William and Hilary Dalziel are now part of). Steve is going to be sharing the story of King's Church, which has many parallels with our own story at Kerith. Steve will talk in particular about their growth over the last few years (they now gather over 1,200 people on a Sunday) and their experience of being one church on multiple sites. I'll also be sharing some news, we'll hopefully have time at the end for some Q&A, and we'll start the evening with cheese and wine, so it should be a great evening.

If you're a leader in any context in Kerith then you should have already received an invite for Tuesday, but if not please consider yourself invited and come along.

Simon.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sam & Hannah Fairs-Billam

One of the highlights of my trip to Zambia last week was catching up with Sam and Hannah Fairs-Billam, and their two lovely girls Isla and Amba. Sam and Hannah are very much part of Kerith (Sam became a Christian on one of our Alpha courses), and have felt for a while God calling them to move overseas and work for justice. They did this in March, when they moved to Lusaka, to work with the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) doing child protection training. You can read more about what they're up to on their blog.

Sam, Hannah and the girls are doing brilliantly. They've had their fair share of challenges and problems, but they've overcome them all amazingly, God has certainly been with them. This is a short video they recorded to say hi to everyone.


Here is a panoramic view of where they live (thanks to the wonders of IOS6).

And this is Hannah doing some child protection training in Serenje.

Please pray for them, sign up for and leave comments on their blog (which encourages them more than you could know) and know that they're making a real difference.

Simon.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Serenje Sunday

On Sunday I'm going to talk in some detail about my trip last week to Serenje, as well looking at how it fits in with our wider call to be a blessing to the nations.

Amazing progress has been made since we first visited Serenje five years ago, and I can't wait to get to talk about it all.

As a bit of a taster I thought I'd include a couple of pictures from Misela Kapika Basic (Primary) School. This first one is of some of the new classrooms which have been built using the extra school fees the school has received from children being sponsored by the project (the eagle eyed will also spot Leah Mutala).

And these are some of the children now being taught in those new rooms (along with the lovely Hannah Fairs-Billam).

All very exciting. We'll also be having gift days over the next two weekends trying to raise £80,000 to fund the final year of the project. My prayer is that we'll raise so significantly more than the target, in which case any extra money will go to other nations we are involved in.

Please get there on Sunday if you possibly can, and be thinking and praying about what you are going to give.

Simon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Meet the Academy - Irene Mooney

Hello….My name is Irene Mooney….I am doing a “ Granny “ gap year…I am in my late 50s ..have three grown up children who all have spouses / partners….I have two amazing grandchildren who have totally won my heart. ….you may see Elisha (almost 2 ) around on Sundays….he is the cutest and bestest wee boy ever.!!....Chris …my hubster of many decades is the IT manager at church and we have been a part of Kerith for almost 30 years. I work full time as a Personal Assistant to a young man with disability and I childmind 2 small boys ( one of which is my grandson ). Over the years I have seen many changes in church life and served in many areas and enjoyed all the challenges this has brought into our lives….we had the privilege of being led by Ben Davies and we were part of the building of the Kerith Centre…all those years ago.. Now… as Simon and Catrina lead us into growth the opportunities we can get involved with are limitless. I am doing The Academy year mainly because I really want to be challenged ….changed and ….to grow in every area of my life. I have come to realise I am never too old to be changed and challenged. …and believe me its going to take me way out of my comfort zone as I serve with the team in Konstruction Krew (5-11s)and take part in the teaching class (my brain may need to be shocked into life ). To be a part of The Academy Student Body is going to be such fun…yet present me with amazing times of sharing life with all ages and cultures.

 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Andrew Wilson

We've got a treat in store next weekend (Sunday 14th) when we're going to have Andrew Wilson with us at all three meetings.

Andrew is part of the leadership team of Kings Church in Eastbourne, and I've known him for a number of years as someone I'd say hello to whenever our paths crossed. However, this Summer he spoke at the One Event I was also part of, and Catrina and I had the privilege of getting to know Andrew loads better. He's one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet (if you're ever looking for someone interesting to chat to over breakfast Andrew is your man!). He also has an incredible understanding of the Bible, with two degrees in theology (if you want to be slightly scared take a look at some of the papers he's written here), but has a rare ability to take all of that knowledge and package it in a way in which 'ordinary' people like you and me can understand and digest.

He's written a number of books, including God Stories, and Incomparable, both of which I know a number of people in our community have read and really enjoyed, and which are available from our resources area.

His latest book, "If God Then What", takes a look at some of life's biggest questions and explores some of the possible answers. I particularly enjoyed this review of it, interestingly written by an atheist! He'll be speaking on some of the questions he raises in the book. We'll also be selling copies of the book for £5.

This will be a great talk to invite people far from God to, in particular people who have intellectual objections to and questions about Christianity.

Don't miss it :)

Simon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Meet the Academy - Megan Cheeseman

I'm 19 and have lived in Bracknell my whole life. I was blessed to have a Mum with strong faith who took me to church from the beginning. When I was 6 years old I asked Jesus into my heart and I was baptised aged 12. Although it's been a while since I was baptised, Academy definitely seems to be the next step. I feel this year will give me an opportunity to focus on God and to give something back to the church. My main ministry area will be children's work, specifically under 5s. I look forward to seeing the children grow in their faith and hope to be an example to them.

 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Alpha Reminder

The evening Alpha course starts this Wednesday at 7.30pm. We've already got over 50 guests signed up, but there is still plenty of space for more. So if you fancy doing Alpha yourself, or know someone who would benefit from coming on the course, then just come along. The evening starts with a meal, followed by a talk and then time in a small group with tea and coffee where you can discuss anything you want to! If you're wondering whether or not Alpha is for you then take a look here.

If you could let us know in advance that either you, or a friend, are coming then that would be helpful - just phone reception on 01344 862699. But if you aren't able to let us know, then feel free just to turn up.

Sadly I won't be there for the first night as I'll still be in Zambia, but I'll be praying for everyone, and looking forward to hearing about it when I get back.

Simon.

 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Meet the Academy - Dan Boyles

My name is Dan Boyles and I'm 23 years old. I have lived in Bracknell all my life with my parents and a younger sister. Before coming a christian I worked for a music label and as a DJ in the nightclub industry but after a few years of doing this I had lost my way in life abit and realised I was searching for something more, something I did not have. After finally finding God in early 2012 I have now decided that I want to spend a year at academy to strengthen my relationship with God and to serve and honour the one that has truly saved me. I am serving in the social justice team working with CAP and Foodbank, as well as Helping with crisis intervention.

 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Meet the Academy - Natalie Jones

Hello my name is Natalie and I am 18. I have just finished my A levels and last year felt that God was guiding me towards taking a gap year before I continued on to university. As Kerith as given so much into me it was the obvious choice to choose Kerith Academy as a year out program. I am so excited to be serving in the youth ministry with Liam Parker and several other amazing students. I am so buzzing for reaching and teaching the young people in Bracknell and look forward to all that I will see God do this year!

 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Serenje Success Story - Felix Kalunga

In advance of us going out to Serenje I thought you might enjoy this story of one of the small scale farmers we've been working with in Serenje - Felix Kalunga.

What has happened to him is representative of what the project has achieved in the whole community.

Simon.

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Felix Kalunga is a small scale farmer based in Kashitu community. Felix is 32 years old and has 7 children, five of whom are in school, while the other two are still too young to start school. Felix is one of the hard working farmers who has been receiving agricultural support since 2010. In the 2010 - 2011 farming season, he received 15kg of beans and a 50kg sack of sweet potato vines.

From that initial 15kg of beans he managed to harvest 350kg. He sold 300kg for $360, and kept the remainder to feed his family and to have seed to plant for the next season. From the sale he managed to buy 3 pigs for $50 each. He also spent $56 joining a cooperative so that he can get subsidised fertiliser to allow him to grow maize, a staple food in Zambia.

The rest of the money he used to buy clothes for his family, vegetable seeds and a treadle pump. The treadle pump helps him water his vegetables in the garden. These include tomatoes, cabbage, onion, rape and impwa (wild egg plant). The garden has again helped Felix in meeting his most immediate needs such as paying for his school going children, buying school equipment (uniforms, books, pens and pencils) and for other household goods.

In the 2011 – 2012 farming season, Felix received 15kg of seed out of which 10kg were groundnuts and 5kg beans. From the 10kg of groundnuts he received, he harvested 215 kilograms of unshelled groundnuts. He is so thankful to the project for empowering him with seed farming techniques and is ready to take up responsibility for his livelihoods. He has kept enough seed for the 2012 – 2013 farming season and is one of the farmers who will not get seed for the next farming season.

He said that before the project came to his community, he used to have a lot of problems in making ends meet in terms of providing enough food to his household. He even said that the little they could harvest would not last until the next farming season. Today, he is able to pay for his children’s school fees and buy decent clothes, something he could not manage do before. He further encourages other farmers in the community to work hard so that they remain better than they were before the project started in terms of food security. He really thanks God for this project and the entire staff who have made it possible that the needy (poor) people in the communities are empowered in food security and livestock.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Meet the Academy - Villu Vares

I am Villu Vares, 24 years old and I´m from Estonia. My passions are photography, video and design. I´ve been a Christian for almost my entire life. I was introduced to Jesus when I was 3 years old and since then I´ve atended to sunday schools, alpha and many youth groups at or church in Kuressaare. And now I had the oportunity to atend Kerith Academy to learn more about the Bible and to be part of the Kerith Church family.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Week in Zambia

On Sunday afternoon I'm flying out to Zambia with Andy Jackson, Zoe Hayes and Howard and Elizabeth Reece-Smith. Andy and I fly back the following Saturday, the others stay a little longer. We're going out there for a number of reasons:

  • To spend time with Sam and Hannah Fairs-Billam, who have moved out to Lusaka (the capital of Zambia) for a year to set up a child protection policy in partnership with the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ). You can catch up on what they're up to here. It will be great getting to spend time with them, and catch up on all that they're doing.
  • To meet with the senior leaders in EFZ to discuss what we do beyond the end of year 5 of the Serenje project. We'll also be meeting up with Bertha, who is the Tearfund country rep for Zambia and is going out to Zambia on the same flight as us. We had a great time yesterday at Tearfund talking though possibilities beyond the end of the project - hopefully I'll be able to talk about that more when we get back.
  • To travel up to Serenje and meet with the pastors and vounteers. It will be great to see our friends Bernard and Samson again - it was only this time last year they were with us for the GLS. It's always an incredible privilege to meet children who are now back in education, families who now know where their next meal is coming from and community leaders who now feel a sense of hope about the future because of what we've done.
  • To make sure the dormitory gets built as quickly as possible. It has been held up over getting planning permission - please pray that we have success in overcoming that hurdle and moving it on and getting the girls in there.
  • To top up our tans before the winter! Not really, but it will be the hottest month of the year in Serenje, so we'll be thinking of you as Autumn sets in here :)
I'm going to try and blog and tweet whilst we're out there (bizarrely it can be easier to get a 3G phone signal in Serenje than in Bracknell).

Please be praying for us, for the families we leave behind, for all the people we'll be meeting and especially for progress in getting the dormitory built.

Simon.

 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Barn - An Amazing Answer to Prayer

Those of you who have been at the prayer meetings over the last year will know that we've been praying for office space away from the Kerith Centre to move the staff to. This is for four primary reasons:

  • Our growth in Sunday numbers means we have run out of space for children's work on a Sunday, particularly at the 11am meeting. We want to use the space freed up in the Kerith Centre to do children's work on a Sunday, and in particular to run separate teaching for years 5 and 6 (the 10 and 11 year olds).
  • We have also run out of space to run courses midweek. Freeing up the offices will provide us with more space to run courses and small groups during the week, as well as giving us more break our rooms when we run conferences and other events.
  • The current office space is completely full, especially with the addition of 15 Academy students this year and the hope to have more in future years.
  • As we look to become a multisite church meeting in multiple locations, and doing social justice in each of those locations, having an operational hub which is more central to all those locations makes a lot of sense.
Well our prayer has been answered in an amazing way, with Tony and Elizabeth Pudner offering us the use of The Barn, which is the office adjacent to their house on the outskirts of Bracknell and Wokingham. Initially we will have use of The Barn for a year starting from November. I can't tell you how grateful I am to Tony and Elizabeth for their incredible generosity and faith, and to God for providing us with the next thing we need to allow us to continue to grow and to flourish as a community.

The plan is as follows:

  • A number of the staff will be staying at the Kerith Centre, primarily the receptionists and the facilities team.
  • Through November the Creative Arts team (all the music, video, print media, website and production people) will move to the Studio, the building in the Kerith Centre car park. This will become a creative arts hub, with a recording studio / practice room upstairs.
  • Also through November and Decembr the rest of the staff will be moving over to The Barn, which will become the operational base for everything which happens at Kerith.
  • Once everyone has moved out we'll start work on converting the Kerith Centre offices to rooms which we can use for kids on a Sunday and other ministries midweek.
I know this will raise a load of questions, to which hopefully over the next few weeks we'll provide some good answers. Please feel very free to ask those questions, either to me or someone else on the team. For now can I just encourage us to be thanking God for this amazing answer to prayer.

Simon.

ps - I've included some more photos of The Barn below - God is good!

 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Meet the Academy - Marta Lingytė

Hello everyone!
I am Marta Lingyte, I am from a beautiful country in northeast of Europe called Lithuania.
I'm nineteen years old and I've been amazingly blessed with a christian background since childhood.
I was involved in worship and youth ministries in my church and my desire is to work with it in the future.
Energy , positive attitude and sociability are the features that I like the most in me and I consider those as wonderful gifts from my Heavenly Father!
I came in England in order to have foundational year, to discover Gods will, to learn how to serve people and to learn about leadership in church.
It is a huge privilege and blessing to be a student at Kerith Academy and I hope we will get a chance to meet and to work together for His Kingdom! :)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Meet the Academy - Siim Usin

Hey, I am Siim Usin. I come from an island in the Baltic sea within the borders of Estonia and am excited to be here and serve the Lord. I heard about the academy through the elders of my church. I believe that it is going to be a great year for me to grow in the Lord, work in His kingdom and find out where Jesus wants to lead me from here. I believe that it is God's plan for me to be here. Throughout the year I will be probably serving most of my time in the pastoral ministry. It is my first time in the UK. Looking forward to what amazing and wonderful things the Lord is going to be doing through me. May the Christ bless you all!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Meet the Academy - Arvydas Strazdauskas

I'm Arvydas, but you can call me RV, I'm 19 years old. I am from Klaipeda, Lithuania. I love music so it's easy to guess that I love worshiping God. I enjoy playing piano, guitar and flute ever since I taught myself to play them. Although music is my passion I am willing to become a doctor one day, so I'm very interested in medicine. I was saved when I was about 15 years old. Ever since I try to serve the Lord as much as possible. I can't imagine my life without God, it's just pointless to live then. I am sure that God has brought me here to Kerith Community Church for a reason, so I will try to give as much as I can to this amazing community. I thank Jesus for this possibility to meet you all and I feel so blessed by this privilege to serve for this church. Be blessed y'all!!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Peach and the Coconut - All Formats

Last Sunday was the last Sunday where we were giving away free copies of The Peach and the Coconut. From now on there are a number of ways you can get hold of a copy.

If you're coming into the Kerith Centre you can buy a copy from the resources area for £5.

If you live in the UK you can phone reception and order a copy using a credit/debit card for £6.50 including postage.

From anywhere in the world you can go to Amazon and buy the Kindle version for £4.49, or the print on demand version for £6.99, plus whatever postage you have to pay. These versions are slightly different in that the sentences which get repeated twice in the introduction in the version we've been giving away have been removed (no perfect books allowed!) and the print on demand version has a shiny cover rather than the nice matt cover on the ones we had printed.

Finally you can listen to the audio book version for free!

I hope that all makes sense. Now time to start writing the next book :)

Simon.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Meet the Academy - Ben Weeks

Hi, I’m Ben and I live in a small town called Yateley about 10 miles away from the Kerith Centre. I love to laugh and I’m generally happy most of the time that I’m awake!! I found out about the Academy course part way through my time at college and from then on, I knew that I wanted to spend my year doing that after college!! I’m so excited about what God is going to do with my heart and my life during this year and I know that my relationship with Him will be strengthened so much!! I have no idea about what I am going to do after this year but I know full well that God has got it in His hands already so I can just chiiiiiiiiill!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Meet the Academy - Gabrielė Bytautaitė

My name is Gabrielė Bytautaitė. I was born and raised in Lithuania. Two years ago I have finished LCC international university with a degree in business administration. During my years in university I have participated in Erasmus exchange program and have studied for a year in Brussels, Belgium. For the last two years before coming to the Kerith academy I have worked at Miesto bažnyčia (City church) as an administrator. Some of you might now previous year students Gita, Rūta & Kristina whom were from City Church and some of you might be acquainted with pastor Saulius Karosas.
This year I will be working as SLT Team Assistant. I hope that during this year I will learn a lot and will have great encounters with God.

Willow Booking Reminder

If you're thinking of coming to the Willow GLS at the special Kerith rate, it would really help us if you could book before 5pm on Thursday 27th September, as we need to send the names of the Kerith delegates to Willow by Friday 28th (you can still book after the 27th but it just creates quite a bit of extra work for everyone).

Just as a reminder if you're part of Kerith (however loosely you want to define that) you can come to one day of the conference for £25, or both days for £35. In addition, if you want to come to both the conference and the business and community leaders breakfast I'm hosting on the 2nd November you can come for a combined price of £45.

You can book with a credit or debit card by phoning the Kerith reception on 01344 862699, or by cash or cheque if you come to reception in person.

If you're wavering over whether or not to come then just come! I've already seen it once live in August, and can't wait to get to see the whole thing again. Pick up the phone and make that booking :)

Simon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes - Kenneth Bailey

Those with good memories may recollect that a while ago I recommended another of Kenneth Bailey's books "Finding the lost cultural keys to Luke 15". Well I want to even more strongly recommend people getting hold of a copy of this book - "Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes ".

In it Kenneth Bailey looks at the whole life of Jesus, taking subjects such as his birth, his attitude to women, his parables and his teaching on prayer, taking away our Western understanding of what Jesus said and did and putting it back in a Middle Eastern context.

It's the sort of book which you can dip into and out of, with each chapter standing on its own. That means that although it's quite a long book, over 400 pages, you really can read the chapters on any order which takes your fancy (at least that's what I'm doing!).

I found that on pretty much every page there is something which challenged or changed my view of Jesus, helping me to understand just how radical and counter cultural he truly was. Although I wrote most of "The Peach and the Coconut" before getting hold of this book, it reassured me to find that Jesus was even more peachy than I'd understood him to be. In particular understanding how radical in a Middle Eastern culture Jesus was in the way he treated the woman caught in the act of adultery (chapter 17), the woman who anointed his feet (chapter 18) and Zacchaeus (chapter 13) spoke to me deeply.

Some of the sections on literary styles may seem a bit confusing (they are to me at least), but the stuff which sits around them is absolute dynamite! I'd recommend everyone who has read the gospels and has a reasonable understanding of the life of Jesus to get a copy of this book and to devour it, chapter by chapter.

There is often a copy of this book at the Kerith resources area. If not you can have a copy ordered, or you can get it from Amazon.

Simon.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Meet the Academy - Marlen Vali

I'm 19 and I am from Estonia. My home town is Kuressaare and it is located on the island and is smaller then Bracknell. I was saved 3 years ago in the summer camp and I was water baptized last year. My desire is to grow in Christ and to love Him with all of my heart. I enjoy doing sports like tennis, snowboarding, skating and I really love jogging here in LilyHill park. So many thanks for the possibility to be in Kerith Academy and in awesome church!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Meet the Academy - Joanne Rowe

My name is Joanne Rowe, and I am 40 years young. I first met Christians through a mother and toddler group, and soon came to realise that they had something I wanted! As a scientist (with too high an opinion of my own understanding!) I approached Alpha as an intellectual exercise, but our patient Lord took his time with me, bringing me people who could help me to reconcile all I knew about His creation with the truth of a Loving Father who is firmly in control.
In coping with a child with special needs, my polarised view of life has been widened. I feel God has used these experiences to humble my heart, and shape it for serving those who are feeling broken, or who struggle to feel accepted. Even in this fallen world, I am convinced that God provides enough of all we need: food, money, resources, love and affection – but it is often down to us to see that it is distributed as needed. I have come to Academy to clarify this calling, and to learn how to be more effective in serving His hurting people, and showing them that NOBODY is beyond the love of God.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Meet the Academy - Valentine Eluwasi


I was born in Zimbabwe and grew up there for the early years of my life. When I was younger I remember going to church regularly every Sunday however I aside from knowing he was my saviour I never pursued a personal relationship with him. When I moved into Bracknell in 2008 I started coming to Kerith and it was here that I was invited to "Friday Night Thing" now known as Life the Friday night youth event. Life helped me a lot in having this personal relationship with God and when I knew I was ready I got baptised. I am now on the Kerith Academy as I know it's year which is crucial to my growth in God.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Peach and the Coconut - Audio Version

We realise that many people prefer to listen to books, rather than to read them, so we've produced an audio book version of the peach and the coconut. You can find it either via the Kerith website, or here. You have the option of either listening to it online, or downloading it to your preferred flavour of MP3 player.

I want to say a huge thank you to Rosie Donnan who oversaw the recording and production of the audio book. Just having to listen to me read the entire book deserves some sort of award! Also to those who lent their voices to reading the chapter headings, Bible verses and personal stories - see if you can work out who the mystery voices are.

I hope you enjoy it :)

Simon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Meet the Academy - Heidi Perring

I am Heidi Perring, 18 years old and from Devon. I love Jesus, food, people, music and my bed! I heard about academy through a member of Kerith who I have known for a long time. I spoke of how I wanted to receive Bible teaching but be practical within youth work too and so he suggested I looked into Kerith academy. Everything just fell into place and I knew this was where God wanted me. I feel so blessed to be here and to know that God has marked out His perfect plans for me and that they include being in such a blessed place like Kerith Community Church!

Business and Community Leaders Breakfast & GLS

For a while now (several years if I'm honest) I've had a longing to try and equip people within Kerith who are leading, but in leadership roles in the market place rather than in church. That could be in a company, in a school, in local government, in a hospital, in a charity, in a local kids club or football team, anywhere you have responsibility for leading others. It could also be in a setting, such as in a sales role, where you may not directly line manage anyone, but indirectly you need to influnece a whole load of peole to get the results you want. It could be someone who is self employed. Or it could be someone with an entrepreneurial spirit, trying to start something from scratch.

Many of you will know that my background isn't in church leadership, but in electronics, designing computer chips for a whole range of different applications. I don't use too many of my electronics skills in what I do at the church (and I refuse to get involved in trying to fix the photocopier) but I do draw a lot on what I learnt about building businesses, about creating the right culture, about the need for a clear vision, about being honest and ethical, about the importance of hard work, about building and managing teams and about taking calculated risks in order to grow.

So here's what I've done. On Friday 2nd November I've booked a room at the Bracknell Hilton (the one by Sainsbury's) from 7.00-8.30 am to gather and equip Kerith people who are leading in the market place. There will be a full cooked breakfast, tea, coffee, orange juice and all that sort of stuff. For this first one I'm going to speak about my experience of seeing BlueArc, the company I've worked for over the last 13 years, go from a small venture capital funded start up to being acquired by Hitachi Data Systems last year. If this first breakfast works then I'd love in future to get other leaders in to equip and envision us.

Tickets for the breakfast are £15, available either from the Kerith Reception or by phoning the church office on 01344 862699. There are only 70 places available so please get in quickly if you want to come.

I'd also like to encourage everyone who comes to the breakfast to also come to the Willow Creek Leadership Summit on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th October. Having heard the talks live in August I can assure you it is brilliant - in particular the talks by Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni and Condoleezza Rice will give you enough leadership thoughts and ideas to keep you going for quite some time.

People from Kerith can book in to both days of the conference for £35, or one day for £25, again via reception or by phoning the office. However, if you book in to both the breakfast and the two days of the conference you get a combined rate of £45 - there's a bargain!

Hope that all makes sense, and I hope both of these are events which will serve you well.

Simon.

 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Meet the Academy - Pip Reeve

Hi! I'm Pip and i'm going to be working with CAP as part of Academy this year. I'm 22 and graduated from uni a year and a half ago. Since graduating, I've worked as a maths/economics tutor. I returned to the UK in July, having spent 6 months homeschooling 3 children in the Bahamas. I was a bit late too apply for graduate jobs and I really wanted to spend a year serving God and getting to know Him better. Kerith Academy seemed like the perfect place to grow in my relationship with Him and to have the opportunity to work with CAP. I've been coming to Kerith for about 5 years now but I've been at uni for a lot of that time so i'm keen to get stuck in and get to know lots of new people - please come and say hi :) I'm passionate about working with the poor and marginalised and I'm really excited about what God is going to do this year!

"Our Church" Media

Lots of people have been asking me where they can find a copy of the "Our Church" piece of media which we showed at the end of my preach on Sunday. Well you can now find it on YouTube here.

It is based on a similar piece of media from another church, but obviously using our people and some of the excuses people make for not coming to church in our context. Colin Boyle, Andrew White, Lee Rowbotham and Andy Emery have done a brilliant job of turning the initial idea into a reality - well done to all of them.

For me it brilliantly captures some of what it takes for us to be a peachy, welcoming community.

I hope you enjoy it - if you do why not share it with friends who may be using some of these excuses for not coming to church.

Simon.

 

Monday, September 17, 2012

2013 HTB Leadership Conference

This year a number of people went to the HTB Leadership Conference (HTB - Holy Trinity Brompton - is the church which started Alpha and The Marriage Course). The people who went got so much out of the conference that we've decided that next year we want to take a larger group of leaders, as well as all of our Academy students.

Because we will be booking a large number of people into the conference we'll get a group rate of £65 per person, as opposed to the standard rate of £115. We wanted to make sure that this rate is available to everyone in Kerith.

The HTB Leadership Conference is put on at the Royal Albert Hall in London, with the aim to build church and business leaders. The conference runs all day from Monday 13th - Tuesday 14th May 2013. In 2013 the speakers are Nicky Gumbel, Bill Hybels, Patrick Lencioni and Steven Furtick with more speakers to be announced (for more information about the conference see here). Videos and podcasts of this year’s talks (Rick Warren, Tony Blair, the Bishop of London etc) are online here).

We want to offer everyone in Kerith the opportunity to attend the conference at a significantly reduced rate. As I've already said the group rate per individual to the conference is £65 (compared to the standard rate of £115). If you would like to join us, we need to have your booking details and payment before 30th September. Booking forms are available at Kerith Reception on Sundays or during the week. Credit Card Payments can also be taken over the phone on the reception number 01344 862699. We know that tickets will sell fast and it’s allocated seating in the Royal Albert Hall so make sure you get your details to us before 30th September - after that you'll need to make your own booking.

Simon.

Friday, September 14, 2012

There Are No Strong People - Jeff Lucas

Catrina and I had the privilege over the summer of getting to spend some time with the author, speaker and broadcaster Jeff Lucas, and his delightful wife Kay. Jeff was a speaker at the One Event we went to, and did a talk on the life Samson which was not only highly engaging, but also had a very stong personal challenge, and was full of insights on how in many ways the struggles of Samson's life are the struggle every one of us lives with. The struggles with our brokenness, the struggle to deal with past hurts and failures, the struggle to overcome sin and temptation, the struggle to find our identity and the struggle to live out God's call on our lives.

This book is an expanded version of that talk. As a book it really spoke to me, and ministered to me. Especially the middle chapters on how God works through the mess and brokenness in our lives. I think it would be a great book for anyone going through a tough season of life, or anyone you may know who is wondering where God is in all that is happening to them.

Jeff is going to be speaking at Greyfriars Church in Reading on the 29th November, as part of his Seriously Funny Tour with Adrian Plass. If you're free then I'd thoroughly recommend getting along to hear him.

Simon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kindle Peaches

The Peach and the Coconut is now available on Kindle from Amazon, priced at £4.49. You can also write a review of the book there, regardless of whether you've read it on Kindle or in paper form. I'd love to hear people's comments, so please don't be scared to go public with what you made of the book if you've read it.

For the next two Sunday's we'll still be giving away free copies (and I'll be signing books for anyone who would like a signed copy). After that they'll be on sale from the Kerith Centre resources area priced £5, and from Amazon in both Kindle and paper format.

We're also doing an audio version which will be free to listen to from the Kerith website. I'll do a blog to let you know when that's available - hopefully in the next few days.

So far I've been really encouraged by the response to the book. If you picked up a copy last Sunday please can I encourage you to read it, and to let me have your feedback - both positive and negative. One of the things Shauna Niequist said to me when she was over was that your first book is your worst book - I want to make sure that if I do ever write another book it's an improvement on this one :)

Happy reading,

Simon.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Church Culture

I really enjoyed this "fireside chat" from Keith Hazell (although I was struggling to see the fireside), asking the provocative question "is your church a dinosaur?". I particularly enjoyed the section starting 12 minutes in where he talk about the need in our culture for people to belong before they believe - I seem to remember someone else talking about something similar :)

I hope those who managed to pick up a copy of the Peach and the Coconut on Sunday are enjoying it. If you missed out then come this Sunday and get your copy.

Hope you're having a great week,

Simon.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Great by Choice - Jim Collins & Morten T. Hansen

I'm a big fan of Jim Collins's books. He has a fascinating way of working, in that he and his team of researchers ask a big question, and then examine mountains of company data to try and find an answer. So for instance in his book "Good to Great", he and his team looked at what made the difference between good companies and great companies - what were the common factors which were shared by the great companies but were lacking in the good ones. Jim then has an incredible ability to take those results, and sum them up in easy to understand and remember ways which even people like me can grasp and put into practice. So for instance in Good to Great he identifies one of the differentiating factors as being "Level 5 Leaders" - leaders who lead with a combination of personal humility but steely resolve and passion for the organisations they lead. That sounds very much like how Jesus described leadership, and has been an inspiration for me as I seek to lead Kerith.

In this latest book Jim looks at what causes some companies to do really well in times of uncertainty and chaos, and why others struggle or even collapse. He starts off with an analysis of why in 1911 Amundsen succeeded in his quest to be the first person to reach the South Pole, and Scott failed (quite hard to read as an Englishman brought up to think of Scott as a hero who could do no wrong). He then draws a whole load of principles out, illustrated by that story but underpinned by all of their company research.

It's a superbly written book, nothing dry or dull about any of it, and I think the principles he brings out will become part of our language as we grow as a community. Concepts such as "the twenty mile march" (try and achieve the same amount every day, week or year regardless of how good or bad the conditions are) and "fire bullets, then cannonballs" (take small experimental risks before betting everything on what could be a big risk) have lots of relevance for where we are going as a church, and in particular as we develop a multisite strategy.

I know that some struggle with whether we should apply business ideas to church life. For me it comes back to the eternal question of the tension between the soverignty of God and human responsibility. At the end of the day we know that it is only God who produces genuine growth, and that unless God builds the church we labour in vain, but at the same time we have a responsilibilty to create an environment where that growth can happen. If we can learn things from people like Jim Collins then it seems to me it would be sinful not to.

So I'd encourage both business and church leaders to get hold of a copy of this book, and apply it to your situation. Also book in for this years GLS where you can hear Jim talk all about the book - more details on this to follow.

Happy reading!

Simon.