Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kerith Oscars

Well now the pretend Oscars over in Hollywood are out of the way, it's time to move on to the real thing - the Kerith Volunteer Oscar Celebration this Sunday evening.

I want to encourage everyone to come along, even if you're not an evening regular or yet a volunteer, for what is going to be a fun evening. Please aim to be in your seat by 7pm as the evening starts with an unmissable opener. Drinks will be served from 6pm, with popcorn available in the auditorium, and parking is at the college for everyone other than visitors, the elderly and disabled.

I know last year that some of you didn't enjoy being applauded and photographed as you came into the Kerith Centre, so we won't be doing that this year, although we will still hopefully have the red carpet again. If you did enjoy being applauded and photographed, come and see me and I'll personally applaud you and take your photo on my phone!

Hope to see you there on Sunday night.

Simon.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Just Do Something - Human Trafficking and Marriage

Often as Christ followers I think we get stuck. We look at the huge issues going on in the world today and wonder "what difference can I make". Sometimes when I feel like that I sense God saying to me "Just do something". You can't solve the problems of poverty in the UK, but you could buy an extra bag of rice this week and give it to the Foodbank. You can't solve all the issues in Africa, but you can give to Serenje and help make a difference in one small rural community.

Let me suggest two ways right now that you can just do something.

Firstly around the issue of human trafficking. It is estimated that around the world there are 27 million modern day slaves, many of whom have been trafficked from one country to another. It seems unbelievable that this is still going on over 175 years after slavery was outlawed in Britain, but it is happening even in our own nation. Organisations like Hope for Justice are doing amazing work to try to bring this to an end, but sometimes we wonder what we can do. Well Matt Redman has written and recorded a song called "27 Million" to highlight this issue. It's currently number 6 on the iTunes chart - if you want to help highlight the issue of modern day slavery then why not go to the iTunes store and buy it.

Secondly it seems in our nation that the whole concept of marriage is under attack, including the Biblical view of a marriage as being between a man and a woman. The Coalition for Marriage, who have been launched by amongst others the Evangelical Alliance, have set up an online petition to campaign for the keeping the existing view of what constitutes a marriage. I want to be really clear - this isn't about being against same-sex couples, who can get all the legal benefits of marriage through a civil partnership, but it is saying that there is something unique, and vital for society, about the Biblical understanding of marriage as a bed rock for the rest of society. If you want to do something about this, then go to the coalition website and sign the petition - its incredibly easy.

Just do something.

Simon.

 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gift Days for Reception Redevelopment

Those of you who have been at Kerith for more than six months will know that last summer we made some significant changes to the building.

The first was to improve the whole reception area to make it more welcoming. I love watching Foodbank clients and mums with buggies coming to Sparklers no longer battling with the front doors, or peering through the darkened glass trying to work out if anyone is in the building, but instead being greeted by doors which open as they walk up to them. I love seeing people coming in all through the week leaving food in the Foodbank drop off area, and people who would feel too timid to ask at reception picking up leaflets from the information stand. I love how much more welcoming the new reception desk is, that we no longer have to serve drinks from trestle tables on a Sunday, that we have a toilet which gives people with disabilities dignity and respect, seeing a range of books I'd be happy to recommend to anyone in the resources area and having the new Brook lounge which is finding more and more uses all through the week.

The second change was to move the tech desk from upstairs on the balcony to downstairs at the back of the auditorium, as well as putting in a digital sound desk. This has served the tech guys really well, upped the level of excellence we can deliver on a Sunday and at conferences, and improved the experience for everyone sat in the balcony.

Last year we raised over £200,000 towards the cost of all these changes, leaving £184,000 still to be raised. We were able to get that money as interest free loans from people in our church community, which was great as it means we don't have to pay any interest or bank charges on it. However, those loans need to be repaid over the next 18 months and so we're going to have a series of gift days to raise the money we need. We're going to have these gift days on the last Sunday of every month, starting this Sunday coming up.

I'll give you the loan repayment schedule in another blog, as it seems to have disappeared from my inbox(!), but I do know that the first repayments of £50,000 need to be made by the end of March. Please be thinking and praying about what to give, don't be under pressure about this, and remember that God loves cheerful givers. If you're not around this Sunday, or if it's simpler for you to give online, then you can do that here.

Thanks for reading, and hope you have a great day.

Simon.

 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Vision at the Prayer Meetings

This week we've got prayer meetings on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, starting at 8pm in K2.

We've felt to mix the prayer meetings up a bit this year, with a focus on different things each month. This will include one month dedicated to looking in more detail about they communion is all about, months dedicated to an evening of worship and months focused on a whole evening of prayer.

For this month I'm going to have an evening sharing vision, and then taking time to pray into each area I've shared about. There will be quite a bit I haven't yet talked about in blogs or on a Sunday, including progress on the goals for 2012, updates on our proposed office move, a finance update, thoughts on our plans for Christmas 2012 and some news on our international involvement. If there is time there will also be the chance to ask any questions you may have.

In a number of the areas I'll share about there are some decisions we need to make or things we're not sure about. For these I want to make space for us to hear what people sense God is saying to us prophetically.

If at all possible then please plan to be there on either Wednesday or Thursday, especially if you've never been to a prayer meeting before. Hope to see you there.

Simon.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Volunteer Oscars

Sunday 4th March is going to be a really exciting day. In the morning Tim Hughes, Director of Worship at Holy Trinity Brompton and the writer of songs such as Here I am to Worship and Happy Day, is going to be speaking at both the 9am and 11am meetings.

Then in the evening we've got our annual Volunteer Oscars, celebrating all of the amazing volunteers in our community. There will be a whole variety of awards, some silly and some serious, but all recognising the incredible contribution of all those who volunteer in so many different ways to make Kerith the church it is.

I'd therefore encourage you to plan to come both morning and evening on the 4th. Even if you're not currently volunteering, the evening will be a great opportunity to hear about what it means to be a volunteer in Kerith and how lives are being changed through all that is going on.

For anyone who would like to know about what volunteer opportunities are available, there is a whole new area on the website, with job descriptions for each of the areas where we are looking for volunteers. Please take a look, and if you're not already then choose to get involved - you'll get to meet some great people and who knows whose life will be changes because of your involvement.

Simon.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Freedom in Christ

If you were around at the Willow day when Pete Scazzero was with us recently, you'll have heard him talk about the importance of us dealing with our past if we truly want to live out the lives God has got planned for us. One of the most powerful things he did was to get us to draw a genogram, mapping out our family tree to help us begin to understand the patterns and influences from our past which have shaped who we are and how we react to different situations today. If I'm honest I stopped filling it in after a bit, as I realised some of the issues it was touching in me were so deep it could leave me incapable of telling everyone where to get their tea and coffee at the end of the session. I'm still very much a work in progress!

As I pastor the church I realise more and more that although we're new creations in Christ, and clothed with the righteousness of Jesus, we bring into that new creation so much of the old, and we can try and live out this relationship with God in our new spiritual family still being defined and shaped by our past and our natural family. Truly being set free from the past, and understanding who we now are in Christ, will transform not only our relationship with God but also every other area of our lives.

If I could I'd make it a requirement for every in our church to do the Freedom in Christ course at least once, and probably multiple times. It's a thirteen week course, inlcuding a day away, and I can't recommend it strongly enough. The course starts on Wednesday 29th February at 7.30p in K2, and is lead by a brilliant couple called Robert and Stacey Omokaro who you'll grow to know and love. 

You can read a few more details about it here, and can sign up for it on a Sunday or by emailing the office at info@kerith.co.uk - if you have any other questions then please just ask :)

Simon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In All Things?

 On Sunday we're going to be looking at our next Texts for Life verse - Romans 8:28 - "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

I find this verse both a great challenge and a great encouragement. A great challenge as to whether I can truly believe that God could really be using everything that has happened in my life for good - especially those events which I look back at and think "where was God in all that". But also a great encouragement, that if it really is true that God is working all things for good, then that can give me a whole different perspective on life and the events which come my way.

If you have time between now and Sunday I'd encourage you to spend some time meditating on Romans 8:28. You can do that by just finding a quiet place and spending time thinking on each group of words in the verse, talking to God and thinking about what those words mean, both in the context of the verse and in the context of your life. On Sunday I'll be breaking the verse down into these phrases:

  • And we know
  • that in all things
  • God works
  • for the good
  • of those who love him, who have been called
  • according to his purpose.

but please feel free to break it down any way you want.

It's actually going to be a sermon in two parts, with the second half three weeks later when I'll be speaking on 2 Corinithians 1:3-4 - "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."

It's going to be a powerful message, dealing with some gritty issues at the core of what it means to have a realtionship with God, so please be there if you can.

Simon.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Weekend Reading - Peach and Coconut

Many of you will know that I'm in the process of writing a book, The Peach and the Coconut, which will be a description of the culture we are trying to build at Kerith. In the end it will have around 30 chapters dealing with a whole range of subjects. About 20 chapters have been written, and are in the process of being edited, and the other 10 are in various states of completion. The aim is to try and get it finished by the summer ready for everybody to have a copy in September.

A couple of weeks ago I gave out two of the chapters, hoping to get some comments and feedback. I've had some really good responses, so thank you to everyone who has already got back to me. I thought it would be good to put the chapters out via the blog to see if anyone else would like to give some input. The chapters I gave out were the ones on money and tithing.

I realise it's quite hard seeing these chapters in isolation - in the next couple of months I'm hoping to be able to give out draft copies of all the chapters - but for now any comments on style or content would be very gratefully received. You can either leave them as comments on the blog, or email them here.

Thanks in advance, and happy reading,

Simon.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Canon Andrew White Conference Change

You may remember that I told you in a previous blog about a conference Canon Andrew White had asked us to host at the end of July. Sadly once Andrew's organisation started putting the conference together they found that the local hotel prices were all very high due to the dates overlapping with some minor event called the Olympics!

They've therefore decided to move the conference to September. Sadly the new dates didn't fit in with our diary, so the conference will now be held from Thursday 6th to Saturday 8th September at City Coast Church in Brighton. Let's be praying for Andrew and his organisation that the conference goes really well. We will continue to be great supporters of Andrew and all the amazing work he is doing, and hopefully we'll have him back in Bracknell sooner rather than later.

Rest assured that Julian Adams is still coming to us on Saturday 21st April - I'll have more details on how to book in for that soon.

Simon.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

David McAuley

 This Sunday David McAuley will be speaking at all three meetings. David is the Operations Director for the Trussell Trust which is the organisation behind the UK Foodbank Network, of which our Kerith Foodbank is a part. 

David spoke last year at the midweek event where we celebrated both the opening of the new reception area, and our Foodbank's second birthday. He spoke so well I wanted all of us to have the opportunity to hear him, so I'm really delighted he's going to be with us on Sunday.

David has a passion for justice, and for the church to practically demonstrate the love of God. He's going to be speaking on our next "Texts for Life" verse, which is Micah 6:8 -

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

It's going to be another great Sunday, and hopefully not snow affected :)

Simon.

 

 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

It's Snowed :-)

 There's a beautiful view out of our window this morning! 

We will be meeting today. I'm going up to church in about half an hour, hopefully to be met by a bunch of others, and we'll make sure all the paths around the Kerith Centre and K2 are as clear as possible. If you can make it safely to church this morning then please come as it's going to be a great day with thanksgivings and Sola preaching. We'll make sure there are plenty of hot drinks available as everyone arrives. However, don't take any risks and be careful in the car parks as we won't have time to clear all of them.

Please also be looking out for elderly and vulnerable people, both in our church community and in the streets where you live. Why not pop round, clear their paths and make sure they've got enough food and their heating is ok. 

Happy snowballing, and hope to see you at church.

Simon.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thanksgiving Sunday

 This Sunday we're going to be thanking God for a number of children in both morning meetings. Thankfulness is one of the signs of our spiritual maturity, so it will be great to take time to thank God for the gift of these children.

There will be a number of guests coming for the thanksgivings, and we seem to be in a season where others are visiting us for a whole host of reasons, so please get there early and be on the look out for guests to say hello to.

Sola will be preaching in all three meetings on this weeks "Texts for Life" verse Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through him who gives me strength". 

It's going to be another great Sunday - please don't miss it!

Simon.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Small Change for Big Change

 I realise that many of us do our giving to church via standing order, or some other form of online giving. I'd strongly encourage everyone who is committed to our community to do that, as it's regular giving which is the financial lifeblood of all we do as a community. That does mean, however, that if you're like me you never actually put anything in the offering baskets when they go round on a Sunday.

I've resolved this year to do something different, and as a statement of my thankfulness to God for all He has blessed me with, to put something in the basket every time it goes round (which for me will be three times most Sundays). We'll still do our regular giving as a family via standing order, this will be just a small something, just 50p or £1, above and beyond that. In reality over a Sunday that will still be less than the cost of the Latte I've just enjoyed, although the cumulative effect over a year could be large - if we all put in £1 every week that would be an extra £35,000 over a year. But the change I'm really looking for is not a financial one, but of thankfulness becoming a lifestyle for me.

So would you consider joining me in this statement of thankfulness, and of seeing small change make a big change.

Simon.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley & Pete Scazzero

 I'm sitting in Caffe Nero in town reflecting on a hectic but amazing two and a half days with Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley and Pete Scazzero. Far too much went on to write about it all here, but I wanted to reflect on some stuff and then post some photos to give those of you who couldn't make it a feel for what went on.

The last two days reminded me again that our buildings are an amazing blessing, which we must never take for granted. It is because of all the people who sacrificed financially for the building of the Kerith Centre and K2, and the leaders who had the faith and vision to give a lead in building them, that we are able to host events like this. Let's honour those who have left us with such a legacy. 

I was also so aware that we have the most amazing team of volunteers and staff who make it possible to run events like this to an incredibly high standard. There were over 60 volunteers making each day happen - a huge thank you to every one of you.

We also need to recognise that through events like these we are fulfilling our vision statement to contribute to local, national and international life. We had people there from all over the UK, as well as from a number of other nations, hearing life changing stuff. 

The two days were a remarkable contrast and went so well together. On Monday we heard principles and ideas from Bill and Andy which will force us to look out, to expand and to grow the Kingdom. Then on Tuesday Pete turned it around, reminding us that authentic growth can only come out of a place where we are deeply rooted and growing in our relationship with God and with others. I'd encourage people to get copies of Pete's books on "Emotionally Healthy Church", "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality" and his wife Geri's book "I Quit". We'll be reflecting on some of what Pete brought later this year as a church, once I've got round to implementing some of it in my own life!

Finally here are some photos - savour the look of the auditorium with over 700 people in it - the shape of things to come :)

Simon.