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.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Multiple Book Signings

This week we've got not one but two book signings going on :)

On Saturday from 11am Ian Hay, who is a part of Kerith, will be in the Kerith K4 shop in Bracknell Town Centre signing copies of the latest books in his "from the air" series. Ian has kindly donated several boxes of his books: South west England from the air: London from the air; Football grounds from the air and Railways from the air. Ian has been a professional aerial photographer for over 20 years and authored 17 books. Before setting up his own business Ian worked with the metropolitan Police helicopter Air Support Unit taking video and still photographs. Please come along if you'd like to buy one of Ian's breathtaking books.

Then on Sunday we're going to be giving everyone a copy of my one and only book - The Peach and the Coconut! I personally find the whole book signing thing quite embarrassing (given my one experience so far of doing it), but will press through that to sign anyone's book if they'd like that. I'll also be preaching on what the peach and coconut concept is all about, and how it relates to the sort of church we are trying to become.

If you're the sort of person who likes having signed copies of books (and I have to admit that despite my reticence over signing books I love having books which other authors have signed) then this is the weekend for you :)

Simon.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New Academy Students

Today (Tuesday) we had this years Academy students with us for the first time. There are fifteen of them in all, each giving a year to both serve in Kerith and to receive theological and leadership training. Some of them you will know, others are completely new to all of us. Three of them are from Estonia, three are from Lithuania, one is from Devon and the rest are from Kerith.

They're a great bunch. Hopefully fairly quickly you'll get to know those who are new to us through their serving areas, or saying hi to them on a Sunday, but to help the whole process I've asked the students to each write a short biography which I'll publish over the next few weeks.

Please be praying for them all, invite them into your homes for meals, and generally help them feel very at home here :)

Simon.

Finance and Salvation Prayer Meeting

After a break for the summer we'll be meeting again to pray for money and for people to be saved starting this Thursday morning from 6-7am in the Kerith Centre.

Those who know me will know that I'm really not a morning person, but I'm convinced that over the last year the prayers we've prayed at this prayer meeting have been at the heart of much we've seen God do, both in the life of the church and in the lives of individuals who have been going. Can I encourage you to come along and pray with us.

Simon.

Monday, September 3, 2012

LIFE Vision Night

On Friday 7th September from 7-9pm there is going to be a LIFE vision evening in the Kerith Centre.

The evening will be an opportunity to:

  • Hear some of the talent in our youth being showcased
  • Get a taste of LIFE, and the vision behind it
  • Hear Liam Parker and his dad being interviewed on how we build a multi-generational church
  • Have a lot of fun
The evening is for anyone wanting to find out more about all that goes on at LIFE, although I particularly want to encourage the parents of teenagers who come to LIFE to come along and capture some of the vision behind it all.

If anyone missed Liam's outstanding preach on God work through all the generations then I'd also encourage you to check that out. Interestingly Craig Groeschel preached almost exactly the same message at this years Willow Gobal Leadership Summit - I suspect he's been listening to Liam's podcasts :)

Hope to see you there on the 7th for what is going to be a great evening.

Simon.