Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blog Sabbath

This morning we head off on our family summer holiday. This has been a significant year in the Benham household with Catrina and me celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, Zak turning 21 and finishing university (he got a 2:1), Jacob turning 18 and finishing his A levels, and Alice turning 16 and completing her GCSEs (Jacob and Alice are still waiting for their results). We've saved for quite a few years to have a special holiday in celebration of all this, and so today we fly off to the States for 4 weeks all together.

That means 4 weeks of no blogging, no Kerith or Hitachi email and a Facebook fast. This is therefore the last blog before we get back in mid August - how will you all cope?

Just to assure you that we've got some great stuff planned for the next few Sundays.

On the 20th July we'll be starting a once a month series based on Liam Parker's excellent new book "Somebody Tell Somebody", equipping all of us to share our faith more effectively.

On the 27th July Sola Osinioki will be wrapping up our "Breathe in, Breathe out" series on the work of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday 3rd August sees the start of a new 4 week series on spiritual disciplines, with Ben Pocock kicking it all off.

On the 10th August Ben Davies will be speaking at all 4 meetings on developing a private life with God.

Finally on the 17th and 24th August Lisa O'Brien and Andy Jackson will be splitting their time across the two sites, with Lisa speaking on slowing down with God, and Andy exploring what it means to think of your self less.

Hope you all have a great summer. We'll chat again in mid August!

Much love,

Simon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Willow Creek GLS - 10-11 October

Well this is my second from last post before the blog takes a summer break!

I'd like to encourage all of you to put Friday 10th and Saturday 11th October in your diaries. Those are the dates for this years Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in Bracknell.

If you're a leader in church, a leader outside of church or have even an ounce of desire to be a leader in the future then you need to be there for what will be some of the best leadership training you can get anywhere in the world.

As a host church we get a greatly reduced admission price of £22 for one day or £30 for both days. In past years you had to go to the Kerith Centre reception to register at those prices, but this year Willow have set up a special page for people from Kerith wanting to book in. You can find it here - we're going to rely on the honesty of people outside Kerith that they will choose to book in via the regular Willow website here.

Hope to see you there.

Simon.

 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ben Davies Interviews on Sunday

This Sunday I'm going to be interviewing Ben Davies at all four of our meetings. Many of you will know that after 43 years of leading Kerith, then almost 7 years of being an elder and trustee supporting me in my leadership, Ben is stepping down as an elder and trustee, although continuing to be very much involved in the life of the church.

I suspect that you'd struggle to find another church in our nation which has had the privilege of being served by one senior leader for 50 years in the same way Ben has. It was in the summer of 1964 that Ben, and his wonderful wife Mo, moved to Bracknell to become the first full time leader of what back then was Bracknell Baptist Church. The church we are today is unrecognisable from the church they came to all those years ago, for which we owe a huge debt of gratitude to both Ben and Mo for all the hard work, sacrifices, love vision, patience and many other things they have sown in to make that change possible.

On Sunday we'll spend a bit of time looking back and honouring Ben for all he has done, but I also want us to look forward to what the next 50 years might hold too. I'm also going to ask Ben to talk about our history in the Holy Spirit, and give him an opportunity to say anything he'd like to say to everyone.

We'll also be having communion together on Sunday. We've struggled over the years to find the best context for us to enjoy communion together - I'm really looking forward to us sharing it on Sunday.

Please come if you possibly can - God is going to be powerfully with us :)

Simon.

Ps - hope you don't mind the "selfie" of Ben and me on the way to Willow GLS last year!

 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

REAL Talks and Offering

All of the talks from our REAL women's conference are now up online, including the interviews and the Q&A with Catrina, Shauna Niequist and Philippa Hanna. I'd encourage everyone in our community to listen to them - especially the men! One of the things I appreciated about this years conference was that all the talks were just as applicable and relevant for men as they were for women and I'd really encourage guys to listen to them too!

I also saw the total for the offering at REAL yesterday - we raised £2,173 (with a little bit of Gift Aid still to come in on top of that) which is brilliant. All of that money will go to funding women from other nations to attend Kerith conferences - in fact there are already two women, Sonja and Karolina from Serbia, who are being funded from the offering to come to the Willow GLS in October - hopefully you'll all get to meet them. Thank you to everyone who gave.

REAL now takes a bit of a break (in the Benham household at least) until the Autumn when planning for REAL 2015 will start in earnest. Put the dates in your diary and let's be praying for another life changing couple of days for the women in our community (and through them the men!).

Simon.

 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Kerith Kids Reflections

People often ask me if I get nervous before speaking on a Sunday. The reality is that yes I do, but I was far more nervous last Sunday as instead of speaking to adults I was speaking to four different groups of children on our Bracknell site. Terrifying :)

Despite my fears it was absolutely brilliant to see what goes on with our children. I do try and pop into our kids work on a regular basis on both sites, but it's usually either before the children get there or just sticking my head around the door once it's started. It was so inspiring to be in there for a whole morning and see what goes on in it's entirety.

Reflections I had were:

  • It's such a privilege to be in a church community with so many children. I heard a statistic recently that over 50% of the churches in the UK don't have anyone under the age of 18 in them - we're so blessed that the opposite is true for us. Not only do we have so many children but we must also be incredibly grateful for the way God is growing them and moving in their lives. They're developing into a remarkable generation.
  • We have an amazing team who serve the kids week in week out. Quite a number of the team were there at 8.20am when I turned up and still there at 1.30pm when we finally finished clearing up. Their commitment to the kids is remarkable.
  • We need more volunteers! Volunteers with all sorts of skills from holding crying babies, teaching, leading worship, hoovering, setting up computers, setting up rooms and much more. But all of whom have a vision for the lives of children being transformed through a relationship with God. If you'd be interested email our children's pastor Lydia Harris-Lane at lydiah@kerith.co.uk - she'd love to hear from you!
It was a brilliant morning, and I'm now trying to find a slot to speak to the children in Sandhurst, as well as getting back to the kids work on our Bracknell site sooner rather than later.

Simon.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Henry Cloud in Bracknell

I'm really excited that on Wednesday 1st October clinical psychologist Dr Henry Cloud is going to be with us at the Kerith Centre in a Willow Creek hosted event.

Many of us have hugely benefitted from Henry's teaching at the Willow Creek GLS over the last few years, as well as being helped by his many books. In particular his book Boundaries has been hugely helpful for me as I try and learn when to say yes and when to say no in my own life, and how not to get overrun by the demands and expectations of other people. Anyone who listened to Shauna Niequists final session at the REAL women's conference will have heard her take on some of his teaching.

If you want to see Henry in action, get more details on the conference and book in then please take a look at the Willow website here. If you need the Kerith login details to get the members rate (and you're a part of our community!) then email reception at info@kerith.co.uk to get them.

I realise that this event is only 9 days before we host the Willow Creek GLS (more details on that, and a special Kerith rate, soon). If you can only make one event I'd tentatively suggest prioritising the GLS, but if at all possible please think about coming to both events - I promise you won't regret it.

Simon.

 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Look Ahead Job Opportunities

Our friends at Look Ahead, which in Bracknell is headed up by our very own Mark Jolly, have some job opportunities for Personal Support Assistants. You can find all the details here.

If you, or anyone you know, would be interested then please contact Look Ahead directly.

Simon.

 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Summer Holiday Idea - The ONE Event

If anyone is still searching for summer holiday ideas please can I suggest you think about coming to the ONE Event, which runs from the 22nd-26th August at the Lincolnshire Showground. You can read all about it here.

Catrina and I have gone along for the last two years and have thoroughly enjoyed it - it's a relaxed mixture of great teaching, inspiring worship and lots of time to spend with other people - much like the Stoneleigh Bible weeks for those who went to any of them. It's all organised by my good friend Stuart Bell and his Ground Level Network, with speakers and input from all around the UK.

I spoke there for the last two years, and will be taking a leadership seminar this year, and both last year and this year Liam Parker and some of our youth team have been involved in the excellent youth events that go on. Last year we were also joined by a number of Kerith families who had a great time too.

If you would like to book in then you can do that here. I realise that it's late to be booking in and we've missed all the early bird rates. However, Stuart and the team have very kindly said people form Kerith can book in at the early bird rates, which saves quite a bit of money. If you want to do that you'll need discount codes which you can get by emailing our reception team at info@kerith.co.uk and they'll send them to you.

Hope to see you there. If you're planning on going please let me know so we can be sure to meet up!

Simon.

 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Finance Prayer Meeting Changes

On the 28th June 2011 I wrote a blog saying that we were going to restart the finance prayer meeting at 6am every Thursday morning - a prayer meeting which we'd had years earlier when we were building and paying for the Kerith Centre.

Initially the prayer meeting was restarted so we could pray for the £250,000 required to redevelop the Kerith Centre reception. Since then it's become for me one of the key times in my week, and we've seen some huge answers to prayer in relation to both money and buildings. These have included:

  • The £250,000 required to redevelop reception and the tech desk
  • Over £200,000 raised for the main Serenje project
  • Over £200,000 raised for the Serenje girls dormitory
  • £100,000 raised to launch our Sandhurst site
  • £50,000 to improve the Kerith Centre and K2, including the new auditorium carpet
  • Buying the K2 house, including raising £30,000 for the deposit and legal fees
  • Our reserves growing from nothing to over £100,000
  • The provision of the K4 shop, the Barn, Sandhurst school and the warehouse

I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones which immediately come to mind.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who's come and joined us to pray over the last 3 years. I realise that many of us who never made a Wednesday have prayed for the things I've mentioned above in church prayer meetings and at other times, and that for lots of people early on a Wednesday doesn't work, but for all who have made it I'm incredibly grateful.

I now feel it's time to make some changes to this prayer meeting.

First we're going to stop for the summer. The last gathering will be on Thursday 10th July, we'll start again on Thursday 4th September.

Secondly we're going to change the time. Not being a morning person 6am is a killer for me, especially if I've got a late meeting on Wednesday or Thursday evening, so we're going to move the meeting to a 7am start.

Finally I want to change the focus of the prayer meeting to be not just finance but "things the senior pastor would really like us to pray for" (I'll try and come up with a snappier version of that!). This will include finance but give us freedom to pray for a whole load of other things too.

Hope that all makes sense - if not please ask :)

Simon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Writers Wanted

One of the things I'm loving about the growing creativity in our community is the number of writers who are emerging. Not only through books, but in blogs, songs and many other expression of people producing creative writing.

Suzanne Whitton is one of our foremost bloggers, managing to get more comments on her blog in a day than I get in a year! She also heads up the writing team for our Kerith LinK magazine, and is on the look out for some new writers. She'd love to offer the following invite to you all...

Have you always enjoyed writing but never had the courage to 'go public'? Well perhaps now is your chance....

We are seeking new writers for our LinK magazine and in particular, some male voices. If you would like to put your writing skills to good use, then please come along to our first meeting for LinK 14, taking place next Monday 7th July (part of the monthly Creative Hub).

You will not be asked to write anything or commit to anything at this stage, it's just an informal brainstorming meeting in preparation for LinK 14 which is due to be published at the beginning of December.

We would love to see you upstairs in the Kerith Centre from 7.30 pm onwards. If you are planning to come along then please drop me an email at suzannewhitton@hotmail.co.uk

Suzanne

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

REAL Reflections

Well it's not often I get to spend a couple of days with over 500 women and only a handful of men for company, but that's what happened to me as I attended our REAL women's conference! There's so much I could say about what was an outstanding gathering, but here are just a few of my thoughts in no particular order.

First off although it was a women's conference the teaching we heard from Catrina and Shauna Niequist was excellent, and would have been as relevant and life changing for men as much as for women. We're hoping to have all the talks up online by the end of the week - once they're up I'll link to them and would like to encourage everyone in our community to listen to them.

Secondly to say how proud I was of our church. The army of volunteers who worked incredibly hard both before, during and after the conference to make it all happen, the staff and academy students who went way above and beyond what might be written in any job descriptions, all combining to produce an event which blessed not only the women of our community, but had a much wider impact with women from churches all around the country as well as other nations being inspired, encouraged and set free.

Thirdly to say how proud I was of my wife. There's a unbelievable amount of effort which goes into organising a conference on this scale and she did an amazing job of pulling it all together. I'm now looking forward to having her back :)

Fourthly the realisation that for all our planning, organisation and attention to detail all that we're ever doing is creating an environment where God can do what only He can do. He is the one who changes lives and sets people free - it was wonderful to see Him doing that all through the conference.

Finally it was excellent having Philippa Hanna there - it's the first time at REAL we've had a singer / songwriter with us and it added yet another dimension to what was already an amazingly creative event. We must never settle with anything we do but always be open to new ideas and ways of doing things.

I'd really encourage all the women in our community, as well as any women reading this from other churches, to book in now for REAL 2015. It's going to be on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th June with our great friend Priscilla Reid from Northern Ireland already confirmed to be with us. There's a big reduction in price if you book in before midnight on Friday 4th July so why not buy a ticket for yourself and some friends - you can get tickets and find all the other details here.

For anyone who missed it our media gurus produces a great highlights real - if the player below doesn't work you can find it here.

Hope to see you there (even some of the men who can come and keep me company) in 2015.

Simon.