Friday, October 31, 2014

Sunday - Somebody Tell Somebody

This Sunday Liam Parker is doing the next in our series based on his book on evangelism "Somebody Tell Somebody".

He's asked me whether we can do an interview where we'll ask each other questions about how we can share our faith more effectively. I've certainly got some very amusing stories of mistakes I've made! Liam and I have very different styles of personal evangelism, so hopefully it will help us see how we can each be true to how God has made us as we seek to talk to others about God.

We will also be giving out all the dates for our various Christmas events on Sunday. One of the most effective ways of sharing our faith, and one used by many of the early followers of Jesus, is to invite people to come and hear about Jesus. Christmas is a great time to be doing that. Please pick up some postcards to use as you invite family, friends and neighbours to the different things which we've got planned.

We'll also be sharing communion together at all four meetings.

It should be another inspiring Sunday. Hope to see you there :)

Simon.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

To Die is Gain

Starting on Sunday 9th November we're going to take three weeks to look in depth at the apostle Paul's incredible statement that:

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)

I think that many of us live with a sneaking suspicion that heaven might actually be a bit boring compared to the life we have now, all that floating around as disembodied spirits singing Tim Hughes songs for the rest of eternity! If we're really honest I think our focus is often on getting as much out of this life as we possibly can, rather than properly grasping what Paul had understood when he proclaimed "to die is gain".

I'm really looking forward to preaching the three weeks. I hope it's going to challenge lots of our assumptions about life after death, change how we do life before death and give us a different perspective on how we face up to the reality of death.

For those who like to know the plan the three weeks are going to look something like this:

  • 9th November - "to die is gain". What actually happens to us when we die, what is heaven like, and in what ways is it gain for us to die. We'll also be having a minutes silence as we remember those who have given their lives in the defence of all the freedoms we enjoy.
  • 16th November - "to live is Christ". How should we live differently on earth in the light of an eternity with God after death.
  • 23rd November - what can we do to make sure we "die well", and how do we cope with the death of people close to us.
What would really help me is to hear any questions you'd like me to answer in the series. If you have any then please get them to me via email, twitter, facebook, or pieces of paper thrust into my hands on a Sunday!

I hope all this talk of dying and what lies the other side of death has been OK for you. I know it's a subject that culturally we're not good at discussing or thinking about, and that for some both this blog and the coming series will raise some very strong feelings and emotions. My prayer is that this series would help all of us to have a truly different and overwhelmingly positive perspective on both this life, and the life to come.

Simon.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pure - The Final Installment

On Sunday we finish our series on living a holy life, looking at what it means for us to enjoy God's holiness. Ben Oliver is going to be speaking at all 4 meetings - don't miss what is going to be an excellent conclusion to the series :)

Also remember that on Tuesday I'll be reflecting on 7 years of leading Kerith, and looking forward to what the next 7 years might hold for us all. It starts at 7.45pm in the Kerith Centre with tea and coffee served - hope to see you there. If you can't make it we do plan to record it and make the podcast available but it would be great to have you there in person.

Finally don't forget the clocks go back on Saturday night - enjoy the extra hour in bed :)

Simon.

 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tribe of Judah Motorcycle Ministries

Some of you may know a guy called Patrick Smith (and his lovely wife Sarah) who recently became part of our Bracknell site (his mum delivered all our children, but that's another story!).

Patrick is part of Tribe of Judah Motorcycle Ministries, an international evengelistic outreach to outlaw motorcycle clubs. Founded in Texas by International President and Pastor, Ben Priest, over the past 30 years Tribe of Judah has spread all across the world - almost every nation where there are outlaw motorcycle clubs Tribe of Judah have followed.

In the UK Tribe of Judah has chapters based in Northern Ireland and the North of England. Patrick is currently the only member south of Manchester, he's praying that God will call new individuals to the ministry in the UK, particularly in the south.

On November 8th Patrick will be hosting the Tribe of Judah England prayer meeting in Bracknell. This is an open meeting and he wants to invite along anyone from Kerith who may be interested in supporting Tribe of Judah, finding out a bit more, or simply joining them in prayer. They're meeting in the prayer room in Bracknell from 6pm on Saturday November 8th, including a meal together. Please contact Patrick at pat@patricksmith.me.uk for more details.

I know that for many of us this is all way out of our experience, and our comfort zones! If so remember that Paul said "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22). Let's be thankful to God for people like Patrick, willing to do this to reach people very few others are likely to reach, and let's be praying for him and for others to join with him.

Simon.

 

 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My First Video Blog - 7 Years a Senior Pastor

I've had a go at producing my first video blog today - talking a bit about the 7 years a senior pastor evening I'm hosting next Tuesday - 7.45pm in the Kerith Centre. First of all I hope you can make the evening - if not we will record it but it would be great to have you there. Secondly I'd love to hear any feedback on getting a blog via video rather than text. I may have a go at doing it more if people find it a helpful format.

Hope you're all having a God filled week.

Simon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Volunteer Opportunity for a Safer Recruitment Administrator

If you would be interested in volunteering at Kerith on a regular basis (7-10 hours per week), and are a relationship builder with a real heart to serve people well, Ali Hudell who has responsibility for Human Resources would love to hear from you!

 

This busy and vital role involves the safe recruitment of both staff and volunteers from application stage through to obtaining references and DBS checks - all whilst keeping meticulous records. It is an administrative role and a keen eye for detail and strong communication and organisation skills are important.

 

If this sounds like something you’d enjoy doing, or if you'd like to discuss it further, please contact Ali on ali.hudell@kerith.co.uk - she’ll be very happy to chat and answer any questions you may have!

Thanks,

Simon.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Next Level - November Youth Event

Next Level is a youth gathering for all youth groups, hosted by Liam Parker and our amazing youth team. The passion behind Next Level is to give space for youth ministries to empower young people and get them trained up and pumped up for youth ministry.

The next event is on Saturday 15th November, and will run from 1pm-9pm. We'd love to extend an invite to youth teams from other churches to come along and be a part of this event - we've already got 13 youth groups engaged with us but would love to have more.

You can find all the details about the day, including the programme and how to let the team know you are coming, here.

If you're part of Kerith, but know of youth groups in other churches who could come along, then please invite them. If you're in another church then please make sure your young people don't miss this great opportunity!

Simon.

 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Andy Partington on Sunday

Andy Partington is preaching on Sunday at all 4 meetings in part three of our Pure series. This week we're going to look at how through us living holy lives the power of God can be released into our world.

Andy currently serves as the Director of Yeldall Manor (a Christian drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre Kerith works with quite extensively). He and his delightful family are preparing to move to Santa Cruz, Bolivia in order to launch Novō, a charity which will create transformational communities in developing nations – places where hurting and broken people can find healing, wholeness and hope. You can read more about all they're planning in their blog, and Andy will be sharing with us a bit of what he's going to be doing out there.

Please also be praying for Liam Parker and the team he's taken out to Estonia. They're helping to run a youth conference in the capital, Tallinn, where the Pentecostal church is gathering young people and youth leaders from across the city. Please pray for people to be saved, inspired, encouraged and sent out as a result of all that goes on.

Hope to catch you on Sunday,

Simon.

 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Prayer Meeting on Wednesday

A reminder that it's our monthly prayer meeting on Wednesday at 8pm in K2.

We'll be thanking God for the many exciting things which have been happening over the last few weeks, praying for what lies ahead for us as a church, praying for the nation and the nations, as well as enjoying being in God's presence and being with one another. What's not to like about all that!

There's no social justice prayer meeting beforehand - that's now moved to slots in the prayer room. You can both find when those are, and book your own time in the prayer room, by going here.

I really hope you can make it on Wedensday :)

Simon.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fostering and Adoption follow up

I know from the feedback how much people enjoyed hearing from Krish Kandiah from Home for Good, not only the truth he brought us about what it means to be adopted into God's family, but also the challenge to the church to model God's love to the world by getting involved in fostering and adoption.

Alan and Penny Lander are doing a great job of heading up our Kerith response to this challenge. I know a number of people have already contacted them, and some are even in the process of getting approved to either foster or adopt - all very exciting.

Talking to Penny recently there are two things going on she would like to highlight.

The first is that she met recently with the team from Bracknell Forest Council who are responsible for finding foster homes for childrern. They need another dozen foster families so that local children who go into care can be fostered locally, not having to be moved outside the area with all the upheaval and upset that inevitably entails. They are holding an informal information evening on Thursday 14th October 7-9pm at the Family Centre on Warfield Road, Bracknell - moe details here. Anyone who is interested can go and chat to existing foster carers and ask whatever questions they have - this is a great first step with no strings attached.

Secondly we already have families involved with fostering and adoption, with more people getting involved. As a church we want to stand alongside them - with meals, babysitting, helping children integrate into our kids work, giving whatever practical help these amazing people need. If you think you could be involved with this please email Penny at pennylander1@gmail.com to talk about it further.

Part of our call is to make the invisible God visible - this is one amazing way we can make that happen.

Simon.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I'd love to close our Foodbank

Our Foodbank is now five years old! Since it opened we've given food to over 2,000 different households in our community, with each household receiving on average 4 foodpacks (representing enough food for 12 days for that family group). We're currently seeing about 30 new households coming through our doors every month. I dread to think how many cans of baked beans have passed through our hands in the last five years!

In many ways the Foodbank has been hugely successful. God has given us an incredible opportunity to be a blessing to our community, to fulfill the command of Jesus to feed the poor, to raise up and equip an amazing team of volunteers (lead by the remarkable Pat & Geoff Hallett), to build stronger links with all sorts of organisations and groups across our community and to grow the reputation of Kerith. We've also had the joy of seeing many Foodbank clients become not just part of our church community, but more importantly coming into a relationship with Jesus.

But on the other hand whenever I sit in our Foodbank and talk to the clients coming in for food I wish we could close it. That we could deal with the reasons that people are in need of the Foodbank in the first place, rather than just meeting the need. That mums in our community wouldn't be missing meals so that they can feed their children. That elderly people wouldn't be making a choice between eating or turning on their heating. It just doesn't seem right that in first world, 21st century Britain we should have growing numbers of people relying on Foodbanks.

I heard someone say recently that if you keep rescuing people out of the river, at some point you have to go upstream and find out who is throwing them in! We're going to carry on pulling people people out of the river, but I feel that we also need to have a voice in trying to stop people needing a Foodbank in the first place.

To that end in place of our usual annual Foodbank Celebration, we've decided to mark the five years of the Foodbank by hosting a half day event at which all those engaged in fighting the causes of poverty locally could come together to look at what we are doing and at what more could be done to reduce the need for a Foodbank in Bracknell. This is going to be on the morning of Thursday 16th October.

Our keynote speaker is Imran Hussain, Head of Policy, Rights and Advocacy at the Child Poverty Action Group. He will speak on the national picture and the work CPAG has been doing in local communities and with Foodbanks. We will then have contributions from local speakers and a panel discussion.

We realise that this is only a very tentative first step in us beginning to tackle some of the causes of poverty. However, I feel it's an important one as we look for the church to be 'the head and not the tail' in making a difference. Please be praying for the morning and all that flows from it. And if you'd be interested in coming along, or know of leaders in our community who you think need to be there, you can register for the event here - you can also go there for more details about the morning.

Jesus said that the poor will always be with us. That's part of the sad reality of living in a fallen world. I suspect that means there will always be a need for us to feed the poor. However, that doesn't mean that we don't have a voice in dealing with poverty and speaking up for the poor, in fact it's one of the very things that should mark us out as Jesus representatives on the earth today.

Simon.

ps - There won't be any Foodbanks in heaven. Let's all pray for a bit more heaven on earth!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Willow GLS - It's not too late to come

One final reminder that we're hosting the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit on Friday and Saturday this week, and that if you're not already booked in it's not too late to get there.

For anyone who doesn't know what the GLS is, it's a leadership event where we show DVDs of talks which were originally given live at the Leadership Summit at Willow Creek church in Chicago in August. Although it's faith based and run by a local church, the talks are applicable to anyone in leadership. This year we'll have in attendance not only church leaders but also teachers and school heads, business owners, business leaders and many others.

Catrina and I have had great fun watching the talks over the last couple of weeks. The variety of speakers is incredible, including amongst others church leaders, a Hollywood actor and producer, a lady running the Inland Revenue for her nation, a guy who owns a car dealership and a Harvard professor. You can find a list of all the speakers here. You can find a list of all the speakers here. It is the best leadership training material I've ever come across, both in a secular setting and within the church, and I can't recommend it highly enough!

If you're part of Kerith then you can get in for £30 for both days, or £22 for a single day, by registering here.

Everyone else can book in via the Willow website here.

If you can't make it to Bracknell this weekend then there are other sites and dates available - just take a look on the website.

Even if (like me) you struggle to think of yourself as a leader, I promise you'll get a huge amount out of being there. Hope to see you there :)

Simon.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bereavement, Discovery & Release

If week 2 of Alpha on Wednesday, and hosting the Willow Creek GLS on Friday and Saturday, wasn't enough we've got three exciting things starting this week.

Discovery Worskshop starts on Tuesday at 7.30pm in the Kerith Centre. This course will help you to discover your spiritual gifts, passion and personal style. It's the course that finally convinced me I didn't have an administrative bone in my body! The course runs for 3 weeks.

Then also on Tuesday the Bereavement Course start at 8pm in the Kerith Centre. Its for anyone who has been bereaved, whether recently or dating back several years. It's a 5 week course.

Then finally on Wednesday evening at 7.30pm in the the Kerith Centre there's an information and awareness evening run by Andy Jackson about our new CAP Release Group. This is a new initiative to help people who are living with life controlling addictions.

More details on all of these are on our website.

Simon.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Josh & Nina Cleaver's Blog

You may remember a couple I blogged about recently called Josh & Nina Cleaver. They were part of our community for a short time, and have now moved out to Ukraine to work with YWAM.

Since getting out there they've started a blog, which is a great way to keep in touch with all they're up to. They've also got some fascinating insights on what is happening in Ukraine as a result of the conflict with Russia. You can find their blog here.

If you get time I'm sure they'd love some encouraging comments - it means to much to people who have moved to other nations to know that people are thinking of them.

Simon.

 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Graeme Paris

On Wednesday night I was at a meal to honour Graeme Paris, and thank him for the 14 years he has been running the Willow Creek Association in the UK. At the end of the year Graeme is returning to his native New Zealand, where he and his wonderful wife Helen are hoping to enjoy a slightly slower pace of life (although knowing Graeme I'll believe that when I see it!).

Graeme has been a remarkable servant to the church in the UK, enabling many churches in our nation to be impacted and changed through the input of Bill Hybels, Willow Creek, the Global Leadership Summit and the many leaders who have come to the UK to speak organised by Willow. He's also been a dear friend and supporter to many pastors in the UK, myself included. He will be hugely missed.

I think it would be true to say that Kerith has been impacted by what Graeme has facilitated as much, if not more, than any other church in the UK. Through events like the GLS and speakers who have come to us such as Bill & Lynn Hybels, Dr Henry Cloud, Erwin McManus, John Burke, Andy Stanley, Pete Scazzerro, James Emery White, Mindy Caliguire, Gordon & Gail McDonald and many others our church has been shaped, challenged and helped to become all it is today.

We all owe Graeme a huge debt of gratitude for all the sacrifices he and Helen have made over the years - please join with me in praying huge blessing on them both in this next season of life.

Simon.

 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Thanksgiving Sunday

Another Sunday approaches - as a preacher they seem to come round with frightening regularity!

This Sunday we've got thanksgivings at the 10am in Sandhurst and the 11am in Bracknell. It's always great to join with families as we thank God for children and pray for their future blessing. The children will be in for the thanksgivings at the 10am in Sandhurst and the 11am in Bracknell, and will then go out to their groups.

Liam Parker is going to be speaking at the 9am, 11am and 6pm in Bracknell and I've got the privilege of speaking at the 10am in Sandhurst.

In other news Newcastle United will be losing to some other Premier League team this weekend!

Hope you have a great weekend, and do everything you can to be part of one of our gatherings on Sunday - it will do you good :)

Simon.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Henry Cloud Reflections

We had an outstanding day yesterday with Dr Henry Cloud. For everyone who couldn't make it I'm really sorry you weren't able to be there.

Some of what he brought we'd heard before, such as helping us understand how we should relate to and help people depending on whether they're wise, foolish or evil. However, the more relaxed format we had gave much more time for Henry to unwrap these ideas at a greater depth than I'd ever heard before which was excellent.

Other material was completely new to me. In particular the session he did after lunch describing the church culture which is going to produce the life change we all long for (more like an Alcoholics Anonymous self help group where everyone is willing to own up to their brokenness than our traditional small groups) really resonated with me.

Catrina and I also had the privilege of spending some time with Henry and his delightful wife Tori. They're every bit as engaging and insightful in private as they are in public.

All the talks were recorded and should soon be available from Willow UK - I'll let you know when that happens.

If you missed Henry then please consider coming to the Willow GLS which is on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th October. If you're part of Kerith then you can get our special church rate by signing up here.

Simon.

ps As always our volunteers, staff and academy students did an amazing job of making the conference happen and making sure the delegates had an excellent welcome.