Friday, February 26, 2016

Guest Blogger - Becca Taylor on prayer

Some inspiring thoughts on prayer from Becca Taylor. She's called it "How to get started in prayer" but there is wisdom here that can help all of us go deep in our prayer conversations with God.

Enjoy :)

Simon.

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

How to get started in prayer

I’m a Mum. On 5th October 2012 I gave birth to my first daughter and, like so many others, the experience of becoming a mother changed me in all sorts of ways. It changed how I see God, how I see church, how I see life and friendship and priorities and time and prayer.

So often I look at myself and feel as if I haven’t done enough, been enough or come up to scratch when it comes to my prayer life. It’s easy to slip into beating myself up about the lack of praying I do.

There’s just one thing that stops me:

Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Jesus wanted the children, in all their immaturity and childishness to come to him. He goes on to say that we must become like little children if we want to enter the kingdom of God. When I pray He wants me to come as a child, in my unfinished, unpolished, imperfect and immature way.

My youngest daughter is 17 months old, she has the most charming cheeky little smile and she is picking up words left, right and center. I love hearing her learn new words and new ways of expressing herself. Often I will try to get her to repeat the funny things she says or does over and over to my husband or friends or family members. I delight in her communication. I delight in it even if to anybody else her words sound like gobbledygook. I delight in her funny little facial expressions and her mispronounced words and her pride when she makes herself understood.

I think God’s like that, a proud parent, delighted when his children learn to communicate with him, even if it sounds like gobbledygook to anyone else. So I’ve given up on condemning myself over prayer. Instead, I choose to picture myself in the place of my daughters, reaching out to the perfect parent, Father God, offering whatever I have to give right now in the very moment I find myself in. Sometimes that looks like a chilled time of prayer sitting on my bed, offering my day to God, other times it looks like a letter I write to Him. More often it sounds like “ God give me patience” through gritted teeth as I muster every ounce of self-control to stop myself being harsh with my toddler. Some days it looks like a list of thank yous, offered up over hours, or a prayer typed into whatsapp in response to a friend’s request or a plea of mercy in response to yet another crisis in the news. And other days it’s a repentant sorry I’ve finally whispered after swallowing my pride and allowing the Holy Spirit to convict me.

Prayer is diverse and organic and real. It changes from day to day and season to season. That’s ok. Actually it’s good.

The point is not so much how or what or where we pray. It’s this: Father God invites us into his presence when we make ourselves like little children and just come to Him with whatever prayer we can offer. He welcomes us with arms wide open and whispers to us “you’re welcome here. I love your prayers. I hear you and I have a place for you in my heart.”

And so, with that in mind, let’s draw near to God, however we find works right now, in the various life circumstances we find ourselves living. Let’s offer up sorrys and thank yous and pleases with sincerity and open hearts. And let’s enjoy God’s delight in us as we learn to communicate with Him.

 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sunday - Water, Thanksgivings & Prayer

On Sunday morning we're looking at the fifth sign in John's gospel, Jesus walking on water and calming the storm. Why not take a moment now to read the story below and get yourself familiar with it before Sunday.

“When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, ‘It is I; don’t be afraid.’ Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.”

John 6:16-21

We'll also be having thanksgivings for children in all three morning meetings, so come ready to celebrate with all the families involved.

In the evening we've got time for prayer and worship in Bracknell, Sandhurst and Windsor. This will be the first time we've gathered together people who might be interested in what we're planning to do in the Windsor / Maidenhead area which is very exciting. All three meetings will start at 6pm with drinks before (there's even the promise of cake in Windsor!). The Bracknell meeting will be in the Kerith Centre. Sandhurst will meet in the library at Sandhurst School. In Windsor we're meeting at Windsor Hall, Ruddles Way, Dedworth, Windsor SL4 5SJ. Please do whatever you can to be at one of these gatherings, ready to meet with God and with one another.

Hope to see you on Sunday,

Simon.

Next Level Hexagon - Saturday 12th March

It's just over two weeks now until our young people take over the Heaxagon in Reading for an event which they're inviting young people from all across Berkshire and the surrounding area to take part in.

Liam Parker, our youth pastor, has a huge heart to help other youth groups experience the same sort of growth and impact we have seen with LIFE, and for a real unity amongst youth groups rather than seeing themselves in any sort of opposition. Putting on this event in such a well known venue represents us stepping out in a big way to try and make that dream a reality.

Please be praying for the whole team as they put this event on. We've already got close to 400 people booked in, and the team have an inspiring program planned for the day. Please pray that in all that God meets powerfully with young people, both individually and as communities, and that they're so touched by God that they go back and make a difference wherever they come from.

We've also stepped out financially in terms of underwriting this event as a church. We wanted to keep the ticket prices really low so anyone who wanted to could be there, but that does mean that the ticket sales won't cover our costs. We're very happy to do that, but if any individuals out there would have a vision to stand with us in meeting the costs that would be great - please just get in contact with me and I can give you more information.

All the details for the event are below. If you know of any young people, or youth groups, who could possibly be there please pass on all the details to them and encourage them to be there.

Very exciting,

Simon.

 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Academy Student Accommodation - could you help?

This year we are looking to develop and grow the Academy, advertising it nationally, in order that we might serve incoming students from across the UK as they seek to spend a year with us here around Bracknell and Sandhurst. They will be serving in church ministry at Kerith, as well as studying Theology and Leadership as part of the Kerith Academy.

One of the biggest causes of stress at the beginning of this kind of year is finding accommodation for their time here, and we want to do what we can to help. We are looking to gather together a list of accommodation options and contacts for them to explore as they apply to join the Academy and move to this area. Do you have one of the following?

  • A room (or rooms) to rent in your house (whether commercial rate or cheaper)?
  • A house of multiple occupancy (multiple individual rooms) to rent (whether commercial rate or cheaper)?
  • A rent-free room in your family’s house that you are willing to let a student live in for their time on Academy?

It may be that the room(s) you have aren’t available currently, but may be available at some point in the future. If you do have rooms available now, or may do in the future, it would be great to hear from you! Please contact Ben Pocock who will be collecting these together in order for the students to get in touch if they are looking for accommodation in their Academy year.

The church itself won’t be responsible for finding the students accommodation, but we want to do all we can to help students as they seek to give a year of their life to develop their relationship with God, and their time to help develop what we do here at Kerith.

Thank you for your help! Let’s be praying for the future Academy students, exploring how they might spend their upcoming years ahead.

Simon

 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Generous Gift Days - Cinnamon Network

In November we had what we called our 'Generous' Gift Days, where the goal was to raise £100,000 to be given away locally, nationally and internationally. We actually raised just over £48,000, to which we've added around £12,000 which we'd budgeted to give away in 2015 but in the end, mainly because of timing issues, we didn't actually give away. That gives a total of just over £60,000 to give away - how exciting!

So far we've allocated £15,000 of that to be given away locally, £25,000 nationally and £15,000 internationally. I'll tell you a little more about the local and international giving in future blogs, but wanted to fill you in on the national giving here.

Nationally we chose to partner with Cinnamon Network, a brilliant organisation we've been connected with for quite some time now. Their aim is to make it as easy as possible for churches to help those most at need in their local community. They do this by promoting a wide range of different social justice initiatives, some of which we'll be familiar with and some which I suspect will be new to us.

Churches choosing to launch one of the projects will receive a grant of £2,000, which the church has to match, to help get the project up and running. They will also get training and other support to help make the projects a success. We received a £2,000 grant to help us set up our CAP Job Club. It's great to now be in a position to help other churches around the UK to set up their own projects.

It's obviously going to be a while before we hear the details of the actual projects which have been set up as a result of our gift of £25,000, but when we do we'll be sure to pass that information on as I'm sure it will be very encouraging. In the meantime I've included a copy of the thank you letter from Cinnamon below.

Finally to say that we'd still love to get to our original total of £100,000 to give away, which means we've got just over £39,000 to go. We're therefore going to have two more gift days on the 20th and 27th March to try and get us to £100,000. Thank you in advance for your continuing generosity!

Simon.

 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Guest Blogger - Jacqui Webber-Gant on Fasting

This Wednesday we're encouraging as many of us as possible to pray and fast us to find the right people to fill the three vacant roles we have within our kids work.

In the light of that Jacqui Webber-Gant has written some really helpful advice on fasting, on the benefits of fasting and how to practically go about it.

Whether you've ever fasted before, or if it's completely new to you, please consider engaging in some way on Wednesday. And longer term be thinking how you could build the discipline of fasting into your wider walk with God. It will do you good!

Simon.

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

Fasting

Fasting is a spiritual discipline. The spiritual element is that when we set aside eating food for a day or more we free up some special time to focus on prayer, worship and bible reading. This enables us to draw closer to Jesus. The temporary hunger pangs that we will experience remind us that we are putting our flesh through discomfort to enable our spirit to be fed. One time when the disciples were urging Jesus to eat the food they had gone some distance to buy Jesus told them that he had food to eat that knew nothing about and said, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work'" (John 4:34).

Jesus fasted regularly as a devout Jew. He had learned how to endure hunger pains to develop his character and faith. Jesus started his public ministry by fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. During this time he was tempted by the devil but he resisted and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He rebuked the devil who tempted him to turn stones into bread by saying 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.' (Matthew 4:4) This fast took place in the wilderness away from the hustle and bustle of commerce and family life. This fast was a foundation for the ultimate act of obedience Jesus made when he was arrested in Gethsemane, tried before his accusers, publically shamed then crucified taking the sin of mankind as He died in our place.

The discipline aspect of fasting grows with practice. Most of us eat three meals a day and possibly snack in between. We eat for pleasure as well as to nourish our bodies. Most meals are shared with the people we love the most and all of the very best times in life are accompanied by food. If you have never fasted before then I suggest you start gradually and see how you get on. Start by missing one meal and decide the hours that you will not eat. Replace that mealtime with a time of prayer and you may find it helpful to pray whilst you walk to keep focused. Use your prayer time to praise and thank God, to pray in tongues, to pray intercessory prayers asking God for the concerns on your heart. You could memorise a bible verse and use this as a basis for your prayers. Try to just drink water so that you really are sacrificing the pleasures of sugar as well as solid food. You may feel a bit light headed or crotchety but ignore that and keep going.

Gradually build the time that you can go and listen to your body. I find that I need to stop drinking caffeine a few days before fasting because caffeine withdrawal gives me bad headaches and it's difficult to pray and be happy with a headache. Jesus taught that fasting (Matthew 6:16-18) should be a secret between you and God and you should maintain a cheerful heart and demeanour. That means you need to decide when you are going to fast and for how long. It is helpful to tell your family members you are fasting so they are aware and can support you and not cook your favourite meal for you!

Try to maximise your prayer time. Fasting without prayer is really miserable, so look at your diary and find the time when you can pray on your own and with others and really give your attention to prayer.

I fasted a lot when my children were younger. I would prepare food for the family spend a bit of the mealtime with them, as this is a precious time of the day, then go for a walk or upstairs to pray. If you are feeling horrid then you probably don't feel like praying. Press through this to get to the reward.

I find fasting gives me clarity. I am more open to God's spirit. I am more aware of the spiritual battle we are called to fight. I am more sensitive to the needs of others and alert to the world around me and I grow in my love for Jesus and my need to be filled continuously with the Holy Spirit. I find I hunger for righteousness and find a deep and lasting satisfaction which is different to the satisfaction we get from eating.

Prayer and fasting is particularly powerful if you want to see a breakthrough. In Acts the early church prayed and fasted before appointing apostles and at times of key decision making. I remember the regular call to prayer and fasting when we were believing God for huge sums of money to build the Kerith centre and K2. We would gather for whole nights of prayer and this is where I learned how to do longer fasts. I have fasted and prayed for loved ones with chronic and life threatening illnesses.

Fasting is not dieting. Although there can be many health benefits from a period of fasting, the purpose is to get closer to God. Some people need to be very cautious when thinking about fasting. Those on medication, the young and the elderly and anyone who has had an eating disorder should consider a different approach. You may choose to give up chocolate, ice cream or puddings for a set time. You may find that you can manage a 'Daniel fast' of simple vegetables or just a small portion of bread and water.

Why don't you agree a day to fast with your small group? Book a time together to pray in the prayer room or go on a prayer walk. Perhaps you could babysit for someone so they can get alone to pray. Make a note of what God speaks to you and share this encouragement with others.

One of the best things about fasting is stopping. It makes you so grateful for the bounty and variety of food that God has given us. Never does a cheese sandwich taste so good!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Serenje Dormitory almost finished

I was very excited on Friday to get an email from Anne Mumbi, our Tearfund contact in Zambia, with an update on the girls dormitory. This is what she had to say:

------

Good morning!

I am so excited to let you know that the dormitory is almost done. I have attached a few pictures for you before final coating of painting that is happening this week.

The Matron, Mrs Theresa Mulenga, has been employed and has begun an engagement with the Schools (Boma, Ibolelo, Kambobe, Malwita and Miselo Kapika) to help develop a data base of the vulnerable girls coming from long distant places and currently renting spaces in Serenje. This will also help us develop a selection criteria.

Will send a detailed update of my recent trip.

Blessings!

Anne Vondo Mumbi (Mrs)

------

Let's be praying for these final stages of building and fitting out the dormitory, and for the selection process as the vulnerable girls to live in the dormitory are chosen.

For everyone who gave to the dormitory project please know that you are seeing some of the fruit of your generosity, a fruit which you'll only really get to measure in eternity where you'll get to meet the multitude of people whose lives were changed as a result of your giving. A great investment!

Simon.

 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Dave Latter's Funeral

I wanted to let you all know that the funeral for Dave Latter will be at 12 noon on Thursday 3rd March at Easthampstead Park Crematorium. Afterwards we will come back to the Kerith Centre for light refreshments and the opportunity to remember Dave in a more informal setting. I know that many of us will want to come together to thank God for Dave's life and all that he meant to us - if that's you then please consider yourself invited.

Please continue to pray for Dave's family and close friends, that this will be a time when they experience God's comfort in a very real and tangible way.

Much love,

Simon.

 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Sunday - Leon Johnson, Brian Heasley and me

On Sunday morning we're looking at the fourth of the seven signs, or miracles, recorded in John's gospel - Jesus feeding the five thousand. I'd encourage you to find the time to read the passage in advance, along with the later passage where Jesus talks about being the 'bread of life' pointing us at what the sign tells us about Jesus. Leon Johnson will be preaching in Bracknell at the 9am and 11am, and I'll be preaching in Sandhurst at the 10am.

On Sunday evening we'll be continuing our prayer meetings which are part of our February month of prayer. They've been very different to how we've traditionally done prayer meetings, flowing in and out of worship and prayer with lots of opportunity to pray for one another, but I for one have really enjoyed and appreciated them.

This week we've got Brian Heasley, national director of 24-7 prayer in the UK, leading us in prayer. Brian has been with us once before and we had a brilliant time with him - I'm sure we're in for more of the same. He has an incredible depth to him, having lead 24-7 prayer not only in the UK but also in Ibiza. Take a look at this video if you want to get a bit more of a flavour of who Brian is and what he's about.

Hope to catch you on Sunday if not before,

Simon.

 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Home-Start Thanks

Our friends at Home-Start Bracknell Forest recently sent us a lovely letter to thank us for the money we raised for them at our 'Carols by Candlelight' in December. Please take a look at their letter here.

It's great to think that what hopefully for all of us was a really enjoyable evening will also have the long term impact of seeing the lives of families in Bracknell Forest changed. I know from families within Kerith who have been helped by Home-Start what an incredible difference their support makes - it's great to think we've been involved in helping make that happen for other families in our wider Bracknell Forest community.

If you fancy doing some more fundraising Home-Start have asked me to let people know that they are looking for willing volunteers to join their team of runners in the Bracknell Half Marathon on 8th May! They have paid for spaces for up to 6 runners, who have to be willing to wear an orange Home-Start running vest and raise a minimum of £50 sponsorship for them. They have 4 runners so far, so would love to find at least another 2. If you're interested then please phone Tessa or Julie on 01344 860026, or email admin@homestartbf.plus.com

There will be more updates on where some of our giving has gone over the next few weeks.

Simon.

 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Day of Prayer and Fasting and Kids Job Opportunities

We've got three incredibly important job opportunities open at the moment, all to do with taking our work with the children of Kerith and in the wider community to another level. I'm therefore asking all of us to take part in a day of prayer and fasting next Wednesday 24th February.

If you've been around the last two weeks you may well have heard Jacqui Webber-Gant talk about the power of fasting as a way of focussing our minds and demonstrating we are serious. I loved it when she said that "fasting without prayer is just miserable!". This isn't just about denying ourselves, but denying ourselves for a reason, in order that we can seek God and spend time with him, specifically around praying for the right people for these three roles.

So please join me in praying and fasting on the 24th. For some that may mean not eating all day, for others it might be missing a meal. Others who for medical or other reasons shouldn't fast could could decide not to watch TV or avoid social media for the day and spend the time they free up praying. And if you're a teenager (or younger) and would like to fast please talk to your parents about it first and honour whatever advice they give you - they are wiser than you think!

I have booked the prayer room on our Bracknell site for a couple of hours from 2-4pm on the 24th for any of us who can get there to pray together, but let's not limit ourselves to that but be praying on our own and in small groups throughout the day.

As a reminder the roles we're looking to fill are:

  • A Kids Champion. This person will create, lead and deliver a cross site strategy for Kerith Kids (including Sundays, Small Groups, Family Life and events) that will grow all sites by drawing families in to the church through Kerith Kids ministry. This will include vision-casting, creating and protecting the culture of Kerith Kids, designing high quality Sundays, resourcing each site with fun and engaging curriculum, establishing all rules and policies whilst ensuring that Kerith adhere to them, organising “One Church” Kerith Kids events, holiday clubs and conferences and advocating for Kerith Kids within the Kerith team.
  • Site Kids Leads for both Bracknell and Sandhurst. These people will deliver the strategy set by the Kids champion to grow their site by drawing families into the church through Kerith Kids ministry. This will include building a team that leads and executes Kerith Kids activities in the site, by inspiring others to serve in Kerith Kids leading and managing all Sundays, small groups and events.

If you, or anyone you know would be interested in any of these jobs then application packs, which include a job description (detailing what each of the roles entails, the days/hours and the sort of person we are looking for), are available from the Kerith Centre reception, from the reception at our Sandhurst site on a Sunday morning, or you can phone our reception on 01344 862699 or email reception. The deadline for applications is Monday 7th March. If you have any queries, please contact Catrina Benham (our Bracknell Site Lead), Heather Pocock (our Sandhurst Site Lead) or Ali Hudell (our Human Resources Manager).

Perhaps you might be an answer to your own prayer!

Many thanks in advance for joining with me in asking God to break in,

Simon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

2015 Finance Summary

Over the next few weeks I want to let you know about some of the things going on with our finances. I particularly want to focus on money we've been giving away through our Generous gifts days and the collections we had at the Christmas Carol Concerts and the impact that money has been having, but I wanted to start with a brief summary of our 2015 finances. We did talk about this a few Sunday's ago, but I realise some of you will have missed that and others will want the opportunity to have time to look at the figures, so I thought I'd repeat it here.

First giving for 2015, which was excellent. From this slide you can see that our giving was just £4,210 under budget, less than 0.5% of our total budgeted income of £847,690. That's quite amazing, and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who gave so generously to our general fund over the year. That money has allowed us to do so incredible things locally, nationally and internationally and through it we know many lives have been touched and changed - thank you!

So what about our financial health? Anyone in business will tell you that cash is king. That's not true for us, Jesus is our King and the one we trust and hope in, but that doesn't remove the obligation on us to manage our finances in a way which honours God and ensures the long term future of Kerith. I've see too many churches and Christian organisations struggle or go under financially to think that we're somehow immune from having to handle our finances wisely.
We have a goal to start every months with £100,000 in our general fund - the money we have in the bank which isn't already allocated to be given away and isn't in reserves. That means that if we have a big expenditure at the start of a month we don't have to worry about the offerings come in to cover that expense.
We also have a goal to have £250,000 in reserves. This is around three months of operating expenditure for us, and is what the charity commission would recommend is prudent. We hold reserves for three reasons:
  1. To cover us in the case of a sudden drop in our income, such as if we experienced another economic downturn and a significant people in our community were no longer in a position to give. Reserves would give us time to cover this in the short term, and to put in place a plan to reduce our expenditure if this was going to be a long term trend.
  2. As a boiler fund, to cover the cost of unexpected large bills such as a boiler breaking down or having to fix a leak in the roof!
  3. As an opportunities fund, meaning that if we are presented with a new opportunity, such as a building or piece of land we want to buy becoming available, we could move quickly to pay deposits, solicitor's fees and the like and wouldn't be held up for lack of finance.

As you can see from the slide above at the start of 2015 we had £304,174 in our combined general fund and reserves. By the end of the year that had dropped to £251,846. At first glance that may seem worrying in that it's dropped by around £53,000 over the year, until you factor in that in 2015 we realised that we could no longer put off fixing the leak in the Kerith Centre auditorium roof. We therefore incurred an unbudgeted expense of around £106,000 in 2015, without which we'd actually have exceeded our reserves target by the end of the year.

Throughout 2016 we have built into our budget regular transfers to our reserves to move us back towards our target, although as with last year we won't be afraid to spend reserves if we need to.

Hopefully that all makes some sort of sense - if not please ask!

I've included below some photos of our shiny new roof - taken from a drone by the contractors who have done all the work. A final mention and thank you to Steve Hart who worked tirelessly with out facilities team and the contractors to make sure we got a roof which is going to serve us well for at least the next 25 years!

Simon.

 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Guest Blogger - Jon Hulme on Prayer

As part of our month of prayer we've asked some people in our community to write blogs encouraging us to pray. First up is Jon Hulme, one of our foremost prayer warriors.

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

Asking God in Prayer – Jon Hulme

Asking God in prayer is simple – just ask – but it is not always easy! Jesus said “Ask and it shall be given to you”, but he goes on to say “knock and the door with be opened to you, seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7-8) – it is a process.

Prayer expresses a relationship with God and we have to learn to wrestle with delay and unanswered prayer. Jesus did say that we may need to be persistent (Luke 18:3-8), but we still need to be bold (Luke 11:5-8).

My faith grew as a teenager when I read biographies of people who saw amazing answers to prayer.

One such person was George Mueller. He ran an orphanage in Bristol in the 1800s. One morning the orphans sat down to breakfast and George gave thanks for what they were about to receive, knowing there was no food. Just then the baker arrived with bread saying that God has told him they would need bread that morning, and then the milkman arrived saying that his cart had broken down outside and they could have the milk before it spoilt (Food at the Orphanage).

I would encourage you to read the Bible stories and the biographies of men and women of prayer, which will enlarge your vision and inspire you to ask God with confidence.

Asking for Big Things

God is interested in the little things in our lives, but He is a big God and is also interested in the big things.

As a young man I picked up Ben Davies’ passion to ask God for big things in prayer. We had weekly prayer meetings asking God for the money to build The Kerith Centre and saw many miraculous answers to prayer.

I was mentored by another leader in the church, Malcolm Kayes, who went to visit the largest church in the world in South Korea. He encountered God on their Prayer Mountain and came back to the UK with a passion for prayer. Malcolm taught us to pray big things for ourselves, following the example of Jabez “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my borders” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10), which ends with the statement “and God granted his request”.

I also learned that prayer must be specific and combined with faith (Matthew 17:19-20). One of my biggest answers to specific prayer was when I made a list of 10 things I wanted in my wife-to-be. I prayed every day for her, and within 6 months I met Hilary and later married her.

Asking for Revival and Breakthrough

The Bible says that prayer is a key to national spiritual breakthrough (2 Chronicles 7:14).

In my thirties I learned the scale of what God can do through prayer. I read books on revivals, where God moves in such power that thousands or even millions are born again and entire areas or nations are changed. I experienced revival first hand in the 90s in Florida at Brownsville, Pensacola.

Nearly always prayer precedes revival, for example there were two old ladies, one blind, whose prayers ushered in the 1949 Hebrides Revival.

I have learned that asking for revival may take years, decades, or even a life time. Prayer needs to be passionate (Hebrews 5:17) and accompanied with fasting (Matthew 6:16-18).

We must have a big vision of what God can do, and keep asking for breakthrough. We will reap a harvest at the proper time if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9), so let’s believe Him!

We pray for revival most Saturday mornings at 9am in the prayer room if you would like to join us.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Going deeper in John - Michael Ross-Watson's blog

This year we're spending the whole year as a community in the gospel of John, getting to know Jesus better through the words of John. Over the year we're going to provide different ways for us to dig deeper into the book, which will help expand on what we teach on Sunday's.

As part of that Michael Ross-Watson is going to be blogging through the whole of the gospel, starting on Monday with John chapter one verse one, then over the next three months working his way daily through to the very end of John. Once they're all done Michael then intends to turn the blogs in to a book, which I think is going to be a great resource for all those wanting to go deeper in John.

You can find Michael's blog here. There you can sign up to get a daily email with that days blog - I do that and I'd really encourage you to if you haven't already.

Simon.

 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Alan Lander stepping down as an elder

I wanted to let you all know that Alan Lander has stepped down as an elder and trustee of Kerith Community Church.

Alan has been an elder for over 25 years, and he and his wife Penny have been part of Kerith even longer than that. Before becoming an elder Alan was part of the group which oversaw the building of the Kerith Centre - a huge project in the life of our church. Since becoming an elder Alan has been part of the eldership team which has lead the church through numerous changes, including:

  • Building K2, our youth and community building.
  • Establishing our Konnections ministry to children with special needs, our CAP Debt Counselling Centre, our Foodbank and many other social justice ministries.
  • Overseeing the transition from Ben Davies leading the church to me being senior pastor.
  • Setting up and completing the Serenje project in Zambia, raising over £800,000 in the process. Alan was the prime driver behind this project getting started in the first place - without him it would never have happened.
  • Establishing our new Sandhurst site.
  • Doubling of the Sunday attendance of Kerith.

Alan has also been the elder with specific responsibility for overseeing weddings in Kerith. In more recent years he has also been the elder and trustee responsible for overseeing safeguarding, an onerous, vital and often hidden role for us as a community.

Our elders carry a huge level of responsibility, a responsibility which is relentless in its nature. Not surprisingly after 25 years Alan feels it is time to enjoy life without the constant pressure of that responsibility. He has therefore decided to step down as an elder and trustee with immediate affect.

I've been leading Kerith for long enough now to know that when something like this happen there will be some people trying to work out what the "real" story is. The reality is this is the real story! Alan and I remain really good friends, he is totally supportive of the direction Kerith is taking and there hasn't been any sort of falling out with me or any of the rest of our team. Alan simply feels that this is the right time for him to step down, and that doing this will create space for him to focus on other things within Kerith, with his family and in his work life.

We all in different ways owe Alan a huge debt of gratitude for his years of service, whether we're directly aware of his involvement or not. I'm personally incredibly grateful to Alan, and his wonderful wife Penny, who have been a huge support to both me and Catrina since I took over leading Kerith. They have been to me like Aaron and Hur who held up the hands of Moses in order to support and strengthen him in his leadership. A wonderful gift to any pastor.

We're going to have the opportunity to thank Alan for all he's done, and to pray for Alan and his family in Sandhurst at 10am on the 21st February, and in Bracknell at the 9am and 11am on the 28th February. Please make one of those gatherings if you possibly can.

Finally I know some people will want to know if we'll be looking to appoint a new elder or trustee in place of Alan. While we're always looking to strengthen both our eldership and trustee teams we're not going to rush into making any new appointments. The Bible is very clear that we shouldn't be hasty in the laying on of hands (1 Timothy 5:22) - I'm confident that the team we have now is strong enough to lead us in the next stage of our growth, at the right time we will look to add to both teams but we're not in any rush.

If you have questions about any of this then please feel free to ask,

Simon.

 

Gordon MacDonald with us this weekend

We've got the privilege of having Gordon MacDonald with us this weekend. Gordon, and his delightful wife Gail, have been with us a number of times before, and each time it has been an absolute delight. Sadly Gail isn't with Gordon this time, but we've got two opportunities to hear Gordon and his fatherly wisdom.

On Saturday we're hosting a one day Willow Creek conference called "Talk Like a Father" at which Gordon will be speaking all day. You can find all the details here - it's not too late to either book in online or you can turn up and pay on the day. I'd encourage any of us who can possibly be there to make Saturday - you won't regret it!

Then on Sunday morning Gordon will be speaking in both Bracknell and Sandhurst. Please don't allow anything else to get in the way of you joining with the rest of our church, and in the process receiving the blessing of hearing all Gordon has to bring to us.

Finally as part of our month of prayer Sunday evening will be an evening of worship and prayer, lead by Sola Osinoiki. It's a bit of a different style to our regular prayer meetings where we'd spend most of the time asking God for things, but the prayer Jesus taught us to pray starts with "hallowed be your name" - that's how we're going to start on Sunday night!

See you Saturday or Sunday (or both),

Simon.

 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dave Latter

It is with great sadness that I write to say that Dave Latter has passed away. Dave was a hugely loved member of our Kerith family for over three decades and I know will be sorely missed by many of us.

Dave's life was not without its challenges, and those of us who had the privilege of knowing him know the demons he struggled with, and the hold they at times had over him. However, our confidence is that he has now gone to a better place - a place with no more sickness, pain, sin, shame or fear - as Jesus said to the person next to Him on the cross Dave is now with Christ in paradise.

Dave recently featured in an article in our LinK magazine. I've included it below as it gives a very good account of his life, although words struggle to capture his cheeky sense of humour, the sparkle he always had in his eye and how well he modelled a Father Christmas outfit! If you can't read it below you can find an online version of the original magazine here - the article is on page 11.

Let's thank God for Dave, for the impact that we as a church family had on him, and that he had on us. And let's be praying for all those who will be mourning him no longer being with us. For his friends and family, and for all in our community grieving the passing of someone we loved very much. We do grieve, but not as those who have no hope.

I'll let you all know when we get a date for Dave's funeral as I know many of us will want to be there.

Much love,

Simon.

 

 

 

Friday, February 5, 2016

This Sunday Morning

On Sunday morning we're continuing our series in John's gospel looking at the third of the seven signs, Jesus healing a disabled man by a pool. If you have chance it would be great to spend some time reading and meditating on the passage in advance - you can find it here. Michael Ross-Watson will be speaking at the 9am and 11am in Bracknell and Ben Pocock at the 10am in Sandhurst.

We've also people being baptised at the 9am and 11am in Bracknell, and our all church prayer meeting at 6pm in Bracknell.

Hope to catch you on Sunday :)

Simon.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sunday Evening Prayer - including Windsor!

February is our month of prayer and as part of that we're turning our 6pm meeting into a prayer meeting for the whole of February.

Each evening we'll have a time of worship followed by prayer, which each evening will be lead by a different person. Liam Parker will be leading us on the 7th, Sola Osinoiki on the 14th and then Brian Heasley, the Director of 24/7 prayer, will be with us to lead the 21st. All these meetings will be in the Kerith Centre.

On the 28th each of our sites is going to have its own prayer meeting. Bracknell and Sandhurst will meet at 6pm in their normal Sunday locations (the Kerith Centre and Sandhurst School).

Excitingly we'll also be meeting at 6pm in Windsor for the first gathering of our fledgling Windsor / Maidenhead site. The venue is going to be Windsor Hall, Ruddles Way, Dedworth, Windsor SL4 5SJ which our friends at River Church in Maidenhead have kindly allowed us to use. I'd like to invite anyone interested in being part of this new site to come along, to pray and to hear some of the vision for what we hope to do there.

I know how busy life is for all of us, but I'd like to encourage all of us to make at least one of the evenings in February as we gather to pray and hear from God.

See you there :)

Simon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Kids Team Meeting

It was excellent to meet last night with members of our kids teams, and parents with children in Kerith Kids, to talk about our vision for taking our chidlren's work to the next level. I know that for a whole variety of reasons a whole load of people couldn't make it. If that's you then I've posted online an audio recording of last nights meeting, as well as the PowerPoint presentation Heather Pocock and I shared. The PowerPoint probably won't make too much sense without listening to the audio!

As part of moving forward we're now looking to find people to fulfil three different roles:

  • A Kids Champion. This person will create, lead and deliver a cross site strategy for Kerith Kids (including Sundays, Small Groups, Family Life and events) that will grow all sites by drawing families in to the church through Kerith Kids ministry. This will include vision-casting, creating and protecting the culture of Kerith Kids, designing high quality Sundays, resourcing each site with fun and engaging curriculum, establishing all rules and policies whilst ensuring that Kerith adhere to them, organising “One Church” Kerith Kids events, holiday clubs and conferences and advocating for Kerith Kids within the Kerith team. You can find the Kids Champion job description here.
  • Site Kids Leads for both Bracknell and Sandhurst. These people will deliver the strategy set by the Kids champion to grow their site by drawing families into the church through Kerith Kids ministry. This will include building a team that leads and executes Kerith Kids activities in the site, by inspiring others to serve in Kerith Kids leading and managing all Sundays, small groups and events. You can find the Site Kids Lead job description here.

Given the relative size of the two sites the Kids Site Lead for Bracknell will be a paid position, whereas Sandhurst (initially at least) will be a volunteer role. We haven't defined the hours for any of the roles, as we'd rather find the right people first and then see how the role can fit with their availability.

If you, or anyone you know, would be interested in any of these roles then please take a look at the job descriptions and then get in touch with Heather Pocock who be collating applications, as well as being the point person to answer any questions that people might have.

For the rest of us please be praying for the right people to come forward. I had the privilege of being in a gathering yesterday with Bill Hybels from Willow Creek church in Chicago. I was reminded again of the vital importance of leadership - let's be praying for the right leaders to fill these critical roles to us as a community.

Much love,

Simon.