Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Bullied


In a recent preach I spoke briefly about being bullied as a child. Lots of people commented on it afterwards, so I thought I’d write some more in the hope it might be helpful.

Most of my childhood was pretty idyllic. Some really good friends, the beauty and wide open spaces of Northumberland, goalkeeper in the school football team (the only one in the team not wearing black and white), scouts outings where we’d be left to fend on our own for several days (including one memorable trip camping illegally on Holy Island), sledging on the hills behind our house and much more.

But one particular season stands out in stark contrast to all of that, which was being bullied for the four years I was in Middle School (what in today’s system would be years 5 to 8).  

If I’m honest I’d almost managed to forget about it. It was after all over 40 years ago!  However, a comment Catrina (my wife) made a few months ago caused me to think about it again. She noted that whenever we were coming up with an idea for a day out, if I came up with the idea I’d be happy, but if she came up with the idea I’d often be grumpy about it, and would struggle to fully enter in to whatever it was she had suggested (I know you all find that impossible to believe about me, but you need to know it’s totally true!). 

The more I thought and prayed about Catrina’s observation, the more I realised the root of my behaviour was at least in part being bullied as a child. There was one particular boy who was responsible for pretty much all the bullying I experienced. Part of the bullying was that he got me to do things I didn’t want to do. Sometimes it was giving him my dinner money or letting him copy my homework. Other times it was being pushed, hit, or humiliated by him in front of my friends.

Let me say before I go any further that bullying is wrong, whatever age you are and wherever it happens, whether in school, work, in a relationship or anywhere else. If you are being bullied please find someone you can open up to about it. Until about two weeks ago I’d never told anyone about what happened to me at school (I never spoke to my parents or any teachers, and I guess my friends were just pleased it wasn’t happening to them). Please don’t make the same mistake. Confide in someone you trust right now, as the beginning of your journey to safety and freedom.

Reflecting on Catrina’s observation made me realise that being bullied, and being made to do things I didn’t want to do, means that I now have a violent internal reaction if I feel anyone is trying to control me. I realise that all through my life it has manifested itself in lots of different ways. In church if I get an email from someone suggesting we do something differently (even if it’s an entirely sensible suggestion), I will often feel it. If I’m in a shop and someone tries to sell me something, I feel it. And when Catrina comes up with an idea for a day out, I feel it too!

It was Pete Scazzero who first woke me up to how much our past (and our family of origin) shapes who we are today. His observation that “Jesus may be in your heart, but Grandpa is still in your bones” is one I reflect on often. The good news is that once we can see how our past is shaping our present, then we’re in a position to begin to invite Jesus both to begin to heal our brokenness, where necessary take us on a journey of forgiveness, and to do the miracle he so often does of actually using it for his glory and the benefit of others.

The negative for me from being bullied is the struggle I have if I feel someone is trying to control me, even if they aren’t, and like Catrina they actually have both better ideas than mine and my own best interests at heart. I’m now much more aware of that happening, and I’m inviting Jesus into that space to begin to heal it. I’m a work in progress but it’s going OK so far! Please be patient with me along the way. I also realise that being bullied made an already shy child even more nervous in big social gatherings, especially with people I don’t know. That too is still a big work in progress, although I’m getting braver!

But I’ve also come to realise that surprisingly there are positive outcomes to my being bullied, and the resulting fear of being controlled, one of which is that I love to create situations where other people can flourish. In some ways I love creating the reverse environment to the one that was created for me in Middle School, where rather than controlling people I want to do all I can to release and empower them. Catrina and I recently went to see that film “A Star is Born”. I cried lots, but not at the bit most people cry at which is towards the end. For me the hugely emotional moment was when the character played by Bradley Cooper first creates a space for Lady Gaga’s character to shine. I want to give my whole life to creating that sort of space for others (although probably not through song!). I don’t think I’d be like that without my experience as a child, so in a very real sense I’m grateful for what I went through. That may sound strange but it’s true.

I don’t know what your brokenness is. We all have some, although yours will be different to mine, and I realise that many of you will have been through far worse things than I experienced. What I do know that if we bring it to Jesus he can not only heal us, but like Joseph observes in the Old Testament, He can take what others intended for evil and use it for good. 

I hope in some way, shape or form that this was helpful for someone! If it was I’d love to know how, and if you feel able hear your story too. 

Simon

Monday, November 5, 2018

Vision Fund Gift Days - Final Reminder



On Sunday we’re going to announce the total giving from our October Vision Fund Gift Days. I wanted to send a final encouragement to anyone who would like to give but hasn’t yet done so to get your giving in this week so it can be included in the total. 

As an aside we would normally have looked to let everyone know the total more quickly, but our brilliant finance team headed, up by Mike Webber-Gant, have been changing over to use a new cloud based accounting package called Xero. This will considerably enhance our ability to monitor and control our finances, including allowing us to much more easily track income and expenditure on each of our sites, but has also entailed a load of extra work in the set up phase which have taken the team away from other tasks. 

The money we’re raising will give us the resources we need to move forward on all four of our sites. If you’d like to give then you can find details on how to do that here. It would also be really helpful if you could send an email to the finance team to let them know what you’ve given (and if your gift can be gift aided) so it can be included in the total.

Finally to say a huge thank you to everyone who gives into the life of our community, whether that giving is in terms of finances, time, wisdom or any of the many other ways people sow so generously sow into Kerith. As a result of your giving Jesus is being exalted, the kingdom of God is growing and you are storing up treasure in heaven in lives transformed by the gospel. 

Simon



Thursday, October 25, 2018

Who is my neighbour?



“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭82:3-4‬

The scriptures are crystal clear that part of our mandate as God’s people on planet earth is to stand up and care for those who struggle to stand up for themselves. Whether that’s those who don’t have enough food, who are caught up in modern day slavery, who are in debt, who need a foster home or to be adopted, who are refugees, who are homeless or find themselves in any other sort of poverty or oppression, we are called not just to pray for them or acknowledge their plight, but to take practical action to alleviate their suffering and stop others getting into the same difficulty. 

But if you’re anything like me, although I know what I’m supposed to do, actually doing anything is  much harder for a whole variety of reasons. So to help us all on Sunday we’re starting a new series titled “Who is my neighbour?”, where we’re going to spend three weeks looking at the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10 and asking ourself a different question each week:

Why would I? - Looking at the man who is beaten up, and how his story can motivate us to make a difference. 
Why wouldn’t I? - Looking at the Priest and the Levite, and what we can learn from their refusal to help.
How could I? - Looking at the Good Samaritan, and what his example reaches us about helping our neighbour. 

It’s going to be an inspiring series - please plan to be there for all three, or if you can’t make them all catch up on the podcast.

Have a great week and see you on Sunday,

Simon

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Half night of Prayer (and Day of Fasting) this Friday

This coming Friday (26th October) we’ve got our next Kingdom Come half night of prayer, running from 8pm until 2am on Saturday in the K2 building on our Bracknell site.

I realise that because it’s half term lots of people are away (and if you’re one of those I pray you have a brilliant time whatever you’re doing), but for all of us who are around I want to encourage us to make as much of the evening as we can, even if it’s just half an hour or an hour. Jesus makes it clear that the answers to our prayers depend not on how long we pray for, how many words we use, which particular words we use, or how many of us gather to pray, but on who we pray to. Come join me as we spend time with “Our Father who is in heaven” and see what He will do - what a privilege.

I also want to encourage you to join me in a day of fasting on Friday. I’m a big fan of food, but I know something powerful happens when we deny ourselves and place our spiritual desire above our natural desires, so if you’re able please join me in fasting for the day, whether you can make the half night of prayer or not.

Blessings,

Simon

Thursday, October 4, 2018

October Vison Fund Gift Days


Since we launched our vision fund in September 2016, the money that has been given (over £436,000 to date) has allowed us to do so much as a community in terms of growth and multiplication. Some of the highlights would be our site in Windsor now being fully up and running, a site on the Isle of Wight which wasn’t even in our thinking two years, and paying off the mortgage on the K2 House which means we are totally debt free as a church. 

And of course behind those headlines what really matters has been going on at all our sites: lives being changed with over 150 people baptised, hundreds growing in their faith as a result of small groups, growth track courses and encounters with God, thousands being served in the local community, the name of Jesus being lifted up, people experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of God being demonstrated. Bring it on!

Our next vision fund offering days are coming up on Sunday 14th and 21st October. We still have around £115,000 which we have yet to spend in the vision fund, but with all we have planned across all four of our sites that is going to go pretty quickly, and we want to make sure lack of resources doesn’t hold us back from all we believe God has placed in our hearts to do. We’d therefore like to raise at least another £100,000 to continue to resource all that we think we will be doing over the next 6 months. 

You’ll see the scriptures at the top of this blog, which come from the time when God commanded Moses to build a tabernacle in the desert where His presence would rest. Moses lays out to the people what God has commanded them to do, then asks everyone who is willing to give. We then read that “everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them” came and gave. I want to make the same encouragement to us. There is no pressure to give, no command to give, just an opportunity to those who are willing and whose hearts move them to be a part of this great adventure. For us to invest our treasure in a place where it won’t rust, be eaten away or be stolen but will produce eternal treasure in the form of lives being transformed. 

Here is some more detail on what has been going on, and what is planed, for each of our sites.

Bracknell
Those who came to the September vision nights will have heard that we’re not going to move forward with either of the building projects we were proposing on either the K2 of Kerith Centre sites. When we came to examine the cost of both projects versus the amount of extra space each would give us we (being the elders and trustees) concluded that neither represented value for money. In a future blog I’m going to explain in more detail quite what the process was to make that decision, as I realise this is quite a change from what we were talking about at the start of this year, and we didn’t give as much detail as we should have done at the vision nights.

Given we’re not about to all launch into a major building project in Bracknell, we are instead going going to focus on how we make the most of what we already have, which is a lot! We’d like to make improvements to our Bracknell site which we think will include:
  • Building a walkway through from the college car park to our site. Which side of K2 this goes will depend on whether we manage to buy the strip of land down the side of K2 from the cricket club - please pray for breakthrough there!
  • Renovating the toilets in the Kerith Centre and K2.
  • Putting in the facilities to allow us to more easily run a cafe in K2.
  • Upgrading the audio visual equipment in the K2 Hall. 
Money given into the vision fund will allow us to do this and more. 

Sandhurst
Discussions are still ongoing with Sandhurst School as to a possible joint project with them to develop some of the school site for our exclusive use. However, we are also beginning to examine what other options there are for both temporary and permanent homes for our Sandhurst site. The vision fund will give us the financial resources we need to progress these plans.
If you have some time please be praying for God to make our next steps in Sandhurst clear, and for us to have clarity around which doors and opening and which are closing. We really sense God has something new for us and want to step boldly into whatever it is.

Windsor
The vision fund has already given us the money we’ve needed to rent and renovate the gospel hall in Windsor, to rent the hall we use on a Sunday, and to buy all the equipment needed to get us up and running with meetings every Sunday. Through to then end of 2020 we will fund all of the site based costs in Windsor (including salaries, rental and equipment costs) from the vision fund, after which time they will switch to coming from our regular giving. We have a forward projection for giving which shows that given growth in Windsor equivalent to what we have seen in Sandhurst that will be more than achievable. 

West Wight
In a similar way to Windsor the vision fund has given us the resources we’ve needed to get our West Wight site to a point where we are now meeting twice a month on a Sunday with the same set of values in terms of excellence we’d have on all our other sites. It’s so exciting to see how things are growing there with over 60 people attending the last Sunday gathering. 
We’re looking at the possibility of the site starting to meet every Sunday from September 2019, with a paid site leader coming on board at the same time. As with Windsor we will look to fund this from the vision fund for an initial period and then switch to coming from regular giving as the site grows.

Where & What else?
God is a God of surprises, and we really have no idea what other opportunities are going to come along. Several people have asked me if we know where our next site is going to be, and I can honestly say we have no idea (although the wilds of Northumberland are always very tempting!). But we want to be able to respond to whatever God might do, so let us continue to pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done and see what happens!

Thanks, and well done for getting this far! 

Simon

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Debt Saviours - CAP Documentary



You may remember earlier this year when John Kirkby, the founder of CAP (Christians Against Poverty) and a good friend of Kerith, preached on a Sunday and brought with him a BBC film crew filming for a documentary about the work of CAP. 

Well the great news is that the documentary is finished, and is going to be aired on Friday 5th October at 9pm on BBC2. None of the footage filmed with us made the final cut (I’m personally relieved not to be appearing on national TV!), but from all I’ve heard from those who have seen the documentary it is deeply moving as it tells the stories of a number of clients who are not only working with CAP to get debt free, but also in the process have found a relationship with Jesus.  

Let’s make the most of this amazing opportunity, with such a powerful piece of television being making it to prime time TV. Please watch it yourself, and be encouraging friends and family watch it too. And let’s be praying for the millions of others who will also see it. Only this week there was an article on the BBC website titled “Debt killed my Dad”, which detailed the sad descent of one man into increasing debt, culminating in the tragedy of him committing suicide. Let’s pray that through the documentary people in debt will find hope, and the courage to admit they need help and contact CAP.

Simon

Friday, September 28, 2018

Our 12 New Academy Students



From the beginning of September our K2 building has once again become the learning and development hub for our Academy students.

At its core, Academy aims to help everyone to be a disciple equipped to make disciples of others. Starting with being intentional about growing closer to God, each student will have the opportunity to discover more about their identity and purpose, deepening their Bible knowledge, and developing leadership skills. Many will also study a distance learning Certificate in Applied Theology with  Moorlands Bible College.

Each one will be outworking course learning through serving in both the course and Church, so as a team they will support many Kerith ministry areas. 

We have twelve Academy students this year, including three from Europe. By way of introduction here are their names and the areas where they’re going to be serving (in the same order as they are in the photo):

Maria Ventsel (from Estonia) – Engagement team
Melodie Alcibiade (from France) – Monday Night Youth, Kids Team & Growth Track
Ro Cyril-Daniel – Alpha & Growth Track
Ayse Flack – Senior Management Team support
Padma Gurung – Kids Team
Georgia Christie – Youth Team
Samantha Gallotan – Sundays Team
Erika Kazdaileviciute (from Lithuania) – Social Justice Team
Nicole Bailey – Creative & Production Team
Mwamba Phiri – Creative Team & Youth Team
Damien Newman – Social Justice Team
Matt Dack – Youth Team

Please be praying for them to grow closer to Jesus as a result of this year, say hello to them if you see them around, and thank God for their willingness to give this time to deepen their relationship with him.

Simon

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Kerith Windsor Launch

After months of prayer and planning Sunday saw the launch of Kerith Windsor. It went really well, with 106 people coming along including quite a number of visitors. We also had great support from other Kerith sites, including Ben and Anna Britton who came over from the Isle of Wight to be there.

For those who couldn’t make it I thought I’d post some photos so you can get a feel for it all. Thanks to John Mitchell who took all the photos.

If you’ve got a free Sunday please go along and support Leon Johnson who is our site pastor along with the rest of the team. I know they’d love to have you, and I think you’ll be really encouraged to see how God has provided in terms of both the venue and the people to make it all happen.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in getting us to this point. For everyone who has prayer, served, encouraged, given and in any other way be involved thank you. Know that your labour is not in vain but is already producing great fruit.

Kerith Windsor won’t be meeting on Sunday 23rd September as there is an alternative booking in the hall that day, but other than that we’ll be meeting every Sunday from now through to the end of the year so you’ve got plenty of dates to choose from.

Simon

Ps This coming Sunday will be the first time we’ve had simulataneous meetings on four sites, as it’s the one Sunday in the month Kerith West Wight meet too. There’s something quite exciting about that as evidence of multiplication.










Friday, August 31, 2018

September 2018 Vision Nights

Following on from January's vision talks, we're gathering again on each site to hear from some of our leadership team about what God is doing amongst us, and where we sense He's leading us next.

The theme for each evening is “Healthy things Multiply”. 2018 is a year of multiplication for us as a community with Kerith Windsor starting meeting every Sunday, Kerith West Wight launching, Flow Church being planted into Staines and exciting plans for Bracknell and Sandhurst too. At the vision nights we’ll give updates on all these developments. I’m also going to take the opportunity to reflect on what has been happening at Willow Creek and the lessons we can learn. Added to all that will be space to pray, and for Q&A.

Everyone is welcome. If you are a Kerith leader, team member, prayer partner, financial supporter or otherwise pouring your life into building this community, it will be especially helpful to you. Please do forward this invite to those you know who might also like to hear what’s happening.

The dates for the Talks are all on the Kerith What’s On page, and also here below:

Bracknell            Tuesday 11th September                      7.30pm                The Kerith Centre          
Sandhurst           Wednesday 12th September                 7.30pm                 The Kerith Centre
Windsor             Thursday 13th September                     7.30pm                 Windsor Gospel Hall
West Wight        Thursday 20th September                     7.30pm                 West Wight Sports and Community Centre

You’ll notice that the Sandhurst vision night is in Bracknell, due to us not able to find a suitable venue in Sandhurst. People based in Bracknell are welcome to come along, but we will be focussing more on what is happening at our Sandhurst site.

Hope to see you at one of these!

Simon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Peter Smith and Dave Prior

I wanted to let you all know about two people with a strong connection to Kerith who have recently passed away.

The first is Peter Smith, the father of Simon Smith who with his wife Dany and their three children have been part of Kerith for many years now. Peter also has another son, Mark. Lots of us from the Bracknell site will remember Peter’s wife Hana who was with us for a number of years. When Hana passed away Peter started coming to our Sunday meetings, and did an Alpha course where he found faith. He was a regular attender at the 9.30am meeting in Bracknell where I used to look forward to our weekly catchup before the meeting.

The thanksgiving service for Peter’s life is at Easthampstead Park Crematorium at 9.45am on Wednesday 29th August, followed by refreshments at the K2 building on our Bracknell site.

The second person who has passed away is Dave Prior (actually David but I only ever knew him as Dave). When Catrina and I first joined Kerith in 1989 Dave and his wife Sue were amongst the first people to invite us into their home where they made us feel incredibly welcome. Dave was our church administrator for a number of years and was instrumental in organising much of church life, including the move into the Kerith Centre in 1989 and a succession of Stoneleigh Bible Weeks where he worked tirelessly, clipboard in hand, making sure we all had our tents in the right place and everything else we needed. He even tried to recruit me to the admin team (that was never going to go well!). Dave and Sue have three sons, Steve, Matt and Tim. They moved to Henley a number of years ago, and sadly Dave passed away last week after a battle with cancer.

The thanksgiving service for Dave’s life is at 6pm on Thursday 30th August at Henley Baptist Church, who meet at “d:two”, 55-57 Market Place, Henley, RG9 2AA.

Let’s be praying for both Peter and Dave’s families. That God will comfort them in their grief, and that their sadness will be tempered by the sure and certain hope that their loved ones are both now in a much better place, and that one day we will see them again.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬‬‬‬

Much love,

Simon

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Flow Church Update


If you were around for our vision talks in January you’ll know that we announced that Liam and Emily Parker are going to be leaving Kerith to plant a church. For a number of years now Liam has been on staff as the pastor over our youth, and more recently over our 6pmBracknell meeting, as well as developing a growing ministry into mainland Europe. He and Emily have been a huge blessing to us as a community, and although we’ll miss them hugely we all sense this is the right next step for them.

Things have moved on a lot since January. The church now has a name - Flow Church. The church is in the process of being registered as a charity. There’s a core team made up of a number of people from Kerith who are going with Liam and Emily. The church has a location - they’re going to be based in the Hythe area of Staines. There’s a launch fund - including gifts from Kerith and a number of individuals. There’s a Sunday launch date - Sunday 23rd September. They’ve got an Instagram account - @flowchurchuk, and will soon be on all other flavours of social media too. 

For anyone interested in finding out more there’s an interest evening on Thursday 21st June starting at 7.30pm at the Hythe Centre in Staines (TW18 3HD). I’ll be there to support them - I’m sure they’d appreciate as many as possible from Kerith going along to pray for them and cheer them on, and possibly even to explore the idea of joining them.

If you have any questions then please feel free to contact Liam, Emily or me. Let’s be praying for the success of Flow Church. For all of us our greatest focus shouldn’t be on growing  Kerith but growing the kingdom of God. That means that their success is our success, and vice versa.

Simon

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

An Opportunity to Transform a Child’s Life



I know many of us were inspired by Tim Morfin when he came and spoke to us about TLG, and the work they are doing to transform the lives of vulnerable children. As a result of Tim’s talk we’ve got a number of people who have signed up to become mentors, committing for a year to go into a local primary school for an hour a week to befriend a child who is struggling. 

However, we’ve got more children who schools have asked us to help than we have mentors, so I’m asking whether you might consider getting involved. If you would be able to offer an hour a week in term time over the next year then this could be for you. We’ve got a training day for mentors this Saturday (2nd June) in K2 from 9.30am – 4.30pm. If you’d like to book in then you’ll need to need to fill out a coach application form beforehand, which you can get by emailing Jo Dawson. Please also contact Jo if you have any questions or would like more information about becoming a mentor.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this. You could be involved transforming a child’s life.

Simon

Friday, May 11, 2018

Thy Kingdom Come

“Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done” (Matthew 6v10)


Then on Friday 18th May we will gather together for our  ‘Kingdom Come Night of Prayer’ from 8pm -2am at the Windsor Gospel Hall (in Dedworth, SL4 5SL). Let’s join as one church to pray for more of Gods kingdom. As a church we go deeper with a half night of prayer 3 times a year, where we encourage everyone from all our sites to come together. These are incredible times of hearing God's voice and personal refreshing. Come for the whole time or pop in at any point between 8pm -2am as we join together.

From Thursday 10th through to Sunday 20th May we are joining with Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury) as he calls on churches across the country to pray ‘Thy kingdom come’. We believe when God’s kingdom comes we see salvation, righteousness, justice, peace, joy, comfort and healing. Join with thousands of others in praying to see and experience more of His kingdom on earth. Here are four ideas on how to get involved:
  • Prayer Room – we have a prayer room at our Bracknell site which you can book out to pray for an hour (or more) by yourself or with friends. Book your slot here and enjoy space and time away from distractions. There are resources to help you pray, or feel free to simply sit and ‘be’ with Jesus.
  •  Be praying for the group of people you are seeking to reach as part of our BLESS series.
  •   Social Media – we’ll be sharing verses of scripture and encouragements to pray from ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ through our social media streams. Do check those out.
  •  There are loads of resources to help you and your family or small group to pray – see the Thy Kingdom Come website.
Then on Friday 18th May we will gather together for our  ‘Kingdom Come Night of Prayer’ from 8pm -2am at the Windsor Gospel Hall (in Dedworth, SL4 5SL). Let’s join as one church to pray for more of Gods kingdom. As a church we go deeper with a half night of prayer 3 times a year, where we encourage everyone from all our sites to come together. These are incredible times of hearing God's voice and personal refreshing. Come for the whole time or pop in at any point between 8pm -2am as we join together.

Simon

Monday, April 23, 2018

Join us at Wildfires (early bird rate ends Sunday!)


It’s just over a month until a load of us head off to the Wildfires Festival, and I wanted to both update you on what is being planned, and encourage anyone not yet booked in to book in before the early bird rate ends this Sunday. If you are going to book in be sure to do it via the Kerith specific booking site to new sure that you get to camp with the rest of us!

Wildfires is an opportunity for us to spend time together as a community with a bunch of other like minded churches, not only to have an amazing time together but to contend for revival in our nation.

Below are a few things I thought you might be interested to know.

Our village: So far we’ve got around 80 people from Kerith registered to go. We’ve got our our own ‘village’ where we all get to camp together, with a village tent which will seat up to 200 people for us to gather in, eat in and do whatever else we want. Anyone with a caravan or hiring a tent will be in an area very close to our village. Apparently our village will also have its own fire pit - I can’t tell you how excited I am about that!

Day visitors: I know for some people the idea of camping is a complete non starter! If that’s you why not come down for one day as a day visitor, or find an Airbnb or somewhere else to stay nearby. You can book day tickets here

Timings: The festival runs from 9.30am on the Monday to late on the Wednesday evening, and will finish with a bonfire and a free hog roast for everyone. I’d encourage people to also come to the Big Church Day Out on the Saturday and Sunday before Wildfires which is included in the cost of your Wildfires registration, but if you can’t make that ideally you’ll want to get there on the Sunday and stay until the Thursday morning to get the full experience.

Labs: There will be interactive seminars every afternoon on subjects such as Leadership (with Nicky and Pippa Gumbell from HTB), Spirituality (including moving in the prophetic with Julian and Katia Adams), Relationships (including Nicky and Cilla Lee of Marriage Course fame), the Big Issues in Society and Hearing Stories (including amazing stories on the growth of the church in Persia).

Contributors: As well as the people mentioned above other people involved in the festival include Christy Wimber, Pete Greig, Lucy Peppiatt, Tim Hughes, Martin Smith and others. You can find a full list here.

Kids and Youth: A big focus for the event is creating spaces where our children and youth can powerfully meet with God. Many of us will have stories of how God met with us as youngsters at events just like this. If you have children in those age groups please see this as an opportunity to make a big investment in them. You have no idea what God might do!

Revision: I realise that there will be families with teenagers who have exams coming up who will be wondering whether to go. Wiston House, which is the stately home on the site, will be used as a revision space for the young people who have exams. There will be teachers there, along with people to pray for them whilst they revise (open from 1pm – 5pm all three days).

Bursaries: We don’t want lack of finances to be a barrier to anyone coming. Some very generous people within Kerith have already offered to help fund people who might not otherwise be able to go - if that’s you then I’m very grateful. If you too would like to help pay for someone else then please contact Sarah Harvey. If finances are an issue for you in terms of coming then please contact also Sarah who will help collate requests for help and try to make sure everyone who wants to go cam get there.

Facebook: We’re going to set up a Facebook page so that everyone going from Kerith can keep in touch and ask questions. Once it’s up and running I’ll let you know where it is!

If you’re not currently booked in I hope that’s encouraged you to come. If so book in here before Sunday to make sure to get the early bird rate. And if you do have any questions please contact the amazing Sarah Harvey who is our group coordinator.

Blessings,

Simon

Friday, April 13, 2018

Kerith West Wight launches this Sunday


I’m really pleased to let you know that this coming Sunday (15th April), our newest fledgling site will be launching. Kerith West Wight will be meeting monthly at 10am in West Wight Community Centre, on the 3rd Sunday of every month, led by the wonderful Ben Britton and his team.
Ben & Anna Britton are originally from the Isle of Wight, and during their time living in Camberley were part of our Sandhurst Site. Ben was involved in the worship and tech teams, and Anna was also involved in the worship team, as well as leading the Alpha course. They were also small group leaders before they moved back to the Isle of Wight in 2016.
 Since moving back to the island they have been gathering people in their living room and that number has been growing. Over the last few months they have begun to meet on a Sunday morning which has continued to grow, with over 30 people at their last meeting.
Last year Ben approached us to explore the possibility of joining what they are doing with Kerith, and after a number of meetings with the elders and staff team. and discussions with the trustees, we all sensed that God was in this and we should pursue it. We are therefore so excited that this Sunday they officially join the Kerith family.
 This is a new opportunity for us as a church, as it is our first site that is close relationally, but not geographically! Ben and his team will be leading Kerith West Wight under the leadership of the elders, and receiving support from the central office team. Although not a full site like our Bracknell and Sandhurst sites are, and as our Windsor site is about to become, we are praying that God will continue to bless the community over there with more people finding their way back to God through the community growing in their love for God and love for people.
 Soon they will have a presence on the Kerith website, and for now you can keep up to date with the news from West Wight via the facebook page here.
 As Ben and the team continue the great work they are doing out there, our hope is that in time they become a fully-fledged site, meeting every week, with team members on staff. We don’t know what God will do in West Wight, but we do know his Kingdom is always advancing, whether in Bracknell, Windsor, Sandhurst or the Isle of Wight – so let’s pray that His will be done, and Kerith West Wight will bear much fruit!
Simon

Thursday, April 5, 2018

TRUTH Men’s Conference - Saturday May 12th


I want to invite all the men of Kerith Community Church (and any other men who fancy coming along) to our TRUTH Men’s Conference on Saturday May 12th 2018

The event will run from 8am until 12.30pm and will include:
  • Hot breakfast on arrival
  • Stirring worship
  • Two straight-talking sessions from our good friend Sean Green, senior pastor of Reading Family Church
  • A whole bunch of other guys eager for TRUTH on how to do life well
Matt Ranger, who is leading the event, assures me there won’t be any fluffy decorations, scented giveaways, or beating around the bush. Just a great does of life giving TRUTH, and a bunch of guys wanting to cheer one another on. 

Tickets are a very reasonable £10. I just bought mine, you can get yours here

See you there,


Simon

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Book Review: The Book That Made Your World


I recently finished reading “The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilisation”. 

It’s written by an Indian philosopher called Vishal Mangalwadi, who from his position outside of our culture examines how the teaching of the Bible has shaped Western civilisation. He not only looks at what has shaped our culture, but also how other world views have shaped other cultures. He also illustrates much of what he says from his own fascinating life story. 

Areas where he looks at the impact of the Bible include:
  • The roots of our passion for scientific, medical and technological progress
  • The social and economic empowerment of women
  • The transformation of education
  • Our Western values of compassion, human rights, wealth creation and strong families
  • The development of languages, art, literature and music
It’s quite brilliantly researched and written, and helped me again to appreciate just how unique the Bible is, not only in showing us the way to be reconciled to God but in its ability to speak into, inspire, instruct and shape every aspect of our individual lives and our society as a whole. 

However, on a more sobering note he considers not only what got us here, but also what the future holds in an increasingly secular age which rejects both the authority and the teaching of the Bible. His last paragraph, which I’ve included below, is worth pondering on and praying over, not only in terms of the future for Western civilisation, but also for us as individuals as we consider the place we allow the Bible to take in our lives.

Simon


“Rome’s collapse meant that Europe lost its soul - the source of its civilisation authority - and descended into the ‘Dark Ages.’ The Bible was the power that revived Europe. European’s became so enthralled with God’s Word that they rejected their sacred myths to hear God’s Word, study it, internalise it, speak it, and promote it to build the modern world. At the dawn of the 21st century, the West is again losing its soul. Will it relapse into a new dark age or humble itself before the Word of Almighty God?” 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Job Opportunity: HR & Safeguarding Administrator role

Due to people changing roles within the Kerith Staff Team we’ve got a full time job opportunity for somebody to work as an administrator for HR and Safeguarding within Kerith.

You can get more information along with a detailed job description here. If this might be of interest to you, or to someone you know, than please take a look. Otherwise please join me in praying that we find the right person to fufill what is a key role for us as a community.

Blessings,

Simon

Friday, March 9, 2018

The day I applauded too


I remember the first time I was on a flight where people applauded when the plane landed. It was going to Poland about 12 years ago, and I must admit that I remember feeling a bit superior about it. Why applaud? What did they expect to happen? Planes take off and planes land, why would anyone think landing was an event worth celebrating when it happens thousands of times a day all around the world. I would never be one of those people who applauded something so mundane.

So it has continued over the years. Lots of flights, lots of applause, but never me.

That was until this Monday. I was on an EasyJet flight into Lisbon. There was a big storm over the city, and as we approached the airport the plane was bouncing around all over the place. I had a window seat, so could see what was happening as we came into land. One moment we were over the runway, the next moment we were off to one side or the other. That was until about 50 feet from the ground, where the pilot decided it wasn’t going to happen and aborted the landing. We rapidly accelerated back up into the air.

Everyone was very calm, but suddenly landing didn’t seem like the formality I’d always assumed it was! We climbed round in a big circle and around 10 minutes later came in to try again. Once again the plane was all over the place, and just before we touched the ground I’m sure the plane was pointing more across the runway than along it. But the pilot executed one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever experienced, and once all the wheels touched the ground everyone applauded. And I applauded too.

One of my daily disciplines is to try to pray what we call the Lord’s Prayer every day. Not in the rote way I did at school where the aim was just to get through it as quickly as possible, but slowly and thoughtfully, pausing over every phrase and even individual words. Almost every time I do it one part of the prayer will particularly resonate with me, and I’ll stop and spend time there. Reflecting, meditating, thanking, talking to God and listening to what he might be saying. Who knew you could have a deep encounter with God simply reflecting on the word “our”!

Well on Tuesday morning I got stuck in the phrase “Give us this day our daily bread”. Such a simple phrase which I must have prayed thousands of times before, yet on Tuesday it took on a whole new significance. Reflecting on all the things in life which I take for granted, but each of which is a miracle of God’s provision to be grateful for, to be applauded. Planes landing, a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, clothes to wear, food to eat, water to drink and wash in, my family, my friends. The list goes on and on.

So from now on I’ll be applauding in a fresh way. Applauding the things I take for granted. Grateful, thankful and humbled by the God who day after day pours out a grace I haven’t earned and I don’t deserve. And all of that before I get anywhere near Jesus!

Simon

Thursday, March 8, 2018

My Amazing Daughter



On International Women’s Day I wanted to write a few words about my amazing daughter Alice. 

Catrina and I have got three children, two boys Zach and Jacob, and last but not least our daughter Alice who will be 20 in about 3 weeks time. We’re really proud of all three of them, but today I’d like to write a few words about Alice.

Lots has been written about being a pastors kid (PKs as they get called in the States).

At one level it’s a huge privilege. Getting to see the inner workings of church life, spending time with the amazing people who make up our community, having meals with the different speakers who come to serve us, hopefully seeing that their parents are the same people in private as they are in public. I’ve got very special memories of Alice when she was young getting up early to come with me to the Saturday morning prayer meeting. Taking her to wedding rehearsals where afterwards she’d debrief me on all the things I should have done differently, and how the wedding could be improved. Seeing her make her first time commitment when we visited Hillsong in Australia (never one to miss an occasion!). Leading events, doing spoken words, preaching and playing in the band in our LIFE youth ministry. Running our REAL women’s conference. Going together to Zambia last year to see the girls dormitory and visit Sam and Hannah Fairs-Billam and their children. 

But it can also be tough. Sharing your parents with the rest of the church family. Living in the spotlight of other people’s opinions. The possibility that your peers treat you differently because of what your dad does for a living. Having parents who are very often among the first to get to church and the last to leave. Having a dad who uses you in sermon illustrations!

All that to say that I’m hugely proud of the woman Alice is becoming. She’s taken a very different path to her brothers, both of whom went to University. Instead she decided to leave school half way through her A Levels (despite our advice and encouragement to see them through!) and has set up her own business where, in her own words “I’m a digital marketing coach, empowering entrepreneurs to create and implement an effective strategy behind their online presence”. Basically she helps companies use things like blogs, twitter and facebook to tell people about what they do! Please read more about it here.

She has also recently started doing her own podcast, interviewing female entrepreneurs from around the world. She’s often in our living room with a “do not disturb sign” on the door as she interviews an amazing woman in some distant city or country!

And above all that she loves Jesus and is actively involved in the local church. What more could a dad ask for!

Alice please know how proud I am of you, and how much I love you. It’s a privilege to be your dad, and to call you my daughter. Know that you’re never to be defined by what you do or what others think of you, but by how God sees you and his never ending love for you. And know that to me, and to God, you are an amazing world changer!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Our Kerith Rhythm of Prayer



Tonight (Friday 1th) we’ve got a half night of prayer in the K2 building on our Bracknell site, from 8pm until 2am on Saturday morning. I encourage everyone who can from across our three sites to come if you can, either for some or all of our time together. We’ll be praying for a whole load of issues, as well as taking time to worship and just enjoy slowing down to be with Jesus. I’m really looking forward to it :)

It would be true to say that for some time now the corporate prayer life of Kerith has been a bit all over the place in terms of consistency! We’ve had nights of prayer, weeks of prayer, half nights ot prayer, monthly prayer meetings, no monthly prayer meetings. I know people have found it confusing, for which I want to apologise, but in future we want to have a much more consistent pattern so we all know where we’re going.

Personal prayer - The 24/7 Prayer Room

Prayer begins with each of our individual prayer lives with God. Jesus gave us very clear direction when he told us “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew ‭6:6‬)

We encourage everyone to make space every day to follow that command, even if you can only find a few minutes. 

To help with that we have an amazing resource in our 24/7 Prayer Room based at the Bracknell site which is available to book through the home page of the website. This can help you create space in your schedule to pray. You can book as an individual or with a small group.

Corporate Prayer - Kingdom Come Events

1. Kingdom Come Evenings of Prayer

At each of our sites we are going to have a monthly event in order to gather together to seek God and pray into the life of our church.
  • Bracknell                    Second Tuesday in the month 7:30-9pm K2 Building
  • Sandhurst                    First Sunday in the month 6-7:30pm Sandhurst School
  • Windsor                      Last Thursday in the month 7:30pm- 9pm Gospel Hall
We won’t meet for corporate prayer on any of our sites in August or December.

Keep an eye on the what’s on page of the website or your site social media feed for any unforeseen date changes, but as far as possible we’ll look to stick to this pattern. 

2. Kingdom Come Nights of Prayer

As a church we go deeper with a half night of prayer 3 times a year as a one church event, where we encourage everyone from all our sites to come together. These are incredible times of hearing Gods voice and personal refreshing.

These will tend to be on the Friday at the end of each half term, but listen out on a Sunday and keep an eye on social media for dates as they may change depending on what else is happening in the life of the church. 

We are also going to partner with the Thy Kingdom Come events in May organised by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Watch out for plans as we head into the spring.

Hopefully that’s all clear, if not please ask! Please put these dates in your diary and make them a priority.

Simon

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wildfires - Please book before Monday 5th March


I’ve just booked tickets for Catrina and me for Wildfires, and want to encourage everyone else who wants to come to book your tickets before Monday 5th March. The festival is being limited to 3,000 people for this first year. We have an allocation of tickets specifically reserved for Kerith, but on the 5th March those tickets return to the general pool, and once it’s sold out that will be it!

If you buy a ticket for Wildfires then that includes a ticket for the Big Church Day Out (BCDO) on the preceding Saturday and Sunday. I’d strongly encourage you to think about coming to both events - BCDO is one of my favourite events of the year with something for everyone.  If you’re camping then you can turn up from midday on Friday and stay until midday on the Thursday - whatever you do don’t miss the Wednesday night of the Festival which will finish with a bonfire and a candlelit procession.

All the information you need can be accessed via the Kerith website. Any questions please contact Sarah Harvey via the form on the website.

If you need any more encouragement take a look at this video of Pete Greig encouraging us all to go!

Hope to see you there :)

Simon

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wildfires



If you were around for the vision nights you’ll have heard me talk about Wildfires, a three day festival being organised by our friends at 24-7 prayer which we’re encouraging all of Kerith to consider coming along to.

Since the Stoneleigh Bible Week finished in 2001, I have personally missed the opportunity for us to gather together as a community in a context where we get to spend more time together than is available on a Sunday or in a midweek small group, and where we’re also exposed to the wider things God is doing in the nation and the nations. We’ve talked a few times as a leadership about whether we should organise our own camp, or get involved in some of the other excellent gatherings which take place around the country, but neither of those options have ever felt like the right thing to do.

However, from the moment we heard about Wildfires it seemed like a really good fit for us, both in terms of the people who will be there from other churches and organisations we already connect with, and the whole prophetic sense behind it of God doing a new thing which won’t replace but will enhance things God is already doing in the nation. And we get to sit around campfires, catch up with old friends and make new ones!

If you book in you get a ticket for the Big Church Day Out (BCDO) on the Saturday and Sunday, as well as for the Wildfires festival on the Monday to Wednesday. I’d encourage people to think about going to both - our family have been going to BCDO for the last few years and love it.

If you want to book in, or get more details, then go over to the Wildifres section on the Kerith website and click on the link that says “Book Tickets”. This is a Kerith specific link which will mean that everyone who books using it gets to camp together. You’ll also hopefully find all the info you need there too.

If you do have any questions then please direct them to Sarah Harvey, who is heading up the event from our end.

Hope to see you there around a campfire!

Simon

Friday, January 19, 2018

Job Opportunity - Afternoon Receptionist



At the recent Vision Nights (if you missed them then you can listen to either the Bracknell or Sandhurst version) one of the things we announced was that Marija McKean has been appointed as our Bracknell Site Kids Leader. This is really exciting as we look to strengthen and improve further the already excellent kids work on our Bracknell site. Please be praying for Marija in her new role and supporting her in any way you can.

A consequence of that decision is that we will lose Marija as our afternoon receptionist in the Kerith Centre. For me our resrptionists have one of the most important roles in our community, being the first experience many people have of Kerith when they either walk into the Kerith Centre, phone us or contact us via email. Getting that first impression right is so important in us being the peachy community we all aspire to be, and so I’m passionate we get the right person to replace Marija, who has been outstanding for us in that role. 

I’m therefore asking all of us to pray that we’ll find the right person, and consider whether it might be you or someone you know. You can find a full job description here. If there are any questions then please email our HR Manager Ali Hudell

Many thanks,

Simon