Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Peach and Coconut - Grace and Truth

Here is the link to this weeks chapter of "The Peach and the Coconut". Most people seem to be making comments via this email address, although feel to leave comments on the blog or Facebook if you'd prefer to. I'm getting a growing number of comments which I'm finding really helpful - thanks to everyone who is contributing, and who has been sending in stories.

This Sunday we've got ten different preachers, three in each of the morning meetings and four in the evening - very exciting. Then the following week Lee is preaching on "Conflict Resolution" as the next part of "The Peach and the Coconut". This is a vital subject as we look at how to challenge areas of coconut behaviour within our own community.

Hope to catch you at Willow.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Photo Opportunity

On Sunday morning, after both meetings, we are going to be taking photo's of as many people as possible. These will be to use in future magazines, on banners, on literature and on the website.

The 'studio' will be in the V in the back corridor of The Kerith Centre. Please go there at some point and have your picture taken.

I'm preaching on grace and truth tomorrow. We've got a powerful end to the meeting - don't miss it!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Foodbank Birthday

Today our Foodbank is one year old. It only seems a few weeks ago that we held the launch event. In that first year we've helped over 800 adults, 300 children, served over 10,000 meals and given away over 8 tonnes of food (for those like me who struggle to know what that looks like in real terms it's the equivalent of around 22,500 cans of beans).

It really has been a community effort. Food, money and volunteer time has been donated by schools, churches, charities, companies and individuals. Clients have come to us from 34 voluntary and statutory bodies, and the store where we keep all the food has been provided for free by Bracknell Forest Homes.

This lunchtime we had a 'birthday lunch' for the Foodbank in K2. This was hosted by Pat Hallett who heads it all up, her husband Geoff who is the logistics manager and Catriona Mitchell who was the driving force behind us opening the Foodbank and now oversees it. Everyone involved in the Foodbank was invited, we had about 60 people there including the borough mayor. At the lunch we heard about what has been achieved, but also about the expansion which we are planning in the coming year to cope with the expected increase in need for the Foodbank. It was great to get to talk to so many different people about the ways we are involved in the community, and made me very proud of our people and what God does through us.


Coffee and Car Parks

Those of you in the morning meetings last Sunday would have heard us make three appeals for volunteers.

The first was for 8 new car parkers so that we could switch from using the AVIS car park to parking in the college on a Sunday. The second was for 8 new drinks servers so that we could serve tea and coffee before the start of the 9am meeting. The final one was for some more hosts for the international delegates coming to the Willow GLS.

Well, wonderful people, I want to let you know that enough volunteers stepped up for all three. We will be able to use the college car park from Sunday 3rd October (Sue wanted to have enough time to prepare all the teams to make sure we do it well so we'll be still be in Avis this Sunday), we will be serving drinks before the 9am and none of the overseas Willow delegates are going to have to sleep on the streets!

Thank you so much, not only to the new volunteers, but to everyone who faithfully serves week in week out both on a Sunday and midweek. Jesus said that He didn't come to be served but to serve, part of our call is to have the same attitude. You are very much appreciated.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Peach & Coconut Links

I've had a couple of links sent to me this morning relating to "The Peach and the Coconut".

The first is from Ron Bailey, Jo Jones' dad, who is a Bible teacher. He sent me a link to a blog he wrote recently about how God's plan for a persons life is often different to the plan we would have for them, which fits in really well with what we talked about on Sunday. I loved this quote: "God, I discovered, was not nearly so tidy as I was and certainly wasn’t nearly such a clear thinking evangelical as I was". I'd encourage you to have a read of it.

The second link came to me from Bill Clague, a whole website dedicated to how to open a coconut! There's even a link on there to another site on how Polynesian's open coconuts. I'm still looking for the peach equivalent :-)


The Peach and the Coconut - Chapter Three

The link to this weeks chapter is here, and you can listen to the preach here. As I said on Sunday I've called this chapter three as we've preached it third in the series, although it's quite possible that when we get to actually produce the book it will appear as a later chapter. I'm hoping this week that lifegroups will take the time to review this chapter - I've really appreciated all the feedback I've had so far.

I'm looking for stories which will illustrate each chapter. I've already got some good ones, but would love to get some to illustrate this chapter in particular. They can be used anonymously if need be, so if you have a story please can you email it here, along with all those comments on this weeks chapter.

Hope you have a great week,


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Yesterday was my birthday. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday - it was certainly the busiest day I've ever had on my Facebook wall. I even got a message from Andrew White in Baghdad! I had a really good day, some great presents and a meal of sausages and mash with the family in the evening - what more could a man ask for?

But it was also a much more exciting birthday yesterday - the 20th birthday of Sparklers, our mums and toddlers ministry. When Caroline Hanbury and her gang of dedicated volunteers began it 20 years ago I don't think they had any idea what they were starting. Over that time there have been three different leaders (Caroline, my wife Catrina and now Dany Smith), an army of volunteers and many changes and new initiatives, but the goal has always stayed the same, to provide the best mums and toddlers group in the town and in that context to present the message of Jesus as clearly and as persuasively as possible.

As we talk about creating peach communities Sparklers would be a great example, in many ways a pioneer of the culture we are now building across the church. Always willing to welcome and accept anyone who came, but never ashamed or afraid to be clear about the core, about Jesus and what He means to us. The fruit of this peach has been many lives transformed by the power of God's love.

Happy Birthday to Sparklers!


Monday, September 13, 2010

The Peach and the Coconut - Chapter Two

Ben Oliver did an excellent job yesterday talking on the centrality of Christ to our community - if you missed or want to listen to it again you can find it to it here.

Here's the link to the chapter two of The Peach and the Coconut which goes with this talk. I'll be honest that this chapter is much less finished than the introduction and chapter one I posted last week (thanks by the way for all the comments and stories on those). I therefore need people to do some hard work on making this chapter the finished article. In particular the end of the chapter is weak where I talk about what it costs to follow Jesus, and much of the rest of it could be improved and sharpened. Why not have a go at rewriting a section and submitting your improved version. As last week either add comments to the blog or send them to this email address.

Hope to catch you at the prayer meetings this week,


GLS Overseas Visitors - Help Needed

At the latest count we're going to have 23 international visitors at the Willow Creek GLS we're hosting on the 1st and 2nd October. They're coming from Albania, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic and the USA. One of them will be staying at the Grange, but we'd love to be able to host them rest of them with people from our community.

They'll be arriving on Wednesday 29th or Thursday 30th September and going home on either Sunday 3rd or Monday 4th October. They'll need a bed, breakfast every day, transport to and from The Kerith Centre on the Friday and Saturday and possibly one or two other meals. There will be 3 couples, 10 men and 6 women.

If you could have someone to stay with you that would be fantastic. If you can help please could you send an email to reception so that they can start to allocate guests to homes. It's such a privilege to have these people with us, and such an opportunity for us to touch other nations, so please get involved if you can.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Willow Dan Pink Preview

I thought you might enjoy this video of one of this years Willow GLS speakers - Dan Pink. He's pulled together research on what motivates people, and has found that for most people in most situations money doesn't motivate them to do better work, and in many situations makes them do worse work. You can see a preview of his research here, and then look forward to seeing the talk in its entirety at the Summit.


Friday, September 10, 2010


In one of those "it's the end of the day and my minds wandering all over the place" moments I found a program on the net called Wordle. Basically you feed it a load of words and it creates a cloud of them all, giving greater prominence to words which appear more frequently. I fed all the text from "The Peach and the Coconut" (including all the chapters you haven't seen yet) through it and got the result below. I like Jesus, people, church, community and God getting a big mention. I was slightly surprised peach and coconut weren't more prominent, and need to stop using the word 'just' quite so much!

See what you think.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Worship News

Thought I'd update you on a couple of exciting things happening in the world of worship.

First of all at the prayer meetings next week (Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th, 8pm in K2) we're going to turn the whole evening over to worship, and seeing what flows out of that. I know a number of people have been asking whether we could have an opportunity for less structured worship than we have on Sundays - hopefully these will hit the spot for you. Each evening we'll worship, pray, have communion and just enjoy resting and dwelling in God's presence. If you're one of those people who has worship as your spiritual pathway you might even want to come both evenings.

Secondly ever since I've been in the church we've had one big pool of musicians and singers from which the team on a Sunday are pulled together. Well that's all changing with the formation of three separate bands, each of which will play one week in four. The hope is that this will create a tighter bond between the people in each band (the big group of singers and musicians has really got too big for those sorts of relationships to flourish), reduce the strain on individual band members (they'll now only be serving one week in four, although with the three meetings that's still a big commitment), let them focus more on preparing for a specific Sunday (which will give them more time to tailor what they're doing to the preach that Sunday and do performance items) and generally gear us up for future growth.

The astute amongst you will have noticed that we've got three bands and a four week rota. Fear not! The plan is on the fourth week in the morning meetings to do a cut down 'acoustic' set. People seemed to really appreciate it when we did an acoustic set (out of necessity) when it snowed after Christmas so we thought we'd make it a regular feature and see where it takes us. Then in the evening of the fourth week our up and coming youth band, Revolution, will get to lead - not to be missed. Quieter in the morning - not quite so quiet in the evening! The way the rota work the first acoustic / Revolution Sunday will be on Sunday 19th September.

We're so well served by our musicians and singers, as well as the technical teams on sound, computers and lighting who support them. Please be praying for them with all these changes, which will inevitably cause some pain, and let what they do help you to worship God in spirit and in truth - that will encourage them more than anything else.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Peach and the Coconut - Week One

Last Sunday we started a new preaching series - "The Peach and the Coconut" (if you missed it you can listen to it here). I believe this is going to be perhaps the most important series we've done since I started leading the church, as we're going to look in detail at the sort of community we want Kerith to be and produce a blueprint for the next 10 or 20 years.

The intention is that at the end of the series we'll take the content and put it together as a book. What I'm going to do each week is to publish on the net the chapter of the book which goes with that weeks sermon and let everyone comment on it. I really do want to encourage everyone to read the chapters and say what they think. I'm looking for comment on everything from spelling mistakes to style to theological content. My hope is that at the end of the process we'll have a book which we all feel is 'ours', rather just something I've produced.

I'm also looking for life stories which illustrate each chapter. If you have a story which you feel illustrates what is being discussed I'd love you to send them in and for us to include those too - they can be anonymous if you'd prefer that.

I'm not quite sure the best way to facilitate this process. To start with I'm going to publish each chapter to Google Docs where you can read it and print it out if you want to. I'd then suggest emailing comments or stories to the office on this email address, or writing them down and putting them in the post trays, or you could leave them as comments on this blog. I'll then take a look at them and incorporate them into the text. This may change if we find a better way of doing it! For anyone without internet access we can make paper copies available - please ask at reception.

This week you get a double helping, as we've got the introduction here and chapter one here. Please find time time to read them and let me have your comments!

Ben Oliver is preaching part two this Sunday on the centrality of Jesus - hope to see you there.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kerith Academy

Today was the first day of this year's Kerith Academy (what we used to call the year team). This year there are seven young people coming for a year to be trained in children's work, youth work and the creative arts. Five of them are from our church, one is from Banbury and one from Poland (I'll post a photo of them all later in the week - we forgot to take one today!).

They will spend two days a week working in their chosen ministry area, one day a week getting theological and leadership training, will be involved on Sundays, will hopefully have a day to stop and then will be looking for work the other two days to support themselves. Ben Pocock, who joined the staff last week, is overseeing the Academy with Lee Layton-Matthews helping with its development.

This style of ministry development, with people receiving a mixture of practical and theological training, is something we'd really like to develop further. Next year my prayer is that we might have 20 people on the programme with a mixture of all ages and people from Kerith, elsewhere in the UK and overseas. Perhaps you would like to be one of the 20!

We'd also like to take the theological and leadership training we deliver this year, and from next September set it up as a two year rolling programme presented one evening a week which anyone from Kerith would be able to attend. People would be able to start the course at the beginning of any term. One of the results of the Reveal Survey we completed earlier this year was that people wanted more in depth Bible teaching, hopefully this would be one way we could meet that need.

Please be praying for our new Academy students. We'll be introducing them on Sunday so look forward to seeing them all there.