Monday, September 30, 2013

Thanksgivings on 20th October

One of the things we love to do in Kerith is publicly thanking God for the children he's given us. We'll have an opportunity to do that again on Sunday 20th October in the 9am and 11am in Bracknell and the 10am in Sandhurst.

If you'd like to have a thanksgiving for your child at any of those meetings then please register on the website and Lydia Harris-Lane, who oversees all things related to children in Kerith, will get back to you.

On that Sunday all the children will be in for the first 20 minutes of the meeting in both sites, but you can still register your kids before the meeting starts.

Hopefully we'll have our first thanksgivings in Sandhurst, as well as a whole load of thanksgivings in Bracknell, with lots of guests coming along to see what it's all about too!


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Free Training for Small Businesses

Are you part of a buinesses employing 250 people or less? Well our friends at Bracknell and Wokingham College have asked me to let you know that they are offering free government funded accredited training in a number of areas for members of staff over 19 years old.

There is an open evening to find out more at 6.30pm at the college building on Monday 14th October, where there will also be a presentation about the progress of the Bracknell town centre regeneration. You can get more information here, and register for the event here.



Friday, September 27, 2013

Creative Arts Team

Kerith relies on a huge volunteer creative arts team to produce all the various creative items we use as a church, but the teams are always on the look out for more people to get involved. They have therefore asked me if they could use my blog to invite you to register your interest if you'd like to explore joining one of our creative teams. Here's what they want to say to you.



You only have to look out of your window at the beauty of a setting sun to understand what an immensely creative God we serve. All of us are made in the image of God and therefore carry within us the desire to create.At Kerith, we have a legacy of excellence in artistry and innovation through music, drama, visual media, productions, graphic design, fine art and so much more. This term as a Creative Arts team our heart is to gather other 'Kerith Creatives' to join us in producing high quality, awe inspiring moments so that people encounter Jesus through our artwork as they experience Kerith.

If you have a passion for the Arts but haven't yet put it into action or you feel like stepping into this area again, we’d love for you to get involved. You don't need to be an expert to join in, we’re happy to provide training – just come with a heart to serve.

We are looking for people who are passionate about...

  • Drama
  • Graphic design
  • Video production
  • Stage design and set building
  • Journalism and script writing
  • Social Media/Communications
  • Photography
  • Website Design/Maintenance/Upkeep

The launch of a Kerith Creative blog and monthly Creative Gatherings are all in the pipeline - to get involved in this new 'Kerith Creatives' venture use the Contact Us form on the website or email for more information.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Pursuit of Happiness

One of the themes of 21st Century living seems to be the search for happiness and fulfillment in life. Yet this brilliant piece from the Huffington Post helps explain why for many of us the gap between our expectations and our reality leaves us feeling deeply dissatisfied and unhappy, despite us living in a nation and at a time in human history when we have more than anyone before us has ever had.

On Sunday we're starting a 4 week series where we're going to take a look at some of the things which promise to bring great happiness in life, but which often bring nothing but misery and pain. For the first week we're going to take a look at money. The promise is that you can have everything now, and that more stuff equals more happiness, but the reality is that often leads to nothing but pain and despair. How can money be a true source of happiness in your life - come on Sunday and find out!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Alpha Launch

A final reminder to be inviting people to the Alpha Lunch event on Saturday night where Gary Grant, founder of the Entertainer toyshops, will be speaking. It starts at 7.30pm in the Kerith Centre and is going to be a brilliant evening with cheese and wine, live music and a great amosphere.

Tickets are £5. If you are coming and haven't already got your tickets then please phone reception on 01344 862699 to reserve them and then pay for them on Saturday.

Please be courageous in asking people. You just don't know who might have their life changed by you simply taking the risk of talking to them face to face, texting them or messaging them on Facebook to ask them to come with you to this great event. I was out for breakfast with Ben Davies last week and he invited a bloke we met in the car park to come - the man stopped me in town yesterday to say that he'll see me on Saturday night! You just never know what God will do.

Hope to see you there.



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sandhurst - Week Two

I had the privilege of being at our Sandhurst site for the whole of the meeting this week. Considering they're only two weeks in there is just a great buzz, both in the meeting and before and after as people gather to chat.

For all of you who haven't been fortunate enough to visit yet I thought I'd post up some photos john Mitchell took at the weekend to give you a feel of it all. All that is missing is pictures of the kids rooms, which I can assure you look great too.

If you haven't been yet then why not choose to go along one week, support the team and see what is going on.



Friday, September 20, 2013

Multisite Week 2

So having launched our new site in Sandhurst last Sunday we get to do it all again this weekend!

The plan for our new sites is that most weekends we'll have the same preacher and the same message at all 4 meetings. However, we will have a number of Sundays throughout the year where we have different preachers at the different meetings, and this is one of those. Lee Layton-Matthews will be preaching at the 9&11 at Bracknell, Heather Pocock will be preaching at the 10am in Sandhurst and Liam Parker at the 6pm in Bracknell. We've also got two people being baptised at the 6pm gathering.

Please remember to get your Alpha launch tickets on Sunday, and to book in for the GLS which is only three weeks away now.

Next week we start a series called "The Pursuit of Happiness", looking at what the Bible has to say about finding true happiness in life. It's going to be very practical and down to earth, focussing on how we can find happiness through money, sex and power - things both the world and the Bible spend a lot of time focussing on. Don't miss it, and be thinking about who else you can invite along.

Hope to catch you at one of our 4 gatherings - I plan to be there for at least part of all of them so see you there!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dr Phillip Lee at TMTL (but everyone is invited!)

Those among you with good memories may remember that a while ago the MP for Bracknell, Dr Phillip Lee, was going to come and speak at TMTL, our group for the retired, but unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute.

Well Phillip has now given us a new date, and will be speaking on Thursday 26th September at the K2 building on our Bracknell site. Although this a TMTL meeting they would like to invite everyone to come. If you're around I'd really encourage you to be there. I've got a lot of time for Phillip, and think he speaks a lot of sense on a range of issues, from the NHS to Syria, as well as being very positive about what we do as a church community. However, that's only my personal opinion and I'd encourage you to come along and hear him for yourself.

Phillip is going to talking about his work as an MP and all the things that go on during a working week, plus he will speak a little bit about his own background. Phillip will start speaking at 2pm, but if you could aim to get there for 1.45pm that would give you time to get a drink and find a seat. After Phillip has spoken there will be time to ask him questions - the meeting will finish at 3pm.

Even if you can't make it let's be praying for Phillip, and our other elected representatives. As Paul writes to Timothy:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV)


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Multisite Reflections

Well we did it. After months of praying, thinking, planning, negotiating, giving, serving and praying some more we just had our first Sunday with two sites, Bracknell and Sandhurst.

Sandhurst seemed to go incredibly well. We had 152 people, including 18 children, which was great as we'd prayed for 120-140 on the first Sunday, and all the feedback I've heard has been that it didn't feel like this was something we were doing for the first time - exactly what we hoped to achieve. Ben, Heather and the team did a great job of getting the rooms ready and making sure everyone, including the kids who had a puppet show, felt very welcomed. There were also quite a number of visitors, with people coming via personal invitation, after seeing the wrap around in the local paper and via an advert we put in the Sandhurst residents newsletter - all very exciting.

In the 9am and 11am in Bracknell it was encouraging to see we'd managed to create space with people moving to Sandhurst. Let's pray that we fill that space really quickly! I also managed the drive to Sandhurst and back in time to preach at each meeting (our son Zak was the driver this week - that could have been interesting but he did very well too!).

Finally the new 6pm, with Liam in charge, had a great buzz about it, with the added bonus of someone making a first time commitment at the end of the evening.

I feel we're now in a season of growing into all the space we've created in the four meetings. I'm praying that Sandhurst will grow quickly, with people getting saved and stepping up to volunteer in order to make Sundays happen there. We did manage in the morning meetings to briefly get live video from Sandhurst to Bracknell (via the wonders of Skype), which hopefully will be something we need to do on a regular basis when we need to have two morning meetings in Sandhurst! I'm also praying for the three Bracknell meetings to continue to grow, with new people coming all the time.

All very exciting. A huge thank you everyone who helped make it happen, whichever site you were on. Let's do it all again next Sunday!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sandhurst Launch Tomorrow - Big and Small at the Same Time

The only people who like big churches are worship leaders and preachers. Everyone else wants to be in a small church because of the quality of relationships you get, but will put up with being in a big church for the quality of the kids work, youth work, music, preaching, the range of ministries and courses and the impact the church is making - Jim Tomberlin

As part of working our how to launch our new site in Sandhurst we've been helped by the writings of a guy called Jim Tomberlin who writes and speaks almost exclusively on helping churches start new sites. I've only heard Jim speak once, which was long before we started thinking about starting Sandhurst, but in the course of that talk he made the quote above (or something similar!).

The more I've thought about it the more I think Jim is exactly right. Most of us don't want to be in a church where we're an anonymous face in a crowd of thousands, but want to be somewhere small enough where we can know people and be known. But we also like the quality, range of ministries and kingdom impact which comes form being part of something big.

My prayer is that all of our sites will give everyone who comes along the benefits of being in both a small church and a big church. In Sandhurst we physically can't gather more than 220 adults in one meeting as the hall won't seat more than that - it will always have a smaller feel. But as part of a much bigger church Sandhurst will offer the quality and ministries of something much bigger. That's the hope at least!

We talk about being a church of thousands, but I strongly suspect that those thousands won't be gathered in one huge auditorium, but in many smaller gatherings where each of us can know others and be known. Sandhurst is just the first step in making that idea a reality.

I'd love to hear what you think about this. It makes sense to me but I'd love to know if it resonates with you.

Hope to catch you on Sunday (in either Bracknell or Sandhurst!).


Friday, September 13, 2013

2 Days to Sandhurst Launch - Calling All Leaders

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6-8 NIV)

Bill Hybels contends that wherever you find an organisation which is doing well, whether it's a company, a football team, a charity, a school or a church, at the core will be men and women who are gifted and equipped to lead and who are properly exercising their leadership gift. I totally believe that to be true, both from my observation of the world and more importantly from studying the Bible (if you don't believe me just read the book of Judges!).

In Ben and Heather Pocock, who are leading Sandhurst, and in Liam Parker, who is leading our new 6pm Bracknell gathering, we have three outstanding young leaders. Please be praying for them a they step up to their new roles, that they will lead with wisdom, humility, clarity, boldness, love and with a desire to serve others.

One of the roles of leaders is to keep learning and improving our leadership gift. There are two ways I want to encourage you to do that if you're a Kerith leader.

First to come to the All Leaders Meeting which is in K2 starting at 7.45pm on Tuesday (17th September). I'll be talking more about what we're doing as a community, sharing some leadership insights and doing some Q&A. Anyone who is a leader, or aspires to be a leader, in our community is invited.

Secondly to come to the Global Leadership Summit on the 11th and 12th October. I challenge you to find higher quality leadership training anywhere in the world, and the great news is that as part of Kerith you get in for the incredible rate of £30 - just sign in at reception.

Hope to see you at both events :)



Thursday, September 12, 2013

3 Days to Sandhurst Launch - No Anxiety

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6, 7 NIV)

Several people have asked me if I'm feeling nervous or worried ahead of the launch of our new Sandhurst site. I really appreciate people's concern for me, but I can honestly say I don't feel at all anxious about Sunday or how it is all going to work. That's not to say I won't feel a bit nervous before I get up to speak at each of the 4 meetings on Sunday (I think that's normal and probably quite healthy), but I have no anxiety and haven't had any sleepless nights thinking about the launch of Sandhurst, or the relaunch of the Sunday evening meeting in Bracknell.

That's partly because what we're doing in Sandhurst isn't about one Sunday, but is about us bringing the presence of Jesus to that area for decades to come. How important in retrospect were our first Sunday in the Kerith Centre or the first Sunday after we moved into K2? Not very. What has mattered is what we've done with a relentless persistence over the following years, seeking to love God, love one another and serve our community.

It's also because God is more committed to what we're doing than we are. We aren't doing this as a company trying to find its way in the world, or a charity seeking to do good with the wisdom and resources it has. We're about building the church Jesus told us to build. Of which he said "I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18b NIV)

But finally I'm not worried because I don't think God's plan for our lives is for us to live with anxiety or worry. In fact living as a worried, anxious person can be a very negative thing for us, impacting our mental and physical health, our witness, our work, our sleep, our relationships and our walk with God. That's why Paul tells us that when we are worried we should turn the anxiety into prayer, handing over the responsibility and control to God so that he can replace our worry with his peace - an amazing exchange.

What are you worried about at the moment? Why don't you right now resolve to stop worrying, and to start turning your anxiety to prayer, giving it over to God. It's so much more productive a use of your time, and so much better a way to live!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

5 Days to Sandhurst Launch - Please Pray

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:7, 8 NIV)

People have occasionally asked me whether God told us to start a new site in Sandhurst, and how we can be sure it is what God wants us to do? That's a very good question, how do we know if God is really in all we are doing? Well I think some of the answer to that question is in the words recorded in John 15 above.

We'd hopefully all agree that one of the keys to living a fruitful life is prayer. Although there is much that we can do to produce fruitful soil with the potential for growth, it is only God who can supernaturally produce growth (see 1 Corinthians 3:6). Jesus is talking about that here when he tells us to "ask" in order that we might be fruitful.

But there is something surprising in what Jesus says about what we should pray for. He doesn't tell us to pray for God's will to be done, as he did in the Lord's Prayer, but instead for us to ask for "whatever you wish". That sounds quite dangerous, who knows what outlandish things we might end up asking for!

But the key comes just before in what Jesus says, the precondition for our prayer ring answered, which is that we remain in Jesus and that his words remain in us. What I've found in my own life is that the closer I get to Jesus, the more my desires change to become his desires. This is what David expressed when he wrote "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart". (Psalm 37:4 NIV). When we delight in him then our desires will be his desires and there will be no end to our prayers being answered.

I see Sandhurst in the light of this. We've never heard a voice from heaven telling us to start a site in Sandhurst, or had a prophetic word telling us to go there. But we have had a growing wish, an increasing desire to do something in that area, which I think is more strongly God's desire than it is ours. So we're now asking God to bless what we're doing in Sandhurst, making it fruitful and bringing him glory. And we're believing that he will hear our prayers and do what we've asked him to do.

That's a very long way of saying please be praying this week for both our Bracknell site and the launch of our Sandhurst site. Pray for fruit, pray for salvation, pray for workers, pray for God to be glorified. And if you're free please come and join us at the prayer meeting on Wednesday night - 8pm in K2 (and for the hour before praying for social justice in the K2 lounge if you're free). Hope to see you there!


Monday, September 9, 2013

6 Days to Sandhurst Launch - Our Judea

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV)

These were the final words of Jesus to the disciples before he ascended to heaven. In them he tells them to wait for the Holy Spirit to come, and then to go and make disciples in the whole earth, having as much impact over as wide an area as possible.

In reality they did a pretty good job in Jerusalem, bearing much fruit there, but it took persecution and eventually the salvation of Paul to get them to go much further afield (come and hear Andy Stanley at the GLS for a fascinating perspective on how this all played out).

For over 130 years Bracknell has been our Jerusalem, our home territory where we've primarily attempted to be witnesses to Jesus. We've done a pretty good job of impacting Bracknell, and in making disciples in lots of other places, a church planted in Reading, helping churches across the UK and in a number of other nations, people being trained in Bracknell and sent out and gathering people from a wider and wider area.

But we feel now is the time to have a bigger impact on our Judea, on the towns around Bracknell. Not just by gathering people from those places, but by having expressions of Kerith in those places. That's what Kerith Sandhurst is all about. Creating another place where we can be witnesses and people can come and hear the good news of Jesus without having to travel all the way to Bracknell.

My prayer is that Sandhurst will be something when repeated will allow us to reach all of our Judea. That it will be just the first of many expressions of Kerith which over the next few years we will establish. That makes Sandhurst so exciting to me, that it's not just about this one new thing but about this being repeated over and over again.

Lots will be required to make that happen. The power of the Holy Spirit with us. Keeping Jesus at the centre of all we do. The raising of an army of new site pastors, kids workers, musicians, singers, tech teams, welcomers, social justice junkies, evangelists, prophets and others willing to go. Finance and favour to find and equip new venues. Wisdom about where to go next and how fast.

So in 6 days time we start. I'm sure some things will go well, and some things will need fixing. But the key thing is not what happens this Sunday (on either of our sites), but what we will continue to do over the next few months and years.

Very exciting!



Friday, September 6, 2013

Willow GLS Booking

Please can I encourage you this Sunday to book into the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit which is on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th October. If you're part of our community you can book in at the special rate of £30 for the two days, which for what you get is an utter bargain. You need to book in at the reception desk where you can pay with cash, a cheque (payable to Kerith Community Church) or by card.

If you don't know what the GLS is you can read all about it here. Put simply it's the best leadership event I've ever been a part of, and will leave you inspired, encouraged, entertained, equipped and with a bigger vision of what God can do through your life. This year the talk by Bill Hybels alone is worth the cost of getting in!

We need to complete all our Kerith bookings in the next couple of weeks, so please book this weekend if possible. I'm praying for 100 of us to make the decision to be there, along with all the other guests who will be joining us from around the UK and from Europe.



Sunday Preview

This coming Sunday is the last Sunday after 130 years of our history as a church that we will only be meeting in one location! We've had lots of different Sunday meeting places over the years, at least 5 by my reckoning, but always at one location within Bracknell. It therefore feels quite historic that this will be be the last Sunday we meet that way.

There are lots of exciting things going on this Sunday. At the 9am we're baptising a young Korean girl called Yoon, during the 11am I'm interviewing Catriona Mitchell about how she has been instrumental in bringing social justice to the centre of all we do as a community, then after the 11am there's a tea in K2 to thank Yvonne Scott for all that she has done as children's pastor for our 5-11's.

We've also got our "Give to Grow" gift day in all three meetings - please be thinking about what to give as we look to raise the final £105,000 we need to make this years target.

Across all the meetings I'll also be reflecting on some of the new things we've done over the last couple of years, and some of the amazing answers to prayer which have made those things possible.

Hope to see you there :)


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Next Level Serving

On Sunday I encouraged all of us who would call Kerith our home to get involved in serving on a Sunday, as part of making our Sunday gatherings the most welcoming place possible. A load of people signed up, which was great, but in case you missed the opportunity you can find an electronic version of the sign up form here.

In particular I was encouraging men to get involved in our kids work, but whether you would like to get involved in greeting people as they come into the car park, at the doors, serving drinks or behind the scenes on the tech team I really want to encourage you to sign up and play your part in the all that God is doing amongst us.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sid Stevens

If you've been around Kerith for 20 years or more you may have known Sid Stevens. Amongst other roles in the life of the church he was the church secretary, and is another of those people whose lives have left a legacy in who we are today.

Sadly Sid recently passed away, and I wanted to let you know that his funeral will be at Easthampstead Park Crematorium at 1.30pm on Friday 13th September. Afterwards everyone has been invited to the Golden Retriever. The family have requested that people don't bring flowers.

Many of us who didn't know Sid will remember his son Paul, who with his family was a much loved part of our community until they moved away. Please be praying for all the family as they come to terms with their loss.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Give as You Live - Free Money for Kerith Social Justice!

I think it's always going to be true that the majority of the money to fund all that Kerith does as a community will come from the direct giving of those who make up our church. In fact I think that's the way God intended it to be.

However, just as Paul added to his income by tent making, there is no reason that we can't as a church look at addition ways of funding what we do. We've done this for years now, from Melita's table top sales to raise money to build the Kerith Centre to the income we receive today from local authority funding of our respite care, grants we receive and money which comes in via the K4 shop and fashion show - all of it allows us to do more than we could do on our own.

James Evans, who heads up doing all our grant applications, recently found a new source of funding. It's via a scheme called Give as You Live, whereby every time you shop online with any one of a massive range of companies, Kerith will receive a portion of what you spend. The companies include everyone from Apple to Amazon to Tesco, and the great thing is that it doesn't cost you a penny. As an example Tesco will give Kerith 2.5% of whatever you spend on their website, so if you do a £100 grocery order then Kerith will get £2.50.

In order to start using the scheme you need to sign up here. James has also written a brilliant set of instructions which you can find here. You can also recommend other people, earning Kerith £5 when they first use the system.

There's no pressure on anyone to do this, and if you don't feel comfortable with it then that's fine, but from what I can see this could be a great way to bring some additional income to allow us to do even more.



Monday, September 2, 2013

Please Pray for the Girls Dormitory Construction

Many of you will know what as part of our project in Serenje, Zambia, to alleviate the impact of HIV/AIDS on that community a need was identified for a dormitory ot be built so that girls who live a long way from Serenje could complete their secondary school education without having to live in a slum area where they are at huge risk (currently only 5% of the girls complete their secondary education).

With the help of the Kerith Youth and our friends at Garth Hill College we fairly easily raised the £125,000 to build the dormitory, but since then actually trying to get the dormitory built has been what I can only describe as the biggest spiritual battle I feel I've ever been involved in. Those of you who know me will know that I'm not somebody who uses that sort of language very often, but I honestly believe that the devil has been doing anything he can to stop this dormitory from being built and the girls having a safe place to complete their secondary education. As the first half of John 10:10, which we don't quote so often as the second half, says "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy".

But the great news is that after much prayer, and more emails, meetings and phone calls than I think we've consumed on anything else we've done as a church, construction is due to start in the next couple of weeks. This is so brilliant, and I for one will be initiating a praise party when the first spade goes into the ground to start work on the construction.

There is still much to pray for. Our good friend Leah Mutala has sent over some things we can pray for which I've included below - please join with me in praying for these things, and that by the end of this year the girls might actually be in there getting the education which will change the trajectory of their lives.



Prayer requests from Leah

  1. Pray for key people making strategic decisions - Rev Mwanza , Mr Chintankwa the builder, the team from Kerith coming in October (Ralph Allen, who designed in the dormitory, and Howard Reece-Smith are going out to oversee some of the construction), the building committee comprising bishop Kasele and Pastor Nthaka and two other people and E.F.Z staff - Ian, & Leah.
  2. Trusted and skilled workforce ( workers to be identified, usually referred to as casual workers or daily paid employees) who would be digging foundation, mixing conrete, brick layers, carpenters etc.
  3. Pray that the Lord will make readily available all materials needing to be purchased.
  4. Pray for good health, protection on workers and transportation of materials to the site and Angelic presence on all that will be done.

Please you are welcome to pray daily if you have some time to spare.

Leah Mutala cannot wait to see the first brick in the foundation!!!!!!!!!