Saturday, January 30, 2016

Photos being taken at the 9am meeting in Bracknell

Our Kerith Kids team have asked me to pass on the following message:

We are currently updating our website, and as part of this are looking to update the photos that we have. This Sunday at the Bracknell 9am meeting only, we will be taking photos in Kerith Kids to put on our Kids pages. If you have children registered in the 9am Kerith Kids you will be asked to complete a photo consent form that will give us permission to use the photos on the website, and in publicity material. If you would rather we did not use photos of your child, then please indicate this on the form and we will delete the photos appropriately.

Hope that makes sense, and look forward to seeing you all tomorrow :)


Month of Prayer - Using the Prayer Room

“By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life.”

(Psalm 42:8)

As we've done over the last few years we're setting February aside as a month to focus on praying.

As part of that we're encouraging as many people as possible to make use of our 24-7 prayer room, which is on our Bracknell site. You can book the prayer room here, either for your own individual use, for a group or as an open time where you're happy for other people to come and join you. Maybe you've never been in the prayer room before - it's a great place to find peace, tranquility and the presence of God, and you don't need to go there with any agenda other than to spend time with God. If you're feeling a bit nervous about it why not book in with a friend and go together - you won't regret it!

Please go to the site and book in for as many slots as you can make over the month - there are 696 one hour slots across the whole of February - it would be great to have as many of those as possible filled. Why not sign in for one of those late night or early morning slots - I've booked in for the very first hour in February if you fancy joining me there, or taking over from me at 1am!

Hope to see you there :)


Friday, January 29, 2016

This Sunday - The Second Sign & Live Streaming

We're spending the whole of 2016 in John's account of the life of Jesus, and on Sunday we're going to be looking at the second sign, or miracle, which John records - the healing of the officials son. As preparation it would be great for you to take time to read and meditate on the passage in advance which is John 4:43-54 - you can find it here.

I've been doing the preparation for it over the last couple of weeks and I'm really looking forward to speaking on an event which has so much to teach us about Jesus and how we relate to him. Please be there if you possibly can.

This Sunday is also going to be a first for us as we're going to 'live stream' the message, meaning that I'll preach it live at the 9am in Bracknell, and then the 10am in Sandhurst and the 11am in Bracknell will watch a recording of the 9am message. This is all with a view to us adding more sites, and Sandhurst at some point going to two morning meetings, both of which will make driving the preacher around impossible, as well as just a general feeling that preachers rushing around between sites isn't a good thing to do. Most Sunday's the plan is to have live preachers in all our sites, but for certain key Sunday's and as part of keeping us together as one church in multiple locations, we want to be able to 'live stream' between sites so we can all hear the same message from the same preacher.

I think for now on the Sunday's when we do choose to live stream the preacher will preach live in Bracknell at the 9am and 11am, but for this first Sunday I'm keen to go down to Sandhurst and see how it works, so we'll use the recorded message for the 11am in Bracknell too. Of course when Sandhurst has a 9am and 11am it would be possible when we 'live stream' for the preacher to be live in Sandhurst (or at any other sites we add) and be watched via video in Bracknell - again helping us to remember we're one church in multiple locations, not a hub in Bracknell with satellite congregations elsewhere.

All of this will also allow us to have video podcasts of the sermons as well as the audio we currently have - something quite a few people have been asking me for. We should also fairly soon be able to allow people to watch the sermon (and in time the rest of the meeting) live online, again something people have requested, although that doesn't mean you can just stay in bed on a Sunday morning and watch the meetings from home!

I want to say a huge thank you to all the tech team (most of whom are volunteers) who have been working incredibly hard to get all the technology and do all the training required to make this work. Please extend grace to them all if it doesn't quite work first time. All of this is an experiment and we'll look to shape and change what we do as we learn the lessons along the way.

See you Sunday,



Thursday, January 28, 2016

Kids Work Vision Night - Tuesday 2nd February 8pm

One of our man focusses for 2016 is to take our children's work, which is already something we're incredibly proud of, to another level. Every Sunday we have around 200 children under 11 taking part in Kerith Kids which is amazing, but we feel like God has more for us.

I'd therefore like to invite every parent who has children in our children's work, all of our amazing team members who make children's work happen week in week out, and anyone else who might be interested in being involved, to a meeting this coming Tuesday, the 2nd February, at 8pm in the K2 building on our Bracknell site. We want to talk about the plans we have to move our kids work forwards in 2016, make time to pray for our kids work and all of those involved, and make space to hear from one another and from God. As part of that we also want to talk about two job opportunities coming up within our children's work, which we feel are key to us achieving all God has for us.

Please come if you possibly can - there's no need to let us know in advance, just turn up on the night - it would be great to have you there.



Monday, January 25, 2016

February Month of Prayer

We are setting February apart as a month of prayer for our community, for us to thank God for his goodness, pray for one another, for our local community, for the nations and for more of God in all we do.

We're going to keep it very simple and encourage everyone to do two things in February.

The first is to book into our 24/7 prayer room on our Bracknell site. You can book in individually, as a bunch of friends, as a family, as a serving or interest group, or you can just book an open slot and see who else turns up! To book either just follow this link, or go to our website and keep clicking on the boxes that say prayer room and you'll get there soon enough! If you don't have access to a computer I'm not sure how you're reading this blog(!), but feel free on a Sunday to use one of the iPads in Bracknell or Sandhurst or ask one of the welcome team there to help you. There are 696 one hour slots in February, it would be great to have people praying in as many of them as possible.

Secondly we're going to turn the Sunday evening meetings in February into all church prayer meetings. I'd love to encourage all of us to come to as many of them as we can. On each of the evenings we'll have a time of worship (which is a form of prayer in itself) followed by a good period of time to pray. On the 7th, 14th and 21st we're all going to meet in Bracknell, then on the 28th we'll have site specific prayer meetings gathering in Bracknell, Sandhurst and if we can find a suitable venue Windsor/Maidenhead. They'll all start at 6pm, with tea and coffee served before, and will aim to finish around 7.30pm. Amongst other things we'll pray into our vision for 2016, the nations we're involved in, the growth of our sites, one another and much more.

Hopefully all of that will also spur us to prioritise our own personal times with God. I think it's going to be an exciting month.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Devote Yourself to the Public Reading of Scripture

I didn't grow up going to church, and when I did become a Christ follower at the age of 18 I assumed that all churches were the same as the one I'd started attending (a non charismatic Baptist church). It was only as friends started to invite me to their churches that I began to realise that they weren't all the same, in fact some of them were so different that you could have thought they represented different faiths, not just different expressions of the same faith!

On the one hand I got invited to very traditional Anglican churches, with all the liturgies, creeds, confessions and Bible readings. On the other I went to full on charismatic churches which would have 90 minutes of worship, a break for coffee and recovery, a 90 minute preach and then at the end there would be more people horizontal than vertical as they invited the Holy Spirit to come.

In Kerith we feel called to build something which embraces the strengths of both of those extremes. That's never easy, and can sometimes leave you being criticised from both sides as people express their own preferences as to how they think the church should be run. However, part of being a leader is living with tensions, and even striving to keep us in the tension because that's often where God is experienced (full of grace and truth, focussed on both Word and Spirit etc).

However, there are also times where you look at something in one style of church and realise we've lost something by not embracing something they do. Sometimes we've done that without realising it, other times they are things we've consciously rejected because we didn't want to be 'traditional', whereas we've actually lost something which had life and meaning to it.

I feel one of those things is the reading the Bible in our meetings. We'll always have the preacher read a passage of scripture as part of their message, and often a worship leader will exhort us with a verse or two, but I'm thinking more of what I experienced in Anglican churches where every week they would read set portions of scripture, which often had little to do with the rest of the meeting but just exposed me to another way God could speak to me though the meeting.

Paul seemed to have the same thing in mind when he wrote to his young disciple Timothy to say: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:13)

For the rest of this year we're therefore going to read our way through the whole of John's gospel in our Sunday gatherings - in fact we started last Sunday if you were there. Most of the time it won't tie in with what's being preached, other than that for this year the preach will always be from somewhere else in John. Sometimes we'll be read to, sometimes we'll all read together. Sometimes it will be in the middle of worship, sometimes somewhere else in the meeting. We won't establish a tradition around it! But please join me in believing in the power of God's word, and that lives will be changed as we allow God to speak to us through his word. In the words of Isaiah:

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

See you Sunday for some water into wine :)


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

In the Beginning

On Sunday we began our year in John's gospel with an introduction from me. If you missed it then you can watch the video below, or if that doesn't work for you then click here.

As part of Sunday's introduction we took a look at the first five words in John's gospel in the original Greek language, which are:

In the text above the bottom line is the actual Greek, the top line gives you an indication of how to pronounce it. The NIV English translation is "In the beginning was the word".

It's an incredible introduction, and shows how right from the beginning of his gospel John wants to give us a unique view of Jesus, distinct from other three gospels and relevant to people whatever their background.

I'm no Greek expert, although I did spend some of my sabbatical trying to master the basics. One of the really helpful tools I found is the website Bible Hub, which among other things gives you an interlinear Bible showing the original Greek word, its English equivalent and links to descriptions for that word and other places in the Bible it is used. You can find John 1:1 in Bible Hub here - from there I'm sure you can work out the rest!

We're going to spend the next few weeks looking at the seven signs, or miracles, which John records in his gospel, each of which tells us something different about Jesus and how we can believe in Him. We start on Sunday with Jesus turning water into wine. Don't miss it!

Hope you have a great week,



Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Serenje Dormitory Update

Last Friday I got an update on the building of the girl's dormitory in Serenje. For those not familiar with this project Serenje is a rural community in Zambia where we've been involved for a number of years with projects to alleviate the impact of HIV/AIDS. As part of that project we set out to build a dormitory for 100 girls to allow them to safely complete their secondary school education.

The great news is that building is due to be completed by the end of January! Also five people have been shortlisted for the job of the matron who will run the dormitory, with interviews taking place next week. The plan is to have a first group of girls in the dormitory by the end of March, with more girls joining as the inevitable teething problems are dealt with.

Please join me in thanking God for all that has been achieved, be praying for the final phase of construction and that the right person is selected for the job of matron, be praying for the local churches as they work together to get the project completed and for the first group of girls going into the dormitory.

Below are some photos of the almost completed building. Very exciting :)



Monday, January 11, 2016

2016 Vision

On Sunday I spoke about our Kerith vision for 2016. If you weren't there you'll have missed out on the booklet I gave out with the details of all we're planning for the coming year, but all is not lost as there is an electronic version you can take a look at instead.

Hopefully it's all fairly self explanatory, but if you do have questions then please ask me, or any of our other Kerith leaders.



Friday, January 8, 2016

Our new vision statement

On Sunday I spoke about our new vision statement. It's something I first started thinking about on my sabbatical last summer, that it would be good for us to have a short, simple statement that would summarise the heart of who we are as a church. I came back from sabbatical with some ideas, which the rest of the team have then helped me shape to become our new vision statement:

Interestingly most of the conversation since Sunday has been around where the comma should go! I'm not an expert on commas, as you've probably already worked out from my blog, so I defer to others on this sort of thing. The heart of the vision statement is that we exist to help people find their way back to God, which we achieve through communities growing in their love for God and people. Some think to best express that the comma should come after God, some think you need the existing comma and one after God, others that there should be no commas at all. I'm leaving others to continue that debate and come to a resolution!

On Sunday I'll be talking in more detail about our vision for 2016 and some of the things we're going to be doing and focussing on. Hopefully I'll see you at one of our four gatherings.