Thursday, December 19, 2019

New Year's Eve


I guess many of you will be in the process of deciding what to do on New Year's Eve with the possibility of parties to go to, family to visit, a trip to London to see the fireworks or maybe just an early night! Well I want to add to your options by letting you know we're going to be doing something new as a community to see in the New Year, which we'll be hosting in the Kerith Centre on our Bracknell site.

The evening will start at 9.30pm with food and games. We're inviting everyone to bring some food and drink to share (no alcohol please), although if for some reason you can't bring anything then please come anyway as I'm sure we'll have enough (if not Domino's Pizza is only a phone call away!).

Then from 10.30pm through till midnight we're going to have space to worship, thank God for 2019 and commit 2020 to him. I'm going to be hosting the evening and Sola Osinoiki will be back from Berlin to bring God's word to us.

Just before midnight we'll listen to Big Ben chime in the New Year, watch the fireworks from London and welcome in the New Year in style.

You can find all the details here. If you could also sign up for as many tickets as you need then that would be incredibly helpful, as at the moment we really have no idea how many people will want to come and we want to set the auditorium out in a way appropriate to the number coming. However, if you forget to sign up or decide to come at the last minute please come anyway!

In the meantime I hope all your Christmas celebrations are going well.

Blessings,

Simon

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Kerith Carols reflections and plans for Sunday 22nd December



First of all I wanted to thank everyone who invited guests to last weekends Kerith Carols. We had an amazing time with eight meetings across our four sites. Including the 100 people who watched the live stream over 2,000 people experienced the Carols and the feedback has been hugely encouraging. I was incredibly proud of our teams who worked so hard to make it all happen, but even more proud of how so many of us had stepped out and invited friends, relatives, neighbours and workmates. Without guests these events are just a bunch of us singing some carols, but with guests they are an amazing opportunity to share the good news of Jesus. I know some will have had the disappointment of people turning down an invite or saying yes but not then making it, but that bit isn't our responsibility. Our responsibility is to have enough love and courage to give an invite and create a space where people can hear the gospel message. The rest is then up to them and the Holy Spirit. So well done!

This coming Sunday (22nd December) Blackwater Valley, Windsor and West Wight are meeting at 10.30 am as normal, but there are some changes for Bracknell where instead of the normal three meetings we have two.

The first will be at 10.30 am where we there will be farm animals for the children to look at before they go into kids work. We would also love it if children could come dressed as a nativity character or in a Christmas jumper, but there is no pressure if for any reason they can't or don't want to. For the adults we have hot drinks, mince pies and biscuits served in the Kerith Centre reception area. As on the other sites we will be singing carols and hearing a great message on the angels' song as recorded in Luke 2.

The second Sunday meeting in Bracknell is at 3.30 pm and will be a much more reflective gathering. Perhaps 2019 has been a tough year and you would like time to reflect on that, or maybe you just need some space to slow down in the middle of all the mayhem of Christmas. There will be readings, music, prayers and space to reflect on the hope of the Christmas story.

Wherever you are this Sunday please do all you can to either make it to one of our gatherings, or to another expression of the body of Christ near where you are.

I'll leave you with some more photos from our Kerith Carols. All but the second one from West Wight are taken by the brilliant Stuart Bailey. I'm very happy to acknowledge the West Wight photographer too (who I'm sure is also brilliant) if somebody can let me know who took it!

Blessings,

Simon









Wednesday, December 11, 2019

General Election Thoughts


This Thursday our nation votes to elect a new set of MPs, and through that a new Government. I have no idea what the outcome is going to be, or indeed what God wants the outcome to be. I'm very wary of those who declare with confidence that there is a particular party Christians should vote for, or that God is pro remain or pro brexit. However, I do know that there are some issues which God cares about deeply, and which we should therefore be passionate about too. In the light of that I have two encouragements for us.

The first is to vote (if you are eligible) and to use your vote wisely, even if you are in a constituency where the result seems inevitable. The Evangelical Alliance have a helpful page summarising the main policies of each of the main parties, along with an analysis of various policy areas and how Christians should engage with them. I'd encourage you as you consider the options to think not only about who will do us good as a nation, but in particular who will do the most good for those facing poverty and injustice. As a people called by God to 'act justly and love mercy' (Micah 6:8) this should be a priority for us as we decide how to vote.

Secondly and even more importantly let us pray, both on election day and in the months and years that follow, for our MPs, our Government and our Prime Minister. The Apostle Paul wrote to his spiritual son Timothy to say:


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 Saviour, who wants all people to be saved
and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

Paul is writing to Timothy in Ephesus, which at this time was under Roman rule. Those in authority, from Caesar down, were deeply ungodly and at times extremely hostile to Christianity. But Paul knew that through prayer God could still use those rulers to bring peace, godliness and holiness, as well as creating the environment where the gospel would flourish. By praying we declare that our hope is in God, not in our politicians, that only he can bring the change we long for in our nation, and that he will do that as we pray and act to see his kingdom come and his will being done.

Blessings,

Simon

Monday, December 2, 2019

Thanksgiving Service for Mike Barnett


Many of us will remember Mike Barnett who was a part of Kerith for a number of years. I wanted to let you know the sad news that Mike passed away on Thursday 7th November. Mike was a great servant to our church community over the years he was with us, amongst other things leading a small group and being one of our Sunday building administrators.

There will be a Thanksgiving Service for Mike's life on Friday 13th December at 1.30pm at Easthampstead Park Crematorium which I'll be taking. Everyone is warmly invited.

Please be praying for Mike's children George, Dominic and Amy and all those will be missing Mike. That they would know God's love, comfort and strength at what is a tough time for them all.

Simon

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Services for Joan Dunn


Our dear friend Joan Dunn passed away on Saturday 2nd November. Whenever I think of Joan I'm reminded of the two elderly ladies who through their prayer ministry were the catalyst for the Hebridean Revival. Joan was a prayer warrior with the same spirit and heart. Never seeking the limelight (I'm not sure I ever saw her on one of our platforms) she quietly interceded for our church community over many decades. Catrina and I received numerous cards from Joan over the years, each one thanking us for our leadership, telling us how grateful she was to be part of our church and assuring us of her prayers for us and our children. Even in her final days she would invite everyone who visited her to pray and share communion with her. As we recognise all God is doing in and through our community I am convinced that so much of it is the result of the prayers of Joan and others who share her anointing for intercession. She is hugely missed.

We are holding a Celebration of Life Service for Joan at 3pm on Sunday 8th December (what would have been Joan's 96th birthday) in the Kerith Centre, followed by refreshments in K2. Everyone is very warmly invited.

Please be praying for Joan's daughter Laura, and all in our community who are deeply missing Joan, her sense of fun, her smile, her deep trust in Jesus and her prayers. Let her life be an inspiration to all of to seek the deeper things of God.

Simon

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Kerith Buildings Updates


This week marked the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Kerith Centre. One of the comments visitors frequently make when I tell them the age of the building is that they thought it was new. That is in large part because of the design of the building and the quality of the materials used, but it also reflects the large amount of money we have spent over the years on both maintenance and where required the updating of the building. In the light of that I wanted to let you know about some of the ways we are continuing to develop our other buildings and sites.

The picture above is of the new kitchen in the K2 building on our Bracknell site. We were donated most of the equipment by a company who no longer needed it, saving us around £20,000. As well as installing the equipment we also took the opportunity to put a surface on the walls which is easy to wipe down, install a new wooden serving area and generally make the kitchen much more useable. The new kitchen is already making a huge difference to our social justice cafe which runs on a Tuesday and Friday, and I'm sure will prove useful for many of the other events which happen in K2.

Many of you will know that for a long time we've been trying to buy a strip of land down the side of K2 from the Bracknell Cricket Club. They have now decided that they don't want to sell the land to us. Although this is a shame, it is far less important to us since we made the decision a couple of years ago not to redevelop the K2 building, as that piece of land could have been crucial. The positive side of this decision is that we were waiting to know whether we could buy the land before moving ahead with building a walkway through to the Bracknell and Wokingham College car park which we use on a Sunday. The walkway will both reduce the time taken to walk from the car park to our site, and mean that children no longer have to walk along the busy dual carriageway which has always scared me. The college have agreed to us doing this, but have asked that we do the work in one of their breaks which hopefully will mean it being built during the spring 2020 half term.

Our Windsor site has seen rapid growth since we started meeting there every Sunday in September 2018. It has grown from an initial group of about 40 people to an average Sunday attendance of well over 100, which is really exciting. One consequence of that is that we have completely run out of space for kids work. To provide more space we have applied for planning permission to put a portakabin on the site of the hall which we rent, which has recently been granted. We hope to have the portakabin in place for early next year, creating space for the growth to continue.

We are also going to upgrade the toilets in the hall on our Windsor site, which at the moment let it down really badly. If you've ever been in them you'll know how much this needs doing!

One of our biggest challenges as we move forward is going to be finding spaces to do ministry in. Solving this problem is going to require a mixture of renting buildings, buying and building new buildings, and maintaining and improving our existing buildings. That will require a big vision, prayer for wisdom, breakthrough and favour, and sacrificial giving. All things that are part of our history and are also going to be part of our future.

Finally to say a big thank you to all who have given to the vision fund, which has allowed us to do all the things I've talked about here. You have stored up treasure in heaven in the lives that are going to be transformed in each of these spaces.

I'll finish with a few more pictures of the new K2 kitchen!

Simon.





Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Thirty Years Ago Today


Thirty years ago today (19th November 1989) the Kerith Centre on our Bracknell site was opened at a total cost of £3.1 million, 98% of which came from the congregation. On that opening day Catrina and I had been part of the church for about 10 months, and had the privilege of sitting in the balcony joining in the celebration. 



The name “Kerith” came from a story told in 1 Kings 17:1-6 in the Bible where God miraculously provided for Elijah in the Kerith ravine.  It was chosen to represent God’s miraculous provision of money to build the Kerith centre, and the vision of the church that the building would be a place of provision for all who came in.

For a congregation of 400 people to build the Kerith Centre at such a cost, at a time of recession, was remarkable.  People double tithed for years, came to early morning and all-night prayer meetings, gave on monthly gift days, raised money at table top sales, gave up holidays – they had a vision for a building that would impact the town, the nation and the nations for generations to come. A bank loan was needed to pay the final construction costs, but within four years, in November 1993, the loan was paid off.  The church was debt free! 


But it wasn't just the raising of the money that was remarkable. The Kerith Centre was built at a time when it was pretty much unheard of for UK churches to build new buildings. The perceived wisdom at the time was that large churches should break down into smaller congregations, meeting in schools or community centres, and that large church buildings were a thing of the past. Ben Davies, our senior pastor from 1964 to 2007, had a different vision which came from visiting large churches in the USA. He knew that he had heard from God, and had the courage and faith to lead the church into this amazing project. It was so revolutionary that I remember that for the first few weeks of moving in we had a different TV company filming each week, including BBC, ITV and Sky. It was always interesting to have friends and family contact you the week after to say they'd seen you worshipping on TV! Praise God we now live in an age where churches opening new buildings is commonplace.


I've just come back from the Kerith Centre where I've been at an all day training event attended by church leaders from the south of England and Germany. Foodbank was running in the building during the day, while our addiction recovery group and our Equip theology course were meeting tonight. Those who gave so sacrificially to pay for the Kerith Centre had a vision that they were investing for a future they couldn't imagine, and in people they would never meet. That has certainly proved to be true as I reflect on all the events we have run and lives which have been transformed in the Kerith Centre over the last 30 years. Sunday meetings, Prayer meetings, Alpha Courses, Marriage Courses, Willow Creek Conferences, Real conferences, Foodbank, Friday night youth, Songs of Praise, CAP Debt Counselling, Carol Concerts, Baptisms, Royal visits, Sparklers parent and toddler group, Who Let the Dads Out and so much more. Countless thousands of lives have been transformed and will continue to be transformed at events held in the Kerith Centre. 


So I want to say a huge thank you to all those who have left us with the gift of the Kerith Centre. To Ben Davies who was the visionary behind it all, Ralph Allen who gave up a well paid job to be the architect and design a building which has passed the test of time so well, Mike Owen who acted as the site manager to make sure it was built to such a high standard, Clive Challis who acted as the treasurer for the whole project, Melita Cullis who ran numerous table top sales and to all those who gave sacrificially of their finances and their time in prayer to see the dream become a reality. 

And to the rest of us let us realise we stand on the shoulders of giants. We don't worship a building, but we do worship in a building, and it allows us to do so much ministry and see so many lives changes. Let's be thankful for all who have gone before us, be inspired by their vision their faith and the sacrifices they made, make the best use we can of the legacy they have left us and be willing to follow in their footsteps.

Simon

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Living a Kairos Life in a Chronos World



One of my favourite films as a youngster (OK not quite so young) was Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Unforgettable elements include Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham, my favourite tree(!), some terrible geography as they travel from the South coast to Nottingham via Northumberland, but perhaps most of all some incredible scenes involving Kevin Costner doing amazing things with a bow and arrow. 

All that as an intro to my sermon from Sunday, kicking off our new series by talking about how to declutter our time. I spoke on how the greek language has two different words for time. 

The first is ‘chronos', which refers to a period of time; a second, an hour, a week or a year. The key feature of chronos time is quantity.

The second is ‘kairos', which refers to a critical or opportune moment in time. The key feature of kairos time is quality. 

Part of the origin of the word kairos describes the moment when an archer releases an arrow (hence the Kevin Costner references). It is a unique moment which requires both a particular set of circumstances (the arrow being in place and the string of the bow being pulled fully back), and once it has passed has a bearing on everything that follows (the archer can’t influence the trajectory of the arrow once it has been released). That kairos moment defines what happens in the chronos time that follows. 

That is a good picture for our lives. We live in a chronos world, defined by timetables, schedules and deadlines. But it is the kairos moments which give our lives direction, meaning and richness. For those of us who are followers of Jesus those kairos moments are very often the moments where we hear from God, sense his presence or seize a God given opportunity. 

On Sunday I suggested some ways we can cultivate and engage with the God given kairos moments in our life. Go and listen to the talk for the full list, but I wanted to highlight one, which is to start every day with God. I’m increasingly seeing that first thing in the day is a unique kairos moment where we set the trajectory for the rest of the day. If we start the day connecting with God and inviting him into our day, then there is a good chance we will take that into the rest of the day. If we start it on Facebook and twitter it is likely to be a very different story. 

I talked about one commitment I’ve made, which is every morning to aim to pick up and read my Bible before I look at my phone. That one commitment, which is rapidly becoming a habit, is proving to be transformational in my life. If that’s a habit you too would like to form we’ve created some tools to help you develop it - take a look here

I’d love to hear stories of people pursuing habits in order to engage better with the kairos moments in our lives, and the impact of those moments. You can always leave a comment on the blog, or send me an email. We may even share your tips or tell your story on a Sunday.

Don’t miss next Sunday where we’re going to look at decluttering our friendships!

Hope you have a great week.


Simon. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Ongoing Brexit Thoughts


As Brexit continues to rumble on I wanted to share some thoughts on our ongoing response as followers of Jesus.

Prayer
We need to keep praying. Each time we see anything about Brexit on the TV, on social media or in the press let’s turn it to prayer. In the words of Jehoshaphat from the Old Testament “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12). Pray for our politicians, pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done, pray for justice, pray for God to use the lack of peace to bring the true peace of Jesus. You know the stuff!

While we’re in this critical season I’ve started hosting an online time of prayer most weekday mornings from 6.45-7am. It’s on Facebook live on my Facebook page. I’ll start the stream a couple of minutes before 6.45am so people can connect in. You can either watch it live or the video stays up for a few days if you want to catch it later in the day. If for any reason there are days I can’t do it I’ll try and let people know, but if you get there and it’s not happening then just pray on your own!

This is a new idea for how we can gather to pray in a different way. I know that this doesn’t work for some people (which is fine), but I’ve also had feedback from others who have found it helpful, so I’ll continue it for now. I'd love to hear any ideas on how it can improved, but through that process please join me when you can.

Be informed
It was said of the men of Issachar that they “understood the times and knew what they should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). Oh that we might have the same insight today. 

Let’s daily be reading our Bibles. The Bible is so full of insight on the times we live in. I’d encourage you to try my pattern which is to try and commit to picking up and reading my Bible every morning before I pick up my phone. What you do first thing in the morning will set the trajectory for the rest of your day (more about this in my preach on Sunday!) so get into the scriptures. 

Read the papers and watch the news. Read articles from people you agree with, and people you disagree with. There is a danger for those of us on social media or who only read one particular newspaper that we can live in an echo chamber, where we only interact with people who share our views, and assume that everyone with a differing view is either an idiot or a bigot. The Bible tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19). Much of the disunity we see is people creating lazy caricatures of the people on the other side of the debate, rather than understanding their genuine concerns. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.

All the time remember the advice of the theologian Karl Barth: “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”. Understand the times through the lens of the Bible, not the other way round. 

To understand the wider issues behind the rise of populism and much more of the times we live in I’ve found the “This Cultural Moment” Podcast with John Mark Comer and Mark Sayers really helpful.

Be Active
Although much of Brexit is confusing, particularly as we seek to discern the will of God on what should happen next, there are some things the Bible is very clear on. 

If you encounter racism, whether it comes from the mouth of your next door neighbour or the President of the United States, don’t be afraid to call it out. Every human being has unique value and worth as someone created in the image of God, and we are to affirm and defend that value. And reach out to people from other nations, letting them know that you are pleased they are in our nation and taking time to learn from them and the culture they have come from. 

Let's be models of what it looks like to disagree agreeably. We are told to "let our gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). Gentle doesn’t mean weak.  You can be gentle and strong, gentle and challenging, gentle and prophetic, gentle and provocative. Let us help people rediscover the art of gentle disagreement. 

Be a force for justice, practically demonstrating the love of Jesus. That could mean donating food to the food bank, visiting an elderly neighbour or taking the time to talk to the homeless people we sadly see all around us. It is a fact that the Brexit process is having an economic impact on our nation, with those on the margins of society paying the greatest price. We as the church are called to be part of the solution. 

Our friends at Jubilee Plus have written some very helpful ideas (written for church leaders but relevant to all of us) on how we can practically begin to respond. Please take a look and think about how their suggestions might apply to you.

Proclaim the name of Jesus. Let’s not be afraid to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). He is the one who one day will “reconcile all things to himself” (Colossians 1:20). He is our hope, our peace, our strength and our refuge. I was on a train to Yorkshire on Monday and had a long chat with the guy next to me about how I came to follow Jesus. Let’s take every opportunity to share the reason for the hope we have. 

And remember that prayer is activity. Praying changes things, and whether or not we immediately see the answer to our prayers, it always changes us. 

There’s much more I could say but this will do for now. Thanks for reading this far, and let’s commit to being part of the Christ centred solution.

Shalom,


Simon 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

WTC, Equip & The Bible Course


Two weeks ago I was coming towards the end of my first Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) residential in Telford. This is my first step in taking a two year Graduate Diploma in Kingdom Theology. WTC allows anyone to study on a part time basis everything from a Certificate in Higher Education through to an MA, taking twice the time a full time degree or MA would take.  Each year half the teaching takes place at two residentials, and half at a local hub which for us is the Thames Valley hub which we are hosting.

It was a brilliant five days away, although the pace was intense with 7 or 8 hours of lectures every day, combined with times of worship, lessons on how to write essays (a whole new world for me) and a personality profile alongside meals, an early morning run, a trip to the pub and not much time for anything else. There are a number of people from Kerith studying with WTC, including two of our sites pastors Heather Pocock and Leon Johnson, and Judith and Andy who are part of our deaf community and the first ever deaf people to study with WTC.

The highlight for me was the lectures we had on the Old Testament. Our lecturer was Dr. Stephen Dempster who has spent his whole life studying the Old Testament and it showed! He wrote the NIV Study Bible notes for Deuteronomy, and started each of his lectures by praying a psalm over us first in Hebrew, then in English. Stephen lectured us for 16 hours, by the end of which we’d only got to the end of the book of Kings, but such was the depth of his knowledge and passion for the subject that he could have gone on for many hours more without it ever becoming dry or starting to drag. He made the Old Testament come alive in a way I’ve never seen it before.

I’m really excited by our partnership with WTC, and the theological depth it is going to sow into our community over the coming years. For many years in charismatic circles there has been a rejection of formal theological training, which has been unhelpful and I think longer term is dangerous for churches like ours seeking to be strong in both word and spirit. I’m therefore delighted by our growing relationships with WTC, as well as St. Mellitus College where a number of our youngsters are gaining BA’s in Theology, Ministry and Mission and with Moorlands College

If you’d like to go deeper in your relationship with God through getting a better understanding of the Bible, but don’t yet feel you’re in a position to study with WTC, I’d really encourage you to consider joining our Equip course which launches this coming Monday evening. Over two years you’ll get to work your way through the whole of the Bible, with the option of skipping terms if you can’t do the whole course in one go. The course is being certified by Moorlands College, and having seen the manuals I’m sure it’s going to be excellent. 

There is a termly cost of £75, which although much cheaper than WTC may still I realise be an issue for some. We don’t want the cost to stop anyone from attending so if that’s the case for you, or you have any other questions, please contact Karen Dack who will be able to answer all your queries. I’m going there on Monday to say hello to and pray for everyone starting the course, so I’ll hope to see you there :)


Let’s go deeper together.



Simon

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Autumn 2019 Week of Prayer - Sunday - Sites


Thank you so much for engaging in our week of prayer and fasting. I’ve heard really encouraging things from people who have been working their way through the blogs and the daily prayer themes, people who came to the Kingdom Come prayer night, people who watched in online and people who have booked into the prayer room. Prayer is part of the foundation of all we do, and it feels like we have done some of the groundwork for all we are hoping to see God do this term.

Please can you finish this week by praying for our sites.

Please pray for the site you attend:
  • Pray for your site leader and their family, and all the other leaders at your site
  • Pray for salvation and healing to be a regular part of what happens
  • Pray for unity and great love for one another
  • Pray for favour and great relationships with the other churches in the area, with the local authority and other local organisations
  • Pray for your sites expressions of justice in the local community
  • Pray for marriages to be strengthened and for singles to find family in community
  • Pray for the children and youth on your site
  • Pray for continued favour for us financially as as a church
Pray for the sites other than the one you attend. 

Pray for the elders, trustees and central teams who support everything that happens across all of our sites.

Please can you also be specifically praying for West Wight as they launch weekly Sunday meetings this Sunday. I’m going to be down their to join with them. It’s so exciting how the work there has emerged out of what was our Sandhurst site, a grandchild for Bracknell. Pray for many children for each of our sites :)

Thank you again. I am so grateful for your prayers.



Simon

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Autumn 2019 Week of Prayer - Saturday - Kerith Partners


I’d love us to spend time today praying for the different partner organisations connected with Kerith. Partnership is key to us growing the kingdom. We are so much stronger when we work alongside others with more experience of an area where we are looking to bear fruit, and in pretty much every case the benefits are mutual with us able to invest back into those who are blessing us.

There are a number of Kerith partners which are connected to us because people in our community either founded them or work for them. Please spend some time thanking God for the impact people in our community are able to have through these partnerships. Pray for them to be encouraged and for them to know much fruit in all they are doing. These would include:
  • Tehila
  • Novō
  • Create Hope
  • CHIPS
  • Oakwood Youth Challenge
  • Tearfund
  • Compassion
There are a number of other Kerith partners who we work alongside in growing the Kingdom. These include:
  • CAP (Christians Against Poverty)
  • TLG (Transforming Lives for Good)
  • Home for Good
  • Trussell Trust
  • Tearfund
  • Hope for Justice
  • Justice and Care
  • Alpha
  • Alpha in Prisons
  • 24-7 Prayer
  • Wildfires
  • Newfrontiers
  • WTC (Westminster Theological Centre)
Please thank God for each of these partnerships, and pray blessing on each of these organisations.

Apologies if I’ve missed anyone out (which I’m sure I have!). If so please let me know and I’ll look to add them to any future lists. Apologies also for not adding all the hyperlinks to the websites of each of the organisations (life is too short), but I’m sure you can google them if you want to know more about what they do, and it will reduce the temptation to head off on a click fest round the internet rather than praying! 

Thank you,

Simon

Friday, September 13, 2019

Autumn 2019 Week of Prayer - Friday - Healing & One Another



Today I would love us to spend some time praying for one another. 

First off I would love you to pray for healing for anyone in our community who you know isn’t well. That means people struggling with both physical and mental health issues. I read in the new this week the tragic story of a church pastor in the USA committing suicide after a long battle with depression. These things are no respecter of background or position, they can impact every one of us, so let’s speak God’s healing power over anyone who we know who is unwell.

Once you’ve done that they here’s my encouragement for today:
  • Write down the names of a couple (or more if you want) of people in our community to pray for. They could be people in your small group, on one of your serving teams, somebody you lead or somebody you are lead by, people new to Kerith or who have been part of our community for decades. It might even be someone you struggle to get on with! Ask God to prompt you as you think of who you are going to pray for. 
  • Spend time thanking God for each of those people. Whoever they are they are God’s image bearer, made in his likeness, which gives them unique value and worth. Thank God for who they are, and for what they mean to you.
  • Pray that they might know God better, and have a deeper revelation of his love for them. I’m increasingly struck that in the letters of the Apostle Paul as he records his prayers for both individuals and churches he never prays for their situation to change. His prayer is always that that they would know God better. Knowing God changes everything, so pray they might know him better. 
  • Having said that it is still right to pray for breakthrough for people. Do they need healing, a job, a wider circle of friends, restoration of a relationship or something else. Whatever it might be ask God on their behalf for that thing. 
  • Pray a blessing on each person. There is power in a blessing. Jesus once blessed five loaves and two fish and it fed over 5,000 people. There is power in our blessings too, so pray blessing over each person. Pray for the fruit of the Holy Spirit to grow in their lives. For more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Pray for great relationships that will do them good. For health. For financial breakthrough. You know the stuff.
  • Finally pause for a moment and ask God to give you something to encourage them. He might give you a scripture passage, a picture or a prophetic word or you might just want to let them know you’ve been praying for them. If God does prompt you then why not text it to them (unless that is too weird!) or write it down and share it with them next time you see them. I’d love to imagine a web of encouragement pinging around to one another today. 

Thanks so much for engaging. 



Simon

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Autumn 2019 Week of Prayer - Thursday - Government & Justice


It is hard to imagine a time in the recent history of our nation that we need to be praying more for our government and those in authority. Here are some ideas on what we can be praying:
  • Pray for wisdom for everyone involved in the Brexit negotiations. Pray for Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, the cabinet and shadow cabinet, Jo Swinson, Nicola Sturgeon, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, your local MP and Christian MPs in parliament. Pray through it all for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done.
  • When you have no idea how to pray for when it comes to Brexit pray in tongues! And if you haven’t got the gift of tongues then now might be a good time to ask for it.
  • Pray that in all the negotiations the needs of the vulnerable and marginalised in our society will be kept to the forefront. 
  • Pray that God would begin to bring healing to our divided and broken nation.
  • Pray that in the midst of it all God would raise up the church, and individual Christians to have a prophetic voice which speaks love, hope, challenge and purpose to our nation. 
  • Pray that God would use all the turmoil and uncertainty to cause people to come to know him.

I’d also love it if you could spend some time praying for our own local expressions of working for justice.

  • Pray for our Foodbank, debt counselling, job club, life skills courses, reading and writing courses, recovery groups and all our other justice ministries. Thank God for the army of volunteers who make all of this possible.
  • Pray for our TLG coaches going into primary schools to work alongside children in danger of being excluded from school.
  • Thank God for all the children being fostered and adopted in our community, and for our partnership with Home for Good which is  helping fuel this work. Pray for more families and individuals to be inspired to foster or adopt a child.
  • Pray for our team going into local prisons to run Alpha Courses and lead Sunday services. I heard last Sunday over 50 inmates attended a service our team were running and one guy gave his life to Christ. 
  • Pray for our work supporting families who have children with additional needs and our group for adults with additional needs.
  • Pray for our work with the homeless, including the night shelter in Windsor and the GPs who come into the cafe on our Bracknell site to offer medical support.
  • Pray and thank God for for the legal support we are now able to offer to people attending the cafe.
  • Pray for anything I’ve missed, plus all those people in Kerith working for justice outside of our own church ministries.

Well done if you’ve prayed this far! Know that God has heard your prayers, and they are already making a difference. 

Simon

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Autumn 2019 Week of Prayer - Wednesday - The Nations


When God first calls Abraham (or Abram as he was called then) he makes a promise (or covenant) with him that he will bless him, and that through him all the other nations on earth will be blessed. We are now inheritors of that promise, and God’s plan hasn’t changed. He wants to bless us in order that we can be a blessing, not just locally but with a vision and a heart to be a blessing to the nations.

Today I would love us to pray that will become a reality. Here are some ideas of things you can pray for:
  • Pray for yourself that God will give you a vision for the nations. You may feel very stuck in your local setting, which may feel very small, but know that through both your prayers and your actions you can touch nations you may never visit. 
  • Pray for the nations on your doorstep. In our multicultural nation we don’t need to travel to another country to meet people from other nations, we just need to step out of our front door. Pray that God will open doors for you to meet people from other nations in your street, at work, when you’re out and about, and that he would use you to be a blessing to those people. 
  • Pray for people from Kerith who have moved overseas. I’m particularly thinking of Sam & Hannah Fairs-Billam in Zambia and  Andy & Mickey Partington in Bolivia, but you may know of others. Pray for them, their children if they have any, and the work they are doing. 
  • Pray for the churches we have connections with in other nations. This includes Albania, Lithuania, Estonia, Serbia, Macedonia, Zambia and Malawi but you may know of others. Pray for them to know the love of God in Jesus more clearly, to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, to know unity and to grow in health and impact.
  • Pray for Christians facing persecution around the world. In nations such as North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya and Pakistan (listed by Open Doors as the 5 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution). Pray for courage, boldness and comfort for our suffering brothers and sisters.
  • Pray for the promise to Abraham to be fulfilled, that all nations on earth will be blessed through the church.
Hopefully that will keep you busy! 

Tonight (Wednesday) is our Kingdom Come night starting at 7.30pm in the Kerith Centre. If you can make it then unless you’re going to struggle with the walk please can you park in the Braccan Walk car park (£1.50 after 6pm). 

If you can’t make it in person then you can join in via our experimental online stream which you can find here.

Thank you,

Simon

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Autumn 2019 Week of Prayer - Tuesday - Alpha


First of all an apology that these blogs haven’t been coming out early enough for those of you who want to pray for the subject of the day in the morning. The honest truth is that the WTC theology residential I was on last week (which was brilliant) was so full on that I had no time to prepare these blogs in advance, and so I’ve been playing catch up this week. I’ll try and get ahead of myself today and serve you all better for the rest of the week!

Please try to carve out some time today to pray for our forthcoming Alpha courses. We have evening Alpha courses in Bracknell and Blackwater Valley starting on Wednesday 25th September and a daytime course in Bracknell starting on Thursday 3rd October.

Our vision as a church is to help people find their way back to God. Over the years Alpha has been an incredible tool in helping us to see this happen. For anyone wanting to see the impact an Alpha course can have please watch Wendy’s inspiring story of how she found faith after attending Alpha multiple times. You can also find more details about what happens on Alpha here.  

Please pray for the following:
  • Thank God for the gift of Alpha and the powerful impact it is having all around the world. 
  • Ask God whether it’s the right time for you to attend Alpha as a guest. If you’re not yet a Christian, are a new believer or feel you need a refresher for your faith then Alpha could be just what you need. If so ask God to give you the courage to attend, and sign up at one of the Alpha tables on Sunday. 
  • Are you able to help make one of the Alpha courses happen, either as a table host or one of the people behind the scenes. If you can then sign up on Sunday. If not then pray for God to send other workers into this harvest field. 
  • Do you have a relative, neighbour or workmate you could invite to Alpha? If so pray for boldness and wisdom as you seek to invite them. 
  • Be praying for God to meet powerfully with all the guest attending Alpha courses, both within Kerith and all around the world.
Thanks so much for praying. Look out to hear stories of the fruit of your prayers in the coming months. 

Blessings,

Simon





Monday, September 9, 2019

Autumn 2019 Week of Prayer - Monday - Unity


One of the Apostle Paul’s major themes for what has been achieved through the death and resurrection of Jesus is of reconciliation (where reconciliation means to renew a friendship or to restore to a right relationship). Not only have we been reconciled to God through Jesus having paid the price for our sin on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:18), but through Jesus we have all now been reconciled to one another, such that there is no longer a division between Jews and gentiles, slaves and free, men and women, brexiteers and remainers or anywhere else we might see division in society (Galatians 3:28) and that ultimately there will be a reconciliation of everything in heaven and on earth (Colossians 1:20).

It’s therefore not surprising that when we find Jesus praying for us as his followers he is praying that we would live in unity, demonstrating to the world by our lives that we have all entered into that reconciliation, not only with God but also with one another as sons and daughters of our one Father. 

So I want us to start our week of prayer by joining with Jesus in praying for unity. Here are a few ideas for what to pray:
  • Is there anyone you need to personally be reconciled with, or if reconciliation isn’t possible then who you need to forgive? If so and you’re not sure where to start why not ask God for wisdom and find someone you can pray this through with. 
  • Pray for unity within Kerith: between men and women, different ages, different ethnic groups, between rich and not so rich, educated and less educated, those who are single and those who are married, unity amongst our elders, trustees and leaders, within sites and between sites. You get the picture!
  • Unity amongst the churches in each of the communities we represent. In the eyes of God there is only one church in Bracknell, Blackwater Valley, Windsor and on the Isle of Wight, even if there are different expressions off that church in each place. Pray those churches would speak well of one another, relationships would grow between the churches and a kingdom mentality where the success of one church is seen as the success and of all, and the pain of one church is seen as the pain of all. 
  • Unity amongst all the different expression of church in our nation and the nations. Between all the different streams and denominations, not that we are looking to all be the same or agree on everything, but unity amongst all those who recognise Jesus as Lord.
  • That we would each take on our responsibility to be bringers of unity everywhere we go. In the words of Paul to be ministers of reconciliation. Helping people who don’t yet know Jesus to find reconciliation with God through Him. Helping Christians who have fallen out to be reconciled. To be genuine peace makers (not just peace keepers) in every area of society we are privileged to have influence and a voice. Through our creation care that we would speak now of that final reconciliation of all things to God. 

That’s probably enough for today. Please be serious about finding time to pray, be booking into the prayer room (virtually if not in person) and prioritise coming to the Kingdom Come prayer night (7.30pm in the Kerith Centre). 

Thank you so much. Know that your praying changes things (not least you) in ways you can’t begin to imagine. 

Simon

Monday, September 2, 2019

Autumn 2019 Week of Prayer


Next Monday (8th September) we start our Autumn week of prayer and fasting. This is a key week for us as a community as we lay a foundation of prayer beneath all we are seeking to do in the coming months. 

We’re going to have a difference focus each day, which I’ll back up with a daily blog with ideas and thoughts on what to pray for on that day. The focuses will be:
  • Monday - Unity, both within Kerith, and for the local and worldwide church
  • Tuesday - Alpha and evangelism
  • Wednesday - The Nations
  • Thursday - Justice, Parliament and those in authority
  • Friday - Healing and our church community
  • Saturday - Partner organisations and churches 
  • Sunday - Our Sites
There are three different ways to get involved in the week:

Praying through the week
I encourage all of us to prioritise finding time to pray throughout the week. As an expression of that we’d love to fill all 168 one hour slots in our newly refurbished prayer room on our Bracknell site. You can book them here. We realise that for many people actually getting to the prayer room isn’t practical - if so you can book slots virtually where you commit to pray for that hour but just somewhere other than the prayer room. If you do this just put (v) after your name in the booking. 

Fasting
Jesus expected us to fast. It’s a way for us to express our commitment to God by putting our desire for more of him above our natural desires, and if done with the right heart can be the gateway to miracles. There are some helpful guidelines on fasting on the 24-7 prayer website. (Just to be fully open, for various reasons I’m not going to fast the whole 7 days but will be fasting several days through the week). 

Kingdom Come Night
On Wednesday 11th September we’re gathering for a one site prayer meeting from 7.30-9.30pm in the Kerith Centre at our Bracknell site. The evening will be a mixture of worship and prayer. Please come if you possibly can.

That’s it. Please think now how you’re going to get involved in this key week for us as a community.

Simon

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Vision Fund Update

In my previous blog about the vision fund I promised an update on how we’ve spent the money we’ve raised so far. The graphic above gives a breakdown of what we’ve spent, how much we’ve given away and what we have left. 

Although we currently have just over £100,000 left in the fund (with around £4,000 still to be given away in tithes) that’s going to be spent quickly as we fund all the costs for Windsor and West Wight from the fund up until the end of 2020, and look to progress a number of projects across our sites. 

We’d love to raise another £100,000 to give us the resources to continue to invest in our sites. Please be thinking and praying about what to give, either via the offering this coming Sunday or by giving online or direct to bank transfer

Thank you so much.

Simon

Thursday, June 20, 2019

2019 Vision Fund Gift Days


Our next Vision Fund Gift Days are coming up on Sunday 30th June and 7th July. We would love to raise another £100,000 towards the costs of funding expansion on all of our sites. Please be thinking and praying over the next couple of weeks about what you would like to give.

In the coming weeks I’ll post details on exactly what we’ve raised so far and what it has been spent on, but in the meantime here are some of the highlights of what we’ve already done and intend to do on each of our sites. 

Bracknell

On our Bracknell site we’ve paid off the mortgage on the K2 House, leaving us debt free as a church. We’ve also examined the possibility of extending our buildings, but concluded that the cost doesn’t represent good value for money when we look at how much extra space we’d create.

We are still trying to buy the land next to K2 from the cricket club. Once we know whether that is possible or not we will build a walkway through from the Kerith Centre site to the college car park, and put a Foodbank storage area by the K2 house (we are currently paying to store Foodbank food offsite). Plans are also progressing to upgrade the kitchen in K2, improve the toilets in the Kerith Centre and redevelop the K2 house for office staff and ministry use. 

Blackwater Valley

We spent money examining the possibility of partnering with Sandhurst School to build a permanent home for our site on the school grounds. In the end we concluded that this wasn’t going to be feasible, which led us to move to the Village Hotel in Farnborough. 
The vision fund has paid for all the equipment needed to facilitate our move to the Village Hotel, including the purchase of a van and all the audio equipment required. 

Going forward we need to work with the Village Hotel to improve the projection and permanently install some of the audio equipment in the hotel to make weekly setup simpler. We are also beginning to look for a home for social justice in Blackwater Valley. 

Windsor

Up until the end of 2020 all the costs associated with our Windsor site, including staffing costs, building hire and equipment costs are being met from the Vision Fund. 

Our Windsor site has run out of space for kids work on a Sunday which is very quickly going to limit our growth. We are applying for planning permission to put a portkabin on the gospel hall site, as well as drawing up plans to redevelop the existing gospel hall to make it work better for us. 

West Wight

As with Windsor all the costs of our West Wight site are being met from the Vision Fund up to the end of 2020. Ben Britton and Dan Wells come on staff at the beginning of September, and the West Wight site starts meeting every Sunday from the 15th September. 

It’s all about people

Behind all of this is the desire to see people find their way back to God. That is happening in increasing measure on each of our sites. By investing in the Vision Fund you are investing in seeing lives transformed by the power of the gospel. 

We plan to close the Vision Fund at the end of 2020, at which point we think we will move to a model of individual sites taking up offerings to fund projects on their sites. We will probably from time to time still have gift days across all our sites to fund starting new sites.

Thank you for being willing to consider how you can play your part through giving to the Vision Fund. As always there is no pressure on anyone to give, this is just an opportunity to invest in the growth of God’s Kingdom. 

Blessings,

Simon

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Wildfires 2020


We have been so encouraged by the stories coming from Kerith delegates who have attended the past 2 years of the Wildfires Festival that we are going to make it part of the annual rhythm of our church calendar. 

We want to make it possible for as many as possible to attend, and in particular want to use this as an opportunity to invest in our children and teenagers. To help achieve this:
  • We are going to take up an offering later in the year so that we can offer FREE places to all our children and youth up to the age of 18.
  • The offering will ALSO cover bursary places for adults who need financial support to be able to attend Wildfires.
So what does this mean practically?
  • The super super early bird rate (which saves you £20 on the full adult ticket price) ends on the 30th June, so if you are a full paying adult then please get your ticket now via the Wildfires Festival website (I’ve just bought our tickets!).
  • If you have already booked in some under 18’s and would like to take up the free under 18’s offer then please contact us via info@kerith.church for a refund on those tickets
  • If you’d love to come but money would be a barrier to you, please ask to be considered for an adult bursary place. To do this speak to your site pastor on a Sunday, or email them via the who’s who page of the website.
  • In the next few weeks we will release details on on how to give into the fund that will enable others to attend.
Please be thinking and praying about the possibility of joining us in May next year - whether as campers, in a caravan or staying offsite. You won’t regret it!

We are also looking into options to hire tents for those without so don’t feel you have to rush out and buy a tent just yet!

Hope that all makes sense. If you have any questions then please email reception and we’ll attempt to get you an answer.

Blessings,

Simon