Thursday, May 2, 2019

Don’t miss the opportunity to sign up for a small group


We had a brilliant time yesterday evening gathering the leaders of all the new and existing mainland Kerith small groups for a time of encouragement, equipping and prayer for one another.

It was so exciting to see the army of existing small group leaders being joined by a whole load of new leaders who are adopting the termly small group format. There was a buzz of excitement in the room at what God might be about to do as we enter a new chapter in the story of small groups in Kerith. 

Our termly small groups start next week, and if you’re not yet in one it’s not too late to sign up. There are groups running the growth track courses, praying for revival, dog walking, mountain biking, combining craft and Bible study, getting people from couch to 5K and much more. Over 200 people not previously in a group have already signed up to join one, but there are still lots of space for more people to add to that number. You can even sign up for more than one if you want to! 

You can see all the small group options here. You can also filter down the options by site and by the day of the week the groups meet to find one that works for you. Please step out (even if you’re a shy introvert like me) - it will do you good and you will do others good.

Blessings,

Simon

Thursday, April 25, 2019

New Series - 40 Days with Jesus


On Sunday we start a new six week series looking at the life transforming encounters different people have with Jesus after His resurrection. This week we’ll hear about the first person to meet the resurrected Jesus, Mary Magdalene. 

The series is based on a 40 day devotional book written by a good friend of ours, Dave Smith who leads KingsGate Community Church which has sites in Peterborough, Cambridge, Leicester and London. If you’re not currently immersed in a different Bible reading plan then I’d really encourage you to get a copy and go deeper with what we’re going to be teaching on the Sundays. 

We’ll have a limited number of copies of the devotional available to buy on Sunday at our three mainland sites priced at £4 - please bring cash as we don’t yet have a way to easily process card payments (we’re working on it!). You can also order the book online from Eden where it costs £3.99 (plus £2.50 postage if you spend less than £10, so you might want to buy something else). If we sell all the ones we’ve ordered we’ll get more for next week.

Sunday is also the first time our Kerith Blackwater Valley (BV) site meets at the Village Hotel in Farnborough. If you’re not part of our BV site please be praying for them, as they’ve got a big launch Sunday with the mayor and several local councillors coming along. If this is your site then have a great Sunday in our new location. All very exciting. 

Wherever you’re going to be I pray you have a fabulous Sunday as we continue to celebrate that “He Has risen!”. 

Simon

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Kingdom Come prayer this Wednesday


This coming Wednesday (24th April) is our next Kingdom Come night of prayer. This is part of our new rhythm of kicking off every term with an evening where we can come together as a community to worship God, and to ask Him to move in our lives, in our church, in the nation and in the nations. The evening will run from 7.30-9.30pm and is at the Kerith Centre on our Bracknell site. The evening is open to anyone who wants to come, although we will spend some of the time praying for things specifically happening within Kerith. 

The evening will be a mixture of prayer and worship, with our friend Pete Greig from 24-7 Prayer coming along to equip, lead and encourage us to pray. Pete will also be talking a little bit about the brilliant new book, “How to Pray”, and the revised Prayer Course which 24-7 Prayer have just released. 

I’d also encourage anyone who can to fast for the day, as a statement of our desire and longing to see God’s kingdom come and His will done. 

We’re asking all those able to make the walk to park at the Braccan Walk Car Park, which will cost £1.50 if you arrive there after 6pm. Please leave about 10 minutes to get from there to the Kerith Centre as you won’t want to miss the start of us gathering together.

It’s going to be a great evening, especially off the back of all God did in and through us over the Easter weekend. Hope to see you there!

Simon

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Good Friday Gathering


Over the years our Good Friday gathering has become one of the highlights of the year for me. An opportunity to stop and reflect on the enormity of the events of that very first ‘Good’ Friday, and to share together in the bread and the wine remembering Jesus body given for us and his blood shed for us. 

For the last couple of years we’ve held it “in the round”, which gives it an even more intimate feel as we worship and reflect facing one another. We had so many people coming last year that we had to seat people in the balcony, which wasn’t the best of experiences for those people, so this year we’re having two meetings, one at 6pm and one at 8pm, in the hope that everyone can be seated downstairs. It’s all taking place in the Kerith Centre on our Bracknell site, and parking for everyone who can manage the walk is in the College car park.

So please come! In the middle of enjoying the chocolate, the hot cross buns and the glorious weather which is forecast this weekend (yay!), take time to stop and reconnect, to commune with others and with the God who loves you more than you will ever know. And get there on time, both to make sure you get a seat, and to be there for the opener which you won’t want to miss.

See you threre :)

Simon

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Decluttering our lives of Fear, Anxiery and Worry



On Sunday we had the final week of our Declutter series. I know from the feedback that lots of people have found it a really helpful series - you can find the podcasts for all the talks here. If you missed any of them I’d really encourage you to go back and listen to the ones you missed.

This final week we looked at dealing with Fear, Worry and Anxiety. You’ve got the choice of two different versions of the talk, one from me and one from my wife Catrina

As part of the talk we showed a video about the two different pathways which exist in our brain when we experience fear and worry. This was teaching I first heard last year, and which I’ve found hugely helpful as I’ve reflected on dealing with my own anxieties. I hope you find it similarly helpful.

Blessings,

Simon

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Could you lead a small group for a term?


At the end of 2018 I had one of those ‘aha’ moments as a leader where you know you need to help facilitate something changing. I was at one of our “New to Kerith” lunches on our Bracknell site where once a term we invite all the people who have visited Kerith for the first time and filled out one of the “Connect with us” cards for lunch after the 11.30am meeting.

There were around 50 new people, which was great, but as I went round chatting to them I heard the same comment again and again. They’d tried to join a small group in order to build deeper friendships within Kerith, but either hadn’t been able to find a group that worked for them, or had contacted a number of existing groups which were all full.

The reality is that we’ve got a set of brilliant small groups in Kerith, with some amazing leaders, but we simply don’t have enough of them. One of the main reasons for this is that people haven’t wanted to sign up to lead a small group because historically it has been an open ended commitment with no foreseeable end!

We’ve therefore decided to try a new way of running small groups with groups which run for a term, where the leader is free (within limits) to choose what the group does over the term. We’re going to launch the new structure in Bracknell after Easter, as that’s where we’ve got the greatest need, although if you’re based at one of our other sites then please speak to your site pastor as they may be able to get you up and running before the official launch on your site. For more details take a listen to our recent Bracknell site vision night

So would you be up for leading one of our new small groups? I’m going to be leading a group studying the Prayer Course. Would you be up for leading a group doing a growth track course, studying a book of the Bible, praying together, going out running or something else. 

You can read more details about what is involved in leading a group and register your interest here. Please take a look and consider giving it a go! Both I, and all those people in Kerith looking for a small group, will be very grateful! If you’re going to lead a group after Easter it would be really helpful if you could register by this Sunday to give us time to process the applications ready to launch groups after Easter so do it quickly :)

Thanks so much,

Simon

Friday, March 8, 2019

Dr. Lucy Peppiatt with us this Sunday


On Sunday Dr. Lucy Peppiatt, the Principal of Westminster Theological Centre (WTC), is going to be speaking with us at all our meetings in Bracknell and Sandhurst (Kerith Windsor will hear her a week later on Sunday 17th March).

From September we are going to be hosting a WTC hub in Bracknell, which will allow anyone on a part time basis to study theology at a every level from a Certificate in Higher Education all the way through to a Masters Degree. I’m passionate that as a community we become better equipped theologically, and my hope is that a number of of us will take this opportunity to deepen our understanding of the Bible and how to apply it. We also want to offer these courses as a resource to other local churches. 

As an aside we’re also going to relaunch what used to be called Invest, which will be a two year theology course run termly on a Monday evening which academically will be closer to GCSE level. This will be accredited by Moorlands Bible College, and I hope will be a great route to a whole load of us getting better equipped theologically. More details on this coming soon.

On Sunday we’re hosting an open afternoon at 4.30pm in K2 on our Bracknell site where leaders from other churches can come along, meet Lucy and hear more about WTC. If you know any leaders of other local churches please pass this invite to them. However, it struck me that as well as for leaders of other churches it might also be a very helpful afternoon for anyone in our community who thinks they might want to get a qualification with WTC and would like to hear me, so if that’s you please consider yourself invited! If you can register in advance that would be helpful, but if not just turn up.

We’ll be talking more about all of this over the coming months, including at the Bracknell and Windsor vision nights next Tuesday and Wednesday nights respectively. 

Blessings,

Simon

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Radio 4 are coming to Kerith


On Sunday 24th March we’ve been asked to host the Radio 4 Sunday Service from the Kerith Centre. This is a service which gets broadcast live every Sunday from 8.10-8.50am, to an audience of well over a million people. 

It would be fair to say that it normally features churches which are more ‘traditional’ than Kerith, but the producer is very keen that as far as possible the audience get to hear an accurate representation of what we do every Sunday. I find that thought both exciting and slightly daunting, but we’re going to go for it

It’s going to be part of a series looking at the different things Jesus says from the cross. Our week is going to focus on the conversation Jesus has with the thief on the cross, and will focus on the work of the church with those in prison and seeking to integrate back into life after prison. We’re hoping that Lee and Sonia Brett who head up our prison ministry will get to speak, along with a story from someone they have worked with, and a message from Paul Cowley who heads up prison Alpha. 

In order to give the meeting a live feel to it, the producers would like us to have at least 100 people in the congregation. That will mean getting to the Kerith Centre for 7.40am in order for us all to be ready to start at 8.10am. If you’re able to come then please do! It would really help us if you could register here so we know you are coming - but if for some reason you can’t register, or at the last minute you decide to come, then please come anyway - we’d love to have you. We’ll provide tea, coffee and pastries for all who make it!

The BBC hope to be all packed up and out of the building by 9.15am, so the 9.30am and 11.30am meetings will go ahead in Bracknell as normal. So come for the 8.10am then stay for the final week of our declutter series at 9.30am! Perhaps this a taste of things to come with four meetings on a Sunday :)

Whether you can make it or not please be praying that God will powerful use this opportunity for his message of hope to be clearly proclaimed, and for people to hear a different expression of church to one they may have previously experienced. 

Simon

Monday, February 25, 2019

Bracknell & Windsor Vision Meetings



In a couple of weeks time we’re going to have vision meetings for our Bracknell and Windsor sites.

The Bracknell evening is on Tuesday 12th March starting at 7.30pm in the Kerith Centre. There are a number of things we want to talk about including news from across our sites, changes to the way we do small groups in Kerith, an update on proposed improvements to our Bracknell site infrastructure, news about the theology hub we’re going to host from September and much more! We’ll also have space to pray together during the evening. 

The Windsor evening is on Wednesday 13th March starting at 7.30pm in the Gospel Hall in Dedworth. It’s now six months since we started meeting in Windsor and there is much to celebrate and reflect on (including the homeless shelter we’ve helped to host), as well as looking forward to how things like the new small groups structure and theology hub will impact Windsor. 

We’ll make an audio recording of both meetings available for anyone who can’t be there on the night.

We aren’t doing a vision night for Sandhurst as we had one in January to announce the move to Farnborough and the rename to Kerith Blackwater Valley. We’ll look to schedule one for West Wight later this year.

These evenings are a great opportunity for us to come together as sites, hear some of the vision of where we are going, and think about how each of us can play our part in what God is doing in and through us. Help to see you there!

Have a blessed week,

Simon

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Saying Goodbye to Ben Davies


As a community we are about to witness the end of an era as Ben Davies, who lead our church from 1964 through to 2007, prepares to move back to his beloved Wales. Ben has been a huge part of so the lives of so many of us, and we as a church simply wouldn’t exist in our current form if it wasn’t for Ben and his decades of inspirational and courageous leadership. 

We are having an evening to say goodbye to Ben on Sunday 3rd March at 6pm in the Kerith Centre. Everyone is invited to come and be a part of what will be a very special moment in the life of our church. 

The evening will start with a time of worship, where as part of our worship we’ll sing a couple of songs Ben has chosen. I’m then going to interview Ben, giving him a chance to reflect on his time in Bracknell, as well as telling us about some of his plans as he moves back to Wales.  We’ll then make time to pray for Ben, after which he’ll have an opportunity to speak. 

After the meeting  we’ll serve tea, coffee and cakes, which will give everyone the opportunity for a chat with Ben. 

I know that many of us will want to share with Ben the impact he has had on our lives, as well as thanking him, bringing prophetic thoughts, prayers and scriptures. We’ll have a book where all these things can be written for Ben to read afterwards, or you can email them to the Kerith Centre reception either before or after the evening and we’ll make sure they get to Ben. 

Parking will be at the college car park for everyone other than the elderly, disabled or women coming on their own. 

Hope to see you there, and if you can’t make it then email in you memories, thanks or prayers and we’ll pass them all on to Ben.

Blessings,

Simon

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Proposing Ben Oliver as an elder



At Kerith we have a team of elders who oversee all that happens in the life of our church (if you’d like more detail on the role and qualifications for elders then there’s a chapter in the book I wrote, the Peach and the Coconut, which describes both the role of elders and the other leadership structures within Kerith).

Our elders have proposed recognising Ben Oliver as an elder, but before we formally appoint him I’d really appreciate hearing from anyone in our community who might have thoughts or comments on Ben stepping into this role, either negative or positive. Please send any comments to me via email. 

To tell you a little bit about Ben, he and his wife Beccy joined Kerith 20 years ago. Eleven years ago he joined the staff team on a part time basis as my first appointment after taking over leading Kerith, then in June 2015 he came on the full time staff after giving up his job as a project manager at GSK.   

As a volunteer Ben has served in a whole variety of roles in the church including leading a small group, overseeing all of our small groups and serving in our children’s ministry. His roles on staff have included leading our operations team, overseeing courses and developing the growth track, preaching, pastoral care and now leading the whole of the staff team. He has also been attending and contributing in elders meetings for the past 13 years. 

Ben and Beccy have three girls, Sophie, Naomi and Megan and live in Wooden Hill in Bracknell. 

If you do have any thoughts or comments then please email them to me by Tuesday 22nd January. Unless we hear anything to cause us to pause the process we’ll formally recognise Ben as an elder when David Devenish is with us on Sunday 27th January. 

Many thanks,

Simon

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Boiler Blessings



Those of you who have been around the Kerith Centre recently will I’m sure have noticed that it’s been quite chilly inside the building.

The reason for this is that in the middle of December all three boilers in the Kerith Centre stopped working, and have refused all efforts to coax them back to life (at least without us spending a huge amount to have them fixed). We’ve known for a while that they were going to need replacing, but had been advised that they should be all right for one more winter - sadly that hasn’t been the case. For now we’re heating the building with a whole load of room heaters for the smaller rooms, and industrial gas heaters for the auditorium. All of this is helping, but for the next couple of weeks you might want to bring an extra jumper on a Sunday or if you’re coming for a midweek meeting. 

In the midst of this I want to pull out some good news and things for us to be thankful for. 

The first is that we need to be very thankful if this is the most serious hardship we face. For many Christians gathering as church means putting your life at risk, with a very real threat of persecution, arrest or even death. Last month our Foreign Secreatery, Jeremy Hunt, started a review into what more can be done to support the 215 million Christians around the world who last year faced discrimination and violence, and the 250 Christians who on average are killed every month. In respect for our brothers and sisters in those nations let’s not let it being a bit colder than we’d like stop us going to church. 

Secondly we are going to have new boilers fitted the week starting Monday 21st January. We’re hoping they’re going to be up and running in time for the start of the Alpha course on the 23rd January. The heating system is being modified to make sure the problems we’ve seen before don’t reoccur (for the technically minded we’re having heat exchangers installed) and the new boilers should be more than up to heating the whole building for years to come. 

Thirdly because we’ve built up reserves we can afford to do this work without having to have a gift day. The new system will cost around £40,000 to buy and install, but we can do that from our reserves, and use gift days to fund much more exciting things like new sites and doing new things on our existing sites.

Finally we’ve saved around £3,000 on the cost of the boilers because somebody we have helped through our social justice ministries happens to sell boilers, and as a way of saying thank you negotiated a cheaper price with the company he works on the boilers we’re having installed. As Jesus taught us, you reap what you sow.

So lots to be thankful for, and an opportunity to wear those Christmas jumpers for a couple more weeks. God is good :)

Simon.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

News from the Kerith Sandhurst Vision Night


Last night we had our Kerith Sandhurst Vision night, where we shared two major pieces of news. You can find an audio recording of the evening here. 

The first is piece of news is that from the 28th April (the Sunday after Easter) we’re going to be moving the Sunday venue for our Sandhurst site to the Village Hotel in Farnborough. The second is that we’re changing the name of the site to Kerith Blackwater Valley to reflect the fact that we’re drawing people from across the whole of the Blackwater area.

We realise that the move to a new location represents a big change for the people who are part of Kerith Sandhurst. For some it will make our Sunday gathering closer to where they live, for others it will mean traveling further. I realise there will also be sadness about leaving the school which has been such a great meeting place for us for the last five years, with all the stories of the lives we have seen changed in that time. We want to do all we can to help people make the transition, and to help explain why we think this is God’s next step for us as a community. 

To that end our site pastor Heather Pocock has written some notes explaining why we’re making these changes, and answering what we think will be some of the most common questions. However, you may well have different questions or want to discuss what the change means for you personally. This coming Sunday I’ll be around in Sandhurst before and after the meeting to talk to anyone who has concerns or questions (we can talk about other things too if you want!) along with Duncan Klitgaard who is our elder who oversees Sandhurst. Please also feel free to email me, Heather or Duncan if that works better for you.

We do think The Village is the right next step for us as we seek to help people find their way back to God, and are excited about the opportunities it is going to open up for us. If you want a sneak preview of what our new location looks like then take a look at this video.

If you’re part of Sandhurst I hope to catch you on Sunday.

Praying for you all to have a blessed week.

Simon

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Week of Prayer and Fasting - 14th to 20th January



I’m believing for 2019 to be our best year yet, both for us as individuals and for us as a community. Key to that is each of us going deeper with God through prayer, which is why we’re having a week of prayer and fasting at the beginning of the year.

There are three things I’m encouraging people to do during the week.

Fasting
I’d love to be able to delegate my fasting, but sadly Jesus hasn’t left us with that option! Jesus made it very clear that he expects us to fast (Mark 6:14). Fasting is a powerful form of worship, as we put our dedication to God above our own comfort, and say to God we are serious about seeking more of him, and Jesus tells us that there are some things which will only change in response to prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). I’m therefore committing to fasting more in 2019, starting with this week. 

I want to encourage everyone to engage in an appropriate form of fasting for some or all of the week. There are some helpful guidelines about how to fast on the 24-7 Prayer website - please take a look and decide what you’re going to give up, and how you’re going to use the time you free up to pray.

Maybe you’ve never fasted before, or haven’t in a long time. I want to encourage you to jump in and do something. Skip a meal and pray, have a day free from social media, don’t watch TV for the week, do whatever it is that says you’re serious about wanting more of God in your life. 

24-7 Prayer
I’d love us to do a week of uninterrupted 24-7 prayer across our four sites. We’ll base this around our Bracknell prayer room, but I realise that for many people getting there isn’t practical (especially those on the Isle of Wight!). 

We’ll use the prayer room booking system to book out the 168 one hour slots in the week, but if you can’t actually get to the prayer room for the slot or slots you want to pray for then just put (v) after your name on the system to say you’ll be praying virtually (how very 21st Century!).

Where possible please book slots as open sessions rather than for exclusive use, so that others can join you if they want to. There’s no expectation on anyone to lead each hour - if there are multiple people in the prayer room then each feel free to do your own thing, unless you decide you all want to pray together. The system lets multiple people book in for each slot, so if there’s a slot you fancy but someone has already booked in (but not exclusively) then just add your name and you’ll both be registered and get the entry code to the prayer room. 

Please be aware of your own safety in all this, especially if you’re in the prayer room during the night and think you might be there on your own. Why not take a friend, or if you’re not sure pray virtually (but remember to book in so we know that slot is filled). 

Finally to say the prayer room isn’t bookable from 5pm until midnight on Friday 18th January as our LIFE youth gathering is happening on the Bracknell site, and for safeguarding reasons the prayer room isn’t available. We’ll make sure people are assigned to pray during that time. 

Why not go and book a slot now. I’ve just booked the very first slot on Monday 14th - please feel free to come and join me!

Wildfires Prayer Night on Thursday 17th January
We’re gathering with other churches for an evening of prayer at the Kerith Centre from 7.30-9.30pm on Thursday 17th January. Tim Hughes is leading worship and Pete Greig will be leading us in prayer as we come together to pray for revival personally, in our nation and in the nations. 

Parking, other than for the elderly or disabled, will be in the Braccan Walk car park (what was the Charles Square car park).

This meeting will replace our January site based prayer meetings for Bracknell, Sandhurst and Windsor. 

I think that’s it. Please plan to get involved, to fast, book into the prayer meeting and come on the 17th as we call out to the one who can do “immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine”.

Simon

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Your Greatest Need?


I’m increasingly convinced that for all of us, our greatest need is to know God better. Not to have more money, a better job, to be fitter, skinnier, smarter, prettier, healthier, cooler, have more influence or anything else, but to know God in all his fullness, love, holiness, power, mercy, wisdom and majesty. 

And that if we have a right understanding of who God is and how he views us, then everything else will fall into place, and we’ll be more than able to deal with anything life might throw at us.

Please take a moment to stop and ask yourself whether you agree with what I’ve just said. If you don’t then I’d love to talk about it. If you do then it stands to reason that getting to know God better should be one of the highest priorities in our lives. 

But how? How do we get to know God better, and God as he really is rather than us just amplifying our own version of who we think he is. Well one of the primary ways we get to know God better is through meditating on his word. Tim Keller puts it this way:

“While deep experiences of the presence and power of God can happen in innumerable ways, the ordinary way for going deeper spiritually into prayer is through meditation on Scripture.”

Rick Warren makes a similar observation when he says:

“No other habit can do more to transform your life and make you more like Jesus than daily reflections on scripture”. 

Psalm 1 tells us that blessed (happy) are those who day and night meditate on God’s word. That word for mediate means to ponder, to speak, to mutter, to imagine and to study. Not necessarily reading big chunks of scripture (though that is important too) but stopping long enough to allow one verse, one phrase or even one word to speak to us and sink deep into our souls. 

So in 2019 I want to encourage each of us to spend more time meditating on God’s word. To help that I’m going to put up a daily post on my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts with what I’m calling a #5minutemeditation. This will be a short scripture along with a couple of questions. I want to encourage you to try to find five minutes every day where you can stop and meditate on the scripture. It might be first thing in the morning, last thing at night, as you wait for Pointless to start, while you drink a coffee, as you walk to school or work or when it comes up in your feed. Ask God to speak to you, read the scripture slowly and repeatedly, and listen for his voice. Then respond. It might be to worship God, to be thankful for something, to pray for someone, to send an encouraging text or who knows what else. 

Let me know how you get on. I’ll be praying for you!

Happy New Year :)

Simon