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

Monday, June 3, 2019

Going Deeper in God’s Word - WTC Open Evening


Many of us have just come back from an amazing three days at the Wildfires Festival. There was so many good things about being there, but for me one of the highlights was the coming together of an emphasis on both the word of God and the Spirit of God. Historically most churches resolve the alleged tension between word and Spirit by placing an emphasis on one or the other, but as we contend for revival in our nation we need to go deeper in both (to that end you might want to take a look at this prophetic word from the evangelist Smith Wigglesworth given in 1947). Wildfires saw both a longing for more of the Spirit (powerfully expressed in healings, the prophetic, tongues and interpretations and the unforgettable ministry of Pastor Enoch Adeboye), along with a desire to go deeper in the scriptures (with the likes of John Mark Comer, Pete Hughes, Lucy Peppiatt and Matt Lynch). 

To that end I’m delighted that we’re going to be partnering with the Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) to host a Thames Valley hub which will allow any of us to do, on a part time basis, everything from a Certificate in Higher Education all the way through to an MA in Kingdom Theology. There are already nine people from Kerith in the process of signing up to study with WTC, and I’m hoping by the time we kick off in Septmber we’ll have quite a few more. 

WTC isn’t just for those who feel called to preach or lead a site or a church. It is for anyone who wants to go deeper in their relationship with God through a better understanding of the Bible, and who wants to be better equipped to serve God in whatever they do in life. Over a year it involves twenty Tuesday night study evenings, two five day residentials, essay writing and lots of reading, and costs around £3,250 so this isn’t an easy option, but one which will repay the time, energy and finances invested in it.

For anyone interested we’ve got a WTC Open Event on the 11th June from 7-9.30pm in the K2 building on our Bracknell site. There will be the opportunity to experience a  study evening with refreshments, worship, a talk from Lucy Peppiatt on what Jesus taught about himself, Q&A and an opportunity to meet our hub director, Karen Dack. You can register here

For those wanting to do something a step before studying with WTC we’ll have two other options. The first step is The Bible Course which is an 8 week course run as a small group. There will be new groups running this kicking off in the Autumn. The second option is Equip, which will be a two year journey through the story of the Bible from Genesis through to Revelation. This will run on a Monday night, people will be able to opt in our out on a termly basis, and will academically be around GCSE level. 

Let’s make a commitment to be people of the word and the Spirit, and use these opportunities to go deeper in the word of God.

Hope you have a great week.

Simon

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