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,


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 :)


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.


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.

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”.


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 :)