Monday, 21 December 2009

New sermon series

In the new year we are starting a new and very important sermon series about what it really means to be a missional church
The clue to which book we will chiefly be focussing on is in the title of the series The Forgotten Ways !
I hope at least a few people will take time to read at least one book on this important subject !

Carols by Candlelight!

The church carol service was excellent and a strong reminder of just how far our new church has travelled in a short time!
The building looked very welcoming and was beautifully decorated.The musicians and singers were excellent ,all their rehearsals paid off well there was plenty of food even for the more than 200 people who came. Best of all their was a powerful sense of Gods presence with us and people stayed to chat.
We have certainly passed a tipping point and 2010 will be a challenging but I expect also a very exciting year
Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make our Christmas so good this year

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Radio Shropshire Pause for thought

Do this Radio slot every few weeks and though as it was Christmas I would put my script here

"Christmas always makes me think of my favourite Uncle Dieter
Uncle Dieter was not only very tall but also very large. A German Jew who had fled the Nazis to avoid the holocaust, he had a fine sense of humour ,a determination to say exactly what he thought,a love for good food and wine and a penchant for quoting and invoking the names of Catholic saints
Nearly every Christmas he and Aunt Dorothy and their children would come to our childhood home in Wem to celebrate Christmas with us.
Like most children we would get up very very early on Christmas day ,open our stockings and feast on the chocolate Father Christmas and obligoratory Tangerine Then still dressed in our pyjamas and saying sssh! to each other in loud whispers-we would tip toe down the stairs as quietly as we could and dash over to the heavily decorated Christmas tree and start to prod and poke at all the presents under the tree, discerning perhaps a toy gun from mum and dad here, and the usual socks and postal order from Granny over there
I vividly remember being totally focused on this enthralling enterprise one year -I was what sports people describe as being "in the zone"
When a booming voice came from the top of the stairs in a thick German accent
"Get Back to Bed " No not Father Christmas Uncle Dieter had caught us again!
We didnt want to wait -He ensured we did !
We are moving quickly now through Advent the waiting is almost over,the excitement is rising The shopping days are running out ,the tree is up ,the cards should have been posted,the presents should be wrapped the day is almost here!
But what does Christmas mean to you? For some of us perhaps more than we care to admit Christmas is a sad time. sometimes its simply the season cannot bear the weight of expectation that is placed on it. In a recession there is no extra money to buy presents without getting into serious debt For some of you the pain of bereavement is even sharper at Christmas than at other times; for others relationships are put under enormous strain, and perhaps some of you have sons or daughters,or parents in Afghanistan
For others Christmas is great fun ,a time to eat drink and be merry , a time to party, enjoy family and friends ,food and laughter

And for Christians ,the clue to the meaning of Christmas is found in those simple words, that invite a lifetime's profound reflection, found in Johns gospel 'The Word was made flesh'.
thats the key to the authentic meaning of Christmas -the word became flesh -God became a human being he doesnt come to crush ,or dominate he comes as a vulnerable human being motivated by an awesome love
People often say if there is a God it is impossible to know Him
Christmas means If you want to know what God is like look at Jesus
His very name Jesus means -The Lord saves and that is truly good news for all people
When I am woken up early on Christmas day by children eager to open their presents I will get myself a cup of coffee , think of Uncle Dieter and smile
But I will also take time to reflect on the most profound truth of all ,That the word became flesh and dwelt among us and I invite you this Christmas to do the same

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Missional church

Over the last couple of months we have hosted 3 events which were designed to enable people to ask friends ,neighbours and families to church. To make the easy invite if you like.
Firstly we had a curry evening to which over 100 came ,then an afternoon tea which attracted about 70 ,and finally last Sundays brunch which brought in over 130 people.

We will do more of this in the future but I thought it worthwhile to use this blog to give my impression of how things went and see what we did right and any lessons we could learn.
The Positives
1. People came .I was impressed with the numbers who came to all 3 events .It is true most were from church but there was also a sizeable number who rarely or never come on Sundays and even better many of those people were from our local community.We took a step of faith and it paid off!

2. The food and ambience we created for all 3 occasions was good and this was appreciated and remarked on by those who came

3.People commented on us raising money for others. In this instance water aid and our local hospice

4.There was a great team spirit among those who worked together to make it happen,it was a great bonding exercise!

5.Some great conversations took place which we hope will in time lead to great relationships with others

6.It was fun !Certainly it changed some peoples preconceptions of church. One woman who has been coming to church for years said "that was fantastic Thats what church should be like"!.Everybody seemed to join in Liz Cowburns rendition of the 12 days of Christmas

7 It got us looking outwards to others needs which is vital for our future instead of being obsessed with our own needs

So there certainly is alot to be happy about but as I looked around at all 3 events I also realised we had a lot to learn too

1.While many of our people do ask people some obviously find it very tough to do that.
Somehow we need to train people to make the invites! Is it because so many of us don't know people we could ask? If so how do we change that?

2. People obviously find it difficult to meet new people .Looking round the room it was obvious that some very committed Christians found it a struggle to speak to people they dont know, even people in the church they dont know well! How can we encourage them not to huddle together but to share with others? A big task

3.Prayer I wonder how many of us are intentionally praying for people to come to faith and then inviting them along

All in all though ,really enjoyable ocasions that if anything exceeded my expectations

Sunday, 13 December 2009

The brunch

Went really well with a lot of people there(OVER 130) from the local community as well as the church. I will blog about the lessons learned in a future post but for now here is aphoto or two

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

permission granted!

I have just returned from a planning meeting at Shropshire Council
I feel incredibly excited that we (Shrewsbury Baptist Church) have been granted planning permission for a new town centre building with atrium!!!
This is a huge answer to prayer and the guys in the photo plus others have put so much work into this! We will continue with the vision God has given of being a missional church and operating from 2 specific sites ; around Monkmoor and in the town centre

The future looks wonderfully exciting and the possibilities endless-Thanks be to God!!!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Christmas texting!

Starting to write my christmas talks
I enjoy doing it!!
I love Christmas and Easter but I struggle with Harvest festival!
Anyway here is something from the Fresh Expressions which caught my eye

"Leeds University chaplain, the Revd Matt Ward, knows it's important to meet up with his Emmanuel Café Church regulars on campus. Usually a chat over a latte or a cappuccino does the trick, but Matt has to find other ways to keep in touch when term comes to an end in December.

After students have headed away from uni, and their fresh expression of church, for the Christmas break, Matt prepares for the festive challenge - to capture the Nativity in a standard 160-character text and send it to Café Church supporters on Christmas Day.

"Café Church runs in 10-week bursts during uni terms so we always miss the major festivals," says Matt. "That's a bit of a challenge for a church community but there are still ways to celebrate 'together', even when we're not in the same place at the same time.

"I thought a Christmas Day message would be one way of doing it, but what you can say about the Incarnation of Jesus within those sort of text limits?! I haven't attempted it yet in Twitter's 140 characters. That really would be a challenge."

The 2009 message is:

Christmas A time of being with family, gr8 or not Even in a manger Jesus is born in the heart of family. Whatever 2day brings Remember Emmanuel, God IS with us"

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Trellis and The Vine - changing our mindset

The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, Ministry mind-shifts,how the book suggests churches need to change ;some good stuff here!

1. From running programs to building people

2. From running events to training people

3. From using people to growing people

4. From filling gaps to training new workers

5. From solving problems to helping people make progress

6. From clinging to ordained ministry to developing team leadership

7. From focusing on church polity to forging ministry partnerships

8. From relying on training institutions to establishing local training

9. From focusing on immediate pressures to aiming for long-term expansion

10. From engaging in management to engaging in ministry

11. From seeking church growth to desiring gospel growth