Friday, 29 November 2013

Kahaila Cafe London




Great coffee and scrumptious cake is a wonderful recipe for a busy ,profitable and very friendly coffee shop in Brick Lane in London Kahaila is not just a coffee shop though ,it is also a small church planted primarily to reach the twenty's and thirty's age group.
This very new church not only runs a coffee shop,it also supports a mission to prostitutes and is in the process of gathering money and materials to open a safe house in the area for the victims of trafficking.The whole enterprise is about blessing the community


A group of us from church met with the pastor and leader ,a guy called Paul Unsworth who has carried the vision for Kahaila over the last few years .His passion to share good news relevant to his local community was very evident and a huge priority is given to relationships This is summed up on Kahaila's website
"We are a church, but not church as you might understand it. We do not see ourselves as religious we see our selves as being relational. We live in relationship with God and with each other, therefore we see ourselves as a family rather than as an institution. We are a group of people who aim to live life in all of its fullness, understanding that the teaching of Jesus Christ brings that fullness. We are people on a journey, we are not perfect, so we would ask you not to judge us before you get to know us and we promise not to judge you."
We were there on a Wednesday night for the churches weekly time of prayer and worship together which takes place in the cafe and which in this occasion brought together about 20 young people (and the 5 of us not so very young people)
The simple,but meaningful worship began with a time of singing beautifully led by a woman from the church and this was followed by bible teaching on Ephesians 4 and 5 delivered with humour, but also with real passion by Paul Unsworth who clearly wants to relate the bible in a relevant way so that the young people present understand more clearly what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
What we saw and learned at Kahaila will inspire us as we think about the next stage of the journey at Shrewsbury and we need time to think through the lessons we learned and to see how they might apply in our very different situation.
 Paul and his team had the courage not only to do something very different but to dare to do something very bold They have taken what Hybels calls big,hairy audacious steps of faith and God has honoured them again and again Following the teaching we gathered in small groups around the coffee tables to chat and attempt to earth the teaching we had heard in to our daily lives.we then prayed ,talked said our good byes and left with so much to think about   There really is nothing to stop us doing the same!


More on Kahaila here

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Radio Shropshire Remembrance Sunday

95 years ago today in 1918, at  the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - the First World War came to an end.. It is thought that about 9 million soldiers lost their lives, and about 27 million were wounded - many of them permanently disabled
So today we mark Remembrance Sunday a day to stop reflect and in the case of many people to give thanks to God for those who have given their lives not just in the 2 great wars of the last century,  but in many other conflicts as well including most  recently Iraq and Afghanistan, and Today I wear the  poppy not with pride but with a deep humility as I think about the awful loss of life and the continuing suffering and the deep pain of those left behind  and I will pray for peace with justice to come to the earth

I am also deeply thankful for the continuing committed indeed heroic work of The Royal British Legion who produce the red poppy that so many millions wear -an appropriate symbol  because a poppy grows so well in disturbed earth ripped open by war and was  one of the few things that would grow in the barren battlefields of The Somme and Ypres

In fact next year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War and the government has announced this centenary is to be marked by a four year programme of events that will commemorate that war- The events range from church services to educational visits
Many have questioned how appropriate this commemoration is In fact I heard this being discussed on the Jim Hawkins show last Monday morning
Some feel it is an unnecessary glorification of war
Others that it is a colossal waste of money
Others that in 2013 it is simply irrelevant to how we live today

Now anyone who celebrates war is plain daft  to put it very mildly but I have no problem with commemoration because we should never forget
The words at the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them have authentic power ,for as someone once said If we fail to learn the lessons of the past we will be condemned to repeat them
A few years ago I visited the grave of a man I had never met His name was Fred Watson he was actually my mother’s uncle as a young man Fred  had emigrated to Canada from the family home in Scotland but at the outbreak of war he had out of a sense of duty come back to fight

in 1916 he was killed near Sanctuary Wood and unusually his grave is in Zillebecke Parish Church near Ypres
Today I will remember Fred and his brother Stan who died at Loos and whose body was never found and I will think of my dad who survived the Second World War but was forever changed by it
And thousands of you will have similar memories and some  of your memories  will be much more recent and far more personal
But even if you don’t have personal memories of those who gave their lives   their names are around wherever you are in Shropshire

 if  today you should you pass a war memorial whether in Tilstock or Telford ,Condover or Clun select one of the names engraved on those memorials and remember they too had hopes and dreams  ambitions and desires  before their  lives were cut so tragically  short

The writer Rudyard Kipling author of The Jungle Book was enthusiastic about  the outbreak of war and wrote pamphlets encouraging young men to join up and fight  he used his influence to get his own son John into the army despite the fact that John  was severely short sighted and had failed the medicals on more than one occasion

Tragically John too was killed at Loos and Johns body was never found and Kipling’s attitude to war was changed forever  It is Kipling who composed the words on every war memorial where the body of the deceased could not be identified  the inscription contains just 3 words Known unto God


As a Christian I believe every human being is Known unto God made in His image  we should  all seek to live a life that brings Gods love and peace to the people we come into contact with day by day

Monday, 9 September 2013

Leaders away day Cloverly Hall


On Friday afternoon the church leaders headed to Cloverly Hall near Whitchurch

It is a place we had been before set ,in lovely countryside with great food and facilities.

It was great in the middle of busy lives to put 24 hours apart to be together.There is something about eating,sharing, talking,praying,walking and even "wasting time" together away from some of the normal pressures of life




Sometimes leaders meetings can get crowded out by stuff that needs to be talked about and decisions that need to be made .
The urgent however is not always the most important though, and it was good at Cloverly to step back, and to build our relationships as leaders, to take time to think about our vision and how we present it ,to talk honestly about our personal spiritual lives,to share our joys and sorrows  


Much of our discussion was based around Bill Hybels " Courageous Leadership" which we had all read before we went and formed at least the starting point and the background for our sessions, 

We came away with some fairly concise thoughts & ideas about future direction and areas we need to concentrate on.We  we will work on these and share them more widely  but perhaps even more valuable was the fellowship and deeper relationships that resulted as we built team together 


we must do it again soon!



Thursday, 1 August 2013

Rick Warren first sermon since his tragic loss

I must say I admire his courage and his determination to remove the stigma of mental illness that is still present in society see here

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Casting Crowns video City on a Hill

Thought this was very powerful and judging from comments afterwards so did others at church

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Thoughts on Fathers Day -Radio Shropshire Pause for Thought

Up early today to get to the studios and appear on Mike Georges show here is my script for today



I picked up the phone the voice at the other end told me that  dad who had been in and out of hospital for months, and in failing health somewhat longer than that, was now dying.It was not unexpected news and yet I was surprised to find myself feeling strangely shocked.

It was a hot July day, my heart beating faster than usual  I dashed over to the hospice hoping that I would be in time

The journey took less than 15 minutes but when I arrived I was greeted with the news that he had died,minutes before Even though I had seen him very recently I felt distraught If only I had been there a short time earlier.

On reflection, I guess that’s how dad would have wanted it to be.  We had said our goodbyes I had told him that I loved him and the truth is He never did like fuss especially when it came to his health. I can hear him say it now There is nothing more boring for me to talk about and for you to hear than the story of my illness

I still have a self portrait he painted - in oil - grey hair ,casual jumper, glasses on a face full of lines and  character.  I look at that painting often and every time I do my heart aches a little.

We had very different personalities. we had different beliefs, different philosophies of life. When I was nineteen and told him I'd become a Christian he said "Don't worry I was a communist for 6 months at your age"

We didn't agree on very much but he was the only dad I will ever have and I loved him and I guess I love him still.

So today is Father’s Day.

For many people it's quite rightly a day of celebration, with cards addressed to the best dad in the world,  presents of socks, ties, and aftershave. Lunches and meals out.

At our church we're having a brunch to celebrate Father’s day.. and why wouldn't we? It’s worth celebrating our dads just as much as Mothering Sunday celebrates our mums.

And yet …I will also think today about  those who have not got a dad (or perhaps have never even known their dad).


 Those dads who've lost children, or lost touch with their children - those men who would love to have had children but for whatever reason - have not.  And I also think of those whose relationships with their dad was poor.

There is a wonderful story Jesus told called the Prodigal Son.

It is a story of a son who demands his inheritance, while his dad is still alive, takes the money  moves away from his family wastes it all ,ends up feeding the pigs eventually he swallows his pride decides to go home to see his dad expecting he will never really be forgiven or accepted for what he has done.

But unbeknown to the prodigal his dad has been searching for him every day he has been away, and when he spots him a long way off  he uninhibitedly  runs towards him throws his arm around him welcomes him home  and then throws a great party in celebration that his son has been found!

I don't know what your relationship with your dad is, or was like, brilliant or bitter, I don't know whether Father’s day makes you full of joy or makes you feel deeply sad,  but I do know that each of us has a Father in Heaven who loves us with a fierce and never ending love and whoever we are and whatever is always there for us.


Monday, 3 June 2013

The power of a story





There is nothing quite so powerful or so moving as a Christian saying what it is that God has done for them and how He has changed their lives
Yesterday Sandra was baptised and as part of what was a wonderful and emotional service she clearly stated what it was that God had done for her and how it was that others,including her husband Mike,  helped her towards her step of faith
I promise you that Sandra was not the only one in tears as her story came to an end ,but as she said they were tears of joy and not sadness

You can hear Sandra's short,simple but moving story by pressing here Sandra's story


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Steve Barnwell's induction at Oakham Baptist

Yesterday I was present at Steve Barnwells induction as Pastor of Oakham Baptist Church
It was the third induction I had attended and taken part in , in the last 12 months, and was as enjoyable and meaningful as the other two, which you can read about here  and here
There is something very moving about a minister committing themselves to a church, and a church committing themselves to a minister as they promise to journey together into Gods future 
Steve had done a very good job in Shrewsbury and is missed but after yesterday and watching him interact easily with the people he is now called to minister to , I am convinced that he and the folk at Oakham have made the right decision and will grow the Kingdom together 

Roger Sutton spoke powerfully basing his thoughts around Luke 5 and speaking to folk from our church this morning ,his message had challenged them to see things things not as they are but as by the grace of God they could be 
I also found the covenant promises that minister and church made to each other deeply meaningful 
After the service we shared food and memories together before leaving for home. 
I am sure that over the next months and years we will hear about good things
happening at Oakham

Saturday, 11 May 2013

A Mike Frost story from his book- Exiles

This morning some of us had breakfast together at Central, and reflected together on both Spring Harvest 2013 which a group from church went to; I have blogged about it before here ,and also the Christian Associates conference which I wrote about here.

As part of our reflection I read this story from Mike Frost's excellent book Exiles see here


" I remember meeting Shaun Tunstall, from the city of Brisbane on the east coast of Australia, who, in his mid twenties and living with dyslexia and ADD, finally decided he would stop attending church. He couldn't sit still during church services, and he wasn't wired to take in information from half-hour sermons. He wasn't getting anything out of the meetings, even though he had been attending church weekly since he was born.


Now, flushed with frustration and early adult rebellious energy, he decided to stop going to church. Instead, Shaun decided that he would take his power-boat out on Brisbane's Pine River and go water skiing on Sunday mornings. He gathered a group of friends, some Christian, some not, and headed off to the river for a relaxing day of water skiing. But after reversing the trailer down the boat ramp and edging the craft into the water, he became wracked by guilt. It was a beautiful Sunday morning, and every week of his life he had been in church. Now here he was about to go water skiing. He expected one of God's vengeful lightning bolts to burst from the clear blue sky and sink his boat at any minute. So, in an attempt to salve his conscience, he grabbed a pocket Bible from his car and announced to his friends that he would like to mark the day by reading a short passage of Scripture. You can imagine his friends' surprise. After reading the shortest psalm he could find, he reflected briefly about the beauty of God's grace and then asked the guys if there was anything they'd like him to pray about. Stunned by these proceedings, his friends, especially the non-Christian ones, eventually offered up needs they had that Shaun could pray about. Then they went water skiing all day.


Next week, twice as many people turned up. Shaun read a brief passage, shared a few thoughts about it, and asked for prayer points. He did this for weeks. The numbers kept increasing, and soon he had a community of over fifty people who would meet by the river, share a short devotion, pray together, and enjoy God's creation. Soon, people started becoming Christians. After a while, they started breaking for lunch at some picnic tables by the Pine River, where they would break bread and drink wine and remember Jesus' sacrificial love. 

They shared a meal together and took up a collection each week and gave the money to the poor.

They took it upon themselves to become the "chaplains" to the general river community. Now they are known as the people who tow broken-down boats back to the boat ramp. They provide free parts and repairs for other boats that have given up the ghost. They eat together, they serve the poor, they share Jesus with others, they celebrate the Lord's Supper, they serve their general community. 

And all along, Shaun's parents and church friends are hoping that he'll come to his senses and start attending church again."



I really love this story.It is one of my favourites about accidental church planting, but it also has a great deal to teach us about what church is, and the importance of being culturally relevant to the people we are trying to serve,love  and reach and share Jesus withReading the story certainly encouraged a lively and helpful discussion about what church really is and what it means to be church


Thursday, 2 May 2013

A trip to Ludlow










If you read this blog you will know that we are on a journey to becoming a more missional church.
It can be a tough journey at times as Simon Jones points out in an excellent  blog post here .
The journey does however has its joys, and many of these are to be found, as we engage with our local community, and  as we seek to discover what God is doing and enthusiastically join in.
Since Central opened we have had  wonderful opportunities to do that and we have been blessed and by the grace of God I believe we have been a blessing.
The coming few months look extraordinarily busy and very exciting
One of the things we are doing is playing a small part in the first ever Shrewsbury Food Festival website here which is coming up towards the end of June.
Our small, but exciting (and probably fattening!) role is to have a pudding tasting event at Central

It is not something I trained for at college, so Liz, Jude and I set of for Ludlow today to learn how they do it for The Ludlow Food festival
We had a wonderful time meeting the 2 women who had started  the pudding tasting event at the Methodist Church in Ludlow and they were incredibly helpful.
Their vision and energy ,their desire to serve and to bless their community and help us was awesome and inspiring
We came away with lots of ideas,lots of things we should do and should not do, and other things we need to think carefully about
What inspired us most though was the sheer energy and enthusiasm of these 2 people( who I think it is fair to say are not in the first flush of youth) and the way they want to use their gift to serve and bless people

God grant me their enthusiasm at their age


Monday, 15 April 2013

Spring Harvest 2013 -a few thoughts



  • I am feeling physically tired but spiritually refreshed after my second Christian conference in as many weeks.
     I wrote about the great time we had with Christian Associates here and last week I was at Spring Harvest in Minehead.
     It  was the first time we had been for well over 20 years, and much was very familiar 
    Here are some of the things I especially enjoyed:

    The morning family worship 
    This was half an hour all age worship and it was very well done.the time included prayer ,bible reading,drama,dance  and great use of technology
    The missional tone of the event.
    There was a real encouragement throughout the week for  Christians to engage with their local communities
    Spring Harvest have not led this trend but it is great to see they are reflecting it 
  • Spring Harvest is great at technology and use it as well as any conference I have ever been at; but it was used well to illustrate rather than to overwhelm
    The facilities for those with Special Needs there was signing at all the major meetings during he week ,a good area for those in wheelchairs with very helpful and well trained stewards, all in all very positive, though it would have been good to see at least one wheelchair user speak  on the main stage during the week ,so there are still  areas to work on!
    The chance to spend quality time with people from church.
    It is true it would have been good to do more of this, but that is not always easy in a conference with so much going on all the time, but we still managed to eat together, celebrate a couple of birthdays together, and have some important conversations,which all helps to build relationships. 
    The chance to meet old friends again 
    In our case Claire and Derek and their family. Claire  used to run the youth work with us in Ross many many years ago and it was amazing to see them again 
    It was also great to  bump into Tim and Marlene.We had seen them more recently, but it was good to catch up with their news
    The after hours entertainment It included Tim Vine and John Archer -need I say more !

    There were other moments I enjoyed and were helped by , and any list like this is very personal, but all in all it was a good and helpful time

Monday, 8 April 2013

Christian Associates- Summit Leadership Conference -A visitors view.



I am just back from a Christian Associates Leadership Summit at High Leigh Conference Centre website here
One always worries a bit when heading to a smallish conference where we knew very few people,and they mostly know each other fairly well but we were made very welcome and came away both encouraged and inspired by the people we met and the stories we heard.
Indeed it was also affirming to all that we are seeking to do in Shrewsbury.

My highlights included:

Seeing Dudley Callison again and meeting his wife Laura

I first met Dudley in 1989 when he came for a mission trip to Ross on Wye and Gorsley and I have no doubt he will make a highly effective leader of Christian Associates as they move forward into a new era. In my opinion he has exactly the gifts that are needed. Dudley is an excellent communicator with a wide experience of cross cultural mission and a passion to see missional churches share Jesus.Combine all that with an ability to relate to people and a strategic mind and my guess is that CA have got the right person at the right time


Another highlight was the the teaching of Kim Hammond from Forge
Kim is another great communicator who spoke with honesty, humour and knowledge on the subject of" multiplication-reproducing local leaders and churches" there were some great one liners such as" radical people inspire ordinary people to do radical things" but above all it was the wisdom he shared that was so inspiring . I only wish the talks had been recorded and it is encouraging that Forge are looking to work more in Europe in the future


It was also great to meet some wonderful people from all over the world who told encouraging,indeed amazing stories of Gods work from the person planting vegetables in Haiti to the woman sharing food and faith with prostitutes and the guys sharing faith in Russian orphanages.

We were also able to make connections, which we hope and pray will help us as we seek to partner with Christian Associates in bringing Phillip and Christina to work with us in Shrewsbury

As much as anything though we were encouraged by the healthy culture of Christian Associates which is accepting,permission giving ,creative, respective of local cultures and people, and above all passionate about Jesus

i will try hard to remember all we  were reminded of but above all 3 things :
  • Firstly, that Gods grace is prevenient. In other words God is at work in lives long before we get there and will be at work long after we have left,but we can by Gods grace be links in the chain
  • To tell more stories
  • To be even bolder and more faithful  in seeking to show and share Gods love in innovative ways to people made in His image

We hope to keep in touch with CA






































































































































































Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Sunday 2013

Like many churches we had a wonderful turn out to our Easter Sunday morning service .
It really is one of my favourite days of the year as it really is such a powerful message, that because Christ is Risen -Everything is different !
One of the blessings of leading services these days, is that there is so much good stuff you can show on the video/projector, and when we lost the services of Liz due to illness, who was going to do our children's talk, we were able instead to use a very powerful bit from The Miracle Maker series.
I love the Easter songs, both old and new .(and we sung a variety!) At the end of the sermon I gave people a chance to reflect again on the difference Easter makes and as they did so ,played this video,which a number of people commented on ,so I said I would link to it on this blog;so here it is .Happy Easter! He is Risen!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Good Friday 2013 at Central

Over a 100 people came  to  our Good Friday Service at Central.
We wanted to give people an opportunity both to reflect on the events, and respond to the message of the first Good Friday.
We provided this opportunity in most of the usual ways through the bible readings and through  the songs we sung (both ancient and modern), & through use of the video projector and we shared communion together giving people the chance to be prayed for individually ,or as families as they came forward to receive the bread and the wine.
 I always find this point in the service moving as having been around for a while now in Shrewsbury I know both the joys and the struggles many of our people have. 
BerylAlan

Instead of a sermon Beryl shared a story she had written imagining what it would have been like to have been the centurion in charge of the execution of Jesus Beryl has a real gift for these stories and brings out many of the parts of the story that are in the Bible but which we often miss
(I have offered to put her Lent series on this blog but she is going to publish them in a book so look out for it!)

We concluded with the wonderful and powerful hymn "And can it be " before sharing the grace together

We then took chocolate and hot cross buns out onto the local streets together with an invitation to join us on Easter Sunday 


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Induction Jon Edwards Middlesbrough

I had a  long journey but a wonderful day in Middlesbrough,where I spoke at the induction of Jon Edwards
at South Bank Baptist Church.The church is not placed in an easy situation but it does have enormous potential, and by Gods Grace will grow .The people were very warm and welcoming and as usual there was a huge amount of food afterwards ! I thought I would put the notes for my sermon on the blog
Jon Speaking



It has been a long journey here and it will be a long journey back but let me tell you a secret
We would not have missed this occasion for the world
It is a joy to be here!
I have known Jon longer than he has known Liz
I have known Liz longer than she has known Jon
I admire them both enormously
They are not perfect but they are deeply committed 

They have exercised a committed servant ministry and they will be deeply missed in Ludlow and indeed in Shropshire
Indeed such was the shock at their leaving that the Walls of Ludlow castle collapsed;)  and the pope resigned

Today I want want to say some things to both John and Liz and the church
Don’t be a kind of  miserable religious club

Be the chosen people ,the royal priesthood the holy nation you belong to God

The local Church is not a building full of people it is a people full of God
The church is the people of God called to display his goodness of His reign to the world
The church is the bride of Christ brought into being by Jesus death on the cross
The church is a community of grace energised and empowered by The Holy Spirit
And my challenge to you today as you begin a new phase in your churches life is to become  who you are
Don’t be a religious club


Yes I know you have had a long interregnum,that some of you are probably tired that you may be worrying about money that the building may not be in great shape that the mission field is tough but  Southbank become who you are

You are a living cell in the Body of Christ  Southbank /Jon and Liz we charge you on this special day  become Who  you are
Do not consume time and energy trying to recreate a past that was no doubt good- perhaps at times very good,  but is also long gone

Be the people of God here today right here and right now    
Now Peter was writing to Christians on the margins of their culture
He was writing to people to took a bit of abuse for their faith in Jesus


He was writing at a time when most people in the society would never have dreamt of going to church
This is a missionary document
He was writing to a society a bit like ours!There may have been a time when all you had to do was to ring the bell of the parish church and the faithful (and let’s  be honest not so faithful) would flock to church  That day has long gone
Read v 9-12
Now the word church is first used of the people of God on Mount Sinai  the people of God gathered around Mount Sinai are to live in such a way that they commend the Living God to the Nations

In these verses as Peters readers would have instantly understood Peter is recalling them to Mount Sinai to the place of intimate encounter with God that is where all ministry must begin I often thinking churches including the one I lead could do with less meeting and more encounters for  apart from anything else you will never attract people to Jesus unless you are passionate about Jesus yourself
I have sat in meetings where the things people have got passionate about are what colour should we paint the church doors , should we have a basket or a bag to take up the offering, and should there or should there not be a cross on the church building
How about some passion for  following Jesus rather than for club issues
Give Jon the time the space so he can encounter God He is the source for all ministry Jon you need to make sure you have a Passion for  Jesus


and  having encountered The Living God the church is to live in such a way that they commend God to the Nations by their lives
I have never been here before but I can speak for Shropshire and Herefordshire and I can speak for Glasgow where I spent 8 years and in my experience in our society  very  few people are argued into The Kingdom of God they are usually loved into The Kingdom of God
It doesn’t mean we don’t have to speak the gospel but it does mean that our life in the the community outside the building and indeed the quality of our relationships are to give substance to our words They are to underpin the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are to be people that everyone would love to have as their neighbours A people who bless others
This is an austere world for many people I know the North East is not exempt from that
We are to live in tough times so that others will ask the reason for our hope

Nor if you are a Christian this has huge implications  for how you spend your days how you use your time
I used to think my task was to invite people to evangelistic events I am learning that my life is to be an evangelistic event
Mark Greene makes a point we church leaders would do well to listen to
He said tells the story of a  teacher who said to Him I spend one hour a week teaching Sunday school and my Church hauls me up the front to pray for me I spend  the rest of the week being a full time teacher and my church has never prayed for me ..That says it all!
So Jon part of your task is to equip and disciple others to live for Jesus wherever they are  but I want to make a point to the church too and it is this
Don’t keep Jon too busy  to build quality relationships here  Governors
Give Jon the time  ,the space, the permission to put down deep roots in this community, as he did in Ludlow  support him ,encourage him as he shares  his life with the least ,the last ,the lost
Better still join him in that ministry  indeed it is essential that you do for as The African proverb says” If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others.
There is a great deal of criticism and scepticism around these  days I
In the early centuries of the church Christianity grew not because they build big buildings or because they had great conferences or worship bands Christianity grew because Christians cared for the poor ,the widow ,the terminally ill those in prison and even those condemned to death
In times of plague when pagans fled Christians stayed  sometimes at the cost of their own lives No wonder pagan priests spent a lot of time  whinging about the good reputations Christians had

How do you measure a great church The size of its congregation ,the size of it offering the quality of its  worship band ,how many services it has ,how many young people it has how good the preacher is.How big the building is?
That’s all great but we need to change the scorecard for the church
For Jesus judges a church by how good our lives are ,how much we bless others in His name =How much we show His love to a pain-filled and hurting world How well we serve others
I know Jon and Liz are passionate about these things ,they have demonstrated that in powerful ways in Ludlow and elsewhere support them in their passion for people
Indeed I am confident you will
I am not sure if there is such a thing as an average Baptist Minister but if there is let me tell you Jon is not it
But we have heard you have felt led to call him here and he and Liz have felt strongly called to come and I am looking forward to hearing great stories of God working here