Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Exploring multi-site church 2

'One Church, One Vision, Two Sites...'

This season 


As a team for the next season we want to recognise this as a blessing and look to God for us to grow as one Church, with one vision, meeting across two sites. Both sites are under the authority of the same eldership team. You will find the same preaching, same doctrine, same leadership philosophy, same values, same emphasis in worship and same family news. On Sundays one site will be at Maynard’s School meeting at 10.00am while the other will meet at St Sidwell’s School at 6.30pm.

One Church 

We recognise we have a challenge to cultivate ‘oneness’ across both sites. Our Church will continue to have one ID Course, an integrated homegroup system, a church weekend away, monthly ‘Church together’ evenings, and other special times where we all join together to praise God!

One Family 

Our morning meeting will continue to run kids work, youth work, crèche, sound, PA and have a full band. We will therefore encourage members who attend the evening meeting to join volunteer teams, and meet with leaders to help with the morning meeting.

One Mission 

We believe that God is calling us to prioritise and seek to bless those who do yet know Jesus. We are ‘sent people’. Although moving to two sites will mean change and challenge, to follow Jesus we want to put the needs of others ahead of ourselves. It is therefore with real joy and expectation that we look to explore our second site, ‘Frontiers Church Central’. We will enjoy the adventure this term and review in the New Year.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Exploring multi-site church

‘One Church, One Vision, Two Sites.’

Frontiers Church Exeter
is a Church led by one team, with one vision and one set of values. As a team we want to lead our Church to introduce as many people to Jesus as possible.

The story so far

Last year we outgrew our Sunday morning meeting venue. We have asked God and looked for a bigger building which we have not yet been given. In an effort to create more room for growth, last year we ran two big morning meetings back-to-back. We found this method good but the demands on our volunteers were not sustainable. We did not grow quickly enough to find more volunteers to help!

This year we have been running one morning meeting and an evening meeting. This meeting has been much lighter in terms of volunteers needed but has blessed many people. Week 4 saw 61 people attend. This included over 35 people who were not at the morning meeting. Across the two meetings we had 220 people with room to grow at both sites. We are now recognising Frontiers Church Central as its own site. 

The same sermon is being preached at both sites. And while both meetings will carry the same values, you will experience a different flavour at each.  Central is a stripped back, raw meeting with low lights, a sermon, acoustic worship and a trip to a local pub afterwards. Believers and unbelievers who would not have come to our morning meeting have come and enjoyed being with us during these meetings. Our intention over time is to cultivate diversity at both meetings. 

I am very much looking forward to gathering our growing 'Central Team' to pray and look ahead together into the new year.

Friday, 3 December 2010

What are you looking for @Christmas this year?



I swing from being like Scrooge wanting to avoid Christmas to wanting Christmas as above longing with child-like hope!

Having said that I am looking forward to our Christmas celebration at Church this year. We are having ours on Dec 12th this year. It will good to meet. be together, welcome guests and look for more from Christmas than even Sainsbury's can offer!

This is a great opportunity to invite friends and family to come and join us as we explore together. There will be mince pies, hot drinks, Christmas songs and a thought provoking message.



















As always we'll be meeting at both sites. 9.30am@Maynards & 6.30pm@Central. www.frontiers-exeter.org.uk

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Safer Sex Ball?

Logo

It's one of the most talked about social events on the student calender at Exeter. People are willing to wait for hours to get their tickets. This year all the 2,800 tickets were sold in around an hour. It is billed as an event to raise awareness for World Aids Day - The Safer Sex Ball.

Each year you hear the stories of people dressing erotically and getting drunk beyond recognition. I remember in my year a guy wrapped himself in cling film and went dressed as a condom! Apparently he had a long cold naked walk home.

As a pastor who works with students, I am sometimes asked, "Do you think Christians should go to the Safer Sex Ball?" Here are some thoughts...

As a Christian guy the main question I want to ask is, How can I walk with Jesus most effectively? Walking with Him means loving people, but it does not mean that I participate in all other people do. It means being involved in culture but not being 'of' the culture.

As I ponder how I can live for Christ best, I'm not sure what good can come out of me going to something like this. I don't want to see the (future) wife of another man dressed in this way. I don't want my mind to be filled with sexual images which should be reserved for marriage. I trust Him with sex! I want to keep myself for my partner for life.

I do however want to share life, get to know people and have fun in life. I want to bless and help wherever I can. I'm sure I can live for Christ without putting myself in a position which is particularly unhelpful. There are plenty of good opportunities which do not have such a cost.

So my advice is to give it a miss... particularly if you are a Christian guy... give it a miss!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Carrying burdens

Christians are called to live differently.

One of the key areas of life in which we get to express this is through generosity. I'm told statistically that generosity is not linked to wealth. It is all to do with who you are.

Jonathan Edwards writes a great essay on charitable giving. One of the most challenging things I found was him writing about giving when it costs you.


"In many cases, we may, by the rules of the gospel, be obliged to give to others, when we cannot do it without suffering ourselves. As if our neighbor’s difficulties and necessities be much greater than our own, and we see that he is not like to be otherwise relieved, we should be willing to suffer with him, and to take part of his burden on ourselves. Else how is that rule of bearing one another’s burdens fulfilled? If we be never obliged to relieve others’ burdens, but when we can do it without burdening ourselves, then how do we bear our neighbor’s burdens, when we bear no burden at all?"

I'm glad Christ took my burden on his shoulders on the cross. I'll be looking for opportunities to walk in his foosteps as I become more like him :-) 

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

I hope by the end of my life...

I hope by the end of my life at least some of these qualities will be evident in my life. I used this in the introduction to my sermon on Sunday. It's a description of some of the earliest Christians in the Epistle of Diognetus...

“They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.



nice Bish!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

It is with your life you gamble...

Sometimes we don't ask enough questions.

What am I living for? Why? How did I get here? Where did others go as they followed this path? Who am I trusting? Why?

It is with our own lives we gamble.

In January we want to ask some questions of the God of the Bible to see how he compares with other choices people are taking.

We are asking the question, "If you could ask God one question, what would it be?" We are looking to ask as many people as possible for honest answers and then build our January teaching around these questions.

I think we all have questions for God whoever we are.

So, If you could ask God one question, what would it be?

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Snapped Tendon

"Can't believe you played touch rugby and ended up in hospital. You've changed."

Yes I snapped a tendon in my right ring finger playing tag rugby. Rubbish. I had surgery on Monday. They found the tendon at the bottom of finger and were able to re-attach it. It seemed to go well. I have never been under for an op before.

Other than waking up Tuesday morning in considerable pain its been fine. My sister in law has been amazing and others have been very helpful. My hand is now in a ridiculously large protective cast. Big kit for one finger! Have an appointment on Friday. Full recovery likely to take three months.

I'm typing with one hand... planning and accommodating for a different three months to the ones I anticipated.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Thus says the Lord...

On what authority do you say that?! It's an odd concept to have someone in a room with you who is speaking on the assumption that they are bringing the words of God. 'God would say...' 'God says....' etc etc. In our Church meetings every week people stand and bring words with a real sense of confidence that they are bringing the words of God. Who do we think we are?! God?

Dynamic relationship

Jesus promises that His people will have God the Holy Spirit living and active within them. The Holy Spirit speaks to us in many ways. One of these ways is to bring a spontaneous truth or impression from the Father that He wants to communicate in a specific moment. This is known in the New Testament as prophecy. Prophecy is when God speaks. The Spirit inspires a person, a person shares, and others are encouraged.

'L' plates are on

Learning to walk with the Spirit and sense His leading and promptings I have found is like learning to speak any language. You don't learn it all overnight, there is always more to learn and you enjoy breakthrough moments along the way!

Deeply blessed

Many brothers and sisters have brought prophetic words to me. Some have been very specific, others have been very simple. "God wants you to know that he really does love you and he will never leave you..." There have been times when I really needed to hear that. I have drawn strength from words like this on many occasions.

Ask

All Christians are called to pursue the gift of prophecy. Paul writes, "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy." and again, "So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy." 1Cor14v39 & 1Cor14v1 Therefore we are to be running after this gift. We are to be asking God for something to share with our brothers and sisters.

Weigh

The Bible is very helpful in helping us handle prophetic words. We weigh all that is given. How do we know if this is from God? We test it against what has been written in the word. We are all under the authority of scripture. 1Thess 5v19-21 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 
I find it helpful to ask the following questions in the sharing of prophecy...

1) Is this true? Where do I find this truth spoken in the Bible?
2) Will this edify? This is the purpose of the gift. It is given to build up others.
3) Is the timing right? In a meeting or when speaking to someone, when is the best time to offer what I feel.
If someone offers me a word I will ask the following questions...

1) Is this true? 
2) What do my leaders feel about this? (Seeking Godly wisdom)
3) How do I apply this?

 The more we are familiar with the character of God in the Bible, the more effectively we will be able to give and receive prophecy. As people grow in prophetic gifting they may share more specific revelation and speak specifically into the future. This is very exciting. Prophets operate under the authority of elders and are accountable in terms their character and the content of what is said. Trust and gifting seems to be built over time for a blessing to all. 


Greg Haslam has written a great book on prophecy called,
Moving in Prophetic which I would recommend. I have found this very helpful. You can also listen to some teaching online. 'Prophesying in power' could be a good place to start. For others Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere is a great read. 

I long for more prophecy in our Church. I'm also keen for those with prophetic gifts to pursue a greater depth to bring 'weightier' words of truth and power which demonstrate that God is truly with us. 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Everybody needs more apostles...

“Let me give you a biblical picture of an apostle: he is a weak little chap with a poor voice (2 Corinthians 10:10), a jailbird (Acts 16:23). He looks under-nourished and his clothing is disreputable (1 Corinthians 4:11). If you look at his hands, they are stained and cracked by the hard work of softening skins and sewing them into tents, for that is his livelihood (Acts 18:3). At times he is very ill, even despairing of life (2 Corinthians 1:8-11; Galatians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 11:30). Perhaps these infirmities have come from the terrible sufferings which he has undergone (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)”.*


I feel the need

I am a young pastor aspiring to make a positive contribution in the context of my local Church. I love my Church. I have the privilege of preaching every other week and leading volunteer teams throughout the church. As I serve on our leadership team and increasingly take on responsibility I am more and more aware of the need for apostolic ministry. Our team needs apostolic input. Personally I need it and the Bible is clear that the church needs it.



Genuine relationships

As part of New Frontiers we are part of an apostolic family on a mission. Our movement is in a period of transition. Within the UK we are looking to develop and cultivate multiple apostolic spheres. These spheres look to be largely regional. It is easier to have genuine relationship with those who live closer to you. I hope that within the transition we leave a lot of space for relationships to be preserved and blossom across different parts of the country. Words from PJ Smyth stick in my mind that we are to 'honour gifting, honour relationships and let mission motivate.'



What do we mean by 'apostle'?

Generally the word 'apostle' simply means 'sent one'. Jesus is referred to as 'the apostle' in Hebrews 3v1.
In the context of the New Testament it seems there are two further legitimate uses of the word.

1) Apostle. Big 'A' Apostle. The office.

These were men who had seen the risen Jesus and had been specifically commissioned by Jesus himself to be Apostles. (Acts1v21-26) These men had a unique call. They were a limited number of men called to pass on the teaching of Christ authoritatively in part through writing scripture. They brought a body of teaching. (Acts 2v42) They were seen as 'master builders' (1Cor3v10) laying the foundations of Churches (Ephesians 2v20) they had something of a motivation to 'go' to the nations (Rom1v5) They appointed elders (Acts14v23 & Acts20v28) and they were very much seen as Father figures with much affection for the Churches. 



2) The gift of apostle. Little 'a' apostle. 

There were more than the 12(+1) apostles in scripture. This means more men were recognised as having an apostolic gift to the church. (Acts14v14 Gal1v9) While scripture writing is complete, we still need these men who make no addition to scripture but plant churches, lay foundations, bring teaching, motivate us to 'go' beyond our comfort zones, bring an outside voice, help our teams of elders, appoint new elders, care for and the churches. Terry Virgo is helpful on his
blog and PJ Smyth has a great PDF called 'The world needs more apostles' *This is where the above quote can be found.


Jesus gives apostles

To have men like this among and in our churches is a must. If we are to grow up into 'mature manhood' and be the Church which Christ is calling us to be, we need more apostles. If we are to be effective in being a real blessing to our cities and towns and to the nations we need more apostles.
 

Ultimately it is Jesus who gives apostles. They are a gift to the Church. It seems that our part would be to ask Jesus, look for and encourage those with gifts in this lane, give generously, and look to actively participate in the sending and receiving of apostolic ministry. Surely we are to look for apostolic ministry to emerge from within our own ranks if we are to see more apostles. I find the description at the top challenging. I don't want to miss out on apostolic ministry because of my own pre-conceived ideas of what an apostolic ministry should look like. 


Our church currently has good relationships with Matt Partridge (Oxford) Guy Miller (Bournemouth) as well as our regional team lead by Grant Van Schalkwyk (Plymouth). I'm visiting Matt next week to shadow him,  listen and learn and he plans to come visit and preach in Exeter on December 5th. I look forward to receiving him. 


Our lead elder Andy Arscott is currently involved in helping Andrew Sampson who has recently planted in Truro, he is looking to gather and help a small team in Barnstaple and also looking to support Steve and Joy in Crediton. I think Andy will offer more and more to other Churches in the months and years to come.


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Bodybuilding

Last Sunday I continued to preach through Ephesians as part of our series 'Bodybuilding'. I was glad to use an Olympic lift as an illustration!

As we read the text we saw that Jesus has given gifts to every part of His body. We all have a part to play. We are one team or one body with Jesus as the head!

We're asking our people to respond at three levels:

1) As part of the family. (We all help with one foundational team - this is like doing the washing up!)
2) Pursue a passion. (Sign up for something that you want to explore - something which you desire to do.)
3) Invest and specialise. (Pick up further reading/research/pray/approach others who are gifted in the specific area that you are passionate about.)

It might be helpful to think through the following...

Gift survey:

Romans 12v6-8
1 Corinthians 7v7
1 Corinthians 12v8-10
1 Corinthians 12v28
Ephesians 4v11
1 Peter 4v9-10
1 Timothy 2v1-2

  • Which gifts do you have within you?
    (Ignited by the Spirit and applied to the building of the Church.) 
  • Which gifts have others recognised in you? 
  • Which gifts do you desire to talk hold of?
  • Where do you have a passion to serve?
  • Where can you learn and develop your gifts? 

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Lament for a son

I don't want to waste these years with my wife and young family. Chloe read me this the other day and it made me check again my priorities the amount of quality time I am giving. This is written by Nicholas Wolterstorff who writes about the loss of his son.

"What do I do now with my regrets - over the time I neglected to take him along hiking, over the times I placed work ahead of being with him, over the times I postponed writing letters, over the times I unreasonably got angry with him - over all the times I hurt him, times I noticed the hurt and times I didn't but should have. Over the the times he was sad and I saw, but did little or nothing to console. Over all the times I did not prize the inscape of the image of God in our midst which was he; and over all the other times I did but did not tell him so. Over all the times he was something wonderful or did something fine and I was oblivious or silent - sometimes because my own projects were my single minded pursuit, sometimes because my own worries were my single minded concern. And sometimes because I did not want his excellence to "go to his head."


What do I do with this basket of regrets? What do I do with my regret that I did not warn him more often and more firmly with the dangers of climbing? When the person is living we can make amends - can say sorry, if our pride is not too large to swallow; can change our ways, if our projects are not loved more than the other person. But when the person is dead, what do we do with our regrets?


A friend warned me against this question. Don't rehearse your regrets, he said. But they come to mind unrehearsed. Should I try to stop them? Should I undertake some discipline of memory to stop this parade of all I wish had been different? 


No I will not do that. Putting it out of my mind is not my way.


I believe God forgives me. I do not doubt that. The matter between me and God is closed. But what about the matter between me and Eric? For my regrets remain. What do I do with my God-forgiven regrets? Maybe some of what I regret doesn't even need forgiving; maybe sometimes I did as well as I could. Full love isn't always possible in this fallen world of ours. Still, I regret.


I shall live with them. I shall accept my regrets as part of my life, to be numbered among my self inflicted wounds. But I will not endlessly gaze at them. I shall allow the memory to prod me into doing better with those still living. And I shall allow them to sharpen the vision and intensify the hope for that Great Day coming when we can all throw ourselves into each other's arms and say, "I'm sorry."


The God of love will surely grant us such a day. Love needs that."

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Bootcamp begins...

This week we began our young men's discipleship bootcamp. My learning curve continues as I look for new ways to gather men together for openness, honesty and spiritual growth.

Inspired by Matt Hatch of Mosaic Church Leeds, this year we are running seven week high intensity discipleship boot camps.

Six of us met for our first session this week. The sessions are running from 6.30am to 8.30am. This is quite early for students! The sessions include participation, studies, stories, prayer and memory verses and set reading.

In our first session we discussed expectations from ourselves and from each other. I gave a framework and we also opened the Bible together. I am pleased with the way the guys responded and am really looking forward to being together again next week.

Over the seven weeks some of the themes we will be looking at will include Handling the sword; Self Leadership; Sexual Purity; True Greatness and Biblical Masculinity.

We met in the house of some of our guys. At around 7am one of their house mates walked in. His face was one of utter bewilderment. Initially he thought we were still sat up from the night before. Then he realised we were not and he was even more confused. He finally remarked, 'this is horrible' and walked away with apparent disgust and confusion. It was very funny. :-)   

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

God Heals

Some people are up for anything. Some people are up for crystal gazing, fortune tellers, spiritualism and faith healings. Some people seem to think that statues of Mary bring physical healing. Others would regard this type of thing as ridiculous. Many people who I know would view all 'supernatural activity' with huge suspicion. Many would seem to dismiss all without taking the time to consider any possibility that there something other than physical matter.

A number of people in our Church at the moment are praying for people to be healed and are claiming that God is healing people through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. I have heard stories of cysts disappearing from ovaries, pain removed and fingernails growing back!

For those who claim to be 'scientifically minded' one cannot dismiss claims without a thoughtful investigation. We have to lay blind faith to one side and take time to consider all sides and look at the medical evidence. I hope that is what we do in our Church. I am inspired by people in our Church who are praying for many people and seeing some healed. I expect to see more testimonies and look forward to seeing x-ray pictures of before and after!

I believe Jesus was killed. On weight of evidence I also believe that he was seen alive afterwards. I believe that he proved that he is God. I believe that through his people he brings his kingdom which includes healing from illness. I believe that Jesus heals people as a 'sign' to point people to himself.

There seems to be a variety of views on healing even within the Church. It seems that traditionally those who are up for healing are not very good at reading their Bibles. People can be stereotyped as unhelpful and experience driven without a love for the word of God. On the other hand people who read their Bibles thoroughly and study hard appear to lack the power of the disciples in the Bible when it comes to signs and wonders.

The Apostle Paul in particular seemed to walk a 'radical middle'. He knew the Word and lived in the power of the Spirit through extreme suffering! I love the Bible and want to see God move like He does in the Bible. Here is a good paper which may help bring some clarity and challenge Christians to look for God to move more.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Money Talks...

I still find it quite strange talking about money in the context of Church. For me it conjures images of all types of horrible television preachers with silver hair and gold teeth, while at the same time rather strangely reminding me of door to door fund raisers asking me for money through a guilt trip.

When it comes to asking our people in Church to give I find it an interesting one. Jesus talks about money loads in the Bible. He seems to link money very closely to our hearts. Among people generally we seem to recognise that money is somewhat of a vehicle by which we express love, commitment, trust and faith in a particular direction. We know people are serious when then put 'their money where their mouth is.' We always care about our investments and so it seems money has the power to some degree to lead our hearts and our affections.

As we walk through recession it's interesting to see how our hearts are revealed. In our nation football seems to be recession proof according to one article I recently read on the BBC website. Recession raises all kinds of questions for us as Christians. Some of them are answered by one of my favourite preachers John Piper in a  breathtaking sermon.

As a Church this year we are behind in our giving targets after month 1. This raises the question, how much are we giving? Why? Why not? What is our view of money? How do we seek to improve this area? As a young man with a wife, son and another baby on the way I decided that this summer I wanted to develop a more robust theology of money. As recommended by many I took time to read Money, Possessions and Eternity by Randy Alcorn.  I found it to be a truly amazing read. Very helpful, very deep and very shaping for me as I seek to lead my household. I'd recommend this for anyone who is asking questions over money particularly in the current climate, particularly in our Church! :-)

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Leaders Training

One of our current discussions among our elders is how to help and coach our leaders most effectively in Church. We were pondering the content of our small group leaders training which has led us into this broader discussion.

Looking at the life of Jesus we are looking to initiate, cultivate and continue to build along the following lines...

Heart sharing

We are looking for Spirit led inspiration, a depth of conviction and a real sense of faith in our relationships. Jesus spent all night in prayer before approaching his apostles. Jesus took the initiative in making the 'big ask' and was looking for a genuine response in those he asked. We are looking for a sense of mutual faith and genuine chemistry in our relationships where we can.

Life sharing

Jesus took his disciples on a real adventure. They were with him at weddings, they ate with him, they saw him angry, they travelled with him, they saw him teaching, they asked questions and had times of prayer. We are looking to ask the question, 'how can we journey with our leaders?' Which areas of life can we invite our leaders to share with us? Where are we walking with God which others could share and participate and learn from?

Coaching wheel

In the context of a heart conviction and a depth of relationship we are looking to help develop the skills and gifts of our leaders.

Our coaching wheel consists of the following:

Commissioning. Goals, expectations, framework, planning etc.
Listening. How did it go? Thorough assessment.
Celebration. We're looking to identify and celebrate evidences of God's grace in every circumstance.
'You could be more effective if...' We're looking to give practical 'how to's' to help people get better at what they do.
Offer/Resource. We are looking to cross pollinate. We will invite from others in the team, suggest reading, training and outside help to facilitate the learning of our leaders.

The wheel will continue to roll!

We discussed this at the weekend and I'm sure we'll evolve the process as we try to serve our people with all our might!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Week 2 - Frontiers Church Central

Last Sunday we enjoyed our second ever Frontiers Church Central. We saw around 45 people gather to hear teaching about Jesus, worship him and spend time together.

I was glad to be let into the building early this week so that Dan and I were able to see the room and have a chat. The team arrived and we continued to set up. We blacked out the windows, put up the low lights, set up the projector and started to get ready. The chairs were out, the banner was up and people began to arrive. The 'feel' of the evening is very low key and relaxed.

I preached part 1 of our three part series 'LXI'. My hope is that our students and 20's will increasingly catch up and take hold of our main thrust as a Church.

It was quite special for me on Sunday serving among some of my good friends. Matt Giles led worship for us. He was brilliant. Anna Giles came with a view to help with the discipleship of our women leaders. Ben and Leah Arscott were faithfully part of the team even though feeling a bit under the weather. Dan Partridge was such a blessing from start to finish, and it was good to be working along side Rach Harrison. We have a great team and many other people I could mention.

The worship time saw many contributions. We had tongues, interpretation, prophetic words, prayers and communion. I felt a huge blessing from God as we joined together to sing our praises. As a group we have made a commitment not only to God but to each other. It was good to see so many of us at the pub afterwards. I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with newcomers and have a good catch up with our team.

With our Sunday mornings full it seems that this may naturally grow into a second meeting for us. This is one of our discussion points for our elders meeting tonight. I can't wait to see what God has in store for us.



  

Saturday, 2 October 2010

New Series - Bodybuilding

Really looking forward to kicking off our new series in Ephesians this week at Church. It's been a bit of a crazy week.

Thoroughly enjoyed preaching at ECU on Tuesday night. A couple of people became Christians and many people stood to restart with the Lord.

I have been in London for lectures wed, thurs, fri. We had a great elders day today. Really good stuff. Big day tomorrow with new series and our second meeting of Frontiers Church Central. What an adventure! 

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Frontiers Church Exeter - Dedication Service


Frontiers Church Exeter from Custom Creative Solutions on Vimeo.

New Term, New Team

One of the funny things about being involved with student work is the pace and turnover of students. It feels like I was just getting to know and enjoying sharing life with last years team. Now they have all left!

So this new term is marked by a new student leaders team. They are a great bunch and I look forward to getting to know all of them better over the coming months. The girls seem just as keen to babysit as the team last year which is a result for my marriage!

Last week we spent two days apart at Rora House. We ate together, laughed together, worshipped together, prayed together and planned together. I did some teaching and we played some poker. :-) Day 1 was focussed on walking with the Lord and I looked to equip our guys to handle the Bible well as part of our daily devotions. It was a very practical session and I pray it will release power as the team explore using these tools this year.

Day 2 was about the student work. We prayed for our team, our students and our friends who don't know Jesus. I particularly enjoyed our sprint prayer time. I hope we can repeat this many times throughout the year. I laid out some vision and we finished the day with some nuts and bolts.

When I got home I was shattered! I didn't realise it would take so much out of me. I thoroughly enjoyed the time with the team. One of the boys took a fair amount of abuse for his recent romance and another of the guys spent a fair amount of time talking about Trago Mills. See you there?!

I am grateful and humbled by all the work our volunteers do. I was particularly pleased and grateful for Matt Melachrino who led our worship times so well and Anna Giles who came down to have dinner and meet the girls in the evening.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Frontiers Church Central


‘The evening will particularly serve students & 20s, while all are welcome.’

Sharing vision

During October we will be teaching through our Church vision ‘LXI’. This series was taught throughout the Church in September and is a great opportunity to catch up for students, 20s and others who have not yet heard the series.

Time with God

Each week we will break bread together and be led in a time of low key acoustic worship. Matt Giles will be leading us through this time. 

Time to meet others

There will be a relaxed feel to the evening and afterwards we will all go out for a drink and/or pudding at a local pub.  Central is an opportunity to meet in the evening, seek God together and socialise. We feel in time this event will be a great place to bring people who would not usually go to church.

Our first meeting will be Sunday 26th September. 6.30pm - 8.00pm. St Sidwells School EX4 6PG. We will begin teaching on October 3rd. 

Thursday, 16 September 2010

6 Marks of our mission

Last night as we gathered together we continued with our focus on 'LXI'. I have thoroughly enjoyed leading us through this season. I feel people are being increasingly mobilised!

On Sunday I preached from 2 Corinthians 4 concluding briefly with some of the implications of the nature of our mission. Here are 6 marks of our mission as I see it:

1) We do not lose heart. This mission has been given to us as grace gift to participate in with God. The joy of walking with Him is the motive which will sustain us regardless of the results.

2) We are servants. Our posture is to be one of serving people in the best way that we can. Some people will suggest that all we need is an outbreak of signs and wonders. Others suggest that we need arguments prepared while others still say that we need practical acts of love. As I read the Bible I see mixed responses to healings and arguments and I know many people who have been well loved but have not become Christians. The key in my mind is that I am a servant and I will serve people in whatever way God calls me to and however people can be blessed. Whether healing, reason or practical acts of love, I want all to flow from my life. I don't think there is one silver bullet here. I want to be like Jesus.

3) We are humble. Ultimately we are aware that the reason we are Christians is not down to us. To have any sense of superiority demonstrates a lack of understanding of the nature of the human condition. We could not see without God.

4) We are people of prayer. Knowing our role and God's role helps us to ask God for both. We know that we need strength and fire to keep going and we also know that God needs to actually open eyes in the end. We are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit doing his work!

5) We are people who celebrate. When people respond to Jesus we recognise God's hand at work and rejoice together. It was great last night to applaud and celebrate God's work through us as we heard person after person speak about coming to know Jesus.

6) We do not beat ourselves up. When all is said and done, we will pour ourselves out to bless people and help in every way, but if people do not respond its not our fault! We must not carry a responsibility that does not belong to us. We will learn and listen and repent along the way but some people will not come to know Christ and I don't think that this is for us to carry.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Let's talk about...

"There are two words that scare everyone. One is cancer, the other is evangelism." This week in our current series 'LXI' we are looking at 'explain'. If you missed the one you can catch it here.

Human beings seem to overflow with enthusiasm for what they love and enjoy. People will recommend coffee, films, and holiday destinations naturally, sensitively and helpfully. When someone falls in love they usually tell you more than they should about the person they are seeing!

I think if Christians genuinely love Jesus, as they share life and look to bless people, they will not be able to stop speaking something of what they have seen and heard.

The most loving thing I can do for people who I care about is to share the thing which I have which is of most value. Jesus Christ is of infinite value. He is the best thing I can offer people who I care about.

On Sunday I took some time dwelling on 2 Corinthians 4v1-7 to help us as we seek to cultivate a lifestyle of walking with Jesus.

My eye sight is not that good. As a schoolboy, much to my despair, I was told that I needed to wear glasses. I refused to wear them except for when I was in lessons. This vanity led me into a little trouble at times. I once thought I saw a lady I knew across the road. I called out her name and waved. She did not respond so I shouted louder. She still did not respond so I walked half way across the road. I then realised that it was not her and had to apologise and rather sheepishly went on my way. Up close she looked petrified!

Our human rebellion against God (as recorded in the Bible) has left us with our spiritual eyes distorted. (2 Cor 4v4) painfully describes us as being blinded by Satan. Satan has pulled off his greatest trick to a large degree by making people believe that he does not exist. Meanwhile he continues to do his work of keeping people blinded.

God in his mercy has called people to walk with him. Part of walking with him is to become like him and participate in his glorious mission of reconciling people to himself.  In this mission Christians are called to be open and honest. Christians are called to be straight with people about our message. Christians are called to be sensitive and loving but not to be cowards.  (2Cor4v2)

The heart posture is to be one of serving others for the sake of Jesus. (2Cor4v5) Christians are servants of others sent by Jesus.  As servants we will look to do all we can in every way. We will look to pray, help, reason in an effort to introduce people to the greatest being in the universe.

In the end only God can open blind spiritual eyes. It is him who spoke the sun and world into being and him who uses all kinds of different circumstances experiences and teaching to show himself to people. (2Cor4v6) It’s a miracle when people look at Jesus and see God. Humans are not spiritually able to do this according to this text.

I think this means as a people we will be marked by prayer, celebration, and humility. It also means that we will love people and pray for people and sometimes they will not come to know Jesus. This is not our fault. x

Thursday, 9 September 2010

LXI: What's your story?

If you looking to live like Jesus, we want to know how you're going.

What is going well? What steps have you taken? What can we celebrate together?

Equally, what questions do you have? What challenges are you facing? How can we support each other?

We'd love you to email your stories for us to share and respond to more and more... email us at mystory@frontiers-exeter.org.uk

LXI: What does it look like for you?

Last night @our church together evening we had a great time. We sang to Jesus and broke bread together. We then recapped the message from Sunday and asked the question, 'What does it look like for you to be on mission with Jesus?'

We heard from a student, church worker, teacher and doctors something of what it looks like in their own lives. We spent some time praying for each other and left pondering the following suggestions:

As we look to walk like Jesus we might want to...

Share meals. Lunch@work, evenings etc.
Talk. Take an interest in people. Ask questions. Share life.
Listen. What are people facing? Where can you offer to help?
Hobby. What can you do to meet new people?
Pray. Where do the people you love need God's help?
Walk slowly. Take time to stop and speak to neighbours!

I'm challenged again myself as to how I organise my life. I'm very pleased to be part of a Church which is hungry to follow Jesus and I look forward to sharing and hearing stories from our people as we walk this together.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Who wrote the Bible?

After our vision series this September we'll be returning to our next episode of our journey through Paul's letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians, like many letters in the New Testament, is written by the apostle Paul.

I was watching a sermon the other day and was reminded of a helpful question to ask when handling Paul's letters. There is some debate over authorship of some of the letters, but the whole world agrees that Paul wrote half of them! The preacher advised that we start with this half and begin to ask our questions...

Paul's claims are outrageous. He says that God has spoken to Him, and that God had called him to speak about Him. Paul claims supernatural experience and commissioning from God. C.S. Lewis uses the following argument to ponder Jesus which is also helpful when we come to Paul. It seems given the nature of his claims we really only have three options.

Who is this man Paul?

Was he a liar? Was he deliberately writing things that he knew were not true? Was he manipulating people? He lost everything for this cause. Would he do this for a deception? What kind of a man is he?

Was he a lunatic? Did he believe what he was writing but was mentally unstable? Was he deluded? Was he a madman like many before him and many after him who thought that God was speaking to Him when God does not even exist!

Or was he an authorized truth teller? Did God reveal himself to Paul and inspire him to write under the influence of the Holy Spirit? Are the letters that we have 'breathed out' by our maker?

I think the only thing we can do in light of his claims is to read his letters and make the best decision we can. I think we should decide for ourselves. Personally I think this is worth exploring. If he is who he says he is, surely our lives will never be the same again. We can pick up the best selling book in history, read it and see what we think. We'll be studying and preaching from this letter next term...

When I read his insight, wisdom, theology, love, and see the impact of this book on the lives of millions of people, I am compelled to invite others to read and explore these amazing letters of the Bible.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Vision launch catch up

For those of us who were not there on Sunday for our new vision launch...

Here is an opportunity to catch up before next week.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

New Vision - Love

This morning I kicked off our mini series, 'Love, Explain, Invite.' or 'L X I'.

I'm looking forward to sharing more and building upon this over the coming Wednesday nights and next Sunday.

The was part 1 - 'Love'. At the end we asked people to sign up if they wanted to be missionaries with this Church to this city. We will be asking people to sign up all month.

Unlike our usual style it was more of a thematic talk. Here are really skinny rough notes. I hope it will be online soon. A fair amount of people were away at a wedding.

1) God Loves

God is love. He is three in one and awesome. He powerful creates all things. He makes humanity as the high point of his creation. The loving, powerful fountain overflows as his creates. Yet we fall and reject the most valuable being in the universe. We deserve eternal punishment for this crime. Yet he still loves. He is just so he cannot overlook this crime, but he is gracious so he pays the price himself. He dies as our substitution on the cross. This is of first importance. This is the gospel.

2) Sent to love

Christ died and is raised. He offers us adoption into Sonship. Our eternal destiny is changed as we trust him. As we walk with Him, our heart begins to align with what God the Father cares about. It changes what we rejoice in and celebrate. We empowered by His Spirit to walk with God on His mission. As we walk with Him we learn more and more about his heart and mission to create a people for himself. God loves a fallen world of broken rebels. Jesus directly hands the baton onto his followers. John 17v18. We are a sent people. This begins by loving people practically. Genuine love and concern leads to action.

3) Going to love?

Imagine that you sign up as a missionary and land in another nation to tell people about Jesus. What would you do? What would your attitude be like? Where would you spend your time? Money? Acts 17v26 has says that God has written that today you live where you live, and work where you work. In that place you are called to be a missionary right here, right now. Will you join us? Can we walk this path together. Can we help each other along the way as we leave our comfort zones behind us? Looking to live like Jesus...

Friday, 3 September 2010

Web evolution continues...

The web and branding evolution continues for us as a church.

Our new website is now live...

Thanks to Vicki at Sound in Theory and Steve Grant for getting us over the finish line today. :-)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

New Vision

The Academy draws to a close

As a Church we have just finished our summer series which we called 'The Academy'. 

We had a mix of men with varying degrees of experience preach a parable each over the summer. I was very pleased with what our men said and did. All of the guys have Godly characters and have something of a passion to lead and preach.

We feel that we need more preachers, if we are to plant more Churches and reach more people. We therefore feel strongly to provide a platform for them to grow. Learning is always ugly and we have been prepared to make a mess. We were convinced of the broader vision and overall the guys did well. 

Members were asked to receive each preacher with grace and to search for and draw good from each message. I feel on the whole people responded well. We will be getting together next week for a de-brief and feedback.

This summer we spent time going through each sermon (all except one I think!) and offering feedback and help before they preached before the Church. This takes a lot of humility and flexibility and the guys all did well.

I'm really excited about what God is doing among us as a people. We have a lot of gifted men. Its a privilege to serve along side them. We'll be looking to create more opportunities as we look to the future. 


Friday, 27 August 2010

Growth plans or life plans?

Ed Stetzer in his book Planting Missional Churches shares something of the journey of Atalanta Church Planter Danny Presten.

Church growth plan 1: Cool preacher and cool music.

His plan was this: Put together, “cool worship band and a cool speaker.” (himself) “people would come. They weren’t going to church because it wasn’t cool enough – I thought.” Presten found out by talking to people in the area that downtown residents weren’t interested in going to any Church and weren’t really interested in Christianity either.

Conclusion:“We figured out that all the attractional stuff might draw Christian friends because it was a little cooler than their church. But that’s not why we came here. We’re here to reach lost people.”

Church growth plan 2: Good venue, great events.

“So Presten shifted his strategy to renting a storefront and staging different events every night that would attract the different subcultures – skateboarding competitions for skaters, poetry readings and concerts for the artists, etc.” Presten’s place would be where the various subcultures of people wanted to hang out and a church would eventually result. That too, ended up to be flawed thinking, according to Presten.

Conclusion: “We started looking for a storefront property and realised all those things were already going on around us.” He said. “There was already a skating place where they had competitions all the time. There already were three concert venues on one block. Did we really need a fourth that was owned by a Christian?”

Church growth plan 3: Live like Jesus

Instead they took up jobs and spent time becoming 'insiders' in various communities. They won trust, shared life and gradually spoke about Jesus.

Presten himself got a job at a motorcycle shop. In two weeks of working at the shop, Presten built deeper relationships with people than six or seven months of "outsider" ministry had produced.

Conclusion: I guess people walk with Jesus and become like Him. The Father loves it as we follow the footsteps of his son. In the case of Danny Presten, they now have a Church of 6,000. Thank you Lord.

"These Churches define themselves much more by how many people they serve and how "members" live out their faith in their particular circles all week long. It is not a "come and see" approach, but it is rather a "go and tell." 

Hugh Halter insightfully writes, "The biggest assumption we had to get rid of is: If we build it, they will come to us, if we do it well enough." "We had to start assuming that they are not going to come. The only ones that are going to be drawn to our programs are Christians."

I find this very provocative. I know that Jesus came to us. I know that he sent someone to speak to me about Him and I know that I would never have gone to Church otherwise.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

New Matt Giles Track

One highlight this weekend was learning and singing another Matt Giles song. I felt he led particularly well at Westpoint. Good to see my old mate doing so well.

Here is a rough recording of 'Our God is King'. C'mon Church, what shall we say....

For music, lyrics and more from Matt click here.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Parenting #4 You're in charge

Christians should experience and trust that true freedom is found, not with no master, but with the best master!

Like a fish 'restricted' to water is how I feel when I live within the commands of God.

Under God's commands, parents, receive authority from God, over their children. I find this amazing to ponder. God has set my wife and I 'over' my son. What a responsibility he has given us.

We therefore respond to the loving commands of God. Tedd Tripp writes, "You (parents) act at his (God's) command. You discharge a duty that he has given. You may not try to shape the lives of your children as pleases you, but as pleases him."

I will answer to God for how I have answered his call to me as a parent.

He calls us to be in charge. Yep.

"You must undertake all your instruction, your care and nurture, your correction and discipline, because God has called you to."

Parents, under the authority of God are called to be in authority over their children. God really calls parents to be in charge of their children. Ephesians 6

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 t “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, u but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

PJ Smyth writes, "With the anti-leader, child-centred, men-are-just-the-same-as-women, don't-you-dare-lay-a-finger-on-a-child culture we live in, parents need to be confident that they are called and commissioned to lovingly but firmly train and disciple their children."

Roles and goals

This is something of our role. However, authority is not given by God with no purpose. Authority is not given by God without also giving a manner by which we are to behave and a goal to which we are to lead to.

He calls us to take responsibility and also gives us goals to aim for and methods to use... I do like to 'let the paint dry' here for now. This makes me pray more, like right now!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Together@Westpoint

Westpoint kicks off tonight and  I am really excited. I'm expecting to catching something of the heart of Guy Miller and Dave Stroud as they speak about God and His mission. I'm looking forward to singing to the Lord with thousands of people and I expect we'll win the football tournament.

It will be special for us as a Church with Matt Giles leading worship. He is a good friend who is a very gifted worship leader. It's exciting to see him being raised up and used to bless many people.

Weekends like create memories, build friendships and shape lives as we seek to live for him together. Chloe and I are moving into our friends house for the weekend so that we can share babysitters and many people who I have spoken to are growing in anticipation.

I am sceptical of hype and I do get a little tired of the jargon and hot air which appears to be recycled at times in contexts like this. However, away from the event I see men and women who hunger for Jesus and are walking with Him and learning what it means to follow Him. As we gather together therefore, knowing that the Father is so willing to bless, I am in good faith that many people will receive deposits which will see fruit in the grit of local Church missionary life. I think we will actually see the kingdom advance in our nation!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Leaders who last



A few of the guys in my Church read this recently. I have to say that I found it really helpful.

I have re-shaped the start of each week as a result of this book and feel a little sharper on what the Lord is calling me to.


Friday, 30 July 2010

Time for a rest

I'm going on holiday for two weeks. :-)

I'm glad that rest is something that God did (Genesis 2v1-3) and something that he commands! (Exodus 20v11) Jesus took times away from the crowds to rest.

Steve Tibbert writes, "I believe that if we rest more we will be stronger in God, we will be more effective in caring for our families and will be more churches we lead.

Many of us think that if we worked a little harder we would be more fruitful - I'm saying that rest is the critical factor." He writes a good paper which is worth a read.

I'm looking forward to investing time with my family and doing a bit of reading. We'll be by his sea in Cornwall. "The sea is his, for he made it." Psalm 95v5. We're also planning on spending time with some old friends and family. Can't wait. :-)

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Parenting #3 For Dads

This is a moment of reflection for Dads. God calls me to be a Dad. This will not apply to every family set up, but to those in my position...

The call

God holds men accountable for their households. (Genesis 3v9 1 Timothy 3v4-5 Ephesians 6v4.) God addresses the man first as leader on moral decisions, the overall running of the home and for parenting.

The Bible addresses parenting commands to Dad, not mum.

This is not to deny or minimize the crucial, society transforming role of mothers. Instead, this is a call for men to take God given responsibility and also heart posture towards mum. Often she carries out much of the task day to day but he has overall responsibility. (Titus 2v4-5) This shapes my prayer, my listening, my sharing of burdens, my priorities, my time away and my appreciation of my wife.

My repentance

After reading this chapter from Farley I confessed and apologised to my wife for making her feel like Rufus was her responsibility and that I am gracious to help her out. Nothing could be further from the truth. She is my team mate who is helping build my home which I am responsible for. I am to help, support, release her in her talents and receive her as a precious gift from God.

Influence of Dad 

Farley writes, "God holds fathers accountable for parenting because he gives them inordinate influence over their children."

He refers to a study published in Touchstone in 2003 and concludes, "The father's spiritual example was the primary tool that shaped his children's desire to embrace religion. The mother's spiritual commitments were less decisive."

If only mum goes to Church, no matter how faithfully only 2% of children ended up going.

If Dad goes to Church, regardless of mum, over 33% of children ended up going to Church.

Touchstone wrote, "The results are shocking, but they should not be surprising. They are politically incorrect as it is possible to be; but they simply confirm what psychologists, criminologists, educationalists, and traditional Christians know. You cannot buck the biology of the created order. Father's influence, from the determination of a child's sex by the implantation of his seed to the funerary rites surrounding his passing is all out of proportion to his allotted, and severely diminished role, in Western liberal society."

Influence of Dad (2)

Fatherhood initiative wrote: "Teens from fatherless homes are: 5 times more likely to run away, 20times more likely to have behavioural disorders, 14 times more likely to commit rape, 9 times more likely to drop out of school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 9 times more likely to end up in a state operated institution, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison." 

They also note that interestingly these results do not hold when the Father dies. It seems children understand that this is outside of his control and can compensate emotionally Farley observes.

Three thoughts:

1) My role and the weight of the responsibility which God calls me to. In the end this is my first responsibility. I am on my knees for myself and I need to be more so!

2) My brothers. I hope me and my brothers will help each other on this journey and that God leads us to be the best Dads we can be.

3) The distance we are right now in culture and the raw, passionate opposition which this kind of data and reflection may induce in our culture. My heart breaks for the gulf between the gracious blueprint we have and the values promoted in this day. Really I am deeply saddened by this.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

We are going to be missionaries

The Bible is a story about God's mission to save people for himself through Jesus.

If I believe the Bible, I am to play my part in God's great mission. It seems that at the heart of the Church we are a 'sent people'. John 17v18 1Pt2v9

I have been re-reading Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. They sometimes ask people to imagine that they are part of a church planting team in a cross cultural situation. They conclude the paragraph by saying, "Mission is central to us wherever we are. These are the kind of questions we should be asking wherever we are."

So I have been pondering and trying to apply these questions as I seek to love my city Exeter.

  • What criteria would you use to decide where to live?
  • How would you approach secular employment?
  • What standard of living would you expect as pioneer missionaries?
  • What would you spend your time doing?
  • What opportunities would you be looking for?
  • What would your prayers be like?
  • What would you be trying to do with your new friends?
  • What kind of a team would you want around you?
  • How would you conduct your meetings together? 

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Parenting #2 - Marriage talks

'First principle of parenting' was the title of the chapter. I was reading Gospel Powered Parenting and expecting to get to the practical bits.

It was somewhat of a surprise when William P Farley started talking about marriage. I guess it is obvious when you think about it. Here are some reflections.

Marriage talks, so lets talk marriage

For those in my position trying to build biblical marriages of headship and submission from Ephesians 5, our great hope is that we will in some way be a picture of Christ and the Church. This is why marriage was created. I like the way Farley puts it, "human marriage exists to point men and angels to the eternal marriage of Christ and his Church."

My son has a front row seat to see and hear the message coming from my marriage. My marriage is my first opportunity to show him something of the gospel. This message will either attract or repel my son from the message which comes from my mouth. The first thing I can do to help my parenting is to work hard on my marriage.

Dad

I have an opportunity to demonstrate a pattern of sacrifice which displays to my son something of the love and affection that Jesus Christ has for his Church. As I cherish, value, compliment and delight in my wife so my son might see something of the delight Christ has in his Church. As I pray for and lead my wife in Bible reading and prayer so my son might see something of Christ's sanctifying grace towards His church. This is a high calling.

I once heard CJ Mahaney ask himself something to the effect of, "Will I take advantage of my wife's godliness or will I model myself on Jesus Christ and his love for the Church." This kind of chat improves my prayer life!

Mum

Chloe has an opportunity to support and help and submit to my godly sacrificial leadership. I realise this is a can of worms. We do not take this lightly. This is going to take some wisdom and discernment! Again we found CJ and Carolyn Mahaney teaching on this very helpful and clarifying. As she trusts me joyfully she is showing our son how the Church is to be to Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5v22-24. What a beautiful picture God wants to paint with our marriage. 

Gospel

We know we will fall short. We will need to ask for forgiveness and repent. We will need to confess in front of our children openly and honestly. However as we walk with Him, as he changes us little by little, I hope my son will see our intentions, our aspirations which point Him to Jesus and also the power of God as he gradually changes us.