Thy Kingdom Come 2020

May 18, 2020

thy-kingdom-come-logo

Thy Kingdom Come starts this Thursday – Ascension Day – and runs until Pentecost, so from 21st to 31st May. It is a period of prayer and outreach run by many churches of all denominations and commended by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

How can we get involved this year?

Prayer for five  – As in past years, we can spend ten days praying for five we know to come to faith. We can’t physically invite them to an event this year, but why not invite them to any of the online events we run?

Prayer room – The theme this year is the “Upper Room.” The first disciples were together in an upper room behind locked doors, praying for the Holy Spirit to come. We may feel we are similarly isolated and afraid. But we can join with others. The diocese is holding a “prayer room” where churches can take hourly slots to pray over Zoom. I have gone ahead and booked next Sunday from 3pm to 5pm as a time when we can pray for ourselves, for those we want to know the Lord, and for our local communities.

Send us your photo! – At Pentecost the disciples were all gathered in one place. We can’t gather in the same way, but could you send us a photo? Someone has offered to make a collage out of church photos, and this would be a powerful reminder we are all one, even though we are scattered at the moment.

Please do spread the word, and make sure everyone knows what is happening. Other suggestions are also welcome! Let’s use this time as a real opportunity to pray for God’s kingdom to come in Stoke and in Devonport.

 


Open Church is now a year old!

February 15, 2020

logo landscape 2020

It is hard to believe that it was just over a year ago when we opened the doors of the church to the local community. Would anybody come? Would we have enough people on the team? What if it didn’t work – would we simply have to give up and start again?

We had an away day last Wednesday and looking back we can see how the Lord has been so clearly at work. We have learnt so much and we have so much more still to learn. It’s hard to calculate but we reckon at least 70 different people have been through our doors over the year, and we see 20-30 people most Tuesdays, and quite a few of these are not “regular church folk.” We did realise during the day that we needed to make some changes (and we will explain these on the main church website in the next few days) but overall we came away with an immense sense of gratitude and a renewed commitment to the vision for Open Church, namely to be Safe, Loving, Open and Welcoming (SLOW church).

So what exactly has been learnt? Well, we quickly filled up a whole sheet of flipchart paper with the various answers:

  • The scale of need – there are so many people confronting so many issues, such as substance misuse, homelessness, unemployment, serious illness, bearing the burden of care, loneliness, and so much more.
  • How much we need to shift our expectations – this year has been one of surprise and discovery as the Lord has taken us on a journey none of us ever imagined we would undertake.
  • The fact God is in control! Yes, we all know that in theory, but we really have seen the Lord showing again and again He is the one driving the Open Church project.
  • Radical acceptance – We all have our moments, and some people are very different from ourselves. So we have had to grow in extending a gracious, loving welcome to all who come through the doors (as well as work out when there are limits to that welcome)
  • Unexpected connections – somehow the Lord keeps bringing together people who have known each other in a completely different context and reuniting them,
  • The diversity of those present – perhaps best illustrated by the young homeless guy chatting with the church member who had just celebrated her 90th birthday. Where else would such a conversation take place?
  • The depth of relationships that have been formed – as we have shared the day not only with ourselves but with those who keep coming back week after week.
  • Church growth, but not as we know it! Yes, our Sunday numbers aren’t great at the moment, but we offer prayer to those who come in, and we have had some really deep and powerful conversations.
  • Links with the community – the profile of the church is being raised and people are hearing that St Michael’s is open for business.
  • We need each other! – we have a fantastic team, but we all face challenges, and we have really had to learn what it means to support one another, cover one another in prayer, and to keep each other going.
  • We have learnt new gifts, and seen gifts developed in others – by the grace of God some of us have found new skills and a new confidence to use those skills.
  • We need more labourers, especially men – there is so much more work to do, and the team needs strengthening. We also need men who can just keep a watching brief and are prepared for the unexpected.
  • We need to share the vision with the wider church – there is a good news that needs to be share with more.
  • We need prayer cover as the spiritual battle is fierce – we are aware so many are already praying for the work, but we have seen at least one case of demonic possession, and there are ways the enemy would undermine our work. So we need to put on our spiritual armour in the knowledge others are covering us.

What will happen in the next twelve months? We honestly do not know – but the Lord does. Personally, I am hoping and praying that as we share more and more of our lives, we can build relationships and help others come to know Jesus in a new and personal way. This has become our mission as the church, and if you are not yet part of the story, please do consider how you can get involved!

Not by might, or by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord (Zechariah 4:6)


Open Church – one year on

December 17, 2019

Christmas meal.jpg

At the beginning of the year a group of us decided to see what happened if we opened the church every Tuesday. We had no idea who was going to come through our doors, or if our plan was of the Lord. So we waited nervously and we prayed…

Over the past year we must have had 70-80 people through our doors. On average we see 20-30 people, some of whom have started coming quite literally off the street. We are building a presence in the local community we never had before, and we are engaging in all kinds of conversations, and discovering all kinds of needs.

None of this would be possible without a fantastic team who have grown closer to each and to the Lord over the past year, and we have seen some discover gifts they never realised they had. Today they excelled themselves by cooking Christmas dinner for 29 people, and nobody went away hungry! We finished the meal with a short carol service, and, as always, we collected requests for prayer we then shared at the end of the day, at 3.30pm.

We don’t know where the Lord will take this work in 2020, but it’s already been an amazing journey. And I mustn’t forget to mention that once a month, if we weren’t busy enough, we hold a family part from 4pm to 6pm on Tuesdays, and we regularly get about 7 children, none of whom regularly come on Sunday.

So Open Church one year on is becoming our main mission and outreach here at St Barnacles. If you aren’t yet part of our story, do join us. The Lord has given us a vision for SLOW church – safe, loving, open, and welcoming to all, and you too are very welcome to be a part of it.

Open Church is now taking a two week break, but we will back on 7th January. I hope very much to see you there!


The Kingdom of God is…

November 19, 2019

slow church

… a warm and welcoming church open once a week
… church and community coming together to laugh, chat and eat together
… people spontaneously using skills to help one another
… the hungry fed and clothed
… prayer ministry for the destitute and homeless
… training and safeguarding paperwork undertaken confidentially next door
… a small group studying the Bible together
… children’s activities planned and prepared for the coming weeks

Welcome to St Michael’s Open Church every Tuesday from 10.30am to 3.30pm. Why not join us?


I was going to write a blog…

June 11, 2019
spiritual armour

Put on the full armour of God (Eph 6:11)

I had hoped to give a day by day account of Thy Kingdom Come. I wanted – perhaps for my own ego – to share all the church was doing and the wonderful events that had taken place. I wanted people to see that the Lord is very much alive and active in Stoke and Devonport.

 

But TKC 2019 didn’t quite work out like that. Yes, I had some particular significant conversations with folk outside the church, and some special times of prayer. However what TKC 2019 showed me above all else is that we are engaged in a spiritual battle.

For some people right now it is tough being a Christian. Some are becoming discouraged, or feeling defeated. Some are drifting away not because of any lack of faith but because the pressures of life are simply so great.

And the evil one loves to pick individuals off. He loves to separate church members from fellowship and make them feel weak and isolated. That is why it is more important than ever that we all come together to worship, to pray and yes, to praise. Joining together in worship may be the last thing we want to do. It may be a sacrifice that seems too great to bear. But there is one antidote above all else that defeats the devils schemes  – it is coming together to put on the armour of God so we can stand firm on the day of evil (Ephesians 6:11-18).

When we were in Kenya, we came to a church which once was struggling. Commitment and attendance were low. The church came together and received a picture from the Lord of a sleeping elephant. They prayed together, they took action, and now they have a new vision of a dancing elephant, powerful, strong and awake.

If we can come together, we too can see new life and growth. So I am asking you as your top priority to join together on Thursday evening at St Michael’s for a time of prayer. If you can come for food at 6.30pm that would be great. But come anyway at 7.30pm as we pray about the whole theme of spiritual warfare. And bring others with you, as together we seek the Lord’s will, and claim the victory that is ours in Christ.

I very much hope to see you all there.

 


Thy Kingdom Come – Days 3 and 4

June 4, 2019

Try praying

It’s easy to think of kingdom work as bold, new initiatives which draw in loads of people, and lead to massive church growth. But Jesus likens the kingdom of God to a mustard seed. And the weekend felt very much like mustard seed planting.

At St Michael’s, as always, the congregation was about 50% different from last week. It was an All-Age Worship but no children came, although we had a number of young adults. Nonetheless there was a sense of the Lord present in our worship, and I am sure seeds were being planted. I am so grateful for the faithfulness of what others would label ‘a small inner-city congregation’, and I think so often the unseen kingdom work that goes in a church such as this can be undervalued. As we saw in our anniversary celebrations, the Lord keeps on working here, no matter how many or how few may be entered on the service register.

At St Aubyn’s  we are literally starting a Sunday afternoon congregation from scratch. We haven’t reached double figures yet, but again we see different people from week to week. We are told not to despise the day of small beginnings, and I am very much looking forward to see how this work will grow.

 

 


Thy Kingdom Come – Day 2

June 1, 2019

Try praying

There’s very little to add to what Lynda has written on the main site.

I am reminded of an old, old hymn “Count your blessings one by one, and you will be amazes at what the Lord has done.” From the outside we may be a small, struggling inner-city church but God does some remarkable things here and it is a privilege to serve in this place!

 


Thy Kingdom Come 2019

May 23, 2019

Try praying

As far as I can tell, this will now be our fourth year of Thy Kingdom Come. Each year we have a plan and timetable, and yet each year God surprises us with what He does. It’s been fascinating to look back and see what He has done in previous years, and you might want to look at my blog entries for previous years:

2018

2017

2016

The one constant we have learnt time after time is the important of prayer. When we pray, things happen! Sadly so often it seems that only a keen minority of any given church are pray-ers. Many ministers report that their prayer meetings are least well attended events of the week or the month. Maybe some don’t feel confident praying with others. Maybe some are unsure what difference their prayers will make. Maybe some see praying as relatively unimportant.

Yet as our mission action plan shows, the life of the church is rooted in prayer. Our aim is nothing less than for every church member to have some pattern of regular, personal devotion with Jesus. I long to see a church full of confident faithful prayers who regularly spend time together seeking God’s will and with a passion to see God’s kingdom come in Stoke and Devonport.

So our simple theme for 2019 is “Try Praying”. We want to encourage folk who have never prayed before or who have questions to try praying for the first time or in a new way. We want to encourage those who pray to faithful, regularly pray for family and friends who do not yet know the Lord. We want to encourage those who do not normally come together to pray to put aside their fears and concerns and join in with our prayer.

A quote from Samuel Zwemer I recently rediscovered: The history of missions is the history of answered prayer. It is the key to the whole mission problem. All human means are secondary.  That is something we are learning in our current short sermon series from Acts. Paul, Peter and countless unnamed disciples of the early church achieved great things because they prayed regularly, together and with boldness. What is stopping us from being like them?

Let’s make TKC 2019 a time of great prayer, and I look forward to blogging about some surprising results!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

r to have some pattern of regular, personal devotion with Jesus.


Three little questions

January 22, 2019

you are the light of the world

At St Barnacles we are thinking a lot at the moment about what it means to be the light of the world. It is relatively easy to shine with the light of Jesus Christ when we are gathered together in worship and fellowship, but what about when we go out into our daily lives? How can we best support and encourage one another Monday to Friday, and know that we in turn are loved and prayed for by others?

That is why you will find some slips of paper at the back of church with three little questions:

  1. Where do you usually spend your week from Monday to Friday?
  2. How does your Christian faith help you day by day?
  3. How can the church family best pray for you?

If we have enough replies, then we will publish the replies on our church website as our Lent initiative this year. So please do think and pray about your answers, and hand them to Revd Tim, with your name on! The more we can encourage one another, the more we will able  to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have  (1 Peter 3:15).

Our Mission Action Plan has as one of its three aims, “being in the wider world, as servants of the Lord, wherever we are.” My hope and prayer is the answers you give will enable us to meet that aim more and more, and make our witness for the Lord Jesus even more effective. I look forward to hearing from you!


Thika diary – final day – photos #11

November 6, 2018

On their final day, the group took the opportunity to visit Namrata Shah for themselves

Foundations for a new building, still awaiting funding

Namrata Shah have their own farm …

… and grow whatever they need

A final view of the children’s home

And to finish, a few faces … and more food!

James, son of Revd Tim’s host, Archdeacon David

The Archdeacon’s girls, Deborah and Royal

James, Deborah and Royal

Jay, Pam and Beth stayed with Francis and his family (on the left) seen here with his vicar

A typical meal, with chapati, vegetables and stew

A final farewell from the choir at St Michael’s, Ruiru