Feeling Connected?

There has been some recent global research amongst the 18-35 age group around how they navigate church, faith and life in general. They called these millennials the ‘connected generation’ in recognition of their incredible ability to utilise technology to connect with others. At the same time, it was noted that alarming numbers expressed feeling ‘relationally disconnected’.

 In old fashion terms – lonely.

 The need to feel supported, experience face to face contact with others, be part of a loving community isn’t just a millennial thing, it’s a human thing. We’ve always said that it’s hard to fully experience that on a Sunday morning, so we encourage people to join a home group. That’s simply a smaller group of people who meet at someone’s home during the week, to encourage each another, explore matters of faith and spur one another on to pursue our vision of ‘doing life with Jesus’. Philippa Tagg has oversight of these groups and has included a message inside about leadership of these groups. But more generally, have a chat with her if you would like to find out more.  

Alpha Courses

St John’s will be hosting their next Alpha Course at SJ’s in the New Year. However, if you are unable to commit to evening meetings, there is an opportunity coming up to attend a course that will be running over lunchtime.

 Starting on 4 October, St Francis Church will be giving people the chance to explore the Christian faith through Alpha. The sessions will start at 12:30pm and be done by 2:30pm, to allow for the school pick up. There will be also be facilities for accompanying children. The meetings will run on a Friday with the following dates currently planned:

 4, 18, 25 October                            8, 22, 29 November

6, 13 December

 To register your interest, speak to Jon or get in direct contact with Hazel at St Francis on hazelos58@gmail.com or 020 8777 5034.

The Turning Final Update

The Turning is only a week away, and here are the final details for the programme:

7 Evenings of Worship, Prayer & Testimony

Sunday 22 September, 6:30pm @ Coney Hill Baptist

Monday 23 – Friday 27 September, 7:30pm @ Coney Hill Baptist

6 Mornings of Training & Outreach

Monday 23 – Saturday 28 September, 10am – 1pm

Monday & Tuesday @ Coney Hill Baptist

Wednesday & Thursday @ St Mary’s, Hayes

Friday & Saturday @ St Francis, West Wickham

We are looking for people to pray, be involved in the outreach on the streets, and engage in follow-up conversations with anyone who expresses a desire for that (any or all of those). There will be a sign-up sheet in church on Sunday, or if you’re not around then, send Jon an email.

"Link to Hope" Autumn Fair 2019

St Francis Church Hall

Saturday 19th October, 11am-3pm

 Alongside shopping and refreshments, the Fair will be raising funds for and awareness of Link to Hope's Shoebox Appeal and this year we are hoping there will be a "Shoebox Station" where a box can be filled with gifts for £10. There are many ways you can help, including the following:

  • donations of new, unopened and unwanted gifts (for the popular re-gifting fundraising stall)

  • donations of any items for shoebox filling (more specific needs will be advertised nearer the time)

  • donations of cakes, traybakes, etc

  • distributing leaflets in advance of the event and on the day

  • help setting up/packing away, serving refreshments and running the "Shoebox Station" and fundraising stall.

More details to follow over the coming weeks, but if you're interested in being involved in the meantime, please let Milly (camilla@highamsfarm.com) or Angela (angela.walters@yahoo.co.uk) know.

The Turning Update

The Turning initiative is only 3 weeks away, so here are a few more details that we have received about what’s happening locally:

 ·         The programme will kick off on Sunday 22 September, 6:30pm at Coney Hill Baptist, with all the churches praying for the week and worshipping together;

 Throughout the week (Mon-Saturday, 23-28 September), there will be a pattern of morning and evening gatherings:

 ·         The morning get together will start at 10:00am at St Francis (other possible venues to be confirmed) for training and prayer, followed by sharing faith on the Hayes, West Wickham and Coney Hall ‘High Streets’, finishing up with a debrief;

 ·         The evening meeting will take place at 7:30pm at Coney Hill Baptist for prayer, testimony and worship – encouragement for the next day.


New Term Looming

I don’t want to prematurely draw a curtain on the Summer season, especially not on a Bank Holiday when we’ve actually got some sunshine! But as we approach the start of a new academic year as a church, there are a few new ventures and updates in the pipeline for the Autumn:

  • Going online with ‘Church Suite’ - the new tool for some of our Communications and Publicity;

  • Refreshing/ Development of our Teams;

  • An experimental initiative called ‘Learning Leadership’;

  • Our Church Weekend Away.

I’m deliberately not giving details as yet, but keep your eyes open for information on all these things in the coming weeks. In the meantime, enjoy whatever is left of the sunny days.

Jesus said, "I am ..."

In the sixth century St. Gregory composed a commentary on the book of Job and he is famous for saying that “Scripture is like a river . . . broad and deep, shallow enough here for the lamb to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim.”

As we study the I Am statements of Jesus this summer it astounds me that Jesus was able to use imagery like these to help all of us understand more of who he is, what he is like and why he came to the earth.  There is a broadness and depth that makes it shallow enough for our new believers to wade in but deep enough for our scholars and theologians to swim in.

This morning, I (Amber), will be mentioning how God has been using imagery in The Lion King since I was 9 years old to help me better understand my friend Jesus and help me to understand Scripture more.

Is there any imagery that helps you to understand our Heavenly Father more?

Thank You

In September you will receive a further update about the Sunday morning and mid-week activities available for our children and young people. Very slight changes are being made that will hopefully ensure that these activities best support our children, young people and families.

 Our mid-week group 14+ is set to have the biggest change as it moves from a Thursday to a Tuesday evening. All three of our mid-week groups will then be on the same evening helping the children and young people to transition between the different age groups. This has come after many months of consideration.  

One of the huge disadvantages of this change is that Guy Harris will no longer be able to lead the group. Guy and Rachel initially took on the responsibility of the role two years ago. Over the last year Guy has mentored and supported these young people and has talked openly and passionately about his faith, sharing with them what it means for him in his everyday life. Amber and the young people are going to miss the weekly input, enthusiasm and passion that he has poured into 14+.  

So, a big thank you Guy and Rachel for all you have done for 14+ over the last couple of years.

Wickham Grange

If you haven’t clocked the branding, Wickham Grange is the name of the new collection of town houses and apartments currently being built nearby. In more homely terms, we’ve have the privilege of a new community appearing on our doorstep. We’ve been liaising with Roxanne, the sales representative, and she confirms that it is hoped that the building works will be completed in the next 2-3 months, in readiness for Autumn sales. She has also offered to take people on a tour of one of the houses and site next Sunday after church (11 August). If you are interested, gather together as a group after the morning service and make your way over to the Sales Office.

 In the meantime, we are working together to include a profile of St John’s over there, and discussing ways we can work together to extend a welcome to new home owners.      

Book Recommendation

If you view the Summer as a chance to catch up on some non-work-related reading, then can I add a ‘God book’ to your list of must reads. It’s ‘Dirty Glory’ by the author Pete Greig, champion of the 24-7 Prayer Movement.

 It’s a very accessible follow up to ‘Red Moon Rising’ and continues to chart the 24-7 story, as it has gained momentum across the globe. Full of personal and honest stories, it’s not only a testimony to God’s faithfulness, but an inspiring call to any Jesus follower not to settle for less and coast it in our Christian walk. It’s a big claim, but I am pretty sure that if everyone in the church read this and responded, it would change us dramatically – what we do, and how we do it.  As one of the chapter closes:

 May I have the courage today

To live the life that I would love

And waste my heart on fear no more.

(John O’Donohue)

Summer Hols

We’re rapidly heading towards the close of another Academic year, and the start of those Summer weeks, where people head off in lots of different directions.

 It can feel like a slightly fragmented time in terms of ‘church life’, but whether you are stepping foot onto foreign shores, or staying at home, we hope there is some genuine space for rest and refreshment. With that in mind, we’ll be spending the next 6 weeks exploring some of Jesus’ ‘I am…’ sayings – many of which speak into the nourishment of our souls.

 These will be ‘All Together’ services. Amber has been doing a lot of thinking and research around our worship life across the generations, so we are continuing to tinker with these times together to be a rich occasion for people of any age.  

Open Church

With our church building situated on the route of a couple of walking trails, there is a fair amount of footfall passing our doors. Over the Summer, we are going to give people treading those paths an opportunity to grab a rest, and if they want, to find out a little bit more about St John’s story.

 We’ll be opening the church on certain Sunday afternoons to visitors, offering refreshments and history tours of the church/churchyard. The plan is to open up between 2-5pm on the 18 and 25 August. If you feel that you would like to be involved – could offer an hour or so on the day to assist visitors, want to help prepare the church, or generally contribute, then we would love to have you come along to a meeting at the church on Sunday 21st July at 2:30pm. We will take you through the history tours and sign people up to help. If you have any questions then please contact Dawn Tickner on 0208 462 1573 or speak with Jackie Barter.


Hopefully, it hasn’t passed you by that next weekend is our annual camp for 8-14 year olds. A big thank you to everyone who has been involved in the planning and all those who will be helping run the weekend.

 The fun and games will be taking place at Downe Scout Activity Centre. We are inviting families to join us on Sunday 14th July for our meeting at 10-11:30am. There will be no Creche, Sunday Club or Explore Together available at St. John’s on this day. After the meeting the WHOLE church family are invited to come to a church barbeque at 12noon, followed by a kids and adults rounders match at 1pm-2pm.

 If you are able to come and help set down and pack up tents from 9am on the Sunday it would also be hugely appreciated - especially by our Tent Man Jonathan Tickner who will have just done a whole weekend with 40 children and young people! We look forward to seeing you there.  

More Info for 'The Turning'

Planning is continuing for this London wide street mission event in September, in which Bromley is a key borough. At this stage, we would like you to note the dates in your diary and encourage homegroups to incorporate this in their planning.

 The week kicks off with a central London launch on 21 September, but the local expression really begins with a joint service on the evening of 22 September (venue tbc) and ends with a central Bromley event the following Sunday evening. During the week there will be a gathering for prayer/worship each evening and an opportunity to go out onto the streets locally, to share our faith, each day.  More information will follow, including details of some preparation/training gatherings, but this is something we'd love everyone to be a part of so do start praying. The Hayes/West Wickham 'hub' of churches includes Coney Hill Baptist, Hawes Lane Methodist, Emmanuel, St. Francis, Hope Church, DeepWater Baptist & St. Mary's Hayes – so a great cross church venture.

St John's Cricket Match

The sun has been threatening to put in an appearance for the much anticipated St John’s cricket showdown, so pack up those picnic hampers and make your way to the Warren for 1:15pm on Sunday.

 I’ve no idea what the teams are, what the standard of play will be like, how long the game will last before the first pulled muscle, but it’s time to cast aside all those excuses and put some ‘skin in the game’. If you’ve been wavering thus far, there’s still time to call John Johnes (0208 462 4728) and sign up – I’m pretty certain knowledge of the rules and experience of holding a cricket bat are not requirements for involvement!

 If exposure to a hard, red object isn’t your idea of a Sunday afternoon jolly, come along to laugh at those of us who have equal reservations, but somehow have been fooled into thinking it was a good idea! See you there.

Happy Father's Day

If I asked you what makes for a good Dad, what would you say?

 Some of us might point to qualities we saw in our own fathers, some think of what we are aiming for as a Dad ourselves, others might struggle to find a helpful frame of reference. Whatever our response, it’s deeply personal.

 Father’s Day might cause us to pause and ponder these matters – perhaps to reshape a distorted view of fatherhood, or press further into the ‘goodness’ we know is there. That’s an invitation God extends to us way beyond one day of the year. Today, we start a new series about ‘finding freedom’, looking at the book of Galatians, thinking about who we really are before God. He says it might look something like those Father’s Day reflections:

 “And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” Galatians 4:5

'The Turning' Initiative

‘The Turning’, wait for it, is a simple street evangelism programme, which began in a Baptist church in Reading a few years ago. It has now been rolled out across the country among a variety of church traditions and this autumn it’s coming to London, with Bromley taking something of a lead.  It’s actually become a project of the ‘Transform Bromley Borough’ initiative, to bring together as many of the churches of the Borough to impact the community.

 Bromley is breaking down into 5 hubs and Churches Together in West Wickham have agreed to the hub for ‘Hayes & West Wickham’. The initiative will begin on Saturday 21 September, with more details to follow. Aware of the mixed feelings evangelism can evoke, I hope you are encouraged by the ethos behind this initiative: “At the heart of this is not some form of technique which will magically enable effective witness to happen. Rather it’s a shared opportunity for us to allow God to change our mind-set -  to look outwards, build our confidence in our faith and witness, and really see our local community as a mission field.” Please start praying about it.