Young People & Families Worker

For those of you who couldn’t be at the Assembly Rooms last weekend, it was announced that the PCC have agreed to proceed with the appointment of someone to oversee our work with young people and their families.

 The plan is to flesh out some of the details for the church before the Summer holidays. We’ll set out the vision for the role, the benefits we imagine the employment of someone will bring, as well as details of how we hope to finance the position. This will give the church the summer period to consider the proposal prayerfully, with a view to seeking a response in the Autumn, which will establish whether we can see the hope become reality.

 It is an exciting prospect and feels timely.

 We ask you to continue holding the idea before God in prayer and invite His leading as we proceed.

Happy Father's Day

The essence of the FATHER'S role

Is to mirror God's own heart

And to value instruction in God's ways

With the grace that God imparts

 

Every father needs God's wisdom

To carry out his role

As the tower of strength and support,

For each fragile heart he holds

 

And there's no greater reward in life

For a father to take his place

And uphold the values of the Lord

With integrity and grace.

It Is Well With My Soul

Many of you know Gari Glaysher, who has played in our worship band on a few occasions. He is undertaking a Church Tour, performing songs from a new album he is releasing, ‘It is Well with My Soul’.

 The concert is coming to St John’s on 17 June at 7:30pm. The aim of the tour is to showcase Gari’s album, but also raise money for different charities. To keep the costs down, there won’t be any tickets on sale, but there will be an entry fee of £5. The proceeds will go towards the work of Premier Lifeline.

 It should be a great evening of music, and there will be hard copies of Gari’s album available for purchase on the night. I am also led to believe that our very own Jonathan Faint might be putting in a ‘guest appearance’ – so if that doesn’t convince you, nothing will! Put it in the diary and invite your friends along for what should be a very enjoyable time.

Thy Kingdom Come

Today is the last day of the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer initiative. I hope you can join us after the service this morning for prayer in the side chapel. There is also a Churches Together service this evening, at Emmanuel URC @ 6:30, where we will hear a little more about what has gone on. Every one is welcome to both.

 If you’ve not been involved so far, then don’t fear as it’s not too late. You can still look up the resources at thykingdomcome.global and use them at your leisure. Even more so, you are not too late as Jesus has called us to pray ‘Thy Kingdom come’ for about 2000 years, and still calls us to pray it today. If you have been involved then I hope you know God’s blssings through it. Let us not give up on praying!

 When we pray for God’s kingdom to come we are not praying for social reform but for spiritual revival. We are praying that God would be praised on earth and that His ways would be known. If you have not done so as of yet, then can I encourage you to regularly pray for 5 people you know to know Jesus. A good way to remember is to tie 5 knots in a string, and use it as a bracelet or keyring.  To God alone be the glory!

Meeting at the Assembly Rooms

On 18 June, our 10am service will be at the Assembly Rooms, rather than in the church building, with a picnic afterwards. The plan for the morning is to look in more detail at our vision as a church, and particularly, the three priority areas for the coming season. If you missed the APCM and haven’t caught the notes, the priorities are as follows:  

  • Equipping People to Engage Where They Are;
  • Developing a Culture of Hospitality;
  • Serving the ‘18-35’ Age Group More Effectively.

 We’ll flesh out in more detail what we mean by each of these, but the hope is that we will come up with specific goals we will pursue to develop these areas of focus.

 If you get the chance to think and pray about it in advance, all the better.

'Children & Youth Review' Update

We hope you are aware that the PCC recently considered the main findings that emerged from feedback we received across our children’s and youth groups. If you wish to see the headlines from the responses, we have posted them on the church noticeboards. One of the immediate challenges is to find leaders to replace those stepping down from 14 plus and Club 2000. We are having discussions with people about this, but if you feel you might be able to help in the future in a supportive capacity (rather than overall leadership), then do have a chat with Jon, as we need more helpers.

 

A natural conclusion from the review is that our work with children and young people cannot flourish in its existing format without someone who has the dedicated time to oversee it. The PCC are agreed that we must act now. We need to decide whether we employ someone to this end, and so an extraordinary meeting of the PCC has been called to pray into this and arrive at some conclusions. We will keep you posted as this unfolds, but in the meantime the leadership values your prayers and welcomes any insights you may wish to share. 

It's OK To Not Be OK

IT’S OKAY

TO NOT BE OKAY

Churches are sometimes very adept at bandying around the idea of ‘authenticity’, but aren’t always so great at creating an environment in which those who are finding life tough can feel safe enough not to ‘have it all together’.

 The above is the title of the teaching series that begins this Sunday. A sermon series will only take us so far. However, it’s intended to be one element to help us consider what it means to be faithful Jesus followers, but followers who are honest that faith doesn’t sweep away the impact of the struggles that life throws up. 

 Over the coming weeks, we’ll look at things such as doubt, anxiety, fear, busyness and loneliness, trying to avoid superficial sticking plasters, but inviting God’s Spirit to be at work in the places which ail us.

 Everyone’s welcome – unless of course, you’ve got it all sorted.

Thy Kingdom Come - A Global Wave of Prayer

We’ve been looking at the Lord’s Prayer recently, and this entreaty which comes from the prayer that Jesus taught is the title of a ‘call’ to Christians in the UK and beyond. The Archbishop of Canterbury is inviting followers of Christ around the globe to join a wave of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost (25th May – 4 June).

 The purpose is specific - to pray that people we know might come to know Jesus.

 The hope is that as Christians unite together in this prayer, we will all be given new confidence and encouragement by the Holy Spirit to become more effective witnesses. We’re going to join in with this movement, starting this Sunday at our Prayer Evening. But look at the noticeboards in church, and go to www.thykingdomcome.global, for resources to help individuals, families and churches pray.

Serve, Enable, Lead: Resourcing Discipleship & Lay Leadership

SERVE, ENABLE, LEAD: RESOURCING DISCIPLESHIP & LAY LEADERSHIP

This is the theme for the Diocese’s Lay Conference 2017, which for our area is being held on Saturday 10 June, 10am-4pm.

 If you can answer either of the following questions in the affirmative, then there will be something for you:

 Are you keen to see the church develop and grow?

Are you looking for ways to develop your Christian life?

 There is a huge variety of workshops on offer, as well as some high-quality headline speakers. I suspect the most benefit will come from going in a group so that follow up discussion can be had. See the noticeboard for more details of content of the day, but if you want to go, please can you let Margaret Kingman know in the next couple of weeks.

Happy Easter

You may have picked up the controversy

this week over the National Trust’s ‘egg-

hunt’. The Archbishop of York has said it

was tantamount to “spitting on the grave”

of John Cadbury. It certainly is a sad thing,

but let us not fall into the same trap of which

we warn other, namely conflating Easter

with chocolate.

 

Yes, let’s enjoy the Chocolate, but also

remember that we are declaring the

Resurrection of our King, and his victory over

death and sin. And so let us say with Paul,

I want to know Christ – yes, to know the

power of his resurrection and participation

in his sufferings, becoming like him in his

death, and so, somehow, attaining to the

resurrection from the dead.” (Phil 3:10-11)

 

Christ, yesterday and today, the beginning

and the end, Alpha and Omega, all time

belongs to him, and all ages; to him be glory

and power, through every age and for ever.

Amen

Looking Through The Cross

This week I re-discovered a book with the above title, which a few years back was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recommendation for Lent. Essentially, it is an invitation to allow the impact of the cross to seep into the marrow of who we are, so we might see our whole world through that prism. That’s important for us individuals, but equally so as a church body. As Justin Welby himself remarks in the foreword,

 The impact of the Cross has to be felt and reflected in each generation. Cross-shaped churches may be the architectural norm – but they are also the spiritual exception. Just as we each find the pattern of our lives too easily conforming to contemporary culture, so the pattern of the life of the church tends to do the same. We need to rethink what a cross-shaped church means in a very non-cross-shaped culture.’

As we hurtle towards Holy Week, I hope you take time to ponder afresh on that which stands central to Easter and our faith.

Roll Up, Roll Up!

ROLL UP, ROLL UP!

Excuse the awful pun, but today is the last day for returning application forms to be included on St John’s electoral roll. You can either drop your form in the box, or return it to Paul Kingman or Geoff Batten.

 That’s part of the preparations for our APCM which will be held on 23 April @ 11:30am. Another element is for people to put themselves forward for one of the various posts that are up for election. These include:

  •  PCC Members – helping shape the direction of St John’s.
  • Deanery Synod Member (which gives you an automatic right to sit on the PCC) – see the leaflet on the new noticeboards for further details;
  • Welcomers – we refresh our welcome rota annually, and if you want to become part of the welcome team, we will provide training.

 Nomination Sheets will be available in church from this Sunday. If you want to find out a little more about any of these then chat to Jon, or the wardens.

His-Story

His-Story

It has been said that those that forget the past are doomed to repeat it. This is usually applied to our national history, and especially wars, but I also think this applies to the church.

 When Christians forget those that have gone before us, we often repeat the same mistakes. Likewise, when we are attentive to learn from those who have gone before us, it helps us follow God. The author of Hebrews reminds us of this in chs 11-12. After listing the works of the patriarchs, he says:

 ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us’. (12:1)

Perhaps the idea of looking at church history seems dry and dull, but it doesn’t need to be. Our history is filled with great stories of God’s mighty works, and faithful people, ready for us to delve into.

 Here is a great place to start: 5minutesinchurchhistory.com

5 minute long podcasts about events in church history. Easy to listen to, perhaps on the way to work one day each week, to help us look at the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us, and point us to Jesus.

Remembering to Receive

For all the virtues of marking the season of Lent, there is a risk that all our efforts of self-denial deplete us, rather than animate us with the life of God.

 This might be true of life generally, and can be compounded by the service we give to the church. We become martyrs to how well we can bear the burden of an overworked existence. But the fast we choose is not intended to be a self-destructive sacrifice. It might just be that some of us need to recall what it means to be a Receiver. It’s possible to become so used to being the Giver, we forget to put our hands out for ourselves.

 God will often bless us through His people, if we but allow it. To put it another way, ‘being loved well reorients us’. There is an opportunity this evening to be a Receiver – we have Ruth Fazal ministering to us, and she would love nothing more than for us to receive God’s Blessing through her.

 I hope you’ll receive the chance with joy.    

Want to Join In?

We are fast-approaching that time of year when we conduct some of our official business and hold the church equivalent of an AGM (scheduled for 23 April).

 Some of the formalities include ensuring that our church membership list, called the electoral roll, is up to date. Having your name on the roll gives you the opportunity to vote at the APCM, as well as stand for election to our leadership body, the PCC. It’s by no means an absolute requirement to be a part of St John’s. But as well as helping us gain a feel for our numbers, it’s a good way to indicate your intent – that you wish to be viewed as someone with an appetite to partner in God’s mission here.

 So, if you’ve joined us more recently, or you didn’t get round to it last year, we encourage you to submit an application form. You must be baptized, at least 16 years of age (or sixteen on your next birthday), and live in the parish, or have worshipped at St. John's for at least six months. Application forms will be available in church. Please return one either by putting it in the box in the church, or by giving it to Geoff Batten or Paul Kingman by Sunday, 26th March.  

New Website

It doesn’t seem so long ago that we updated our website, but such is the pace of change in the digital world that we’ve gone live with a refreshing of our online ‘Welcome Mat’.  

 We hope you’ll like the feel of the new site. You will notice that we’ve moved to a more pared back, uncluttered look. This means that certain information has been removed, and we’ll be using other, more efficient tools for things like calendars and rotas (more of which to follow in due course).

 Please note, it’s not the finished article. It is an evolving project and there are still a few gaps to fill and developments to come, but it’s at a point which we feel represents a real improvement over the previous incarnation.

 We’ve also set up a St John’s Facebook page which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/StJohnsWW/ We’ll be using this to share a variety of news, encouragements, links and reminders about things going on.

 Give it a visit and ‘like’ us.

Looking To Lent

Lent is fast approaching and there are several different ways we are suggesting people might engage in this season of preparation for Easter. These include:

  •  Foodbank ‘40 for 40’ Challenge - The challenge is to give up 40 pence a day for the 40 days of Lent, which along with Gift Aid, comes to £20 to support people in crisis. For some of us 40 pence a day isn’t much to forego but this small act of kindness can transform lives. Taking part is easy, simply find an old jam jar or similar container and start collecting! At the end of Lent you can pay by cheque to Bromley Borough Foodbank or online via our website (www.bromleyborough.foodbank.org.uk) For more information speak to Jackie Barter.
  • Open Doors’ ‘Fast Food’ Resource – An opportunity for Home Groups to do something a little different and show some solidarity with the persecuted church. It involves sharing a meal, hearing some stories about the persecuted church and taking on a ‘fasting’ challenge. More information will go to Homegroups shortly.

  • Bishop’s Lent Appeal – The theme is ‘I was hungry…I was thirsty’. A selection of projects in Zimbabwe which concentrate on food security will be the focus for support this year.

Prophetic Imagination

As we continue with our ‘Firm Foundations’ series, this week we consider prophecy in the Old Testament.

The richness of the prophetic biblical voice has oftentimes been reduced to one of a couple of caricatures:

  1. The prophet as a fortune-teller, a predictor of things to come, often in an ominous tone, or with specific reference to Jesus; or
  2. Righteous indignation at the status-quo, so prophecy becomes equated with social action.

These two understandings could do worse than hold hands, but there is something deeper at stake in the OT view of prophecy. One theologian put it like this, ‘the task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to…the dominant culture around us.’

The challenging question for us to imagine: where have we become so like our surrounding culture that we’ve lost our Christian distinctiveness?

Click here to download   Weekly News 12th February 2017