The Church

Can you have too much unity?

I’m continuing to pick up on the things we talked about at the last church business meeting and so this week I’m focusing on complacency.

You may think the title to this post is a little strange, surely unity is good and God’s intention for His people? Yes I think this is true, but it maybe that we need to think a little bit about what we understand unity to be. We may look back and remember times when the body wasn’t so unified, times when their were factions, splits, divisions. These may have seemed like negative times, but is unity simply the absence of division or is some tension needed in order to produce a healthy unity.
When contentions arise in the church they should, even if they seem to be over ridiculous things, cause us to take a look at ourselves and ask if there is any truth in the issues that are being raised. Situations like these can cause us as a church to be challenged, in a healthy way, and grow as a result. With a lack of contention and tension in the church it is possible we can become sleepy and cosy with ourselves. And when we become so comfortable and at ease with each other it is quite likely that we stop challenging one another to grow and continue to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. What we might consider as unity may simply be that we have become overly pleased with ourselves – we don’t seem to do anything wrong or badly, we become self congratulatory, overly content and we cease to be able to objectively reflect on ourselves. This kind of ‘unity’ is a recipe for complacency!
Therefore, there needs to be space within our unity as a church for prophetic voices to be able to challenge, admonish and raise contentious issues. Unity mustn’t be allowed to be an excuse or reason for complacency. Instead unity is the bond of Christ’s love that holds us together as we challenge and encourage one another to grow in Jesus.

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Topical Teaching – Mission

Last week we looked at the subject of how simply ‘being a church’ outworks in outreach. You can listen to the whole message here.

My basic point was that to ‘be a church’ is to be God’s people in Christ engaged in God’s mission on the earth. As the church we are called and commissioned by Jesus to be proclaimers of the gospel to the whole world (Matt28:18-20, Mk16:15-16, Acts1:8). Being God’s witnesses, proclaiming the gospel, making disciples and teaching the ways of Jesus in this world is the purpose of the church.
The church exists for God’s purposes, not it’s own The church exists for God’s mission, not it’s own.

The problem I think that we have as a church is that we haven’t fully appreciated this. My observation is that the church as a whole views outreach and mission as just another activity or department of the church rather than something that is at the very core of the life of the church. As a result people within the church probably consider that outreach and mission is not necessarily their own call or responsibility and leave it for others to ‘do’. Alongside this I sense that the evangelical church has possibly narrowed down the definition mission and outreach to select activities such as designated ‘evangelistic meetings’, preaching on street corners, knocking on door and handing out tracts etc etc.

On the whole I think we need to be much more creative and broad minded on how the church announces the gospel of Jesus Christ and much more inclusive in understanding that every member of the church is called into the mission of God. We need to realise that mission is the way of life of the church – pretty much everything we do should be missional – rather than thinking that it is an activity that happens at certain time and is ‘done’ by certain people.

So I want to be bold and do a kingdom reality check and ask the question as individuals in the church ‘Is God’s mission something we live and breathe for?’ Is proclaiming the gospel and making disciples something that undergirds how we live, how we spend our time, money and resources?

I also want to announce that all we do as a church is intended to be missional so be a part of it!
Our Sunday morning gatherings are missional as we stand firm together as God’s witnesses in the world and continue to encourage one another on as disciples of Jesus – therefore don’t miss out.
Our fEAst meals, the Big Lunch (7th June 2015 – put it in your diary!!), the quiz night etc etc are all missional. Don’t consider them as optional extra activities. They are at the heart of how we outwork the mission of God as a church.
Finally, as I said above, be creative and broad minded on how you announce the gospel that Jesus rules and saves.

A Family Oriented Church

I feel like God has been speaking to me further about our identity as a church through Psalm 68:6-7. So rather than follow up this week’s sermon I thought it would be good to share what the Lord has put on my heart.

Quite a few years ago the church leadership defined The King’s Church as a ‘family oriented church’. We tried to explain this to mean that we were describing the type of relationships that we felt were important within our church, in that we desired to relate to one another like fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandparents and grandchildren.
In many ways I feel we have grown into this definition and our church very much feels like a family (although we should never grow complacent in striving to grow and develop more as that family). There is love, unity and strong and deepening relationships between us all across the generations through our common sonship in Christ.
When church is ‘working’ like this it is the perfect place for God to fulfil Ps68:6 – ‘God sets the solitary in families’. There are so many ‘solitary’ people who for many reasons have no family and desperately need a new one. As God’s family we can expect the Lord to bring to us those are ‘solitary’ and ‘lonely’ so that they can find a place amongst us.
The danger of being a close knit family is that it can be very difficult for those outside the family to truly find a way in! What can then be the greatest strength of a church can also become its greatest weakness. We need therefore to make sure we are are always open to allowing the outsiders that God brings to us, to come in.
I believe that God has made us into a strong and healthy church family that we may be a place where those who, for whatever reason, have become solitary may find a home. We should not be surprised to see people who have little or nothing in the way of family or friends come and be joined to us. Our job is to make them welcome, help them find their place and love them as God loves us.
It is true that ‘God sets the solitary in families’, that is how we all came to be part of the church! As we look to the future I think we can expect our family to grow in this way.

Discussion starters:
What is our testimony and experience of becoming part of God’s family – at King’s and elsewhere?

Have we experienced difficulty in breaking into a close/closed family group? What are the issues and obstacles that face people on the ‘outside’?

What are the practical steps that need to be taken to make people feel part of the family? What are the rights of passage? How do family members speak to one another? How do family members relate to one another? What do family members do together?

How do we grow larger as a close family?

Investing in the future

These are exciting times for The King’s Church, we have a new constitution, a project budget (I nvever thought I would say that this is exciting, until now) and are now starting to make decisions on builders and finalising plans to our building. Our goal continues to be to refurbish our church building so that it is fit for the purpose of housing The King’s Church, provide a base for our ministry and serve the wider community around us. Towards this goal we have set ourselves (what I believe to be a modest) target of raising £10,000 from our church membership, friends and contacts. We have asked people to make a sacrificial offering towards the goal of this project and pledge their contribution to the church. The first pledges have been made and so I have decided to create a fundraising thermometer so you can see how we are doing. (Chris, our treasurer has said for a long time that we are not properly a church until we have a fundraising thermometer outside our church building! So whilst this isn’t outside the front door, its all a step in the right direction 😉 )
To pledge or contribute money please contact Chris.
Keep watching this space as i will update the thermometer as the pledges and contributions come in. The Lord will provide, and I’m hoping we will need to set a new goal soon as we go beyond our initial expectation……
Fundraising Thermometer

Provided byFundraising Ideas Center

Thermometer last updated 16.4.12

Pastor’s New Year’s New Creation Newsletter!!

Pastor’s New Year’s New Creation Newsletter!!

The King’s Church, Addlestone, January 2011

I start the year with a great deal of excitement and hope! I believe the year ahead holds a lot of exciting developments for us as a church, I really sense that the Lord is with us and that we have a momentum generated by the Holy Spirit.

 

I thought it would be helpful to give an update on where we are and what lies ahead so here goes!

 

Looking back over 2011 I can really see how the Lord has brought healing and wholeness to us as a church – living body of people united together in Christ. The ‘Church Healing Day’ near the beginning of the year and the morning with Ian Stackhouse towards the end of the year were two important moments that contributed towards us being a much more unified and healthy church. I sense there to be a growing sense of purpose and mission and I pray this continues as we journey together through faith in Christ.

Another obvious big move forward last year was the impetus to refurbish and restore our church building. This project has put me on a steep learning curve and has opened some other related issues. We had hoped to be in a position to be starting the building work at the beginning of 2012 but it came to our attention that some important paperwork needed to be put in order before we could go any further. The short story is our current church constitution is not adequate enough to support us doing any building work within the law governing charities. So before we can move any further we need to update our church constitution so that it is acceptable to the Charity Commission. Fortunately the FIEC have a sample constitution that we can work from, so we aren’t starting from scratch, and my hope is that we will be able to show you the new constitution towards the middle of this month! I would like to be able to vote this constitution at a church business meeting which I am proposing we hold on the 29th Jan straight after church. It may sound like a bit of tedious red tape that we have get through (and on some levels it feels like it!!) but it occurred to me that the Lord’s hand is in it! It seems that now the people of the church are in a much more healthy state the Lord is now moving us to bring health to the governing documents of the church as well as the building the church inhabits. So I see 2012 as year of healing to our church paperwork and building!!

Finally the budget for the building project is currently £25-35K more than we have in the bank. I’m uncharacteristically unworried about this! We are in the process of applying for grants which I pray will meet a large part of this shortfall but I am writing now to ask you all to consider prayerfully how you might sacrifice and save to contribute towards the cost of the project. The £100K we have in the bank is a legacy of the financial sacrifice of our spiritual forefathers and foremothers and I think it is right that we don’t simply rely on their contribution but add ours also to the current mission of the church. Be bold and be challenged by the Lord as to what this means to you. I would like to take up offerings for this sometime in March and will keep you posted exactly when and how nearer the time. But I wanted to give you some warning so you can prayerfully prepare.

 

Let’s continue to live in the blessing of God through Jesus and walk forward in the exciting journey of faith to the land He will show us!!! The Lord is with us.

 

Much love and Blessings

 

 

Richard

 

 

My prayer for The King’s Church in 2012

A stronger sense of membership

A refurbished building

A stronger constitutional foundation

A greater impact in mission to those around us

Stronger links with other churches

 

And continue to pray Psalm 67

 

Upcoming dates

 

22nd Jan – Ian Stackhouse has invited me to share about The King’s Church at the evening service (6.30) at Guildford Baptist Church. He has said I can ‘advertise’ for people to join us in partnering in the work we desire to see happen in our church building and he will be getting the people of GBC to pray for us. If you can come along I would appreciate the support and it would be great for us all to get a taste of what goes on at GBC. So consider it a church outing and if you need a lift let me know!!

 

29th Jan – Business meeting straight after church our church service.
Agenda to include agreeing a new constitution and ‘official resolution’ to agree spending on the building project (including fees that we will need to pay the FIEC).

Praying for our church

Acts2:42 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

We have already discussed in previous weeks how we desire to be ‘A prayerful church, a church full of prayer’. Now, of all times, is the time to put this into practice! We are in the middle of an exciting period of growth and development as a church that the Lord has opened up. It is important that we continue to seek His will, guidance and empowering so that we continue to walk in His plan and at His pace. So here are some prayer pointers on issues and areas in which to pray into. You might want to pray for all of these things in one go, or split them up and pray for each point separately, or find some other way of praying. However you do it pray with your ears open ready to receive direction, wisdom and insight from the Holy Spirit. If the Lord leads you with words of prophecy/wisdom/knowledge or verses of scripture or visions/pictures/dreams then speak them out, write them down and share them with the church!

Pray:
Blessing on our church – Ps67 and the prayer we have written for our church based on it.

For empowering of the Holy Spirit for the work and ministry ahead of us as a church.

For the people around us that Jesus wants to speak to and reach out to through us.

For the process of developing our church building:
In the selection of the correct builder
In processing the amendments Runnymede Building Control require on our plans
In processing issues to do with our church constitution which will need updating in order for us to move forward with the building works
In the budget and fundraising that will be required

For faith, that we are able to keep our focus on the Lord’s goal and purpose, and do not become fearful but walk faithfully in God’s leading

The Completeness of Jesus

This week I want to pick up and flesh out something that Ian brought to us at the recent church breakfast.

Read Rev1:1-20, Rev2:1, Rev2:8, Rev2:12, Rev2:18, Rev3:1, Rev3:7, Rev3:14

At the beginning of the book of Revelation there is a description (starting at verse 4) of Jesus. There is a certain amount of ‘apocalyptic’ language used in this description, some of which we will delve into to gain a full picture of who Jesus is. So before we go too much further here are some quick (but not exhaustive) guides on how to read this passage.

  • The use of the number ‘7’ in apocalyptic literature in the bible speaks of ‘fullness’ or ‘completeness’. The first and most obvious example of this being that creation was complete on the 7th day. So in Rev 1:4 the ‘seven spirits’ can be understood as the fullness of the spirit, and Rev1:11 the ‘seven churches’ can be understood as the complete church.
  • Whenever apocalyptic literature explains and gives meaning to its own vocabulary then that’s what it means and we should try and find some other meaning! In Rev1:20 we are given the interpretation that the ‘seven stars’ are the ‘angels of the seven churches’ (which does beg the question what the angel of the church is!) and the ‘seven lampstands’ are the ‘seven churches’. With this established every time we read lampstand in this passage we understand it as church and every time we read star we can read it as angel. All clear!?

In Rev1:12 John turns to find where the voice that is speaking to him is coming from and he sees ‘seven golden lampstands’ ie the completeness (seven) of the church (lampstand) and (:13) in the midst of the lampstands ‘one like the son of man…’ ie Jesus. This is a fascinating revelation that Jesus is found in the completeness of the church here on earth. It seems to indicate that the place to find where Jesus dwells and speaks from on earth is the completeness of the church. It seems to indicate that the fullness of Jesus isn’t found in anyone one local church, but that only when the church is viewed as a whole do we fully see Jesus – He dwells in the midst of the lampstands. This point is emphasised further in Rev2&3 where each of the seven churches is addressed individually and each church is uniquely associated with different characteristics of Jesus mentioned in Rev1:

Rev2:1, the church in Ephesus – corresponds with Rev1:16&13
Rev2:8, the church in Smyrna – corresponds with Rev1:17-18
Rev2:12, the church in Pergamum – corresponds with Rev1:16
Rev2:18, the church in Thyatira – corresponds with Rev1::14-15
Rev3:1, the church in Sardis – corresponds with Rev1:4&16
Rev3:7, the church in Philadelphia – corresponds with Rev1:18
Rev3:14, the church in Laodicea – corresponds with Rev1:5

The picture that grows out of this is that each and every local church enjoys and is associated with a part of who Jesus is. But no single local Church has the fullness of who Jesus is, that is only found in the fullness and completeness of the church ie in the midst of the seven lampstands. You will observe that many of the churches addressed in these chapters were far from ‘perfect’ and needed to be rebuked and corrected. But nevertheless Jesus is found in the completeness of these far from perfect churches.

The practical outworking of this for us as a church has some helpful and cautionary applications:

  • We must celebrate the unique characteristics and qualities that God has given us as a church that reflect Jesus. However, we must also be careful to not become proud that these characteristics are of our own making or in some way better than the different characteristics of other local churches. For instance, we can enjoy the benefits of being a small family like congregation, but we mustn’t therefore write off all large congregations and the dynamics within them as inferior.
  • We must focus on confidently growing into the church that God has made us to be and not be distracted by trying to be what other churches are being and doing.
  • We can confidently grow into who God has called us to be recognising that we are never going to represent the fullness of Jesus in our church alone but that that only comes through the churches uniting and working together in a local community.
  • It releases us from feeling guilty about all the things we don’t and cant do as a church (that all the other churches in the town may well be doing) and enables us to live freely in the things that God has called us to be and do. This isn’t a mandate to rest on our laurels but to move forward into all God has given us to be and do.

Let’s meditate on these verses and allow them to inspire us to grow more fully into the fullness of Christ as a church.

Discussion Starters

Let us remind ourselves what the collective ‘angel’ or ethos (using Ian’s interpretation of angel) of our church is. What do we do well as a church? What are our key characteristics (‘Jesusistics’) as a church?

What are the roots of these characteristics of our church? Where do the characteristics of our church comes from? (Think in terms of collective and individual experience, journey of faith, sanctification, personality)

In light of this are we limited to only just having these characteristics and not growing and developing others? Do we recognise any seedling characteristics that are wanting to grow in us?

What are the characteristics of some of the other local churches that we can celebrate and rejoice over? (Not so that we want to be like them but to recognise the attributes of Jesus in them and therefore something of the completeness of Jesus in our town).

What can we learn from and be enriched by from other churches and church traditions?