Friday, 19 September 2008

Family Life

Watching Simon and Jane, friends from our last church, in the first episode of Channel 4's "The Family" this week, was both enjoyable - Simon always raises a smile - and remarkably enlightening. People and the press may like discussing the rows and the angst, but more than anything it got me thinking about how easily we can avoid honesty outside the home. How often have we turned up to church on a Sunday wearing a mask? We could have had a blazing barney with the missus in the car just five minutes before arriving, then bounding into the church hall with Bible in situ and a twinkling smile for our chums... It happens...

I'm not for one minute suggesting we all wear glum faces at church, nor "airing our laundry in public" simply for the sake of it either - let's exercise some wisdom here! -but the reality is that without true honesty amongst us, genuine community will not develop amongst God's people, and a truthful witness will not be portrayed. The best opportunities Jennie and I have had in discipling others - and also in sharing our faith with friends outside of church too - have not been in the once-a-week coffees (which are still worthwhile, of course) but in sharing our home with others at dinner time, at Amy's bed time, when we're ill, etc. It opens up a whole other realm of honesty... It's easy to throw out glib "never let the sun go down on an argument" idioms over a mid-week coffee, but if your spouse doesn't wish to talk and goes to sleep instead, then that argument will still be hovering over your Crunchy Nut Cornflakes (TM) in the morning, despite the wisdom of Paul's words (Eph 4.26). Watching Jennie and I as we deal with Amy throwing a wobbler, or having 'words' and then making up, or responding to disappointment, allows for far greater integrity on our behalf (hopefully!) and the chance for friends to genuinely learn from us and vice versa. We don't always get it right, but how we then deal with that boo-boo is in itself a chance for more of the same.

What the Hughes family have done is incredibly brave (I tip my hat to you guys) and I trust that the reality of family life as God intended - a real, honest learning curve based on His values - is portrayed in the public eye and consequent debate. May our own family life, and the sharing of it, do exactly the same.
Read more!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Beacon Update

I figured it was high-time I let everyone in on how things are going since we moved from City Church Canterbury to the Beacon Church in Herne Bay...'s still early days, of course (we moved at the end of April) but it's been long enough to see stuff happening. The whole idea behind our move was a definite sense between ourselves and the local New Frontiers leadership that God had plans for Beacon and that, in an otherwise predominantly older and smaller congregation, the time had come for a younger generation to join and knit in, ready for the future. We joined with no role in mind, nor any defined either, but simply to help lay the foundation for the future. Thus far, there's two significant areas that we've been concentrating on, for others to be focused on later:

1) We've begun a parent & toddler group - "Coffee and Chaos"; the City franchise grows! - which has been heavily invested in financially, and the Beacon folks encouraged to get involved in personally with weekly duties to be shared out on a rota basis. C & C kicked off yesterday, with 7 mums/carers plus about 8 or 9 kids arriving. A fantastic start, without being deluged either! Our own friend Bev (not from church) worked wonders, bringing 3 others with her, and she's been handing out C & C business cards here there and everywhere. Good girl... The idea is simply for Beacon to make friends with the community around us and build quality relationships from there, sharing our faith as we go...

2) We are spending the entire next term training Beacon (everyone!) in Cell as a new small group structure ready to be launched in the New Year. Helping them understand the ethos of the Cell structure over 6 specific sessions with the weeks in between to fellowship, pray, and consolidate together will be invaluable for all the members as well as new Cell leaders. "Getting" cell can take years - that it is Bible-based values that underline it and not a formula, and that it is about building genuine, outward-looking and inclusive community to further the Gospel. Jennie and I have been involved in leading and overseeing Cell groups for best part of a decade and know how well it works WHEN IT'S DONE WELL. We're in this for the long haul and firmly believe this is a specific foundation that needs implementing well (to clarify: we're not talking "Cell Church", which can tip the balance away from the Sunday services, but church life that invests hugely in both the small group community AND the ship's rudder of the corporate worship/teaching/fellowship of Sundays)

There's more stuff on the horizon, which I'll keep under my (enormous) hat, but I'll divulge more as time unfolds...

In the meantime, please pray for:

1) The new small group "revolution" to be received well and enthusiastically.
2) For Coffee and Chaos to progress from strength to strength, and for the wonder and Truth of Christ to be preached through our relationships with the parents we're entrusted with. Each one is a gift from God to be treasured.
3) For more younger Christians to join us quickly. We are more than expectant for growth through preaching the Gospel and subsequent salvation - God's sovereignty is a great reassurance for us - but we do also need able Christians to mentor, lead, disciple whomever will come our way. In a lot of ways, a complete church plant may have been easier, because there tends to be a younger chunk of gifted folks that are available for various roles. Jennie and I have been grieving our City family - which is natural, and expected, of course - but we would now like some more fresh faces to help pave the way for God's purposes here. He is sovereign and we're trusting Him - He is definitely in this - but we need to be realistic and accept that a bit more help would be wonderful. I don't say yes to everything, because I need to protect our family time more and more ruthlessly (especially now Amy's at school) as more responsibility comes my way. And everybody wants more friends, eh? Wanna join us? (*)

(*)I'm serious! Does God want you to come and join the Beacon explosion? Read more!