Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A life that was lived.

Last week NCLC lost someone who had touched many lives during her short time being part of our community.
She wasn't part of the worship team or one of the speakers, she wasn't one of the recognised leaders of the church. She was "just" Lizzie. But for those people who knew her there was no "just" about Lizzie. She radiated warmth, enthusiasm and life.

One of my friends Craig has been deeply touched by her death. He wrote about the effect that she had on him. I will leave the rest to Craig Nelson.

Liz Jobes was a beautiful, young and vibrant girl. I'd known Liz for approximately 3 months. She came into our church with her amazing brother and sister; Peter and Rachel. Very quickly all three of them had an amazing impact on the life of our church, getting involved in whatever they could and serving on different teams.

I didn't know Liz as a close friend, she was after all 21yrs old and I'm a little older! (Come on Craig, more than a little) But I had the pleasure of small chats in passing and on a few occasions she was part of a group of people I was having lunch or dinner with.

That makes the impact her death has had on me all the more astounding. It's not necessarily the quantity of our interactions with others, but the quality of them. You realise when someone has died just what they gave you and what they have left you.

Lately, after the glow of being given a job with a dream shift pattern has worn off, after the horrors of going through a marriage separation have gone away, after becoming debt free and having surplus cash again, I expected to be ecstatic and excitedly move forwards into the future. Instead, the initial jubilation for all of the above lasted about 1 month and I began to feel kinda flat again. Why should this be? After all, I have so much to be thankful for! Yes, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, physically, going through tough times does have an effect on you. Having got through those actual situations I'm still dealing with the effects they may have had.

That's where Lizzie comes in. You see, Lizzie has taught or rather shown me something. She's shown me how to LIVE. I know that it's not our circumstances that dictate our Joy because even when things are ok I can still be pretty flat. So how can I live?

How can I save my general demeanour from being kinda miserable? By choosing to live the way Lizzie lived! This is how I see it, I cannot remember one single occasion when I saw Lizzie, that she wasn't smiling, not one, ever!

A person who is smiling is a person who is living every moment to it's fullest potential.

I can worry too much, I can think way too much about things, I think about the future, about tomorrow or next week or next month or when I get married again or when I'm a dad or when I retire! The list goes on, I think think think think think and in doing so I rob myself of the beauty of LIFE, I rob myself of the beauty of NOW. I close myself off to real life because the only real life that's happening is that which is happening NOW! I miss out on interactions with people because I'm not present, I may be physically, but inside I'm somewhere else, thinking or probably worrying!

When Lizzie died, her young age made me realise that we don't have that long, she had 21yrs but I feel she probably had way more than many who die in their eighties, why, because she lived in the present, with a great big beaming smile and innocence that meant she was open to everything that was happening around her at that moment. She was enjoying the moment and not selfishly hiding away in her own thoughts, thinking and worrying about herself and her life. She had an innocence that showed she wasn't hiding, she wasn't protecting herself from the world around her, like I often do.

Life can do that, we get hurt and broken by the stuff life can throw at us. We often respond by putting up walls and barriers, protecting ourselves from any future hurt that may occur.

But in doing so we rob the world of our true colours, we rob ourselves of life by not engaging with it. We rob our friends by denying them the way we are individually made in Gods image.

I want to live more like Lizzie,

live in the moment,

live innocently,

not hiding my colours,

letting God shine.

Thanks Lizzie. 

Friday, 7 October 2011

Enemies with faces

This week has been a busy week for us. We have been attending lots of meetings and using time to prepare for the move to our new venue in two weeks. So to be called into a meeting at 24 hours notice with the venue management was not something we were expecting or had scheduled into our already busy diaries.

There was a sense of "What's wrong?" that we were carrying before the meeting. As much as I tried to remain positive, my thinking continually went down the worst case scenario. As we entered the meeting I felt I knew WHAT the problem was, WHY it had come up, and WHO it had come from. Unfortunately I was right on all three counts.

Now the outcome was not all doom and gloom, as we are still in the venue for the three months that they had agreed to, but we are not sure what happens after that. The thing for me is that because I know where the objections are coming from I can quite easily put a "face" on the enemy. This is the easy way and unfortunately what many Christians have done down through history. We have become known more for what and in particular WHO we stand against.

That was immediately the direction my thinking took. It was then the words of the Bible came ringing in my ears "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Eph 6:12. Its easy to fight an enemy with a face but much harder to face an enemy that we can't see, protest or blog against.

As I thought about it, I was reminded that we are in a SPIRITUAL battle and we need to fight with SPIRITUAL tactics and SPIRITUAL weapons. Our strength is in God not legal systems.

The Bible is that which we calibrate our life against so what does it say about this situation?
  • Enemies without faces are to be fought with the full armour of GOD including the WORD and FAITH, also with PRAYER and with FASTING.
  • Those who we think are enemies with faces are to be loved, which means that we don't actually have any enemies with faces.
So over this next week before the management meet to make a decision on our long term future in the venue
  1. we will present a good case as to why we should be there, 
  2. extend the hand of friendship and offer to meet with those who object to us being there
  3. pray and fast against our real enemy.
We need to be clear on who are our enemies are NOT as much as who the enemy IS.

Will you join with us and commit to praying but also maybe fast for a day or two?

Monday, 3 October 2011

Releasing Leaders

For those of you that know me and are part of my life, I hope you will be able to say that I am passionate about seeing something in people that they maybe don't always see in themselves. I don't want it to stop there though. I want to release people into their God-given potential. That can involve pushing other people forward when my insecurities would cause me to want to hold the limelight.

I don't want to sound like a saint, because nearly everyday I struggle with some aspect of that and often get it wrong. We have so many talented people in our church that I think God has brought them my way to partly use them to refine me and my need for prominence.

Despite (or maybe because of) my insecurities I am committed to raising a platform for people to be released into leadership. Anyway, one of the young guys that has created a stirred in our church recently by his awesome heart for serving and building God's house is Peter Jobes. If you are part of NCLC you will probably have already encountered him or one of his amazing sisters. They are a true gift to us as a church. Peter wrote a short piece on the welcome at our church to help people understand the Biblical heart of a great welcome. I love how Peter has captured part of why we do what we do.
You REALLY need to take 5 minutes to read this.
Guys! We're going to be welcoming people to church on First Faces at Encounter so I want to take a quick look at why this is both IMPORTANT and AWESOME. Sometimes, when we do something every week, we start to think of it as just part of the routine and we forget why we're doing it; we're doing it for the GLORY of GOD. When we welcome people what we're doing is as much for the glory of God as is the worship or the preaching or any of the other parts of the service.

I want to take a look at what Paul says in the book of Romans about HOW we need to welcome people and WHAT happens when we do it.

"Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God."
- Romans 15:7 (ESV)

We must welcome people as Christ welcomed us, and we must do so for the glory of God. When we smile and say 'Welcome to church,' we're not just being polite, we're glorifying God. What we're doing is an act of worship. When we put aside whatever we may be feeling about the past week or any worries about the coming one and just welcome people in the same way Christ welcomed us then we're showing God's glory.

I LOVE that Paul is specific about this. We're not just to be nice people, we're not just to smile, we're not just to be friendly and warm in our welcome: We are to welcome people in the same way that JESUS CHRIST welcomed us and when we do so it GLORIFIES GOD.

I want to quickly share three important points about how Jesus welcomed us:

He welcomed us AS WE WERE.
He did not say that we had to be a certain way or achieve a certain thing before we were welcome, He just reached out and welcomed us with love. We need to be the same; we're not there to welcome just the cool kids, or to smile only at the people we know, we're not there to try and think who is holy and say nice words to them: we're there to welcome everyone that comes. Jesus said 'come to me ALL who are weary'. We need to be the same, no matter who it is or how they seem, we are here to WELCOME EVERYONE AS THEY ARE.

He welcomed us WITH HONOUR.
At the last supper Jesus did the unthinkable. In a culture where men walked on dirty roads and got filthy feet the lowest servant had to clean them on arrival. What Jesus did was flip that around, hosting his disciples he DROPS TO HIS KNEES with a towel and washes their feet. He honoured them not because of who they were but because it showed the character of God. We need to HONOUR THOSE WE WELCOME! It will show in how we do it. Do it well, what we're doing is about them. We don't want to give the impression that their arrival has distracted us from our chat with our buddies or that we'd rather be looking at our phone. When that person is being welcomed we honour them with our full attention and with the love of Jesus.

He welcomed us to CONNECT US TO GOD.
'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.' (John 14:6) Jesus welcomes people not just to get to know them but because HE IS THE WAY that they come to God. Jesus spent His whole ministry connecting people to God, whether it was the tax collectors and sinners or the lepers and the blind, Jesus used His own life to connect them to God and then gave it up so that He could welcome us and connect us too. It is our job to help create an environment where people CONNECT TO GOD

When we welcome people we're not just saying welcome to church. We're showing that they're welcome as they are, that God has opened His arms for them, that they're honoured and we're doing our part in connecting them to God. We should all pray before we start, it doesn't have to be out loud and it doesn't have to be long and fancy; just simply open up to God and ask Him to help you to do this with excellence.

An AWESOME WELCOME can be the difference between someone going into church with an open heart or with a grumpy attitude because they've not been well received. WE'RE THE FIRST FACE THEY MEET so it is OUR responsibility. We might literally be the first person they have ever met in church! Want to know what it means? I can still remember being welcomed to NCLC. I'd only been to one men's breakfast before that but I was made to feel so welcome by a group of people that by the time I sat down in the service I already felt like I'd came home. That is the experience we want to give people who attend; the words 'WELCOME HOME' are not just a slogan on screen, they're how we do church.

I'll leave you with a scripture from Matthew that shows how God values how we welcome strangers. It's one of the things that Jesus says makes us inherit the kingdom.

"Then the King will say to those on the right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirst and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me'."
Matthew 25:34-35
So how good was that!!!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

What is rising up?

Well I'm sitting here frustrated and annoyed as somehow my ipad has lost my previous post.
Anyway, let me try and remember all that I wrote.

None of us can say that we have not been affected by recent events in our beloved country. We have seen the news reports, watched the videos and followed the twitter comments. I would like to try and add some wisdom to the situation if I can.
Let me first ask you what rises up within you when you here this news?
1. Fear?
2. Anger?
3. Revulsion?
4. Apathy

Or maybe FAITH?
Faith for forgiveness and reconciliation?
Faith for peace in our country?
Faith for God to do something?
Faith for salvation from this?

As Christians we need to remind ourselves that, as the Bible says, we are not fighting against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces. Why then do we seem to make the enemy the face of humanity that is doing this and not those spiritual forces. Our first response should be to come before God and pray. Pray for peace, pray for community to be restored. Not to what it has been recently but to what only God can bring. That sense of SHALOM. Community prospering and peace.

I also need to be reminded that I am in some way responsible for this mess. I have bought into a consumerist, materialist mentality that is pervasive in our society. When we hold that up as the ideal western way, when we say consume and there are those that cannot consume, what do we expect? Eventually there will be a backlash. It is not about a lack of food or basic needs it is about 42" plasma TVs. Why? Because we have bought into the lies that tell us that is what we NEED.

When Nehemiah prayed for favour to go before the king, he prayed for forgiveness for the mess that his people were in. He knew that he owned part of that mess. I want to be part of the solution not stand and complain about the problem. I own this problem. I need to repent for being part of the problem. Have we placed the rioters in a group called "THEM" or got before God and asked for forgiveness for "US"? Its easy to blame "THEM". Nehemiah prayed "US".

What I want to rise up in me is-
1. Repentance
2. Faith to see God bring SHALOM
3. Faith for reconciliation within our communities
4. A plan of action if the riots hit the North East.

The Bible is clear that even in situations like this fear will not conquer even when it is peddled by our media. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of LOVE, POWER and a SOUND (disciplined) MIND. Perfect LOVE casts out fear.

Lets pray for love in our communities and our fantastic country.
Lets pray for our hard pressed and berated police force.
Lets pray for the righteous reporters, like our own Lindsay Bruce, in the media.
Lets pray for godly Nehemiahs that have the ears of our government and local authority leaders.
Lets pray for those that have instigated and got caught up in the riots.

I want to be part of the solution.

What is rising up in you?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Hillsong Conference thoughts

This year I have had the privilege of attending 2 Hillsong conferences, one in Sydney and the other in London. This is a significant expense for us and therefore I need to make sure that it impacts the wider church in a major way. I don't just want to pass on notes or nice thoughts I have gained. I don't even want to just come back with some structural or audio visual changes that we can make to improve who we are.

I want people to know that something significant has happened. I want people to know that I have changed. I want people to know that church will never be the same again. I don't want to fall back into the same routine.

Pastor Jentzen Franklin really challenged me with his message on Peter hearing the rooster crow. What must he have thought every time he heard one crow after that. A reminder of his failure and betrayal of Jesus. What are the constant reminders of my failure that the enemy holds over my life? Where have I limited my life because of the past?

I was challenged not to live just above average, which looks good to those living an average life. There are areas in my life that I know I am not reaching my full potential but actually look quite good if not seen from the place of what I could be doing. The same could be said of our church. We look good in some respects and we could live on that reputation, but I don't believe God has given us the people and the resources we have to live just above average.

If attending both conferences has done anything for me, it has challenged me personally to look beyond where I am and trust God that there is so much more (Eph 3:20-21).

Ok so for those of us who love lists, here is my top 5 of areas to trust Him for more.

5. Numbers- I have always shied away from setting targets for numbers and being driven by numbers and may continue to do so, BUT every ONE is vital. So I am trusting God for a large church, not just slightly above average but by any standard large. Large numbers of salvations, large numbers of baptisms and large numbers of discipled followers of Christ. I was struck in my daily reading that often Christ looked at the CROWD of people and was filled with compassion. He saw the large numbers. I am believing that LARGE NUMBERS of people will come from and into our church community.

4. Finance- I want to change the world that I am able to influence and to accomplish that takes a unreasonable amount of finance. Therefore I want to raise people who are committed to giving their finances for kingdom purposes. Everyone can give but God has gifted some to be able to give beyond their natural ability and others to give extraordinary amounts. I am believing that UNREASONABLE FINANCE will come from and into our church community.

3. My preaching & teaching- I have never really believed that I had much to give outside my own church. Now believe me, I love preaching on my own platform and teaching leadership to my own people, but have always thought that other leaders seemed to have all their leadership teaching organised and strategically planned. Don't get me wrong, I think I have things that are worth passing on but never felt like I did it justice when compared to other leaders I know. Anyway I am believing that God will increase my influence to help other leaders. I am believing that SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE will come from and into our church community through my preaching and teaching.

2. Success- I have always dreamt of being the best at something, whether it be sport or music but have achieved the dizzy heights of "average". I am beginning to realise that my success is to enable others to achieve far beyond what they can see for themselves. I am believing for world class athletes, musicians (and drummers), business leaders and politicians to come from & to my church. I am believing that SUCCESS & SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE will come from and into our church community.

1. Faith & Grace- I know that the heroes of Hebrews 11 were commended for their faith and they took risks because they believed God. As a church we have stepped out in faith in many ways recently and will continue to do so. In this last year we have bought new offices and taken on new staff. in the coming year we are changing venues to a increase our capacity, starting a new campus in Tanzania and a new extension service in a local Newcastle estate. But I still want to pioneer new ground, step out in large faith. In and through everything we do I don't just want grace to be what we receive, I also want it to be what flows through us. I am believing that INCREASED FAITH and HUGE GRACE will come from and into our church community.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 4 March 2011

From the Pastor's desk

This is an email I sent out to our NCLC this week.
Hope it helps.

Dear Church

As I am sat here contemplating the year ahead for us as a church I had the thought "What do I want the church to know this year?" There are many spiritual lessons that I want us to learn from the Word of God as well as theology & lessons from the life of Christ. But if I could sit down with each person in or connected to our community what would I tell you?
I didn't write down long lists and then bring them down to 5 most important. I wrote down the 5 that came immediately to mind.
I hope they help you.

1. You are loved. It sometimes goes without saying, and thats a problem. I should say it more. Its not that someone somewhere loves you... I do. Me, sat here at this desk. Whether I know you as a close friend or someone who I say hello to in passing on a Sunday. I love you. Our worlds may not collide very often but please know that I love you.

2. You are more than a bum on a seat, a weekly NCLC statistic or church financial contributor. You have value within our community. Not because of what you do but because Christ has placed intrinsic value on your life and I want to try to make sure you know the value of His own life that He placed on you.

3. You have purpose within the Kingdom of Heaven. You have intrinsic value but you also gain your purpose through contributing to the community. Your purpose comes because you have value, you don't gain value because you have purpose. Each of us are called to bring people to Christ. What greater purpose is there than to introduce people to Jesus. Every skill, talent or gifting should lead you to bring people to Jesus.

4. Its ok to hit crisis point. We all go there at some stage. The last thing you should do when you hit it (or it hits you) is to back away from the people that love you and the environment that will support, build, comfort and embrace you. If you are there at the moment, come back to the house of God. The open arms of welcome are for you as well.

5. Learn to learn. I want a church of people who know HOW to think not just WHAT to think. So many people will tell you exactly what to think and produce long lists of things you need to learn to fit into their club. I want to show you the Word of God and let Him speak to you through it. Study it for all it's worth. As a leader it is much easier in the short term to tell people what to think. The results are quicker & much more visible- people do what you tell them & think what you tell them to think. Teaching people to learn and to think for themselves is much slower and harder. BUT you get mature Christians who know why we do things not just what we do.

Anyway these are 5 simple things I want you to know. But if you forget everything else go back to number 1. In the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Pastor Jon Cook

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 18 February 2011

Could I survive without my wife?

I wonder what you thought when you read this title?

Is he stupid?
Why open that can of worms?
Has he got a death wish?
Is the bath big enough for him to sleep in tonight?

There are many other questions that may question the state of my mental health.

Anyway, the short answer to that question is...

My life would go on.

I am not talking about death or divorce or any particular circumstance like that. I am just asking the question would I survive without Dee being in my life.
Of course I would. BUT, (you knew there had to be a BUT didn't you) I don't want to just survive.

For those of you that have had the privilege of meeting and knowing my wife you will know that there is something special about her.
She doesn't help me survive, she helps me flourish and grow.
She supports and encourages me.
She challenges and comforts me.
She helps me.
In Genesis 2 God declares that it is not good for man to be alone so He creates a helper, a supporter, someone who furthers him. The Hebrew word used is the same word that is generally used in the way God helps us, for example:
Psalm 121:1-2
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

I don't know if this challenges your thinking in terms of the biblical view of women.
It should.
For us men, do we allow the women in our lives to be our helper or do we feel we are self-sufficient? If we are feel we are ok by ourselves then we are not being all God intended us to be.
For my women readers, are you helping the men in your life? Helping them become all they can be?

Living biblically can be challenging and may go against political correctness but we have been called to be people of the Book and live in the pattern set for us by God.
I don't want to survive, I want to live life to the full. Part of the way of doing that is to live how we were designed to live.

As a husband, Christ has shown me the model of how I relate to and treat my wife. He said that I have to love my wife as He loves His church. How? By building her so strong that the very gates of hell cannot withstand her. By loving her enough to lay down my life for her.

So why on earth would I want to live without her!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Who are we staying connected to?

I am currently sat on the train down to London from my beloved city of Newcastle. Why?
Because I am connected to someone and something bigger than myself and I am determined to stay connected.
As a follower of Christ my primary connection is with Him, but it is not with Him alone. But before you start shouting "Burn the heretic", hear me out.
Firstly God set the precedent in Genesis 2:18 when He said "it is not good for man to be alone..." We were created to connect to each other for relationship.
Then as we look throughout the word of God there are many examples of Godly connections
- Jonathan & David
- Elijah & Elisha
- Naomi & Ruth
- Joshua & Caleb
- Paul & Timothy
- Paul & Silas
- Paul & Barnabas
- Paul & Luke
I guess Paul really understood the value of connection.

I want to encourage you to make a connection and then work at it. We so often expect others to do the running but if it is a connection that we desire then be prepared to do everything you can to make it work. I was chatting with a friend yesterday about a pastor who is a mutual acquaintance. He doesn't really make an effort to connect with other pastors and therefore does not seem to be growing or developing in his capacity. I have realised that I can't, and don't want to do this journey alone, and I know that my strength is the people I make an effort to place myself with.
So with this in mind, here are a few keys from John 15:1-17 to making connections work-
1. Be connected to someone bigger than ourselves. The branch connects to the vine
2. Be connected to someone who helps us grow. If you don't show the fruit there is no purpose for the connection.
3. YOU make the effort to stay connected, don't expect them to. Abide in their world and they will be in yours. Check out Elijah & Elisha or Naomi & Ruth.
4. Do what they say.
5. Friendship flows from serving. Get the serving right first.
6. You will hear their heart if you are their friend.

Anyway, I am on my way to Hillsong London to get into the world of & stay connected with my pastor, Gary Clarke. Hope this helps.
Let me know your thoughts or questions.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 21 January 2011

Back to the Future

At the end of 2010 I wrote a letter to Pastor Gary of Hillsong London to update him of our progress over the year, BUT I wrote it looking back on 2011. I wanted to set in writing some of the things that we as a church will work hard to accomplish.

Steven Covey in his fantastic book "7 habits of highly effective people" stated that we should start with the end in mind. Andy Stanley also said that we should ask ourselves "what do we want people to become?" then work out the steps to get there. So take a read of what happens in 2011 and then let's begin to make it work.

31 December 2011

Hi Pastor Gary,

I thought I would give you an update on this last year of 2011. It has been a year of quite significant change for us in many areas. We have moved into our own building and at the same time made moves to make sure the church community is staying in the local community. Many of our Connect Groups are held in places where the public hangs out. We have also established Connect Groups that meet at different times to cater for different work & relationship needs. We have established a great relationship with Costa & Starbucks and also a few of the local pubs.

Our year started out with people seeking God in our prayer meetings and personal devotional time. We don't ever want to become a church that is dependant on our own efforts but relies on the Holy Spirit. We have always tried to give our best for God and then let Him do the rest.

Our Vision month of April was amazing. We started a 40 day fast on 1 March & finished on the day we took our Heart for the House offering. People fasted all sorters of things, food, social networking, television, coffee. It was great to see everyone's commitment to not only the fast but to seeking God throughout that period.

Our Heart for the House offering taken in April saw us be able to make the new building into an amazing place for us to meet and make an impact in the community. The building has a fantastic auditorium and place for Kids church. It has also enabled us to grow our United Youth and see leaders growing from our youth. Our campuses have expanded across the north east and into Tanzania. We now have 4 campuses with another one planned for next year. The Cowgate campus started with a connect group then the campus pastors moved onto the estate in order to have a local impact.

We have started a Wealth creation scheme. This is just people coming up with ideas to increase the finance within the church. The vision is always bigger that the resources, so as we increase our vision we need to increase our resources. Our increase in finances have enabled us to add two new members to our staff team. This has helped us to effectively pastor our campuses better and also the bolster our finance and administration processes.

Our "Double in Year" initiative has seen a huge increase right across the church. Because people are taking Jesus to the world, they are then able to bring people to our church community. We have doubled the number of Connect Groups, the number of people being baptised, the giving has seen huge increase and the number of people coming to Jesus for the first time has doubled.

As people are being added to the church community in all the campuses every week, not only are they being added but they are also being discipled. People are taking responsibility not only for their own growth but also for those around us in our community. People are getting together and helping each other pray, read the bible, serve in church and serve in the community. We have also given back the main responsibility for baptising people to the connect groups but mainly to the people who bring their friends in. They bring their friends & see them saved, they then have the privilege of baptising them.

We have programs that help with discipleship but it has been more about building a culture of discipleship. This has been particularly evident in our Men's Life. Our Breakfast Club has empowered the men to find their voice in discussions and the Real Men teaching nights have set a foundation for our identity as men in the church. We are now catching the established Sisterhood pretty fast.

Culture building has continued to be one of our priorities. We are also building a strong culture of hospitality and adding value to people by serving. Servolution has become a point of impacting our community through meeting needs where we can. All areas and generations in church life are involved in some way in Servolution. We have encouraged everyone to do what they can. There is no reason why everyone in our church community can't be involved. We have been able to increase our contribution to the local community where the building is as we now don't have to spend hours setting up and packing down. Through Servolution we have been able to distribute food and clothes to those in need, clean gardens and houses and reduce incidents of crime in Cowgate and the estate around the new building.

Our schools ministry kicked off this year in 1 school with Shine for girls & Strength for the boys. Some of them have started coming along to our Fuse & Wildlife nights. We are also starting to build a good reputation with the Head-teacher and teachers

We have not moved away from the 5 core values that we started out with. We still teach and model generosity, servanthood, submission, excellence and most importantly living for the cause of Christ. Our culture of connecting has gotten a lot stronger this year. We have moved away from just doing services on Sunday to making sure we use the day to connect and add value to each other's lives, especially the guests that walk through our door.

The Hillsong conferences have continued to help move us forward and give us a picture of what we are part of. People were making plans and putting things in place at the beginning of the year to make sure they could get there. It was fantastic to see that NCLC are still the largest sending, yet again beating Tom Rawls' church in Norwich.

Our church community is known for it's passion, it's generous nature and it's commitment to connection. I love that. But we are mostly know for our love for Christ and each other. We are called radical, weird, extreme and even fundamentalist by those that don't understand us. The great thing is we are not being ignored.

We are a church where the people who walk through our doors feeling broken are accepted. We are a church where people are finding their fit. We are a church were people are finding Christ and being made disciples.

Jon Cook

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad