Friday, 3 October 2014

The impact of growth

Dee & I have just returned from an inspiring visit to one of the world's most interesting cities, Mumbai. I will do a mail out soon with my thoughts and feelings when I have had time to process them a bit more. I am very exited to say that Pastor Biju Thampy who runs the organisation and the church that we visited will be with us in December. This is a Sunday that you will not want to miss.

This week we have the privilege of having to add an extra service in Newcastle to cope with the number of people joining our church community. I find it humbling that so many new people have joined just in the last nine months. We haven't changed how we do things, we haven't had an extra big evangelistic push or changed our structure in any way that would cause people to come in. I think we have grown in depth and health over the last 2 years that we are beginning to see the fruit of that as a church now.

Whenever growth happens we have to expand our thinking and be flexible in how we do what we do. As I get older and more set in my ways, change does become a bit more difficult, but I also realise that I cannot and will not put my personal comfort above what God is doing in and through our church. Growth will not only bring change, it will bring challenge. Are you prepared for both?

Some areas that growth in church will impact-
   It should impact my set routines. Very practically, as our service times change we have to adjust our Sunday routine.
   It should impact my friendships. I have the opportunity to open up my life to new friends. There are so many people in my life now that I did not know before being part of this church.
   It should impact my serving. In whatever area that we serve, we now have the responsibility to train other people who are new to help us in that role. What happens when we have to go to three then four services? Our existing team will not be able to cope, so we need to recruit, train and disciple.
   It should impact our midweek community. Our Connect Groups will need to expand in numbers to help people not just attend a service but be brought into the life of the church community.
   It should impact my prayer life. New people equals new need and areas of brokenness that we have to trust God with.
   It should impact my level of faith. As we grow so should our faith. Are we believing for the north east to change because we are here?

Pastor Brian Houston has said that we should be a small church with lots of people. Whatever the number of people that attend our church and however we organise structure to help with growth we all still need the same things-
   Relational connection with each other
   Opportunities to serve and contribute to our community
   An environment that facilitates our growth.
   A cause that we are part of.

As we fulfill the mission that Christ has commissioned us with and stay healthy, we will grow across all our campuses and growth involves change. Lets make sure that our hearts are prepared for this and our attitudes are the same as Christ who embraced change and put others' needs before His own in order to bring people into relationship with His Father. (Philippians 2).

This Sunday our services are
Newcastle- 9:30am, 11:30am and 5pm
Teesside- 11am
Newcastle North- joining with Newcastle at 5pm
Mwanza- 11am

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

We are Family


As many of you will already know, the 31 March was the launch of what is known as the Hillsong Family. If you have questions about what this is, I suggest you read Pastor Brian Houston's blog which will give a few details on what our family is and what it isn't. You can also find out who else is with us in the Hillsong Family

Pastor Brian states this about the churches he has chosen to call "family"

"The HILLSONG FAMILY is a group of like-spirited, forward thinking, kingdom-building visionaries and ministries working TOGETHER for a greater cause. This group of churches and ministries are joining our ‘FAMILY’ in an effort to develop and strengthen one another – a family relationship in which to find wisdom and encouragement, spiritual accountability and support as they continue to build the church and ministry that God has uniquely called them to do."


I guess I just want to give a bit of my perspective on what this means to Dee & I but also what it means to us as Newcastle Christian Life Centre.

When Dee & I set out from London 8 and half years ago to plant a church in the north east, we knew that we needed to stay connected to something bigger than ourselves. This wasn't just a need to give us credibility, it was a relational need. We knew that we wanted to stay strongly connected to the church that a helped give birth to our dreams of planting a church in Newcastle. The church that we had made home, the church that had shown us what a Christ-centred, passionate, disciple-making church could look like in the 21st Century.

To go back a bit further, when we moved to London, Hillsong church did not look like it does now. Hillsong Sydney was just coming into view with Darlene Zchech's music gaining popularity. The church in London was known as CLC London and had just gone through a transition of pastors and were left with about 80 people meeting in a little university hall. The journey of phenomenal growth in people and influence that was seen in London brought recognition to what God was doing in that local church.

Dee and I had the privilege of serving under the amazing leadership of Pastors Gary and Cathy Clarke. The time with them caused our lives to grow and our vision to expand. That vision grew into taking what we had learned at Hillsong and planting a church with the same heart and culture in the north east of England. To Dee and I, the family is a recognition and formalisation of what we chose to align ourselves to just over 8 years ago when we came from Hillsong to Newcastle. In our hearts we did not leave Hillsong, we just brought a taste of it to the north east and now into Tanzania.

Every time I go to London to spend time with Pastor Gary and the team I am reminded of what we can accomplish here in the north east, if we keep Jesus at the centre of everything we do and keep introducing people in our world to the good news that He brings. Let's not settle and think we have done enough. There are more people walking through Primark on a Saturday than meet in our church on a Sunday. People that need to know Jesus. Even if we grew to 6 services on a Sunday we will still be only making a small dent in the north east and Mwanza, Tanzania.

Being part of the Hillsong Family means that we are connected to something much larger than ourselves. This helps us see that we can continue to move forward, continue to grow and continue to see the kingdom of God advance in the cities where we live.

I would love for you to take a couple of minutes to read through The Church I see. If you have already seen it, read it again and remind yourself of where we are heading.

One church, three cities, four campuses, many hearts.

The Church I See

The Church I see is large and expanding in size, with an influence and reputation that is not bounded by any geographical areas.

It is a church that loves God and is sold out for His cause.

Its people live for something bigger than themselves, to show Christ’s love to each other and everyone in their world.

This church knows the value of a servant heart and is dedicated to welcoming home every person that walks through its door.

This church is based on God’s Word and lives to worship Him. Its message is clear and impacting; its worship touches the heart of heaven and changes lives on earth

The church I see is a church that is generous beyond its borders. It values people as God’s creation, not because of achievement, money, need or status.

This church is a house of safety for those in need and a house of worship for those who love God.

The church I see is a place where there is no unmet need because its people have looked among themselves to meet the needs from the overflow of their lives.

This church is a place where people belong and every person plays their part. They all care, they all contribute, and everyone is a soul winner and takes responsibility for people in their world.

This church I see shows God’s love and His commitment to excellence in everything it does. It always gives people the opportunity to make their peace with God. It is committed to raising leaders from every generation and seeing them fulfil their God-given potential.

The church I see is fulfilling its mission by building an awesome God focused, challenging and inspiring Sunday service and also building a great people connecting, mid-week community where lives flourish and relationship needs are met.



Our mission is to reach and influence the world by building a large Christ-centred, bible-based church, changing mindsets and empowering people to lead and impact in every sphere of life.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Getting my house in order

So this last weekend we had the privilege of having Jeff Lestz speaking at our church. People often label Jeff as "the finance guy." He is a successful Christian businessman and author who has a heart to empower people to be financially healthy and also see churches raise finances to further the kingdom of God. He uses sound biblical principles to educate people and build leaders within churches.

But in reality he is a kingdom guy. He is a people guy. He is a freedom guy. He loves God and loves people.
He is also a friend, despite his terrible jokes.

There were so many challenges that were laid down across the weekend that it could be easy to get overwhelmed by them all but three things stood out for me. None of these where new, more of a reminder really.

The first was a reminder of the character of a leader from Paul to Timothy particularly around the issue of money. We need to have our financial house in order.

Not just for the next month.

But are we planning for the future, our grandchildren's future (Prov 13:22)? We are socially conditioned to live for the now. Buy now, pay later. We were challenged to live within our fiances so that we see and use money as a servant to see the kingdom of God expanded. Lets put plans and actions into place that will allow us to live in financial freedom in the future. I have been using this phrase a lot lately but it is still apt in this situation. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now. Start now with your finances.

The second challenge was to think bigger but clearer. Have a CLEAR, CONCISE, MENTAL PICTURE of where we are going. Then put plans in to get there. I will be taking some time over the next few weeks to do that again.

The third challenge for me was a simple statement that Jeff made- Jesus was a friend of sinners and to be that He had to be their friend.

Yes I know that it is obvious, but sometimes we can overlook the obvious. Jesus was their friend. Not just friendly to them, but their FRIEND. Imagine that. He did what friends do. He didn't just hang out with them he supported them, challenged them, laughed and cried with them. Think of your friends right now. Think about what you do with them, how you feel about them. That was Jesus and his mates. We are not talking about his disciples, we are talking about those that were not like Him. The tax collectors, the party goers, the ordinary people, those with less than reputable backgrounds. Jesus was their friend. I guess I was challenged to ask myself if that's what I do.

I don't want to be just friendly, I want to be people's friend. Those outside my church community.

Jesus took time out to spend it with people who were not like Him but who needed Him. Do I?

Anyway hope you have found these simple reminders useful.