The Fuelcast: Go!

This post by Alex Drew was originally published at Seventy Two

God asks us to ‘go’, but how do you set about sharing your faith? Seventy-two’s Alex Drew and The Fuelcast have made this video in which she shares some of her experiences:

 

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The Fuelcast: Ruin

This post by Alex Drew was originally published at Seventy Two

The pandemic has left many feeling overwhelmed or in great hardship. None of us know what the future holds, but Alex Drew of @WeAreSeventyTwo brings us words of reassurance – God promises to be with us every step of the way.

 

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Seniors Ministry in a Pandemic

This post by Alex Drew was originally published at Seventy Two

I could be biased, but of all the groups of people to minister among, I think I’ve got the best one. Since 2019 it’s been my privilege to be the Ministry Team Leader for Senior Adults at Clevedon Baptist Church.

At CBC we call Seniors those who have had 70 or more birthdays. We have around 70 senior church members as well as many more connections with older people who have previously attended our midweek activities and church on Sundays.

2020 has been a challenging year for many of my cohort, but they have inspired me with their resilience, faithfulness, wisdom and encouragements.

In turn we’ve tried to help people feel connected as a church family and encouraged as children of God. Many have remained in touch via email and regularly take part in our Zoom meetings and homegroups as well as connecting with our streamed services on Sundays. But we also do a few different things now to help those without technology maintain a sense of belonging.

Having long since stopped printing News Bulletins and Prayer Diaries at CBC, I took the decision at the start of the first lockdown to reintroduce these and since Easter we now send out a reasonably chunky monthly envelope to our senior households. These have included all sorts of things in the past 8 months: quite a lot of chocolate, devotions and tracts, adult colouring, exercise sheets, quizzes and crosswords, pictures made by children in the church family, magnets and bookmarks and even a worship DVD of many of our church family singing through favourite old hymns.

Some of the things we’ve sent out – random selection

The Prayer Diary comprises daily prayer points predominantly discerned and written by our seniors for the whole church to use.

Packs are hand delivered locally, often by some of our older people, with a socially distanced ‘how are you?’ at the front door and posted to those living in neighbouring towns. We’ve had a lot of good feedback from this initiative and it’s been wonderful to hear how people look forward to their monthly packs, even calling me up to let me know the latest chocolate offers. The saddest comment I’ve had a few times now though is, ‘it’s good to be remembered’ – as if we would ever forget you! But it shows that this sense of belonging is vital and so we’ve carried on, whether we’re in lockdown or not.

A daily joy for me now is sharing encouraging scriptures on our brand-new-since-lockdown private Seniors Facebook group. The group has over 40 members and it’s been brilliant to interact with people on a daily basis; sharing encouragements, prayers, songs, thoughts, photos of what we’re doing (or not doing), as well as jokes and funny videos.

Alongside these initiatives are many phone calls as well as weekly DVD mailouts of our services for those who aren’t online.

Reaching older people beyond the church membership has admittedly been more of a challenge. Many have previously poured into our coffee mornings and other weekly gatherings, but for most of these we don’t have any way of contacting them. That’s why I was so pleased when our welcome team at CBC took up the Linking lives Two’s Company model, so that those experiencing loneliness (at any age) could be connected with one of our lovely befrienders.

One thing which was a real delight in the summer was when our Luncheon Club team delivered freshly made boxed cream teas to all the members of the Luncheon Club on the day when they would normally have had their annual outing. Along with a letter from the team leaders and those all important socially distanced doorstep ‘hello’s’, this was definitely a highlight on the Seniors at CBC calendar this year and we’re already making plans to do a Christmas version of this with mince pies in December.

Boxed cream tea delivery

One of the chaps from the Luncheon Club has taken to occasionally calling me with prayer requests for his neighbours. He doesn’t have a faith yet, but he joyfully adds his Amen to my prayers before we come off the phone each time.

It reminds me that for many the journey of faith starts with friendship and belonging. That takes time and I’m concerned that some in our reach won’t have years and years to build up friendship and belonging with the church and so I don’t want to waste time waiting for ‘when this is over’. I’m looking for meaningful ways for those who don’t yet know Jesus to come a step closer to him and to explore this path of faith – pandemic or not.

This work has already begun through helping existing older disciples to continue to flourish in their faith and calling, and equipping them with materials and inspiration to share with their senior friends and neighbours.

And in the absence of our usual outreach ministries for seniors, myself and a fantastic team of mostly seniors are now making plans for some one-off events for older people in our community over the next few months, in between lockdowns! We’re calling them Good News – an opportunity to share the good things that are happening in the world, in our lives and in God’s promises.

Thinking through how to welcome people who are anxious about coming outside and anxious about stepping over the church threshold, into a socially distanced, seat allocated, face-mask wearing, no singing, no drinking or eating, 30-40 minute experience, that includes the good news of Jesus, that could all be cancelled at the last minute, is no small feat. But the response so far has been super positive, with available seats booking up before the real advertising was even launched.

Our approach as a ministry team has been to do what we can sustainably do for the longer term. Balancing inspiration with consistent delivery feels important to help establish reliable new routines and define expectations appropriately. Nobody wants a one hit wonder in times like these. Our older friends need to know that we’re in this together for the long term and that we’ll be with them each step of the way, however long it takes.

A few websites and resources I’ve found helpful:

Faith in Later Life

The Daily Hope phone line

Daily Sparkle

Eden Christian bookstore

CAP Loneliness Support Pack

Golden Carers

 

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Seventy Two 2020-10-12 07:11:09

This post by Alex Drew was originally published at Seventy Two

Following their recent announcement that Table Talk for Wellbeing is now available to preorder, The Ugly Duckling Company‘s Sharon Lanfear recently asked Renew Wellbeing’s Ruth Rice a few questions about wellbeing.

Ruth Rice is the founder of Renew Wellbeing, and one of the co-writers of Table Talk for Wellbeing. We asked her a few questions about the background of this game and how it fits in with her work.

What are the ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing?

The 5 ways to wellbeing are widely used by a variety of services and community groups. Developed by The New Economics foundation with the Government’s Foresight report in 2008 it was found that Connecting, Keeping learning, Getting Active, Taking Notice and Giving were all good ways to attend to your wellbeing. This gives us all a shared language across care systems and faith and community groups to talk about wellbeing which is a really positive way to engage in discussion about our mental and emotional health. We all need to be looking after our wellbeing and finding ways to share good habits with one another.

What is Renew Wellbeing, and how does this game fit in with it?

Renew Wellbeing is a charity helping churches to set up quiet shared spaces where its ‘OK not to be OK’. These are simple community spaces where anyone can attend, bring a hobby/ share a hobby, and join in simple prayer rhythms if they choose to. They are spaces for people of any faith and none, run by local churches in partnership with mental health professionals. Table Talk for Wellbeing would be a great resource for any renew centre helping good discussions emerge around the table in a natural way.

For those not able to set up a Renew space the Table Talk cards could be a wonderful resource to help us have meaningful discussions in online forums and in small gatherings . This resource could be a great way to connect church and community as we navigate these difficult days and find shared language around our mental and emotional wellbeing. With smaller groups allowed there would be an opportunity to play table talk in homes, cafes, pubs and churches as we help each other reconnect.

Why is there a picture round?

The picture round in this pack focusses on emotions, and is an extra to the great questions that those who are familiar with Table Talk will have learned to love. The pictures give a chance for a more open-ended discussion, for us to form our own questions, talk about emotions or keep it light hearted. The questions and pictures are designed to promote good chat about wellbeing and the picture pack will make sure this is available to anyone of any ability.

Table Talk is fun to play as well as encouraging good honest chat — every church needs this pack. Probably every home does too, certainly we would love to see every Renew centre playing Table Talk for Wellbeing!

Table Talk for Wellbeing can now be preordered here.

 

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Dwelling in the Word: July 27th 2020

This post by Alex Drew was originally published at Seventy Two

1 Peter 4: 1-11

Living for God

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

 

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Dwelling in the Word: July 20th 2020

This post by Alex Drew was originally published at Seventy Two

1 Peter: 13-25

Be Holy

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”a]

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.b] 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,

“All people are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25     but the word of the Lord endures forever.”c]

And this is the word that was preached to you.

 

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Dwelling in the Word: 13th July

This post by Alex Drew was originally published at Seventy Two

Acts 16:16-40

Paul and Silas in Prison

16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”

37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”

38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.

 

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Dwelling in the Word: July 6th

This post by Alex Drew was originally published at Seventy Two

Luke 21:1-19

The Widow’s Offering

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times

Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”

“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.

 

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Dwelling in the Word: June 29th

This post by Alex Drew was originally published at Seventy Two

1 Peter 1:3-12

Praise to God for a Living Hope

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

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Dwelling in the Word: June 22nd

This post by Alex Drew was originally published at Seventy Two

1 Peter 3:13-22

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threatsa]; do not be frightened.”b] But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive,c] he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolises baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.d] It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

 

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Peter 3:14 Or fear what they fear
  2. 1 Peter 3:14 Isaiah 8:12
  3. 1 Peter 3:19 Or but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which also
  4. 1 Peter 3:21 Or but an appeal to God for a clear conscience

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