Step 4 arrangements from 19 July 2021

Important Information from our Oversight Team:

“Our STRIPE considered the latest Government announcement on Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown and the impact on our activities at CBC. The following are key points that were foundational in guiding us in coming up with what we believe is a balanced approach to opening up, along of course with much prayer!

  1. To expand the work and impact of the Gospel
  2. To remain at all times within the law
  3. To take note of the Government’s advisory recommendations as well as the legal requirements
  4. To act responsibly in taking care of our brothers and sisters as far as possible, commensurate with 1, 2 and 3 above
  5. To have regard to the conflicting levels of concern and anxiety expressed by different members of the fellowship and to try to steer a course which will allow as many people as possible to re engage with Church in person and to benefit from meeting together and engaging in corporate worship and other group meetings.
  6. To take account of the impact on Worship leaders and other members who facilitate our in person meetings
  7. For these measures to remain in force until the autumn when a full review will take place or of course in the event of a change in Government legislation

For the main worship services, the following will take effect from Sunday 25th July

  1. No more requirement to book places via Eventbrite
  2. A request that all attendees are either double vaccinated or have taken a lateral flow test within 24 hours of attending and are negative for COVID 19. This allows for a more “normal” worship service including the removal of masks and allowing singing with greater confidence by minimising the risk of infections being passed on or causing mass isolations!
  3. We will take a register of attendees who will sign themselves in for track and trace in the short term ( until 16th August) and to enable us to advise people of any positive cases in the period until the next review
  4. Two zones in Church – Step 3 Zone in the balcony will require the wearing of face masks and there will be no singing – much like the current worship service, Step 4 zone – the ground floor – no masks required and singing encouraged. Slightly greater spacing between rows of chairs
  5. The option to wear a colour coded badge to indicate your attitude to close contact with others. This is to provide clarity and avoid embarrassment.
  6. Live music, prayers etc
  7. Junior Church will be provided at one service only over the summer due to holidays etc but will take place as now in the garden – parents drop off at the beginning of the service
  8. There will be no 9.15 service until September when 9.15 congregational leaders will review the logistics and a further decision will be made about resumption of that service
  9. These measures apply specifically to Priory Street and a further notice will be sent to Church on the Green members detailing the arrangements for Rudloe. However, similar principles will apply

For other meetings – Life and small Groups, men’s and women’s ministries, etc

  1. These can proceed in person once again without formal restrictions such as the rule of six but should follow the general guidance above on mitigation actions.
  2. The use of Eventbrite will be left to the discretion of the ministry leader. It can be a useful tool to promote the event or track attendees but compulsory use will no longer apply
  3. We would advise liaising with your group on how they feel about resuming in person meetings and aiming to include as many as possible by taking appropriate measures to mitigate risk. This may include lateral flow testing where not all members of the group are fully vaccinated, meeting outdoors if weather permits, using well ventilated spaces and avoiding over crowded rooms.
  4. For outreach events, please seek further specific guidance from the STRIPE team. Because these events will include people from our wider community, we want to take particular care and proposals with planned mitigation measures should be submitted to STRIPE for approval until further notice please.

What CBC will do for you:

  1. Offer live worship, prayers and sermon which will also be live streamed for those who are still uncomfortable with in person meetings. The aim is not to have pre-recorded aspects of the service.
  2. Tell you if someone at an event tests positive.
  3. For in person events, we will have 2 zones; one for those wishing to adhere to Step 3 restrictions (before 19 July) and another for those wishing to adhere to Step 4 restrictions (after 19 July).
  4. Offer hand washing or sanitisation facilities to use on entering the building
  5. Have disposable masks available in case the building becomes crowded
  6. Keep meeting spaces well ventilated where reasonable to do so
  7. Offer red/yellow/green stickers to help you bear with those who have a different view of risk to you.
  8. Refreshments will not be provided until the Autumn at the earliest.
  9. Hold junior church outside for the whole duration of the service, at Stage 4 restrictions only. We will keep a register of attendance.
  10. Space the rows downstairs in the sanctuary to allow 1m spacing

What you must do because the law requires it:

  1. Continue to act carefully and remain cautious.

2. Self-isolate if you develop Covid-19 symptoms, test positive for Covid-19 or NHS Track and trace contact you.

What we ask you to do because the Government recommend it:

  1. Limit the close contact you have with those you do not usually live with
  2. Meet outdoors where possible and maintain good ventilation in meeting rooms (responsibility of ministry leader)
  3. Government expects and recommends that you wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport, or if the meeting room is at capacity, ie. more than 1 person per seat.
  4. Where possible, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  5. Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not into your hand. Dispose of tissues into a rubbish bag and immediately wash your hands.
  6. Tell the Church office if you test positive for Covid-19 within 10 days of attending a CBC event – office (at) corshambaptists.org
  7. We invite and encourage adults attending church to register on arrival and indicate that they are either double vaccinated or have had a negative Lateral Flow Test within the past 24 hours.

Please pray

  • For everyone to show kindness and grace towards each other as we navigate these difficult times, understanding that everyone has different levels of concern about their health and the wellbeing of their families
  • For everyone to support and positively engage with the carefully considered measures we are putting in place for the time being to care for our Church family
  • For continued patience as we gradually return to more “normal” Church life but recognising there is still further to go!
  • Pray for us as leaders as we feel the responsibility of fulfilling our Lord’s commission to us to care in the way that he does for his precious family “Be shepherds of the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.”
  • To be encouraged that  “The LORD himself goes before us and will be with us; he will never leave us nor forsake us. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Notices for Sunday 18th July

Please note this notice sheet includes important information about our Church Services as the country moves into Tier 4 from Monday 19th July.

If you would like to receive the weekly notices via email and don’t already do so, please contact Cathy S.

Notices are also published on the Church Website weekly

This week

Pre-booking is still required to attend services in person. Please consider coming if you would like. You can book your family ticket (one per household please) here for the Priory Street service, or here  for Church on the Green  – contact Cathy S. if for any reason you are unable to book. .

Please note that:

  • you must not attend if you have any Covid symptoms – a new cough, temperature or loss of taste or smell ;
  • you must inform us if you receive a positive Covid test within 14 days of attending ;
  • distancing rules of 1m plus mask apply.

Sunday Services

  • Church on the Screen @10am: If you prefer a more active service rather than simply watching, a warm welcome awaits from Rob and the team.
  • COTG are opening for face-face services. All details at: https://www.churchonthegreen.online/event/10am-sunday-service-online/
  • Priory Street joint service @10am https://youtu.be/BQpFEMc7itk
  • This week worship is led by Matt E and Intercessory Prayer by Rob P. Matt L is preaching from Mark 5:21-42
  • Midweek Service: The next Midweek Service is this Wednesday, 21st July @2pm
  • Junior Church continues as a family event. Book your ticket here.

For Your Prayers

Pray for our church family and leadership as we move out of lockdown restrictions, that we might demonstrate

Please continue to pray for our SPOT team as they faithfully search for a senior pastor.

Also pray for Alan C and Rob P as they conduct the CBC Leadership Review (see below)

Important Information from our Oversight Team:

“Our STRIPE team met this week to consider the latest Government announcement on Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown and the impact on our activities at CBC. The following are key points that were foundational in guiding us in coming up with what we believe is a balanced approach to opening up, along of course with much prayer!

  1. To expand the work and impact of the Gospel
  2. To remain at all times within the law
  3. To take note of the Government’s advisory recommendations as well as the legal requirements
  4. To act responsibly in taking care of our brothers and sisters as far as possible, commensurate with 1, 2 and 3 above
  5. To have regard to the conflicting levels of concern and anxiety expressed by different members of the fellowship and to try to steer a course which will allow as many people as possible to re engage with Church in person and to benefit from meeting together and engaging in corporate worship and other group meetings.
  6. To take account of the impact on Worship leaders and other members who facilitate our in person meetings
  7. For these measures to remain in force until the autumn when a full review will take place or of course in the event of a change in Government legislation

For the main worship services, the following will take effect from Sunday 25th July

  1. No more requirement to book places via Eventbrite
  2. A request that all attendees are either double vaccinated or have taken a lateral flow test within 24 hours of attending and are negative for COVID 19. This allows for a more “normal” worship service including the removal of masks and allowing singing with greater confidence by minimising the risk of infections being passed on or causing mass isolations!
  3. We will take a register of attendees who will sign themselves in for track and trace in the short term ( until 16th August) and to enable us to advise people of any positive cases in the period until the next review
  4. Two zones in Church – Step 3 Zone in the balcony will require the wearing of face masks and there will be no singing – much like the current worship service, Step 4 zone – the ground floor – no masks required and singing encouraged. Slightly greater spacing between rows of chairs
  5. The option to wear a colour coded badge to indicate your attitude to close contact with others. This is to provide clarity and avoid embarrassment.
  6. Live music, prayers etc
  7. Junior Church will be provided at one service only over the summer due to holidays etc but will take place as now in the garden – parents drop off at the beginning of the service
  8. There will be no 9.15 service until September when 9.15 congregational leaders will review the logistics and a further decision will be made about resumption of that service
  9. These measures apply specifically to Priory Street and a further notice will be sent to Church on the Green members detailing the arrangements for Rudloe. However, similar principles will apply

For other meetings – Life and small Groups, men’s and women’s ministries, etc

  1. These can proceed in person once again without formal restrictions such as the rule of six but should follow the general guidance above on mitigation actions.
  2. The use of Eventbrite will be left to the discretion of the ministry leader. It can be a useful tool to promote the event or track attendees but compulsory use will no longer apply
  3. We would advise liaising with your group on how they feel about resuming in person meetings and aiming to include as many as possible by taking appropriate measures to mitigate risk. This may include lateral flow testing where not all members of the group are fully vaccinated, meeting outdoors if weather permits, using well ventilated spaces and avoiding over crowded rooms.
  4. For outreach events, please seek further specific guidance from the STRIPE team. Because these events will include people from our wider community, we want to take particular care and proposals with planned mitigation measures should be submitted to STRIPE for approval until further notice please.

What CBC will do for you:

  1. Offer live worship, prayers and sermon which will also be live streamed for those who are still uncomfortable with in person meetings. The aim is not to have pre-recorded aspects of the service.

2. Tell you if someone at an event tests positive.

3. For in person events, we will have 2 zones; one for those wishing to adhere to Step 3 restrictions (before 19 July) and another for those wishing to adhere to Step 4 restrictions (after 19 July).

4. Offer hand washing or sanitisation facilities to use on entering the building

5. Have disposable masks available in case the building becomes crowded

6. Keep meeting spaces well ventilated where reasonable to do so

7. Offer red/yellow/green stickers to help you bear with those who have a different view of risk to you.

8. Refreshments will not be provided until the Autumn at the earliest.

9. Hold junior church outside for the whole duration of the service, at Stage 4 restrictions only. We will keep a register of attendance.

10. Space the rows downstairs in the sanctuary to allow 1m spacing

What you must do because the law requires it:

  1. Continue to act carefully and remain cautious.

2. Self-isolate if you develop Covid-19 symptoms, test positive for Covid-19 or NHS Track and trace contact you.

What we ask you to do because the Government recommend it:

  1. Limit the close contact you have with those you do not usually live with

2. Meet outdoors where possible and maintain good ventilation in meeting rooms (responsibility of ministry leader)

3. Government expects and recommends that you wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport, or if the meeting room is at capacity, ie. more than 1 person per seat.

4. Where possible, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

5. Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not into your hand. Dispose of tissues into a rubbish bag and immediately wash your hands.

6. Tell the Church office if you test positive for Covid-19 within 10 days of attending a CBC event – office@corshambaptists.org

7. We invite and encourage adults attending church to register on arrival and indicate that they are either double vaccinated or have had a negative Lateral Flow Test within the past 24 hours.

Please pray

  • For everyone to show kindness and grace towards each other as we navigate these difficult times, understanding that everyone has different levels of concern about their health and the wellbeing of their families
  • For everyone to support and positively engage with the carefully considered measures we are putting in place for the time being to care for our Church family
  • For continued patience as we gradually return to more “normal” Church life but recognising there is still further to go!
  • Pray for us as leaders as we feel the responsibility of fulfilling our Lord’s commission to us to care in the way that he does for his precious family “Be shepherds of the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.”
  • To be encouraged that  “The LORD himself goes before us and will be with us; he will never leave us nor forsake us. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Leadership Review – How we “do Church”

Since the last review which Tim S. conducted for us several years ago, the Lord has continued to bless us with an increasing membership at CBC and our Leadership Team believe now is a good and appropriate time to conduct a full review of our ministry leadership and “How we do Church”. Ministries have increased in number and size and we want to ensure our ministry leaders are well resourced and supported as well as growing the team and filling some gaps which have become evident over the last few months. As we begin the process of opening up after COVID restrictions are lifted, additional needs are being identified too. As we grow, it becomes ever more important to ensure clarity over who is responsible for what and so Alan C. and Rob P. have been delegated by the Leadership Team to conduct a thorough review of our current arrangements and make recommendations for the future which will be presented initially to the oversight team by early September and to the Church at a Church meeting in mid to late September. In view of that, we have decided to postpone the Church members meeting scheduled for July.

It would be immensely helpful if you feel you have gifts which you could use and are willing to serve the fellowship to make contact with Alan or Rob who would love to meet with you and discuss possible areas where you may be able to use the Gifts God has blessed you with. In particular, the following areas have been highlighted

  • Administration and ability to organise
  • IT with a focus on “front of Church” presentational skills
  • Project Management skills to bring to relatively simple projects
  • Finance at any level
  • Event Management

If you believe you have any of these gifts at any level, do get in touch or if there is something you believe needs doing and you’re passionate about doing it, let us know!

Contact details for Alan C and Rob P are in the Church Directory (Log in to CBC to access the updated 2021 directory here)

For the attention of Ministry Leaders

From next week we will be operating a centralised Eventbrite booking system for all future bookable church events.

Ministry leaders now have access to the central CBC Eventbrite account in order to create events under the guidance and oversight of their accountable Elder. If you have not received an email detailing these arrangements , or you have any queries then do contact Rob P or Cathy S.

Room bookings can be booked via Cathy S

Men’s Ministry

The Men’s Ministry Team are hosting a BBQ on Thursday 22nd July at CBC Priory Street in the ‘Hut Garden’, starting at 7:30pm. Do come along and join us for food and fellowship. The team will also be sharing their vision for Men’s Ministry and launching the Autumn Bible Study Series. If you have any questions, please contact either Tom B. or Ian H.. Please click here to book your place. We look forward to seeing you there. 

Souper Friday on Facebook

Souper Friday is now in Facebook! We want to reach local people who need support with food parcels, so if you’re on Facebook please ‘like’ the page and engage with the posts via likes/shares/comments. You can find the page here: www.facebook.com/souperfriday
If you have any questions about Facebook, feel free to contact Jasmine Warren.”

Other Activities:

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.
  • Youth Groups- Contact Dan for further details

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy S by 12 noon on Wednesday

Notices for Sunday 11th July

This week

In-person services continue with increased capacity. Pre-booking is still required but please consider coming if you would like. You can book your family ticket (one per household) here – contact Cathy S. if for any reason you are unable to book.

Please note that:

  • you must not attend if you have any Covid symptoms – a new cough, temperature or loss of taste or smell ;
  • you must inform us if you receive a positive Covid test within 14 days of attending ;
  • distancing rules of 1m plus mask apply.

Sunday Services

  • Church on the Screen @10am: If you prefer a more active service rather than simply watching, a warm welcome awaits from Rob and the team.
  • COTG are opening for face-face services. All details at: https://www.churchonthegreen.online/event/10am-sunday-service-online/
  • Priory Street joint service @10am https://youtu.be/BQpFEMc7itk
  • This week worship is led by Joey and Intercessory Prayer by Matt & Kirstyn. Eddie is preaching from Mark 5:1-20
  • Midweek Service: The next Midweek Service is this Wednesday, 21st July @2pm
  • Junior Church Junior Church continues as a family event. Booking is via Eventbrite and includes all under 5s. The link for this week can be found here

Steve & Gill’s Prayer Letter

Please follow the link here to access a copy of the prayer letter.

For Your Prayers

Our Operations Manager, Tim S., has indicated that he would like to stand down from his current position by the end of the year at the latest. We are very grateful to God for Tim’s service, past and present. Please pray for Tim as he prepares for a new chapter, and for God to guide our church as we review our operational needs going forward.

Leadership Review – How we “do Church”

Since the last review which Tim S. conducted for us several years ago, the Lord has continued to bless us with an increasing membership at CBC and our Leadership Team believe now is a good and appropriate time to conduct a full review of our ministry leadership and “How we do Church”. Ministries have increased in number and size and we want to ensure our ministry leaders are well resourced and supported as well as growing the team and filling some gaps which have become evident over the last few months. As we begin the process of opening up after COVID restrictions are lifted, additional needs are being identified too. As we grow, it becomes ever more important to ensure clarity over who is responsible for what and so Alan C. and Rob P. have been delegated by the Leadership Team to conduct a thorough review of our current arrangements and make recommendations for the future which will be presented initially to the oversight team by early September and to the Church at a Church meeting in mid to late September. In view of that, we have decided to postpone the Church members meeting scheduled for July.

It would be immensely helpful if you feel you have gifts which you could use and are willing to serve the fellowship to make contact with Alan or Rob who would love to meet with you and discuss possible areas where you may be able to use the Gifts God has blessed you with. In particular, the following areas have been highlighted

  • Administration and ability to organise
  • IT with a focus on “front of Church” presentational skills
  • Project Management skills to bring to relatively simple projects
  • Finance at any level
  • Event Management

If you believe you have any of these gifts at any level, do get in touch or if there is something you believe needs doing and you’re passionate about doing it, let us know!

Contact details for Alan C and Rob P are in the Church Directory (Log in to CBC to access the updated 2021 directory here)

Men’s Ministry

The Men’s Ministry Team are hosting a BBQ on Thursday 22nd July at CBC Priory Street in the ‘Hut Garden’, starting at 7:30pm. Do come along and join us for food and fellowship. The team will also be sharing their vision for Men’s Ministry and launching the Autumn Bible Study Series. If you have any questions, please contact either Tom B. or Ian H.. Please click here to book your place. We look forward to seeing you there. 

Souper Friday on Facebook

Souper Friday is now in Facebook! We want to reach local people who need support with food parcels, so if you’re on Facebook please ‘like’ the page and engage with the posts via likes/shares/comments. You can find the page here: www.facebook.com/souperfriday
If you have any questions about Facebook, feel free to contact Jasmine Warren.”

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.
  • Youth Groups- Contact Dan for further details

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy S by 12 noon on Wednesday

Steve and Gill Bryant’s Prayer News June 2021

This post by Reaching the 42% was originally published at Reaching the 42%

Dear friends

Warm greetings on a fine summer’s day. Our prayer letter is coming to you a little sooner than normal, as we need to share some important news.

Changes coming at BCS

Last time we wrote, we told you about the many effects of COVID 19 on the world of missions. The virus has had a big effect in a fairly short time period, but there are other, longer-term trends which are also bringing about change. Some of these developments are very positive, but others present more of a challenge. For some time now, recruitment for long-term missions has been declining in traditional Western sending countries. In some parts of the world, the Church is much more vibrant than in the UK, and this means that missionaries are being sent from former mission fields such as parts of Africa and India. This is a very encouraging development, but it does not mean that the job is done…..we still need missionaries from the West. So many of our missionary teams are still short of workers, and there remain many peoples who do not yet have access to the Gospel in their own language.

Our main piece of news this time concerns BCS, the school where we served in Senegal from 1990 to 2001. Last time we asked for prayer that new long-term directors would be called to the school. Sadly, this has not happened, and other key long-term staff are not in place either. Alongside this situation, the profile of WEC Senegal has changed in recent years. There are now far less WEC families using the school, although for some time now it has also provided low-cost education for children from other mission agencies.

After a long process of prayer, discussion and consultation with others, the decision has been reached to merge with Dakar Academy, an American Christian school based in Dakar. They are looking to open a primary school in the area where BCS is situated, and a partnership agreement is being worked out. There will be a transition period during which students who are currently in Year 8 and Year 9 will be able to complete their IGCSEs, but after that the school will only offer an American curriculum. The next academic year, 2021 to 2022, will be the final year of BCS, a school which has been serving the needs of MKs for over 40 years.

This decision has implications for many families, and also for the long-term school staff. It will affect other mission agencies, particularly from newer sending countries. For many of them, funding their children’s education is a big challenge.

For ourselves, the changes represent the end of an era – we began to think about serving at BCS shortly after David, our middle son, was born in 1987. We went to Bible College for a year in 1988, joined the WEC Candidates’ course (4 months in residence at the HQ) in 1989, and spent several months in France to improve our language skills, before heading out to Senegal in November 1990 with three children aged 5, 3 and 14 weeks. The childhood years spent at BCS had a profound impact on our sons and to a large extent formed who they are today.

After our return to the UK in 2001, we continued the connection with BCS, due to our new role as International Education Consultants. As part of this role, we have run the MK Staff Training course (formerly MK Pre-field Orientation, or MKPFO), since 2002, and this year’s will be our 20th course.

MK Staff Training 2021

Despite the pandemic, WEC is still recruiting for MK ministry. So far we have 13 participants
signed up for this year, including three home-end MK support workers, one family tutor going to Cambodia, and nine new workers committing to a year at BCS. As with last year, the course will be delivered online via Zoom.

Prayer requests

  • Pray for the staff, students and parents at BCS, as they adjust to all of the implications of the changes that will be taking place.
  • Pray for the transition period, and for the teachers and students who will be affected by that.
  • Pray for the provision of affordable education for all missionary families. Possibly new, creative solutions will be needed.
  • Pray for us as we prepare for the MK Staff Training course. This year it takes place from Monday 26th July to Thursday 5th August, (some participants only do the first week.)

Many blessings
Steve and Gill

Download letter as a PDF to print.

Moving Beyond Tribal Boundaries: Part 2

This post by Ross Maynard was originally published at Seventy Two

I start this blog at the place I finished part one, ‘The Failings of Tribes’:

Here’s where I’m at…

I am done with tribal boundaries and the exclusion they foster.

I am done with tribal boundaries and the small god they defend.

I worship an immeasurable, untethered, wild God. A God of love, inclusion and God who blows our tribal boundaries to smithereens.

In this blog I hope to build on this conclusion. I hope to offer a practical way forward based on my own reflection and experience. This practical way forward is not new and many of you may already be doing it without even realising it. I am simply trying to articulate where my theological meandering has led me.


What I’ve been calling tribal boundaries, Paul Hiebert, a Missiologist and Anthropologist, would call a ‘bounded-set’. In his article ‘Conversion, Culture and Cognitive Categories,’ he speaks particularly about what makes a Christian, a Christian and argues that for many this category is defined by a boundary in which you’re in or out. Hiebert says:

‘For example, some define a Christian as a person who believes (gives verbal acknowledgement to) a specific set of doctrines such as the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, and so on. Some make such lists quite long and add on specific doctrines of eschatology or soteriology. Others, convinced that true “belief” is more than a mental argument with a set of statements, look for the evidence of belief in changed lives and behaviour. A Christian, then, is one who does not smoke or drink alcohol, and so on. We would make a clear distinction between a “Christian” and a “non-Christian.” There is no place in between. Moreover, maintaining this boundary is critical to the maintenance of the category.’[1]

I find Hiebert’s description of a ‘bounded-set’ helpful in explaining how we traditionally categorise who is a Christian and who isn’t. His categorisation is painting with broad brush strokes and was written long enough ago that many may take a more nuanced approach today. However, I still think there is a lot of truth in what he says.

For those, like myself who are more visual learners, this image may help. The ‘bounded-set’ says that a Christian is one who fits within the circle. You are a Christian if you believe the right things and behave in the right way.

 

Hiebert’s refection is borne out of his mission work in India and his encountering of a worldview that is completely different to his own as a white, American man. His exploration leads him to be very critical of the ‘bounded-set’ type of categorising. Namely, because his Indian friend’s worldview is so different, they would never fit within these neat demarcations

Hiebert would argue that we need to look beyond the ‘bounded – set’ and move towards a ‘centred–set’, in which the focus is not being ‘in or out’, but on the direction of travel. A ‘centred set’ is dynamic and diverse. There is no uniform way to think or behave. The focus is upon whether you’re heading to the centre or not. We are drawn together in purpose and focus. For example, we are all heading towards Jesus. He is our centre. He is the purpose we journey towards, despite theological differences and differences in the way we behave.

Let me earth what I’m saying with a practical example. My friend, Steve Jones and I, started a community called OPEN last year during the pandemic. I only realised recently that we are organised in a way that would be similar to the language of a ‘Centred Set’, something to which I am very grateful to Steve for pointing out. We are travelling together in the same direction. We have the same purpose and focus.

Our direction of travel is defined by our values. Those values are:

  • Open minds – We wish to create a space where people can think and ask questions of all things pertaining to faith in God, without being given prescribed answers.
  • Open hearts – We wish to create a space where people can experience the indescribable love of Jesus.
  • Open to all – We wish to create a space that is truly inclusive and open to all. We have a particular heart for those from the LGBT community who have often not found many places in which this is the case.
  • Open to change – We wish to create a space that is dynamic and one we can explore together whether online or with one another in the flesh. It’s also important that OPEN can end if the time comes. We may just be gathering for a season and that’s OK.

What I have discovered as we’ve journeyed together is that we are not only held together by our direction of travel, our willingness to hold to the four values, but by our relationships also. We trust one another and put these relationships first. Too often have I seen ‘doctrine’ and a desire for some false integrity held over and above genuine relationships.

There are two very clear advantages to this way of gathering and being. 1) Firstly, difference of opinion isn’t feared and discouraged but welcomed and encouraged. We love questions and believe God is made bigger as we learn from one another, being challenged to think beyond our own presuppositions. 2) Secondly, people aren’t excluded for thinking differently. Many of us that gather are, but by no means exclusively, more ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ (both terms that are hugely inadequate, but will have to do for now) in our thinking, but this doesn’t mean you can’t journey with us if you’re not these things. Like I said before, the focus is relationship and direction of travel. If you’re willing to go on an adventure with us, respecting and treating equally the people you disagree with and the beliefs they hold, then we’d love you to come along for the ride.

Our OPEN community has changed me, as I now have a space to think, question and disagree, without fear of exclusion. I have found friends, companions to journey with, towards the centre, towards Jesus.


Let me summarise what I’ve tried to articulate over the two parts of this blog:

I’m done with tribal boundaries.

I’m done with the exclusion they create.

I’m done with a small god owned by particular tribes.

I want to journey to the centre, to Jesus, with others.

I want to journey with a diverse bunch of people who will challenge me with their questions and beliefs.

I want to worship an immeasurable, untethered, wild God who blows our tribal boundaries to smithereens.

 

[1] See Paul Hiebert’s article: Hiebert, Paul G. 1978. ‘Conversion, Culture and Cognitive Categories’. Gospel in Context 1 (4):24-29.

 

The post Moving Beyond Tribal Boundaries: Part 2 appeared first on Seventy Two.

Notices for Sunday 4th July

This week

In-person services continue with increased capacity. Pre-booking is still required but please consider coming if you would like. You can book your family ticket (one per household) here – contact Cathy S. if for any reason you are unable to book.

Please note that:

  • you must not attend if you have any Covid symptoms – a new cough, temperature or loss of taste or smell ;
  • you must inform us if you receive a positive Covid test within 14 days of attending ;
  • distancing rules of 1m plus mask apply.

Sunday Services

  • Church on the Screen @10am: If you prefer a more active service rather than simply watching, a warm welcome awaits from Rob and the team.
  • COTG are opening for face-face services. All details at: https://www.churchonthegreen.online/event/10am-sunday-service-online/
  • Church on the Farm: Worship is led by Ian H., and intercessory prayer by David M. Dan is preaching the word from Psalm 73
  • Midweek Service: The next Midweek Service is this Wednesday, 7th July @2pm

Church on the Farm Sunday 4th July @11am

Location: Upper Combe Farm, Castle Combe, SN14 7HE

Please be aware that the weather forecast for this weekend is not good (it is July afterall!) Please come prepared as it may be damp underfoot and there is potential for rain.

As part of the service, we will be taking communion – so if you would like to join us in this act of remembrance, please bring some bread and wine/juice. 

Please follow Government Covid guidelines and do not attend if you have symptoms or have been asked to socially isolate

Please book your tickets here

Gathered to Pray: Sunday evening 4th July

Steve and Gill B invite you to …….

adopt a cabinet minister for prayer…..

Find out how Covid has affected world mission……pray with us! 

If you don’t feel at ease praying aloud, we still encourage you to come and listen. Follow the Zoom link here:

Zoom sign in details: 

Meeting ID: 856 5702 9226
Passcode: 384377

Baptism Classes

While national restrictions have limited what we can do in church life, God is not limited and can still be seen at work in His people. As a result, we have had some interest in baptism classes.

We currently have a class running and are looking to start a second class in the near future.

Therefore, if this is something that God has been prompting you to consider then please speak to Eddie, Rob or Dan for more information.

Attending classes does not mean you must proceed but will enable you to think through baptism further and consider whether you are ready to take this step of obedience at this time

Souper Friday on Facebook

Souper Friday is now in Facebook! We want to reach local people who need support with food parcels, so if you’re on Facebook please ‘like’ the page and engage with the posts via likes/shares/comments. You can find the page here: www.facebook.com/souperfriday
If you have any questions about Facebook, feel free to contact Jasmine Warren.”

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.
  • Youth Groups- Contact Dan for further details

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy S by 12 noon on Wednesday

The Bridge

This post by Richard Rycroft was originally published at Seventy Two

Rich Rycroft from Hillfields Baptist Church in Bristol recently received a vision for the church he leads.

A compelling parable for us all. Feel free to share this video:

 

 

The post The Bridge appeared first on Seventy Two.

The Ark in a field! – June 2021

Welcome to the June Ark in a Field for those who were not able to come, or you did and want to watch it again!

My Lighthouse: 2013 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Great Big God: ©2001 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire).

Puppets – The Power of God: Parody Music Copyright: Creative Ministry Solutions. Purchased from www.onewayuk.com

We are holders of CCLI streaming licence no: 48626

Notices for Sunday 27th June

This week

In-person services continue with increased capacity. Pre-booking is still required but please consider coming if you would like. You can book your family ticket (one per household) here – contact Cathy S if for any reason you are unable to book.

Please note that:

  • you must not attend if you have any Covid symptoms – a new cough, temperature or loss of taste or smell ;
  • you must inform us if you receive a positive Covid test within 14 days of attending ;
  • distancing rules of 1m plus mask apply.

Sunday Services

  • Church on the Screen @10am: If you prefer a more active service rather than simply watching, a warm welcome awaits from Rob and the team.
  • COTG are opening for face-face services. All details at: https://www.churchonthegreen.online/event/10am-sunday-service-online/
  • Priory Street joint service @10am: ‬https://youtu.be/YbEXONceEGY.
  • Worship is led by Matt H this week and prayers by Hillary. Eddie will bring us the Word from Mark 4:35-41
  • Midweek Service: The next Midweek Service is this Wednesday, 7th July @2pm
  • Junior Church Junior Church continues as a family event. Booking is via Eventbrite and includes all under 5s. The link for this week can be found here

Women’s Bible Study

A warm welcome awaits you on Monday 28th June at 7.30pm as we meet together (in person and on Zoom) for our final Genesis bible study: In the beginning, God.

This month we look at Joseph part 2
If you intend to come along to CBC, please use the following link to book your ticket here
For those joining via Zoom click here

Zoom sign in details: 

Meeting ID: 829 7300 0518

Passcode: 777

Church on the Farm Sunday 4th July @11am

Location: Upper Combe Farm, Castle Combe, SN14 7HE

You are very welcome to bring picnics for after the service, so we can enjoy fellowship together (in groups of 30 of course!)

As part of the service, we will be taking communion – so if you would like to join us in this act of remembrance, please bring some bread and wine/juice. 

Please follow Government Covid guidelines and do not attend if you have symptoms or have been asked to socially isolate

Please book your tickets here

Gathered to Pray: Sunday evening 4th July

Steve and Gill B invite you to …….

adopt a cabinet minister for prayer…..

Find out how Covid has affected world mission……pray with us! 

If you don’t feel at ease praying aloud, we still encourage you to come and listen. Follow the Zoom link here:

Zoom sign in details: 

Meeting ID: 856 5702 9226
Passcode: 384377

Baptism Classes

While national restrictions have limited what we can do in church life, God is not limited and can still be seen at work in His people. As a result, we have had some interest in baptism classes.

We currently have a class running and are looking to start a second class in the near future.

Therefore, if this is something that God has been prompting you to consider then please speak to Eddie, Rob or Dan for more information.

Attending classes does not mean you must proceed but will enable you to think through baptism further and consider whether you are ready to take this step of obedience at this time

Ready for a Gap Year?

All Nations Christian College is offering a Gap Year training course for young people You can find out all about it here. Alumni include our very own Steve Lancaster. Applications close on 16 August 2021.

Souper Friday on Facebook

Souper Friday is now in Facebook! We want to reach local people who need support with food parcels, so if you’re on Facebook please ‘like’ the page and engage with the posts via likes/shares/comments. You can find the page here: www.facebook.com/souperfriday
If you have any questions about Facebook, feel free to contact Jasmine Warren.”

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.
  • Youth Groups- Contact Dan for further details

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy S by 12 noon on Wednesday

What song do you sing?

This post by Rob May was originally published at Seventy Two

Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus.’ John 12:20-33

Earlier this year we heard about a rare bird that had lost its song. There are only 300 Regent Honeyeaters left! Too few to teach the young ones to sing like a Honeyeater. Instead they’ve started singing all kinds of weird stuff.

This is why church and passages like John 12:20-33 matter. Around you in the church is a choir to teach you to sing properly. Because if we are not careful, we find ourselves no longer sounding quite as Christian as we should.

‘Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains a single grain. But if it falls and dies it produces many seeds.’

The Greeks had come looking for Jesus but it’s not clear what they expected to hear.

For John, they are representatives of the nations coming to see Jesus. Scripture being fulfilled and people still coming looking for Jesus.

Some come for nostalgia’s sake, the warm feeling of a distant memory that comes back. Others hope Jesus will help them to live successful and trouble-free lives. Just enough religion to keep a guilty conscience at bay. A little spiritual disruption but not so much that they can’t go skiing every year. Just enough passion and commitment to feel like maybe you might change the world but not so much that you might end up risking everything. To join a church doing ‘whatever it takes’ to grow rather than a church teetering on the edge of death. Rock star worship, gifted designer-clothed speakers, some money for the poor, a stint at the foodbank and a flat overlooking the river at Battersea.

Maybe this is where the Greeks hoped they would one day live.

Our Easter song says that Jesus had to fall and he had to die. He cannot cling on and still live. But in this dying there will be much fruit.

Perhaps we wished he’d stopped talking there. Left us out of it. We want to be one of those many seeds that come from his resurrected life. But can we just go straight there? Skip Lent and Good Friday? Straight to Easter Sunday and the joy of resurrection!

Anyone who loves their life will lose it; while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves must follow me; and where I am my servant will be also.

There’s hyperbole here of course. Like tattooed knuckles: Love-Hate. Love life and lose it. Hate life and keep it.

Jesus didn’t hate life. He was not a hair-shirt Christian incapable of appreciating and celebrating beautiful art or music or the kindness of a stranger. Like a Puritan lying awake at night tortured and bitter worried that someone, somewhere is enjoying themselves. Eating and drinking, laughing and sharing stories with Jesus.

I read somewhere recently  that a common factor in healthy growing churches is laughter. Healthy churches laugh easily and often. Like Jesus.

To spend time with Jesus was not to be with someone who wished he was somewhere else. We know people like this. They never quite have enough time for you. There’s always something or someone more important or better for them to be seen with. Leaders who prefer to invest in their legacy rather than in the church’s losers. They’re not listening to you because you matter. They are just waiting before they can tell you little more about themselves

Jesus was at his most lively and life-giving in the presence of sin and brokenness. Desolate lives abused and over-looked. Jesus was to be found in some God-forsaken home surrounded by tax collectors, sinners and prostitutes. Not your average middle-class dinner party but very much a Christian one.

Something lit up in his face when they cried out for mercy. He came and touched them. Healed them and they lived. He spoke hope and love, compassion and forgiveness. He came not for the righteous but for sinners. Not for the healthy but the sick. There is a way of life loved by Jesus but it is a way of life not of this world’s making. And it is a life that reaches into our world from the throne room of heaven.

There is also a way of life that Jesus hates.

It’s the life of those who strut in the presence of power and position. They abuse and violate the very life-giving laws they signed up to protect. Concerned only for themselves, their station and position, asserting their self-importance to anyone who might listen.

That’s when his anger simmered. That’s when his calling and vocation came into sharper focus.

With steady gaze Jesus stood before those who wanted to destroy him. And, in glorious obedience, he let go of this grain of wheat only to watch it fall and die.

Was this what the Greeks wanted to hear? Is this why they wanted ‘to see’ Jesus? Is this the song the Greeks wanted to learn? Is this what they wanted to be heard singing to the end of their days?

We’ve seen something of both lives in the last 12 months. We’ve seen signs of the life we see in Jesus and we’ve seen signs of a life we should despise. We’ve lived a year ‘stripped back’. We’ve been given choices we don’t normally get offered.

Families with more time together than they could have previously imagined. Friends more isolated than they’ve ever been. Neighbourhoods unknowingly becoming signs of the kingdom. The poor cared for. Neighbours shopped for. Weekly foodbank collections. Jesus has come amongst us.

We have been given a gift although sometimes it didn’t feel like it. What really matters most in life? What song do you want to sing?

But then we look again and see the other world.

No more money for tired nurses but some for a shiny new room with microphones, two flags and a podium. Less aid for world’s poor but more nuclear bombs. There’s more than enough to feed the poor, but first we must satisfy the rich.

Goldman Sacks workers asking for their hours to be capped to an inhuman 80 hours a week. Goldman Sach’s 2020 net revenue? £32.1 billion. Apparently, still not enough. And we’re back in Egypt with the slave masters. Thank God Jesus hears the songs of the slaves.

Alex McCammond steps down as editor of Teen Vogue because someone unpleasant dug up rash and offensive tweets she posted as a teenager. Thank God we didn’t have Twitter when we were growing up. A world with no forgiveness for our sins even with a confession.

The brutality of social media. The absence of grace and generosity. The absence of life. Just dying and death but no redemption.

If you want to talk about sin how about sin number 10? ‘Thou shalt not covet!’

Not all the Greeks moved to Battersea, of course.

Rather than clinging on tightly to their grains of wheat, some let them fall and found that they lived. They went back to their friends and neighbours and they sang the songs of Jesus. They moved in amongst the poor and they sang the songs of Jesus. They sat down with the abused and they sang their songs. They sang forgiveness to those who confessed and repented. They opened their homes singing  the songs of Jesus. They faced up to the powerful, stood in the gap, spoke up for the voiceless and they sang their songs. Some even went to the ends of the earth still singing the songs of Jesus.

They gave up craving the things of this world and gained the life of eternity. And they sang their songs. The world was judged and the ruler of this world was driven out!

We would recognise them. They sound like us. They sing like us. I think we would recognise the melody. Unless of course, you have forgotten the song. Or worse still, prefer not to be reminded.

But I don’t think that’s true, is it…?

 

The post What song do you sing? appeared first on Seventy Two.