Leadership in the Wilderness: Am I willing to live in pursuit of the promised and preferred future of God?

This post by Nigel Coles was originally published at Seventy Two

Moses said to the Lord, ‘You have been telling me, “Lead these people,” but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, “I know you by name and you have found favour with me.” Exodus 33:12

Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. Exodus 33:15

Then the Lord said to him, ‘This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, “I will give it to your descendants.” I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.’ And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. Deuteronomy 34:4-5

‘God’s preferred and promised future’ is language many people find difficult. I know because I use that phrase a fair bit and even on Zoom I notice the raised eyebrows and quizzical looks. We use it a lot through the Re:Imagine process. My observation is most local church leadership teams have given zero time to discussing their future in these terms before we raise the question. Once raised, there are a few hurdles for some to overcome before they can start the conversation:

  • ‘How do God’s promises impact how we lead?’
  • ‘Do you really mean God’s preferred future?’

The wilderness through which the people of God wandered is a perfect example of liminal space; ‘the space in-between’ two recognisable territories; Egypt and the Promised Land.

The space in-between denotes transition, in their case from one geography to another, but more significantly from slavery to freedom. Liminal events and periods typically produce recognisable and significant transitions, such as significant loss or a global pandemic (at least we now have an example we can all relate to). Moses had to contend with people who would struggle. They tried to step back from the tipping point of no return whenever they could (you/me/leadership team?). Fearing the realistic plausibility of death, the Israelites saw slavery as a superior alternative to dwelling in the wilderness, even with the divine promise of their own land. Throughout the wilderness story runs the constant thread of Moses’ relationship with the Lord. Moses is given a mission. It is by anyone’s assessment, extraordinarily difficult. On top of this, he was not allowed to reap the rewards of his and his people’s suffering: entry into and dwelling in the Promised Land.

I can’t remember my initial reaction on my first hearing this story. It must have been when I was eighteen and working for Barclays Bank, my eyes fixed on becoming the youngest ever. To my mind then (young, ambitious) God disallowing Moses entry into the Promised Land seemed unnecessarily harsh and an unreasonable punishment. Today I don’t see it like that at all. Today, I am also more aware of the cost and realities of chasing God-given dreams. Today I am aware, it’s the easiest thing in the world to shift blame for procrastination to the church, other leaders, other church leaders, the Trustees, or the Union (in my case ‘baptist’, not ‘trade’).

What is it, which distinguishes leadership, that takes people somewhere, from stagnation? If I had to choose one word, it would be ‘responsibility’. The Lord called Moses because in spite of everything (you know all those things you see clearly in Moses and identify with and think they get you off the hook?) he saw someone who would accept responsibility. Moses stepped up to the plate, which is why he frequently turns round to the Lord, recognising ‘I can’t, so you must’, because he felt responsible. In practice for me, it means I must hang onto the word, the question, the challenge, whatever it is, which in a moment I recognise is from God with my name on it. If you’ve read all six questions, which arose for me reading Exodus at the beginning of this year, then welcome to my personal spiritual therapy sessions!

It’s the nature of the kingdom of God. Now, but not yet fully. Yet in this in-between space, Jesus is my Lord, the kingdom has a King.

#I am content to live with the tension in the space in-between

What on earth’s going on? I frequently ask this question within my world, but the pandemic has caused us all to ask it on the global canvas. Never before throughout human history have so many of the earth’s population been so aware of so much so quickly of anything of such far-reaching global impact.

What on earth can I do? I frequently ask this question too. I don’t know about you, but it’s been a challenge I regularly raise in my preaching over the years for anyone else too. The pandemic has provided plenty of human examples of individuals doing something to make a difference in the charity sector: Captain Tom, Rob Burrow, Spiderman (well the dressed-up version, Jason Baird, from Stockport). If I can be honest about a deep concern I have across the UK church, it’s the scarcity of stories we’re telling about individuals in our own congregations who are enabling people to encounter Jesus, whether that be for the first time, or tasting and seeing how good the Lord is.

It’s not difficult to recognise we’re living in a world of desperate need, too great for any of us to meet. On a macro-level the biggest crisis we face globally remains the climate emergency. Add in a global pandemic, serious shortages of natural resources, plus an ever-increasing poverty gap, and we have more than enough to exhaust us.

On a personal level, I’ve lived with the never-ending challenge of Christian ministry and mission for thirty-five years now. Never-ending, isn’t it? The more fruitful you are, the longer the queue of those who want a slice of your time. This week marked five years, since we moved into our present home. I’ve been taking pictures of the garden to mark the change in the garden; it’s so good to look back and actually see what’s changed. I was speaking to a colleague last week, also a keen gardener, who told me he often takes a picture at the beginning and the end of a day spent in the garden. You can do that with people, before and after counselling, a pastoral visit, baptism, but playing ‘spot the difference’ is hard to say the least.

Then there’s the nature of the kingdom of God. The ‘now and not-yet kingdom’. Jesus inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth and whilst I’m grateful for every glimpse of the kingdom I’ve ever had, I know it’s simply the first fruits of what’s to come. If I then take a church-wide view, it’s the same reality. There’s my personal embodiment of the great commandment and the great commission. If I could take a photo, not of my garden, but my heart as Jesus speaks about it, I know it looks more like his than when I first encountered him, but I’ve a long way to go yet.

The view of the church is complicated at best, so I’ll stick to my own, the English Baptists. We are in the midst of our own crises the virus has simply highlighted. We began over 400 years ago, the result of straight-forward obedience to a Christo-centric reading of Scripture. Today we risk subverting Jesus as Lord, in favour of an ecclesiological construct, which is more focused on the perceived needs of the church, than the mission of God. Today we face crises of leadership, discipleship and fruitful mission, but it’s easier to ignore the specific commands of Jesus and join the rest of the world in pursuit of a world of our own making, one which has no room for God. (That’s my very superficial summary of a book, which deserves more reading and re-reading by me: Leadership, God’s Agency, & Disruptions. Confronting Modernity’s Wager’. By Mark Lau Branson & Alan Roxburgh.)

The church is living in post-Christendom, but that’s been true for centuries. We are living through post-modernity, but surely that’s the space in-between modernity and what, we do not know. Either mean turbulent times, but together they are luring Christian leaders towards post-Christianity.

You have said, “I know you by name and you have found favour with me.” Exodus 33:12 Wow! When I hear Jesus say to me: I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15) – I know I am more blessed and privileged even than Moses and so are you. That’s why I can keep on keeping on.

#My future constant: determined to be seeking the presence of the Lord

Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. Exodus 33:15 

It never ceases to amaze me how often I make the same mistake! ‘Seek first the kingdom of God’, ‘fix your eyes on Jesus’, ‘be still and know that I am God’. All easy to understand, all I believe in, so why do I allow so many things to blur my vision or simply get in the way? I’m not suggesting it’s an answer which translates into practice every day of my life, but I’m learning to focus more on today than tomorrow. I’m slow on the uptake, clearly, because this is an element of what Jesus is telling us on the sermon on the mount, which provides the context for his call to ‘seek first his kingdom’ (Mt.7:33): ‘do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself’ (Mt.7:34). It’s finally dawned on me; the sermon on the mount, is not for me to primarily preach to others, to study to understand, but to embody to live life in its fulness.

#I want to be a carrier of God’s future, today and tomorrow

I’ve become a little obsessed with this motif. ‘Carriers of God’s future’ is how Walter Breuggemann describes the people of God in the days when Jeremiah was almost a solitary mouthpiece for the word of God. However, unlike Breuggemann, I happen to believe ‘exodus’ is a more helpful metaphor for leadership in the UK church today, than ‘exile’. I’m not saying Breuggemann is suggesting this, but there is a real danger that pushing the ‘exile’ metaphor too much can suggest our aim is a return to Christendom, which makes the Church of God the focus, rather than the mission of God.

Re:Imagine is the name of the missional learning communities we began in the West of England Baptist Network and are attempting now to share across our Baptist Union churches. We talk a lot about transition and the subsequent, necessary changes, but at its heart the strapline ‘from doing mission to being missional’, has to become more of a reality. At the heart of what being a carrier of God’s future is about is intentionality. That’s at the heart of Jesus, who was both ‘full of grace and truth’. It’s both being and doing, it’s being a kind of friend of Jesus, he describes he lays his life down for, who also ‘do what I command’ (John 15;14).

#I shall listen for God’s voice above the busyness of the traffic

I’ve started a campaign: ‘Beyond Listening’ How many people get beyond listening, following a typical Sunday gathering? My best estimate is 10%. How many people get beyond listening following a typical small group, Bible study? My best estimate is again, around 10%. That’s my best estimate, so I’ve a long way to go. Of course, I have no means of really knowing, but I know my own heart. I know how I can deceive myself into believing because I’ve listened and heard to the point of comprehension, a particular word from the Lord, I’ve somehow obeyed. Because I read and understand intellectually and conceptually the subject of a book I’ve read, somehow, I can deceive myself I ‘know’ something. The word of God however, talks about ‘knowing’ and ’listening’ differently. Look at the parable of the sower. ‘Be walking Bibles’, as Spurgeon said.

#I shall pursue wherever the word of God takes me

Jesus only spoke what he wanted to see replicated in someone else’s life. He only acted in ways he wanted to see multiplied through the lives of all of us who are blessed to be called his disciples. I know this. I don’t simply believe it. I can see, looking back, my story since becoming a Christian has been far more about God’s faithfulness to me, than the other way round.

I’ve sometimes wondered why the Lord called me out of local Ministry. One thing’s for sure, I’d never have chosen what we now call ‘regional ministry’ myself, back in the day we didn’t apply for the job, rather responded to an invitation to interview, ‘we think you might be the person we’re looking for’, as David Coffey put it in the phone call. At the time, I was planning the celebration for welcoming our 300th church member, which probably expressed the reason, in my mind, I was called to Counterslip in Bristol. I was looking forward, anticipating another ten years of what God might have in store for us. I have wondered, both ‘why me’ and ‘why then’? Did the Lord remove me because the temptation to look at something as my achievement, might have been too great? It’s the closest I can get to identifying with how Moses might have felt when he heard the direction of God’s call, pursued for forty years towards the Promised Land, was not going to become his reality.

‘Strengthening the soul of leadership is an invitation that begins, continues and ends with seeking God in the crucible of ministry’. ‘It is a place where the quickest way is not always the best way, because the transformation that is happening in us is more important than getting where we think we need to go’. [1]

[1] Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. Ruth Haley Barton. Page 210.

 

This is part 6 in the 6 part series Leadership in the Wilderness. You can find the first 5 blogs here.

 

The post Leadership in the Wilderness: Am I willing to live in pursuit of the promised and preferred future of God? appeared first on Seventy Two.

Old Wine

This post by Michael Shaw was originally published at Seventy Two

I am writing this from a new café. Someone described it recently as the new “destination” café. To be honest, it is so new, they only have filter coffee, as the new coffee machine is not working, but everything else is all carefully designed to be a destination.

I usually write from a café down the road, but wanted to try out the new place, because I am stupid enough to fall for the flashy newness! The café down the road is great and serves great food and good coffee. The café down the road is where the locals go. If I go, there I will end up in conversation with someone.

I have been here 20 mins, and nobody has spoken to me yet, apart from to offer me a drink. People here are working on the laptops or talking on their phones. Too busy to talk to people.

I am the kind of person who falls for flashy and new. As a Marketeer in the past, I know that “new” is a word that people are excited by. Jesus said a few things about the old and new wine, but what often strikes me is that he said the old wine is good! And in fact, people will pay a fortune for a vintage, aged wine, so experts know that old wine is better!

So, although I know the cafe down the road serves, currently, better coffee, has a more community atmosphere, and is cheaper, here I am sat in a new café.

We have the same attitude with church. A few years ago, a new church plant opened in the city centre, it was a from a big national church movement, cool, and with all the “features” people wanted. I met at an ex church leader and asked where he was now, he said, “it’s a cliché, but I go to…” and named the church.  He added that he and his wife could sit with each other while the kids got looked after, but it was said with such a sense of reservation.

What is interesting is that we have just received into membership two people who have left that church. They started following us online, during Lockdown, and while we do not have the flashy newness, what we did have was integrity. After we started meeting in-person again, the wife said she had learnt more in three weeks than she had done in three years at the other church.

You see the old wine is good! Not that we are that old either (we were only planted 22 years ago, but always as a community church in an area of high deprivation and incredibly low church attendance).

I wonder what Jesus thinks of our churches today. I wonder, when he took 12 individuals and assorted hangers-on and started a movement that would become “the church”, or when Peter and the other disciples were overwhelmed by the Spirit at Pentecost, I wonder whether they realised that 2,000 years later we would end up here? A time when people see church as something to consume, to experience rather than to live? When people will drive past dozens of churches to attend the new “destination” church?

So while I love the flashy newness of the new café and if I need a place where I can work in where nobody will disturb me, I will be back  but  next week I will be in my usual café where the coffee is better and cheaper!

The post Old Wine appeared first on Seventy Two.

Wow, God can do big things! 

This post by Rachael Warnock was originally published at Seventy Two

This title is a friend’s response to being told that I am to be ordained soon.

God can do big things indeed!

I am small, but God is mighty. He has consistently moved in, through and for me in ways that I could not expect. On this journey and adventure with him God has closed and opened doors. He has provided the resources he knew I needed and has faithfully sustained me. God has made a way, sometimes in the wilderness. He has been the one in whom I can trust. 

God can do big things with even our small offerings. When we give ourselves to God and his work, including our imperfections, then we can expect God to move! 

I find myself at this point on my journey with God because he moved through a small local church. They offered their resources- time, support and equipping. They allowed me to explore and serve. I experienced an authentic community through hospitality, generosity, joy and struggle.  God’s presence and leading was gifted  through this family and the local small community too. 

I encourage you to find out about your smaller local churches. What’s going on? What are they doing amidst the local community? How could you pray for them or join in? What are your gifts and what could you offer? Could you gift them simply with your attentive presence? 

Do not underestimate what God can do in the smallness and with you too! God wants to be closer to you, to build you up in humility and through those around you. 

God’s doing big things with the small things. He’s raising up those who don’t look like worldly leaders, he’s renewing the wastelands and the desert spaces too. 

I will make a pathway through the wilderness.

    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-20

God’s restoring, mighty, impacting presence is all around, we just need to look in all the right places! 

How is God moving in you currently? How is God prompting you? How can you be more open to him? God is speaking to us, nudging us and cheering us on in our everyday ordinary lives and communities, if only we humbly pay attention. 

 

The post Wow, God can do big things!  appeared first on Seventy Two.

Notices for Sunday 20 June 2021

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 Simon 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 Steve Chilcott this week and prayers by Jo. John P will bring us the Word from Mark 4:21-34 .
  • Midweek Service: The next Midweek Service is this Wednesday, 23 June @2pm
  • Junior Church Junior Church will continue to be a family event. We look forward to seeing you there on Sunday!! Booking is via Eventbrite and includes all under 5s. The link for this week can be found here

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

Ark on the Farm Saturday 26th June 10.30am

A Children’s Service led by the Ark Team from Corsham Baptist Church. This is our final Ark of the school term relocated to a farm field in Castle Combe. 

Activities include Tractor trailer rides and a sausage sizzle bbq !

There is lots of space for social distancing. 

Parking on site and Toilets and hand washing facilities are provided.

Please bring something to sit on and some lunch for a socially distanced picnic.

Book your tickets here

Please pray for this event, for bookings and the team as they prepare. If you are able to offer help on the day please contact Heather Chilcott.

National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast.

On Friday 25 June from 8.00–8.45 am the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast will take place online. Organised by Christians in Parliament and supported by Bible Society, this is an annual recognition of the contribution that Christianity makes to the national life of the UK. Details about the event can be found here and you can book your place here. The event includes access to a number of webinars including the Bible Society’s webinar: Re-imagining Mission | 10 am – 11 am 

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 Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Wednesday

Notices for Sunday 13 June 2021

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 Simon if for any reason you are unable to book. Please note that tickets for this week’s 10 am service are sold out, so do contact Cathy S. or Tim Stephenson if you have been unable to book at place and we will ensure you have priority for next time. In the event of a positive outcome this week then the candidate will be invited back to preach ‘with a view’.

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 E this week and prayers by Gill Bryant.The Senior Pastor candidate will bring us the Word from Mark 4:1-20 . At the time of publishing these notices the 11am Meet & Greet session is now fully booked but there is still plenty of space at the 12:15 slot.
  • Midweek Service: The next Midweek Service is Wednesday 23 June @2pm
  • Junior Church We are delighted to be continuing with Junior Church at CBC as we move into the third event following lock-down. It has been an absolute joy to see the children’s delight in being together again. Junior Church will continue to be a family event, whilst the STRIPE team monitor any additional opportunities that may arise as we eagerly anticipate the governments Stage-4 plan on Monday 14th June- but we must be patient. We look forward to seeing you there on Sunday!! Booking is via Eventbrite and includes all under 5s. The link for this week can be found here

Your Feedback is Needed

Following the visit of a candidate for the Senior Pastor post this weekend we would like to hear any comments/feedback from you. Please contact any member of the SPOT team with your comments; we would really appreciate your feedback. 

Please ensure that we receive your comments by the end of Monday 14th June.

As a reminder the SPOT team members are: Rob Perks, John Prior, Dan Ovens, Rob Durant, Adrian Pillinger, Ian Holmes and Alan Christie.

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

Ark on the Farm Saturday 26th June 10.30am

A Children’s Service led by the Ark Team from Corsham Baptist Church. This is our final Ark of the school term relocated to a farm field in Castle Combe. 

There is lots of space for social distancing. 

Parking on site and Toilets and hand washing facilities are provided.

Please bring something to sit on and some lunch for a socially distanced picnic.

Book your tickets here

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 Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday

UPDATED WITH TICKET LINK: Meeting with potential new pastor (13th June)

The Oversight Team are keen that as many people as possible have the opportunity to meet the possible new senior pastor who is visiting to preach at Priory Street on June 13th, 2021. To that end we are organising two meetings after the service to be held in the Church Hut garden, so that more people can have the opportunity to meet and chat with the candidate following the service.

Our STRIPE (COVID guidance) team, have prepared the following document that outlines the guidelines we will be asking all attendees to follow for these meetings in order that we can provide as safe an environment as possible for everyone attending.

If you would like to attend, please do take the time to read this document.

Instructions for Meet & Greet (v0.4 05.06.21)

  1. A Pastor will be visiting CBC on Sunday 13th June. He is a possible candidate for fulfilling the role of CBC Senior Pastor, and as such will be preaching at the 10am service.
  2. On completion of the service, the aim will be for as many of the CBC congregation to socialise with the Pastor and his wife.
  3. In the event of fine weather, this event will take place on the church lawn. Wet weather arrangements TBC.
  4. To remain within COVID restrictions, outdoor church events are currently limited to a bubble of 30 people, whilst maintaining social distancing rules.
  5. Therefore, to enable maximum engagement, and taking a risk-based approach, there will be two separate meetings on completion of the service, each consisting of 30 people.
  6. Arrangements as follows:
    1. Group-A: Maximum 30 people:
      1. Tickets booked via eventbrite.co.uk/e/158476117333;
      2. Timings: 11:00am-12:00pm.
    2. Group-B: Maximum 30 people:
      1. Tickets booked via eventbrite.co.uk/e/158477481413;
      2. Timings: 12:15am -1:15pm.
  7. Note: household groups can meet and chat together but for people outside of households, the 2m rule should be respected.
  8. Further mitigation:
    1. By booking a ticket, people will be agreeing to the following conditions:
      1. Not exhibiting COVID symptoms and/or do not need to isolate;
      2. Commit to no handshake or other physical contact with minister;
    2. Eventbrite will state current status of minister with regards to COVID mitigation:
      1. Both the minister and his wife confirm they have had two vaccinations;
      2. The minister and his wife will take a lateral flow test;
      3. They are not coming from an area where new COVID variants are active or have been identified.
  9. Questions and queries to be fielded by the STRIPE team.

Sue, Rob, Ian
STRIPE Team (Strategic Team Responsible for In Person Events)

Notices for Sunday 6 June 2021

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 Simon 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: Psalm [not] on the Farm ‬https://youtu.be/YbEXONceEGY. This week our worship will be presented live by the worship team. Matt Grylls will bring us the Word and Eddie will lead us in Communion
    • Please continue to pray for our preaching team as they prepare to bring God’s word to us week by week.

Zoom Junior Church

If you would like your child to participate in these sessions but haven’t done so already, please contact Rhiannon (childrensworker@corshambaptists.org or mob (in directory)) giving permission for them to join.

There are safeguarding rules that we need to adhere to and in the first place parental consent is required for your children to take part in these meetings.  Please could you send Rhiannon an email or text / message with the following (filling in the relevant information):

  • I give permission for …………… to interact on zoom.
  • I give permission for a leader to contact me (Parent’s name) by email/ phone/text for the purpose of  setting up these Zoom meetings.And then add your name.

Sunday 13th June: Save the date.

The Leadership Team are delighted to announce a preliminary visit with a Candidate for the Senior Pastor post is confirmed for Sunday 13th June when he has been invited to preach on Mark 4: 1-20. The Leadership Team are not announcing names at this point out of a desire for first impressions to be by a personal meeting.  Please commit the whole weekend to prayer asking for wisdom and discernment for any decisions that are to be made.

Ministry Training Course: South West Gospel Partnership.

The South West Gospel Partnership are recruiting to their Ministry Training Course for the 2021/2 academic year.

MTC doesn’t just equip people who teach and preach, but those who lead Bible studies, homegroups or evangelistic courses, or indeed any disciple-making disciple of the Lord Jesus – which is all of us!

Please take a look at the video here to find out more.

Part-time Job Opportunity Emmaus School, Staverton

Keen to teach computer science for 6 hrs per week? Please see the advert for part time work at the Emmaus Christian School in Trowbridge here

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 Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday

CHECK IT OUT!!!!

This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

This is the last Bible study in our Genesis series this year. Victoria Kelly has provided us with study 8, In The Beginning God. Repentance, Reconciliation, and Forgiveness. (Genesis 34-50)

Be sure and get with your study buddy! The study is on this blog and your email!

May you be blessed, and praying we will all continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus!

Love from Women’s Ministry Team

Notices for Sunday 30 May 2021

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 Simon 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 from this Sunday 30 May All details at: https://www.churchonthegreen.online/event/10am-sunday-service-online/
  • Priory Street joint service @10am: ‬https://youtu.be/YbEXONceEGY. This week (and next) our worship will be presented live by the worship team. We then continue with the Good News according to Mark brought by Ian Holmes. You can read the passage : Mark 3:20-25 here.
    • Please continue to pray for our preaching team as they prepare to bring God’s word to us week by week.
    • Next week (6 June ) Matt Grylls will bring us will bring Psalm in the Sanctuary

Zoom Junior Church

If you would like your child to participate in these sessions but haven’t done so already, please contact Rhiannon (childrensworker@corshambaptists.org or mob (in directory)) giving permission for them to join.

There are safeguarding rules that we need to adhere to and in the first place parental consent is required for your children to take part in these meetings.  Please could you send Rhiannon an email or text / message with the following (filling in the relevant information):

  • I give permission for …………… to interact on zoom.
  • I give permission for a leader to contact me (Parent’s name) by email/ phone/text for the purpose of  setting up these Zoom meetings.And then add your name.

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 Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday

Leadership in the Wilderness: Am I willing to ‘not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’?

This post by Nigel Coles was originally published at Seventy Two

Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. Exodus 16:21

Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.’ Exodus 16:29

Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Exodus 18:17-18

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ Exodus 34:6-7

Earlier this year I sensed six questions, the Lord was prompting me to ask myself as a result of reading through Exodus again. Five months on, the largest element by far which has stayed with me is the powerful connection with Jesus’ experience in the wilderness: the context of his battle with the devil. Moses’ journey with God through forty years of wandering in the wilderness was, make no mistake, hugely significant in the history of the people of God. However, I can’t help sensing the greatest significance for Moses was not in any sense the achievement of having been ‘the greatest legislator and commander-in-chief of the first liberation army’ (Elie Wiesel), but his relationship with Yahweh, the One, True, Living, God. As Ruth Haley Barton puts it so powerfully: ‘for Moses the presence of God was the Promised Land’. Wow – you mean I should stop striving to get somewhere I’m not and stop and acknowledge the Lord is with me, right here, right now? Pretty much.

I shall be defined more by my relationship with my heavenly Father, than my context

We talk and hear others talk a lot of about context today. I remember Tom Smail coming to speak when I was at Spurgeon’s back in the 1980’s. He was the first person I heard talk about ‘contextual theology’. We’ve come a long way since then, (almost forty years in fact!) but have we? I like to think I’ve learnt some important lessons about how to engage and operate as a missional disciple in varying contexts, but I’ve also heard a lot of nonsense. Jesus knew how to sift through words, words of God. Me? I’ve not always been so good, but I’m learning. Remember Jesus’ response to what is recorded as the first of a series of temptations:

Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 although it’s a quote from Deuteronomy 8:3.

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Deuteronomy 8:1-5

Here’s the thing. Neither Moses, Jesus, nor Bear Grylls allowed themselves to be shaped by their context. Bear Grylls? Me? You? I like Bear Grylls. Christian, adventurer, at last I can admit to being a Scout in public without people sniggering! This week he spoke again about the dangers of protecting young people too much:

“The ninjas of the future,” says Bear Grylls, “are going to be those who can learn how to navigate the fear. It’s like a firefight. You can’t move backwards. You’ve got to move towards it, you know?” (Interview with the Irish Times May 13 2021)

Today’s wisdom provides us with a choice invariably between play safe and avoid the danger or immerse yourself in the culture you want to identify with. Jesus offers a third way. The Jesus way is incarnation, full identification, yet without being changed by the culture, rather being transformed by the word of God.

I remember when I moved to North Cheam being told ‘it’s really hard ground for the gospel in suburbia’; when I moved to Bristol, ‘South Bristol is really hard ground’, when I became a Area Superintendent ‘you won’t be able to do it with a young family’. Basically, everywhere I go there’s someone ready to inform me, it can’t be done. I’ve developed a two-word answer: ‘but God’. Our context is important, absolutely, but it doesn’t change the good news of Jesus Christ. We need to be self-aware and not blind to our own limitations, but they don’t determine the call of God.

Here’s Ruth Haley Barton again: ‘Every time I read about Moses’ relationship with God I am filled with longing and it is not the longing to get somewhere – although there are always new places to get to. It is the longing to be a certain kind of person. A person who knows God. A person who is faithful against all odds and does not shrink back. A person through whom God can perform whatever deeds need to be done – mighty or otherwise – but also a person who can just be as content settling down beside a well or sitting on the side of a mountain in God’s presence. Someone whose face shines because he has been talking to God. Someone whose every move is a result of an attempt to listen to God and then do what he says’. (Strengthening the Soul of your Leadership. P219)

That’s me. I want to be more like Jesus. I talk a lot about Jesus’ DNA, but talk alone doesn’t cut it, I want people to get Jesus’ DNA themselves and that’s exactly what the Holy Spirit delivers in us all. Given space and permissive freedom, the Holy Spirit multiplies Jesus’ DNA in whoever allows him.

I shall trust whichever words from God, He speaks into my life, more than any others 

It’s an exciting week. We’ve been nudging towards launching an App based on The Discipleship Cycle. You can get an insight via the Seventy-two website:

In a nutshell, The Discipleship Cycle encourages everyone to go beyond listening to God, to looking to live out in practice, whatever God speaks into our lives. Listening is where we start, but not where we need to finish (how many of your Sunday gathering do you reckon get beyond listening any given week?).

My daily time in the presence of the Lord (anyone else remember that Eric Clapton song of the same name or am I alone in being that old!?) has become the most dynamic space of my life in recent years. I’m not proud of that fact as I’ve been a Baptist Minister for thirty-five years and I’m sure plenty of people might have assumed I should have said that a long time ago! However, I’ve come to the place where I intentionally seek to co-operate with what I now recognise as the process for transformation the Holy Spirit utilises in our lives. It strikes me it also happens to be the same process Clive Woodward employed, which enabled England to win the Rugby World Cup and Dave Brailsford used, which transformed British Cycling from the Olympic also-rans of 2002 to the dominant force of 2008 at Beijing. I’m not claiming any great Christian leadership insights for either guy, simply they implemented a process, which embraced how change actually takes place 99.9% of the time: incremental, daily, 1% at a time. Today I no longer stress about whether I’ll remember the content or background of the Bible passage I’ve just read, as long as I sense I’ve moved a phase around the Discipleship Cycle of listening, looking, living and learning. I don’t worry if I’ve not understood the impact of every facet of the culture clash between post-modernity and the kingdom of God, as long as I’m staying attentive to what the Lord is highlighting to me and acting on that. I’m not focusing on keeping the weeds down but nurturing every seed of the word of God he wants sown into my heart.

Every word because every day can be a step forwards on my journey towards the likeness of Jesus. ‘Every word that comes from the mouth of God’ is, for me, a seed which needs to be planted, nurtured and grown to fruition. ‘Every word’ can become a 1% incremental change, towards the likeness of Jesus in my shoes. Every word because they’re all fully aligned with who he is. They’re not just words from a God who says what he means and means what he says, they are who he is, they’re intrinsic to his very essence. His character and practice are one.

I had to laugh, or else I’d have cried. May 17th arrived. The most significant lifting of restrictions as a result of the pandemic, for what felt like ages. Also, the day on Sabbath rest we’d set up, as one of four for Webnet leaders, under this years’ leaders conference focus ‘rhythms of grace’. It was the worst attended of anything we’ve so far provided, since last March and lockdown 1. One by one, people cancelled, ‘I’m too busy’, ‘I’ve too much on this week’ were apparently the main reasons. How many decisions, conversations, plans have I made, which dissipate at the first opportunity?

I shall trust God is with me and for me, whatever the wilderness

The wilderness is good for me. Have you read ‘God Has a Name’, by John Mark Comer yet? You need to. I hadn’t until someone gave me a copy, but I am now hugely grateful for that lovely gift. It’s no new or novel theology and one might question the wisdom of anyone setting out to write a book, which is essentially an exposition of Exodus 34:4-7, for today’s generation. It is both fresh as well as refreshing. I love it. John Mark Comer has given me a renewed confidence to speak to young adults. He doesn’t get side-tracked by popular culture; he addresses it straight. ‘There are no short-cuts to life. You can’t microwave character. It’s more like a tree that you grow slowly, one season after another.’ (p213) I read it, slowly, alongside my Bible and it’s helped strengthen my roots. There’s a good reason: the whole book brings into focus my relationship with God as it revolves around the nature of God and his dealings with human beings and I’m one! I underlined plenty, but my summary was:

  • I can trust God more than I do, because God is who he says he is
  • I need to take sin more seriously wherever it appears, because God does

The thing that’s really grabbed me reading through Exodus is the relationship between Moses and the Lord. God calls Moses, he has a role, he has responsibilities, but where can you distinguish between his relationship with the Lord and his role, responsibilities, etc? You can’t. You can try, but you won’t find there’s any compartmentalising. Sure, there’s stuff here we might call our ‘day-off’ (Ex.16:29) or ‘self-care’ (Ex.18:17-18, but there’s no hint this thing called life in all its fulness is anything but a whole. Manna in Exodus and grace in the New Testament are sufficient, because God is. Every word because the grace of God is always sufficient for today.

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. Dt.8:2

What is in my heart? Surely God knew what was in Moses’ heart, but he ‘led’ him ‘all the way in the wilderness these forty years’. Remember Jesus too was ‘led by the Spirit into the wilderness’ Mt.4:1. It was Moses, I think, not Tolkien who first came up with the idea ‘not all who wander are lost’. God led him daily for forty years. That’s not how it looks from the outside and maybe that’s not how my life looks from the outside. However, I’m looking to keep in step with the Spirit, day by day.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy Faithfulness. Thomas Chisholm (1866-1957)

 

This is part 5 in the 6 part series Leadership in the Wilderness. You can find the rest of the series here.

The post Leadership in the Wilderness: Am I willing to ‘not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’? appeared first on Seventy Two.