Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 in 5 words

Family - Anniversary -  Friends - Adoption - Resolve

Family – I am sitting in our kitchen and looking at a large photo of family Green jumping into the air on our summer holiday. My, how they have changed this year: Joshua is now a teenager, Lucy started secondary school and Zoe has a considered opinion. I am becoming ever more aware of how short their time with us really is, 5 years from now Joshua could be leaving home. Finding time to be with each of them has been a worthy challenge; as has 'nurturing who they are' whilst 'training them in righteousness'. To be very honest, I can lose heart after those 'difficult days', but on balance I think Liz & I are doing a great job.  

Anniversary – this year we celebrated 15 years of married life. Clearly that is long enough to know someone yet we both feel we're still doing that. We have a tendency to be more aware of our shortfalls than successes but even we have to admit God has done a great work in us. This year was also the 10th anniversary of launching RFC … a decade of proving God able & faithful. The highlight of that day was the cardboard testimonies, hearing what He has done in peoples lives makes it all the more worthwhile.  

Friends – I have always been rich in friendships yet occasionally feel lonely in a crowd. I try to use those moment to reflect on the people God has put around me. I am deeply grateful that so many have opened their hearts to a Task-tastic, earnest, grey at the edges, middle aged Pompey boy. I have friends who ride bikes, blog, lead churches, fiddle with IT, do DIY, and joyfully co-labour for Jesus. I know I am a menace at times yet they seem to cope with that, even cheered me on in my 'specialness'.  

Adoption – being from a broken home I have always found it hard to outwork the reality of God as my Father. I had a real breakthrough in 2010 in this and this year I have been applying it to my outlook. Namely, God is for me and not testing me; I am part of His household so can lean into His resources. Simple stuff but demanded adjustments in my thinking. This word 'adoption' has also helped me cope with my shortfalls in His family likeness. Scripture is clear, God has given us a spirit of adoption as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons (Rom 8:15, 23). Amen  

Resolve – I turned 44 this year and feel like I have progressed in some important stuff like 'how I grow in Christ' and 'what I am about'  ... 'a slower day is not coming' and 'no-one is going to invite me into the game'. So I need to be here now, full of faith & joy. I am rich in family, friends and focus. I am follower of Jesus, a husband to Liz and a father to Joshua, Lucy & Zoe. I'm a wannabe triathlete and a delighted pastor at RFC. And I am resolved to pursue all this for the glory of God in 2012!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder

For those who missed it last night, this is a moving documentary, not just about the illness of one man, but also about how seeing a person and not a problem.

click here to view on 4OD 

The hero of this story is a landscape gardener ... and his lessons to us are innumerable. This is far more than voyeuristic entertainment.  

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Kitchen update

For the last few weeks I have done little else in my 'spare' time but decorate and install our kitchen alongside Liz. It's going be a great room that will serve us really well as a family with teenage kids. 

But to be honest, I've had a few internal meltdowns, notably on Saturday when having to relay the laminate floor because it wasn't quite right. I've also been very near to crying on a few occasions. For some reason I expect to be able to fit a kitchen like those in the showrooms, but I can't. It really is quite hard. 

It has only been 8 weeks since the extension was started but it feels much longer ... and I'm not finished yet. This morning we learnt the worktops are not going to be fitted this side of Christmas, so I am going to have to re-install our old gas hob on a temporary worktop. 

 Why I am telling you all this? Firstly because its therapy for me. I have lived and breathed this jolly kitchen for some time now and its good for me to remind myself why I am putting myself through it all.

Secondly, because Karena's death last year has changed my outlook in many ways, one being I want to bless my family whilst I have breath in my body. Not that a new kitchen alone does that but it's an outworking of this desire. My wife will be delighted and the children will enjoy the 'bake offs' in the two ovens ... and we now have another TV. 

Our Father in heaven has not just provided us with a superior saviour, He has also given us permission to enjoy being generous to those we deeply love.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Beechy & Willmott drive time show

Gav Thomas aka 'techno dad' has put me on to this podcast - a blokey discussion on reputation. Brilliant!

click here to listen

Monday, 28 November 2011

Jesus the Superior Saviour

Wanting or needing to be saved from something is a very common desire; a savior rescues people from harm or delivers them from unwanted outcomes. The question we face is which savior will we cry out to? Read Luke 2:10-11

Bethlehem was a town that heroes came from: Boaz saved a family, David a nation and now Jesus was to save the world. Jesus was a superior savior in every way:
·        Jesus is God. (Jn1:1-5) In the beginning Jesus was with God and Jesus was God. All things were made through him and for him and without him nothing was made that has been made.
·        Jesus dwelt among us. (Jn1:14)Jesus was born as man, the perfect union of Creator & creature. He knows what it is to live our lives.   
·        Jesus is the only way. (Jn14v6) Jesus is a superior savior because access to God the Father is exclusively through him.
·        Jesus saves many people.(Jn 3:16)  Jesus is a superior savior because he saves people of all incomes & intellects, cultures & sexuality, the popular & rejected.
·        Jesus saves from many things.  Jesus is a superior savior because he alone can rescue & deliver us from things like Sin, Death, Satan and God’s wrath.

The bible teaches us to choose the Superior Savior Jesus; we are not to settle for lesser saviors that at best are faint echoes, or at worst are demonic. Many Christians depend on inadequate savior which can be exposed by finishing off these sentences:
·        I am most afraid of …
·        When I need comfort, I run to …
·        The thing that has made me most angry / disappointed with God is …
·        The person whose approval I seek, or thing that most validates me, is …
·        The person or thing I most sacrifice for is …
Inadequate saviors promise life to the full but ultimately deliver death. Jesus is not like that. Although He promised eternal life but He did not promise to deliver us from every undesirable outcome. Rather he promised to give us His rest as we wait for our final salvation. He does not slumber or sleep; He intercedes and sustains us; We call out to him and He listens… and He gives us His peace & rest & hope.

Jesus is a SUPERIOR savior. Choose Him. Keep choosing Him.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Communicating for a change

Whilst in Russia I read a short book that I found compelling. 

For some time now I have been frustrated by my plateauing preaching skills; I don't feel I am improving. I am not talking about my desire to preach from bible passages rather that I need to hone my skills in communicating.

The book by Andy Stanley has given me a new framework in crafting a message that the Spirit can use to bring life change. 

So this week I have followed a new methodology in my sermon prep, the fruit of which you should experience this Sunday when I continue our series back2basics:Jesus.

Its both good and scary to try new things, the worst that can happen is I look stupid & bore you  ... at best, the Spirit can use it to bring life change.  

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Getting kids through church without them hating God

Last night a crowd of us went along to hear Rob Parsons talk about stopping a generation of young people being lost to the church.

He spoke about the four stages of faith for a child in a Christian home: Experienced faith (in the home), Affiliative faith (copying those around them); Searching faith (asking their own questions) and Owned faith (believing for themselves). It was a helpful process to try to map my three in this way. 

I found his comments on the importance of church youth groups creating a sense of belonging (which is highly valued by teenagers) very helpful. As was his five big killers of teenage faith: Christian over-busyness, Christian cynicism, Christian hypocrisy, Christian judgementalism, Christian over-familiarity with the beauty of the gospel (apparently Christians are the big killers not Jesus' radical lifestyle demands). 

But I guess the most timely was he thoughts on preparing them for disappointment; be that with others, themselves or with God. In essence, getting them ready for life in a broken world.

He summed up this helpful evening with one of his one liner's "Catch them doing something right!".

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Friday, 18 November 2011

Dave Bish @ RFC

On Sunday my good friend Dave Bish will be with us at both meeting. Some of the many things I like about him is that he is Gospel minded, has a passion for good coffee & enjoys crafting words (check out his blog here). 

He has also authored two books based on the sermons of the puritan Richard Sibbes who was known as 'the heavenly doctor' and the 'sweet dropper'. 

Dave leads the UCCF team in the South West of England and will be continuing our back2basics series looking at 'Jesus ascended'. 

Hope to see you there.

An empty promise @ RFC

Chuffed – a mystery big box of Thornton’s on my desk

Thrilled - a bonus Wispa bar was on top. 

Gutted – the Thornton’s tray was empty!

Laughter – their 'jolly jape' had played out brilliantly.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

RFC acoustic night

In case you missed it - footage from the sound desk captured on a iphone 4 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Hope Church & other stuff

So my feet have finally been under my desk for two consecutive days... here are some of the highlights of the past two weeks

Hope Church St Petersburg: Things have really moved on since May: their new venue is in a hotel which is a central & visible, Hanse has gone full time as the pastor and several churches are looking to become part of the Hope Church 'sphere'. Dave & Hanna are at full stretch at home, their children have started  a new school & Dave has new work patterns! Please do keep praying for their family in particular, they are under a lot of pressure and much is out of their control.

Time with Chris Wienand: Through my friendship with Sean & Nola Dooley at Thameside Church I have been able to hang out with Chris whenever he comes over to the UK. A number of UK & USA pastors spent a day with him talking through the book of Titus. Chris has remarkable insights into the intersect of leadership, culture & the Gospel. We also talked through charismatic gifts on Sunday meetings and how churches relate to 3rd generation apostles (Conversations I don't usually have!).     

Newfrontiers Wider leaders: I spent two days with other leaders from the movement discussing the apostles of 1Cor4, the future shape of newfrontiers in the UK and lessons from William Booths successors. On the second day, Dave Smith from Kingsgate Community Church joined us and talked through his leadership lessons of growing from 20 to 1400 in 24 years. Again, a very insightful & helpful time.   

A day with Ben Davies: Lastly, I spent Friday with Ben and 8 other pastors talking through leadership challenges. A Nigerian pastor from London had a stirring story of leasing a 10,000ft warehouse and favour from the local planning office for change of use. Just the story I needed to hear! Howard Kellet from Cheltenham was also there; he always lights up the room with his questions & comments!

So a delightful, but busy, 10 days and I now have lots of things to mull over in my mind. I am very grateful to God to have so many opportunities & time to learn from people who are ahead of me.

Gecko collective - winter sessions

Check this out, a chilled video by our very own Abi, Joe & James ...
The Winter Sessions - Part One from Gecko Collective on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Gumboot dancing @ RFC

Sunday's community lunch had an African theme and a traditional Miner's dance was taught. For those of us who missed it, here's a short video clip ... 

...apparently some white men in wellies can dance.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Hope Church St Petersburg

RFC have been supporting Dave & Hanna Henson and Hope Church for the last few years and next week Liz and I are travelling out there. 
They've just had an outreach event at their new venue (which is in a hotel) and gathered  around 270 people... 37 of whom made some form of response!
Let's keep praying for our friends in Russia. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Why membership?

It's never been about creating a crowd on a Sunday, it was always a desire to build authentic community. 

It's not that we value names on a list, rather a way of meaningfully expressing our togetherness.

It's not so much about believing right doctrine, much more a commitment to lovingly relate to one another. 

This Sunday Liz and I are hosting the RFC membership course. It runs in parallel with whichever meeting you attend (10:20 in the library or 18:30 @ South St). 

Let Karen (at the offices) know if you're coming ... or you can just turn up!   

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

back2basics - Jesus is God

"We are going up to Jerusalem," Jesus said, "and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise." Mark 10:32-34

No army, nation or person has changed history to the degree that a homeless Nazarene who was executed amongst thieves 2000yrs ago. Why? 

Jesus acted as God. The Bible reveals Jesus taught and demonstrated authority over sickness, creation & death; He miraculously fed people; He forgave people their sins & was transfigured before friends; He predicted his own demise, death & resurrection. Only God can do this. 

Jesus spoke as God. He left no doubt about His own claims, he never intended to. He said he came down from heaven (Jn 3v38); He was more than just a good man (Mk 10v18); That He was God (Jn 8v58); That He was sinless (Jn 8v46); He was the Son of Man (Mt8v20); He told his disciples to pray to himself (Jn 14v13); and that He was the only way to heaven (Jn 14v6); that if they killed Him he would rise again (Mk 10v34) 

Jesus was God. When you conclude that Jesus was the Son of God who rose from the dead, living ‘full on’ for Him makes sense. But do we? It has been said that the demons of the bible had a clearer understanding of who Jesus is than most Christian’s do today (Mk 1:24). We need to shape & align our lives in a way that declares Jesus is God. Many of us easily relate to the apostle Peter who made great declarations (Matt 16v16, Lk22v33) and spectacular mistakes (Mk14v68). But Peter was not written off, he was later graciously reinstated & commissioned by Jesus, a moment that carried him all the way to Rome and crucifixion (Jn21v15-19) . 

Jesus knows we are human. And His grace is sufficient for us. If you have made a mess of following Jesus then confess your sins (1Jn 1:9), turn from that way (2Tim2:19), remind yourself Jesus is God (1Pet 3v15) and ask the Holy Spirit for help (2Ti1:14). The bible teaches that Jesus is God, but who do you say He is? And will you align your life to your convictions?

RFC awkward moment of the week

The nights are drawing in so we broke out the traffic wands for the evening venue car parking team on Sunday. Justin was very enthusiatic about this and inadvertently took control of all local traffic at the corner of East St & South St (apparently cars stopped and waited until waved on by Justin).

I'm guessing there's a fine line between awkward & illegal.    

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

RFC typo of the month

Karen is out of the office this week and Josh is dealing with some of her responsibilities. Below is an extract from this weeks Lifegroup notes he sent using her email account to over 240 recipients:

Community Lunch: On the 30th October after the morning meeting (12.45-3pm) we will be holding a community lunch at the church offices. There will be an African theme to the event with bring & share food, fellowship and the opportunity to learn some traditional “Gumboot” dancing, so bring your willies .

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

RFC website 'mobile' optimised!

One of the things we need to keep working on is our communication. Given the number of smart phones in RFC we thought it made sense to optimise our website for iphones & android devices. This should make it easier for RFCers to get to the dynamic content of our website (What's on, blogs & sermons). 

Do take the time to check out on your phone and bookmark it on your home screen. If you do that it will look like an standard app and make it easier to use. 

The next time you see James Keith, do thank him for putting in the volunteer hours in to make this happen!

Friday, 7 October 2011

RFC on Radio Berkshire this Sunday

Yesterday I got a phone call from BBC Radio Berkshire asking me to be a guest on their Faith Show this Sunday from 7-8am.

Mary Green (the presenter) did a story on us in April and now they want to talk about our 10th anniversary and the growth we have seen.

Please pray that I represent us well and enjoy the experience!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Glory or Demise? Back to Basics.

Have you ever thought about the stark contrasts of Jesus' earthly life? His close friends Peter, James & John saw His glorious transfiguration, whilst Mary, Mary & other women witnessed his brutal demise. The same Jesus who spent time with the 'wrong crowd' also amazed religious teachers with his understanding and answers.

The Jesus of the bible can not be captured in a 3 second sound bite rather he needs to pursued. Sometime the best way of doing this is to go back to basics. 

Over the next few months we plan to centre our preaching fully on who Jesus is and how we are to relate to Him. 

We will be having two guest speakers in this sermon series Adrian Birks, a teaching pastor at Coign Church (Sunday 16 Oct) and Dave Bish, UCCF team leader in South West, will also be with us (Sunday 20 Nov).

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Giving for our tomorrow

This Sunday we shall be gathering at the Town Hall (10:15 for coffee & cupcakes!) and towards the end of the meeting we shall be taking up an offering for our Vision Fund.

We hope to raise at least £125,000 over the next 12 months to help us grow into the costs of leasing a warehouse, start new ministries, employ additional staff, etc. We also plan to give 10% of this away to local charities.

Here's how you can financially invest in our tomorrow:

Please pray! Pray that the required finances are released.

Please give! Either by cash, cheque or bank transfer; Or by making a pledge to give a specific amount over the next 12 months; Or a combination of both!

Please be free not to give! If you dont want to, or unable to ...but do join in celebrating with those who want & are able to give.  

We are believing God for an amazing tomorrow, so let's gather together in the centre of our town and tangibly express our love, gratitude and trust in Him.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Church offices update

Just to let you know why we need more space midweek, a 7 day snapshot:

Sunday - the Newcomers lunch was almost at full capacity

Monday - the Marriage Course was at capacity!

Tuesday - Alpha Course, 31 in total but we can always squeeze in more! 

Today - Band practice for 10th anniversary celebration.

Thursday - Toddler group is now at capacity (it has a waiting list); Lifegroup in the evening.

Friday - Band practice; our growing youth group meets upstairs!

Saturday - Women's coffee & pastries - expected to be at capacity!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

More potential venues?

We looked at four more buildings today...
We all sense that finding a building to lease will be a lot easier than getting planning consent to use it for church... but we do need to first find a building!
Please do keep praying about how much you can give to the vision fund ... 

Thursday, 22 September 2011

RFC group ride

On saturday we've planned a group ride for those of us who like the feel of smooth tarmac under our bike wheels ...

James has planned a route of approx 20 miles taking us to the north of Reading, check it out here. I suspect the pace will be around 15mph but we will slow down to look after everyone who rides out.

We are meeting at the Shell garage on Shinfield Rd, for a 9am prompt start, whatever the weather.

Hope to see you there!   

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Essential reading for all @ RFC

My outline of Sunday's sermon is below (listen to it here)

They were called by God (Josh 1v1-5) God had called His people out of Egypt and into a promised land; As God was with Moses, so he promised to be with Joshua... Incredibly we live in greater days than these!!! We are called by the same God yet His Spirit dwells within us! And we have a different calling as a people: to become a growing, Jesus-centred community; serving the town of Reading and beyond. We are a community with a God-given destiny, set apart to herald hope & usher in the kingdom of God. 

They were rallied by Men (Josh 1v10-11) Joshua sent officers through the camp to rally God’s people and they resolved to follow… But we don’t rally to a mere man (albeit Joshua) rather we follow one greater, the God-Man Jesus! We rally to His banner, we march under His orders, to extend His kingdom. Jesus has sent His officers (Julian Adams & Chris Hall) through our camp preparing us for ‘suddenlies’ of a building & new people. As pastors we sense that Jesus is rallying us through prophecy to ‘get our supplies ready, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you’. 

They responded as One (Josh1v16-17) The entire Israelite community prepared & positioned themselves to come into a good land; it required faith & trust, courage & unity to move forward as ONE people… 10 years ago we were 30 people with a sense of unity & destiny. Now we are 300. Our history teaches us that in the next decade we could double the amount of people we gather. Very soon our Sunday venues will start to tell new-comers we don’t need them because most seats are taken. We need to seriously explore leasing a building so that we can do everything from under one big roof. One of the ways we can get our supplies ready as a community is with a ‘Vision Fund’ – a fund we all give to, over & above our regular giving, to seed things like a bigger venue, new staff & ministries. 

They dedicated themselves (Josh 3v5). God’s people under Joshua dedicated themselves to God and prepared for an amazing tomorrow... How much more so should we who follow Christ?! Let’s believe God has an amazing tomorrow for us as we become a growing, Jesus-centred community; serving the town of Reading and beyond. Let’s start this next season by setting ourselves apart, to pray, give, serve, love and worship our great God.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Homework for Vision Sunday

For those who are around on Sunday could you please read Joshua 1v1-18 and 3v1-5. It would also be helpful for you to pray through these two prophetic words:

Julian Adams on Sunday 16th Jan 2011: “I really believe God is suddenly going to open up even things like land and building for you very quickly, suddenly there’s going to be a opening, suddenly there’s going to be favour even at a council level and where there’s been closed doors suddenly things are going to break open for you because there’s going to be a residential anointing almost in the building that when people come into places like this they’ll come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and I believe we’re in that season where the unusual is going to happen”

Chris Hall on Sunday 13th March 2011: “I sense that you will need to be prepared not only to think about buildings but also about how you operate because this new group (of people I am adding) will not simply be an extension of the growth you have already seen but something quite different in numbers and kind. I believe this needs to happen before the 'harvest' will come”.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Getting our supplies ready

In a few weeks time will shall be celebrating our 10th anniversary at the Town Hall. It will be a great moment to remember all that God has done amongst us. But the context of that morning is not just 'remembering' but also one of 'getting supplies ready' for our future.

This Sunday I hope to paint a compelling picture of what God has called us to as a growing, Jesus-centred community. We shall be revisiting Joshua 3 and recent prophetic words; daring to believe that God would continue to use us. 

Please pray that Sunday would be a key day for us in this next season of Kingdom adventure & advancement.

Hope to see you there!  

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Theology Matters

Mark Amos, who is a member of RFC, has made his first contribution to the newfrontiers 'Theology Matters' website.

He asks the question "How far do we create for ourselves our own personal Jesus - a version of Jesus that makes us feel comfortable and self-satisfied? Or are we genuinely seeking the real Jesus?"

To read the article click here.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A day with friends

Liz and I spent today with RFCs elders & deacons - Our community is well served by them and they are great fun to be with!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Viewing buildings

Tomorrow we are gathering the elders & deacons together. To help fuel my own faith & vision tanks, I tagged along with the RFC Facilities team as they viewed two properties at lunchtime.

The first property was a warehouse of 10, 000 sq ft subdivided into two main spaces of 6,500sqft and 3,500sqft; the carpark had space for 80 cars. It was a basic shell with offices and very easy to see how we could use this site.

The second was an industrial unit of 18,000sqft over two floors, with parking for 100 cars. It was a much more complex building to understand how we would use it ... but was thrilling to consider given all the space it offered.

We won't be making any quick building decisions but am looking forward to bringing my unique contribution to the team tommorrow!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Some dates for your diary

All these people can be contacted via the church office:

This Sunday 11th September we’ll be having BAPTISMS. If you would like to be baptised or would like to explore this as the next step for you, please contact Scott Taylor.

On Saturday 17th September there will be a QUIZ NIGHT with a meal from 7-9:30pm @ Church Offices. Tickets cost £3, please contact Roy Avis or Lesley Holland asap.

On Sunday 25th September there is a NEWCOMERS LUNCH from 12:30-3pm @ Church Office. If you are new to the church or don’t feel connected yet, we’d love you to join the pastors for lunch. Please contact Karen to book in.

On Monday 26th September the MARRIAGE COURSE will be starting, and will run over 7 Mondays from 7:30-10pm @ Church Offices. The cost for the course is £70 per couple. For more information or to sign up, please contact Lucy Thomas.

ALPHA will be starting on Tuesday 27th September. If you’d like to come or have a friend who is interested in joining the course, or would like more information, please contact Scott Taylor.

On Saturday 1st October we will be having a WOMEN'S COFFEE & PASTRIES  MORNING from 8:30-10:30am @ Church Offices. Cost will be £2, booking details to follow soon!

The next MEMBERSHIP SUNDAY is on Sunday 2nd October during the morning and evening meetings. This is an opportunity for you to find out more about the vision & values of the Church. To book your place, please contact Karen.

RUGBY WORLD CUP, Join us for a big screen viewing of what will hopefully be England’s quarter final match on Saturday 8th October at 8:30am. Bring your own snacks, teas & coffees will be provided.

If you're not a member of RFC but would like a letter about our 10th ANNIVERSARY MEETING @ Town Hall on October 9th, please let church office know your home address.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Bournemouth pier to pier 2011

Yesterday I swam the 1.4miles between the piers at Bournemouth and Boscombe. It was a charity swim for British Heart Foundation, thank you to all those who sponsored me  
A mass start of 1200 people is always going to be chaotic, so I decided to get towards the front and swim hard to avoid this. A good plan ... I was involved in very few collisions of note.
I still get really nervous waiting at the start signal ... but it's also exciting when we all head off. There was a collective cheer as we entered the water!
It was ideal swimming conditions, flat calm with the wind & current behind us. The water was clear and at one point I was able to follow a submerged cable, so even swam straight for quite a distance! 

I ended up tracking the guy below most of the way, he was easy to spot being one of the few swimmers not in a wetsuit. We sprinted to the finish together and he wanted to know our time.
I guess the question remains, what swim challenge do I attempt next year?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Introducing ...

Kathy Bond has started working in the church offices today as an Intern, her project being Youth & Children's work. She graduated this year having studied Food Science at Reading and also celebrates her first wedding anniversary this Sunday (Steve plays guitar in an RFC worship band).

Josh John has now finished his internship with us and today starts as a full time church worker with responsibility for worship & media. Next month Josh will marry Claire, who also did an internship with us! 

I am so looking forward to seeing how God uses the staff team over the coming year ...    

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

What's your RFC story?

As part of our 10th Anniversary celebration on 9th October @ Town Hall we plan to take a brief look at our history. We would love some stories of what church has meant to you over your time at RFC.

They don’t have to be just happy stories – we want stories of us laughing and weeping together – doing life together. Obviously we’ll have limited time to reflect on our history, as we have lots to pack in on the morning, but we’d like to share a few of the stories that have brought us this far. 

Please could you email them to Kerry Cowieson at to read and collate.

1st Thursday

Tomorrow is the next '1st Thursday' - a day we set aside for prayer & fasting. We plan to gather at 8pm at the church offices to worship Jesus, seek God's council & encouraged each other. 

If you are able, please try to fast, if only for one meal - it can be so helpful to let your hunger remind you of our dependence on Him ... 

I hope to see you there!  

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Come ride with us

This mornings ride (as planned by James) was a gentle 30+ miles on quiet roads north of Reading. All was very pleasant until we arrived at Streatley Hill, near Goring. Apparently it is a well known 'lung buster' a sharp incline that snakes up the side of the valley by the Thames. I can't remember the last time a hill hurt that much, I literally couldn't talk when I reached the top. 

Anyway, the point of this posting: there are a growing number of road cyclists in RFC and we thought it fun to have a group ride once a month on a Saturday over the winter. The idea being we ride 30-40 miles at a pace the slowest can comfortable hold whilst sitting within the group. James is thinking of starting around 8am, maybe later in deepest winter. 

Next year we could also ride the circular Isle of Wight route (a classic) and have a few other days out on our bikes. 

It will primarily be a social ride to help like minded people connect, NOT a hard training ride. If you are interested contact James Keith via church office or let me know your details to pass on to him.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Henry Olonga @ RFC

On Saturday 10th September Henry Olonga will be joining us for breakfast!

Henry was the first black player to play test cricket for Zimbabwe. He wore a black armband in a Cricket World Cup match to protest against the policies of his government. This act led to a warrant issued in Zimbabwe for Henry's arrest on charges of treason and forced him to retire from international cricket and temporarily go into hiding.

He is a gifted singer and has recorded CDs and about a year ago released his biography entitled Blood, Sweat & Treason. 

The cost of the breakfast is £5 so please contact Josh John to book your place early.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Tears in a big tent

Today I travelled with Pete Horne and my son to visit the camp that some of the children of RFC are attending this week.

The activities on offer were superb: archery, high & low ropes, BMX track, wood working, kayaking etc.

But my highlight was the afternoon main meeting where 190 children gathered to worship Jesus. The speaker gave a clear gospel presentation and many young hearts responded.

Tears came to my eyes as I watched children from RFC stay behind after the meeting to linger in the atmosphere of worship. To see Sarah Horne talk with them and encourage them to pray for each other was inspiring.

I am so grateful to the team of 71 helpers/leaders who have been making this happen.

We shall hear more from our children themselves this Sunday morning.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Anne says 'Thank you'

I know we are not perfect as a church ... but let me tell you about my day.

Six weeks ago Anne first came along to RFC and told her story. Her husband had just been diagnosed with cancer and the outlook was bleak. Two weeks ago he died (aged 59) and today I led the service at the Crematorium.

Miranda, Josh J & Kat led us musically and a good number from RFC managed to be there to show our support for Anne and her bereaved family.

Afterwards we hosted a wake at the church offices - Josh B had swapped his working week around to come in, set up and be available. By 6:30pm the family & friends had left and Josh B was hoovering, Kinga was washing up.

Anne's family were hugely touched by the church's big heartedness towards them. I realize that we can't all be at everything, yet I know any would have served if asked.

Every so often we get glimpses of what God has been doing in our hearts, and it is thrilling.

I am so thankful to be part of a community that endeavours to embrace relative strangers in their darkest moments ... surely the gospel is bearing fruit amongst us.

And Anne says thank you.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

beautiful & inspiring

probably the closest you can get to 'creating art' with a bike & video camera .....

Saturday, 13 August 2011

one highlight from the leadership summit

A hugely instructional moment for me - Bill Hybels gracious response to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultze' withdrawal from speaking at the Leadership Summit.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Let's try to make a bigger impact

Like many I am still trying to process the violence on the streets of our country.

It is hard to reconcile the anger felt by a community in Tottenham because of a shooting, with the appalling copy cats acts of looting across our nation. Homes and business' have been destroyed and replaced with loss, fear & anger. Is this really a true reflection of the nation we live in? I think not (at least I hope not).

Many experts will now comment on these events; hopefully looters will be brought to justice; and I trust lessons will be learnt. 

But we at RFC can play our part, at the very least through prayer. Let's pray for 'Law & order' to be established; for the families coping with upheaval and fear; for livelihoods & businesses to be quickly returned to 'normal'; for peace, forgiveness and reconciliation in the communities affected; and that it doesn't happen in our town.

Lets make an impact at work, over lunches or coffee by bringing a Christ centred contribution into the public conversation. Let's try to use this time to make a bigger impact than hooded opportunistic rioters.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Readifood @ RFC this Sunday

For those who have been around for a while, you'll know that we have green 'Readifood' boxes at our Sunday meetings each week. Readifood provide emergency food parcels for people in need across the town of Reading and we have been partnering with them for a while. Thank you to all you who put food in these boxes.

Malcolm Pierce, who leads the project, will be with us this Sunday to let us know more about what they do. So please buy a few non perishable food items this week so that we can send him off with an even bigger smile on his face!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Zdenko & Ivana

Yesterday afternoon, Scott and I pick up Zdenko and Ivana from Gatwick airport and they had dinner with family Green.

I first met them when I travelled with Martyn Dunsford to Croatia in march. Zdenko had invited Martyn over to speak in his church plant so that he could explore who newfrontiers are and what is means to be part of it (See post here).

I subsequently invited them over for a long weekend so they can visit London, be with us on Sunday and catch something of our heart.

So if you see them, introduce yourself, they speak good English and are very friendly. One of the things I enjoy about being part of God's family is the sense of unity you can quickly establish with total strangers!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A day on our bikes

Yesterday, James, Richard and I returned to the Isle of Wight to ride the circular route again. There is something very exciting about getting on the ferry at Southampton with a 60mile+ route ahead of you.

Within 7 miles Richard had his first puncture, followed by the second at 11miles. It transpired that his rear wheel had no rim tape, hence the punctures. James and I were detailed off to find a bike shop whilst Richard languished in the sunshine. After a 10 mile round trip we returned triumphant, having also purchased two additional inner tubes as a precaution.

The rest of the day continued as expected - HILLS. The islanders are keen on their hills (they don't seem to build flat roads) and you have to work hard for every mile you ride. The big hills on the south coast provide gruelling climbs but are rewarded with fast descents on smooth tarmac.

We finally arrived back at Cowes by 4:30pm, after 75 miles of undulating but glorious riding.

Already looking forward to next years return visit ...

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Impromptu RFC picnic

Great time hanging out with the guys here!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

the silver rocket

This morning was a steady ride with Craig, Richard and newboy Samuel. It was a very pleasant jaunt in the sunshine, and Richards puncture was a welcome banter moment.

On Monday, a few of us are cycling around the Isle of Wight so I have been tweeking the silver rocket. I get a worrying amount of pleasure cleaning each component.

Richard has been dispatched to AW Cycles to purchase multiple new inner tubes ... with my good friend it's more of a question of 'when' not 'if'.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Preaching styles

So often in life we do things and we're not really sure why, or whether we should make changes. I like thinking about these sort of things.

In this context, I have been giving some thought to our preaching style here at RFC. If I had to describe our style I would probably say that 'we try to let the bible speak for itself (allow the Bible to shape our message) whilst also trying to connect to people through openness'.

I do have great faith and confidence in the Holy Spirit changing lives as the Bible is read & explained. I highly value expository preaching (a form of preaching that throws light upon the meaning of a particular text or passage of Scripture). I think this is one way of expressing confidence in God's word as being sufficient for salvation & right living. 

Systematically working through extended passages or books of the bible also forces preachers to teach the whole counsel of God, not just proof texting their ideas for that message (I know that pressure!).

That said we should also value one-off more 'Prophetic / Holy Spirit prompted' messages and also thematic preaching series that address 'felt needs' within the church. Not everyone can endure 9 weeks systematically working through 1John with ease! 

The Apostles seemed to use this style of preaching, pulling together strands from  the OT to bring understanding to the gospel and the new covenant. Shockingly, at times they even misquoted or went beyond the natural reading of the text and applied it to Christ (In Mark 1v3, Is 40v3 is misquoted and God is replaced with Jesus; In Eph 4v8, Ps 68v18 is misquoted & and applied to Christ). All good food for thought to keep us humble and not overly critical of the preferences of others.

I guess the area of preaching style that I am still journeying on in all this is how we preach in a way that is clearly relevant to the life outside of our gatherings. I don't think we are terrible at that, just that we have a way to go yet ...

... happy to hear your thoughts on this    

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The gospel begins

I have always enjoyed the fast moving nature of Mark's account of the life of Jesus. This is reflected in the opening verse 'the beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God'. No reason, no genealogy, no nativity - just good news.

Mark clearly shows Jesus as both the 'Messenger' and the 'Message' of good news. Over the next weeks we shall dig into this account and hopefully gain a better understanding of this 'Godspel' and also why Mark arranged his material as he did. 

It would be helpful to read ahead each week as we will be covering a lot of ground, so here's the series plan:

The Servant who rules

24 July: Mark 1v1-13 Forerunner, Baptism & Temptation
31 July: Mark 1v14-3v6 Disciples, Miracles & Controversy
07 Aug: Mark 4 – 6v6 Parables, Boats & Unbelief

The Ruler who serves

14 Aug: Mark 9v33 – 10v52 The Teaching of Jesus
21 Aug: Mark 11-15 - The Passion of Jesus
28 Aug: Mark 16 - The Resurrection of Jesus