Friday, 29 November 2013

END IT ...

Not a classic Friday youtube video but important viewing none-the-less... it made me cry with helplessness. 

This is happening in our town.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Carol Concerts - Sunday 15 December

This Sunday the tickets for the Carol Concerts are available, so now is a good time to think through who you can invite. It will be a great way to introduce your friends to our church & the real message of Christmas.
We anticipate both meeting being at capacity so if you find yourself with spare tickets, please do return them. On that Sunday there wont be any meetings at 9am,11am or 6:30pm.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Advent reading for RFC

At Easter, many of us enjoyed using John Piper's e-book as a devotional guide running up to that Sunday. He has now released a similar Advent e-book ... I have already downloaded and it looks brilliant. His introduction email is below:    
Dear Friends, 

I’m excited to announce that our Advent eBook is newly revised and ready for December 2013 — and free of charge. It’s called Good News of Great Joy. As you know, Advent is just around the corner. It starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas — this year, that’s December 1 — and is a season of preparation for Christmas Day. Our prayer is that this eBook would help you keep Jesus as the center and greatest treasure of your Advent season. The candles and candies have their place, but we want to make sure that in all the Christmas rush and hubbub, we adore Jesus above all - John Piper.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Poverty in Reading ...

Last night I attended a conference hosted by Reading Borough Council aimed at tackling Poverty in Reading. Over 200 people were in attendance at the town hall and the Christian engagement / response was self evident. 

Their working definition was helpful because poverty is relative: "Individuals, families or groups in the population can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the type of diet, or participation in the activities, living conditions and the amenities which are customary (or at least widely encouraged or approved) in the societies to which they belong. Their resources are so seriously below those commanded by the average family that they are in effect excluded from ordinary living patterns, customs and activities."    

To put numbers on that, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation was quoted as saying that the minimum income to meet the cost of living for a couple with two children in 2013 is £36,060. 

The official poverty threshold is 60% of the Median income ... so in Reading a couple with two children who have an income of less than £19,000 is below the poverty threshold.

In Reading, 6400 (21.8%) of children are living in poverty ... it costs around £160 to bring a child up to age 18 and meet their minumum needs. 40-50% of children growing up in areas of Whitley, Katesgrove & Caversham are in poverty.

4,780 pupils in Reading are eligible for the Pupil Premium (additional funding given to schools so they can support disadvantaged pupils).

Men in Whitley have a life expectancy 8.5 years less than those in Earley.

6000 households in our town are estimated to be in fuel poverty (where a household spends over 10% of its income on fuel bills).

The changes to Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit Under-occupation Reduction (bedroom tax) and the introduction of Universal Credit, the Benefit Cap and the new Personal Independence Payments (replacing the disability living allowance), are all expected to create further churn in the poverty cycle.

And to finally ground it all ... about 10:30pm last night I chatted with a rough sleeper outside Blockbuster in leafy Lower Earley. He had set up his bed next to his wheel chair, he was 28 and had a brittle bone syndrome. He was cold and I felt helpless.

But together we are not helpless ... and we have our part to play.     

Monday, 11 November 2013

Philosophy of Leadership @ RFC #6

TEARS: Speaking honestly, with love.
Leadership will inevitably involve difficult conversations , conflict or disappointment. Just as it was for Jesus, so will it be for us. In these moments we lean into Proverbs 27v6 which tells us that wounds from a friend can be trusted. 

As pastors, we are committed to ‘speaking honestly, with love’. Note we don’t say ‘speak the truth’ rather ‘speak honestly, with love’. Speaking honestly makes room for our feelings whilst acknowledging we don’t have the monopoly on truth. 

Never-the-less, we are committed to asking hard question, risking offence, saying what others don’t want to hear. Our words may produce tears; we may have it all wrong; but we say what seems right to us, until another gives their account (Proverbs 18v17). 

Good leadership requires us to love each other enough to risk tears.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Philosophy of Leadership @ RFC #5

HANDS: Leadership is key & costly
Bill Hybels hugely influenced our Philosophy of Leadership when he wrote ‘The local church is the hope of the world and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders’. Whilst this sounds dramatic, never-the-less we believe it to be true.

Individual leaders can make a big impact on church life. We highly value the gift of leadership and want to ensure our leaders have opportunities to hone their gifting. Church life needs to be well led; we don’t want to start any ministries until we have identified a gifted leader for it. 

Leadership is key yet none of us can lead without personal cost; using this gift will demand our time, energy, resources and much heartache. When leaders hear of gift days they know they have to step up with faith & generosity. When leaders see problems in church life they move towards it, and sometimes get hurt. 

Leaders experience real cost, yet they mine the gospel to gain new treasures.

More to follow ...

Monday, 4 November 2013

Philosophy of Leadership @ RFC #4

STEPS: Take people on a journey 
As pastors of the church, we don’t expect people to figure everything out quickly nor make all the changes at once. We are all on a journey and whilst we don’t want to stay where we are, neither do we want to leave anyone behind. 

Each of us has a trajectory and that is more important than our situation at any given point. This can look messy and feel uncomfortable but what is most important is to present people with next steps. As such we try to make it clear what their next step is, be that for a newcomer, a regular or a member. It could be to believe, to repent or to change; to belong, to serve or to give.

If we wanted to go quick, we would go alone. But we want to journey long, so we go with others. We are in this for the long haul.

More to follow ...

Friday, 1 November 2013

Catalyst Festival: Sat 24 - Wed 27 May 2014

For the first 5 years of the church, we had an annual camping weekend - it was a great way of getting to know one another and build memories together.

Next year we plan to take many RFCers away on the second May bank holiday weekend to be part of the Catalyst Festival (We wont have any meetings that Sunday in Reading). 
This is a gathering of newfrontiers churches that want to relate to David Devenish and the team he is gathering. Families Green & Taylor went for a day last year and it was refreshing to gather with thousands to worship Jesus!

You can either camp or stay in a B&B and we will have our own area with a large marquee for us to hang out in. Bookings are now open with the first early bird discount expiring 30 November.  

For more information & booking details follow this link