Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Our Carol Services 2014

On Sunday we hosted two Carol Services at the Town Hall ... and judging by the feedback it was a brilliant event! 
This year we took an offering for Launchpad, which support the homeless in Reading. They sent us an email yesterday ... 
Hi Liz - The figures are in, but firstly I wanted to say a huge thank you to Reading Family Church for choosing Launchpad as your Charity this year for your Carol Concerts.  It was a fabulous occasion and can only congratulate your team for hosting such an incredible evening. 

To the figures: The total raised was £2,873.91. Please pass on my immense thanks to everyone involved. 

Yours,
Jason McMahon
LaunchPad Fundraising and Relationship Manager



Friday, 12 December 2014

RFC song writer, Josh John

I don't know if you are aware, but Josh John (Staff deacon for Musicians) was asked to showcase his song 'Victorious' at the Worship Mission 2014 conference in Eastbourne a few weeks ago.

They captured it on a video, Josh is after 2:40 ... I am so chuffed for him!



VICTORIOUS

Verse 1:
You came to this world you so loved
To save us from sin
Our likeness you bore
Your gaze firmly fixed on the cross
To free captive souls
The God-man was slain

Pre Chorus:
In the grave Your body lay
Heaven waited for the third day
O what joy, for you arose
Death is beaten, sin is conquered

Chorus:
Victorious,
Victorious
Victorious
You are
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
Forever, forever

Verse 2:
Your foes lie defeated, disarmed
Your triumph resounds
It echoes through time
You see us as co-heirs, Your saints
Made Your Father ours
Our future’s with You

Pre Chorus 2:
Come and see the empty grave
Testifies that you were/are greater
Stronger than the powers of Hell
Led us into light from darkness

Bridge/Pre Chorus 3:
Now we see the risen King
Heaven’s hero, none your equal
The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords
Stands above, undefeated

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Willow Creek trip report Dec 2014

Here is my brief report from my trip to Chicago. I'm looking forward to being back around my family and RFC but was a HUGE privilege to travel and learn from these two trips. 


Background.  Willow Creek is a mega church in Chicago whose founding pastor is Bill Hybels. They have around 25,000 people attending their weekend services and their annual leadership Conference attracted 220,000 delegates in the Summer of 2014

RFC has been part of the Willow Creek Association since 2002. The purpose of this trip was to attend the Willow Creek's 'Partnering to Prevail (PtP)' Conference. PtP is an invitation only, annual five day conference attended by 150 international delegates. It is a behind the scenes look at Willow Creek with most of the speakers being from their executive team. I was one of 10 pastors from the UK.

Summary of Conference.
They were main sessions on the following areas: Creative Arts, Human Resources, Integration, Evangelism, Generosity, Children's Ministry, Justice & Compassion and Finance & Governance. Scott McKnight (theologian & college professor) led a half day on Kingdom & Church in the New Testament. A day was spent with Gordon MacDonald on 'Self Leadership' and the final day was Q&A with Bill Hybels.

All breaks and meal times were spent meeting with and learning from fellow delegates, thereby helping to process the learning.

Although it was the shortest session, Shauna Niquist (Bill Hybels' daughter) on raising a pastors kid had something for all parents so have included her 10 points below.

Points for further reflection & discussion.
How do we move Social Justice & Compassion from the fringe of RFC to one of our core values / activities? (We seem stronger on gospel proclamation than outworking gospel ethics).

How can we make a growing church feel like a small church? (Where members are known, loved & involved).

How do we encourage the artisans within RFC in their creativity and engagement? (The Arts can create unique moments of encounter and clarity)

What can we do to broaden and deepen both 'Evangelism' and a 'Generous lifestyle'? (Evangelism is more than Alpha; RFCers need to know what we want FOR them not FROM them).

What adjustments to our leadership culture do we now need to make?


10 lessons from a pastors kid - Shauna Niquist.
# Be the same person at home as in the church.

# 'Realise' and 'Release' the expectation on your kids. (Reality is more important than perception).

# Walk your faith journey in front of them.

# Let them see what you love about the church and protect them from what is hard about church. Children are great perceivers but bad interpreters.

# Let them find their own spot to serve.

# Give up on normal weekends and holidays and start meaningful rhythms and transitions for your family. Be free to enjoy the lifestyle.

# Treasure alone family time. Get bored together.

# Make your home a safe, off the record space, that is consistent.

# Invest in mentors that will mentor your kids.

# Never break relationship with your kid to show the church you can do tough love.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

South Africa trip report - Nov 2014

I produced this report for my fellow elders and the deacons but think it is helpful to distribute it to all at RFC...

Background:
Sitho & Miranda moved to Joburg in Aug 2013 with a view of opening up a mission partnership for RFC over the coming years. They have now settled their family, joined CityHill Church and lead into CityHill's Impilo partnership (see below).

Sibs Sabanda first preached at RFC in 2002. RFCs first mission trip to Zimbabwe was in 2007 when we partnered with Sibbs and the church he was leading in Harare. In 2010, Sibbs moved his family to Joburg and in 2012 launched CityHill Church. In 2013 a team from RFC returned to Harare to support a conference that Sibbs was hosting for churches relating to him.

Impilo is a Christian NGO based in Joburg that provides foster homes for AIDS orphans. This is done in partnership with churches, CityHill being one.

The purpose of my travel was to explore a 2015 mission trip for RFC and a potential partnership between RFC and Impilo.

Headlines of trip 19-26 November:
CityHill church in Joburg: I preached at their Sunday meeting on Matt 18:15-17. I also had several meetings & meals with their leadership team. They gather approx 100 on a Sunday, have a good venue and I helped them work through team dynamics.

PJ Smythe, Joburg: I had 3hrs with PJ in his home, building a friendship. PJ is a newfrontiers apostle based in Joburg.

Hans Lodder & Impilo Joburg: I had a morning with Hans who is the CEO and Director of Impilo, which provide foster homes for aids orphans. Sitho has worked with him for a year and I was taken on a tour of their projects and he asked RFC to consider partnering with them.

A township church in Capetown: This church is overseen by Sibs and I spoke at their leadership training day on 'Cultivating the garden of your soul'. I also spent time with their pastor.

Evan & Tracy Rogers, Capetown: We stayed overnight at their house and I ran a half marathon with them! They are planning a move to NewYork mid 2015 to support a newfrontiers church plant there.

Next Steps:
#1 Sibbs and their leadership have indicated it would be helpful for my gifts to play into their team for a season. They will come back with suggestions for us to consider.

#2 Sitho is confident we can partner with Impilo / CityHill for a 8-10 day Mission Trip 2015 in Joburg. Sitho to propose a plan / dates for us to consider.

#3 Depending on the appetite & outcome of the mission trip, RFC to explore partnering formally with Impilo through Sitho.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Why membership?

I am updating the RFC Membership Course notes for this Sunday and was happily reminded why we value membership. I thought existing members would also benefit from a reminder...


Why membership?
Membership is not a biblical command but is a pragmatic and helpful response to our individualistic and fractured culture (and 2000yrs of church history has also played it's part in creating division!). Membership can help us to publicly expresses both the value and the desire to be part of a community.

It signals your expectation to be cared for by the church and your desire to play your part in meeting the needs of our community with your time, talents & treasure. Membership gives you permission to speak into church life and gives others permission to speak into yours.

Our expectation for church members is four fold:
·         They desire to grow in their ‘Joy & Satisfaction’ in God.

·         They desire to grow in their ‘Relationships’ with others in the church.

·         They desire to grow in their ‘Acts of Service’, especially for fellow members.

·         They desire to grow in their ‘Stewardship’ of their time, talents & treasure.
  

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Building & Vision Fund update

Building Update: You may well be aware that we have recently been exploring purchasing a warehouse in the south of Reading. Three years ago we formed a Buildings Team led by Ian Anderson and recently they have been looking at 4 Acre Rd, the building below. I thought would be helpful to share a summary of their findings: 

'Over all its big, (16,000 sqft plus two mezzanine floors each 8000 sqft) and we could make the space work; the offices are ready to go and still have room for more initiatives. We could use the shed at the back for some social action or employment project. However we are paying for about 8000 sqft of mezzanine floor space that we will take out, and there will be a major project to put in heating lighting, fresh air, air conditioning, kitchen, toilets, showers etc.

In summary the Buildings Team have some reservations due to difficulties with the change of use, parking, the cost and value, and also location but we propose to the the elders that we take this to pre planning stages. This would give us a better understanding of the councils views in the south Reading area, and give a clear indication to them that we want a building of our own.' 

So the next step is to formally talk to the town planners at Reading Borough Council. We haven't made an offer for the building, nor have the reservations & difficulties gone away but it seems the next best thing to do.


Vision Fund: We are now in our 4th cycle of raising £100k a year for our Vision Fund. Over the two Giftdays on 19th & 20th October £45,798 was given and a further £43,000 was pledged! This is a strong start to this cycle of fund raising.

Thank you to everyone who has given and will be redeeming pledges ... surely a building isn't too far away now!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

We can't stay here

Our town is growing.  250,000 people live in and around Reading and that figure is steadily increasing. New homes are being built, as are schools, roads and rail-links to support this. Reading University is growing in academic stature; it attracts more and more overseas students who then return to influence their home nation. Our town is an expanding ‘mission field’ and we get to co-labour with Jesus and bring in His harvest.

But we do face a few logistical challenges: Our 11am Sunday meeting is beginning to hit its capacity (especially in rooms for children’s work); Reading Girls Schools is getting a new building but we have been told we won’t have any onsite storage; Our mid week meeting rooms are regularly at capacity; We are unable to pursue some of the Social Justice needs of our town because we have offices not a community building. And these are just some of the challenges we face!

However, we believe God has called us to be a growing community and that He will keep adding people to us. Having the right venue/building in the right season of a church’s life makes a huge difference to the effectiveness of fulfilling our calling. After 13 years, the time has come to find a space that can become a 'Home' to our church and a 'Hub' for our Mission; a 'Home' where we can gather in and be ourselves; and a 'Hub' from which we bring God’s Kingdom to our town. 
Giving to our Vision Fund will help make this happen. Please play your part by giving into the Vision Fund. We now need ‘a Home & a Hub’ that helps us reach the town of Reading and beyond.