Monday, 29 April 2013

Lunchtime with Liz

The view from the garden of the Bull & Butcher in Turville

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Training update

A few people have been asking about how my training is going and what races I plan to do this year. So here goes:

I am currently training 8hrs a week, over 5 sessions, eating well and sleeping soundly. 

My first race is a Sprint Triathlon on 6th May which is pool based (400m swim, 21km bike, 5.5km run). I raced this last year and pretty much did everything wrong yet had great fun. It's also a big race for our club and I want to do much better!

My key race for 2013 is on Sunday 16 June, which is a Half Ironman (1.3mile swim, 56mile bike, 13.1mile run). It still feels daunting despite the amount of training I've completed. These distances are OK but I am chasing a finishing time between 5:30-6hrs. 

I may do one more Olympic distance race but will wait to see if my enthusiasm wanes post June. 

One of the benefits of all this activity is not just being able to eat lots but also spending lots of time with friends at TVT - it's good to be with those who enjoy what I enjoy (bikes, swimming, exertion & racing).

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

leadership at RFC

I have tasked myself with writing a short paper for my fellow elders exploring how we develop existing & future leaders of RFC. The first page is below ... 

The aim of this briefing is to capture where RFC is regarding leadership structure and challenges we need to face to grow beyond 400 people. 

#1 Our Leadership structure:
Jesus (Ephesians 1:8-23) Jesus is the head of this church. This is to be regularly acknowledged by the elders & deacons through our vision, values and activities. 

Apostles and Prophets (Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12:27-28) Both ‘small a’ apostles and prophets are gifts from the ascended Christ; they help lay & relay foundations to ensure we stay on course. This is worked out primarily within the newfrontiers family of churches. 

Elders (1 Timothy 3: 1-7, Titus 1: 6-9) The elders (“pastors”) are appointed by God to shepherd and lead the church. They represent the primary leadership and meet to discuss doctrine & direction, as well as pastoral situations & church discipline. They endeavour to preach, teach and counsel for the glory of God.

Deacons (1 Timothy 3: 8-12) Deacons serve as ministry leaders within the church body, assisting & implementing the vision & direction outlined by the elders. 

#2 Our Context: 
RFC was planted 12 years ago and is now a multi congregation church, gathering approx 300 adults & 80 children, over 3 meetings, across 2 sites. We have a membership of 200 adults, 18 life groups and 2100sqft of leased offices. Sunday venues are now between 45-55% of capacity. Reading has a population of ¼ million, an established university and net inward commute.
  • Elders: Two on staff, two in the market place. No longer at the centre, nor managers of church life; now at the foundations.
  • Deacons: 16, all volunteers; now at the centre of church life.  
  • Staff team: Full time elders x2, finance/admin x1, worship/media x1. 
  • Interns: Established intern program serving kids, youth & students.

 #3 Our Challenges:
  • Develop ‘leadership reservoir’ in RFC: elders, deacons, lifegroup leaders 
  • Identify and progress emerging leaders. 
  • Leading into diversity: avoiding a white British leadership enclave.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Thinking differently about charitable giving

It's good to have our thinking challenged by those outside of church. I found this very stimulating even though bits of it make my blood boil... so hang in there and hear him out. Would love to hear your thoughts on it ...

Friday, 19 April 2013

Ruth: new sermon series

Ruth is one of those books of the bible that you think you know really well because it is short, punchy and has a cracking story line. 

And yet there is always some new treasure to discover...

One of my great friends, Dave Bish, seems to be constantly digging around in Ruth and finding Gospel gems (check out his blog).

So I thought it would be good for us to spend a few Sundays mining it's rich seams of grace & redemption.

The series starts this Sunday and it would be beneficial if you can read chapter one before you come!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Thoughts on Jump Sunday

I guess like many RFCers, I came home with a big smile on my face. 

Somehow we made jumping from 2 to 3 congregations look easy and effortless. We jumped evenly at Reading Girls (157@9am, 133@11pm) and at South St we gathered 64 in the evening. Once the students get back we can see how the attendance numbers settle down across the 3 meetings. 

My son left the house at 7:15am cycling to the school to help PA set-up and came home at 1pm buzzing. As a parent of a teenager, church doesn't get better than that!

It was really difficult to find fault with Sunday morning. Yes, we need more chairs out and adjust the layout in the hall. Yes, tea & toast also needs a little attention and we need to do pack down a lot quicker. But those are details we expected to find. 

Sunday evening initially faced many challenges, not least spinning up new bands and PA & Lighting teams. Yet the congregation at South Street rose to the task and served us all so well. It was church as usual, with new faces being drawn into the growing sense of momentum & community  

It was a brilliant day in the life of the church. There was faith, excitement and a desire to keep doing new things. RFCers really are exceptional at serving and embracing acts of faith. 

We can now put out 350 chairs for the 9 & 11am meetings and 124 at the 6:30pm. That's a lot of seats for new people to come and sit on.

Lets see how Jesus uses this to build His church.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

RFC business directory

Now that we have jumped to three meetings it will become increasingly difficult to know who has a business or is a tradesman in RFC. To help address this, we are piloting a directory of businesses, linked from our website resources area... click here to view it

Whilst we cannot guarantee the quality of the work, everyone listed is in good standing within the church. Please contact Josh John if you would like to add your business details to the directory (only requirement is that you are a member or anticipating becoming a member).

Please don't assume 'mates rates' as they need to make a decent living!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Think ...

We are starting a new initiative next week called 'Think' which has its roots in our Biblical Thinking Forum.

The idea is to listen to a short talk (not too complicated or conceptual) which tries to answers a topical question. This will then be discussed sitting around tables drinking coffee! 

The question next week is "Is there any truth outside of Christianity?" 

Mark Amos will be hosting the evening (and speaking) and I trust it will be very stimulating!

All are welcome, 8pm at the church offices on Monday 15 April.   

Friday, 5 April 2013

the last @ 10am?

This Sunday will be the last one with a meeting starting at 10am. 

12.5 years ago we started meeting a 10am at Reading Girls School and the congregation has steadily grown to an average of 286 in the mornings and 64 at South Street in the evening. 

Ideally we want to lease/buy a bigger venue and do everything under one roof but we simply cant find somewhere suitable. With the morning venue approaching capacity we are having to jump to two morning meeting (9 & 11am).

Its a strange feeling. I am energised by the reality that Jesus is building His church and we are responding to that. I feel genuinely excited and that RFC has taken on a life of her own.

But it's a lot of change and I feel relationally a bit overwhelmed. I simply don't have the time or energy to keep up with all the people I have met over the past 12 years!

I guess its one of those tensions in God's Kingdom albeit on a micro scale. Living with expansion/bearing fruit yet trying to do that with a genuine sense of family/community. It's a tension you shouldn't try to solve.

I am hoping that halving the numbers of the morning congregation will make it easier for people to connect, faces should be more recognizable. Certainly that is the case in the evening; gathering with 60 others is really great, you can actually know everyone's name!

I don't know if we will ever go back to 10am meetings at RGS, it may happen over August, but I suspect we wont. We will eventually get our own venue and may be able to gather 600+ ... well have to figure out what to do then.  

Meanwhile, I do know that this Sunday is the last one at 10am and I will relish it whilst looking forward to Jump Sunday on April 14.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Club banter

I was asked to write a race report for the Reading 1/2 Marathon for the TVT club newsletter which came out last weekend. 
Unknown to me the editor, my mate Dave, added the cartoon above. I didn't look at emails over the weekend so I was unaware of the 'addition' but I did get quite a few comments at the club social on Tuesday ...