Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Help required

I have just returned from a visit to the new home of LifeSpring church, The Pavilion on the Oxford Road. It used to be Riley's Snooker hall but it was bought last year by the church and now they are working hard to get it opened by Easter. I am genuinely excited and inspired by the visit.
They now have decorating teams there Monday to Thursday evenings, Saturday mornings, & during week days.  If you would like to volunteer to help, Nev would like to hear from you. His email is and all tools provided.

And if you want to financially bless a great church in our town, you can buy them a new chair for their auditorium at £18 a pop ... again contact Nev.  

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Middle distance Triathlon racing

My notes from a TVT session on middle distance racing (1.3mile swim, 56mile bike, 13.1 run):

Training Ethos:
  • It's a big step up from the Olympic distance, you can't blast it.
  • 'Train to race' don't 'Race to train'.
  • Leave you ego at the door; don't be that 'training session world champion'.
  • Always ride to run strong.
  • You've got to finish on race day.
  • Aim for a '30 minute window' on your target time e.g. 5:30-6hrs.
  • Pacing pays.
  • Planning & Practice make for a happy day.
  • Practice everything – drinking, feeding and the different types of food.
  • Don't try anything new on race day.
  • Find out what the 'race day feed station' will supply, then try them before hand.
  • Don't get hungry on the bike – if you do it's probably too late.
  • Eat every 20 minutes on the bike, set your sports watch to beep at intervals.
  • Eat complex carbohydrates on the bike, avoid simple sugars.
  • Kelloggs elevensies bars & malt-loaf are cheaper alternatives to sports bars.
  • Drink enough liquid and use electrolyte tablets.
  • Practice eating & drinking whilst running.
  • Digestion is reduced when running, experiment with food types.
  • Too many Energy Gels will mess with/cramp your stomach.
  • Eat within 30 minutes after training, ideally something with protein.
  • A Nesquik Milkshake with a banana is a good recovery drink.
  • Train to a plan – but don't worry about missed days.
  • Put your plan on the fridge door – make it a family affair.
  • Use your time well, focused training is better than just training.
  • Ride the race course before hand.
  • Train to HR, know your zones.
  • If you think you are going too fast on the bike, you probably are.
  • Practice everything! Even the shorts & top you will run in. 
Race Day:
  • Aim to run within 10-15% of your ½ marathon P.B.
  • Ride your bike to HR not speed … remember you're riding to run strong!
  • Know when and where the Aid Stations are.
  • Think through if / how you will pick up food & drink on the bike.
  • Time is well spent in Transition putting on the right kit for the conditions.  
  • Stuff goes wrong, that's racing.
  • Don't panic when you puncture. Stay calm, keep your HR down, you've got a 30 minute window for a finishing time.
  • Enjoy the race, savour the finish, book the next. 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Eggs & Bacon

A Golf Club Church exists for its members; they have little appetite to engage in the communities surrounding them – that’s not what they do. But we’re not going to be a Golf Club Church rather a community on mission together.

Eggs & Bacon: Sometime we all need to rethink and reorder our lives. All of us are involved in many spheres & activities, and most of us are already committed to a few things. The question arises, are we committed to the right things? If you want to eat eggs & bacon you need the chicken to be involved and the pig to be committed. If you want to follow Jesus, He demands a ‘pig like commitment’ to being a community on mission.

The Least, The Last & the Lost: Jesus wasn’t chicken about Mission. His entire life was given over to the imperative of reconciling lost people to God. From birth to the desert; from the olive grove to the court and the cross he yielded His life to mission. He was amongst the least, the last and the lost; He related to the poor, the despised, the forgotten and the lonely; He went to the homes of the grieving, the sick and the unclean. If you are talking egg &bacon about mission, Jesus made like a pig. 

Friction/traction: what slows us down can also help keep us on track. When we see the shortfall between what Jesus was committed to and what we are committed, that should create a crisis (friction). We can use this crisis to redirect our lives (traction) so that we align ourselves for mission.  

Read John 18v1-11: Jesus ‘made like a pig’ regarding mission, He was totally committed to it. He yielded his life and agenda to God’s unfolding story of salvation in people. He gave himself to mission. We who follow Him should do likewise.

Say Yes: Mission doesn’t start with evangelism, but by saying ‘yes’ to Jesus. We said ‘yes’ to Him when we started following Him and we should continue to say ‘yes’ to his teaching & example. We are to say ‘yes’ to being a community on God’s mission. Saying 'yes' may create friction in our community but friction can help gain traction for mission. 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Let's not be complacent ...

Don't be fooled by Valentines; it's just one day but marriage is supposed to be for life. 

In case your tempted to think you'll be the exception and don't have to regularly invest in your marriage ...

  • UK divorce rates are highest in those between the ages of 40 to 44, say ONS statistics. 
  • The highest proportion is among those married between five and nine years. 
  • 34% of marriages end in divorce by the 20th wedding anniversary
  • 49% of couples divorcing in 2011 had at least one child aged under 16.
So yes, tell your spouse tomorrow that you love them and DO something that makes them feel its true. But don't let that fool you into thinking you've done your bit to build a marriage that will prevail for a lifetime.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Church as missionaries

A church that is primarily concerned with its members but is irrelevant to, and isolated from, its local community could be called a Golf Club Church. This was never God’s plan for our church.

Sacred & Secular: A mindset that divides the world into sacred & secular, holy & unholy, church & non-church is one of the prime causes of Golf Club churches. In these churches believers shift their focus to the church, leaving little energy to be salt and light in their places of work, leisure or education. Yet Jesus’ life & death was not in a temple but in the public places & spaces. His people are to bear witness to His life, death & resurrection in all of life’s arenas, there is no division between secular and sacred.     

A true pastor: Pastors are to look after believers but that is only part of their job. Jesus said ‘I have other sheep not of this pen. I must bring them also’ (Jn 10v16). True pastors create sheepfolds (gatherings) that contain different people: Pre-believers are welcomed & helped to explored the claims and teaching of Jesus. Believers who grow and are joined in heart with the members. Members who share common values with the pastors and want to be counted upon to serve, love and grow. And in the sheepfold two lines are cut into in the grass: the line of faith and the line of membership.    

The vibe: We need to retune the vibe of RFC by considering again 3 shared values we hold dearly: #1 We are saved only by grace, we contributed nothing to our own salvation. The only reason there is any difference between our attitude & behavior and their attitude & behavior is the grace of God. #2 We need the gospel as much as the pre-believer, applying the gospel daily chokes any sign of arrogance in us. #3 We are servants of our town because Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. Servants have an attitude of humility not superiority.  

Martyrs: Jesus said that his followers were to go and be his witnesses (martyrs) throughout the known world. It is thought that 10 of Jesus 12 disciples were martyred for their testimony. It is little wonder that Jesus told his followers to wait for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit to empower them to go on mission. That same gift is available to us today – the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to come upon us now to empower us for mission.  

Friday, 8 February 2013

Leadership@RFC for 2013

Last night at the members meeting we talked about the new shape of the elders/deacons/leaders framework.

We plan to jump to two morning meetings at RGS from April 14 so we have aligned venue leadership and supporting midweek ministries.

Points to note: 
  • The congregation at SSAC now has a formal core team although specific roles have not yet been defined.
  • Kat Staring will now concentrate on our ever growing midweek toddler group 'Rainbows'.
  • Josh John will lead our musicians.
  • Richard is on sabbatical until Sept (he's getting married in April).

Probably the biggest philosophical change is that the elders are no longer at the centre of everything (as previous diagrams have always shown). Our role is changing as the church moves beyond 400. 

The elders will now give more attention to RFCs footprint, foundations & direction whilst increasingly letting the deacons & leaders shape day2day activities.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Members Meeting this Thursday

Once a year we invite all the members of RFC (and those intending to become members) to a meeting where the pastors we give an account of the last financial year and outline our financial plans for the coming 1 & 3 years.

I take these evenings very seriously. The Apostle Paul notes in 2Cor 8v20-21 that he has taken care to avoid any criticism in how he handles their church offerings and takes pain to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men. This attitude captures something of my heart for our Members Meeting. 

We will also be taking the opportunity for a Q&A session on Jump Sunday - it has been a few weeks now since we proposed moving to two morning meetings from April and we would like to make the elders & deacons available to answer your questions.

I hope to see you there ...

Friday, 1 February 2013

A letter from America

Encouraging reading from across the Atlantic: 

Dear Reading Family Church. 

I am not sure if you remember me- an American student who was with y'all for about 6 months, 2 years ago. I was in a life group with Sarah and Pete Horne (if I remember correctly), Sam, Ed, Jethro, and many other lovely people. I feel compelled to write this email to let you know how much I was impacted by your gospel centred lives and community, and hated that I had not told you before now. 

At Reading Family Church I encountered the most Bible-like pursuit of God that I had ever seen (and ever have seen) among a group of believers. I felt loved from my very first day, and sought out and invested in all through my stay in Reading. I am in my last semester at University, am now married, and still find myself longing for the way truth rang TRUE in worship, in sermons, in life, at Reading Family Church.

I loved knowing that everyone else in the room was agreeing with the truth of Jesus, and delighting in him. I miss your fellowship. I hope you are encouraged, because I definitely encountered the Lord while among you, though I admit my growth was hindered by sin issues I was ignoring. I am free from my sin though! And feel so blessed by your presence in my life, if only for a short while. 

 In love, Lara Thompson

 (Now Lara O'Kelley)