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. 

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!


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

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...

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.

Great pub walk

Yesterday, Liz and I drove 30 minutes and did the walk outlined here. It is a very pretty walk with great views of the Chilterns & River Thames ... we also passed a massive farm of free range Turkeys ...their days are numbered!
We treated ourselves to lunch in the Bell & Dragon on Cookham high street; good ale and fab food. 

If you have a morning free and like pub lunches, give it a whirl.  

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

#trending - new sermon series

On Sunday 26th October we will be starting our new sermon series looking at current cultural trends from a biblical perspective.

Topics will include Social Media, Sex, Pornography, Homosexuality, Singleness and Identity. These issues affect many of us, both at home or at work.

Do consider inviting a friend along, we shall try to present each of the topics in a way that makes them accessible to our friends not yet following Jesus.

If you have a specific question on one of the topics let me know and I will pass it on to whoever is preaching.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

This dad can still dance...

Last night was the annual awards dinner for my Tri Club. Whilst I didn't get an award this year, my dance moves were legendary...

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Terry Virgo @ RFC

On Sunday 12 October we have our good friend Terry Virgo with us at all three meetings (9am, 11am & 6pm).

If you don't know who Terry is, he is the founding father of Newfrontiers, a family of 800 churches of which we are part of. He has preached with us on a number of occasions and I was delighted when he offered to be with us again.
Please do get to one of the meetings to hear him preach, it will do you much good!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

RFC in the news

'Cake, canap├ęs and cheer were in order as Reading-based initiative "Starting Point" celebrated its second birthday with a reception at the Civic Centre which was attended by leading members of the Mustard Tree Foundation, Reading Family Church, in addition to MP for Reading West, Alok Sharma. Business leaders and members of different community groups from across the county were also in attendance'.<full article here>

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A message in the offering ...

This message was with a cheque in the offering on Sunday:

“I sowed a seed of £200 a few months ago, believing in God to answer my prayers. That seed has been fruitful and the Lord has answered my prayers, now this £300 is my thanksgiving to God for being so faithful to me, and thank all the pastors for leading me to know God more.”

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Vision Fund Update

It’s that time of year when I write to update you on RFC's search for a permanent venue. RFC has continued to grow, and now gathers 400 people over three congregations on an average Sunday.

We've been diligently saving towards a deposit for our first home, although we haven’t yet found a suitable building to lease or buy. However, we have celebrated as we've seen God's provision for other local churches; LifeSpring’s new building is now fully operational, and our friends at Vineyard have recently moved their Sunday meetings to their newly acquired campus.

We can learn from these good news stories: both of these churches had around £500K in their building funds at the start of negotiations. Here at RFC, we currently have £276K in our Vision Fund. Thank you to everyone who has faithfully given into the Vision Fund over the past three years. The total given to date amounts to £305K, of which we are delighted to have given away 10% - primarily to help finance Starting Point Reading (SPR). (We will be celebrating the second anniversary of SPR on Wednesday 24th September at 6pm in Reading Borough Council offices. All at RFC are welcome to come along!)
To help us move towards our goal of a permanent home, we are setting aside Sunday 19th & 26th October as Gift Days for our Vision Fund. These Gift Days are part of our plan to raise another £100K over the next 12 months. This won't be easy: the initial excitement is long gone, and the hard work of stirring our faith and generosity might seem familiar and boring. But this is an ancient story: it was in the middle of a hard desert journey that God’s people were most tempted to give up. So please pray and consider your role in helping to raise another £100K for our Vision Fund.

As a church community, we have a 13 year history of faith-filled, joyful, generous giving; we have endeavoured to steward our time, talents and treasures for God's glory. So why give again? Because it's prudent to keep saving up for our first home. After talking to the leaders at LifeSpring & Vineyard, we have concluded that we need substantially more money to be taken seriously and to be able to move quickly when the opportunity for the right venue finally arises. 

I am asking all of us to give generously on the Gift Days for our Vision Fund - not because we have to, but because we want to. So if you don’t want to give, or aren't able to give this time, please be released from this request for finances and instead pray and rejoice with those who want and are able to give.

Friends, God is with us. A church that gathers 400 people on a Sunday, and is still growing, must surely need a permanent home at some point. Only God knows when, but we can play our part in preparing for that exciting day.

(On behalf of the elders & deacons)

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Family Green update

I can't quite believe how quickly August has come and nearly gone ... so much has happened. 

Joshua & Lucy (along with 6000 other young people!) really enjoyed the youth festival 'Newday'. One of their highlights was camping alongside 17yr old Martha Collison who is currently on the Great British Bakeoff. This has made Wednesday nights 8-9pm compelling viewing!

Joshua turned 16 (which feels like a significant milestone), did really well in his GCSE's and will start his A levels in September.   

Our family holiday to Lanzarote was brilliant: the villa & pool was fab, the location perfect and the sun shone! I introduced the children to snorkelling and to our delight the sea was warm and teaming with fish. Our local beach / quay was also a hot spot for 'Dive Schools' so we often snorkelled over divers as they did their drills on the sandy bottom! Joshua perfected the art of 'bombing' and dived the three metres off the quay (I could only find the courage to jump in!).
We visited the Volcanic National Park and also some stunning wild beaches. There was plenty of time to read, I got through all my books plus one of Liz's! It was a holiday of family games, building memories and posing for photographs! 

And now our thoughts are turning to the new school term ...buying uniform, re stocking school bags & pencil cases. 

Happy days.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Cultivating a generous heart - Sunday 3 Aug

In case you didn't get one, here is the handout from today's Sermon... 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Proposed Deacons

In case you missed this last Sunday, we are proposing four more people to serve as Deacons within RFC. We asked that over the next 6-8weeks you to test them against the criteria laid out in 1Tim3v8-13. 
Scott, Richard or myself would like to hear feedback on them, either agreeing & affirming or alternatively with any concerns you may have.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Kingdom #Selfies

As a church, we want to keep being creative in the ways that we communicate and enjoy the truth of the gospel. We are currently developing a small film project about Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God and we would love your help! In a world that is acquainted with ‘selfies’ and ‘vlogs’ – we know that most of us are happy to video ourselves!! 

Could you video yourself on your phone speaking, or reading one of the passages about the Kingdom of God (click here see suggested verses). We would like you to take your films in everyday places; in the supermarket, at the office, at the school gate, in the park. If you could then send your video to Josh in the office, he will work his creative magic on pulling a film together! 

Can’t wait to see what and where you film!

Friday, 4 July 2014

RFC Leadership Summit 2014

Last year we gathered over 120 people at Wokefield Park for our inaugural Leadership Summit – I can still remember the buzz and the sense of God’s presence as we worshipped together. It was a brilliant day. Since then we have established 3 congregations, added dozens of new people into the life of our church and kept smiling! Whilst we have much to thank God for, our ‘reservoir of Leadership’ is running low and needs refilling / investing in. 
As such, I would really like you to attend our Leadership Summit on Saturday 27th September. All Leaders need to be envisioned, encouraged & equipped and I trust this day will serve us in this. If you are an established leader in your work, leisure or church life please keep investing in your leadership gifting. If all this is new to you, please don’t discount yourself but book in and start exploring!

This year we have decided not to go back to Wokefield Park but rather use our own offices, allowing us to have two streams to the summit (And the £2k cost savings was used to offset the Madejski Stadium celebration!). Lunch & refreshments will be provided and each delegate will receive a book. Babes in arms are welcome but unfortunately we are unable to offer child care.

We must fan into flame the leadership gifts within the church and help new gifting emerge. Please consider coming along to this day and book in ... There’s always a cost to leadership!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Dad & Lad in the Lakes

Joshua has now finished his GCSE's so last week we went on a 4 day adventure to the Lake District. We stayed at a brilliant B&B which also provided a hearty packed lunch & filled your flask. Perfect.
I wanted to introduce Joshua to scrambles high up on the fells, the nearest being Blencathra via Sharpe Edge ... an exposed ridge scramble with a 200m drop either side. Wainwright noted: the crest is sharp enough for shaving and can only be traversed at some risk of damage to tender parts. Great views if you could stomach looking down! 
We also went for a scenic 20 mile ride from Keswick around Thirlmere lake via St John in the Vale - a delightful route.
The highlight of the trip was Helvellyn via Striding Edge & Swirral Edge, a classic Lake District scramble. Sadly the cloud came in so views were limited but the sense of adventure / danger was heightened .. for me at least!

Friday, 20 June 2014

RFC at the Mad Stad

In case you missed this ... RFC dancing with Evan Rogers at the Madejski Stadium!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Jesus is building His church

In Oct 2001, 37 adults & 10 children posed for a photograph as they opened the doors of Reading Family Church. Last Sunday, 347 adults & 81 kids celebrated Jesus in the conference suite at Madejski Stadium.  
How did that growth happen? 1Peter2:3-4, 9-10 explains how ... Jesus is building His church.

To understand the imagery of these versus, it is helpful to remind ourselves of King Solomon’s temple. His Temple was to be a permanent place where God dwelt amongst His people and was a potent symbol of divine favour. This temple was to be built with stones made perfect before being brought into God’s dwelling place. However, the basis of Mankind’s approach to this temple was obedience to God’s Law, which effectively put God out of reach.

However, King Jesus’ temple is better because it is built from ‘Living Stones’ and He dwells within His people (not just amongst them). This temple was more than a symbol, it was a promise of an age to come. Better still, ‘living stones’ come to him ‘imperfect’, and Jesus’ perfection is credited them! As we come to Jesus each & every day, He builds us into a Spiritual House; a Holy Priesthood who bring Spiritual Sacrifices. Best of all, the basis of Mankind’s approach to this temple is the grace of God!

These living stones are a chosen people; a royal priesthood, a holy nation, belonging to God. Their temple treasury is Jesus; they delight in proclaiming the excellent sufficiency of Christ. Living stones who have received mercy now work to offer and give mercy to others.

We heard from two living stones (Grant & Becca), 2 stories out of the hundreds who gathered. Can we believe for a day when we are 1000 such stories? 

A day when RFC is a thousand living stones being built together as a people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices for the glory of God? 

Let’s believe/give/work for such a day!!!

Sitho & Miranda - Video update

In case you missed our 'One Church' celebration on Sunday ...

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Partnering with the Catalyst network

From a quick reading of Colossians 4v7-18 we can easily see the warmth of relationships between the Apostle Paul, his delegates & the churches he was working with. The words are ones of fellow workers, friends and beloved family members of God’s household. What was true for them is also something for us to pursue.
As pastors, we have always looked to Terry Virgo as a modern day apostle (he founded Newfrontiers). Now in his 70’s, Terry recognised other apostles who serve the UK and asked us to consider relating to one of them. For the past 2 years we have been working this out and felt joined to David Devenish who leads the Catalyst network of Churches (also part of Newfrontiers).

David has set out four words that capture the distinctive of the Catalyst network, and they resonate well with us:  

Word: the Bible as our Final authority; Defines what we believe & how we are to live. Equip people to enjoy it for themselves; To see & treasure the gospel in it and to communicate it relevantly.

Spirit: Holy Spirit empowered lives; Making room for His Voice, Presence & Gifts;  Looking for His activity in the Church, our Communities, the Nations.

Church:  Pursuing NT Church life; God’s Family & warm relationships; Serving one another & reaching out.

Mission: Being a Blessing to every part of society; Deploying our skills & passions for the Common Good;  Bringing the Good News of Jesus & Salvation; Especially to the unreached.
I have personally known David for 8 years, have been to his home and he to mine (his wife Cilla weeded our back garden!). He has preached in Reading and I have travelled to Crimea, Dubai and Turkey with him. We have partnered with him in St Petersburg by supporting Dave and Hanna Henson. 
Scott, Richard and I are delighted to be part of his apostolic sphere.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Top Tips for Catalyst Festival

With just a few days before we pack our cars & head off to the Catalyst Festival, I thought I would share a few pearls of wisdom:

#1 Don't drink any liquid after 5pm ... or you'll face the 'long walk of the full bladder' at 2am.

#2 Take a torch, we've got 66 tents/caravans on the RFC site and 2am is not the time to make a new friend as you fumble into their temporary dwelling. 

#3 Don't assume everyone is having a good time except you. We only see their upbeat facebook/twitter quotes BUT I suspect everyone has a wobbly moment. 
#4 Take wet weather gear, we're camping in the UK. Enough said.

#5 Decide to be friendly to people who seem weird. Pretty soon everyone will seem weird because they're friendly. The perfect spiral.

#6 Jesus is supposed to be centre stage, not us. Think about that long enough and lots of stuff will get simpler and more bearable. 

#7 Avoid boredom, play Festival Bingo by spotting the people below... 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Lakes with mates

Last Friday 8 of us from my Tri club went to the Lake District with our bikes for a long weekend. 
We stayed in a camping barn (Pyjama coughs and snoring was plentiful) which was pretty basic but very cheap! 
The weather can best be described as 'heavy downpours with a few sunny spells', it was more wet than dry. 
It was a great few days away, although some of the mountain passes nearly killed me due to the steepness of the climb followed by the sharpness of the descent! 
There were coffee stops, a few punctures and many sores legs. Can't wait to do it again sometime!
 Obviously we had to make time to clean our bikes!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Vision Fund update

In Oct 2011 we started our Vision Fund, believing that God will provide for us our first home. 

We set ourselves the goal of raising £100k each year (on top of our regular giving) until the building was ours. We also said we would give away 10% of whatever comes in for the Vision Fund. 

On Sunday I gave an update on how year three is going: So far we have raised £74,971.62 with another £12,501.25 of pledges that still need to be honoured. We have given away £10,000 of Vision Fund tithe to Starting Point Reading

Assuming all the pledges come in, that leaves us with £12,437.13 still to be raised.

The plan therefore is to have a special offering at our celebration at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday 8th June. If every person gave £20 (+ Gift Aid) on that morning, we would cover the Vision Fund shortfall for this year.

Of course, come October 2014, all is reset and we shall try to raise another £100k ... but let's think about that after the summer break!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

First Tri of 2014

Yesterday, my son Joshua and I competed in the Hart Sprint Distance Triathlon, a pool based local race (400m swim, 20km bike, 5km run).

Joshua has proven himself to be faster over individual 400m swims and 5km runs, but we have never raced a 'Dad v Lad' Tri before. So there was a lot at stake!

It was perfect racing conditions (sunny, warm, light wind) making it a very pleasant experience (it has been cold and wet in previous years).

Our swims started at the same time but in different lanes and just as I turned to swim my last length, I saw Joshua out of the pool and running to his bike ... ARRGGHH!

Thankfully I had practised my swim/bike transition extensively and did my fastest yet. It didn't take too long before I caught up with him. Phew!

As I passed him I was A) pleased to have caught up; B) delighted we do something together we really enjoy; and C) Reminded that youth is no substitute to years of training/experience ;-)

Both our runs went well, Joshua really enjoyed the cross country course with it's deep stream crossing. We were also heartily cheered home by our fellow TVT club mates.

For the record, I won our inaugural 'Dad v Lad' race (probably the only time I will ever beat him) so am enjoying the heady glow of beating a future champion.

My time was 1:05:47 (3 minutes quicker than last year), placing me 33rd out of a field of 396 ... hooray!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Catalyst is coming ...

We have taken delivery of some feather banners to mark our camping zone at the Catalyst Festival ...
There's still time to book yourself in.  

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Road trip to Bedford

One of the consequences of jumping to two mornings meetings is the pressure of time, resulting in our sung worship sometimes feeling 'hurried'. 

Now seems an apropiate point to look at this. We thought that if we took our worship leaders to another church who have two mornings meetings, we could observe how they do it and learn from them.

So, on Sunday morning, seven of us got into cars and headed up the M1 to Bedford, to experience the worship at the King's Arms church.

It went well.

As their first meeting started, I reminded our gang to "not get lost in worship but to remain objective" ... but let's just say I failed to do that!!!

It was brilliant to quickly feel at home, even though the songs were largely unfamiliar. It felt unhurried and intimate; less contributions than expected but God's presence was tangible. At the end they had a prayer/prophetic team who ministered to us/others. 

Afterwards we went to Burger King to share notes (the Angry Whopper was very tasty). We came up with a few lessons learnt and associated actions, hopefully we will be able to outwork these over the next few months. 

We have much to learn from The Kings Arms and yet we were all grateful for where we are as a church. 

We are really well served by our musicians, lead worshippers and worship leaders, do personally thank them next time you meet one!      

On a different note, they have a fabulous 30,000 sqft warehouse which is the footprint I have been asking God for when we get our building. It was very stirring to be given a quick tour ...

Friday, 25 April 2014

RFC @ the Madejski

Its been a year since we jumped to three congregations over two sites ... creating space & fuel for our growth momentum. It is hard work and we under estimated the complexity, but God has grown us through the process.

Twelve months have passed and we have so much to celebrate and give thanks for. I can't imagine us only having one morning meeting now, choice is good! 

On Sunday 8 June we have booked the conference centre at the Madejski Stadium to gather all three congregations to celebrate together. 

Evan Rogers will be leading worship, there'll be personal stories and a full children's programme. The venue seats 500 and we plan to fill it, so put the date in your diary and come ready to enjoy a taste of our future.