Growing Together Thinking about ourselves as a church and our mission

We Are Church

We are Church – we don’t go to church, we don’t attend church … we are church! Each of us contributes together, and makes up the whole. We are church because of who we are in Christ and our covenant with each other.

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New Resource: You Say … but God Says

A new set of simple meditation cards to use each day.

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Corona Lockdown – Simplicity is Key

Life as we know it is now very different. Thankfully technology is helping many stay connected, and all kinds of new ways of connecting are being tried. Yet our technology options can also bombard us with clutter! During this Corona Lockdown season we would do well to discover that Simplicity is Key

So firstly let us purposefully and intentionally throttle it! The Discipline of OFF applies now more than ever – deciding to turn off the tech for a while, not join every video call or stream on offer, not attempting to read every blog post or download every resource. It’s not that these are bad – it’s that we only need a certain number of them. So be strategic – find the few that work and throttle the rest. God may well be in the simple quiet whisper, rather than the live stream or the funky Zoom call!

Don’t trade a plethora of content & options for your own simple-yet-rich quiet times with God, times where He can whisper into your soul.

Be wise in who you try and do calls with. Yes absolutely contact different people (we can be church by being a diverse web of connections between us), but pace yourself and don’t overload. The habit of Share the Walk is about quality sharing, not splitting yourself into an infinite number of tiny pieces!

Remember that quietly praying for someone else in the church can be incredibly effective. The church ‘prayer diary’ is a great tool for this.

Your discipleship matters, it is mission critical, and in reality no one can do it for you! So it is down to you to seek to be Ever Closer to Jesus. That’s why those times in quiet prayer, calling on God, and praying for others are so crucial. There are good resources online that can help, but they can only help, it is still down to you!

The closer we are to Jesus, the more Jesus-like we become, and the more Kingdom activity we are likely to see in life around us.

By consciously throttling and limiting, deliberately being strategic in what we browse to and connect in with, we create Margin for Jesus. That’s the space left for Jesus to fill. Maybe He won’t fill it (simply giving you space), or maybe it will open up a God-appointed ministry opportunity. If you fill all your time with ‘stuff’, then you will never know!

Fill all your time with tech-provided content equals zero margin for Jesus! Be more strategic than that.

Do keep a journal – jot down your feelings, what you sense in prayer, and things that happen (good or bad). Look back on them, share with your prayer partner – use them for learning. Also do use this season to pay attention to your spirituality as a family. If you have children at home, find simple ways to include them. For example set a time once a day to pray together (even just giving thanks before a meal), or re-enact one of the stories of Jesus. This lockdown season may be your best opportunity yet!

As a church we encourage everyone to have a prayer partner (or be in a triplet). We also encourage small groups – and are encouraging people to use tech to make these happen (groups, IPODs, impromptu gatherings) at sensible frequencies. We are also looking at doing a whole church online gathering for Easter. Yet we also believe that Simplicity is Key – to pursue a simple-yet-rich spiritual life through this time, and profit greatly from it.

Corporate Gatherings

As you know we are living in exceptional times. Both the statistics and the government advice indicate that we are in the grip of a pandemic which is endangering health and life. The socially responsible thing for all of us to do is to practise ‘social distancing’ on a profound scale to slow the spread of infection and limit the health impacts.

The government advice is to curtail non-essential social contact. Basically only ‘work’ and ‘school’ fit the criteria of being allowed to continue (for the moment!).

We have taken the decision that we should suspend our corporate gatherings plus our mid-week central-building gathering activities (such as C4J, 2×2, and also Dads n Kidz) for the time-being.

The Foodbank distribution sessions are still expecting to operate as a service to the community.

Let us remind ourselves though that despite this suspension of corporate gatherings, we are still church!

Our gatherings are very important to us, but they do not totally define us. The church is people following Jesus, in covenant together, engaged in the local community! We can still be that, even with the difficulties presented by us not gathering.

We will be working up ideas and plans to help us continue to be church into this extraordinary period. Here is our current thinking:

We will be publishing a message on the church blog key-questions at least once a week, and potentially doing a short audio podcast onto the sermons audio page. Remember that you can also listen to this on ITunes and Spotify!

We would also like to encourage everyone to take initiative and contact each other using the myriad comms technology at our fingertips (i.e. ‘pick up the phone’!). Work out who has become isolated and proactively offer help. We will be working with the PCT and Leadership team to try and ensure everyone is covered … but it is a network we can all generate together!

If you need help yourself, or have concerns or questions, please do get in contact.

Finally do not isolate off your testimony about Jesus! Pray and find a quiet confidence in the Lord, and be a non-anxious presence with those you meet or are in contact with. Let them know that your basic trust is in Jesus, whatever the circumstances. Let those conversations develop, also in tandem with extending care to neighbour. Use your imagination, pray and follow the Spirit’s promptings.

This last point is important since we want the love and message of Jesus to spread! Yes we want to contain & halt the progress of covid-19, but we want to do the exact opposite with the testimony of Jesus (see Karl’s personal blog post on this).

God can do great things, even in these unusual times.

Every blessing Karl, Helen and the Leadership Team

Rhythm of Prayer and Mission

Rhythms are important to us. Intentional rhythms – rhythms that set the soundtrack to our discipleship of Jesus and therefore our whole life. They include our worship, our growth and our reaching out. They operate at various levels – as individuals, in groups or teams with others, and on a whole church scale.

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Mission Activity Teams

Within the life of the church there are several ongoing mission activities. These include 2×2, C4J, Dads 4 Kidz, and the recently added Rich Tea Club. None of these activities could take place without people dedicating their time and energy to making these happen.

These volunteers form ‘Mission Activity Teams‘ – the teams that make the activities happen. Typically they will have a core of those who take the lead in organising etc. They will also have other volunteers who help out in various ways. They may well include people who have little or even no faith but just want to help out – we are glad to be inclusive, encouraging everyone to see how faith works as we get stuck in together.

The teams set their own spirituality amongst themselves – letting God be present among them as they operate. We encourage the team members to look out for each other, support each other, and draw newcomers in. Typically members of the team will also have a link with a small group: we encourage the small groups to own or adopt a mission activity. Sometimes this gives a strong overlap between mission activity and small group. Small groups might not be just about that one activity however, and may have members who are not directly involved.

Small Groups and Mission Activity Teams relate to each other

Our Mission Activity Teams enable us to reach out as a church – they do amazing stuff week by week, and contribute to us being a church in mission across the city.

100 Year Vision

Imagine in 100 years time – assuming that Jesus has not yet returned! What would be the legacy of our life and witness today? What might be the number of people who can trace their roots of faith and discipleship back to The Countess Free Church? Prayerfully imagining the answers to these kind of questions gives us our 100 Year Vision.

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