Last Saturday a small group from the church set off from Haywards Heath station, at the bleary-eyed time of 7.48am to catch the train to Luton. Upon arrival we hailed a taxi which took us to Stopsley Baptist church, which was hosting the ‘2013 Engage Worship Day’ a self styled event of inspiring, training up and resourcing.
Engage Worship is a fresh expression of MWF (Music and Worship Foundation) and it aims to resource local churches for creative, innovative and world-changing worship.
The day kicked off with some great worship and singing courtesy of Sam and Sara Hargreaves and the band. Sam and Sara head up Engage Worship and have written songs such as ‘Come, you thankful people come’ ‘Jesus, lead us to the Father’ and ‘Let us kneel at Calvary’. The variety of music and singing was reflected in the variety of people who attended; different ages, races and denominations all worshipping God together and coming to learn about exciting and creative ways to be using our skills to worship and praise God.
The morning’s programme included planning and leading services, band rehearsing, orchestral ideas, worship tech, art, vocals, PA techniques and guitar skills. While the afternoon sessions where done in the format of what Engage call ‘Count Me in’, this required everyone joining a group, whether that’s a percussive band, a Gospel-style choir, a scratch-orchestra, a group of artists or by expressing yourself through creative writing. The result that followed was an act of worship which incorporated each person’s own gifting into a unified service of praise. It was really great to see everyone working together using their skills to praise God. This expressed in a small way the kind of unity in worship I think we see in Acts chapter 2:
‘All the believers were together and had everything in common. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’
Next September, I will have completed seventeen years as Vicar of All Saints, Lindfield.
It has been a great privilege to be called to serve so dedicated a church and I look forward (DV) to continuing at Lindfield for some time to come. However, in the last few years, I have increasingly felt the burden of leadership and I do believe that for the church to go forward in a significant way, I will need additional leadership support. With the extra demands of the Church Development Project, it will be very important that the whole church has clear, concerted and positive leadership.
The key function of the church leadership is prayerfully to discern God’s will for All Saints, to give direction under God for the way ahead and to lead the church in working it out. This is not a task that can easily be undertaken by a body like the PCC although, of course, it has the responsibility of leading the church in the implementation of all our mission and ministry plans.
I have concluded that a wise approach would be to call out a number of men and women, well known and respected in our church and on whose wisdom and godly counsel I can rely, to support and assist me in the task of leading the Church.
For want of a better term, I have called this an ‘Eldership Group’ and the intention is that it will meet regularly with me to pray, to discern God’s will for the church, and to formulate proposals for the PCC to consider and, if approved, help lead the church in working them out. This group will comprise Adam Pymble, Alan Carter & John Phillips (Churchwardens), Janet McLean, Sarah Beeston and Ken Markham.
We have begun to meet and I have already profited personally from the wise advice this group has given me.
My hope is that the church will be better led and that together we can go forward to implement our forthcoming new Mission Action Plan which will be published shortly.
It’s now been a year since we arrived in Lindfield, and it has flown by! We’ve had a wonderful time getting to know you all and are feeling really settled.
My first sermon was on 1 Corinthians 12 and being the body of Christ. It’s a vital picture of what we share as Christians, as it not only reminds us of our common life source, but also our interdependence.
Shortly after that, I was asked to help with our wonderful weekend at Ashburnham. One little ‘treat’ that I’d been nominated for, was to lead you all in a rap on the Friday evening. Now, I’m not famous for my lyrical rhyme to a hip-hop beat, but I was going to struggle to get out of this one!
I was asked to teach us all 1 Corinthians 12.27, from the same passage from my first sermon:
‘We are the body of Christ and each of us is a part of it - 1 Corinthians 12 verse 27’
Remember the tune?!
Well what a great reminder that verse was, as we started our weekend together. And of course it’s true all the time. If we trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, we have an eternal truth in common: we are Christ’s body.
Now the picture carries all sorts of vital themes, and one of the most important, is just how necessary we all are for one another. I’m more consciously aware of my hands than my kidneys, but I’m told my kidneys are rather important! I’d certainly miss them.
So too in church life, some of us are more noticeable than others. But we’re all equally important to the health and vitality of this part of the body of Christ - All Saints’ Lindfield.
In September, we’ve planned another weekend. This time, it’s non-residential as Ashburnham 2014 will be the next big weekend away but it’s set to be a wonderfully encouraging time of fun and fellowship as we socialise and worship God together. Please, please book to come along. It’s easy to regard such weekends as another thing in the diary to juggle, but this weekend is different; a great chance for the body to gather as one, across various congregations. If you’re thinking you might not come, you WILL be missed by the rest of us, as a body only works best when it’s all together! So whether hand or kidney, grab a form and sign up today!
( James included this story in his address to the fellowship at the church’s Annual Meeting last Monday)
On a dangerous sea coast where shipwrecks often occurred, there was once a crude little lifeboat station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea and, with no thought for themselves, went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost.
Some of those who had been saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time, money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews were trained. The little lifeboat station grew.
Some members of the lifeboat station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency hammocks with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now the lifeboat station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as a sort of club. Fewer members were now interested in going out on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. Lifesaving pictures and mementos still decorated the club’s walls and there was a lifeboat model in the room where official club meetings were held.
About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin and some had yellow skin. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where shipwreck victims could be cleaned up before coming inside.
At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities, since they were unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted that lifesaving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifeboat station. But they were finally outvoted, and told that, if they wanted to save the lives of all types of people who might be shipwrecked, they could begin their own lifeboat station down the coast. They did.
As the years went by, similar changes took place in the new station as well. It evolved into a club, and yet another lifeboat station was founded. History continued to repeat itself and on that sea coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along the coastline. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.