Thursday, 20 March 2014

I am currently taking a break from his blog... We are in yet another new phase of church life at King's Church London, this time undertaking a major staff and team restructuring in order to adequately respond to the demands that the blessings of growth and expansion of our current three sites is placing upon us.

The posts loaded here and the resource papers alongside will continue to be available for reference. Thanks for your interest - you might also like to look in on us at my regular King's blog - this will give you some idea of current developments for this wonderful and diverse community of God's people based in south-east London but reaching out to London and beyond!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Times and seasons...

This blog, covering a wide range of aspects of church leadership has appeared regularly since October 2008 - I trust that regular visitors/recipients have found content that has been worth reading and that has proved useful to them in their leadership. Everything that has appeared here has been shared from my own experience or from the lives of other leaders who have proved themselves worth following – Bill Hybels, John C Maxwell, Jim Tomberlin, Jim Collins and Tim Keller, to name a few.

My commitment to the local church and to seeing increasing effectiveness in our communities has taken us at King’s on a journey of discovery and faith, following our great and compassionate God and calling as many as we can to trust in Jesus. High Sundays, multiple meetings and multi-site church have become familiar terms to our leadership teams and our people. Everything we do, from Alpha to youth work is as intentional and focused on our mission as we can make it. Our finances are brought to bear on the vision that we constantly hold up to those who call King’s their home church and I am glad to say that the church has responded with faith, commitment and much hard work to that vision!

Currently I have decided to take a break from this blog to concentrate once again on what is another new phase of life at King’s involving a season of major staff restructuring and thinking through (yet again!) the way we do things – inevitably there are changes to be made to make us even more effective in the future! A growing church needs constant attention.

Meanwhile, you are welcome to keep informed of life at King’s via the King’s website and blog. It’s great to know that many of you look in on that blog on a regular basis and we are glad of your interest! 

If you would like to read further details of our journey as a church, Good to Grow tells the story of King’s over nearly two decades - right up until the time we became a multi-site church.

Whatever season you are facing as a leader or as a church, may God powerfully equip you to serve Him and the community around you – and may you know life and growth in an increasing way. It’s all for His glory!

I would like to thank my co-writer, Val Taylor, who has, with great creativity, patience and commitment, made this leadership blog possible. Every blessing, Val, in your new season!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Celebrating diversity: cultural preferences

My life has been enriched because being part of a diverse church has made me aware of some of my cultural preferences which I don’t like. The white community tends to be more cynical – that’s in our culture. And we don’t honour age so much and I have learned from that. I have also learned from the fact that other cultures handle mourning differently. They come together and gather with those who grieve – whereas in a white individualistic culture we tend to ‘give people space’.

Sometimes I have learned that in some contexts people can hang around too long after a funeral! I tell you – it ain’t all good! ‘Man, we’ve got to feed them again...!’ It’s all very well having a culture where if anyone turns up you invite them in and give them food – but there are things to be done, you know! Time-keeping has its place – especially if you are catching a plane to get back to Jamaica!! But my life is enriched from being in a cross-cultural and a cross-generational church. I have been educated by it and I believe I have grown through being in a church like this - I believe I will continue to be enriched by it and I hope you feel the same.

And that is why we celebrate! It’s because we reveal something of the sovereign plan of God to save us and bring us together as one people. A picture of heaven and an example to the community that you can live in unity – that the gospel has the power to not only deal with your sin but to connect and reconcile differing people groups. Our diversity is a gift from God. We are part of his plan to bring all things together in Christ!

Thank you for our diversity, Lord. Thank you that you are the Lord of all nations and that one day you will draw all peoples and nations to your throne, bowing down to you. Thank you that this was always part of your plan and that it was all achieved through the selfless love of the Lord Jesus for us on the Cross. Through Him the dividing wall of hostility has gone and we have been made one for all eternity. Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

My life is enriched because I am part of a diverse community

My life is definitely enriched by this community. I have even got to the point where I don’t really like just bland white anymore. I prefer the mix, the energy, the creativity. But maybe I could use the benefits of a cross-generational church as an example of how life can be enriched.
I celebrated my 50th birthday this year. Now, I am not known for big parties but it was great to mark that moment and what I found as I hit that fine age is that I am looking at people who are 5, 10, 15 years ahead of me, looking at the model they set and the example they give and I’m asking, ‘How are they dealing with the seasonal adjustments of life? Like their involvement with elderly parents... like their kids getting married... like becoming grandparents. How are they handling the challenges of health that come with age? How are they following Christ through the ebb and flow of life?’

Now, you can go to a church that is just full of people your age if you want, because in our pick-and-mix society you can find one of those! Are you white, in your twenties? Then you can find a white twenties church and so find a place that will meet your primary social need. And if you lead that sort of church you would speak on issues of identity all the time – that’s where 20s are!
It’s more complex in a diverse community, but I love it because we have people here who have run the race! So if you are here and you are raising kids and you are wondering – ‘Do I ever sleep again?’ – for about 5 years you don’t – and then after that they become teenagers and you have to stay up late because they are out... in fact you don’t get sleep at all until you’re in your 50s and then you are old and sleepy anyway – and then you rally! In a church like ours you get this ebb and flow of the generations blending together - and some want the music louder – and some want it quieter. Every Sunday, someone in church is unhappy! That’s a fact and has to be recognised with grace!

But I love the fact that we are a cross-generational church – it enriches my life. Hopefully Deb and I are a model for some that are asking, ‘How do you build a marriage? How do you raise kids?’ But there are others ahead of us who have followed God through many years, some even through wartime and have lived through bombing, showing that you can follow Jesus through all situations. I want to honour our elderly folk – to say, ’Well done! You are phenomenal - and this church is richer for having you here.’ 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

We celebrate fitting in - and feeling uncomfortable!

As part of my preparation on diversity I read a helpful blog by an American guy called Jemar Tisby. Jemar says:

‘Ethnically diverse churches authentically witness the gospel’s power to reconcile people to God and each other. In a society shredded by sectarian interests – political, ideological, racial, you name it – churches that demonstrate unity in diversity attract attention.  Multi-ethnic churches demonstrate that there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:28’

A powerful quote! In practical terms – it means you can fit in here. If you come to this church regularly you get the ‘both and’ – the way to fit in and the way to feel slightly uncomfortable! You can feel that you fit in because ‘there are people like me here!’ But you can also feel uncomfortable at the same time because we all have cultural preferences and there’s a real clash happening all the time. That comes as part of the deal! But it really does give us a great opportunity to be missional and present Jesus to many.

My own view is that what’s found in King’s and churches like it is the future of urban Christianity. I believe that in the coming decades a white majority church or a black majority church have massive identity challenges coming - particularly to the second generation.  The reason black majority churches started up (and some of them are fantastic!), some of them started in reaction, to be honest, to a not very great welcome from the white community. And as through immigration people have come, have not been accepted, they have found challenge out in the world and so have come to worship together and felt that they needed a safe place – very understandable, not right or wrong. But through the years, my own view on what will happen is that as people make this their home and start to relate in a broader way outside their own people group, particularly as their kids grow and have issues of second generation, there will come issues of identity – both to churches and to individuals. And therefore the King’s type of church will be the norm and is increasingly becoming so.

This poses massive opportunities and challenges for us. The challenge, with all that God is teaching us, is to model something to the best of our ability. To show that it can be done, and more than that – it can be done with joy! And we know that there is pain involved too. But it can be done.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

We celebrate diversity because of the gospel of God!

We celebrate because we have been saved. Col 1: 21-22 says,

‘Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.’

There is reconciliation between you and God - and me and God, so we can have access to God and reconciliation with one another. In Eph 2:14-19 it goes further. It says,

‘For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility...

The dividing wall of hostility has been dealt with, in the biblical context between Jews and Gentiles. The promise to a Jew (Abraham) is now fulfilled through Christ and the gospel comes to all nations. We are those that through Christ can have access to one another – the dividing wall of hostility has gone. Behind the picture of the barrier and the dividing wall of hostility is the reality of the temple where there were barriers so that non-Jews could only go so far, women could only go so far, into its courts.

Then there is the barrier between God and man. Eph 2:15 shows us that by abolishing the law and its commands his purpose was to create within himself one new man/new humanity out of the two, thus making peace and
:16 in one body to reconcile them both to God by his death on the cross, the means by which he put to death their hostility.
:17 He came to preach peace to those who were far away (Gentiles) and peace to those who were near (Jews).
:18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
:19 Consequently you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people and  members of God’s household.

So the gospel does not only reconcile you to God but with people who are different to you, different nations and languages and tribes.

Through reconciliation that only God can bring about, we become a powerful message, a powerful testimony of a powerful missional community, because if you walk into this church now, you can come from anywhere. You can work in the city; you can come from the streets. You can be male or female, you could be black or white – you could come from anywhere in the world and find someone who looks like you. So we become a powerful testimony to the great mission given us by God. We start to authenticate the message. We are the body of Christ - we represent reconciliation with God and therefore reconciliation with one another... and our very unity speaks volumes! 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

We celebrate diversity - because of God!

Ultimately we celebrate because of what God has done in our lives. The diversity of this church, of any church, reflects something of the purposes and character of God. God in himself is diverse – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And his creation is remarkably diverse - mankind, in all its shapes and sizes, shows that. God loves the differences - they reflect something of Him, His creativity and creation.

Eph 3:10 says that ‘the church displays the manifold wisdom of God’. Behind this statement is the picture of a diamond with many facets reflecting brilliant light for everyone to see. This is part of God’s sovereign plan. So when we gather and celebrate as we do today it’s because there is something of God’s salvation history before us. It’s the fulfilment of a promise – that’s why it is a prophetic thing because it means that it speaks as though God speaks. Our gathering is a speaking out – a statement, the fulfilment of massive biblical promise made centuries ago to Abraham, when God chose a man and told him that He would make him the father of many nations. We are part of the fulfilment of that and that’s why we celebrate.

In that fulfilment of salvation history we also see the great commission – God sent his Son who came and taught us to go and make disciples of all nations. Here we have a glimpse of heaven – heaven will be like our church!  Rev 7:9 says,

‘After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.’

When we eventually get there it will not just be a bunch of white people, black people, old people, cool or trendy people. It will be us - the people of God gathered from throughout the generations – the fulfilment of all things, the restoration of all things! Here we have a glimpse of heaven – a promise through the centuries fulfilled in Christ. So we can tell people that there is a way to know God and ultimately there will be a day when there will be one celebration, when every knee will bow before him. If that gets into your spirit and you lift your eyes from the challenge of it – it is an amazing thing and should give us a sense of wonder - even of awe. That God can do this – take you and me, who are very different, and bring us together in Christ! We may have some similarities, but we are different, we have completely different journeys to this point – only God can do this. So we celebrate!