Friday, 16 December 2011

London handover

It has been a great privilege to serve and provide a lead to the Newfrontiers churches in London over the last decade. Many an hour has been spent travelling around this great city, meeting up with friends and grappling with the challenges and opportunities this city provides for the gospel. God loves London, its rich diversity and great people. At a time of transition such as this, one reflects on what we have achieved together, and I am delighted to say we have achieved much!

Following a period where we saw little church planting in the capital, the 13 churches we have planted together are a great joy - many of you have followed the prompting of God and, sometimes at huge personal cost, have moved, pioneered and established a church. What heroes!

While our church planting has increased, we have also been able to see our existing churches flourish. A decade ago the largest church in London had about 300 people attending - now we have a number of churches in the high hundreds and my own church has broken through the thousand barrier. Many have believed (and some are still believing) God for finance on huge building projects, and I trust you will agree that our local churches have been strengthened through our partnership in the last decade.

The establishment of a London training base under Mick Taylor’s leadership has been another step forward, and it has been great to see some of our excellent younger men emerge into ever-increasing maturity and fruitfulness. On that basis too the future looks good! Mercy ministry and the challenges of diversity have been common themes we have embraced, both of which I believe are right at the heart of God.

While sensing it was time to hand over, I am still totally committed to reaching this great city, and hope to continue, in a small role, encouraging growth in our London churches.

Following this season, it is with great delight that we shared yesterday with the lead elders of our churches that Dave Holden is picking up the reins again in overseeing the London churches. I am confident that Dave, with his rich leadership experience, will take us forward into an expanding future.

I was also delighted to announce that Pete and Nicky Cornford are to launch a new church plant in the borough of Ealing – this is in the early stages but they have already begun gathering a number of people.

My thanks to you all in the London churches and beyond - for your support, prayers and hard work in partnering together to reach our city.

Lastly, my thanks to the King’s team and to our church at Kings - we have embraced a big vision of serving London, and at times at real cost to our own home scene. But for what a prize!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Technology for Christmas

One of the areas in King’s where we need to ‘up our pace’ is that of media and technology. We are working at this area and running to catch up!
Here is our Christmas webpage and our video ad to profile our highest Sunday of the year. Hope you enjoy it!

Click here for Arms Wide Open web page

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Views from the sites : the Downham story

Nigel Mumford on when Downham joined King's

Downham Way Family Church, part of Newfrontiers, had been my spiritual home for about 30 years when in early 2009 I found myself leading the church and considering what God had for us in the future.

King’s Church was close by – we saw what God was doing there and I wondered if there was a way for us to share in it. I met with Steve Tibbert in a Brockley cafĂ© to discuss how things were going and over a cup of tea he told me that King’s was considering going multi-site. I was amazed - I had been praying about a future where Downham could become a part of King’s! I took this as a God-given opportunity and soon found myself in earnest discussion with Steve.

Nothing was definite – over the following months there was much to think about and to pray through. However, from October 09, with both leadership teams supporting such a move, the possibility was discussed with both churches and the conviction grew that this was the way to go. We proceeded slowly and carefully into the future we now believed wholeheartedly God was calling us to. Then, in Jan 2010, Martin and Ruth Alley moved over to Downham to work with us on the move to our multi-site future. Their contribution was invaluable as they helped us to get to know King’s Church and they got to know us!

By December 2010 we had progressed to the point where we formally closed Downham Way Family Church. This was another essential step in the process. While recognising God’s faithfulness to our church over decades and with our long history within Newfrontiers, we needed to ‘die’ to enter into our new existence as the Downham site of King’s Church. There was a recognition that this brought sadness for some but for many of us there was excitement, not to mention a bit of trepidation!

For three months we moved en masse to the Catford site for Sunday worship and midweek events – a valuable time that gave us all the chance to see more of what God was doing at King’s and a glimpse of what could be our experience too. Meanwhile the Downham building underwent extensive refurbishment - £100,000 worth – to prepare the site for all that was to come as part of King’s, reaching out to the communities around us.

We now look forward to a new future. I am now privileged to serve as part of the wider King’s team while Ben Welchman is Downham site leader and there are already encouraging signs of growth – a recent baptism saw over 200 people in the meeting. I know that God is leading us to even greater things, whatever the future brings and I am so glad that we followed His prompting and direction!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Views from the sites : King's @ Lee

Phil Varley, Site Leader on being a multi-site church

What surprised you most about going multi-site?

It dawned on me how different it was setting up a new work at Lee – we were not known in the area and had no history on the new patch, unlike the Catford and Downham sites. Also we were ‘hidden’ in a side road with no visible presence on main thoroughfares like the other two sites and there are some really good churches within easy walking distance of our building.  I was really pleased how many good people wanted to come from the Catford site and be involved in this new venture! The pioneer spirit was there and we saw gifted people rising to the challenge - there was a huge amount of energy!

What challenged you most?

  • Setting everything up from scratch. There was a real volunteer challenge – to find the right people for the tasks and ensure we were providing essential ministries and had appropriate skills available, establishing new work patterns, getting equipment and furniture. While there was initial energy and ownership to serve, I foresee a future challenge in maintaining that when we are through the honeymoon period. 
  • The time-scale in which it all had to be done. The period from December to March was fairly manic! We had surveyed the King’s people in November to find out who was interested in coming to the Lee site and from then on the amount of work required and the speed at which important decisions had to be made and preparatory work done was ‘full on’. Looking back, I feel it was too small a time-window and needed a longer lead-in time.
  • Of course the challenges don’t end with set-up. The challenge for the next season is to push on and see something lasting established in the community. That will be more like success!

What is it like dealing with what is more a ‘planting’ situation and opening a completely new location?

This is so much easier than being a single church plant. We have all the benefits of a large church in terms of financial support and people resources – and we start with our own building! That’s a big plus when you see churches operating in facilities that have to be cleared at the end of the meeting. Nor do we have just six people in a small group – or 25 in a school hall. We began with 150 people who knew what we were about. We are already seeing visitors, week by week, too. However, because we are a smaller context than the Catford Hill site, I believe we can develop a greater relational feel and while retaining the strengths of the wider King’s ethos and culture, we can bring colour and depth to our community.

Whatever happens I don’t want us to be doing the same things this time next year. I want those of us at Lee to use our gifts to change a community and to broaden and deepen what we are currently doing. I want us to be authentic, making a difference, and in reaching the people of our area I want to see space for creativity and the arts, reaching those in the area who have not yet heard of us – or the love of God. Our fantastic building lends itself to such things! This is part of setting the unique culture of the Lee site – for the glory of God and to reach people for Jesus. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Views from the sites : King's @ Downham

Ben Welchman, Site Leader on being a multi-site church

What surprised you most about going multi-site? 
How well the launch went! And people were so gracious in accepting a younger leader.

What challenged you most?
Taking on the leadership of a group of people with whom I had no previous relationship or history! Not knowing their stories, the quality of their character or their gifts, while still needing to run a Sunday meeting requiring children's workers, youth leaders, welcome team, worship team etc - and also aiming for diversity in every team.

What is it like dealing with a merger situation? 
The church at Downham was already part of Newfrontiers - there was a huge amount of common ground in shared values and common history within Newfrontiers and strong relational links between leaders over some years. All this helped!

Changing the philosophy of ministry?
This was the biggest area of difference between Downham Way Family Church, as was, and King's Church. While the vision and values of two churches may be identical, the way these are worked out can be very different. Steve (Tibbert) has talked about this a lot which was really helpful.

Changing the culture is a slow process that requires patience, taking people on a journey as they may have only known one way of 'doing church'. People need to understand why we are doing things differently, grasp how they can make a contribution and, most importantly, see that the new way works. These are all important in building trust in leadership and preparing everyone for the next step… and the next!

It also requires resolve to avoid the temptation to give in and settle for old ways of working just to keep people happy. Occasionally we have to tread on some toes - some people like the way they used to do things! This increases the emotional demands on you with every task.

I’m constantly thinking about the pace of change - too much too quickly can mean people are more likely to disengage, lose a sense of ownership and feel that the new approach is being imposed on them. Move too slowly and we can miss the opportunity and the fresh momentum provided by launching as a site.

Benefits of resources from the ‘mother-ship’? 
As a site leader in a multi-site church you simply don't have the same kind of pressures as a church planter or a one-site church leader. If I was leading a church of 160 people rather than a site of 160, I would have to grapple with raising money for buildings and handling budgets, as well as employment and legal issues. Whilst I have picked up more administration and facilities issues than I expected, there is someone else on the King's team who has overall responsibility for the premises at Downham. Consequently I can focus on running Sundays, developing leaders and teams and strengthening ministries like midweek groups. That’s a real privilege!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Views from the sites : King's @ Catford

Malcolm Kyte - Site Leader on being a multi-site church

What surprised you most about going multi-site?

  • Nothing too surprising - due to lots of church planting experience!
  • Knew it would take a time for things to settle – gaps will eventually get filled. I am quite relaxed about the fact that details are not pinned down and confident they will be gradually resolved.
  • Numbers of people filling the empty chairs on Sundays so that it didn’t feel very different overall – but then that has always been my experience in planting churches – the seats fill up again fairly soon but it takes longer to fill the serving gaps and get new people giving regularly.
  • How many people suddenly came to the church almost overnight.
  • How well it went!
 What challenged you most?

  • The amount of hard work it took to get to launch day – Christmas to March 2011 was intense with numerous meetings to plan and prepare. The combination of leafleting / advertising campaign / outreach week / 40 days of prayer / t-shirts / new website / refurbishing two buildings / launch etc was pretty exhausting!
  • Working out how to address the volunteer challenge.
  • Working out my new role as Catford site leader.
  • Working out how we work as a Catford site team – who needs to be in which meetings.
  • Readjustment of all our roles.
  • To what extent the ministry staff team leaders were responsible for just Catford or all three venues e.g. youth / children / pastoral care / safeguarding team.
  • Working out how to integrate large numbers of new people into small groups – which will take several more months.
  • The ‘staff stretch’ on Sundays and the need to develop more lay leaders to take on key roles – which will take several more months.
  • Working out the meeting pastor role. (Still working it out!)
 What are the issues for the ‘sending’ church site?

  • Losing key staff and volunteers all in one go.
  • Working out who had actually gone to the other two sites.
  • Integrating large numbers of new people.
  • Getting to know new people.
  • Not having a separate Catford site budget.
  • The whole sense that at Catford it was ‘business as usual’ rather than a major shift in the way we do church. For those staying it didn’t feel very different on the surface and the danger is that you don’t readjust your thinking at all.
  • Missing those who used to be there on a Sunday.
  • Communicating the change to those staying – importance of FAQs booklet on multisite / everyone feeling a degree of ownership / ‘selling’ the concept to those who are staying put.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Multi-site: where to go for help and advice!

On our multi-site journey Jim Tomberlin from Scottsdale, Arizona has been extremely helpful. He is a recognised expert in this area having seen Willow Creek Community Church successfully through its own multi-site strategy. Look at the enclosed link – there’s even a free e-book!


• Multi-site churches outnumber megachurches.

• Two-thirds of multi-site churches are denominational.

• Multi-sites reach more people and mobilize more volunteers.

• One in three multi-sites added a campus through a merger.

• One in four multi-sites has a campus in another language.

• One in five multi-sites birthed a "grandchild" campus.

• One in 10 has an Internet campus.

• In-person teaching is utilized more than video.

• Average size of a church going multisite: 850.

• Eighty-five percent of multi-site churches have three or fewer geographic locations.

• Average attendance of a multi-site church: 1,300.

• Multi-site campuses have a 90 percent success rate.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Multi-site: we are King's Church!

We are one church, with 3 sites and 5 meetings.

We have one name

We have one vision

We have one set of doctrines and values

We have one eldership

We have one staff team

We have one budget

We have one legal identity

We have one philosophy of ministry

We have one website

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Multi-site: team development

One of the areas we underestimated in the move to multi-site was the impact on our full-time staff and how they operated. As a large church we had transitioned to a place where most of our staff members were specialists. Moving to being a multi-site church has required us to redefine every single role on the pastoral team, and each site is now run by a team who have to operate once more as generalists – at least in the site context. This is a massive change for all involved. It has also meant we have had to review our weekly leadership meeting structure and clarify our lines of authority.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Multi-site: a word about preaching - live or DVD/live streamed?

At Kings we decided at this first stage to do all the preaching ‘live’ on a Sunday – yes, that’s five times on one day! We stagger the start times for the five meetings so the preacher is able to travel by car between the sites. These cars are driven by trusted helpers so that parking time is not an issue! We are now in the process of installing cameras, recording and projection equipment and our view is that we will move to a combination of live and video preaching when we move to a fourth site or a multiple meeting on our Lee or Downham sites, whichever comes first! We operate with a preaching team of 4 people, who speak at 42 of the Sundays in a year; on the other 10 Sundays the site-leaders preach. We believe a preaching team provides a more balanced and sustainable teaching experience.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Multi-site: What are the critical components that make a new Sunday meeting in a different location work?

As you are encouraging existing attenders/members to relocate from your existing facility to another one, the greatest appeal for them is a location which is close to their home address. This should not be underestimated in urban centres, where travel time is major factor of life. However, the four key components that require attention are:

- Worship
- Preaching
- Kids’ and youth work
- Welcome!

If any of the above do not compare positively to the experience within the sending church context, people will quickly revert back to attending the sending site.

Lastly, don’t forget the appearance of the venue itself. It’s a very important factor - we spent over £200,000 getting both new sites refurbished.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Multi-site - what is the most important decision you will make?

The most important decision is - who is going to be the site leader/ campus pastor. This person needs to own the whole Vision, Values and Philosophy of Ministry of the one church and should be a good team player. This should not be someone who is looking for space to carve out their own thing, i.e. a church planter - or even a frustrated preacher!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

What is the ideal location for a multi-site?

All our reading and research, plus the advice of others with experience in this area, tells us that the ideal location for a further site is 15 minutes’ drive away from the sending church. The new site should have about 140 people attending and ideally living in the area - on the ground as it were - who will carry your DNA into the new site. This gives a core of people to work with, who can provide the care and support for all the new people coming in.

The key issues to consider were:
- distance from the sending/’mother’ church
- critical mass (around 140 people)
- a group of people who know your ways in Christ.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Why multi-site? Why not a church plant?

‘This is a good question and one which needs a good answer! During my sabbatical I had the privilege of shadowing Nicky Gumbel of Holy Trinity Brompton for the day. He took me round his nine meetings on three sites (soon to become four sites) all within cycling distance of each other in West London. Known around the world as the birthplace of the Alpha course, this is an impressive church. It was fun to cycle between the sites in Nicky’s wake and to discuss at length with him the reasoning around going multi-site. While totally committed to church planting, Nicky Gumbel has concluded, as I have, that particularly in urban centres, where appropriate property is so rare and so expensive, the multi-site concept provides a large church with the opportunity to continue to grow, and therefore to build a resource base for its wider vision for reaching the nation and those nations beyond our borders.’

Quote from Good to Grow by Steve Tibbert with Val Taylor – published July 2011 by Authentic Media

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Why would you go 'multi-site'?

Before outlining some of the lessons we are learning at King’s about our transition to being a multi-site church, it is probably helpful to place our journey in context. Following a period of growth that has lasted for over a decade, two major building projects on our Catford site and the establishment of three Sunday meetings (two in the morning and one in the evening), our morning meetings became full again. We considered starting a third meeting on a Sunday morning on the Catford site and concluded the logistics would be very challenging. Such a step would not have been ideal on many counts.

So the impetus to become a multi-site church was initially driven by a lack of space to contain the growth we were seeing - not primarily as a strategy to stimulate further growth. Ideally, as with the move to multiple meetings, multi-site initiatives should rise from the need to manage current growth rather than as a means to start growth from a static position.

It has been interesting to see that six months after launching two sites, our overall attendance is up 30%, but further, to note that 50% of our new people still come to our Catford 11.30 meeting first - confirming that particular meeting as our current major growth point. At the same time the other two sites are also showing encouraging growth signs as they are established. If King’s Church has growth momentum, then becoming a multi-site church has increased the rate of that growth. By launching two new locations 15 minutes’ drive from our existing site, we have opened up a sphere of operation to reach thousands more people.

It would also be helpful to read alongside this the Move to Multiple Meetings paper (see side panel of this blog) as many of the principles included in the move to becoming a multi-site church are similar. For example, we aimed to have 140/180 people on the ground in both our Lee and Downham sites at launch just as we had when we began our second and third meetings at Catford.

To see our three sites, take a look at the short video clip on our website

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Communicating the gospel to a Muslim culture

Concluding a look at Honor & Shame by Roland Muller...

The Bible has three salvation themes which correspond to the types of culture – guilt, shame and fear. In the west we emphasise the guilt theme and filter our understanding through it.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were guilty – this led to the plan of salvation. But they were also ashamed - this theme also runs through the Bible. And when Adam hears God’s voice he is afraid – a third theme.

Our inability to understand shame-based cultures is matched by our inability to impact much of that world. Well-meaning western ways may lead to unforeseen consequences in a shame-based society, where the hearers may feel the missionary is shaming them by drawing attention to certain areas of their lives. Church attendance may occur simply to avoid shaming the missionary.

Muller is keen that we should not develop different models of salvation for the different settings but should address all three elements in each. He identifies certain key areas to address:
  • Repentance. Accept His way and turn from pride (= pursuing one’s own honour) and from fear. 
  • Sacrifice. This deals with sin, shame and fear.
  • Redemption. Our western concern with guilt meets the shame-based view where a mediator pays to cover our shame and redeem our honour
  • Propitiation. Removal of wrath by offering a gift.
  • Reconciliation. Restoration of the relationship between man and God. This is more than the removal of guilt, it is God bringing us into the Father/Son relationship – shame is removed and honour restored.
A three-fold message is needed – hope for those in shame, freedom from the bondage of fear, cleansing from guilt – each culture enters through its own door. Paul had a threefold message – the Jews were shame-based, the Greeks were guilt-based and the Barbarians were fear-based. New believers who receive only one of the three threads will not ultimately be strong in their newfound faith.

Muller believes that cross-contextualisation of the gospel is simply knowing how to start the gospel message from a place of common understanding.

The influence of each of the dominant cultures has changed with the passage of history. Muller concludes by observing that currently Islam is growing in influence and evangelical Christianity is recorded as the only religion growing by conversion. He asks - what of the next century? To whom will it belong?

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

What it takes to make a sheikh

Further ideas from Honor & Shame by Roland Muller...

What makes a man honourable enough to become a sheikh?

- Money. There is great respect for wealth and to use it to help a good cause (the poor) is considered very honourable. It allows hospitality and generosity – the two things that can obliterate shame and restore honour. It can cover a multitude of sins.

- Heritage. Great leaders in one’s history are an advantage while shameful characters are expelled/killed to preserve the tribe’s honourable heritage.

- Wisdom. Elders are listened to with respect as repositories of wisdom. They are the traditional counsellors and are often wealthier than their younger family members.

- Charisma. Good looking, confident, such leaders have often accomplished something of note and capitalised on it. Often they are also good communicators and shrewd politicians, finding honourable solutions to difficult problems.

- Physical strength. Arab lore is full of heroes and Arab boys are brought up to highly value manliness and strength. Physical strength + charisma + financial strength = winning combination!

- Alliances. Strong alliances give influence and can give an individual great power. Combined strength can be relied upon.

- Bravery. The act of bravery is honourable in itself, though Arab stories often have the hero overcoming overwhelming odds.

- Loyalty. Loyalty to the family/tribe is paramount in order to maintain family honour. The tribe sticks together in order to survive and the rightness of the elders (and the tribe) is never publicly questioned.

- Violence. ‘Life is a fearful test, for modern Arab society it is ruthless, stern, pitiless. It honours strength and has no compassion for weakness.’ Violence is a way of demonstrating honour and removing shame from the tribe.

Most societies accept that everyone has to deal with a measure of shame – how it is dealt with is the revealing thing. And can a person move from a position of shame to one of honour? Arabs would agree that you cannot honour yourself – someone else has to honour you and this seldom happens without a cause.

To be concluded...

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

It would be an honour...

Further ideas from Honor & Shame by Roland Muller...

Honour for an Arab is the absence of shame - every Arab desires and strives to be more honourable. Honouring elders has a high value – exemplified by the story of two sons, each asked by their father to go and fetch water. The elder says no, the younger says yes, but does not go. In western eyes both have dishonoured the father while in eastern eyes the younger is seen as the better son for saving face for his father.

Honourable acts would include hospitality, flattery and gift-giving. Hospitality is one of the most important ways of showing honour – it honours the guest and covers any shame the host may have. It is the aim that any visit to an Arab home will honour the guest. The opposite is also true – a visitor kept at the door will be shamed for all to see. They will not return. Flattery meanwhile honours the recipient and is a public display of honour from the flatterer. As far as gifts are concerned, if you admire anything in an Arab home the hosts will be quick to insist that you receive it as a gift. Even if you don’t admire something gifts will be offered and the host will insist that you eat and drink – this is considered an obligation by the host. The guest must be willing to accept such hospitality.

Family history accrues honour and it is the duty of the eldest son especially to maintain that honour.

Education bestows honour and many poor families sacrifice almost everything, parents working endlessly to help an elder son receive a higher education thus elevating the status of the whole family and tribe.

Marriage brings honour - but if the behaviour of a wife injures a man swift judgment will result. The arrival of the first son brings higher status to the couple and so to the wider family.

Honour in the Arabic language: Arabs will wish each other joy on three specific occasions – the birth of a boy, the coming to light of a poet and the foaling of a noble mare! Language is so powerful that Arabs will listen intently to someone speaking well – whether he speaks the truth or not. Arab poetry is full of vainglory – the Arab hero is defiant, boastful and will fight to the death for his women!

To be continued...

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Further things that matter in Arab society

Further ideas from Honor & Shame by Roland Muller...

Shame is not only an act, but the discovery of the act by outsiders. The view here would be, ‘he who has done a shameful deed must conceal it, for revealing one’s disgrace is to commit another disgrace’ and ‘ a concealed shame is two thirds forgiven’. The shame that comes from failure produces an unwillingness to accept challenges and responsibilities while an Arab out of his own safe context can change temperament drastically. Outside influences will be blamed for failure, and anger, resentment and violence will be displaced. It is easy to offend an Arab – they have a detailed code of conduct which includes pouring too much coffee or making a visit too short. Shame will result for an Arab when he is not made a special case – rules are expected to be bent for his convenience and he will expect to be the favourite, with friends constantly reassuring him that he is preferred above others.

‘Ask’ and ‘tell’ are the same word in Arabic – so I don’t ask you to lend me something, I tell you, as it would be shameful to be refused such a request. When such a thing is ‘asked’ the claim of the tribe is greater than the opinion of the owner of the object.

Revenge – eliminates shame and is sanctioned by the Quran. Payment of a blood price (agreed between the two parties) can be substituted for bloodshed. Honour killings, especially of women who are deemed to have dishonoured the family/tribe with unsuitable relationships would come under this heading. Increasingly, younger Arabs who have been educated in the west, where such treatment is viewed with horror, are questioning the appropriateness of such killings and are demanding that the criminal code and justice system should reflect this.

Peace – has a secondary value in Arab culture in comparison to shame and revenge. Thus the western impression has grown that in the Arab context, peace is the temporary absence of conflict. The permanent state of peace is reserved for the Islamic community and jihad for the non-Islamic states. ‘There is honour within Islam and shame without’.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Why these things are important in Arab society

Further ideas from Honor & Shame by Roland Muller...

Dr Sania Hamady (Arab scholar and authority on Arab psychology) states that the three fundamentals of Arab society are shame, honour and revenge and the following issues are important to consider.
  • group mindset – the extended family is the key unit and all relatives are part of the tribe and are defined as ‘near’ or ‘far’. Marriage and adoption can bring someone ‘near’ and a foreigner adopted as a son of the tribe is greatly honoured. For those who are ‘near’ a high level of conformity is demanded – it brings honour, social prestige and a secure place in society, those who do so receive support against outsiders and help to further his own interests. 
  • relationships – Arab society is permeated from top to bottom by a system of rival relationships and there is great value and prestige placed on the ability to dominate others. Rivals will seize on any ‘shame’ to destroy the other’s influence and picking off individuals and targeting them will often be a successful ploy with the whole tribe responding on either side of the situation. Arabs fear isolation as one on his own can be overcome and enslaved by others while there is protection in the company of others – knowing who to trust is a matter of family/tribe ties.
  • shame – failure to conform leads to shame for the wider community – a damning indictment. Westerners with their high value on individualism fail to understand that the meaning of Islam is conformity to the point of submission, with public prayers and universal fasting as powerful means to that conformity. Few things are right or wrong – those that are acceptable or unacceptable being so defined by society. Contravention may result in acting shamefully but not necessarily wrongfully in God’s eyes. Muslim men living in western cultures will use this to justify sexual escapades and indulgence in alcohol as the new society does not define these things as shameful. So ‘where you are not known, do what you like’ is the order of the day.
To be continued...

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Why 'The Godfather' is powerful

Further ideas from Honor & Shame by Roland Muller...

Separation from God takes place because God is honourable and man is shameful. The whole message of the gospel revolves around the restoration of that relationship – one where man cannot elevate himself. Only God can restore man and He used a mediator – one who must be able to speak equally with God and man. For this reason Jesus became human to mediate between us. Once the relationship is restored we have access to the throne room of God. Jesus bestows on every believer the honour and glory that the Father bestowed on Him but humility is called for – God does not honour the proud.

In the guilt/innocence, shame/honour, fear/power world views some cultures operate almost totally just within one, others have a dominant and a secondary influence while others are a mixture of all three. At the same time cultures are changing as their history rolls on. The Roman Empire was founded in a fear/power setting with a pantheon of gods to be appeased. As it developed, law became an important foundation and it moved to a guilt/innocence dynamic. Over the following period shame and honour began to dominate – as embodied in the Godfather movies. Muller observes that southern European culture has lost the guilt/innocence dynamic. In fact cultures are increasingly a mixture of all three paradigms and any clash of cultures often comes down to guilt/innocence v shame/honour – such would be the clash between Christian and Muslim cultures.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Why it's cool to be part of a gang

Further ideas from Honor & Shame by Roland Muller...

Muller attributes the loss of shame in western cultures to the result of the work of the followers of Freudian psychology which has taken guilt from our culture and substituted ‘guilt feelings’ and where any fault is generally attributed to others (e.g. parents). From the 1960s onward the west has seen a shift from ‘right and wrong’ to ‘cool and uncool’ – part of the honour/shame paradigm.

According to Muller, the major difference between the east and the west is not the shame concept but the difference between the group mentality and individualism. Eastern shame is the more powerful because it rests on the group and not the individual.

Western culture has lost most of its understanding of shame and honour, but the Bible is full of it. It begins with man’s fall into shame and ends with glory and honour for Jesus. Old and New Testaments together contain 190 references to honour, guilt has 40, while shame has over 100. However, counting words is not enough to convey the reality that honour and shame hold a high place.

The story of slavery in Egypt and the Exodus shows God’s power to raise his people from shame to honour. It is not just a story about God redeeming his people (legal concept) but of raising them from shame. This leads us directly to the concept of grace since it is an unwritten rule of the east that no-one can elevate themselves. That everyone knows their place and must stay in it is a fact countered by the message of the Gospel: God has the power and the desire to elevate man from his lowly position to one of honour.

God also moves us from defiled to cleansed, naked to clothed, from expelled to visited by God and rescues us from shameful relationships. The story of the Prodigal Son embodies all these elements – he returned in shame, the father raises him from a place of shame to one of honour, covering him in a new robe. The ultimate picture is of Christ on the cross bearing our sin AND our shame. To be thrown out of the family is the ultimate shame - apart from which the family/tribe (with the accompanying group mindset) provides what is needed in life – fellowship, money, opportunity, education, spouse, security. A man without a family/tribe is in an impossible situation.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Who me, officer?

Continuing an overview of Honor & Shame by Roland Muller...

Muller challenges western theologians who work within the guilt/innocence paradigm to wrestle with developing other approaches to salvation and examines what he sees as the principles behind fear-based cultures and then shame-based cultures.

Fear-based cultures deal with the need to appease unseen powers and to live in peace with these gods and spirits. The fears are directed toward other men or other tribes as well as toward the supernatural and involve explanations of how the world works, with sickness being a sign of gods/spirits reaping revenge. The struggle to acquire power and control over the universe results in the establishing of rules in an attempt to protect the wary from harm. If bad things strike, there are procedures to appease offending powers and to oversee these principles a priesthood comes into being – priests, shamans and witchdoctors become the mediums through whom the god/spirit communicates. In this context missionaries are involved in a very real power struggle.

Shame-based cultures present a different set of challenges. This is typified by something as simple as being pulled over by the traffic police. Westerners react to this situation on the basis of guilt/innocence (Who me, officer?), Africans (say) on the basis of fear/power and Arabs on the basis of shame/honour. A shame-based culture also has honourable and dishonourable ways of doing the same thing and thousands of nuances that convey shame and honour. So – which chair you sit on, who entered the room first, the way you express yourself, the way you walk and hold yourself – all these communicate your place in the world.

In the west, shame is lack of self-esteem – in the east, shame is a controlling force. As an example of this, western youth can act loudly as long as there is ‘no damage done’, eastern youth represents the family/tribe at all times and must act honourably to uphold that honour. Shameful deeds are covered up and if that isn’t possible they are avenged. Such attitudes and actions predate the arrival of Islam and reflect an ancient Bedouin code of practice.

In the shame-based culture, possible responses to loss of honour are lying (if a lie protects the honour of the tribe it is fine – if it is for personal benefit, it is shameful), suicide, and tribal warfare. This last option is often only resolved by the skilful intervention of a third party and hostility may continue for years – or generations.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Why right and wrong isn't the whole picture...

Further ideas from Honor & Shame by Roland Muller...

Western Christianity’s predominant concern with guilt/innocence and the law had early roots. The foundation of the Roman Republic established that no-one was above the law – not even the ruler. Prior to this the ruler WAS the law. This elevation of the law can be found in the thinking of early church theologians such as Tertullian who was steeped in Roman law and an outstanding apologist of the Western church and the first known author of a Christian systematic theology. Augustine used rhetoric for debates in Roman law. Even during the Reformation this thinking is traced in the work of Calvin – a lawyer as well as a theologian. Concerned with establishing guilt and innocence in law, each of them brought this thinking into their theology which was absorbed by a developing western civilisation. The New World and ultimately the US was built on these principles that were foundational to their thinking.

In the East, meanwhile, Christianity centred on the shame/honour relationship. Historically, Eastern Orthodox theology majored on being able to stand in the presence of God and was not primarily concerned with sin, guilt and redemption. From this tradition, Chrysostom wrote 680 sermons/homilies – not one on justification - and was banished for speaking against western theological views.

Muller maintains that the book of Romans has become the centre of our biblical explanation of the gospel because of our guilt-based culture and because Paul contextualised his message to them as he had done to the Greeks at Mars Hill. Muller observes that

‘Most western believers have a hard time finding the Gospel in the Gospels’ (p33)

and concludes that we must put aside our Roman, guilt-based understanding of the gospel, strive to understand other world views and discover a way to communicate the Gospel to a mindset not pre-occupied with right and wrong and guilt and innocence.

To be continued...

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Three world views relevant to us all

Since King’s is located in southeast London, the issues that surround cross-cultural ministry are very relevant for us. Input from Dave Devenish, with his wide experience in this area, has been very useful and I am always happy to follow up his recommendations for relevant reading. One of the books he suggested is Honor & Shame by Roland Muller – this series of blogs will cover some of Muller’s insights.

Roland Muller identifies three building blocks that together make up the worldview of every society/culture – fear, shame and guilt. In each case man strives for the opposite so that the dynamic becomes fear/power, shame/honour and guilt/innocence. Muller observes that most of the 10/40 window is shame based, the Western nations (N Europe, N America, Australia & New Zealand) are primarily guilt based, and primal religions and cultures (such as tribal Africa, much of Asia and South America) are mostly fear based.

Christian missions have done best at presenting the work of Christ in fear-based cultures, where the victory of Christ has been the main message. Work in shame-based cultures, such as the Muslim cultures of the Middle East, has often struggled historically.

Our Western culture is primarily guilt based – we maintain a foundational belief in right and wrong and plot everything on a continuum between guilt and innocence. The unspoken goals of our society are righteousness and innocence (as we define them!). Wars are justified on the basis of established guilt and situations that aren’t clear disturb us – e.g. the hungry child who steals.

Many Christians believe that a culture based on right and wrong is built on Judaeo-Christian principles and is therefore correct. The origin of thinking that this is the whole picture comes from the Greek and Roman cultures and continues to impact the church and our understanding of Scripture.

To be continued...

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Good to Grow: why we do what we do...

To end this series of blogs on my book Good to Grow here are some snippets on a range of topics which I hope will give you an interest in reading more! If you are at the Brighton Conference the book will be available in the book shop.

The last but one quote in this series speaks of one of the costs of our journey – the final quote of the reason for what we do!

‘Too many churches move to multiple meetings too early, stalling momentum rather than creating it. The extra demands that multiple meetings place on staff members and committed volunteers need to be recognized when making such a decision.’

‘Leaders! We can be so familiar with the church we attend that we forget how uncomfortable it can feel walking into what is a strange environment, where everyone seems to know everyone else and understands all the unstated rules and protocols. Church can just seem downright bizarre to the unchurched person.’

‘Once a meeting room is regularly 80 per cent full, the number of new people coming along week by week will begin to drop off. Regular attenders won’t bring friends, family or work colleagues if it’s hard to find space for them.’

‘If your church has not grown for the last ten years, it is unlikely that dividing what you already have into two is going to help you.’

‘The loss of the luxury of flexibility to run over time is weighed against the benefit of reaching more people for Jesus.’

‘It is our continued experience that as we have provided more options and more space, God has given us more people.’

Good to Grow by Steve Tibbert is published by Authentic Media and is available from bookshops now. Order online from and enter the title of the book Good to Grow

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Good to Grow: Useful Information!

Leaders come across all sorts of useful sources of information – the following is a quote from Good to Grow, originally found in a small booklet that is full of thought-provoking stuff - the results of their research...

‘Another source of useful information came from a booklet entitled Leadership, Vision and Growing Churches – a study of 1,100 congregations, sponsored by the Salvation Army. From this small volume I learned, among other things:

• that in a situation where the church leader is in his early forties or early sixties the church is more likely to grow
• that growth was more likely after the leader has been in post from seven to nine years, followed by ten to thirteen years
• that of the gifts a church leader may have, the one characteristic (out of eight types) that distinguished fast-growing churches was that their leader was a ‘Shaper’ (this is from the Belbin typography)
• that beyond the leader himself, churches that had run an Alpha course were twice as likely to have a vision for the future as those that had not (31 per cent to 17 per cent)’

This next quote from the book contains information from the research of an American called Bill Tenny-Brittian: ( The Top Five Reasons Churches Don’t Grow)

‘Research shows that if a first-time visitor to your church gives you their contact information and is followed up within twenty-four hours, they are 86 per cent more likely to return. Leave any contact until the end of the week and that percentage drops to less than 25 per cent.’

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Good to Grow: I love team!

If you are around me for any length of time there are recurrent topics I will speak about in reference to leading a church. Team building has to be a major one of these. It’s not going to be surprising then to find that it is a topic that appears in the book Good to Grow...

‘It would be my observation that too many leaders set up their leadership teams so that their own abilities appear to be head and shoulders above those of the team they lead. This can give a false impression that they are extremely good leaders. I believe one of the true tests of great leadership is the stature of the men and women around the primary leader. I am surrounded by men and women of great gifting and capacity, each in their own area of expertise far more gifted than I am. I would have it no other way. As I have said before, ‘staff your weaknesses’ – and this also explains why we have such a large staff team at King’s: I have a multiplicity of weaknesses!’

‘I have since learned, through the input of Brian Watts, who pastors a church in Battersea and who is also an excellent coach in team work, that how the team members relate to each other and work together reflects how the church does the same. A look at the former will tend to give you a clear reading of the latter, especially when it comes to ‘church temperature’. Signals from the team mirror what’s happening in the church. This gives useful information to help you pastor people through change.’

‘To grow a large church, you need strength in depth. It also requires the team leader to be secure enough to cope with having many gifted people on his team, not to be threatened by their abilities but to recognize his key role in leading, enabling and supporting such a team to achieve their best.’

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Good to Grow: marriage, character and stamina!

Other topics of importance in leadership and that I deal with in the book Good to Grow are marriage and character... and the stamina that is needed to go with them!

‘It has been my observation that sometimes the limiting factor of a ministry’s effectiveness and sustainability has nothing to do with the leader’s capacity or gift – or that of the team. A weak leadership marriage, rather than being a place of rest and refreshment, becomes a limiting factor, sometimes tragically derailing the whole deal.’

‘The personal life of the leader and their corporate leadership are totally linked together in my experience. Our culture has made a huge mistake in separating the private and the public. Integrity, whether in private life or public arena, is always an issue of character.’

‘I broke almost every rule and boundary I have ever set for myself and taught to others, and began working seven-day weeks, even while on holiday. Deb and the boys were remarkably supportive. There are times in life when you just have to ‘up your game’, and I know myself well enough to know that I can go to another level for a relatively limited period of time, say three to six months. Good leaders generally have something in the bag for the ‘Big Push’ moment. It could be in the first year of planting a church; here it was for a building project. The greatest danger in a period like this is that what starts as a short term push turns into a lifestyle. Ten months later I hit the wall. I started to observe that I was reacting more emotionally in meetings when conflict was involved - and it all came to a head in one particular week which included Deb requesting I stop looking at my emails on my iPhone during lunch on our day off.’

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Good to Grow: effective leadership

One of the topics that I look at in the book Good to Grow is effective leadership – what is it and what does it mean to lead the church well? The following quotes from the book highlight this important topic:

‘To build mission-focused communities requires sustained, focused leadership in the local church – we must continue to take a close look at ourselves to ensure that we are practising what we preach. I find that local churches have a tendency to drift towards a pastoral mode, taking their agenda from believers rather than the lost.’

‘I am continually amazed at how quickly church leaders, many of whom are pastors or teachers, become primarily focused on looking after the existing group of people. If you want to grow a church, the future is in the new people – your task is to get all the existing committed people to see this as their job too.’

‘One of the greatest leadership challenges is to predict the future, and the best way to predict the future is to look at past trends. A church that hasn’t grown in the last five years is unlikely to double in size in the next five without major re-engineering or other significant change. At King’s we have always planned for and prayed for an annual increase of 10 per cent – net. As I mentioned previously, a church will double its size in seven years if you achieve this goal.’

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Good to Grow: David Anderson and relevance in diversity

I first met Dr David Anderson on a visit to the USA. As a noted black leader he speaks with authority on the topic of diversity - his testimony of commitment to building a diverse church can be found in his book ‘Gracism’. I was delighted to welcome him to speak at a conference we put on at King’s at a pivotal movement for us as we grappled with the issue of being a multiracial, multi-cultural church. He kindly agreed to read Good to Grow and commented:

‘Steve Tibbert’s intentional leadership in building a diverse and culturally relevant church that is not just good but great is more than obvious, it’s contagious. I consider it a privilege to have experienced Steve’s leadership and mission focused community at Kings. I fully commend his work to you as biblical and practical.’

Here are some quotes from Good to Grow on the topic of diversity:
‘We try to ensure that the musicians and singers on the platform reflect the diversity of the congregation which they lead in worship.’

‘The process of recognizing black leaders can take longer, because we can misread the qualities of cross-cultural leaders.’

‘For many in the white community, our home is our castle. I go in with my nuclear family and I close my front door. If you want to do friendship with me you’ve got to get your diary out. So we email round ‘Need to get together: I can do Friday in four weeks’ time’ . . . ‘I can’t make that’ . . . ‘OK, find a day you can make.’ If someone just turns up at my door it can be: ‘What are you doing here? I’ve got things to do today – don’t cut across my agenda. I’m busy . . . ‘

For many in the black community, it’s family and friendship – there are aunts and uncles, cousins everywhere and if anyone turns up, everyone is fed. All are welcomed and the whole day rearranged if necessary. You can stay to midnight and beyond, while I, being white, go to bed at 10 p.m.’

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Good to Grow: Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock made his presence known in the Christian blogging world some years ago. Now a recognised author, interviewer and commentator on the church and on various theological issues, I was delighted to have his interest in the book. Here is his comment on Good to Grow:

Adrian Warnock - author of Raised With Christ - How the Resurrection Changes Everything.
‘You hold in your hands a book that recounts a captivating story of how our great God has been working through what was once a small church in South East London. When a visiting prophetic team spoke of a vision from the church's history that had been lost, little did they know that a student of C.H. Spurgeon had began this congregation with a dream of building a 1000 member church. Just a few years later, Kings Church is now one of relatively few British churches that regularly gather more than that number. Some books on church growth erroneously tell you that if you just follow a set of principles you will automatically experience the same results. Others equally wrongly speak only of a sovereign work of God. This book is different. You will see evidence of the grace of God, but you will also learn from both the mistakes and successes of the church's leadership team. Rick Warren says that any church that is content to stay small is telling the world that they don't care if they go to hell. God may not be calling your church to be as large as King's, but he is calling you to faithfully learn from others and apply leadership lessons, and work hard to make disciples of all nations. You may not agree with every aspect of the philosophy of ministry you will find in this book, but reading it will definitely help you better understand the way in which God is calling you to serve in his church.’

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Good to Grow: Dave Stroud... and mission

Dave Stroud and I have worked together within Newfrontiers for some years and I have valued his friendship as well as his leadership and encouragement. This is his endorsement that went to the publisher for inclusion on the cover of Good to Grow:
‘Any church leader who wants his church to grow will benefit from reading this book. Steve writes with honesty and insight about the remarkable growth that he has experienced at Kings Church, Catford. The result is a powerful tonic to mediocre leadership. Anyone who reads this book will finish it challenged and equipped to lead more effectively and with greater wisdom than ever before'. David Stroud, senior pastor - ChristChurch London
Here are another couple of quotes from Good to Grow – to hopefully whet your appetite!

‘I truly believe that mission must take centre stage in the life of a local church, and I am convinced that we must build mission-focused communities and avoid any separation between normal church life and our mission agenda. This historical separation has led to an increasingly pastoral church and a growing number of parachurch organisations and agencies which have arisen to fill a gap.’
‘It has been my practice to operate on the basis that we ‘staff for growth’ rather than because of growth. For good reasons, most churches that I know do the opposite, the rationale being ‘We need more staff because we have grown.’ It’s a matter of asking the question: which comes first, the leadership capacity for growth or the leadership capacity to care for that growth? A mission-driven church is far more likely to staff for growth. The risks are higher but the commensurate rewards are greater. I’m glad to report that King’s now sees people saved, on average, every week – I believe that the above approach has helped towards that result.’

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Good to Grow: Dave Devenish and diversity

Another church leader whose input I value is Dave Devenish. His wide experience in serving the world-wide church for the kingdom and within the Newfrontiers movement has been very important to us at King’s. He also read the early copy of Good to Grow and sent me the following endorsement:

‘Steve Tibbert has written us an important book full of practical leadership lessons to help all of us who have responsibilities in the church. Whilst remaining down to earth, it inspires us to see churches grow for the sake of reaching unbelievers with the good news and demonstrating the glory of God in diversity.’
And here's a quote from Good to Grow on diversity...
‘If you move into a foreign land, your kids go to a new school and you may go to work, so a church that consists entirely of your own culture can be a safe place. But over time, sometimes a gospel driven challenge comes – ‘If I witness to my white neighbour and they get saved, no way would they feel at home in my Nigerian church.’ A mother told me that her children had been asking, ‘Why do we have black friends and white friends and then go to a church where we are all black?’ There is a realization that every other area of life is integrated. When they start to look and find a place like King’s, it’s a halfway house. And those in mixed marriages especially feel they can identify with us.’

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Good to Grow!

One of the things that I have been giving time to over the last twelve months has been the writing of a book - essentially it is the story of the last fifteen years at King’s and the leadership lessons we have learned during that time. Entitled Good to Grow it has also given me the opportunity to explain some of the principles behind what we are looking to build in south-east London.

I was glad to be able to send early copies to some fellow-leaders, all trusted friends, and receive their comments. Steve Nicholson has been a good friend to me and to the church at King’s – his experience as head of church planting in the Vineyard movement in the US has been invaluable to us at critical times in the life of our church. Here’s his comment about the book...

‘This is a book for leaders who really want to work with God to grow their church. It's practical and realistic. And it doesn't offer a "magic bullet" that will be the answer to everything. Rather, it addresses the complex mix that allows a church to become healthy, mission oriented, growing and reproducing. I think King's church represents a kind of urban church of the future showing that it is possible to have an impact in the great urban multi-ethnic cities of the world in spite of the obstacles often encountered in leadership, finance, land and government relationships. Reading this book will expand your faith in what God can do and give you ideas on how to work that faith out.’

Steve Nicholson is Senior Pastor of the Evanston Vineyard, USA and serves on the Vineyard USA national board as the Church Planting Task Force Director.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

What we are learning about... High Sundays

Continuing a series of blogs quoting from resource papers which others have found useful.

From the paper on High Sundays by Steve Tibbert:

‘... Over the years we have worked out that the leading indicator of growth is the number of ‘Like to Know More’ forms which are handed in at our Welcome Desk on a Sunday. I pray for 5 a week - we have 3 meetings (Feb 09). If we get 5 a week I now know we are going to have 100 more people in a year’s time. This is incredibly helpful information. From this we can then forward project numerical growth which shapes all our forward financial planning. We have a 5-year budget forward projection which helps to shape our staffing needs and our building requirements. All from new connection forms’.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

What we are learning about... the Cross

Continuing a series of blogs quoting from resource papers which others have found useful.

From the paper on The Cross by Mick Taylor...

‘... while penal substitution is not the whole truth about the atonement it should be central to our understanding of Christ’s achievement for us on the cross. It is part of the truth and not the whole but it is central not peripheral, and not optional! Or to put it another way, penal substitution is an essential foundation but not the whole structure. Penal substitution is an answer to a specific question about the work of Christ not the answer to every question. It does not endeavour to explain every benefit or consequence of Christ’s sacrifice but it does reveal how a holy God can justly forgive sin and so becomes the source of all the other benefits.’

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

What we are learning about... diversity

Continuing a series of blogs quoting from resource papers which others have found useful.

From the paper on Diversity by Steve Tibbert...

‘Food is an issue. When we began Alpha at church and were providing food there, we served white western (bland) food! We were trying to reach out to local people with the gospel and were giving them a hurdle to overcome by providing food they found difficult. I used to sit at an Alpha table in a diverse group and I would be the only one eating the food. ‘It’s alright – we ate before we came…’ they would say – it took me about three Alphas to work that one out!’

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

What we are learning about... creation and evolution

Continuing a series of blogs quoting from resource papers which others have found useful.

From the paper on Creation & Evolution by Mick Taylor...

‘Does loyalty to scripture demand holding the view that God created the universe in six 24 hour days and that it is less than 20,000 years old? Not all are convinced. And yet many would hold that death as we know it came into the world through a real fall of the first two human beings and that the Sabbath principle is rooted in creation. Exactly how these relate to modern science is more of an open question.’

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

What we are learning about... marriage

Continuing a series of blogs quoting from resource papers which others have found useful.

From the paper on For Men & Women Only (a joint review by Steve and Deb Tibbert of two books - For Men Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn and For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn)...

Deb: ‘I was not surprised by many of the (book’s) findings, such as a man’s need for sex or respect, or the importance he places on appearance, but it did help me get inside my husband’s mind a little more successfully! A couple of things did surprise me, such as the burden a man feels to provide. I really hadn’t appreciated this before.’

Steve: ‘I was always aware that emotions were more complicated for women, but the comparison of emotional testosterone for women with male testosterone helped me understand more deeply the need Deb has for emotional connection and shared emotional lives.’

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

What we are learning about... the End Times

Continuing a series of blogs quoting from resource papers which others have found useful.

From the paper on The End Times by Mick Taylor...

‘It is easy to let the debates about different eschatological frameworks obscure the fact that the New Testament writers were convinced that they had already experienced the beginnings of the new creation in Christ’s resurrection. The longed-for Kingdom of God was not just a future expectation but also a reality which broke into our fallen world through the power of the Spirit. That is what inspired them into mission - as it should also motivate us.’

Thursday, 10 March 2011

What we are learning about... multiple meetings

As part of our vision to be a resource for other churches, King’s Church readily makes available material sharing what we are learning. We regularly receive requests for advice, direction and support and out of that have put together resource papers on a number of topics.

Over the next few blogs I will highlight a few of our most popular papers with a quote and a link. I trust you will find them useful!

From the paper on Multiple Meetings by Steve Tibbert...

‘One of the greatest challenges you will face in going to a second or third meeting is the volunteer challenge – you need to release a lot more ministry to run the Sunday meetings. So, for us to launch an evening meeting requires us to recruit, train and release 100 more volunteers a month (25 per week).’

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Robert Clinton on philosophy of ministry

'Leaders must develop a philosophy of ministry that simultaneously honors biblical leadership values, embraces the challenges of the times in which they live, and fits their unique gifts and personal development if they expect to be productive over a whole lifetime.' (The Making of a Leader - p180)

Can you articulate your philosophy of ministry? Many leaders misunderstand the difference between biblical values and philosophy of ministry. This quote from Clinton shows that your philosophy of ministry - the way a particular value is worked out, needs to be contextualised and also to fit the gifts and personality of the leader. It also negates the thought that my way is the only way to do ministry!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Clinton on conflict - again!

In a power conflict the leader with higher power will usually win regardless of rightness of issue, and a person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. (The Making of a Leader, Robert Clinton, p179)

I learnt this one early in ministry. It takes some humility and wisdom to know which battles to fight and what is of primary importance and what is secondary. Too often leaders who are used to leading their own team misunderstand how to relate to leaders over them. John Maxwell’s book - 360° Leadership - is another excellent resource to help you understand the different skills and dynamics involved.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Robert Clinton on character

A leader whose ministry skills outstrip his character formation will eventually falter. (The Making of a Leader, Robert Clinton, p 167)

One of my prayers is, ‘Lord, please don’t let me step beyond my character and gifting’. Sadly, this request is probably rooted in pride and not wanting to be over-exposed... Very often the main reason ministry progress falters is due to character issues rather than gifting. I know many leaders who have far great gifts than I do, but their limit in willingness to receive counsel, or grow a strong marriage, becomes their Achilles’ heel.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Clinton quote on conflict

Conflict is a powerful tool in the hand of God and can be used to teach a leader lessons that he would not learn in any other way... What we truly are is revealed in a crisis...It is bad enough to go through conflict; it is worse to go through conflict and not profit from it. (The Making of a Leader by Robert Clinton, pp 107 – 108)

I have learnt more through the difficult times in leadership than in times of success. God uses conflict to hone character and to teach us lessons in ways no other experience can. I believe one of my leadership gifts is team building – King’s has a great team, full of gifted men and women. I learnt more about how team works when I was a part of a team which broke up. This experience, rather than make me pull back from building team, enabled me to increase my awareness on how team works.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

More from Robert Clinton

Those who self-initiate often disrupt the status quo and threaten those in authority over them. In the resulting conflict, the promising quality of self-initiative can be over-looked. Leaders need to recognize the value of this quality and be on the alert for those emerging leaders who demonstrate it. (The Making of a Leader - Robert Clinton - page 87)

It takes a leader with some experience and security to discern the difference between a rebellious spirit and someone who is showing leadership potential. I remember the first time I met Stef Liston – he was a young man on FP Impact training and he continually asked questions. I could have easily found his interruptions to my session annoying, however, it was that very spark which has helped to make him such an excellent leader...!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Leadership quotes from Robert Clinton

One of my all time favourite leadership books is Bob Clinton’s The Making of a Leader. It is a leadership book which deserves more than one reading! Recently I called in to see my friend Simon Allen as he recovered from a knee operation. He had just begun to re-read this classic leadership book, and we shared our favourite quotes - this coincided with my plan to share my favourite quotes in this blog over the next few weeks. So I hope you enjoy the series and perhaps it will encourage you to read this book for the first time... or maybe pick it up again!

Upon successful completion of the ministry task, the leader is usually given a bigger task. (p 34)

Occasionally, you meet leaders who have great Vision, and are always talking about it, but this leadership principle earths vision in present reality. The best way to fulfil your potential in God is to be faithful in the small matters, serve well and complete the ministry task before you currently. Then in due time God will give you further opportunity... (1 Peter 5).

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

London Churches Update

At the beginning of each term I plan a week of prayer, preparation and planning. Recently I went for a prayer walk (in the rain!) - on this occasion I decided to walk from my home to the Thames. When I arrived in Greenwich Park, I stood at the top of the slope by the Greenwich Observatory and prayed for our great city. As I looked out across London, I prayed for all our churches and leaders, that God would continue to bless all we are doing as local churches working in partnership in the capital together.

Our movement is far from perfect. At times our desire and commitment to reach this city and the nations means that our relationships get stretched, making it easier to take for granted the amazing family of which we are a part. I recently met with a young pastor involved in the Baptist network. I have much to thank the Baptist movement for, but at the same time this conversation brought into focus for me how much we gain as leaders, in fellowship and support from one another, by being part of Newfrontiers.

And the work is building! We continue to plant new churches - our latest five are in Bow, Haringey, Islington, Newham and Richmond upon Thames. I have listed them by name below, along with their leaders - and commend them to your prayers!

East End Church, Bow – Tom Head

Freedom Church, Haringey – Mark Tebb

Jubilee Church, Islington – Clive Sharpe

Hope Church, Newham – Mark Waterfield

Richmond Borough Church, Richmond upon Thames – Roger Smith

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Know yourself - spiritual gifts

In my early development as a leader, when I looked at the list in Ephesians 4, I didn’t know what my gift was. I was mission-focused – did that make me an evangelist? I used to prophesy regularly in our meetings – did that mean I was a prophet? I looked after a team of people – was I a pastor? What about teaching?

I was part of a Baptist church that joined Newfrontiers – I had no framework of the apostolic ministry as we had been an autonomous local church now connected with a trans-local Ephesians 4 ministry. At that time there was a lot of teaching around this subject which came out of this passage from the Bible. This was primarily because we were seeking to re-establish and restore this ministry structure throughout the church and the movement. Apart from Ephesians 4, we also spent time in Rom 12:3 - 8 and 1 Cor 12:27 – 31.

From Rom 12 I learned that it was not down to my natural ability but was the grace of God! That took some pressure off me as a leader – I realised that the worship I was leading was not down to my leadership primarily but His grace! And from the 1 Corinthians passage I learned again the importance of the primacy of love as your motive in serving and exercising gifts.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Know yourself - know your history

Your history shapes you – often far more than you realise. The path you have taken to get where you are will often define your thinking. To be aware of these things is important; knowing the formative elements in your development is an important part of your self-knowledge.

If you want to know yourself, know your history. A trivial but revealing example of this for me would be what happened when Deb and I got married - with the wedding gift list. Deb and her Mum compiled the list – I stayed well clear of the process until it was nearly done and Deb suggested that I had a look to see if there was anything I wanted to add. I went through it and – in all seriousness – said to Deb, ‘Where’s the trolley?’
‘Trolley? What trolley? What do you want a trolley for?’
‘The one that sits in the kitchen, where we put the newspapers so we know where they are when we want them. And when we have a family ‘do’ or Sunday tea, the trolley comes out to the living room with the tea and sandwiches…’
My Mum had a trolley in her kitchen and guess what, so did my Nana! And when we went to visit and had tea – out would come the trolley! (Anyone relating to this story?) So of course I asked, ‘Where’s the trolley?’
Deb said to me, quite firmly – more firmly than I thought necessary, really, ‘We are never having a trolley in our house.’ Well, now we have a sort of IKEA thing – but that’s another story!

Your upbringing, your history shapes you! Sometimes you’re in reaction to it; sometimes it’s a model that you use for reference. I would suggest that as you become older your history impacts you more and more – I’m certainly finding this! Into your own adulthood and marriage you bring your own upbringing and the examples of your parents – good and bad.