Tuesday, 31 December 2013


Subtitled ‘How to develop extravagant givers in your church’, this book by Nelson Searcy is a very useful addition to a leader’s bookshelf. Involved in ministry in New York and Florida, the author also coaches senior pastors on a regular basis.

The issue of resourcing the ministry of the church cannot be avoided if there is to be growth! A systematic and prayerful approach to giving has to be established in the life of any thriving church and Nelson Searcy has provided a book on ‘biblical stewardship in our current church culture’.

This is a book that lays out lots of ‘how to’s – its practical approach covers ways of encouraging and developing giving among the people of God. It will give all of us food for thought regarding the ways that we do and don’t do the giving and receiving of money to support the work of our local churches.

The issue of money needs serious and regular thought in the lives of our churches as far as I am concerned. This is a book to help provoke thought – and provide insights!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Meaning of Marriage

It’s been an established pattern for Deb and me to read a book on marriage each year. This year we were fortunate enough to be able to have The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller and I can wholeheartedly say that this is the best book I have ever read on the topic!

Keller brilliantly integrates levels of cultural awareness, biblical truth and pastoral application. There are also good chapters on singleness which I found very helpful. Since Deb and I finished reading it I have praised this book wherever I have spoken on this important subject and would highly recommend it – especially for those in ministry leadership.

It also proved a helpful resource for our recent King’s preaching series called #TrendingNow where we covered topics such as intimacy, identity and also the internet. 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Last Words of David: Praise!

At the end of his life (1 Chron. 28), David stands before the nation’s leaders and the people and speaks to Solomon his son, the one who is to carry on the work, and says - have a vision, remember you are chosen, stay devoted, work on the plan, know the encouragement of God, here are some resources in order to complete the work, and he leaves a legacy for the future.

While this is about a specific national leader setting a major project in motion which would shape the nation’s life and the worship of God for a long time to come, the story has much to say to us. Whether it’s about church life or our plans for the future for our family or career, God has planted dreams in us, sometimes many years ago. I encourage you to pray those plans out before God and ask Him to guide you in implementing them. Then be prepared to work hard as you commit yourself to God’s purposes in your life.

All this so that when you come to the end of your life you will be able to look back and say without many regrets, ‘I served the purpose of God in my generation’.

‘David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, 
“Praise be to you, O LORD, 
God of our father Israel, 
from everlasting to everlasting...’  (1 Chron. 29:10)

As a result of all that was done, praise was given to God. The fulfilment of David’s dream to build a house for God was to ensure that the praise of God would continue from generation to generation for a great God who rules and reigns, searches and examines, enables and strengthens, loves and provides from everlasting to everlasting.

And we seek to play our part in building something that will also stand for all time – not buildings but the Church of Jesus Christ composed of the lives of those who come to be part of His Kingdom and to serve the purpose of God in their generation. That is something to praise him for!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Last Words of David: Legacy

1 Chron. 29: 28 says of David, ‘He died at a good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth and honour’. The NT records it like this, – ‘For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep...’ (Acts 13:36). I don’t know about you but when it comes to my moment of falling asleep I hope it is said of me that ‘he served the purposes of God in his generation’. I think you would like that said of you – that you stayed on course, you didn’t get distracted, you stayed good-hearted and fulfilled what God had given you to do. I hope to live to a good age like David, and to lead this church for the greater part of my life, then to hand on the church to a younger generation who I trust will go further than we have gone.

It’s not that we haven’t still got great things before us but I honestly believe that the true test of leadership is legacy – and I trust and hope that what we build over the next 10 – 15 years will build a foundation for another generation to build on and go even further, because we recognise that we are building on what the generations before us laid down. We are not ‘the’ generation – we are one of the generations and we are doing something for the future, as our ancestors in God did before us. In the context of King’s the development of the Lee building alone is an investment for the future and is something that I believe God will use for generations to come.

Perhaps you are a single Mum or you are in a season of life where you are raising young children. My mum did not have a big career. She stayed at home, supporting my Dad in the success he achieved in his career, and spent most of her time raising two sons. As she reads this - she’s one of my fans and adds to my blog hits every week – I want to say to her a big, ‘Thank you, Mum!’ I am very, very grateful to her, that she invested in me. The greatest thing you might do as a parent is to lay a foundation in your children for a generation that will serve God and fulfil their potential in Him.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Last Words of David: Resources

With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God...’ (1 Chron. 29:2)

To fulfil any vision takes resources – whether we are talking about raising a family, going to university, setting up a business or taking out a mortgage and it is the same in church life. What you see and experience at King’s, for example, does not happen by chance; all we do is funded by God’s people. In 1 Chronicles chapter 29:2-9 we see that David, from his success and out of all the resources he has gathered through his life and reign, leads the people into a massive offering to bring together everything needed for the building project for the temple. And they raise the money and then there is a prayer of thanksgiving (29:10-13). Read it through. Does it seem familiar?

This prayer is the Old Testament foundation for another great prayer that we know in the New Testament – it’s called the Lord’s Prayer and it’s rooted in this Old Testament prayer! We are used to building projects at King’s so I find it encouraging and reassuring that the Lord’s Prayer is based on this prayer about a building project!

You have to find a way to resource the vision God has given.  There is a lot of truth in 1 Chron. 29:14 where David says, ‘Who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand...’ I wish that all Christians believed that. Some of us think it’s all ours and we will give God what’s left over. That’s not God’s perspective and it should not be ours. It’s all His and ultimately all your gifts and resources come from Him anyway. If you have a gift and have been chosen it’s because of the Sovereign One, not you. That’s why we give thanks to Him for all he is doing in this church and in our lives – it’s his grace. If you have that perspective it changes everything. If all Christians lived that out then the resources released for the Kingdom of God and what we could do together as a result would be remarkable. But some of us just live giving God loose change, as though we are tipping God. There are some strong words elsewhere in Scripture about such an attitude.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Last Words of David: Encouragement

David said to Solomon, ‘Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.’ (1 Chron. 28:20)  

This echoes back to a previous massive transition in the Old Testament. When Moses, another great leader in their history, hands over to Joshua, the word that comes to Joshua in Josh. 1:9 is almost identical – there are deliberate echoes. And the instruction comes – ‘Do the work!’ It’s not ‘put your feet up and wait for it to happen’ – no, get stuck in and do it! You have a part to play and don’t fear and don’t be discouraged. Why? Because the Lord your God is with you.

The Lord God is with you!’ Ponder on that fact! Amazing! This does not mean that we won’t go through challenging times – there are seasons in life that ebb and flow. Sometimes it seems like everything is going great – sometimes it’s really tough. Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we won’t face challenge or circumstances which perplex us. We are like everyone else – but the big difference is that we face these things with the Lord God. We have to hold on to that – easy enough when all is going well – but we have to remember that it is true in whatever season of life we are going through now.

And even if you are thinking – ‘Well, that’s all very well. I don’t know what my dream, my ‘that’, is. I’m not very good at planning either...’ The key thing is for you to know that the Lord God is with you, whatever. Keep following God, keep faithful in prayer and He may put into your heart and mind the seed of a dream. There is still time!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Last Words of David: Plans

If you read on from 1 Chronicles 28 into 2 Chronicles you realise there is a wealth of detail about the design and fitting of the new Temple and what it should be like. It had all been thought out carefully. If you are going to fulfil the dream that God has for you, then you are going to need a plan – and you will need to know how to implement it. I know leaders who are far more gifted than I am – I listen to them and they inspire me. They are great vision-casters, but if they tell me the same thing in a year’s time and there is still no indication that they have a plan to put that vision into being, then those who hear them will conclude that they are just blowing so much hot air. They have a dream but there is no ability to follow through.

Jim Collins, in his recent book Great by Choice – I would say this is a ‘must-read’ if you lead an organisation of any kind - when looking at leaders of most successful charities churches or businesses, says they had the ability to do two things at the same time. They could zoom out and keep a big picture and retain a strategic overview of what was really happening in their business (or family, or church) and then could be in a meeting where they are looking at the detail of what is going on and connect it to what is happening in the big picture. This will need repeated review. So here’s some good advice – make a plan, regularly review how it is being implemented, adjust accordingly and then take the next step.

Let me give an illustration from our marriage – across the summer, Deb and I read a book on marriage. (This has become a regular thing for us as part of investing in our marriage, that every year we read a helpful book and discuss it together. After 243 years we are still learning!) We read the book and at the end of it there were four or five pages with about 40 or 50 questions to answer so we took time over the summer to work through them. We looked at our use of time, our use of technology, when we pray together. We looked at each of our boys, how we handle money (monthly, annually, five year and twenty-five year plan), our love life, our in-laws (our parents are now in their mid-70s and we want to ensure that we care for and connect with them), we talked about holidays, our work places, careers, our house – detailed stuff! And details are important, in fact I spend most of my time at King’s, not in exciting vision-casting moments preaching to the people of God, but in detail meetings, one after the other, in order to work out how best to move the church forward - and I do the same detailed thinking at home. It is possible to get into a super-spiritual way of thinking – ‘relax, God will do it!’ – He will, but actually He requires us to engage, take responsibility and make a plan.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The Last Words of David: Devotion

In 1 Chronicles 28:8 David charges the people to serve God devotedly and then in verse 9 tells Solomon to ‘serve him with wholehearted devotion and a willing mind’. God is all-loving and is also all-seeing. He sees the motives in people’s hearts and he searches them – when God does so it’s a penetrating thing and David knows this from his own experience. He sinned with Bathsheba, and then the prophet Nathan, directed by God, came to him and confronted him with what he had done. David tells Solomon to guard the way he lives, because he knows God sees it all! Now we know that Solomon began well – he built the temple - but later on he loses that undivided heart for God and begins to be influenced by his foreign wives to follow idols. He loses the plot! One of the greatest sadnesses in life is to have a dream, to be gifted for it and chosen by God – and then shipwreck your life by not remaining devoted to God.

You may recall the story in the media about David Petraeus, the leading military leader of the US – a strategic leader in the super-power of our era. He was the man sent in to sort out the situation in Iraq and he did well with that. He retired and became the head of the CIA, he had been married for over 30 years with a career that for a military man is a dream – and in a moment he blew it by having an affair with the woman who wrote his biography. You can be faithful for decades, friends. You can run the race well and still tragically blow it. This can happen to us if we don’t keep devoted to God, the vision he has given and His purposes. So, I urge us all - keep Jesus central, keep praying, keep reading the Word, keep in fellowship with those who will help you to stay on track and protect your spiritual life.

I would say that generally the areas in which people tend to blow up can be described in these words - pleasure, measure or treasure.

  • Pleasure – this is normally to do with sex and if you are married, it’s about staying within that covenant relationship. If you are single then it’s about staying pure.
  • Measure – this is to do with success. If you are a leader and God has called you and you build anything, you will have a degree of success. But success has its own dangers because if you become successful you can start to believe that the normal laws of life don’t apply to you. We can see this with public figures out in the world but it can also happen to pastors - they can become so successful that they lose contact with those who will ask them the difficult questions. 
  • Treasure – this is money. Putting it in plain and simple terms, what you do with your money is critically important to your spiritual health. If you continue to be generous then you show you aren't putting your trust in money – you are ultimately putting your trust in God. Included in this would be never giving or taking back-handers, being accurate with your expenses, paying to Caesar what is Caesar’s with your tax, handling money - your own and that of others - with integrity.

These three areas have the potential to derail the purposes of God for us. Be aware. Be on your guard! I don’t want that for you and I don’t want that for me. Stay devoted to God!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Last Words of David: Chosen

In 1 Chronicles 28:4-6 the words ‘chose’ or ‘chosen’ appear four times. David reminds Solomon and the people that he was chosen by God. He knew what it was to be chosen – his tribe was chosen, his family was chosen – the background to this was that when Samuel came, at the Lord’s instruction, to find the one to anoint as King, David was not with the rest of his brothers – he was out in the fields looking after the family sheep, he had to be called in! He was the chosen leader. In this context it is important for Solomon to know that he is also chosen by God to rule - and for the people to know that too.

There is a close link between the sovereign choice of God in an individual’s life and the fulfilment of the dream. I might have had a dream to be a professional footballer! Most young, sport-loving men would entertain such thoughts but that isn't what God chose me to do. There has to be a connection between the individual dream and joining up with God’s choice. Looking at others and thinking ‘I’d like to be like them’ is not what God has chosen for you. Being chosen is very powerful. Christians know we are chosen by God in Christ. We are chosen by the Father and at the end of our lives that is what will count – ultimately it ensures our place in heaven!

John Maxwell comes at this in a slightly different way – he says that we learn that people buy into the leader and his character before they buy into the vision. You cannot disconnect the dream, the vision, from the person who has the vision. This will apply in every area of life including that of parenting: you can set up a whole list of rules for your kids but if you don’t have a meaningful relationship with them you are unlikely to be successful. You have a dream for them but they have to connect with you and you with them. Even if you are boring, old and a fuddy-duddy! (Even using that word confirms to them that I am a fuddy-duddy!) I mean – what do WE parents know? In the end leadership in any area of life is built on trust and ultimately on the sovereignty of God - that’s what is packed into our understanding of the word ‘chosen’.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Last Words of David: Vision

I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the Ark of the covenant of the Lord. 1 Chron. 28:2

David was living with a major plan. His sin with Bathsheba, and the consequent attempt to cover it by setting up Uriah’s death, had resulted in a public condemnation by the prophet Nathan and he had been dealt with by God. He was passionate for God – he had a dream to build a place for God to dwell, a place to honour God.

What’s on your heart? What has God called you to do with your life?  It could be to establish a great home or a great church or school, or build a career. Perhaps it would be to have a great marriage or raise great children – all good dreams. But what has God called you to do? When you are old and grey and you look back, what will you look at with no regrets as having fulfilled the dream in your heart? I've said this before - we only have one go at life and I want to make it count! Search your heart, ask God - and use your imagination.

I love this definition of ‘vision’ – a preferable picture of the future that inspires you to perform. So use your imagination, whether for your job or career, your family, your marriage, or a new venture - and look ahead. We have that for the church here at King’s – we believe God is calling us to build a church of some 5000 people – a big dream and one beyond us to achieve! It’s good to have a dream that is beyond our ability to deliver – it requires God to move for it to be fulfilled. So don’t set the bar too low; choose something that isn’t totally unrealistic but something that God needs to move forward to make it happen.

Paul puts it like this in Philippians 3:12 – But I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Can I ask – what your ‘that’ is? What has God given you to do in your generation? Whether as a leader at work or in the church, or in your family... When you know, when you have found out what ‘it’ is, write it down – ‘My dream is this... I believe God has called me to...

You will have aspirations for your marriage and your children too and if only all it required to make it happen was just saying it...! It’s going to take prayer, hard work and commitment along with the work of God, but you have to start with a dream.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Last Words of David

What has God called you to do with your life – what has God put on your heart to do?

I've been looking at David’s last words at a critical moment of transition towards the end of his life, spoken to the people of God, their leaders and to his son Solomon. (1 Chronicles 28:1-21) David had a dream of building a house for God – to take some of the gains from all the success of his reign and build a temple in the centre of Jerusalem for the presence of God to dwell, to put God at the centre of the nation’s life. But through the word of a prophet David was told that this dream would be fulfilled through his son, Solomon. So David, who has made financial and practical provision for this great building, gives instruction to Solomon and also to the people to receive Solomon as the new leader.

Think about what it will be like at the end of your life as it comes to a close and you look back. As I get older I find that from time to time that future moment zooms in. What I do know is that when that time comes I want to find myself there without many regrets. Now, I’m realistic enough to know that there will be things that I think about and conclude, ‘I wish I had handled that situation better. I wish that particular outcome had turned out differently.’ What I hope is that it would be said of me, as I am sure that you would want it said of you, that I had served the purposes of God in our generation.  This is what is said of David (Acts 13:36), and David gives some great wisdom to Solomon as he stands ready to step forward and lead this great people as his father had done.

The next series of blogs will be around seven words from this part of the life of David which I hope will help you as you seek to fulfil what God has put in your heart to do.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Ideas for Vision Sunday - An Invitational Church

‘Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul will live.’ Isa 55:3

You cannot read Isaiah 55 without realising that it shows that God’s plan of old was that all should be invited! It’s a warm welcome and a repeated one – God says ‘Come!’
We are here to invite all those who don’t know Jesus to come and find Him. We invite everyone to connect with us – take another step towards us, whether you have been here for decades or a few weeks. Through being invitational we can give everyone the chance to find out more about what it means to become what our friends from Willow Creek describe as a fully devoted follower of Christ. Join us on that journey of faith!

Our aim is to help you to put Jesus at the centre of your life – it will do you good! Be Jesus-centred, look to strengthen and lengthen your life and your involvement in King’s - and be invitational!

My invitation to us all is this: let’s be an Isa 53 church, an Isa 54 church and an Isa 55 church – Jesus centred, strengthened and lengthened, and invitational to all those who do not yet know Jesus. And to those who do know Him – we can take another step in our growing relationship with Jesus – and with His church!

I trust that this series has given a potential outline for a Vision Sunday talk. You can listen to the actual message via the podcast here

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Ideas for Vision Sunday - Strengthen - Areas for attention

In the light of responding to a call for ‘lengthening and strengthening’ there will be key areas in church life that we need to give attention to.

-     Leadership developmentI believe this will be an ongoing thing for us. We have hundreds of people attending this church. If they are going to be pastored effectively then we need to release tens, if not hundreds, of ministry leaders to care for the people. Children’s workers, youth workers, community group leaders, worship leaders, social action workers – everything – the list goes on and on! We need to actively and continually encourage leadership development with leadership disciple groups to foster the growth of new leaders. If you have any inkling or thoughts of growing in leadership within His church we need to connect with you and help you to grow in your potential! Now you may enjoy being a part of King’s, have found a place here and are happy to come and go on a Sunday -worship Jesus and walk out, getting on with your life. That is ultimately between you and God – it may work for you as an individual but long-term that will not serve the church.

-      Communication. We have made a decision at King’s to transition our church communication to primarily electronic means. We would ask and encourage you to connect with us via social media and the King’s website if you are able. Twitter, the blogs - these are easy means to access information about King’s so you will be up to date with most recent news and information. We realise that this will mean a stretch for some of you to step in to this world of messaging and gadgets. Please do so if you can!

-      Mercy ministry and pastoral care – I am pleased that we are establishing our debt advice service – this is a really important ministry in today’s world. Welcoming people through our mercy ministries, as well as through Alpha and migration into the area means that we will need an increasing number of suitably wise and experienced people to pastor our people well.

-      Giving – this area needs strengthening. We are aware that there are hundreds of King’s people now giving via standing orders directly from their bank account into the church account. This is a fantastic help and means that we know how much we can depend on each month. Equally there are hundreds who give in a way that we have no idea how much we can rely on. If that is you, can I ask you to seriously look at giving regularly in this direct way?
Currently we need £90,000 a month to run the ministry fund. The multi-site fund needs about £40,000 a month. If giving does not match our planned budgets it will hold back the progress we need to make to make room for more people and to provide the people and resources to care for them. Now if we don’t have the money – we won’t spend it. That’s a given with us! But it will delay the progress of achieving the vision we believe God has given us. Please respond – we need a big push! Sacrificial giving is required...

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Ideas for Vision Sunday - Confidence in God and a Solid Future

Isaiah 54 also speaks of confidence in the future – ‘...do not be discouraged, you won’t be humiliated’. (:4)

The next picture given in this passage is that of a marriage – one where the Lord God is the husband, so there can be confidence that He will provide as he is the ruler of all the earth! This is a great reason for confidence and ties in to our journey as a church. We can rely on what God says and what we have seen Him do already – the gospel progressing, community being built, extension after extension taking place.

Alec Motyer says that in Isaiah 54 equal attention is given in the picture of the extended tent to both enlargement - and to solidity. It’s about an intentional reach and a lot of building work going on, to build something solid and established. Lengthening – and strengthening. This helps us as we lay out our roadmap for building a church of 5000. Our history has been of growth at a rate of 10% per year so we do not step into the future untried in this area.

In the past 30 people from Catford were asked to go and join the second meeting at Lee to strengthen it – especially those who lived in that area. Then we ran to two meetings at the Downham site – another 30 were asked to go and strengthen that meeting – also creating more space in the tent at Catford Hill for new people to come – and they have! The spaces they left have been filled with new people. Currently we have around 1750 meeting at the three sites, seven meetings on a Sunday and eventually in 2014+ the work we plan to do on ‘extending our borders’ will lead to a total 2500 seating capacity. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Ideas for Vision Sunday - Lengthen...

‘Sing, O barren woman... because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband...’ (Isa 54:1)

There is a brilliant Bible commentary by Alec Motyer on Isaiah called ‘The Prophecy of Isaiah’. Regarding chapter 54 he writes that here is joy over a supernaturally created people. The barren woman sings because of supernatural births – a people coming into being beyond the imagination and power of man.

Here at King’s week by week, we see people coming along and being saved – born into God’s own family by His will and purpose! They are connected back to God, sin is dealt with, relationships are put back in line and Lordship issues are resolved with His order being established and Jesus taking the central place. This is not just for individuals but is also for a community of believers working out relationship together

As you read on in Isaiah 54, it speaks of the expectation of expansion and growth – ‘Enlarge the place of your tent... do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left...’

This growth is expected because God speaks and says it will happen. God speaks to us and we can be confident in His word – there is an expectation for the tent to get bigger and bigger. The picture here is of a Bedouin tent – as the family increased they would add another section - as the family grew so did the tent, with poles, canvas and ropes added to meet the need for more space.

This is a good picture of life at King’s – we had a ‘tent’ at Catford Hill, we extended it – twice! Then we went to two and then to three meetings and then we acquired another ‘tent’ at Downham and another massive one at Lee. We now have a second meeting at each of those sites – each filling up, praise God! – so we find we need more space, more tents.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Ideas for Vision Sunday - A Jesus-centred Church

‘...he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.’ (Isa 53:10b)

Reading Isaiah 54 in my garden, I began to look at commentaries and found that before Isaiah 54 comes Isaiah 53 - and after it, Isaiah 55! Profound truths! I felt God wants us to be a church that embodies these three chapters.

Isaiah 53 wonderfully describes the Lord Jesus, His person and His work - and we need to be a Jesus–centred community. Jesus is the only one who can save us! He’s the only one who can bring us to the Father, it is all about Jesus Christ – whether we are talking about forgiveness or healing, or restored relationships among other things. We are not preaching ourselves but Jesus. He’s the Cornerstone, the Beginning and the End, He was at Creation, He will be there at the end of the age; He sustains, He towers over the nations and over history more than the Shard towers over London. We must be a Jesus-centred church.

Individually we need to be Jesus-centred too. We want Him at the centre of our lives, affecting our relationships, what we do with our money, how we respond under pressure, guiding and framing our choices and decisions. We are learners, followers, disciples of Jesus! The extent to which we do this will reflect on how much we gather to pray, how much time we spend reading the Bible and it impacts every bit of life. Your world view is different, what you are running for - everything is changed when He is the centre.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Ideas for Vision Sunday - Lengthen and Strengthen!

I believe that Vision Sundays and the preaching brought on those days are vitally important. I always start a Vision Sunday message by giving thanks to God for all He has done in the past season – and then lift the eyes of everyone to the call of God for the next season ahead. This following short series of blogs gives an outline of the message I brought from September 2012 from Isaiah and provides a possible model for a Vision Sunday talk.

Isaiah 54: 1-5 says...Enlarge the place of your tent...do not hold back... do not be afraid... the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth

Each Vision Sunday we take time to give thanks to God and acknowledge His goodness to us as a church – we now have four to five hundred more people attending King’s than we did two years ago. In parallel we also know of marriages restored, lives changed, people saved, and a Channel 4 film team has visited the Feast! We can be assured that God is at work.

Last year I shared a new vision for King’s. Over fifteen years ago we began with an original vision for a church of 1000. Just as we came within sight of reaching that goal, just when it seemed achievable, the realisation came - we believe God is calling us to move on to another vision - for a church of 5000 – a much bigger dream. While the original vision of 1000 people is within our grasp, the new one is way beyond our ability – it can only be done by God. And committing to such a vision requires us to lean into God in new ways.

How are we going to achieve this goal? It is one thing to dream and a completely different matter to see it coming into being under God! I believe that some core principles are to be found in three chapters from Isaiah - 53 to 55.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Growing a Church: It's all about those who are not in the room!

To conclude and summarise this series:

In the end the philosophy is this: encourage your church to be invitational.  Invite people to a moment.  Get them in the building.  Trust God - there has to be a God moment.  We do the best we can and we trust that those who come along, who are invited by their Christian friends, neighbours and family, will encounter God.  At King’s it is our aim to provide the next step for them to take on the journey and then follow up each person through our integration team. 

Each time we have a gospel appeal I know we will see people respond.  We will have a follow-up team in place and I also know that by the end of Tuesday evening those individuals will all have had a phone call.  As a result, I feel we have been pastorally responsible and for those people there will be a number of next steps they can take – including joining our next Alpha course.  We integrate our whole church programme with such outreach moments.

It’s all about those who are not yet in the room! All our prayer and planning should ensure that when they come – having been invited by our people – they find a place where they hear the message of God’s love and mercy. Good News!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Growing a Church: On the journey...

At King‘s there are people who have come along and are very happy to just stay in our ‘crowd’ and not become members – from time to time we will challenge them to take a further step in.  We have a booklet we give to new people which tells them about our philosophy and includes a diagram which shows the sort of process that people go through.  So if someone’s not a Christian or they’re ‘backslidden’, we will encourage them to go to Alpha. 

There are mid-week groups to join.  They can become involved with a particular ministry and begin to serve quite quickly or they can join a ‘life course’ which could be the Marriage Course or a Parenting Course or our finance seminar – all of which happen on an annual basis. We also run Freedom in Christ which has a more pastoral approach and is for those dealing with life issues and the consequences of the past.  Each of these provides the opportunity for further involvement in church life.

This means that at any given point it should be possible to tell you where every new person is in their journey – all from the data gathered from each ‘Like to Know More’ form that has been completed and given in and our follow-up of those individuals.  It could say this person is involved in Alpha.  That person is on Freedom in Christ.  This person has joined a mid-week group - and it would be possible to go through our list in this way.  This person’s left.  This person’s going to another church.  I can tell you that because we follow them up regularly - it’s not just a ‘one off’ phone call.  We actually stick with that person until we consider they are ‘in’ and connected and they’re established in a mid-week group or they’re part of a ministry.  

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Growing a Church: Connecting...

Once somebody has stepped towards us by giving in a ‘Like to Know More’ form, we will put real effort into trying to help them connect to church life.  The next day - on the Monday - their details will go onto our database. It’s where we record our ‘crowd’, our new people list, and at this point they will be sent a standard letter that thanks them for coming to King’s. On the Tuesday evening our integration team meets at the church office – usually four church members and the team leader. We phone every new person who gave in a form - they will get a phone call asking them, ‘How can we help you further to connect with the church?  What would you like to do?  Would you like to get involved in Alpha?  How about a mid-week group?’  The integration team will have information about all such groups and all the particular ministries.

Our integration team members are selected because they are friendly and can deal with people easily. They will have up-to-date, relevant information ready to pass on to the new person each week.  This process has been going on for some years now and before we started doing it this way we would see perhaps 25% of our new people connecting here and continuing to attend.  After we started doing it, that rate increased to 50% at times and has generally stayed at around 40% of the new people who fill out the form and step towards us in that way. Many others choose to stay in the crowd.  

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Growing a Church: Keeping...

When it comes to Keeping (Engels scale), we run a New Christians group for those who have come to faith, as well as membership groups, mid-week groups and serving groups - all these are ways into a deeper commitment in church life. 

Our integration process is an important element in this.  Once you have reached people and they have come in to the church the process does not end there. For us outreach is not just for reaching the unbeliever and seeing them through to faith, but it’s also reaching the new person, the visitor.  So we would be very, very intentional about reaching new people who come along to our church even if they’ve been Christians for 20 years.  The fact is, people don’t join the church by osmosis - they don’t just ‘join’ and they often need help to know how the process actually works. 

To help we have put together a booklet called ‘Helping New People Join the Church’ - again we took all this material and adapted it from somewhere else, on this occasion - Willow Creek, Bill Hybel’s church. 

A new person comes on a Sunday and we trust that they meet welcoming people right from the start!  They will be encouraged to fill out a ‘Like to Know More Form’ which is always talked about in the welcome in the middle of the meeting.  In the meeting the very first notice is to welcome new people and to ask them to complete the form.  At the end of the meeting they are encouraged to take it to the Welcome Desk - they may think they’re just handing in a form, they are told ‘it helps us to help you get connected’.  That’s true.  ‘If you just want to find out more information, hand in this form’.  If they do so then we see it as being handed a relay baton - the hard work begins at that point! 

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Growing a Church: Reaping...

When the Engel scale moves on to Reaping (becoming a Christian) you need to look at where in your programme you are giving people the opportunity to respond to the gospel.  Where is that point? 

At King’s it used to be the Alpha Saturday and at baptisms. Alpha Saturday still remains for us a major event in this respect but now we would provide that opportunity more frequently – it could be at almost any Sunday meeting.  The statistics go something like this.  Before Lex Loizides started to come to King’s 2% of the people who were saved at King’s were saved through our preaching on a Sunday.  After Lex came and equipped us that became 20%.  Suddenly we had the ability and the confidence to make an appeal more often and see people respond to the gospel.  On other occasions we would get a guest evangelist to come along. 

We run a New Christians group on a Sunday.  It’s not unusual for people who have done Alpha are not yet Christians to then join our New Christians group - but then they become Christians at the New Christians group!  We are sometimes aware that people have not yet made a commitment but we let them go into that group and as a result we’ve seen a number of people that have come to faith there!  The important thing is to provide opportunities for reaping the harvest.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Growing a Church: Sowing...

Looking at Sowing 2 on the Engel Scale - the Alpha Course would be in that category.  Our introductory Alpha meal will bring people along who are often not yet interested in investigating Jesus but they are interested in an event! 

So one year at our Alpha meal we had Gavin Peacock, the football pundit and ex-professional footballer, to speak.  There were 200 people in the room - the biggest Alpha meal we had done to date.  A number of people came who weren’t going to come to anything else; they were just there because of Gavin but they heard him give his testimony and talk for 20 minutes about Jesus and they heard about the Alpha course.  They were not planning to come back so the ‘drop off’ rate for the following week was quite high but this was a way to begin to sow something of the gospel.  You have permission at that moment to say something. 

We run an Alpha course every term and also within the category of Sowing 2 we would place our Sunday morning meetings - a place to which people can come who are still trying to find out about God.  Then there are guest services - we make a big thing about things like baptisms. All the people that are to be baptised are encouraged to invite friends and family. We go as far as saying, ‘and we will save you some seats - just phone the office and tell us how many people are coming and we will make sure seats are reserved.’  That makes them think – ‘they’re expecting me to bring people’.  So on average, each person who gets baptised here probably brings about 5-8 guests.

We would also do other guest services.  Baby thanksgivings/dedication services have become a way of inviting people – we arrange them so that there are quite a number of families bringing their babies at the same time – there can be up to 30 guests for one family at these events!  We’ve discovered that dedications as part of your Sunday meeting mean that people will always bring family and friends - again people come along not because they’re interested in church but because they’re friends of those taking part.  

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Growing a Church: One example of what we do...

The summer months are often considered a ‘down time’ in church life. At King’s we increasingly use those weeks for preparation to make sure that we have a strong start to the church year in September and what comes beyond. While the rest of us are in summer holiday mode there is a certain group at King’s who already have Christmas in mind!

Christmas, and more particularly our Christmas Carol Services, provides a mega opportunity to reach out to our local communities! Planning, preparing and rehearsing for the eight Carol Services we currently put on over that weekend in December goes on throughout the autumn, even while we are seeking to build momentum with the start of the church year in September. Last year we saw 2800 people come through our doors over that single weekend, many of them visitors.

Thousands of Christmas Carol Service flyers will be printed – this is our predominant way of advertising the Carol Services.  They are given out to all our small groups who will deliver them in their localities and we have them available on Sundays when people will take them to give to friends and family.  There will also be a big poster on the front of the building and we will deliver flyers to homes in the area – that covers our advertising. 

One of our former elders was a School Governor at a local primary school - it provided an arena in which to reach out to others. Every year, as Chair of Governors, he sent all the governors an invitation to our Carol Services. These went with a card saying ‘thanks for all your support this year and here’s an invitation to the Carol Service’.  At that level it’s sowing.  It’s surprising just how many people who are now involved in the life of King’s made their first visit to King’s to a Carol Service.

Because we get an increasing number attending our multiple Carol Services we plan them carefully. There is a carefully thought out theme and although we will do one or two other songs, it’s predominantly traditional carols.  We’ll have a drama and Bible readings and I will speak. At this event we’re not asking for responses - we’re just presenting Jesus; we’re just presenting the Christmas story and there would be an invitation to attend the next Alpha course programmed to take place just after the New Year. The Carol Service is not a revolutionary event in terms of presentation, it’s the traditional approach people like – singing ‘Hark the herald…’ is what they expect - and that’s what we do. We also aim to put on a high quality event with great music so we will have an orchestra as well as our usual band and a choir of brightly-dressed, smiling King’s people!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Growing a Church: Useful information on integrating new people

Evangelism is a journey.  It’s a journey of sowing and reaping. When it comes to outreach, John 4:36 and 37 records Jesus saying:

Thus the saying one sows and another reaps is true.  I sent you to reap for what you have not worked for.  Others have done the hard work and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.  

At King’s evangelism is a journey and at the same time we would be highly invitational. We encourage our people to invite friends, family and work colleagues along to church. We put on events and programmes to invite people to and would take an integrated approach.  You may be familiar with the Engel Scale which refers to the process of evangelism – it has four sections – Sowing 1, Sowing 2, Reaping and Keeping.

We are not only invitational, we are very intentional about evangelism - we don’t do anything just for the fun of it!  There’s always a purpose in what we’re trying to do.  So the first section (Sowing 1) on the Engel Scale can be summarised - Christians are OK and God is good. At the extreme point people have no awareness of God and they have a negative attitude towards the church.  It’s unlikely you’re going to get those people into your church building.

The way you reach those who view Christians and the church in this way is by equipping your church members to be personal witnesses because they will work alongside people with those views. Those who are negative towards the church - unless there is a sovereign move of God - will be moved on in their lives by witness that causes them to rethink what they believe about God and what they think about Christians.  So equipping your church, your people, to be able to interact with people at this point is important. The Carol Service won’t do that because they don’t come.  Into the Sowing 1 category we place personal witness and people inviting other people.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Final thoughts on finances!

One of the best ways to save money is by looking at your everyday expenditure. For example, if you buy a Costa's coffee it costs you around £2.80. If you do that every working day, adding up your spending on that item alone comes to about £600 a year!! (And with nothing to show for it at the end of the day...) Those items add up. And let me say, I’m not against Costa or Starbucks – I like their hot chocolate once in a while!

Have any of you taken out PPI loans? Make sure you are claiming the compensation due to you via your bank or whichever financial institution gave it to you. Do not use one of the claims companies – they will take a large sum of money from you just for completing a simple form that you could do yourself.

Another thing I do is to read the financial papers, particularly the economics side of things so that I can make informed decisions on future financial planning. This may not appeal to you – I find it helps me.

In conclusion - I believe that God has called us to be good stewards, to be generous with our money and to manage it well. For each of us, our circumstances may be different but we each need to ask God for help to take the right next steps to be a faithful steward. The money we have is not only to be used for paying bills and investing in our own future but is also to be used to bless others for God’s glory. If we steward our resources aright we will have more than enough for every good work. All we have is His – it’s our responsibility to use HIS money wisely!

This concludes the series on finance taken from our annual King's Stewardship seminar

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Household bills - savings to be made!

In considering making the most of your finances - you need to look at your household bills! I reckon you can save up to £50 a month if you shop around and play the market on electricity and gas, if you pay by direct debit with an on-line tariff. Do a similar exercise with the water company. If you are a single person you should be metered for water as your use will be less than an average household, while a large family should stay on the general rate. Car insurance – I sometimes forget who is insuring my car because I tend to move it nearly every year in order to get a better rate. The companies know that they will lose money in the first year or two but they also know that many people have a tendency not to change their company. Inertia takes over and so the long-standing customer ends up paying the higher rate. If you take the time to go through all your suppliers in this way then you can save yourself a lot of money.

There are good websites that will get you some great advice – one such is Martin’s Money Tips. Youswitch is another one that is worth looking at from time to time and covers life insurance, house insurance, car insurance, gas, electricity, internet and phone.

Recognise that the gas and electricity companies work on the principle of making your money work for them. They will try to set a monthly payment that means that you are over-paying on the basis that it ‘works out right in the end...’ However, you want to be the one in control. If they announce that they intend to set your monthly direct debit and you will have no say in the amount, then tell them that you intend to leave and find another company where you can set up an arrangement that works reasonably for you. That may change their mind!

For your TV and broadband company, remember that Virgin and Sky loathe each other! If you phone them and tell them that you are thinking of moving to the other company but that you would like to stay – what’s the best deal they can offer... they will give you a good deal. Otherwise they will take you for every pound they can! Be gracious, but understand they aren’t as nice as you are.

This series of blogs is based on the annual Stewardship seminar from King's Church London

Tuesday, 25 June 2013


Those of us with mortgages – and this is the biggest debt most people will take on – should realise that the management of it is very important. There is a whole range of types of mortgage - if your income is relatively low and you want the security and certainty of knowing what your out-goings will be each month then a fixed-rate mortgage is a good thing for you - you will pay a bit more per month for the security it brings. Every two or three years I review my mortgage and change according to my circumstances. I would recommend that you take out a mortgage with a ‘mutual society’ rather than a bank. This is because they are not making profits for shareholders but for their members and so they give better interest rates.

In recent years in this current economic era new mortgage borrowers have found that the size of the deposit/down-payment required from them has increased and so it has become more demanding financially. You need to review your mortgage arrangements regularly and move or consider moving regularly. There are comparison websites you can look at, or mortgage advisors you can talk to, who will give you current information on this.

Many people do not realise that if you can over-pay on your monthly mortgage payments, even by a few pounds, it will make a massive difference in later years. This is allowed to a certain extent by the terms of most repayment mortgages, other types (e.g. endowment mortgages) may not let you do this. If you can’t manage, say, an extra £25 a month, then consider rounding up your monthly payment to the nearest £10. Done early on in the life of a mortgage, even this small move could save you two or three years of payments at the end of your mortgage term!

Another thing to consider is to shorten the term of your mortgage. This will mean you pay more per month over fewer years. Mortgages of 25 years were the standard that was set up because there were no computers to work out all the different payment options for shorter-term mortgages - it can all be calculated very quickly now. And make sure that your interest rate is calculated on a daily basis rather than an annual interest rate – that will also make a massive difference.

This series of blogs is based on the annual Stewardship seminar from King's Church London

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Retirement and long-term planning

You need a plan for what you are going to live off when you get to 65 or 70+. I have given more thought to this recently as I approach my 50s. From 0 – 20 if you are lucky, you are leaning into your parents, from 20 – 50 you get started in life and support yourself - but from 50 onwards you need to think about what you are going to live on from 70 through to 95 (possibly!) as we are tending to live longer these days! Ideally you may want to be putting money aside in your 20s and 30s so that by the time you are 50 you have an amount building up.

The government want us all to get to the situation where everyone makes provision for their retirement through a pension. People talk about pensions a great deal but aren’t so hot on doing something about it! On the whole, less and less people are in a company pension now but if you are in a government pension they come out well in comparison to those in the private sector. I would suggest that in this area it would be good to talk to a professional pension advisor, someone who is trained and competent.

If your family has handled money well in previous generations then it could well be that you will inherit money from them in due course. If you are likely to inherit money then I would suggest that you would need a long-term financial plan - like my 25-year plan. In my family my Dad has always been open about money – he has told me how much he is earning and how much he has in the bank. This is not a common approach for British people of that generation - but it is one of the reasons that I am open about money in the church!

Think ahead! I would repeat - please make a will. It will cost you about £100 to set up a basic will with a qualified legal person but you can go to W H Smith and get a basic form if you can’t afford £100. You will need a witness for your signature to make sure that it will stand up legally. It is better, for the peace of mind of both you and your family, to have something rather than nothing at all.

This series of blogs is based on the annual Stewardship seminar from King's Church London

Tuesday, 11 June 2013


Earlier in this series of blogs we looked at the money that you spend - but what are you going to do with the money that you have in your savings? This is essentially about your attitude to risk! And be clear-eyed – there are no schemes that can guarantee speedy riches so, if you see those and are remotely attracted by them you need to realise - if they worked as well as their proposers say they do... we would all be doing them!

You have to make a judgement about the level of risk involved in any investment – low, medium or high - and these will change all the time depending on the economic environment. Up to this point in my life I have been a decidedly low-risk investor. My Dad taught me – only go ‘high-risk’ with money you can afford to lose and I have never got to the point yet where I have enough money that I can afford to lose any! I am ‘low-risk’ by inclination but I want to be tax-efficient too, so I have put our savings into ISAs - a mixture of ‘cash’ and ‘share’ ISAs - and some into pensions. There are also medium and high risk investments available – if you have that amount of disposable income you should definitely get some impartial professional advice about such investments.

This series is based on the content of the annual Stewardship seminar from King's Church London

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Making things easier for your family

In looking at financial matters, make it as easy as possible for those who will sort out your estate if you were to die. Imagine a situation where a husband dies and has always looked after all the financial affairs for the family. Suddenly his wife has to take over this important area and has to find out where she can get the money to pay the household bills, buy food – or even pay for the funeral. She may be completely unaware of how much money is available to her. Many couples would identify with that scenario and realise that only one of them knows what’s going on financially.

It would be a good idea to go through the following questions together and to write down the relevant details:

• Who do I ring if I need to get access to money?

• Where do I find any paperwork?

• Who should be contacted regarding pension payments? This is very important following a death.

These practical details can be helpful, saving a lot of time and a great deal of worry for grieving family members at a time of particular stress, so it’s a considerate thing to have sorted out ahead of time.

Make a ‘To Do’ page - a list of the order in which things should be done following a death and where to go. It may not only be helpful in the case of a death but also in the case of aging parents who may not be functioning as well as they used to and need some-one else to take care of their affairs when they can no longer do so.

This series is based on the annual Stewardship seminar from King's Church London

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The importance of making a will...

Making a will is important because if you are married at the very least you will want to ensure that on your death your assets will go to your spouse - a will ensures that this will happen without major complications. At a time of bereavement the last thing you would want to burden your family with is a complicated financial and legal process – all because you didn’t think to plan ahead and make the necessary arrangements. There are tax reasons to make a will as well as ensuring that your assets go to the person that you want them to.

For example, in the case of a single person who has no children, but has brothers and sisters and parents - if they don’t make a will, their assets go back to their parents. From a tax point of view that could mean that because that will add to the parents’ assets, they will then end up paying inheritance tax on that extra money when they die. It might be better to make sure that such assets went to brothers and sisters or to a friend, a charity, or even to the church. Often single people feel that they do not need to make a will, but it is something you should seriously consider.

If you have children who are under age (they still are legally ‘minors’), you should also give serious thought as to who you would like to look after them if you were to die while they were still young and needing care. Have you asked someone to take responsibility as guardians? That should be high on your priority list. If you were to die, the people who would be considered in line to do this, maybe a brother or sister in some situations, might not actually be your first preference for such a role. Sometimes it’s hard to think about such a drastic scenario but it can become a massive reality for some people. If you want to be considerate in managing your family affairs it would be wise to have thought through this important responsibility. Also you should so arrange things that funds are available to enable those chosen people to look after your children for what could be a period of some years and lessen the financial burden for them – some thought on this is needed. Without getting heavy about such things it is certainly worth thinking about.

This series of blogs is based on the annual stewardship seminar from King's Church London

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Tax and Inheritance Tax

You have to be earning a certain amount of money to pay tax – but there are certain things that you can do that will help you keep this to a minimum. Checking that your tax code is correct and ensuring that you are getting all the allowances that are due to you would come first. Like the banks, it is not unknown for the Inland Revenue to make mistakes! Completion of your tax return form will also help you to be up to date with this important item and may sometimes even result in a tax rebate! Self-employed people and employees are in different situations and will need different advice on tax matters.

Inheritance tax

Most people think that this will never apply to them but in the circumstances, say, that you have a house that is worth £300,000 with a mortgage covered by a life policy, or if you are employed and have a ‘death in service’ benefit which could pay out £100,000 if you died while you were working - in that scenario there would be £30,000 of inheritance tax for you to pay on your death – a situation which could take you unawares. Some people might consider that it won’t affect them as they won’t be around to be bothered by it! But if we are talking about good stewardship that means that you would want to think about the situation for your heirs and organise your affairs as well as you can rather than doing nothing. A large tax bill after your death is not good stewardship and would result in there being less to pass on to those left behind.

It is well worth taking some qualified advice to see if your estate might be affected by inheritance tax. That is the essence of stewardship – thinking ahead. If you think that your estate might be liable to inheritance tax then you need to make a will - that is definitely a good thing to do.

This series of blogs is based on the annual Stewardship seminar from King's

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Good stewardship

Debt is never good - but if you are in debt there are ‘good’ places to owe money and others that aren’t good! You have to look carefully at what is known as the APR on your debt – banks provide a better rate than credit card companies. The percentage you are paying is critically important to the length of time it will take you to pay off the debt otherwise you could end up paying several thousands in interest on a relatively small debt of a few hundred pounds.

Prevention is better than cure and with that in mind at King’s we now provide a Debt Advice Centre called King’s Money Advice. Suzy and Carol Bradshaw head that up and have come to us from Sheffield with a wealth of experience in this vital field of debt advice. They will be a really helpful and important resource for many in debt in our area.

If you are going to prioritise managing your debt you may need careful professional debt advice. Some of the loan companies that advertise in the media that they consolidate debts can result in you paying a final interest rate of 4000%. The so-called lower monthly figure means that the period of the loan is extended - in some cases you can be paying off that ‘smaller’ amount for the rest of your life – or it can seem so. Apart from increasing your income and reducing your expenditure you also need to get the interest rate you are paying down as low as possible. I say again - avoid television loan companies!

This series of blogs is based on the annual Stewardship seminar from King's

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Money: who does what...

Who in the family deals with money matters? Is it you? I am a great believer in husbands taking the responsibility for finances but let’s face it – sometimes it’s the wife who is better with numbers and finances! You have to work out how to cover it together, I am not of the view that the man necessarily has to do it but I do think that the man should take ultimate responsibility and ownership, otherwise there can be too much abdication of responsibility to his wife. Don’t be disengaged! Deb and I have made it a long-term practice to work closely together on our finances.

In our marriage, I take responsibility for the ‘Big Picture’ planning but Deb makes the day-to-day decisions. If you are married you should talk through together how you will arrange these things. Deb and I have a joint account for household and family expenses – there should be openness and dialogue between couples around the subject of money and how it is spent. And apart from our joint account we also have personal accounts for which we take individual responsibility.

Next - do you have a good filing system for your documents? This is important in handling money. It doesn’t need to be complicated – a concertina-type box file from W H Smith will do – but you need to have something. I am a Big Picture person, Deb is a details person, so we work well together in a lot of things - she has organised all the filing and keeps it up to date. And it’s a good idea to keep relevant bills and banking documents from past years for up to about 7 years for tax purposes.

This series of blogs is based on the annual Stewardship seminar from King's

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Debt: dangers in trying to escape...

Having said early on in this series that I would not be telling anyone what to do, I will now say this to anyone who has a store card - If you would like to bring it to me I will cut it up for you. They are nuts! You are paying 28% to 30% interest on any balances owed on those cards – that’s madness! Such easy credit can lead you into trouble – you need to know yourself and your own level of self-control. Some people make this self-assessment and decide to have only a debit card and then only spend what they have in the bank.

To get out of debt and reduce your expenditure by £100 a month is really going to bite. But in order to pay off your debts, though you have cut back, clearing it can take longer than you think. A plan is essential – ask someone who is experienced and trustworthy to sit down with you to help you put a plan together if you are in that situation. You will have to make some tough choices – generally you will either need to make some more income or you will have to cut back on your spending - or maybe both!

My experience in handling money is that to do so at all well takes time. It takes more time than you think. I would advise that each week you set aside time to deal with your finances. So - in any week, when is your money moment? Sometimes you might need to set aside two hours, other times it could be less. But the important thing is - do not leave things to accumulate. Deal with bills, bank statements or financial matters in the moment otherwise they will build up and will cause you unnecessary worry.

This series is based on the content of the annual Stewardship seminar from King's

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The danger of debt...

We have to consider the dangers of debt. For some this is a painful reminder of reality and how difficult it can be to get out of debt because it has to be paid for. If you don’t step in quickly, debt can spiral, so it’s important to open your eyes, take responsibility and plan to get out of debt.

Monthly income - £1580. Monthly expenditure - £1650. Overspend - £70. When I moved from my big salary to a small salary I found that because there are amounts going out all the time it is difficult to know exactly where you are at any point in the month. You can be overspending and not realise for a couple of months if you don’t keep a close eye on things. Let say this pattern carried on for 6 months. At the end of each month you realise the monthly trend but it is steadily going the wrong way - and at this point it starts to touch our emotions because making tough choices to not buy things starts to impact us – and family members. Without clear action, six months later it would be possible to be around £400 in debt. We have had people in our church who have been thousands in debt, some to the tune of tens of thousands, so this example is not unrealistic.

If you are in debt, at this point it is time to decide that you want to do something about it. You don’t want to live like this anymore, but if you have been paying for items on your credit card you now have to pay interest on that debt. By the way, the credit card is the worst way to manage debt because of the high rates of interest that are charged. The cheapest way is to get a bank loan - if it’s possible - or transfer to a 0% rate credit card company who are keen to have your business, and then ensure that you pay off the debt in the relevant period. Otherwise you will be paying somewhere around % for your debt on a credit card. And you need to be paying more than the minimum monthly payment in order to make clear inroads into the actual debt.

This series is based on the content of the annual Stewardship seminar from King's

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


Let’s consider budgeting. There are different ways to do this but this is how I do it. (I am amazed at just how many people don’t do it at all, so this approach will be basic!) I use a spread sheet on the computer and before such devices came along I used a calculator and a pencil and paper! Either works!

You need to write down all your income and expenditure – the first mistake that most people make is not to do that! By not tracking everything you won’t know where you are financially, so write down everything that you spend so you really do know what your income and your expenditure is each month. Note - not what you think you spend, but what you actually spend. Most people are good at this to a certain degree – but when you get down to the fine detail, that’s another matter. It’s the 20% that you don’t record that’s the problem and will continuously take you into the red – these are normally not your set costs, not the regular payments that go out each month but those day-to-day spending decisions. That Starbucks that you buy each day...

Most of my income is spoken for. I receive my salary from the church – it comes in to our bank account and then monthly commitments go out. Most people ‘back plan’, (that’s recording everything as you spend) few ‘forward plan’ and decide ‘I have this amount to spend on that area – and only that amount’! Christmas can then come as a bit of a shock - and rather than having planned for it, they decide to have a ‘good’ Christmas and then pay off the debts afterwards. Rather than thinking ahead earlier in the year and making provision for Christmas shopping by setting an amount aside each month throughout the whole year they plough on into debt. The same principles would apply to financing our eldest son going to university – I thought ahead and planned financially more than a year ago rather than crashing into the harsh reality! Financially I have a monthly plan, an annual plan and a 5 year plan. Then there’s my 25-year plan. I do this because I am aware that the decisions I make today impact what will happen in the future.

Reconciling your bank statement with your recorded expenditure is important – to regularly check what is actually in the account and see if spending is on track. And if the bank has made an error (it does happen!) – the earlier you raise the issue with them, the better!

Content taken from King's Stewardship Seminar...

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Take responsibility!

When we look at personal finances there is a general principle from the Bible that if you are able, you are expected to work – I would suggest that is assumed in the story we read from Matthew 25. The responsibility is yours and no-one else’s and balancing the books at the end of the month or the end of the year is also your responsibility.

We have to recognise that it is possible to go through some life challenges that make managing money a really difficult thing to do – unemployment among other things – so I am not unaware of the real pressures that some of us face. In the current economic climate there are difficult decisions to be made for those who have been made redundant. Church leaders would want to be there to give pastoral support through that time and advise on priorities. But in the end it is each person’s responsibility before God as to the decisions made and actions followed, both with talents and money.

As in most churches, among King’s people there will be a whole range of very differing personal circumstances. Some may be in debt, some may be on benefits, some may be earning over £50,000. Some will be single, some might be students, some might have four children, and we recognise that there are differing ages and stages of life that make greater financial demands. I have three sons and in recent years my wife has been able to return to work but we have one son at university and investing in his future is costing me an arm and a leg! I am in that season. Furthermore, I am also in that season where my pension is becoming more important to me – much more than it was in my 20s. My advice is that you should prepare in your 20s for your future.

Content taken from King's Stewardship Seminar...

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Don't be an ostrich!

Many people are not familiar with handling money. They get overwhelmed by it and when problems start to loom, like the final servant in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, they then put their head in the sand! I want to challenge that ineffective approach.

Many others handle money well already but are interested in picking up some tips to do even better and maybe get a greater return. Among those who attend King’s we have people from all sorts of work settings including some in the financial industry. Over the entire church there will be differing skill sets and levels of financial ability – for some the whole thing is a bit of a blur, for others it is all too clear. And we have among us single parents trying to make ends meet – different personal circumstances give us particular insights.

When it comes to stewardship some people feel threatened by money and just avoid the issue and hope it will go away. Of course, it doesn’t! Denial sets in – this is a massive issue in respect to problems with money, the consequence of denial is that it results in people becoming fearful about finance and they are then vulnerable to falling into a snare.

At King’s we work on the principle of choice – I will not give advice on how anyone should spend their money. There will be no comment on how big their house should be and whether they have one or more of them. In a church like King’s we have a huge cross-section of people, including one person who owns ten properties. We are not looking at forcing equality of ownership. Some people like to spend lots of money on a car, others on holidays, and others on private education. Some of us like to have insurance, while yet others don’t think it is appropriate for a Christian. Everyone has a choice on how to spend the money they have earned.

Content taken from the King's Stewardship Seminar...

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Money - the heart of the matter

Basically, money is a heart issue. Some, when thinking about giving, know that the money is there, it’s just that it’s prioritised in different areas. What’s needed is a realigning of priorities and to put God first, saying, ‘I am a disciple of Jesus before anything else.’ Some are already there in their thinking but money is tight or perhaps they are a single parent or in a similarly demanding situation. I would encourage a first step in giving, however small – that is grace – and ask God. He will speak to us about what to do.

All we have belongs to the Lord Jesus. We came into the world as a baby with nothing and we will leave with nothing. At one time we were spiritually dead but now we are alive in Christ. We are honest enough to know that our money and what we do with it reveals our heart but if we want to be disciples of Jesus Christ, if we believe that it is best for us to build our lives on the Word of God and on Jesus the Rock himself, we will come and ask God to help us make choices to follow through to build generous giving into our lives!

God is able to bless each of us and to bless our churches with huge financial strength as we look at taking on each massive adventure in faith together. We ask that He will do it so that many will come to Christ and that many who are now poor will become rich because the One who was rich became poor for our sakes. What we have experienced in forgiveness, healing and hope can be passed onto thousands of people through our churches.
Content taken from a King's Stewardship seminar

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Stepping up in giving....

The UK government gives us 25p for every £1 that a signed-up taxpayer gives to King’s. That’s a lot of money – for every £100,000 given, that’s another £25,000! Think how far that can go in Kingdom work...At King’s we provide an information sheet that gives all the details anyone will need to enable them to give and put it into place on a regular basis. This includes details of how to Gift Aid giving.

I have also taught that in the life of the church moments will come when we go for a building project and then our giving needs to change! For a certain period of time, we give 10%, then another 10% and live off 80% of our income. In this our leaders lead from the front – we do not ask the church to do anything that we aren’t doing ourselves. This is not without some choices and some prioritising – and for me it has involved re-working my whole financial life-plan. Many of you will have one of those in one form or another – mine is a spreadsheet that covers 25 years! This is because I realise that the decisions I make now will impact the future and influence what I have available when I am 70 years old.

Some people are worried about what’s happening next week, let alone in 25 years’ time but we know we do need to think further ahead, both individually – and as a church. Others think, ‘I can’t argue with the Biblical principles of giving’ but the key thing is the next step. People may be convinced by them, may agree with the need for grace-filled giving, but feel it is a high bar and so just throw in the towel at that point and give up thinking about it at all. I would encourage a first step, to put God first and say, ‘I’m going to give regularly and systematically. I’m going to Gift Aid what I’m committed to giving so that King’s gets the tax too. I’m going to make that next step.’

Content taken from a King's Stewardship seminar 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Looking after responders

The next thing we would do is to invite those who are responding to first of all raise their hand and then to come forward. Then I would say ‘We’re going to sing the song through once more and if there is anyone else that would like to respond, would you come forward and join those already at the front.’

At that point we’ve got a ‘follow up’ team in place. This would primarily be our Alpha team who are used to leading people to Christ. They come forward and talk with those who have responded - we generally take the responders out of the meeting because we find it is difficult to talk to them properly once the post-meeting hubbub begins. Ideally we have a room set aside where people can talk quietly and be prayed for. Your facility and the rooms available will shape how you do that, as will the numbers involved.

I’ve also seen Lex do the following, and I’ve done this once or twice - when people have come forward he will keep them at the front of the auditorium for a few minutes and he will invite yet more people to respond. He goes again - it’s fantastic. What I love about it is that he is very personal, very pastoral. He looks at each person and gets the church to clap them as they come forward; he speaks to them as if no one else is there. Then he often leads them all in a prayer, he’s very warm and he says ‘Is there anyone else that would like to come and join these people?’ and do you know what, nearly every time he does that there are others that come to faith because they come forward as well and everyone claps again!

It’s amazing to see that gift of the evangelist operate - when Lex first came to King’s we saw a lot of response from people. The second time he came we saw a good number respond but I believe that one of the reasons we didn’t see so many is because in the meantime he had equipped us at King’s to do this ourselves. We had learned from him and grew in confidence and experience. It will be the same for you!

to be continued...