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Working WITH….

As part of my job as community worker I sit on Sandylands residents association committee.

Last summer we started to raise funds for a new play park, as the present one needs repairing, improved access and to give the area a face-lift.

Sandylands is having an extra 200 houses built on the Estate bringing the population to around 3000 people. Our fund raising efforts are going remarkable well if you’ve read the recent article in the Westmorland Gazzette.

It’s going well due to the amazing effort of key people in the area working with each other to bring about the rest of the money needed to start the refurbishment.

The key part all of this is working WITH each other. Working WITH empowers each party, raises self-esteem and gives MOTIVATION on projects. As a Christian worker I Strive to work WITH our community….as I reflect that God is omnipresent (everywhere at one time). “He is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27).

One of Jesus’ titles is “Immanuel,” which means “God with us”. When Jesus came into this world, He was truly, literally “God with us.” Because God is with us, we know that we will never be separated from His love. God’s presence assures us that we can accomplish His will for us, God’s presence overcomes our fears, and worry.

On a more personal level, God is WITH all believers today, in that His Holy Spirit indwells in us. No matter what challenges or opportunities we face in life, God is WITH us and walking WITH us in our journeys of life.

A Verse in the book of Hebrews in the Bible says this …..“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

My desire is to work WITH our community of Sandylands, and to share the love of God because he first loved us! Whatever I do or say I seek to model the life of Jesus on the streets of Sandylands.

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Swings and roundabouts

Swings and roundabouts

I was swinging on a swing just the other day chatting with a friend backwards and forwards and we both commented on it was quite surreal but fun it was! The reason for being there is that I was meeting a member of our community who is key stakeholder in our recent fund raising efforts for a new park. I’m working with ( important to note for journeying in community – with) our community and key stakeholders to bring about positive change and to change the face of the area for the better.
Whilst I was reflecting on the day at the park with my friend Jonny H, I couldn’t seem to shift the thought of some of those pieces of play park equipment are like the church!
Take the humble historic roundabout – we often don’t see them on parks these days but once your on its hard to get off. The inherited church it stuck in its ways of maintenance and it’s hard for the church to get its teeth into mission when, the maintenance of the church roof is a higher priority over its community/ parish. Maybe that’s why the NFI is the fastest growing church planting denomination as they don’t have the problem of ageing buildings. However often the church has the intention to reach out with the gospel but the leadership is overstretched just caring for the flock and keeping the church going forward. Even the Fresh Expressions initiative that has been. Going for over 10 years won’t be able to stem the decline in the church it needs an out pouring of the Holy Spirit to bless and equip pioneers in Gods mission.
Let me explain what I mean by the gospel as it’s often misunderstood…
We have a great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) to ‘go,’ to move out from our church buildings into where Jesus would go if he walked the earth today. Schools, prisons, the corner shop, coffee shop, gyms,  and cinemas where everyday people are at and live life. When ‘going‘ we are to go to make relationships and build community working with and loving ( we love because He first loved us – 1 John 4:19) . ‘Make’ (bring forth fruit) disciples is something I feel that the we have lost in the church. The Methodist class structure of bible study and accountability really promoted the sense of brotherhood and being fruitful. Fully understanding what it meant to follow Christ the class structure often answered the 22 accountability questions!  
Often people come to Christ and that is fantastic, and often really encouraging if we’ve been praying for a friend or family member. But too often we expect people who are on the fringe of church or in church with ropes and ladders. What we need to give people is escalators and lifts to get to the next level – offering them Alpha courses/ christianity explored courses to shape and mould them to what God intends them to be – ambassadors for Christ.
That leads me to my next point – ‘disciples’. I’m in the business of growing and making new disciples. Jesus invested in his disciples with time and in small groups to teach them about the Kingdom of God. In youth ministry we seek to make disciples of our young people in small groups so why doesn’t  it happen more with all ages as people can come to Christ at any age.
I would encourage you if your not in a home group/ house group to get into one now. Meeting together is important for fellowship and growth as a disciple of Jesus.  So, as we journey in Gods mission with him not in our own bubble as church centred mission we’re to be obedient & to listen to his voice, leading; but we can’t sit on our hands in an age where the church is in decline.
Our only hope for us to release pioneers;  take risks; and submerge ourselves in our community and find where God is already at work. He’s praying that the Church seeks to make reaching out into community a priority.

Absolutely Marvellous

Last night I watched the BBC 2 film Marvellous and it was. 88 minutes of gripping life by the character Nello, a adult with learning difficulties, with more gifts than many people i’ve met recently combined! His character was a shining example of what it means to be Jesus walking on our streets today! Despite knocks in his life, he seem to look so positively on life.I was brought to tears many times and laugh out loud more times than I can remember.

Nello’s love for Stoke City brings him to work as the kit man for manager Lou Macari. Part biopic, part musical and part fantasy, this is the inspirational and incredible true story of Neil Baldwin, a man who refused to accept the label of learning difficulties, and who has led an extraordinary life. Not only was Neil (Nello) a kit man at Stoke but  worked at Keele University student as a all around chaplain/student support/and has recently been given a honourary Masters.

If this man doesn’t get a OBE this year I will personally write to the PM myself and start a campaign! This will go down as one of my all time greatest films ever that i’ve watched.

This has encouragement so much in the last 24 hours. If Neil lived and living a life like this – how can we be more like Neil or better more like Jesus! Loving each person for who they are, making them feel loved, accepted and needed ! Jesus I wanna be more like you and nello!

Bravo BBC!

Pop up Church

Wednesday 17th December was a particularly weird day last year. Our Super Rev Dr Jonathan Pye invited us out as a staff team to have ‘afternoon tea’ at Farrers in Kendal (very good a must on visiting Kendal). The ‘afternoon tea’ soon turned into a ‘lunch and afternoon tea – I was ok with that, however I had just had a mammoth Subway lunch thinking this was going to be dessert! Thank you Jonathan!!

Well, it would be rude not to have two lunches at Christmas, it was all about getting into training for the big day! As we sat stuffed with turkey panini’s and mince pies we started to listen to a colleague about a new venture in the Kendal Circuit ( for the purposes of the new venture not being released this will remain anonymous). However, during our discussions and reflecting. Our colleague accidentally came up with a phrase that we latched onto….‘pop up church’ (PUC). He didn’t term it as his more of what was happening in his section of the circuit, this got Rev Wendy Thornton’s attention. Could PUC have some mileage in it? “Quick register the domain” (WT) and let’s chat about this….it was all done in tongue and cheek but actually as I went away and reflected on this idea, I began to think it through properly.

Imagine if we could literally PUC at a railway station and give our free refreshments? A nursing home? In the centre of the town or just in the local park? For many years the church has opened it’s doors and said we would like you to come in and worship. I believe the tables have turned and we need to ‘go’ and be church to those in community, where lives aren’t sorted as ours aren’t – but walk with them in their needs first. For them to belong, loved, accepted and needed.

PUC is not a fancy gimmick, but an evangelism initiative to seek the lost, and to set those in chains free with the power of the almighty Jesus – the hope and light of the world. Watch this space!

Calm Beginnings

As I look back on 2014, it brought lots of exciting opportunities and much fruit. 2014 was a busy year in many respects but a year that has brought out of those events/mission more opportunities. As I had a walk with the family in Bowness Yesterday, Windermere Lake was extremely calm, probably the most calm i’ve seen the lake in years. Most people were probably inside their homes looking at which exciting destination they could travel to this summer. Many of us are on a destination / journey. Mine seems to be the one more and more so of opportunities and pioneering new forms of church. Idea after idea….. however just as the lake i’m reminded that its in the stillness that God speaks not when we are frantically trying to please man. These year, this week i’m going to do less but with God’s spirit, hopefully more if that makes sense. Wait for clear direction and guidance as to where he will guide and lead me as a child of God.

Come and sit next to me

‘Sit next to me’ was an experiment that happened, Monday 22nd September. However from the success – looks like it might continue! Watch this space for more updates!!

“Over today i’ve seen and spoken to over 80 people, some for a brief hello, some for quite a long conversations. Conversations around, parking, Scottish referendum, school, children, Jesus, cakes, tea, lighting, and other community matters, fund raisers, ‘Sandylands Friendly Park’, not to mention other pastoral concerns which I can’t disclose.

Moved by people’s engagement – one lass bought me 2 cream scones from Spar, another a bag of crisps! A bit like the raven with Elijah – God must have known I was hungry.

Lots of people were moved as to why I was doing this and provoked discussions. It was great to see so many drivers pass by and look twice at me sitting there. One woman sat for well over 1 hour talking – to the point there was not enough room for me to sit or stand as a group had gathered – i had to venture inside to talk to someone! Wow!

Overall – I do hope its shows that our Church is committed to the Community and that we are a church that wants not only to work WITH it but share God’s love to! Sharing God’s Love – Transforming Lives”. – Jonny Gios (Community Worker)

The Revd Dr Jonathan Pye, superintendent minister of the Kendal Circuit, said: “I think this was a great initiative. I am glad that it went so well. It certainly demonstrates, in a creative – and obviously effective – way, the church’s commitment to the community.”.