Thank you to all those who have offered to pray for us during this week of mission, when Roger will be taking a visiting team of eleven people to North Wingfield near Chesterfield.
Roger was in North Wingfield last weekend meeting up with the forty people from the church, mostly very inexperienced, who have agreed to work with us during the mission week. The response was very positive. They learned how to share the gospel. They learned what is involved in doing follow up, and they each agreed times when they will invite friends to their homes to meet the visiting team. We identified 250 people with whom they already have close relationships; the priority of the mission week will be to reach these 250.
On Sunday the sermon was about the Holy Spirit. There was an invitation to come for prayer and the response was overwhelming. They were all in different places but all needing the Spirit to bring changes to their lives and ministry. Roger was particularly pleased about one person with a very painful knee who was much better half an hour after the prayer and walking well. God’s presence was manifest last weekend; let’s pray for more during the week when the team is there.
To find out more visit the St Lawrence North Wingfield website.
Preparing for mission
As part of their preparation for the mission, church members have been following our discipleship course The God Who is There. Rector Colin Cooper writes:
“We are an active church. During 2016-2017 up to 60 people have engaged with the Beyond Ourselves and The New Community courses. We began Shining Like Stars in September. This means clear biblical teaching about being a disciple of Jesus is becoming established in the DNA of St Lawrence Church.
This has represented a focus on building up the core congregation both spiritually and numerically (longer standing members are reporting spiritual growth and new people have joined). Our community connection is good with a growing ‘wider fringe’ through Messy Church, Messy Extra, Baptisms, Small Wonders and St Lawrence Pre-School.
From this strong position 2018 should be a season of reaching out into our community in mission.”
The aim is that the mission should be followed by an ALPHA course, and that those completing ALPHA will then be invited to grow further in discipleship by joining a Beyond Ourselves group.
To find out more about Beyond Ourselves, The New Community and Shining Like Stars please visit our Discipleship page. To find out more about how we can support you through a parish mission visit our Missions page.
Did you know?
North Wingfield is listed in the Domesday Book (1087) – by which time it already had a priest and a church! The gospel has been passed down from generation to generation here for over a thousand years – and it’s still going on. Let’s pray for the church as they reach out to their friends and neighbours next month.
One of the things we do at the Mathetes Trust is provide support, training and teams for parish missions, either for a single church or for a group of churches working together. In March we were pleased to help with a mission organised by Anglican ministers Josias de Souza and Sean Sheffield, under the title ‘There is Love in Dover.’
Josias and Sean were working in partnership with their colleagues from other denominations: Graham (Baptist), Gary (Lighthouse Church), Henry (The Ark), Marcus (Living Well) and Dave (Roman Catholic). Roger Morgan and Richard Scott brought an ‘away’ team of members from our Kent EQUIP group of church leaders and from Through Faith Missions. And there was a much larger ‘home team’ of local people.
Training sessions were run by Richard and by Roger in advance of the mission, with some 90 people taking part. During the mission week approximately 30 local people joined in door to door work; they included a homeless man, Lee, who recommitted his life during the mission, served us meals and worked with us. His faith had initially sparked after surviving a motorbike accident aged 29. A low point recently saw him helicoptered from a cliff – but this week gave him hope for a better future. He would also receive new accommodation at the end of the week.
A separate team of 5 Brazilians worked throughout the week in schools. They were joined by a small UK youth team from PAES for one day.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE MISSION
Weekdays began with worship in our hub at Dover Baptist Church. We talked with many people during the week.
One young man showed interest, despite having been stabbed previously by his Christian ex-wife! Dover is a tough place with so many walking around apparently hopeless. Another man told me, “I don’t envy what you’re doing, talking to people” – but took a booklet.
In a school, Josias’ talk went so well that after giving out invitations to events this week, some kids asked for more for their friends.
Gary told of meeting a young man with a can of solvent in one hand on the doors yesterday. Wrapping the can in the questionnaire then receiving a booklet, it was a picture of light coming into his darkness.
Clare asked why her husband had been murdered in Folkestone harbour last August. He was a traveller, with 7 children. Offered hope, she brought one daughter to that evening’s talk “Why do bad things happen to good people” and after speaking to the Deacon @ the Beacon, joined this church afterwards.
Another lady, Bridie, came to Christ, whilst Sean was the right person to direct a 21 year old pregnant girl (Courtenay) with some faith, to Mums & Todds and to answer her baptism request
A young goth, tattooed from head to foot, received prayer and – like so many this week – was open to ALPHA.
Terry attended a 50 year lady who wanted to end it all, but who ended up praying the prayer. Another single parent had had enough. Life was tough, benefits issues etc. Asking God for a sign, the next day our boys turned up!
Throughout the week God blessed church unity and the number of locals involved. Sean Sheffield wrote afterwards: “I just wanted to thank you once again for your support, guidance and your input into the There is Love in Dover mission week. It was wonderful to work alongside you and to share the experience of the week. I know from conversations with others, that the training events you ran really made the difference to those who attended feeling somewhat unsure about whether to go out or not.”
The aim is for mission, including door to door visiting, to continue – with a repeat mission in 2019/20.
PARISH MISSIONS WITH THE MATHETES TRUST
If you would like to find out more about how we can help with planning, training and resourcing of parish missions please visit our Parish Mission page, send us an email or give us a call!
“For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
We have just published the Rooted in Jesus Annual Report for the year 2017. It includes news from the seven dioceses in which we ran conferences as well as feedback from those who have continued to use Rooted in Jesus in places where we have previously offered training. It has been encouraging and humbling to receive so much positive feedback, often from places where life is very difficult.
In the meantime we continue with our calling to help foster a culture of discipleship both here in the UK and in Africa, mindful of the Great Commission and hugely grateful for the prayer and support we receive. Pastor James Chegem from Uganda sums up the difference it makes when churchgoers become disciples:
“Rooted in Jesus has done a lot in the church I am leading; I used to struggle a lot but when I introduced RinJ it has helped me to grow the church numerically and spiritually. A woman called Lucia had never gone to school but kept on coming to attend RinJ meetings, and learnt how to memorize verses; now she is a good evangelist and quotes scriptures in the Bible which she has memorized. Many of the members who attended RinJ meetings in the church are now committed to church programmes. The church now has 300 members in attendance.”
Rooted in Jesus is a ministry to people who have few material resources, and depends wholly on donations – if you would like to help please visit our support page, or make an online donation here.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Col 2.7
Posted on 28 February 2017 by Revd Dr Alison Morgan.
Church growth statistician Bob Jackson has famously said that if you want your church to grow the key is to do something, rather than nothing; ‘it is those who intend to grow the church who grow the church.’
We have just had an email from Revd Justin Randriambelotsoa. Justin is a retired priest in the Diocese of Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, and Justin is doing something rather than nothing. Having planted and built up a church of 500 people in one place, he has now moved to another. And Justin’s retirement project is to plant the first Anglican church in this new place. He has a simple strategy: he uses Rooted in Jesus with a group of adults and, following the training conferences last summer, Rooted in Jesus Junior with their children. And Justin’s new church is growing. Meanwhile his colleague, a much younger priest named Pez Raobison, is doing the same thing in another town, where he baptised his first new Christians last year. This is how Fianarantsoa has grown from a single church plant to a fully functional diocese in just thirteen years; step by step, in place by place. To find out more about Justin’s new church click our new blog post HERE. Justin asks for our prayers.
The same holds true here in the UK; we have to do something rather than nothing – and it doesn’t need to be clever or complicated. As Bob Jackson is fond of saying, ‘it’s not rocket science.’ A growing number of churches are now using The God Who is There, which is our UK version of Rooted in Jesus. It’s a simple, interactive discipleship course in three parts. At St Lawrence, North Wingfield the whole church has been working its way through the three books; their faith has deepened and they are now planning a parish mission, which Roger will lead in June. In March we will support a mission in Dover, and in October in Bedworth. Don’t forget to let us know if you would like to join a team, either for a parish mission in the UK or for a Rooted in Jesus team in Africa – for you too, doing something will grow your faith! If you would like to find out what others say about going on teams take a look at Ian Cripps’ testimony, or visit the Rooted in Jesus team page.
If you haven’t come across Bob Jackson’s down-to-earth books you will find synopses on the books page of Alison’s website.
As we move through the season of Advent we would like to share some of the feedback we have received recently from those who have given up their time to go on the road with Jesus.
Blessings at home
Ian in his mission kit!
Breaston parish church
Have you ever thought of joining a mission team? Often we fear that evangelism is for other people; and yet God has a habit of working through us if only we give him the chance. Ian Cripps pulls no punches in his account of what it felt like to follow Jesus on a daily basis on one of our recent parish missions:
“Stepping out of my regular life of marriage, employment, faith, family, golf and watching rugby, and going straight into mission was a shock of adrenalin and fright. To be surrounded by a combined ‘Home and Away team’ for 8 days, with complete freedom to think, speak and sing of the gospel is a privilege, exhilarating and joyfully exhausting all at the same time. I was paired with Pete from Coventry and Terry from Barnsley. Both had an irrepressible sense of humour; the three of us were consistently dissolving in laughter throughout the week. Both Terry and Pete have wonderful powerful family based testimonies, which clearly touched the people God intended to reach. Since the Mission I have a renewed hunger for the word, and my prayer lists have joyfully expanded. God is amazing.” For an insider’s view on the mission, read Ian’s full account here. And if you would be interested in joining a future team (we have three in the planning), please do let us know!
Conference participants, Mityana Diocese
Last month a team led by Revd Tim Carter led two followup Rooted in Jesus conferences in the Diocese of Mityana, Uganda. We’ve posted a full account on the Rooted in Jesus blog, but sometimes it’s good to take a more individual view too, focussing not on what the Lord does among our brothers and sisters in Uganda but what he does among us. Nick James writes:
“The visit was exhilarating in many ways. Such appreciative people, such vibrant worship and such a wholesome, challenging course (I felt personally challenged by some of the material…). I think it more than lived up to my expectations on account of the people we met who were on fire for the Lord, despite little material resource. The chief impact on my ministry is a refreshing of my own call to make disciples (very helpfully challenging), and a firm understanding that Ugandan Christians face exactly the same fundamental issues as I do: am I willing to trust God and follow him wholeheartedly? And the things I need to trust him for are exactly the same: material provision and spiritual strength. The main circumstantial difference is that I am anaesthetised to my need of God by all the provision I have made for myself in fear of not having enough while my Ugandan brothers and sisters are to some extent handicapped and diverted by fear or frustration of not seeing how God will provide for them tomorrow. And both of us are spiritually poorer for it.”
It sometimes seems odd for a small organisation to be working so widely. England and Africa are very different places; and yet, as Nick points out, many of the challenges we face are the same. How do we reach and disciple children? How do we cope with situations in which there are many small, rural churches and just one leader? How do we help clergy to keep the fire within them burning when the demands placed upon them are so great? And how, above all, do we ensure that we depend on God in all that we do, and that we trust in him and follow his guidance? We cannot do these things alone; but we can perhaps do them together. As we wait afresh for the coming of Christ in this season of Advent, let us commit ourselves to living in the knowledge that he is with us in all that we do.
Posted 14th December 2017 by Revd Dr Alison Morgan
As autumn slides into winter, for us at The Mathetes Trust there is much to be grateful for, with parish missions and Rooted in Jesus conferences bearing fruit. Roger is getting stuck into supporting multi-parish benefices, and we will write to you about that before too long.
We have a Rooted in Jesus team in Uganda at the moment, and have just had a report from the Diocese of Butere, Kenya where a team went in June: Diocesan Coordinator Benjamin Kibara says there are now 87 groups in 36 parishes across the diocese. He writes that “the impact has already been felt in many ways:
Many have grown in their faith and practice
Commitment and turn up in local church prayer meetings has increased
Stewardship and giving has improved as disciples get rooted in Christ
Marriages that were at the verge of breaking up have been restored
More people have volunteered to serve in church.”
Finally, Benjamin says that “The RinJ books were recommended as the confirmation books in the diocese.”
Soon Christmas will be upon us, and then Lent. So we would like to take this opportunity to remind you of some of our publications. Our poetry anthology Something Understood – Poems for Reflection and Meditation makes an excellent Christmas gift, and includes the magnificent Christmas poem ‘Wenceslas’ by Carol Ann Duffy. It’s been well received; poet RV Bailey wrote “Your lovely anthology came today, and it’s full of good things – it’s a handsome volume at an amazingly reasonable price. You range very generously over a wide field, and though there are old favourites there are some welcome introductions to new poets.” Fully illustrated, it costs just £8 and can be ordered directly from our publications page, or by email.
If you are even more forward thinking than that, you may be interested to know that our Lent course Season of Renewal, by Bill Goodman and Alison Morgan, is also available on our publications page, along with a flyer and a sample session. It’s proved an increasingly popular course since it was first written 10 years ago, and is now on its 4th printing. It comes in a Leader’s Manual and a group member’s coursebook which offers spiritual exercises to follow during the week between meetings. It’s a good way to introduce a small group ministry to your church, and makes a good followup to Alpha too, providing a gentle introduction to the work of the Holy Spirit, the agent of renewal both in our hearts and in our world.
“A group of about ten of us finished ‘Season of Renewal’ last night. It was unanimously agreed that it had been the most inspiring and helpful Lent course we had ever shared in” – Canon John Gunstone
Meanwhile we continue in our life of prayer, thanking those of you who pray with us. The psalm set for today is Psalm 34: My soul shall glory in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
It’s good to do that, as we watch the glory of autumn fade into the darkness of winter.