“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.
The Mathetes Trust offers various programmes to churches in the UK, and among these is an offer to take a team for a week of mission. We have just completed two of these, one in Purley near Reading and one in Breaston near Derby. The missions were both fruitful and immensely encouraging.
A highlight of both missions was the door-to-door visiting, with more people stopping to talk and inviting us in than I have ever known, and a surprising number making solid commitments of faith within minutes – we had the feeling almost that people were ready and waiting for us! All team members found a steady stream of people wanting to know more and to pray with them – one man found himself so unexpectedly interested that he abandoned his half-mixed quick drying cement to its own devices in order to hear more…
Each member of the local team held a meeting in their own home to which they invited friends and neighbours. We saw fruit from these meetings too; in particular team member Ian led four to the Lord at one meeting, where the host had been praying for her friends for a whole year.
Thirdly, in each place we had a mission to children which also bore fruit, with 40 children at an after school club, a Messy Church session on the theme of ‘power’ with most people responding to the invitation to receive the power of Jesus into their lives, a family Fun Fest and a Youth Chill-Out evening.
Finally we held open meetings every day. New for me were a Ceilidh where I was cast as the storyteller; we alternated short talks with dancing, and set up prayer stations for people to come to – the team were kept busy praying throughout the evening. Other events included a Gospel quiz with quiz rounds alternating with gospel presentations; a men’s evening where 23 men crowded into a local bistro to talk about God and Science; a ladies’ pub night; a Sunday service on stress (lots of people in tears!); a men’s breakfast where businessman Gary spoke on ‘how to make your first million’; and a choir evening with excerpts from Handel’s Messiah alternating with gospel explanations from me. All of these events ended with people praying prayers of commitment or wanting to know more.
In both places we found people coming to faith, Christians touched in new ways, people wanting to know more. Having a trained home team meant that all those who expressed interest or prayed prayers were immediately followed up, with more help to come over the next few weeks. The teams were large, the events were many; I have no accurate idea of the response in terms of numbers – but one measure is that we gave out about 500 copies of the Decision booklet to people who asked for one. The churches now have their work cut out!
Our experience in both places makes me feel that the tide may have changed in this country – many are ignorant of the gospel but open to it, and I suspect that door-to-door visiting (in which it was good to be working closely with Richard Scott from TFM) should become a key strategy for the future. The home meetings also bore fruit, but were not as successful as I have known before, which suggests that Christians may be less well connected than they used to be. In terms of response by age, we found that young adults were particularly open, perhaps because our culture has now become so secular that it’s all new to them. This is very encouraging as we look to the future – the opportunity to make a real difference is there, if we are willing to step outside our comfort zones!
I met Matthew in the street. He was very friendly, listened to the gospel carefully, and committed his life to Jesus there and then, reading a prayer of commitment aloud in front of his colleagues. The next day Chris and I went to visit Matthew, and met his wife – who also prayed a prayer of commitment.
Everyone on both the visiting and the home teams (many of whom had been apprehensive, particularly about the door to door visiting) ended the mission greatly encouraged, and strengthened in their own faith. So we plan to press on. We have already accepted invitations to run missions in June and October next year – but think we should aim to do many more. If you would like to talk to us about a possible mission in your own church, do take a look at our missions page and get in touch!
Finally, we are grateful to those who came on the teams, to those who offered them hospitality, and to those who prayed each day – as well as to all those in Purley and Breaston who put so much time and effort into the missions, especially church leaders David Archer and Chris Smedley who had the faith to invite us in the first place; and of course to those of you who provide the support and encouragement to make this ministry possible.
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”
We are immensely grateful to those of you who support our work through prayer, to those of you who roll up your sleeves and climb into your cars to help us share the gospel with others, and to those of you who give of your personal resources to help us fulfil our vision of making disciples in the local church. All these things have made a big difference in recent months.
Missions in the UK
This month we are helping with two parish missions in Purley on Thames and Breaston in Derbyshire – please continue to pray for Roger and the team as they strive to share the gospel with all they meet, and let us know if you would like to receive prayer updates.
Missions in Africa
A Rooted in Jesus team returned recently from the Dioceses of Fianarantsoa and Toliara in Madagascar, where they led conferences for Sunday School teachers training to use Rooted in Jesus Junior. The team was led by Canon Jacob Robert of the Diocese of Mara, Tanzania, and we have posted a report on the Rooted in Jesus blog, which you can read here. The report includes an interview with Revd Jean Flobert, Vicar General of the Diocese of Fianarantsoa, and a remarkable performance by the Fort Dauphin children’s choir in Toliara. It was humbling to be working with such dynamic and committed people in one of the poorest countries of the world, and to have the privilege of offering them the first training and the first resource material to help them in their work of discipling children.
Pray with us
Every three months we issue a prayer diary, covering these and many other things. The next one runs from October to December, and includes prayer requests for churches using our discipleship materials, for those planning missions, for those whose leaders meet in our EQUIP groups, and for dioceses planning Rooted in Jesus conferences. In October and November we will be sending teams to the dioceses of Mityana, Soroti and Karamoja in Uganda, and we covet your prayers! The new prayer diary can be downloaded HERE.